Sunday, April 06, 2014

The Recollections of Max Leonard from the Early Years in Peerless and Price

An autobiography of Max G. Leonard hand written in 2003 by him and typed by Michael Leonard. Part 1 covering the early years in Peerless from 1922 up until graduating from Carbon Jr. College in Price in 1941.

I was born in Peerless, a small mining town in Carbon County, Utah on December 21, 1922. I was the seventh of nine children born to Zoe Ellen (Powell) and Leopold Leonard. My parents had moved from Price to Peerless, about 10 miles away, in 1920, in order for my father to assume his new position as a tipple and weigh boss at the mine. They rented our house in Price while they were living in Peerless. Peerless was the first of several coal mining towns located in a small box canyon that was about nine miles long and that was known as Spring Canyon. These towns were connected by a narrow dirt road and a railroad that was used for hauling out the coal that was mined near each town. Peerless was made up of just about fourteen houses that were laid out on each side of the canyon. At the entrance to the canyon was the large tipple where the coal was loaded on to the railroad car after being hauled up the road from the mines.

The coal miners homes where made of wood. They had large balconies on one side and wooden steps on the other side. These homes lacked such essential amenities as bathrooms and running water for bathing, cooking and dish washing. Water had to be hand carried from a communal water hydrant that had to be hand pumped. We didn't have an indoor toilet. Facilities consisted of a small wooden structure placed over a hold in the ground. It was called an outhouse. That was because it was out back some distance from the main house. With these inconveniences to contend with bathing was a once a week ritual. It was usually done on Saturday night. Toileting was never a nocturnal activity unless there was an emergency. It was dark and cold out back and you never knew what you might encounter as we lived in a remote canyon where it wasn’t unusual to see wild animals.


Children outside the school in Peerless. Max is on the right at the front with his hands on the girl's shoulders and his brother Emmet is behind him.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Life Sketch of John Ammon Powell Which He Dictated

I John Ammon Powell, was born in Pisday, Ill. Nov. 27, 1844, the fourth child in a family of nine. My father, James Powell was born in 1809. He was from North Carolina. My mother was Jerminah (Jemima) Wimmer Powell, she was born in the state of Indiana.

My father was a partaker (victim) of the Missouri persecutions against the Latter-Day Saints. At one time he refused to sign a petition against the Mormons. In consequences of his refusal the mob used violence against him, cursed him, and struck him on the side of his skull with the barrel of a gun. After a long sick spell, he recovered, but even after his recovery the left side of his body remained paralyzed.

My parents arrived in Utah, Oct. 13, 1852. We came in the company of Captain Robert Wimmer. We went directly to Ogden and lived there until 1854. My father drowned in the Weber River west of Ogden, July 2nd, 1854. I was then I my tenth year. After the death of my Father, my Mother disconnected with the location and moved to Springville, Utah. My Mother endured many hardships.

From the time I was thirteen years old I managed an ox team. For years I hauled timber and cordwood from Lamb’s canyon to Salt Lake City. I went to Kamas Valley in 1858 and took up a homestead. At that time there were only two houses in the Valley. I built the third house. It was for my Mother. I cut and hewed the logs and laid them into the wall with my own hands, without any assistance. It was big, comfortable one room house.

I was at that time fifteen years old. Mother lived in the house two years. Later I built another log house near my mother’s. It was a great improvement over the first one. I was married January 13th, 1863, to Hannah Matilda Snyder. My first two children were born in Kamas. The third house I built in Kamas was better than the first two, but the fifth house I built in the Valley was the best of all.

The Black Hawk War drove us out of Kamas. Everybody had to move, so I moved to Lamb’s Canyon, where I could work and not be troubled by Indians. I never had any particular trouble with the Indians; although I met them in dangerous moods. In 1861 while I was in Kamas Valley cutting hay with a mower (scythe or cycle) where a band of fifty Indians formed a circle and camped just above where I was working. They had scalps of seven white men hosted on poles and were firing shots and yelling.

