Remembering My Mother, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt
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June 2, 1965
Remembering My Mother
ELIZA JANE RUTH DOWDLE LEAVITT
by Luella Leavitt White
My mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle] was born [19 December 1869, Willard, Box Elder County, Utah Territory] of choice parents [John Clark Dowdle and Mary Ann Chandler], in the covenant, who were blessed by the Lord. They followed the gospel plan as they carefully guided her baby steps until she blossomed into a beautiful young lady.
My father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt], who was also born [6 April 1870, Wellsville, Cache County, Utah Territory] of choice parents [Thomas Rowell Leavitt and Ann Eliza Jenkins] and in the covenant, looked into her [Eliza’s] eyes one night at choir rehearsal (he was the choir director in College Ward, Cache County, Utah Territory). He knew at first sight he had found his true love.
They were married in the Logan Temple [26 February 1890], and as time passed, a son was born to them prematurely [1891 is the only birthdate known], living about three hours. He was blessed and given the name of William. There is no record that anyone knew of, and Father, in his life story, did not give any information on him.
It was sometime in 1891, for Grandpa Dowdle [John Clark Dowdle], in his famous journal tells how he administered to Mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] on 5 January 1892, and her second son was also born prematurely, lived five hours, and he [John Clark Dowdle] blessed the babe and named him Thomas. This was College Ward, and he was buried there 7 January 1892.
The sadness that filled their hearts—who could ever understand? Only their Heavenly Father knew, for on 1 March 1893, a lovely baby girl came to bless their home and lived. In fact she is still living [Mary Ivy Leavitt, Luella’s older sister, was still living when this was written by Luella Leavitt White on 1/2 June 1965, but has since passed away—28 April 1984].
BLESS HER… She was named Mary Ivy, and when she was a grown up babe of six weeks, Father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] was bit with a pioneer bug, and they sailed for Canada by ground on their prairie schooner.
Father intended leaving a crippled pet horse behind, that is until he saw tears(?) in Five Foot’s eyes!!!!!! (The horse was named “Five Foot.”) The horse walked every step of the way. Later when I was old enough to ride him I named him “Dancing Horse.” His front right leg was stiff, and a fifth small leg grew from an enlarged knee joint. When he walked he had to drag this leg and hop with his three good legs. Many happy hours we spent with our Dancing Horse, and it did not seem to cause him pain. We would pile our cousin’s astride his bare back, no saddle or bridle. We children had everything our hearts desired.
I [Luella Leavitt White] was born [31 May 1895] in Cardston in the first log cabin built by my beloved grandfather, Thomas Rowell Leavitt. Later we moved to Leavitt where we lived on top of a beautiful hill, where the view was indescribable. This was also a log house built by Father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt].
How well I can remember the sunrise, the sunset, the northern lights, the mountains, the creek, the buffalo chips left by the buffalo who no longer roamed, the wild flowers, the strawberries, the chokecherries, the Meadowlark’s call, the stars when darkness fell, and our home was filled with Mother’s true love.
Father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] made a promise to Mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] when he had settled us in our log home, that when ten years passed, if he could not take her to visit her parents, he would send her and the children to them [John Clark Dowdle and Mary Ann Chandler in Wellsville, UT]. As those years passed, many times she would ask him to sing her favorite song, “I Will Take You To Your Home, Kathleen.” He would play the guitar and sing it to her. He was educated in music, and had an excellent voice, as did all of his brothers and sisters.
When the prairie schooner was unloaded there was mother’s [Eliza’s] pattern drafter, which was used to draft the patterns to make our clothes. She [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] was so artistic, she fashioned the cloth into lovely creations, and she looked every inch a fashion model in her own clothes she designed, and as she walked, with her head held high, she was genuine, and a lady.
I preferred to sit beside the sewing machine and watch her sew than to go out to play. I can remember a red cashmere dress she made for me, with honeycomb hand work, braid to match, a large bow of ribbon to tie on the large curl on the right side of my head. To save the dress she made a white dotted swiss pinafore, lace trimmed, and so pretty. I would go skipping away to school feeling like a princess.
