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.