by Elaine Olds Hagelberg
Levi Emanuel Olds was born 23 July 1885, at Joseph City, Sevier Co., Utah, the first child of Thomas and Eliza Jane Hunt Olds. A plump, happy baby, he was dearly loved by his devoted parents and was given a name in honor of two very fine men - his grandfathers, Levi Hunt and Emanuel Olds. Brother G. A. Murdock gave him this name and blessing.
When Levi was about a year old his family moved to Kanosh, Millard Co., Utah where they lived for about two years, then moved to Lyman, Wayne Co., Utah. Here he attended school for about five years, while his father drove freight from Salina to Lyman. In 1898 the family moved to Monroe, Sevier Co., Utah and spent a year with Grandpa Levi Hunt helping him on his farm and Levi attended (school) a little bit while there. The family moved again, this time to Summit, Iron Co., Utah and Levi received a little more schooling there before the family moved to Toquerville, Washington Co., Utah, thus ending his education in the schoolroom.
Levi was baptized in Lyman on 5 April, 1894 and ordained a deacon 18 January 1896 by James P. Sampson.
Levi being the oldest of the children was very helpful to his parents. He was equally as good at doing housework and helping his mother with her chores as he was in assisting his father with the outside work. As soon as Levi was old enough that Tommy could take care of him by himself, he would take him with him on the freight run and this was a big thrill to ride up on the high wagons with the 4 or 6 horses (depending upon the size of the load) working so beautifully together. As they would ride along and he watched how his father handled the horses and he would talk of the time when he would be old enough to drive his own freight wagon, and he also learned at a very early age to love and respect fine horses, and that if you expected good work from your horses you must put good care into them.
As they would rumble alone in the clumsy wagon Tommy would recall from time to time events in his life and he would tell Levi about them. He never tired to telling about his father they had left in South Africa, and how someday he hoped they could find him. Then he would tell about the monkeys that would eat their crops, but Levi had never seen a monkey so Tommy would draw a picture so that Levi would know what a monkey looked like. He used this method to illustrate the stories he told so that Levi would learn about these far-away places. They would remark about the uncorrupted beauties of nature not yet tarnished by civilization. One time when crossing the Sevier River, Levi grabbed hold of his fathers arm. To calm the frightened youngster Tommy told him how they had crossed the rivers with handcarts while crossing the plains. He said they would pull the supply wagon into the middle of the large stream, then the persons pulling the handcart would take hold of the wagon with one hand and pull the cart with the other until they were across. Sometimes the streams were so swift that this was rather dangerous. When they reached the other side they had to build big fires to dry their wet clothes and warm everyone up. He would tell how sore their feet got and how hungry and everyone lost weight and their clothes were ragged and dirty, then he would chuckle and repeat a little verse that had been taught him while crossing the plains:
Oh friends, I must confess 'tis tough!
I think today, I've traveled enough:
I'll now the tent prepare and sup,
To bed and rest -- at four get up;
Tomorrow rise with gusto and smiles,
Prepare to walk our thirty miles.
Jane would card wool from their sheep and spin it on her own spinning wheel, then knit stockings and sweaters for her family. As the family increased, this became a tremendous task, so she taught Levi to knit and he would help knit the stockings for the smaller children and his own.
After the family moved to Toquerville, Levi went to work herding sheep. He would send the money to his parents who in turn saved it up until they had saved $1,000 (with the help of the other children also) which they used along with the white horse named Charlie, two cows and two lots they had bought in Toquerville to buy their farm in Bellvue (now Pintura). The sheep herd proved a good place to keep the knitting up and Levi would send the stockings home as fast as they were completed.
The Olds boys worked hard all their lives, but they still managed to find time for plenty of nonsense. One time Levi with the help of several other youngsters in Toquerville tied tin cans to a calf's tail then chased it into the church house while some kind of a meeting was taking place. The tin cans made such a noise that it frightened the poor little calf sending it on quite a rampage. The boys were invited in to remove the noise and they had a difficult time catching the calf.
On another occasion he helped some of the fellows take a buggy apart and then put it together again up on top of Bringhurst's house. Again they had the pleasure of undoing their prank. One time a man was cleaning out his barnyard, and without looking he was very rhythmically tossing the shovelful of residue over his shoulder; having the wagon placed so that he knew he was throwing in the right direction. Levi and some friends passing by saw this opportunity for mischief, so quietly the sneaked in and pulled the wagon ahead a few feet. The man continued to shovel without turning to look, and when he thought surely he had a full load he stopped. He turned around only to find that he had merely made a high pile on the ground. He was quite puzzled as to how his wagon could move by itself, but a few boys snickering over in the bushes could have told him, but they didn't. They soon cleared out, knowing that if they were caught they would have to load the wagon.
When Levi was about sixteen he started dickering with Will to buy a colt the Will had received as a gift and he had raised it until it was about seven months old. Will was very proud of it. Preparations were being made to take the horses and cattle upon the mountain to range during the summer. Levi offered Will, who was about ten years old, an old pocket knife and ten cents for it. Will grabbed up the deal and he thought he was pretty rich as long as the dime lasted. Levi brought the horse down from the mountain in the fall and sold it for $75. Will says that only then did he realize that he had been taken in, especially since the pocket knife had only one blade intact. After considerable hashing they came to mutual agreement on the price of the colt. But Will again says that as he thinks back on it now, he still thinks he got rooked.
It was about this time that Levi forgot to chop the wood. When he came into the house starved and eager to eat his dinner - right in the middle of the table was a big log of wood with the ax stuck in it. Levi asked where dinner was, but Jane only leaned against the table with her arms folded and Levi got the message. He grabbed the log and ax and carried it to the woodpile and by the time he had his wood chopped a delicious dinner was ready for him.
Christmas was always fun and they would go into the hills west of Pintura and chop the tree and string popcorn on it. Tommy always got some candy for the children, but instead of putting it under the tree he would gather them all around him and then toss the candy out into the yard and let the boys scramble for it.
