Wilford Woodruff was laboring as a missionary in Staffordshire, England, and enjoying great success when one evening in early March 1840, he was surprised at a strong impression that he needed to leave the area.
Woodruff spent some time in prayer after the meeting and received a further impression to travel south. An early convert from Staffordshire, William Benbow, took him to his brother’s farm in Herefordshire. There, Wilford Woodruff had one of the most remarkable missionary experiences in the history of the Church. He started by preaching at John Benbow farm’s and ended up baptizing more than 1,800 men, women, and children over the course of the next few months, including 600 members of a sect called the United Brethren, formerly members of the Primitive Methodist Church. Wilford Woodruff wrote to another missionary, “I cannot do the work alone. I am called to Baptize 4 or 5 times a day. I want no better man than yourself to connect and labor with me here & help me reep [sic] this mighty harvest.”
Part of that mighty harvest, a woman baptized during that historic month of March 1840, was eighteen-year-old Eliza Ann Grazen. Was Eliza one of the members of the United Brethren? It’s likely, due to her baptismal date. A family story notes that Eliza’s father opposed her baptism, and when she was baptized he disowned her. In response, she changed her surname to her mother’s maiden name and was thereafter known as Eliza Ann Brace, but her descendants are still trying to confirm her parents’ identities.
Eliza worked in Hereford until she joined more than 550 Saints in the fall of 1842 on a voyage to America. The Saints travelled in three ships, Medford, Sidney, and Henry. Eliza probably sailed on the Medford. Also on the ship were her friend Ann Green Dutson (later Carling) and a young convert named Wilson Lund.
Apostle Orson Hyde was returning to Nauvoo from his mission to dedicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews, and he presided over the Saints on the Medford. After they arrived in Nauvoo, Wilson Lund and Eliza Brace were married by Orson Hyde, and they named their first son after him.
Wilson set to work cutting stone for the Nauvoo Temple. After the temple was finished, he and Eliza received their endowments there.
When the Saints left Nauvoo, Wilson Lund and a friend, William Adams, took their families and headed north to cut stone in New Diggins, Wisconsin. After the job was done, Wilson returned to Illinois to help cut stone for the new state capitol building in Springfield.
The Lunds finally saved enough to finance their trip west and joined the 1850 Warren Foote Pioneer Company. Their party consisted of a wagon, two young sons, an extra person whose identity has been lost to history, and eight cattle. Also along on the journey were Wilson’s sister and brother-in-law, Ann and Isaac Hunter, and other friends.
The Lunds settled in Salt Lake City and Wilson again used his skills to cut stone for the Salt Lake Temple. On October 19, 1862, Brigham Young called Wilson Lund to help settle Southern Utah, and there he helped cut the stone for the St. George Tabernacle and Temple.
On the way to settle in St. George, Eliza, who was expecting her ninth child, became very ill. She and her two youngest daughters stayed in Fillmore, Utah, while Wilson and his second wife, Ellen Nielsen Lund, and the other children of the family went ahead to St. George.
For the duration of her pregnancy and until she was able to travel after her daughter was born, Eliza most likely stayed with her friend Ann Green Dutson Carling, who was also from Hereford and had also traveled on the Medford. Ann was a midwife and herbal nurse. Their shared experiences and Ann’s tender service forged lasting ties of affection: forty years later Eliza was sealed to Ann and her husband in the St. George Temple.
Life was difficult in early St. George. Starvation and disease were common. Tragically, Eliza’s new baby and her five-year-old daughter died soon after they arrived in St. George. It was not the first time she had to bury a child, nor was it the last—by the end of her life, only two of her ten children were still alive.
Wilson Lund almost always provided separate homes for his two wives. He had many community and Church responsibilities and as a result, both wives had to work long and hard, but in the early days his second wife Ellen Lund was particularly left to her own resources in remote settlements and she suffered great poverty and ill health. Perhaps the long period of deprivation is the reason that Wilson later moved Ellen and her younger family to Paragonah, Iron County, where he lived until his death in 1889. From time to time Wilson and Ellen would travel to St. George to visit or do temple work, but Eliza Brace Lund ran the family farm in St. George and lived on her own or with her children the rest of her life. She seems to have been a good manager. An 1885 Deseret News article mentioned that she had some of the few healthy grape vines in the region. Here is the passage from the paper, which shows the unique blend of practical matters and religious life in the Mormon community:
Mrs. Eliza Lund especially seems to have preserved her vines in all their freshness.
What is St. George you might say without her wine, and without her grapes. It is a
where but few but true faithful Saints will dwell; where glorious redemption for the dead goes on within the sanctuary of the Temple walls; where the motto of men’s daily lives is, “First the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all other things shall be added unto thee!”
Eliza was active in the Relief Society. She served as the Relief Society secretary for some time. She had deep connections to the women of the community. Her oldest surviving son, Robert C. Lund, was one of the founding members of the mercantile firm Wooley, Lund & Judd, which brought much-needed capital into the region. Robert married Mary Ann Romney, and for decades, Mary Ann’s sister-in-law Catharine Cottam Romney greeted Eliza in her letters to her family in St. George.
Right after the dedication of the St. George Temple in 1877, Eliza gathered with the sisters of St. George to help Wilford Woodruff do the temple work for the Eminent Women of the world. She did the endowment for Matilda Hoffman, the fiancée of author Washington Irving. With Eliza’s participation, at least two of the women serving in the temple were women Wilford Woodruff met during his missionary work in England, Eliza Ann Brace Lund and Susanna Mehitable Rogers Sangiovanni Pickett Keate
The day before she died, 85-year-old Eliza Lund went as usual to work in the temple, serving as she had so many times within the walls built with her husband’s stone-cutting skills and her own sacrifices.