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Mary Jane McCleve Meeks biography written by Naomi A. Jensen

 Item — Folder: 1
Identifier: MSS SC 1627

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the biography of Mary Jane McCleve Meeks written by Naomi A. Jensen, grandaughter of Mary Jane McCleve Meeks, in her capacity as historian of the Camp Dale chapter of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in Castle Dale, Utah, dated July 21, 1969. Mary Jane McCleve was born in Crawfordsburn, Ireland, in 1840. Mary Jane emigrated to Utah with her family at the age of 16. The family traveled with the S. Curling ship to Boston and crossed the plains with the Daniel D. McArthur Company. Mary Jane married Dr. Priddy Meeks in 1856 and they had eleven children. She died at the age of 93 in 1933.


  • 1969 July 21


Conditions Governing Access

Open for public research.

Conditions Governing Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances. Permission to use material from this collection must be obtained from Reference Services at

Biographical / Historical

Naomi Asay Jensen was born to Jerome Asay Sr. and Nancy Jane Meeks Asay on February 3, 1898, in Hatch, Utah. She had 10 siblings and was the second youngest. Naomi was great in school and a talented musician. In 1920, she married Ervin Andrew Anderson. They had three children together, but unfortunately, Ervin died just six years later. In 1931, she married Hyrum Jensen, with whom she had two daughters. She completed bachelor's and master's degrees at Minnesota State University.

Naomi was a talented writer. She was a correspondent for the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune and wrote many local histories. She was known for providing service in many ways, including working in a hospital and sponsoring an immigrant. Naomi died on May 7, 1987 in Ferron, Utah.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Jane McCleve was born on August 21, 1840, in Belfast, Ireland, the 4th of 10 children of John McCleve Jr. (spelled McClave in Ireland) and Nancy Jane McFerren (or McFerran/McFerron). She was baptised into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on August 26, 1850, along with her three older sisters (Sarah, Catherine, and Margaret), in the Irish sea after dark due to religious persecution.

Due to the cost of moving a large family all at once, Sarah and Catherine emigrated to Utah in 1853 (reaching the Salt Lake Valley in mid-October), followed by Mary Jane and the rest of the family in 1856. They sailed on the ship Samuel Curling, along with 700 other passengers, from Liverpool, England, on April 19, under the leadership of Captain Dan Jones. During the voyage, a severe storm forced the crew to throw some cargo overboard, which included the family's two barrels of down pillows and fine Irish linens. They landed in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 26 (or 23, depending on the source), took a luggage train to Iowa City (losing more luggage along the way due to overcrowding), and there joined the handcart company of Captain Daniel D. McArthur; they left June 11, 1856, and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on September 26 (Mary Jane also narrowly avoided being kidnapped by two men in a buggy during the trip). Sadly, Mary's father had died two days before they reached the valley, from a broken blood vessel in his leg caused by struggling with the handcart, and was buried on the side of the road near Evanston, Wyoming.

Shortly after their arrival, on November 12, 1856, Mary Jane became the second wife of Dr. Priddy Meeks (age 61). They had 10 children: Joseph (1857), Nancy Jane (1859), Hyrum Smith (1861), John Priddy (1863), Sarah Deseret (1864), Mary Ellen (1867), Heber Jesse (1869), Charles Mason (1872), Elizabeth Dalton (1874), and Alfred Randall (1877); they also adopted Sylvia McCleve, who was born in August 1867.

The family first lived in Parowan, Utah, then moved to Long Valley in 1862, and later joined settlers at Windsor, Mount Carmel. In 1877, they moved back to Long Valley and joined the United Order in Orderville, which had been organized two years earlier under the leadership of Howard Spencer. They put their livestock into the community herd and paid $3 per month to the Order, living in a lumber cabin in the fort until the order was dissolved. The members vested their land in a group title and shared everything. The fort held a large dining hall in the center with a kitchen and bakery attached, as well as work shops, 3 dairies holding 250 cows, a saw mill, woolen factory, tannery, shoe shop, and cabinet shop. They made their own hats and clothes. In 1885, polygamy began to be an issue with the federal government; fear of confiscation of the order's goods forced the dissolution of property and farm land, and the livestock and shops were all sold to the members (in 1900, the Order was officially dissolved by order of President Woodruff; at one time, it consisted of nearly 600 members running 28 specialized departments of work).

Dr. Meeks died October 7, 1886, after which Mary Jane became a midwife, ultimately assisting over 700 births. She continued to live in Orderville with her widowed daughter, Ellen Hoyet, until her death on January 19, 1933.


4 sheets ; 28 x 22 cm

Language of Materials


Custodial History

The account was written by Naomi Asay Jensen, grandaughter of Mary Jane McCleve Meeks, in her capacity as historian of the Camp Dale chapter of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers in Castle Dale, Utah, in July 1969, and later donated to Special Collections.


LDS cultural, family, social, intellectual, mission and religious history (19th Century Mormon and Western Manuscripts Collection Development Policy IV.a.i.1, 2013)

Related Materials

Nancy Jane McCleve Meeks, wife of Dr. Preddy Meeks (MSS SC 2733); John and Nancy Jane McCleve biography (MSS SC 1626)

Processing Information

Processed; Isabella Titus; 2024.

Register of Mary Jane McCleve Meeks biography written by Naomi A. Jensen
In Progress
Isabella Titus
2024 February 9
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English in Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Repository

1130 HBLL
Brigham Young University
Provo Utah 84602 United States