Ann Van Wagoner                        Mini Bio


Harriet Ann Van Wagoner

Ann Van Wagoner was of pure Dutch descent.  Most of her ancestors settled in New York and New Jersey in the mid-1600s.  Ann was born on 25 Mar. 1817 at Pompton, Bergen Co., New Jersey.  She was the forth of five children—two boys, followed by three girls.  Her second brother, however, died when she was just eight years old.  Except for him, all of the children grew to maturity.  Her father was Halmagh John Van Wagoner and her mother was Mary “Polly” Van Houten.  Ann grew up on a farm that her father owned just outside of town.

While still a young girl, a yellow fever epidemic came through their area and Ann was taken very ill.  In fact, the family thought she had died and they laid her out for her burial.  Whether she actually died or not, we are not certain but she was too weak to respond to any attempts to revive her.  She remembered seeing her family come and place coins on her open eyes, as was often done before funerals in order to block the empty stares of the deceased.  She then remembered the family surrounding her and joining together in prayer before she revived enough to respond to them.

A young man by the name of John Havens arrived in her community.  They had a nice courtship and were married 13 February 1839, just before her 22nd birthday.  The wedding was performed in the “Old English Neighborhood congregation of the Dutch Reformed Church in Ridgefield, Bergen Co., New Jersey.  They settled in this area, and on 10 Dec. 1839 Ann gave birth to her first child, a little girl who was also named Ann.  This baby lived only a month and passed away at their home in South Bergen Twp of Hudson Co., NJ. 

Just a year later, on 31 March 1841, she had her second child, whom they named William Henry Havens (our ancestor).  He was followed three years later (1844) by a little girl, Mary Ann Havens.  It was only a couple weeks prior to the birth of this little baby that Ann’s parents and siblings, after hearing the message of the restored gospel from Parley P. Pratt, were baptized into the LDS Church.

Evidently, Ann’s marriage had been a bit rocky and immediately after her baby was born, she looked for an opportunity to leave John and return to the home of her parents while her husband was away.  There, she learned of the Mormon Church and decided to join it too. 

Upon his arrival at home, and finding his wife and children gone, John Havens went to ask Ann to return with him to their home. She asked him to learn about the LDS Church.  He refused to do that and she refused to go back to his house.  They parted permanently.  About a month later, on April 14th, 1844, Ann was baptized in New York City, where she went to listen to the missionaries who were preaching there.

Just two months after her baptism, the tragic assassinations of Joseph and Hyrum Smith occurred in Carthage, Ill.  At about that time, Ann’s father, Halmagh, sold his farm and the entire family, along with Ann and her two children, moved to Nauvoo.  Here they worked to help finish the temple and were able to receive their temple blessings just prior to evacuating that city (early in 1846) ahead of the mob.

After working their way across Iowa, the family settled at Winter Quarters, but on 4 Dec. 1846, both of her parents died of Cholera and were buried there.  (Their names are listed on a monument that covers the common burial site of the early pioneers--just to the North of the modern Temple now located adjacent to this hollowed spot.)  To help cope with the bereavement, a young man by the name of Henry Nebeker started calling on Ann.  Although emigrating with the saints he had not yet joined the LDS Church.  He asked Ann to marry him, but she responded that he would first have to join the Church.  So, on a very cold Jan. 1st, 1847, Henry was baptized in the  Missouri River and on 4 Jan. 1847, he and Ann were married.  Henry took her two little children and raised them just as if they were his own.  In fact, they both adopted the surname of Nebeker to follow their Havens name.

Ann drove an ox team pulling their covered wagon across the plains.  The Nebekers were among the earliest of saints in Salt Lake Valley, arriving on 6 Oct. 1847.  They remained there for about four years and two more sons were added to the family, plus an adopted Indian boy—Cush.

In 1851, they moved to Payson, but due to a water shortage, they were the first to settle in Salem, Utah where they built a dam on the creek and a fort.  The next year, they were invited to join the Payson town.  Here Ann had three more children.  In 1865, Henry took a 2nd, Polygamist, wife—Rebecca Heaton.

In 1867 the family was “called” by President Young to resettle on the “Muddy Mission” (now under water backed up by Lake Mead in southern Nevada.)  This mission lasted only a couple of years and was terminated for lack of successful farming capacity.

After returning from Nevada Henry was incarcerated for Polygamy, and upon his release he moved with his second family to Richfield, Utah, where he lived for the remainder of his life. 

Ann stayed in Payson, where she served for many years as a counselor and treasurer of the Relief Society.  Her children grew up and settled here, raising their children nearby, where she was soon surrounded by many grandchildren, including, among others, Joseph Wiley Havens Nebeker, who lived in Salem until his departure, at age 15, for Oregon in 1897.  Ann died on 26 July 1899 and was buried in the Payson City Cemetery.