Mary Ann Donnelly


Mary Ann Donnelly, wife of George Black, born 29 Jan 1834 in Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland; christened 9 Nov 1834 in Magherafelt, Londonderry, Ireland; died 26 Jan 1923 in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, United States; buried 26 Jan 1923 in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, United States, daughter of Felix Donnelly and Mary Ann McKowen.  She married George Black in Salt Lake City on 25 Mar 1855. George was born 6 May 1823 in Lisburn, Antrim, Ireland; died 13 Nov 1872 in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, United States; buried in Kanosh, Millard, Utah, United States, son of William Young Black and Jane Johnston.  Mary Ann Donnelly married James Woolsey on 25 Mar 1856 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States. Mary Ann married Almerin Groe.

Children of Mary Ann Donnelly and George Black were as follows:

  1. Mary Ann Black, born 11 Nov 1858 in Ephraim, Sanpete, Utah, United States; died 5 Feb 1956 in Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States; buried 10 Feb 1956 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, United States.  She married on 12 Dec 1879 in Saint George, Washington, Utah, United States Alfred Whatcott.
  2. Lillian Black, born 23 Jan 1863 in Springdale, Washington, Utah, United States; died Mar 1896.
  3. Joseph Black, born in Rockville, Washington, Utah, United States.
  4. Edward Lenox Black, born 11 Jun 1868 in Rockville, Washington, Utah, United States; died 27 Jun 1954.  He married on 22 Dec 1898 Pearl Adell Kimball.


Mary Ann Donnally Biography

Mary Ann Donnally Groe Black was born in Magherafelt, Ireland, 26 Jan 1834. She was the daughter of Phillip Donnally and Mary Ann McEwen. Her father was a drover, and was lost at sea when she was very young. Later her mother md Edward Erwin, who was always kind to Mary. She had the very best education that the schools could give at that time.

When she was about 17, she found herself in love with a young man named Frank Quinn, and also about that time two Mormon elders came to Magherafelt and were to hold a meeting one night. The elders were J.T.D. McAllister and James Ferguson. Elder McAllister was the speaker. She had peresuaded a girl friend to go with her to the meeting. The elder told the story of the Restored Gospel, the visit of the Father and the Son to the Prophet Joseph, the coming of the Book of Mormon, the organization of the Church, etc.

Mary said it sounded like a beautiful story she had once read and forgotten. She was completely converted to mormonism and ran home to tell the story and convert her mother and stepfather. She was broken-hearted when she found they only laughed. She told her story to her boy friend, who was very much upset about it. She was soon baptized by Elder McAllister and began to make preparations to go to America. Later she had a final talk with Frank Quinn. He said, “Mary, it is alright for you to belong to the Mormon Church. We can get married and be happy, and all the girls that come to our home can be baptized into the Mormon Church and all the boys will be Catholics.” She replied, “Frank, I leave you right here; I never expect to see you again.”

She boarded an old sailing vessel and was eleven weeks on the ocean. She never heard of Frank Quinn or her folks again; she was the only child.

She found her way to the body of the Church and did her part in all its activities. She married a man by the name of Almarin Groe. They started for the valleys in James Pace’s Company. Groe left the company and went back. Mary gave birth to a baby girl and named her Alice. William Black and his wife Jane, their three sons and their families, were in the same company. Mrs. Jane Black had been blessed and set apart as a midwife by the Prophet Joseph Smith to care for the sisters as long as she lived. She took charge of Mary as though she belonged to her, and this lasted all the way across the plains and into the valleys.

A while after arriving in the valleys, Pres. Young told George Black to bring that Irish girl, Mary Ann Donnally, to his office and he would marry them. George had a wife and baby. He told Mary the story; she replied, “If Pres. Young says that is the right thing to do, it can’t be wrong.” She put on her bonnet and they were married in Pres. Young’s office. It is reported that Groe came to the valleys several years later with a family of his own.

For some time the Blacks owned and lived on the corner across the street south of the Beehive House. They were sent to Sanpete County and settled Spring City. Mary’s second baby was born there. Mary Ann was her name. The Indians were so bad Pres. Young called them back to Salt Lake. Later they moved back to Sanpete and built a large stone house at the foot of the hill where the temple now stands. They spent twelve years in Sanpete. No one will ever know the hardships they passed through. It has been said that Mary crocheted hundreds of yards of that kind of work which Susan, the first wife, peddled up and down the valley for flour, meat and anything the family could use. They finally received a call to move down to Utah’s Dixie.

How they ever found their way down over the Black Ridge is a mystery,  as well as through the bad lands to a place with the Rio Virgin River on the south and a high mesa of rock on the north. There they settled and called the town Rockville. Eleven years Mary lived in Rockville. Lillian, Joseph (deceased), Edward L. and Laura were born there. Mary lived the greater portion of the first twenty-three years of her married life with Grandmother Black. She planted and hoed the cotton, picked and separated it from the seeds, corded it into small rolls then on the spinning wheel wove the thread into cloth on the old loom, then made clothing for her children. All the while Mary was doing this hard, tedious work, Alice was taking care of the rest of the children.

When Edward was born, it was evident there was something seriously wrong with him. For more than a year he cried. During all that time he never grew one pound. Grandmother Black was helpless and told Mary one day if she would quit praying for the Lord to spare the life of that “little piece of skin and bones” it would be out of its misery right away. Mother was hurt, and told Grandmother she wouold never give him up.

