Livingstons of Craig, Colorado
By Stott Cook
The Livingstons Settle in Craig
Pioneer stories of the Livingston's usually begin in Scotland and deal with the 300 years the family was indentured to the Lords to work in the coal mines. With the country ending the practice of indenturement and two Mormon missionaries sent to England ending up in Scotland, the Livingston conversions and migration to this country begins. Usually the focus is on Christina (also known as Granny Livingston) and family and the six years it took her to get from Scotland to Liverpool, England. Getting on a boat and spending six weeks on the ocean before landing in New Orleans was a struggle. Ferrying up the Mississippi and crossing the plains to the Salt Lake Valley would test the will of the hardiest of people. We celebrate the family settling in the Valley, working at the temple quarry and on the Pacific railroad. Sometimes the stories end when Brigham Young sent them to Birch Creek. However, pioneer stories continued long after that with each family. So it was with the family of William and Lillias Dick Livingston.
Many family members ended up on the Western slope of Colorado employed in the livestock business. The open country found there was perfect for raising sheep, high mountains for summer range and lowland for winter range.
Joe Livingston led the migration to Colorado during the 1940's with headquarters at the Motherwell Ranch (name comes from a city in Scotland). A man with much initiative and great ingenuity, there was nothing he wouldn't tackle. In the early years of his marriage Joe worked in the coal mines, but when given a chance, he established himself as a sheepman. He began in Sanpete County, but in the early twenties moved his outfit to Weber Canyon around Chalk Creek and Coalville. Seeing opportunity in Craig, Colorado, Joe sold and resettled, eventually running around 20,000 sheep in the surrounding area. He was instrumental in establishing many of his nephews and family members in the sheep business in Colorado.
Joe and the extended Livingston family that settled in Western Colorado were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. From a humble Sunday School meeting at the Motherwell Ranch to two stakes, the story of their success in the livestock business was equaled by the growth of the church. Joe and the family that followed were an important part of the growth of the church. Like the pioneers before them, the families all faced hardships. Weather, finances, sickness, death, and divorce tested them. But, living in the small country towns, the Colorado mountains, the growth of the church, all helped overshadow the hardships. The Colorado Livingstons wrote a great story!
William Livingston and Lillias Dick Family - Three Generations
| William Dick|
| Archibald Dick|
|Leslie La Rue|
Brief History of the L.D.S. Church in Craig
By Helen M. Livingston
NOTE: Much of this history is taken directly from the minutes written up by Georgia R Livingston
The town of Craig was officially incorporated as a town on July 15, 1908. Since that time it has built up fast and continues to grow.
Craig is the center of a large livestock and farming area. It is beautifully situated on the Yampa River and Fortification Creek. The William's Fork River and the Snake River join the Yampa. The uplands of these rivers afford good summer range for stock. The lands north and west provide good winter range.
Some members of the Latter Day Saint Church were really pioneers in this area. Sister Elizabeth Ellgen joined the church in Kansas in 1912. She came to Craig in 1916. Her sons, Lorence and Philip and daughter, Blanche Chadwick, were all born here. Brother Claude Myers and his wife, Martha Myers, carne to this country in 1925. Sister Hattie Hampton came in 1927.
In November 1940 two missionaries of the Western States Mission were sent to Craig and vicinity to take census of the people. They found a number of people belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, so it was decided by President W. W. Seegmiller that missionaries would be sent to Craig. On December 19, 1940, two missionaries, Elder Van E. Wiley and Elder James Hansen, came to Craig. On January 1, 1941 the first Sunday School was held. Permission was given by Mr. Beiser to hold meetings in the basement of the bank building. The Latter Day Saints in Craig were hungry for the spiritual things in life as most of them had been away from the church and had been deprived of the blessings gained from attending Sacrament and other church meetings. A kind, friendly and good spirit attended those first meetings in the basement of the bank building.
On February 9, 1941 the first conference was held in Craig, at the Congregational Church, under the direction of President W. W. Seegmiller. The first Relief Society of Craig was organized at this time with Sister Martha Myers as president.
On June 29, 1941 the Craig Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was organized. Brother Joseph F. Livingston was called as President, with Brother Claude Myers as First Counselor. Later Brother Theon Watson was made Second Counselor. Brother Joseph F. Livingston and his capable wife, Georgia R. Livingston, devoted much energy, thought, time, and spiritual and material wealth to the beginning of our church in Craig.
On July 27, 1941 Sunday School and Sacrament Services were held at the Livingston Motherwell Ranch. There were sixty-eight present. The first baptismal services were held in the afternoon.
"Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."
Those words were realized by the members of the branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at this baptismal service July 27, 1941. Eighteen persons were baptized at the Livingston Motherwell Ranch, in a beautiful spot on the William's Fork River that flows through the ranch.
