Our Family Legacy
Lucinda was three years of age when her parents were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. This occurred in Pennsylvania 17 Jun. 1840. The Benjamin Gardner family had already made several moves from New York State to Pennsylvania.
In 1843 the Gardner family moved from Pennsylvania to Illinois, settling on Bear Creek (on Green Plains) about 25 miles from Nauvoo. The family purchased a 160 acre farm and lived there until 10 Sep. 1845 when a mob burned their home and destroyed their crops. Lucinda was eight years old when this happened and clearly remembered the incident. The mob which arrived just before sunrise ordered them out of the house. Benjamin told them his family was all sick and he had no place to take them for care, but it made no difference and they were ordered to leave. While Benjamin was talking with the mob, 15 year old Nathaniel crawled out of the back window and hid the gun and ammunition in the corn which had just been cut and shocked. The family put the bedding outside on the dewy grass and carried the sick children out. After the mob set fire to their house, they left to serve other families the same way. While her sick children lay shivering in the cold, damp air, Electa cooked breakfast over the coals of her burning house. They had 75 cents in cash but the mob relieved them of that.
When the news of the burning spread, Jonathan S. Wells took them to his home in Nauvoo, where they stayed for some time.
In the spring of 1846, Benjamin and others went with Brigham Young to Garden Grove, Kansas. Benjamin had taken his team to help the westward travelers over the bad roads. During the three months he was gone, Electa and the children remained in Nauvoo. On 9 Sep. 1846 the family left Nauvoo and crossed the Mississippi River in a boat called the "Broadhorn." They settled in Bentonsport on the Des Moines River in Iowa, where Benjamin worked in a grist mill owned by the Allender Brothers.
It was the spring of 1852 that the family started for Utah. They traveled by ox team for approximately six months and arrived in Salt Lake City 28 Sep. 1852. (Benjamin Gardner was captain of one company.)
The family settled in South Ogden and Benjamin worked as a miller in Daniel Burch's grist mill for three years. (In James Leithead's diary we find that shortly after 1851 James Leithead and David Lamoreaux built a grist mill for Daniel Burch on the Weber River about two and one-half miles south of Ogden.)
It was through the operation of the grist mills that the families of Gardners and Leitheads became acquainted. Lucinda, at 17, was a pretty, vivacious girl who attracted the attention of James Leithead, and on 7 May 1856, she became his second wife. They were married at the Endowment House in Salt Lake City by President Brigham Young, and lived in Farmington, Utah, until 1866.
Five of their nine children were born in Farmington: James Gardner, who died at 3 years of age from nose bleed; Ben Lomand; William; Hellen Lucinda L. Brinkerhoff; and Effie Sevella L. Jolley.
James Leithead was a prosperous and civic minded man. He acquired 30 acres of land, built a nice home, a barn and had a large apple orchard and garden. Lucinda was truly a pioneer girl and learned, through the school of experience, many wonderful lessons in life. With a young family and a busy, ambitious husband, she devoted her time and talents to homemaking and created a comfortable and loving atmosphere for all who lived in or visited her home. A Spanish proverb says, "An ounce of mother love is worth a ton of school." This family was blessed with lots of mother love.
About 1867 James was called to help settle the Muddy Valley in northwestern Arizona. When he returned for his family, Lucinda was reluctant to leave her comfortable home in Farmington. James said to her, "Lucinda, there are lots of pretty girls there. If you don't come I'll find another one." So as a dutiful wife, she picked up her household goods and moved.
Life in Muddy Valley was difficult; there were no conveniences; the family was plagued by insects and pests; temperatures were hot and humid making the nights unpleasant. To protect themselves from bugs, they built a scaffold as high as their materials would permit. Effie Jolley recalls that the ground was so hot, she would put her bonnet on the ground and step on it to keep from burning her little feet. The children poured water along the paths around the house to cool and harden them. There were no shade trees. Because of the heat, small fruits and vegetables grew to perfection. Cotton, grain, and lucerne or alfalfa also thrived. Lucinda often told the story of putting an egg in the cupboard and forgetting it. In about three weeks, she heard the cheep, cheep of a chicken trying to break out of its shell and discovered that the heat had hatched the egg.
While living in Arizona, Lucinda welcomed into their home the many visiting Apostles and church authorities that came there. Also many of the old frontiersmen just stopped off and she fed and cared for them, sometimes for a meal or so and sometimes they stayed much longer.
One child, Electa Belinda, was born 21 March, 1869, at St. Thomas, one of the four settlements along the Muddy.
This was their life for four years. In 1871 the states of Nevada and Arizona re-surveyed the territory and it was discovered that the Mormon colony was in Nevada instead of Arizona. In James Leithead's diary we read. "Nevada officials became so urgent and clamorous for back taxes, it was decided to abandon the settlement." James Leithead remained bishop and moved his entire ward to Berryville, Long Valley, Utah, in the spring of 1871. Berryville had been abandoned for some years, but the few remaining mud huts provided shelter for their meager belongings. James moved the grist mill from the Muddy and immediately started getting it set up for business. He built a home nearby. It was at this time that he changed the name of the town to Glendale.
