THE NAY FAMILY IN UTAH AND THE WEST
MARY WILSON NAY
by Grace T. Utley
Mary Wilson was born April 16, 1849 in Jackson Parish, Louisiana to Thomas Wilson and Nancy Lindsey. She was a beautiful blue eyed baby, the fourth in a family of ten children. Her parents joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the southern states. We are not sure but Mary often talked about them living in Texas and the plentiful times they enjoyed there.
But everything was forsaken when the call came to go west. They crossed the plains in the 8th Company with Captain Milo Andrus. It is hard to envision the hardships they must have suffered. Mary was a little girl of about 5 or 6. I can visualize little Mary and her sister Nancy merrily skipping and dancing along beside the wagon, stopping to help one of the smaller ones or bring a smile to their faces.
It must have been a tedious journey and I can imagine the joy that filled their hearts as they entered the valley on October 24, 1855. The journey was ended, the hardships endured! But wait, this was not the end of their trials and tribulations. They were sent to Gunnison, Sanpete County, Utah where they underwent the discomforts of living in a dugout. Later, they moved to a place called Virgin, in the southern part of Utah.
Have you ever-experienced real hunger? These dear people did that first winter. It was a hard winter, a real famine; no one had much food. When spring came and the alfalfa began to grow, the children ran to the fields and picked it and ate it. They were grateful because it tasted so good and they were so hungry.
When the children were big enough to pick up fruit and cut it to dry, they did. They also harvested sugar cane to make molasses. Mary used to tell Lucy, her daughter and the other children how Heber C. Kimball, during a hard winter when it was difficult to get foodstuff, had a barrel of flour. He told the saints that as long as there was flour in his barrel they could bring their pans and get some for bread. She said that all the neighbors would go and get a pan of flour when their bread was gone and his barrel always had flour in it for him to give away.
Mary’s sister, Nancy, met and fell in love with William Edwin Nay and they were married June 9, 1861. They had several children. Lovely Mary married William Edwin in a polygamous union April 18, 1868. They had nine children.
A short time after Mary’s wedding, her mother, Nancy Lindsey Wilson, became very ill. Mary returned to her mother’s home to take care of her and also to care for her father who had a bad leg that wouldn’t heal. Her mother died April 24, 1875. Her sister, Nancy, died a short time later, March 25, 1877. This left Mary and William with two families to raise. William then became ill and Mary lovingly cared for him. William was only 56 years old when he died.
Mary was left alone to finish raising the family. It was not easy. However, they managed to have sufficient food and warm clothes. They were dressed neat and clean for church and school. Mary was proficient in her knowledge and use of herbs and edible greens. She tried to teach those things to her children and grand children. She loved pine gum and one of her delights was to gather up the grand children and go to the mountains and find pine gum. She was a watchful, loving and concerned mother who spent every moment possible with her children, reading to them and attending Mutual parties and dancing with them. She heeded the commandment “to pray and walk uprightly before the Lord.” She bore witness to the truthfulness of the gospel to her children.
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