Sunday, August 7, 2016

John T. LeSueur and Geneva Casto

John T. LeSueur and Geneva Casto

by Geneva Greer and Anona C. Heap (Granddaughters)

(Don't have a "date written")

John [Taylor] and Geneva LeSueur arrived in St. Johns, Apache County, April 10, 1880.  They had lived in the Salt River Valley for one year, but because of the heat, they decided to return to Idaho, their former home.  On their way back they stopped in the little community of St. Johns to visit their sister, Mrs. John Davis.  Grandfather used to say, "We thought we would stop and wait for the wind to stop blowing, it never did so we stayed."

John was born in St. Helier, Jersey, on of the Channel Islands of Europe, in 1852.  He came to the United States with his parents and four sisters in 1855.  His only brother, William F., was born in Bountiful, Utah, November 12, 1856.

Geneva Casto was born in Ogden, Utah in 1857.  John T. and Geneva were married in 1875.

We have heard our grandmother tell of their first home in St. Johns made of cedar posts set vertical in the ground, cracks filled in with mud, dirt floor and roof.  Their bedstead made of small posts driven into the ground and tied into the wall and 'spring' made by weaving willows across.  Here, with John's widowed mother, Caroline, and two small boys, they lived until John could earn enough and have time to build a better house.

The only employment to be had anywhere around was hauling freight supplies from Albuquerque, New Mexico to the crews laying the railroad.  This was a long way from home so he would not see his family for months at a time.  John would leave the family with all the money he had with which to keep the wolf from the door.  He was always worried about his loved ones during his absence, and when he had enough wages to tide them over the immediate future, he went home.  As he neared his homestead he saw his wife and two sons waving their welcome.  As he neared his humble cabin the boys raced to meet him and carrying both to their mother, we can imagine that reunion.  Anxious to know if loved ones had suffered, for he had not left overly much wherewith to finance during his absence, he asked his wife how much money she had left from what he had left.  Without answering she took her scissors and cut open her bed tick and pulled out the package and handed it to him, it was just as he had left it, unopened, with the full $250.00 still in it.  John decided then that if he did not make a success financially it would not be the fault of his wife.  The future proved his conclusion to be correct, with a wife like he had he could not fail.  Grandmother Geneva had made hair switches and handwork for the wealthy Spanish ladies and had earned enough to keep them for the six months Grandfather had been away.

John moved his family nearer to town and built a better home for them.  Their family continued to grow and soon he built a large two-storied home that still stands and is lived in.
Photo found on  At present, 2016, the home is STILL lived in
and has had much restoration work done to it.
His savings he very carefully invested in sheep with W. E. Platt and J. B. Patterson.  He purchased the Drug Store and with others, enlarged and incorporated it into the St. Johns Drug Company, now owned by the Andersons, sons of the original owner, Charles P. Anderson.

In 1883 the St. Johns Co-op Store was started and John and Willard Farr were employed to run it.  Later it was combined with the ZCMI.  He managed the store for fifteen years.  He learned his merchandising skill from his mother.  For three years he owned and helped operate the only county newspaper, the St. Johns Herald.

Recently, going through some old papers at the county courthouse, we found Grandfather LeSueur's signature as County Superintendent of Schools, so we thought we would check and see just how many office he held in early Apache County and we found:
  • Justice of the Peace
  • County Treasurer
  • Probate Judge
  • County School Superintendent
  • Member of the Territorial Legislature
  • Territorial Prison Commissioner
He remarked, "I accepted the nominations very reluctantly as I desired to give my attention to my personal interests and asked people to vote for my opponent but was elected by a great majority."

In 1900, John and Geneva suffered a great tragedy, their nineteen-year old son, Frank, and another young man, Gus Gibbons, were murdered by a band of outlaws while serving with a posse hunting for the outlaws.  Their bullet-ridden bodies were found twenty-five miles east of St. Johns.  The whole town mourned the loss of the two fine young men.  A marker marks the lonely spot and one can see how they were shot as they were going up the hill.  (See an earlier blog post of mine to read the full story of this ambush and murder.)

Grandfather LeSueur had many ups and down and suffered great losses and sorrows in his long, useful career.  To mention the five great sorrows of his life; the death of hist first born, a son; the death of his dear mother in 1898; the murder of his son Frank in an ambush' the death of his beloved wife, Geneva, in 1925, a bereavement from which he never recovered; the death of his son Leo, a lieutenant of the first world war, who died from pneumonia.

John T. LeSueur and Geneva Cast LeSueur can honestly be called "Early Pioneers of Apache County".  Ten of their twelve children were born in St. Johns and they spent twenty-five of their best years here.  In 1905 their church called them to move to Mesa and for Grandfather to become the President of the Stake in Mesa.  In his own words, "We had been living in St. Johns for twenty-five years and had become very attached to the place and the people.  We had many dear friends and as far as I know, no enemies.  We had a good residence and our children were growing up under a good environment with good schools and church.  I reluctantly accepted the call, I felt incompetent for such a high responsibility and did not want to move away from St. Johns were I was comfortably situated."

Grandfather was very active in the planning and building of the "Arizona Temple" in Mesa.  He lived to a grand old age of 92 years, mentally alert, physically strong and straight as a string until he died on November 29, 1945.


This story/history was found in a notebook titled, "Apache County Historical Society Quarterly, Vol. II, December 1977".

Here is a link to another history of the LeSueurs found on (not sure if you have to have an account and sign-in to read it?)

Mesa, Arizona Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints