By Diana Hess & Ariana Tolbert
A special connection: by Ariana
We found Mary Ann Chambers on our first ever headstone hunt. We didn’t even realize the journey on which we would embark. Mary Ann’s headstone has the word “mother” etched on the front, but her name isn’t visible.
I didn’t even realize there wasn’t even a name associated with the marker when I first saw Mary Ann’s headstone. Her name is on the back, and it’s readable and well-preserved, but I still think it’s fascinating that her whole story, her fantastic and fascinating life, is hidden behind the word, “mother.” She was a mother, but her life was so much more than that.
Mary Ann’s story is inspiring. It is a beautiful reminder that trials and struggles are not the end. Although I’m not directly related to her (I’ve checked), I’ve adopted her as a kind of great-great-great aunt. I hope you love her story as much as I do.
The Story: By Diana Hess
As we look back on our lives, we pick out those times when the decisions we made didn’t turn out like we thought they would. The same was true for Mary Ann Walton (Whatton). We can learn about her life from stories posted on the FamilySearch.org website.
Mary Ann was born in England in 1811. At the age of 21 she married John White and had a son and a daughter. Her little girl died shortly after birth. John stole from warehouses and was sent on a prison ship to Tasmania. Although he made it to Tasmania, Mary Ann said her husband had been lost at sea for the rest of her life.
Mary Ann then married Joseph Chambers. He was a respectable man who worked for the railroad. Joseph had an unfortunate accident on a trestle and broke his leg. The leg did not heal properly and was amputated. They had three children together.
They joined the Mormon church and joined a pioneer ox-team company to come west to America. In her cart she had three cedar chests of linens from a store they had in England. Joseph became ill and he died in Nebraska.
That left Mary Ann to continue her journey with her four children. When she finally arrived at her destination, she traded her linens corn meal, molasses, and other provisions to feed her hungry family. Mary Ann was an expert in home management and secured a position in Brigham Young’s home where she did fine sewing and fancy cooking. She rose to the position of head housekeeper.
In 1854 she married John Ormond. From what we can tell, they had any children. John was a street candy vendor. Unfortunately, John also had troubles with the law. He was arrested for stabbing someone with the intent to kill. He was fined $25 and sentenced to 15 months in the penitentiary. Mary Ann must have divorced him because when he was released from prison he moved out of the area.
Mary Ann kept the name Chambers for her whole life. I’m sure she didn’t want to be linked again with someone who was a criminal.
Mary Ann and her children moved to Spanish Fork, Utah where they homesteaded. Their first home was a crude little hut. Later they built a brick home. Mary Ann worked as a nurse and did house work to earn a living.
At some point she married her fourth husband Richard Timmins. We really don’t know what their marriage was like, but it is interesting to see that in the Spanish Fork cemetery she is buried next to her daughter, Mary Ann Chambers Morgan. Mary Ann’s headstone has her last name as Chambers, not Timmins. She was almost 83 when she died. Richard Timmins is also buried in the same cemetery, but not even near Mary Ann. He is buried next to someone who is referred to as his “second” wife.