Levi had brought some wild horses in from the desert. It was a quiet day in Pintura so Will, Joe Sylvester and Levi decided they would run a race. They saddled them up and finally got them all lined up out in front of the corral. They were real broncos, so they got all ready to mount at the same time. Levi's took off like a bullet. Will's went about a quarter of a mile then stopped and sulked, refusing to move. When they got back to the corral, there was Joe still sitting on his (horse) right in front of the corral where they had started. The horse wouldn't move. Levi had taken a good long ride on his and had a devil of a time getting it back.
When only about sixteen, Levi worked with his dad hauling mail. His father sub-contracted the mail rout from Old Bill Lamb and they hauled it from Cedar City to Leeds. They would alternate the trips. They were plagued with many problems. Floods, storms - the snow would get so deep that the horses wallowed through it. It was not uncommon for it to get so deep that the snow pushed ahead of the wagon box stopping the horses. So they would have to get out and break the trail ahead of the horses. This made travel slow, and difficult to stay on the roads - travel was dangerous at night, and it was bitter cold. They would dress as warmly as they could but it was still cold. Usually wore red or blue flannel underwear - shirt and drawers - and wrapped quilts around them but it was still very, very cold sitting up on the wagon seat with very little protection from the wind, rain or whatever chose to fall that day.
Levi and Tommy also had the stage run from Silver Reef to Cedar City hauling mail and bullion. Levi took one trip and Thomas the next, passing each other on the road. It was a great responsibility and many attempts were made to rob the bullion. For just the passengers they would use a buckboard - a light four wheeled rig - which were much lighter, traveled faster, required less teams, and were more comfortable to ride in. But the big old freight wagon had narrow tired wheels and the wagon box was sprung high off the ground. They were drawn by from four to six horses weighing from 850 to 1000 lb. each. Whenever possible teamsters would travel in groups for protection from robbers and if you should get stuck they could double up the teams and help each other out and help each other over other bad places in the road. Most of the time Levi and Tommy had to travel alone so they would take the younger children with them for company. The scattered ranches along the way was a welcome sight and at night many people who were considerate of others would keep a lantern hanging on the porch to guide those traveling at night. Sometimes they would get so cold that they would stop at these places long enough to warm up, or if the weather was very bad, until daylight so they could see where they were going. It was a lonely, cold, dangerous way to make a living and a very good days travel was only about thirty-five miles.
Levi loved to read, and one of his most prized possessions was a set of 5 or 6 of James Fenimore Cooper's novels. (Cooper is referred to as one of the greatest story-writers America has ever seen. He was very famous for his adventure stories of the forest, frontier and sea as it was in the early 1800. He is quite famous for some of his works, The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Prairie, The Deerslayer, etc.) Levi read these books over and over. One time for a present he bought his mother a religious book. (Unable to find out name) Books were really considered an expensive luxury for poor people, so he had to save for sometime to buy these books. Throughout his life, Levi continued to read anything he could get his hands on. In later years the newspaper was read from one end to the other.
In 1906 Levi left the shepherd and went to work for Ike Nelson on his farm for little over a year, then he received a better offer to work for Hi Ford on his farm in Kanarraville and another one up on Kanarra Mountain. Ford was known for his outstanding Hereford cattle, and Levi (I have been told by several people) in spite of his young years was considered an expert cattle man.
Levi was about 20 years old when working for Hyrum Ford and he arranged for Will to come up and help him. There were quite a few fellows who slept in the upstairs of this big house. George Wood was courting Larua Parker and the other fellows felt he was staying out much too late, so they decided they would try to find out what time he came in. He always took off his shoes and would sneak up the stairs barefooted. Levi and Andy Wood and another fellow decided to find out the hard way. They took a cord string and tied it to a little express wagon tongue. They fixed the wagon right at the top of the stairs with a tiny stick holding it in place. The wagon was filled with tubs, buckets, and all kinds of noisemakers. The string was tied to the door handle and the door opened out, and when the door opened it would let the wagon loose on the stairs. George come home and the noisemakers worked - in fact the fellows were sleeping so soundly that they were just as startled as George was, and they discovered that he was staying out until the terrible hour of 2:30. The landlord and his wife who were sleeping just under the stairs were not aware of this trap that had been set, and thought surely the bloomin' house was falling in. He jumped up and came running out in his underwear very upset and excited. So it took some time for Levi and the others to calm them all down. Then George promised to come in earlier and climbed into bed still as white as a sheet.
Levi was a very handsome young man. Tall (6 foot), well-built with dark curly hair. He was very attracted to lovely young women. He always had a beautiful riding horse and in those days the girls went just as crazy over a beautiful horse as they do now days over a beautiful car. One of these young ladies was Esther Parker who Levi went with for some time. One time on the 4th of July 1907, Levi and Esther were chosen to lead the annual parade in Kanarra, riding on their very fine steeds that had been decorated with appropriate finery for the occasion.
In 1908, I find Levi working for a Mr. Ashdown in Cedar City. He worked for him for quite a number of years taking care of cattle, sheep, farm work and on his sawmill.
It was about this time that Levi and George decided they would go in the cattle business and become millionaires very fast. They would make their plans while at home and talk it over with their mother. The plans were to buy good cattle as fast as they could afford them, until they had enough to make a good start. Some time passed and they had not purchased any cattle, but one time Jane heard of a very good buy on a real fine bull. For several months this big cattle herd consisted of one bull, and Jane was teased unmercifully by her family and neighbors. People coming to the house would inquire almost immediately, "Jane, how is the cattle business?" Levi and George never became millionaires, so perhaps they didn't have the faith that their mother did.
Levi made frequent visits home and on one of these visits he attended a big dance being held in the Toquerville Ward. During the evening his attention was drawn to a lovely and provocative young lady who was dividing her time and attention between two young men. It was not long until he managed to be her partner for one of the dances, and when he asked if she was a visitor in town, she began to tease him. In reality they had been neighbors about 10 years before, but Levi had been away so much that he had not noticed her until this evening. She was Kate Dodge, and while dancing later in the evening Levi informed her that he was going to marry her. Katie laughed and said, "Not if my dad has anything to say about it." Katie had several young men who were trying to court her and Sam Dodge was doing all he could to be sure that his oldest daughter would get the very finest and most prosperous young man for a husband. Levi asked permission to take her home after the dance and she consented so the four of them went home together after the dance, Levi, Katie, and Katie's two brothers.
