Mary Ann Petersen Bushman b. 24 May 1857, d. 6 July 1885


This history is found in Pioneer Women by Roberta Flake Clayton. Privately Printed, Mesa, Arizona: [n.p.,] 1969. BX 8670.07 .C579p also Americana BX 8670.07 .C579p.

Mary Ann Petersen, daughter of Jens Pedersen, called Peter in America, and Maren Sorensen Frost, was born 24 May 1857 at Vinstrup, Randers, Denmark. She is the second child in a family of ten children. Her parents were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Desirous of joining the main body of the Church, her parents, a sister Mettie Marie, and two brothers, with her Frost grandparents, sailed for America. There was much privation on the ship Franklin, on which they sailed from Aalborge, Germany, with the Scandinavian Immigration Mission in the spring 1862. They were short of water and one brother died and was buried at sea.

Mary Ann, known as Ane Marie Pedersen when registered on the ship’s list, was not only a pioneer to America, but traveled by wagon across the continent, with much suffering and privation, to join the saints in Utah. Her other brother died while crossing the plains.
The family made their new home in Lehi, Utah where Mary lived until her marriage. She attended school for a limited time, learning to read and write, but because of their circumstances, it was necessary for her to work out to help with living costs. Thru her mother’s teachings and working in other homes, she learned well the art of homemaking and grew to be a very capable woman. Her experiences prepared her well for the further pioneering she was asked to do.

Mary Ann had many friends among the young people, but her mother was very careful as to who her companions were. The Bushman and Petersen families were acquainted with each other while they both lived in Lehi.

John Bushman accepted the call from the Church authorities to colonize Arizona Territory, and he was advised to take another wife to assist him in this calling because his first wive, Lois Angeline, was not well. He chose Mary Ann Petersen to be that young wife.

It was February 27, 1877 when they arrived in St. George from Lehi. They visited several acquaintances the next few days. On March 2, 1877 when she was almost twenty years of age, she married John Bushman in the St. George Temple. The ceremony was performed by Erastus Snow. On March 6 they continued on their way back to Arizona and caught up with John Hunt, H. M. Tanner, M. Blackburn, Isador Wilson and the Westover families. The road was very bad, dugways for miles, very hilly, and water was scarce. They arrived at President Lot Smith’s Camp Sunday, April 29, at 10:00a-m; took dinner at the United Order long table and in the evening all attended meeting where nearly all spoke.
On April 30 John Bushman and L. Westover went to Allen’s camp and were welcomed home by all those who arrived earlier, John Bushman having visited Arizona the year before in preparation for this move. It was here in Allen’s Camp, later called St. Joseph and now Joseph City, that he and Mary were to do their life’s work and raise an honorable family.

On June 7, 1877 Mary prepared a nice supper and asked their friends in to celebrate her husband’s 34th birthday. It was the 1st of July, 1877 that Lorenzo Hill Hatch patriarch, at Obed, Arizona gave Mary Ann a patriarchal blessing.

She took an active part in community affairs as well as Church callings, sharing the duties of the wives of the colonists during the time of the United Order. Her name is signed Mary A. Bushman, along with her husband’s to be the “Articles of Association of the Allen’s Branch of the United Order, Allen’s Camp,” dated 15 April 1877.

She served as treasurer of the Relief Society at St. Joseph from September 7, 1877 to July 5, 1885. She also served as counselor in the MIA for two years. Also counselor in the first Young Ladies Mutual Improvement organization at Lehi, Utah.
Mary became the mother of the three daughters and one son. The eldest girl, Elsie May, died at the age of two years.

About 1883 she developed a tumor under her arm which caused her much discomfort and great pain. In the spring of 1885 it became so bad that her husband took her to Salt Lake City for medical treatment, but the doctors could not give her hope of cure, so she returned to St. Joseph where she suffered much. On Sunday, July 4, 1885 John took Mary and Lois and the children for a little ride. Mary was very feeble and restless, and at 4:30 a.m.

Monday, July 5, she breathed her last. She had her reason to the last hour and seemed prepared to make the change but expressed some anxiety about her three children, who were all too young to mourn their mother’s death.


Brother John McLaws made a nice coffin from the native pine, and the funeral services were held at 6 p.m. of the same day, with all the village present. All spoke of her exemplary life and as a saint, wife and mother, and said she was better prepared to go than any of them. She was buried at sundown in the St. Joseph cemetery, now Joseph City, Arizona July 5, 1885.

Her husband had witnessed the death of his father, mother and three of his children, but this was by far the saddest. Nevertheless he felt to acknowledge the hand of the Lord in all things, and thanked him for the knowledge of the glorious Gospel, and the principle of plural and Celestial marriage. He wrote to her relatives in Utah.

Lillian Ann Bushman Palmer writes of her mother: “I was only 5 when my mother died. I can remember very little. When she was sick I remember her lying in bed and when she died I remember them covering her over with a sheet. Sister Eliza Tanner was one of mother’s best friends, and I’ve heard her say mother could sew rags faster than any of them, and she and mother cooked for the men when they were putting in the dams.”

