Table of Contents
Collection Overview +/-
Collection Inventory +/-
Box Folder Contents
box , folder : Letterbooks
box , folder : Correspondence
box , folder : Business records and miscellaneous
Biographical Note/Historical Note +/-
To the degree that George Montgomery Scott is remembered at all in Utah history, it is as Salt Lake City's first non-Mormon mayor (1890-1892). Scott himself, however, probably regarded his brief political career as the least of his major achievements, for his successful mayoral campaign was the only occasion upon which he ran for any public office in Salt Lake City during a residency of over thirty years. It was as a businessman, an Episcopal Church member, and public-spirited citizen that Scott probably wished to be remembered.
Scott was not a native Utahn, but neither was he a "carpetbagger" whose brief political career represents an outsider's attempt to capitalize upon the rising tide of non-Mormon power in Utah during the 1890s. He was born in Chazy, New York on 27 July 1835 to a merchant father in whose footsteps he early decided to follow. Like many others of the time, Scott felt the powerful pull of economic opportunity generated by the California gold rush, but unlike many, he was able to resist the temptation to risk all in pursuit of quick wealth in a sluice box, choosing instead the more prudent course of steady profits through a San Francisco hardware business supplying equipment to those in the gold fields. In 1871, drawn, no doubt, by similar opportunities in Utah's newly developing mines, he moved to Salt Lake City, where he opened the George M. Scott Hardware Company. The Scott firm went through several permutations, but it continued to grow and prosper, the most conspicuous evidence of which was the impressive Scott Building, constructed on Main Street in 1888.
Scott's business career was not without its reverses. Though the evidence indicates that he was a man of deep religious commitment, impeccable ethics, and altruism, he was unfortunate to be associated both in business and politics with James Glendinning, whose personal life and political ethics were not beyond reproach. Glendinning, who was Vice President of George M. Scott Hardware Company, also served as Mayor of Salt Lake City (1896-1898). During his term of office, Glendinning embezzled a quantity of public money through a "contingency fund," and left office in the midst of a scandal. That, added to alcoholism, resulted in a complete breakdown in his life in 1898. Though Scott seems to have been completely innocent, his reputation was compromised by association, and Glendinning even seems somehow to have drug Scott down with him financially.
In addition to the hardware business, Scott became involved in a mining venture at Marysvale, the Crystal Gold and Silver Mining Company, and a cattle business in Colorado, the Lily Park Stock Growers Association. All appear to have been successful, and no doubt helped to bring him out of the Glendinning debacle.
Ill health caused Scott to return to California in 1904 after selling his business interests. He may have married briefly before coming to Utah, for he is listed on an insurance form as a widower, but the fact was unknown to most Utahns, and he is listed as a bachelor in the biographical sources. At any rate, he had no children, and lived with a niece or nephews in Santa Barbara and San Mateo during his retirement. It was in the latter city that he died on 19 November 1915 after a brief illness.
Content Description +/-
The George M. Scott collection came to the Utah State Historical Society in June 1983 through manuscript dealer Mark Hoffman. It is approximately one cubic foot in size, half of which consists of letter books containing copies of outgoing correspondence of the Lily Park Stock Growers Association and the George M. Scott Hardware Company, and half of which is incoming letters, both personal and business, and various other records relating to the hardware, mining, and cattle enterprises.
Only a very few letters contain any reference to his political career; indeed, few mention politics at all. There are a number of personal letters from family and friends in New York; some of them contain requests for genealogical information, and all reveal close family ties. Of great personal interest are several letters from Mrs. Glendinning after her husband's tragedy, in which she expresses regrets for the harmful effects that spilled over into Scott's life, and seeks his help in dealing with her own desperate financial situation.
The mining records, and particularly the cattle business records, are of considerable historical interest. Both businesses were partnerships, and the records reveal the workings of such associations. The cattle business records are much fuller, though, since we have both incoming and outgoing correspondence and a wide variety of documented transactions, including purchases of land, feed, equipment, and stock.
The remainder of the collection is quite diverse. Scott's business experience was often tapped by those in need of legal or financial advice. Also, there is considerable documentation of his life insurance program, and a couple of personal account books.
Collection Use +/-
Restrictions on Access:
Restrictions on Access
Administrative Information +/-
Scott, George Montgomery, 1835-1915.
Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grant, 2007-2008
2 boxes (1 linear ft.)
Language of the Finding Aid:
Finding aid written in Englishin Latin script
EAD Creation Date: