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
JOSEPH D LEAVITT was born in Lincoln, Penobscot, Maine on 30 Dec 1829, the son of Joseph and Mary (Walls) Leavitt [Cambridge, ME Town Recs, 1792-1868; pg 24]. He moved to Cambridge with his family in 1844, and married there on 22 Nov 1855 to LOANN MARIA ROGERS [Camb. VR, pg 8; intents filed 20 Nov 1855, pg 7].
He is seen in Cambridge, Somerset, Maine for the 1870 census [pg 4; hh 31/32], with wife and children, his brother Ralph listed directly next to him, also married with children.
Both Joseph and Ralph then went west, listed together in a household in Princeton, Mille Sacs, Minnesota during the 1875 State Census. Both of their ages are off by several years, though.
Ralph soon returned home to Maine, while Joseph remained in MN. He began staking out land claims in Big Stone County, MN, and in neighboring Grant County, Dakota Territory. He worked with members of the Townsend family on these transactions [in the 8 Sept 1881 Princeton Union, their partnership was called "Townsend Bros & Leavitt"]. They (Joseph Leavitt, with brothers William and Freemont Townsend) can be seen in the 1880 census for Township 121, Range 48 in Grant County, Dakota Territory. They also frequented Inkpa (later Big Stone City), D.T., and cleared land there for farming and their logging operations.
In many newspaper articles that mention Joseph and his actions in Minnesota and the Dakota Territory, he was sometimes called "Judge". As this title was usually printed in quotations, I'm assuming this was an unofficial name given him. While researching this article, I did not find any instances of him acting as a judge in an official (or elected) position.
The Leavitts and Townsends relocated to Dickinson, (North) Dakota, where they operated a cattle raising business. They occasionally returned to Princeton, where they purchased young cattle and shipped them back to their ranch. The fattened up livestock would later be sent via rail to Chicago for slaughter [Princeton Union, 24 Mar 1892; 25 Aug 1892].
Joseph returned to Princeton a few years prior to his death due to illness, purchasing a property near the fair grounds in 1896 [The Princeton Union, 1 Oct 1896]. Below is a portion of an 1898 map of Princeton, showing where "Joseph Leavith" had property northeast of Fog Lake. The fair grounds can be seen near bottom of map, the "race track", with the cemetery (Oak Knoll) adjacent to it.
Joseph Leavitt died in Princeton on the 11th of January, 1899, and was buried there in Oak Knoll Cemetery. The following obit was printed in the Princeton Union, 19 Jan 1899 [MN Hist Soc]:
The 1900 census for Princeton shows Elisha as a beekeeper, boarding in the household of the Walter Brown family [Pg 7B, hh 141/148]. His mother Loann was not found on this census, though.
The Princeton Union newspaper reported, in their 22 Oct 1903 issue, that Elisha Leavitt sold his house and lot on "the west side of the Great Northern tracks" [note: this railroad line is seen in above 1898 map, but Elisha's name was not found near it], and that he and his mother were returning to Maine, where she was planning on spending the winter. The widow Loann Leavitt was listed in the following week's paper, involving a real estate transfer of property in ("lot 5 in block 3" in Oakland).
Elisha (or "E.K.", as the 11/12/03 paper called him) returned to Princeton after a few weeks, but he did not remain there. He continued westward, and settled in Seattle, Washington. That only lasted for a couple of years, as he was back in Princeton in 1905. His mother was with him by then, as a newspaper article published in Princeton on 1 June 1905 said that "Lish" and his mother were moving to Massachusetts, where they planned on staying. They didn't - it was back to Maine for them. They settled in Parkman, Piscataquis County, where Joseph's brother Daniel G Leavitt was living. Loann Leavitt died there in 1912, and Elisha returned to Washington State. He is last seen in the 1930 census, living in Aberdeen [pg 4B; he was a lumber mill watchman, aged 67; single]. His death date is not yet known.
In the "Descendants of Nehemiah Leavitt" Genealogy, pg 37, Joseph D. and his siblings were wrongly placed in the household of a different Joseph, one that lived in Wakefield, NH. The proper placement of his father Joseph some where among one of the many Maine Leavitt branches has yet to be proven.
Below is an 1860 map of Cambridge, Maine, showing where Joseph D Leavitt was living, prior to his move out west. Of interest is his neighbor, Elisha Knowles. Is he the namesake of Joe's son, Elisha K. Leavitt? The "N.P. Leavitt" living across the street from J.D. Leavitt is Nehemiah P, another individual from the Nehemiah genealogy, pg 37, though he was also listed with the wrong family in the book.
In the Descendants of Samuel Leavitt, pg 80, there are two children of Andrew and Sarah (Hastings) Leavitt listed as being "born before 1774", William and Nathaniel Leavitt. The History of Amherst, pg 669, places them further down the order of children's births, though that book did not give them any dates. William's was an easy one to solve, as he is seen in the censuses of 1850-1870 with an age coinciding with a 1795 birth year. He was also seen first in the Amherst tax lists in 1817 with a poll tax, showing he turned 21. Nathaniel, however, was not seen on any of the tax lists for that town (the online film on FamilySearch ends in 1819), and so more research was needed.
The following timeline is all of the data I have gathered on this Nathaniel (aka Nathaniel Kimball) Leavitt to determine a year of birth, and to find more about the "d. in Calif." statement given him in the Leavitt genealogy.
Nathaniel Leavitt is born, probably in Amherst, New Hampshire (father Andrew there in 1800 census); San Francisco Funeral Home Records listed age at death as 56 yrs, as did several local newspapers reporting his death in 1855.
27 Feb 1821
Marriage intents [Boston Marr Int, 1817-1823: Vol 9, pg 261]
1 May 1821
In Boston, Mr Nathaniel Kimball Leavitt (of Amherst, NH) married to Hannah Sewards (of Portsmouth, NH) [Boston Marr, 1800-1849; V.2 pg 36; Farmer's Cabinet (Amherst, NH), 5/19/1821]
1821: Boston Tax List
Lived on Green Street, Ward 6 (house of Jonathan Simonds)
12 Apr 1822
Born in Boston, Andrew Kimball Leavitt, son of Nath'l and Hannah [note: Andrew would change his middle name to Jackson at a later date]
Abt September 1825
Daughter Sarah E. Leavitt born (calculated from age at death) in MA [1860 San Fran census; funeral record] or NY [1850 census]. One paper [Daily Alta, 5/11/66], said she was a "native of Lowell, MA".
Nathaniel K. an "insolvent debtor", per court of common pleas in Albany [notice in Albany Argus, 4/10/1827]
Daughter Hannah Ann Leavitt born, probably in Albany [Excelsior, pg 56]; the four children of Nathaniel are mentioned in the journals of the Hutchinson Singers, their 1st cousins, when they were touring in the Albany, NY area in 1842
Daughter Anna Leavitt born, likely in Albany [Excelsior, pg 56-57]
1830 US Census, Albany Ward-3 (pg 285)
Nathaniel K. "Laivit" (Laint/Saint on indexes)
1 male, 5-10; 1 m, 30-40; 3 females, under 5; 1 f, 30-40
24 August 1835
Captain Nathaniel K. Leavitt elected Lieut Col. of the 246th Regiment [Albany Argus, 8/28/1835]
1840 US Census forAlbany, Ward-3
1 male, 15-19; 1 m, 40-49; 3 females, 10-14; 1 f, 40-49
25 July 1844
Mr Heman (or Herman) H. Squires married to Miss Sarah E., dau of Col N.K. Leavitt, all of this city [Albany (NY) Argus paper, 8/2/1844, pg 3]
1844, 1845 Albany, NY Street Directories
N.K., constable, h. 124 Broadway [son Andrew, barber, at 126 Broadway]; Nath'l not listed in following years, only Andrew
7 Apr 1847
The Albany Evening Journal, on this date, prints death notice and obituary for Andrew Leavitt of Amherst, NH, "the father of Nathaniel K Leavitt of this city". He had died back on 29 Aug 1846, w/ an obit printed in the 9/3 issue of the Farmers Cabinet and copied in this paper 7 months later.
