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Emma Wartstill Mecham Nielson diary

 Item — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSS 601
Image of Emma Wartstill Mecham Nielson diary
Image of Emma Wartstill Mecham Nielson diary

Scope and Contents

Contains the original handwritten diary of Emma Wartstill (or Waitstill) Mecham Nielson that includes the time period from 1887 to 1916, with diary entries spanning from 1887 to 1897 and financial records spanning from 1914 to 1916. Diary is during the seven-month period Nielson was living by herself with her children in St. George, Utah, her daily activities as a mother and active church member, and her relationship with her fellow plural wife. Dated 1887 to 1916.


  • 1887-1916


Conditions Governing Access

Originals are restricted due to poor condition. Digital copy available online for public use. Transcriptions are also available for public use.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Emma Wartstill Mecham Nielson (1858-1920) was a plural wife and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Emma Wartstill (or Waitstill) Mecham Nielson born in Tooele, Utah on October 18, 1858 to Joseph Mecham Jr. and Ann Elizabeth Bovee. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In her service to the Church she was a teacher and a secretary. Emma married Frihoff Godfrey Nielson on October 20, 1877 in Morgan, Utah and they had nine children together. In 1887 her husband took a plural wife by the name of Mary Ellen Everett. The family resided in Ramah, New Mexico, but also lived for periods of time in St. George, Utah, and St. Johns, Arizona. Emma was very active in the Relief Society, the Primary Association, and the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association. She died January 15, 1920, in Mesa, Arizona.

Biographical / Historical

Frihoff Godfrey Nielson (1851-1935) was a pioneer, missionary, and leader in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Frihoff Godfrey Nielson was born on 3 May 1851 in Copenhagen, Denmark, to Peter T. Neilson and Maria Helene Frederikka Posemann. In 1854 Frihoff’s parents were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Frihoff was baptized by his father in 1859. At the age of ten Frihoff emigrated with his family to America on the ship Monarch of the Sea, and crossed the great plains in the Samuel W. Wooley company, arriving in Salt Lake City on 22 September 1861. The following year they settled in Peterson, Morgan County, Utah. Starting in 1874 he began to teach school during the winter months and also served as Sunday School superintendent and home missionary for the Church. In 1876 Frihoff was called to assist in the settlement of the Little Colorado River in Apache County, Arizona. After arriving, Frihoff helped establish the community of Sunset, where he again worked as school teacher and served in the Sunday School and home missionary programs of the Church. He married Emma Waitstill Mecham on 20 October 1877, in Morgan County, Utah with whom he had nine children. In 1884 they moved from Sunset to Ramah, McKinley County, New Mexico. Here Frihoff took a second wife, Mary Ellen Everett, on 3 February 1887, and five children resulted from this union. In 1894 the Nielsons relocated to Bluewater, Valencia County, New Mexico, where they farmed and raised livestock.

On 22 July 1899 Frihoff received a call to serve as a missionary in the Northern States Mission. After arriving in Chicago, Frihoff was assigned to the Southern Illinois Conference, with headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri. After nearly two years as a missionary, Frihoff was released and returned home on 27 September 1901. Frihoff continued farming and also served as first counselor in the bishopric, ward clerk, and presiding elder of the Bluewater Ward. In November 1919 he moved to Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona, but just months later Frihoff’s first wife, Emma, passed away. In Mesa he obtained work at a lumber yard, but this employment was soon terminated and he returned to New Mexico. During the 1920s he engaged in farming and ranching and also served civically as county commissioner and postmaster. In October 1927 Frihoff and Mary were called to be ordinance workers in the Mesa Temple, an appointment that they held until Mary passed away on 29 December 1934. Frihoff Godfrey Jenson passed away less than two weeks later, on 9 January 1935.


3 folders (0.15 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History


Immediate Source of Acquisition



LDS cultural, family, social, intellectual, mission, and religious history (19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts collecting development policy, V, b, v, 1; March 2020)

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copy available online. Transcriptions available in folder 2 and folder 3.

Processing Information

Processed; Meghan Hoesch; March 2020. Transcription added.

Register of Emma Wartstill Mecham Nielson diary
Garrett Schroath
2011 March 25
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