History of 2nd Street, Ogden, Utah

Stories of Bingham's Fort, Lynne, Five Points

Melling Way

Posted by weberhistory on October 4, 2010

MARY ELLEN MELLING  (1855-1940)

Melling Way named for Pioneer Mary Melling; photo 2014.

Melling Way named for Pioneer Mary Ellen Melling Stone; photo 2014.

Beads, part of baby John Melling Jr.’s necklace given  him by Indians in July 1858.

Mary Ellen Melling was born in a wagon box in Wyoming in 1855 to John and Ellen Knowles Melling as they emigrated to Zion.  Her parents and grandparents were among the first to accept Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball into their homes in Preston, England in 1838.  Her grandfather, Peter Melling, was set apart as the first patriarch in England.  Her father, John Melling, was president of the Preston England Branch for 17 years.

The John Melling family arrived in Ogden in Novemeber of 1855.  John and Ellen were both musically gifted, and John had the honor of being the first chorister in the Ogden Tabernacle.  He was 40 years old when he arrived in Ogden, and although Chauncey West gave him a lot near the Tabernacle and a farm in Marriott, he was unable to run a successful farm.  He desired to be a music teacher and a tailor, as he had been in England, but the frontier families were too poor to hire him.  He felt like a failure, and their poverty grieved him beyond words.

In 1858, during the “Utah War” and against the general counsel of Brigham Young, John applied to the new Governor Cummings for permission to leave Utah Territory.  Permission was granted, and they started back to Nebraska City with hopes of securing work as a tailor. They traveled with Ellen’s brother-in-law, George Greenwood, and his family; George was pressing John to repay a loan and was hoping they could both find jobs in Nebraska City.  An Irishman named Clemmens called all persons who desired to leave rascals and scoundrels.[1]

John and Ellen took three children with them: Peter – age 9, Mary Ellen – age 3, and baby John Jr.

The trek to Nebraska City was fraught with difficulties, the worst being an encounter with the Indians that was never to be forgotten.   They saw in the distance a band of Indians, on horses, riding wildly toward them, raising a great cloud of dust as they approached.  As the Indians rode over a hill nearing the family, their wild yells could be heard and their tomahawks and war paint glistened in the sunshine.  It was a terrible moment!

Nearing the wagon they slackened their pace, and with a wild war whoop circled around the wagon, hemming the family in without an opening for escape.  The Indians jabbered in their Indian tongue and nobody knew what they were saying.  Mary Ellen and her brother Peter screamed, frightened at the faces of the old bucks as they shoved their heads through the opening in the covered wagon and peered at them.  Their father pleaded with the Indians to leave him and his family, but they pretended to understand nothing he said and grinned at the situation in their hard-hearted way.  Mary Ellen’s mother fainted.

The leader of the band took Mary Ellen’s young baby brother from his bed in the wagon and began undressing him.  They consulted each other in their own language concerning him, and turned him around and over and passed him from one to another.  Mary Ellen’s mother, Ellen, rallied from her faint and with eyes wild with sorrow and excitement made her way to where her baby was.  On her knees, weeping and pleading, she motioned them to give her the baby.  They shook their heads, meaning no.  “Make chief,” they said.

“No, no,” she cried; but they persisted to keep him.

“Away, papoose to wigwam, make chief,” they said.

Mary Ellen’s mother wept and prayed, saying, “Oh Father in Heaven, hear me, and save my baby from harm! Save us! Help us! Oh, my Heavenly Father!”

In a few moments the Chief put many stands of beads around the baby’s neck and put him back into his bed in the wagon.  Then consulting each other with their eyes, they gave a wild yell, mounted their horses, and rode wildly away, making clouds of dust in the sunshine.

It was several hours before the family could gather strength to proceed on their journey.  They were dumbfounded.

They fervently thanked Heavenly Father for their safety.  The beads were kept in the family as a token of the blessings that Heaven poured out on them that day.[1a]

In Nebraska City John secured work as a tailor.  With a steady income he felt happy and safe in their new home but desired to return to England rather than live the harsh climate of the frontier.

Some members of a vigilante group, possibly the Danites, judged John guilty of tyranny, and he was mysteriously murdered on October 8, 1859, in Nebraska City.

