Mary Ann Olive Rawson Taylor
MARY ANN OLIVE RAWSON TAYLOR Taken from her father, Daniel Berry Rawson’s Autobiography and her daughter, Mary Maud Taylor Nielson’s Autobiography Mary Ann Olive Rawson was born January 2, 1855, the third daughter of Daniel Berry Rawson and Nancy Boss in Ogden, Utah. Her parents had met and married in November, 1849, in Salt Lake City after Daniel had returned from the Mormon Battalion and crossed the plains with the Willard Richards Company, arriving in October, 1849. Daniel Berry and Nancy had moved to Ogden in the spring of 1850. They built a house and fenced and established a farm. Daniel had also built a shop with a turning lathe and made the first chair and spinning wheel that was made in Weber County. Mary Ann’s oldest sister, Nancy Emeline was born June 19, 1851. She was followed by Elizabeth Ann on February 3, 1853. After Mary Ann’s birth, the family moved to Farmington in the spring of 1855, where her father built a house in town and fenced a farm of 30 acres. They lost their first crop to grasshoppers. The following spring, 1856, her father sold his property in Farmington, and their little family moved to Payson, where Daniel once again built a house and established a farm. On April 23, 1857 another daughter blessed this household, Obedience Lenora. When Mary Ann was three, her father was called to Echo Canyon to take a load of supplies to the men who were awaiting the arrival of Johnston’s Army. He remained until the conclusion of the Echo War. On May 31, 1859, the Rawson family welcomed another daughter, Polly Ann. The following spring, they once again sold their property and this time moved back to Ogden City. Mary Ann welcomed another little sister, Sariah, on July 8, 1861 and her first little brother, Daniel Heber. He was born September 8, 1863 but only lived until March 18, 1864. The latter part of 1864, this family was on the move again. Mary Ann’s father rented a farm from Chauncey West in Harrisville and moved his family into it. In 1866, Daniel Berry married Mary Melvina Taylor. She bore him four sons, Silas Daniel, David Ward, Joseph Horace and Wilford Woodruff. Mary Ann’s father left their home to serve a mission for a year in Arizona in 1875. He returned and was called to serve as bishop of Harrisville. He often shared the family’s fruits and vegetables and other supplies with the poor and sick. At this time he operated a molasses mill. It was always a delight on Christmas morning for Mary Ann and her sisters to receive a stick of molasses candy and a large doughnut in their stockings. Their mother would stay up late Christmas Eve making these treats. As Mary Ann grew older, she met Stephen Ordway Jr., the son of Jane Lake and the adopted son of Joseph Taylor. His own father, the late Stephen Ordway was killed on April 29, 1851 while bringing logs down from the canyon. Stephen Ordway Jr. died in a similar plight by a sliding log in Bingham on August 7, 1872. Mary Ann gave birth to a son, Stephen Daniel, on April 7, 1872. The following September, the nineteen year old half-brother of Stephen’s married Mary Ann and stood in proxy for his brother, Stephen, to be sealed to her in the Endowment House (September 23, 1872). Moroni Taylor was born May 1, 1853 at Kaysville, Davis County, Utah, the son of Joseph Taylor and Jane Lake Ordway. Mary Ann and Moroni settled in Harrisville, where they had two children, Nancy Elnora, born September 6, 1875 and Mary Maud, born September 16, 1878. It was during this time that Moroni worked on the Salt Lake Temple foundation. While living in Harrisville, their daughter, Maud, took cold after having the measles. It settled in her eyes. For three months the best doctors in Ogden gave them little hope of their daughter ever seeing again, but through Mary Ann’s tireless and faithful nursing, her eyesight was restored. On October 15, 1881, Mary Ann gave birth to their fourth child, Joseph Moroni. He was a large baby and came breach with only a midwife’s help. Sometime later, their family of six moved to Ashley Valley near Vernal. They lived in a one-room log home with a willow shanty over the front. One day Mary Ann saw three large grey wolves slowly walking by and disappearing in a deep gulch in front of their house. Her son, Stephen, had gone to town and would have to cross through this gulch on his way home. Mary Ann put her trust in God, as she always did, and Stephen came home safely. (The gulch was their only supply of water. After a heavy rainstorm there would be two large barrels filled with the much needed water.) On April 9, 1884, Mary Ann gave birth to twin girls, Dora and Cora. Moroni went to the neighbors to where Maud and Ronie were staying to tell them the glad news. He was very joyful when he said they had two real live dolls at their house. He tried answering questions with Ronie on his shoulders and Maud holding onto his hand. Moroni’s