Son, John Lehi Bushman, does not remember his mother, but others have told him the following: “Sister Tanner told me that mother could take the rough boards in her floors and scrub them until they were white and that mother and she did the cooking for the men at the dam, and Mary Bushman always did more than her part.”

“Sister Mary Richards said that mother was one of the grandest women she ever met and said that John’s daughters Maud and Blonda look like their grandmother. Alva Porter said she was a beautiful young woman and always busy, a fine cook and dressmaker. That mother would be up with the most of the night because I was a puny little fellow but the next morning her work had to go on just the same.”

Lois Bushman Smith writes: “I sometimes flatter myself that I am the authority in our family on Aunt Mary, for as a little girl I went with father and Aunt Mary to Arizona. I remember so distinctly their showing me the twelve big oxen at the Temple. These childhood memories have remained with me so very vividly. The first Christmas I spent away from my mother was so filled with thrills and pleasures by my second mother I doubt whether I missed my mother, brothers and sisters in Lehi as much as a little girl a long ways away should do. When I awoke that morning, there on a chair beside my bed was a beautiful rag doll Aunt Mary had made with her own hands. The doll had beautiful black hair, with black thread outlining the features, and just lovely clothes. The sweets consisted of a dish of raisins. She guarded my health as zealously as my own mother would have done and I always had a pretty clean apron on. Her prowess as a housekeeper and cook have become a family tradition. Her cooking was always done in an orderly manner and the results were tasty and enjoyable it seemed to me no matter how rough or meager the food.”

“I remember a habit that wold do credit to any young lady of today. No one ever saw her hair disorderly or in a disheveled manner. The secret of her neatness was that first thing every morning she performed her toilet and her hair then stayed combed for the rest of the day and no one ever saw it otherwise. As befitting the wife of an early Arizona Pioneer, Aunt Mary seemed to love work, was economical and never complained of hard work or hard times. In the Fort the sisters helped each other by having sewing bees and so forth, no one could accomplish more than Aunt Mary at these bees.”

Lois and Mary were exceptionally good friends and real pals, as letters written to each other have shown. Some musings of Mary herself and one of her letters to Lois…

“I have been thinking today about how wonderful it was that Lois, my husband’s first wife, was willing to let her husband share his love with another woman and how she trusted us to bring her five year old daughter, Lois, ,with us out to this barren country, that just being pioneered and so far away from her mother. I must write Lois now and tell her how we all are, and what we are doing.”

“Allen’s Camp
Aug. 31, 1877

Dear Sister Lois:

With pleasure I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know how we are getting along, as John is not here to write. He has been in the harvest fields all this week and will not be back until tomorrow night, and I thought you would be anxious to hear from us. We are all well, and I hope these lines find you enjoying the same blessings. I have been helping sister Richards sew today. She is going to Dixie on a visit. She is a nice woman and I think everything of her.

Well, I hardly know what to write as there is so little news here to write about. The men are very busy harvesting. All the wheat is ripe and only ten men to work, and it keeps them pretty busy. They have 85 acres of wheat to cut, all getting ripe at once. The crops all look splendid. I wish I had one of your apples, it would be quite a treat. Lois often says she wishes she was back home where all the good apples are, and she wants to know if you will save some for her till she comes. She is eating bread and milk for her supper, she is well and hearty, she grows prettier every day. She says Ana must kiss those sweet baby boys for her and then they must kiss you.

Well, dear Lois I hope you will write soon for I cannot live if you do not write. We have received one letter from you this week. I looked for one today but did not get one. I am so glad you write so often, it is such a comfort to get a letter from you for they are always so good and interesting. I hope we can always feel as we do now. If we can it will be a blessing to us all, and I think we can if we will call upon the Lord in secret and with a humble heart he will hear us and help us to do that is required of us. I hope you will pray for me, for I am young and foolish and fear myself very much, but I hope by the help of God, I will be able to do what is right. Lola (Lois) has written a letter to Maria and wants her to write back. We write two lettres nearly every week to you, but I do not think you get them all. John sends his kindest love to you and the children. He has not forgotten you, for when he speaks to me he calls me Lois more than Mary. Give my love to my folks and all my friends and accept a sack full for yourself and babies. Remember me to your cousin Ellen. Have you gotten any money yet? I remain your loving friend.
Mary Bushman”

Nettie Hung Rencher writes of Mary Ann P. Bushman: “First I remember what a pretty woman she was, with blue eyes and light hair, that she combed and braided every morning before we left camp. It seems like every time I looked at her she was smiling. I have thought it so sweet of the first wife to let her child, Lois, go with Mary, the second wife, to be a comfort for her on the way after they arrived in this lonely land. But one morning a look of terror was in her eyes and later thankful tears. Little girls wore pretty long dresses then, and Lois turned around with her back to the fire, her dress fell right on the hot coals and in a moment her dress was blazing. She ran screaming. Her father and mine were near. They ran after her as she dodged between the wagons. My father had on one of his buckskin gloves which he always wore when he drove, and he was just ready to leave camp, so it was only a few moments until he had the blaze put out with his gloved hand. Since, I have known what thoughts were going through Mary’s mind, of how terrible she would have felt if anything really bad had happened to Lois, when she was in a way entrusted to her care. I have often thought it was so sad that she must die so young and so far from her own dear ones.”


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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