Katie was working for her Uncle Wilford in LaVerkin and so when Levi was in town he would ride from Pintura to LaVerkin on horseback to see her. Katie always loved to ride horses so they did most of their courting riding horse back.
Katie admired Levi a great deal, but she also liked the attention she was receiving from the other young men, and she kept putting Levi off when he asked her to marry him. She took a trip to Silver City and Eureka to visit several of her cousins lining there and in hopes that she could sincerely make up her mind without the three young men all hanging around. She stayed there for about a month, then wrote her father that she would be returning home on a certain day. The train only came to Milford, so it was necessary for Sam to meet her there. When she got off the train she was rather surprised to see Levi standing there instead of her father. Katie had made up her mind and she was truly happy to see him and she gave him her answer then.
About two days before the wedding all the young in town threw a stag party in honor of Levi and the freedom he was losing. They were riding around town on a wagon, with just enough Dixie wine to stimulate their vocal cords; thus they were singing to their hearts content and being otherwise noisy. Several of the much younger boys, Katie's brother Willie with them, were trying to be included in the celebration but being ignored as younger brothers so often are. The boys would try to lasso the fellows or chase them with their horses and so forth. Levi's conscience began to bother him so he took Willie aside and bribed him not to tell his sister what they were up to. Willie accepted the bribe, then being a normal little brother he broke all speed records getting home to tell Katie. Later in the evening Levi came down to see Katie and he kinda beat around the bush trying to sound her out to see if Willie had told, but Katie pretended complete innocence, so Levi confessed. After he had gone through the difficult period of confessing, Katie admitted that she had known all the time, but it made her very happy that he was honest with her.
On 9 January, 1911, Levi, Katie, Katie's father, and her younger sister Lottie, climbed into the little buggy to go to St. George and get married. The rain was pouring down in torrents, and the roads were muddy and it took them nearly all day to make the trip. The wet and tired travelers stopped at Katie's grandmothers, Dr. Agnes Thompson. The next day Katie and Levi were married in Grandma Thompson's lovely living room by Edward H. Snow. Immediately after the ceremony Grandma Thompson hustled Lottie down to the St. George Temple to be baptized. The wedding party stayed at the Thompson home another night, and the next day drove back to Toquerville - taking all day for the return trip. A wedding reception was held at the Dodge home on Friday evening January 13, 1911 at 7:30 and everyone in town was invited. They did not cut the cake at the wedding reception, so early the next morning Katie cut the cake in tiny pieces and had Willie deliver them to every house in town being very careful that not one person was missed.
Katie and Levi lived with her parents for about three months, then they spent the summer up on the mountain herding sheep. When they came down in the fall they stayed with Levi's parents in Pintura, having one room by themselves.
Early in February, Katie's mother was confined with a new baby so Katie went over to Toquerville to help out, and 13 days later her own baby, Lewis Samuel, arrived early, so Sam Dodge had two beds in the living room with a mother and new baby in each corner. Lewis was born 17 February 1912, and he was too tiny that they had to take a box and line it with cotton and flannel to put him in. (There will be details of this in Katie's story)
Levi was still working for Ashdowns, and after he come home to visit his little son he returned to work on an unbroken horse. It was one continual struggle all the way, but he rode the horse out and had a fine horse from it.
In May 1913 preparations were made to go up on Cedar Mountain where they would work in the sawmill for the summer. Levi's parents and some of his younger brothers were going, and Kate took her younger sister, Marion, along. It was a very difficult trip going up the mountain with only trails to drive the wagons on. At some points Marion and Dewey would walk along the side of the wagon putting rocks under the wheels to keep it from rolling back. One of the horses was very frisky and he became nervous at all the excitement and began to behave very badly. Levi had everyone get out of the wagon and walk for some distance over the most dangerous places until he was able to bring the horse under control.
Living up on the mountain was a pleasant relief from the heat of Toquerville. They lived in tents and everything was going very well until one day Katie followed Levi into the barn and promptly fainted. She was expecting another baby, but it was not due for a couple more months, so they had not been concerned. Levi picked her up and carried her to their tent calling for his mother all the way. Jane surveyed the situation then told him to go get a doctor as quickly as possible. Levi jumped on the wildest horse he had and rode like the wind to Cedar City for the doctor, but by the time they arrived back, the little baby daughter had been delivered by her grandmother, and though tiny and premature, was doing nicely. She was born 27 July 1913. Levi always claimed that he found her laying on a log in the sawmill and felt sorry for her so he took her home. Everyone began to pick out names for this new baby and finally Katie's brother, George, came up with the idea that she was born in a mill then her name should be Mildred. Everyone agreed, so Mildred Agnes Olds began her mission here on this earth.
The sawmill residents had scarcely returned to their normal routine when the rains came, and shortly after a flood came down right in the direction of the tent where Katie was confined to bed with her four day old baby. Quickly several of the men ran in and picked up bed, mother, and baby and carried them to higher ground, then the tent was put up over the top of them.
When the sawmill season ended the wagon was loaded and the return trip down the mountain was begun. The trails were so steep and rocky and the continual struggle of trying to keep the horses from being bumped by the wagon caused the horses to be very nervous. Suddenly they bolted and began to run. Tommy was riding horseback and he tried to catch up with them and calm them down, but they were newly broke horses and that was one of the wildest and most frantic rides on record. Jane and Katie were clinging to the two babies and the smaller children and Marion was crying and all the older ones were shouting at the horses, but they did not stop until they had run their fear out, leaving a trail of furnishings, wagon parts, and other debris for several miles. And inside were some very hysterical people. When the horse were stopped Levi worked to get them quieted while Tommy took inventory of the people inside, then they began to gather up their belongings that had been strung down the trail.