half-sister, Claricy, was taking care of Mary Ann at this time. Maud sized up the twins and was a little disappointed. Dora was crying and Cora had no hair, and they were both very red. She soon decided they were okay since her mother and father loved them so much. Life in Ashley Valley was not easy, and there was much work to do. With Mary Ann’s time taken with her family especially her twin babies, Moroni would get up early on wash day, do the wash on the board and have it on the line by daybreak so he could get to work on the thrasher. As a family of eight now, they left Ashley and moved ten miles from Vernal to a small settlement called Dry Fork. Moroni bought a three-room log cabin with a surface well and a few acres of land on which they raised fine vegetable gardens. Across the street was a big one-room log meeting-school house and amusement hall. The children attended school when they could (Nancy was often needed at home to help with the twins), but had to learn by memory as there were not enough books for them. One day Moroni took a load of pine logs to Vernal and came back with primers for his children. The children also enjoyed Primary and remembered songs such as “In Our Lovely Deseret” and “Joseph Smith’s First Prayer.” Mary Ann was set apart in 1885 to be President of the Primary. It wasn’t long before the family was on the move again, this time just 3 miles down the canyon to a ranch home Moroni bought. This home had 3 log rooms with a big fireplace in the south end of the kitchen which was in the same room as the living room. All the rooms faced the east. The cookstove stood off to one side of the fireplace, and there were also two wood boxes, one large one and one small. In the winter months Roni and Maud carried the wood to fill these boxes. Stephen always cut the wood and would fill their arms. The children would study the school books Moroni had bought them by firelight. Mary Ann would help them when they had questions. She kept busy knitting and sewing for her growing family. Moroni bought a small herd of sheep. Stephen, 13, was given the job of herding them on a close range of mountains. One winter day, he asked his mother if Roni, 4, could go with him for company since he got so lonesome. Mary Ann consented. Stephen wrapped his little brother’s legs with burlap as he did his own, and they left. Toward evening Nancy and Maud were doing the chores. Nancy was milking cows and Maud was shucking corn for the pigs, when Stephen came running. He asked if Roni had come home. Finding that he had not, Stephen and Nancy realized he was lost and ran back up to the mountain, yelling to Maud not to tell Mother. Mary Ann, hearing the confusion, was immediately told that her son was lost. She sought comfort as always in prayer. Stephen and Nancy would later tell how they would run for a while, and then drop down on their knees and pray and get up and run again. They came across fresh bear tracks and then they found Roni around a big rock. He had been crying, “Stebbie, I fot you was lost.” It was a wonderful reunion when the three children returned. Another time, Mary Ann picked up the water bucket and started for the creek when their old family dog, Bruno, tried to keep her from going. She thought it was strange and got rather cross with him. However, he stayed between her and the water and glanced up. There was a big mountain lion across the creek. Down went Mary Ann’s bucket and back to the house as fast as her legs could carry her with old Bruno behind her. The children often went barefoot and had one pair of shoes apiece which they kept shined with the soot from the stove lids. These were for wearing to Primary and Sunday School, dances and theatres. They often rode in the back of the wagon on top of hay with a quilt spread over them. Moroni often took them when he wasn’t freighting. With his wife as president, he was never too busy to hitch up his team and take them all to Primary which was held on Saturday afternoons. Nancy always helped with one of the twins on Primary day. While living there Moroni planted small crops of sorghum cane, a few acres of oats and always big patches of corn. He would cut the oats with a hand scythe. The family would shell the corn and send it to be made into cornmeal. They enjoyed the molasses which was stiff enough to wind upon a knife. They often made molasses candy. Mary Ann did all the sewing for her family by hand. She did not own a sewing machine. On December 7, 1886, Mary Ann gave birth to her 7th child, a little dark curly-haired girl, Dellina, whom they all worshiped. Her brother, Stephen, composed verses about her. When Dellina was old enough to toddle around, Bruno, their faithful old dog proved himself to be a hero again. By then there had been a shortcut hard beaten path to the creek. The men had made a small swimming pool that was rocked up so a small stream could