Westover Family Ranch

I just returned from a visit to the Westover Family Ranch in Rexburg, Idaho. I was there to attend a board meeting of the ranch. I learned a great deal.

I must confess that my own personal time spent at the ranch has been limited. As a child I heard much about the ranch. But it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I attended a family event there.

After the business of the board was done I attended a nice family meeting and then began a short period of visiting. During the course of the morning I heard many stories I had not heard before — stories of my uncles and my grandfather, all of who had a hand in building the facilities there at the ranch and all who sacrificed much more than just money in bringing the thing about.

As I heard these stories I was impressed with the need to record them. There is so much of our recent family history of the past 100 years sewn within the walls of the Westover Family Ranch yet they reside only in the memories of those who tell them. It is a great history, one we should all know and celebrate.

My feelings about the ranch have always been ambivalent. After all, I did not grow up there and because I have not attended all the many reunions held there, I have not had much invested in it. It has been, in my mind, just a plot of dirt in Idaho.

I have been wrong about my feelings.

I should have been more interested. I should have attended some of those events when it was in my power to do so. I should have been more faithful to the idea that it is a place prepared for me by family members for sacred purposes.

This weekend I learned the two purposes of the ranch are to regularly gather the family and to preserve the history of the family.

That is nothing to be ambivalent about. In fact, sitting where I am now in my life, I am inspired by how visionary my grandfather and uncles were in their efforts.

How can I become a better part of the ranch and it’s mission?

The actual history of the ranch dates back to the 1880s and the founding of Rexburg. Back then it was the homestead of the William and Ruth Westover family.

When William and Ruth passed away in the early 20th century the ranch land passed through a few hands but a portion of it was always kept within the family. Later generations worked to continue a family presence there and to build the Westover Family Ranch, as it is now known, in the 1970s.

Next year, 2019, the Westover Family Ranch celebrates 40 years.

I believe between now and next summer much can be done to celebrate that accomplishment and to make a record of its impact on the modern history of the Westover family.

Can you and will you help? I am specifically looking to interview those with an intimate knowledge of how the ranch effort came together in the 1960s and 1970s. I want to collect the stories of those who worked on it and to learn the details of what transpired in building the ranch. Please contact me.

I would like to collect photos, films, and documents relative to the ranch.

I would like to prepare and archive all of this information both here on this site and then to present it at reunions scheduled to be held by various branches of the family in 2019 and 2020.

My quick day trip to Rexburg also revealed some sad facts to me:

1. I don’t know as many members of the family as I should and they do not know me. That is not good.
2. While many members of the family appreciate our history they do not know it.

Those things fall to me. I can and I will do something about it.

I hope those who read these pages will join me in the efforts of celebrating better the Westover Family Ranch and participating in what happens there. I hope to see a recommitment to the ideals set forth by those who pounded nails, made plans, contributed money, time and great effort to build the ranch and make it what it is for us today.

I hope to expand the understanding of why that piece of dirt in Idaho matters. I believe it to be a place where every one of the descendants of William and Ruth Westover should visit and participate in events there.

I learned that what is there at the ranch is not all that the generation of my grandparents intended. They wanted it to be more. They wanted to include a building that would specifically archive the family’s history and provide a place for it to be taught.

I believe that our generation could and should make that happen. I believe taking the ranch to the next level – well, really, to fulfill what was originally intended – is something we owe to those who came before and to our children and grandchildren here after.

If they could pull it off, we can pull it off – and we should.

If you have been ambivalent about the ranch, please join me in making a commitment to no longer feeling that way. Turn your heart.

Miracles have and are happening there and that is for a reason. They are every bit as important as the miracles we have experienced relative to our work family history. They belong together and we need those miracles in our lives.

When I got up in the middle of the night last night to, apparently, stub my toe (mission accomplished) and get a drink of water, I decided for some reason to jump on my computer for “just a minute” to take a look at Family Search. (Nobody but me seems to understand this habit). I figured I’d be back to bed within 60 seconds.

Two hours later I crawled back into bed for a brief nap before having to get up again for work.

