Margaret was in Iowa with her family, who were not members of the LDS Church. Both of her parents died and her oldest sister, Elizabeth Jane, married Solomon McIntosh, who was a Mormon. Margaret traveled to Utah with her older sister and brother-in-law and his daughters, Sarah Ann and Malinda Jane. After arriving in the Valley, both Elizabeth and Margaret were baptized in the Payson Ward.
Her birth date is confirmed by Payson Ward records at the time of her baptism on 15 May 1858. Some records indicate that her middle name was Elvira/Alvira, but other earlier records show the middle name of Helen.