Back in Pintura, Levi and Katie lived in one room of the Olds home and Levi purchased a seven acre field down on the east side of the creek where he raised hay and corn. He also purchased a piece of property on the west side of the old highway. He bought a big load of lumber from Ashdowns to build a house. He had the lumber piled under some trees until he had need of it. I have been told that at almost any time of day you could look out on that pile of lumber and see one or more of Levi's younger brothers and other young men in the town sitting on this big pile of lumber whittling and spitting.
Not long after moving into heir own little home Katie gave birth to another son, Marvin Leon, who chose to arrive on his older brother's birthday, 17 February 1915. And because they were so well pleased with the three little ones they had, another one was ordered and he was delivered 24 October 1916, and was given the name of Sheldon Levi.
Levi's mother was very ill at this time and they tried to help out in any way they could. On 21 May, 1917, Levi was out in the fields irrigating when he heard a very frantic call from his father. Realizing what it must be, he called Katie and they rushed to their house and it was a short time later that his beloved mother passed away. This was a great loss to Levi. He and his mother had been very close - a closeness that exists between a mother and her firstborn son. He took Carl and Melvin to their home to stay for awhile and took charge of laying his mother away. Tommy was very grieved and he leaned heavily on Levi during this period.
Pintura was a fertile little valley and Levi and Katie were happy there but there were no school facilities closer than Toquerville and Lewis was old enough to start school, so Levi sold out his property in Pintura and bought a small house in Toquerville and moved his family there.
Shortly after this Levi got a contract to haul wool to Modena and bring a load of freight back. This was when they were opening up the New Castle area during first World War trying to raise more wheat. Levi hauled freight out to the workers periodically and would have to stay overnight. On these overnight stays he had to sleep with a guy who always sleep without any clothes on. Levi didn't like this, and decided to break the man of this habit. He got a blow snake and put it in the bed, and when this fellow went to bed and came into contact with the snake, he took out through the sage brush, which was waist high, stark naked. It was a cold night and the poor man was blue with cold when he got nerve enough to return, and from then on when he had to sleep with Levi he wore his underwear.
Levi had other problems. He lived across the street from Miss Burk and she would neglect to keep her chickens locked up. They would come over regularly and scratch up Levi's garden and eat the seeds or destroy the plants. Levi suggested from time to time that she lock the chickens up, but it didn't work. One day he very carefully wrote on numerous little slips of paper, "Please keep me home." Then he tied some thread around kernels of corn and attach to the slips of paper. Later that day Miss Burk's chickens came home with slips of paper hanging out of their mouths. She read the notes and kept them locked up for a few days, but they were soon out again.
On the 30 May 1919, another son was born and he was named Dilworth Clark Olds. Levi took his family to Kanarraville with him that summer while he ran Rile William's farm.
In 1920 Riley Savage hired Levi to run his ranch, which was located west of Silver Reef, toward the Oak Grove area. In order to make the trip, he would stop over at Leeds and spend the night at the Savage home, then travel on the next day. He would usually take either Marvin or Lewis with him and sometimes both. There were so many rattlesnakes up there - in fact, Levi said there were as many rattlesnakes in the corn patch as there were ears of corn. Lewis came home one time after spending a week up there with 24 rattles from snakes they had killed. When he showed them to his mother she almost had a stroke. Mildred was jealous because Lewis and Marvin got to go with their dad and she had to stay home, so one trip Levi took her along, but no sooner had they arrived then she started crying for her mother. She cried so long and so hard that Levi turned right around and took he back home again. She was about seven years old at the time.
Son number five, named OrDell Dodge Olds, arrived at the Olds home 24 June, 1921, and Levi is working at the Swallow Ranch at Shoshone, Nevada. After being there about six months they offered to move them out in his Olds truck, so they closed up their home. Levi had just purchased a beautiful new wagon, which he was very proud of, but he did not intend taking it with him, so in order not to invite vandalism, he took a log chain and chained it to the big fig trees that grew by the house.
The first day they drove as far as Frisco, west of Milford, and spend the night, then drove on to Shoshone the next day. Shoshone was a very different experience for the family. There was so much very cold wind, lots of ice and snow in winter and the eternal mud in the spring. It was a great new experience for the Olds family. Snow was something almost unknown to the children, but they certainly got their fill of it that winter, which happened to be a very severe one. Many times the snow would be so deep and would drift right up over the top of the house. Levi would have to dig a tunnel for them to get out and the children could walk right over the top of the houses. In fact, they often used it as a sleigh run. With the house full of active boys the one winter and two summers spent at the Swallow Ranch was anything but boring. Sheldon helped some of the other children set fire to a haystack, but fortunately there was not much damage. Marvin never walked home from school, he rolled all the way in the snow. Katie had a little clothesline strung in the kitchen and it was filled continually with boys clothes getting dry as she tried to keep them dry and warm so wouldn't catch pneumonia. The houses were made of logs with dirt roofs, but they were usually covered with snow and quite warm. But when the snow left and the winds came it was a different story. Apparently they couldn't stand the prospects of another winter there so that fall the returned to Toquerville.
Lyle Bringhurst drove Katie and the children back to Toquer and Levi went to Castle Gate (near Huntington) where he was offered a good job with big pay in the coal mines. He lasted a week then his claustrophobia ruled out, so he gave his notice and left. One week later the same mine that he had been working in blew up and killed a large number of men. I can recall a song that my mother used to sing to us that was written as a result of this mine explosion. I can't recall the words, but it was about a little child begging her daddy not to go in the mines. After leaving the mine, Levi went to work for Ed Higbee on the construction of the road from Duck Creek to the Long Valley Junction where he worked until winter weather caused them to close down and he returned home.
That new wagon was still waiting and Levi needed a team to pull it with so he went to Bert Anderson and bought a pair of fine but very frisky horses. When he was using the wagon for the first time the horses became frightened and ran away, and before they could be controlled they had pulled the double trees off leaving the wagon loaded with wool in the middle of the street, and the horses running as fast as they could, with Levi running behind holding the reins refusing to let them go (He probable never would have caught up with them if he had) and they ran from the Church house clear to the South entrance of town before he got them stopped.
