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Mary Allen Phillips Terry

(1815-1898)

Mary Allen Phillips Terry

Mary Allen Phillips Terry was born March 11, 1815, in Point Juda, South Kingston, Rhode Island. Her early childhood was spent in her native state. The father was a sea captain, and as a little girl, Mary loved to hear him tell stories of the sea. She had other sisters. When quite young, she went to work in a cotton factory, and it was here she met and admired William Reynolds Terry, overseer of the factory at the time. He was an outstanding character in his day, and at the time Lafayette visited America as a guest, William R. Terry rode a beautiful horse at the head of a parade in the noted Frenchman's honor. Mary watched with pride from an upstairs window.

Before William married Mary, he told her it was his desire to go west where there was opportunity for development. This was a great sacrifice for Mary - to leave home and all that was near and dear to her. But her love and respect for William was greater, and on December 20, 1835, they were married by William C. Hubbard at South Kingston, Rhode Island. Shortly afterward, the young couple left Rhode Island to explore the west, going first to eastern Iowa where they took up a large tract of land. They had a great many hogs, and were becoming quite well-to-do. At this time, a friend of William's - Stephen A. Wright - wanted him to go to San Francisco. Drawing from William's diary, we learn, however, of his subsequent action:

In August 1841 two Mormon Elders named Truman Gillett and James T. Ball were sent from Nauvoo, Illinois, to Van Buren County, Iowa. They came to the house of John Luca, whose farm joined mine. There I, with my family, attended their meetings and for the first time heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ by those who were sent and qualified under the direction of God. The discourse that fell from the lips of those two men that day so penetrated my heart that I feel to thank the Lord to this day. The following December my wife embraced the truth and the 20th of March, 1842, I was baptized in the Des Moines River and confirmed by Truman Gillett. They organized a branch in

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the neighborhood by the name of Bentonport, and by the unanimous vote of the members I was ordained an Elder by Brother Truman Gillett and James T. Ball. (End of quote.)

It was not long before the Tern's traded their farm for one-fourth interest in a mill and forty acres of timberland on the west fork of Crooked Creek, Hancock County, Illinois, just eighteen miles east of Nauvoo. They arrived at their new home in October of 1S42 and traveling to Nauvoo, received their endowments in the Temple. The young couple went through the hardships of the pioneers at Winter Quarters and Council Bluffs, and, although Mary's folks wrote letters begging her to come back and bring her children, she and William, loving their religion and each other, pressed on. Quoting again from William's diary: "I with my wife and family arrived in Salt Lake Valley September 9, 1852, Albina, Dorcas, Mary Abbey, Joseph, Benjamin Franklin, Sarah Marie and Silas, William having died in Iowa."

They settled in Willow Creek, now Draper. Before they had time to build a. house a baby girl, Leah Ann, was born. Two other children were born while the family lived in Draper. Their names were Rosanna (Rose) and Minerva Deseret. Mary often told of the severe storm that developed during the night, and how they had to build the best shelter possible to protect them; that they all knelt down and prayed the storm would cease, and that their prayers were answered.

In the year of 1862 William was called by Brigham Young to go to St. George to take charge of a cotton mill. Leaving their now prospering farm in Draper, they answered the call. Here, once again, they built a home, but according to William's diary everything they possessed was washed away in a flood that came upon them in the night. Their home, cotton patch, and fruit orchard were buried under three feet of sand, and the family barely escaped with their lives. It was possibly during this time that Mary returned to their home in Draper, and William, in his loneliness, conceived the idea of taking another wife. A note signed by the bishop of St. George Ward, reads as follows:


St. George, Washington Co.
Sept. 19th, 1865

Prest. B. Young
Dear Brother,
The bearer of this, Bro. William R. Terry of this ward, wishes to get another wife. So far as I am acquainted with Brother Terry's circumstances I think they are such as to justify him in increasing his family. He is a faithful member of the Church and a worthy man.
Yours Respectfully
Robert Gardner, Bp St. George Ward

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Having learned of William's desires, Mary wrote him the following letter:

