Mary Ann was born in Corse Lawn, Gloucestershire, England, March 10, 1817, the eldest child of Thomas Halford and Elizabeth Walker Thackwell Weston. In 1840, when she was twenty-three years of age, Mary Ann was baptized and that same year married John Davis, a young convert of the Mormon Church. Shortly after the death of her husband plans were made to join the body of the Saints in America. After her arrival in Kirtland, Ohio, she met Peter Maughan, a widower with five small children, whom she married November 2, 1841.
Mary Ann kept many notes, sometimes a day by day diary, and during the 1880's she took these records and wrote them in journal form. As the years went by she added to her writings. The diary is written verbatim with the exception of the spelling of names and places and some deletions on weather reports and repetitions. She was the first woman to enter Cache Valley and served as the first president of the Relief Society in that community. From the time of her arrival in Utah and almost until the time of her death, she served in the capacity of midwife and nurse, bringing into the world countless infants and alleviating the pain and distress of many dependent upon her kindness and wisdom. For over thirty years she was a widow but she carried on the responsibilities of rearing her large family with unflinching faith and courage. She was the mother of eight children: Charles Weston, Peter Weston (killed as a child on the plains), Joseph Weston, Hyrum Weston, Elizabeth, Willard Weston, Martha and Peter Weston.
America Bound To Gather with the Saints
I prayed for strength to settle our bissness and then I would gather with the Saints. I had no debt 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. Every day 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 the three weeks I had settled up our bissness, and was ready to start with them. The last and hardest trial was to take leave of Father, Mother, brothers and sisters. My dear good Mother was most broken hearted 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." 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, as 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 broken hearted. Oh, the greif 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 staid there if some of the Company had not came back for me. I was sick and quite overcome with greif and sorrow I had passed through in the last three months. 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 groomman and I was bridemaid. 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.
We took passage on the stage for Bristol. Arriving there we found our ship ready for us, and we went to live in our little home. Our ship was clean and the berths new. I did not see a flea or bug or anything of the kind on the ship. We had plenty of room by our berths. Our heavy chests were put down in the hold. We could have one trunk by our berth, and the rest were fastened by ropes to the masts down the center of the ship by the sailors, thus making a partition down the middle of our big room; then we hung curtains around our berths, and thus made ourselves as comfortable as we could. We waited one week for the ship to get ready, and had some fine walks to Clifton and round the suburbs of Bristol. By this time we got used to our little curtained room.
While waiting, some lawyers from Gloucester came to the ship on bissness with some of the passengers, and enquired for Mrs. Davis, a blackeyed young widow dressed in black. They searched the ship through every day for about a week. I had been warned of this and counseled to lay aside my black. This I did and dressed like a gay young girl. I mingled with the girls and watched them searching for me, but they did not find the young widow with black eyes. I afterwards learned that Father went to these lawyers and asked if he could compel me to return home. On learning the circumstances, they said I was of age, and had been married, and did not go home after my husband's death, and that he could not hinder me from going where I pleased. He then told them that if they would find and perswaed me to return with them he would pay them well for their trouble; but as they could not find me, I did not get any of the money Father might have given me. Thus I left home without receiving a sixpence from anyone. The reason was they did not know what money I had, and thinking I could not go without it, said they would give me money to stay at home but none to go away with.
At last the ship was ready and we sailed out of Bristol harbour with flag flying on the 12th of May, 1841. The first night many of our cups, pans, etc. went dancing and chasing each other about the ship. Some of the Brethren got out of their berths to catch the things, but they fell and went rolling and sliding about with the rest. Among the number was John Hunt, who with his wife lived in one of father's cottages, and he said he had a right to look after his young Missus's things. He was a drole man and made lots of fun that night in sliding and rolling about the Ship. Of course, it was fun for us lying in bed to watch them trying to catch the things! At last they gave it up and crept to their berths.
Our ship was a good strong sailing vessel called the Harmony. We had two Captains on board. Captain Johnson was a passenger. Our Captain had his wife and daughter with him. She was a very, kind lady and used to sit for hours on deck and talk with us girls, and would ask us to sing our hymns. The Captain requested our people to hold service on deck on Sunday afternoon when the weather was fine. They would all attend and be very attentive. The Captain and mates were kind to the passengers and crew.
