Mary Ann Peterson, wife of John Bushman, found in The Journal of Arizona History

Article in “The Journal of Arizona History”
Mary Ann Peterson Bushman was one of the women documented in:

Phillips, James Cleith. “‘AS SISTERS IN ZION’: Mormon Women and the United Order in Arizona’s Little Colorado Colonies.” The Journal of Arizona History, vol. 51, no. 2, 2010, pp. 155–172. JSTOR, Accessed 22 July 2021.

Here are the relevant quotes:

p. 158:
“The Little Colorado Colonies
On January 23, 1876, the “call” (or assignment) went out for two hundred missionaries (and their families, though most were young, unmarried men) to head to Arizona – “to go and make their home there and work together in the United Order.”25 The first group set out from Salt Lake City on February 3. 26 According to John Bushman, who, with his second wife, Mary, 27 was in the advance party, only three women could be found among the thirty teams of colonists.28”

her photo is on p. 159

p. 163:
“In the absence of trained doctors and teachers, women played an integral part in their community’s health and education. Ellen Perks Johnstun, as the official midwife, or nurse, of the Sunset United Order, was the sole member of her community’s medical corps.73 Joanna Westover explained women’s responsibilities in caring for the sick, injured, and dying in a July 22, 1877 letter to her husband. “Sister Gray have [sic] left us [the first death of the settlements],” she reported. “She had a nice little boy and her milk went up into her head and body. She went out of her head . . . and she died the 9th day. I and sister Bushman set up with her the night she die.”74”

p. 166:
“John Bushman’s daughter pleasantly remembers her first Christmas in Allen’s Camp. Despite being away from her mother, Lois, she awoke to find a handmade rag doll, with black wool for hair, and a dish of raisins, placed there by John’s second wife, Mary.92 … 93 John Bushman recorded in his journal that “during the Christmas season, everyone gathered in the log school house and enjoyed dancing,” a pastime the men would have found much less enjoyable without female companionship.94
Other occasions provided similar relief from the difficulties of pioneer and Order life. Mary Bushman prepared a “nice dinner” and invited their friends over to celebrate her husband’s thirty- fourth birthday.95″

pp. 168-9:

Given all that the sisters of the colonies contributed, it would be an understatement to claim that their efforts and presence were indispensable. They performed tasks that the men could not do well, filled in when manpower was short, and added pleasantness in harsh situations. If men only had been sent to colonize and make the United Order work, it is likely the experiment would have ended much more abruptly than it did.

While Order life created some unique experiences, such as the long table, rotating community duties, and need-based rations, it appears that the experiences of the United Order women in the Little Colorado colonies were not overly foreign to other women settlers, inside and outside the Church. They all suffered privation, sickness, and death, battles with nature, fear of Indian attacks, tremendous workloads, and limited recreation. What makes the Little Colorado women’s experience different is the reason they underwent these difficulties – to establish the Order of Heaven.

The world has never heard of Joanna Westover, Mary Bushman, Emma Hansen, and the rest. Even within the Church their names are scarcely known outside their own families. For all their anonymity, their courage is no less inspiring, their deeds no less heroic, and their sacrifices no less sacred. Unlike many of their contemporaries, they sought neither ease nor honor; they they toiled not for riches or land. A man they considered to be a prophet of God called them to do a work, and they were determined to do it. These ordinary women kept their covenants, built up the Kingdom, and became saints – as sisters in Zion – along a powerful little river, in a cluster of forgotten colonies, at the edge of the wilderness of the still untamed American West.”

More discussion and citations of references above in original article:


About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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