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Heber M. Wells letters to Orson F. Whitney, 1926-1930

 File — Box: 3, Folder: 18
Identifier: MSS 15 Series 1 Sub-Series 2
Image of Heber M. Wells letters to Orson F. Whitney
Image of Heber M. Wells letters to Orson F. Whitney

Scope and Contents

Materials include correspondence sent to Orson F. Whitney from Heber M. Wells, who was the governor of Utah at the time. The letters say that Whitney and Wells had been friends since childhood and they contain discussions of poetry, writing, and family matters as well as general friendly banter. Dated 1926-1930.


  • 1926-1930


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Orson F. Whitney papers must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical / Historical

Orson F. Whitney (1855-1931) was an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a writer, poet, and editor.

Orson F. Whitney was born on July 1, 1855, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Horace K. Whitney and Helen Mar Kimball Whitney. As a young man, Whitney wanted to be an actor and he spent many hours preparing for the stage by studying elocution, fencing, and grammar. However, during General Conference in 1876, Whitney was called to serve in the Eastern States Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His mother sold her land and used the money to fund Whitney's mission. While on his mission, Whitney discovered his interest in the Gospel as well as in writing and speaking. He started a regular column of his missionary experiences in the "Salt Lake Herald" under the pen name Iago. In 1878, twenty-three-year-old Whitney was called to serve as the bishop of the Eighteenth Ward, a calling he held for 28 years. In 1906, Whitney was called to be an Apostle in the Church. He also completed three more missions for the Church, including being the president of the European Mission in 1921.

In 1879, Whitney married Zina Beal Smoot and they had 9 children together. Whitney also had two more wives: Mary Minerva Wells and Emma Whitney Wells. During his life, Whitney edited the "Salt Lake Herald," served on the city council, participated in the Home Dramatic Club, engaged in politics, and wrote poetry and books. In 1890, he published his first book, a biography of his grandfather Heber C. Kimball. That same year, Wildford Woodruff and John O. Williams commissioned Whitney to write "History of Utah"; he produced two volumes of the work by 1894 and the third in 1898. He also published a biography of Lorenzo Snow, an autobiography, and several books of poetry including his lengthy epic poem "Elias: An Epic of the Ages."

Whitney died on May 16, 1931, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Heber Manning Wells was the governor of Salt Lake City, Utah, from 1895 to 1905.

Heber Manning Wells was born on August 11, 1859, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Martha G. Harris and Daniel H. Wells. He went to college at the University of Deseret (now University of Utah) and graduated in 1875. In 1880 Wells married Mary Elizabeth Beatie and they had three children together. Mary died in 1888, so four years later (in 1892) he married Theresa Clawson with whom he had two more children. Unfortunately Theresa also died in 1897, but in 1901 he married again, this time to Emily Katz. He and Emily had three children together.

Wells worked as a tax collector in Salt Lake City in 1877 and as a city recorder from 1882 to 1890. In 1892 he ran for mayor but lost to Robert N. Baskin. However, in 1895 he won the Republican nomination for governor, a job that he held for two terms (1895-1905). During his first term as governor he focused on improving water and irrigation rights, state-sponsored arts organizations, education, and food safety. After losing his third term reelection, Wells moved on and became the manager of the Utah Savings and Trust Company, got elected to the Salt Lake City Commission, worked for the U.S. Shipping Board Fleet Corporation, and wrote editorials for Deseret News.

He died on March 12, 1938, in Salt Lake City, Utah.


1 folder

Language of Materials


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File-level inventory also available at:

Existence and Location of Copies

Transcription available in Box 5.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States