Mary Lee Bland

Female 1817 - 1898  (80 years)


The History of Mary Lee Bland as Told to a Granddaughter.

Wm. Fletcher Ewell; son of Pleasant Ewell and Barbara Fauber of Palmyra, Albermarle, Va. Was born in 1815. He married Mary Lee Bland, Daughter of John and Sarah C. Lee Bland.

(The history of Mary Lee Bland as told to a grand daughter)

I, Mary Lee Bland Ewell, was left to bear the responsibility of providing for and rearing my family; too proud to ask assistance from my wealthy father by whom I had been disinherited because I had married a “Mormon” and had affiliated with the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints,” and disobeyed his mandate that I marry a man of his choice; son of his friend and neighbor whose plantation and estate adjoined ours.

Our fathers had planned each to give a large parcel of adjoining land to Dale and me as a wedding gift. The engagement was to be announced when Dale came home from law school and I from boarding school.

Dale and I broke up almost immediately after his arrival home because of ungentlemanly conduct. I tried to keep it from father as I felt he would not understand.

Faithful old “Mamy Chloe” helped me to avoid Dale when he tried to see me again. Whenever he was seen coming I would slip out quickly and go for a ride on “Old Betsy.”

One day no one was around to saddle her, so I did it myself. The cince [cinch] was not tight enough and while riding in the woods, some distance from home, the saddle turned, throwing me to the ground, injuring my back and my ankle.

As I lay there feeling unable to rise, a young man came along, bound my ankle and took me home. This young man introduced himself as William Fletcher Ewell, a medical student on vacation for the summer. During this vacation he was doing missionary work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as “Mormon.”

He was heartily welcomed and invited to make our home his own as long as he desired. This new religion was listened to and agreed with at first. Then one day father went to town and came back a changed man, demanding an audience with the Dr. He had found in the community that the teachings of Joseph Smith and the Mormons were very unpopular. They had let father know that if he continued to entertain and encourage the young missionary that he would be an outcast. This was more than father could bear as his standing in the community was something very [dear] to father’s life.

At first father tried to get Wm. to give up teaching or believing this religion and when that was to no avail father commanded him in no uncertain terms to leave, and when I pleaded both for the new religion and for Wm. I was ordered up to my room and forbidden to see Wm or leave the room until I changed my mind, and he looked [locked] the door of my room.
I felt my heart would break for I loved Wm and had a firm faith in the teaching which he had given us. I threatened to run away but Mamy Chloe said that would break my poor ill mother’s heart.

A week went by. Then came a message from Wm by faithful Mamy Chloe. He wanted to know if I would be willing to go with him as his wife and be with the Saints.

My mind was made up. I knew the gospel was true and was worth any sacrifice, money and social position meant nothing to me in comparison to a life of usefulness with the one I loved. Mother was in sympathy and offered to help see that we could be together for she loved Wm as a son and wanted to see me marry for love rather than social position and to please parents as she had done.

It was decided that we would meet the next night before moonrise where Wm had found me that first day in the woods. My father in the meantime had offered me a trip to Paris hoping that would make me see things his way. I was not interested. Mama sent a purse full of money and a box of jewelry to me by Mamy Chloe as she was not permitted to come to me. Mamy also informed me that she had been given to me and that she would not think of letting me go without her to help me.

I made my excape [escape] through the 2nd story window down the rose trellis. Sammy had 2 horses ready and waiting; one for Mamy Chloe and one for Wm. and me. I left with a good-bye letter to Mama with Zacery, my brother, who was in sympathy with me.

We met Wm at the appointed place and rode all night in order to get far enough away that father would not follow.

Wm entered medical school and that fall my brother wrote that mother was still ill, her pleadings to him to accept us on a visit were in vain as was her pleading for the next day we found a minister in a small town in Kentucky and were married with Mamy Chloe as my witness. I was not yet 18 and Wm just 22.
The following hear [year] our first son was born while we were in Missouri with the Dr’s family during vacation. Mamy Chloe cared for him as she had cared for me. In due time another son came to us and two years later a daughter, whom we named Sarah Elizabeth for, dear Mamma who still had not been permitted to see me.

