Mary Jane West (Robinson) (1848 - 1914)

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Place of Burial: Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah, USA
Birthplace: Little North Canyon, Davis, UT, USA
Death: Died in Salt Lake City, UT, USA
Cause of death: Mitral insufficiency and general debility
Occupation: Married John Anderson West 5/27/1865 Salt Lake City, UT
Managed by: Della Dale Smith
Last Updated:

About Mary Jane West (Robinson)

The following information about Mary Jane Robinson West was found on-line from lds.org, in an article entitled, "Latter-Day Saint Women on the Arizona Frontier", which was written by Leonard J. Arrington, Church Historian in April of 1974. This section talks about Mary Jane's friend, Ida Frances Hunt Udall, and continues on to mention Mary Jane.....

One of Ida’s friends, whose contributions were of major significance not only in the cultural arts but in the ecclesiastical and political affairs as well, was Mary Jane Robinson West.

Mary Jane’s mother was a woman of refinement and culture and had been brought up in a wealthy Southern family. She took pains to pass on this heritage to Mary Jane, who loved books and became a fine actress, speaker, and dancer. Her dance instructor was John A. West, whom Mary Jane married when she was not quite seventeen. Shortly after their marriage John was called on a mission to Hawaii, so Mary enrolled as a student in a private school. Four sons were born in the six years after her husband’s return. At that point John was called to return to Hawaii, during which time Mary Jane supported her family by teaching school. In a gesture that would seem insanity to many people, while John was in Salt Lake City preparing for his mission, he purchased an organ and sent it to Mary Jane in Parowan with an accompanying letter saying he had also arranged for Professor Thomas Durham of Parowan to give Mary Jane instruction in how to play the instrument. Mary Jane did learn to play, and the family had a full repertoire by the time John completed his mission.

John and Mary Jane were called to go to Arizona in 1879. They left in November, reached Snowflake in February, and as a symbolic gesture, Mary Jane had the boys lay strips of carpet in their tent as soon as it was pitched and set the organ down on the carpet. Then all the family joined in singing “Home Sweet Home.” Four more children were born to Mary Jane in Arizona—two of them girls to go along with the eight boys. In addition, for many years Mary Jane also looked after her widower brother Solomon and his many children.

In 1892 Elder Karl G. Maeser, Church commissioner of education, went to Snowflake to open a Church academy. As president of the ward Relief Society, a position she held for fourteen years, Mary Jane led a movement to make the academy possible. The sisters loaned their Relief Society hall for a classroom and saved their Sunday eggs to sell in Fort Apache for funds to assist in the building. Old-timers suggest that the sisters are the ones who really made Snowflake Academy possible.

In the 1890s Carrie Chapman Catt of the National Woman Suffrage Association came to ask Sister West if she would accept the county chairmanship of the Woman Suffrage movement. Upon consultation with ecclesiastical authorities, she accepted the appointment and took a lead in the territorial suffrage movement. Her sister Relief Society officers in Salt Lake City, Eliza R. Snow, Susa Young Gates, Sarah Kimball, and others, had led the movement in Utah, in which territory the women were the first in the nation to exercise the franchise. For a number of years Mary Jane wrote a regular column for the monthly Relief Society paper, The Pearl, proclaiming women’s rights and opportunities. After her release from her civic positions and an extended visit in Salt Lake City, Mary Jane returned to Snowflake to become stake Relief Society president, a position she held for seven years.

Many other Relief Society sisters were ardent women’s rights workers. The Relief Society minutes of Snowflake Stake for July 12, 1896, state: “We are now required to take up the study of Woman’s Suffrage in connection with the R.S. work. If we attend to the duties of the different societies and the studies of government and strive to become learned in every branch, we will bring forth great children. Great men have never brought great sons into the world, it is the great women who do this.”

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Mary Jane Robinson West's Timeline

1848
October 24, 1848
Davis, UT, USA
1866
May 25, 1866
Age 17
Parowan, Iron, UT, USA
1867
October 5, 1867
Age 18
Parowan, Iron, Utah, USA
1871
July 28, 1871
Age 22
Parowan, UT, USA
1872
August 10, 1872
Age 23
Utah, USA
1876
February 17, 1876
Age 27
Parowan, UT, USA
1877
November 9, 1877
Age 29
Parowan, UT, USA
1880
November 2, 1880
Age 32
Snowflake, AZ, USA
1883
September 7, 1883
Age 34
Snowflake, Navajo County, AZ
1884
October 8, 1884
Age 35
Snowflake, AZ, USA