Friday, October 31, 2008

I Love Fridays

I love Fridays, I look forward to it all week long and not for the reason you might first suspect. Sure, I love the fact that it is the end of the week and I have a weekend to get stuff done for myself but mostly it is because Sarah has her meets and Alex has his game. It is especially exciting because Westview's Football team is having their best season yet. They are still undefeated but my word did they give me a heart attack today. I guess I should go in chronological order. Sarah ran a great race today. She came in fourth place. Her time wasn't her best and the competition wasn't all that tough but she has been so sick for so long that we are all thrilled. Especially her. I think she may actually be beating this thing. She still gets stomach aches but they seem less severe and her bad attacks seem less frequent. Westview competed against San Marcos today and they swept all events. The Football Team played Rancho Bernardo today. In the history of Westview (which is only four years) we have never beat Rancho Bernardo nor have we ever had a season with this many wins. We've only lost to Oceanside and I think I mentioned that they are #1 in the county, #11 on the west coast and #50 in the nation. We don't need to be ashamed of losing to them. Today's game was scary though. We played very sluggishly and we're lucky we won. We really didn't deserve to except that RB played even worse than us. We took the lead in the beginning with an early field goal but with 37 seconds left in the game RB made a touch down and led us by four points. I knew we had lost but that is when Westview decided to play. We returned the kick to mid field and luckily we still had four time outs. We made a series of short passes until we made a touch down with two seconds left in the game. It's good that we don't have any more boys to play football because my poor heart couldn't take another season of this.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Comments on Thomas Rowell Leavitt

I received some unusual but fascinating comments to my post relating the history of the Leavitt's. I don't know how many of you actually read the comments but I thought you would find them interesting so today I'm going to post some of the comments.

The first comment was by Phillip B Gottfredson:
Dear Mr. Leavitt;

Fred I read your story with great interest. The reason it came to me is because you mentioned the Ute, and I have my computer set to catch anything related to the Utah Indian people. For the past seven years I have been doing research for the Division of Indian Affairs in Salt Lake. The reason I am writing is to ask permission to copy the section of your story about the Ute, and of coarse giving you credit. You may be interested to know that in 1857 when the event you write about, Chief Arropeen was leader of the Ute Tribe who was Chief Wah-kara's (Walker)successor. Wah-kara had died in 1855. If indeed it was Arropeen that Thomas encountered this makes the story even more extraordinary as Arropeen was not a man easily swayed by any white man. At the time this event happened there had been around 50 bloody encounters between the Ute and the Mormon settlers, tension were high on both sides. Measles and smallpox was spreading epidemically among the Indians adding even more fuel to their rage.

Arropeen was Wah-kara's brother, and Black Hawk was Wah-kara's nephew and became leader after Arropeen resigned his position in 1865. Also 1857-58 was when Johnston's army came into the area, and the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and so forth, a lot was going on during this period. So it is extraordinary Thomas and his family survived this encounter, cetainly his diplomacy paid off.

Again, with your permission, I would like to add to my research the paragraphs you have written regarding the Ute.

Thank you most sincerely,

Phillip B Gottfredson

I replied to Phillip and his response was also fascinating:

Hi Fred;

Thank you for your kind and prompt reply and for giving me permission to use the story regarding Thomas and the Ute. I will credit Emma Broadbent as per your instructions, and thanks for the link!

There are a couple books I can recommend, Utah’s Black Hawk War by John Alton Peterson, and my great-grandfather’s book titled Indian Depredations in Utah. Both of these books contain considerable information on the Ute and Arropeen.

I can only speculate that it was Arropeen that Thomas encountered, at this time, but from the description given it appears it may have been. You see, understand that the social structure of the Ute has several levels. There were “bands,” and bands made up “tribes,” and tribes made up the “Nation.” Like we have cities, counties, and states. Each of these divisions had leaders, and each of the leaders the whites referred to as “Chiefs.” So you can see it gets rather confusing trying to sort out all the many Chiefs. But when reading the story of Thomas, in the details I see references that indicate that the “Chief” Thomas encountered was one of status. For example, the mention that the accompanying warriors made a half circle with the Chief in the middle is a custom paid to a Chief of stature. The time frame when this took place, the location, the body paint and feathers, all support my theory. There is one more detail, Had this band of Ute been just renegade Indians, Thomas and his family would most likely been killed. However, I see from your account the humanity of the Indians Thomas encountered. The Chief hugs Thomas, he makes a compromise, and respects the courage that Thomas demonstrated. The Chief also acknowledges the respectful way Thomas approached them. Respect, courage, humility, and fairness are attributes the Chief sees in Thomas, and he responds by showing Thomas respect in the same way. This is no small matter, but to fully appreciate what was actually going on between the Chief and Thomas we have to have a knowledge of the social behaviors of Ute leadership. In other words, leaders were chosen by the community that best represented the altruistic views of the community. I had the honor of spending a great deal of time with the direct descendants of Arropeen, Wah-kara, and Black Hawk, and they explained to me that all the Chiefs we hear about were blood relations. That is to say all these legendary leaders and came from the same bloodline going back centuries of time. This single family line raised their male children to become leaders. So “renegade” Indians were those who broke tradition, went against the community and committed atrocities against the whites that the community didn’t condone.

Arropeen was a brutal war Chief. He had set out to avenge the death of Wak-kara whom was poisoned by whites, and to avenge the deaths of his people who were dying of the diseases that the whites brought. He was angry, and felt betrayed. Wah-kara had joined the church, as did Arropeen, but things hadn’t worked out as promised to them. Their land was being taken away along with their food sources, leaving them with no choice but to fight back.

Then in 1865, the Mormons realized that they could no longer control the Indians, and in a last effort to bring peace they asked Arropeen to meet with them in Manti. Negotiations broke down when John Lowry, drunk at the time, jerked Arropeen from his horse by his hair and started to beat him. Dishonored in front of his warriors, Arropeen resigned his leadership and Black Hawk was chosen to take his place. Thus began what is referred to as the Black Hawk War. Black Hawk amassed an army of some 3000 warriors and caused the evacuation of some 70 Mormon villages.

Black Hawk was a peace maker, and spent nearly a decade campaigning for peace. He realized he was out numbered by the whites, and the only way he could assure the survival of his people was to find a way to compromise. Between the year 1847 and 1909 the Ute population had decreased by over 90%. The numbers are huge. The Ute population in 1847 was in excess of 30,000. By 1909 the population was just 2400. Today the Ute population hovers around 3400.

Thomas was obviously a great example of what could have been. Cooler heads prevail. In my opinion had there been more people like Thomas things would have turned out very different for all. The Utah Indians were not all bad, as not all settlers were all kind. On both sides of the fence there were those who had it in their hearts to live in peace, as there were those who gave into hate. Thomas not only saved the lives of his family and friends, he saved the lives of those Ute’s who he encountered that day.

So you see Fred, your story is important. It reveals the humanity of the Ute. Not many accounts do so, as they have all too often been given far more credit than they deserve as being cruel and savage. I cringed when I read about the scalps on the poles, but I also cringe when I read about the beheadings of the Ute at Fort Utah, heads that were shipped to Washington for scientific examination. Heads that were hung from the eves of the cabins of the fort as trophies. As I have learned from my research, there was plenty of gruesome details to go around.

Thomas lived in a violent time, among people who were fighting for control of the land. It was a matter of who would survive.