I must tell you of the time I played barber and cut off the curls she [my mother, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] had trained all over my head. We were still in the log house on the hill, and mother was trimming Ivy’s [Mary Ivy Leavitt Stoddard] hair, and I wanted mine trimmed also. Mother said I did not need mine trimmed. I was around five years old, and suppose I thought I was smarter than she, so I carefully removed the shears from her lap, slid under the bed, and when she found me there was only one curl left—the large one with the ribbon on it. Now I ask you, did she not have good cause to whale the daylights out of me? She [my mother, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] never spanked any of her children. She must have inherited a huge amount of Job’s patience. The only thing to do was cut the lone curl, and trim my head to match my brother’s, with one exception: I had a rooster on top of my head—a small curl.
Time passed, and Father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] built a home in the center of the town of Leavitt. One day he took us to see the almost completed home. It was lovely! As we walked through the spacious rooms, (Father told me later in the story of his life how) I held Mother’s hand and said, “Please, Mama, let us go home and get the knives, forks, and spoons and come here to live.”
Father was bishop of the Leavitt Ward, Mother was the president of the Relief Society. And we were in a dream home at last. I remember the sisters would come to this home to hold their meetings. One time I was sitting on a low stool in front of the other, listening to them talk. I suppose I became thirsty and went out to a well that had been dug and was not covered. I had a drink and left the dipper on top of the water, and then found a very fine place to take a nap. I napped under a tin wash tub that had been turned upside down in the grass. Later when I was missed, the sisters combed the grounds looking for me, and when they saw the dipper floating on the water, Mother thought I had fallen in the well. She had to be refrained from jumping in to find me.
When each child had a birthday, Mother would make it a special day: a party with our cousins invited, and she always made homemade ice cream and a lovely cake with all the trimmings.
These are treasured memories never to be forgotten. Those happy childhood days passed so quickly.
When our baby brother, Arlow [born 27 May 1902], was about a year old, the time had come for Father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] to keep his promise to Mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt]. Father had not become millionaire as yet, so he could not take her and we children to visit her parents [John Clark Dowdle and Mary Ann Chandler, Wellsvile, Utah Territory]. Father had to remain at home and be a bishop with all of the cares that are included free of charge. All of the blessings were included too.
Mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt] and her five children [Mary Ivy, Luella, Frank Wilford, Lawrence Clark, and Arlow] arrived at Grandpa and Grandma Dowdle’s home [John Clark Dowdle and Mary Ann Chandler] where the welcome mat was at the front and the back door all the glorious time we were there. What a happy reunion this was for my mother and her parents.
All I seem to remember was the fun we children had: apple trees for a playhouse, a flowing well just steps away, a large creek at the foot of the hill where wild water cress grew in profusion, cresses to ride, fresh garden vegetables, and all sorts of tree-ripened fruit. Just everything a child could wish for. The days had wings and flew away from us, and we had to say good-bye, returning to our home in Canada.
On the train, baby Arlow [11 months old] became very ill, sinking into spasms, the last from which he did not recover. [Arlow Leavitt passed away on the train, 23 April 1903.] Try to picture my dear mother on this train with her children in a situation like this, alone and helpless. How her prayers must have ascended direct to heaven, for that very day a miracle happened.
My father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt], who was leaving that day on a business trip for our General Store in Leavitt, owned by the five Leavitt brothers [Thomas Rowell Leavitt II, William Jenkins Leavitt, Franklin Dewey Leavitt, Edwin Jenkins Leavitt, and Edward Jenkins Leavitt], was on his journey when suddenly he felt inspired to turn his team of horses around and go to Sterling, Alberta, Canada, not knowing we were on our way home, or why he should go to Sterling.
He [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] was a humble man and obeyed the prompting. He met the train there and we were on it. My mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle] holding her dead babe [Arlow Leavitt] in her arms. Father arranged for we children to stay on the train to our journey’s end, Cardston, Alberta, Canada.
Father took Mother and their baby [Arlow Leavitt] in the one-seated rig. Mother carried little Arlow all the way to our beloved aunt, Christine Dowdle, who lived at Cardston and where we children came to from the train.
Now I ask you, was that not a lesson in obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit? How Mother must have been filled with comfort when she saw my father’s face.
Little Arlow is buried in our gravesite in Leavitt [Alberta, Canada]. Also, my parents are now beside him, waiting a glorious resurrection.
After this sad homecoming, Mother carried on, never complaining, always ready to help anyone in need. She it was they told me had never been known to speak a slang word, and she had no enemies. She loved all of God’s children.
Time was running out for our happy life together. On 29 March 1904, a dear little baby girl was born to bless our home. They named her Eliza [Eliza Ruth Leavitt], after our mother, and we were very happy. Mother seemed to recover from Eliza’s birth, when suddenly she was very sick.