Incidents in the Life of James Powell as Related by his Wife After his Death

One day while we were living in Caldwell County, Mo. We were visited by what might be termed a mob, composed of the following persons: Arthur F. Wethers, John Gardner, Riley Sanders, Clark Ellis and Philon Ellis. They requested my husband to join the forces against the Mormons. He told them that if they had no Federal Authority to molest them he could not go. They replied warningly, “If you do not join us we will kill you.” Following this they went in the direction of my father’s home. Fearing for the safety of our small daughter, who at the time was at my father’s place, we followed them, little knowing what might occur. As we were about to overtake them, they stopped and ordered us back. My husband said we were going after our little child.

At this remark three of the men sprang from their horses, and one a Mr. Wethers, caught up a stick and struck my husband between the shoulders, causing him to turn around and grapple with Wethers, who then shouted for help. Gardener shot at my husband, missing him, and not wanting to endanger a fellow posse man, Gardner then used his gun as a club and struck him on the head several times. I ran for help, but as the posse left I ran and lifted my husband’s head, thus relieving his pain as best I could until my mother and two sisters came to my assistance. They were Latter-Day Saints so they immediately administered to him by laying on of hands. After they had administered the ordinance he arose and walked to my father’s house about two hundred yards away.

When the men left they gave us warning that if we were not out of the place by the time the sun was a yard high the next morning they would return and kill all of us. Thinking that these fiends might return and carry out their hellish threats we decided it was best to leave. We packed up our things in the wagon and started that very night for Huntersville (a town about four miles away). We arrived there the next afternoon after driving all night through wooded country; being followed by the posse who were determined to see us well out of the country.

Upon our arrival in Huntersville we were immediately surrounded by a crowd of about three hundred men. They asked what he had in the wagon. They then asked if we had anything done for him and if we were Mormons. We had done very little for him and neither one of us was a Mormon, and had never heard a Mormon preach. One of the men then told us to go to a certain vacant house. Arriving there they took my husband out of the wagon, laid him on a door and the Doctors performed an operation on his head. They cut his scalp in four parts, drew down as far as his ears and forehead. Then thinking we would tell the posse they left him in this condition.

Incidents in the Life of Robert Wimmer Brother of Jemima Wimmer Powell

I Robert Wimmer, son of Peter and Elizabeth Shirley Wimmer, was born in the state of Pennsylvania in the year A. D. 1805. I moved with my father to Cincinnati, Ohio, in the year 1808, when Cincinnati had not more than 550 inhabitants. From there I moved to Gold Vain 11 miles west, and from there 5 miles still west. Here Father opened a large farm in the timber.

Here I got my first pair of pants. I wore long shirts. I expect I was ten years old before I owned a pair of pants or shoes. My mother had to make all our wearing apparel out of flax, tow and wool. Wool was carded by hand and spun on a little wheel. I can well recollect when the women made their dresses out of four yards of yard wide home made cloth. They made their skirts wide enough to run in. They made our shirts out of flax. Domestic cotton was not then worn. The women said it was so hard to wash, they would rather make linen than wash cotton cloth. You could hear the buzz of the little wheel in every home.

My father was called to war in 1814 under General Harrison and left my mother with four little boys in winter time. It was a hard winter too. There was a mad dog that came and drove us up on the loft and kept us there 30 hrs, when a neighbor man came in and rescued us from danger.

About the year 1820 my father hired me to an Indian trader and took me to Andersontown, twenty five miles north of Indianapolis, on the White River, a Delaware Indian Village. I became a great favorite with the Indians and they offered a very high price for me in horses. My father got uneasy about me and took me home. One, Ben Davis, and his squaw followed to steal me, but kept watch. Some of the Delaware Indians have silver ornaments, such as broaches. Half moons hung down their back. They wore large nose ornaments. They had the rims of their ears cut.

