Title

From South Africa to Salt Lake City: Eli Wiggill, the Latter-day Saints, and the World of Religion, 1810-1883

Keywords

British Empire; Cape Colony; Latter-day Saint; mission history; Mormons; Salt Lake City; Wesleyan Church; Xhosa; 1820 settlers.

Abstract

This article is a distillation of the autobiography of Eli Wiggill written in 1883. Born in Gloucestershire, England, 1810, his father Isaac Wiggill and mother Elizabeth Grimes, were among the first group of British settlers who arrived in the Cape Colony in 1820 with Eli. This article highlights Wiggill's wide-ranging experiences in southern Africa until his departure to Salt Lake City in 1861. Wiggill vividly describes three decades which include several years as a Wesleyan Methodist missionary in Bechuanaland, mention of the extinction of slavery (1834), the Xhosa wars, as well as his conversion to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1858) and his ecclesiastical service as a church leader in Port Elizabeth (1860). Wiggill's narrative also provides an account of his immigration to Utah (1861) as well as his experiences when he lived in Salt Lake City and Kaysville, Utah, during the decade of the 1860s. It further records his return to South Africa as a missionary "to see his friends" in late 1869 until his return in 1873. Wiggill provides an authentic voice which deserves to be heard. His autobiography provides a vivid description of life among the earliest British settlers in the Cape as well as the early beginnings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Southern Africa just over two decades after the Church was organised in upstate New York.

Original Publication Citation

Fred E. Woods, ““From South Africa to Salt Lake City: Eli Wiggill, the Latter-day Saints, and the World of Religion, 1810-1883,” vol. 64, no. 2, Historia, (May 2019), 1-22.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2019-5

Language

English

College

Religious Education

Department

Church History and Doctrine

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor

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