Canada Then the United States
On arriving at Quebec, we soon found and chartered a steamer, captained by Thomas Richardson and sailed Aug. 8, 1841. The machinery was on the upper deck, and the passenger's cabins were down below. We were tired of our ship but we soon found we had got into a much worse place. The berths were filthy and the bed bugs had full possession. We were weary and tired; but rest or sleep was impossible. I sat by my berth all night, trying to keep the bugs off my feet and legs, but my cotton stokings and slipers were no protection against them and I passed a dreadful night. But morning came at last and brought some relief from the vermin. But we ladies had to stay down in the dreadful place all day, as we could not go on deck among the machinery. My poor feet were so poisoned by the bugs that inflamation set in, and I could not lie down or doctor them so, of course, they got worse all day; and the jaring of the boat made them much more painful. The steamer went down the St. Lawrence river to Montreal and then across a lake called La Prairia, to a station called La Prairia about 9 miles.
Here we glady left the wretched steamer and took the railroad for St. Johns. The road was new and the cars jumped and shook very much. I suffered fearful pain all day, and could do nothing to alay the pain in my feet and legs. When we got to St. Johns, I could not stand on my feet or put them on the ground. I think Bro. Collett carried me to a carpenter's work bench a little distance off. It was a hard bed, but better than lying in the dust and sand, some 6 or 8 inches deep. Here I lay for hours, while the company got the baggage off the train. I suffered extreme pain made worse by my stokings being on my feet. Sister Simonds tried to get them off, which she did at last.
There was a steamer ready to start up the river and the company could go on her if we wished to. Some of the company wanted to go on, but Sister Green was sick and not able to travel. Brother Green would not leave her, and Bro. Collett said he would not leave me. I was too sick to care whether they left me or not, but the company decided to wait till morning. Bro. Green and myself took a room in the hotel, with two beds in it. Sister Green was put in one and I was carried from the carpenter's bench to the hotel and laid on the other one. Bro. Green sat by his wife all night and took care of her. I sent for some sugar of lead and made a lotion for my feet and legs; and some of the sisters changed the cloths when they got warm. This relieved me very much. Sister Green was better in the morning, and the company decided to go on, as the steamer had waited for us till then. My feet did not pain so very bad, but I could not walk or put them on the floor; so two of the Brethren carried me to the steamer and up on deck in a arm chair, borrowed at the hotel. The Sisters made me a bed on deck and I lay there all day. Sister Simonds attended to my feet and sat by me all she could.
The scenery on the St. Johns river was lovely, the Canadas on one side and the U. S. States on the other. The Canada side was covered with beautiful farms, the rows of grain sloping straight to the river. The houses and fences were white, thus making a contrast with green fields. The U. S. side was covered with hazelnut bushes and on the bank of the river, some distance apart, were soldiers' barracks. The machinery on this boat was down below, so the passengers had the uper deck to ourselves and injoyed the lovely scenery all day. At night I managed to creep down into the cabin, and lay on the floor. After this, with care, my feet got better, and I was able to take care of myself. On looking after my things, I found my bonnet, cap, and veil were gone. I never saw them again. I do not remember changing boats again until we got to a place where we chartered a canal boat. I think it was White Hall. We landed here in the morning, and some of us went to a hotel and got breakfast. This was the first I ate in a house since leaving home, and we enjoyed it very much. The company soon chartered a boat and we started for Buffalo. The ladies had a cabin to ourselves on this boat. Being a large company we were crowded but comfortable.
