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Friday, July 15, 2011

Pioneer Story of Peter Maughan

Peter Maughan is my great, great, great grandfather. Peter and Ruth's son, William Harrison Maughan is my great, great grandfather.
Submitted By: Angus H. Belliston

Peter Maughan (1811-1871) was the sixth child of William Maughan and Martha Wilson and was born at Milton, Cumberland. Because of his prominence, much has been written about Peter Maughan, the great pioneer colonizer of Cache Valley. This account will serve only as a vignette, summarizing his life.  Born in the little village of Milton in Cumberland County, northern England on 7 May 1811, Peter grew to manhood in humble circumstances. From the age of fifteen, he worked in the lead mines.

Peter was married at age twenty to Ruth Harrison, age nineteen, on 1 October 1831. Peter and Ruth were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Alston in 1838 and were active in the branch. Almost immediately they were the parents of several children. They lived faithfully together. Peter was soon recognized as one of the Lord’s favored disciples and served in important callings all his days.

Ruth’s time on earth was cut short by her death just after the birth of her sixth child, baby Ruth, on 26 March 1841. She went to her grave while making plans to emigrate to America with her husband and family. Brigham Young advised Peter to go forward with these plans, and the motherless family together launched out across the deep in company with Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball and five other apostles returning from their famous mission to Britain. Peter and his children set sail on the Rochester for America, arriving May 19, 1841. The little baby Ruth died from malnourishment and was buried at sea off the coast of Newfoundland. The trip was a sad occasion for Maughan, as he had to bury his baby daughter, Ruth, at sea.

Peter and his family went to Kirtland, Ohio for a few weeks where he met a young widow, Mary Ann Weston Davis. When he decided to travel to Nauvoo, Illinois, Mrs. Davis and her companion were in the same wagon train which allowed them to become more acquainted. After arriving in Nauvoo, they decided they would be married on November 2, 1841. Peter married a young widow, Mary Ann Weston Davis, who became a wonderful mother to his five surviving children. She bore eight more of her own, all of whom were given the middle name of Weston. Peter later married Elizabeth Preator, who bore three children. This brought the total number of Peter’s children to seventeen. Many of these had large families of their own, and the posterity of Peter Maughan has grown to very large numbers, most of whom have faithfully retained their blessings in the Lord’s Church.
In Nauvoo, Peter found work as a stonemason on the Nauvoo Temple. In the Nauvoo temple, he and Mary Ann were endowed on 2 February 1846. Peter joined the Nauvoo Legion. He purchased a lot, built a home and stayed in Nauvoo until the spring of 1844, just before the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. The Prophet sent him north to Rock Island to mine coal. A year later, the coal enterprise was closed and the family returned to Nauvoo to prepare to flee west with the Saints. But sickness in the family intervened and they were unable to get ready in time.

The family moved to New Diggings, Wisconsin in April 1846 where Maughan and the two older sons worked in the lead mines. Money was very scarce and the expense of living with such a large family and outfitting the two wagons needed caused the family to stay in New Diggings until April 1850. Peter said the Lord showed him where to mine. After finding lead ore on their own property, they were able to raise the final $800 in 8 weeks and buy the needed equipment and supplies for the long trip to the Salt Lake Valley.

(More information can be found at this blog post about his travels to Salt Lake - click here.)

They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 15, 1850. In Utah and after resting a week, the family was first assigned to Tooele, where Peter became the county clerk and assessor, then Recorder for Tooele City, then county treasurer and finally a member of the Territorial Legislature. He also was called to preside over the Church in E. T. City, near Tooele. Poor soil, crickets, diseases in their crops and hostile Indians made this a difficult pioneering enterprise. A lesser man than Peter and a lesser woman than Mary Ann might have given up. But they overcame all difficulties and prepared themselves for their next assignment. This came early in 1856, when Brigham Young asked Peter to head a company of pioneers in settling Cache Valley.

In September, the settlers camped on a stream in the south end of the Cache Valley and decided to make this their home, and to call it “Maughan’s Fort.” The severe winter and the invasion of Johnston’s Army in 1857 caused a temporary evacuation. In 1859, the settlers had returned and the little city became Wellsville. Soon many families began flocking to the lovely valley. Logan, Providence, Mendon, Smithfield and Richmond were soon established. Peter Maughan was named Probate Judge for Cache County, which office at that time was the chief executive. He was also called by the Church as “Presiding Bishop,” a calling similar to that of later stake presidents. He and Apostle Ezra T. Benson, who had also moved to Logan, worked in close harmony with each other. Peter and his family were asked to move to Logan in 1860, where he could better work with bishops in the whole area, and with other Church and civic officers. By the time they moved into their new three-room log house, Mary Ann was ready to deliver her eighth and last child.
A lifetime of service cannot be told here. Peter Maughan became a giant among the leaders of the new Utah Territory, respected and relied upon by Brigham Young and other leaders, as well as by the people he served. He learned to deal with the Indians so successfully that peace prevailed throughout most his lifetime. His wisdom and integrity were prominently displayed in his intercourse with the Indians, whose respect and confidence he secured and retained, and by his firm, kind treatment, preserved peace in the times of great peril. By the Indians he was always spoken of as having "but one tongue."

He contracted pneumonia and died on 24 April 1871. His body was buried in the Logan cemetery. For Peter's Funeral, the Logan Tabernacle was filled with friends and admirers, including many Indians. It is interesting to read the order of march for the procession to the cemetery: Brass and Martial Bands, Company of Cavalry, The Hearse, Family and Relatives of the deceased, Bishops and Priesthood, Citizens in Carriages and (at the last) a company of Shoshone Indians, by the whole tribe as sincere mourners.

In a religious capacity he was untiring and faithful, full of truth and integrity. His course of life was that of an honest man, marked by the most unblemished integrity in all his private and official acts, while he was also noted as the friend of the poor.

The sons and daughters of Peter Maughan and his three wives became the forebears of a noble posterity. Their names are held in honorable remembrance by all who knew of them, most of all by those who claim them as grandparents.


Rhonda said...

Thanks for the history. It is through the Maughan line you and I are cousins. I think Rich and I tracked it to 8Th cousins ;0) It is also interesting that your dad was born in the Maugahn house, I didn't know that until he told me once.

Zoey said...

Great thing to add to your blog!!!

Valerie said...

That is so cool to have all that family info!

FountainOfOpportunity said...

He had a third wife named Elizabeth and three more children ;)

Sondra Murray said...

Thanks for the information on the 3rd wife, but it is already on this post in the paragraph right ABOVE the Nauvoo Temple - near the bottom. If you have anymore information - or corrections, please let me know. :-D

Cory said...

Great information. We are also of the lineage of Ruth. My daughter had to find some family stories for a school project and this was very helpful!

Stacy and Justin said...

I just read your post it was very interesting, thank you. My Mother is Kristin Maughan from Preston Idaho. Daughter of Webster and Connie Maughan who was the son of David Lloyd Maughan son of William Harrison Maughan son of Peter Maughan. my great great great Grandpa. :)Justin Burrup.


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