Sunday, July 2, 2017

Another Esther


The other day I heard about a new website babyancestry.com that uses your family tree login to pull baby names from your family tree. I love old fashioned baby names so I was excited to check it out, While I was I found two ancestors named Esther. (A mother and daughter on my mom's side). This Esther is my 5th great-grandma, and her daughter, also named Esther is my 4th great grandma. Her story was so interesting that I thought I would post it here to share with my family. It may not be a super compelling read for everyone but I want it added to our family book so Esther can read it in the future. The blog is my record keeping for our family so here it is.

Personal History of Esther Celestia Cole


Esther was born in June 28, 1849 to William and Nancy Cole in Ottumwa, Iowa. Her parents had each been taught and baptized by Mormon missionaries in their youth before they married. In those days the Saints were already heading west to escape the mobs. William and Nancy were asked by Brigham Young to stay behind in Winter Quarters to assist the other saints. When Esther was just two years old, her family had completed their task at Winter Quarters and then joined the Henry Miller Wagon company and began the trek for Salt Lake City, arriving in the valley in 1852. Soon after the Coles arrived in Utah, they moved north to Stringtown (now called Riverdale) in Weber County. The Coles’ were still getting settled when Johnston’s Army came to put down the “Mormon uprising” that was supposedly taking place in Salt Lake. The memories of persecution from the mobs were still fresh in the minds of the saints and the Coles decided to leave their new home for a time to escape the soldiers. They headed south and lived in Provo until the army passed by and then returned to their home in Weber County. Esther’s mother died when she was just six years old, leaving her father with six children to raise. As Esther grew, she was observant of the things that were going on around her and treasured up many memories to share with the children she would have some day. She was able to tell them of the transformation of the Salt Lake valley from Sage Brush and Grasshoppers to a beautiful land full of homes and farms. She saw the days when people traded their wagons and hand carts for train tickets. There were many new inventions in her lifetime; the telephone, trains, automobiles, airplanes and submarines. She lived through times of both feast and famine. She told of times when they had neither food, nor ammunition for hunting. She wished that she could fly so that she could catch the ducks and geese as they flew by and bring them home for supper. Esther was married in March of 1865, three months before her 16th birthday. Her husband, who was 15 years older, had been working with her father and had taken a liking to her as he spent time with the family. Esther and her new husband worked together to build their first home in Riverdale and spent that first winter living in their wagon box as they built the home. Esther and William would drive that wagon, pulled by a horse and a cow into the hills to cut small poles for the house. Then the poles were stacked and chinked with adobe mud to form the walls. Esther’s first child was born almost nine months and 2 days after her wedding; a little girl named Esther. The second daughter came 3 years later. When Esther’s daughters were little, she would take them out to the slough to collect “salaratus” (salt dust). The west wind blew the salty water into the sloughs, the sun evaporated the water, after which the powder was collected and used in making soda and soap. William would then take the salt in to town and trade it for groceries. They also gathered berries and sold them door to door. Esther gave birth to eleven more children over the next 24 years. She taught her children well and was a good example and role model to them. She loved the temple and taught her children the great importance of performing their own temple work. All thirteen of her children were married in the temple and remained faithful. The last two years of her life, she suffered a great deal from gall stones. She finally agreed to have an operation, but it was unsuccessful. She suffered for two more weeks and passed away peacefully on her Golden Wedding anniversary, March 8th, 1915. William, who had passed away 7 years earlier must have come to bring his sweetheart home to heaven on their special day.


Esther and William Baker with 9 of their 13 children

There are a ton more stories about their family on family search that are very long, but here are a few of my favorites.

After the death of William's mother, there was a family by the name of William Garner, which moved from Slaterville to Hooper. They had five children, and they were all living in a covered wagon, so William and Esther Baker offered the Garners the use of his mother's room, rent free, to live in while their home was being built. The Garners were very grateful for this room because it was so much nicer than a covered wagon for seven people to live in. The Garner's had a boy, Justin who was just seven days older than Julia. Both the Bakers and the Garners had quite a few cattle and they pastured them together in the same pasture, so Esther Baker and Mary Garner took turns herding the cattle to keep them from wandering too far, because there were no fences, and also to keep them safe from the Indians while the men worked on the farm. Esther would get the meals, tend the children, and nurse both babies from her breast, while Mary herded the cattle one day. The next day, Mary would take her turn at the house work and tending the children, and nursing both babies from her breast, while Esther herded the cattle. The mothers said the babies knew the difference in the mothers and had to be really hungry before they would nurse from other than their own mother.