I stumbled upon a file cousin Paul Westover recently uploaded featuring the personal history of his grandfather and my great uncle, Darrell Westover.

I had never seen it before and I’ve downloaded to archive here on Westover Family History. (In Documents in the menu above)

Here are three things I take away from Darrell’s personal history:

1. One life record is actually a record of many people
2. Stories you’ve heard in the past are forgotten unless they are written down
3. A personal history does not have to be exciting to be interesting

The want of personal records from our ancestors has grown to be my fondest wish in my family history efforts. Using government and church records to mine the dry data of genealogy is fine but to me that’s not really history.

History is passion. History is reactions to real situations. History is thought, and mistakes, and judgments and bit-playing on a larger world stage. History, especially as it relates to family, is the expression of love and hope through life remembered.

We have so few personal histories. We need many more.

I would offer up my Uncle Darrell’s record as a great example of how it is easily done.

What is written is offered up much as Darrell spoke. He did not, it seems to me, bother himself too much with style or organization. In fact, knowing him as well as I did, reading his personal history seemed like sitting down with him to talk.

Darrell was a great storyteller. His use of humor and candor was fairly normal for him. His history reflects these facts.

I found myself greatly involved in his telling of his early life in Rexburg. I had heard many of these stories before, many of them as I was growing up. But to read them now in context with the entire family story now residing in my head after all the work of these past several years in family history provides for me color, zest and gap-filling context in not only his story but also in the stories of others in the family.

If you read Darrell’s history be prepared to learn a lot more about others. His detail will make the names and dates of those who he mentions who have passed on become more real.

I especially appreciate the details he provides of his parents – folks I was just too young to know or who had passed on before I was born.

I also so greatly appreciate having some familiar stories written down by Darrell himself. I would much rather read the stories in his words than tell them in mine. His story, for example, of being taken to the girl’s bathroom to address an injury as a 7-year-old school boy is a classic and while it is easy to imagine such a horror for any young boy to hear Darrell explain it is far better than coming from anyone else.

It is also important to note that Darrell Westover led an everyman kind of life. He hasn’t gone down in history as a maker of world events or a figure on the global stage. He was just like the rest of us. Yet he was like none of us — a man of greatness so few get to meet.

His personal history is an interesting read. I started it from a groggy sleep and completed it a few hours later with great interest.

What makes it so powerful, of course, is that I love him. I love the people he talks about. His life was one of example to me and he will forever be an inspiration not only to me but to so many others in the family.

Darrell also provides a glimpse of how just a small effort in recording a personal history can be beneficial.

He’s gone now. He will never write any more than what he has left behind. Perhaps Evie or Kirk or Paul have other things that will come out in the years ahead, I don’t know. But if this is all there is I would tell you it is enough.

It is far more than we have of so many countless others in our history. In just 35 pages it reveals a great deal of history on others in the family we otherwise would not have.

My uncle Darrell was a busy man. He was a school teacher. He was a builder. He was heavily active in the church and, of course, with his family. Yet he found time to put his personal thoughts down for us.

That’s a marvel to me. As I read what he wrote I thought of so many things, especially the times he invested in me. There are far more than I can possibly chronicle here. I’ve mentioned a few of them in the past but let me share another memory of him.

This comes from the year 1977 or 1978 – the years in which he was building the home we would live in across the street from him there in Concord. I was a teenager, charged with being there daily during the summer months to help out in whatever way I could.

Darrell did not spare me the assignments. He would send me off on this project or that while tasking others with things that would move the construction of the house along. Then he would set to work on the largest task himself. I recall many a hot summer day when we began early and worked late.

One of my roles was to help him clean up and put away tools at the end of the day. I marveled at how much water he could put away in a day and how much of that water would fall off his brow in the form of sweat all day long. Darrell was a worker and he never knocked off before anyone else. I can recall trying to keep up with him as he hauled in the heaviest tools himself at the end of the day.

One day, nearer the end of the project, he was hanging the double doors that would be part of my parents’ bedroom. This was not a project that was difficult but he saw the doors as important and he wanted the job done right. It was also at the end of the day and he and I were the last ones there, as was sometimes the case.

In those moments when it was just the two of us and he was working in a slow and careful manner we would talk. Sometimes we would talk about the job but often he would talk about the family, perhaps a story from his youth or some other member of the family. Sometimes there was a point he was trying to make. He mentored me and I was a willing student.

He measured and trimmed one door, using the table saw he had moved into the house for some of the finer finish work. As he worked on the first door he talked to me about the construction adage of “measure twice, cut once”.

This lesson gave Darrell a lot to talk about. He expounded on the idea that measuring is kind of like setting goals, making a plan and having a proper target to pursue. He added the importance of making such plans a matter of prayer. He talked on and on about how you can learn a lot about life through the simple of things like building a house.

As he hung the first door, he continued the lesson.

Sometimes, he said, things don’t go as planned. And you have to react. Other times, things go wrong you cannot control. But most of the time, if there is a mess up, it is because you made a mistake somewhere and you just have to own those moments.

He put the second door on table saw, and started to trim it along one edge, taking a little less than a quarter inch off its length. As he did so I saw his eyes widen about halfway through the cut and he hesitated for just a slight moment. The saw also hesitated and somehow I knew something was wrong.

But he finished the rest of the cut in one fluid, steady motion.

When he finished he stood there for a second looking at what he had done. He looked at the other door. He look down at the door he just cut. Then he just shook his head.

“I measured twice,” he said. “Good plan. But I cut the wrong end of the door. Talking too much. Bad execution.”

He shook his head again and set up two saw horses. He laid the door down and clamped it tight on the saw horses. Then he took the piece he cut off and fetching some finishing nails from his apron he nailed the piece he had just cut back in place.

I was amazed how his big hands would do such delicate work. His hammer swung in frustration, and I watched him sink four nails in that thin piece of wood, striking each only twice. When he finished you could not tell the cut had been made.

But he ran his hand over it, feeling the edge on either side of the door. “Every time I see this door in the years to come I’m going to think about that cut,” he said.

He told me I would be the one who sanded and painted that door. It would be my job to make sure nobody could see the mistake.

Then he flipped the door back on to the table saw and trimmed the correct end. Then he hung the door, looking up at the top of the door where the mended piece just throbbed at him. He shook his head one last time.

Days later I did sand down that door and weeks after that, I painted it.

To my amazement, there was absolutely no evidence of a mistake and I would bet, if that door is still in that house, you couldn’t tell it still.

I can recall months later, long after we had finished and moved into the house, he was showing the house to someone. We walked past the bedroom doors and he just quickly looked up at the top of door and then shot a look at me.

Then he smiled. “Laddy,” he winked. “That door is almost perfect. The paint was really well done.”

Darrell, to me, was a master teacher. His many lessons endure in my mind to this day.

So many of them are reflected in his personal history.

It has, in the course now of just 24 hours, become as big a treasure to me as the other things we have archived here on the site.

I hope you consider adding your personal history someday. Each record we add makes the family record stronger – no matter where it comes from.

And from each we gain valuable lessons.

Kim Westover

Facial hair is not prolific in our family lines.

It may be all the missionaries and school teachers we have had over the years or perhaps it just that the manly art of beards and mustaches just isn’t in our gene pool.

But on a recent perusal of the gallery feature at FamilySearch.org I began to notice not only that we DO have some beards we actually have some EPIC beards — you know, hall of fame stuff — when it comes to facial hair.

Take, for example, this very modern-looking beard from William Rowe:

William Rowe

William is the father of Ruth Althea Rowe. He was a member of the Mormon Battalion as well as one of the founding fathers of the town of Mendon, Utah. He had a huge influence on William Westover and it appears he kept his beard for the majority of his adult life. It is not known when this photo was taken but I suspect it dates from about the 1860s.