For the next three years Ellen and her children  lived in St. Louis with family.   In 1862 Ellen secured work as a servant to a family trekking to Utah, bringing herself and her two living children back to Ogden.   Ellen married her dead sister’s husband, Thomas Salisbury, in 1864 when Mary Ellen was nine years old.

The Salisbury’s lived on a farm in Marriott. Mary Ellen’s cousin/step sister, Mary Ellen Salisbury, became her best friend, and as they had the same name they were distinguished by the names “Big Mary Ellen” (Salisbury) and “Little Mary Ellen” (Melling).

Little Mary Ellen was assigned to herd the sheep.  She wrote that she would go “ a long way from home and stay all day with the sheep.  We used to get very hungry as we had only bread and an onion and salt to take for dinner and we used to dip our bread in the river before eating it.  One summer following a season after the grasshopper pest we had no bread to eat.  We had to live on potatoes and we would take some boiled potatoes and salt and an onion.  We also dug wild segos and ate them.  Oh, a piece of bread would have been a luxury then.  I always feel hurt to see a piece of bread lying in waste, to me it seems a sin for I have known the need of it.”[2]

To earn extra money Little Mary Ellen sometimes lived with neighbors looking after children or gleaned in the Harvest Field stripping sugar cane.  [3]

Mary Ellen Melling c.17 years old; tin type by Ed Stone c. 1872.

In 1870 Mary Ellen Melling turned fifteen, and the country had become more thickly settled, and the people had built schools and halls to meet in.  She wrote: “We generally used to dance in the school-houses; we would go from one settlement to another and dance.  Sometimes our dances would continue until a late hour reaching far into the morning.”[4]

It was at these dances that Mary Ellen met her future husband James H. Stone.  Her mother and step-father had someone else in mind for her to marry and forbade her from dancing with or talking to Mr. Stone.  But Mary Ellen liked Mr. Stone and cared nothing for the fellow that her parents had in mind, so the trouble started for Mary Ellen and James.

James gave her small tin type of himself making Mary Ellen feel sure that he cared for her as he did not give a picture of himself to any other girl.  When her parents discovered the picture, they took it away.[5]

James H. Stone c. 1870

James and Mary Ellen continued meeting “accidentally”, as often as they could arrange it.  During the May Day celebration of 1871 Mary Ellen slipped out of her house without permission to meet James for the May Day Stroll.  James took her to the cabin of his brother Ed Stone in Bingham Fort, and they were visiting there when Mary Ellen’s parents found them.  Her parents were excited and angry and told Mary Ellen to come right now and go home with them.

Mary Ellen refused to go unless they would promise to give her the freedom to go out with and keep company with the boy of her choice.  They said no, and her step-father, Thomas Salisbury, grabbed hold of James’ ear roughly pulling it, ordering him to take Mary Ellen back home.

James fell on his knee and proposed to Mary Ellen in the presence of everyone.  He told her that he was not prepared to marry, but if she wanted to take the chance with him, he would do his best for her and they would get married on this very day.  She accepted. He was 18 and she was almost 16.

Her parents were enraged and tried to put a stop to it. Thomas Salisbury was Justice of the Peace in Marriott.  He hurried around and told all other Justices of the Peace in the area of his protest to this marriage. Knowing that no one in Weber County would marry them, James secured some horses, and with the help of his brother and some friends,  they forded the Weber River when its water was at its highest run off and rode south to Kay’s Ward where they were married on the evening of May 1, 1871.  The day of the May Stroll turned out to be their wedding day.[5a]

Marriage of James Stone and Mary Ellen Melling; photographic crayon portrait by Ed Stone c. 1872.

For the following year Mary Ellen was shunned by her parents, and James was excommunicated from the church for their unapproved marriage.  It was not uncommon in these times to be cut off from the church for perceived disobedience or willfulness.  But they were devoted to each other and lived happily.

