At a large coal-mining district in England, in the middle of the nineteenth century, the family of James Eyre was working very hard for a livelihood. The times were hard and the work paid little, but with faith and courage in their hearts, this family knew they would reach the top. Soon after the Mormon Church was organized, the missionaries began to go all over the world preaching the gospel. One of the first places they went was England. James Eyre heard about the restored church and became very interested. The missionaries urged all the new converts to come to Utah to live among the people of their own faith. The Eyre family worked very hard, saving every penny possible, so they could come to the new land.
Finally enough money was earned so that part of the family could go. James Eyre, his wife, and two sons, Edwin and Benjamin, were left behind, but soon had enough money to follow. Their money was little, so they rode on the lowest class deck on the ship, called the steerage. While on the sea, Mrs. Eyre became ill. Their hopes of her returning to good health were soon destroyed. Her body was buried at sea. Soon after it was lowered, the sharks devoured it.
The little family did not give up hope, but came on into the new country to settle. While crossing the plains, Mr. Eyre became sick and died. The two young boys went on alone. They settled in the southwest part of Utah, known as Beaver County. They established homes, married, and reared families.
It was in Minersville, where Benjamin and his wife, Lucy Ann Wood, began their life together. They had eight children, five girls and three boys. One little girl was of particular importance, Mary Ellen Eyre.
The year of 1870 had faded into the past and the dawn of the New Year had begun. This New Year was full of peace, especially for the new-born baby girl, born January 2, 1871. The day was very crisp as the fallen snow came trickling down, making a new coat of snow all over the ground. On the inside of the house, a warm fire was burning very gently. Out of the silence a small cry was heard. Benjamin Eyre and his wife prayed that throughout the life of their daughter, God would crown her labors with success and that she could walk humbly in the path of usefulness.
Mary Ellen grew to womanhood in this small town. She attended grade school here, learning all that was possible. Then she went on to a higher education, high school, in Beaver. Her teacher was Renare Maser. The struggle for a better education was not easy, but she fought on. She worked, took squash and other farm products to pay for her tuition. Books were scarce so lessons were taught for the students from a slate. Mary Ellen learned by both sad and good experience—such perfect lessons, practical and true. Many obstacles stood in her way and often it was hard to choose the "better part." She was tempted day by day, but she kept on the right side of the Lord. She served as secretary of the Sunday School, Young Ladies Mutual Improvement Association, and of the Primary. She was always kind and helpful to her parents, showing them she respected and appreciated the things they did for her. She was not selfish, but always tried to help everyone, no matter who needed help. She learned the necessary things of life plus the necessity and happiness of building a successful home.
One evening a dancing party was being held. The only kind of transportation was the wagon. It would stop at one place and then another picking up the young people. They were stopped at once place for quite a while. There was lots of chattering, laughter, and shouting. All of a sudden the horses gave a quick jerk, knocking Mary Ellen from the wagon. A nice young man caught her before she hit the ground. This young man was Thomas C. Mathews. The small incident just told was the prelude to love. Mary Ellen's and Thomas' friendship was like nothing either of them had ever known. On February 2, 1888, they were married at Minersville, Beaver County, Utah. A few years later, on July 28th, 1903, they were able to go to the St. George Temple and be sealed to each other for time and eternity. One of the greatest glories that can ever happen to anyone. Nine children were born to them, three boys and four girls: Melvin, Lynn, Lloyd, Lucy, Aletha, Pauline, and Percinda. Two died in infancy, Claude and Lafayette.
After their marriage they made their home in Beaver, rearing their family there. They resided there until 1912, then the Mathews moved to Minersville where they began to farm and raise stock.
There were great trials and sacrifices to make, more than was thought possible to bear. Faith and courage made it possible to bear the appointed task.
Farming life was not easy, but it brought lots of happiness and satisfaction to Mary Ellen, seeing her sons and daughters share the work and learn how to do different trades. She used to churn from 40 to 50 pounds of butter a day, with her family to help.
During World War I, her son, Lloyd, went into the service of his country. After the war Mary Ellen helped as much as she possibly could in winning the peace. A great plague of influenza struck the United States. Thousands of people died. She worked day and night caring for the sick, with no pay whatsoever. She was proving to Uncle Sam that she could fight for peace in giving her time to help save others. Her motto was: I love to help my fellow man.
She served more and more tine in the church as the years went by. She was president of the Primary for many years and a counselor and treasurer in the Relief Society.
All her family married (except the two who died as infants.) Pauline made great happiness for her mother and father in the latter part of their lives by helping them whenever she could. As they grew older, they saw their grandchildren grow to good citizens and Americans.
In February of 1933, Thomas and Mary Ellen held their Golden Wedding Anniversary at their home in Minersville. In September Thomas, her beloved husband, was called to go into another life to do his share of work there.
Mary Ellen served as a Relief Society visiting teacher in her home town as long as she was able to get around. She died on February 7, 1960, at Minersville, Utah, leaving a heritage that will keep her memory alive.