Please feel welcome to visit my website for more information at: Here I have tried to tell the Indians side of the story, one we have not heard before. It’s a huge collection of stories and insight. And because I am telling the story from the Indians perspective, it may seem at times I am biased. But it has not been my intention to do so. You see, my great-grandfather spent much of his time living among the Ute during the same time as Thomas was around. So I have approached Utah history from a different perspective.

I have always looked for the real heroes in our history, those like Thomas who was like so many others who was trying to carve out a life in the midst of a very tumultuous world in the wild west. He was not a man of influence, a leader, but he made a huge difference because of who he was. He followed his heart, and gave peace a chance. He made a tremendous difference for generations of people that have followed. Many owe their very existence to the courage of this one man.

Its amazing the difference one person can make, isn’t it?

Many blessings,

Phillip B Gottfredson

You should check out his website. It is very interesting. And then I received a comment from a long lost relative named Renaye. She said:


I found your story very fascinating. More so when you mentioned Wellsville, Utah...and then I saw the name of John Ephraim Redford (married one of the Leavitt girls). If this John E. Redford is the son of John Eckersall Redford and Caroline Kington, there is a connection here and I would like to know more about his descendants as well. I'm keeping a copy of this story!



And finally there were a couple of comments from Mark. I knew the Leavitts were tied into the Hamblins but I had no idea Mark descended from Jacob Hamblin. That makes this all the more cool. Like Mark, I knew that Priscilla married Jacob Hamblin but I was surprised to see that Betsey married Jacobs brother William Hamblin. That I did not know until I researched this story. And then to learn that William also married Betseys sister Mary ties us in even tighter. Thank you for your comments Mark, I think the Leavitt's and Hamblins make a good combination. We have a lady in our ward who is a descendant of Jacob Hamblin's. I'll have to tell her about you.

The town west of SLC that the Leavitts and Hamblins lived in for a short while was Tooele.

Until I read your blog, I wasn’t aware that two of Jeremiah and Sarah’s daughters married Hamblins. Priscilla married Jacob Vernon Hamblin, my third great grandfather. (I am descended from another wife, Rachael). I suppose that without knowing it at the time, I continued a family tradition as a Hamblin descendant marrying a Leavitt daughter.

An interesting historical sideline to the marriage of Jacob Hamblin and Priscilla Leavitt: While Jacob and Priscilla were away in Salt Lake City getting sealed, the Mountain Meadows Massacre occurred on Jacob’s ranch. (That ugly chapter of history was swept under the rug for nearly a century.) Another of my third great grandfathers, Nephi Johnson was involved in the massacre. So was Dudley Leavitt, one of Mary and Priscilla’s brothers. Both of these men were respected frontiersmen and went on to become leaders and family patriarchs.

I often ponder what it would be like to have to support a militia commander (who also happens to be your Stake President) who makes a series of incredibly bad decisions. We may never know in this life whether their allowing this outrage to occur and participating in it was an act of cowardice, or was necessary for their own survival in the face of retribution from their leaders.

The connection between the Hamblins and Leavitts is even stronger than I thought. According to the genealogy I got from my brother Doug, William Hamblin was a polygamist and married Leavitt sisters, Mary and Betsey.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Lester

Today I would like to pay a tribute to my baby brother. Today is his birthday and he turns forty nine years old. Growing up I can't ever remember a time when Lester wasn't in my life. No one ever called for "Fred", they always called "Fred and Lester". Sometimes they would even call for "Led and Frester". That is just how we were. My earliest memories of Lester were when we lived in Leavitt and we were still in our cribs. I know, that is pretty pathetic that I was still sleeping in a crib while Lester was old enough to play with but I remember it well. We would climb up on the edge of my crib which was bigger than his and then jump into his crib which was smaller. Mine was a steel crib and his was wooden and eventually the floor of his crib broke through. We thought that was pretty cool because then we could climb through the broken corner like we were gophers going in and out of the hole. Dad finally came in and got mad at us but the scary part was that Lester had to sleep on the mattress on the floor and we were both scared for him because he didn't have the walls of the crib to protect him.

Another memory from the same time period was when we would get crayons and jump up and down on the bed (we were out of our cribs by this time) and draw on the wall while we were jumping. We did this long before "Spirograph" had been invented but we got some pretty "spirograph" like images. We got in real big trouble for that one. I remember when I started school. We lived on the farm still and I had to ride the bus without Lester. It was very strange and a bit scary being on my own without him. Sure, my older siblings were on the bus but they went way to the back and pretended they didn't know me. I had to sit on the front seat and I hated it.

Once Lester started school we always played together during recess and we walked to school together (we lived in town at this point) and we did everything together. We road our bikes all over town. One time, in the middle of the night we road our bikes out to an old abandoned farm house and climbed up into the attic. We shone our flashlight on some pigeons and simply picked them up and shoved them into a gunny sack. We took the pigeons home and raised them in a tool shed in our back yard. We raised several generations of pigeons before someone left the door open and a cat got in. The pigeons were all dead or gone and we decided not to continue that venture. I remember climbing on the roof of the school, climbing in the grain elevators, walking the rails of the corrals at the stockyards, we did it all. And then we moved to Waterton in the summers. Our biggest goal in Waterton was to always finish work as fast as we could. We had motels in Waterton and I did the laundry while Lester stripped and made beds. We usually finished up in early afternoon and then we did one of three things.

We hiked into the mountains. Sometimes we hiked on trails but often we headed off trail into the wilderness. We often took backpacks and just rolled out our bags where ever we felt like it and spent the night. We never owned a tent and we never took a canteen. There were streams all over the mountains and we drank straight from the streams. The best tasting water you ever drank. We climbed many cliffs long before rock climbing was a fad and it scares me to think of some of the cliffs we scaled. Many times we climbed straight down the face of "Bears Hump" if any of you know that hike. Of course we never had anything like ropes and carbeeners. One time we were hiding in some bushes on a cliff around the amphitheater while a park ranger was giving a speech to a bunch of tourists. We thought we were petty smart since we could sneak around so quietly and no one knew we were there. If I remember right there must have been more than a hundred tourists. I don't remember what the ranger was talking about but he suddenly stopped and pointed right towards us. I guess we weren't as quiet as we thought. He then told the tourists not to panic but he thought that there was a bear in the bushes and if they stayed calm the bear would leave. I about wet my pants because at first I thought there was a bear behind us that we hadn't noticed. It then dawned on me that he thought Lester and I were the bear. Once we got out of there without getting caught we laughed all the way home. We also used to chase the bears. One of our sisters boyfriends had a massive spot light that you could plug into the cigarette lighter. We would get in the back of his pickup looking for bears. Once we spotted one we would shine the light on him and chase him until he went up a tree. It was great fun and I'm just glad I didn't fall out of the truck and get left at the mercy of those bears. They were quite angry.

If we didn't go into the mountains we went across the street to the swimming pool. The Waterton pool was an Olympic sized pool and we swam all the time. When we got tired of swimming or if it was really cold (that happened often in Waterton) we would go in the showers and spend hours just playing in the showers. In remember one time Greg sent some fire crackers home from Australia. They were huge massive firecrackers. We took some cigarettes that had been left in the hotel and we put the fuse of a fire cracker through the cigarette. We then lit the cigarette and buried the firecracker in the flower bed at the swimming pool and sat back on the balcony of our motel and watched and waited. There were crowds of people and sure enough, the fire cracker blew and about a dozen people about wet their pants.

