Friday, October 23, 2015

Oscar Emanuel Bluth - Tio Oscar

Yvonne, Uncle Oscar and Jacque (Vicki taking picture) 10-2015
Uncle Oscar (7th son of Oscar and Lucy Bluth) is 93 years old and still going strong in 2015!  He visits Aunt Marie in a care center (which is near his home) two times each day to feed her.  She prefers his cooking to the food at the care center, and when we visited them she refused to eat until he came in the afternoon with pork chops. 

Oscar is a true patriarch to his family, setting an example of goodness, love, obedience to gospel principles, and more than just enduring to the end - he is still serving strong in the Church! He teaches Spanish to couples who are called as Mission Presidents to Spanish-speaking missions (and taught Lothaire and Connie when they were called to serve in Chile).  He had taught 17 lessons on the week that we (Jacque, Yvonne and Vicki) had visited him and had already scheduled 7 for the following week. 

This past year (2015) Oscar's 4 sons took him home to Mexico to see all of the changes.  It was a beautiful, rainy and green year, so everything was perfect to enjoy.  In this picture they are standing with the "Pajarito" mountain in the background.
Uncle Oscar and Dennis in front.  Left to right are:
Oscar Allen, Gary and Brent

Oscar and Marie met while serving missions in Mexico City.  Oscar helped to take the first group of Hispanic/Mexican saints to the Mesa Temple.  When Oscar and Marie married they lived with Grandpa and Grandma in the big Bluth home, and later purchased their own home on the same block (through the fence).  He and Marie served couples missions in Spain, Guatemala and Mexico City after their children were raised.  They have 8 children, with 2 daughters (Sheri and Cindy) preceding them in death. 

I will post more of Uncle Oscar's story as soon as I receive it - but did not want to wait even one more day to HONOR this great man!  Thank you for your example of goodness!  We love you!

Oscar and Marie with Cindy in center front.  Back row from left to right are:
Gena, Vicki, Gary, Dennis, Oscar Allen, Brent and Sheri

Sunday, October 4, 2015

DON BLUTH - A Life in Animation - COUSIN

Don Bluth, animator, was born on September 13, 1937, the second oldest of seven children born to Virgil Bluth and Emaline Pratt.  (His grandfather was Carl Emil Bluth, a brother to our grandpa Oscar Emmanuel Bluth)  Don spent his earliest years in El Paso Texas. His father was a policeman and later a private investigator. Don is a direct descendant of Pocahontas, the Indian princess who saved Pilgrim John Smith.

When he was six, the family moved to Payson, Utah where he lived on the family farm. Bluth remembered that time as, "milking 24 cows morning and night and singing Disney songs." Even then he was "honestly dreaming of working" at the Disney studio.

Bluth's initial experience with Disney was as a member of the audience at age seven. Don remembered the effect it had on him. "The first one was SNOW WHITE. I was extremely impressed with it and when I got home I tried to draw Snow White, the dwarfs, all of them."

"I'd ride my horse to the movie house in town and tie him to a tree while I went in and watched the latest Disney film. Then I'd go home and copy every Disney comic book I could find."

In 1954, the family moved to Santa Monica California. He was a senior at high school. After a year at Brigham Young University, in Utah, he brought a portfolio to the Disney studio in Burbank. He was immediately hired in 1955 as an assistant animator and put to work on SLEEPING BEAUTY. He worked as an assistant to John Lounsberry. Oddly after finally realizing his dream he left in 1957, after only two years.
Don then embarked on a mission for the Mormon Church to Argentina. After two-and-a-half years, he returned to Los Angeles...

From Arizona's East Valley Tribune - Sept 24, 2015

In a small nondescript theater in a quiet strip mall in central Scottsdale sits a giant. The walls adorned with drawings that would elicit familiarity and nostalgia from any kid that grew up in the last few decades — Littlefoot from The Land Before Time, Fievel from An American Tale, Mrs. Brisby from The Secret of NIMH. All of these drawings come from one director and animator, and his name is Don Bluth.
For over a decade, beginning in the early 1980s, Bluth was not just a mainstay in the field of animation, he was the primary if only real competition against Disney. His films went against the grain of the time that were pushing for a heavier reliance on a younger demographic and opted instead to paint worlds that — though thick with imagination and wonder — still reminded the audience of real world struggles like loss, loneliness and leaving home. As an animator who had learned from the best at Disney, Bluth knew the importance of making his films reflect the world around him.
“I think it is better for kids to experience reality for the first time in the arms of a parent,” Bluth said. “If you take somebody and put them in a plastic bubble and you protect them from anything that is sinister or dark in life, when it does hit them it is a harder hit.”  And with the potential rebirth of his career more of a possibility than ever, his influence on animation becomes all the more relvenent.

