About the Collection
Alexander Walter Wright
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Alexander Walter Wright was born on 27 February 1860 in Millcreek, Salt Lake County, Utah, to Alexander Wright and Hannah Walters, the second of six children. At a young age the family moved to Virgin City, Washington County, Utah, where Alexander was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 30 September 1868. On 24 February 1886 he married Emma Elizabeth Reeve in St. George, Utah, and two years later the young couple moved to Bloomington, Millard County, Utah, which was renamed Hinckley in 1891. Emma played a prominent role in the church organization in Hinckley, presiding over the Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association and serving as first counselor in the Relief Society. The records are silent as to Alexander’s employment or civic and church responsibilities, although he likely engaged in farming or ranching.
In June 1902 Alexander and Emma received a call to serve a mission to New Zealand, which they accepted “knowing that it was from Our Father in Heaven.”1 They were facing financial difficulties at this time, but “the Lord opened up the way…to get means to take [them] to [their] field of labor.”2 They left home on 25 June 1902 and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand a month later; Alexander and Emma were then assigned to different districts and spent much of the rest of their missions apart from each other. Alexander was appointed to labor in the Hawks Bay District; during his first meeting with the native Maori saints he remembered: “The spirit of the Lord was there I was so overcome with the spirit that I could hardly speak.”3 For most of his mission, however, he worked among the European settlers.
Alexander labored diligently during his two years in New Zealand, tracting, holding meetings, and visiting families; he also baptized two people into the church. His devotion to the work is evident in his journal, where on one occasion he recorded: “I went in to my closet and told the Lord that I was going out on his work and that if I met any that was honest in heart that I would have the chance to bear my testimony to them and I am thankful to say that I had the chance to tell the gospel to one lady [today].”4 In March 1904 an unexpected event occurred when Emma and Alexander adopted a baby that was neglected by its parents. Of this Emma wrote in her diary: “We had been praying and asking for the Lord to direct us in the matter [and] we both felt that we would like to take the child and also that it would be alright.”5 Having obtained their release after two years of service, the Wrights left New Zealand with their new baby on 2 September 1904 and journeyed home.
Alexander Walter Wright died on 23 June 1906 at home in Hinckley.
1 Emma Reeve Wright, “Diary, 1902–1903,” June 1902, MSS 1592, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Alexander Walter Wright, “Diary, 1902–1903,” 26 June 1902, MSS 1592, LTPSC.
3 Ibid., 3 August 1902.
4 Ibid., 10 October 1902.
5 Emma Wright, “Diary, 1904,” 2 March 1904, MSS 1592, LTPSC.
Ancestry World Tree Project. Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com Inc., 2003. 6 February 2003 available from http://www.ancestry.com/trees/awt/main.htm
Stout, Wayne Dunham. A History of Hinckley, Utah: 1858–1973. Salt Lake City: Wayne Stout, 1973.
Wright, Alexander Walter. “Diaries, 1902–1904,” MSS 1592, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.