Francetta Wall Cantwell Leavitt
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Francetta Wall Cantwell Leavitt
by Vada Antoinetta Nelson Archibald - great granddaughter
Francetta Wall Cantwell was born 21 May , 1864 in Millville, Utah, to her parents Francis Robert Cantwell and Elizabeth Wall Cantwell. Francetta's parents had a large home which was beautifully furnished. In this home was an organ and it was Francetta's dream to be able to master this instrument. It was only a dream, she never learnt to play it successfully before she left home, in her later years she often spoke of that desire - but never had a organ in her pioneer life.
As a young girl she was very tiny and short, and when she was growing up as a young girl and lady, her biggest worry was her hair, it was so thin. She let her hair grow long and wore it in a bun on top of her head. Always hoping it would look like more hair and give her some height.
She taught school as a young lady, teaching grades 1, 2, and 2 before she married. She married James Rowell Leavitt, 21 January 1884 in the Logan temple. James was born, 22 October, 1862 to Thomas Rowell Leavitt and Antoinette Davenport. James had to learn to do chores at an early age, as his own mother died in childbirth when he was a small boy. Ann Eliza Jenkins helped to raise Antoinett's family of 9 children. Ann Eliza Jenkins was the first wife of Thomas Rowell Leavitt.
After James and Francetta were married they lived in Wellsville, Utah, until they immigrated to Canada. They started their long trek the first week in May 1897 in two covered wagons. A large wagon pulled by three head of horses, and smaller wagon pulled by a team of two horses. One for the family, and the other piled high with their furniture and family belongings. The family at that time consisted of five girls and one boy, Wayne. One of the girls was Antoinette, my grandmother, the second oldest child. She drove the wagon a good share of the way to Canada while James led the way.
The Leavitt family had previously arranged to meet a man named Bish Thorp, and then travel to Canada together, but somehow they missed meeting. James thinking Thorp was ahead, traveled as fast as he could to catch up. Thorp thinking James was behind him, slowed down hoping James would soon catch up. They each traveled this way to Canada never meeting again until in Cardston. Many good laughs were had between good friends about their trip to Canada.
While traveling sleeping conditions were very cramped and uncomfortable, bedsprings were let down on the wagon floor, covered with blankets and patchwork quilts. In the morning the springs were taken up and tied to the side of the wagon. James slept in the front of the wagon with his rifle always within reach. The horses would be hobbled and belled at the end of the day, and hobbles would keep them from straying too far, and the bells would scare away the wild animals.
One morning as they were rounding up the horses they came upon another company over a knoll a short distance from their camp, that had 13 wagons in the party. The two companies decided to travel together making a company of 15 wagons. In that company there were three or four families. One family was Manly Brown and his young son, Hugh Brown, who later was called as an apostle for the L. D. S. church. The extra wagons and families provided good company and good protection on the trail to Canada. From that morning on, until they reached Cardston, Francetta would pull her stove from the back of the wagon and with the help of her girls would cook for the men and her family. She loved to cook and was in her glory doing so, making bread and then baking it in her oven in the evening.
The trip to Canada took 6 weeks and it rained 21 days of that time. They arrived in Cardston on a beautiful sunny afternoon in June. They had traveled another 6 miles southeast up Lee's Creek where they spent their first night in Canada at Jerry Leavitt's farm, who was James' brother. James and his family lived in a granary that his brother Jerry had just finished building. There were nothing but boards over the roof, and split boards covered the cracks as best they could. After a storm has actually stopped it still continued to rain for two or three days in the home. The floor was just rough boards and very hard to scrub and keep clean, but they managed. Jerry and wife Rhoda shared their fresh garden vegetables, milk and cream, and did everything possible to make life comfortable and pleasant for their brother and his family in this new country.
Poverty was the order of the day. Francetta's children went for months in the winter with just moccasins on their feet that their mother had made out of the canvas of their covered wagon.
James filed for a homestead in the village of Beazer. He filed on 28 July 1898 on N.W. 1/4-12-2-27-W4th. He made improvements on this land and received his grant on 24 June 1902. Now a landowner in their new country, Canada. What a great day that was! This land is now owned by Harry Beazer (1989)
On 1 September 1898 the James Rowell Leavitt family moved on their own land in Beazer. While hauling logs to build their new log home the family resided in a tent. During the winter months the family moved to Leavitt so the children cold attend school. While residing in Leavitt, Francetta gave birth to twins, Genevieve and Floyd on 15 April, 1900. James' sister, Aunt Annie Baker was the midwife in attendance for their birth.
The home on the Beazer homestead was made out of logs and was a one roomed home. They had no shingles for the roof so they put tar paper between the split boards of the roof, and the tar paper prevented the house from leaking. They had one complete window (2 parts to it, an upper and a lower part). They put one part in the front of the house and the other half in the back which gave then light, rather poor but still light.
Francetta had 8 hens she brought with her, and sometimes she would have to chase the prairie chickens away so she could feed her hens. Lee's Creek was full of fish and with the fish and the prairie chickens being plentiful, it was easy to feed a large family. Francetta raised a large garden and loved to cook for her family. Life was good.
James and his boys had a freighting business, hauling freight by team and wagon from Lethbridge to Cardston, and to Glenwood. On one occasion the freight wagons were attacked by a small war party of unfriendly Indians, just few mile east of Cardston. The men were able to fight them off and no one was hurt. One of the arrows had just missed James' shoulder by inches and lodged in the canvas of his wagon. James loved to relate this story.
