HISTORY OF ANN VAN WAGONER
Henry Nebeker and Ann Van Wagoner were both descendants of the early
Dutch settlers of New Jersey. Henry Nebeker being born in Jersey City, Bergen County, New
Jersey, which was the first settlement of New Jersey being established as a trading post.
He was born Feb. 1, 1817.
Ann Van Wagoner was the daughter of Halmagh Van Wagoner and Mary Van Houghten, who were both natives of New Jersey. At Wanaque, Pompton Township, Passaic County, New Jersey March 25, 1817, Ann was born. The occupation of this family was farming; they owned much land. The first 20 years of her life was spent there. During that time when a child, she was laid out for dead with yellow fever.
Here Ann married John Hafen. To this union three children were born. The first, Ann dying in infancy. The two others were William and Mary Hafen, who came to Utah. She was divorced from John her first husband.
In 1845 Ann and children were living with her father. Through the missionary work of Parley P.
Pratt the Van Wagoner family were converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. She with her children and fathers family made preparation to go to Utah. Their first step was to go to New York City, where she was baptized into the church. Ann had her endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. In the spring of 1847 they started with the first company to their home in the West.
At Winter Quarter, Omaha, Nebraska, Anns mother Mary died. The advice from the Presidency of the branch of the church was that their company was too late to cross the Rocky Mountain that fall. They accepted the council and went as far as the Winter Quarter and remained there during the winter. While there, her father and mother died and was buried. It was in Winter Quarters she met Henry Nebeker and they were married on December 4 1845. In February 1847, they began their journey to the great West. Ann drove an ox team all the way across the plains in a covered wagon.
The colonists who came the first year, save a few, lived in the stockade of the Old Fort located on Pioneers square in the south west part of the city, for the first winter. It was enclosed, the east side with log houses, the north side and west side with adobe walls. It was rectangular in shape. A large gate on the east was left closed by night for protection from the Indians. The floors of the houses or huts of the fort slanted inward, doors and windows faced the interior, but each house had a small loop hole for a look out.
The first part of the winter was very mild, but as the season advanced heavy snows fell, then melted and soaking through the dirt and willow rooks, descended in drizzling streams upon their beds and provisions. Umbrellas were often used while in bed, or held in one hand while turning beef steak with the other.
Situations were far from pleasant, almost pitiful at times especially during sickness. Swarms of vermin bed bugs, mice infested the forts, while wolves prowled outside making the nights hideous attacking the cattle on the range.
In February 29, 1848 her son Ammon was born. It was in one of those leaky roofed houses, while lying in bed, pans were placed on the quilts to catch the water as it dripped through. So they experienced the trials of the early Utah pioneers in food, clothing and shelter. They lived in Salt Lake City for four years. George was also born here. In 1851 with fifteen other families, they moved to Payson. On account of the water being scarce, they could not stay in Payson, so they with David Crockett and John B. Fairbanks, went to Salem and they were the first settlers of Salem. While there they helped to build the Salem Dam and the Salem Fort which was built of adobe on the West side of the dam. In 1852 they came back to Payson.
Three children were born in Payson; Florence 1854, Susanah 1856, and Henry 1859. Henry Nebeker built a little school house which still stands on the East of the Nebeker house, which marks the south east boundary of the Old Fort. The school teachers were Jane Simons, Mr. Wright, Isaiah Coombs and William Reed. Henry also built a molasses mill west of the Ammon Nebeker home on Peteetneet creek.
A man by the name of Wall, bought an Indian boy from the north, sold him to Mr. Nebeker for $60.00. This Indian was adopted into the family and was liked and respected by all of them. He was named Cush.
In 1855, the Salmon River Missionaries were called and Henry Nebeker was one of the twenty-seven missionaries to lease their homes in Utah for the purpose of locating a mission among the Bannochs, Shoshone and Flatheads. They located on the Snake River, which at that time was part of Oregon. The Mission failed, for the twenty-seven men were but a handful when compared to the many savages that they went to work among. They suffered many hardships so President Young ordered the men home.
Then in 1867 or68, Henry with his families responded to the Muddy Mission call. While in Payson, Henry Nebeker took advantages of the early opportunities and for those days was quite well established financially. In making preparations for the mission and because of the failure of the mission, most of his property went at a sacrifice. They made two trips (They took a threshing machine) to the Muddy during the time of the mission. The second trip, they took eleven mules and some horses. These were stolen by the Indians.
On the Muddy, they had a fairly good home built of adobe, with cane roof covered the dirt. This house was in the fort. Also a town corral was built of rocks to keep the cows from the Indians. Mr. Nebeker bought a cotton gin and hired Indians to pick cotton.
Due to failure of the country to reach what was represented to them, President Young released the Missionaries to go whenever they wanted. Ann Nebeker and her family came back to Payson. While Mr. Nebeker remained at the Black Holes on the Sevier River with a second family.
Through all the trials and hardships, no one ever heard a word of complaint or dissatisfaction from Ann Nebeker. Through it all she remained a faithful and devoted Latter-Day-Saint and her teachings have lived until the present day. Two of her favorite maximums were "Every tub must stand on its own bottom," and "It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong." She had high ideals and lived up to them. These characteristics stood out: Faith in God, and respect for the Priesthood, Love for the scriptures, reverence for sacred things. Home life was a living example to family and friends.
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