From the American Biography: A New Cyclopedia, Vol. 5, by William R. Cutter, is this photograph of JOHN PARSONS LEAVITT. He was a Lynn, Massachusetts native, born there on 14 May 1847 to William Parsons and Sarah (Jordan) Leavitt. His parents, having married in Lynn in 1837, had removed to Lebanon, NH soon after, and later went to Woodstock, VT, before returning to the city prior to John's birth. His father was a machinist, a manufacturer of parts for shoe making machinery, with a shop on South Common. He afterwards moved to Federal Street, where he would manufacture wax for the McKay Sewing Machine (for shoes).
John's mother died from consumption in February, 1863 at the age of 45. The following year, at only 16 years, 9 mos, he signed up with the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry. He claimed to be 18 1/2 years old, and gave them his brother Albert's birthplace of Woodstock, VT, perhaps as a way for recruiters to not be able to verify his age. When a minor under 21 enlisted, a parent or guardian usually signed a consent form. John, however, told recruiters that both of his parents were dead, and "I am free to enlist if I choose."
He was mustered into Company H on 3 March 1863, for three years of service. The summer of '64 found him hospitalized in Halltown, Virginia due to sickness. Following the ending of the war, the Third Mass Cavalry rode to Washington and participated in the Grand Review on May 23rd. Expecting to then be sent home for mustering out, they instead received orders to ship out west for Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, arriving near the end of June. Pvt. Leavitt became sick again, and spent his time "on the plains" in the fort's hospital. During that time, he was transferred into Co. B, and remained on the rolls until being mustered out on 8 Aug. 1865.
He returned home, and went into the machinist trade like his father. Following his father's passing in 1870, he took over the wax manufacturing business, and ran it for about eighteen years, before selling out to a Boston company. His biography says he also had an interest in real estate but, by the 1890's, he had retired from business life. He was a member of the Golden Fleece Masonic Lodge in Lynn.
In 1869, he had been married to Josephine Cilley, the daughter of David T. and Sylvina Cilley of Nottingham, NH. In 1877, he had purchased 15 acres of land from his in-laws [Rock. Deeds, Vol. 472, pg 232], and had lived there for a time, but they returned to Lynn prior to 1886, still keeping the Nottingham place for a summer home. They had a house on Walnut Street in Lynn, just a few blocks over from where he grew up on Federal St. The home still stands today.
John P. Leavitt died on 22 Sep 1915, aged 68 yrs, and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Lynn. His wife Josie passed away in 1925. They had no children.
The American Biography books were published by the American Historical Society, Inc. of New York, beginning in 1916, and compiled by a staff of editors over its 50 plus volume run through 1933. The above photograph was a scan of a separated page from Vol. 5 (1919), its pages having been dissected and the images sold individually on Ebay (2021). Link to book and bio:
Cutter, W. Richard. American biography: a New Cyclopedia. New York: Pub. under the direction of the American Historical Society. 1916. - on Hathitrust or Google
1850 Lynn, Essex, MA: hh 581/791; William P. a shoe tool maker; John P, age 2
1860 Lynn, Essex, MA census (pg 401): hh 2484/3429, John P, age 12, w/ parents
1865 MA State Census, Lynn, MA: hh 733; Wm P, 49, wax manuf, John P., 18, wax maker
1870 Lynn, MA census (pg 134): hh 898/1204; John P., 23, machinist, w/ father
1880 Nottingham, Rockingham, NH census (pg 9): hh 82/87; listed as farmer
1900 Lynn, MA census (pg 3A): lived 140 Walnut, retired, owned home
1910 Lynn, MA census (pg 23B): hh 249/386; lived 202 Walnut (same home, # changed); John, a.63, w/ Josephine, a. 58, "own income", marked a Union Army veteran
City Directories (Lynn): 1871, 1882, 1886-7, 1895, 1902
Civil War Pension Index: Co. H & B, 3. Mass Cav; filed 17 May 1909 (cert #1,155,827), widow Josie filed 15 Oct 1915 (cert #801,279)
Civil War Service Records: full file for John P. Leavitt on Fold3.com (requires subscription)
This creased and torn photograph was purchased on Ebay back in February, an unbelievable $4. special labeled as a posed haying photo, with Dr. James Leavitt mentioned in the auction headline. On the reverse side, besides the doctor, it also mentions "Laurence, Mel, Frank Leavitt". No location was written on it, but a quick search easily found the only family to match these names.
This is the family of Dr. James Mellen Leavitt of Lord's Hill in Effingham, New Hampshire. He was born 26 Jul 1852 in Effingham, NH, the son of James Bean and Mary (Lamper) Leavitt [Desc. of Thomas Leavitt v4, pg 123/180 & v4-1990 pt1 p17] and was married to Emma Estelle Leavitt, dau. of Thomas B and Elizabeth H (Jordan) Leavitt [Desc. of Samuel Leavitt v5, pg 152], born 10 Oct 1855 in Boston, Suffolk, MA. They had nine children (While the 1900-'10 censuses both say "ch 7/5", NH VR show two more children had died in infancy), five of whom grew to adulthood.
When comparing the ages of the three boys, Laurence, "Mel" (Mellen), and Frank, in the picture with the above 1910 census, it seems to show the picture was taken around that year. If Dr. Leavitt is in the foreground, then the older man standing at the right in the wagon may be a farm laborer (in 1920, the family had hired man Fred Murray living with them, aged 46). The three women would likely be Estelle and their two daughters, Mae and Gladys.
In the photo, an outline of mountains can barely be seen off in the far distance. From the 2008 Google Street View of Province Lake Road, the same range can be seen when looking westward over the former Leavitt farmland (the homestead is on opposite side of road). GPS: 43.760260, -70.997582
Below is the satellite view of this neighborhood, with the old home and the family cemetery marked. In one of the fields opposite the home this old photo was taken. Much of the landscape has likely changed in the last 100 years, but the general location of this "photoshoot" is at least known. The NALF Reunion of 1990 visited Effingham and toured many of the buildings in town.
This amazing photo of the Dr. Leavitt homestead was sent to us by Pete Michaud (Nov 2021). On the back, only James was identified, as the man with beard (he is in the center with the doctor's bag). Based on the three children in photo, it is likely dated circa 1893, with woman on steps probably his wife, and his mother (who lived with him) sitting in the chair. The man beside the horse is likely a hired farm hand.
Dr. Leavitt died at the Mass State Hospital in Boston, MA on 10 Feb 1931, while E. Estelle died in Effingham, NH on 23 Feb 1942. Both are buried in the family cemetery, opposite their late home.
A Leavitt Photo archive
Photographs of our Leavitt cousins, and brief write-ups about them