Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
Replace with image alt text



Mary Waslin (1810-1884): Biography

Note: Sustaining her husband in all that he did and aspired to do, Mary Waslin Metcalf was an ideal example of a pioneer wife and mother. This biography, compiled by a 2nd great grand son, W. Bart. Christenson, Jr., Provo, Utah, during January and February 2009, seeks to accurately document her life's endeavors. Hyperlinks to the referenced records and pictures are found throughout the piece. A detailed source list appears at the end.

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me

After examining what is known about Mary Waslin, three sterling attributes seem to characterize her life, namely faith, hard work, and endurance. Certainly, these are noble qualities that can be profitably emulated by all. Therefore, an attempt will be made to point out and comment on each of them during the course of recounting this biography.

Mary, the seventh of eight children, three sons and five daughters, born to Christopher Waslin, Jr., a farm laborer 1-doc, and his wife, Anne Nelson 2-doc, was born at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, 15 July 1810 3a-doc, 3b-doc, and christened 26 July 1810 in the same parish 4-doc. Five of the offspring lived to maturity. A listing of the Waslin children now follows:

Anne was first born. She was born sometime in early 1797, at or near Rowley, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, but evidently died shortly thereafter. She was buried 29 June 1797 at Rowley, East Riding, Yorkshire, England.

William was second born. He was born at Skidby, Yorkshire, England on 27 May 1798, where he remained his entire life. He married Jane Thirsk in Skidby on 20 October 1828, and subsequently died there, 24 August 1858.

The third born child was Ann. She was christened at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, on 18 May 1800. She married Samuel Hursliff in Kirk Ella, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, on 24 June 1821, and died 29 April 1861. The place of her demise is not known.

The second son, Francis Nelson was fourth born, and was christened at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, on 5 December 1802. He married Jane Hewitt at Hull St. Mary, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, on 2 January 1832, and died 22 October 1866, in Beverley, East Riding, Yorkshire, England.

Next came two daughters, both named Jane. The first one was christened at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, on 12 May 1805, but died only four months later. She was buried at Skidby on 14 September 1806.

The second Jane was also christened at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, two and a half years later, on 12 July 1807. There is no other available information on her.

Mary was the seventh child. As already mentioned, she was born 15 July 1810 at Skidby, Yorkshire England; married John Edward Metcalf at Sculcoates, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, on 23 December 1832; and died at Fayette, Sanpete, Utah, on 26 March 1884.

Christened on 23 May 1813 at Skidby, Yorkshire, England, John was last born. He married Ellen Lacy Hardcastle at Huggate, Yorkshire, England, on 29 January 1842; and following her death, married Mary Ruddiforth at Bishop Burton, Yorkshire, England, on 8 March 1848. He was buried at Nafferton, Yorkshire, England, on 12 April 1868. 5-doc

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me

<><><><>

As already discussed at some length in other biographies on this website 6-doc, 7-doc, 8-doc, growing up in an English farm laborer’s family, Mary would certainly have learned how to work hard. She would have also grown up in significant poverty. Indeed, her father eventually died in the local workhouse. 9-doc

Unfortunately, we have no firm details as to what Mary actually did as a girl and young woman. We can only surmise based on contemporary nineteenth century history as related in the aforementioned biographies. But, like others of the English farm laboring class of the time, she must have toiled mightily and survived on little. At any rate, she eventually met her future husband, John Edward Metcalf. They were married at Sculcoates Parish, East Riding, Yorkshire, England, on 23 December 1832. 10-doc

Since John was "a cabinet maker and carpenter of some repute" who accepted various work commissions around the British Isles, while raising their family (eventually numbering eleven living children, six sons and five daughters, six living to maturity, plus one stillborn 11-doc) they resided in a number of different locales. 12-doc

As a result, while living in London, England, John and Mary evidently first heard the Gospel preached and subsequently accepted baptism on 19 October 1849, in Hull, Yorkshire, England, where they are shown on the records of the Hull Branch. 13a-doc, 13b-doc

Then, in keeping with the counsel of the leading Brethren to immigrate to the United States in order to assist in building up the New Zion, some three years after joining the Church, in early 1853, the family prepared to immigrate to the United States. They set sail from Liverpool, England, 17 January 1853, on the Ellen Marie, and arrived at the port of New Orleans, Louisiana, 7 March 1853. Proceeding to Keokuk or Kanesville, Iowa, by riverboat, they next continued westward to Utah with the Claudius V. Spencer Wagon Train, reaching the Salt Lake Valley in September 1853, after a trek of nearly six months. 14-doc

It is of interest to pause for a moment and note that Welsh relatives on the other side of our family tree were also making their way to Zion at about this same time, first by ship and then by wagon train. Their stories are equally heroic. 15-doc Moreover, it almost goes without saying that the early British Saints immigrating to Zion in the mid-nineteenth century, some 65,000 of them, came with great faith and endured many hardships.

