Mariah Pulsipher Burgess was born December 26, 1822 in Susquehannah County, Pennsylvania to Zerah Pulsipher and Mary Brown Pulsipher. In 1824 their family moved to Onondago County, New York. When Mariah was ten years old, Brother Jared Carter came to New York preaching the gospel, and she, her parents, and two sisters were baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on February 2, 1832. They moved to Jackson County, Missouri, were driven out by persecution, and then moved to Kirtland, Ohio where they helped in the construction of the Kirtland Temple. Mariah's father was one of the seven presidents of seventy who covenanted 'to put their means together and not leave one good saint.' They left Kirtland with 500 saints, working in Dayton, Ohio for a time and then traveling on. Along the way they met Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and the whole company camped at the temple block and held a meeting. 'The Kirtland group was to settle in one division called the Diamond [Adam-ondi-Ahman].' On the way there, Mariah's father and 30 others were imprisoned and shot at when released, but no one was hit. They lived at Diamond for six weeks during the winter and were then forced to leave. In spring, they started westward and stopped at Lima, a town on the Mississippi River which was near the Morley Settlement. The family built a log house, cleared some land, and planted a garden. Here, Mariah met William Burgess, Jr., and they married on September 17, 1840. They moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where they received their endowment on January 1846, and then left for Winter Quarters. They just got into a log cabin in November when Mariah gave birth to a daughter. Mariah was very low that winter and not able to leave her bed. In the spring, William had to leave and find work. Soon after he left the baby became ill. Although no one thought the baby would survive, Mariah prayed that the Lord would spare her child, and the baby recovered. They traveled to Utah in a company of 100 led by Mariah's father, Zerah Pulsipher. On the way, Mariah gave birth to a son. They arrived in Salt Lake City in September and lived in a dugout. Their son died of whooping cough there. Mariah and William moved to a house in the 16th ward in the city, and were then called to settle Pine Valley and start a sawmill. In 1880, they moved to Thurber, Wayne, Utah, where they farmed and raised cattle. In about 1885, they moved to Huntington, Emery, Utah and spent the rest of their days there. Mariah and William were the parents of nine children: five girls and four boys. Mariah served as the Primary President of the Huntington Ward and as the Stake Relief Society President. She was always very active in her church work. She died on December 26, 1892 and was buried in the Huntington Cemetery.
Mariah's biography is a five-page, typewritten document contained in a collection of biographies from the Huntington Chapter of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. Her biography was written by a grandchild, and is located in the first folder of the collection. William Burgess, Jr.'s autobiography is also located in this folder. Mariah's biography is a short summary of major events in her life and focuses mostly on her youth and the moves that her family made with the Saints. Details are given about the exodus from Kirtland and moving to Diamond. There, Mariah went to a place that Brother Joseph said was Adam's Altar. It was a large pile of rocks about a mile and a half from her family's camp. The biography also contains a detailed, first-person account of a vision that Mariah had in Nauvoo. She was sick with chills and fever and asked her husband to pray for her. She prayed also, asking the Lord to show her if she would live. Mariah lay for an hour without pain thinking about the saints' situation when she heard a ministering spirit. It told her that she would live if she had enough faith. Mariah often used to say 'Perhaps the Prophet had sinned in taking more wives and the wicked had to kill him,' and 'I wish I knew if plurality was right.' The ministering spirit told her that Joseph Smith had died a true prophet and that Brigham Young was man to lead the church. The spirit answered her question about plural marriage, telling her that it was all right. Mariah replied that she wasn't willing for her husband to take more wives because he already had difficulty supporting her. The ministering spirit told her that when the time came for her husband to take more wives, they would have enough. She was then shown in vision the beauty and glory of plurality. She never doubted plurality after this vision. According to familysearch, William did take two more wives after they arrived in Salt Lake City. Another experience told in the biography occurred when her first son contracted whooping cough. They called Brigham Young and he looked at the baby and said, 'He has a noble spirit.' After blessing him, Brigham Young said, 'He shall have the priesthood whether he lives or dies.' The baby died the next day. As Mariah was mourning over the loss of this child, she was told by a spirit that she would have another son and that he would live. About nine months later, she gave birth to another son. The end of the biography only mentions the places that Mariah and William lived. It does not give any details about their lives during this time, and it does not give any information on their children.