For a lack of anything else to say and also because I am feeling some urgency to do it I have decided to write my autobiography. In order to describe who I am I thought it best if I give a background of where I come from. My genealogy has been quite thoroughly researched and written in far greater detail than I can write it so I will give an abbreviated version of it here and refer you to other books if you really want to know more. I will briefly described my ancestors and start from there.
The Leavitt line can be traced back to around 1066 when William of Normandy conquered the Saxons. The records show that William had with him a man named Richard Lovett. I am somewhat reluctant to admit my French roots but I'm confident that a thousand years ago the French were a bit more honorable and courageous than they are now. Somewhere between 1066 and 1500 the spelling of the name Lovett changed to Levett. The Levett's immigrated to America in 1628 and it was about that time that the spelling of the name changed to Leavitt. There were four brothers who immigrated, John, Josiah, Thomas and William. Unfortunately for Thomas, his entire family was wiped out by Indians and that was the end of his line. Fortunately for us the other three prospered and spread across the continent. As far as I know, any Leavitt spelled with an "A" comes from this family. I am a descendant of John who was commonly known as Deacon John.
I will now forgo the many "begat's" and just list the genealogy to bring us up to the famous Sarah Leavitt (yes, our lovely Sarah is named after this Sarah) and the statue at the beginning of this post is of Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt.
John, born 1608, married Mary Lovit
Moses, his son, b. 1650, married Dorothy Dudley.
Joseph. his son, b. 1699, married Mary Wadley.
Nathaniel, his son, b. 1729, married Lydia Sanborn.
Jeremiah, his son, b. 10 July, 1760, married Sarah Shannon.
Jeremiah, his son, b. 30 May, 1797, married Sarah Sturdevant.
Jeremiah and Sarah Sturdevant were both born in New Hampshire and married in March of 1817. Immediately after their wedding they moved to Hatley, Quebec, Canada and established their family. Hatley was just fifteen miles north of Vermont.
Years later Mormon missionaries came to Hatley preaching the gospel. Sarah and her mother in law were very prepared to receive this gospel and listened eagerly as the missionaries told of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel. On June 20, 1835 the entire family left everything they had and moved to Kirtland, Ohio where the church was at the time. There were twenty three people in the group that left Canada and they arrived in Kirtland in September at which point they were able to meet Joseph Smith and were baptized. Unfortunately the saints in Kirtland were preparing to move to Nauvoo and left shortly after the Leavitt's arrived. The Leavitts were now broke and Jeremiah found work in a nearby town to earn enough money to move on. After a few years they once again headed out planning to travel to Twelve Mile Grove near Nauvoo but ran out of money near lake Michigan where Jeremiah had to stop and work to earn more money. They finally ended up in Twelve Mile Grove where they suffered a great deal of sickness and Sarah Shannon passed away and was buried. The Leavitt's then bought a farm seven miles outside of Nauvoo and started to build a place for themselves. Their farm was near a place called "The Big Mound".
The Leavitt's established their farm in 1841 and by 1844 they were prospering well and planning on building a brick house on top of the big mound. Thomas was ten years old and since moving to Nauvoo two more children had been born. Jeremiah and Sarah's family members were:
MaryAnne Leavitt b. 2/1/1818 Hatley, QC
Clarissa Leavitt b. 1/1/1819 Hatley, QC
Louisa Leavitt b. 1/20/1820 Hatley, QC
Jeremiah Leavitt b. 2/10/1822 Hatley, QC
Lydia Leavitt b. 7/4/1823 Hatley, QC
Weir Leavitt b. 1825 Hatley QC
Lemual Sturdevant Leavitt b. 11/3/1827 Hatley, QC
Dudley Leavitt b. 8/31/1830 Hatley, QC
Mary Amelia Leavitt b. 2/10/1832 Hatley, QC
Thomas Rowell Leavitt b. 6/30/1834 Hatley, QC
Betsey Jane Leavitt b. 5/12/1838 Five Mile Grove, IL
Sarah Priscilla Leavitt b. 5/8/1841 Nauvoo, IL
In addition to their own twelve kids they were raising two adopted children who had been abandoned on their journey from Kirtland to Nauvoo. It was about this time that constant persecutions from the surrounding communities took a turn for the worse. Being outside of town the Leavitt's were pretty much left alone but there is one story that I would love to tell. I will just copy the story here.
