Edward Lennox Sloan (1830–1874) was a Latter-Day Saint editor and publisher. He was the arranger of the text of the hymn “For the Strength of the Hills” into the version currently contained in the hymnall of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). But he was also “Uncle Ned”, the Bard of Conlig, to my grannie Isabella Sloan Kerr, who bought me my first book on Robert Burns. And I was delighted to speak of him today to my friends Liam Logan and Chris Spurr of the BBC’s Kist o Wurds programme
Born in the village of Conlig, he was the son of John Sloan (1789-1853) and Mary Lennox (1794-Unknown) of Conlig, County Down, Ireland. His father’s first wife died, possibly in childbirth of her third child. Only one of his half siblings is known to have reached adulthood and died in England. Little is known of his older full brother, Samuel Lennox Sloan, Isabella’s grandfather’s cousin.
Edward was married on 14 April 1853 at Bangor, County Down, Ireland to Mary Elizabeth Wallace, also of Conlig. Their first 6 children were born there, two of them dying before the family emigrated to America in 1863. Their last 5 were born in Utah. In 1865 he married by plural choice, Phoebe Louisa Watts (2 children) & in 1866, Emma Jones (3 Children). His family suffered the loss of many.
My two grannies were sisters, so that Edward was “Uncle Ned” to both. Martha (1879-1946) was the eldest, Isabella (1896-1983) the ninth child. Their father was Alexander Sloan (1853-1913) , who married, at the age of of 25, Jane Gamble (1858-1937). In Conlig at this time there were three predominent families the Sloans, the Gambles and the Montgomerys. These three families underpinned the community and intermarriage between them resulted in every one being related to everyone else in some way or other.
Uncle Ned was trained as a weaver. At some point in his teens, he joined the LDS Church. He was ordained an Elder in the church at age 18 and then served as a missionary throughout the British Isles. In 1854 he published a volume of poetry he had written entitled The Bard’s Offering
In 1851, Edward had married Mary Wallace, who was also a native of Conlig. After having served as editor of the Millennial Star, with his young family, he emigrated to Utah Territory in 1863. They crossed the ocean on the Amazon on which he served as the first counselor in the presidency over the Latter-day Saints on board.
In Utah, Edward was the founder of the Salt Lake Daily Herald in 1870, which he ran with W. C. Dunbar. When his efforts to get a column on women’s issues included in the Herald were defeated by Dunbar, Edward went ahead and organized the Women’s Exponent with Lula Greene as editor. Edward also published the first City Directory of Salt Lake City.
In his famous directory, Edward reported that on January 10, 1870, the Utah Central Railroad was complete to Salt Lake City, its southern terminus. In spite of inclement weather, a huge crowd assembled to hear speeches and witness the ceremonies. The last spike, made of Utah iron, was driven by Brigham Young.
This railroad was an immediate success. Most of the mining, manufacturing and trade of the territory was concentrated in Salt Lake Valley, and this connection with the main line of America’s greatest railway, the Union Pacific, at Ogden was vital. Two days after completion, the first carload of ore was shipped over the line.