The Disney era
Bluth will forever be linked in one way or another to his time at Disney, an experience that brought him into his own as an animator. Growing up in Utah, Bluth was a fan of Disney comics from a young age and he used them early on to learn how to draw. What he didn’t learn as a kid he learned quickly at 18 when he went to work for Disney as an animator straight out of high school. It was 1956 and the first film he was an animator for was Sleeping Beauty. During that time he had the chance to work under the legendary Walt Disney, who Bluth described as “a looming figure” who would go on to influence not only the way he drew, but why he drew.

“He was very family oriented and very much trying to do something that today is so foreign to many studios,” Bluth said. “He was very much interested in making a good picture, and when people like the marketing people got in the way of it he always said ‘I will make the picture and then you can market it.’"

He left Disney after more than a decade when he completed a mission for the Mormon Church and attained a formal education at Brigham Young University. However, after a failed attempt to run a theater with his brother in California, Bluth returned to Disney in 1971.

Yet not long after returning he began to notice changes that he attributed to the absence of Walt, who had passed away only a few years prior.

“When the old leaders were gone in came the Hollywood crowd, and then it was a different way of presenting, it was a ‘process,’ that was the word they used, ‘animation is a process,’ and it is not, it is an art,” Bluth said, “and the more you process it the more you turn it into an industry — that is not what it should be.”

Blazing his own trail
With the understanding that Disney could no longer offer the outlet for the sort of honest animation Bluth sought to direct, he along with partner Gary Goldman and 10 fellow animators committed to the great Disney exodus. Together they started Don Bluth Productions. There he would have the chance to direct his first full-length film, The Secret of NIMH.
“We poured a lot of our souls into that first movie and were honest and talked about some serious issues,” Bluth said. “It didn’t do well at the box office; we got pushed into a production company that didn’t care for animation, where they basically said they were not going to spend any money on distributing our movie, so we just fell into a black hole.”
Through the early 1980s Bluth struggled to keep his studio afloat with side projects, that was until Steven Spielberg ran across his first film and decided he wanted to collaborate with the studio. That collaboration would become An American Tail, a film that would prove a commercial success and would begin the studio’s trend of besting Disney both at the box office and among critics. 
Over the next few years the studio would put out several more immensely successful films including The Land Before Time and All Dogs Go to Heaven. Some individuals in the animation field have claimed that this streak of success forced Disney to compete, leading to the Disney Renaissance beginning in 1989 with The Little Mermaid.

A change in direction
The 1990s saw the decline of Don Bluth Productions with decreasingly marketable films and a growing reliance on computer animation, which Bluth describes as “often closer to being a puppeteer than an animator.”
Going to work for Fox Animation Studios, the death knell of Bluth’s time as a director was sounded when the failing studio dumped a troubled project into Bluth’s lap. That film, 2000’s Titan A.E., was such a commercial failure that the studio closed and Bluth left the field.
Now, 15 years later, Bluth lives in Scottsdale and runs Don Bluth’s Front Row Theater, a quaint performance arts venue dedicated to his favorite productions in which, like his films, he enjoys putting children in leading roles. At the same time he does what he learned from the legends at Disney and passes on his gift through his teaching studio, Don Bluth Animation.
“I really do enjoy teaching because it is good to pass on what you have learned over the years,” Bluth said. “I have learned a lot of things being around talented people.”

Still, something resides within Bluth that cannot be extinguished — the desire to direct.
Bluth has announced that he is currently in talks with an unnamed studio with plans to reenter the field that he helped transform so many years ago.
“What is happening with me is I have the possibility of going back into animation and doing traditional animation again, as a director, and that is looming on the horizon right now,” Bluth said. “If that happens I will pick up my pencil and go back in.”
Should Bluth have the chance to direct his 13th animated film, he will be reentering a field that has changed immensely since he left. With today’s increasing reliance on sequels and heavy-handed computer animation some might say Don Bluth has a lot left to teach us about what, to him, will forever be art and not industry.
• Contact writer: 480-898-6581 or

Monday, April 20, 2015

LUCY LAVINIA MACDONALD BLUTH - Grandmother Extraordinare!

Lucy was born 24 November 1884 in Mesa, Arizona to Alexander Findlay Macdonald and Fannie Van Cott, the 4th wife of his polygamous marriage.  She was their 4th child (2nd living) named after her maternal grandmother, Lucy Sackett Van Cott.  When she was an infant of 6 months she was taken with her living sibling, Byron, and her mother by train to join her father and move to a new land, Mexico.  Her father had been called by the LDS prophet, John Taylor, to help in the negotiation for land in northern Mexico where the Saints (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) could live in peace, free of persecution.