Only once did the mobs threaten them. A group rode up to the fence and started toward the gate. Weir, a young giant of twenty-two faced them and said, "Tie up your horses and come on in fellers, come on in and have a drink." They were so surprised at this welcome that they followed him around the house to the cellar. He poured them a pitcher of wine, then lifting the barrel, drank from the bung hole. They saw his great strength, the cool fearlessness in his eyes; perhaps they noticed his brothers Lemuel, Dudley and Thomas, just boys, but boys with fight in them. They got on their horses and rode away.
The Leavitt's were eventually driven from their home and left Nauvoo with the rest of the saints in February of 1845. They made their way to "Mt. Pisgah" to wait out the winter and Jeremiah went into nearby "Bonepart" to work. It was the last time Sarah saw her husband alive because he took sick and died in Bonepart. There is a plaque in Nauvoo quoting part of Sarah's journal as she talks about the death of her husband Jeremiah. The picture is of our daughter Sarah standing by the plaque.
Sarah and her younger children started across the plains on June 1, 1850 and entered the Salt Lake Valley on a beautiful summer afternoon. They drove their wagon down the streets of Salt Lake City about 5:00 in the evening. The town had a population of about 5,000 people at that time.
The family settled in Toole and Thomas worked for a few years with his brother in law William Hamblin. He worked a lot with the Indians and learned their language. When Thomas was 23 years old he met Ann Eliza Jenkins and they were married March 1, 1857. They settled in Cache County Utah. During their first year of marriage they had a pretty scary experience with the Indians. Thomas's sister Betsey was living with them because her husband was on a business trip to California. She tells the story in her own words.
"The morning had been chilly and clear with a stiff breeze blowing off the snow-capped mountains. Gleaming in the distance seven new log cabins stood proudly in a clearing near the point of a hill. Around the hill a rough trail wound its way. which had its beginning at Salt Lake City. Seven pioneer families had come with all they possessed to spend the spring and summer making butter and cheese. This was a profitable business. Instead of hauling their products regularly into Salt Lake City, they were assured a steady market and a good price from emigrant trains en route to California gold fields which eagerly bought up all the dairy and farm products they could supply. This was the beginning of Wellsville, Cache Valley, Utah. Salt Lake City was fast becoming an oasis in a desert to these weary travelers.
The cabin farthest from the point of the hill belonged to Betsey and William Hamblin and the one beside it belonged to her brother Thomas Rowell Leavitt and his wife Ann Eliza Jenkins. Betsey had come to live here while her husband William Hamblin was on a business trip to California. She came alone with her two children Billy, two-an-a half years and Jane, only two months. She brought a few milk cows, also her two white oxen which had drawn her wagon from Salt Lake City.
"On the morning our story begins Betsey and Ann were washing in Betsey's cabin when Thomas, having nothing more to do, sat on the hearth making bullets for their guns. Beside him lay a powder horn and bullet mold. On the glowing coals he held a frying pan in which a large bar of lead was slowly melting. It was now near noon and Betsey decided to build up a fire in the huge fireplace and prepare dinner. Needing wood and not wanting to disturb Thomas she ran to the wood pile a short distance from the house. As she bent to pick up the wood her ear caught the sound of horses' hooves. Her heart pounding in sudden fear, she glanced toward the trail just as the first of a band of Indians appeared around the point of the hill. Filled with the pioneers' dread of the Redskins She snatched the two keen-bladed axes and raced for the house. "Indians" she screamed. "Lots of them," By this time the Indians had been seen by the settlers. Ann had been sitting on the bed resting and thinking as she held baby Jane. It would not be long, only a few short months before she would be holding her own child in her arms. A glow spread over her sweet face and she smiled to herself happy anticipation.
