MARIAH ELIZABETH DURFEE
Mariah was born to Jabez and Celestia Curtis Durfee in Springville, Utah on 31 March 1852. Mariah's father was called to help settle Cedar City, Utah when she was very young. The family lived a fort there at first because of problems with the Indians. So Mariah's early years were spent in Cedar City - her father planted the first orchard in the area. Mariah's brother, Eliel died while they were in Cedar City. He was just 18 months old.
The Durfee family was released from their call to Cedar City and returned to Springville. On the journey home a storm hit the family and they lost all of their belongings. After several years of deprivations and hard work the family was able to get back on their feet. Mariah was always a great worker, helping her father like a man in the fields, hoeing cane corn and gathering it. She helped him make delicious molasses
Mariah's father was later able to build a larger two-story brick home with a large orchard for the family on Main street in the south part of town. There was a large room upstairs where people from town put on plays and held dances.
Mariah's husband, Newman Van Leuven also grew up in Springville. They were married on November 7, 1870, in the Old Endowment House in Salt Lake City. Mariah and Newman spent the first five years of their marriage in Springville where their first three children were born.
In 1875 Mariah, Newman and their children moved to Willow Bend (now Aurora) in Sevier County, where they homesteaded 160 acres of land. They pioneered in that valley for 22 years. Newman later named the town, Aurora. Mariah's parents and some of her other family members also moved to this new community.
Mariah's daughter, Delilah tells that "Mariah raised a bounteous garden, and chickens, geese, and sometimes turkeys. Every six weeks she and her girls picked the geese and used the feathers for lovely feather beds and pillows. They husked and shelled corn, and washed and carded wool for quilts. They knitted socks and sweaters and hoods. Mariah never let anything go to waste."
All through these struggling days she was active in the church. She and her cousin were Relief Society teachers together for twenty years. Their district at times was across the river two and a half miles. They would take their children with them – pulling in an express wagon [holding] the ones who were too small to walk so far, and carrying their babies in their arms. Mariah was always ready and willing to help her neighbors, often going two miles to help with a quilt. Newman and Mariah loved to dance the waltzes, the schottish and good old square dances, and could dance with any of them.
Mariah's husband took a plural wife in 1979. He married Adelaide Broadhead in polygamy. Ten years later he served 4 months in the penitentiary (from Oct. 10 1889 to 17, Feb. 1890), for living in polygamy.
In November 24, 1897 the family sold all in Aurora and left for Old Mexico, where it was pioneering and struggle and hard work all over again. Many other family members moved to this area where they could practice their religion freely. Newman's second wife did not go with them.
Mariah, Newman and family lived in different parts of Mexico the first two years. They finally settled in Morelos, Sonora which was a Mormon community. From the stories of those who lived there they worked hard but also had many good and happy times.
Newman had to go to Salt Lake City as he had bone cancer in his leg. He ended up having the leg removed to save his life.
Shortly after Newman left those remaining in Mexico had to leave their prosperous farms and home and move back to the United States because of the Mexican insurrection in 1912. They just turned their cows, pigs, and chickens loose and left their homes and belongings. Mariah and her family left with very sad hearts. The family members moved around to get back on their feet again. They lived in Utah, Nevada and Arizona eventually settling out on the Arizona Strip at Mt. Trumbull in 1919 where their daughter Chloe (Bundy) lived.
Newman only lived six months at this new home. He was buried in the Mt. Trumbull cemetery on a hill near their homestead. By 1921 several of Mariah's children and their families were living at Mt. Trumbull.
Mariah was very involved in the small community. She served as Relief Society president at Mt. Trumbull at age 75. She was known for her thrift and her fearless compliance to her faith. She endured many hardships as she helped to pioneer several new communities.
Mariah remained living in Mt. Trumbull surrounded by her children until 1936 when drought cased many of the family to move 60 miles north to St. George, Utah.
Mariah died March 13, 1940 at the home of her daughter, Delila in St. George and was buried next to her husband in the Mt. Trumbull cemetery.
She lived a most useful life of faithfulness and integrity, and was a wonderful mother to all her family.
|I love this headstone. There is now a modern one also.|
family records in possession of D. Larsen
Life History of Newman Van Leuven by his daughter, Delila Alldredge
History of Jabez Durfee and Celestia Curtis Durfee
Washington County News on Utah Digital Newspapers