One sad day we children were called home from school to her bedside. I can still remember her asking the Elders to pray just once more—she wanted so desperately to live to raise her family. Then, suddenly she was gone, and we lost our mother, April 21, 1904 [at age 34 years and five months].
Father was bowed with grief and refused to be comforted, when a few days later, Mother appeared to him telling him not to grieve, that she was happy and everything would be all right. Father arose from his bed of affliction, cast his burden on the Lord, and later went on a mission for the Church. As a missionary [called to Eastern United States Mission, departed Salt Lake City April 7, 1908, assigned to the South West Virginia Conference; returned home December 24, 1909, serving 630 Days] he did a marvelous work, as told in his life story.
Those few short years we shared with Mother will never be forgotten. The day will come when we can be a family again. Knowing this gives me a greater desire to earn my blessings.
[Luella, with pen in hand, wrote the following in the left margin of page 1 of her typed manuscript:]
“This story has been written from memory of the nine years I had a living mother, and also from stories told me by my father [Franklin Dewey Leavitt].” [Luella then wrote her name, almost as a signature,] “Luella Leavitt White.”
[This document was word-processed from the original two manuscripts that were typed by Luella Leavitt White. By divine intervention, Luella Leavitt White’s family history items came into my life. As I went through her history, pictures, letters, stories, etc., I discovered her “Remembering My Mother, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle.” I was confused at first because there were two transcripts. Luella dated one of them June 1, 1965, and then she dated the second one June 2, 1965. I carefully reviewed and analyzed both and concluded they were very close to being the same, but there were some minor changes from the first date to the second date. I have word-processed her transcript as close to the original/s as possible—mostly from the second transcript. I did use the first transcript a couple of times to clarify her words. I did make some minor changes in grammar. I have placed both copies of the transcript on FamilySearch, as well as this document that I word-processed. I have done so for the benefit of all. Please contact me should you determine that I have made mistakes. If I have done so, they were not intentional. I did change one of the facts. Luella said her mother passed away on April 23, 1904. Church records show that she passed away on April 21, 1904. Her gravestone says that she passed away on April 21, 1904. For that reason I inserted her passing date of April 21, 1904. All parentheses ( ) are Luella’s, while all brackets [ ] are mine, which I inserted information within those brackets to make it easier to follow the story, or to know the specifics. In doing all of these things I have attempted to honor and respect Luella’s writings, but I have attempted to bring insight and perspective to ancestors that I love, honor, admire, and want to learn from. I am Ron Leavitt, a great-grandson of Franklin Dewey Leavitt and Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt through their son, Lawrence Clark Leavitt, and through his son, Bryce Clark Leavitt.]
Letter from Lawrence Clark Leavitt to His Father and Step-Mother, 13 January 1959
Přispěvatel: dgmurray Vytvořeno: 1 year před Aktualizováno: 1 year před
[Below is a letter written from Lawrence Clark Leavitt to his father, Franklin Dewey Leavitt, and his step-mother, Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt. This letter was dated nine days prior to the death of Lawrence’s father, Franklin Dewey Leavitt.]
Jan. 13, 1959
Dearest Mother [Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt] & Dad [Franklin Dewey Leavitt]:
As I [Lawrence Clark Leavitt] look back through the years, I am amazed at how short they seem. I cherish the memory of my childhood, because during that childhood with you, the GUIDE POSTS of my life were set up. I am eternally grateful for the guidance you gave me. Many times I have come to the cross-roads of a decision between right and wrong, and the decisions were made easier because those guide posts were ever glowing in the darkest hours of my life.
There were many times, mother dear [Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt], that the responsibilities of an extra family handed you in a bunch must have been more than a normal person could carry. But, how I love you, darling, for the wonderful way you came through. We as youngsters could not possibly realize your position, and not until we had our own families did we realize the tender and loving care you gave all of us. Thank you mother dear for what you have been to me and for the love that I now know that you always had for me. Because of the rapid passing of the years I suddenly realize I have not told you often enough of my appreciation and how I admire you for being a wonderful mother to me, as well the love and understanding for five children not of your own flesh and blood.
My greatest wish for all my own family and all the families branched out from your own loving circle IS: that they could love and be loved as you, mother [Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt], have loved your ever loving husband and our proud daddy [Franklin Dewey Leavitt]. I am not unmindful of the hardships and deprivations that could have discouraged and broken down many other strong hearted parents. There were times I may not have understood why there was not available some of the little things I wanted so badly. I now realize that your hidden tears and agony of heart was because you would have loved to have given them to me but it was impossible for you to do so. [They had 14 living children.]
