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Maughan was the sixth child of William Maughan and Martha Wilson and was born at Milton, Cumberland, England. As a youth, he worked in the lead mines at Alston, England. He married Ruth Harrison on October 1, 1831 and six children were born to them.
Peter and Ruth were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Alston in 1838 and were active in the branch. Ruth died on March 26, 1841, shortly after the birth of their sixth child. Following the counsel of Brigham Young, who was on a mission in England, Maughan and his children set sail on the Rochester for America, arriving May 19, 1841. Sailing with them were seven of the nine apostles who had been serving in England. The trip also was a sad occasion for Maughan, as he had to bury his baby daughter, Ruth, at sea.
Maughan and his family went to Kirtland, Ohio for a few weeks where he met a young widow, Mary Ann Weston Davis. When he decided to travel to Nauvoo, Illinois, Mrs. Davis and her companion were in the same wagon train which allowed them to become more acquainted. After arriving in Nauvoo, they decided they would be married on November 2, 1841. To them were born eight children.
In Nauvoo, Maughan found work as a stonemason on the Nauvoo Temple. The family lived in Nauvoo for about two and a half years before Maughan was sent to Rock Island, Illinois to mine coal for the families in Nauvoo. When trouble developed in Nauvoo and the Saints were abandoning the city, the family was told to close up the mines in Rock Island and prepare to travel to the West.
The family moved to New Diggings, Wisconsin in April 1846 where Maughan and the two older sons worked in the lead mines. Money was very scarce and the expense of living with such a large family and outfitting the two wagons needed caused the family to stay in New Diggings until April 1850. After finding lead ore on their own property, they were able to raise the final $800 in 8 weeks and buy the needed equipment and supplies for the long trip to the Salt Lake Valley.
They arrived in Salt Lake City on September 15, 1850, and after resting a week, they were sent to Tooele. Challenges and discouragement filled the next five years. Poor soil, along with lack of water, plagues of grasshoppers, and Indian problems made survival difficult. During this time, Maughan was involved in the government as county clerk and assessor.
In the July 1856, Brigham Young directed Maughan to lead a party of men from Tooele to Cache Valley for the purpose of locating a permanent settlement. After surveying the area, the decision was made to settle the valley, and Maughan was chosen to lead the group. They arrived at what is now called Wellsville on the September 15, 1856 and began the development first called Maughan's Fort. The settlement of Wellsville was soon enlarged, and other communities in the area were founded. Maughan was called as presiding bishop of Cache Valley, overseeing the wards and branches of the valley. In 1860, following directions from Brigham Young, he moved his family to Logan. He served as president of the Cache Valley Stake, as probate judge of Cache County, and as a member of the territorial legislature. He also held the rank of colonel in the Nauvoo Legion in Utah.
For a time Maughan served as the regional presiding bishop in Cache County.
Maughan took a third wife, Elizabeth Francis Preator, in the Endowment House on December 8, 1866. Peter and Elizabeth had three children: Frances Mary, Heber Chase, and Ada Lucille. Peter contracted pneumonia and died on April 24, 1871 at 60 years old. His body was buried in the Logan cemetery.
- Elizabeth Francis "Bessie" Preator Crookston at Find a Grave, Obituary, "Our Pioneer Village" Vol. 2, p 419-420
- Esshom, Frank Ellwood (1913), "Maughan, Peter", Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, Salt Lake City: Utah Pioneers Book Publishing Company, pp. 1027–1028, OCLC 2286984