run in and out and would be warmed by the sun. On hot days the family could take off their loose outer garments and take a dip and paddle and then spread their wet clothes on the willows to dry. Moroni had also fixed some shelves along the shaded bank of the creek which were covered over with screen wire where Mary Ann kept milk, butter, etc. Not too far from where they dipped up the water was a very large rock that protruded out over a deep hole where the water looked green. One day Mary Ann left Dellina for a few minutes and had taken a stroll down the creek bank looking for peppermint. When she returned her first words were, “Where’s the baby?” The children ran to the creek. There was little Dellina on the very edge of that big rock crying, “Mama!” Bruno, who was not a very large dog, stood with his feet braced, holding onto her dress. The family gathered around and hugged their old ugly dog as he had never been hugged before. In the winter of 1886, while Nancy was staying in Dry Fork going to school, Maud wanted to help with the dishwashing. This particular morning, tubs and boilers sat around in the big kitchen filled with snow in preparation for the big wash which was done by board. Maud tried pouring boiling water from an iron tea kettle into a six quart pan which she held against the stove with her tummy. It took both hands to pour the water. When it got nearly full, the pan fell with the water running down her right leg over her wool knit stocking and shoe. Mary Ann came running and put her leg in a tub of snow. She and Stephen split her stocking and shoe. There was flesh stuck to her stocking. Mary Ann knew little about taking care of third degree burns, but she wrapped Maud’s leg with bandages soaked in linseed oil and her leg finally healed with a deep scar. Moroni started building a new hewed log house a short distance from the old home and he also set out a small orchard. The house was just one large room. He intended on putting in a partition and making two rooms of it. It had a shingle roof. They moved in during the summer. It was shady and pleasant to live in, but when the winter came, there was no cheerful warm fireplace. It seemed that some of the family was sick the whole winter through. There was steam in the room most of the winter because of no ventilation. One time after Moroni had been gone for 6 weeks on one of his freighting trips, he returned to find Maud with an ulcerated tooth. He turned to Mary Ann and said, “Get her ready for bed and give her some gruel.” Maud also heard him say, “Poor little girl. She must get a good night’s sleep so she will be able to stand the trip.” Mary Ann gave her the gruel and Moroni went in, knelt down and started rubbing her head, praying for her. She felt herself being lowered into her pillow and knew no more until sunup. The next day Moroni put her behind himself on a horse and rode 7 miles to Vernal where the tooth was pulled by a friend. Even though the raspberries were beginning to bare and the orchard was coming on, Mary Ann and Moroni moved their family back to Dry Fork. Moroni, with Stephen’s help grew fine gardens where ever they lived. Moroni seemed to be home more while they were living in town. Mary Ann said that because of their having to move so often all she had to do was to say to the old hens, “We’re moving again, and they would flop on their backs and hold up their legs to be tied.” They never did go back to their ranch home again. Roni got very sick and the neighbors didn’t think he would live. They had no doctors, just home remedies, etc. When everything they tried seemed of no value, Moroni went down to the creek and got some black slew mud. He and Mary Ann made a poultice of it and laid it on his stomach. They then had the elders come in and administer to him, after which he was healed at once. He asked for hot biscuits and butter. Mary Ann told the children to run to the neighbors for butter and she had hot biscuits ready by the time they got back. About this time Moroni met some men who were on the move to San Luis Valley, Colorado. Moroni sold all his property for a few good milk cows, two double box covered wagons with 10 or 12 horses. In one of the wagons he built a cupboard that let down for a table. While they were on their way to Colorado, the cream was churned into butter through the jolting of the wagon. Ronie was still weak, but strong enough to ride the pony that was given to him. He drove the cattle all the way. It took six weeks to travel to Colorado. There were two families and a single man in the company. Whenever they came to a green grassy shady place, they stayed for a day or so. The nearer they got to San Luis Valley, the less grass and vegetation there seemed to be. Finally they arrived. The wind and dust were blowing. The men went out to look over the many acres of farmland. However, it was difficult for them to see anything