Location: Sanford, Colorado, USA
I was born in Washington, Washington County Utah. On the 9 of January 1880. My parents were Simeon Adams Dunn and Eunice Emily Harmon.
My Father was born in Salt Lake City. My Mother in Spanish Fork.
My first home was a two or three room house made of sandstone. We later owned a nicer house on Main Street across the road from the store and not far from the Post Office. We had all kinds of fruit, but I liked candy too. I don't know how old I was but I was old enough to know better than go in the store with the eggs we’d sneaked from our great-grandfathers place. The girl in the store talked the boy we sent in into a confession, went across the street and informed our parents and that night two boys had the hardest job of a life time. If grandpa had known what we had done, it would have been easy, but we had to tell him. It took a long time but we finally made it. I’ve never forgotten that experience.
My grandmother was president of the Primary, and I still remember parts I took in dialogues.
While we were still living in Utah some of the church members who had married more than one wife were being taken to prison for a six-month period. A brother Parker was postmaster, he had two wives. My father had been helping him with the mail, just in case. Well one day a US Marshall came with the mail carrier. He told brother Parker to get ready to travel, and make arrangements with my Uncle Melvin Harmon to take them to Beaver. Brother Parker got ready, all but putting on his shoes, then seeing an open window he just stepped outside then over a high board fence and was gone. There was a man in town who had grown up in the community, but didn't take an active part in the Church, and now was helping the Marshalls to find the men who had married more than one woman. One day a group of men with this fellow in their midst, commenced talking about rumors they had heard how he had helped the officers in locating these men. One asked if there was a rope in the crowd. A rope was found, and a big cottonwood tree was suggested as a good place to hang such fellows.
It was said that no more trouble came from that fellow.
In June after my 9th birthday we started for Colorado with teams and covered wagons. The reason for our going was because of our mother's poor health. There were besides father and mother, my brothers Simeon Harmon, Elmer, and sister Emily, a sister Tessie just younger than me having died as a child.
We arrived in the San Luis Valley about the Middle of July. We first stopped in Manassa, but being advised by the Stake President went to Sanford. We stayed in Sanford two winters, first living in part of Bishop Berthelsons large house with the Marcus Funk Family who came from Washington Utah at the same time and company as we did.
Our first Home was a lumber shack with green boards bowed over the top for a roof, and a dugout for a kitchen. In this lumber room our sister Eunice was born.
In the spring after my eleventh Birthday we moved to a new place we named Eastdale. Here we were surrounded by sage and rabbit brush. There were about half a dozen families at first. We moved the lumber shack from Sanford, and in that my Sister Etholen was born.
Later we built a larger house of logs. but it had a dirt roof and nearly always leaked when it rained. And yet as I look back I can't think of anything more lovely or beautiful than our best room. I would lay down on the floor with a new rag carpet on it and plenty of straw under.
The walls were whitewashed, and framed pictures hung here and there about the room. We were a small community but were quite united, everybody held office; everybody took part in lessons. My first office was secretary in the Deacons Quorum. I was made Sunday School teacher at fifteen. Soon after moving to Eastdale, one of our cows was lost. Elmer and I were sent to look for her. We had been out some time and getting tired and decided to go home, then I thought why don't we pray about it. We kneeled down and prayed, and when we arose and looked around the cow was in the act of getting up not more than a hundred yards away. The habit of going to all church gatherings I formed there and it has stayed with me thus far through life.
When I was around seventeen I spent a summer working in New Mexico. The place was bad for malaria. The drinking water was bad, and all the people in the camp, but myself, although they were Mormons, decided to drink coffee. I had only two light chills, and that after several had been sent home and all others had been sick for weeks.
In the Fall of I889 I went to Huntington, Utah where my grandmother Harmon and two of her sons with their families lived. I stayed with my grandmother and went to a seminary there. Here I found how really nice it was have a grandma and how wonderful a church school was.
