Edward Phillips was born April 2, 1813 in Oxenhall, Gloucestershire, England the son of William and Mary Ann Presdee Phillips.1 At the age of twelve his father died and he was left in the care of his mother. As a teenager, Edward worked on a farm at Credle in Herefordshire and also learned the skills of a blacksmith.
As a young man, Edward was religiously inclined and he associated himself with the United Brethren
under the leadership of Father Thomas Kingston. Edward and his mother were members of the United Brethren
congregation until missionaries representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints preached in
the vicinity of their hometown. Edward listened to the message of the LDS missionaries and was soon
convinced that he should join this new church. He first heard Wilford Woodruff preach at Ridgeway Cross,
England in March of 1840. Apostle Woodruff baptized him a few days after their initial meeting.2
Edward’s mother and sister, Susannah, followed him into the LDS Church. Susannah was married to John Hyrum Green and John and Edward were very close friends although John was Edward’s senior by about twelve years.
In 1841, the Phillips’ immigrated to America. Of this trip, Edward later wrote:
“I left my home to immigrate to America. I went to Gloucester and in company with 100 saints went to Bristol and boarded the Caroline for America. We set sail for Quebec August 8, 1841. We had a tedious voyage of eight weeks and three days, but landed safely. Thomas Richardson was our president. From Quebec, we went to Montreal by steamer and from Montreal through the lock to Kingston and then we sailed along Lake Ontario to Lewiston. We had a fine view of the city of Toronto. From Lewiston we boarded a train (which was drawn by mules) for Niagara Falls. There we tarried one night and had a fine view of the beautiful falls. The next day, we boarded the train for Buffalo and arrived at that place after dark. We put up at the Farmer’s Exchange for a week. We then boarded the Chesapeake for where now stands the great city of Chicago. We hired a man to take us from there to Nauvoo with a team which contract he filled. We arrived in Nauvoo in the latter part of October, 1841 on Saturday…”3
In Nauvoo, Edward quarried rock for the Nauvoo Temple and in the course of time became acquainted with Miss Hannah Simmons who became his wife on August 2, 1842.4
In Edward’s obituary it is reported that:
“Brother Phillips was a member of the Nauvoo Legion, and during the severe trials, which culminated in the martyrdom of the Prophet and the expulsion of the Saints from Illinois, he was active in doing what was in his power to sustain his brethren and sisters; and later, when the departure of the Mormon Battalion took from the exiled Saints their young and able-bodied men, leaving women and children almost destitute, he was one who acted as a protector and supporter of the widows and father to the fatherless.”5
During the exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois in 1846, Edward and his family moved west to Council Point, Iowa Territory where they resided until they could join a wagon train bound for the west.
At the age of thirty-six, Edward along with his family joined the Samuel Gully/Orson Spencer wagon train Company of LDS pioneers. The Gully/Spencer Company departed from Iowa Territory in the spring of 1849 and arrived in the valley of the Great Salt Lake on September 22-24, 18496. The Gully/Spencer Company had approximately one hundred wagons and started its journey from an outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa Territory (present day Council Bluffs, Iowa). The family settled temporarily in Great Salt Lake City until Edward and his brother-in-law John Hyrum Green explored the region that is now within the boundaries of the cities of Kaysville and Layton, Utah.
Edward Phillips acted as a first counselor to LDS Bishop William Kay from 1851 to 1856. It was at a meeting in his log cabin along Sandy Creek that the first LDS ward in Kaysville was organized. In 1858, Edward participated in the “general move” of the Saints south. He married a second wife Martha Taylor on April 9, 1854 in Salt Lake City. She bore him three children and he was the father of fifteen children by his first wife Hannah. He lived in Kaysville throughout his long life, a prominent citizen, active in civic and church affairs, honored and revered by an entire community.7
Edward Phillips died in Kaysville on December 1, 1896. He was buried in the Kaysville City Cemetery.8
1LDS Church, Family History Library, Ancestral File, Family Group Sheet—Edward Phillips.
2Daughter of the Utah Pioneers, manuscript, History of Edward Phillips, 1947.
3Phillips, Edward, Autobiographical sketch (formerly in MSD 2050), p. l, LDS Church, Historical Department.
4LDS Church, Family History Library, Ancestral File, Family Group Sheet—Edward Phillips.
5Deseret News, Obituary, January 2, 1897.
7The Weekly Reflex, May 6, 1920.
8Kaysville City Cemetery Records.