During the conference held in Craig, February 9, 1941 President Joseph F. Livingston became very determined that there would be a church building in Craig. Having foresight and business understanding Brother Livingston saved a great deal of time in getting the building started. On May 29, a committee for the building of the chapel was organized. The chairman of the committee was Claude Myers. Assisting Brother Myers were Norman G. Winder, J. F. Livingston, Wayne Kipp and Ray Smith. Donations came in rapidly. Members and non-members contributed liberally to raise the necessary funds.
On September 13, 1941 the ground breaking ceremony was held. A beautiful, humble and spiritual dedicatory prayer was given by President Elbert R. Curtis of the Western States Mission.
On September 29th the actual work of the building began. Brother Edward C. Anderson, the architect and Brother H. J. McKeen, the contractor were there to supervise the start. Every care was taken to make this a fine building.
During the construction of the new chapel in Craig, all members labored zealously. Quiltings, bazaars, and sales were sponsored by the women, and every member gave his hearty support. Non-members, too, were generous with donations and with verbal encouragements.
On June 23, 1942 the new Latter Day Saint Craig Chapel dedicatory services were held in the new church. The dedicatory prayer was given by Elder Joseph F. Merrill.
During the first years in our new chapel many splendid meetings were held. Many fine programs have been given. A beautiful Christmas pageant, directed by Georgia R. Livingston, marked the first Christmas in the new chapel.
Many strong and faith promoting testimonies have been born. On September 19, 1943 Brother Frank Y. Taylor gave a talk in Sacrament meeting. He ended his talk with a blessing. He promised that if our people in Craig would keep God's commandments we should prosper, be blest with health and strength, and be free from any serious outbreaks of disease or contagion. He also said that if we would keep the commandments the time would come when the chapel would he filled to overflowing.
That time surely did come. By the year fifty-three and four we found our church was not large enough to care for the attendance. Primary classes were having to leave the chapel and find room in homes to do their work.
About the year 1947 the Branch Presidency could foresee the need of additional room, especially class room and recreational facilities. This thought was with President Loyal Cook always. At the time of his release in September 1951, he continued to impress this upon the new Branch Presidency.
By early 1953 the need for more room was becoming urgent with the membership numbering over 209. Early in the summer of 1953 an assembly of the priesthood was called together to discuss the problem of additional room. The Priesthood were solidly in favor of building an addition to our present building. The problem was presented to the membership of the Branch at Sacrament meeting in June. The membership voted in favor of building and pledged their support to the Branch Presidency.
A building committee was appointed by the Branch Presidency consisting of Loyal Cook, Abe Livingston, Hugh Seely, Claude Myers, Robert Moon, Ed Harding and the Branch Presidency, Lewis R. Livingston, Paul Davis, Art Boren, A. L. Watson, Grant Cook, Lorence Ellgen, and Orson Rollins.
At subsequent meetings of the building committee it was decided to build as large an addition to our present building as we had room for on our lot. Approval was secured from the town council to overrule the town building code and thus get our building ten feet longer and three feet wider then we could have under the present plan. By building to our property line on the north and on the west we would be able to erect a building 30'x72 1/2', with class rooms in the basement and recreation hall on the main floor. This was thought the best plan.
President Livingston then met with President Elmer O. Bair of the District and President Ray E. Dillman of the mission and told them what the Craig Branch wished to do and received their pledged support. The estimated cost of such a building was $50,000 of which the Craig Branch share would be 30% or $15,000. President Livingston was informed that 50% of the Branch's share would have to be raised before the church would let construction begin. President Livingston carried this word back to the building committee and $2,500 was immediately raised by the committee in their meeting.
One month later the building committee reported to President Lewis Livingston they had $7,500 and we could make application to the church to begin construction.
It was now in September and everyone felt if construction was to begin this year it would soon have to be started. President Dillman was very helpful, and encouraged us in every way to set a ground breaking date and begin construction. The ground breaking was held October 10, with President and Sister Dillman in attendance and excavation of the basement began the following day.
The construction was begun by faith because no actual plans had yet been received. Paul Davis, who was going to act as building foreman and President Livingston drove to Salt Lake City and brought back the basement plans so work could continue until the complete plans were received.
Beginning with the first day of construction prayer was held before each working day. President Davis certainly did his share of praying. Day after day he would be the only member working, the rest of the crew being non-members. Non-members working soon began looking forward to the prayer each morning.
Getting started so late in the year with winter and freezing weather so near, construction was rushed forward every available working hour.
The recreation hall and class room addition and remodeling of chapel was completed at a cost of $60,000. The actual construction began October 15, 1953 and, although Craig is noted for their severe winters, only one or two days were lost in construction because of the weather.