One late morning Grandmother was away visiting the sick. Mary had been carrying her sick baby on this same pillow which had held him for more than a year, but stopped to lay him on the bed for a moment, when a fine-appearing man stepped into the house and spoke to Mary as if he had always known her. He said, “Sister Black, you have a very sick baby. I have come to tell you what to do for your baby, and if you will do it your baby will be well and normal – but you must never tell a soul while you live what I told you to do. She promised and he told her what to do. The baby moved; Mary turned to the baby a second or two, and when she turned around again her visitor had gone. The baby was well and strong very soon.

After being released from that mission, Mary and her family were moved to Panaca where her husband had employment with the Pioche Mining Co. After about a year or so, she and the family were moved to Kanosh where the rest of the family had moved previously. For some time she lived in a dug-out – a hole in the ground covered with poles, brush, straw and dirt. This home was halfway between Theodore Penney’s home and the Henry Whatcott home. Finally a little log cabin with a dirt roof was built near where Theodore’s home now stands. A number of years later a new log cabin with shingles was built.

When Mary was about 45, she had a very hard sick spell. Dr. North said she could not live more than two days. Bishop King, his counselors and their wives were extremely worried. Mary’s older children asked Bishop King to please let her children be alone with her that night. The request was granted. Her children all kneeled down by her bed and each of them prayed in turn, asking the Lord to please let their mother live, reminding the Lord that their father was dead, and they just could not live without their mother, etc. Next morning when Bishops King’s folks and neighbors came in, the found Mary Black well.

George Black died in an adobe room where the Henry Whatcott home now stands. His two wives and their children, ten in number, were present. He asked Mary to bring her son Edward who was about five years old over to the bed. He took the lad by the hand and told how he knew Joseph Smith was a true Prophet and how he was the instrument in the hands of the Lord in establishing the true Church, then said, “My boy, I want you to lead a clean life and always honor God.” He turned over in bed and passed away. Mary did not let the boy forget the last words his father ever spoke, and the boy has often said it was the most beautiful lesson he was ever taught in his life.

Susan and her family moved to Coyote, now called Antimony.

Mary was the first Primary president in Kanosh; she worked in the Relief Society and other organizations as well. Bearing her testimony was a great comfort and consolation to a lot of people. It was a common thing for the Bishop to call her out of the audience to come to the stand and use the time in sacrament meetings.

She had married James Woolsey and had had a baby girl named Birdie. Lillian, her daughter, was thrown from a horse and was an invalid for fifteen years. She watched over Lillian for years, stood over her and took care of her in the Deseret Hospital for one year as nurse. Lillian died six months after her brother left for his mission. When he returned he married Pearl Kimball; they bought a new home and Mary lived with them for the next 30 years. No finer woman ever lived than Mary Black. She one of the finest conceptions of the laws and ordinances of the Gospel and taught those principles to her children. I am sure a day never passed over her head but what she bowed herself upon her knees in prayer and taught all her children the importance of prayer. She loved good poetry and could quote Bobby Burns for hours.

The day before her ninetieth birthday she was real poorly – in fact some of the brethren came in and administered to her. She was poorly and restless all night. That morning Alice was sent for, and Pearl explained the condition in which had had spent the night. She was lying on the bed covered with a quilt. Alice walked around by the side of the bed and discovered she was dead. It was her 90th birthday.

A lot of the exciting experiences connected with the settling of Sanpete Valley have been omitted, as have some which occurred in Rockville and Panaca. Following are two experiences which happened to Mary Black while she lived in Rockville: A man’s team ran away with a mower and his foot and ankle was mangled so that an operation was necessary. Grandmother got him on a couch, then sharped her butcher knife, cut the flesh to the bone around the calf of the leg, split the upper part of the flesh in three or four places and tied them back, and sawed with a common saw until she had the leg off – not anesthetic – then she put the flesh back down and boured in her homemade balm she’d made from herebs and roots that grew in Dixie. Mother was sure the man was dead. Grandmother stood for some time with her hands on her hips, finally he opened one eye. She said “How grateful and thankfull to the Lord you should be.” That made him angry, and he wanted to know what in hell he had to be thankful for. She replied to “Know it was not both his legs.” She pulled him through.

One morning Grandmother was cooking breakfast on the coals in the fireplace – stoves were not fashionable in Dixie in those days. This was probably two or three days before Edward was born. When a large Indian, his face covered with paint, stepped into the little cabin and asked Grandmother for something she did not have, and so informed him, he grunted and walked over to the frying pan of meat and hacked, then spit into it. Grandmother had a hardwood poker standing by the fireplace, sharpened at one end for use in lifting the vessels off the coals. She grabbed that poker and broke it in two across his head. He went down on all fours and scrambled on his hands and knees until he got to the door. He went out head first; she gave him a swift kick in the rear which landed him on his head and face. He finally got to his feet and ran. She ran after him, punching him in the ribs with the sharp end of that stick and he was screaming for help. Mother got to the door and saw the race. He finally got away and grandmother was standing in the road shouting, “You black Devil! If you ever come to my house again, you will get something worse than that!” Grandfather met the Indian a few days later, his head all bandaged up, and the Indian congratulated him on having such a brave squaw.

Written by E. L. Black, Sally Kanosh DUP Camp, Ruby Iverson, Historian. Mary Black came with the James Pace Co. Died 1928. Buried in Kanosh Cemetery.