When Mary Ann Welsh was born on November 17, 1835, in Whitehall, New York, her father, John, was 23, and her mother, Catharine, was 19. Subsequently, the family moved to New Jersey between 1837 and 1841. By 1843, the Family had moved again to Benton, Wisconsin.
Mary Ann married Michael Francis McKenna on May 12, 1851, in St. Patrick’s Church in Benton, Wisconsin. Michael Francis left Benton with his brother Thomas Dillon McKenna immediately after the wedding bound for the California Gold Rush and returned for Mary Ann 15 years later to bring her to San Francisco. They had five children in 10 years. She died on May 27, 1918, in Berkeley, California, at the age of 82, and was buried in Oakland, California.