So many of these pictures feature older men with beards. Not this one. Here is Uncle Loris, from about 1943, with a young man’s beard for sure. He is in uniform here so I think there is a story to this image and this beard that maybe someone out there knows:

Loris Westover

The first of the Riggs family to join the Church was William Sears Riggs. He too sported a beard most of his adult life but this later-in-life image is my favorite his epic beard:

William Sears Riggs

He was one of many who headed west for the gold fields in California, but he came west with an LDS wagon train in 1850. He was convinced to wait the winter months out in Utah before pressing on to the gold mines. He ended up staying, joining the Church and raising a family in Utah.

His story isn’t quite as dramatic as the story of Samuel Barnhurst (told in this post). Here is Samuel and his fine beard from about 1870:

Samuel Barnhurst

Samuel, of course, is father of Priscilla Barnhurst, who is the mother of the man sporting this more subtle beard:

Will Riggs

This is my great-grandpa Riggs and I know many who just love this picture of him. The hat always gets the first comment but honestly the mustache and the soul-patch on his chin just complete the look altogether. This is one of those pictures I would love to know the story behind. When was it taken, what’s up with that hat and why didn’t he keep the trendy facial hair?

Next up and sporting the under-the-chin beard variety is the very famous, Horace Roberts:

Horace Roberts

Horace Roberts learned the art of pottery and dish making from his father — in Illinois. When he joined the Church he was asked by the Prophet Joseph to open a pottery shop in Nauvoo, and he did. Later Brigham asked him to do the same in Provo. Due to his craft he was a very well known individual. He was also father to Jane Cecelia Roberts, who was a wife to this guy:

James C. Snow

James Chauncey Snow was a son of Garner Snow, who you’ve read about here on WFH, who joined the Church in 1833. James would have a prolific career in the Church, serving as a missionary and later in several leadership positions. He was also involved in local and state politics. When he died he was buried in Manti, which just happens to be the home of this man:

Albert Smith

Rockin’ the Amish style beard is Albert Smith, whose story will be told soon in an upcoming video. Albert too was a member of the Mormon Battalion and later a founder of the city of Manti, where he spent the remainder of his life. He was there so long and was so beloved in that community that for decades it seemed “Father Smith” spoke at every civic 4th of July and Pioneer Day celebration in Manti.

Rounding out our review of epic beards is a turn to the 21st century and my cousin, Kim Westover.

Kim Westover

This epic shot of this iconic beard reminds many of Hemingway and while I get that what I really see is a man with profound love for family and heritage. He knows well all the men above, as well as many others, and leads the family not only with occasional facial hair but in a unifying spirit, a great disposition, and a generous nature.

I hope I haven’t left anyone out. If you have any other great beards from our family past to share, please send them in!

A few weeks ago a young co-worker took a day off while his wife delivered their first child. Hearing this was going to happen I congratulated him and told him, “The world changes for you on that day.” He said, “What do you mean?” and I just told him, “Wait, you’ll see.”

When he returned with news that all was well, passing around pictures of a robust and healthy little boy, I enquired after his wife and asked how he was feeling. He smiled and said, “You were right – the world is a new place.”

I felt that way with every child my wife delivered. It was always exciting and nearly breathtaking in how abrupt it was – one era ended in an instant and a new one began.

To fully understand what that feels like you just have to experience it. It is one of things that maybe you can wonder about and perhaps others will tell you. But until your moccasins walk down that path you really have no idea.

I realized over this past weekend that my children are in a state where they really have no idea when it comes to their family heritage.

That’s not an accusation, that’s not something I levy to garner guilt or shame. It’s just the way it is.

We took another long weekend trek to Dad’s famed storage unit where 55 years of accumulation still exists and that we’re slowly working. Dad just can’t afford to house all this stuff (it’s not all his either) and decisions have to be made to deal with it all.

For days Dad worked with various family members to sort things into piles. There was a pile of Christmas stuff to be sold at a yard sale, a pile of things belonging to each child, a pile of things to be donated and a pile of stuff to be preserved.

The work generated a few fun moments. We learned quickly that what a box was labeled didn’t mean that’s what was inside – or that it was what we thought it was.

My daughter Madelyn came across a curious carton labeled “Redneck Pillow”. She laughed and wondered aloud who would own such a thing. Almost instantly, I surmised the box belonged to my little sister Kris, as she was the closest thing we had to a redneck in the family.