Just after Lucy’s birth (she was his 25th child) Alexander had left Fannie and family to try to find a place of refuge in Sonora, Mexico.  When he and the group of Brethren that were called by the Prophet failed to reach an agreement with the Tarahumara Indians in Sonora, they returned to the U.S. for further instructions from the First Presidency of the Church.  At Stake Conference in St. David, Arizona, Alexander was notified that he was to proceed immediately to the State of Chihuahua, Mexico to make arrangements for the purchase of land for colonization.
Alexander waited for Fannie, Byron and Lucy in El Paso, Texas (Spring 1885) where he had wagons with provisions for their trek to Mexico.  They would reach their destination for settlement by way of Casas Grandes and the Santo Domingo cattle ranch (years later Lucy’s husband, Oscar Bluth, would manage the cattle ranch).
The night that the pioneer band camped in the ranch her mother, Fannie, gathered a pan of Bermuda grass in order to beautify the area that she would be helping to colonize.  This trait of beautifying the land with grass, flowers and trees continued down to her daughter Lucy.
The colonists were delighted with the beautiful farming area that they found near Cuahtemoc, and they lived in tents, caves and huts during that first difficult winter.  They learned that the area where they had begun working the soil belonged to the wealthy Luis Terrazas and were forced to move to a less desirable place, two miles up the Piedras Verdes River.  It was a narrow, rocky valley where the river ran underground, and were distraught as it seemed a dismal prospect for farmers - - yet they prayerfully proceeded.
One day the tent that Fannie and Lucy were in shook so badly that all of the dishes rattled in the cupboard.  Fannie rushed outside to tell her son, Byron, to stop throwing his ball against the tent.  However, she learned that it was an earthquake that caused the upheaval!  A miracle occurred!  Springs of water opened from the ground which caused the Piedras Verdes River to flow freely through the valley.  The Saints knew that Heavenly Father had heard their prayers!
Fannie Van Cott Macdonald with children Lucy, Byron and Flora
Alexander went up the river to the canyon that would eventually be called Colonia Juarez and surveyed a town site.  He worked hard to eventually build a brick home for his wife and family and eventually the family was blessed with another baby girl, Flora Hermosa. 
Lucy had volumes of raven black, curly hair and she grew to be six feet tall!  Every day her mother combed out eleven long ringlets with several tied on top of her head with a ribbon.  She was full of vigor and enthusiasm for life, extremely bright, talented in music with a beautiful singing voice and was an accomplished pianist.  She was a “tom boy” and her father did not approve of her spunk, as he was Scottish with strong Victorian ideals, but Fannie delighted in Lucy’s spirit!
During much of Lucy’s childhood her father lived in Colonia Garcia with another of his wives, and Lucy helped her mother by sorting mail, as Fannie ran a post office from their home.  Lucy also ironed linen and baby clothes for Fannie Harper at the Harper Hotel down the street from their home to help earn money.
In her father’s last years he was serving as a Patriarch, and asked Fannie to take Lucy with him to serve as his scribe as he traveled from town to town.  Fannie wanted her daughter to have a good education – and she worked hard on the board of the Academia Juarez, to ensure that the quality of education available in town was of highest possible.  She put her foot down and would not allow Alexander to take Lucy away from her education opportunities at the Academy.  This became a source of contention between her parents, and when Alexander wanted to arrange a polygamous marriage for Lucy her mother said “absolutely not”!  As determined as Alexander was, Fannie was a match for him!  Lucy developed from both of her parents a strong personality of her own.  Like her mother, she was educated and bright, and like her father, she channeled his dynamic leadership in the community - - getting the best of each of them.
Lucy graduated from the Academy in 1906 where she played a piano solo “The Flower Song” at the graduation ceremony.  She wanted to further her education and attend college, but there was no money for her to do so and she continued helping her mother with the post office as well as working at the Harper Hotel. 
Shortly thereafter, 12 November 1909, she married Oscar Emmanuel Bluth from Colonia Dublan in the Salt Lake Temple.  Oscar was a hard-worker whose family had a difficult background, and he sacrificed and saved much to take Lucy to be married and eternally sealed in temple.  The trip was long and difficult, but they were both determined “to do it right”!  They made a handsome couple, both tall and very good looking!   

