Skip to main content

William Thomas Stewart autobiography and diary

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: MSS 6638

Scope and Contents

In the first 43 pages of his diary, Stewart documents: the settlement of Kanab, Utah; childhood spiritual experiences; the establishment of the United Order in Kanab; interactions with the Navajo; life and work on the range; the death of his first wife, Rachel Hamblin Stewart; his subsequent marriage to Fannie Little; his later plural marriage to Mary Udall; his election as County Prosecuting Attorney in Kane County, Utah; and the death of his second wife, Fannie Little Stewart. Stewart describes in detail the geography of the Colorado plateau region, and on page 43 of his diary, he discusses his Mormon mission call to New Zealand. A voracious reader, Stewart also makes reference to books and authors read, including Herbert Spencer and Joseph LeConte.

The Stewart diary chronicle his mission to New Zealand (pages 44–157). Pages 44–52 include Stewart's descriptions of his rail journey from Utah to California, and his departure from San Francisco harbor; particularly interesting are his descriptions of the California landscape, and Sacramento and San Francisco. Pages 53–57 include descriptions of his sea voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu. Page 58 documents Stewart's stay in the Sandwich Islands and his visit to Honolulu. Pages 59–64 document Stewart's sea voyage to Auckland, New Zealand. Pages 65–157 include detailed descriptions of his Mormon mission.


  • approximately 1883


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical History

William Thomas Stewart (18532-1935) was one of the first Mormon missionaries called to serve in New Zealand, and the first Mormon missionary to learn Maori.

William Thomas Stewart was born October 18, 1853 in the Salt Lake City area, to Levi Stewart and Margery Wilkerson Stewart. In 1870, William's father, Levi, was called by Mormon Church President Brigham Young to relocate to Kanab, Utah. Soon thereafter, William, with members of his family, moved to Kanab, Utah. On December 14, 1870, William lost his mother and five siblings in a house fire in Kanab.

On September 22, 1873, William married Rachel Tamar Hamblin in Salt Lake City, Utah. They had two children, Maud Rachel Stewart and Thomas Hamblin Stewart. In 1876, William with business partners Lawrence Mariger and David Udall, established a merchantile company in Kanab; they later established a co-operative store. In 1876, William was asked to serve a mission to the Zuni. In addition, he also worked with the Navajo Councils. In 1877, his wife Rachel died, soon after giving birth to their second child. William later married Fannie Maria Little in the St. George Temple on May 29, 1879. Approximately one year later, William married Mary Ann Udall in the St. George Temple on August 16, 1880. William and his second wife Fannie had two children, Tamar Stewart and Fannie Stewart. Fannie Stewart died December 22, 1882, one week after the birth of her second child. William and Mary Ann had nine children: William Thomas Jr., Sumner Udall, David Levi, Raymond, Carlos, Margery, Paul Edward, Marion King, and Mary.

William was an avid reader, and enjoyed studying Mormon Church history and doctrine, the law, history, English, and science. In 1878 he was asked to serve as a recorder in the St. George Temple, and in 1880 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Kane County; an office he was re-elected to in 1887. In January 1883, William was asked to serve a Mormon mission to New Zealand, and in July of 1883, he was asked to preside over the Australasian Mission. He served for three years during which time he learned the Maori language. He returned home in 1886.

Five years later, in 1891, he was asked to return to New Zealand to serve as Mission President. He was formally released from his second mission in 1893. Soon after his return, he held public office in Kanab, but soon relocated his family to the Pahranagat Valley in Lincoln County, Nevada, where he ranched and farmed. Approximately ten years later the family relocated to Alamo, Nevada, where William established first a branch and later a ward of the Church. In Alamo, William was elected Justice of the Peace in 1909, a position he held until 1932. In 1922 he and his wife Mary Ann were asked to serve as Mormon temple workers in the St. George Temple.

William Thomas Stewart died August 19, 1935 in Alamo, Nevada. His third wife, Mary Ann, died the following year on April 25, 1936.


1 box (0.25 linear ft.)

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

More detailed finding aid available in repository.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated; Merwin Stewart; 2008.


This collection lends insight to early Mormon history in New Zealand and the life of early colonizers in Southern Utah.

Utah and the American West and LDS cultural, social, and religious history (19th Century Western and Mormon Manuscripts collection development policy 5.VII, August 2007).

Stewart was one of the first Mormon missionaries to proselytize among the Maori, and one of the first to learn Maori. In addition, he was one of the earliest Mormon mission presidents in New Zealand. His diary is an important document that chronicles early Mormon history in New Zealand.

Stewart penned three mission diaries; the one in the repository is the only extant diary, however. Stewart's diary will be of great interest to scholars and students of New Zealand LDS Church and mission history; New Zealand and Maori history; LDS Church history; the history of polygamy; Mormon-Native American relations; Utah environmental and ranching history; and the history of Mormon settlement in Southern Utah, and Kanab, Utah.

Processing Information

Processed; John M. Murphy, Curator; 2009.

Conservation work; Pamela Barrios; 2009. At the time of donation, the spine of the William Thomas Stewart diary was missing; individual pages were detached; staples were rusted; and torn pages had been repaired with transparent tape. To conserve the diary, rusty staples were removed, the binding was repaired, the diary was re-sewn, transparent tape was removed, individual pages cleaned, and a phase box was made to house the item.

Register of William Thomas Stewart autobiography and diary
John M. Murphy, curator and encoded by Elizabeth Ballif, student processor
2009 October 9
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