Just a few days after this incident and before Levi could make the necessary repairs to his wagon he became very ill with gatherings in his ears, which was spreading deadly infections throughout his body. Dr. Wilkinson from Hurricane was summoned and he said he would surely die as there wasn't anything they could do for him. But once again the power of the Priesthood prevailed and he recovered from this infection. He suffered from rheumatism for a long time. He spent over nine months in bed during this illness.
Worrying that he had not paid Bert Anderson for the team, Levi sent one of the youngsters to tell him that he would pay him just as soon as he was able. Bert called to see Levi and realizing the plight of the family, he went right up to the store and got 100 lb of flour and a couple of boxes of groceries and brought them down. One of the first things Levi did after he got well was to go to work for Bert long enough to pay for the horses and groceries.
Levi didn't have very many daughters and perhaps it's a good thing because every time a daughter arrived it meant trouble. Once again in the midst of his severe illness and the worries that accompany such illnesses, a baby daughter was born. She was given the name of Elaine (Levi had been reading the stories of King Arthur with Sir Lancelot and Land Elaine) and she arrived 13 June 1923, early and tiny, but at least Mildred was happy to have a baby sister at last.
It was a difficult struggle while Levi was laid up, but without the help of parents and family and the many wonderful people in Toquerville they would never have managed. Lewis recalls that it was not unusual to go outside in the morning and find groceries and flour on the door step, never knowing who left them, or to go feed the cows and horses and see a new pile of hay left overnight. Arthur, Dewey, and Carl made sure the family had firewood. Levi never ceased being grateful for the help he received.
It was suggested that Levi be taken to a blind chiropractor in St. George - a Dr. Nelson. Katie finally took him over and it was not long before he was able to be about once again.
Levi was not able to do any heavy work and still had to take it easy so he took a job herding sheep for Spilsbury up on Kanarra Mountain. He took Marvin with him to help out, and they had only been there a short time when he receive word that his father was dead. Marvin still talks about the wild ride they took down the mountain. They happened to be over on Kolob when they received word so they took the shortest route home. Levi was riding a mule and Marvin a horse and they rode down through the canyon and in many places you could touch both sides of the canyon at the same time and you could see stars in the middle of he day. Several places they practically had to push their horse and mule over the rocks to get by. When they arrived they were ready to start the funeral so they didn't even have time to change clothes. Levi had a long beard and he didn't even have time to change clothes. Levi grieved deeply from the loss of his father. They had always been very close and worked together most of their lives.
Levi continued working for Spilsbury - with his sheep and at the ranch in Quitchapaw - 12 miles southwest of Cedar City, coming home to visit when he could get away. Two more sons really filled the house to the brim, now the arrival of Carroll D on 23 Sept., 1925 and Kay Collins on 9 July, 1928. This makes nine children.
In spite of the fact that Levi worked away from home so much of the time he was a family man and wanted his family near him as much as possible. He moved the entire family to Quitchapaw and for several years they lived of the farm in the summer months and rented a house in Kanarra during the school year. While he was moving his family up in a big-boxed wagon all the kids were sitting around the sides eating watermelon. They had not gone very far when a car came along and passed then going in the same direction. Just as it got along by the side of the wagon it had a blow-out, and the poor horses thinking they were being shot took off at a deadly pace, and they ran for over two miles before Levi could bring them under control. All the kids were yelling and having a lot of fun thinking Levi was racing with the car. The man in the car finally stopped and when Levi got the horses calmed down he got out of the wagon and went back and really laced into that guy for shooting a gun at his horses.
Levi enjoyed having frisky horses, but they did create problems for him. On another occasion he brought a load of hay from Quitchapaw to Toquerville. He unloaded the hay and stopped the horses momentarily on the sidewalk. Suddenly a strange noise caused the horses to bolt, and they decided to return to the peace and quiet of Quitchapaw. By the time they reached the North end of town they were traveling at great speed and they came face to face with a Model T. Ford. Neither one would concede so after the noise and debris had settled - the wagon tongue had run over a foot into the radiator of the Model T. Ford. Levi came running up the street after his rig and arrived just in time to pay the considerable damages. Fortunately no one was hurt.
Ranch life was a great experience for the children in spite of the hard work. Everyone enjoyed horseback riding and swimming. Delbert Woolsey, an old friend of Levi's, lived near and the young people from both families had many wonderful parties and associations together. On occasion they would drive to New Harmony to a dance or to Kanarra to activities. The 4th and 24th of July were great events for the Olds family. The stock was cared for extra early in the morning and everyone dressed in their Sunday best with 25 cents in their pockets. They piled into the wagon and later the Model T, and drove to Kanarra to the celebration. The morning consisted of a parade and all manner of races, then a big picnic table was set and everyone enjoyed plenty of food. The afternoons were usually spent with horse racing with all the young men in town displaying their steeds. Those horse races were very personal thing, as everyone knew both the riders and horses so well, and there was much excitement from the sidelines. They were usually run down a country lane. The grand climax of the day was a dance in the open-air dance hall in Kanarraville. Baby tending was unheard of in those days so if the parents desired to attend they took their children along - the benches were lined with sleeping children, and the music from the orchestra sometimes dimmed by the cries of those who were too tired to sleep. Usually Levi and Katie would take the younger children and go back home to care for the stock, leaving those of courting age to come home by horseback at the close of the events.
Trips to town were uncommon as 12 miles was a long trip by wagon, so the family would supply their own entertainment in many different ways. In the summertime most of the family would sleep outside under the big row of trees. In the evening after the chores were done and the meal completed everyone would go out and lay on the beds and visit or tell stories, etc. As we lay there we could see the care lights on the highway between Kanarraville and Cedar City and we would count the number of cars that traveled the road. Some evening there would be as many as 12 or 14 cars traveling that road. When the big P.I.E. trucks began traveling the highways, Levi told me that the stovepipe back of the cab was for the stove and they baked the pies while they were traveling so they were ready to sell when they reached the towns. (Levi was the world's biggest tease.) It wasn't until after I was married that I learned different.