I also remember the time we would go into the campground in the middle of the night and light firecrackers outside of the tents. We figured we were safe since the guys had to dress before they came after us. And then there were long weekends. We would take the old Ford Econoline out on the Monday morning and gather up the empty beer bottles that were laying all over town. We would fill the entire van with hundreds of cases of empty beer bottles. We eventually got tired of picking up the loose bottles laying on the ground and started collecting the empties people had stacked in neat cases outside their trailers and tents. One time we were in an area of the campground where the only way out was over the bridge. Someone got mad at us and tried to chase us down. He then stood in the middle of the bridge and we were lined up at the far end of the campground. It was a straight road from our van to where the man was so we played a game of chicken. We sped down the road right at the man on the bridge. Obviously he jumped out of the way but if he hadn't we would of killed him. How dumb, but what fun memories. The cops finally tracked us down when we were out in the middle of the Dardanelles and when he saw who we were he called in on his radio. "It's just a couple of locals out making some bucks collecting empty bottles." He did point out that it was against the law to have a blanket hanging out of the back of the van covering our license plate. Ooops!?! Apparently the guy who we nearly ran over reported that we were stealing things from the campground. He didn't know what we had stolen though. Thank goodness no one accused us of stealing empty beer bottles because we were guilty of that.

The third thing we would do is go boating. Dad's cousin, Clark Leavitt had a ski boat that we used often or we would take our Kayak. Fara also had a canoe that we used often. We paddled all over that lake. I guess a fourth thing we did was ride our bikes. We soon got bored with the roads and started riding bikes on the trails. Coming down those mountains got very exciting at times. We had more than one terrifying wipe out. Our cousin, David Lybbert wiped out one time coming down from Cameron lake and he was unconscious for an hour. It was very scary. It kind of ruined the day.

I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood growing up and Lester, you're in all of them.

Again, when I went off to college it was another strange event for me because I was going alone and Lester wasn't there. It just felt so strange. By the time I returned from my mission it had been four years since Lester and I had really been together. I had part of the summer after my first year at BYU and then I was on my mission in August. I left for college in September 1976 and Lester came home from his mission and started school at the University of Alberta in January 1980. We were roommates for a semester and then we were both married in 1981. It is kind of sad that after we were married he moved north and I moved south and we have rarely seen each other since then.

I know it is my own fault but I have not kept in very good touch with any of my family since I've been married. When we lived in Alberta we saw Fara and Jackie and their families often because they were still in Cardston but we rarely saw Greg, Lester or Dixie and I feel a real sense of loss because of that. My only excuse is that they lived so far away and I was so into my career and raising my own six kids that it was difficult to extend beyond that.

Lester I want you to know that even though we have done little together in the last thirty years you are an integral part of me and I do think of you often. I consider it a great blessing to be able to get to know Peter better and he reminds me of you in many ways. Not only because he is so tall but he also looks and acts like you. He is a good man.

Lester, have a great birthday. I love you;

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sarah's Beauty is More Than Skin Deep

Today I learned that my daughter is just as lovely on the inside as she is on the outside. I will take you with my on a journey down Sarah's throat. That is exactly what you see on the left, Sarah's throat. As you can see it is perfectly smooth and has no sign of ulceration. The little valve at the bottom of the throat is perfectly normal as well. I asked about the little bumps on the right side but the doctor told me that those are normal and nothing to be concerned about. Next we enter the stomach. We have two pictures of the stomache. In the first picture we are actually at the bottom of the stomach looking up at the top. If you look carefully at the top of the image you can see the black tube coming out of the stomach wall. That would be her throat and that is where her food enters when she eats. In the third picture we are at the top of the stomach looking down. The entrance into the intestines is on the bottom right corner. You can't really see it. The pictures of the stomach again show nice, clean walls without any signs of irritation or ulceration. This is all good news because we can conclusively say that what ever is bugging her is nothing really serious. I think the big thing that no one is mentioning is that we can eliminate cancer. I know for me personally that is a big relief. The final picture is the initial part of the intestines. It too looks good. The doctor also took some biopseys from the throat, stomach and intestines so she was careful to point out that we can't say anything definitive until the results from those tests come back but I could tell that she isn't expecting to see anything. I guess this brings us all the way back to her first diagnosis which I think is what they say when they really don't know what it is. She says that if there is an infection below the surface then you can't see it and because it is viral they can't treat it so we just wait and let the body do it's thing. A very good friend of mine is the head of the surgery department UCSD. He told me that doctors get credit for curing a lot of illnesses that they really didn't cure. He said that if the doctor did absolutely nothing that 98% of all the patients that come to them will be cured. I guess that is what we are looking at with Sarah. Wait it out. That is much easier to do now that I can see with my own eyes that there aren't any gaping holes or growing tumers in her belly.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Leavitt Heritage

For a lack of anything else to say and also because I am feeling some urgency to do it I have decided to write my autobiography. In order to describe who I am I thought it best if I give a background of where I come from. My genealogy has been quite thoroughly researched and written in far greater detail than I can write it so I will give an abbreviated version of it here and refer you to other books if you really want to know more. I will briefly described my ancestors and start from there.

The Leavitt line can be traced back to around 1066 when William of Normandy conquered the Saxons. The records show that William had with him a man named Richard Lovett. I am somewhat reluctant to admit my French roots but I'm confident that a thousand years ago the French were a bit more honorable and courageous than they are now. Somewhere between 1066 and 1500 the spelling of the name Lovett changed to Levett. The Levett's immigrated to America in 1628 and it was about that time that the spelling of the name changed to Leavitt. There were four brothers who immigrated, John, Josiah, Thomas and William. Unfortunately for Thomas, his entire family was wiped out by Indians and that was the end of his line. Fortunately for us the other three prospered and spread across the continent. As far as I know, any Leavitt spelled with an "A" comes from this family. I am a descendant of John who was commonly known as Deacon John.

I will now forgo the many "begat's" and just list the genealogy to bring us up to the famous Sarah Leavitt (yes, our lovely Sarah is named after this Sarah) and the statue at the beginning of this post is of Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt.

John, born 1608, married Mary Lovit
Moses, his son, b. 1650, married Dorothy Dudley.
Joseph. his son, b. 1699, married Mary Wadley.
Nathaniel, his son, b. 1729, married Lydia Sanborn.
Jeremiah, his son, b. 10 July, 1760, married Sarah Shannon.
Jeremiah, his son, b. 30 May, 1797, married Sarah Sturdevant.

Jeremiah and Sarah Sturdevant were both born in New Hampshire and married in March of 1817. Immediately after their wedding they moved to Hatley, Quebec, Canada and established their family. Hatley was just fifteen miles north of Vermont.

Years later Mormon missionaries came to Hatley preaching the gospel. Sarah and her mother in law were very prepared to receive this gospel and listened eagerly as the missionaries told of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. On June 20, 1835 the entire family left everything they had and moved to Kirtland, Ohio where the church was at the time. There were twenty three people in the group that left Canada and they arrived in Kirtland in September at which point they were able to meet Joseph Smith and were baptized. Unfortunately the saints in Kirtland were preparing to move to Nauvoo and left shortly after the Leavitt's arrived. The Leavitts were now broke and Jeremiah found work in a nearby town to earn enough money to move on. After a few years they once again headed out planning to travel to Twelve Mile Grove near Nauvoo but ran out of money near lake Michigan where Jeremiah had to stop and work to earn more money. They finally ended up in Twelve Mile Grove where they suffered a great deal of sickness and Sarah Shannon passed away and was buried. The Leavitt's then bought a farm seven miles outside of Nauvoo and started to build a place for themselves. Their farm was near a place called "The Big Mound".

