Mary Ann Thayne was born in 1849 in Ontario, Canada, the oldest of seven children of Sidney Boyer and John Johnson Thayne. The family moved to Iowa in 1861. Family legend says that Mary Ann and her brother drove a team of oxen all the way to Winter Quarters, Nebraska. She was twelve and her brother Nephi was ten. The rest of the family joined them later that year and they crossed the plains together in the Peregrine Sessions Company.

Mary Ann Thayne

In 1868 Mary Ann married Henry Moon, then bishop of the First Ward in Salt lake City, as his third wife. In 1870 he moved his families to Farmington, but by 1880 Mary Ann was serving in the Bench Creek Relief Society in Woodland. Henry’s son Joseph Henry had purchased land on Bench Creek in 1874 and Mary Ann’s parents had moved there around 1876. Henry became the first bishop of the newly-established Woodland ward in 1881, a position he held until his son John Thomas replaced him in 1885. He claimed a homestead on the north side of the Provo Valley and the whole family worked to clear the end for stock raising. They were amongst the first families to settle there.

Henry Moon

In 1888 Henry suffered a stroke which left him an invalid. He returned to Farmington to be nursed by his second wife, and died in 1894, leaving Mary Ann with six children, the youngest six years old. Mary Ann made jellies and jams from the fruit of the valley, and kept about ten cows from which she made butter which she sold to Bill Pace in Kamas. She also went out wallpapering houses at 50 cents per day, and rented rooms to Woodland’s schoolteachers and other visitors.

Even after her children were married she still rose early, did her own work, and went to their homes in the mornings to help. 

In 1897 Mary Ann’s neighbor, Mary Ann Sorensen White, died just ten days after giving birth to her eleventh child. 

Mary Ann Sorensen White

Mary Ann took the six surviving children into her home to care for. Three years later she married their father, Earnest Authenia White, despite the disapproval of her own children. One story goes that her son Nephi got into a fist fight with Earnest, who called the sheriff. Fined three dollars, Nephi gave the sheriff six – pre-payment for the next fight!

Earnest Authenia White

Earnest was 41 and Mary Ann 51.

Earnest and Mary Ann White

The couple ran a small hotel in Mary Ann’s house that they called the White House Hotel. It was known for its good food and clean beds and was a favorite with settlers on their way to the Uintah Basin. 

Mary Ann and Earnest White and family at the White House Hotel, 1904

Mary Ann died in 1927 at the home of her daughter Florence Van Tassell. Earnest died in 1930. They are both buried in Woodland.

Sources: 

  • Familysearch.org
  • “The Family of Henry Moon, Mormon Pioneer 1819-1894” by Richard Nephi Moon et al
  • Beverly Bemis