Picnics up in Quitchapaw Canyon were great fun. We would all pile into the wagon - always a couple of the boys riding their horses alone the side - and we would lumber along over a road that was always washed out by floods requiring minor repairs before crossing, and eventually the springs were reached. It was very cool and most pleasant there and the day was spent in different forms of entertainment. There were many deer and one time Lewis and Marvin caught a baby fawn and brought it back to camp so the younger children could play with it. It was so gentle and beautiful and we all hated to let it go when we got ready to go home. Occasionally friends from Kanarraville would come out to visit and when they did the picnic in the canyon was a must. One thing about those outings, we had so many children in the family that we could have a softball game anytime the mood hit us.
Levi was a strong man and as he grew older he was hesitant to admit otherwise. Arlington Spilsbury and his brother LeGrande spent a good deal of time at Quitchapaw. They were both boxers and would get the older boys and Levi to spar with them. In about 1926 Levi was sparing with Are and they turned to wrestling and Levi received a broken rib. He didn't have it taken care of by a doctor for at least six weeks, and from this time on he was trouble with discomfort in the area around his heart. Supposedly caused by the pressure from this displaced rib.
The summer of 1929 ended up being one of tragedy. While hauling hay ten year old Dilworth was down adjusting the double trees on the wagon. Something startled the horses causing them to jump forward and in doing so pulled the wagon fully loaded with hay over Dilworth's thigh. Levi rushed him into Cedar City to the hospital as rapidly as possible, and it was found that the bone in his thigh was broken. Traction was used for long periods in an effort to knit the bone, but when the traction was released they found that it had not knit. Dr. MacFarlane, an elderly but very fine physician, finally asked permission to operate and put a silver plate along the side of the bone, holding it with four silver screws to reinforce the break. He admitted that he had never performed such an operation before, but had heard of it being done. He left the decision to Levi and Katie. They gave their permission and the plate was installed, proving successful and Dilworth was soon permitted to come home in a cast from his waist to his toe. The family had moved to Kanarraville for school by this time. As soon as he was permitted to get around on crutches he could climb fences and up on barns as fast as the other boys in spite of the cast and crutches. Years later when Dilworth was in the Army the severe marching caused some of the screws to come loose. When he was x-rayed for overseas duty this was detected, and he was placed in the hospital. The doctors called Levi to find out as much information as possible about the operation and for permission to operate again, which they did and the plate and screws were removed. The Army doctors were amazed at such a beautiful job of bone knitting and Dilworth was soon sent overseas. Levi always said he wished that Dr. MacFarlane had been still alive to hear this, because he was always so concerned about it.
Levi remained at Quitchapaw during the winter months feeding stock or he would take a herd of sheep down on the Arizona Strip. After he bought a Model A car everyone would remain at the ranch until after harvest time. Lewis would drive all the school kids to Kanarra then he would drive the school bus to Cedar City and attend school all day then return everyone home at night. After the harvest was completed the family loaded their needs into the wagon, tied the best Jersey milk cow on the back. Fastened a pen of chickens and a pig on the back, and move to Kanarraville for the winter.
29 December, 1930, R. Thomas was born. It was a bitter cold winter and the houses were drafty and ours was heated by just the cookstove in the kitchen. When the baby was about two weeks old he got pneumonia and was taken to the hospital in Cedar City. He was in the hospital for about a week when we were told that he could soon come home. The next day a phone call was received (The only phone in town was at the store and they brought the message.) to come and get the baby as he had died. Katie was not feeling very well and then she had a house full of small children to watch over, so Levi went. He stopped at the high school in Cedar City and got Mildred and the two of them went to the hospital and claimed the tiny body and brought it back to Kanarraville to be buried in a homemade casket. He died 21 January 1931, at the age of three weeks.
It was in about 1927 that Levi bought his first car. He didn't know how to drive, but he learned on the way home. Driving was not so hard but the stopping part was and he ran into the corner of the log house we lived in at Quitchapaw. Not much damage, but whenever he drove a car he would always yell "Whoa" whenever he wanted to stop.
One time Levi was gathering eggs up in the loft of the barn at Quitchapaw. He lifted a hen to get the eggs under her and saw a skunk. He hurried back to the house and got a double-barreled shotgun. In the excitement of beating the skunk to the draw he pulled both barrels and you couldn't find a sign of skunk, smell on anything anywhere.
Dogs can be a very valuable asset in herding sheep and cattle, and Levi always had one or more dogs. They were very well-trained and he could work them with just the wave of his hand. Fanny was one that he had the longest. A small black mongrel that was so well-trained the instead of running out around the sheep to turn them back she would jump up on the back of the rear sheep and hop from the back of one after another until she was in front, then nip their heels until they went where she wanted them too.
Another daughter was preparing to join the Olds family and with her came trouble. Mildred had married in the fall and was staying at home while her hubby, Louis Maxwell, was trying to get housing facilities at Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) where he had just gone to work. There was a great deal of sickness in town and nearly everyone in the family was very ill with yellow jaundice and flu and whatever else there was going around. Katie was expecting a child and naturally it would choose to arrive in the midst of all this sickness. Mildred was ill but she had to drag herself around and take care of all of us. Word was sent to Levi who was working for Platt Watson in Nevada. Platt let him take his car so he could get home in time. It was so bitter cold that he couldn't see through the ice on the windshield (defrosting was unheard of then) so he stuck his head out to see where to drive, and arrived about 9:30 at night nearly frozen to death. There was over a foot of snow and very, very cold. Lewis and Marvin worked with him half the night, rubbing him with snow in an effort to get the circulation going again. By morning he was out of danger, but we all promptly shared our yellow jaundice with him, so he was laid up the rest of the winter. In the midst of all these problem here come Jayne LaVee Olds on 7 December 1932. It's strange but our parents loved we three girls in spite of how we upset the household.
