Helen Martha (LENZ) LEAVITT

Helen Martha (LENZ) LEAVITT


Jay and Helen LeavittHelen Martha LENZ was born 7 March 1922 at Cardston, Alberta. She was the second daughter of August LENZ and Della Casson CAHOON.  About the time of Helen’s birth her parents moved from Beazer, Alberta to the farm at Hill Spring.  This farm is where Helen spent her young years.  As the years went by more children were born to August and Della but they were all girls, so Helen and her sisters learned to help their dad on the farm.  The farm had two wells but the only running water they had was the kind they carried in a bucket.  As the girls got bigger it became their job to carry the water to the house and to the animals.  They watered the cows, pigs, sheep and horses.  They helped farm with horses until 1939 when August bought a steel wheeled tractor.  Helen attended school in Hill Spring, which was four miles away.  To get to school Helen either had to walk or go on horseback.  Occasionally the girls traveled by horse and buggy.  To earn money Helen would do house cleaning and baby-sitting both before and after school.  As well as helping on the farm she picked strawberries every summer for Hulls and Uncle Joe.  The girls would take the horse and wagon and pick up the berry pickers all along the way to the berry patch.  After completing most of grade nine she quit school.  She didn’t have enough money for the grade nine exams.  Helen then became a general handy helper.  Besides helping on the home farm she spent time cooking and cleaning at Carlsons for their sheep shearing crews, haying crews and threshing crews during the summer and fall.  In the winter Helen worked in Cardston.  Here she cooked and cleaned in a restaurant and worked as a clerk in a store.  Then she started working in the Cardston Hospital.  While working at the Hospital, she lived with her cousin August’s wife, Elaine.  August was away at the war.  It was at this time that she met Elaine’s cousin, Jay.  Jay was farming Grandma Leavitt’s farm for her and living just outside of Cardston on the St. Mary’s River.  After courting Helen for some months, Jay and Helen were married from Jay’s family home in Cardston.  They were married on 10 May 1944. Jay Maughan LEAVITT is the oldest son of Jeremiah H. LEAVITT and Rachel Adamson MAUGHAN.  Jay took his bride to the house on the St. Mary’s River.  Shortly thereafter, Jay and Helen moved to Rosemary where they worked for the Hancocks, Gallups and the Nortons.  This was an exciting time for them when a son was born.  He was named Jerry Duane.  Then a short fifteen months later a daughter, Martha Rae, was born at the Brooks Hospital.  No parents could be happier.  They took their two little children to Cardston and there were sealed as a family in the Cardston Temple on 2 January 1947.

In the late fall of 1947, they decided to move to Taber to help Helen’s sister, Myrtle, and her husband, Linden, on their sugar beet farm. Here they built a house and a chicken coop and no sooner was the chicken coop built when a tornado force wind picked up the chicken coop and turned it upside down, smashing it to pieces.

In the spring of 1948, a new addition swelled the family when a daughter, Ellen Marie, arrived in the Taber Hospital.  Since Helen had suffered from so much hay fever in the Taber area, Jay decided a move was in order.  In the spring of 1950, Jay and Helen packed their belongings and moved their rapidly growing family to Hill Spring.  No sooner had they got settled when a son, Douglas Leroy, was born in the Cardston Hospital. Jay and Helen had bought 20 acres of land and it was here that they brought their livestock in the hope of having something of their own.  As this wasn’t quite enough land to make a living on Jay got a job as a section-hand on the railroad.  Often he was away from home all week coming home only at the weekend.  He worked on the railroad from Glenwood to Manyberries.  There were cows to milk, pigs to feed, chickens to care for and the farm to be planted, and Helen being a farm girl and used to hard work took on the responsibility of seeing to things when Jay was gone.  Helen had to pack water from the well, and do the wash on the old scrubbing board.  The only light she had was an old coal oil lamp.  Jay and Helen added to the house on their land.  This had to do until they could build a new one.  There was an old porch on the house and under it lived a family of skunks.  Quite often these animals had a little fight, every time they did they would stink up the house.  Jerry was attending grade one at this time and one day at school the teacher made him leave his coat outside because it smelled of skunk from the latest skunk quarrel.