When they returned to Mexico they settled in Colonia Dublan at the “Old Place” (the original Bluth homestead) at the north end of town.   Later, as Oscar became more successful, they moved into the large brick 2-story Bluth home.  Lucy and Oscar had 9 children, and all were born at home with a midwife in attendance:  Lothaire, Fannie “V”, LaPrele, Flossie, Mac, Lucy, Oscar E, Gayle and Lynden.
Lucy was a pillar of strength in both her home and in the community.  Everything that she did seemed to be on a grand scale!  When she baked bread she made 18 loaves at a time and her home had a continuous flow of out-of-town guests and people in need.  Her home was always opened to those who needed a meal and a bed.
She served on the school board, nursed the sick all over the 2 communities (often staying at their homes to tend them for several days).  She was Relief Society President for many years and she took care of those who died by preparing burial clothing, dressing the deceased person, lining the coffins with white cotton outing-flannel, cooking mountains of food for the bereaved family, packing the remains of the food in bottles of ice until distant family members could arrive, then she rushed to the church to play the piano for the funeral.  The Juarez Stake records show that she held many responsible callings in the LDS Church.
When the Mesa Temple was dedicated the Colonies organized the choir and Lucy directed the choir for the temple dedication. She played the piano for countless other church meetings, dances and parties.  She chaperoned the young people on the swims in the river and was the barber for her children and their friends.  She purchased fabric by the bolt and sewed dresses for her 4 daughters and 2 nieces.  Lucy drove a team and a wagon to take the children to gather black walnuts.
Lucy eventually planted black walnut trees around the sidewalks and hedges on the perimeters of their property.  She had a huge L-shaped rose garden and Bermuda lawns that were manicured and bordered with violets.  A triangle shaped area was filled with all sorts of flowers.  Lucy was famous for her flowers – especially her roses!
Lucy was progressive and known to be a woman ahead of the times.  She was the first woman to have her long black hair cut and bobbed (Manuelito, the barber, kept her hair trimmed), the first to shorten her dresses, and she pitched her long, heavy black stocking in exchange for nylons.  She was the first woman to have and to drive a car in the Colonies.  She subscribed to “The El Paso Times” newspaper (although it did not arrive daily) and she read every word, keeping up on the news in the United States and in the world.  She was hungry for knowledge and encouraged her children to seek for learning.
As a mother, she encouraged her children to work hard, to study hard and to learn all types of musical instruments, to sing, to be involved in plays and operas, and to be athletic.  Her children excelled in all areas, were very intelligent, and she encouraged them to serve missions.  Lothaire served a 3 year mission and Oscar served also.  Gayle was called to serve in the Navy for World War II.  Lucy was faithful in writing to her children and to family members, where letters that were saved give incredible history of the family and the area.
Ora Lunt Bluth tells of her mother-in-law:  “Oscar and Chato married Marie Tonks and Ora Lunt.  The boys took their wives to live with their parents in the big Bluth home.  Grandma Lucy had a maid named Reyes.  A piece of plaster had fallen off the wall upstairs where the couples’ rooms were.  Marie and Ora, being young, assumed that Reyes would pick up the plaster, so they passed it for 2 days as they went up and down the stairs.  Reyes told Grandma Lucy that plaster had fallen, and that her daughters-in-law kept walking past it.  Grandma Lucy chastised them – and Ora picked it up, making sure to never slack at household chores again.  Grandma Lucy taught Ora how to iron white shirts - -showing her that there is an order to it:  first the collar, sleeves, cuffs, the front sections and then back.” 
Her unselfish nature and her testimony of the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ enabled Lucy to live a life of service and leadership.  She nurtured her children as well as her sister’s family.  When Flora (married to Loren Taylor) died and left three small children, Lucy took them in and cared for them until Loren remarried.
As there were no hotels in town, Lucy’s home was where people from out of town came to stay.  One guest, Mr. Mead, brought her rose bushes and raisins from California.  George Houghton came to stay often, stating that he loved her homemade bread.
In 1949 Lucy was struggling with heart problems and went to stay with her married daughter, Flossie Bluth Robinson, to see a doctor in Phoenix, Arizona.  The doctor gave her stern instructions to live a quiet life and to avoid excitement as there was a blood clot near her heart.  However, Lucy went to see her grandson’s baseball game, as Jerry Van was an excellent baseball player.  When Jerry hit a home run she cheered with all of her usual gusto!  Shortly after the game she died of a massive heart hemorrhage.  Oscar came and drove her body back to Mexico.
Lucy was loved and admired by all who knew her.  She had lived an honest, forthright and energetic life.  Of all the Macdonald children, Lucy lived the longest in Mexico – although, ironically she was not born there and did not die there.  Lucy was buried in the Colonia Dublan cemetery.  Her old MAJESTIC wood-burning stove is still in Chato’s house.

26 July 1949 - By Grace Zenor Pratt

Grace Pratt was of an artistic temperament, and shut herself away from the world to some extent.  Lucy, realizing this, sought her out and they found many things to enjoy.  Although Grace at times seemed too aloof to reach, Lucy never gave up.  The day of Lucy’s burial, Grace bid her truest friend goodbye with this poem: 
                                   We passed her garden yesterday after the falling rain,
                                   Each weary rose had dropped its heavy head.
                                   Perhaps they missed her tender, loving touch
                                   And mourned with us, believing she is dead. 

                                   She is our friend, one who has shared our woes,
                                   aiding us in our tasks with kindly hands,
                                   strengthening our faith; her faith that never failed,
                                   and sealed our friendship with those shining bands. 

                                  This is our wife, our mother, loved and beloved.
                                  What nobler, fuller life could any woman crave
                                  than to be honored so, to be loved and kept
       in loving memory far beyond the grave. 

       Her roses are not dead; they bloom again
                                  in some sweet April-scented time of Spring.
                                  Her hands will find new tasks, her flowers will grow
                                  without much of toil or earthly sting.   

                                  She is not gone, each loving kindly thing
                                  she said or did, lives on in every heart.
                                  Nothing is lost or wasted, only the falling tears
                                  with which we say farewell when we must part … 

                                  but she who lives again in that fair wondrous land,
                                  radiant, immortal - - now will understand
                                  our fear, and wish that we might see,
                                  there is no need for tears in all eternity.


