MARIAH DOYLE STEVENS
Husband: Roswell Stevens Jr. — Private/Corporal in Company F
From FIVE HUNDRED WAGONS STOOD STILL
Mormon Battalion Wives
Shirley N. Maynes
Mariah Doyle was born June 29, 1809 at Mount Pleasant, Brant, Ontario, Canada to John Doyle and Mary Accord. The village of Mount Pleasant is five miles to the southwest of Brantford Town, and the area is an unbroken plain. Life on the Ontario frontier was rugged and harsh. Education was limited and many never learned to read or write. The Bible was usually their only textbook. Very little is known concerning Mariah’s early childhood.
Roswell Stevens, Jr. was also born and raised in Mount Pleasant. His father was born in Connecticut and his mother’s family came from Massachusetts. The two families settled in Canada, along with most United Empire Loyalists, who left their homes in the United States. The Methodist church claimed a large following of the town’s people.
Roswell was born of noble parentage. The Stevens’ line goes back into England, where the name originally was Fin Stephens, and the family was recognized in many ways having its Coat of Arms as early as 1131. The first member of the family to come to America was Thomas Stevens, who landed on the American shore in 1630. Roswell’s 4th great grandparents were also Brigham Young’s 4th great grandparents and George Richards’ 6th great grand parents.
In all probability, Roswell was well acquainted with Mariah Doyle. In 1827, they were married. Roswell’s father was given a one hundred-acre land grant by the Canadian government because of his war service. In 1830, the father divided this land among his children and Roswell received his portion. On this land the young Stevens build their home, and became parents of several children. Roswell was a farmer, but he was also very handy with tools and often worked with his father at the bench as a carpenter and wheelwright.
On October 20, 1833, at the request of Freeman Nickerson, a recent convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon arrived at Mount Pleasant to hold meetings and preach the gospel. The Stevens family heard their message, and Roswell, Mariah and his sister, Sarah was the first of their family to be converted. Elder John P. Green baptized Roswell in the spring of 1834, and Elder Freeman Nickerson baptized Mariah at the same time. Other members of the Stevens family soon joined the Church.
On May 25, 1836, Roswell settled up his business, sold his farm and with Mariah and children started for the state of Missouri, Roswell’s sister, Sarah, also accompanied them. They traveled along in the company of Saints, by ox team from Mount Pleasant, Canada to Crooked River, Missouri.
When they arrived at Crooked River, they found many of the Saints, who had been driven from Clay and Ray Counties, encamped there. After being advised by church authorities they continued on to Clay County, Missouri, and settled on Log Creek near the settlement at Far West. In 1837, Roswell’s parents and other family members caught up to them and settled there. The families acquired land and began planting crops and building their homes. Mariah gave birth to two children at Log Creek: Roswell, III born in 1836, and Sybil born in 1838.
In 1839, Governor Lilburn Boggs issued an “extermination order” forcing the entire family to leave Missouri under very trying conditions. Sarah, Roswell’s sister reports: “The family walked all the way through ankle deep snow and slush, not riding until we stepped onto the ferry boat to cross the Mississippi River.” The mobs had destroyed, stolen or burned almost everything the Saints had possessed. They were without food or warm clothing. Some had no shoes and wrapped their feet in cloth. They had been living together with other families whose homes were still standing, and sharing what supplies they had. Their journey to Quincy, Adams County, Illinois was two hundred miles, and the trek took two weeks to complete. Before leaving Missouri, Roswell, his father, other families members and many of the Saints signed a petition made by President Brigham Young stating that “it was resolved that they enter into a covenant to stand by and assist each other to the utmost of our abilities in removing from this state, and that we will never desert the poor who are worthy, till they shall be out of reach of the exterminating order of General Clark, acting for and in the name of the state.” On November 29, 1839, Roswell made a claim of $950.00. Besides being driven from his land, his house was burned and his gun and animals were taken. (Journal History of the Church 29 Jan 1839.)
Roswell and Mariah became early settlers and builders in Nauvoo. Roswell served as a police officer for the Prophet Joseph Smith and was also a farmer. They were members of the Nauvoo 1st Ward. Mariah gave birth to a son, Isaiah, on September 18, 1840 in Nauvoo, and their oldest child, Daniel, died at age twelve. Joseph Smith selected the site to build a Temple. The site, found high on a bluff and bounded by Woodruff, Mulholland, Knight and Wells streets, contained less than four acres. Life was anything but dull in Nauvoo and the surrounding areas. With Joseph Smith as their leader, members donated labor and money to build a temple, a large hotel, sawmills a flourmill, a tool factory, a foundry, and a chinaware factory. A trained militia was also organized and the Nauvoo Charter was created,
In 1842-43, the Stevens family suffered great sorrow when their son, Isaiah, about 18 months old died in the spring at Nauvoo. On August 23, 1842, a son, William Chester Stevens was born, and he died on October 23, 1843.
By 1844 the population of Nauvoo had grown to about ten thousand, making it, next to Chicago, the second largest city in Illinois. On June 27, 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, had been slain. Grieving members brought their bodies in two wagons from Carthage to Nauvoo for burial. During this same year, Mariah gave birth to a daughter, Melissa Stevens, born on September 5, 1844.
