This weekend, I was saddened to learn that "Christmas Carol" Wright died last October. I had not heard the news until now, so I set aside a moment in my workday this morning to reflect on Mrs. Wright's contributions to the Utah Pottery Project research effort.
Mrs. Wright was Thomas and Sarah Davenport's great-granddaughter. Carol was born to Thomas Davenport Adams and Luella Redd Adams on Christmas day in 1909, an event for which she earned her nickname "Christmas Carol." The potters, Thomas and Sarah Davenport, were Carol's father's mother's parents. Carol's grandmother's siblings spent their youth working in the pot shop, perhaps also her grandmother at times. Carol's father worked at the shop when he was young and also spent his youth paying amid the shop's ruins before they were torn down.
Carol was practically a living eye-witness with first-hand knowledge of a Utah pottery. When I first met her in 1999, her memories of her youth and the stories told by her parents and grandparents were still sharp and clear records of the mid-nineteenth century. She welcomed me into her home and shared all her knowledge with me, at a time when I was a total stranger in the community. I had simply knocked on her door to ask about the history of empty lot next door. The sketch map that I drew with Mrs. Wright in 1999 guided our excavations and her stories helped us to find the shop's clay beds.
To the best of my knowledge, she was the last person in that generation in the entire state of Utah. The last to talk with people that had worked at potting to make a living. While some may still recall the Ogden or Provo factories of the 1920s and 30s, Carol had living memory from a pioneer-era pot shop.
I will forever be grateful that Mrs. Wright shared her stories with me. She was trusting, open, and kind when I was a young student-researcher, living out of my old truck, and walking around town with little else except my dusty notebook and enthusiasm.
Rest in peace, Mrs. Wright. Thank you.
Several Utah newspapers and ABC News 4 printed her Obituary last October, in 2009.