Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In Their Own Words: Mary Ann Johnson

The following was written by Ruth Burton Pierce, a granddaughter of Mary Ann Johnson and George Burton. The piece was edited by Lynn Ransom Burton on 3 February 1988.

Mary Ann Johnson Burton was born 20 June 1845 at Pilkington, Lancashire, England. She was the youngest child of Thomas Johnson and Sarah Mason. The children of Thomas Johnson and Sarah Mason were, in order of their birth: Matthew, Edward, Caleb, Thomas, Sarah, James and Mary Ann.

Mary Ann was baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 22 July 1854 by Thomas Johnson, and confirmed 23 July 1854 by Thomas Mills. We know very little of her early life, but we have heard that her people were quite prosperous.

Mary Ann married George Burton 11 June 1865 at the St. Thomas Church in the parish of Radcliffe, Lancashire, England, according to the rites and ceremonies of the established church, after banns, by Robert Fletcher, in the presence of Samuel Hall and Thomas Howarth, witnesses. Their first child, James Thomas, was born in Pilkington, Lancashire, England, 4 Oct 1866. He died 9 June 1867, and was buried in Lancashire, England.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the spirit of gathering and uniting with the Saints in Zion was uppermost in the hearts of these young people. On 30 June 1868 Mary Ann, her husband George Burton, and her mother, Sarah Mason Johnson, sailed from England to a new land where they could mingle with the Saints and more fully realize the blessings of the Gospel. From the emigration records, we find that Mary Ann was twenty-three years of age, George was thirty-one years of age, and Sarah Mason Johnson was fifty-eight years of age when they sailed from Liverpool, England on the ship "Minnesota."

It must have been with mixed feelings that these people left their beloved homeland when they knew they would encounter many hardships. Their hearts must have ached to leave the land of their birth, where their only child was buried.

On their arrival in Utah, George, Mary Ann, and Sarah Mason Johnson made their home in Bountiful. This first home was a dugout, in the manner of many of the pioneers of the time. But as George had experience in stone masonry and construction, he soon built a comfortable home for his family. Mary Ann was very energetic and neat in her housework, and soon made their home as attractive as she could. The few dishes and articles which she had brought with her from England were treasured links between her life in the old country and her new life in America.

George and Mary received their endowments and were sealed for time and all eternity 22 April 1872, in the Endowment House. Five children were born to them in Bountiful. These children, in order of their birth, were: Sarah Ann, Mary Ann, George, William Johnson Burton, and Caleb Johnson Burton. Mary Ann and her young family faced tragedy when the husband and father passed away on 31 March 1891, at Bountiful, Davis County, Utah. His years as a stonecutter had taken their toll as the dust settled in his lungs and caused the dread disease of consumption. After her husband's death, Mary Ann was left with a fairly young family to support. This was a difficult undertaking, especially in those days of trial and hardship. Mary Ann was often at a loss to know how to feed the family. The children were required to take what work they could outside the home. The oldest daughter went to live with another family in Bountiful. The boys took what work they could secure. Mary Ann went to work as a clerk for Mr. Kay, in his store.

Mary Ann passed away 1 May 1898 at Bountiful, Davis, Utah, and was buried by the side of her husband in the Bountiful cemetery.

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