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The Family File

Mary Stevenson Clark
An Autobiography
(edited by Heber Don Carlos Clark)

(The following history was written by Grandmother in lead pencil. It was found by my sisters in a dresser of hers soon after her death in November, 1911. H.D.C.Clark)

My father, Joseph Stevenson, was born at Ashby, Barsby, Leicestershire, England, the 15th of October, 1787. He died in Michigan territory in 1831, aged 44 years. My mother, Elizabeth Stevens, and he were married in London, England in 1812 on June 20th. She died in Salt Lake City, Utah aged 84 years, 7 months and 9 days. Children: William born in London, Kent, England, 10 June 1813, died December 17, 1840; Joseph born March 11, 1815, in London, Kent, England, died December 14, 1884. Both were baptized at St. Pauls, London.

My father and family moved to Gibraltar, Spain and right into business and made money. Mother would go upstairs and reach out and wrap paper around the bunches of grapes just outside to keep the birds from eating them. Here Henry D. was born September 10, 1817 and Edward was born May 1, 1820. He (Edward) went in Zion's Camp from Michigan to Missouri in 1834. He was carrying the mail and saw the falling of the stars (meteors) in 1833.

Elizabeth Stevenson born at Gibraltar and I, Mary Stevenson, was born there on August 29, 1825. We moved to Albany, New York in 1827 after landing in Brooklyn. Here[Albany] James was born on August 12, 1830. We moved to Detroit, Michigan where father died in 1831. Mother was baptized in 1832 and Edward in 1833. In 1834 he left 240 acres of land and the family and started for Zion, going to Liberty, Missouri. The rest of the family followed in 1835. My three oldest brothers did not receive the gospel. They went to Cincinnati, Ohio and worked at their trades, one a printer and the other two coopers. I was six years old when father died.

I had a dream, when I was about seven years old, of seeing the Savior. He took me in his arms and then set me down. My mother and brother and only sister sat in a circle. He blessed and kissed us. It was only the members who had become L.D.S. who were in the circle. I told the dream to mother. She said, "That is a good dream. Be a good girl."

We lived in Missouri until the Saints were driven from there to Quincy, Illinois, and then to Nauvoo. We moved across the Mississippi River to Montrose, Iowa and then to a settlement called Clarksville near the town Charlestown where brother Edward built us a cabin and went to work for a living as best we could. At Montrose we lived in a room adjoining Brigham Young. My sister Elizabeth and I worked for gentiles as the Saints were too poor to hire us. My mother was called upon by a sister Morris Phelps (Laura Clark Phelps) to take care of her children while she and her brother John Wesley Clark went to get her husband and others out of jail in Missouri, and she accomplished it for she was directed by the spirit of the Lord. Mother took care and was a comfort to her children until they returned to their home.

My sister Elizabeth and I were baptized when I was 12 years old, in Far West, Missouri, by David W. Patten. I have always been taught to keep the Sabbath day holy and have had a testimony of the gospel from childhood. That testimony that I have heard from the Prophet Joseph Smith and others. It has always stayed with me and I can truly say that I rejoice in the gospel of life and salvation. It will continually be a joy in this life, also in the world to come if we will be obedient to keep the commandments of the LORD.

My mother was very handy with a needle and used to help the Prophet's wife and others of the authorities, and so she was well acquainted and received much instruction and intelligence.

When we lived seven miles west of Nauvoo, my husband's father (Timothy Baldwin Clark, father of Ezra T. Clark) had a good supply of animals and we went often to attend conferences and Fourth of July celebrations in Nauvoo and reviewed the Nauvoo Legion in their marching. It was a beautiful sight to see the Prophet Joseph on his prancing black horse that seemed to keep time with the music of the band. We would sometimes attend meetings in the Grove. We witnessed the laying of the cornerstone of the temple and later attended the conference held therein and received our endowments there on New Year's day, 1846.

We passed through the sad afflictions of the saints in the assassination of our dear Prophet and his brother. My mother walked the dooryard in lamentation. But, with all the persecutions we had passed through, we were driven again toward the wilderness.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, before his death, that we would go to the Rocky Mountains. My brother, Edward Stevenson, went with a company in 1847. My husband and I, and babe, in June 1848. But before starting, my sister's husband, Job Bailey, was not ready to go with us. But he said he would come in two years. His father had joined the Strangites (an apostate group) and so there was no sign of my sister's coming as her husband was preparing to go with his father. My brother, Edward, when with my husband in Illinois working for breadstuff would kneel upon the ground and pray Our Father in Heaven to deliver our sister from apostasy and open the way for her. All of a sudden her husband was taken violently ill and passed away the day her baby was born. The doctor sent a note to my husband who went back and settled her business and brought her and her two little girls in time to start with us. We got along nicely.

