While John Leavitt was the first of that surname to own land in Meredith [see: The Proprietors of Meredith], it wasn't until much later when a Leavitt family actually moved into town to settle.
No Leavitt was found as a Revolutionary War soldier serving from Meredith. Prior to this, a check of the 1776 Association Test for Meredith lists the names of 48 men [NHSP, Vol. 30, pg 93], though none had the Leavitt surname. Joseph "Roberds" (Roberts) was on this list, having moved there with his wife Eunice (Leavitt) [Desc. of Nehemiah v.6, pg 15/21] some time after 1771 [Joseph purchased, from his widowed mother Abigail Roberts, the original rights in Meredith of Oliver Smith on 18 Mar 1766. He was still in Brentwood at this time - Strafford County Deeds, Bk. 2, pg 415].
By the time of the 1790 census for "Merideth", (then in) Strafford County, the following six Leavitt names are now found in town: Amos , Levi , Nehemiah, Samuel, Stephen, and Weare Leavitt. This blog entry will focus on these early settlers.
AMOS LEAVITT (1759 - 1843)
On 18 April 1787, Amos Leavitt "late of Raymond but now of Meredith" purchased 50 acres from east end of lot #47 in the 2nd Division, from Jonathan Dow [Strafford County Deeds, Bk. 20, pg. 25]. He purchased another 20 acres that bordered him, in 1793, and a 15 acre piece out of Lot 48, 2nd Div., from Stephen Leavitt [Strafford Deeds, Bk. 20, pg. 26 and Bk. 50, pg. 128]. He sold all of this to James Glines in August 1805, himself buying the said Glines property in New Hampton [Bk. 50, pg. 129]. Amos would later return to Meredith, where he died in 1843. He was a Revolutionary War veteran. - Descendants of Nehemiah Leavitt, v.6, pg 18/19
LEVI LEAVITT (1761 - 1840)
A 1797 delinquent tax list for Meredith shows a Levi Leavitt living on the "S. Lane" farm, which was located in the 2nd Division, Lot 8 (115 acres). He and wife Sarah (Pearson) of Meredith, sold property (in her right) of Joseph Parsons (or Pearson) of Meredith in 1799 [Strafford Cty Deed, Bk. 30, pg. 283]. The census numbers (2 males under 16, 1 male 16+, and 2 females) match that of the Levi found in the Desc. of Samuel Leavitt, pg 94-95. He later moved to Vermont.
NEHEMIAH LEAVITT (ca 1752 - 1829)
With 3 males under 16 yrs of age in the 1790 census, this would likely be the Nehemiah from the Desc. of Nehemiah Leavitt book, pg 25-27. He married Sarah Philbrick in Chichester, NH, 1777, and moved then to Gilmanton, serving several times during the Rev. War. A 1781 deed [Straff. Cty, Bk. 4, pg 29] shows him selling property in Gilmanton, so perhaps moved to Meredith following this. No deed found with him purchasing land in Meredith prior to this census.
SAMUEL LEAVITT (1770 - 1852)
Descendants of Nehemiah Leavitt, v.6, pg 27/43. In Meredith by 1789, when he married Mary Smith, and purchased land on 24 Sept 1790 [Strafford Cty Deed, Bk. 19, pg. 282]. The 20-acre tract was part of Lot #47 in 2nd Division, and bordered that of Amos Leavitt (see above), his uncle. He sold part of his homestead farm in 1793, the bounds mentioned being on "southwest side of highway from Amos Leavitt's home to Sanbornton line".
STEPHEN LEAVITT (abt 1745 - after 1800)
"Moved from Poplin (Fremont) to Meredith when son Samuel [see above] was a boy" - written in a letter from W. B. Leavitt to JPL , 28 Dec 1877 [quoted in Desc. of Nehemiah Leavitt book, pg. 27/45-46]. Land deeds prior to 1800 not seen. Relatives say he went to the British Dominion, or went east, while family remained in Meredith. Wife Mary (Roberts) lived to age 102.
WEARE LEAVITT (1742 - 1829)
Descendants of Moses Leavitt, pg 63. Living at Meredith Neck by June 1788, when he signed a petition to incorporate a new town from the eastern portion of Meredith, and north through New Hampton (to be called Watertown) - it was rejected [NH State Papers, Vol. XI, pg. 277]. No deed was found (so either a town grant or through a relative's probate), but he had at least 50 acres in Lot #42, in 3rd Division on the Neck, as he sold off tracts from it in 1805-06.