The family Dr, finally told papa that if he desired to keep his wife he had best let her see the daughter and grandchildren she had pined for so long in her weak condition.

Papa consented and we were sent for. Wm went promptly, even Papa seemed happy to see us and loved the children. Our visit seemed to give new life to Mamma.

Our happiness was complete until the day papa said, “Dr. Ewell, I want to have a talk with you. You seem to have made Mary Lee very happy and while I can’t forgive you for taking her away as you did. I’ll give you the strips of land we had planned to give Mary Lee and I’ll build you a house as become our rank and you can practice medicine right here. You have made Mary Lee’s mother happy and the Dr. says my wife hasn’t long to live. But of course you will have to give up that abominable religion of yours for any social prestige among our kind.”

Wm thanked him for his kind offer but said, “We cannot repudiate the truth of the gospel.” We were asked to leave and I was disinherited.

Wm had finished school that year. Mother soon passed away and my brother wrote that my portrait was thrown into the attic and my name taken from the family record in the bible.

My jewels went one at a time in those times that followed. Another little girl, Barbara Ann was born while we were living at Winter Quarters. Then came the call for volunteers to go to Mexico. Dr. Ewell was among those who marched away on the longest military march in history, about 2,000 miles.

Three months after his goodbye our son William was born. Although there was never a shot fired by the battalion in this conquest, they fought with the wild bulls which gathered first in curiosity and finally attacked and gored to death several mules, some hitched to wagons and some pack mules.

This is a story told by him.

“The troops were ordered to march with their guns unloaded, but in the presence of such danger the men had loaded their guns without waiting for orders to do so. The officers were riding, the men walking of course and one ferocious beast charged and was only about 18 feet from me. I was ordered to load my gun to try to save my life. I stood a second knowing my gun was already loaded. The officer ordered me to run, but instead, I lifted my gun, for no son of Virginia, nor a Soldier of the Mormon Battalion would run from danger. I took aim at the curl between the eyes of the oncoming beast, pulled the trigger and he dropped dead at my feet.”

“There was much suffering from lack of water and necessities, poor food, and hardships and by the time the Battalion had reached San Diego Mission on the Pacific Coast where the encampment was made and the famous march was completed I had become ill but could not give up, I knew I must get home to my family.

(Colonel Cook’s Bulletin lauded the Battalion for its achievement and faithfulness in service to our country. He said, “Who with crowbar and pick had cut their way over trachless [trackless] wasteland and through mountains that would defy anything save wild goat and howed [hewed] a pass through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons; through wilderness, wild animals and savage Indians without an experienced guide, dug deep wells, preparing a trail for future travelers to enjoy. They were veterians [veterans] but must now prepare to drill and train for system and order which was necessary for all soldiers.)
Wm. Said, “We all had an opportunity to clean up and doctor our sore feet, for some had marched shoeless and feet were wrapped in rags. We had a hoars [coarse] growth of beard and tangled hair cut to the tips of our ears. We also got some rest which I needed.” “The company in wich [which] I enlisted was detailed the following month to Los Angeles as a protection against hostile Indians, where a fort was erected on a hill commanding a view of the city and vicinity. The conquest of Calif from Mexico was easily achieved. Freemont with 60 Americans defeated Gen. Castro June 1846 (?) and Calif. Became U.S. teritory [territory].

“The Mormon Battalion arrived too late to participate in the conquest, but in time to be assigned the task of hawling [hauling] the longest pole from the San Bernadin [Bernardino] Hills, that has ever been erected for a liberty pole in which I proudly participated and unfurling our stars and stripes for the first time (4 of July, 1847 celebration) over Los Angeles in the name of the U.S. of America.”

During this time with the help of Mamy Chloe we were doing all we could to get to the mountains in the west, taking care of the little ones and praying for the safety of our loved ones.

The years period of inlistment [enlistment] was up, and inducements to the Battalion for renlistment [reenlistment] were made by Gen. Kearney because of their achievement. He said to Sargent [Sargeant] Tylor, “Napoleon Bonepart [Boneparte] crossed the Alps but these men have crossed the continent.” A few reinlisted [reeinlisted] but most of them were anxious to get home to their families.

