AnnaBelle Shaw was born in Mississippi in 1922. She moved to Ogden during World War II when her fiancé was stationed at Hill Field, now known as Hill Air Force Base. They married at the end of 1942. After the war they divorced and AnnaBelle met and married her second husband, Billie Weakley in 1947.
AnnaBelle Weakley and her husband owned Porters and Waiters on 25th street in Ogden, Utah. In the 1940’s, segregation was still prominent in Utah, and Porters and Waiters was the only diner and hotel in town that would cater to African Americans. At the time, the African American population in Ogden was increasing thanks to the railroad that ran through Ogden. From 1900 to 1950 the population of African Americans went from 51 to 1,106. Porters and Waiters was the only place that they could rent a room between shifts.
AnnaBelle saw an opportunity and renovated part of the hotel into a lounge area and made it into a club. She booked famous Jazz musicians such as Duke Ellington and local Joe McQueen and the club became known throughout the West. The Porters and Waiters Club never turned away anyone on the basis of race. It was the only club in Utah that was desegregated.
AnnaBelle wasn’t just a nightclub owner and operator. She also volunteered for the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, and the Legal Aid Society. In 1977 she served on Black Advisory Council where she focused on substance abuse.
She also worked in the prison system as an Ethnic Minority Specialist. AnnaBelle died in 2008 in a car accident; she was in the car with Jazz musician Joe McQueen who regularly performed at her club when it was open. Joe survived and is described as her brother in her obituary.
To learn more about the suffrage movement in Utah visit the Archive’s website.
“AnnaBelle Weakley-Mattson.” Salt Lake Tribune. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/saltlaketribune/obituary.aspx?n=annabelle-weakley-mattson&pid=120397372
Jensen, Derek P. “Utahns pave way for civil rights, see long road ahead.” Salt Lake Tribune. Accessed December 12, 2019. https://archive.sltrib.com/story.php?ref=/ci_11488045
Kitterman, Katherine. “Anna Belle Weakley, The Queen of Ogden’s 25th Street.” Better Days 2020. Accessed December 12, 2019. https://www.utahwomenshistory.org/bios/anna-belle-weakley/
Ogden Union Station © 2017. “AnnaBelle Weakley: Businesswoman & Community Builder.” Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive. Accessed December 12, 2019. https://www.utahhumanities.org/storiesOld/items/show/350
Saal, Mark. “Utah’s earliest black pioneers almost forgotten, but not completely.” Standard-Examiner. Accessed December 12, 2017. https://www.standard.net/news/local/utah-s-earliest-black-pioneers-almost-forgotten-but-not-completely/article_cce4d907-2c4f-52fe-803e-09f13d38fb7c.html