Phillips, Ishmael, first Bishop of the Union Ward, Salt Lake co., Utah, was born in the parish of Marden, Herefordshire, England, May 22, 1815. He was baptized May 29, 1840, and confirmed by Wilford Woodruff, after hearing only four discourses preached on the fulness of the gospel. Two weeks after his baptism he was ordained to the office of a Priest and subsequently to that of an Elder. He presided over the Shucknell Hill branch of the Froome's Hill (later Herefordshire) conference for thirteen years. Occasionally during that period he also took charge of the surrounding branches. He preached the gospel in almost every town and village within a radius of ten miles of Lugwardine.
In 1853 he removed to Birmingham (map), where he acted as an officer in the Birmingham branch and also as a local missionary during the following ten years, or until he emigrated to Utah in 1863; he crossed the Atlantic ocean in the ship "Amazon," which sailed from London June 4, 1863, and crossed the plains in Capt. John W. Woolley's ox train, which arrived in Salt Lake City Oct. 4, 1863 (map of pioneer trail). He located at once in the Union Ward (map), where he resided until the time of his death.
From 1865 to 1877, he acted as a presiding teacher of the Union district of the South Cottonwood Ward, and also served as temporary counselor occasionally to Bishops Andrew Cahoon and Joseph S. Rawlins. When the Union Ward was organized July 1, 1877, he was ordained a Bishop by Daniel H. Wells and set apart to preside over the new Ward.
In 1886 (Feb. 9th) he left home on a mission to Mexico, where he assisted in the founding of the town of Juarez. He returned Aug. 1, 1886. Soon afterward (Nov. 12, 1886) he was arrested on a charge of unlawful cohabitation, the grand jury having found an indictment against him; he was brought before Commission McKay and placed under $1,500 bonds, and when his case came up in the 3rd District Court Feb. 13, 1887, he pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced the same day by Judge Zane to six month's imprisonment and to pay a fine of $300 and cost of suit. After serving his time and thirty days for the fine he was released Aug. 15, 1887. Bishop Phillips died Feb. 5, 1905, at Union.
(Ed. Note: Ishmael Phillips was the foster father of Emily Cope. Silas Richards was actually the first bishop of the Union Ward. When he was called to assist in the Dixie settlements, the Union Ward was disbanded and combined with the Little Cottonwood Ward. When the Union Ward was re-established in 1877, Ishmael Phillips was called as the first bishop of the newly reconstituted ward.)