Mary Ann Gifford Chidester



(parents of John Madison Chidester)


John Peck Chidester was born about 1775, probably in Danbury, Fairfield, Connecticut or possibly in New York. His parents were David Chidester and Mary Elizabeth Peck. He met a woman named Mary Ann (Polly) Gifford, and they were married around 10 May 1806 in Pompey, Onodaga, New York. Their first child was born 1 Nov 1806 and was named David Starr Chidester. Their second child came on 22 Jan 1809 and was named John Madison Chidester. All this occurred while still living in Pompey. John Peck was a doctor in the area. Sadly he died soon after John Madison's birth on 10 Jan 1810 when the new baby was only seven months old. It is believed his wife Polly said at the time of his death, "that she could never love another man" because she loved him so much. John's wife would remarry and she and their second son John Madison, would eventually make their way to Utah as Mormon pioneers.

[Written on 14 July 2005 by Nicholas Dee Stoddard with information gathered from family records and from "The life and Times of John Madison Chidester' by Dale Eldon Chidester (August 1994)]


Mary Ann "Polly" was the first of ten children born in her family. She was born at New Haven, New Haven, Connecticut on April 30, 1790.

She moved to Vienna, Oneida County, New York with her family as they were caught up in the westward movement of the times. There she met and married Dr. John Peck Chidester, who had also originated in Conneciticut. She was nineteen years of age at the time and he was a mature thirty-four. To this couple were born two sons. They were a very happy family until her husband died July 10, 1809. Polly was so broken-hearted, she said that she would never love anyone else.

It wasn't long before she married George Darrow, a widower who had lost his wife about the same time that her husband had died. She had two small children with no means of support except her parents and he had six motherless children. Even though it may have been a marriage of convenience at first, they soon developed a genuine love for each other.

About the summer of 1828, the family moved to Monroe County, Michigan territory. John, her second son, was married in 1829. In 1832, he became converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and followed their journeys through Missouri and to Nauvoo. In 1842, he succeeded in converting his mother and two half-sisters, but his stepfather could not accept the new religion. The following year, January 23, 1843, George Darrow died and John went again to Michigan to help his mother settle her estate and bring her and his sisters to Nauvoo where he could watch over them.

Mary Ann probably came across the Plains with the Chidester family as they were now caring for her and traveled as independent pioneers in 1850. Sometime after their arrival, she was persuaded to marry John Young, Brigham Young's brother.

She lived with him for several years and then went to live at the home of her son, John, in Washington, Utah. She remained there until her death on July 24, 1875. She was eighty-five years old. She had sacrificed much for the Gospel as most of her children did not come west with her.

[Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude, Vol. IV, p. 3524]