About March, five of the children came down with the real old red measles and whooping cough at the same time. Their efforts to keep LaVee from getting it failed and she was very, very ill. I can recall my folks working over her and she would just be black when she couldn't get her breath. One of them stayed with her all the time to watch here carefully. It was useless for any of us to plan on going back to school that spring so we moved back to the ranch where we could run wild and not be quarantined. Being out in the warm fresh air helped us all and were all soon feeling better, but our problems were only just beginning.
Levi and the older boys were away from home with the sheep. Sheldon, who was about 16, was the oldest one at home to run things. The Spilsbury's had a Silver Fox farm about a mile from the house and if they were unable to get out to feed and care for them, they would hire our boys to do it. On 19 June 1933 Dilworth put a bridle on Red Wing and hopped up on without a saddle to run up to feed the foxes. Kay stopped him before he got out of the corral and wanted to go, so he pulled him up on back of him and away they went. On the return trip they rode down into a large wash to pick some wild roses to bring home and in going down the embankment the horse lost his footing and reared over backward, falling on top of its two riders. Sometime later when Dilworth regained consciousness he picked up Kay with the intentions of walking home, but his injuries prevented his walking. Somehow he managed to get upon the saddleless horse with Kay in his arms and giving Red Wing the reins she brought them slowly home. Kay laying across Dilworth's lap and Dilworth slumped over his lifeless body. Katie saw them coming and realizing something was wrong went running out to meet them. She carried Kay into the house and the rest of us got Dilworth in on the bed, then Sheldon jumped on Red Wing to go get help. The Turnbaugh family were spending the summer about a mile from us, and they came at once. Sheldon rode on into Cedar City to get the doctor and report the accident to the Sheriff. When the doctor arrived he was able to make Dilworth more comfortable but he pronounced Kay dead from a broken neck and other injuries. Levi and the boys were notified and preparations quickly made and he was buried the next day in Kanarraville. Kay was an exceptional child, perhaps because he knew his life of this earth would be so short. He endeared himself to everyone he came in contact with. He had such a sweet disposition and such an eagerness to learn that he attended school right along with Carroll all the time. He had the most beautiful and expressive big black eyes and the most gentile disposition. His loss was almost unbearable to the entire family. Dilworth had a broken hip and was laid up for sometime then spent a very long time on crutches again.
By 1934 Levi decided to move his family into Cedar City so that the older ones could attend college. They sold the home in Toquerville and bought a small one on 6th West in Cedar City. This was quite a change in the lives of this family to now live in a big city. Levi continued to work for Arch Spilsbury, but running the ranch was more than he could handle without the help of the boys who were seeking occupations of their own. Lewis was going into the auto mechanics business, Marvin felt shortly after moving to Cedar City to follow the photography business, and Sheldon was working as a salesman for electrical appliances. Each of them worked to earn their own way and still managed to attend college. I think it could be said that the Olds boys set some type of record on the number of cows they milked at college. They milked the dairy here for the BAC.
LaVee was a delicate child. Possible the results of the measles and whooping cough she had had when only a few months old, but she had kidney trouble and was ill a good deal of the time. She was terribly spoiled and I think to solve this problem another little girl was ordered. Something happened because this one arrived very quietly without any fuss and assisted by a doctor just two days before Easter. LaVee was very blond with big brown eyes, and so we could tell them apart the new one had black hair and big blue eyes and she arrived 19 April 1935 in Cedar City. This made an even dozen and the last two were so spoiled that my parents refused to have anymore. We named the new one Margaret Yvonne.
Levi went to work for John Woodbury doing the same type of work only nearer to home and on a smaller scale. He worked here until he went to work on the State Road Construction crew about 1940.
In the summer of 1942, Levi was working night shift to keep the furnaces burning under the crude oil which was to be laid on the roads the next day, when it exploded. Levi was burned severely from the waist up but his first thought was of stopping the fire. He started the hopeless job by himself, but a young couple happened to be parked nearby and the drove to town and sounded the alarm. The fire department arrived and took over the task of putting out the fire, but Levi, in a shocked condition, tried to help them. Finally, the city night watchmen noticing his burns put him in his car and drove him to his home and let him out in front and drove away. I happened to be up with LaVee and Yvonne when they drove up or he could have collapsed in the driveway and no one would have known. I called Dr. Prestwich, who came out and picked him up. I woke Carroll up and threatened his very life if he told Katie who was very ill at the time, before one of the older boys could get there to be with her, then I rode to he hospital with him. This was Levi's first visit to the hospital and he was anything but a model patient. Being in severe shock he refused any antiseptic, it was necessary to practically peel his body of the burnt skin and tissues before they could anoint and bandage him up. He was completely bandaged excepting one finger to scratch with and his eyes and mouth. He refused to let the nurses bathe him, but one red-headed nurse who had had experience with such patients took him in hand and he had his bath whether he liked it or not. Levi suffered terrible pain but the morning after the accident he talked his old friend Mr. Higbee, the custodian, into giving him his pants. He got down the hall on his way home when this red-headed nurse practically picked him up and put him back in bed. He threw the bedpan at the nurses and was horrible to take care of.
By the time we had arrived at the hospital the night of the accident he had a blister about the size of a basketball from his chin down on to his chest. The family has always felt that he could have been saved over an hour of severe suffering had the night watchman taken him directly to the hospital instead of bringing him home. It took several days for the 30,000 gallons of crude oil to burn itself out.
Levi didn't stay in the hospital very long until he convinced his buddy to give him his pants again and this time he walked out of the hospital and the seven blocks home. The doctor had not released him, decided he was rather hopeless so let him stay home. Katie nearly fainted when he came walking in the house. The rest of his life he suffered as a result of this burn. He had only scar tissue on those parts of his body that had been burned and from then on the cold weather or the extremely hot weather would irritate and hurt causing a great deal of discomfort.
