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Mary Minerva Wells

10 December 1854–25 January 1935

Born 10 Dec. 1854 in Salt Lake City.[1] Daughter of Daniel Hanmer Wells and Lydia Ann Alley.[2] Baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by K. Davis, 3 Nov. 1864.[3] Member of the Wasatch Literary Association, 1874–1878.[4] Taught school in Manti, Sanpete Co., Utah Territory, 1876.[5] Taught night school in Salt Lake City, 1881–1882.[6] Trained in kindergarten methods, 1887.[7] EBW encouraged Orson F. Whitney to court Mary and sometimes provided a place for them to meet, 1888.[8] Secretly married Orson F. Whitney as a plural wife, 24 July 1888, in Colonia Díaz, Chihuahua, Mexico; two children.[9] Took charge of the Woman’s Exponent office while EBW was in Washington, DC, Feb.–Mar. 1891.[10] Named to the executive board of the Utah branch of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1893.[11] Zina Beal Smoot Whitney, Orson F. Whitney’s first wife, died, 20 May 1900.[12] Sealed to Orson F. Whitney in the Salt Lake Temple, 11 Oct. 1900.[13] Raised the children of Zina and Orson who were still at home.[14] Husband appointed as an apostle, 8 Apr. 1906.[15] Served with her husband as he presided over the British mission, May 1921–Nov. 1922.[16] Attended and addressed the North Sanpete Stake conference, June 1924.[17] Died 25 Jan. 1935 in Salt Lake City.[18]

 

[1] Record of Members Collection, 1836–1970, North Thirteenth Ward, Part 1, 1907–1940, Segment 1, 3 Nov. 1864, line 6, Mary Minerva Wells, CR 375 8, box 4792, folder 1, image 88/400 (restricted access), CHL. “Endowments for the Living, 1851–1884,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. G, 1868–1872, p. 176, line 20, Mary Minerva Wells, 23 May 1870, microfilm 1239501 (restricted access), FHL. “Family Tree,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org, accessed 19 Aug. 2019), Mary Minerva Wells (KWNT-G9K.)

[2] “Endowments for the Living, 1851–1884,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Endowment House, vol. G, 1868–1872, p. 176, line 20, Mary Minerva Wells, 23 May 1870, microfilm 1239501 (restricted access), FHL.

[3] Record of Members Collection, 1836–1970, North Thirteenth Ward, Part 1, 1907–1940, Segment 1, 3 Nov. 1864, line 6, Mary Minerva Wells, CR 375 8, box 4792, folder 1, image 88/400 (restricted access), CHL.

[4] Ronald W. Walker, “Growing Up in Early Utah: The Wasatch Literary Association, 1874–1878,” BYU Studies Quarterly 43, no. 1 (Jan. 2004): 79n40. “The Girls of ’76: Ladies of the Wasatch Literary Society,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 16 Dec. 1911, 70.

[5] “Correspondence,” Deseret News (Salt Lake City), 20 Aug. 1876, 2.

[6] “A Night School at Last,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, 15 Nov. 1881, 8. “Chips,” Salt Lake Daily Herald, 6 Jan. 1882, 8.

[7] “Kindergarten Class: Introduction of Better Methods for Primary Schools,” Deseret Evening News (Salt Lake City), 19 Aug. 1887, 4.

[8] EBW, Diary, 29 Mar. 1888; 17 Aug. 1888; 13 Mar. 1894.

[9] Orson F. Whitney, Through Memory’s Halls: Life Story of Orson F. Whitney (Independence, MO: Zion’s Printing, 1930), 193–195. Carol Cornwall Madsen, Emmeline B. Wells: An Intimate History (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2017), 236n21, 271. 1900 U.S. Census, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., UT, ED 40, p. 3B. 1910 U.S. Census, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake Co., UT, ED 132, p. 16A, Mary Wells Whitney. EBW, Diary, 10 May 1892 and 4 Dec. 1895.

[10] EBW, Diary, 13 and 15 Feb. 1891.

[11] “For Equal Suffrage,” Salt Lake Herald, 6 Oct. 1893, 2.

[12] “Utah, Salt Lake County Death Records, 1849–1949,” p. 120 (1900), Zina Beal Smoot Whitney; Salt Lake Co. Management and Archives, Salt Lake City. Orson F. Whitney, Through Memory’s Halls: Life Story of Orson F. Whitney (Independence, MO: Zion’s Printing, 1930), 231–232.

[13] Salt Lake Co., UT, County Clerk, Marriage Records, 1887–1965, p. 197, license 9992, Orson F. Whitney and Mary M. Wells, microfilm 429058, DGS 4624218, FHL. EBW, Diary, 11 Oct. 1900. “Sealings of Living Couples 1893–1956,” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake Temple, vol. A, 24 May 1893–4 Oct. 1905, p. 205, line 3682, Orson Ferguson Whitney and Mary Minerva Wells, 11 Oct. 1900, microfilm 186206, DGS 5266109 (restricted access), FHL.

[14] Orson F. Whitney, Through Memory’s Halls: Life Story of Orson F. Whitney (Independence, MO: Zion’s Printing, 1930), 232–233.

[15] Andrew Jenson, Church Chronology . . . Supplement to Church Chronology 1906–1913 (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1914), 3.

[16] Missionary Department, Missionary Registers, 1860–1959, vol. E, 15 July 1919–31 Dec. 1929, p. 50, line 350, CR 301 22, box 3, folder 2, image 55/287, CHL. George Albert Smith, “Editorial: Arrival of President Orson F. Whitney,” Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, 23 June 1921, 302. William A. Morton, “Editorial: President and Sister Whitney Return Home,” Millennial Star, 16 Nov. 1922, 721.

[17] “June Conference Was Interesting Spiritual Feast,” Mt. Pleasant (UT) Pyramid, 20 June 1924, 1, 5.

[18] “Utah State Archives Indexes,” database and images, Utah State Archives (https://archives.utah.gov, accessed 20 Aug. 2019); Utah Department of Health, Office of Vital Records and Statistics Death Certificates, series 81448, file no. 168/350 (1935), Mary Minerva Wells Whitney. “Mrs. Whitney’s Services Set,” Salt Lake Telegram, 26 Jan. 1935, 3. “Final Rites Held for Mrs. Whitney,” Salt Lake Telegram, 28 Jan. 1935, 9.