Persecutions and difficult days began for the Saints. Their enemies wanted all Mormons out of Illinois. President Brigham Young and the High Council began to plan for the exodus. By the fall of 1845, the Saints were actively engaged in preparations for the trek to the west, and by February of 1846, the people started to leave. Police Captain Hosea Stout appointed Roswell Stevens and Benjamin Jones, to regulate the boats. On the night of February 3rd the two made preparations for the first groups to cross the river. Their duties were to see that the crossing was done in an orderly manner. At :30 p.m. Brigham Young met with the police and regulated their duties for the night. (Hosea Stout Diary (1846) vol. 2 typescript, BYU — p. 138-9.)
By the middle of May, an estimated sixteen thousand persons had crossed the river. The date when the Stevens family crossed the Mississippi River is unknown, but in all probability they crossed in late spring or early summer, since Roswell was busy helping others to cross. Roswell and Mariah received their temple endowments on December 20, 1845, and on April 5, 1846, their daughter, Julia Ann, married William Alexander Fawcett.
The family first camped at Sugar Creek where Roswell was assigned to be a bodyguard for church leaders. Due to poor weather conditions and many delays, the Stevens family slowly made their way to Council Bluffs, Iowa. The entire Stevens family began planning for their trek west by the following spring. However, When President Young sent out a request for 500 men to volunteer to join the Army of the West and fight in the Mexican War, Roswell enlisted as a Private in Company “E” under the command of Captain Daniel Davis. (He was later promoted to a Corporal.)
Families were located on the west and east sides of the Missouri River. Roswell Stevens, his parents, brother, William, and sister, Sarah along with their families, settled at Winter Quarters for a year and then moved over to Council Bluffs.
Brigham Young promised the women and children of the Battalion that he would assign bishops to care for their families and see that they had food and shelter. Roswell Stevens Sr. was assigned to this office and served until his death on July 2, 1847 at Winter Quarters His widow, Sybil, came west three years later. In 1852, she died at the home of her son, William in Fillmore, Utah. William Stevens, brother to Roswell, had lost his wife and five of their children on the Iowa prairie. Soon after Roswell left with the army, Mariah gave birth September 19, 1846, to a son, John Stevens. She lived close to her husband’s parents, his sister, Sarah and her husband, Joseph Dudley.
Roswell marched with the Battalion to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He left with the Brown Sick Detachment, but on October 19, 1846, he and Lt. Samuel L. Gully, ex-quartermaster, received special permission to go with John D. Lee and Howard Egan to Council Bluff as bodyguards. These men were carrying a large some of money in checks, currency, and coin from the battalion members. They also carried letters and packages from the Battalion. The men arrived at Winter Quarters on November 20, 1846 where Roswell remained for awhile with Mariah and his family.
In April of 1847, Roswell was chosen by President Young as a member of the original company of Utah Pioneers to head for the west. He was in the second ten with Ezra T. Benson as their captain. Before reaching the Salt Lake Valley, the twelve Apostles decided that Brother Amasa Lyman should go with Roswell Stevens, John Tippets and Thomas Woolsey to Pueblo, Colorado to help the sick detachments and the Mississippi Saints catch up with the Pioneer Company. They started on June 2, 1847, with horses and mules, letters for the Battalion, letters of authority to Captain James Brown, and to Thomas Dowdle the presiding Elder at Pueblo.
President Young, Kimball, Richards, and Pratt accompanied them to the Laramie Fork. At the Fork, the brethren held a council meeting and after the meeting the group knelt down and then President Young blessed the brethren who were leaving and dedicated them to the Lord. The four men forded the river and continued on. President Young and his group returned to camp. The four men soon met with the Mississippi Saints, Captain James Brown, and the sick detachments. They were not able to catch up with the Pioneer Company, but arrived in the Salt Lake Valley five days later on July 29, 1847.
On August 26, 1847, a large company of men, including Brigham Young, return to Winter Quarters to spend the winter there. Roswell Stevens was in Brigham’s group and arrived at his destination about the 1st of November 1847. He was then assigned to be responsible for the families of the Mormon Battalion men,
On May 10, 1848, Mariah gave birth to a son, Thomas Stevens, at Council Bluffs, Iowa; he died before 1850. The Stevens became involved with preparations for the trek across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley.
Roswell Stevens brought his family to Utah in 1851 as part of the John G. Smith Company consisting of 150 wagons. They left Kanesville, Iowa on May 1, 1851 and arrived in Salt Lake on September 23, 1851. Roswell, Mariah and children settled in Alpine; Utah, originally named Mountainville. Among the first settlers were Roswell Stevens, William Wadsworth, and Morris Phelps. Morris Phelps had lived near the Stevens family in Council Bluffs.
On December 3, 1851, the citizens of Mountainville met at the home of William Wadsworth to plan for the building of a schoolhouse. The school house was finished on January 1, 1852. It was a small log structure with a roof of split logs and dirt floor, log benches and a fireplace of granite.