Draper Villa, July 25th

Dear Husband,

It is with pleasure that I sit down to write these few lines to you hoping they will find you enjoying good health as I am happy to say we are all well at present. Richard and Sarah are here on a visit - they are well. Joseph and wife are well also. We have only the one cow to milk which makes butter very scarce but we have killed two sheep and have got plenty of vegetables and we are doing pretty well. The crops look well and we shall have considerable many apples and peaches and plenty of currants. I have not got all the wool ready yet for I cannot tell where I shall be able to get grease. The boys have harvested a little barley. Frank has been very kind to me in every way and is doing the best he can. We all went visiting yesterday to Stewart's, and went to the dance in the evening and enjoyed ourselves very much. The grain was very scarce when I got here as there was nothing but wheat left, I think about fifty bushels. I have traded about three or four hundred of, flour at eleven dollars per hundred. I got a bunch of cotton yarn, some Domestic Tea and the children a dress each and some other little notions. I shall not trade any more till you come. Sarah brought me a new dress and some Tea and snuff. We have got plenty of potatoes, peas and beans so you see we are not starving. I want you to write and tell me when you will come up for I shall be very glad to see you, for then I could talk to you better than I can write. I feel well in the faith and want to do right I don't want you to get discouraged and if you feel like getting another wife and should see one that would suit you do so and I will sustain you and do the best I know how, for it is my desire to see you happy. I went to Battle Creek on a visit and heard Brigham preach a good sermon. I stayed there three days and enjoyed myself the best kind. The folks there were all well and since that Dorcas has been here. The horses are not in very good order but they have been running on the range a while but Frank has got them up and is going to start to Canon in the morning to cut poles. I forgot to tell you that Joseph Rollings has got another wife. I believe I have told you all the news. We all send our best respects to you, Hoping that you will be blessed and preserved from evil, is the prayer of your affectionate wife,

Mary A. Terry


William evidently decided against plural marriage, for no other wife is mentioned, and after living in Dixie for six years. he contracted pneumonia and died May 31, 1868. After this, Mary returned to Draper to spend her remaining 30 years. She

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had always kept in close touch with her people in the east, and many of her precious letters remain to attest the great affection that existed between them. One written in December of 1S78 by her cousin, Julia Stedman, is particularly appropriate, and is quoted in part:


Wakefield, R. I., Dec. 21, 1878

Dear Mary,

I intended to have written you for Mother so that the letter would have reached you at Christmas time, but neglected it from day to day until tonight when she will let me put it off no longer. She mailed last Friday the 19th a small box to you, with some views of the pier and village, the new Town Hall erected and given to the town by Rowland G. Hazard January 1st, 1877, it is situated on Updike Whitford's land, two pin roll, a cap that was Grandmother's, necktie and handkerchief for you. Hope you will receive them all right. This is the Sunday evening before Christmas. It has been a cloudy windy day after the heavy wind and rain of last night, but we have had a beautiful Fall, no snow at all up to this time. The view of the river takes in the trees of Sylvester Robinson's garden, the two old willow trees that stood in Wm. B. Robinson tan yard, and the back side of our house, the square roof with four chimneys.

Our Narragansett Pier Railroad, 8 miles in length, is quite an advantage to our village, in the summer we have 7 trains a day and great deal of travel boarders coming to the Pier in the winter. It pays running expenses and carries between 25 & 30 passengers a day. It crosses the mill river just below where Elise Hazard lived. John Phillip was in here tonight. He & family are well, both of his children are married. Emma married a Larkin, has one child named Ralph. She lives in the house with her father. Susan Wright still lives where she always has, all of her children are married....

Our house stands opposite Sylvester Robinson's store and second from the bridge. The old willow trees and the old houses where Grandmother used to live, have all been taken down, the land sold and is now nothing but grass with a plain fence running the entire length. Brigham Young's 19th wife Eliza Ann lectured here two years ago. Mother went to hear her on purpose to see and ask her if she knew you or any of your family, but she did not....

After enduring the hardships of widowhood for many years, Mary died October 9, 1898, and was buried in the Draper Cemetery.