The Leavitt's established their farm in 1841 and by 1844 they were prospering well and planning on building a brick house on top of the big mound. Thomas was ten years old and since moving to Nauvoo two more children had been born. Jeremiah and Sarah's family members were:

MaryAnne Leavitt b. 2/1/1818 Hatley, QC
Clarissa Leavitt b. 1/1/1819 Hatley, QC
Louisa Leavitt b. 1/20/1820 Hatley, QC
Jeremiah Leavitt b. 2/10/1822 Hatley, QC
Lydia Leavitt b. 7/4/1823 Hatley, QC
Weir Leavitt b. 1825 Hatley QC
Lemual Sturdevant Leavitt b. 11/3/1827 Hatley, QC
Dudley Leavitt b. 8/31/1830 Hatley, QC
Mary Amelia Leavitt b. 2/10/1832 Hatley, QC
Thomas Rowell Leavitt b. 6/30/1834 Hatley, QC
Betsey Jane Leavitt b. 5/12/1838 Five Mile Grove, IL
Sarah Priscilla Leavitt b. 5/8/1841 Nauvoo, IL

In addition to their own twelve kids they were raising two adopted children who had been abandoned on their journey from Kirtland to Nauvoo. It was about this time that constant persecutions from the surrounding communities took a turn for the worse. Being outside of town the Leavitt's were pretty much left alone but there is one story that I would love to tell. I will just copy the story here.

Only once did the mobs threaten them. A group rode up to the fence and started toward the gate. Weir, a young giant of twenty-two faced them and said, "Tie up your horses and come on in fellers, come on in and have a drink." They were so surprised at this welcome that they followed him around the house to the cellar. He poured them a pitcher of wine, then lifting the barrel, drank from the bung hole. They saw his great strength, the cool fearlessness in his eyes; perhaps they noticed his brothers Lemuel, Dudley and Thomas, just boys, but boys with fight in them. They got on their horses and rode away.

The Leavitt's were eventually driven from their home and left Nauvoo with the rest of the saints in February of 1845. They made their way to "Mt. Pisgah" to wait out the winter and Jeremiah went into nearby "Bonepart" to work. It was the last time Sarah saw her husband alive because he took sick and died in Bonepart. There is a plaque in Nauvoo quoting part of Sarah's journal as she talks about the death of her husband Jeremiah. The picture is of our daughter Sarah standing by the plaque.

Sarah and her younger children started across the plains on June 1, 1850 and entered the Salt Lake Valley on a beautiful summer afternoon. They drove their wagon down the streets of Salt Lake City about 5:00 in the evening. The town had a population of about 5,000 people at that time.

The family settled in Toole and Thomas worked for a few years with his brother in law William Hamblin. He worked a lot with the Indians and learned their language. When Thomas was 23 years old he met Ann Eliza Jenkins and they were married March 1, 1857. They settled in Cache County Utah. During their first year of marriage they had a pretty scary experience with the Indians. Thomas's sister Betsey was living with them because her husband was on a business trip to California. She tells the story in her own words.

"The morning had been chilly and clear with a stiff breeze blowing off the snow-capped mountains. Gleaming in the distance seven new log cabins stood proudly in a clearing near the point of a hill. Around the hill a rough trail wound its way. which had its beginning at Salt Lake City. Seven pioneer families had come with all they possessed to spend the spring and summer making butter and cheese. This was a profitable business. Instead of hauling their products regularly into Salt Lake City, they were assured a steady market and a good price from emigrant trains en route to California gold fields which eagerly bought up all the dairy and farm products they could supply. This was the beginning of Wellsville, Cache Valley, Utah. Salt Lake City was fast becoming an oasis in a desert to these weary travelers.

The cabin farthest from the point of the hill belonged to Betsey and William Hamblin and the one beside it belonged to her brother Thomas Rowell Leavitt and his wife Ann Eliza Jenkins. Betsey had come to live here while her husband William Hamblin was on a business trip to California. She came alone with her two children Billy, two-an-a half years and Jane, only two months. She brought a few milk cows, also her two white oxen which had drawn her wagon from Salt Lake City.

"On the morning our story begins Betsey and Ann were washing in Betsey's cabin when Thomas, having nothing more to do, sat on the hearth making bullets for their guns. Beside him lay a powder horn and bullet mold. On the glowing coals he held a frying pan in which a large bar of lead was slowly melting. It was now near noon and Betsey decided to build up a fire in the huge fireplace and prepare dinner. Needing wood and not wanting to disturb Thomas she ran to the wood pile a short distance from the house. As she bent to pick up the wood her ear caught the sound of horses' hooves. Her heart pounding in sudden fear, she glanced toward the trail just as the first of a band of Indians appeared around the point of the hill. Filled with the pioneers' dread of the Redskins She snatched the two keen-bladed axes and raced for the house. "Indians" she screamed. "Lots of them," By this time the Indians had been seen by the settlers. Ann had been sitting on the bed resting and thinking as she held baby Jane. It would not be long, only a few short months before she would be holding her own child in her arms. A glow spread over her sweet face and she smiled to herself happy anticipation.

Startled, she looked- up. She caught that one word "Indians". All the color drained from her face and her dark eyes reflected the horror of this word as no other instilled in her. "Dear Lord have mercy upon us," she cried, and fell in a dead faint. the baby slipping from her arms to the bed. Thomas sprang to her side and took her gently in his arms. Meanwhile Betsey snatched BiIly off the floor and placed him beside the baby on the bed saying, "Thomas, put Ann beside the children. Then help me move the bed into the corner so that the foot will be behind the door. Now I am going to prop the door wide open and you talk to them. If they are the Ute tribe you can talk to them if they give you a chance and I'll keep running bullets. We might need all we can make. So saying, Betsey quickly busied herself at the fire. She took a long thin pole sharpened at one end and stirred the fire. Then picking up the pan which held the lead Thomas had started to melt, she sat down on the hearth and went to work.

At almost the same instant Betsey had sighted the Indians, others had also seen them. Amid cries from women and children and hoarse shouts from the men, all rushed to their cabins. Doors were shut and bolted and guns snatched from brackets over the beds. Now grim-faced men watched the approach of the band through the cabin portholes.

Strange to say the Indians did not stop when they reached the first cabins, but silent, grim and forbidding, as their chief who led them, they filed past, not stopping until they reached Betsey's cabin where they quickly formed a semicircle. They quickly dismounted, securely holding their horses by the lariats which were tied around the horses' necks. Their bows and arrows were held in the other hand. The chief took his place in the center facing the white man Thomas, standing in the door. The picture they formed as they crowded their horses together was one to chill the heart of a much older and harder man than Thomas who was only twenty-three. There must have been a hundred savages, their bodies, save for a loin cloth, were naked and painted, their hair had been plastered with mud and feathers were stuck in the back, but the most horrible picture of all was the scalps dangling from their waists. Beautiful brown tresses of some unfortunate girl and long, grey hair of some elderly lady, were reminders of recent savage brutality.

