Mary Ann Cato

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George Evan Stoddard, son of George Earl Stoddard, Jr., son of Elthira Dana Thomas, daughter of Sarah Helen Dana, daughter of Mary Ann Cato

Mary Ann Cato was born August 19, 1833, in Tring, Hertfordshire, England, the second of seven children of Charles C. Cato and Ann Higby. Her father died when the youngest child was just seven months old. After his death Mary Ann's grandmother, mother and the older girls took up braiding straw for hats to provide their livelihood. Mary Ann's mother remarried, and most of the family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The president of the branch they attended was Charles Root Dana, who was serving a mission in England. He invited her to accompany him to Utah as his wife. They left England early in 1857. After a harrowing voyage they reached New York, then traveled by train to the terminus in Iowa City, Iowa. They crossed the plains in the Jesse B. Martin Company, arriving in Salt Lake City on September 12, 1857.

Two days later Mary Ann, her friend and traveling companion Ann Barlow, and two other women, sisters, were married and sealed to Charles Root Dana in the Endowment House. They spent the first winter in Charles' four-room cottage in Ogden. With the coming of Johnson's army in 1858 in the "Utah War," Charles moved his family south to Fillmore, where Mary Ann gave birth to her first child, Charles Robert, who was born prematurely and died at six weeks. The family returned to Ogden once the threat of war had passed. In 1859 Mary Ann had her second child, Elizabeth Priscilla (Eliza). To accommodate his growing family, Charles traded his house in Ogden for a smaller town house in town and a farm located about two and a half miles away in the village of Mound Fort. The sisters took the town house, and Mary Ann and Ann moved to the farm, which had no house, but only a dugout to live in. The first winter on the farm was extremely difficult, but gradually they made improvements to the farm, and Mary Ann and Ann lived there together for almost ten years. While living on the farm Mary Ann had three additional daughters, Sarah Helen Dana (Nellie, 1862), Rebecca (1864), and Adaline (1867).

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Mary Ann's first husband, Charles Root Dana, died in 1868 at age 66, leaving her a widow at age 34 with four young daughters, ranging in age from one year to nine years old. The same year her grandmother and mother's family (except for her only brother Charles, the only one not to join the Church) joined her in Utah.

Less than a year after Charles's death Mary Ann married a second time, again as a plural wife, to Thomas George Odell, a prominent Ogden citizen, and the Mary Ann's family went to the Odell home to live. She was 35; he was 45. The following year, 1870, her last child, Joseph Odell, was born. Less than three years later Mr. Odell died suddenly of a stroke. He was only 50, and Joseph only a child of three. Mary Ann did not marry again.

She moved with her children to a small cottage her son Joseph had received as his inheritance close to her sister Eliza. They lived on revenue from the farm, and Mary Ann's braiding. In 1878 Rebecca died of pneumonia at age 13. Mary Ann was grief-stricken. As the other children aged they worked and attended school, married and had children of their own.

Mary Ann remained healthy to almost the end of her life. In her last months she grew feeble, but not helpless. She died July 9, 1922, at age 88.

Source: Sarah Helen Dana Thomas. untitled history of Mary Ann Cato Dana Odell, 57 pages, undated, predating 1943, in the possession of George Evan Stoddard.

Mary Ann Dana's First Winter on the Farm

Mary Ann Odell's Rejoinders

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