There are memories I cherish that have very often brought happiness to me. In my minds eye I can now see that whole Leavitt family congregating at our place, Uncle Will’s [William Jenkins Leavitt, older brother of Franklin Dewey Leavitt] and Uncle Tom’s [Thomas Rowell Leavitt, Jr., oldest brother to Franklin Dewey Leavitt], preparatory to going to Crooked Creek and the Lakes for fishing and camping. There would be the horses, wagons, tents, food baskets and huge rolls of bedding. Such excitement filled the air. I remember the gaiety, laughter and singing. At night when the beds were spread out over the big kitchen floor I remember Uncle Dud [Thomas Dudley Leavitt, half-brother to Franklin Dewey Leavitt, son of Thomas Rowell Leavitt and his second wife through polygamy, Antoinette Davenport Leavitt] getting in the wrong bed. I well remember the pillow fight that followed.
The Christmas dinners at Mother Glenn’s [William Fleming Glenn and Mary Ellen Stuart Glenn, parents of Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt] could never be forgotten (if only the darned old cows would have dried up so we would not have to go home to milk them!) Anyway, the big dinners, the skating on the pond and the sleigh riding were extremely impressive.
The earliest incident I can remember was going on the train with mother [Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle] and dad [Franklin Dewey Leavitt]. I could not have been more than three or four at the most. Dad [Franklin Dewey Leavitt] took me in the rest room set me on that cold cold pottie and prematurely pulled the flush cord. The roar of that rail track coming up through that open hole scared me spitless; say noting of that ice water blowing back on my little teddy bare … I am quite sure you never got me back in the mean mean pottie room again.
OLD FIVE-FOOT … Of course, he is a tradition with the family. For the sake of the younger family let me tell you about Old Five-Foot. He actually had an extra foot attached to his right front ankle. He had a huge hard lump on the knee making it impossible for him to bend the knee. When he would walk he would throw his stiff leg out to the side and in a half circle bring it out in front. We used to ride him and make him gallop. The gallop was rhythmical and he would put his stiff leg out first then bring all other three legs up with a thump and a thud. We would sing “Oh George Baker, George Baker the candle stick maker,” and his stiff leg with the extra foot would come down on exactly the right beat. I used to haul water with him hooked on to the go-devil sled. Many times I had to go to the east ranch a mile and a half away. If the runner of the sled did not wear out and spill my water, Old Five-Foot soon learned how to lighten his load by picking out just the right size of rock to run over. [Luella Leavitt, Grandpa’s older sister, refers to this same horse in her “Memories of my Mother” document. That document is on familysearch under her name, Luella Leavitt.]
Do you remember, dad [Franklin Dewey Leavitt], when you were putting a ring in the bull’s nose? You lost the little screw that held the two ring halves together. You had the whole family look for hours in the dirt for this screw … We even screened a ton of dirt through the door screen … At long last you were the hero … You found it! It was in your mouth—put there for safe keeping. I hate to think what we would have had to do had you swallowed the darn thing.
I think the most humorous incident, though it had its serious moments, happened at the time you were building the big house up west of Sorensens. I was up in the gable end nailing on a brace. It must have been at least 30 feet up from where you were standing on the ground trying to tell me where to nail the brace. I was a little mad and went to sock the nail a real hard one and the hammer slipped out of my hand and landed on top of your head. Frank [Lawrence’s older brother, Frank Wilford Leavitt] was lathing and he saw you staggering around like crazy and he jumped down and guided you to a nail keg. As you came to, Frank asked you what happened? You said, “That damn kid up there just tried to kill me, that’s all.” This struck Frank a little funny and he started to laugh. You jumped up and said, “This is no laughing matter!” Frank couldn’t hold his giggles and you started after him reaching for a lath as you advanced. Frank started to run around the house with you behind him only two paces. He may have out-distanced you, had he not hesitated to tell himself he could not possibly jump the 15 foot caved-in ditch behind the house. He suddenly decided he would simply have to jump it, and just as he took the last step for the take-off, you caught up, and with that mighty left foot of yours you helped him clear that ditch with at least five feet to spare. This was seven feet farther than Frank had ever jumped before. Having satisfied yourself at being pretty good at football, you laughed and went home to show maw [Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt] the apple sized knot on your head. Just in case I forgot at the time daddy [Franklin Dewey Leavitt], to say I’m sorry, I’ll say it now. I am sure you were a great sport.