Faith was one of Mary’s attributes. Thus, meaningful stories in this regard, regarding her and one of her sons, Anthony, are worth repeating once again:

At the time of their emigration, Anthony was ten years old. He walked all the way across the plains from the Missouri River to Salt Lake City. He got so tired he would sit down and tell them to leave him there. His mother told him the Indians would get him. He said, ‘Well let them have me.’ His mother [Mary Waslin Metcalf] would feel bad and cry. He couldn't stand to see her cry so he would get up and go on.

Food was very scarce but Anthony said he never went hungry although he was often afraid he would be because his mother never turned any body away without a mixing of flour. He said he would stand by the four barrel and see his mother scrape the barrel for some less fortunate neighbor. He would say, ‘Mother, what will we do?’ And she would reply, ‘Ah, Laddie there will always be a mixing in the barrel.’ And there always was.
16-doc

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me

<><><><>

As already detailed in the biography of John Edward, the Metcalf’s first settled in Salt Lake City, then Springville, and finally Fayette, Sanpete, Utah, where they played a vital role in establishing this fledgling community. 17-doc Mary was 54 years old when they settled in Fayette. She remained there the rest of her life. Several incidents occurring during these last years have come down to us. They further demonstrate her other two stellar attributes noted at the beginning of this piece: hard work, and endurance:

When the first settlers began the community of Fayette in the 1860’s, they dwelt in dugouts. So, keeping order and a modicum of cleanliness would have been very difficult. Yet Mary and the other women of the community were up to the task. After interviewing many old time residents, a grandson, V. Lloyd Bartholomew (1895-1970), remembered the following at the dedication of the Daughters of Utah Pioneer Marker in Fayette, 4 December 1955, as is recorded in a valuable history of Fayette compiled by Martha Louise Wintsch Bartholomew (1896-1993), the wife of another grandson:

Even though they lived in dugouts, the women took pride in their housekeeping. They would sprinkle water on the dirt floor, and then tamp it with a wooden tamper until the surface was smooth; when it had dried, they marked artistic designs on it with charcoal and limestone. The tamper was made of a round section sawed from a log. A handle was inserted in the center and stood upright. It looked much like one of their churn dashers.

[The roof of a dugout]…was of poles covered with willows, straw and then dirt. All poles were held in place with wooden pegs driven in three fourth inch auger holes. The inside walls were plastered and liberally whitewashed, as was also the under side of the roof. The floor was of smooth flat rock laid closely together and was scrubbed clean. After much cleaning, it was marked with a geometric design, using soft limestone.

The bed occupied one corner of the twelve by eighteen foot room and was built by setting four posts securely and mortising a small pole frame into the posts. Then green rawhide was laced back and forth, crosswise and lengthwise, and this when dry, made a fine bed. The fireplace was in the back end of the room.

Continuing on in the same compilation:

Many people used straw ticks for mattresses on their beds. These were delightfully fragrant when filled with fresh straw at housecleaning time. The more fortunate had ‘feather beds.’ A feather bed was a large heavy bag filled with feathers and used as a mattress. Some even had two: one under as a mattress and one on top in place of quilts. To make the bed look immaculate the housekeeper would smooth it as much as possible by hand, which was no easy job. Then she finished the smoothing process by means of a long straight willow, which she laid across the bed, then pressing gently she moved it up and down and across until the desired smoothness was obtained. 18-doc

To be sure then, Mary was a strong proponent of hard work around the homestead, and moreover felt that this trait should be learned early in life, too. Another grandchild, who also grew up in Fayette, Sarah Jane Bartholomew Christenson, my grandmother, relates this relevant story:

As I remember, my doing was about the same each day, helping my mother in any way I could, until I was 8-years-old. That very day [8 September 1884, when I turned eight] my grandmother, my mother's mother [Mary Waslin Metcalf], came to our home. Even after these many years I can still see her standing there making this announcement: ‘Eliza, this girl must wash the dishes alone after this!’

I don't remember how it went in the summer when I was out of school, but the school days were really heavy. We were real Pioneers at that time. No bright shiny pots and pans as of today. No hot and cold water to turn on at will. No electricity to turn on to heat the water in minutes.

Mother always left the dishes for me and she cooked our dinner meal for 12 o'clock. Our kettles were all the old iron kind. They were never put to soak, or the dishes rinsed off, because there was no water in the house. 19-doc

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me

<><><><>

Isolated in their little farming community of Fayette where the early settlers eked out an existence from the land and wilderness about them, there were many challenges. For, in addition to the daily hard work and isolation (initially, for example, they had no retail stores, telegraphy, or convenient railroad accessibility), there were also periodic Indian raids and wild animal encounters. But all was not drudgery and inconvenience. They enjoyed close knit community activities: dances, spinning bees, and parties. 20-doc, 21-doc Mary would have been an intricate part of all these things.

Indeed, these good people led upright and provident lives built around the Church and their faith in the Gospel. Willing obedience was their way of life and a manifestation of their deeply held convictions. After all, each had departed the land of his or her nativity and had come thousands of miles to assist in building up the New Zion in the Mountains. Consequently, for the most part, they followed the counsel of their leaders and did what they were asked to do, including Church service, missions—even pleural marriage.

