Judith Oviatt Wilcox was born March 22, 1841 in Kirtland, Lake County, Ohio to Ira and Ruth Bennett Oviatt, after they had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The family was driven from Kirtland to settle in Nauvoo, and she and her family were among the first to begin the trek west. Her father was called on a mission to stay at Winter Quarters to aid in preparations for the trek (shoeing oxen, making iron for wagon tires, and fixing up outfits), and consequently, the family did not reach Utah until October 5, 1851. They spent the winter in Centerville before moving into a three-room log house in Farmington. In 1861, Judith married James David Wilcox as his second wife. Three days after their first child was born, Judith's father died. She later went west of town, homesteading, and there, had four children. She also made brooms for money. She died November 12, 1918.
This is a three-page typescript biography written by Judith's granddaughter and located in the sixth folder of the Margaret Steed Hess collection. The wilderness of Council Bluffs is detailed as Judith's granddaughter writes of the many hardships: two children were born there, and the family resided in a partly finished log cabin that lacked a roof, windows, and doors. For warmth, some buffalo skins were placed on the bed. Despite these hardships, the children and the mother survived. During the trek west, Judith walked and helped her brother drive a small herd of sheep. She also brought with her a pet cat, which walked and rode during the journey. It was lost, however, in a rushed moment when the saints were worried the Indians were coming. After arriving in Utah, Judith's father and all her brothers worked as blacksmiths. There, friendly Indians would help the saints wash by the river. Later, however, Judith's uncles Henry and Franklin and their families were called to go south to help San Pete County. They stayed there for several years, but Franklin died not long after. Judith's father and mother helped raise his three children, and they later on even helped to organize the second Sunday School in Utah. The manuscript details some marshals who were after Judith's husband, probably because of polygamy. The family moved to Newton, Cache County where Judith's sister lived. There, Judith's husband was going to work with some of Judith's brothers on the farm, but he hurt his leg so badly that he could not offer any help. Judith remained there, but James returned to Farmington. While he was gone, one of her baby boys grew extremely sick, and as he grew, his body was deformed. The bishop was called and asked to pray for the child to die, but the bishop instead blessed him to be healed, and he was, though he remained a cripple. Judith served as the Relief Society treasurer for several years, made and pieced dozens of quilts for her family and friends, knit lace, and spent time with the sick. She also knit sweaters and socks for the soldiers during World War I, as she had a son and five grandsons in service at the time. The manuscript also describes Judith's love for flowers, as she always had beautiful flowers wherever she moved.