Margaret McNeil Ballard was born 14 April 1846 in Tranent, East Lothian, Scotland to Thomas and Jeannette (Reid) McNeil. Her parents were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1848, and Margaret was baptized into the church by her father on 28 May 1854. In 1856 her family immigrated to the United States with other Latter-day Saints. After several delays, her family crossed the plains with the Saints and headed for Utah. While traveling with her family to Cache Valley she met Henry Ballard, her future husband. Several years later, she and Henry were married on 15 May 1861, shortly after he had become bishop of the Logan 2nd Ward. They made their home in Logan where they were quite involved in the community. After six years of marriage, her husband entered into the covenant of plural marriage and wed Margaret 's sister Emily on 4 October 1867. This was a trial for Margaret but she remained faithful throughout her life. When persecution of polygamist men in Utah was at its climax, Henry hid for a time, and then went on a mission to England, his homeland. He later returned to Utah, gave himself up to the authorities, and served his time in the Utah Penitentiary. Margaret had eleven children, however five died at fairly young ages. She also cared for many other people at various times, taking them into her home. In 1880 she was called as Relief Society President, a calling she held for 30 years, during which time she devoted herself to serving others. Margaret came to the aid of many in need, including some family members whom she anointed and blessed on several occasions. She lived a full and righteous life and died on 21 July 1918 in Logan, Utah.
This autobiography, written in 1917, is 59 typewritten pages. Some of the typing has faded, so the archive staff has retyped most of the pages in order to preserve it. Margaret writes about her early life in Scotland as a Mormon, including when she was baptized at age eight. Her family immigrated to the United States in 1856, and Margaret talks of her responsibilities as the oldest child (age 10) who cared for the other children while her mother was sick on the journey. Her family remained in Missouri for a few years then continued their migration to Utah in 1859. On the way measles broke out in their company; her family had several other delays, but they finally made it to Logan, Utah. She describes life in Logan including hardships with crops, grasshoppers, and Indians. She explains life as a polygamous wife and the trials she encountered after she was married. Great emphasis is given to her church duties and family experiences. She bears testimony of the gospel and tells spiritual experiences she had in her life, including an astounding healing story where she saved her son's life by putting his injured body in an herb plaster. A miraculous story about names being brought to her husband for temple work to be done is also described. Her sacrifice as an early Latter-day Saint is portrayed. Births, marriages, and deaths of her family are also recorded. The final two pages of the document are written by Margaret's great-granddaughter. It briefly covers Margaret's life and the end of her life. Included is a story about Margaret selling her beautiful long hair for money. The book Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard by Bryant S. Hinckley is mentioned as another source to find more stories about Margaret. (Melvin is one of Margaret's sons.) BX 8670.07. B212: This is a reproduction of the autobiography mentioned above. It contains the same information word for word, along with one page giving Margaret's birth and death information and a photograph of her. This version is 35 pages, single-spaced, typed, and bound, which is why it has fewer pages than the original. It is also divided into paragraphs making it more reader friendly. However, this version lacks the last page included in the previous manuscript where Margaret's great-granddaughter later added the story about Margaret cutting her hair.