Monday, July 7, 2014


Mother of Lucy Macdonald Bluth  

Fannie Van Cott was born on April 18, 1850 in Salt Lake City, Utah the daughter of John Van Cot and Luc Lavinia Sackett – the sixth of seven children.  Her father was a prominent, well-to-do leader in the community and in the LDS Church.  He served as a General Authority on the First Council of Seventy.  He also held several important civic posts in Salt Lake City. 

The family had a home on West Temple and 100 South, an area called Farmer’s Ward.  Fannie’s older sister, Lucy, became Dean of Women on the University of Utah campus.  Her brother, John, was a prominent lawyer, and another sister, Mary, was married Brigham Young. 

Fannie worked as a telegraph operator.  Her family was disappointed when Fannie, at age 20, married Alexander Findlay Macdonald, a man 25 years older than her.  They were married on 1 August 1870 in the Endowment House on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.  Alexander was a great leader, a fine man from Scotland, and Fannie was his fifth wife.

A few weeks after their marriage, drunken soldiers raided their home in Provo, because Alexander would not sell liquor to them from his store.  The liquor was on the premises only for medicinal purposes and the men were angry at his strong stance on the issue.  The soldiers broke every door and window of the Macdonald home and threw dishes, bedding and household goods all over the yard.  The frightened women and children took refuge in the upper floor of the home. 

Fannie’s first child, John Van Cott Macdonald, was born in Provo.  At October Conference of that year Alexander was called to move to St. George, Utah to supervise the completion of the St. George Temple, which was at that time requiring a great amount of the funds of the Church. Alexander built his families a home in Middleton, which was two miles from St. George, and two weeks after moving in to their home, they were asked to move into Erastus Snow’s home large home, because the home had been donated to the church to serve as a boarding house for out-of-town temple builders.  Alexander and his wives were to manage that operation. 

Elizabeth and Fannie arose every morning at 3 a.m. to pack lunches for 70 men, and then they prepared breakfast for the men so that they could be at work by 7 o’clock.  They did this for three years. 

In 1875 Fannie had her second child, Scott Van Cott Macdonald, but he lived only 4 months.   

In April 1879 when the St. George Temple was finished and dedicated Brigham Young called Alexander and his two elder sons to serve a mission to Scotland, leaving the wives to support themselves.  Fannie was pregnant at the time of the mission call, and gave birth to their third child, Byron Van Cott Macdonald, while Alexander was in Scotland. 

They looked forward to move back to their Provo home upon Alexander’s return, however, Alexander was called to move his family to Mesa, Arizona, where he would become the first Stake President over the Maricopa Stake.  Fannie settled into a home in Mesa at the southeast corner of the intersection of Main and Macdonald Street, and she operated a store and post office from her home. 

Their oldest son, John, caught the small pox and died at age eleven.  Byron, almost six, also caught the small pox but recovered.   

On 24 November 1884 Fannie had her first daughter and named her Lucy Lavinia after her mother. 
Fannie and her 3 children:  Lucy (top), Flora and Byron
In the 1880’s the US government began serious efforts to stamp out polygamy, so Mormon men were being sent to jail / prison and creating much turmoil and stress in families.  John Taylor, the prophet, called Alexander to explore the northern part of Mexico and negotiate with the Mexican government for land that Mormon families could flee to.  When land was finally obtained for Colonies in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora (Colonia Juarez, Colonia Dublan, Colonia Pacheco, Colonia Garcia, Colonia Diaz and others) Alexander sent for his families.  If he went back into Arizona he could have been arrested.  In June 1885 Fannie and her two children, Byron and Lucy, went with Apostle Erastus Snow to El Paso.  There she crossed the border and met her husband. 

As they traveled across the Santo Domingo Ranch on their way to the colonies, Fannie gathered starts of Bermuda grass in cooking pans so that she could plant a lawn in their new home.  She shared grass starts with others as their homes were built. 

Fannie lived in a tent for quite some time after arriving in Colonia Juarez.  After beginning a township, building some cave homes and starting to settle in, they were forced to move by a powerful man, Terrazas, who claimed that they had settled on part of his land.  They moved to another spot that did not seem as nice, but on 26 August 1887 she was living in a tent with board sides when an earthquake struck that miraculously opened up a spring in the river that supplied sufficient water for the new settlers.  Heavenly Father blessed the faithful saints who sacrificed so much to be obedient to His call.
Alexander later built substantial concrete homes for his wives (Fannie and Agnes) on a Colonia Juarez main street, and on 22 April 1888 Fannie had her last child, Flora Hermosa. 

Fannie was a hard worker and was very frugal.  She struggled throughout her life to provide for a good education for her children and for the better things of life.  She planted a good vegetable garden, fruit trees, flowers, and harvested and preserved food for the winter.  She grew and harvested potatoes and made potato yeast, which the neighbors traded for, leaving a cup of sugar or flour for the yeast.  From the sugar that she received she made fondant and fudge candies and dipped chocolates, selling these treats from her home-store.  She once again ran a post office from her home.  These were her sources of cash. 