Startled, she looked- up. She caught that one word "Indians". All the color drained from her face and her dark eyes reflected the horror of this word as no other instilled in her. "Dear Lord have mercy upon us," she cried, and fell in a dead faint. the baby slipping from her arms to the bed. Thomas sprang to her side and took her gently in his arms. Meanwhile Betsey snatched BiIly off the floor and placed him beside the baby on the bed saying, "Thomas, put Ann beside the children. Then help me move the bed into the corner so that the foot will be behind the door. Now I am going to prop the door wide open and you talk to them. If they are the Ute tribe you can talk to them if they give you a chance and I'll keep running bullets. We might need all we can make. So saying, Betsey quickly busied herself at the fire. She took a long thin pole sharpened at one end and stirred the fire. Then picking up the pan which held the lead Thomas had started to melt, she sat down on the hearth and went to work.
At almost the same instant Betsey had sighted the Indians, others had also seen them. Amid cries from women and children and hoarse shouts from the men, all rushed to their cabins. Doors were shut and bolted and guns snatched from brackets over the beds. Now grim-faced men watched the approach of the band through the cabin portholes.
Strange to say the Indians did not stop when they reached the first cabins, but silent, grim and forbidding, as their chief who led them, they filed past, not stopping until they reached Betsey's cabin where they quickly formed a semicircle. They quickly dismounted, securely holding their horses by the lariats which were tied around the horses' necks. Their bows and arrows were held in the other hand. The chief took his place in the center facing the white man Thomas, standing in the door. The picture they formed as they crowded their horses together was one to chill the heart of a much older and harder man than Thomas who was only twenty-three. There must have been a hundred savages, their bodies, save for a loin cloth, were naked and painted, their hair had been plastered with mud and feathers were stuck in the back, but the most horrible picture of all was the scalps dangling from their waists. Beautiful brown tresses of some unfortunate girl and long, grey hair of some elderly lady, were reminders of recent savage brutality.
It seemed to Thomas he lived a lifetime when waited for silence among the Indians. When the last horse was quieted he stepped into the circle and called a greeting to the chief. A grunt was the only answer as the chief glowered at him, hate and lust to kill in his black eyes. Thomas went bravely on with his speech. Speaking slowly and weighing ever word carefully, "We are peaceful people. We have never harmed you or your people. We ask you not to harm us." "Ugh," grunted the chief. "White men liars. We kill all white men. My braves want blood revenge for brothers killed." In his hand he held a long thin pole sharpened to a point at one end, not unlike Betsey's poker. Now he raised his hand and threw it to the ground with such force it stood; upright, buried in the earth deep enough to hold the rest of its weight. Immediately scores of arrows from his warriors encircled it. His brain; working with lightning rapidity, Thomas slipped quickly back into the cabin. Going up to Betsey he said "Do you know what that means?" Betsey answered, "Yes, I know, but Thomas we will not give up here."
Laying his hand on her shoulder he said, "That kind of courage always wins the day." He seized the poker from beside the fireplace, then standing in the doorway he raised to his toes and threw it with all his strength close beside the chiefs spear. The makeshift spear stood just as proudly as the Indian chiefs in the circle of arrows. A surprised grunt came from the chief and he eyed Thomas with his hostile eyes. The white man walked boldly to where the chief stood beside his horse. Immediately the silence was broken as the savages, keeping time with their moccasined feet, started a low weird chanting of their war song. Thomas joined his voice with those of the warriors, singing as he had never sung before in his whole life. After the song ended each warrior, placing his hand over his mouth, gave I blood curdling war whoop. The chief, laying his hand over Thomas' heart said, "White man brave, white man not afraid."
Thomas spoke again, "My sister and I and the other people in their cabins do not want to die, we want to live and be friends to the red man. Do you want to die? Do you love your warriors?" At once the chief swept the circle with his hand and then placed his hand over his heart. "Yes, I love them very much. They are all brothers to me." Thomas took advantage of this. "We may die, but some of your warriors that you say you love will die also—maybe even you, their chief will die first, for inside every cabin are white men with guns watching you through little holes in the wall. lf you start to kill us they will kill many of you with the guns that are all loaded and pointed at you right now."
At this point the Indians began their war chant again. To Thomas it seemed to hammer at his brain and the whole thing seemed like a horrible nightmare closing in on him. The stench from the Indians' bodies, the horses and scalps made him deathly sick. With an effort he pulled himself together. He stepped back into the house and went quickly to Betsey's side. "Betsey," he said in a steady voice, "the chief says we are brave people and because we are so brave he will be good to us and those in their cabins if we will give them all of our cattle, food and clothing, they will let us go peaceful over the mountain to Salt Lake City."
