Mary Ann Williams (1844 - 1882)

10711. Mary Ann1 WILLIAMS was born 11Sep 1844 in Springfield, Sangamon, Illinois. She was the daughter of John WILLIAMS and Marcy LUCAS. Mary died 8Feb 1882 in Panguitch, Garfield, Utah, and was buried in Panguitch, Garfield, Utah.

Mary Ann's parents must have joined the Mormon Church prior to the abandonment of the City of Nauvoo and gone west with the body of the church taking her with them. She would have been only a few years old. There seem to be no genealogical ties between Mary Ann and another of Lee's wives of the same surname, Sarah Caroline Williams.

Mary Ann was first mentioned in Lee's diaries April 4, 1858, where she was named as one of two wives who accompanied him on a trip to Cedar City. This was rather peculiar, however, for at that date, she would have been only thirteen years of age, if she was in fact, born on the date given above. The 1860 census had her born two years earlier, in 1842. Her age was listed as eighteen years, so that if the 1842 year was used as her birth, in the 1858 entry, she would have been sixteen.

In the book attributed to him, "Mormonism Unveiled," Lee stated that Mary Ann was sealed to him as his sixteenth wife in 1856. At that date, if we accepted the 1844 birth date, she would have been only twelve years old. If we accepted the date according to the 1860 census information, she would have been fourteen.

Lee made several errors in listing the names and vital statistics of his wives in the book and could very well have been mistaken on the 1856 sealing date for Mary Ann Williams. If one accepted the earliest mentioned birth date, giving her as many years as possible, she would still have been a very young woman when she was first named as one of Lee's wives.

Her name appeared quite often in Lee's diaries after the first entry of April fourth. She was found accompanying him and usually a couple of other members of the family to such settlements as Cedar City on some trading and business affair. Another time they went to Washington where John went to plant the year's cotton crop. They also went to Fort Clara later when he spoke in a church meeting. On the way home from a trip to Washington, his wife, Emma Batchelor, John Alma, his eldest son, and Mary Ann, stopped by the way to pick a half bushel of berries.

During this period the US Army had been sent to Utah and was threatening to engage the Mormons in the so-called "Mormon War." It was a time of excitement and great change for the Mormon communities not only in the north but in southern Utah as well. The Indians were particularly active around Cedar City, Harmony, and Washington. John must have dealt with some of them every few days.

He recorded a letter in his journal from Brigham Young, dated March 24, 1858, in which President Young told him of the development of the war and the needs of the church in the north, namely, for wagons and teams to move families south in the contemplated exodus of the entire population from Salt Lake City.

"...You can begin to send teams here for families, etc., as soon as the weather or roads are sufficient settled..." He also informed John that the headquarters of the Church would shortly be moved to Parowan.

At that time of developing events, the action thus taken was based on the expected movement of Johnston's forces, who were camped at Fort Bridger, awaiting orders from their commander. The course that was decided upon by the military leaders touched the lives of all those living in the little Mormon settlements up and down the territory. President Young relied heavily upon his tried and trusted co-members of the Kingdom to cooperate in establishing a method for providing supplies and provisions for those in need who were expected to bear the brunt of the invasion. John was made responsible for heading up the drive for provisions from Washington County.

Several weeks later, as word was received of arrival of a new Governor for Utah, and when the war seemed to be winding down, Bishop Davies saw a need for renewal of commitment in the Harmony Ward. He asked John D. Lee and Richard Woolsey to contact every member of the ward "house by house," and "stir up the saints" to rededicate themselves to living the principles of the gospel. In response, John D. wrote that " obedience to council I called to my aid, Bro. Richard Woolsey & commenced with my family first. All felt humble & desired to do right, with the exception of Mary Ann who was then under a heavy trial." Lee did not elaborate on Mary Ann's "heavy trial," but it might be assumed that it had to do with their marital relationship, although it appears the relationship was a father-daughter rather than a husband-wife affair.

That was not the first indication of Mary Ann's discontent. Both he and she had appealed to President Young for counsel in separate letters. He replied to John on February 1, 1857:

"There are three letters from you and your wife, Mary, & I perceive there is something wrong. I perceive also that if time & the spirit of the Lord do not mend the breach, my counsel would be unavailing or its results temporary. Your Bishop & Pres. Haight may direct you in this matter if you feel to ask and abide their counsel."

Whether or not an appeal was made to the bishop or stake president, John did not reveal. The whole business, though, was finally discussed between the two of them and a settlement resolved. In the second week of January 1859, John said, "I told her that If [I] could not make her happy that she should have her liberty, and if there was any other man that she could be more happy with, to say so & I would use my endeavors to have her seald to that man."

She replied that, "...she could love me and respect me as a father but not as a husband." That seemed to be the crux of the problem. John was now almost fifty years old; she was, at most, nineteen years old. He was, in her eyes, far more of a father-figure than a husband and she could not bring herself to accept him as such.

When she told him of the dilemma and that she dearly loved his oldest son, John Alma, he must have been startled, not having any idea that this was the issue, either the father-figure concept or the competitive position of John Alma, whom, she said, "she loved more than any other man that she ever saw." Having committed to giving her liberty if there were someone she would name with whom she thought she could be happier, he paused only momentarily, then answered simply that "...her request would be granted..."

Shortly thereafter John arranged for a large party in his "family hall," inviting "all the inhabitants of Harmony" and he himself performed the marriage ceremony between the two. There followed a sumptuous supper, and he added, "...all participated in the rich festival."

John Alma and Mary Ann Williams Lee seemed very satisfied in their new relationship. They lived happily together after their unique marriage for the next twenty years, raising a family of seven children. Mary Ann had a good influence on John Alma, especially a few times when feelings between father and son were strained. She brought her influence to bear at those times, motivating him to mend any differences that might exist between him and his father.

John Alma preceded her in death at the early age of forty-one on September 11, 1881. She died just five months later at approximately the same age.

She married (1) John Doyle LEE 1856.

Mary married (2) John Alma LEE 18Jan 1859 in Old Fort Harmony, Washington, Utah.

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