HEBER MANNING WELLS was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. After attending the University of Deseret (now the University of Utah), he became a tax collector in Salt Lake City and then served as City Recorder from 1882 to 1890. After an unsuccessful bid to become Mayor of Salt Lake City, he secured the Republican nomination for governor and was elected to office upon the admission of Utah as a state, first for a five-year term and then for a second term of four years. As Utah’s first governor, Wells was concerned with organizing state government and transitioning from territorial to state status. Although interested in promoting economic development, he recognized the need to protect Utah’s natural environment and therefore campaigned to establish forest reserves. After leaving office, he became Managing Director of the Utah Savings and Trust Company. From 1913 to 1917 he served as Commissioner of Parks and Property in Salt Lake City and in 1919 he became an editor of the Salt Lake City Herald. He went on to become Assistant Treasurer, and then Treasurer, of the U.S. Shipping Board Fleet Corporation, remaining there until 1933. He returned to Utah in 1935 and was Associate Editor of the Deseret Evening News.

Sources:

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 32. New York: James T. White & Company.

Utah History Research Center

Utah History to Go

Utah History Encyclopedia

Utah Death Certificate, Utah State Archives

Warrum, Noble, ed. Utah Since Statehood: Historical and Biographical. Chicago-Salt Lake: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1919. 3 vols. (Vol. I, pp. 103-133; Vol. II, pp. 682-683.)

“First Chief of Utah As State Dies,” Deseret News, March 12, 1938, pp. 1 and 6; “Wells Rites To Be Tuesday, Deseret News, March 14, 1938, pp. 1 and 8; “Tribune Paid First Governor,” Deseret News, March 15, 1938, pp. 1 and 3; “Heber M. Wells, Utah’s First Governor, Dies,” Salt Lake Tribune, March 13, 1938, p. A1, A8, and A14.