Monday, February 1, 2010

Carol Adams Wright, 1908-2009

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.


  1. I am also thankful that her family could bring Mrs. Wright out to see our excavations this summer. Although Carol's body was failing her last June, and she couldn't hear very well, I could tell from her eyes that she remembered and understood everything we were discovering. I also think she was happy with what we had done.

  2. She definitely was proud of what we were doing. Without her we would have had even more unanswered question. I am so glad that she came out and saw the dig. I know it meant a lot to her and all of us alike.

    RIP Christmas Carol

  3. I just happened to stumble upon this while searching my Great Grandma's name, and I just wanted to let you both know that you're right! She was very thankful to be able to see the excavations, and talked about it later. My Grandma (Carol's daughter), still talks about the experience, and how neat it was for my Gammy (Carol), to be able to see it! If you ever come across any Davenport pottery in your searches, I'd be interested! :)

    1. Thanks for sharing your kind thoughts, Rachel. The project and this blog are on the backburner these days. But I keep working on the analysis of the Davenport family pottery artifacts as I have time. Someday I hope to write my book that will add to what the students and I have published over the years. I still want to write a book about the Davenports and Parowan! Best regards, Tim