for the gravel blowing in their eyes. The children heard Mary Ann say to Moroni, “This is the end of the world.” As a family they made the best of it. They all seemed happy. Mary Ann and Moroni were congenial, no scolding. Sabbath day was always holy. Each day they had prayer, night and morning and over the 3 meals. They all went to church when they could. They traveled on with a single man that had come to live with them earlier. They stopped where there was one big log room with a few pieces of furniture. The men were working on a big canal to try to earn a little money. They had but few comforts of life, but Mary Ann would always say,”Blessed by nothing.” What little they had was kept clean and orderly. Another saying of Mary Ann’s was that she could get up in the dark and put her hand on whatever she was looking for. Their first home in a town (Sanford, Conejos, Colorado) was a one-large log room. They didn’t stay there long, but while there, Moroni bought Mary Ann a Singer sewing machine. Mary Ann hesitated in using it since she was so used to doing all her sewing by hand. But Nancy and Maud took over the family sewing using the machine. Moroni sold or traded a team and wagon for a 2-room shingle-roofed hewed log house. This was 1889. There was a big artesian flowing well close by where all the neighbors got their drinking water. It didn’t seem to agree with the Taylor family, but they got used to it. There were a few desirable things in the way of food; the flour made beautiful white bread. There were large rutabagas, large solid cabbages and very good potatoes. The only thing that grew on their place was a few citron melons. Mary Ann made some preserves out of the rinds. On December 16, 1889, their eighth child, William Bailey, was born. He was a little bright-eyed baby who came after only 8 months of pregnancy. Mary Ann was sick with a bad cold. William Bailey was also sickly and had to have his head wrapped for a long time. One night there was a northern blizzard. Their house faced north. Moroni had trained their old faithful dog to always sleep outside near the door. This one time Moroni coaxed and tried pulling him indoors. He seemed frightened and insisted on staying on the doorstep. Moroni fed him extra and put an old coat for him on the step. There was someone sick nearly all that winter. The spring was a long time in coming with a lot of cold wind, but the family seemed contented and happy. That fall when school was in session, a cry went out that there was a mad dog loose. Before he could be caught, the mad dog had bitten the Taylor’s dog, Bruno. Moroni staked Bruno and watched him. After a while he started with the fits. In between fits, Moroni always fed and watered him. Moroni felt he couldn’t kill him, but the dog kept getting worse. He asked a neighbor to come and shoot Bruno. The neighbor aimed the gun and Bruno just lay looking at him with human eyes. He couldn’t do it. Moroni kept taking care of him for some time longer and finally had to knock him unconscious with an ax. He must have dug a deep grave for his beloved dog for he was gone a long time. When he returned, he told Mary Ann, “I would rather have knocked the best horse I ever owned in the head than to have to knock our old dog, Bruno.” In 1890 Moroni sold their home again and moved out where there were a few Mexican farmers. They lived in a Mexican built mud house – two rooms with a patio between the rooms. It was cool and pleasant with small set-in windows. Their Mexican neighbors called on them and were well received. They stayed only through the summer months. They then moved to a farm with a two-story house that Moroni leased. They planted acres of potatoes. The next place they lived in was a two-room log house with acres of fenced land. Nothing was planted and nothing was growing, except for a brush called greasewood. Their nearest neighbors were a half-mile down the road. There was a small artesian well some distance from the house. Mary Ann kept milk and other things in covered vessels sitting around it. While living there, Moroni followed the threshing machines to make a little money. Their next move was back to Sanford on the north end of town in a two-room log house with a one acre lot – half was in lucern. They also had a granary and other outhouses. Moroni bought this place and there they stayed for some years. On May 10, 1892 Mary Ann brought her ninth child into the world – a little dark, curly-haired boy, Simon Elwin. When he was five months old, he was exposed to whooping cough. He never coughed and didn’t seem to be sick, but the disease was in his spine. He died in his sleep while nursing. It was an awful shock to Mary Ann. He died September 23, 1892. Moroni was not there. He had left for the silver mines in Creed, Colorado to do a bit of prospecting, leaving Stephen to carry on as the provider of the family for a short