DELILA
VANLEUVEN
ALLDREDGE
(1882-1983)


Delila AlldredgeMARIA DELILA VAN LEUVEN ALLDREDGE


     Mariah Delila VanLeuven (known as Delila) was born to Mariah Elizabeth Durfee and Newman VanLeuven on the eleventh day of November 1882 in Aurora, Utah, a town named by her father and meaning beautiful. She learned from her parents about the beauties of the earth. She had a happy and active childhood in Aurora, made up of both work and play. Her carpenter father made toys for his children - little chairs, dressers, and tables and she had dolls and other playthings. She often enjoyed a game of checkers or dominos with her father. One of her favorite sports was to play baseball with her brothers and that may be the reason she was such a baseball fan and loved to attend the games of her grandsons and great grandsons as long as she lived. She was educated through the eighth grade while in Aurora.
    Delila had her share of work to do on the farm along with other members of the family - hoeing the big garden, and doing household chores. She says, "Boy! Fun we did have there! We had a farm. We had to work, but we had fun while we were working!"
Her mother taught her to do many useful things. From their sheep they carded the wool and made it into yarn. They mixed white and black wool in varying degrees to attain the different shades of grey that they wanted. When Delila was older she was taught to help knit that yarn into the mens' socks.
     She also learned to crochet and has been doing it ever since. At the age of nine she was awarded a prize at the county fair for a tidy (doily) she had made. She did other handwork also, such as hair flowers, and those made of wool which were framed in velvet and also hand-beaded collars. She learned to make quilts and through her later years made a hundred or more and gave many of them to her children and grandchildren.
     Her parents moved from Aurora to Mexico when she was fifteen years old. Before they left, her young folks' group gave her a lovely birthday party as a farewell gesture. Her father chartered a train to go down on and a freight car for the animals, two wagons, and things like that. They left Aurora on November 24, 1888 and went to Deming, New Mexico close to the border. They lived in tents there for two weeks waiting for President Anthony W. Ivins to meet them as had been arranged to help them across the border through customs. He was so sweet when he helped them through, it didn't cost them nearly as much as it would have without his help.
     In Mexico they went first to Galiana and then moved to various places during their fifteen years in that country. They lived in Dublan, Morelos, and San Jose and had good homes and gardens and an active church and community life. In Dublan they grew strawberries so big her father said he'd give them a quarter if they could put a strawberry in their mouth without crushing it.
     Delila was always afraid of snakes. In her autobiography she tells of some incidents with different reptiles:
    "When we were living out in Morelos, our horses were turned loose out in the country and if we had to use them we went and got them. One day we went to get the horses; and there was a clump of trees, and he went on one side and I went on the other side. We could see that there were some animals down a-ways and I looking strongly to see if it was ours and not paying attention to something under my foot. That's where I stepped on the Gila Monster. I had my foot right on the neck of a Gila Monster, and he was throwing his head up and with his tongue way out trying to strike my leg. Well, when I saw what it was it frightened me to pieces and I jumped and went to screaming and hollering. And Neil came running over there to see what was the trouble. By that time he had run down in a hole under the bushes. Neil said I was white as a sheet. When I got back to the house, Mother asked what on earth had happened, I was still so white. Two weeks after that while reaching down in a barrel where we kept our discarded clothes a lizard ran up under the loose sleeve of my dress. Oh, I was dancing and screaming and could feel the legs as it moved and Mother was trying her hardest to get it out. She said, "If you don't stand still I'll never get it out." And I said, "Mother, I can't! I can't!" I was just a-screaming and carrying on there; but she eventually got it. But it was weeks before I finally got over that shock, it kept me so nervous. We had so many experiences with those rattlesnakes; it was a miracle that we never got bit. Out on the Arizona Strip one got right under our water wagon. I couldn't kill one, though I could sure run from them. But Nora got up on the wagon and came down on it with a shovel and got it. I was out herding Fred Schulze's bucks one day while the boys went after a load of water. I was sitting under a Cedar tree reading from the Era and heard something squeaking up in the tree. I looked up just as a red racer fell down right on my dress where it was spread out beside me. I throwed that book and my hat and just went out of there on my hands and knees. I never sat under a tree again. If I was out with the sheep or anything, I stayed out in the open. That's why I can't stand to even look at the picture of a snake now."
     On August 16, 1902 Delila was married to Isaac (Ike) Alldredge and four of her six children were born in Mexico. Her oldest, a daughter named Aritta, lived only a few hours. Their other children were Irvin, Nora, Lurie, Dee, and Verl. Delila was Ike's second wife. When she talks of Aunt Annie (his first wife) her comments are, "We never had bad words, her children were like mine."