Fannie’s quest for knowledge and education were strong, and she inspired her children to get all the education that the possibly could.  Her brother, John, sent her good books through the years and she built a good library of books that she was willing to share with the young people in the town. 

Alexander was called to be Patriarch, and chose to move to Colonia Garcia, but Fannie would not go with him because the high school, Academia Juarez, was an opportunity for their children to be well educated.  Alexander wanted Lucy to travel with him as his scribe, but once again Fannie put her foot down and would not allow it.  She also did not allow Lucy to marry into polygamy, even though Alexander had arranged for this to happen.  After Alexander moved to Colonia Garcia he came occasionally to visit the family when he was making trips throughout the Stake to give Patriarchal Blessings.  His health was failing but he would never even consider leaving the assignment he had received to colonize.  He died 21 March 1904. 

Byron married Caroline Butler in 1904 and Lucy married Oscar E. Bluth in 1909 (they had 9 children).  Lucy and Oscar lived in Colonia Dublan, approximately 18 miles away.  For several years Byron lived next door to Fannie and his sons became very attached to their grandmother.   

Fannie maintained close relationships with her Van Cott family who were still in Salt Lake City, and in 1902 she was able to travel there and take Lucy to visit them.  In 1912 during the Mexican Revolution Fannie had to flee her home (the famous Mexico Exodus) to travel to El Paso, Texas by train and stay in a lumber yard for a season.  The people of El Paso reached out to help the struggling saints.  Manh of them did not return to Mexico, but Fannie did.  Byron had remained in the Colonies, but Fannie was with Lucy, Flora, Caroline and Caroline’s sister, Lizzie Wilson.  They were able to get a rented home for a while.  During this time Fannie traveled to Salt Lake to visit her family once again.
Fannie and Grandchildren
When it was safe once again the women and children returned to Mexico again. 
Flora married Loren Taylor in 1912 and they had four children.  Flora became ill at the age of 33 and died, so Fannie moved to Colonia Dublan with Loren to help care for the children.  Her grandchildren loved her dearly! 
Later, when Loren Taylor re-married (to LaVetta Cluff Lunt), Fannie moved into the large and comfortable home of her daughter, Lucy Bluth, in Colonia Dublan.  She was a peaceful addition to the Bluth home, and her busy daughter enjoyed her company and her help.
Fannie in front of Lucy Bluth's home
Fannie was always thinking of others’ needs, very unselfish and hard working.  She put dollar bills in letters to her grandchildren who were attending college, which was money that her brother John periodically sent to her.  She lived her last years in Colonia Dublan, dying on 21 December 1930.  She was buried in the Colonia Dublan cemetery, next to Alexander.  She had lived 50 years of her life in a foreign country, had overcome great obstacles, was true to her God, sought to beautify wherever she went, to cultivated a climate of knowledge and education, and sought for virtues that ennoble and uplift.


Sunday, June 15, 2014

July 24th 2014 - Pioneer Day in Mexico to Install Plaque on Temple Hill - Join us!

The week of July 24th (Pioneer Day) Dan Jarvis has organized a trip to the Mexican Colonies - with activities, tours, stories, and the highlight will be to install a plaque on Temple Hill in Pacheco to commemorate that site and the men who were there.  Our great grandfather, Alexander Findlay Macdonald was a key person in that experience - thus the Bluth Family interest is very high (see older posts on this blog for the story).  Here is part of the recent email from Dan Jarvis:

The trip will be from Saturday, July 19, to Saturday, July 26 (2014).  The first and last days are reserved for traveling to and from Mexico.  The more important events of the trip will occur from Sunday through Thursday.  Anyone is welcome to participate in all or any part of the trip.

We encourage those going to Mexico to travel in small groups of three or four vehicles.  For several reasons this has proved to be the best way to travel across the border.   You no longer need the complicated paperwork to pass the border to the Colonies - but do need identifying paperwork to re-enter the United States.  It is like going to Rocky Point.
There is a new road to Colonia Pacheco.  It is a very good paved road.  The old three hour (or longer) nightmare bumpy road is now a one hour pleasant adventure.  The road is paved all the way to the south-east corner of Colonia Pacheco, and this is about ¾ mile from Temple Hill.  The road construction crew is now focusing on a side road to Rancho Willy (the old Williams Ranch).  In about one year the road crew will continue building the new road right past Temple Hill, and then the new road will head to Colonia Garcia.  Future trips to almost all of the colonies will be great.  

