Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of Jens and Karen Christensen. She traveled with her parents across the ocean by way of the ship Monarch of the Sea. Her brother, Christian, was born while en route to Utah. In 1880, she lived in Utah in the household of her father, Jens. In 1900 census records, she was listed with her husband, Christian Ayling. Her married surname, as recorded on her gravestone, was "Ayling."