Kirtland, Ohio, Westward Bound
On arriving at Buffalo, we took a steamer to Fairport; then hired teams to take us through the country to Kirtland, 12 miles. Here we rented a house, and staid 7 weeks. The people of Kirtland were very kind and hospitable. We were invited out nearly every day, but we were tired and wanted rest. The farmers would come with their teams and want us to go and stay a few days or a week with them, and they would bring us back when we wished to come. After we rested some of us went out to see the country. The Saints had nearly all left here and gone to Nauvoo; thus there was plenty of fruit lying on the ground for any one to take that wanted it. In some places, the side walks were covered with fine apples. Bro. Phelps had charge of the few Saints that remained and the Temple looked forsaken. We attended meetings in it every Sunday, Bro. Phelps often being the only one in the singer's gallery. Father Granger died during our stay. While here I finished some dresses I had on hand for a lady in the company, and then I went to stay with a New York lady that lived in Richmond. Her home was on the bank of Lake Erie. It was a pleasant place, and the lady and family were very kind. Mr. Shepard would take me to Kirtland any time I wanted to go. The company that went to Kirtland were Bro. Hill and wife, Bro. Smith and family, Bro. Collett and family, Bro. Hunt and wife, Paul Norris, W. Gardiner, Sister Simonds, and myself. P. Norris, W. Gardiner, C. Moore. staid there. I have not heard of them since.
After staying in Kirtland 7 weeks and the weather being cooler, we were again preparing to continue our journey, when we found a few families here from the north of England. They also had come there to rest. Mr. Peter Maughan with his family were of that number. Some of our company had brought teams and were going by land to Nauvoo. Mr. Maughan with a part of his company was going up the lakes to Chicago, and Sister Simonds and myself decided to travel with this company. I paid my traveling expences after this, altho I had paid my board passage money to Mr. Hill before I left England; but he did not offer me any money and I would not ask him for any. We left Kirtland by team. 25 miles to Cleveland. Here we had to wait one week for the vessel that was engaged to take us to Chicago. We had a rough passage on the lakes, our vessel rolled dreadfully, and we were all sea sick. We arrived in Chicago just in time to escape a dreadful storm early next morning. I met Bro. Woodruff on the street; he looked very tired and weary, said his family was on the steamboat that had just landed. He had come up to find a place to take them to. They had encountered a fearful storm on the lake, had been nearly lost in the night, and it was by the Mercy of God they had been saved from a watery grave. We soon found teams to take us on our journey. We passed through Peoria; then, there was one house a story and a half high. On the end of this hung a dilapadated signboard; "Peoria House." Near by was a small log cabin, and a blacksmith shop. This was Peoria in 1841. We had a pleasant journey through the country. After our ride through the day, we would go out in the evening and gather hazel nuts and enjoy eating them.
On arriving at the Mississippi river, there was no station, so we camped on the bank until a steamer came down and took us on board. They landed us at the uper stone house on the 10th Oct. 1841. This was the landing place in Nauvoo. While unloading our luggage, the men let one of my feather beds fall overboard, and it was soon out of sight. I did not know what to think, till I saw some sailors go after it with a boat. My bed was not much the worse for its ride down the river.
The house was empty, so the company staid in it till they found their friends or rented houses to live in. Sister Simonds and myself went to find our company that left us at Kirtland, as we had some of their luggage with us. It was Sunday afternoon, and as we passed by the grove, we saw Joseph Smith standing on a flour barrel. Bro. Caleb Baldwin stood before him, and Joseph would put his hand on his shoulders for a desk. He was preaching to a small company standing around him. We listened a short time and then went on to find our friends. Bro. and Sister Hill were staying at Bro. Broweth's, and I again made my home with them. They arrived on the 6th Oct., 1841. As we passed Bro. Kingtons' house, they were coming up the lot from burying Sister Kington. She had died with a fever, and Bro. Kington, W. Pitt, Caroline his wife and sister, Mary., were very sick with the same fever. They had suffered much coming up the lakes in the hot weather. I got my luggage hauled to Bro. Broweth's, and then went to take care of Bro. and Sister Pitt. Bro. Pitt was delirious most of the time, and it was hard work to care for him and keep him in bed. Sister Pitt was very quiet, but both were very sick. I staid with them day and night, sitting up alone till I was tired out. Mrs. Hill would come and take me home. I would stay one night and go back again. After sometime they all recovered. It was thought their sickness was caused by traveling up the lakes in the hot weather.
On the 2nd of November, I was married to Brother Peter Maughan, by special license, by Bro. John Taylor. My husband had 5 small children, the oldest 10 1/2, the youngest 2 1/2. This was a pretty heavy task to start with, but I was used to having the care of children, so I got along very well with them. His wife, Ruth Harrison Maughan had died in England.