James was a quiet, gentle man, and had a beautiful singing voice and he and Francetta would sing together. One of their favorite songs were "Silver Threads Among the Gold" and another was "Come Come Ye Saints"
My mother (Hazel Duce Nelson) tells this story of her grandparents. While James and Francetta were visiting her mother's home. Grandpa James was sitting in a rocker, there were grandchildren on his knees and grandchildren on the rockers of the chair. The grandchildren and Grandpa James were singing together. Grandma Francetta was waiting to go home and had asked several times. Grandpa James finally replied, " Let those who are not content may go home. I am content" He kept on rocking and singing much to the children's delight
James worked in the L.D.S. church in the Beazer ward in the Sunday School Presidency as well as other callings. Francetta was well known for her "Comic Readings", as Francetta had a language all her own and used it many times. C.W Burt owed a store in Cardston and love to tell this story to me. Francetta would bring her eggs into Burt's store to trade for sugar or other things. On day she brought her eggs in and set the basket on the counter. Mr. Burt said "Francetta eggs are down to five cents a dozen today." Grandma Francetta exclaimed " Hum, it ain't the worth the wear and tear on the chicken's ***," Picked up her basket of eggs and went home. If Francetta ever borrowed a cup of sugar she always returned two cups. One of her neighbors said "Her language might be shocking, but her heart was pure gold" She was always the first to help the sick and the needy.
Somewhere around the years 1906 or 1918, James sold the homestead and bought a ranch 2 miles west of Hillspring. They had to travel by team and buggy through the Indian Reservation to get to Cardston. On one occasion they were caught in a severe hail storm, and in the distance they could see an old log house. They hurried there for cover and tied the team on the side of the building that gave the most shelter to the animals and hurried inside. The door was slightly open so they pushed it open, it was dark inside and the smell was terrible. They stood by the door until the storm was over, then they opened the door wide and let the light in the room. HORRORS! They had shared the storm with the body of a long time dead remains of an Indian brave. There was his headdress, blanket, bridle and various other belongings he had during his life. They made a quick exit without disturbing anything. What a experience! They loved to tell this story and always remarked on the terrible, terrible smell
After several years of early frosts and severe winters in Hillspring, Grandpa James decided to move out of Hillspring to more prairie land. This time their farm was 3 miles east of Aetna just across the St Mary river. Andrew Russell Archibald was a road supervisor, and James worked for him. James was a very good worker. One day Francetta came to where the men were working and said she needed to go to town for a bag of salt. James said NO, but she insisted until James unhooked the team from the scraper and she took off on her errand. James sat on the ditch bank until she returned. Hence came the remark that was often heard in the Archibald family. "You don't need to go to town every time you are out of salt".
James and Francetta never had to much of the comforts of life. She would scrub the table and chairs and wood floors with lye water and homemade lye soap until they were perfectly white and shiny. Her wash was always boiled in lye soap. Anyone that came to their home was always shown that they were welcome and must eat with them. She would put more water in the beans or more milk in the gravy, was a wonderful bread maker and her spice cake could not be beaten. Grandpa James loves to have people come to visit and soon after there would always be a sing song.
James lived in Aetna, but not for long. His health started to fail, and he passed away in the two storey Cardston hospital at the age of 58 years. He is buried in Leavitt Cemetery
Sister Card gave a history of pioneer woman at Relief Society on day and remarks were given of Francetta in that lesson. " Whenever there was a program in the early days, Francetta was always asked to give a reading. She never failed to delight the crowd with her humorous readings with actions and dialect. She would often tell of a happening in the district, but her own version was always delivered better than the event. She could make anyone laugh and sometimes cry to forget their troubles. It was a special talent and blessing she had.
Francetta's daughter Rose (Rosalee), died soon after giving birth to her daughter who was also named Rose, (Rosetta). Grandma Francetta raised Rose, her granddaughter and was so proud of her. Rose took care of Grandma in her older years. Rose married Nelson Kennard. They both lived in a complex of small homes on the south end of main street called "Petersonville" each having their own apartment. Grandma Francetta's apartment was just in front of Rose and her husband's. Nelson Kennard and Rose had one son.
I visited my great grandma many times in her home, and it never failed to surprise me where she chopped her wood for her stove. Right in front of the stove in her kitchen. She had chopped many pieces there because she had chopped a hole right through the first set of floor boards. As soon as she had chopped the wood she would sweep up every chip with only the hole remaining. She said " you should always be neat".
Francetta died 24 January, 1938 with one day difference between her death and Rose's husband (Nelson Kennard) Francetta was buried in Leavitt Cemetery beside her husband James Rowell Leavitt.
Children of James Rowell Leavitt and Francetta Cantwell Leavitt were:
1. Dorcas Emmaline = married Thomas Dudley Leavitt 2. Antoinette = married Joseph Edgar Duce
3. Nary Maud = married Charles Joseph Zemp. 4. Robert Leavitt died at 10 months.
5. Francis Wayne died at 11 years of age 6. Edith LaVon = married Henry Walkey
7. Roselle (Rose) died in childbirth 8. (twin) Floyd Cantwell = married Garda Louise Sjoblom
9 . (twin ) Genevieve = married Joseph Smith Hendrickson. 10. Farrell Leon never married.
11. Thomas Gerald = married 1. Clara Hofmann 2. Minnie Ethel Simmons.
12. Waldo died at 19 years of age, never married.