World War II was now in effect and four of Levi's sons had answered the call to serve their country. Marvin was in the Signal (Army) Corp and spent most of his time in the Aleutian Islands. Sheldon was a Navy Pharmacist Mate, the majority of his time in San Diego and Guam. Dilworth was in the Army Artillery and served in the Pacific Islands. He was the only one injured; having his legs badly burned in a powder explosion. Carrol served in the Marines and also served most of his time in the Pacific Islands. Responsibilities kept Lewis at home so he helped greatly in keeping the farm running etc. OrDell went to work at Hill Air Force Base.
Lewis and his friend Owen Matheson loved to argue. If they didn't have any particular reason to argue they would create one. One time they were up on Main Street and they began to argue over who was the ugliest. Several of their buddies came along and were drug into the discussion. Finally the Sheriff came down the street so they called him into the circle. He was asked if he was an honest upstanding citizen. He said that he tried to be. He was asked if he was completely honest in all his dealings and did not show partiality. He replied that he tried to be completely fair. So then they asked him to decide which of them was the ugliest. Several years later at a family party at Mildred's the two of them got into another argument who was the "prettiest". It was decided that a secret vote would be taken and the one that lost would have to sing a song. Lewis was selected to collect the votes and count them. Fortunately, he was inclined to being a diplomat and the votes happened to come out even, so everyone was spared the song.
After recovering sufficiently from the burns, Levi went to work at the Bowles Drilling Company out at Desert Mound where he worked off and on for about ten years as an assistant on the diamond drills. They would do exploratory drilling. Sometimes going down as far as 1000 feet bringing up a core to locate where the ore was.
Katie had become a victim of arthritis and she become quite hopelessly crippled with it. Levi spent a small fortune trying to find a cure or get relief for her. He took her to doctors in Salt Lake and Las Vegas as well as the doctors in Cedar City, but there seemed to be nothing that could be done except relieve the pain a little. The winters were so severe in Cedar City and so hard on her, so Levi bought a small trailer house and when the weather got cold he took her and the two little girls (the rest were on their own) and they would spend the winters in Las Vegas. They parked the trailer at the home of George Dodge and used the trailer for a bedroom and spent the days in the house with Minnie. Levi worked at the magnesium plant while he was in Vegas and when he came back to Cedar City he went back for Bowles Drilling. The fact that it was wartime made it possible for him to move and still find good employment.
Katie got so bad that she was unable to walk or care for herself, so Levi would carry her around and take care of her with all the patience and love in the world, but it was not the will of the Lord for her to continue to suffer, so on 15 July 1947, he took her out of her misery. She had been in and out of he hospital and this time she had been there for three days. She was buried 18 July 1947 in the Cedar City Cemetery.
In spite of all the help that people gave, Levi just would not accept the loss and he would set for hours and look at Katie's picture. He became so wrapped up in his grief that he did not want to go on living. Family and friends did everything they could to help him find new interests, but he just was not interested.
He worked for about a year herding and caring for turkeys down at Pintura and being back among the people he had known when a young man seemed to help some. There was a young boy down there who was considered a juvenile delinquent and no one had been able to handle him. He started coming over to visit with Levi and would often spend the entire day with him and each one helped the other a great deal. Levi helped the boy to get straightened out and in turn the boy filled a need within Levi.
In January 1950, Levi became very ill with pneumonia and after his release from the hospital the doctors suggested that a lower and warmer climate might be beneficial. Arlton and Elaine drove him down to Marvins in Los Banos, California. The change in climate and new interest did help for awhile, but about six weeks later Mildred became very ill with Bright's Disease after the birth of Karlene. She was not expected to live and knowing that Levi would want it that way he was notified and Carroll brought him home. Fortunately, Mildred recovered, but Levi preferred to remain at home.
While in California, Marvin took Levi to a specialist in San Francisco to be checked to see why he had not been well, and during the examination it was found that his lungs were filled with oil as a result of the explosion when he had been burned. While fighting the fire he had inhaled the fumes and they had taken the form of oil in his lungs. They pumped his lungs and removed five quarts. Naturally, this made him feel much better and for awhile he continued to do so, even in the higher elevation. It was necessary to have his lungs pumped again three times.
In May 1950, Levi became quite ill again and was taken to the hospital with pneumonia caused from his lungs filling with water. It was necessary to have someone with him continually and a great deal of the time he was delirious. He would talk to Katie as though she was by the side of his bed. He had an enlarged heart, but this was not causing him any trouble. In the evening of May 20, 1950 he passed away from his unhappiness to be again with his beloved Katie. Dr. Prestwich made the statement that he honestly felt that the major factor contributing to his death was a broken heart. After 36 years of marriage he was just not content to live without her. Levi died just two month short of his 65th Birthday, and was buried 23 May 1950 in the Cedar City Cemetery.
In doing research to compile this record, I interviewed dozens of people thoughtout a 20 year period. I was very interested in the reaction of the majority of the people I talked with. Without exception, when asked what they could recall about Levi E. Olds, they would say, "His honesty and compassion for others." Many would hurry to add that a lengthily sermon could be written about each of these points as he lived them in his lifetime. As his children we had always known this to be true, but to have others with whom he had worked and lived during periods of his life stress this fact, naturally makes us very proud.
Levi was a hard worker. He loved children and would spend hours whittling out a toy or telling them stories. He was quite good at drawing and used to draw humorous pictures for the children. Whenever he was away from home he always brought back a gift, if it was only a pretty rock that he found and carried for weeks.
Levi was very proud of his children. If anyone would permit he would gladly boast of the accomplishments they had achieved.
Whenever any babies were taken to the hospital he would become quite upset, perhaps remembering his own tiny infant that had died. I know of several times when upon learning that no one was sitting with the baby, he would put on his hat (He always wore a cowboy style hat and leather gloves.) and go stay at the hospital until someone would relieve him.
Elaine Olds Hagelberg 1968
This history is
copyrighted and is offered for personal use and
It is not to be reprinted or used for commercial purposes without written permission.
Copyright ©2000 by Elaine Olds Hagelberg
Return toWashington County Biographies Index
Return toWashington County Utah Genealogy and History Page
There have been visits to this page.
Copyright ©2000, 2009 by Cynthia B. Alldredge (Page design and coding)