At a meeting held on February 10, 1852, church leaders organized the people into a branch of the LDS Church. Charles S. Peterson was appointed president with Roswell Stevens and James W. Preston as his councilors. (Alpine Ward Records of Members, Book A – FHL 02059.)
Mariah became disenchanted with the prospects of being left alone to care for her children while Roswell was continually away either on church assignments or attending to other business. When her last child, William Henry Stevens was stillborn on June 12, 1852 in Alpine, Utah, she experienced overwhelming sorrow and she divorced Roswell. Mariah married Morris Phelps in January of 1853 and moved with him to the Bear Lake region in Idaho. Morris Phelps became a Patriarch for the Church. He died in Montpelier, Bear Lake County, Idaho and is buried there.
A Bishop’s court was held in 1854, involving Roswell and Mariah. The case before the court was to decide which of them should have the children and property or the same to be divided. Roswell had assigned all his property to his children before he left Mariah and it was divided among them.
The court also decided that their property should be used for the benefit of the family and the remainder of the estate be refunded by Morris Phelps to Roswell Stevens. The children were to belong to their father and he was to take care of them until they were able to care for themselves. Many of them had married and had families of their own. Records show that four of Mariah’s children died in Idaho and Oregon, most of them evidently left the Valley when she did.
Mariah Doyle Stevens Phelps died August 11, 1879, and is buried in the Montpelier City Cemetery, Bear Lake County, Idaho by the side of Morris Phelps. She was seventy years of age at the time of her death and the loving mother to eleven children, many of them dying in their infancy.
Roswell Stevens, Jr. was born November 17, 1808 at Mount Pleasant, Brant, Ontario, Canada to Roswell Stevens, Sr. and Sybil Spencer. He died on May 4, 1880 and is buried in the Bluff Cemetery, San Juan County, Utah. Roswell was one of the first pioneers to go on the Hole-in-the Rock Expedition and helped to carve a primitive road over slick rock and mountains into Bluff in Southern Utah on the San Juan River. Roswell Stevens, Jr. was a strong, ambitious man who honored every calling the Church required of him. He was a faithful member to the very end of his life.
Daniel Stevens born March 30, 1828 in Mount Pleasant Br Ontario, Canada — died in 1840 in Nauvoo.
- Julia Ann Stevens born February 17, 1830 in Mount Pleasant, Brant, Ontario, Canada
- Alexander Roswell born November 28, 1832 in Mount Pleasant, Brant, Ontario, Canada
- Roswell Stevens, I born November 17, 1836 in Log Creek, Ca County, Missouri – died 1840 in Nauvoo
- Sybil Stevens born July 5, 1838 in Caldwell County, Missouri
- Isaiah Stevens born September 18, 1840 in Nauvoo, Hancock County Illinois— died in Nauvoo in 1842
- William Chester Stevens born August 23, 1842 in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois — died in 1843 in Nauvoo.
- Melissa Stevens born September 5, 1844 in Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois
- John Stevens born September 19, 1846 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa
- Thomas Stevens born May 10, 1848 in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie County, Iowa—died before 1850.
- William Henry Stevens born January 12, 1852 in Alpine, Utah County, Utah — stillborn
Information obtained from several histories written on the Stevens family by Vern Hall and Ruby Hurren and family members and submitted by Leo and Kathryn H. Powell
The Life and Times of Roswell Stevens — 1808 — 1880 by Elaine Toomer Justesen AG — Compiler’s files and 11.5. Mormon Battalion Headquarters — Midvale, Utah. A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War— 1846-48 by Sgt. Daniel Tyler p. 170 — Sick Detachment and p. 174 —Roswell Stevens assigned to go to Council Bluffs with soldiers’ pay checks. He went with John D. Lee, Howard Egan and Li. Samuel L. Gulley
“Day by Day with the Utah Pioneers” by Andrew Jenson —June 2, 1847 – President Brigham Young appoints Roswell Stevens to go back to meet Captain James Brown Company that was coining into the Salt Lake Valley. William Clayton’s Journal— May 27, 1847- mentions Roswell Stevens
L.D.S. Church Emigration Records — The Historical Department— the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints Headquarters — Salt Lake City, Utah —John G. Smith Company — May 1851 leaving from Kanesville, Iowa.
Family Group Sheet — L. D.S. Family History Library — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Headquarters — Salt Lake City, Utah
NOTE: Some records show Mariah’s name as Vallie Mariah. Mariah’s grandfather, in his will, called her “Vallariah”. Mrs. Hurren, one of the authors of the Stevens history, states that “Vallariah” was her correct name.
Two writers of the Stevens’ history feel that Mariah came to Salt Lake in 1850 with William Stevens, brother to Roswell Stevens. He, his mother, and the surviving members of his family came with the William Snow Company. The 1850 Census of Pottawattamie County, Iowa lists Roswell, Mariah, Alexander, Sybil and daughter Malissa. The baby Thomas died before 1850, as he was never mentioned with the family again. John Steven was living with the Jerome Benson family. (1850 U.S. Census Pottawattamie Co., Iowa. D652 F652. P. 105. FHL 442963.)