Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Emma Elizabeth Reeve
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Emma Elizabeth Reeve was born on 19 February 1868 at Duncan’s Retreat, Kane County, Utah, to Robert Wayne Reeve and Emma Burgess. She was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of eight on 11 June 1876. On 24 February 1886 she married Alexander Walter Wright in St. George, Washington County, 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.
In June 1902 Emma and Alexander received an invitation to serve a mission for the LDS Church to New Zealand. They quickly “accepted the call knowing that it was from Our Father in Heaven,”1 even though they were facing financial difficulties at this time. As Emma described in her journal, “with the help of the kind people of Hinckley the way was opened..through the overruling power of the Lord.”2 They left home on 25 June 1902 and arrived in Auckland, New Zealand a month later; Alexander and Emma were soon given different assignments and spent much of the rest of their missions apart from each other.
Emma immediately began learning the Maori language in order to labor among those people, but found this to be a difficult task. After attending a Sunday meeting after a few weeks of studying she reported, “Was not able to understand any thing…and in spite of all efforts my mind would run longingly back to my dear mountain home far far away.”3 Emma persevered, however, and soon became heavily involved in her new calling as president of the New Zealand Relief Society. In this capacity she traveled extensively among the natives and noted that “the more I labor with this people the more I learn to love them.”4
In March 1904 an unexpected event occurred when Emma and Alexander adopted a sick 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 Much of the remainder of her mission was spent in caring for this infant. A common journal entry from this period reads, “Did little washing but Baby being very fretful I could not do much else.”6 Six months later, 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.
Little is known of Emma’s life following her return to Hinckley. After the death of her first husband in 1906 she married Willis Eugene Robison on 12 February 1908. They were soon blessed with two children, Eva and Franklin, but Emma’s untimely passing occurred on 15 May 1914 at the age of forty-six.
1 Emma Reeve Wright, “Diary, 1902-1903,” June 1902, MSS 1592, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
3 Ibid, 17 August 1902.
4 Ibid., 15 September 1902.
5 Emma Wright, “Diary, 1904,” 2 March 1904, MSS 1592, LTPSC.
6 Ibid., 15 April 1904.
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.