Margaret Jane McIntire Burgess



by Lynne Stewart Johnston, a Great-Great Granddaughter

Margaret Jane McIntire Burgess was born in Wheatfield Township, Indiana County, Pennsylvania on May 22, 1837. She was a daughter of William P. and Anna Patterson McIntire.

From her records and notes, she tells the following story:

"I was a young girl when my father let Brother Erastus Snow stay at our home. Brother Snow was 17 years old when he brought the Gospel to Pennsylvania. He was a very gifted speaker. My parents embraced the Gospel under his teachings and were baptized by him into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on November 23, 1836.

In 1840, they sold and gave away their property so they might join the Saints at Nauvoo. In the Spring of 1849, we were ready to go to the Salt Lake Valley. We were in the wagon train of Orson Spencer. Orson Hyde and William Miller were Captains under him. I was only 12 years old and drove one of our three wagons across the plains. We arrived in the Valley of the Great Salt Lake in 1849. We lived in the 16th Ward and Frederick Kesler was our Bishop.

In the Spring on 10 April 1855, I was married to Melancthon Burgess by President Brigham Young in the Endowment House.

We were called to the Dixie Mission, with my husband, two little sons, my parents, and family - also my husband's parents, brothers, and sisters, we came to Dixie with the original Pioneers of 1861.

Dixie was a very barren and desolate place at the time. It did not take long for the followers of Jesus Christ to make the desert blossom as the rose.

One of our first experiences in Dixie was with the Indians. Jacob Hamblin was concerned about a squaw who had been stolen by the Indians of another camp. Jacob had made a search of other camps but could not find her. Jacob and the missionaries bought several children so they could provide a good home for them and keep them from being sold into slavery.

While we were living in our wagon box and a tent, we bought a pretty Indian girl for fifty dollars. Jacob explained that her parents had lost all their belongings in a flood at Santa Clara and desired to sell her in order to obtain necessities. I wanted her and would not give Melancthon any peace until he bought her as a playmate for our two small sons.

We gave her a warm oose-root sudsy bath, to which she objected strongly, then her pretty black hair was washed, and soon clothes were made for her. We gave her a birthday - July 4, and named her Minnie Viroque. I made her a rag doll and dressed it up. Her native parents came often to see her, but she would hide behind a rocking chair. She seemed to know her parents had given her away and it grieved her. We never scolded her for not coming out from behind the chair.

She enjoyed playing with the other children in the neighborhood, but she did not speak English for a long time.

She grew to maturity in our home and married a white man in Silver Reef. She became a mother of four children, but died shortly after the last baby was born. It died also. I went to their home and cared for the children until her father married again.

My husband built the first house in St. George. Many of our neighbors were living in their wagon boxes, dugouts, or willow houses plastered with mud. He cut the timber on the Parowan mountains with a cross cut saw and brought lumber and clapboards to build our home. The one room building was plastered with adobes (Dixie mud). There were four doors, one in each wall, and one small window with eight panes of glass which he brought with him from Salt Lake.

Our fireplace was used for heating and cooking. We cooked over the fire with a long handled frying pan - potatoes and onions could be cooked in the coals and ashes. My husband was a Blacksmith so he made all our cooking utensils. Our furniture was made from our wagon box.

In 1863 we added a bedroom, a kitchen, and a porch. We had a Charter Oak stove, a chest, a sewing stand, a sewing chair, and a coal-oil lamp on the table. The carpets on our sand floor were made from old clothes rags. We used a chicken wing or a bunch feathers for our dusting. We had a stone crock churn with a wooden dasher.

At our home parties, dances, wedding dances Sunday School, and meetings were held. At the dances some were barefoot; some had cow-hide boots, or heavy shoes. A piece of tallow on the shelf was used to minister to stubbed toes or bruised feet so the dance could go on.

We ate salted-down trout, bull berry preserves, Johnny cake, wurst, sauerkraut, cucumbers in salt brine, and molasses or honey in the comb. There were also pickled grapes, ground cherry preserves, clingstone peaches, and pears with cloves. In our garden we grew plants such as mint, sage, catnip, horehound, fennel, angelic, and peppermint. We raised madder and indigo for coloring to dye the carpet rags. We used ooze roots to make shampoo and soap suds. Cottonwood ashes and water took the place of lye to loosen the dirt from the clothes."

      "I was the mother of eight children" -

      Edgar Melancthon
      Minnie Viroque (adopted)    
      Don Carlos
      Annie Vilate
      William Patterson
      Franklin Livingston
      Margaret Viloa
      Jennie Caroline

b. 14 May 1856      
b. 1857
b. 1858
b. 1864
b. 1868
b. 1868
b. 1872
b. 1880

d. 14 Aug 1891
d. 1897
d. 1892
d. 1886
d. 1868
d. 1911
d. 1942
d. 1972

I went through all the hardships of pioneer days.
My family says I was one of God's noble mothers in Israel.
My gentle courage and kindly diligence made me a striking though modest figure in early pioneer days.
I died on 17 Dec 1919 in St. George, Utah. I am buried in the St. George Cemetery.


A history in Margaret's own words, and family records
"Mothers in Israel" - an article in an early Relief Society Magazine
"Dixie Folklore and Pioneer Memories" - Arthur Knight Hafen
Person sketches of their mother by Margaret and Jennie Burgess