John McCleve

This is an assignment for a class I am taking. We are to write about Genealogical History, which is interesting after learning this week about the blurred line between legit historians and lay genealogists. Without further ado, here’s my post:

I have chosen to write about my paternal great grandfather, John McCleve. He died long before I was born, but I sure knew his oldest daughter, my Grandmother, whom I adored. She told me once that her family had come to the United States because they wanted to migrate to the American West and that her husband’s family – my Grandfather’s family – had come to the United States because they were “horse thieves” escaping hanging. I remember laughing as a girl when she would tell me this of her ancestral in-laws. I thought there’s no way this could be true because our family is so intensely set on living honorably!

However, as an adult looking for genealogical information regarding the four brothers, the alleged horse thieves, it seems she might not have been merely gossiping about her ancestral in-laws. For, when any of us search, we hit a wall, a hard wall of nothing. Family lore holds that four brothers came to the United States and upon arriving, they burned all of their identifying documents and went their separate ways vowing to never contact each other again so they couldn’t be found.

While I would love for this assignment to be filled with wild and exciting tales of horse thieves, I will turn to John McCleve who was a horse lover and trainer. I often think of my paternal great grandfather because, as my Grandmother and her two sisters wrote in his life story that he trained the horses he used in his freight hauling business “so he didn’t have to use a line on them at all.”

This makes me think of my dad, seen in the picture above, who would train his horses so that he could ride them without a bridle or reins. He would lope, turn circles, stop and back up in Bill Hardison’s arena when I was a child, using nothing more than his legs to cue his horses. I found it a most impressive fete then and as an adult I understand it is a truly impressive fete filled with dedication and hard work.

John McCleve had a fourth grade education. He was a devoted man who worked extremely hard and – if the life story written by his daughters is to be believed, which I have no reason to doubt it – he strove for a standard of excellence in all areas of his life. They report that John McCleve “finished the fourth grade in school, but times were hard and money was very scarce, so to help with finances for the family he took a job herding sheep when he was about ten years of age. He got the rest of his book learning by reading books while herding sheep and practiced his writing on the ground, using a finger or a stick.” I see this thirst for knowledge in his daughter, her son my father, myself and someday hope to find it in my children – we are voracious readers!

The daughters write that John McCleve “had a great sense of humor.” This runs strong in our family and my dad, pictured above, is always one to see, and often one to create, the humor in most situations as did his mother before him. I am very thankful to have inherited this ability!

I should add that I don’t have any pictures of John McCleve so my dad is having to fill the picture void in this post! John McCleve reminds me very much of my dad as I read in his life story that he “was very ambitious, a hard worker even as a young boy; and like his father was a great lover of animals and always took good care of them.” Eventually, John McCleve’s hard work paid off and he became a prosperous businessman with a beautiful ranch near Taylor, Arizona. This runs in the family as well. My dad is an incredibly hard worker who picked a difficult road to success but stayed faithful to his chosen road and became very successful. He taught us to work hard and this blessing has been a comfort to me throughout my life. Hopefully, I am continuing this tradition with my children of hard work, dedication and success.

I see a continued thread of loving horses, hard-work, knowledge and family handed down from one generation to the next in my family. I am incredibly thankful for this! It also makes me ponder the impact one generation has on the next. For better or worse, whether we mean to or not, we are influencing our children and posterity for generations to come in all that we do. This makes me want to strive to be my very best at all times and do my very best for my babies!

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