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.