Heritage Gateways

Official Sesquicentennial K-12 Education Project
sponsored by the Utah State Board of Education, the BYU-Public School Partnership and the Utah Education Network

Pioneer 1848-1868 Companies

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1868 (age 10), Miller (McAllister), Mary Ann

Mary Ann Miller McAllister was born in Norwich, England, in the year 1858, the eldest of five children of William, a book-binder and cobbler, and Ann Winter Miller. When Mary was a very small girl, she helped to earn the first Christmas dinner she was to remember. Her father, being out of work, had searched for weeks for some books to bind, or shoes to sew, but could find none. Small Mary asked if she might try her luck, and after some coaxing gained her father's consent. She went to a nearby shoemaker, who said he just couldn't ignore the knock of such a tiny girl. The cobbler handed her three pairs of shoes to be sewed (the uppers to the bottoms), and after they were finished, Mary delivered them and received the money. She then stayed with the smaller children while her parents went shopping for their Christmas. Next day, her mother gave the little girl the largest piece of plum pudding for having earned it.

About this time, William had a boy helping him as an apprentice. The boy was not satisfactory, so he discharged him. From that time on, Mary Ann helped her father sew shoes. When the family was ready to come to Utah, Mary's uncle, John Daynes, Salt Lake musician and father of Tabernacle organist Joseph J. Daynes, sent money for the emigration.

They left England in May of 1868 with a company of 800 Saints, sailing from Liverpool on the ship John Bright. Grandmother Winter was very bitter toward the Saints and vowed she would not even bid her daughter and family goodbye. But when they departed, forgetting their carefully prepared lunch basket in the flurry of last-minute excitement, Grandmother ran to catch them, holding the basket in front of her. She then stood waving her hand until the little family was out of sight. This was the last time Mary Ann or her mother were to see Grandmother Winter.

The ocean voyage lasted six weeks, and was very rough. To make the long trip more enjoyable, the captain arranged a concert. Ann Winter Miller was a fine vocalist and she was asked to sing. So well did she perform, they called her back again and again, and would not let her stop until she had sung four songs. They were: "Sweet Spirit, Hear My Prayer," "Willie We Will Miss You," "Beautiful Star," and "Under the Mistletoe Bough."

One day, people were crowding into the ship's kitchen when a mast fell, very seriously injuring a woman who pushed ahead of Mary Ann's father. This was only one of a number of things which convinced the Millers that someone held a grudge against the head of their family. He had been chosen as guard at the landing in New York. The Saints went from the ship to Castle Garden, but were directed back to the shipyards to camp. William went on guard at midnight and was drowned.

Mary Ann got the impression as a child that there was a heated argument between her father and some of the ship hands, and that they had caused his fall into the ocean. No one will ever know the cause, but she often reminisced that "My mother was leaning over me in the middle of the night and I said,"Mother, I dreamed Father was dead." She said to me,"It is not a dream, my child, he was drowned just now.""

Ann lost her 15-month-old baby ten days after her husband's death. They stayed over the 4th of July to find and bury William's body, and then boarded a train for Laramie. From here, teams and wagons provided by the Church took them on to Utah. Said Mary Ann, "I remember seeing the Tabernacle for the first time. It looked to my small eyes like a huge satin ball or melon."

The Millers went to live with the Daynes family. Mary Ann remembered much that happened to her during those exciting days. She said, "I stood and watched the Golden Spike being driven in the railroad track in 1869." Her new friends were not long in finding out about her musical abilities, for she noted, "I sang in Brother Goddard's choir of children for the 24th of July. We sang "In Our Lovely Deseret." I (also) sang in the 20th Ward choir, Uncle John D. (Daynes) leading, with cousin Joseph J. at the organ. I worked for Aunt Eliza Daynes, then for Becky, (the second wife of John Daynes) until I was 16 years old. My uncle wanted to send me to Europe to study music, but instead I was married in 1876 on the 14th day of February." Accompanied by her cousin Joseph, Mary Ann sang many times in the new Tabernacle. Never, however, was she allowed to go into the Daynes parlor or touch the piano except to clean, or to practise a song with Joseph. Consequently, she didn't learn to play until her daughter, Emily, taught her some simple chords on a rented organ.

Mary Ann and Joseph Warrington McAllister were married in the Endowment House by Daniel H. Wells. They were the parents of eleven children: Joseph William, Elizabeth Eleanor, Emily, Lavinia, Richard Wesley, Agnes Maud, Mary Ann and Viola. Three children-Alma, Minita and Wesley-died as babies. The Duke of Wellington, who won the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was an ancestor of Mary Ann. The wife of another relative who fought in the same war gave birth to a baby girl the night of the battle and was named Victorious. It became a part of Viola's name, and through the years was given to others in the family, as well.

Source: Our Pioneer Heritage © Carter, Kate B., ed. 20 vols. Salt Lake City: International Society, Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1958-1977. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher. Documents and images are exerpted by permission from the LDS Family History Suite CDROM from Ancestry.