JUSTIN M. LEAVITT was 17 years, 8 months and 12 days old when he enlisted in his hometown of Buxton, Maine on Dec. 19th, 1863. On his enlistment paper, he wrote "about eighteen years" for his age, and his father Alvah signed the consent form to allow his only son to join the army. From there, he was sent to Portland, Maine, where he would be mustered in for three years with the First Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment.
Originally the 18th Maine Infantry, the regiment had converted over to an artillery unit, and was in the process of recruiting more men to fill their ranks. The soldiers were then shipped to Washington, DC, where they would be trained in both artillery and infantry instruction, and serve in the defense of the capital, until otherwise needed.
The need for these troops came in the spring of 1864, when Gen. Grant began his Overland Campaign in Virginia, and sent the Army of the Potomac to Spotsylvania Court House. On May 19th, the 1st ME Heavy Art., along with four other artillery regiments converted to infantry, entered the fight at the Harris Farm.
Justin would be one of over 500 men in the regiment who fell that day, the majority of them wounded. He received a gunshot wound in his left leg that fractured his tibia. Caught under fire in the field, he had to wait until after dusk for help to reach him and get him to an aid station. They concluded that his leg would need to be amputated, and he was shipped with others to Lincoln Hospital in Washington, DC, a three day trip. Despite the pain, he continually begged for surgeons not to take his leg, and they eventually complied with his plea.
He spent four months in the DC hospital before being sent back to Maine, where his care continued, until discharged from service on the 4th of Apr, 1865.
Upon returning home to Buxton, he entered the Gorham Seminary school, and would also teach school during the months not in class. In 1871, he was appointed mail agent on the Portland & Rochester Railroad, which was later expanded to reach Nashua, NH and Worcester, MA. He was transferred to the Boston & Troy mail line (Hoosac Tunnel route) in Jan. 1878, and was promoted to head clerk.
In August of 1882, he ran for the office of Registrar of Deeds in York County and won the position. He resigned from his railroad job to accept this new line of work on the 1st of Jan., 1883. He held the job for twenty years.
Prior to 1890, he and wife Ella had moved from Buxton to Alfred, Maine and, before 1909, were residing in Kennebunkport. Justin was the owner of the "Stone Haven" summer hotel at Cape Porpoise (it burned in 1931, a couple of weeks before his death), and several islands (Milk, Savin, Bush, and part of Folly) offshore.
In 1902, the governor appointed him state liquor commissioner, a job he held until 1911. He was director of the Fidelity Trust Co. in Portland, and had served as commissioner of the Kennebunk and Wells Water District for twelve years.
He was a member of the Knights Templar and was a 32nd degree Mason, having been a member for over 60 years. He was also a member of the John H. Came G.A.R. Post in Buxton, Society of the Army of the Potomac, and the Third Army Corps Union.
He was the son of Alvah and Margaret McArthur (Libby) Leavitt, and had been born in Limington on 7 Apr 1846, moving to Buxton when seven years old. His ancestry can be found in The Descendants of Thomas Leavitt, pg 102.
First Maine Heavy Artillery Monthly Return: May 1864 (Family Search)
Biddeford Daily Journal, Fri., 1 May 1931, pg 1
Biddeford Weekly Journal, Fri., 17 Jan 1908, pg 7
Men of progress; biographical sketches and portraits of leaders in business and professional life in and of the state of Maine, pg 247 (Internet Archive)
Sanford Tribune and Advocate, Thurs, 7 May 1931, pg 1
The First Maine Heavy Artillery, by Shaw and House (1903): Leavitt on pg 358; 445
A RPPC (real photo postcard), dated probably in the 1940's, of the "E. J. Leavitt" general store and post office in Flagstaff, Maine.
EVAN JAMES LEAVITT came to the town of Flagstaff by 1935, with his wife Evelyn and their two young children. He was first employed at a local saw mill prior to taking over operations of the general store in town. Attached to the building was the town's post office, and he took charge of the facility on 9 Dec 1941.
There were around 125 residents in Flagstaff when it was announced, in June of 1948, that Central Maine Power was going to build a dam at Long Falls, on the Dead River, which would create a man-made reservoir, Flagstaff Lake. In the process, it would inundate the town and neighboring Dead River Plantation. For twenty years, CMP had been purchasing properties in the vicinity of the river, and there was always talk within town that this would be the end result. Their decades long fear had now come true, and their town would now be destroyed.
Valuable lumber was cut, houses were moved, while others were simply burned down or left standing for the rising waters to claim. Cemeteries that held the early town settlers were reinterred elsewhere.
Postmaster Leavitt announced on 19 Oct 1949 that the town's mail would now be delivered out of New Portland by rural carrier, effective on the 31st, and he closed down the post office on November 1st. There were only 20 families now remaining in town, but Evan chose to stay behind to run his store until all had left. The dam was due to be finished that winter, with the flood waters soon to follow.
With the new year came spring run off, which rapidly began filling the new lake, and so the end of the town was near. Evan stayed on as store keeper until the last week of March, 1950. A new home and store had been built over in Eustis, so it was now time to move on.
For the next couple of years, any buildings still standing, which included the general store, would again be seen when the lake was lowered in the winter (to avoid overflowing the dam that following spring). They were all eventually burned down by 1952.
Evan died in 1977, aged 72, and was buried in Flagstaff Cemetery in Eustis. He shares a stone with his wife, Evelyn (Wing), who died in 1986. They can be found in the Descendants of Samuel Leavitt v.5, pg 135.
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.
Earlier this year I purchased the above family group picture, which is encased in glass and taped up along the edges. On the back is written "CHRISTMAS 1891", followed by the names of the individuals gathered for this occasion. They are, left to right:
Mrs. Julia Angeline (Fifield) Danforth, wife of George
Mrs. John B. D. Leavitt, Hannah (Moody) Leavitt
Leon E. Leavitt (son of John & Hannah)
Mr. John B. D. Leavitt
Mrs. Ida Belle (Danforth) Leavitt
Mr. George U. L. Leavitt
The family of John Bell DeMerritt Leavitt can be found in the Descendants of Nehemiah Leavitt VI, pg 105-106. His son George was married to Ida B. Danforth, the only child of George L. and Julia A. (Fifield) Danforth. Her parents were divorced in 1891 (though the 1900 census and city directories called Julia a widow), and they lived at her mother's home on Mascoma Street in Lebanon, New Hampshire. There are other blog entries for both John and son George.
It is unclear whose house this Christmas meeting was photographed in, whether that of John B. D. Leavitt (long since demolished), or the Danforth/Leavitt home at 40 Mascoma (still standing).
MERRY CHRISTMAS, LEAVITT COUSINS!!
A Leavitt Photo archive
Photographs of our Leavitt cousins, and brief write-ups about them