It seemed to Thomas he lived a lifetime when waited for silence among the Indians. When the last horse was quieted he stepped into the circle and called a greeting to the chief. A grunt was the only answer as the chief glowered at him, hate and lust to kill in his black eyes. Thomas went bravely on with his speech. Speaking slowly and weighing ever word carefully, "We are peaceful people. We have never harmed you or your people. We ask you not to harm us." "Ugh," grunted the chief. "White men liars. We kill all white men. My braves want blood revenge for brothers killed." In his hand he held a long thin pole sharpened to a point at one end, not unlike Betsey's poker. Now he raised his hand and threw it to the ground with such force it stood; upright, buried in the earth deep enough to hold the rest of its weight. Immediately scores of arrows from his warriors encircled it. His brain; working with lightning rapidity, Thomas slipped quickly back into the cabin. Going up to Betsey he said "Do you know what that means?" Betsey answered, "Yes, I know, but Thomas we will not give up here."

Laying his hand on her shoulder he said, "That kind of courage always wins the day." He seized the poker from beside the fireplace, then standing in the doorway he raised to his toes and threw it with all his strength close beside the chiefs spear. The makeshift spear stood just as proudly as the Indian chiefs in the circle of arrows. A surprised grunt came from the chief and he eyed Thomas with his hostile eyes. The white man walked boldly to where the chief stood beside his horse. Immediately the silence was broken as the savages, keeping time with their moccasined feet, started a low weird chanting of their war song. Thomas joined his voice with those of the warriors, singing as he had never sung before in his whole life. After the song ended each warrior, placing his hand over his mouth, gave I blood curdling war whoop. The chief, laying his hand over Thomas' heart said, "White man brave, white man not afraid."

Thomas spoke again, "My sister and I and the other people in their cabins do not want to die, we want to live and be friends to the red man. Do you want to die? Do you love your warriors?" At once the chief swept the circle with his hand and then placed his hand over his heart. "Yes, I love them very much. They are all brothers to me." Thomas took advantage of this. "We may die, but some of your warriors that you say you love will die also—maybe even you, their chief will die first, for inside every cabin are white men with guns watching you through little holes in the wall. lf you start to kill us they will kill many of you with the guns that are all loaded and pointed at you right now."

At this point the Indians began their war chant again. To Thomas it seemed to hammer at his brain and the whole thing seemed like a horrible nightmare closing in on him. The stench from the Indians' bodies, the horses and scalps made him deathly sick. With an effort he pulled himself together. He stepped back into the house and went quickly to Betsey's side. "Betsey," he said in a steady voice, "the chief says we are brave people and because we are so brave he will be good to us and those in their cabins if we will give them all of our cattle, food and clothing, they will let us go peaceful over the mountain to Salt Lake City."

As the full import of the proposition struck home to her, she jumped to her feet. standing straight and bravely before him she said, with deep feelings, "No, Thomas, no. We will not do that. It would only mean death in the end, if not from cold then from starvation. We could not hope to get over the mountain. There is still snow in the pass. We will die fighting first."

"You are right." said Thomas. "I'll go and see what the others say. The chief has granted me permission to talk to them." He was back in a few minutes. "Most of them say accept the terms. They say maybe they will take everything."

"Thomas," said Betsey thoughtfully, "if the Lord has made these Indians merciful enough to suggest terms at all when they can take everything by killing us and the price would be just a few warriors, then I feel He is opening the way to spare our lives. Go tell them they can have the two white oxen and that is all. Tell the chief I have my gun aimed at his heart and he will be the first to die, but tell him this as a last resort."

Again Thomas stepped out into the semi-circle. He strode up to where the chief stood waiting, stopping only a few feet from him. He drew himself up and looking the chief full in the face he spoke swiftly in the Indian dialect. "My sister and I cannot accept your terms because we would all die anyway. We could not get through the deep snow in the mountain pass, with no covering for our bodies, for we are not tough like your warriors. My brave sister says for you to take the two white oxen because they are the best we have and are fit even for an Indian chief. Take these and go in peace."

Thomas held his breath while the chief gave him a grim solid look. Suddenly the chief seized Thomas in his strong, brawny arms. He hugged him as though he could not restrain his admiration for this white man's bravery. Betsey, watching from the cabin, almost fainted. She thought surely her brother was being killed. Then she breathed again as she saw the chief release Thomas. This broke the silence. "White man and squaw talk brave, very brave. We no kill. Take oxen and go."Not long after this experience Thomas and Ann moved to Santa Clara near St George, UT. They were very successful in growing cotton and grapes. When Thomas and his wife moved here this made their family complete again and they were all together again. Four years after he married Ann Eliza Jenkins, Thomas married a second wife, Antionette Davenport. She was born September 2, 1843 at Hancock, McDonnough County, Illinois. They were married at the endowment house at Salt Lake City by Pres. Brigham Young on March 9, 1861.

The heat was too hot for Ann and as her health began to fail Thomas moved back to Wellsville where he still owned his property. He was sheriff in Wellsville for a number of years. On one occasion while serving in this capacity, a celebration was being held in Wellsville. A man who had been in the Federal Army, put on his Confederate suit with his sword on his side, and proceeded to frighten people at the celebration. Thomas was notified, he approached the man and said, "You'd better give me that sword, I’m going to have to arrest you and take you in for the trouble you've been causing." Whereupon the man drew his sword on Thomas, ready to fight. Thomas shot one of his fingers on the hand he was using to hold the sword. He dropped the sword. Thomas then took the subdued soldier to jail.

Thomas had twelve children with Ann Eliza and ten children with Antoinette. Antoinette died giving birth to her tenth child. Their fourth child, Alfred is my great-grandfather. Antoinette's nine surviving children were:

James Rowell--born 22 Oct. 1862 Wellsville,
married Francetta Cantwell 21 Jan 1884.
Julia Ann--born 5 Dec 1863,
married John Wyatt 23 Nov. 1882.
Sarah Almira--born 24 May 1866, Wellsville
married John Ephrim Redford 20 May 1886.
Alfred--born 26 June 1868. Wellsville
married Mary Ann Hutchinson 10 Jan 1894
Jeremiah--born 17 Mar. 1870 at Wellsville,
married Rhonda Harrod 20 June 1890.
Betsey--born 12 Nov. 1871 at Wellsville,
married John Wyatt 7 June 1890.
Margaret--born 29 Oct. 1873 at Wellsville,
married Jacob Workman 29 May 1889.
Thomas Dudley--born 9 May 1876 at Wellsville
married Dorcas Emmeline Leavitt 21 Feb 1903.
John--born 16 July 1878 at Wellsville,
married Ann Eliza Marsden 16 July, 1890.

Poor Ann now had twenty one children to raise by herself. Perhaps this is why Thomas decided to marry a third wife. Harriet Martha Dowdle, had been married before and had one child from that marriage. She married Thomas June 26, 1883 and moved into the duplex that Thomas had built for this first two wives. Hattie had three more children with Thomas.

Around this time polygamy had been made illegal in the United States and many of the polygamist men were being arrested. Some of the polygamists headed to Mexico to escape but President John Taylor (born in England and having lived in Canada) suggested to Charles Ora Card that they would be treated better by the British and encouraged him to scout out Canada. In September 1866 Charles and a group of men went up into British Columbia, over to Calgary and then down through southern Alberta. They decided on some land between Lee's creek and the St Mary River in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The soil was rich, the grass was tall and there was plenty of water. It was to become my homeland.