We have no description of Mary’s feelings when her husband was called to accept other wives. We only know that she did. Moreover, she remained with him and supported him, evidently tenderly caring for him during his last years when he suffered from diabetes, as well as blindness caused by a severe head injury. At the same time, she herself was contending with inflammation of the lungs which eventually took her life in Fayette, at age 73 years and 8 months, on 26 March 1884.22-pic, 23-pic, 24-doc

Thus, she quietly demonstrated remarkable endurance in addition to the other sterling attributes of faith and hard work already considered.

The lifelong exemplary actions of Mary and John Edward did not go unnoticed by their grateful posterity, either. For chiseled on their grave marker in the Fayette Cemetery is the following epitaph:

Father, Mother, how we miss you,
Miss your counsel in our homes,
But what is death, ’tis nature’s sleep.
Then rest dear Parents, rest in peace,
Until the resurrection morn,
When the trump of God will burst
The barriers of the tomb
. 25-pic

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me

Listing of Sources:

1. Mary's brother John's christening date, 23 May 1813, showing the occupation of their father, Christopher Waslin, as being a labourer (or farm worker). Found in 1813 Bishop's Transcripts Register for Skidby Parish, York, England, FHL film #919445.

2. Family pedigree records and family group record information of Christopher Waslin, Jr. and Anne Nelson, in possession of W. Bart Christenson, Provo, Utah. See the World Connect section on this website for further details.

3. Record of Members, Hull Branch, Yorkshire, England, 1844-1857, for John Metcalf and his wife Mary Metcalf, member numbers 218 & 219: FHL film #0087004. [Her birth date of 15 July 1811 should read 1810, as per the Christening record in source #4, below.]

4. Mary's christening date, 26 July 1810, found in 1810 Bishop's Transcripts Register for Skidby Parish, York, England, FHL film #919445.

5. Op. cit.: Family pedigree records and family group record information of Christopher Waslin, Jr. and Anne Nelson…

6. See Henry Pearce (1813-1882) biography, on this website.

7. See Susan Jane Pearce (1845-1928) biography, on this website.

8. See Rachel Caddy (1825-1869) biography, on this website.

9. Mary's father, Christopher Waslin's death certificate. A labourer [farm worker], he died 8 November 1843 [at age 75, rather than the listed age of 66] in the workhouse at Beverley, York, England, of decay of nature. The certificate, DXZ 300174 was issued by the General Register Office, on 16 October 1995.

10. Marriage to John Edward Metcalf, 23 December 1832, Sculcoates Marriage Records, 1831-1837, PE46/25[9], No. 303, pg. 135, East Riding Archives Office, County Hall, Beverley, England, HU17 9BA.

11. See John Edward Metcalf, Sr. (1812-1887) biography, on this website.

12. 1837-1848 Residences. Please see World Connect on this website for further information regarding documentation details.

13. Op. cit.: Record of Members, Hull Branch, Yorkshire, England, 1844-1857…

14. Op. cit.: See John Edward Metcalf, Sr. (1812-1887) biography, on this website.

15. See Margaret Evans (1800-1886) biography, on this website.

16. Emma Elizabeth Metcalf Brown (1874-1969), Anthony Metcalf History. See under Metcalf, Anthony (1845) [1843] in “Family Album” at http://www.metcalfwaslin.org.

17. Op. cit.: See John Edward Metcalf, Sr. (1812-1887) biography, on this website.

18. V. Lloyd Bartholomew (1895-1970): at the dedication of the Daughters of Utah Pioneer Marker, Fayette, Utah, 4 December 1955. Found in Martha Louise Wintsch Bartholomew (1896-1993) Early History of Fayette, p. 4, ABC Family Foundation Website: http://www.abcfamilytree.com/J_Bartholomew/Fayette_Early_History.htm.

19. See “Memories of Sarah Jane Bartholomew Christenson,” in Additional Family History of Sarah Jane Bartholomew (1876-1966) biography, on this website.

20. Op. cit.: V. Lloyd Bartholomew (1895-1970)…in Martha Louise Wintsch Bartholomew (1896-1993) Early History of Fayette…

21. Op. cit.: See John Edward Metcalf, Sr. (1812-1887) biography, on this website.

22. Grave marker for Mary Waslin Metcalf and John Edward Metcalf, Sr., Fayette Cemetery, Fayette, Utah.

23. Inscription found on the left side of the grave marker for Mary Waslin Metcalf and John Edward Metcalf, Sr., Fayette Cemetery, Fayette, Utah.

24. Obituary for Mary Waslin Metcalf, who died 26 March 1884: Deseret News, 16 April 1884. Found at BYU-HBL-FHC, film #D45d, reel 28.

25. Op. cit.: Inscription found on the front panel of the grave marker for Mary Waslin Metcalf and John Edward Metcalf, Sr., Fayette Cemetery, Fayette, Utah.

Table of Contents/photographs   |   Table of Contents/documents   |   MW Additional Family History   |   Website Home   |   Christenson Line   |   Howells Line   |   Contact Me