Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Legacy of Pioneer Mothers

My great-great grandmother Mary Ann Ward Webb
front and center with her children. Taken 1924.
My house echoes with the voices of my pioneer ancestors. I am a fifth generation Mormon woman, and I feel this ancestry often.

Whether I'm cooking dinner, folding laundry, teaching my children or doing my devotional reading, I think about my fore-mothers daily.

In fact, I named my daughter after two of my pioneer ancestors: Mary Ann and Clara.

This is a Midlife Boulevard Blog Hop. Because the 37 links below will disappear soon, I am saving three for future reference:
@piaSavage of Courting Destiny describes a Good Cop, Bad Cop mothering moment
@LynnCobb shares a double dose of mother's intuition birth story on her blog.
@loisaltermark of Midlife at the Oasis marvels at her mother's sense of style 

Pictured above is Mary Ann Ward Webb.  She was born 24 October 1840 in a four room brick house on the main road leading to the parish Church of St. Peter in Walpole (King and King p. 24).  In November of 1951, Mary Ann was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormon Church) along with her mother and her younger sister Jemima.

In 1864, she boarded the Hudson and emigrated to the United States ending up after a time in Lehi, Utah where she lived with her husband George Webb.  I still have relatives living in Lehi who are their descendants.

Mary Ann and George were both on the Hudson, but Mary Ann initially lived for a time in the Salt Lake City area. She wrote in her journal "After refusing many married men to become their plural wife, I was married to George Webb May 31st 1865 in Sister Lapish's home" (King and King p. 42).  Mary Ann definitely was an independent woman, which was clear at an earlier age, given that she left home at 14 to earn money in order to emigrate.

Mary Ann were the parents of nine children, seven of whom lived to maturity. She raised a son of George's from an earlier relationship. She had trained in England as a cook and butcher. In Lehi, she made straw hats and sold them. She also sang in the choir, taught Sunday school, and served in leadership positions in the Primary (the children's Sunday school organization).

All these details tell me that Mary Ann was a strong and driven person. Furthermore,
"She was also President of the Lehi branch of the Women's Suffrage Organization and Vice President to Mrs. Tanner of Provo who was president of the Utah County Suffrage Organization." (King and King p. 48) 
Another pioneer ancestor is Clara Lena Rothe who was born 9 May 1878 in Mellindorf, Silesia, Germany. She and her parents joined the church in Germany and then the three of them emigrated to Lehi, Utah circa 1898.  Mary Ann's son-in-law Franz Salzner, serving a mission in Germany from 1896 to 1898. helped arrange for the Rothe family to live with George and Mary Ann in Lehi until they could get settled.

Wearing glasses, my great grandmother Clara Lena Rothe Webb
George and Mary Ann's son George was sent to pick up the Rothe's from the train station in Lehi upon their arrival. It was love at first sight for George, but not for Clara:
"Reflecting the strong-willed and stubborn German temperament that still runs in the women members of that branch of the family, Clara insisted upon walking the few blocks from the station to the Webb home."  (King and King p. 66). 
Clara finally relented and married Bernard on 20 March 1901 in the Salt Lake City Latter-day Saint temple. They raised six children together.

And so nearly 13 years ago, I persuaded my husband that we should name our daughter after these two women--Mary Ann and her daughter-in-law Clara. And in so doing, I hope that my girl inherits some portion of their courage, faith, industry and independence.  And I hope that she grows up hearing the echoes of these women and other fore-mothers as she moves through her day-to-day tasks.

Source:  King, Robert R. and Kay Atkinson King. Mary Ann Ward Webb: Her Life and Ancestry. The American Society for Genealogy and Family History.  McLean, VA. 1996.


Mother's Day Reflections: Literacy Lessons


  1. I loved this story. You were so right to name your daughters after their ancestors. Those women are so much a part of who you are and I am sure you feel their presence every day.

    Be well.

    b+ (Retire In Style Blog)

    1. Thanks for reading, Barbara. I tell these stories often when explaining why I chose my daughter's first name and middle name, but I hadn't written it up yet. Mother's Day seemed like the perfect occasion.

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