RETURN DAVID LEAVITT was the son of Loirett and Elizabeth (Harned) Leavitt [Descendants of Josiah Leavitt, pg 92], born about 1839 in PA. He was raised in Mercer County, and attended schools there until aged sixteen.
In the 1860 census, he resided in the town of Perry, a 21-year old laborer, living with his parents.
During the Civil War, he served in Co. H, 55th Pennsylvania State Militia, from 18 June to 29 Sep 1863 (the unit was only raised for three months service).
He moved with his parents to Beaver Township, Crawford County, PA by 1865, when his father, "L. Leavitt", is found on a map of Crawford County. "J. Tennant", just down the road from the Leavitt farm, was John Tennant, father of Return's wives.
He was first married to MARTHA LUCRETIA TENNANT, daughter of John and Catherine Tennant, ca 1872. They had a daughter, Cora, born just before Martha died on 14 March 1873 [date from gravestone in Beaver Center Cemetery]. He remarried, ca 1874, her sister HULDAH SUSANNAH TENNANT, and they had daughters Viola Adella and Mary Lucretia. He had a farm of 102 acres while in PA. The 1876 map of Beaver Township shows "R. D. Leavitt" owning several lots of land (highlighted in yellow). Brother "L. A. Leavitt" (Leander A.) is also nearby.
He and Huldah were divorced around June 1892 (per her marriage record in Apr 1893), and he removed to Labette County, Kansas in 1893, purchasing farmland in Osage Township (Section 16, Township 31, Range 18).
The book, History of Labette County, Kansas, and Representative Citizens was published in 1901 [on Internet Archive], and included a biography about Return D. and his parents. It only mentioned him marrying once, in 1872, and having three children, who were living in Silver Creek, NY.
Dementia apparently soon overcame Return, as he claimed his neighbors had "hoo-dooed his hens and caused them to lay rotten eggs". Chasing off one of the townsmen with his shotgun, an intent to kill, brought the law to Leavitt's farm. R.D., sitting atop his hen house with a shotgun and pistol, was coaxed down and subsequently arrested [Parsons Weekly Sun, 30 Sept -18 Oct 1904]. Newspaper reports said he was "of Dennis", which was a small community less than 30 miles from Osage.
He was deemed insane on 14 Oct 1904 and was admitted to the state hospital in Osawatomie. Mrs. Catherine S. Hyatt was appointed guardian at that time (she was replaced in 1911). An article in the Parsons Daily Eclipse, on 2 Dec 1911, mentioned that the state had sued the estate of Mr. Leavitt to recover the costs of his care ($1,104). It noted that he was unmarried, owned 40 acres of land, and had $500. He was under the guardianship of J. G. Cook by then.
Return Leavitt was still alive in March 1914, when the guardian of his estate (John Cook) submitted his annual report [The Weekly Republican, 19 Mar 1914]. A final report was submitted on Oct, 1915, where Cook asked for a discharge, his ward being deceased [The Oswego Democrat, 8 Oct 1915].
Map of Crawford County, PA, 1865 [Library of Congress]
Map of Beaver, Crawford, PA, 1876 [on Ancestry]
Map of Osage Township, Labette, Kansas, 1887 [David Rumsey Maps]
Map of Osage Township, KS, 1906 [Kansas Memory]
Below is a current map of the lots in Beaver Township where the Leavitt and Tennant families lived (red lots are estimated outline of Return's parcels ca 1876).
A Leavitt Photo archive
Photographs of our Leavitt cousins, and brief write-ups about them