Autobiography of Mary Elizabeth Cox Whiting

Mary Elizabeth Cox, daughter of Johnathan Upham and Lucinda Blood Cox, was born on the 15th of December, 1826, in Owego, Tioga County, New York.

Mary Elizabeth wrote about her life:

Growing up

My father, Jonathan Upham Cox, was a miller, but the last two years of his life he was almost an invalid and his work in the mill was carried on by his oldest boys. We were a large family- twelve children. Father died when I was a little girl three years old and my brother Johnathan [sic] was born six months after father's death which occurred in April 1830. William, my oldest brother was twenty years of age and on his young shoulders devolved nearly the whole care of the family but as he had had the care of the mill so much it was comparatively easy for him with the help of his two brothers next younger than he, Charles 18 and Walter 16, both of whom looked to William for counsel at all times. We were all taught obedience and I never heard jars among the boys such as one might expect among a large number. Mother Lucinda was never well after father died though she lived eight years.

When I was six and one half years, 1833, William thought best to move to the northern part of Ohio so that he could get land to farm and have employment for the younger boys, and he accordingly went to Nelson, Portage County, Ohio and secured 80 acres of woodland covered with heavy timber of all kinds and covered with a thick growth of underbrush. He then came back and took mother and the five small children and came on the canal to Buffalo then across Lake Erie to Painesville. A team met us there and we soon passed thirty miles, arriving at our new home but what a change! A log house was in the centre of a little clearing, most of the trees and brush being cut down and burned. Fences made of split rails laid one upon another enclosed the place. It was many days before it seemed like home but we children soon found delights in the new home that compensate all we had left behind.

Mother never gained in health but grew worse until she died, December 1838. Then we were left to shift for ourselves. The three oldest boys were married and homes found for Johnathan and me, The rest were at work where they had a chance and the home was sold. The proceeds after mother's expenses were taken out was divided among the family without a jar that I ever heard of.

Walter was married to Emeline Whiting about two years before mother died and as the boys began to leave home about that time we were seldom together, William married Sarah Ann Beebee before Walter was married. I went to live with a Mr. Barber in Nelson, Ohio and Johnathan with a Mr. Rate in Windham. Mother died Dec. 1838 , and was buried in Nelson.

Walter Cox and Edwin Whiting with their families and Amos Cox then 16 years old, had gone to Missouri, at that time the gathering place of the Latter-Day Saints. None of us had ever heard the Gospel only as we heard of "old Joe Smith and his gold bible," and every one thought Mormonism would soon be a thing of the past and forgotten and we were surprised to learn that Walter and Emeline also Edwin and Elizabeth had joined the Mormon church in Missouri and they were soon after driven with the rest of the saints from the state and settled In Lima, Illinois. They remained there till 1845, when the saints were driven out.

I lived with Mr. Barber two years then went and stayed with my brother Charles in Garretville, Ohio. Soon after a Mr. Davis who lived in Akron, Ohio, was looking for a girl to help take care of their children, two little girls, so I went home with him and stayed two years. I was never mistreated by any one, but was often lonely being away from all near relatives and especially sister Harriet whom I almost worshipped. It was also a great trial being separated from my little brother Johnathan. I always loved books and as I learned very easily was always encouraged in my efforts to gain an education. As a consequence, at fourteen years of age I was far ahead of most children of that age. An occasional chance to attend a select school and one term at an academy were all the chances I ever had except the common schools. In the summer of 1841 on presenting myself as a candidate for a teacher, I was given a certificate for teaching all the common branches of the English language and taught four summers in Ohio.

In 1844 I came west with my brother Walter, my sister Harriet and her husband, Charles Jackson, also coming west to Illinois.

In August soon after the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum, the mobbing commenced and all the saints were compelled to go to Nauvoo after having their houses burned and much other property destroyed. I had taught three terms in Lima, Illinois then went west with my brothers and families to Nauvoo for I had been baptized in April 1845 by father [Issac] Morley in the Mississippi River at Nauvoo, being there to attend the April conference. [Comment: Walter Cox and Edwin Whiting were counselors to Isaac Morley in the Stake presidency in Lima] That winter was a busy one for people as they had previously agreed to leave the State within a year, so as we were ill prepared it meant business for us. In the meantime, our beautiful temple was nearing completion and many were looking to receive great blessings there. It was there that I entered into the celestial order of marriage with Edwin Whiting and his wives Elizabeth and Almira January 27th, 1846, and have never regretted it knowing, as I do, that the Lord has blessed us together.

We moved from Nauvoo in April of 1846 and came west as far as Mt. Pisgah in Iowa, very many of the saints having gone through the state and built up what was known as Winter Quarters where the town of Florence now stands. We were not well enough prepared for the journey so we stopped and went to plowing and planting. The Whitings and Coxes put up a chair factory and made chairs which they hauled back to Quincy where they found ready market for them. We stayed at Pisgah two years during which time many died with chills and fever, among them father and mother Whiting, one of Elizabeth's little girls, Emily four years old, and two of my brother Walter's little girls. The rest of us were all sick for months, some of the time there were not well ones enough to give the sick a drink. Those were times of trial, yet we felt we were remembered by our heavenly father and had many seasons of rejoicing. I taught two terms of school at Pisgah. Albert my oldest was born there Dec. 9th, 1847.

The Great Move to Salt Lake