time. For a while, Mary Ann and Maud had one pair of shoes between them. One holiday Maud fixed up a straw hat of one of Mary Ann’s sisters and with Mary Ann’s shoes, she went out and enjoyed herself. When she got home, Mary Ann was out pulling lucern for the hogs with a pair of socks on her feet. None of the children went to school during this time. Nancy went to work for people in Sanford. On June 21, 1894, Mary Ann’s tenth child was born, a little blue baby who had convulsions. He was named John Earl and he died July 3, 1894. Shortly after this, Moroni took his family up to Creed, a mining town, where they lived in a big two-story rooming house which had some furniture such as a bed, chairs and a table. Moroni and Stephen hauled firewood to make extra money. They also worked on some prospecting claims. Nancy and Maud took turns working out because Mary Ann had to have their help to take care of the two men who were living with them along with their family. Nancy married John C. White of Sanford, Colorado in his mother’s home on December 24, 1895. Maud went with her. After 6 weeks Moroni sent for Maud to go back to Creed to help her mother. Upon arriving home, she became very sick with typhoid pneumonia. Moroni took over all of her nursing since running up and down the long flight of stairs was more than Mary Ann could stand. Maud did recover. In the spring of 1896, the family moved back to Sanford to their two-room log house. Moroni was anxious to get back to Creed to work on a claim, so after a short stay, he left. He was away when Mary Ann with the help of a midwife gave birth to their last two sons. He was not where he could be reached when they both passed away. Mary Ann never complained. Jim and Lucy Holman and a few other good neighbors tried to help the Taylor’s. Stephen tried to carry on in his father’s absence. It wasn’t long until Moroni returned home bringing a partner on one his claims. Moroni sold one of his claims for quite a sum of money. With the money he bought a six-room brick house which consisted of a big lot with a brick chicken coop and a high board fence around it, quite a few red berry bushes covered with the very tart little berries and a big garden plot. Near this house was one lovely rose bush. Moroni bought a few good cows and rented a vacated ranch home with some pasture land. He got a little gentle white mule and a cart and had Maud and Ronie live there for a while and milk the cows and raise turkeys. Moroni fixed shelves which were screened by the side of a flowing artesian well. He bought a herd of cattle, some cedar posts, barbed wire and leased some greasewood land and left the boys to carry on. The boys would have helped but didn’t know how or what to do. Stephen got a fine team of horses which he sold to go on a mission in 1898. In 1897, Mary Ann was again set apart as President of the Primary in Sanford. Before Stephen left on his mission, they would have parties at their home because they had an organ and a big dining room. Mary Ann was always so cheerful, making the young people feel welcome. On Sunday evenings after church the young people would come to their home, gather around the organ and sing. There were other homes that the young people liked to gather. One of them had their liquor. Moroni forbid Maud from going there. She was coaxed by her friends but told them that she had promised her father. When she came in, Moroni said, “Maudie, you have always been obedient to me and I surely appreciate it.” She was 20 and never saw her father again. Mary Ann oversaw her children being baptized and getting their patriarchal blessings. When Maud became serious with Erastus Anthon (E.A.) Nielson, Moroni had a prospect claim that he was expecting to sell and wrote to her asking her to wait a little so he would able to help her. For two weeks she slept with her mother, Mary Ann, where they would lay and talk. Maud left for Provo to be met and married to E.A. Nielson July 24, 1902. Moroni left his claim and let his partner reap the benefits. It was later sold for $5,000. Moroni received nothing for his share. Mary Ann feared that the partner had done away with her husband. But he didn’t. Moroni continued prospecting and Mary Ann moved to Logan and became a devoted temple worker. In 1925, Mary Ann was living with her son, Ronie, in Logan. She suffered from gallstone trouble. The winter passed and in early spring, the family hurried to Logan where she was dying. Little Mary Ann seemingly passed away, then life came back as she said she had a message to deliver. Moroni had passed away 2 years earlier. She sat up in bed and declared that she wanted to be sealed to Moroni. Mary Ann passed away February 8, 1926 quietly and seemingly without pain from quick pneumonia. After the funeral, Roni took Mary Ann’s remains back to Sanford, Colorado to be buried by the side of Moroni and her two little sons.