As the full import of the proposition struck home to her, she jumped to her feet. standing straight and bravely before him she said, with deep feelings, "No, Thomas, no. We will not do that. It would only mean death in the end, if not from cold then from starvation. We could not hope to get over the mountain. There is still snow in the pass. We will die fighting first."
"You are right." said Thomas. "I'll go and see what the others say. The chief has granted me permission to talk to them." He was back in a few minutes. "Most of them say accept the terms. They say maybe they will take everything."
"Thomas," said Betsey thoughtfully, "if the Lord has made these Indians merciful enough to suggest terms at all when they can take everything by killing us and the price would be just a few warriors, then I feel He is opening the way to spare our lives. Go tell them they can have the two white oxen and that is all. Tell the chief I have my gun aimed at his heart and he will be the first to die, but tell him this as a last resort."
Again Thomas stepped out into the semi-circle. He strode up to where the chief stood waiting, stopping only a few feet from him. He drew himself up and looking the chief full in the face he spoke swiftly in the Indian dialect. "My sister and I cannot accept your terms because we would all die anyway. We could not get through the deep snow in the mountain pass, with no covering for our bodies, for we are not tough like your warriors. My brave sister says for you to take the two white oxen because they are the best we have and are fit even for an Indian chief. Take these and go in peace."
Thomas held his breath while the chief gave him a grim solid look. Suddenly the chief seized Thomas in his strong, brawny arms. He hugged him as though he could not restrain his admiration for this white man's bravery. Betsey, watching from the cabin, almost fainted. She thought surely her brother was being killed. Then she breathed again as she saw the chief release Thomas. This broke the silence. "White man and squaw talk brave, very brave. We no kill. Take oxen and go."Not long after this experience Thomas and Ann moved to Santa Clara near St George, UT. They were very successful in growing cotton and grapes. When Thomas and his wife moved here this made their family complete again and they were all together again. Four years after he married Ann Eliza Jenkins, Thomas married a second wife, Antionette Davenport. She was born September 2, 1843 at Hancock, McDonnough County, Illinois. They were married at the endowment house at Salt Lake City by Pres. Brigham Young on March 9, 1861.
The heat was too hot for Ann and as her health began to fail Thomas moved back to Wellsville where he still owned his property. He was sheriff in Wellsville for a number of years. On one occasion while serving in this capacity, a celebration was being held in Wellsville. A man who had been in the Federal Army, put on his Confederate suit with his sword on his side, and proceeded to frighten people at the celebration. Thomas was notified, he approached the man and said, "You'd better give me that sword, I’m going to have to arrest you and take you in for the trouble you've been causing." Whereupon the man drew his sword on Thomas, ready to fight. Thomas shot one of his fingers on the hand he was using to hold the sword. He dropped the sword. Thomas then took the subdued soldier to jail.
Thomas had twelve children with Ann Eliza and ten children with Antoinette. Antoinette died giving birth to her tenth child. Their fourth child, Alfred is my great-grandfather. Antoinette's nine surviving children were:
James Rowell--born 22 Oct. 1862 Wellsville,
married Francetta Cantwell 21 Jan 1884.
Julia Ann--born 5 Dec 1863,
married John Wyatt 23 Nov. 1882.
Sarah Almira--born 24 May 1866, Wellsville
married John Ephrim Redford 20 May 1886.
Alfred--born 26 June 1868. Wellsville
married Mary Ann Hutchinson 10 Jan 1894
Jeremiah--born 17 Mar. 1870 at Wellsville,
married Rhonda Harrod 20 June 1890.
Betsey--born 12 Nov. 1871 at Wellsville,
married John Wyatt 7 June 1890.
Margaret--born 29 Oct. 1873 at Wellsville,
married Jacob Workman 29 May 1889.
Thomas Dudley--born 9 May 1876 at Wellsville
married Dorcas Emmeline Leavitt 21 Feb 1903.
