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Jesse N. Ellertson was born in the small town of Mona, Juab County, Utah on September 18, 1889, the son of Norman W. Ellertson and Melissa M. Green. Jesse’s father, one of the LDS pioneers in Mona, was a rancher and for four years was a county commissioner. Ellertson grew up in Mona where he attended public schools. From 1904 to 1909 he attended Brigham Young University. In 1914 he received his B.S. in commerce from Utah State Agricultural College in Logan. 1 J. Cecil Alter, Utah, The Stories Domain (Chicago: American Historical Society, 1932), vol. III, 97-98; Ralph B. Simmons, Utah's Distinguished Personalities (Salt Lake City: Personality Publishing Co., 1933; Other sources list 1888 or 1898 as Ellertson's birth year, but his daughter Flo Robinson said 1889 is correct.
Ellertson taught several years at Bear River High School and Carbon County High School. While at the Carbon County High School, he also worked a year and a half in the county clerk's office and was a school board clerk for six months. 2 Alter 1932; Flo Robinson untaped phone interview by David M. Walden, 12 Sep 1990.
In January 1920 Ellertson moved to Provo, where he purchased the Jones Abstract Company. He sold that business in 1928 to Inter-Mountain Title and Guarantee Company and became a vice-president of that firm. 3 Alter 1932; Simmons 1932-1933.
In November 1929 Ellertson was elected to the first of his two terms as mayor, serving in that capacity from January 1930 through the end of 1933. City commissioners Charles Hopkins, Walter Whitehead, and J. E. Snyder worked with him during those four years in office. 4 "Historical Data," Provo City Ordinances (1989). During the Ellertson administration, a street paving program was undertaken and a five million gallon reinforced concrete reservoir was built at the mouth of Rock Canyon. 5 Robinson interview 1990; Owen Zuro, "City Shares Construction Costs of Present City-County Building," Daily Herald, 7 Oct 1969, 3.
In 1932 Mayor Ellertson assigned city engineer Elmer A. Jacob to study the feasibility of the city having its own power plant. Jacob and other officials visited several cities already producing their own electricity and gathered data from approximately 100 cities. Although this evidence supported the idea, local skepticism delayed the decision to embrace municipal power until the following term of Mayor Mark Anderson. 6 John Clifton Moffitt, The Story of Provo, Utah (Provo, Utah: self-published by author, 1975) 242-243.
Ellertson was active in other community events and organizations. In 1932, while mayor, he was chosen the president of the Utah Municipal League. He served as president of the Provo Chamber of Commerce in 1936 and was a charter member of the local Kiwanis Club. The Kiwanis Utah/Idaho District chose Ellertson to be its governor from 1935 to 1936. 7 Marilyn McMeen Miller and John Clifton Moffitt, Provo: A Story of People in Motion (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1974) 100; "Ellertson is New Head of City League," n.d., newpaper clipping in possession of Flo Robinson; "J. N. Ellertson Kiwanian Chief," 26 Aug 1936, newspaper clipping in possession of Flo Robinson; Robinson interview 1990; Simmons 1932-1933; Moffitt 1975, 236 He was a high priest in the LDS church.
Ellertson married Mamie E. Munro in 1915 in the Salt Lake Temple. They had two children: Flo and Keith. In October 1938 Ellertson moved to Salt Lake City and there in 1942 began the Title Insurance Agency of Utah. In Salt Lake City Ellertson belonged to the Chamber of Commerce, Salt Lake Country Club, the Bonneville Knife and Fork Club, and the Yale Second Ward. He died on March 20, 1967 and was buried in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. 8 "Death Claims Ex-Mayor of Provo in Salt Lake," Daily Herald, 21 Mar 1967, 4; "Prominent Executive Dies at 77," Deseret News, 21 Mar 1967, B-12. In 1990 his son Keith who lives in Salt Lake City still managed the business his father started in 1942. Other survivors in 1990 included Ellertson's daughter Mrs. George B. (Flo) Robinson and widow Mamie Ellertson, both living in Salt Lake City. 9 Robinson interview 1990; Jesse Keith Ellertson, untaped phone interview by David M. Walden, 30 Aug 1990.
Originally published in David M. Walden, Biographical Sketches of Former Mayors of Provo, Utah: A Report to the Provo Municipal Government, October 1, 1990, 79-81.