Under the direction of President Taylor, Charles Card soon organized a group of settlers that included Thomas Rowell and his third wife Hattie. Ann stayed behind with most of the children. She was getting too old for the pilgrim thing. They left on April 6, 1887 and Thomas rode horse back driving several head of cattle. Hattie and the children rode in a covered wagon. The group was large and some were able to travel faster than others so they divided the group in two and the first group headed by Joannas Andersen arrived at Lee's Creek May 25, 1877. There was still snow in the valley so they should have known what they were up against then. The second group arrived eight days later.
This is a painting by Frank Thomas and it depicts Thomas Rowell Leavitt as he crosses Lee's Creek entering Cardston with the first party of settlers.

They lived in their covered wagons while they planted crops and then Thomas led a party to scout the mountains to get wood for their houses. On one of the trips the group crested a hill and admired the beautiful green valley below them. Thomas' words were:

"I would like all of my sons and daughters to establish homes of their own in this beautiful valley."

That valley is now called the town of Leavitt and it is where I lived until I was eight years old and our family moved into Cardston.

Once the crops were planted and a good source of logs found in the mountains everyone started building their homes. Thomas's home was next to Card's home and as they were building Nettie became quite sick. Everyone focused on Thomas' home so that Nettie could get out of the elements. They moved in on August 12, 1887 making the Leavitt house the first house built in Cardston. The Card home was the second. The home was still in use until 1958 when it was torn down. When they had to take it apart there wasn't a nail or peg in any of the logs--the corners were dove-tailed and fitted so perfectly that people were amazed at the workmanship used in building this home.

The ward was called the Card Ward and was attached to the Cache Valley Stake in Utah where Charles Card was still the Stake President. Thomas was the second councilor in the first bishopric and was in that position until he died May 21, 1891.

Over the next several years Ann and all but two of Thomas' twenty two children joined him in Cardston. Beginning in 1893 they began homesteading in Buffalo Flats which came to be known as the town of Leavitt. They couldn't settle there sooner because of a lease agreement. Large herds of buffalo roamed that area and they didn't want to disturb them. I guess environmentalists have been around for some time.

On May 21, 1891 Thomas Rowell Leavitt died of the flu. Cardston borders the largest Indian reservation in all of Canada and while many of the settlers were afraid of them, Thomas learned their language and was a friend. When he died many Indians mourned his loss by pacing up and down the street in front of his home howling and moaning. After the death of Thomas, Ann moved into Leavitt and homesteaded there while Hattie lived in town and raised the younger children.

Alfred Leavitt was only nine when his mother died and he took on much of the work to care for the younger children. When he was sixteen Ann (his step mother) gave him a quilt and a pillow and told him he was on his own. When the rest of the family moved to Canada he stayed behind because he was dating Mary Ann Hutchinson. They were married January 10, 1894 in the Logan Temple. Their first two children were born in Wellsville and then they moved to Canada to join the rest of the family. They left Utah on June 17, 1897 and arrived in Cardston July 26, 1897. They spent the winter with his brother Jeremiah and the following summer they settled down on a half section five miles south of Leavitt. They had eleven children and their second child, Afred Darius Leavitt was my grandfather.

Thomas Hutchison Leavitt
b. 24 OCT 1894 in Wellsville, Cache Co., UT
Alfred Darius Leavitt
b. 22 MAR 1896 in Wellsville, Cache Co., UT
Melvin Hutchison Leavitt
b. 17 AUG 1898 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Loran Hutchison Leavitt
b. 4 NOV 1900 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Alta Jeanetta Leavitt
b. 17 OCT 1902 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Mary Ellen Leavitt
b. 9 NOV 1904 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Elden Hutchison Leavitt
b. 19 OCT 1906 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Parley Leavitt
b. 30 AUG 1908 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Delbert Hutchison Leavitt
b. 9 APR 1911 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
DeVere Leavitt
b. 7 OCT 1913 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Edna Leavitt
b. 12 AUG 1915 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Dean H Leavitt
b. 12 FEB 1917 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada

With nine boys in the family I imagine that no one messed with the Leavitt's. It may also be partly responsible for why the largest name in the department of motor vehicles in the province of Alberta is Leavitt. In 1902 Alfred bought land next to Lee's creek and lived there for a number of years. Shortly after they moved in the creek flooded and the water rose until it was right at the doorstep of the house. My grandpa remembers that flood very well. Unfortunately, their brand new chicken coop (along with most of the chickens) was carried away down the creek. In 1914 he bought property in the town of Leavitt to be nearer the School and the Church. Finally in 1916 Alfred bought a half section, two miles north of Leavitt. This is the farm that he later sold to Uncle Devere. I remember going there often as a little boy. In 1939 he moved into Cardston. On August 9, 1939 Alfred was at a baseball game cheering on his team when he fell on his face dead. Baseball was his favorite sport so it seems appropriate that he went out watching the game. I wonder if his team was winning?

My grandpa was Alfred Darus Leavitt, known as Doss to those who knew him. He was born March 22, 1896 in Wellsville, Cache County, Utah just before his parents decided to move to Canada. It is a good thing he was born there because that is one of the reasons I was able to get US citizenship. Doss married Nellie Grace Quinton (born July 7, 1896) April 5, 1917 and they had four children. Grandpa loved to tell the story about his "honeymoon". The day after they got married he loaded up his wagon and took his new bride to their home out on the ranch. I'm not sure where this ranch was but on his way he had to cross the creek. The creek was still frozen but due to the warm weather there was a lot of water running on top of the ice. Half way across the ice, you guessed it, one wheel broke through. Grandma had a trunk full of her most valuable items so Grandpa being the chivalrous man that he was, hopped into the creek in icy water up to his waist. He cut the horses loose because they were getting hit with large chunks of ice. He then rode one of the horses back to grandma where he had left her in the middle of the creek and loaded her on the back of the horse and got here out. They then stayed the night at the neighbors who lived by the creek. That was their honeymoon. They dragged the wagon out the next morning and headed on to their home. I really hope grandma's trunk for of stuff was OK.

In 1919 Doss and Nellie moved to Warner and rented a farm for a few years until land came up for sale in Leavitt. They bought the land and moved to Leavitt and that is where my Dad grew up. After my Dad returned from his mission in New Zealand he married my Mom and then Grandpa turned the farm over to my Dad. Grandpa and Grandma then moved into Cardston. In the picture are my sisters, Jackie, Dixie and Fara with Greg on the right standing in front of the farm. Notice the large sandstone rocks near the top of the hill. Those were very fun to play in. Below the rocks are some trees and just below the trees is an irrigation ditch that ran across the face of the hill. Somewhere near the top of Dixie's head is a natural spring. Kira took this picture at the family reunion they had this summer. Sadly it was the third reunion in a row that I've missed and I'm going to have to fix that.

The children of Doss and Nellie are:

LaMont Leavitt b. July 30, 1918
md. Phyllis Wiggill b. Dec 12, 1921
Darus Dahl Leavitt b. May 14, 1921
md. Eda Broadbent
Arlen Quinton Leavitt b. June 4, 1925
md. Flora Lybbert b. Dec 9, 1927
Zona Jeanette Leavitt b. April 25, 1932
md. LaMar D. Peterson b. March 4, 1928
md. Kinunnen b. William Alexander Kinnunen b. March 15, 1929

So you can see that I have quite a heritage that I need to live up to. If I think about it too much it seems like quite a burden.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Proposition 8

The Canadians do it again. A small brush fire started up today near Grossmont College and they immediately sent the Canadian Super Scooper to the rescue. They had it out very quickly. Yes, I know the picture isn't of the super scooper but it is of the fire. If I was there I would have taken a picture of the super scooper. They are credited with making the difference.

