Eliza Stewart Udall

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Eliza Luella Stewart Udall, also known as Ella Stewart Udall (May 21, 1855 – May 28, 1937), was the first telegraph operator in the Arizona Territory.

Eliza Stewart (Udall)
Eliza Stewart's bedroom at Pipe Spring National Monument showing a recreation of the telegraph terminal.

A daughter of Levi Stewart, she was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1870, at the request of Brigham Young, she studied Morse code and moved to Pipe Spring, Arizona, to work for the Deseret Telegraph Company, which had hired her thinking she was male. Thus she became the first telegraph operator in Arizona. Later, working in Kanab, Utah, she telegraphed to Washington, D.C., the news of John Wesely Powell's Second Expedition of the Colorado River.

In 1875, she married David King Udall. They moved to Saint Johns, Arizona in 1880, where David was a LDS Bishop. Their marriage produced 8 children. A lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she consented to her husband's participation in plural marriage, though David's second wife (Ida Hunt) lived in another town.

She died in 1937 in Saint Johns.


  • Her son, Levi Stewart Udall, was Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
  • Her grandson Stewart Udall, was a U.S. Congressman from Arizona, and United States Secretary of the Interior.
  • Her grandson, Mo Udall, was a U.S. Congressman for 30 years, and a candidate for President of the United States in 1976.
  • Her great-grandson, Mark Udall, Mo's son, was a U.S. Congressman from Colorado from 1999 to 2009. In 2008, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.
  • Another great-grandson, Tom Udall, Stewart's son, was a U.S. Congressman from New Mexico from 1999 until 2009. In 2008, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

In 1969, the actress Lane Bradbury played a young Eliza "Ella" Stewart at Pipe Spring in the syndicated television series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Robert Taylor not long before Taylor's own death. In the episode "A Key for the Fort", Miss Stewart sends the first telegraph message from Arizona and works with her Aunt Cora (Ivalou Redd) to nurse an ill Ute chief, Black Wing (George Keymas), back to health. The episode also stars Gregg Palmer as Jacob. It was filmed at Pipe Spring National Monument.[1]


  1. ^ "A Key for the Fort on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Data Base. March 26, 1969. Retrieved July 15, 2015.