[End of letter]
[It is important here to provide historical perspective. Grandpa’s (Lawrence Clark Leavitt) mother, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt (19 December 1869—21 April 1904), passed away 21 April 1904, when he was not yet four years old. Franklin Dewey Leavitt and Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle had eight children prior to Eliza’s death:
William (1891—1891—born prematurely, he only lived three hours—month and date is unknown);
Thomas (1892—1892—he was born prematurely and only lived five hours—month and date is unknown);
Mary Ivy (1 March 1893—28 April 1984);
Luella (31 May 1895—18 July 1978);
Frank Wilford (5 November 1897—27 January 1955);
Lawrence Clark (28 June 1900—2 November 1983);
Arlo (27 May 1902—23 April 1903);
Eliza Ruth (29 March 1904—4 June 1984).]
[Grandpa (Lawrence) refers to five children above. William and Thomas both died at birth, and Arlo passed away from seizures on the train returning from Wellsville, Utah to Cardston, Alberta, Canada. Arlo was less than eleven months old when he passed away. So the five that Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt inherited were Mary Ivy, Luella, Frank Wilford, Lawrence Clark (my grandfather), and Eliza Ruth.]
[Franklin Dewey Leavitt married his second wife, Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt, in polygamy, one year prior to his first wife, Eliza Jane Ruth Dowdle Leavitt, passing away. Franklin Dewey Leavitt and Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt had ten (10) children of their own:
(1) Zina (27 August 1904—11 July 1942);
(2) Mable (18 February 1906—6 June 1972);
(3) Glen (13 August 1908—13 January 1980);
(4) Jay (13 February 1910—26 February 1910);
(5) Boyd (25 October 1912—3 May 2004);
(6) Keith (15 October 1915—1 April 1994);
(7) Maxine (25 March 1918—28 September 1996);
(8) Jane (Jean) (20 December 1920—11 November 2006);
(9) Douglas Thayne (4 July 1923—25 July 1944); and
(10) Barbara (23 November 1925—19 December 1981).]
[The copy of this letter I have in my possession ends here. There is apparently no closing to the letter, and there is no signature. I came into possession of this letter from my aunt, Maureen Leavitt Jackson. Aunt Maureen is the last surviving child (as of this date, 31 December 2017) of Lawrence Clark and Mary Ann Davies Leavitt. Aunt Maureen told me for months that she had this precious letter from her father to his parents, but she could not find it. She wondered if her children had lost or misplaced the letter. A few days ago in a phone conversation, Aunt Maureen was so excited to tell me they had found the letter, that it was at her son’s home, Clifford Thomas Jackson. I called and spoke to Tom and he was able to scan the letter and send it to me. Aunt Maureen treasures this letter so much that she promised it would never leave her possession again. After reading it, I understood her passion for the document. The original, as it was sent to me, is posted on family search on two pages. I have word processed the letter to make it searchable and easier to read. While word processing, I made very few changes—I added an ending quotation where Grandpa left that off—who hasn’t done that. I didn’t skip a space where many of the commas were—Grandpa typed this letter in 1959 with what would have to have been an old fashioned typewriter. For posterity’s sake, in brackets, I have added full names and some details so the reader would know who Grandpa was referring to. Aunt Maureen has helped me verify that each person was identified accurately. This letter was written on 13 January 1959 from Los Angeles, California. The letter was written nine (9) days prior to the death of Grandpa’s father, Franklin Dewey Leavitt, one of the two people the letter was written to. Great-grandfather Franklin Dewey Leavitt was living and passed away in Cardston, Alberta, Canada. I asked Aunt Maureen if the letter would have made it to Franklin Dewey Leavitt prior to his passing. She felt strongly that Grandpa would have made sure it arrived on time. Personally, I wonder if that’s why the letter doesn’t appear to be signed or finished. I have wondered if Grandpa was working on the letter and didn’t get it finished when he would have been notified that his father passed away. This is pure speculation on my part. If anyone knows differently, or any of those details, please let me know. Franklin Dewey Leavitt (passed away when I was 2-1/2 years of age) is my great-grandfather; Jane Stuart Glenn Leavitt is my step-great-grandmother, who I met several times; Lawrence Clark Leavitt is my paternal grandfather, and I am Ron Leavitt, the sixth of eight children of Bryce Clark and Ella Beth Weeks Leavitt.]