This made everyone laugh.

Madelyn tore open the box saying, “Well I’ve got to see what a redneck pillow looks like.” As soon as the flaps were opened she burst out laughing and pulled it out of the box, holding it high in the air.

“It’s not a redneck pillow, it’s a red NECK pillow!”.

After everyone had their laugh at that one of my kids asked, “Dad, why is Aunt Kris the redneck of the family?”

It was a fair question and I found some pictures of Kris during a phase when she was big into country music, wore hats and boots and all. They took some pleasure in seeing their much younger aunt in a new light but I was quite surprised they didn’t know this about her.

My kids are pretty fond of Kris so this was somewhat of a magical moment of discovery. The “cool aunt” just became a bit more cool, even though there isn’t a one of my children who are fans of country music. They have just always loved Kris’ take-no-prisoners love of life in pursuing the things she likes.

But in a way the moment encapsulated what is so awesome about family history.

We just don’t know what we don’t know.

All through out the weekend of working on this storage unit we found bits and pieces of family past. There were things in there that none of us knew were there.

For example, my Dad found an old metal file box which contained another box. The inner container housed mementos my Grandfather had saved of his parents. It contained their wills and a few personal items which now have to be well over a century old. Neither of us knew how they ended up in the pile of stuff.

But more importantly, my Dad was the only one who had a memory of these two people. I know of them from my family history research and many conversations with those who grew up with them. But my children have no connection to these great grandparents. The file box and what was in it did nothing to hold their interest.

In such “things” it is hard for anyone to find much connection.

In contrast, my children and those of my siblings that were there were anxious to find things connected to my mother. They knew my Mom and having lost her just two years ago they are missing her more than I think they anticipated.

We found several large cartons of crochet afghans my mother made. With each discovery voices were heard saying, “I want one!” or something similar. They knew there are few precious things left that came from my mother’s hands. There is no way I’m going to allow those things to be donated or tossed – we’ll clean them up and give them out again as gifts – from my mother.

Seeing this disparity in their appreciation for family past was a little distressing for me. But after giving myself some time to think I’ve come to realize that time is all they need to grow in their appreciation for all their family.

The eyes of youth are clouded by hopeful futures that they see on an endless horizon. Only time and wisdom and experience can give them the connective longing for their family past. My children are no different than I was at their age.

What I wouldn’t give to go back in time and listen a little better to my parents and grandparents. What I wouldn’t give to gather more of their precious memories and to document better the things they were telling me.

But I wasn’t seeing the world then through their eyes. I was seeing the world through my eyes where my future seemingly had so little to do with their past.

I know differently now.

Last week my sister-in-law shared the picture you see below. On the left is Beatrice Frances Baker, my wife’s great grandmother. She was affectionately known as Grandma Trix.

This picture reminded my sister in law of my daughter, Allie. And instantly I saw it too.

Hopefully you can see it. Hopefully the rest of my children can see it.

Grandma Trix is a beloved character among the Gillens and Malones, my wife’s family. I have heard nothing but magic and love about Grandma Trix.

But I do not yet know her history.

But seeing her in my daughter’s eyes draws me to her instantly. She is, in the end, family.

Beloved. Precious. Part of us.

In a way, this picture solves a little mystery I have had within me since the day my daughter Allie was born.

I’ve told the story many times but I’ve never really done much to explain my feelings on that incredible day. That birthing experience was something of a nightmare for my dear wife but for me it was a day filled with amazing discovery, love and revelation.

Allie was born with her eyes wide open – and she hardly made a noise.

In fact, though a little stranger to me in those first few moments of her life I saw then for the first time “the look” she gets that is uniquely hers whenever she experiences something new. Her mind was active and the wheels were spinning — and the expression on her face was one of wonder and discovery.

And then there were those big, beautiful brown eyes.

They say you can’t tell a baby’s eye color at the moment of birth. And generally I would agree because most of my children were born with grey colored eyes that eventually changed to blue or green.

Allie’s eyes were dark and they were huge.

