Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy 173rd Birthday, Maria Thompson Hatch (1838-1911)!

Anna Hatch Cramer's great-grandmother

Most accounts name her Maria Thompson, but granddaughter Jean Mariah insisted she was named after her grandmother and that’s how it was to be spelled and pronounced.  
Fourth of six children, Maria was a tall, stately woman born to Scottish pioneers in a wagon box during the Missouri mob persecutions.  Maria’s mother and only sister died when she was just seven years old, and as the only surviving female, she cared for her father and four brothers from a young age.  Without much female companionship growing up, however, Maria was sometimes lonely and remained a little uncomfortable around women throughout her life; she was happiest surrounded by her brothers and children.

Maria thought crossing the plains as a teenager was a lark, and remembered being carried over streams by her older brothers.  The Thompsons settled in Bountiful and at one time, they had no corn in the house and knelt in prayer and asked Heavenly Father to provide them with bread.  While they were still kneeling, a man knocked at the door and asked if William would come fix his chimney.  As the man had no money, he said he would pay him in corn. 

Maria’s sweetheart Ira Hatch was called on a mission to the Indians, and having had no word from him for a long time, she feared the Indians had killed him. His brother Orin was back from the Mormon Battalion, and had a pregnant wife who did not want to accompany him to colonize Nevada.  So seventeen-year-old Maria, firm in her religious belief and sense of duty, married at Brigham Young’s command and moved with Orin to Nevada, but ironically, she later discovered that Ira was alive and well (he became a renowned Indian scout).

En route to Nevada, the Hatches’ wagon capsized crossing a river, but they survived and saw the Lord’s hand in their preservation.  They built a house with white cloth for a window and cut grass for their carpet; there William Ira was born. After two years they returned to Bountiful with the coming of Johnston’s Army, where Orin lived with his first wife and Maria moved in with her father.  Although the Hatch family gathered for holidays together, Orin lived primarily with his first wife for the remainder of their lives.  Maria never allowed her children to say anything against their father’s other family, and was a soft-spoken and kind mother.
Orin Hatch's family; Maria and her children on right
Grandpa Thompson helped raise Maria’s children, and she cared for him until his death eighteen years later. She welcomed visits from her devoted brothers and would stay up talking to them until the wee hours of the morning.  Later, she enjoyed gathering with her grown children.  Her son George raised beautiful watermelons in Bountiful, which the family enjoyed together at fall General Conference, since the other sons’ growing climates were too cold for melons.  In her older years, Maria took a train trip to visit her children in Scipio and Ephraim.  

Gentle Maria was a friend to the Indians and often gave biscuits to those who stopped by.  She was a Relief Society teacher for twenty-six years, and the first president of the South Bountiful Primary for eighteen years.  She enjoyed playing Mrs. Santa for the community children.  Maria  was also active in the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Utah and served as the vice president of the National Relief Society (an early incarnation of the church-wide organization).  Her friend Aurelia Rogers, the founder of Primary, spoke at her funeral.

I would give her a girls' night out!

1 comment:

  1. Maria has always looked like Marilla from Anne of Green Gables to me. I don't really know why, but I'd give her a copy of those books to read in her spare time.

    ReplyDelete