Three children were born in Glendale: Edith Mahala Averett; Alva Milo; and John Owen.
They made a move to Kanab and built a grist mill, but because of high water conditions they could not control Kanab Creek and moved back to Glendale.
In Glendale the grist mill burned down, but Lucinda took this misfortune in her stride and said, "Them that have, have to lose, and them that don't have, don't have anything to lose."
Glendale was to be their home for the next 30 years. Their children grew up and married there. Lucinda always saw that the family attended to their church duties and she supported her husband in his callings. She was Relief Society President for several years when James was Bishop of the Glendale Ward.
One of the most important rooms of her home was the cellar with its dirt floor. The floor was sprinkled often to make it hard and easy to clean. In this cool cellar hung home-cured hams, bacon, and jerked beef. Dried fruit (apples, peaches, pears, apricots) and corn were also stored there. Squash was cut in rings or strips and suspended on strings from the ceiling. There were shelves of home-canned fruit, jams and preserves, bins of apples, potatoes, onions, and other vegetables. Lucinda always had her cellar full of food for the many unexpected guests that James brought home. Huge pans of milk were kept there, with sheets spread over them to keep out dust and insects. The extra milk was used for cheese and the cream for butter wouldn't be to soft. Lucinda walked about a mile to sell any extra butter she might have.
Pioneers softened their wash water with wood ashes, so with her water barrel by the ditch (sprinkled generously with ashes) and her home-made soap, Lucinda always had a nice white wash.
Lucinda was a good seamstress, sewing and remodeling clothes. When her daughter, Effie Jolley, got a new sewing machine, Lucinda and the other married daughters enjoyed sewing bees. When they had enough material saved, up, they would gather at Effie's house, pitch in and do the housework, and get the meals prepared. They would cut out the material and Effie would sew and sew for them. One time when they were working in the lean-to a heavy rain storm came up and the roof leaked on the sewing machine. The ladies had to stop and repair the roof before finishing their sewing.
Lucinda and her married daughters, Hellen Brinkerhoff, Effie Jolley, Electa Harris, and Edith Averett served many dinners at their church affairs. They enjoyed each other and had such fun sewing, cooking, dancing, singing and laughing together.
Lucinda was always ready to help in time of need. The Harris family remembers especially one time when Grandmother Leithead came from Glendale to Abraham to stay with them when their mother, Electa, was very ill. She stayed with them about ten days and they recall how patient and kind she was and how good it was to have her. At any time of need she hurried to her children's homes and seemed to be just the strength they needed. When Leland Harris was five years old he went to Grandmother and Grandfather Leithead's to recuperate from an illness. He recalls how soothing her hands were to his little aching body, and how she constantly watched over him to make sure he was doing well. He says that no one ever grew or prepared string beans better than Grandmother Leithead and he often ate a tureen full of her tasty beans.
When living in Glendale there were always many friendly, curious Indians nearby. One summer when a church authority was visiting their home he was washing up at the outside wash bowl when he dashed water on his toupee and it fell off. This frightened the watching Indians who scurried off saying that "something had scalped him."
In Glendale, James' first wife, Deborah, spent much of her time with her married daughter, Ann Cross. When Aunt Debbie, as she was called, got sick and moved into her own home, Lucinda was careful to see that she had plenty to eat, and she sent her daughters, Effie and Edith, to keep the house scrubbed and clean. During her last years, Aunt Debbie preferred to live in her own home and declined Lucinda's invitations to come live with her and her family.
Her daughters-in-law said that Mother Lucinda was easy to get along with. She was a pleasure to live with and made James the "Kingpin" of the family. She enjoyed hearing James' tales of the sea and how he left Scotland to find his brother Robert. His interesting stories kept groups enthralled and entertained for hours.
Lucinda was always clean and well groomed, and when John O. was the only child left at home, she said he had to have so many white shirts to go out in, and these she kept washed and ironed to perfection. She said, "I do love to see him look so nice." She spent many hours ironing with the old sad irons heated on a wood stove.
Lucinda had a lively sense of humor and when her grandson, Golden Leithead, broke many of her fruit jars with his new flipper, her only chastisement was "carn sarn it."
In 1903 they moved to Lovell, Wyoming, to be close to their married children who had come to the Big Horn Basin to colonize. Their Lovell home was on the corner of Montana Avenue and Fourth Street, where the Beverly Motel now stands. Their son, John O. Leithead, lived on the corner of Shoshone Avenue and Forth Street, where the Rose Bowl now stands. During one of her daily visits to John, Lucinda commented that this would probably be her last visit there. On that very day she took sick and never returned to her own home. She was cared for in his home until her death 16 Apr. 1917.
Lucinda Gardner Leithead was rich in faith, love, humility, kindness, frugality, honesty, and industry. Because of her Christian virtues, we are rich in the heritage she left us.
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