Church History
Ida Hunt Udall

“Ida Hunt Udall,” Church History Topics

“Ida Hunt Udall”

Ida Hunt Udall

Ida Hunt was born on March 8, 1858, in a covered wagon in the middle of a heavy snowstorm, near Cedar City, Utah.1 Her parents, John and Lois Hunt, raised Ida in Beaver, Utah, near her grandmother Louisa Barnes Pratt. In her late teens Ida moved with her family to New Mexico and later to eastern Arizona. She was a gifted singer and often worked as a bookkeeper or teacher. She served as the first president of the Snowflake Stake’s Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association and in 1882 taught the young women to seek divine revelation. “We will have to work out our own salvation,” she said, “and not rely on anyone but the Lord.”2

On May 26, 1882—just two months after the passage of the Edmunds Act, which had declared polygamy a felony—Ida was sealed to David K. Udall as his second wife.3 She had agonized over the decision, knowing the marriage would mean sharing David with his first wife, Ella, who accompanied the two on the journey to the St. George temple in Utah. The United States government’s campaign against polygamists forced Ida to spend most of her marriage, from 1883 to 1892, away from her husband. Ida moved often to avoid attention, and she suffered from poor health. She was lonely, afraid of persecution, and worried about her relationship with Ella, as they sometimes resented each other. Over time, however, the two developed a close relationship.4 “In striving to obey the commandments of God, with a pure motive I had everything to live for,” Ida wrote of her experience in plural marriage. “No matter how severe the trial, what a privilege to pass through it, in such a glorious cause.”5

The Udalls experienced extreme poverty in Arizona, and David, who served as president of the St. John’s Stake, was frequently away on Church and civic business. Ida had six children, whom she helped support through farming, keeping a cooperative store, homesteading, and careful frugality.6 In 1908, when she was 50, Ida suffered a stroke (her third) that left one side of her body paralyzed. Her daughter, Pauline Udall Smith, and her son-in-law, Asahel Smith, cared for her over the next seven years until her death on April 26, 1915.7

Related Topics: Antipolygamy Legislation, Louisa Barnes Pratt


  1. Louisa Barnes Pratt, memoirs, 1858–1859, in S. George Ellsworth, ed., The History of Louisa Barnes Pratt: Being the Autobiography of a Mormon Missionary Widow and Pioneer (Logan: Utah State University Press, 1998), 268.

  2. Snowflake Arizona Stake Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association minutes and records, volume 1, December 30, 1882, 7, Church History Library, Salt Lake City. See also Topic: Young Women Organizations.

  3. Maria S. Ellsworth, ed., Mormon Odyssey: The Story of Ida Hunt Udall, Plural Wife (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 3–18; Eastern Arizona Stake, Manuscript History and Historical Reports, Church History Library, Salt Lake City; Snowflake Arizona Stake Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association minutes and records, vol. 1, 22.

  4. Pearl Udall Nelson, Arizona Pioneer Mormon: David King Udall; His Story and His Family (Tucson: Arizona Silhouettes, 1959), 97–105.

  5. Ida Hunt Udall, journal, May 21, 1882, 26, Church History Library, Salt Lake City.

  6. Roberta Flake Clayton, Catherine H. Ellis, and David F. Boone, eds., Pioneer Women of Arizona, 2nd ed. (Provo, Utah: BYU Religious Studies Center, 2017), 744–45.

  7. Clayton, Ellis, and Boone, Pioneer Women of Arizona, 745–46.