There has been a lot of work done related to the new plaque for the Temple Hill Monument.  All who have been consulted agree that making a new plaque out of any kind of metal is not advisable due to continued issues with theft.   The last option we considered was a combination of two materials.  A ¼ inch piece of Acrylic was painted on one side, and then it was reverse engraved.  On top of the Acrylic we placed a ¼ inch piece of Polycarbonate which is the material used as bullet-proof glass.  So far this two layered approach has proven to be easy to work with, the least expensive of all the materials looked at, and it should handle rocks and bullets from small caliber guns.  We plan on making one plaque for the rock monument.  We also plan on mounting several more plaques on a “forest service type” sign next to the rock monument which will give more detailed historical information about Temple Hill and the Rock Monument.  We estimate the cost for all materials to be about $500.  Whether you go on the trip or not we invite you to help with the costs of the plaques to make a donation.  Please send donations to Dan Jarvis.
Dan Jarvis
1104 W. 9th Place
Mesa, AZ 85201
(480) 834-0813     Home
(480) 221-3642     Cell     Email

Thursday, May 29, 2014


Pioneer, Leader and Prominent man of Salt Lake City, Utah

Maternal Grandfather of Lucy Lavinia Macdonald Bluth
John Van Cott
John Van Cott’s life began September 7, 1814 in the tiny New York village of Canaan, Columbia County, New York.  John Van Cott descended from the first settlers of Long Island, New York, who came from Holland in 1640, and had (for ten generations previous) belonged to the nobility of Holland. His parents were Losee Van Cott and Lavina Pratt (uncle and aunt to Parley P. Pratt and Orson Pratt).   John was the only boy in the family, and when only ten years old his father died after an illness of seven years, leaving his widow and children surrounded with peace and plenty. This occurred on June 29th, 1824 and his father, Losee was buried in a small cemetery near the family farm in Canaan.

Parley Pratt at the age of sixteen came to board with his Aunt Lavina Van Cott, who was like a mother to him. A year or so after Parley was baptized, he returned to her home.  He wrote: “This residence of my Aunt Van Cott was the place where I had spent some of the happiest seasons of my youth.” He left a copy of the Book of Mormon with his aunt, which she and her son, John, read and believed; but he was not baptized until twelve years later.

On September 15th, 1835 he married Lucy Sackett, a young lady of a very fine family. Their first daughter, Martha, was born on February 28, 1838 in Canaan. Lucy would go on to bear 6 more children over the next 13 years.
Their second daughter, Lucy, was born December 16, 1839 and their first son, John Losee Van Cott Jr., was born January 16, 1842.  Lucy and John Jr. both died young; Lucy on September 9, 1843 and John Jr. on November 16, 1843. They were both buried in the cemetery next to their grandfather, Losee Van Cott. Their 4th child, Mary, was born in Canaan on February 2, 1844. The 5th, Losee, was born 23 August 1847 while the family was enroute to the Salt Lake Valley.  He died in Salt Lake City on March 18, 1851 at the tender age of 3.
The last 2 children, Fanny (Lucy Lavinia Macdonald's mother) and Byron, were born on April 18, 1850 and March 2, 1852 respectively.  Byron like many of his other siblings died young on November 19, 1853 in Salt Lake City.
John traveled to Nauvoo and was baptized in 1845, but his 2 sisters never joined the Church. Together with his wife and mother, he left New York on 3 February 1846, starting for Nauvoo, Illinois enroute to traveling with the Saints to Utah.  While residing temporarily at Nauvoo in the home of Parley P. Pratt, he contributed $400 in gold to building the Nauvoo temple and also donated to the Church a number of lots which he had purchased in Nauvoo.  He received his endowment and was eternally sealed to his wife and children in the Nauvoo Temple.
Nauvoo Temple
In the fall of 1846 he left Nauvoo for Winter Quarters, where he spent the winter of 1846-47, having built a one-room log house. Here he became acquainted with Brigham Young, to whom he became greatly attached, their friendship culminating in the marriage of his daughter (Mary) to the President in 1868.  He was ordained a Seventy in the Priesthood and a member of the 8th quorum of the Seventy. This ordination was done by Joseph Young on February 25, 1847.

In the summer of 1847 John, together with his mother, wife and two children (Mary and Martha) left Winter Quarters for the West in Captain Daniel Spencer’s company; he fitted up an extra team and wagon which was driven by a hired man.  In this wagon his daughter, Martha, then about nine years old, rode across the plains.   He served as a captain of ten within the company and the listing of individuals in his group shows 34 individuals including Parley P. Pratt and his family. That number became 35 when his son, Losee, was born near Independence Rock, Wyoming.

