His first wife, Mary Ann Barker, has a tragic story, and is, as a result, the subject of this week’s #52ancestors post based on the prompt, “misfortune.”
Below is the story of her life with Robert and their experiences together as told in a history of Robert Daines submitted to FamilySearch:
“On 11 Oct. 1851 Robert married Mary Ann [Barker]. During the summer and fall of that same year, the Elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints labored for the first time in the neighborhood. Among the first to accept the message were Robert and his wife who were both baptized by Elder William Smith December 17, 1851. Soon after, his mother and step-father also joined.
“During the next few years, Robert and Mary Ann had three children who all died within a year of their birth. Because of the spirit of gathering [of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], and their sorrow over the loss of their children and low wages they desired to emigrate to Zion[, or modern-day Utah]. This seemed almost impossible, but they continued faithful and worked hard to obtain the means to emigrate. Finally, they boarded the sailing vessel The Emerald Isle, and sailed from Liverpool 30 Nov. 1855 and arrived at New York 1 Jan. 1856. They found a room in what is now Brooklyn, and with only a shilling left of his meager store when he embarked, he sought and obtained employment on the streets of New York and later other work to sustain them through the winter. Early the next spring, 1856, they moved to Monmouth County, New Jersey, where a number of the Saints had gathered together. There Robert obtained work on a farm and labored with his usual zeal to obtain the means and supplies to continue the journey to Utah. However, in Nov. of that year, Mary Ann gave birth to another child, who died three months later. Mary Ann never regained her health and lingered until 1 Jan. 1858 when she passed away and was laid to rest beside her child. Robert felt, as he had to lay away his wife, after losing all of their children, that it was almost more than he could bear. Surely he was being tried as gold in the crucible, or as he preached many times afterward, He who would inherit a Celestial Glory must be tried as Father Abraham was tried.
“During Mary Ann’s many weeks of helplessness, Jemima Seamons, a girl of 20 years, was employed by Robert to care for her. During this time the invalid and nurse became very attached to one another and learned to love one another. This brought about a bond of sympathy and association between Robert and Jemima after Mary Ann’s death. Over the months that followed, this association ripened into love, and when in the early part of 1859 the little branch of Saints moved westward toward their goal, Robert and Jemima were part of the company. Upon arrival at Omaha, Nebraska they were married 1 May, 1859 and at once commenced their preparations to cross the plains.”
When I think of Mary Ann’s sorrow in seeing her four babies die and then experiencing her own early death my heart grieves. She has no living posterity to honor her, but as her step-great-great granddaughter I appreciate her dedication to motherhood. She gave her health and ultimately her life in order to be a mother. I hope she had some peace as she passed away and contemplated the implications of her faith; a faith that promised a reunion with her babies that awaited her on the other side.