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)
A Leavitt Photo archive
Photographs of our Leavitt cousins, and brief write-ups about them