I knew almost right away her eyes would be brown like her mother’s. It was a thrill to me, simple as this sounds, to have a brown eyed child.

But what struck me, especially in those first several hours of her life, was how those eyes spoke and expressed her feelings. Allie has the type of eyes that just communicate.

I can recall looking at my beautiful new daughter and wondering about those eyes. What came next was a sacred moment of revelation unlike any other I would have concerning my children. In an instant my entire head was filled with light and I was given knowledge about this little spirit.

I knew her and her capabilities at that very moment.

This is nearly 21 years ago now and looking back – through the perfect vision we all possess in looking back – I can see now that what I was given about Allie was perfectly accurate.

She was and remains unique among my children – not greater loved, not better, not more special than any of them. But unique – as different as those brown eyes that separate her from her siblings.

In nearly every way she is unique and different. Some joke that shouldn’t be a surprise because she is a middle child. I won’t go there because I’m a middle child myself and, well, you wouldn’t understand.

But I believe our family past has a big part in explaining what makes each of us unique.

To my daughter – who was named after my beloved Aunt Allie and after my wife – I would challenge you to get to know the Grandma Trix you see in this picture. There is a reason you have her look – and there is likely a good chance the look came from someone else in the distant past.

Do not think for a second that it is merely a coincidental thing that you share “a look”.

For example, this side-by-side picture of my daughter Maggie with a picture of my Grandmother. You’d have to be completely blind not to see the relation.

But I know both Maggie and my Grandma.

I am quite certain that if they had the chance to spend some time together they would delight in each other. I think they would find common ground beyond the things I know about them both. Both are precious to me and I feel they would be precious to each other.

Or how about these images of my Dad and my son.

My son Enoch is built like my Dad and has many of his mannerisms. There is meaning in that. And the similarities go much further.

Just as I would challenge Allie to get to know Grandma Trix and for Maggie to get to know my Grandma Westover I would invite my son to get to know my Dad more and to do it now. Your opportunity at embracing the past is only going to happen by the wiser part of the vision of your youth, son. You may not see the wisdom of it now. So trust me on this. You won’t regret getting close to your granddad while he’s still alive.

To me, that’s what I was feeling in the dusty confines of that storage unit – where the “family history pile”, as we came to call it – was the biggest of them all. There were photos and documents and keepsakes and stuff from all sides of my family.

For me, older now and wiser, I could “feel” their presence as I looked over these earthly things.

Some of it made me sad. I was, frankly, greatly missing my mother this weekend because hers was the biggest presence there, of course.

But I shared an interesting moment with my Dad.

I opened an old enveloped and inside was a stack of family group sheets. He saw them from a distance in my hands and said, “Those must be from my Grandma Westover.”

And I said, “No, Dad. These are from MY Grandma Westover – I think your mother gave you these.”

“How can you tell?” he asked.

“Well,” I said, “from the scans that Sam gave us of his Mother’s family group sheets they were all filled out by hand. These are typed. Grandma gave me a set just like this.”

Dad came over and thumbed through the sheets. “I think you’re right,” he said. Then from within the pages of these family group sheets out dropped a letter – in Grandma’s unmistakable hand writing.

In the letter, which was addressed to my father, Grandma talked about what a different year and what a different Christmas it had been for everyone and she thanked my dad for his many kindnesses to her during the course of that year.

“I think this was her last Christmas,” Dad said as he read the letter.

As he read the words that Grandma wrote about the family group sheets – “I want you to have these”, she said – I could feel so much of what my father was feeling just then.

He was missing his mom, too.

But as he carefully folded the letter back up and put it back into the envelope I thought what a wise woman my Grandma was.

Dad knew the names on those group sheets without looking at them. They were precious to him long before his mother ever gave him that for her last Christmas. They were precious to her, too.

But the real love was expressed, mother to son, in the words “I want you to have these”.

Not all of our family past can leave us something so personal.

Perhaps this why the Lord, in his wisdom, allows us to look like them, to carry on their names, and to be similar in habit and manner.

If I could tell my children anything right now it would be for them to look to their family past.

You can find answers there. You can find inspiration there.

