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SMALLPOX SURVIVOR

A True Story of the West


Levi Mackin


Homesteading in Halbrite, Saskatchewan in 1906 was a lonely affair for any young man. But, being  quarantined for smallpox intensified the solitude.


July 9, 1906 found Levi Mackin feeling well enough to write his grandfather in Boardman, Ohio. He starts out, “I often think of you grandpa and now I will write down some of my thoughts and send them to you and tell you a little that will perhaps be of interest.”


“Sometimes we have to take time for things that we don’t have time for, such is my case at present, I have been quarantined since May 26th for the smallpox but expect to get loose in a day or two now. I wasn’t very sick just felt bad for about a week and broke out quite a little which was disagreeable.”


“It may leave a few marks but they won’t be many and very small. I have been here alone on my claim and spent most of my time studying and got along fine, dug stone and hunted ducks for exercise.”


“I have 65 acres broke and rented, it is into wheat and oats. The crops look fine. Wheat is just beginning to head now, I suppose it is all in the head down there.”


“I was working at carpenter work when I was taken sick. I expect to go down home and help with the harvest and come back here for threshing, I run an engine and can get $5 a day, I got 40 days last fall and hope to get as many or more this year.”


“I can prove up on my claim this fall and then will stay with Mother and help run the farm. Just think Grandpa I am 23 years old and it only seems as though I was a boy yet.”


“I am studying engineering, steam and electrical. I like the work very much but I suppose the farm is safest and best seeing we have such a good start. They are building a barn down there now and we have a good house and horses and machinery. We are 8 miles from town to haul grain and go to church and etc. I am only 3.5 miles here and go to church nearly every Sunday and can go to town and back in just a little while.”


“I have been setting out in the shade to write.... I suppose the trees and everything are lovely now, just think the only tree in sight is a little willow about 6 feet high down by the slough.”


“This with love and best wishes to you and all the folks, from your affectionate grandson.”


Levi M. Mackin



Young Levi recovered with almost no scars, but he did not stay in Canada. Instead, he started all over again on a larger homestead in Loesch, Montana. He also drilled wells and organized threshing crews in the fall. He married Ruth Irving and they had seven children.

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