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Statue honors Kanab founder

KANAB, Utah — A nine-foot tall bonze statue of Levi Stewart, founder of this southern Utah community, was unveiled and dedicated June 16.

More than 160 descendants and residents of Kanab attended the statue unveiling and dedication and a banquet. The statue was dedicated by President Merlin Esplin of the Kanab Utah Stake. A sketch of the pioneer's life was given by descendant Monte Stewart.

A convert to the Church of 1836, Stewart was called by Brigham Young to settle Kanab. Stewart arrived in June of 1870, where he began by supervising the planting of crops. In September he became the first bishop of Kanab. A great tragedy befell him and the settlement in December of that year when the fort where they were living caught fire and his wife Margery and five of his sons died in the ensuing inferno. The colony was further troubled by a grasshopper plague in the summer of 1871, a measles epidemic in the winter, and a year later, an epidemic of a skin infestation called Epizootic.

Pioneer Jacob Hamblin recorded that he once saw Levi Stewart "in the fields praying. He was sobbing his heart out and asking his Maker to give him the strength to go on after the fire," said Searle Lansing Jones, sculptor of the statue. "He is a fitting person to honor."

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