Margaret McCleve Hancock        Mini Bio


Margaret McCleve Hancock

--As told by her Granddaughter, Rhoda J. P. Wakefield--

Margaret McCleve, daughter of John McCleve and Nancy Jane McFerren, was born in Belfast, Ireland, Sept. 17, 1838.  She was the third in a family of ten children.  Her father was in the employ of a rich man, Lord Alexander Gilmore. 

The children were at liberty to roam over the beautiful grounds, through the arched driveways that led down to the ocean, chasing the tide as it came and went, or playing in the soft warm sand.  Here Margaret spent a happy childhood.

Her parents heard the gospel from Elders McAllister (McCallister) and Ferguson.  They were convinced of its truth and accepted it and were baptized (in 1841).  On account of persecution, they saw no more Elders until Margaret was twelve years old.  Then, she and her sister, Catherine, were baptized.  Before long, the family was advised to gather with the saints in Zion.  Although her father had a good position, his family was large and it was a long and expensive journey.  His circumstances would not allow them all to emigrate at once.  For this reason they were advised by the Elders to send the two oldest girls on ahead, which was a severe trial to the parents.  Three years later the rest of the family followed, sailing from Belfast to Liverpool, where they again set sail for the land of the free.  This journey took them five weeks on board the “Samuel Curling”.  The sea was very rough, but they landed in Boston without accident, going then by rail to Iowa.

Here they had to lay-over for about two weeks waiting for the handcarts to be finished.  One day Margaret, with some other young women, walked to Iowa City. While there in the house of a friend, an Indian walked in.  He shook hands with some of those present but not with the girls.  They were greatly frightened and ran to camp. It was the first time she had seen an Indian. 

The family left Iowa City in the company of Capt. Daniel D. McArthur on June 11, 1856.  Margaret, then seventeen, pushed a handcart the entire distance across the plains, sometimes walking beside a young man of her age who helped push her cart.  One day the young man became sick and very weak from the lack of food, which these suffering saints endured.  He gave up and sat down by the side of the road to rest.  He never caught up with the company.

Her own dear father also succumbed to the hardships and all that was left of this worthy man was in a grave just two days travel from their destination in Zion.  This left her Mother, Nancy Jane McCleve with her six children to continue the journey alone.  Though this was a great trial to the mother and her little family, the great effort of the father to put the gospel first and to continue towards Zion, was pursued by this noble woman.   The hardships of the handcart pioneers is a tale of sacrifice and suffering.  Supplies were sent to them by President Brigham Young with he, himself, coming out to meet them.  They arrived in Salt Lake City in Sept. 1856 (on the same day as the very first handcart company even though that group had started two weeks earlier).

Margaret was married in the Endowment House to Mosiah Lyman Hancock.  She was nineteen years of age. Their first baby was born the following year, but died at birth, which was a great disappointment to the young mother, who had spent happy hours dreaming of her first born, while she stitched by hand little garments fashioned from her own daintily embroidered skirts of fine Irish linen.  Fourteen months later, while they were still living in Payson, a baby girl was born.  They next moved to Salt Lake where the next son was born…

They were soon called to southern Utah to help settle that country.  Here they began to accumulate some property.  At Leeds they had quite a little store and a comfortable home.  (Here too their daughter, Eliza Jane was born.)  Margaret’s husband, Mosiah, had made a trip across the Colorado River to preach the gospel at the Indian villages with Jacob Hamblin…

In 1879 the family was again called to move south; this time to help settle Arizona.  (Due to the persecution of polygamist, Mosiah had gone ahead and waited there for them.)  They sold their store and home and started out that fall.  As they advanced along their way, the loads became heavy and the teams became thin because of the scarcity of feed.  One by one the pieces of furniture were left along the way.  Winter was advancing and the children suffered from the cold.  One of the boys (John) and his sister (Jane—my mother) walked most of the way in order to save the teams.  Mother told me that her feet were never dry all the way.  Mosiah met them at (Lees) Ferry.

They arrived in Taylor, Arizona, on New Years Day, 1880 in the dead of winter.  The horses were so weak and tired that they made several attempts to climb the bank on the east side of the little Silver Creek.  One of the girls says she remembers her father taking each of the children in his arms and carrying them up the bank.  They had already drawn the family lots, which were directly across the river.  There they settled.

Margaret lived in Taylor for the rest of her life. She had thirteen children, twelve of which she raised to adulthood.  Besides the care of her own family, “Aunt Margaret” as she came to be known, was the mother of the entire community acting as nurse for twenty-five years.  This calling she most faithfully performed, going night and day, no matter what the hour, to minister to the needs of the sick or suffering.  (She delivered over 1500 babies into this world.)

She gladly gave her time and strength, which finally cost her life.  No sacrifice was too great for her if she could help.  She was always firm in her faith and found comfort in caring for others.  She had a very kind and sympathetic nature, charitable to those in need.  (She outlived her husband by about sixteen months, passing away in Taylor, AZ on 4 May 1908.)