In the late winter, early spring of 1953, a daughter, Fayetta Pearl, was born at the Cardston Hospital. As this now made a family of two boys and three girls, Jay decided it was time to build a new house.  Removing the skunks and the old porch, Jay and Helen built the first part of their new home.  It was twelve by forty-eight feet.  Another daughter was born at the Cardston Hospital.  She became known as Glenda Joan.  About this time they moved into the new house and then they had running water and electricity.  This made the everyday job of caring for the home a great deal easier.  Sometime during this period the telephone was put in.  The family was complete when the fifth daughter, Gayla Kaye arrived at the Cardston Hospital.

Over the years Helen raised a large garden and raised strawberries and raspberries for sale.  She went uptown one day and was asked if she had any raspberries at home.  She said yes, she had several cases all packed ready to sell.  The lady said fine she’d be out to get them.  When Helen got home she found that Ellen and Pearl had eaten half a case of the berries she had just sold.  Helen also hauled corn from Taber every summer and sold it to friends and neighbors.  Jay and Helen had to work hard and they didn’t have a lot of money, but they had something much more important.  They raised their family on hard work and love.

In the summer of 1962, Jay and Helen decided to go north to visit Jay’s sister Arlene.  They were impressed with the North Country and the possibilities it represented.  As Jay’s job on the railroad close to home was about to be terminated they made the decision to move north.  In April of 1963, they packed their belongings and moved to Kinuso where they rented land.  They moved into a log house with no electricity and no water.  They used wood to cook with and to heat the home.  Once again Helen had to resort to hauling water from the river and go back to the old gas washer.  It was only for a short time as Jay soon dug a well and had the electricity installed.  They lived on this land until they were able to purchase a half section of their own.  They then homesteaded another half section of land.   Jay had cattle and sheep but between the bears and the coyotes the sheep were not a paying proposition and were eventually sold.  As Helen’s children grew up and left home she took on a catering service.  Every winter she operated the food booth at the curling rink and catered to the banquets.  She made and decorated wedding cakes and catered for the weddings.  Jay and Helen raised a large garden and supplied the Canyon Creek Store with potatoes and eggs for many years.  They then bought the store and Helen operated the store while Jay ran the farm.  As the years passed the children married and the grandchildren began to arrive.  The grandchildren all loved to go to Grandma’s store.  To go to the store was the highlight of their visits.

When Helen’s health caused her to slow down, they sold the store and moved back to the new house they had just built on the farm.  The years have not been easy one for Jay and Helen but they have worked hard and can look back with pride on their children.  Over they ears Helen has done many things, she even taught school for two months while her daughter Ellen, was on maternity leave.

Helen and Jay celebrated forty years of marriage on 10 May 1984.  A reception was held with many of their friends and family on hand to honor them on this occasion.  Most of the children are married and all of them live in Alberta.

Helen and Jay spent the last few years of Helen’s life traveling and visiting with family.  They traveled to California where they visited Disneyland.  Since Helen’s passing 20 September 1987 in High Prairie, Jay has traveled quite a bit making trips to California, Arizona, and Ontario.  He also visited Palmyra, New York, and Historic Nauvoo.  He is now retired and resides in Grassy Lake.  He enjoys traveling to see his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Helen was buried in Cardston on 25 September 1987.

Since Helen’s passing, Jay has traveled quite a bit making trips to California, Arizona, and Ontario. He also visited Palmyra, New York and Historic  Nauvoo. He is now retired and resides in Grassy Lake, Alberta. He enjoyed traveling to see his children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 41st Wedding Anniversary of August and Della LENZ « Family History Fun

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