DAVID LEVI STEWART
(1887- 1951) Grandson of Levi Stewart and Margery Wilkerson
Son of William Thomas Stewart and Mary Ann Udall
William Thomas Stewart and Mary Ann Udall Stewart were residing in Kanab, Utah when their third son, David Levi, was born. William Thomas, "Tommy," had within the year returned from serving as Mission President of the New Zealand Mission.
David Levi was born on 25 March 1887 and spent his boyhood in Kanab. His was a typical boy brought up in a typical Mormon community. When he was a small boy his father returned to New Zealand to serve another mission. The family lived very frugally during his absence.
When Dave, as he was called, was about fourteen years of age his father bought a large ranch in Nevada. Tommy felt there were no opportunities in Kanab for a large family. They were a large family by this time, for other sons and a daughter had been added to the family since Dave was born. The children were, in order of their birth, William Thomas, Jr., Sumner Udall, David Levi, Raymond, Carlos, Margery, Paul Edward and Marion King.
Dave, with the assistance of some cousins, drove the family's horses, cattle and dairy herd from Kanab to Pahranagat Valley where the ranch was located.
Other settlers came to colonize the valley. They hired surveyors to survey the land so they could establish a small town site. Tommy gave each of his sons and daughter a building lot of one and a quarter acres and, out from town, a farm of ten acres.
After they settled in the valley another daughter, Mary, was born, making their family complete.
They established a country school with all eight grades in a small frame building. Dave continued in school until he graduated from the eighth grade.
The mining town of Delamar was situated about thirty miles to the east of Alamo (the name given to the town they had established). Most of the farms in the valley were planted to alfalfa. This was cut and baled into hay, which Dave freighted to Delamar along with butter and eggs.
In about 1905 Dave met his future wife, Jessie Lamb. She had moved with her family to Alamo from Fay, Nevada. She had been in the valley about a month before she met Dave at a dance. He asked her to go to the 4th of July dance with him and she consented, for she was attracted to this handsome, dark, curly haired young man of eighteen. Dave called to take Jessie to the dance in a black surrey with a span of black horses. Their romance got off to a good start. Dave continued to court Jessie for two years and then they were married 30 June 1907. The temple in St. George was closed for remodeling, so they were married by Dave's father. They had ridden horseback to Hiko, which was the capital of Lincoln County, to obtain their license.
When the temple reopened in October of that year they drove by team and wagon to receive their endowments. It took them three long, hard days of driving to reach St. George. Afterwards, they returned to Alamo where they established their first home. Dave built a room 21 feet square. It had a wooden floor with walls of lumber about four feet high with a big tent to complete the walls and to make the roof. There was a window in each side and a front entrance door. Jessie and her mother made rag carpets to cover the floor and obtained a number of pieces of furniture to furnish it.
Their first child, a son, Gerald Lamb, was born here 5 May 1908. When he was about six months old they moved to the mining town of Tonopah, Nevada, which was a booming gold mine town at that time. They shared a home with another couple, both cousins, Omer and Ethel Stewart. Omer and Dave hauled water and sold to the residents of the town. The two couples had a great time attending the theatre and prize fights which were brought to the town. They lived there about a year and then returned to Alamo. Their second child, a daughter, Irene, was born on 21 October 1909.
The mining town of Delamar closed down and all the houses were for sale. Almost everyone in Alamo bought one of these houses and moved it to Alamo. Dave bought a house for $75.00 and moved it to their lot in town. The home had a living room, kitchen and a large bedroom and porch. All of their remaining children were born in this house.
Dave was always working on the home to make it larger and more comfortable for his increasing family. He added two more bedrooms and built a large sleeping porch for the boys.
Dave loved cattle and horses and made them his life's work. He ran cattle on the range for cattle owners. The range was dry and springs of water were far between. He would drive the cattle from one spring to another, as they required water. During all his working years he strove to build a herd of cattle of his own so his family would be Independent. He succeeded in doing this, for at his death he left enough cattle to take care of the needs of his wife.
Once a year there would be a roundup of all the cattle he was caring for. This was generally held in the fall after the new crop of calves was old enough to be weaned from their mothers. Dave would drive the cattle into Alamo where the calves were separated from their mothers and held in the large corral on his lot. The mothers were put in an adjoining pasture. The calves and their mothers would bawl all night for each other, making sleep impossible for the family. Dave hired other cow hands to help him and they would brand each calf with the owner's registered brand. After a few days the calves would be weaned and so reunited with their mothers and taken to the ranges. At this time the older steers were separated from the herd and cattle buyers would come and bid on them. They would go to the highest bidder. The steers would then be driven to Caliente, which was the nearest railroad town, and shipped to market. Dave was never happier than when he was working with cattle.
It was necessary to have good riding horses trained to cut cattle, and Dave was a master at breaking wild horses and training them to be good cow ponies. He was very much in demand by the other ranchers to break horses for them.