    In Morelos she lived a mile and a half from the chapel and had to walk. Once in a while her folks would come by with the buggy and sometimes they would walk. She was Sunday School secretary and had to be there at eight o'clock for prayer meeting. Of course, every morning she had to do chores before she went, come back and get dinner and slop the pigs and anything that they had to do and then be back to meeting at two o'clock. They had Mutual on Sunday nights. She was an officer and took her kids with her every time. They walked that distance back and forth, three times on Sunday. Now people can't go around the corner unless they have a car.
     Because of the Mexican Revolution in 1912 the families returned to the United States. Delila tells this of their life in Mexico and what they left behind when forced out:
    "We just went through everything - poverty like - and we just got to where we had built it up and had to leave it all...just all out in the street. We turned everything we had out to the street. They, the insurrectors, raided our home after we left. As soon as we moved out the Mexicans moved in. I had two beautiful hogs all ready to kill...and one hundred of the pettiest white leghorns (I raised them from five hens) just ready to start laying." While they lived in Mexico they trusted the local Mexicans. She explained, "We never did lose a thing from the Mexicans. If you get a friend, they'd die for you." However, when the family moved back to Utah, her dad hung a side of pork up and the next morning it was gone. "Stolen!" she claimed. "In Mexico, we never lost five cents worth of things!"
     During the following nine years they made their home in several places in Utah and Nevada -- Hinckley, Delta, Abraham, Eureka, St. Thomas, Kaolin, Mesquite, and St. George. In all of these places Delila held many church positions in the Relief Society, Sunday School and Primary organizations. She has held almost every office there is in Relief Society, being president in Mt. Trumbull. She has been a Relief Society teacher from the time she was 18 years old.
     When the family was living in Mesquite NV in 1918 Delila's husband, Ike, went back to Utah to find work and left Delila, her new baby, Verl, and her other four children there for several months. In the following paragraphs she tells of a faith-promoting incident that occurred while they were there:
     "Tobler, the mill man there, was a great friend of Dad's and he left him owing some to keep me in flour. And Ike had bought me a sack of flour before he left. I had some bacon and stuff like that and I could go to the store and get what we had to have. Across the street was my neighbor, Mr. H----, and he had a cow that gave five gallons of milk to the milking and he was separating the milk and shipping the cream. I tried to get that man to sell me a quart of milk a day for my baby and I would give him a quarter. But do you think he would do it? I said, "Do you know, Brig, that you could never get a quarter's worth of cream out of one quart of milk?" But he still wouldn't let me have it. Then my neighbor up a mile above us found it out, and he sent his girl down every day for I don't know how long, with a bucket of milk as full as she could carry it, without slopping over. And a great big slab of the loveliest bacon; that was the difference in them. This was the one who was furnishing me with the flour; I could pay him and he would keep me in flour. Well, a big flood came down and took the dam out of the river, and that stopped them from making any more flour until the could get the dam put back in again. Well, he only had three sacks of flour left in his mill when this flood came. All the neighbors around were low in flour of course. Then Mr. H----'s wife (the man who wouldn't let us have the milk) said, "Sister Alldredge, will you let us have some flour? We have no flour and our babies are hungry." Well, I dished them out a pan of flour. Then the neighbor over here wanted some and I let her have it. And I just kept them all in flour until my sack was gone. The last bit of it I took out and made a batch of biscuits for my children. Well, here they came, "Have you got some flour or bread or something so we can get enough for the babies to have something to eat?" I said, "Well, I have just made the last flour I had into biscuits, but I will divide with you." And if anybody ever prayed to the Lord for help, I did it; and if anybody was ever answered, I was. I kept a biscuit apiece for my babies and gave the rest to the three neighbors. I just trusted in the Lord to see what would happen to us. Well when Brother Tobler came home (he had to go right by my place to go home from his mill) he brought me a sack of flour. He said, "Sister Alldredge, I have been prompted very strongly that you are out of flour." I said , "Brother Tobler, a prayer never was answered straighter in your life. I have divided my flour; my last biscuit, with my neighbors who were clear out around here. I'm so thankful that you have brought this flour. Now I can divide with them again." And I did. I told my neighbors, "I have flour; now I can divide with you again." By the time that was gone they had the mill fixed and operating again.
We had an awful hard time out to Mt. Trumbull when we first went out there. For three weeks we never had a speck of flour. We had corn meal and that was about all we lived on. Well, I was never so thankful in my life as when that sack of flour came into my house, not only for myself but for my neighbors. I told this once when they were telling faith- promoting stories. I said, "I am not boasting over this, but I want you to know how the Lord came to my rescue when I needed it." Several asked me if I had that recorded and when I said, 'No.' They said, 'You must get that recorded. That will be one of the greatest things for your children and grandchildren.'"
   