John--born 16 July 1878 at Wellsville,
married Ann Eliza Marsden 16 July, 1890.
Poor Ann now had twenty one children to raise by herself. Perhaps this is why Thomas decided to marry a third wife. Harriet Martha Dowdle, had been married before and had one child from that marriage. She married Thomas June 26, 1883 and moved into the duplex that Thomas had built for this first two wives. Hattie had three more children with Thomas.
Around this time polygamy had been made illegal in the United States and many of the polygamist men were being arrested. Some of the polygamists headed to Mexico to escape but President John Taylor (born in England and having lived in Canada) suggested to Charles Ora Card that they would be treated better by the British and encouraged him to scout out Canada. In September 1866 Charles and a group of men went up into British Columbia, over to Calgary and then down through southern Alberta. They decided on some land between Lee's creek and the St Mary River in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The soil was rich, the grass was tall and there was plenty of water. It was to become my homeland.
Under the direction of President Taylor, Charles Card soon organized a group of settlers that included Thomas Rowell and his third wife Hattie. Ann stayed behind with most of the children. She was getting too old for the pilgrim thing. They left on April 6, 1887 and Thomas rode horse back driving several head of cattle. Hattie and the children rode in a covered wagon. The group was large and some were able to travel faster than others so they divided the group in two and the first group headed by Joannas Andersen arrived at Lee's Creek May 25, 1877. There was still snow in the valley so they should have known what they were up against then. The second group arrived eight days later.
This is a painting by Frank Thomas and it depicts Thomas Rowell Leavitt as he crosses Lee's Creek entering Cardston with the first party of settlers.
They lived in their covered wagons while they planted crops and then Thomas led a party to scout the mountains to get wood for their houses. On one of the trips the group crested a hill and admired the beautiful green valley below them. Thomas' words were:
"I would like all of my sons and daughters to establish homes of their own in this beautiful valley."
That valley is now called the town of Leavitt and it is where I lived until I was eight years old and our family moved into Cardston.
Once the crops were planted and a good source of logs found in the mountains everyone started building their homes. Thomas's home was next to Card's home and as they were building Nettie became quite sick. Everyone focused on Thomas' home so that Nettie could get out of the elements. They moved in on August 12, 1887 making the Leavitt house the first house built in Cardston. The Card home was the second. The home was still in use until 1958 when it was torn down. When they had to take it apart there wasn't a nail or peg in any of the logs--the corners were dove-tailed and fitted so perfectly that people were amazed at the workmanship used in building this home.
The ward was called the Card Ward and was attached to the Cache Valley Stake in Utah where Charles Card was still the Stake President. Thomas was the second councilor in the first bishopric and was in that position until he died May 21, 1891.
Over the next several years Ann and all but two of Thomas' twenty two children joined him in Cardston. Beginning in 1893 they began homesteading in Buffalo Flats which came to be known as the town of Leavitt. They couldn't settle there sooner because of a lease agreement. Large herds of buffalo roamed that area and they didn't want to disturb them. I guess environmentalists have been around for some time.
On May 21, 1891 Thomas Rowell Leavitt died of the flu. Cardston borders the largest Indian reservation in all of Canada and while many of the settlers were afraid of them, Thomas learned their language and was a friend. When he died many Indians mourned his loss by pacing up and down the street in front of his home howling and moaning. After the death of Thomas, Ann moved into Leavitt and homesteaded there while Hattie lived in town and raised the younger children.
Alfred Leavitt was only nine when his mother died and he took on much of the work to care for the younger children. When he was sixteen Ann (his step mother) gave him a quilt and a pillow and told him he was on his own. When the rest of the family moved to Canada he stayed behind because he was dating Mary Ann Hutchinson. They were married January 10, 1894 in the Logan Temple. Their first two children were born in Wellsville and then they moved to Canada to join the rest of the family. They left Utah on June 17, 1897 and arrived in Cardston July 26, 1897. They spent the winter with his brother Jeremiah and the following summer they settled down on a half section five miles south of Leavitt. They had eleven children and their second child, Afred Darius Leavitt was my grandfather.
