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William Ajax journals

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 1488

Scope and Contents

Contains holographs, photographs, and typescripts of journals, dated July 20 to December 27, 1861, and January 1, 1862 to December 31, 1863. The journals describe Ajax's activities as a missionary for the Mormon Church in England and Wales and include some newspaper clippings, part of which are from the Udgorn Seion, the Mormon publication in Wales. The clippings include British Mormon emigration statistics from 1841-1861. Ajax immigrated to the United States in 1862. Detailed diary entries describe the overland journey from Florence, Nebraska to Salt Lake City by ox team. Ajax comments on food, travelling conditions, and frequently mentions meeting Indians. He wrote exhaustively about a variety of aspects of the overland trail: its appearance, landmarks, and people. The journals also include an explanation of a phonographic alphabet system. Ajax writes about life in Utah and his service helping protect Brigham Young, second president of the Mormon Church.


  • 1861-1863


Conditions Governing Access

Condition restricted. Patrons should use photocopies or typescripts.Originals restricted. Photocopies and typescripts are for patron use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from Journals must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Board of Curators.

Biographical History

William Ajax (1832-1899) was a missionary, translator and editor for Mormon publications in Wales and England, and owned and operated a store and inn in Utah.

William Ajax was born on March 13, 1832, in Llantrisant, Wales, to Thomas Truman Ajax and Rebecka Darcus. However,he was raised by William and Frances Maxwell, whom he considered to be his father and mother, instead of his birth parents. He was briefly educated as a child but eventually became a farm hand from the age of ten to the age of fifteen, abandoning his academic education. He worked for railroads and coal mines until he was twenty-two years old. In November 1853 William joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Soon after his baptism he was called to be a missionary in Wales.

In 1859 William was called to be a translator and editor for the Church's Welsh periodical, "Udgorn Seion." This began a period of self-education for William. He taught himself Greek, Latin, and French while also studying English and other subjects. In March 1861 he moved to Liverpool, England, to work on the "Millennial Star" publication staff. On August 6, 1861, William and Emma Jemima Hughes were married. Together they emigrated to Utah and arrived there on October 5, 1861. Over the years William and Emma had nine children together. In Utah, William ran a general store and operated a successful inn. By 1893, Ajax had stopped considering himself a member of the Church, but he maintained positive feelings about Mormons and religion in general.

William Ajax died on October 2, 1899, in Centre, Utah (also known as Ajax, Utah).


2 v. ((14 items) + typescripts + photocopies)

Language of Materials



19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts.

Existence and Location of Copies

Photocopies of the diaries and associated materials held in Box 1, folders 1-3 are available in folders 4-8. Transcriptions are available in Box 2, folders 9-11.

Register of William Ajax journals
Amy Perez
2011 February 28
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States