Delila and her children were in Mesquite for four or five months then went back to the Delta area for a few years. Their journey on New Year's Day 1921 from Delta as they were moving to St. George presents quite a contrast to the ease in which we travel now. They came in two wagons, her husband driving one team and her fifteen year old son Irvin driving the other. It took them 13 days, plodding through heavy snow much of the way. When they stopped to cook along the way, Isaac would scrape the snow away so as to make a circle for the fire, and a place for chairs around it on which the children were to sit. At night heated bricks wrapped in blankets helped to keep them warm in the wagons where they slept. What a trip that must have been! When they came down off the ridge by Pintura, they were so glad to get out of the snow and down where it was warm, the kids whooped and hollered and yelled and played in the sand. They stayed three or four hours there just letting the kids play in the sunshine.
     Their stay in St. George was for only a few months, then they moved to Mt. Trumbull on the Arizona Strip in that same year of 1921 where she homesteaded. Delila and her children worked hard out to Mt. Trumbull. They ran a goat herd and shipped the milk north to be made into cheese. They were 80 miles south of St. George which was the closest town. Her children remember their years at Mt. Trumbull with much fondness. Their first years there held many hardships, but it soon grew to be a lively community with a school and an active branch of the church. She held several church positions and participated in all the community activities -- the dances, parties, programs, and celebrations. Every Friday night the town held a dance or other activity with the young and old folks joining together. Delila said that her children didn't mind her being there. "They never did act like they didn't want the parents around. Thank goodness my girlies wanted me to go with them."
She was very interested in plays, music, and the performing arts. She told of a time she and her husband were in a play. "I remember the night back around 1918, when my husband, Isaac and I were filling in with a theatre troup and I was the maiden and Isaac was the villain and I had to shoot him in the play. I took quite a while to explain to my children that it was only a play and daddy would be coming home that night like he always did. After I shot Isaac he was supposed to fall backwards and as he did his head was over the line where the curtain came down. As he looked up and saw the curtain about to bean him he had to decide whether to stay 'dead' or get ot of the way of the curtain. He moved and everyone laughed to see it."
     In May of 1936 because of the drought at Mt. Trumbull the family moved to St. George and this was her home for the rest of her life. She did a lot of temple work, helped with cleaning in the temple, and also laundrying for several months.
    Every summer she went to the VanLeuven reunion at Duck Creek and usually camped out for a week. She only missed one year since about 1939 and that was in 1976. She was a very fun-loving gal and very much enjoyed all the activities, in her later years mostly as a spectator. If Delila was there you knew that the activity won't be dull. She said, "I like fun and have not time for crankiness or crossness."
     She had several big birthday celebrations including her 95th where she waltzed with her son, Verl, and did the Virginia Reel with her grandson, Danny.
     She was very close to her brother, Ed. They were nearly the same age and he taught her almost everything -- they were always together. He taught her to dance and she loved going to all the dances she could.
    Delila was very proud of her children and was very close to all of them. She knew the names of all her posterity and kept track of them and which ones were expecting. In 1978 her large posterity numbered: 6 children, 42 grandchildren, 161 great grandchildren, 13 great-greats and 8 or 9 more on the way.
     She indeed fulfilled the scripture in Proverbs 31:27-28 which reads: "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness -- her children rise up and call her blessed."

     Delila's granddaughter, Darlene Alldredge Larsen once wrote in a tribute to her grandmother:
     "Grandma loves beauty in her world--and when things around her were not beautiful she changed them. Crocheting hundreds of beautiful doilies and large "Last Supper" sacrament table covers, making quilts, beads, hair flowers, sofa pillows, raising a garden--and her flowers, her beautiful flowers. How many of us remember the Mother's Days when our gifts to our mothers were beautiful bouquets of roses carefully selected from grandma's bushes arranged in fruit jars she helped us wrap with crepe paper to make them more lovely. Even while living on the strip where water had to be carried she had beautiful flowers both in and out of the house."
     "There is beauty all around when Grandma or her influence is there because she is love--Love of Life, Love of the Gospel, and Love of Family."

     Delila Alldredge lived to celebrate her 100th birthday where she once again danced the Virginia Reel. She lived in her own home until her death on February 17, 1983, three months after her 100th birthday.

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Compiled by Cindy Alldredge from the following:
1. A tribute written by Dorothy Alldredge (daughter-in-law) - September 18, 1978.
2. Autobiography of Delila VanLeuven Alldredge
3. Tribute written by Darlene Alldredge Larsen (granddaughter)
4. Newspaper article by Elizabeth Weinsheimer.
5. Newspaper article by Janice F. DeMille

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Delila Alldredge autobiography

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