They laid their dead on top of the ground near black posts with a cross near the top and built pens around them. I was at one of their grave yards one day. Seeing a considerable pile of tobacco, I slipped a piece. One of the Indians saw me and gave me a chase. He over took me and picked me up by the seat of the pants and back of the neck and threw me against a big stump and came very near to caving my side in. Some of the Indians would bury their dead in great logs, others upon trees. The trails or roads were very narrow, as they always grew one right after the other. Their trail some places was very deep for roads.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A. Faustini 2006 Secret Veil Napa Valley Cabernet

For my Wines of California class in the Viticulture program at Las Positas we each did a review of a favorite wine. I chose A. Faustini 2006 Secret Veil Napa Valley Cabernet. I like to try wines from small producers who create hand crafted small lots and I also like to try wines from vineyards at higher elevations. My choice for this report was a combination of both.


The wine is made by Antony Faustini who works as a Product Manager at Cisco, the world’s largest vendor for Internet equipment. Like many people in high tech Anthony yearned to explore his passion and took up wine making in 2005. A. Faustini Winery uses Crush Pad in San Francisco to process their wine and they are opening a tasting room in Napa Valley at a new shared facility near Yontville that will host several tasting rooms for small wineries. This strategy works well for producers who want to limit their expenses as they gain experience and grow production and build awareness for their wines. I made the trek on BART and Muni to their logistics center in San Francisco to pick up my bottle and got a look around. They had cases of wine to the rafters from many small lot producers.

I know Anthony as I also work at Cisco as a Product Marketing Manager. Anthony’s wife Michelle is a sales manager at Cisco and also my Facebook Friend. When she saw in my timeline that I was attending winery events she wrote to me about their wines. They also have a Facebook Fan page for their wines that I joined along with a few other Cisco colleagues.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Wines of El Dorado - A Visit to the Sierra Foothills

When I think of El Dorado I think of the legendary bandito Joaquin Murrieta, called the Robin Hood of El Dorado in books. He is the real bandito of California who the fictional Hollywood character Zorro was modeled after. The story goes that Joaquin turned to robbing gold miners after he was beaten and his wife was murdered by a group of them. Joaquin is even said to have laid in wait along Arroyo del Valle in Pleasanton, which I see out my windows, waiting to waylay miners coming back to San Francisco from the gold fields.

In 1853 Harry Love, Captain of the newly formed California Rangers, and his posse, caught up with Joaquin and his gang, the Five Joaquins, who were suspected of killing at least 20 people, and shot them down. They only lasted a few years and it was all over. It wasn’t long before the gold ran out either and prospectors had to find something else to do. Some of them turned to planting grapes and making wine in gold country. There was a fair amount of Zinfandel planted and produced during the gold rush to satisfy the thirst of panhandlers for strong, sweet wine. After the gold rush with most of the miners gone it was tough going, and prohibition about ended it all, but in the last few decades wine making has made a big comeback in the foothills.

It’s said that Sierra Foothills Wineries attract a different kind of winemaker than other regions. Farming grapes in the foothills is difficult, and given that the region isn’t so well know the wines do not command high prices. The dedicated vintners in this area make wines that express the difficult climate and terrain of the region. What this means is that you can get bargains on wines with character. Which is why I was interested when I heard about the tasting in San Francisco of El Dorado wines at Postrio.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When Irish Wines are Smiling

Today I was introduced to Irish wines. I didn't think there were any wines in Ireland but it turns plenty of Irish are making wines in California. The first of it's kind Irish wine and food tasting event called "When Irish Wines are Smiling" (see Facebook page here) was held at the historic Rutherford Grange Hall, a former gathering place for farmers, just a couple of doors south of the Rutherford Grill.

The event featured the wines of Irish owned, named and ancestry wineries from Northern California paired with Irish influenced food and Irish cheeses, as well as traditional Irish music and dancing. I was given a card for the event when I was tasting at Roche in Sonoma last weekend. They were there and it turns out they have an Irish background. I also heard about the event through Tom Merle who runs a Meetup group for wine fans and was going with a few people. Tom knows the event organizer and filled me in a bit on the event.

I figured the wines and food and Irish tradition were a nice combination and given St. Patrick's day was near and I'm always up for something different and it seemed like a fun event. Luckily I had a friend to was ready to drive so we headed out on a beautiful sunny day. I was just hoping that everything would be tasty and none would be green.