I will mention what looked like a sad accident. My husband was driving three yoke of oxen. I tried to jump out of the moving wagon but did not jump far enough and fell back in front of a hind wheel. My husband, as quick as thought, grabbed that wheel and held it from turning. My mother, who was in the wagon, jumped out and ran to the leads and stopped them. He raised the wheel and said, "Get up if you can." He was as white as a sheet. I got up and got the camphor for I thought I was fainting.

We lived two winters at Winter Quarters where my second child was born. From here we started in June 1848 and saw many herds of buffalo and many Indians. We were not frightened. I had all I could do caring for our children and cooking. We used buffalo chips for fuel. We would stop a day, once in a while and cook up all we could and do our washing. Evenings we would milk the cow and put dried bread in the milk and had this for supper. We were happy. We would get around our campfires. We felt that we were going to a place of safety where we would not be mobbed and driven from one state to another as we had been. We were poor and had not time to get clothing and food for our needs before starting, that we really needed.

We arrived at our destination, Salt Lake City, October 12, 1848. We lived in North Canyon two winters. At Salt Lake we were pleased to meet my brother, Edward. We built a log cabin in North Canyon. My husband was ill with mountain fever while building. Here we were near water and timber. While living there our third child was born November 25, 1849. We named her Mary Elizabeth. Quite a number of families lived near us and we would get together and have very pleasant times. April 3rd, 1850, we moved into Farmington, took a farm and raised good crops. Several of our neighbors did likewise. Several Clark brothers came from the east and camped a few days and then went on to California to get the precious gold. But John Wesley Clark stopped with us. In 1852 my fourth child was born. We named him William Henry. In five weeks from that time John Wesley, who was subject to fits, fell in the water while after the cows and was drowned. The water was about nine inches deep. He was a good Latter-Day Saint. In 1854 our fifth child was born, March 21st. We named him Joseph Smith. When he was five weeks old our dear little William Henry took croup and passed away. That year the grasshoppers made away with our beautiful field of wheat. We planted and raised corn in its place and so had corn bread instead.

In 1856, Feb. 13th, our sixth child was born. We named him Hyrum Don Carlos. When he was seven months old his father was called on a mission to England. He started September 10th in Parley P. Pratt's company. I felt the responsibility of the care of five children but they were obedient and we got along nicely. I had an invitation to go on a pleasant trip up a canyon. While we were there (July 24, 1857) enjoying ourselves, those who were carrying the mail came bounding up with the news that we were to be massacred for they had the ropes to hang us or we were to be driven again from our homes. My husband, with others of the elders, was called home. The counsel was to leave our homes clean and ready for the match in case Johnston's army should attempt to enter the city. President Brigham Young said that the enemy should never again inhabit our labors or homes.

A young brother came to me and said, "Would you like me to help you and drive the team?" He took right hold and helped me out. My husband found me at Payson. The word was to move back to our homes. There were not many things to move and we were soon in our homes again. Of course, no gardens, no crops raised. But we gathered greens and there were some onions in the ground. The saints were blessed and prospered after the sacrifice. Our homes looked beautiful. The grass had grown all over the place, even up to the doors. We had left our homes the 5th of May, 1858. I had never expected to see our home again but I felt all right. It had always been so. It was all I could do to accomplish my labors from day to day. I felt blessed in returning. This was the 9th of July 1858 over lively roads.

April 7th, 1859, we had a child born. We named him Edward Barrett. Although we raised no crops in 1858, we were prospered having our health and strength.

The basement of the Salt Lake Temple had been filled with earth. It was taken out and the work resumed building the temple. While my husband was on his mission I felt that I wanted to put in a donation for the temple. My little boys drove one of the best of our three cows out of the yard. I said, "Send that." My brother, Edward, made a note of it as one of the first donations. I wrote my husband about it and he replied that it was alright.

April 1st, 1861 we had a child born and named him Charles Rich. Shortly after this, a sister Susan Leggett came from England and lived with us. She became my husband's wife. She had ten children. Three passed on the other side. One lovely son (John Alexander Clark) died near Jerusalem in Palestine while filling a mission.