Mary Maughan (1817-1901)

Mary Ann Weston Maughan, 1817-1901
Autobiography (1817-1898).
Kenneth W. and Audrey M. Godfrey, Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1982), pp 34-42.
[Mary Ann Weston was born and reared a Methodist near Gloucester, England. She was the daughter of a prosperous realtor and often traveled with her father to purchase and sell houses and land. Seeking an apprenticeship as a dressmaker in 1839, Mary Ann took up residence with Mr. and Mrs. William Jenkins, through whom she heard of the Latter-day Saints. The excerpt that follows describes Mary Ann’s experiences as an early Latter-day Saint in England.

Other portions of her autobiography tell something of Mary Ann’s life after she left her father’s family in England and married Peter Maughan in Kirtland. The Maughans eventually settled in Cache Valley in northern Utah, and Mary Ann noted with pride that Weston, Idaho, just north of Cache Valley, was named after her.

Mary Ann’s autobiography was written in the 1890s when she took notes and daybooks accumulated over the years and compiled them in journal form. This explains the frequent shifts in her narrative from past to present tense. Though the autobiography was published by the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in 1959, excerpts printed here are taken from the first volume of the original three-volume holograph in the Historical Department of the Church. Minimal punctuation has been added for clarification.]

In the spring of 1840, Mr Jenkins went to visit his friends in Herefordshire. Brother [Wilford] Woodruff was there preaching and Br Jenkins was Baptized into the Church of Latterday Saints. He came home and told us about [the Church]. This was the first we had heard of it. Soon Brother Woodruff came to our house. There was no one at home but me. He sat by the fire and soon commenced singing, Shall I for fear of feeble Man the Spirits course in me restrain. Br Jenkins had told us that he had left his home in America crossed the sea and come to preach this gospel to the people in England. While he was singing I looked at him. He looked so peaceful and happy I thought he must be a good Man and the Gospel he preached must be true.

There was a small Society of United Brethren in this place. I think they all joined the Church and emigrated to Nauvoo. Soon as the people were baptized the persecution commenced. One Sunday afternoon while some were being baptized a man threw a dog in the pond saying he would baptize the Dog. There was a man standing near me that had walked 8 or 10 miles that morning to be baptized. He had a bundle of clothes in his hand. I saw a man from the other side of the pool come up to him and asked to borrow his clothes. They were willingly lent. The man went away, put them on, was baptized and returned them and Brother Rock carried them home wet. He afterwards joined the Church and we have laughed about his carrying his clothes so many miles and not using them. Brother Woodruff baptized Mrs. Hill, Hannah Simonds now (M. Philips of Kaysville [Utah]) and myself at midnight in the pond in the center of the village. We could [not] be baptized in the daytime on the account of persecution.

In the early spring my year [of apprenticeship] being up, Mrs Jenkins said I did not need to work a month on trial (as was the custom) as I was a good hand when I came to her, and another apprentice having come to work on trial, I went home. I had plenty of work, but I was glad to take my old place in traveling when I could spare the time. Father would like to have me go with him. But I did not like to give up my business.

In 1839 Uncle John Bishop died. I sat up with him the night before he died. He did not suffer much pain that night and the next day passed quietly away. This summer and winter [1840] I was at home working at my Business and helping Father in his traveling. In the spring my sister Maria had a powder flask burst in her hand. Her hand was very badly cut and bruised but no bones were broken, and we were thankful it was no worse. She was laid up this summer with her hand and I again took control of the house. I was very busy having much sewing to do for our family as well as others.

My relatives did not obey the gospel (but they did not oppose me) and this made me sorrowful and lonely. I attended all the meetings I could often walking many miles alone to and from them. One shipload of Saints has gone to Nauvoo from Gloucester and another will go soon as they can get ready. These are the first from this country. On the 18th day of May 1840 I attended a Tea Meeting at Dynnock near Ledbury with some friends. Bro. Smith and Sister Smith now of Kaysville and Bro. John Davis of Tirley were Baptized and Bros. Smith and Davis were ordained priests on the bank of the pond in which they were baptized.

This summer I became engaged to Mr. John Davis. He lived at Tirley [and] was a cooper and carpenter by trade and a young man of much promise. On Joseph Smith’s birthday Dec. 23, 1840 we were married in Gloucester by a clergyman of the Church of England. My husband had a home nicely furnished in Tirley and we went there to live immediately. We both had good trades and plenty of work and were very happy. The elders soon called to see us. Brothers Willard Richards and Levi Richards, [Wilford] Woodruff, Rushton and others that I do not remember their names. There was no Saints in that place so Brother Richards counselled us to open our house for meetings. We did so and the first held in our house a lot of Roughs led by a Apostate Methodist came and made a disturbance. They threatened the preacher with violence, but we surrounded him and slipped him through a door upstairs. When the preacher was gone the mob dispersed and we were left alone. Notice was given for a meeting in two weeks and the mob came again, but we succeeded in hiding the preacher and one of the brethren took him away. The mob then turned on my husband, knocked him down and kicked him. He was bruised internally and was never well afterwards.

About this time he had a fall that hurt him some and he soon commenced to bleed at the lungs. I sent for our family physician. He gave directions that he must remain in bed and be kept very quiet, no noise or excitement allowed near him. We followed his advice and he soon began to recover. Soon he had a dispute with his mother about Mormonism. This excited him and I was forced to ask her to leave the room. She did, but alas to late. He fainted. I was alone with him and could not move him, but a friend called and helped me to get him upstairs to bed. From this he took a relapse, and commenced to bleed at the lungs again. I sent for our doctor but he gave no hopes of his recovery and quick consumption set in and he gradually failed from this time.

