Sarah Brackett Carter Foss
(1800-1894)

Sarah Brackett Carter Foss was the daughter of Ezra Carter and Sarah Fabyan. She was born 30 Sept 1800 at Limerick, Maine, where her parents were then living. She was the second child of a family of eleven children, six sons and five daughters. Her paternal and maternal ancestors were of the substantial sturdy New England stock who came to America in the early Colonial years. Several of the Carters, Fosses, and Fabyans were valiant soldiers of the American Revolutionary War. Zechariah Foss, Joseph Brackett, and Ebenezer Carl, ancestors of Sarah Brackett Carter Foss, were with General Washington at Valley Forge. The family as a whole were staunch supporters of the cause of the United States.

Joseph Fabyan Carter and Sarah Brackett Carter the first members of the family were born at Limerick, Maine, but in 1800 the family moved to Scarborough, Maine, where the remainder of the family's nine children were born. The youngest, Ilus Fabyan Carter, arrived 8 November 1816. In Scarborough Ezra Carter built a splendid house and beautified the grounds surrounding it. He told the builders to put two nails where they usually put one. One of the builders said later that if the house was lifted up and rolled down a hill, it would still hang together. What Ezra Carter did, he did well. It was substantial and meant to endure. The home and old elm trees still stand, look splendid and are in good state of preservation. Western relatives who visit Maine make a point to visit Grandfather Carter's home which is now more than 150 years old.

Sarah learned early to be a good housekeeper. She was orderly, neat and clean, and being the oldest daughter became very useful in helping her mother care for the family. She was a good cook and learned the art of spinning and weaving the wool from the sheep on her father's farm.

At the age of 10 Sarah Brackett Carter embroidered a genealogical chart giving data of her father, Ezra Carter and her mother Sarah Fabyan and their children. It was done on linen and told the birth and death of each one. It also included grandparents and 13 other members of the family. The sides, top and bottom are decorated with embroidered flowers and ferns. This splendid piece of work is now in the old Ezra Carter Foss Home in Farmington, Utah (now owned by his granddaughter, Sarah Brackett Foss Elliott)

1 Nov 1823, Sarah Brackett Carter married Calvin Foss who was born at Saco, Maine, 7 April 1800. He resided at his father's old home in Scarborough, Maine, where he died 28 Feb 1835. There were seven children born to them.

A few months after the death of her husband, she gave birth to her youngest child, Olive Carl. During the remainder of her life, she remained a widow and while the children were too young to be of any assistance in securing a livelihood, she managed with her work as a teacher and by other means to support herself and children and give them a good education.

About the year of 1836 when Olive Carl was a year old, Wilford Woodruff and John F. Boynton conveyed the gospel message as revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith to the citizens of the state of Maine. Through the preaching of these brethren and Jonathan Hale and Milton Holmes, Ezra Carter and his wife and most of his children including Sarah Brackett Carter Foss and her family were converted and baptized. Grandfather Ezra Carter wasn't baptized until 22 March 1849, however. In the spring of 1850 Sarah Foss and her family of six children accompanied Wilford Woodruff to Utah crossing the plains with horse and ox team from the Missouri River. The daughter Sarah Elizabeth being absent at school in Portland, Maine, when the rest of the family were baptized she received this ordinance in the Platte River 10 July 1850 by Wilford Woodruff.

They had a pleasant journey across the plains and arrived 14 Oct1850. They encountered little or no trouble with the Indians. On one occasion, however, their team became frightened and ran away. In Salt Lake City the Foss family located in the Fourteenth Ward at number 44 South West Temple - one half block south of the present Bamburger Station. Their home was erected in the next lot south of the Wilford Woodruff home. Pres. Woodruff's wife, Phoebe, being a sister to our Grandmother Foss (Sarah Brackett Carter Foss) it was but natural that they become close neighbors in the new city of the saints. To Grandmother Foss and all her children and grandchildren who were reared in the faithful gospel, Wilford Woodruff was always known as "Uncle Woodruff". To our grandmother "Aunt Sally Foss" as she was familiarly known to her family, "Uncle Woodruff" was a true friend as well as a spiritual advisor and father.

Calvin Foss, second son of Sarah Carter Foss married Jane Roundy, a daughter of Bishop Shadrack Roundy/ Calvin and his family moved to Sacramento where they reared a family of nine children and where they passed the remainder of their lives. Sarah's youngest son Ezra Foss was called as a missionary to Carson Valley, Nevada. He remained there until the mission was discontinued then settled in Farmington, Utah. Her eldest daughter Sarah Elizabeth taught school in the 16th ward and later in the 14th ward. Pres. Heber C Kimball was one of her best supporters, five of his own and four of his grandchildren were her pupils. Pres. Heber J Grant and others who became prominent in the church were pupils in her school. Elizabeth married first Matthias Cowley (Apostle Cowley' father was one of these pupils of Elizabeth) and by him she had four children. She was left a widow and later married Jesse W Polk, Sr., by whom she had one daughter, Sothe Fox Beaman of Salt Lake City.

Grandmother's second daughter, Rhoda Harriett, married Pres. Willard Richards and by him had one son, Calvin Richards. She was left a widow and later married Apostle Franklin D Richards by whom she had three sons and one daughter. Grandmother's third daughter, Phoebe married David Sessions, a pioneer of Bountiful, Utah. They had four sons and five daughters. David Sessions was an early colonizer on the Muddy in Lincoln County, Nevada. The youngest daughter Olive Carl, married Franklin B Woolley. They were among the first missionary colonizers of St George, Utah. They had three sons and two daughters. He was killed by the Indians or outlaws while freighting goods from Southern California by mule team to St George.

In 1861, escorted by her son-in-law, Matthias F Cowley, grandmother Foss crossed the plains to the Missouri River on a return visit to her home in the state of Maine. From Omaha they went by rail to Maine - that being as far west as the railroad was built at that time. Her aged father was still alive, also one sister and her (Sarah's) son Ira (who had not received the gospel).

Although she dearly loved her native state, her dear relatives, and the old homestead - no amount of persuasion, nor the inducement of comfort and finances which she might have enjoyed in her father's home could influence her to remain. After a short visit they returned to Utah by the same route, thus she made three trips across the Great American Desert.

At the time this history was written, Grandmother Sarah Carter Foss was the mother of seven children, three sons, and four daughters. She had 43 grandchildren, 151 great grandchildren, and enough great-great grandchildren to number around 500 descendants.

She had a happy cheerful disposition. The more that a person knew her the better they liked her. She observed the Word of Wisdom and warned her descendants against the use of liquor, tobacco and the practice of every other evil habit. Her father lived to be 96 years of age. She was 93 when she departed this life [4 March 1894 in Bountiful, Utah]. Pres. Woodruff, Pres. George Q Cannon, and others paid beautiful yet well merited tributes of their respect for her.

[This history composed by Sarah Brackett Foss Elliott.]


[From: History of Idaho  By James Henry Hawley ] page 219

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