13 Nov 1847
"N.K." listed as a member of grand jury in Albany [Albany Evening Jrnl, 11/15]
6 Feb 1849 issue of New York Herald (pg 1)
sailed Saturday in ship Panama for San Francisco, "N.R.(sic) Leavitt"
"Officers Mullen and Leavitt" mentioned in Daily Alta article, 2/7/50; Col. N K Leven(sic) was again appointed policeman in Nov 1852 [Daily Alta, 11/16/52]
Wife Mary joins Nath'l in San Francisco. "his second wife came to this state about three years ago" [Daily Alta, 11/21/1855]
1852, month not known [California State Census, pg 443]
N.K. Leavitt, 54, agent, b. New Hampshire; last res: New York
Mary C, 26, b. New York; last res: NY
26 Sept 1852
son Isaac M born (based on age at death, see 1/10/54)
20 Sept 1853
Sailed from New York for San Juan, in steamship "Star of the West": N.K. Leavitt, lady, infant and son [NY Daily Times, 9/21/53]; The New York Morning Courier (exact date not known) gives the listing as "N.K. Leavitt, wife, infant and boy, Miss E. Leavitt".
15 Oct 1853
"N.K. Leavitt and family" arrived on steamer Cortes at San Francisco on Saturday afternoon [17 Oct '53 Sacramento Daily Union paper, pg 2]
10 Jan 1854
Isaac M Leavitt, son of Col. N.K. and Mary C, died of whooping cough in San Francisco, aged 15 mos, 15 das. [Sacramento Daily Union,1/15/1854]
Circa Feb 1855
Nathaniel and Mary are divorced [Sacramento Daily Union, 11/23/55, pg 2]
18 March 1855
Col. N.K. Leavitt, of this city, and Miss Ann Paddock, of New York City, married "in this city" [California Farmer (San Francisco, CA) newspaper, 3/29/1855]
1 Nov 1855
Ann Leavitt separates from her husband
Tues, 20 Nov 1855
Nathaniel hangs himself in his stable, at his coal and wood yard on the corner of Pacific and Powell Streets. [Marysville Daily Herald, 11/23/1855; Sacramento Daily Union, 11/23/55; Daily Alta,11/21/1855, 11/22/55]
21 Nov 1855
Col N K Leavitt is buried in Lone Mountain Cemetery (Lot 23, Tier 7, Chain(?) Plot 1) [San Francisco Funeral Home Records: N. Gray & Co, Vol 1854-1861, pg 75]
Nathaniel's second wife, Mary C, married J. A. Moody, and had a son, Louis [1860 San Fran census, pg 148]. She died in San Francisco on 13 Apr 1864, aged 38 yrs, 6 mos [Daily Alta, 4/14/1864]. His third wife, Ann (Paddock), died in the city abt 30 May 1860, aged 65 [CA Cem Records], and was buried in Lone Mountain Cem.
Lone Mountain Cemetery was later renamed Laurel Hill Cemetery and, in the 1930's, was one of many burial places located within city limits that were closed down and entirely removed. Any bodies not claimed by family were buried in a mass grave in Cypress Lawn Cemetery in Colma, CA, while their former grave stones were used around the city by the Dep't of Public Works for construction projects (see article: here). Nathaniel is probably the "Col R. R." Leavitt listed on the cemetery website. "A. P. Leavitt" (Anna) is also among those buried here.