This was a very trying time for me as we were the only Saints in this place, and worse still we were surrounded by persecutors who watched our house and if the elders called would send word to his Mother. She was sure to come in, and thus we were deprived of the privilege of conversing with the Elders as we very much desired to do, or else I must ask his Mother to leave the room. There were no Saints within miles of us. We were alone most of the time, and this we preferred as it was better than having those who were not of our faith and would ridicule our religion.

My husband did not suffer much pain but gradually grew weaker every day. He was confined to his bed on the 14th of February and I did not leave him by day or night or lie down to sleep during his Illness. The last few days some one or two kind friends staid with us, but he would not take anything from any hand but mine. I will pass by part of this trying time. He passed peacefully away on the 6th day of Apr 1841. That was the day on which the foundation stone of the Nauvoo Temple was laid. He was a good, kind husband and a faithful Latter-day Saint. I wished his funeral to take place on the Sunday but that being Easter Sunday his grandmother did not wish him buried on that day or on Good Friday so he was laid to rest on Saturday the 10th of Apr 1841.

We lived near the church so there was no need of a hearse. He belonged to a club, but I do not remember the name of it. The members all attended his funeral. They were a fine lot of noble looking men dressed in black with long crepe hat bands, and a mourning badge on their arm. Each one carried a long staff trimmed with crepe. They marched two together with a very stately step. I had not heard anything about them, and when I saw them coming I thought my heart would break. His will was read by a lawyer by the side of his coffin. His friends disputed the will, and this made me feel worse than ever but the Lord sustained me in all my griefs and sorrows. When all had taken their last farewell of their loved one and the coffin closed, the Club then took charge of his remains and I was alone in the wide world.

He was buried in a nice quiet corner of the grave yard of Tirley, Gloucestershire, and I have never lost sight of that place although fifty years ago. It is the custom for the mourners to attend the Church on the next Sunday when the funeral sermon is preached by the clergyman of the Church but my relatives were called to attend the funeral of a cousin at Grandthackwells at Staunton so I went with the relatives of my late husband. I covered his grave with flowers and then attended the services in the church. My dear brother Thomas is attending the other funeral so I miss him from my side. I am worn out with grief and sorrow. Thomas has stayed with me as much as he possibly could through this sore affliction, and stood nobly by me in all emergencies. May God bless him for his kindness to his sister who is now far away.

Our physician a good kind man came to see me and advised me to leave that place immediately for my health or I would soon follow my husband. The next day I left my home a sad lonely widow, where less than four months before I had been taken a happy bride. I did not go home for I felt that my parents would try to stop me from gathering with the Saints. I had many homes offered to me, by friends, but I went to board with Mr. and Mrs. Hill of Turkey Hall. They were getting ready to go to Nauvoo. I prayed for strength to settle our business and then I would gather with his Saints. I had no debts to pay and the Lord blessed me with success in collecting the money due my husband and myself or the most of it. My health continued very poor, but I joined with a company that was getting ready to go to Nauvoo.

The company sent a agent to Bristol to charter a vessel. He found a good sailing ship that was going to Quebec for lumber and the Captain would have berths put up in her for our accommodation. This was the best he could do, and it proved a success in the end. My nice furniture was made by my husband before our marriage. I have a knife box now that he made. It belonged to a long dresser with three shelves. These were filled with beautiful sets of dinner dishes of all kinds. Many of these I brought with me and some were sold, with my furniture. Carpenters and coopers tools and other things were sold at auction with Mr. Hill’s goods, and I realized money enough from my sale to pay my passage and board to Nauvoo. This was a very trying time for me. Everyday I had to take leave of some dear friend that I never expected to see again in this world. The company was to start on Monday morning the fourth of May. Thus in three weeks I had settled up our business and was ready to start with them.

The last and hardest trial was to take leave of my father, mother, brothers, and sisters. My dear good mother was most brokenhearted to see me go but father was more calm. I wondered at this for I was his favorite child. He asked me the name of the ship and when she would sail. I told him all particulars, thinking he would come and bring mother, to see me at the last before we set sail. I took some books with me and in giving them to my sisters said, “Here are some books for you to read when I am far away,” and they never forgot those words. My two little sisters clung around my neck, saying, we shall never see you again. I had not told them this for I knew the parting from them would be very hard. Little Jane wanted to come with me but this was impossible for she was only 8 years old. The next morning my youngest brother, Charles, came to Turkey Hall to see me once more but we had gone and he was brokenhearted.

Oh, the grief and sorrow of this time I can never forget, thus on the 4th of May 1841 I left all that was near and dear to me to travel some thousands [of] miles alone, and cast my lot with the people of God. We hired teams to take us to Gloucester and some of us started to walk a little way, when we came to the place where we would lose sight of father’s house. I sat down and I might have stayed there if some of the company had not come back for me. I was sick and quite overcome with the grief and sorrow I had passed through in the last three months.

It is now forty six years since that time but to me it seems only yesterday. We were a sorry company that traveled to Gloucester that morning. Myself and others wept all the way. I had been to Gloucester once since our marriage, the occasion being the wedding of two of my husband’s friends. John was groomsman and I was bridesmaid. The ceremony was performed by the same clergyman and at the same church in which we were married. On seeing the church, I thought of the girl I was not six months ago. Now I had left all and was traveling alone to a land unknown to me, but I had cast my lot with the people of God and in him I put my trust.