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Eli Wiggill autobiography

Identifier: MSS 9137

Content Description

Four-volume handwritten autobiography of Eli Wiggill. Includes an account of the emigration from England of the settlers of South Africa, the wars and events of South Africa, the arrival of missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in South Africa, immigration to the United States and travel on the Mormon Trail, the diamond works in South Africa, and an account of familial events in Utah. The record was created by Wiggill in 1883, one year prior to his death. Also includes a brief entry by his granddaughter Susie M. Dodge, written a few years after Wiggill's death.


  • 1883


Conditions Governing Access

Originals restricted due to condition. Patrons may access digital copies online or typescript in MSS 504.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to publish material from the Eli Wiggill autobiography must be obtained from the Supervisor of Reference Services and/or the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Coordinating Committee.

Biographical / Historical

Eli Wiggill (1811-1884) was a Mormon pioneer from England who joined the LDS Church in South Africa and migrated to Utah.

Eli Wiggill was born on November 5, 1810 or 1811 in Gloucestershire, England to Isaac Wiggill and Elizabeth Grimes. In the Winter of 1819-1820, his family migrated to South Africa where they were some of the first English settlers in that country. On February 20, 1831, Eli married Susannah Bentley in Grahamstown, South Africa, and they had nine children together. Eli worked as a wagon maker. In 1837 Eli began working as a preacher for the Methodist Wesleyan Church, for which had been a member since the 1820s, and later taught Sunday School and doing other work in building up the mission and teaching the native people of the area. They survived the Kaffir Rebellion (1835) and the War of the Axe (1850).

In 1857, Wiggill was introduced to missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized on March 1, 1858, along with his wife, Susannah, and daughter, then later re-baptized with many of his family on June 1, 1858. Wiggill would lead the branch of Latter-day Saints until February 1861, when he and his family migrated to Utah. The Wiggill family eventually settled in Kaysville, where Wiggill was involved in carpentry and farming.

In August 1869, Susannah Wiggill died of dysentery. Soon after this, Eli determined to return to South Africa, which he did as a missionary from from December 1869 to May 1873.

In 1873, Wiggill married Ann Brown Hammer.

Eli Wiggill died on April 13, 1884 and was buried in Kaysville, Utah.


4 folders (0.2 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Custodial History

Donated by Joanne P. McPheeters in 2018. McPheeters had the items in her possession since 1964. She received them from John E. Taylor, husband of Olive Lavina Ellison Taylor, great granddaughter of Eli Wiggill, upon the death of Taylor's wife. They have been passed down to Olive as a family heirloom.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Joanne P. McPheeters; April 2018.


LDS, Utah and the American West cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts collection development policy IV.a.i.1 and 4, November 2013).

Related Materials

A typed version of this autobiography is available in MSS 504.

Processing Information

Processed; Ryan K. Lee; 2018.

Register of Eli Wiggill autobiography
Ryan K. Lee
2018 April 24
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