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Bland, Mary Lee- Her history as told to a granddaughter



The History of Mary Lee Bland As Told to a Granddaughter
I Mary Lee Bland Ewell, was left to bear the responsibility of providing for and rearing my family. Too proud to ask assistance from my wealthy father by whom I had been disinherited because I had married a Mormon and had affiliated myself with The Church of Latter-Day Saints. I disobeyed his mandate that I marry a man of his choice. A son of his friend and neighbor whose plantation and estate adjoined ours.
My father had planned to give a large parcel of adjoining land to Dale and me as a wedding present. The engagement was to be announced when Dale came home from law school and I from boarding school.
Dale and I broke up almost immediately after his arrival home because of ungentlemanly conduct. I tried to keep it from father as I felt he would not understand.
Faithful old Mamy Chloe helped me to avoid Dale, when he was seen coming, I would slip out quickly and go for a ride on Old Betsy. One day no one was around to saddle her so I did it myself. The cinch was not tight enough and while riding in the woods, some distance from home the saddle turned, throwing me to the ground injuring my back and my ankle.
As I lay there feeling unable to rise, a young man introduced himself as William Fletcher Ewell, a medical student on vacation for the summer. During this vacation he was doing missionary work for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known as Mormons.
He was heartily welcomed and invited to make our home his own as long as he desired. This new religion was listened to and agreed with at first. Then one day father went to town and came back a changed man. He demanded an audience with the Doctor. Father had found in the community that the teaching of Joseph Smith and the Mormons were very unpopular. They had let father know that if he continued to entertain and encourage the young missionary that he would be an outcast. It was more than father could bear as his standing in the community meant much to him.
At first father tried co get William to give up teaching and believing this religion, and when that was to no avail, father commanded him in no uncertain terms to leave, and when I pleaded for both William and the new religion, I was ordered to my room and forbidden to see William. I could not leave my room until I changed my mind, Father told me as he locked the door.
I felt my heart would break for I loved William and he had a firm faith in the teachings which he had given us. I threatened to run away, but Mamy Chloe said that I would break my poor mothers heart.
A week went by, then a message came from William by faithful Mamy Chloe. He wanted to know if I would be willing to go with him as his wife and be with him and the saints.
My mind was made up-- I knew the gospel was true and was worth any sacrifice. Money and social position meant nothing to me in comparison to a life of usefulness with the one I loved. Mother was in sympathy with me and offered a trip to Paris, hoping that a trip would help me to see things fathers way, but I was not interested. Mother helped see that William and I were together, for she loved William as a son. She wanted to see me marry for love rather than social position and to please parents as she had done.
It was decided that we would meet the next night before moonrise, where William had found me in the woods that first day. Mama sent a purse full of money and a box of jewelry to me by Mamy Chloe as she was not permitted to come to me. Mamy Chloe also informed me that she had been given to me and that she would not think of letting me go without her to help me.
I made my escape through the second story window down the rose trellis. Sammy had two horses waiting and ready. One for me and one for Mamy Chloe. I left a goodby note with Zachery, my brother, to give to Mamma. Zachery was also in sympathy with me.
We met William at the appointed place and rode all night in order to get far enough away that father would not follow. The next day we found a minister in a small town in Kentucky and were married with Mamy Chloe as my witness. I was not yet eighteen and William was just twenty-two.
William entered Medical School and that fall my brother wrote that mother was still ill. Her pleadings to father to accept us on a visit were in vain, as were her pleadings for the new religion which she believed was true.
The following year our first son [Francis Marion] was born while we were in Missouri with the Doctors' family during vacation. Mamy Chloe cared for the baby just as she had cared for me. In due time, another son [John Pleasant] came to us, and two years later a daughter was born whom we called Sarah Elizabeth for dear Mama who still had not been permitted to see us.
The family doctor finally told papa that if he desired to keep his wife he had better let her see her daughter and grandchildren she had pined for so long in her weak condition. Papa consented and we were sent for. We were prompt in going and even Papa seemed happy to see us and he loved his grandchildren. Our visit seemed to give new life to Mama.
Our happiness was complete until the day Papa said, "Dr. Ewell, I want to have a talk with you. You seem to have made Mary Lee very happy, and while I can't forgive you for taking her away as you did, I'll give you the strip of land we had planned to give Mary Lee and I'll build you a house as becomes our rank and you can practice medicine right here. You have made Mary Lees' mother happy and the Doctor says my wife hasn't long to live. But of course you will have to give up that abominable religion of yours for any social prestige among our kind."
William thanked him for his kind offer but said, "We cannot repudiate the truth of the Gospel." We were asked to leave and I was disinherited. William had finished school that year.
Mother soon passed away and my brother wrote that my portrait was thrown into the attic and my name was taken from the family record in the Bible.
Another little girl was born while we were living at Winter Quarters who we named Barbara Ann. My jewels went one at a time in the hard times that followed.
Then came the call for volunteers to go to Mexico. Dr. Ewell was among those who marched away. It was the longest military march in history-about 2,000 men. Three months after his good-by, our son William was born.
Although there was not a shot fired by the Battalion in the conquest, they fought with the wild bulls which gathered first in curiosity and finally attacked and gored to death several mules, some hitched to wagons and some pack mules.
I will relate a story told by William 'The troops were ordered to march with guns unloaded, but in the presence of such danger the men had loaded their guns without waiting for orders to do so. The officers were riding, the men walking of course and one ferocious beast charged and was only about eighteen feet away from me. I was ordered to load my gun to try and save my life. I stood a second knowing my gun was already loaded. The officer ordered me to run, but instead, I lifted my gun, for a son of Virginia nor a soldier of the Mormon Battalion would run from danger. I took aim at the curl between the eyes of the oncoming beast, pulled the trigger and he dropped at my feet.