I was to leave for a mission to the Southern States in April, so in company with my grandmother I went to Salt Lake City. We stopped in Provo and visited with one of Grandma's sisters who told us of the death of a Provo elder who had died in the south. She said to me, "Levi, if I was you and they asked me to go into one of the swampy districts of the South, I just wouldn't go." Grandma didn't say anything until we were out in the street alone, then she said "My son, if you are called by the servants of the Lord, no matter where it is, go and the Lord will bless you for it." I only said yes grandma, but to myself I said my parents have taught me that from my childhood. I had occasion during my Mission to see it fulfilled.
I filled my mission in North Carolina returning home in April of 1902. I enjoyed my mission very much and returned home full of hope for the future. I have thought of the period following my return home as a period of temptation, or a testing time. We were all poor and I must find a way of making a living. I got hold of a piece of land. Next I needed horses to work the land. Our bishop was always advising us to stay at home, don't go away to work. Well, I was offered a job hauling cord wood in New Mexico. The man had a good team harness and wagon he would sell me. I could work for him hauling wood and pay him. I didn't ask the bishop's advice. When I took the outfit home he expressed fear as to the final outcome. I had thought I could pay for the outfit in one summer; instead it took two years of working in rain and snow. Next, one of the horses broke a leg; the other was old and no better fixed than two years before.
I thought I had learned the lesson of obedience in the mission field, but it seems like the temptation has come in different forms and usually I have been taken in. During the years I have been describing I fell into a feeling of loneliness and sometimes of utter despair. It was Christmas time, everyone seemed to be happy but me. I made myself believe that even my father or mother didn't care for me. Then as I looked back over the past and reviewed the wonderful things my parents and others had done for me I was ashamed, and soon began making resolutions in my mind. I prayed to the Lord for forgiveness, and promised Him that as long as I lived I would never again give way to the blues or be found guilty of the sin of ingratitude. So far I believe I have kept that promise.
About the year l908 1 moved to Manassa and attended the San Luis Stake Academy that winter. It was a glorious experience for me. I commenced associating with young people a little younger than myself and yet old enough that I could feel at home with them. I had said I wouldn't marry a woman older than myself, but the first good chance I had I did. I was married to Emily Jane Smith, June 8, 1910, in the Salt Lake Temple. I made another promise to the Lord then that I would do nothing during our lives together to bring her sorrow or regret, this I have found hard, because of misunderstandings, but I have tried, and she has done well.
It is my greatest desire that all of our children and grand children may go to the House of the Lord and receive the blessings given there. That all may gladly obey the commandment of' the Lord to multiply and replenish the earth. A numerous posterity faithful and true is the greatest blessing any man could receive.
I have been blessed with the opportunity of working in a11 the organizations of the Church, that is nearly all. I've never turned down a call but I do know that I haven't done as much as I might have done.
I was a member of the Council of the 92nd Quorum of Seventy for a number of years. Later a member of the High Council of the Stake.
Then on the 19th day of May 1940, I was ordained a Patriarch by Joseph Fielding Smith. I had always looked upon the Patriarchs of the Church as men abundantly blessed of the Lord. I can't recall ever thinking that I might be a Patriarch in the Church, that is not until perhaps five or six days before it happened I was working in the field and I commenced thinking about the Stake Conference coming the following Sunday. My thoughts were directed as to what might be done in Conference. Well, let's see, its been some time since Brother Smith died, maybe they will put in another man. Well, who will it likely be? Then I found myself saying, of course under my breath, maybe Levi, it will be you. Immediately I begin to search for and found plenty of men I thought would be better for the job.
I put it all out of my mind and thought no more about it until a few minutes before time to start the Conference Meeting, when one of the Stake Presidency called me from my seat in the choir and said, "Brother Smith would like to talk with you." Then I knew they wanted me for a Patriarch.
I accepted the call in fear and trembling, I know it has been a great blessing to me. My first thought was that I must put away all hatred from my heart, that I must seek after the Spirit of the Lord, and give all blessings under its influence.
I rejoice when I see one I have given a b1essing to taking advantage of the opportunities they have, and feel bad when I see some cast aside the opportunities they have and take the downward road.
I have a desire in my heart to continue in His work as long as He gives me strength. 1 would like to spend as much time as I can in work for the dead. My heart is in the "work of the Lord." My hope is in my children, and their children. 1 love them and desire to bless them all.