Charles Wilson Nibley was born Feb 5, 1849 at Hunterfield,
Scotland to James Nibley and Jean Wilson, the sixth of eight children.
The family, having accepted the Gospel, soon moved to Zion. Nibley was
a rather small and anemic child, and the physical demands of a frontier
life were hard on him. Nibley's formal education was limited and fragmented,
but he loved books and read voraciously. He was also an ambitious and gifted
businessman. His first start in business was as a storekeeper in Wellsville.
He soon moved to Brigham City, where he worked for a prosperous businessman
named Morris Rosenbaum, who owned a store and a hotel. Impressed by Nibley's
business acumen, Rosenbaum soon made the young man a partner. One of Rosenbaum's
hotel employees was Rebecca Neibaur. Nibley fell in love with Rebecca and
the two were married in 1869.
Nibley became involved in many business ventures
during his life, most of which proved to be very successful. However, the
heart of his wealth was centered in the lumber industry. Nibley had established
himself as a successful lumber man during the 1870s and 1880s in northern
Utah and southern Idaho. But his real rise to wealth came when he and industrialist
David Eccles combined their talents and organized the Oregon Lumber Company
in 1889. This company became one of the largest lumber companies in the
Pacific Northwest and made both men multimillionaires. Nibley's other major
business interests included railroads, banking, insurance, and the sugar
Nibley was a well-known philanthropist. Much of his
philanthropy was accomplished quietly; however, one of his public
contributions was the donation of Wandamere Park, now Nibley Park Golf
Course, to Salt Lake City as a Christmas present in 1921.
President Nibley practiced plural marriage, marrying first Rebecca Neibur. In 1880 he married Ellen Ricks, and in 1885 he married Julia Budge. He fathered noted author and
historian Preston Nibley. The illustrious Hugh Nibley is a grandson. In
all, we know of twenty-four children he sired, twelve of whom were born
in "the underground.".
Charles W. Nibley with his three wives, left to right:
Ellen Ricks, C. W., Rebecca Neibaur, and Julia Budge
On December 4, 1907, at the age of fifty-eight, he
became the fifth Presiding Bishop of the Church. He held that position
for the next seventeen years. During his time The Church did away
with tithing scrip, and he placed the church on a strict cash payment basis.
He also was influential in getting the church to build Hotel Utah. Some
seventeen years later, President Heber
J. Grant called him to be his Second Counselor, which position he held
until his death in 1931. Of interest is that he was not ordained an Apostle
when called into the First Presidency, serving as a High Priest. And equally
interesting, when he died and J. Reuben
Clark was called to take his position, neither was Clark ordained an
Apostle until over a year later.
President Nibley died December 11, 1931 in Salt Lake City, Utah at
the age of eighty-two.
The Grampa has found a magnificent web site with numerous pictures of President Nibley and his family. The gentlereader with interest in this great man is referred to The Nibley Family Photograph Collection.