Our October "Woman of Wool" feature is Jacky Harrison Caras of Benjamin, Utah.
Sixty years these two have been partners in crime. Spanish Fork’s own “Bonnie and Clyde,” but the only robbing Jim and Jacky Harrison Caras did was that of stealing each other’s hearts and carving out a legend among the “sheep folk” of the Intermountain west already talked about and praised and to be carried into the decades by their six children, so far 15 grandchildren and two beautiful great granddaughters.
Jacky has stood proudly next to Jim from Sedalia and Louisville, to Paso Robles, Calgary and the southwest. As others take cruises, or trips to Hawaii; Jacky has often been overheard to explain over the years with a smile, “Vacations? Yes, we take a lot of vacations but we only go where the sheep take us.”
It was even Jacky who in August 1980 organized the family trip to go to London, England and pick up LDS missionary son Clark; then fly to Athens and go with Grandpa Angel at 85 years old to return one last time to the family village, Leontio, Neka, Corinthos. And yes, in both England and Greece our Jacky tolerated Jim having to take a look at the local woolies.
On Friday, September 29, 2017 the Caras family marked the ninth anniversary of the day they almost lost Jacky. Strong as an ox this one here is! That night as she lay dying, yes dying in the mountains above Winter Quarters --- we’ve never really even whispered the word aloud because none of us have wanted to remember how dire her injuries were - there were first responders from Price, Carbon and Emery counties, and a LifeFlight helicopter crew out of Utah Valley combining to save mom. But it was her stalwart grandsons, a daughter Collette and husband Jim who for hours after she flew 90 feet from the back of an ATV taking salt to cows, who all worked to not let her give up and close her eyes as she lay there impaled on a quaking Aspen at the bottom of that ravine. Had the boys not pulled their ATV’s into a circle to light the plateau above Winter Quarters ghost town where Phil Allred shared his meadows the helicopter was seconds from turning around because it was too dark. And with a broken sternum, punchered and collapsed lung, four broken ribs, back broken in two places, right leg gashed open where the aspen gored her, a bump on the head, bruised brain and other broken, bent and cracked body parts she made her way by air to begin an almost 60 day adventure as the bionic woman at Utah Valley Hospital.
And yet one year ago on Labor Day 2016 in Price she stood as the bell was rung each time she read the names of her miners, yes her’s because we lost family that day of the disaster as well, from the Winter Quarters mine disaster of May 1, 1900 as a new monument to the 200 men and boys who died that day was unveiled.
Yet, this is a hero who stared death back into that coal filled mountain as on that Labor Day her book “Aftermath” was introduced. Broken physically, battered emotionally and shaken spiritually this daughter of some God somewhere went on to complete the search for the more than 740 women and children widowed and left fatherless that awful May Day in 1900!
This was her flock.
Families from Finland, England, Scotland, Wales, and all over America have found the stories of the women and children of Winter Quarters, their forebears who were lost and now found despite death trying to steal Jacky Harrison Caras away nine years ago.
The miracles our family have seen in nine years could fill another book. And the gentle love we’ve seen our father be to mom is gold.
Each day we watch our mother continue her travels in time with genealogy we say hushed prayers of thanks the Pied Piper of lost miners families is still ours.
Never doubt the strength of family united in making sure the Reaper goes away empty handed.
That Sunday evening she flew off the mountain and he rolled to its bottom as the ATV rolled again and again over dad’s body.
The Caras kids should have been orphans that autumn night; but instead closed ranks with husbands and grandkids to make sure life with two glorious parents saw another day!
Written By the Caras Kids – Clark, Camille, Collette, Cecylia, Sonya, Cori Jo