This brooch was presented to Mary Ann Emmett Ellis on October 3rd, 1899, by the Ogden 2nd Ward Relief Society in recognition of service in that organization for over 20 years. The image on the front of the brooch is that of her daughter, Mary Ann Ellis Watkins. This is their story.
Mary Ann Emmett was born 3 October 1822 in Clitheroe, Downham, Lancashire, England, the oldest of John Emmett and Sarah Boothman Emmett’s eight children. Sarah and six of her children received baptism between the years 1839 and 1844, Mary Ann in 1840 at the age of 17. As the children grew to adulthood some of them made plans to emigrate to America. Mary Ann worked as a household servant in order to save up the money necessary.
Mary Ann made the journey from Liverpool to New Orleans with her brother, Thomas Emmett, and Thomas’s wife, Nancy on the Ship Ellen, which departed 8 January 1851 and arrived in New Orleans 14 March 1851. They traveled up the Missisppi to St. Louis and set to work to earn the funds necessary to emigrate to Salt Lake City.
John was born 5 January 1828 in Darley, Derbyshire, England, the son of Elizabeth Hague, a single woman, and Thomas Ashton. His mother married George Ellis in 1831 and John took his stepfather's last name as his own. He, like Mary Ann, also emigrated in 1851. A letter he wrote to his sister indicates that he sailed on the ship Blanch [sic] on 21 January of that year and disembarked in New Orleans. He had originally planned to travel on to Wisconsin, but he ran out of funds in St. Louis and so he stopped and began seeking work there.
John and Mary Ann were married in New Orleans on 4 June 1853, and their first child, a boy who they named George, was born 31 March 1854. George died at the age of three months. The following winter John received word that his mother in England had died on 3 February 1855 and he wrote later, in his autobiography, that with the two sorrowful events “the eyes of my understanding began to open little by little” and he received baptism 21 November 1855.
In the meantime, Mary Ann’s sister, Ann Emmett, had sailed to New York City, leaving Liverpool on 29 July 1855 arriving on the ship Cynosure on 5 September 1855. She departed New York three days later with a company of Saints enroute to Iowa City and traveled on to St. Louis to be with her sister and brother in law. John had sent sixty dollars to her to finance her journey. She had an infant daughter born to her in St. Louis on 15 January 1856, whom she named Sarah, after her mother. As Ann was a spinster and raising a child alone was both socially and economically extremely difficult, Mary Ann and John informally adopted Sarah and raised her as their own child until Sarah died, at the age of 8, in 1864.
Early in June 1856 Mary Ann, John, Ann and Sarah traveled on the steamboat “Arabia” and in about seven days arrived at Florence. There they joined the Daniel D. MacArthur Handcart Company which departed Florence on 11 Jun 1856 and arrived in Salt Lake City on 26 Sep 1856. They settled in Ogden, Utah. There three more children were born to Mary Ann and John: Mary Ann, b. 6 March 1857, John Gregory, b. 22 August 1859, and Elizabeth b. 26 Aug 1861.
A family history written by one of Elizabeth Ellis’s children refers to Mary Ann Ellis commencing “over 20 years” of service as the president of the Ogden 2nd Ward Relief Society sometime after the birth of her youngest child.
Mary Ann Ellis (daughter, b.1857) grew up in Ogden and met a young man five years her senior, Joseph Hyrum Watkins (b. 13 August 1851) who, at age 11, had emigrated from England and settled in Ogden with his parents. She decided to marry him in a polygamous marriage. Both she and Mary Ann Doxey (b.28 August 1856, in Ogden) were married and sealed to him on 30 April 1879 when she was almost 22 years old and Mary Ann Doxey was about 6 months older. Interestingly, both young Mary Anns (Mary Ann Ellis and Mary Ann Doxey) are recorded as having received their endowment in the Endowment house on the same day, as seventeen year olds, on 17 August 1874. It seems likely that they knew each other fairly well and may have been friends.
On October 8, 1879, Joseph Watkins was called on a colonizing mission to Arizona. Selling all his property for a team, wagon, and outfit, and in company with Mary Ann Doxey Watkins, he left Ogden the 4th of November 1879. Mary Ann Ellis Watkins remained in Ogden in her parents’ home, where she appears in the 1880 census.
In 1880 the Ellises received news of the birth and death of a first child, a little girl, to Mary Ann Doxey Watkins in St. Johns. In early 1881 they received news of the birth of a son to Mary Ann Doxey Watkins there as well. And Mary Ann Ellis Watkins traveled to St. Johns with her cousin, Thomas Samuel Browning, arriving there in April.
Family lore is that Mary Ann (mother, b. 1822) was unhappy with the departure of her oldest daughter to a place so new and far away nearly two years after her marriage which had included little time with her husband Joseph. News came to her thereafter that Mary Ann Ellis Watkins was expecting her first child.
That same year John Ellis was called to serve a as a missionary to England and departed for that service on 11 October 1881, leaving his wife, Mary Ann at home with their son John Gregory (age 22) and their daughter Elizabeth (age 20).
Three months later, on 16 January 1882, Mary Ann Ellis Watkins and her newborn son, George Alma Watkins, both died during childbirth in St. Johns. The news was devastating to her mother, and her father’s mission diary reflects his deep grief when the news finally reached him in England.
Joseph Hyrum Watkins was released from his mission to St. Johns five months later, in June of 1882, due to ill health, and he and his other wife, Mary Ann Doxey Watkins, returned to live in Ogden. Twelve more children were born to them in Ogden between 1883 and 1903.
Eight years after the death of Mary Ann Ellis Watkins, the members of the Ogden 2nd Ward Relief Society presented a brooch and pin to Mary Ann Emmett Ellis on the event of her 67th birthday as a token of appreciation for her more than two decades of service as president of the society. They chose to put, on the brooch, the image of her beloved daughter, whose marriage, move to Arizona and death in childbirth had occurred during those years of Relief Society work.
John Ellis and Mary Ann Emmett Ellis
John and Mary Ann Ellis's children, Elizabeth, John Gregory and Mary Ann