So things in California are heating up. There is a neighborhood where several death threat letters were left at houses that had Yes on Prop 8 signs in their front yards. I've included a copy of the death threat but don't read it unless you're prepared for some pretty foul language. If you want to read it then double click on the picture and it will enlarge for you. How's that for tolerance? Also, yes on Prop 8 signs are stolen almost as fast as you can put them up. Yesterday there were a group of people on the side of the road waving "yes on 8" signs and two woman started throwing rocks at them. A man was putting up yes on 8 signs last week and another man beat him up putting him in the hospital.

I'm really tired of people telling me that denying gays the ability to get married is a civil rights violation. Marriage has nothing to do with civil rights and it can not be compared to women voting, blacks being segregated or any other right. Even if you leave religion out of it, marriage is still something that we must protect. Ever since the dawn of time, marriage has been the best way to preserve the human race by giving children the protection of both a mother and a father while they go through their adolescent years. In every civilization on earth and in all of history, marriage has been recognized as a father, a mother and children and it's purpose is to raise children. Gay's can pretend all they want that they are a family but they are only pretending and please don't ask me to pretend with them. It isn't a question of civil rights, it is a question of biology and that was decided by millennia of evolution and not by four judges in Sacramento.

If you want to talk about rights, gays have all of the rights that I have.

Benefits - already have them
Visitation rights - already have them
Civil Unions - already have them
ability to adopt - already have them
equality in the work place - already there

You name it, they have it.

If they want to have a family then they need a man and a woman and that is just how mammals are created, I didn't decide that, evolution did.

Now do you want to hear what will be lost if gay marriage is legalized? This isn't fantasy, this is happening right now.

- same sex marriage will be taught in KINDERGARTEN as being as valid as traditional marriage click here and here

- churches may loose their tax exempt status if they don't perform gay marriages click here

- service providers will go to jail if they don't provide services like artificial insemination to gay couples click here

- adoption agencies will be forced to give children to gay couples even against the will of the birth mother. click here

- religious leaders will be sued if they teach the true meaning of the bible click here

I have nothing against gay's and they have the right to live how they want. Just don't try and change the definition of an institution that has functioned well for as long as man has been around. Marriage and families must be protected.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One Busy Weekend

Why is my life so busy lately? The time just flies by and I think back and wonder what I did. We did have a very fun and event filled weekend but now it is Monday and it seems like I should still be getting ready for the weekend. Ben was here and that was good to see him. Thank you Sharley for letting him come out and see us all. He got to see Alex get slaughtered in his football game and even though we would have liked to have won it isn't anything to be embarrassed about getting beat by the number eleven team on the west coast. Saturday morning Ben got to see Sarah race. She's been pretty sick this week so she struggled but in spite of it all she ran a respectable race. I don't think the parasite they found was the problem after all. They have schedule her to get a tube shoved down her throat. She is definitely not looking forward to that one. Saturday afternoon Ben went and spent some time with his friends and Lisa and I divided and conquered. Since I have the camera I went out to Valley Center to get pictures of Alex and Mackenzie before they went to Mackenzies homecoming dance. Mackenzie had a very tall friend who needed a very tall date so they arranged to have Nate take her. I have her sitting in the group picture so you can't see how tall she is. She had heels on but with her heels she must have been well over six feet. From all accounts they had a great time. While I was taking pictures in Valley Center, Lisa drove Sarah and nine of her friends to "Haunted Trails" in Balboa park. She had a lot more fun than I did. Eleven people weren't all going to fit in our car so one of Sarah's friends who can drive followed her. Somehow he ended up following the wrong car so when Lisa entered highway 56 he continued on to Mira Mesa. This is after he was given clear directions on how to get there. When they realized that the other car wasn't behind them, Lisa pulled off on the side of the freeway and they called him. While they were waiting a cop pulls up behind Lisa and tells her to pulled up to the next exit. Lisa, a little confused about what difference that would make obliges and pulls up to the next exit. They then wayward lost boy and tell him where they have moved to. They now learn that he has headed the wrong direction on the freeway. As they continue to wait the cop comes back and gives Lisa a ticket because he insists that he told her to exit the freeway. This is one ticket we are going to go fight in court. After constantly giving the stupid driver direction after direction they finally meet up after nearly an hour and then head on down to Balboa park. While Lisa came home with a splitting headache it appears that the kids had a great time. They came back to our house after and watched a movie. They were all asleep before the movie ended.

Sunday was Peters birthday. He turned twenty six years old so we roasted a big hunk of beef and celebrated properly. After blowing out the candles and enjoying some chocolate cake he then went out and celebrated with his friends. This morning I went in to work late so I could spend the morning with Ben and then he headed back to Arizona. That was my weekend. Today was an uneventful day at work but tonight I came home early to help kids with homework. I guess I only helped Sarah with homework. I think Alex realizes he's going to make at least a "C" in all of his classes so he's quit working.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Canadians Save the Day

Ben came home for the weekend. How fun. He came to watch Alex play football and to see Sarah run. We're glad to have him anytime we can get him but he picked a bad time for football. I believe I mentioned earlier that we played Oceanside today and Oceanside won State last year. I guess the results were predictable. We lost 49 -7, it was a sad night. We actually played fairly well but Oceanside was really just toying with us. As I was on my way to the airport to pick up Ben I heard on the radio that the Canadians saved the day. Some kids were playing with fire in a canyon and it got away from them. Dozens of houses had been evacuated and were in serious danger of burning so they called in a pair of Canadian Super Scoopers. The super scooper is a plane made by Canadair and it can carry over 1,600 gallons of retardant. I guess they made quick work of this fire. The Canyon we live on is sheltered from the big brush fires that happen but we could easily become a victum of kids playing with fire. I feel better knowing that the Canadians are here ready and willing to help me if I need them.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I guess it is just that time of the year. Our school works on a quarter system and next week is the end of the first quarter. That makes it a very stressful time of the year for the kids (and anyone around them). Of course, in addition to the normal stresses with a heavy work load Alex and Sarah have some extra burdens to bear and last night was a tough night for both of them. Let me start with the hulk.

Alex - Alex is one of our most talented children and he's been blessed with good looks, a keen mind, a strong and quick body and pretty much everything else a young man could wish for. The only problem is that for most of his life school work has come quite easily for Alex so he has developed the bad habit of doing just enough work to pass his class and no more. To give you an example, Alex wrote a biology test last year and when the bell rang the teacher told the kids they could stay and finish the test rather than leaving for lunch. Alex knew he had all of the questions correct so rather than finish the last question and miss part of lunch he chose to skip the last question and leave. He could have had a hundred percent but he'd rather not miss his lunch. He couldn't understand why I was upset. This year we fixed him though. Knowing that he will just do the minimum amount of work to pass, we signed him up for four AP (Advanced Placement) classes. AP classes are much more difficult than regular classes but if you get a good enough grade they actually count for college credit. It is good to see him do a bit of homework for a change but boy does he get mad. We've heard many times how "dumb" it is that he has four AP classes. This week is more stressful than normal because a) its the end of the quarter, b) if he doesn't pass he can't play football, c) he had his cast removed and his thumb is still broken, d) much more homework than normal, e) more tests than normal and f) all of his long term assignments are coming due.

