BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MARY REES THATCHER
blina, Wales on 16 Dec. 1844, a lovely daughter Mary
Rees was born to Thomas and Hagar Pugh Rees. Her parents were Latter-Day Saints. So, when
Mary reached the age of eight years she was baptized a member.
During her early years there were
few Latter-Day Saints in the country; and the saints as well as their children were
ridiculed and persecuted to such an extent that Thomas and Hagar thought it
best not to send their children to school. Therefore Mary never attended school
The only education she received was
at Sunday School and what little her parents could
teach her. It was thought at that time that all that was needed for a girl to know, was how to be a good homemaker, cook, sew, and knit. These
were things that Mary excelled in and enjoyed doing.
Thomas, was an Elder and was called
to different towns to establish branches of the church, consequently his family
was always on the move, staying about two years in a place until the branch was
running smoothly, then he would move back to Blina unil [sic] called to establish another branch of the church
elswhere [sic] in the Lords vineyard.
Mary loved to attend street meetings
with her father. Many times she was hurt by the rougheons.
They called the preacher names, argued and had rotten eggs thrown at them. At
one time in particular she stood in the corner where her father was preaching,
when a man in the audience was arguing with him and calling him names, she
slipped up behind him and kept kicking him in the heels. He would turn around
swearing, but she was looking away with and innocent expression, until he
called her father more names; then he would receive more kicks.
The cottage meetings and church
gatherings where the saints, missionaries and investigators met together were
filled with the spirit of the Lord, and the Holy Ghost would be with them in
rich abundance, that many would speak in tongues and prophecy.
When she was eleven years of age;
one of the Elders said to her, “Mary, Why don’t you pray for the gift of
tongues?” She did so, and the next Sunday while attending meeting, she was
given the gift of talking and singing in tongues. The interpretation was also
given at the meeting.
When she was real young she went
with her grandmother to a church in one of the large cathedrals. They sat in a
very expensive pew. After the services were over her grandmother asked her how
she liked the sermon. She said it was fine but her father could preach a much
better sermon than that. This rather offended her grandmother, and she never
took her to church any more. To think her father was a better preacher, than
the minister, who had spent years preparing to preach
was more than she could stand.
Thomas Rees had a brother, Isaac,
who came to Utah with the handcart company. As soon as Thomas and Hagar could
afford it the older children were sent to America one at a time. First came
Ann, Then Gwen, and at the age of nineteen Mary left Blina
for America. She was on the ocean four weeks, and four days, sailing on the “General
After leaving New York, it took them
seven days to get to Omaha, Nebraska, where they camped three weeks before
leaving for Utah by ox team with Captain Rawlins company.
Her journey across the plains was
filled with many hardships. She took care of the father and mother of Elder
George Byewaters. They were an elderly couple, and
the old gentleman died on their trip and was burried
[sic] on the plains. The Indians were very bad at that time and they were
always on the watch for attacks from them.
One morning while traveling over the
desert they come to a camp where the bodies of eleven men were lying on the
ground. They must have been killed by a band of Indians who had been frightened
away by the approach of the caravan. The only woman of party was found hiding
in the wagon box under some clothing, very frightened, but unhurt.
They buried the bodies and brought
the woman to Utah with them. Her chum Margaret Jones and herself had started
out with the intention of walking across the plains, but the teamsters were
kind enough to see that they did very little walking. Many buffalo were seen on
the plains, and when the party stopped to camp the woman would gather buffalo
chips to make their fires. At night the hardships of the day were forgotten as
they gathered around the camp fire to dance, sing, and pray and otherwise enjoy
themselves. Twenty-six of their number died while
crossing the plains.
On her arrival in Salt Lake, she was
met by Thomas Giles, a blind musician from Monmouthshire,
Blina, Wales, who in earlier days she had led to
church, meetings, and to take music lessons on the harp.
A week later she went to Provo to
the home of her sister Ann Rees Cutts. It was at her sisters home that she first met
George Thatcher. They were married 9 Nov. 1864 by Bishop Scott.
Her husband had been married twice
before, first to Emma Bond, who died leaving a son three weeks old. He then
married Hannah Bond, Emma’s sister who died after nine months of married life.
She was very curageus
[sic] to enter married life with one, to whom such luck had attended his
married life, and the care of a child; but her courageous spirit ever ready to
help other in need make of her a good mother to the motherless boy, and also
her own children.
Her life was full of service from
the very beginning to her family, as it required so much real effort for every
luxury they received.
George, her husband, was a freighter
and he would leave home for weeks at a time, leaving Mary with the care of a
small family, plus the milking and gardening, and all the out of door chores.
She proved to be a real helpmate doing
all the things common to the pioneer women at that day such as washing, making
candles and soap. Carding the wool and spinning it into yarn,
and gathering together bark, and weeds together with madder and coprose of which she used to color yarn. She would then
hire it weaved into lincy, and flannel from which she
made all clothing for herself, husband, and children.
No task was too hard for her and the
greatest joy and happiness came to her when she could help and comfort others.
Her whole life had been a life of sacrifice; doing without comforts; giving up
pleasures; staying at home and working hard so that her loved ones might have
the things they desired and be able to come home to a comfortable warm house
and good cooked meals.
If one had gone into her home on
Saturday night, when her children were small, they would see her husband’s and
children’s clothes all layed out, the shoes
blackened, and everything in readiness for Sunday morning. Her husband was an
officer in the Sunday School. She was not only a
blessing to her own family but she was a strength and comfort to her neighbors
and friends, in times of sickness and trouble.
Not having the privilege of an education
herself, she was determined that she would make any sacrifice that her children
night [sic] be educated. It was with this thought in view that she decided to
take in boarders.
The fall before her eleventh child
was born she took into her home two young men who were attending school at B.
Y. U. and from then on for more than twenty years she kept from two to eight
boarders. Up to this time every one of her ten living children had obtained a
fairly good district school education for their day, and all had attended the
B. Y. Academy.
Three of her children, Emma,
Elizabeth, and Pearl went long enough to prepare themselves for school
teachers. Harriet discontinued school to work in the woolen mills and later she
clerked in the Co-op store in Provo. Dina also discontinued school to work in
the woolen mills. Hagar Jane only went to B. Y. for a short time. She was such
a help to her mother in the home helping care for the small children and
cooking for the boarders. She did her part so willingly and worked so good with
her mother that she helped make a success of keeping boarders.
Sarah’s health was always so poor
she could not go to school very long at a time. Joseph, after leaving school,
took a correspondence course and learned the Mason trade. Alma left school to
study book binding. Wilford gave his thoughts mostly
Besides helping and planning for her
own at the death of her brother Thomas and his wife, she took into her family
two of his children, Thomas and Gus. She did all she could to mother them.
She remained active until the very
last. Her mind stayed clear, however her eyesight failed her towards the last,
but she still continued to do her own cooking, housefork,
The Friday before she died she was
making Hot Cross Buns, but the task proved too much for her so she called
Lucille Thatcher, her grand-daughter that was living with her at the time, and
going to the B.Y.U. to come and finish the task. At the time Lucille’s mother, Mary, was expecting a visit from the stork, and grandma kept
telling her that she would get along fine because she had been praying for her.
The baby came and Lucille went home to wee her new sister. While Lucille was
home Mary Rees Thatcher passed away 2 May, 1936.
May the things she has done, and the
life that she had lived be a strength and an example to those coming after her.