After eloping they lived with James’ widowed mother, Mary Cruse Stone, for about a year.  James worked very hard to earn money that first year and purchased some land next to the railroad tracks from Sam Gates; this land had a large, elongated pond that was forded by the railroad  in a narrow portion.  Perhaps this parcel of land was sold  because of it location by the tracks and the wetlands (today’s Fort Bingham subdivision).   James built a cabin next to the pond, and in time the  pond came to be known as Stone’s Pond.  After the first year of their marriage they were reconciled with Mary Ellen’s parents, but Mary Ellen did not resume activity in the church until 1885.[6]

James and Mary Ellen had five children and thirteen years of married happiness.  They also helped raise James’ niece.  In addition to farming James worked as a horse back mail carrier to Huntsville.  He worked hard for five more years, and they were able to buy more land and an adobe house on 2nd Street.  For more details of their home building see James Stone House and Stone Pond Road.

Their bliss was cut short in November 1884 when James was injured in a run away horse and wagon accident; he died on December 24, 1884, and was buried on a Christmas Day, a Christmas full of sorrow and grief.

After the death of her beloved  husband Mary Ellen was a single mother with five children under the age of 12. The Stone brothers, Ed and Moroni, helped her to retain the farm and sustain her family, but they had large families of their own. It was necessary for Mary to go into the field and hold the plow and do other work only suited to a man.  During this time she prayed to Heavenly Father to bless her crops, and the Lord opened up the way.  Her tithing record for 1885 is written on the wall of the tithing house at 196 2nd Street.

The older children helped her continuously, and she also took in domestic work.  Under these circumstances she accepted three more motherless children into her home and raised them as her own.  Over the years others who were in need stayed with her for various lengths of time until they could get on their feet and establish their own homes. Baby Carl (1891-1961) was adopted by Mary and given the Stone family name.[7]

Mary became an active member of  the Lynne Ward and the Relief Society and served as counselor to two Relief Society presidents.  She also worked in Primary, went to Logan and did temple work, and participated in the Utah silk project.  In 1889 she was married in polygamy to neighbor Walter Crane, but she remained in her own home and continued to manage the Stone farm.  Both her mother and mother-in-law lived with her.

She wrote that although she had much sickness and many deaths in family and passed through many sorrows, she had joy in her labors, particularly since she had become an active member of the Church.  Many times when death was at the door she exerted faith in behalf of her children and saw miraculous healings. She was known to visit much among the sick and the needy and tried to the best of her ability to comfort the hearts of the distressed.[8] She died in February 1940 at the age of 84.  Her obituary described her as an early pioneer in Ogden, Utah, and stated, “She not only reared her own family, but also other children not of her family.  She is known by all who have associated with her as a great mother and friend to everybody.”

Mary Ellen Melling Stone and nephew John Melling who stayed with her for about a year; photo c. 1909.

Mary Ellen Melling Stone in about 1913 with pet owl in front of her home at 386 W. 2nd Street.  She rescued the young  injured owl, and after recovery she released him, but he remained tame to her.  She would go outside, put on a leather glove, lift up her arm and whistle; the owl would light on her hand and eat a morsel of something good; she did this in the evenings for many years as long as the owl lived.


[1]  Editor Otis G. Hammond, The Utah Expedition 1857-1858: Letters of Capt. Jesse A. Gove, 10th Inf., U.S.A.,of Concord, N.H., N.H. Historical Society,1928, p. 290,291.

[1a] Joyce B. Maw, Ogden Pioneer Forts and the People Who Lived There, 2006, p. 340-344; Sarah Stone Crowther, The Fatal Journey, manuscript, typed 1959 by Macel Montgomery.

[2] Autobiography of Mary Ellen Melling Stone Crane, manuscript, 1922, p. 6.

[3] Autobiographical Historical Sketch of Mary Ellen Melling Stone Crane, manuscript, 1915, p.2.

[4] Autobiography of Mary Ellen Melling Stone Crane, p. 6

[5] Sarah Stone Crowther, Biography of Pioneer James Hyrum Stone, 1949, manuscript, p. 4.

[5a] Sarah E. Crowther, Biography of Mary Ellen Melling Stone, handwritten manuscript, c. 1935, p. 54,55.

[6] Autobiography of Mary Ellen Melling Stone Crane, p.9.

[7] Ibid,p. 9,10; Autobiographical Historical Sketch, p. 2.

[8] Autobiographical Historical Sketch, p.3.

Children of James Hyrum Stone and Mary Ellen Melling: Sarah [1872- 1963], John Melling [1874-1945], James Hyrum Jr. [1877-1887], Chauncey [1880-1978], Peter Arthur [1883-1905], Carl Raymond [1891-1961].

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