'There was much suffering from lack of water and necessities, poor food, and hardships. By the time the Battalion had reached San Diego Mission on the Pacific Coast, where the encampment was made and the famous march was completed. [sic]
'I had become ill but could not give up. I knew I must get home to my family. Col. Cooks bulletin lauded the Battalion for its achievement and faithfulness in service to our country. We said, 'Who with crowbar and pick had cut their way over trackless wasteland and through mountains that would defy anything save wild mountain goats. We hewed a pass through a chasm of living rock more narrow than our wagons, through wilderness, wild animals, and savage Indians, without an experienced guide. Deep wells were dug preparing a trail for future travelers to enjoy. They were veterans but must now prepare to drill and train for system and order which was necessary for soldiers.
"We all had an opportunity to clean up and doctor our sore feet, for some had marched shoeless and their feet wrapped in rags. We had a years growth of beard and tangled hair cut to the tips of our ears. We also got some rest which I needed.
"The company in which I enlisted [Company E] was detailed the following month to Los Angeles, as a protection against hostile Indians, where a fort was erected on a hill commanding a view of the city and vicinity. The conquest of California from Mexico was easily achieved.
"Fremont with sixty Americans defeated Gen. Castro, June 1846. They took possession of Los Angeles in the name of the U.S. then Major Kearney disregarded Fremont's accomplishment on January 8, 1847, made a compromise of $15,000,000, and California became U.S. territory.
"The Mormon Battalion arrived too late to participate in the conquest, but the time be [sic] assigned the task of hauling the longest pole from the San Bernadino hills that has ever been erected for a liberty pole in which I proudly participated and in unfurling our stars and stripes for the first time (4th of July, 1847, Celebration) over Los Angeles in the name of the U.S.A."
During this time, with the help of Mamy Chloe, we were doing all we could to get to the mountains in the West, taking care of the little ones and praying for the safety of our loved ones. The years period of enlistment was up, and inducements to the Battalion for reenlistment were made by Gen. Kearney because of their achievement. He said to Sgt. Taylor, "Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Alps, but these men have crossed the Continent." A few men reenlisted, but most of them were anxious to get back home to their families.
A messenger arrived from Salt Lake Valley with letters telling of the arrival of Brigham Young and others who on July 25, had hoisted the flag of the U.S. on Ensign Peak-the Mexico Territory. Brother Young had advised members of the Battalion to remain in California for employment for the winter to earn sufficient means to bring their families West in the Spring.
The Doctors' health had not improved, so he desired to get to his family whom he thought in Utah. On arriving in Salt Lake with many others, he found that his family was not there. He at once left for Winter Quarters with his brother who joined the returning men at Pueblo, and arrived home at last. How happy we were to be reunited, and for William to see his year old son for the first time.
His health seemed to improve some. He was home and we were happy. Then privations in that terrible winter of '47 and '48 caused a relapse and after a promise to William that I would take the family and go with the Saints to Zion, he passed away from this life in my arms, leaving me grief stricken and facing maternity again with Mamy Chloe my only attendant. Little Mary Jane was born four months after her fathers death.
We then set about to keep our pledge that we would go to Salt Lake, the Zion of the Mountains, and oh how I missed him. He was always so faithful to the Church, so kind and true.
I could have gone back to luxury at home by repudiating our faith, but I was not tempted--even in the face of poverty. In about two years my faithful Mamy Chloe taught me many things and helped me to bring my family to Salt Lake City.
We located in Cottonwood, and Mamy Chloe taught me to spin and weave materials for our clothes, carpet for the floor, and how to weave straw hats like the darkies in the South. I managed to create a little fancy style and Mamy Chloe sold them to the stores and others. Thus we made our living until my sons were old enough to earn and make a home for us. Mamy Chloe also taught me to cord wool for making quilts.
Poor old Mamy Chloe loved the Gospel. I taught her to read, and she often remarked, "I'd be willin honey to be skined alive if I could jus go in dat temple."
Even after the slaves were freed by President Lincoln, she did not desire her freedom. No one ever knew her grief leaving her own boy Sammy, but being slaves, they learned never to complain at separations. I am sure I can never know what her great devotion to Miss Mary Lee, as she always called me, cost her, and how she softened all my hardships whenever she could.
I never made an effort to recover my rights in my fathers estate. However, I feel that I have been compensated by living in the shadow of God's temple. I am a descendent of Henry Lee, signer of the Declaration of Independence, a second cousin of General Robert E. Lee, of which I am proud. My mother was Sarah C. Lee.
I loved my country and never hear the Star Spangled Banner without a feeling of gratitude and exaltation.
I will never go back home now, but I hope some of my posterity will go down South and rescue the portrait of little Mary Lee Bland.
She died May 24, 1898. She did work in the temple for many of her family.
Dr. William Fletcher Ewell was buried in Winter Quarters Cemetery, where a park was later made and a monument erected to those who died during the terrible winter of 1847-48.
William Fletcher Ewell, son of Pleasant Ewell and Barbara Fauber, of Palmyra, Albermarle, Virginia, was born January 20, 1815, and died in 1848. He married Mary Lee Bland.
[If any of you know where the original of this history is, or any variations, please let as know, we've checked everywhere! -Editor]

Note:
No documentation has been found regarding William ever being a medical student or a doctor.
No documentation has been found that William served a mission for the Church.
The marriage record shows Missouri, not Kentucky.
Their fourth child Barbara Ann was not born at Winter Quarters.
Pension record states 4 children born before enlistment, 2 children born after enlistment.


ID  431 
Linked to  Mary Lee Bland or Blann 

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