Maria Cowley Allen was born on 24 October 1847 to Charles Caesar and Ann Killip Cowley in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie, Iowa. Her parents were among the first to be baptized in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Isle of Man. Their religious beliefs brought them to America, where they settled in Macedonia, Illinois. Persecution in Nauvoo became so fierce that her father moved to Council Bluffs, where Maria was born and spent her first three years. In 1850, she and her family traveled across the plains. When they arrived in Salt Lake City, Maria and her family stayed with the Tarbets, family friends from the Isle of Man, until they could build a two-room adobe home. Farming was difficult with the grasshopper and cricket famine, but Maria's family never went without necessities. To provide for her family, Maria's father also worked as a shoemaker and her mother spun yarn to make clothing. In 1858, with the threat of Johnston's Army, Maria and her family moved south. Months later, Maria's mother died giving birth to her eleventh child. Maria's responsibilities greatly increased with the death of her mother. Despite these challenges, when Maria moved to Logan, Utah with her family in 1860, she found pleasure in being in a dramatic company and choir. Maria was married on 5 April 1869 to Alexander Alma Allen. They settled in Weston, Utah, where he was called to be a Bishop. Maria was the mother of ten children: Oliver, Alice, Alexander, Ezra, Amorette, Sarah, Alice, Mary, Maria, and Annie. She died on 4 August 1916 in Logan, Utah.
This collection was donated by Carrie Ricks Salvesen on 3 May 1976. Her father, Joel Ricks, interviewed a number of pioneer settlers concerning their early experiences in Logan, Utah. Maria's portion of this collection, entitled Memories of Pioneer Days, is three-typewritten pages. She devotes much of her autobiography to relating stories about her parents and their conversion to the church. She also tells of her early memories of crossing the plains with two covered wagons and a herd of sheep, most of which died. With eight children, the journey was difficult for her mother. A friend from the Isle of Man offered to carry Maria's youngest brother so that her mother could carry young Maria across the plains. The grasshopper famine was another memory Maria recalls. Although her family never lacked the necessities, she remembers a time when she and her siblings were limited to one biscuit per meal. When Maria moved to Logan, she remembers the first July 24th celebration in the town. She borrowed a suit and marched with twenty-three other ladies in a large parade. Maria also recalls the times she attended dances, theatres, corn-popping bees, sleigh-riding parties, and candy-pullings.