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Mary Ann Weston Davis Maughan

Question: Who was Mary Ann Weston Davis Maughan and what town in Idaho is named after her?

Answer: Mary Ann Weston was born 10 March 1817, in Gloucestershire, England, the second of eight children born to Thomas and Elizabeth Weston. Her father was a gentleman farmer, a watch and clock maker and shop owner. Her family were Wesleyan Methodists.

In the winter of 1837/38, she decided that she wanted to learn the art of dressmaking. A friend of hers wanted Mary Ann to live with her as an apprentice. It was while she was serving as an apprentice that she first learned of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. Brother Wilford Woodruff came to the house where she was staying. He sat by the fire and began to sing. While he sang, Mary Ann thought he looked so peaceful and happy, she thought he must be a good man, and the Gospel he preached must be true. Through his influence, she became converted and was baptized by him in the pond in the center of the Village. She was the only member of her family to join. When her year as an apprentice was up, she returned to her home. Her mother and father greatly opposed her joining the Church.

Opposition to the Mormons became more acute after her marriage in December 1840 to John Davis. John was a member of the Church, and he had a nice home in Tirley, where they went to live. When Mary Ann and John, both staunch members, opened their home for gatherings for investigators, mobs came, and in one of these attacks John was severely beaten. He never fully recovered and died on 6 April 1841. It had been less than four months since May Ann was a happy bride.

Mary Ann made the decision to go to America to be with the Saints. She wrote in her journal: “Oh, the grief and sorrow of that time I can never forget. I had 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.” She did have the companionship of her girlhood friend Hannah Simmonds. Their ship, the Harmony, sailed from Bristol on 12 May 1841, and Mary Ann never saw any member of her family again.

It was in Kirtland that Mary Ann became acquainted with Peter Maughan, who had recently arrived from the North of England, a young widower with his family of five motherless children. They reached Nauvoo on 10 October 1841. This acquaintance of Peter Maughan and Mary Ann Weston Davis culminated in their marriage in November of that same year. The nice things Mary Ann brought from her home in England were put to practical use in their temporary home. She wrote: “We had no cupboard to put my things in, so many of my nice dishes and china sets were broken and destroyed, but we were all well…While in Bristol I had bought some goods to bring with me, among them a lot of spools of fine cotton. My neighbors would send a piece of pork for a spool of cotton.”

Peter Maughan worked as a stone mason on the Temple and built a home for his family. Then Peter was asked to leave Nauvoo to open a coal mine for the Church in Rock Island, Illinois, almost one hundred miles north. Peter put all of his resources into this coal mining venture, having sold his fine home in Nauvoo for $50, the price he had paid for the lot.

With the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum in 1844, Peter closed out the mining enterprise, paid off the remaining debts, and prepared for the trip west. But the Maughan family had no means of outfitting themselves for the difficult trek to the Rocky Mountains. They found their way to New Diggins, Wisconsin, near the lead mines, where Peter and his older sons worked for four years to earn money for teams and wagons.

The Maughan family now consisted of Peter and Mary Ann, the children of his first wife: John, Agnes, William, Thomas, and Mary; and Peter and Mary Ann’s children: Charles, Peter and Joseph less than one month old. Agnes married while they were in New Diggins, and did not go west with the rest of the family. On 17 April 1850, they started out with two good wagons, along with twelve head of oxen and four cows, in the Warren Foote Company. Mary Ann’s new baby was not quite three weeks old. On July 12, Peter, just three years old, was sitting in the front of the wagon between his brother Charles and his sister Mary. He leaned forward, lost his balance and fell under the wheels. Mary Ann emptied a dry goods box to put him in, and Charles was buried on a little hill on the north side of the road.

They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 17, 1850 and were directed to settle at Tooele, Utah, which was on the edge of Indian territory. Soon after her arrival, Mary Ann received a letter from Dr. Willard Richards, appointing her midwife for Tooele. Many times she rode horseback alone on lonely roads or through snow or storm, as there was no other midwife in Tooele.

Two more sons were born to Peter and Mary Ann while they lived in the Tooele area. In the summer of 1856, they gladly accepted a call to settle Cache Valley. They arrived on September 15, 1856 and camped on a little stream at the present site of Wellsville. During the first winter storm Mary Ann gave birth to the first white child, Elizabeth, born to the permanent settlers.

After finishing a small cabin for Mary Ann and the children, on November 25, Peter started for Fillmore to attend the Legislature. He was away for two months while Mary Ann had the family to take care of during the winter months. Mary Ann says, “Our wood being covered, we had to dig down to the end of a log, hitch a yoke of oxen, draw it out, cut it up and bring it into the house and when it was burned, get another the same way.”

Just as they were beginning to put down roots in this new valley, the coming of Johnston’s Army and the “Utah War” uprooted them again. On their return to the valley they camped one mile northwest of Willard for some time. Another daughter was born there to Mary Ann.

On 13 November 1859 Apostles Ezra Taft Benson and Orson Hyde came to organize the Cache Valley Stake of Zion with Peter Maughan as presiding bishop. His son William H. was named bishop of the Wellsville Ward. It was at that time that Maughan’s Fort, where they had first settles, was changed to Wellsville, in honor of Daniel H. Wells. On the advice of Brigham Young, Peter moved his family to a different location in the Cache Valley area in May 1860, where he could better administer his responsibilities.

Not long after moving, Mary Ann gave birth to her eighth and last child, a son whom they named Peter Weston Maughan in memory of their other little Peter who was buried on the plains. In 1864 when Peter and his son John helped settle Weston [believed to be in Utah until the Idaho boundary with Utah was finalized in 1872; in 1890 Weston became part of Idaho] in the Cache Valley area, Peter named it in Mary Ann’s honor (maiden name Weston). Peter’s son John built the first house there. At this new location, Elder John Maughan was appointed as acting bishop. The first schoolhouse was a log cabin built by Bishop John Maughan in the year 1867.

Mary Ann served as the first president of the Cache Valley Stake Relief Society, holding that office from its organization in 1868 until 18 May 1874. At that time the Stake included the whole valley.

In April 1871, Peter was stricken with pneumonia and after a brief illness died on 24 April 1871, not quite 60 years old. Mary Ann was stricken with pneumonia on the day before the funeral. She suffered much, but her life was spared and she slowly recovered. Mary Ann served as agent for the Women’s Exponent, a magazine which carried articles of interest to Mormon women, for twenty three years. She attended one session of the Logan Temple dedication in 1884. Mary Ann died on February 15, 1901 at age 83 and was buried in the Logan Cemetery.

Source:, Excerpts from: Portions taken from a history written by May Maughan Snow, a granddaughter; Mary Ann Weston Maughan’s journal; and personal research by Ruth H. Maughan;;

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