“I am inclined to think that Elder Elam Ludington was not the first to proclaim the Gospel in China, from the fact that from the October conference, 1852, held in Salt Lake City, Elders Chauncey W. West, Benjamin Franklin Dewey, Elam Ludington and myself, Levi Savage, were called on a mission to Siam;” wrote Levi Savage to the Deseret Weekly.
Levi Savage corrected the claim that Elder Elam Luddington was the first Mormon missionary to China. He hadn’t seen Elam since they were together in Rangoon, Burma which is where they parted. Savage did not even find out until he read the September issue of the Deseret Weekly almost 40 years later that his friend Elam had eventually made it to Siam to earn fame as the first Mormon missionary to Thailand.
Apparently that wasn’t big news amongst his companions or Mormons in general. Maybe because it wasn’t something they felt they could be particularly proud of and some may have even seen it as an epic failure. But Savage and Luddington were the last two missionaries to ride on their carriage out of Salt Lake to begin their missions together. Both were called to Siam. Savage never made it.
Read the backstory: Levi Savage Spots an Error
[Update 8/29/2013: From further research I can now set a couple of things straight. Savage did see Luddington after their missions. How often they met or conversed I still don’t know. Also, I discovered a possible reason why the Deseret Weekly might have thought Luddington was the first missionary to China. The Church Archives has a letter of introduction for Elam Luddington as the first missionary to China and signed by Brigham Young on October 1st I believe a few days before the October conference.]