Daughter Sarah E., the only (known) child of Nathaniel and Hannah to follow their father westward, died in San Francisco on 9 May 1866, aged 40 yrs, 8 mos [The Pacific, 5/17/66]. She was buried on the 11th in Lone Mountain Cem, and now lies in Cypress Lawn, where reinterred in a mass grave. With husband Heman/Herman Henry Squires, she had three children: Nathaniel Leavitt Squires, Edwin/Edward Squires and Margaret Squires. As if her father's suicide being printed in all the local papers wasn't bad enough, her marital problems and her attempt to divorce the neglecting husband also made the news [San Fran Bulletin, 3/8/1860, 3/9/60, 10/25/65], as did Herman's court cases.
With the addition of several children for Nathaniel and Hannah, much more research still needs to be done, to find out exactly what became of them. One genealogical "case" solved, several more now added!
For those who have read the original genealogies by Emily Noyes [see our PUBLICATIONS page for more info], you would have noticed the name of Joseph P Leavitt (or JPL), of Chicago, mentioned numerous times as a source. Who was he?
Joseph Parker Leavitt was thrice descended from Moses Leavitt, son of Deacon John Leavitt, the immigrant [Descendants of Moses Leavitt, pg 144], born in Dover, NH in 1830. He married in Lowell, MA in 1850 to Mary Apphia Smith, then proceeded west to Cincinnati.
At this time, he began gathering addresses of those with a Leavitt surname (mostly from the New England states), and proceeded to send out form letters, hoping to receive genealogical information back from the recipients, in order to start organizing a genealogy of the descendants of Dea. John Leavitt of Hingham, MA and Thomas Leavitt of Hampton, NH.
Below are two versions of the blank forms he mailed out. The later version (on right) was amended to include all of New England, instead of the original plan of just the New Hampshire Leavitt families.
Below is a notice from an 1880 New England Historical and Genealogical Register periodical, announcing JPL's book in progress.
"A Genealogical Record of the Leavitt families of New England, and Their Descendants" was never completed. Joseph's wife Mary died on 4 March 1883 and, three weeks later, both Joseph and his daughter Rosalind were declared insane and sent to a state asylum. Joseph died the day following his sentence, on the 23rd [death record unavailable online at this time to view cause of death], while Rosa passed away the following March. From the following newspaper article, Rosalind was committed due to anxiety and lack of sleep, because of her mother's passing. Joseph's mental strain, however, was the result of "waking up the genealogical history", according to the testimony in court.
At the time of his passing, Joseph had already written some 1000 letters to Leavitt kin around the country. The information he gleaned from his correspondence had been copied into notebooks, 12 volumes in total. His estate donated this material to the Chicago Historical Society, where Emily Noyes found this treasure trove of information while she was compiling her books, and integrated his research into her own.
The works of JPL were later moved to the Newberry Library in Chicago, where they are still housed today. In 2004, NALF genealogist Ray Thomas visited the library and photocopied a large amount of the JPL papers. What he could not do while there, he arranged to have done by the staff, and mailed to him. With much of the Joseph P. Leavitt research now in hand, we (the NALF genealogist team) could compare his work with that of Emily's books, in order to properly source all of the data, and to (hopefully) find where all of the names and dates had originated and to give proper credit where needed.
This work continues, and the research on the new genealogy books still moves forward.
GEORGE KITTREDGE LEAVITT died on this day, the 6th of August, back in 1916. A former native of Newmarket, New Hampshire, he had moved with his wife out to Pasadena, CA to live with their daughters.
George and his wife are buried in Mountain View Cemetery, in Altadena, Los Angeles, California. [link to his: Find a Grave entry]
George K Leavitt is from the "Samuel" line, found in the genealogy Descendants of Samuel Leavitt on pg 126, as well as the 1990 Update, pg 58-59. The latter source contains an image from a newspaper article, dated 1952, which printed photos of both George and Josie, as well as their home on South Main St. A current view of the road on Google Street View shows a house matching that of the 1952 picture, and corresponds with its location on the 1892 town map.
Updates about our Leavitt genealogy research, our DNA projects, and other notes to keep our membership informed.