Church History
Elizabeth Xavier Tait: From Poona to the Pioneer Trail
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Elizabeth Xavier Tait: From Poona to the Pioneer Trail

Elizabeth Xavier Tait

Elizabeth Xavier Tait, about 1860

Elizabeth Xavier Tait, an Indian woman with a Portuguese great-grandfather and a British husband, joined the Church in 1852 in Poona. She and her husband, William, were active in the branch there but longed to make the journey to Zion. In 1855 they joined a group of Saints who were making the voyage across the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco and from there to Utah. William loaded their possessions and their young son onto the ship, expecting Elizabeth to arrive shortly—only to learn from a missionary, minutes before departure, that Elizabeth’s mother had prevented her from coming. Undeterred by her family’s attempt to restrain her, Elizabeth booked passage on the next ship, even though it was bound across the Atlantic Ocean for New York City instead.

Elizabeth made the journey across the eastern United States with her infant daughter, who died in Iowa. After burying her baby, Elizabeth crossed the plains with the Willie handcart company, enduring hunger, fatigue, and cold like she had never known in India. Elizabeth survived the ordeal and was reunited with her husband as he and other members of the rescue party rushed out to bring the Willie and Martin companies in from the plains. William and Elizabeth Tait settled in Cedar City with their son, where Elizabeth taught school and had seven more children.