Mormon Missionary Diaries
About the Collection
Mary Jane Dilworth Hammond
by Brian A. Warburton
Mary Jane Dilworth Hammond was born 29 July 1831 in Uwchlan, Chester County, Pennsylvania, to Caleb Dilworth and Eliza Wollerton. She with her family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), Mary being baptized 18 June 1845, and in 1846 they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, to join the main body of saints. The Mormons were driven from their homes in Nauvoo at about the time the Dilworth’s arrived and the family joined the rest of the saints moving west. They spent the winter of 1846-47 in Winter Quarters, Nebraska and on 17 June 1847 they joined the Jedediah M. Grant Company of pioneers and left for the Salt Lake Valley on 19 June 1847. After a long, rigorous journey they arrived in Salt Lake on 4 October 1847. Shortly after arriving Mary became the first School teacher in Salt Lake. Her school house was a small tent in the corner of the fort. The children used logs for chairs and there were few books or supplies for Mary to instruct her students.1
On 17 November 1848, at the age of seventeen, Mary married Francis Asbury Hammond. Francis had been converted to the LDS church in California and had recently arrived in Salt Lake. Mary bore her first child on 15 September 1850 and soon after Francis was called to serve a mission to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii). Mary with their six month old child accompanied her husband to the Sandwich Islands, arriving in Honolulu August 1851. They were subsequently sent to Lahaina on the island of Maui.2
While her husband preached the gospel and performed other missionary activities, Mary taught school. She became close with the native people and many of the natives even called her “mother.”3 Mary kept a journal during the years 1853–1855 which gives great insight into the lonely life of a missionary’s wife, in the nineteenth century. “All alone with the children. Mr. Hammond at meeting quite lonely think a great deal of home.”4 Mary gave birth to two children while in Hawaii and she worked hard keeping house and teaching school. Despite being lonely she was very busy, “all well school half a day washed ironed cleaned house expecting M. Hammond but he did not come wattred the garden and pulled some cowcumbers so ends this day.”5
Mary also spent time helping care for some of the other missionaries that did not have their wives with them. Many times in her journal she mentioned sewing, or repairing clothes, fixing dinners and providing places to sleep for the other missionaries. One of those missionaries, George Q. Cannon later said that she was “a sister” to them.6
Mary obviously had a deep conviction of the work her husband was doing and often commented on the importance of his mission and her desires for the success of the church on the islands. “Mr. Hammond shoemaking I do not like to see him working for that is not his mission when he is off preashing then I feel the best.”7 In July 1855 the Hammonds were finally released from their mission, but they did not arrive back in the United States until March 1856. They then spent the winter in San Bernadino, California and finally arrived back in the Salt Lake Valley in the summer of 1857.
In 1859 the Hammonds moved to Ogden, Utah where they lived until 1865 when Francis was called back to the Sandwich Islands. Francis served a short mission and returned that same fall. While Francis was gone Mary and her children spent the summer in Salt Lake City. After Francis returned the family moved to Huntsville, Utah where Francis was called to be the bishop and Mary was called to be the first Relief Society President.8 In the next few years Mary dealt with the death of two of her children and her mother.9 She gave birth to her twelfth child in May 1877 and only two weeks later Mary passed away on 6 June 1877; she was forty-six years old.
1 Kate B. Carter, Heart Throbs of the West, (Salt Lake city: Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, 1940), 2:113.
2 Julia Ann Oldroyd, “A Mighty Woman in Zion: The Roles of Mary Jane Dilworth Hammond as an LDS Missionary Wife in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii” (Honors thesis. , Brigham Young University, 1993) , 2.
3 Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, vol. 4, (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon, 1904) , 326.
4 Francis Asbury Hammond, “Papers, 1851–1901,” MSS 18, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University. Mary’s journal is included in the collection of her husband Francis Hammond. A typescript of the journal can also be found in the book by Julia Oldroyd, already noted. 1 May 1853.
5 Ibid., 28 May 1853.
6 Whitney., 326.
7 Hammond., 8 November 1853.
8 Whitney., 326.
9 Oldroyd., 39.
Britsch, R. Lanier. Unto the Islands of the Sea: A History of the Latter-day Saints in the Pacific. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986.
Carter, Kate B. ed. Heart Throbs of the West. Vol. 2, Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1951.
Oldroyd, Julia Ann. “A Mighty Woman in Zion: the Roles of Mary Jane Dilworth Hammond as an LDS Missionary wife in Nineteenth-Century Hawaii.” Honors Thesis , Brigham Young University, 1993.
Hammond, Francis Asbury. “Papers, 1851–1901,” MSS 18, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
Whitney, Orson F. History of Utah. Vol. 4, Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon, 1904.