Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Edyth Ellerbeck Read, 1876-1913

By Catherine Sharpsteen, independent historian

Edyth Ellerbeck Read was born in Salt Lake City on December 7, 1876. Her father, Thomas W Ellerbeck, was born in England, and had become a prominent Salt Lake City businessman with close associations to Brigham Young. Her mother, Emma Spence, also from England, was Thomas Ellerbeck's fourth wife.

In 1896, the year Read became twenty, Utah was admitted into the union, becoming the second state to guarantee universal suffrage in its constitution. She attended the University of Utah and earned an A.B. in English at Leland Stanford University in California in 1902. She studied music for a brief period in New York, and Salt Lake City newspapers reported she performed at meetings of Republican women's groups.

On June 12, 1906, at the age of 29, Edyth Ellerbeck married Charles Read, president of Combined Metals, Inc., a Salt Lake City company with mines in Nevada. He was 59 years old. The couple had no children.

Read was best known for her magazine contributions of dramatic compositions, fiction, and poetry. Her most famous work, co-authored with Caroline Elliott Jacobs, was a young adult novel titled Blue Bonnet's Ranch Party, published in 1912.

In 1912, Read was one of four women, all from Salt Lake City, elected to the lower house of the Utah State Legislature. Some time after that election she became ill with what a newspaper article later reported as a nervous breakdown. She died January 20, 1913 without having served in her legislative capacity. Her death certificate listed the cause as "asphyxiation by gas - suicidal." In her memory the Utah State legislature adopted a set of resolutions of sorrow, extending sympathy to her husband and family.


Edyth Ellerbeck, "When the Earth Trembled at Stanford," Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 30 April 1906, p.4.

Edyth Ellerbeck Read, "Santa's Understudy-The Prize Story," Deseret Evening News, 18 December 1909, p.47.

"Ellerbeck Project: Edith Ellerbeck," accessible online at [] accessed November 6, 2018.

"Ellerbeck Project: Thomas Witton Ellerbeck," accessible online at [] accessed November 6, 2018.

"Many Santa Clara County Students Given Degrees," Evening News (San Jose) 27 May 1902.

"Miss SENATOR, Mrs. COMMISSIONER and Ladies of the JURY: Listen to the Amazing Case for the Western Woman as argued by Mary Holland Kinkaid," The Delineator, September 1913, p. 6.

"Nervous Breakdown has Fatal Ending," Salt Lake Tribune, 21 January 1913, p. 14.

"New Books by Newspaper People," The Fourth Estate, 12 April 1913, p. 12.

"Publishes New Book," Salt Lake Herald-Republican, 27 October 1912, p.3.

"Resolutions of Sorrow Adopted," Salt Lake Tribune, 22 January 1913, p. 2.

"Salt Lake Legislative Ticket is Named," Ogden Evening Standard, 22 September 1912, p.2.

"Social Chat," Deseret Evening News, 17 February 1906, p.19.

"Social and Personal," Salt Lake Tribune, 29 August 1899, p. 8.

State of Utah--Death Certificate Edith Ellerbeck Read, website

"Women's Clubs Meet at Ogden," Deseret Evening News, 29 October 1907, p. 5.

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