Newman VanLeuven was born November 24, 1848 in Atchison County, Missouri to Cornelius and Lavina Draper VanLeuven. Suffering many hardships while crossing the plains, they migrated to Utah in 1852 and settled in Springville. His mother had 13 children of which he was the last. However, he and two brothers, Dunham and Calvin, were all who lived out of the thirteen. His mother died January 14, 1867, when he was eighteen years old, and his father married Margaret Stewart on June 23, 1867. Newman helped in the house and became a good cook and clean housekeeper. He went to school and got a good education after which he taught for many years of his life.
On October 12, 1866 when he was seventeen, he was riding on horseback, hunting a cow. He had a revolver buckled on, and when his horse was trotting across some rough country, the gun jolted up and the hammer struck the back of his saddle. It fired and the bullet went into his leg just below the knee and lodged against the shinbone just above the right ankle. He was laid up for the rest of that fall. But in September of 1868 he went to Humboldt Well, Nevada to work on the Union Pacific Railroad.
On November 7, 1870 he married Maria Elizabeth Durfee, in the Endowment House in Salt Lake City, Utah. He had taken out his endowments March 2, 1869 of the previous year. He and his wife had grown up together and gone to school together in Springville, where they lived until 1875 when they moved to Aurora, Sevier County, Utah. Two children were born to them in Springville and seven in Aurora – four girls and five boys. The first child born in Aurora, a boy, died when he was two and a half years old from drinking a cup of liquid lye that his Aunt Chloe Durfee was using to scrub the floor.
While he lived in Aurora Newman was the postmaster for years and he was also the ward clerk. Newman homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of land there and made a very good farm out of it. They lived on this farm until November 27, 1897 when he and his family started to Old Mexico.
Meanwhile in 1879 he had married Adelaide Broadhead as a second wife. Then when a law was passed against polygamy he was taken to the penitentiary to serve a term, as he would not give up his family. He went in October 10, 1889 and got out February 20, 1890. But when he went to Mexico, Adelaide and her family would not go with him. He had five children by her: Calvin, Nellie, Minerva, Dora, and Eunice.
Arriving by railroad in Deming, New Mexico with first family early in January 1898 and taking a week or ten days getting through the custom house, they went on the rest of the way by horses and wagons that they had brought with them. Railroad cars had been chartered to bring the animals and household thins to the new country. The oldest boy, Lafayette, rode in the freight car to take care of the animals. The rest of the family was in the passenger cars – Newman, Maria, and the children: Edmond, Delila, Cornelius, Chloe, Cora, and Zera. The oldest daughter, Lavina, was married to John W. Ashby and so had to be left behind at her home in Aurora or “Lost Creek.”
The VanLeuvens had many varied and lasting experiences in the trek across the desert of New Mexico and on into Old Mexico. They laid over in Dublan, Mexico for a few days, then went on to Galeana, where Maria’s brother, Edmond Durfee and her sister, Chloe Spencer lived.
It was a very beautiful Valley, but with too many Mexicans. They could not get used to them and their ways. But they lived there for three or four months. Then Newman got some land in Dublan and moved back there in 1898. He built a nice two-story home and Maria had a beautiful flower garden. A well was dug and he made a pump so as to have water for the garden, trees, and personal use, as they could not buy water from the already too-well used ditch.
In the spring of 1900, they left Dublan and went over into Sonora, Mexico and located in Morelos, where they went to work building another home. They made adobes for this new house. Then Newman got some land down the river, called “Hacksell Flat,” built a house and made a very good farm out of it. However, a big flood came down the river and washed out this farm. He then acquired land up the Batapeta Creek, fifteen miles from Morelos and made a new home there. But along came Mexican trouble and all had to move out in 1912.
In 1912 just before they had to leave Mexico, Newman had to go to Salt Lake to the hospital for his leg, he had Carcinoma, or bone cancer and had to be operated on twice to prevent it from creeping into his blood system. They soon amputated and so he stayed in Salt Lake with his daughter, Lavina Ashby until late in 1914 when he came to Kaolin, Nevada where his wife and oldest son, Lafayette, had taken up some land and were trying to make a home. In late fall of 1916, Lafayette had him and Maria come to Eureka, Utah where he had found work. They lived there until March 1919 when they came to Mt. Trumbull, Arizona where they made their final home.
On October 14, 1919 Newman passed on to his home Eternal never to have to move again. He was always a source of inspiration to his family and all who knew him. Although he had only one leg and had to go on crutches, he certainly led an interesting and active life. He had been a carpenter by trade and made innumerable beautiful articles in the last years of his life. His hobby, however, was writing poetry.
Newman loved his Trumbull mountain home, he was happy there and said that it would be his last home on earth. It was he who laid out the cemetery for Mt. Trumbull and on a lovely knoll in one corner of his own homestead, he, at the age of seventy-one years, was the first to be laid in that cemetery. That was young for him to die, but he had lived such a full life that it seemed he was much older. He died October 14, 1919 and was buried October 16, 1919.
Newman VanLeuven suffered a great many injurious hardships, trials, and handicaps; and even lost one eye and one leg; the eye in 1904 when he was chopping some kindling to start a fire and a splinter flew up and stuck in his right eye, causing him to lost the sight in that eye, but he was ever faithful to the Gospel and died with a strong testimony on his lips.
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