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Rees, Mary (Thatcher) - A Brief Sketch of the Life of

A BRIEF SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF MARY REES THATCHER

1844-1936

            In Monmouthshire, 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 a day.

            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 McClellan.”

            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 to farming.

            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, [sic] etc.

            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.

Immigrants:

Rees, Thomas

Pugh, Hagar

Rees, Mary

Thatcher, George

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