During these years the family continued to grow, as five fine sons were born in succession. They were named Cyril David, Gilbert Sheldon, Alden Levi, Alma Neil, and Harold Press. Dave took great pride in his sons and daughter. He was a wonderful father, always very kind and understanding. He was truly a man's man, but very gentle by nature. He taught his sons to work on the farm (hauling hay, planting and caring for the crops) and at home (milking and doing many chores around the home).
The boys inherited their father's love for cattle and horses and after they were grown and successful businessmen they owned several hundred head of cattle and a racing stable stocked with fine racing horses. These were excellent hobbies for the Stewart men and it gave them much pleasure.
Dave was a religious man even though his natural shyness kept him from holding positions in the Church. He believed deeply in living the Golden Rule and in all the old-fashioned virtues. He constantly stressed honesty to his sons. One day he left his boys at a cattle camp and rode all day to reach home. On his way he passed five long-eared, unbranded steers. By the time he reached home he had become very uneasy lest his sons see these steers and be tempted to put their brand on them. He saddled a fresh horse and rode all night back to camp to warn his boys not to brand the steers that did not belong to them.
Dave chose well when he married Jessie for they complemented each other and she proved to be a very great help meet to him. Dave had a natural reserve and dignity. Jessie, on the other hand, was very outgoing and fun-loving. She had a keen sense of humor and a quick, sharp wit. She made friends easily and was deeply compassionate to everyone she knew. Together they created a celestial home where love and loyalty abounded. Dave left most of the children's disciplining up to his wife, but when he interceded he got immediate obedience. In addition to being an excellent homemaker and wife, Jessie was a beautiful woman. Her large, blue eyes were her best feature and this feature was passed to many future generations. Dave was called a man of many trades. He built several homes in Alamo in his later life, doing all the work himself including the plumbing and electrical work. He learned these trades by working on his own home.
Many years before a central water system was established and power brought into the community, Dave ingeniously devised ways of bringing water and electricity into his own home. He had a diesel plant which generated electricity and operated a pump which pumped water into the kitchen and the new bathroom he had built onto the home. One of the most joyous occasions for the family was the birth of a second daughter, Caryl Lucinda, born 23 May 1927. This brought the number of children to eight, six boys and two daughters, and completed the family unit. Shortly after the birth of the baby, misfortune struck the family. Dave was thrown from a horse and sustained internal injuries. For several years he was a semi-invalid, in and out of hospitals. He never fully recovered from his injuries and then he developed angina which made it impossible for him to ever again work as he had when he was a younger man. Misfortune struck a second time when the family’s home burned down. The men in the neighborhood came and helped save all of the furniture and clothing.
The ashes were hardly cold when they began cleaning up and preparing to rebuild their home. Under the supervision of their father, the boys built the new home. It was well planned with many bedrooms for the large family. It was well-built and finished in stucco and painted white. It was easily the finest home in Alamo. They planted lawns and flower beds around the home, making a lovely setting.
About this time the wife of Dave's younger brother Paul died, leaving a family of young children. Jessie and Dave opened their home to four of the daughters. Maxine, the eldest of the girls, went to live with Irene, who had married and was living in Seattle. The other three girls, Pauline, Ethel and Lila, continued to live with Dave and Jessie until they graduated from high school.
Dave was appointed deputy sheriff, a job that he could handle health-wise. He held this position keeping law and order in Alamo for many years. Dave enjoyed this position very much and had a close association with the sheriff of Lincoln County.
He served for a number of years on the school board of Alamo and did a great deal to help improve the educational facilities in the community.
The Great Depression years were extremely hard on the large family. There were no jobs and no income, but somehow the family survived. To supplement their meager income they began taking in boarders. They boarded school teachers and government men for many years. Their home became known as the Stewart Hotel and for twenty years Jessie operated the business.
During this time they sent Gerald, Cyril and Gilbert on missions for the Church. It was their desire to have all of their sons serve missions, but this was not to be. The Second World War was declared and their remaining sons, Alden, Neil and Harold, were called into the service. They served overseas for about four years each and even though they saw active duty they all three returned home safely.
These years were difficult and trying years for Dave and Jessie. They were filled with worry and anxiety. During this time Irene returned home with her four children, for her husband Ross Woodward, was building the Alcan Highway. Having the little grandchildren in the home for about a year helped to pass this period of waiting.
After the war the three boys returned home and were reunited with their family. The three oldest boys were married and had children. Neil had married in 1944 before going overseas. Alden and Harold married soon after returning home. The four younger sons settled in the town of Alamo and began to rear families. The boys soon developed the custom of congregating at their parent's home every evening after dinner. They developed a close relationship with their father as they discussed cattle, horses, land and partook of his wisdom and experience. He continued to enjoy his family and increasing number of grandchildren until he passed away quietly at his home in the early morning hours of 24 August 1951.