David Henry Weech

Pioneer on Arizona Frontier
Achieved Many 'Firsts' for Community

David Henry Weech, BYA Class of 1893

David Henry Weech

Brigham Young Academy
Class of 1893

David Henry Weech -- A Man of Many ‘Firsts’

Special Thanks to Edres Barney
Eastern Arizona Museum & Historical Society - 2019

David Henry Weech was brought to Arizona as a 4-year-old in 1879, the first son of Hyrum Weech and Sarah Dall Weech. David was born in Goshen, Utah, after the couple had five girls.

Because of the cold Utah weather and some water problems, when they heard stories of Arizona, the Weech family became interested. In the winter of 1878-79, Hyrum left his family in Utah and went south to find a new home.

Hyrum Weech arrived the second time on April 8, 1879, with his family, 140 years ago in 2019. The lives and accomplishments of Hyrum and his son David are intertwined with the beginning of the Smithville/Pima Arizona area.

During his youth, David helped his dad on the farm and clerked in his parents’ store. David grew to manhood in the early community.

David attended Brigham Young Academy in Provo, Utah, taking the commercial course and graduating on December 22, 1893. He used this education in business, accounting and bookkeeping for the remainder of his life.

David's ventures were many and varied. They included bringing the first piped water into the homes of Pima. He built a cement storage facility on Tank Hill to store the community’s water.

Another way he helped the community was by building an electric plant near his home on North Main and First North -- later site of Broadway Camp. He ran electricity to his home, the Weech Store on the northeast corner of Main and Center, the theater, and to other businesses on Main. David then wired and furnished power to the nearby homes.

David would turn the electricity on at about dusk, according to the season, and turn it off at 10 p.m. Soon, people grumbled, as they wanted it on longer. So he extended it to 11 p.m., then to midnight. Before turning it off, he would blink the current to let people know they needed to light a lamp, go to bed or be left in the dark.

Soon the women wanted electricity to run their newly available washing machines or to heat their irons. Ironing was hot, heavy work, especially in the summer, because irons were heated on wood stoves. So, to accommodate the women, David turned the power on from 8 to 10 a.m. every Monday and Tuesday morning. The women adjusted their schedules to do those chores at that time. Again, he would “blink” the current so they knew they had five minutes to finish the job.

Later, David moved his plant up by the depot to run it in conjunction with the gristmill that he built.

David also brought the telephone line from Thatcher, extending it to Bryce and Eden. The first telephone was installed in Weech’s Store. The switchboard was located in the Pima Hotel. Wyona Taylor Bryce was one of the first operators. The switchboard was shut down during her lunch hour and at 5 p.m., with after-hours calls being connected to the doctor’s office. Who else but the doctor would one need to call after 5 p.m.?

In 1914 David built a two-story building on the northwest corner of Main and Center as the headquarters of the Bank of Pinma. In recent times, for the last 56 years, it has served as the home of the Eastern Arizona Museum.

Mr. P. K. Lewis and Mr. J. W. Brown, of Phoenix, Arizona, were his partners in the new Bank of Pima. David later purchased the entire stock of the bank, and then sold some of it to Andy F. Carlson. David was the president and manager, and his son Ellis was the cashier.

After World War I ended, the economy was very depressed. Times were hard and most farmers were unable to meet their obligations to the bank, thus causing it to fail. The Arizona Trust & Savings Bank of Safford purchased it and paid depositors 65 percent of their funds. David Weech lost all he had accumulated in the last 45 years.

Within a short time, he also lost his wife, Estella, on October 31, 1918, in the 1918 flu epidemic. He and Estella Newell had married March 20, 1895, and they were the parents of seven boys: Halvei, Earl, Ellis, LaRue, Onzell, Newell and Irvin; and one girl, Lanola, who passed away in 1914 at age 8.

Three years later, David and May Allen were married on July 3, 1921. They became the parents of eight additional children: Berell (Cherrel), May Louise (Taylor), Lanair, Lawana (Morris), Bulan (Joanna), Norlene (Robinson), Verla (Wheeler) and Davida (Baumgardner).

In addition to the “firsts” mentioned above, David Weech also operated the first ice plant in the building now known as Bush & Shurtz.

The first streetlights in Pima down the middle of the street were also David's achievement.

He played a leading role in the Mount Graham Lumber Company, which constructed the flume to bring logs from the mountain to the Valley floor.

David did carpentry, electrical and plumbing work for many years. He built, remodeled or repaired many of the homes in Pima and in the Valley.

David was personally a religious man and very civic-minded. He served as Bishop of the Pima Ward at age 26. For many years, he was choir director and sang in the choir.

He played the guitar in a dance band that held dances above the Weech Store.

He served on the school board, on the town council, was mayor and justice of the peace. He was postmaster for 18 years, and Pima’s town clerk for 20 years. His daughter, Norlene Robinson, also served as Pima's town clerk many years later, following in her father's footsteps.

Mount Graham was a special place for him, and he was happy throughout his life to spend time there. He built a cabin there, and his families spent summers in the cool mountain air. David helped build the ward church cabin at Columbine. Another of his firsts was putting in a water tank for cabins at Columbine.

David Weech was a patient, kind, compassionate man, a man of great energy and vision, always thinking of ways to improve things in the community for his family members and fellow men.

David Weech lived until March 21, 1958, when he died at the age of 82, leaving a large and distinguished family.

[Eastern Arizona Courier, July 13, 2019]

David Henry Weech, BYA Class of 1893

David Henry Weech, BYA Class of 1893

BYH Biographies