I tell you they know you in your youth better than you know yourself. And as you explore who you are and come to terms with where you are headed and why you are here you would be wise to realize they are right here with you.

They know you and they love you.

You would be wise to know and love them too.

We’re soon to release a new video telling the story of William and Ruth Westover.

In truth, all of our other efforts have led us to this point.

William and Ruth are kind of a focal point for the many modern generations of Westovers due to the Westover Ranch in Rexburg, Idaho. The ranch was the homestead for William and Ruth and became central to the lives of their children.

Researching William and Ruth has been frustrating.

Although their history is relatively recent as compared to others we have profiled in the videos we produce there is actually very little left or recorded to share of their story.

In many ways they led tragic lives. William as the eldest son of Edwin and Ann was called upon to perform a long family service from around the age of 8.

He stayed in Mendon until he was well beyond the age of being an adult and I am certain it was to support the Findley family property and that of his mother in Mendon.

He delayed his marriage to Ruth by seven long years. Ruth was a local girl, herself a child of pioneer parents. Ruth and William were close to the same age.

While they did forge a life together and grew a large family they didn’t live long enough to see most of their children mature.

William died at the age of 42 of cancer and Ruth died 10 years later – far younger than most of their parents and grandparents.

All this has been known about William and Ruth. I’ve wanted to know more.

I’ve searched everything I can think of. The Church has no record of patriarchal blessings for them. The Rexburg ward records and those in Mendon don’t even mention them. Court and probate records are silent. Other than the few written histories about them that have existed for years and the few pictures we have of them I can find nothing more.

But where I have found some information that I didn’t know before came from indirect sources – through the histories of others who knew them and who associated with them.

I will save it for the video to showcase. But there is one bit of information I want to get out there now about William in particular.

He felt very, very strongly about the land that the Westover Ranch sits on.

How he came to acquire it, what he had to do to work it, and how long it took to happen is a real story that we’re yet to fully uncover.

But what we do know is that he desperately worked to complete his claim and put the property in the name of his family before he died. He filed the last of the paperwork just 8 days before he passed.

Perhaps this is why I heard my grandfather speak with such passion about the ranch.

I never understood it as a kid.

After all, I grew up in California. The ranch was a place from the imagination of my grandfather – a place where his memories had huge significance to him. He mentioned to us many, many times how much he wanted us to go to the ranch and make it a part of our lives.

My Uncle Darrell was no less passionate about it.

I can understand why for them it was important.

The children of William and Ruth – the parents and uncles and aunts to my grandfather and my great uncle – had to stay and fight for that place after their father died.

The family all invested many years and lots of sacrifice for that piece of property – and in the process they became beloved to each other.

I don’t know the history of that land completely since the days of that generation of the children of William and Ruth. I know the property that we call the ranch is now just a part of what it once was to William.

But I know that a later generation of Westovers came together in the 1970s to preserve it as a family gathering place where the legacy of the family could be celebrated and remembered.

I find it inspiring that the great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of William and Ruth on many sides work to continue to keep the ranch in the family.

I often wonder what William thinks of all this.

Many of his grandchildren and great grandchildren have now passed over and they can no doubt converse. He knows what they did. He is likely aware of what we are doing now in relation to the ranch.

To me, these generations of William and Ruth’s posterity have been wise. Their efforts to keep that piece of dirt in a remote place as a means of remembering who we are and where we come from resonates loudly with me. In many ways, what they have done there is what we’ve tried to do here on this little website.

The ranch helps us to remember who they were. It bears testimony of their goodness, their service and their sacrifice. It is a witness to all that they believed.

Rexburg is an area rich with history of families who staked a place of love and devotion. Many families have their stories rooted there. The Westovers are just one of many.

We have had to delve a little into the histories of others to find more of the story of William and Ruth. They didn’t have the time and they died too young to write much of their story themselves.

But their story has survived, just as the ranch has somehow survived.

We’re finishing that video soon. If you have anything we can add to it – pictures, old letters, journals, any kind of memory of record – I plead with you to contact me so that we can include it.

I think William and Ruth’s story is important to know and to share.