Sarah - is our loving, calm, sweet child with the easy going personality but last night she was the wicked witch of the west. To be fair she has also had everything come down at once, a) pms, b) needs to finish reading her book by Friday, c) write an essay on her book by Friday, d) had a bad day with her gastro-intestinal issues, e) English teacher made her re-write her bibliography, f) needs to read a chapter in "Lord of the Fly's and to top it all off, g) she is coming down with a cold.

Of course Lisa and I are always calm and even tempered so that we can maintain a sweet and loving atmosphere in our home at all times.

On a different note, I think I found some low cost student housing when I went running today. I've been getting bored with running around the neighborhood so I've been running over to the UCSD and looking for trails in the wooded area around campus. Today I was in a remote part of campus and I saw a fairly well worn trail so I followed it. All of a sudden it came to an abrupt stop in some very thick brush. I thought that was strange because the trail was so well worn. I decided to look into the brush and low and behold someone had a very nice camp set up there. There was a sleeping bag laid out and even though my eyes weren't adjusted to the dark I could tell it was set up fairly nice. It didn't look like a migrant worker. I was afraid someone might be in the camp so I turned around and got out of there but I got thinking that maybe Alycia could save some money if she found I nice spot around the U of U like that one.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Fire Season in Southern California

Today was the beginning of our first big Santa Anna of the season. A Santa Anna is much like a Chinook but it is backwards. When a high pressure forms in the desert the winds blow over the mountains where they lose any moisture they might have had exactly like a Chinook does. The winds then drop down off the mountains and as they lose altitude the air compresses and becomes very warm, just like a Chinook does. What is so odd for someone who grew up Alberta is that the winds come from the east and blow towards the ocean. The closer they get to the ocean the hotter they are too and that is backwards from what we're used to. The Santa Annas don't actually start the fires but if a fire does start, the high winds and the very dry air makes it very difficult (some times impossible) to put out. The Santa Anna started blowing in earnest today and already there are several fires around us. The big ones are not near any houses and the ones that are near houses are small and were quickly put out or will be soon. Two of the small fires today were within just a few miles of our house. Just for effect I thought I would include a few pictures from the fires from Oct 2007 and Oct 2003. All of these pictures are within five miles of our house. The fire that you see coming towards a bunch of houses really scared the officials. They didn't say anything until after but they were afraid that fire would burn all the way to the ocean. That would take out thousands of houses. The subdivision you see in the picture mostly burned. Entire streets were burned to the ground and each of those houses is worth at least $750,000. When the wind gets blowing the fire is just so hot that dropping water on it has almost no effect. The only way they can fight it is to cut a fire break and start a back fire. Nothing else works.

Anyway, I really hope we get through October without having to evacuate. It is such a nuisance. We really aren't in any danger. While our house does back up onto a canyon, it is a small canyon and doesn't connect directly with the open brush. Now if you hear about a fire in Penasquitos Canyon, then you can start worrying about us.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Homecoming Dance

Last night was the homecoming dance. It is so interesting to have a son and a daughter both getting ready for the same dance. Sarah got up early this morning and was getting ready for the dance before noon. She picked out all of the proper accessories and then showered, she then put on a sweat shirt that zipped up the front (so that she wouldn't have to pull it over her head and mess up her hair) and went and got her hair done, did her make up and made herself smell all pretty and by the time she was done she was still late even though she had been at it for hours.

And then there was Alex. He slept over at a friends house last night and wandered in about the time Sarah was leaving (after noon). He then plopped himself down in front of the TV and started playing the XBox. Come five o'clock when they were supposed to be leaving I pointed out the time to him so he decided to go and get dressed. He left at five thirty.

Sarah was originally going with a group of friends but at the last minute everyone fell threw and it was just a couple of kids going. They reorganized at the last minute and they went with some friends of Dylan. Alex went with a group of thirty four kids. That was crazy. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Some times I just look at my daughters and shake my head. How did I create such beautiful women? I suppose the answer to that is obvious, I married Lisa.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Homecoming Game

This weekend is homecoming weekend. That means that last night was the homecoming football game and tonight is the homecoming dance. To make matters more interesting, for the homecoming football game we played Valley Center. Valley Center is where Mackenzie is from. For those who may not know, Mackenzie is Alex's girl friend and it so happens that she is the Captain of the JV Cheerleaders. To make things even more interesting, Dylan plays on the JV football team. Again, for those who may not know, Dylan is Sarah's boyfriend. So last night was quite interesting, Lisa and I went early so we could watch the JV game and I took my camera to capture all of the interesting moments. I went over to the visitors side to get pictures of Mackenzie and you should have seen the looks I got wearing my Westview Football shirt. I didn't feel too welcome over there. It may have had something to do with the score on the board. The JV game was a bit of a blow out with our boys winning forty two to zero. In the pictures Dylan is number 30. The varsity game however was a much different story. We took the lead early on but in the fourth quarter Valley Center pulled ahead. It was quite nerve wracking Lisa (who really gets into these things) was literally hitting the poor guy sitting in front of her. I was quite glad to be way down on the other end of the row. With about a minute left in the game we were on our fourth down and still had ten yards to go. I had pretty much given up on the game and then we threw a miracle fifteen yard pass and keep possession of the ball. We then rallied a bit and took the lead with less than a minute left in the game. The mood in the stands changed quite dramatically. Alex had a great game and his name was announced over the speakers a lot, especially during that final quarter. The final score was 20 to 16 and that leaves us still undefeated at 5-0 and the boys are quite happy. Next week will be even more tough since we play Oceanside and they won State last year. In California with a population larger than Canada's, winning State is a big deal. I know winning State is a big deal anywhere but in California they have created what they call CIF's (California Interscholastic Federation) where the state is broken into smaller groups with each group comparable to most other states. For us to win CIF's is like winning State some where else. To win State is like a school winning nationals in Canada. Any way, the boys are a bit apprehensive of the game next week. Oh well, they have a week to relish in their win. Alex of course is most excited about Monday, that is when he gets his cast off.
Valley Center's Cheerleaders, Mackenzie is in the center
Shake those hips
-----------------------------------Mackenzie is the team Captain
Go Team
Wow, look how flexible she is!!
Dylan is #30, he's head butting that guy
Look at that! He's taking on two of them
Dylan Howard sacks the quarterback
Dylan is crouched and ready to pounce
... and he's taken down by Alex Leavitt

This was very cool to watch. Alex broke through and tried to block the kick. He wasn't in time to get the ball but look at him fly!!
-----------------------------I have no idea who this guy is but they told me to take his picture. I guess he is a player for the Chargers, I think they said Quentin Jammer. What kind of name is that? Anyway, he is the one who announced the homecoming King and Queen.
Each grade builds a float that they show off during half time. This is the Seniors float and they won first place. Lisa volunteered many hours building this float. The theme this year was something about cities. This is supposed to be New Yorks time square. All of the little signs and displays represent something about Westview, for example the sign Dawnna Mia (playing off Mamma Mia). Dawn is the name of the schools principal.
Fireworks at half time. It is always a big display too.
Alex is not about to let that guy catch the ball.
Alex Leavitt makes the tackle!!
When the game was over everyone was so excited they all ran out onto the field. Do you see all the helium balloons drifting off to the right? Yes, Lisa was out there too. It was a pretty exciting game.