Located in the online "Printed Ephemera Collection" of the Library of Congress is this pamphlet (the above being a portion clipped from it) , printed in the memory of Captain Porter Leavitt, who was lost at sea in 1827. The author is unknown, with only "Written by his father" as a clue to the person who penned the poem.
Captain Leavitt had left Portland, Maine for St. Michael's (now São Miguel Island) in the Azores, cleared to leave the port on 31 Jan [Eastern Argus, 3 Feb. 1827, pg 3]. 1500 miles out in the Atlantic, in the early hours of Monday, February the 19th, the vessel was struck by a series of gales, snapping off the main mast and flooding the interior of the ship. The cook and ship's mate were drowned while stuck within the cabin, leaving the master and two men on the main deck, adrift and dead in the water. Four hours later came the "dawning of the day", 5:00 A.M., and the wave that would wash Captain Leavitt overboard.
Later that same day, the Brig Comet came upon the wreck of the still afloat Leander, its two remaining seamen clinging to life. She herself had been battered by the storms, losing her cook overboard, but was able to complete the voyage, and bring the story of Leavitt and the Leander back with her.
Who was Captain Porter Leavitt?
When news of his death first reached the American ports, he was reported to be Capt. Lovitt or Loveitt, out of Portsmouth, NH. This city claimed no masters of this name, and said he must have been out of Portland, which was confirmed by the Portland papers. By then, the correct surname of "Leavitt" was being printed.
As the pamphlet stated, Porter was "aged 25 years, 4 months, and 16 days" on the day of his death, calculated out to him being born on/or about 3 Oct. 1801. There is no birth record found for him in Maine VR, nor in the town records researched. He is also not found in any of the printed LEAVITT genealogies. What is known:
In 1817, Porter Leavitt of Portland, Maine was a student at Bradford Academy [Students of Bradford Acad., 1803-1853]. No other Leavitt attended there.
During the 1820 census, he would have been nearly 19 years of age, but was not enumerated by name, so probably still in the household of his parents.
He was married, on 23 Dec 1824, in Boston, MA [Boston Marr., Vol. 15, pg 338], to MARY STEVENSON. She was born ca 1798, and died 10 Jun 1873, aged 75 yrs, 6 mos.
"On Thursday evening, by the Rev. Mr. Wisner, Capt. Porter Leavitt, of Portland, to Miss Mary Stevenson, of Saco" [Boston Comm. Gazette, Mon., 27 Dec 1824, pg 3]. The widow Leavitt was remarried, on 29 Mar 1843 [Portland Wkly Advert., 11 Apr 1843, pg 3], to Edmund P. Dennett of Buxton, ME. Mary is buried with her children in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Saco.
The Cumberland County Probate, having been lost in a fire, is an unusable source, and no probate notices were printed in local newspapers following his death. The Registry of Deeds for this county show no land transactions with a Porter Leavitt, so it seems he was a renter while he lived in Portland.
There are two known children of Capt. Porter and Mary (Stevenson) Leavitt:
i. ALBERT PORTER LEAVITT, b. abt 1825; died 26 Nov 1847 in Saco, from consumption, aged 22 [Saco VR, Vol. 2, pg 22]. He is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Saco. He was married to SUSAN D. GUILFORD [intents filed 3 Nov 1846 in Dover, New Hampshire - Dover, NH Marr, 1824-47, Vol. 1, pg 252]. She was the dau. of William and Mary Guilford, b. 7 Mar 1823 [Buxton, ME VR, Bk 4, pg 256]. She died on 2 Jan 1849 [grave; Buxton VR, Bk 4, pg 256; Saco VR, v.2, pg 26 says 3 Jan], aged 26 yrs, and is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery. He attended Saco's Thornton Academy in Sept., 1839 [List of Students, 1813-1848].
ii. JANE ALMIRA LEAVITT, b. ca Mar 1827; d. (as "Miss Almira") 5 Sep 1843, aged 16 yrs, 6 mos [Saco VR, vol. 2, pg 13; grave]; bur. in Laurel Hill Cem, Saco. She attended (as "Almira Jane"), Thornton Academy in 1842 (age listed as 13).
Albert and his wife Susan, along with Jane and their mother Mary, are all buried in the same plot in Laurel Hill Cemetery, Saco. Photos of their stones are on the Saco, Maine cemetery listings page we have on this website (here).
While there are no sources (found so far) that directly link Porter Leavitt to a set of parents, there is a good possibility he was the son of DR. JOSHUA LEAVITT. The Doctor [in Descend. of Moses Leavitt, pg 80-81] had married, in Otisfield, Maine on 20 July 1800, to SALLY PORTER. By 1810, they were in Portland, Maine, and he lived there until at least 1829, as he frequently ran ads for his business in the Portland papers, the last one printed in Jan. 1829. Not found in 1830, he is in Naples, Maine for the 1840 and 1850 censuses (both of those living by himself). He was living with son Samuel R. Leavitt in 1858 Portland Dir., but had returned to Naples the following year, dying there on 11 May 1859, aged 84 [Portland Wkly Advert., 24 May 1859, pg 3]. In the (August) 1820 census, Dr. Joshua had 1 son "aged 16-18", and Porter would have been two months shy of 19 yrs old at that time. More convincing is the fact that Samuel R. named a son Albert Porter Leavitt (born ca. Feb 1849, according to 1880 army enlistment), which was the name of Capt. Porter's only son, who had died 15 months earlier in Saco.
Here is the complete page...LINES, In Memory of PORTER LEAVITT
Library of Congress link to item: https://www.loc.gov/resource/rbpe.02603300/
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