John and his family arrived in the Valley September 25, 1847.  President Brigham Young sent John back to help some of the saints, who were delayed on the journey to be able to make it into the Salt Lake Valley.   
Upon his arrival in Salt lake Valley he was given the southwest quarter of the city block that is bounded by Main Street, West Temple, South Temple and First South Street.  Upon this corner he built one of the substantial home in Salt Lake City at that time. Later he moved to the big field south of 13th South and west Temple, that area became Farmer’s Ward.  The house which he built there still stood in 1947 as a monument to his industry and taste. It was in this home that he died.
Mission to England and President of Scandinavian Mission

In 1852 he was called on a mission to England, but in 1853 he was transferred to Denmark as president of the Scandinavian Mission.
Of his first mission he wrote that he left on September 15, 1852. On the journey back across the plains he tells of an incident where the prairie was on fire. It was coming towards them rapidly with the flames lashing about 20 feet high. To escape the fire, they fled to the river bottoms, burned out the grass around them and then took refuge in the river.
They generally traveled 20-30 miles a day and had to deal with all the rain, mud, and snow along the way. On November 19, 1852 they arrived in Montrose, Iowa, just across the river from Nauvoo. He wrote “We beheld the once beautiful City of Nauvoo, now in a state of desolation, no Temple to be seen, except the west wall a part of which was standing. It caused me to reflect upon the many labors, and toilsome hours that my brethren, had spent in days that are past and gone to make the place beautiful.”  
After arriving in Saint Louis they went by boat to Cincinnati and then on to Albany, New York by rail. On November 30, 1852 he stopped in his hometown of Canaan to visit various family members still in the area.  He spent some time with his sister Sarah and her husband, Dr. Clark.  He says, “I found them well, and much pleased to see me, they listened to me attentively and appeared to receive my testimony.  My sister was willing to be baptized, but the Doctor wished her to postpone it for the present as he wished to investigate further, and be baptized when she was.  I told them delays were dangerous if they did not step forward and obey the Gospel now as they had the opportunity.
During my stay at Canaan I visited my old homestead where I was born and had lived until I moved west in the year 1846, everything appeared strange, the roads looked as narrow again as they used to, the hills as steep again, the rooms appeared to be much smaller than they use to be . . .   I visited the graves of my father, and my 2 children that I had lost.”   

John Van Cott

He left there and boarded a ship for Liverpool, England arriving on December 20, 1852. The voyage was rough and he was quite seasick for several days with no appetite and very weak.
He jumped right into the work going to various meetings with the brethren and other elders. He wrote that at one conference, “I was among the number of Elders called upon to address the meeting. This was my first speech in Public. I relied upon the spirit of the Lord to assist me, and I can say of a truth that I was assisted by the spirit, for I had much liberty, and enjoyed myself much after a long and tedious journey to be in company with such a number of Elders brought to mind the many happy meetings that I had participated in, far from this even in the valleys of the mountains, my heart was filled with joy and satisfaction.”
After a short while in England he was transferred over to work in Scandinavia for the next 3 years. He returned home by way of Liverpool, leaving there by ship on February 15, 1856.
After his return, he yielded obedience to the law of plural marriage and took five wives, by whom he became the father of twenty-eight children. At the time of the move in 1858 (this refers to the incident involving the Saints and Johnson’s army), he was one of the men deputized to remain in the city and set fire to the property, in case the soldiers on their arrival in the Valley should prove hostile.
Scandinavian Mission President Again
So successful was he in this work (his mission to Scandinavia) that President Brigham Young sent him back to the same mission in 1859, again to serve as the President of that mission. Elder John Van Cott and the Scandinavian Saints had a great love for one another, and when he returned to Utah three years later, he accepted a special call to labor among the emigrants from these countries as they adjusted to their newly found religion and homeland.
On his two Scandinavian missions he became very much endeared to the Scandinavian Saints, whose sterling qualities and integrity he learned to appreciate. He also acquired the Danish language to a considerable degree of perfection.
He became a member of the First Council of the Seventy about the same time and magnified that important calling until 1883.  
He was a businessman and distinguished for his ability as a missionary. He was a man of superior intellectual endowment and known for his eloquence as a preacher.
He also served as a member of the House of Representatives from 1864-1866, a member of the Salt Lake City council, Street Supervisor and City Marshal.
He died February 18, 1883 at his residence near Salt Lake City.  His passing was mourned by the whole Church, especially the Scandinavian Saints for whom he had done so much. The Deseret News of February 20, 1883 reported:
“It would be difficult to find a more exemplary or conscientious man than Brother Van Cott. He was a good man in the broad sense, not negatively so, but as a producer of the good fruits of a well spent life. He was one of those whose character and motives appeared so far beyond reproach that we doubt if they have ever been the subject of even suspicion . . . At home and abroad, wherever Brother Van Cott sojourned, he was regarded with esteem, his very presence and appearance inspiring sentiments of that nature.”  A humble beginning in Canaan, New York, ended nearly seventy years later and 2,500 miles to the west in Salt Lake City.  It could scarcely have been predicted that he would die respected and loved by thousands of people who had come to Utah from many parts of the world to unite themselves with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints     
Grave of John Van Cott and Lucy Sackett Van Cott

1 Mighty Men of Zion, Lawrence R. Flake, pgs. 414-415.

2 LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Volume 1, pgs. 198-199

3 LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Andrew Jenson, Volume 2, pgs. 728-729

4 Van Cott Pioneers of Utah. Arthur D. Coleman, pgs. 111-121

5 Diaries of John Van Cott, BYU Special Collections

6 Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, Frank Esshom, 1912 pg. 1222