Thomas W. Ellerbeck, born in England, was converted by missionaries to join the Mormon religion as a young man. Heeding the call to "Come to Zion," Ellerbeck traveled across the ocean and the western plains to Salt Lake City, where the early Saints had settled.
Because of his skill as an accountant, he made himself indispensable to the governor of the territory and prophet, Brigham Young. He became a prominent influence in government, was instrumental in bringing public utilities to the city, and started successful lumbar, gardening and gas businesses.
He was a polygamist, married to four women, though not all at once. His first wife died young and his second marriage ended quickly in divorce. Henrietta Dyer and Ellerbeck were married in 1863 and he took another wife a year later. From three of his four wives he had 22 children.
This home was built for Henrietta Dyer and her seven children. After growing frustrated with the nature of her marriage, Henrietta filled for divorce, citing "neglect." When Ellerbeck failed to appear at court, she was granted her wish. She lived at the home until 1903, when Ellerbeck dissolved his estate and sold the mansion to an associate, the Armstrongs. Ellerbeck died in 1905, Henrietta in 1915.
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