I thought it was neat that they nursed each other's baby. I need a friend who will do that for me ha.


There was no sugar to be bought in Ogden, Utah until the railroad came through. "Then one day,"said Julia, "Father was in town (Ogden) and saw some cube sugar. He bought some in a paper sac and brought them home to us. We were so pleased that Diana and I would see who could make it last the longest. We would take a taste and then put it away for a while. Once we made one cube last a week"

As Julia was telling us these things, a great granddaughter came into the room caring a doll and asked, "Grandma did you ever have a doll?" "Yes" answered Julia. "I had just one boughten doll. I remember, I must have been about three years old when Uncle Riley, that was my Mother's brother, brought it to me. It was a china doll with no hair but it was dressed up very nice. I was so proud of it for it was the only boughten toy in the house." "Often" said Julia, "when we wanted to play house, we would make a ray doll or roll yup an apron and use it for a doll. The boys would ravel (unravel) out a worn out stocking and with the string or yarn, make a ball by wrapping the yarn around and around and sewing it so it wouldn't come undone. No, we didn't have many toys to play with but we didn't have much time to play either."

Diana was also named Esther but she went by Diana. These two storied remind me of Little House on the Prairie.

Julia told the following incident about Indians around her home in Roy. "When I was about ten years old, my cousin Lillie Olmstead, and I, were herding the cows. There were hardly any fences, and we could herd our cattle almost any where we wanted to. This particular day we were with them over near the Oregon Short Line railroad tracks. We had both been riding on one horse, but we got off to pick some flowers. There was a band of about 50 or 100 Indians up along the tracks and when they saw us, a few of the older Indians started to holler and came after us on their horses. We were barefooted and I stepped on a prickly pear (cactus), but we managed to get back on the horse and rode away as fast as we could, bringing only a few of the cows with us. The Indians were only trying to frighten us. As soon as we got started for home, they quit chasing us and went back to the others. They made a lot of fun with each other because we were so scared of them. Later on, after the Indians were out of sight we went back and got the rest of the cows. It was a common thing to find bands of Indians up in the hills and the canyons gathering berries and camping but we were scared of them."

I thought this one was interesting just because it is so close to where we live now. Also Indians.

Chancy and Julia, and Diana and her husband, Will Robinson were always ready and willing to help the sick whenever they were needed. They were called out t all hours of the day and night to help the sick in both Roy and in Clinton. They were called by neighbors first and if they thought a doctor was needed, he was sent for. Before the days of the telephone and automobile, it took a long time to get a doctor. Someone had to ride to town , on horseback and tell him. Then the doctor would have to ride back on horseback or in his buggy. When a family had a contagious disease and it was necessary for Julia and Diana to go into the home, they would change their clothes outside their home and put on others to wear into the sick home. When they were through and ready to come back to their own families again, they would change clothes again, and wash themselves good. In this way they never contracted the disease or brought it home to their own families. They worked together to deliver over a hundred babies. They never lost one case or had any bad results with either the baby or the mother. Not one case of blood poison nor one bit of trouble. They were often called on to help sew for the dead, dress them and lay them out, and very often sat up with them all night. In those days, some one usually, about three people, sat with the dead continually from the time they died, until they were buried. These two sisters seemed to have a power with them to heal the sick, to cheer the despondent, and were of great comfort to those in sorrow. In fact, they were very wonderful people to be with at any time. One just felt better in their presence. If you were sick and Grandma or Aunt Diana came, you just knew that you would be better.


Anyways, I really liked learning about our family history. Often for me the focus is just on finding names for the temple, instead of taking time to read about those who's work is already done. These stories really hit close to home for me (literally ;) ), and I was able to feel a connection to this woman who share's my daughter's name. I hope Esther is inspired by reading her stories someday too.

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