Thomas Hutchison Leavitt
b. 24 OCT 1894 in Wellsville, Cache Co., UT
Alfred Darius Leavitt
b. 22 MAR 1896 in Wellsville, Cache Co., UT
Melvin Hutchison Leavitt
b. 17 AUG 1898 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Loran Hutchison Leavitt
b. 4 NOV 1900 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Alta Jeanetta Leavitt
b. 17 OCT 1902 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Mary Ellen Leavitt
b. 9 NOV 1904 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Elden Hutchison Leavitt
b. 19 OCT 1906 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
b. 30 AUG 1908 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Delbert Hutchison Leavitt
b. 9 APR 1911 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
b. 7 OCT 1913 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
b. 12 AUG 1915 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
Dean H Leavitt
b. 12 FEB 1917 in Leavitt, Alberta, Canada
With nine boys in the family I imagine that no one messed with the Leavitt's. It may also be partly responsible for why the largest name in the department of motor vehicles in the province of Alberta is Leavitt. In 1902 Alfred bought land next to Lee's creek and lived there for a number of years. Shortly after they moved in the creek flooded and the water rose until it was right at the doorstep of the house. My grandpa remembers that flood very well. Unfortunately, their brand new chicken coop (along with most of the chickens) was carried away down the creek. In 1914 he bought property in the town of Leavitt to be nearer the School and the Church. Finally in 1916 Alfred bought a half section, two miles north of Leavitt. This is the farm that he later sold to Uncle Devere. I remember going there often as a little boy. In 1939 he moved into Cardston. On August 9, 1939 Alfred was at a baseball game cheering on his team when he fell on his face dead. Baseball was his favorite sport so it seems appropriate that he went out watching the game. I wonder if his team was winning?
My grandpa was Alfred Darus Leavitt, known as Doss to those who knew him. He was born March 22, 1896 in Wellsville, Cache County, Utah just before his parents decided to move to Canada. It is a good thing he was born there because that is one of the reasons I was able to get US citizenship. Doss married Nellie Grace Quinton (born July 7, 1896) April 5, 1917 and they had four children. Grandpa loved to tell the story about his "honeymoon". The day after they got married he loaded up his wagon and took his new bride to their home out on the ranch. I'm not sure where this ranch was but on his way he had to cross the creek. The creek was still frozen but due to the warm weather there was a lot of water running on top of the ice. Half way across the ice, you guessed it, one wheel broke through. Grandma had a trunk full of her most valuable items so Grandpa being the chivalrous man that he was, hopped into the creek in icy water up to his waist. He cut the horses loose because they were getting hit with large chunks of ice. He then rode one of the horses back to grandma where he had left her in the middle of the creek and loaded her on the back of the horse and got here out. They then stayed the night at the neighbors who lived by the creek. That was their honeymoon. They dragged the wagon out the next morning and headed on to their home. I really hope grandma's trunk for of stuff was OK.
In 1919 Doss and Nellie moved to Warner and rented a farm for a few years until land came up for sale in Leavitt. They bought the land and moved to Leavitt and that is where my Dad grew up. After my Dad returned from his mission in New Zealand he married my Mom and then Grandpa turned the farm over to my Dad. Grandpa and Grandma then moved into Cardston. In the picture are my sisters, Jackie, Dixie and Fara with Greg on the right standing in front of the farm. Notice the large sandstone rocks near the top of the hill. Those were very fun to play in. Below the rocks are some trees and just below the trees is an irrigation ditch that ran across the face of the hill. Somewhere near the top of Dixie's head is a natural spring. Kira took this picture at the family reunion they had this summer. Sadly it was the third reunion in a row that I've missed and I'm going to have to fix that.
The children of Doss and Nellie are:
LaMont Leavitt b. July 30, 1918
md. Phyllis Wiggill b. Dec 12, 1921
Darus Dahl Leavitt b. May 14, 1921
md. Eda Broadbent
Arlen Quinton Leavitt b. June 4, 1925
md. Flora Lybbert b. Dec 9, 1927
Zona Jeanette Leavitt b. April 25, 1932
md. LaMar D. Peterson b. March 4, 1928
md. Kinunnen b. William Alexander Kinnunen b. March 15, 1929
So you can see that I have quite a heritage that I need to live up to. If I think about it too much it seems like quite a burden.