Margaret McNiel Ballard was born 14 April 1846 in Tranent Village, East Lothian, Scotland to Thomas McNiel and Jannett Reid McNeil. Her family became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while still in Scotland and at age ten she made the journey with her family to gather with the Saints in Zion. First from Scotland to Liverpool, England then to America and finally the long trek across the plains to Utah finally settling in Logan. Upon their arrival the family struggled to provide for basic needs and were aided in their efforts by one, Henry Ballard whom Margaret married two years later on 5 May 1861. Together they started their family and served faithfully in many different church callings, especially when Henry served as Bishop and Margaret as Relief Society President. Margaret had eleven children, five of whom passed away as infants. Margaret helped in the construction of the Logan Temple along with the other women of the community preparing carpet for this new place of worship. Margaret experienced other hardships common in early pioneer life including strained Indian relations and the difficulties of the “grasshopper wars” as swarms of the insects devoured their precious crops. Margret spent all her life in the service of others administering to the poor and sick and raising a righteous family. She passed away in Logan, Utah on 21 July 1918.
This collection contains twenty-four typewritten manuscripts all of which are biographies or autobiographies of pioneers who helped to settle Logan, Utah. The collection is entitled “Early Recollections of Logan”. The fourth manuscript in the collection is a six typewritten page autobiography by Margaret McNiel Ballard. She begins her autobiography with the place of her birth and her baptism then describes her family’s journey to Utah including some brief stories of their trek across the plains. Margaret describes her family’s first couple years in Logan and the work she engaged in to help support her family. She mentions her wedding and some of the hardships her family encountered as early pioneer settlers of Logan. Her autobiography ends in 1866 as she describes how the family would gather hops at the river bottom to earn some extra money to make it possible for them “to buy a few extra things”. The recount then abruptly ends. The autobiography is clear and coherent following a chronological order. The short, but expressive, autobiography gives the reader a sense of the strength of this early pioneer woman.