The worst part was to get provisions in this new country. We lived in Bro. Orson Hyde's house that winter. The snow was deep and weather very cold. Mr. Maughan sold some of my goods for wood and corn. The Laws had put up a little grist mill, and by waiting all night he got a little ground. One of our chests answered for a table, but we had no bedsted, and the boards were laid on the ground. My nice feather beds were laid on the floor, and I soon found that the under one was frozen to the floor and I could not move it till spring. We had no cupboard to put my things in, and so many of my nice dishes and China tea sets were broken and destroyed. But we were all well and could eat our mush with my silver teaspoons. In the Spring Bro. Hyde returned from his mission and wanted his house, so we moved our chests and trunks on to our city lot, and camped among the brush till our house was built. Our lot was on Farley Street, in the Kimball addition.
While in Bristol I bought some goods to bring with me, among them a lot of spools of fine cotton. These I found very good to trade with. My neighbours would send me a piece of pork for a spool of fine cotton.
Some of Mr. Maughan's friends from the north of England had gone to the lead mines in Wisconsin and he decided to go there too. We took a steamboat up the Mississippi to Galena, and then by stage to New Diggings, Lafayette County, this being where his friends were living. On arriving there we had some difficulty in finding a house to rent with a chimney to it, as the people used stoves, and only the first houses built there had fireplaces in them. After some time we found a room that was being used for a carpenter's work shop, and he kindly moved his work bench out and let us have the room, fleas and all, for it was full of them. But after a few weeks of killing these, we had peace, and made the best of our small room. Mr. and Mrs. Harker, the owners of the house, were very kind, quiet people. They were going to move away soon, and then we could have all the house. They did so, and we lived there comfortable for four years. Mr. Maughan went prospecting for lead ore. His 2 boys, John and William, worked with him. I soon had all the work in my trade that I could do. We lived near the town of New Diggings. There were 2 stores; we traded at both, and were always treated wall. There was a weekly stage to Galena, and a livery stable that done a good bissness, as very few people kept horses of their own. There was a Catholic Church, Presbyterian, Methodist, and a Sunday School. Our children went to Sunday and day schools and were used well. The people were kind and friendly with each other and spent Sunday in going to meeting, driving, visiting or staying at home, and no one found fault with them. We said nothing about our religion, only with our friends, and lived quiet and friendly with the people, our aim being to gather means to follow the Church.
On the 20th of May, 1847, my 2nd son, Peter Weston Maughan, was born. When my babe was about 6 weeks old, I had the Cholera Morbus. They sent for Mr. Maughan. He sat by my bed and laid his hand on my head and administered to me. The violent pain left me, and I recovered.
In the winter of 1849, Mr. Maughan dreamed that he saw a row of mineral holes comencing near our garden. He awoke and told me his dream. "Are there any holes where you saw them?" He said: "No, but there will be soon." In the morning he went and looked over the ground where he saw the holes, thanked God for the dream, and believed that was the place where he would get some mineral. We said nothing about it, as they were making good wages where they were working. Having finished that place, they comenced to dig where he dreamed of, and took out 800 dollars worth of mineral in 8 weeks. Thus the Lord opened our way to get means to come to Salt Lake.
In the spring, Mr. Maughan went out in the country and bought our teams. We had 2 good wagons with double covers and projections on the sides. We had 3 yoke of cattle and 1 yoke of cows to each wagon. This took some of our money, so we did not have more than we could take care of after this. My babe was nearly 3 weeks old when we left our log cabins on the 17th of April, 1850. I have been out in some cold storms since then, but I do not think I ever experienced a colder morning in my life. The wind blew from the North so pearcing cold that our covers were fastened down, so I could not shake hands with my friends, when they came to the wagon to bid me good-bye when we passed through New Diggings. We had a cold stormy time till we reached the Mississippi river on the 22d. That night I attended Sister Kind (?) in her confinement of a daughter. The weather was very cold but she was taken good care of, and done well.
Some more teams met us here, and Mr. Maughan was apointed Captain of the company. We traveled in mud and rain through Iowa, the road leading through many creeks, filled with water by the heavy rains, and had many bad storms. Sometimes it seemed that our covers would be torn off and wagons blown away, but my babe required my care, also my large family of 8 to cook for. I had no time for writing, so could not keep my journal.
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.