John Ager & Caroline Coolbear Ager
A SKETCH OF THE PIONEER LIFE OF
JOHN AGER AND CAROLINE COOLBEAR AGER
John Ager was born the 27th of April 1837 in Ulting, Essex, England the son of George Ager and Sarah Burrows Ager. He was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was baptized the 11th of November, 1857. Caroline Coolbear was born the 16th of March 1835 in Mundon, Essex,
England, the daughter of John Coolbear and Mary Ann Barnard Coolbear. As a young child she had scarlet fever and was very ill for a long time. Her right side was partially paralyzed. Her mother made her reach for food and dainties with her right hand until she finally regained it's use. She walked with a very slight limp due to this sickness.
Caroline was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and was baptized, the 27th of May, 1855 by Joe Silver and conhrmed by John
Holland. She said she received her testimony through a dream of seeing a long train of covered wagons. She came to America in 1858, then joined a wagon train that traveled by ox team across the plains. She walked most of the way. Arriving in Salt Lake City she went to work for a family named Clives. After two years she moved to Sessions, later called Bountiful, where she found work.
Caroline was very attractive and popular. She was dark complexioned, had thick black hair and gray eyes. She never used cosmetics and had an outstanding personality.
She was married to Thomas McKenzie the 19th of February 1860 and sealed the same day in the Endowment House. After a few months she secured a cancellation of sealing from this man. (Records say EH-cancelled 1 October 1860)
John Ager, who had been a friend of Caroline's in England, emigrated to America two years after she came. He was light complexioned, blue eyes, light hair, short and heavy set. In 1860 he worked his way across the plains by hunting wild game for the wagon train company he was with. He did a very good job because he was such a good shot. On his arrival, John found Caroline and a romance between them began.
They were married the 5th of January, 1861 and sealed in the Endowment House by President Brigham Young. (Endowment House Temple records)
They began their married life in Centerville, Utah living in a small one-room house with very little means, they had to raise most of their food. In this house their first child, Mary Ellen, was born, the 27th of September, 1862.
Caroline's mother, Mary Ann Barnard Coolbear, left England with her 19 year old son David and came to America. On July 28, 1862 they started across the plains with the John R. Murdock ox train of 65 wagons and around 700 people. They arrived in Salt Lake City and then traveled to Centerville, Utah arriving there the 27th of September. Caroline was very happy to see her mother and her brother.
In 1863. John and Caroline were called to settle in Morgan, Utah. Caroline's mother Mary Ann and her brother David came with them. Their travel up Weber Canyon was difficult at that time because of the very crude dirt road that had been formed in 1855. There is no record where Mary Ann and David lived but John and Caroline Ager and baby Mary Ellen settled in South Morgan, and made their home by the side of a hay stack for six weeks while John built a one-room log cabin that had a dirt roof and dirt floor. It was here their second daughter, Caroline, was born, the 1 9th of January 1865. When she was about six months old Caroline was stolen by the Indians. This incident is recorded in Caroline Compton's history.
John was an industrious man. He had a saw mill and was one of the first to make bricks in Morgan County. The red clay hills were ideal for making bricks. John and Caroline acquired a small piece of property a little south and west of the City of Morgan and John began making bricks steadily. He started to build a two-room brick home in the city for his family. While this was being done the family lived in a dug-out or cellar just back of the new home. This is where their third daughter, Sarah Amelia, was born on the 5th of March 1867.
John continued to work on their house until it was ready for the roof to be put on; then a very tragic accident happened. In 1868 there was no bridge across the Weber River. It was high water time and John and two other men, David Coolbear and Allen Parker were crossing the river in a boat or raft to get supplies. The boat capsized and John could not swim. The men had all they could do to save themselves and John did not survive. His body was not found until six weeks later about ten miles down stream.
Following her husband's death Caroline had a great struggle to feed and clothe her young family. They continued to live in the cellar until their house was finished by caring relatives and friends.
To help earn a living she made a large crock of homemade live yeast every day. This container was known as the "Old Yeast Crock". Caroline was known as the best bread maker in Morgan in the early pioneer days. Most everyone in town used her yeast paying her each time with flour. At least there was always bread in the house.
Note: To make home-made yeast---Boil six large potatoes in three pints of water. Tie a handful of hops in a small muslin bag and boil with the potatoes; when thoroughly cooked, drain the water on enough flour to make a thin batter; set this on the stove and scald it enough to cook the flour (this makes the yeast keep longer); remove it from the fire and when cool enough, add the potatoes mashed, also a cup of sugar, two tablespoons of salt and a teacup of yeast. Let it stand in s warm place, until it has thoroughly raised then put in a cool place; The jug should be scalded before putting in the yeast. Two thirds of a coffee cupful of this yeast will make four loaves.
As soon as the oldest girl was old enough to care for her younger sisters, Caroline worked for anyone who would hire her doing washing, cleaning, and whatever housework needed to be done
A few years later, Caroline married her third husband, David Ross, a deserter from the Petticoat soldiers of Scotland. He came to America with his brother Alex and sister Marian. David built a shoe shop across the street from the Court House. He tanned leather and made shoes for the family and other people.
The men and boys were drilled by David Ross on the "flats" because there was fear of Johnson's army coming. A rock fort was built for safety not far from the Ager home.
Caroline and David had one child but it died at birth. He was a good step- father and built a playground with swings, teeters. trapeze, merry-go-round and other things for the children. It served as a public playground for many years.
Because David Ross drank heavily, she divorced him.
Again she went to work for other people. At that time it cost twenty-five cents a week to go to school and sometimes it was hard to come up with the money. Soon the girls were grown with all the schooling they could manage. When the girls were married, Caroline raised a 10 month old grandson, Bert Allen a son of Mary Ellen.
She married her fourth husband, James Durrant, a widower who was the father of three children, Sarah, Owen, and King, who were all married.
Caroline and James added two rooms to the house and made it more comfortable. They always had a lovely garden and plenty of apples, raspberries, currants and gooseberries and a large variety of vegetables. The house was set back from the street and there were lovely flowers on each side of the walk. She loved flowers and spent many hours among them. She furnished flowers for funerals and many occasions.
After James passed away~ Caroline continued to attend all of her church duties faithfully. She was always busy with her flowers, knitting, making rugs, rag carpets and quilts.
She was good at nursing and always had time to help the sick and the suffering.
She died the 15th of March, 1911 in Morgan at the home of her daughter, Caroline Ager Compton, at the age of 76 years. She had a large and impressive funeral and was buried in the South Morgan Cemetery.
Source of information:
Short history by daughter, Caroline Ager Compton
Short histories by Granddaughters, Syliva Compton Pack and Leone Compton Christensen
Assembled by Great Granddaughters Beth Smith Turner and Joyce Smith Weaver
Edited by Great Granddaughter, Rosella Compton