Below is a part of the 1770 map of Meredith, New Hampshire, with the lots in the Second Division marked out with the Leavitt owners. They didn't own the complete 120-acre lots, and the land deed descriptions are vague at times, making it difficult to properly determine their exact bounds. Note: some of these deeds took place after the 1790 census, so are not mentioned above. Randlett Pond (GPS: 43.579067, -71.568975) can be seen drawn on the border between Lots 41 and 42.
On the 31st of December, 1748, two land grants were made in the vicinity of Lake Winnipesaukee: the "First Township", petitioned by proprietors led by John Sanborn of Hampton, New Hampshire, would become Sanborn's Town (Sanbornton). The "Second Township" was first called "Palmer's Town", after Samuel Palmer, Esq., also of Hampton. This settlement would later be named New Salem, before receiving its current name of Meredith, after being incorporated on 30 Dec, 1768.
Over sixty men signed the 1748 petition for this town, the majority of them being from Exeter and Stratham, as well as Hampton and neighboring communities (see the NH State Papers, Vol. 27, pg 478-479 for listing of names). 20 others (to make the required eighty equal shares) were not yet named but included many moving up from Salem, NH [in the Proprietors Recs, pg 12, at a meeting dated 31 Oct 1752, "Salem" was first used as the township's name].
There was one Leavitt named among those original petitioners, JOHN LEAVITT Jr. of Exeter, New Hampshire, a descendant of Moses [Vol. 1, pg 55]. He would be the first man to draw lot numbers on 3 May 1754. Prior to this, the land needed to be surveyed and lot lines drawn up. This was done in 1750 and 1753, by Jonathan Longfellow, surveyor.
Each proprietor would first draw a lot number from the first division (100 acres) - John Leavitt received #6 in the 4th Range. They then drew a second number, which provided them with corresponding lots in the 2nd (120-ac) and 3rd (95-ac) Divisions. John picked #37 from that drawing. See: Meredith, 1770 for the lot maps, with each proprietor named (this map differs from the original 1753 one, when lot lines had to be adjusted).
There were conditions that needed to be met as part of the grant: each proprietor was required to "build a house of eighteen foot long & of fourteen foot wide, or equal thereto". They also needed to clear three acres for tillage or mowing within eight years. A meeting house also needed to be built (on a lot specifically laid out for that purpose) within ten years, and a minister hired to preach the gospel there.
The terms and conditions of the 1748 charter were to be met "provided there be no Indian war". Unfortunately, the French & Indian War would soon begin, less than a year having passed since the survey work was done. The settlement would have to be put on hold until the fighting had ended, which did so in 1760 (the official end of the war wasn't until three years later).
Proprietor meetings would take place in 1762 and 1764, where voters levied taxes in order to pay for cutting a road to the new settlement, and to begin work on the saw mill there [NH Gazette, 11 Apr 1766]. By this time, some of the land "owners", having defaulted on their agreed terms, would lose their lots. Those lands were now granted to new settlers.
By 16 June, 1768, seventeen families had settled in New Salem and became residents, with four more on their way. A petition was filed on this date, to incorporate the town. The inhabitants were granted this, and the settlement became known as Meredith on 30 Dec, 1768 [NHSP: Vol. 12, 582].
John Leavitt Jr. never made the move to Meredith, instead remaining in his native Exeter, NH. In the State Papers [Vol. 27, pg 489-491] there is a list comprised of all those first division lots where improvements had been made by 1770, with Mr. Leavitt not among them. Being delinquent in his taxes for his three lots, he began to sell them off.
John first sold an acre piece from his First Division lot, which bordered the center square of town, with the intended purpose of the town to use as a burying ground and meeting house. A town vote in April 1774 approved the building of a 40 ft. by 32 ft. structure there [Hist. of Merr. and Belk. Counties, pg 836]. The remaining 99 acres was sold in 1776 to John Gilman [Strafford County Deed, 7-361]. James McCrillis purchased [Strafford Cty Deed 22-409] the 90-acre lot in the 3rd Div, 1778, while Daniel Smith bought #37 in the 2nd Div. in 1799 [Strafford Cty Deed 41-288].
From the 2013 Google Street View, this image shows the Parade Rd (Rt 106) in Laconia, looking south. The "old pound" is on the left, next to telephone pole, while the old town burying ground, now called Blaisdell Cemetery, is on the right. John Leavitt's lot would have included everything seen to the right. The GPS co-ords for this location are: 43.596340, -71.496652
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