A messenger arrived from S.L. Valley with letters telling of the arrival of Bro. Young and others who on July 25th had hoisted the flag of the U.S. on Ensign Peak. Then Mexican Territory. Bro. Young had advised members of the Battalion to remain in Calif. for employment for the winter to earn sufficient means to bring their families west in the spring.

Dr.’s health had not improved so he desired to get to his family whom he thought in Utah. On arriving in S.L. Valley with many others found that his family was not there. He at once left for Winter Quarters with his brother, joined the returning men at Pueblo and arrived home at last. How happy we were to be reunited and he to see his year old son for the first time.

His health seemed to improve some, he was home and we were happy, then privations in that terrible winter of 1847-48 caused a relapse and after a promise exacted from me that I would take the family and go with the saints to Zion, he passed from this life in my arms, leaving me grief stricken and facing maternity again with Mamy Chloe my only attendant. Little Mary Jane was born four months after her father’s death.

We then set about to keep our pledge that we go to S.L. the Zion of the mountains, and oh, how I missed him, always so faithful to the church, so kind and true.

I could have gone back to luxury at home by reputiating [repudiating] our faith but was not tempted, even in the face of poverty, so in about two years my faithful Mamy Chloe helped me bring my family to S.L. We located in Cottonwood and Mamy taught me to spin and weave materials for our cloths, carpets for the floor, how to card the wool, to make quilts and she taught me how to weave straw hats like the darkies made in the south. I managed to create a little fancy style and Mamy Chloe sold them to the stores and others, thus we made our living until my sons were old enough to earn and make a home for us.

Poor old Mamy Chloe loved the gospel, I taught her to read, and she often remarked, “I’d be willin honey to be skinned alive if I could jus go in dat temple”

Even after the slaves were freed by Pres. Lincoln she did not desire her freedom. No one ever knew her grief leaving her own boy Sammy, but being slaves they learned never to complain at seperations [separations]. I am sure I can never know what her great devotion to Miss Mary Lee, as she always called me, cost her and how she softened all my hardships wherever she could.

I never made an effort to recover my rights in my fathers estate. However I feel that I have been compensated by living in the shadow of God’s Temple. I am a descendant of Henry Lee, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and 2nd cousin of Gen. Robert E. Lee, of which I am proud. My mother was Sarah C. Lee. I love my country and never hear “The Star Spangled Banned [Banner]” without a feeling of gratitude and exaltation. I will never go back home now, but I hope that some of my posterity will go down South and rescue the portrait of little Mary Lee Bland. (She died May 24, 1898. She did work in the temple for many of her family.) She is buried at Santaquin, Utah. (Dr. W.F. Ewell was buried in Winter Quarters Cemetery, where a park was later made and a monument erected to those who died during the terrible winters of 1847 and 1847.

Wm and Mary Lee Ewell had 6 children—
1st Francis Marion Ewell born 3 Nov. 1835 at Livingston, Ray Co. Mo.;
2nd John Pleasant Ewell, born 2 Aug. 1836 at Livingston, Ray Co. Mo.;
3rd Barbara Ann Ewell, born 25 Oct. 1843 at Livingston, Ray Co. Mo;
4th Sarah Elizabeth Ewell, born 18 April 1841 at Livingston, Ray, Co. Mo.;
5th William Thomas Ewell, born 5 Oct. 1846 at Council Bluffs Pot. Co. Iowa;
6th Mary Jane Ewell, born 5 Feb. 1849 at “inter [Winter] Quarters, Iowa.

Handwritten “This was written by (unreadable word) Evadine Houtz Bean.
From Robert B. Evans
2448 N. Utah St.
Arlington, VA 22207

(Transcribed from PH-1, Pioneer History Room, Mormon Trail Center at Winter Quarters. Note: Text is transcribed as written with spelling corrected in brackets.)

Linked toMary Lee Bland; Francis Marion Ewell; Pleasant Ewell; William Fletcher Ewell; Barbara Fauber