Emma Eckersley Stoddard was born June 5, 1846, in Lancashire, England, to parents Joseph Eckersley and Alice Hulme. Because of the family's dire financial circumstances, Emma received no educational training. From eight years old to twelve, Emma was hired out to nurse small children. Because of her skill in weaving, Emma was sent to work in a silk factory until the age of 17. In May of 1863, the Eckersley family traveled to America. They crossed the plains in just over nine weeks, arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah in autumn. The family then moved north to Wellsville, and at eighteen years of age Emma was married to John Stoddard as his second wife. When his first wife died, Emma took responsibility of the other wife's four children, as well as her own three. In total, Emma had twelve children, however five died in infancy and two passed away in adulthood. When Emma was about eighty, she came to live with her daughter, Sarah Ballard in Salt Lake, then moved to Logan with Sarah Ballard at the passing of Sarah's husband. Emma contracted rheumatic fever at the age of 82. Emma died on January 27, 1936.
A part of the Mary Ellen Stoddard Smith collection, a four-pa1ge typescript biography, is located in the thirty-eighth folder of the collection. The first part of the document is a recounting of Emma's life in the first person for the Daughter of the Pioneers [sic]. In this part of the document Emma describes her journey across the Atlantic and the plains. She also describes how shortly after her marriage to John Stoddard, his first wife passed away, leaving her with very poor financial circumstances and the responsibility of seven children. Emma also portrays deep grief over the death of her son, George, and her daughter, Jesse. She describes herself as someone who "prefers to live alone where I am contended and happy" and "does her own house work." The second part of the manuscript is an insertion of her granddaughter, Jesse Eccles Quinney, which describes the rest of Emma's life. Emma was not happy to move from her home, and when she contracted rheumatic fever she thought she was dying, and had to be convinced otherwise. Later on, the insertion describes that a large party was thrown for Emma, in which five of her children; close relatives, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were there. Jesse goes on to describe Emma as a "little person with a fine sense of humor and great appreciation." Her grandson, David Izatt Stoddard, writes the third part of the manuscript. He describes the first time he met his grandmother. He establishes that Emma was a wonderful cook and he particularly loved her vanilla wafer cookies. Emma's physical appearance is described as conservative in dress, long black hair, which was black until she was over seventy years of age, and precise in her movements. She also made place mats for all of her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. In her later years, she became quite deaf. Finally, he describes that her faith was unwavering in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The final part of the manuscript is the obituary of Emma, which appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune.