A Visit with deacon john
So it was, at the conclusion of our 2019 reunion in Hingham, Massachusetts, time to make the trek over to the Centre Cemetery, where lies the man who was the reason many of us had gathered in this town that day . Lying beside the monument and plaque of his great-great grandson, Jacob Leavitt (who, it is said, was responsible for his reinterment here), are the stones of Israel Leavitt (on left in photo), and his father, the Deacon John Leavitt.
It was here, during the NALF reunion on June 25th, 1949, the following plaque was unveiled and dedicated. It read:
John S. Leavitt, who had the honor of being the first person to hold the office of president when the association was formed in 1934, read the following dedication during the event:
"We have come to Hingham to honor the memory of John Leavitt who was born in England in 1608, came to New England in 1628 and died in Hingham, Mass. in 1691.
We, his descendants, can look upon a land that was very familiar to him during his long life here. The old church is still active where he worshipped.
Perhaps Leavitt Street was a roadway in his time, and the old Leavitt House is probably on the site of his home.
The hills and valleys that we look upon would be familiar to him were he with us. - All this and the circumstance that we are gathered at his grave, tend to make us fell at the moment, a sense of nearness to him.
It would be interesting to try to formulate an idea as to what manner of man he was. We know that he was a tailor, a deacon in the Old Ship Church, that he held town offices, was a representative to the Great and General Court at Boston and his will showed that he was a man of considerable property.
But ancestors were not concerned about their descendants of the far distant future. They almost never left any record of their forebears.
It would never have occurred to John Leavitt that some 250 years later there would be a society formed in part of his descendants or that our genealogist and historian would spend arduous years in a quest after the facts of all the Leavitts and particularly of himself.
No man who is a pioneer, and who must practice all the trades in his daily life, in order to rear such a large family, has time nor opportunity for such ideas.
But we are proud of him, proud of his life's record, proud of the name we bear. And so today we honor ourselves as well as he, as we dedicate this plaque to his memory.
May it be a shrine from which we can gather inspiration to preserve the type of life he so well exemplified."
- "Centre" Cemetery is/was also known as "Center" and "Plain" Cemetery
- photos by S.Dow (2019 reunion)
- the above speech was printed in the June 1949 newsletter
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