|Birth: ||Jan. 21, 1841, Scotland|
|Death: ||Feb. 21, 1879|
Riverdale (Franklin County)
Agnes Birrell Van Noy was born on January 17, 1841 in Barony, Glasgow, Scotland. She was the oldest daughter of William Birrell and Mary Neil. She had two brothers, William and John, and a sister, Charlotte. Her parents had a young daughter die before Agnes was born.
As a young girl, Agnes joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was baptized, October 6, 1852 in the Irvine Branch in Scotland. The family moved around as her father worked in the mines. Because she was the oldest daughter her father sent her on ahead to help get things ready for the rest of the family to come to America.
On April 11, 1859, Agnes boarded the ship "William Tappscott" in Liverpool, England and sailed to America. She was eighteen years old. There were 725 British, Scandinavian and Swiss Saints on board and it was a most pleasant voyage which lasted only thiry-one days. The passengers had exceptionally good health and there was only one death and two births.
On their arrival in New York, it was pronounced by doctors and government officers to be the best disciplined and most agreeable company that ever arrived at that port.
The company sailed on the steamer "Isaac Newton" up the Hudson River to Albany then traveled by train to St. Joseph, Missouri. They took the steamboat "St Mary" to Florence, Nebraska where they arrived May 25th.
It was nearly three weeks before the handcarts were available and everything was arranged for the journey. Under the direction of George Rowley, the company started west on June 9, 1859. It was comprised of 235 people, ,60 handcarts, and six ox-drawn wagons to haul provisions and the sick. They had to carry provisions on the handcart to last a week, bedding, and clothing, and 200 pounds of flour.
The Saints endured many hardships but felt the hand of the Lord watching over them. They reached Fort Laramie on July 27th and inventoried their food only to find they had very little left. The company was in a sorrowful condition. Children were crying for bread and parents were not able to supply them. Everyone was hungry and weary. Supplies were not there when they reached the Green River on August 22nd. Swift currents made crossing the stream very difficult. Oxen were killed for food and every bit of the carcass was used. Soup was made from willow leaves and knuckle bones.
Provisions from Salt Lake rescued the handcart company on Aug.25th and Ham's Fork. It was too late for some as they had already died. On Sept. 4, 1859, the handcarts rolled down Emigration Canyon. It was on a Sunday afternoon and originally the group was going to wait and come in on Monday, but the Saints were so anxious to come into the Valley that Captain Rowley agreed and they were escorted by two or three bands as they entered the city about five o'clock.
Agnes Birrell walked the entire way across the Plains and pushed a handcart. She endured much to leave her family in Scotland, traverse the sea, and cross the desert plains with a handcart all for her religion. Shortly after her arrival in the Valley, she went to work for William Thomas Van Noy and his wife Catherine.
On December 25, 1859, Agnes Birrell became the 2nd wife under plural marriage to William Thomas Van Noy. They were sealed by President Brigham Young in his office. She was told to get her endowments as soon as she was able and she did on April 11, 1860. Eleven children were born to William and Agnes.
The family lived in Salt Lake until 1864 when a fort was built in Richmond, Utah. They moved into an adobe house inside the fort and were allotted ten acres of land outside the fort. In 1875, they purchased 160 acres in Riverdale, Idaho. The Bear River formed a semi-circle around the land on which their home was built. To go any place, it was necessary to cross the river. Only four families lived there at that time.
Agnes and William worked extremely hard to raise their family providing all their own food from their garden and orchard. They raised sugar cane and made their own molasses. They worked hard to give the children an education. Their home was very plain, unpainted wood with bare wooden floors.
Agnes suffered so much to bring up her family. Nine hours after giving birth to her eleventh child, Agnes passed away from the trials and hardships of this life on February 21, 1879. Her children spoke of her as "their angel mother" and William called her his "angel wife".
"Pioneer Women of Faith and Fortitude" by Daughters of the Utah Pioneers
William Birrell (1818 - 1888)
William Thomas Van Noy (1827 - 1900)
Mary Van Noy Clegg (1860 - 1895)*
Thomas Lorenzo Van Noy (1866 - 1929)*
James Edward Van Noy (1867 - 1897)*
Evelyn Van Noy Parker (1869 - 1965)*
Caroline P. Clegg (1871 - 1915)*
Nathan K. Van Noy (1873 - 1940)*
Agnes Van Noy Mathisen (1875 - 1967)*
William Humphrey Van Noy (1877 - 1922)*
Zelnora VanNoy Olsen (1879 - 1958)*
Richmond City Cemetery
Created by: Don Shelley
Record added: Mar 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 34974915