ALBERT LEAVITT was born in Alfred, Maine on 24 Dec 1829, the son of James and Nancy (Stevens) Leavitt [Desc. of Nehemiah Leavitt, pg 34/48]. He moved with his parents to Waterboro Center by 1840, where his father was a merchant and a successful businessman. Albert and his brothers followed in their father's footsteps, also becoming traders and merchants. While sons Benjamin Leavitt and Alonzo remained in Maine, Charles left for Chicago (later settling in Iowa) and Albert, the focus of this writing, followed the "gold rush" to California.
The (Nov.) 1852 state census for California shows "A. Leavitt", age 22, a miner in Tuolumne County. In June, 1854 [Columbia Gazette, 6/17/1854, pg 2], "Mr. Leavett" purchased half of the Columbo Saloon building on the corner of Main and State St. This building, along with most of the other structures in town, went up in flames on the 10th of July, 1854. All were quickly rebuilt, many now constructed with "fire-proof" brick and mortar. By 1855, Albert joined into a partnership with Robert H. Towle, as "Towle & Leavitt", who had occupied the building on the northwest corner of Main and State Streets (formerly the business of bookseller Charles J. Brown).
The above image was clipped from a lithograph of the town, published by the said "Towle & Leavitt" in 1855, showing the building they operated their business from [note: this place still stands today - see links at end of this writing].
See: Miners and business men's directory for the year commencing January 1st, 1856 - with a full page by Towle & Leavitt on pg 24 [Internet Archive].
He badly burned both of his hands while saving his watch and jewelry display. His losses were valued at $10,000 [Sacramento Daily Union, 08/29/1857, pg 3], but he rebuilt, though eventually moving on shortly after.
In 1859, he sold all of his stock to D. C. Travis [Columbia Wkly News, 03/24/1859, pg 4]. "A. Leavitt" boarded the overland stage in Sacramento on 18 May 1860, and headed east towards St. Louis. On the 30th of June of same year, he was married in Waltham, MA to Miss Ellen Bagley. In the newspaper notice [Waltham Sentinel, Fri., 6 July, 1860, pg 3], he was listed as "of Columbia, Cal." Note: A few years earlier, an 1857 report [parks.ca.gov] stated the overland express would take 25 days to make a run from Cali. to St. Louis. He then likely took a train east from there, a roughly 2 1/2 day run (in 1848 time - ARJ, vol. 21, pg 357). Less than 2 weeks later, he was married!
The couple had three children during their residence in Saco:
i. Harry Burton Leavitt, b. 10 Jun. 1861;
ii. George Albert Leavitt, b. 6 Feb. 1863
iii. Mary Ella Leavitt, b. 12 Feb. 1866
In March of 1866 [Maine Democrat, 3/20/1866, pg 3], Albert closed out his business in Saco and removed to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Street directories show him with several different occupations, including general book agent (with W.H. Graves, as "Graves & Leavitt"), advertising agent, and a travelling agent. The family moved to West Medford, Massachusetts in the 1870's, where he sold steamless cookers [1895 W. Medford Dir.] and, a few years prior to that, worked with son George (as Geo. A Leavitt & Co.), selling "hollow ware".
Wife Ellen died in Medford in 1905, and Albert died there in 1908, both being buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in town. Their children are also buried there.
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
The above sketch was taken from the Pittsfield Advertiser, dated Thursday, 28 Sept 1893, under the "Well Known People" column on page 2. Albert Leavitt can be found in the Descendants of Nehemiah Leavitt book, pg 53/86, the son of Caleb and Mary (Bradbury) Leavitt. The paper included the following biography:
Albert Leavitt was born in Athens Apr. 11, 1830, and was educated in the common schools, and Bloomfield and Somerset Academies. At the age of 15 he began going with his father on surveying expeditions each summer, and sometimes in the winter, following this course for seven years.
In 1852 Mr. Leavitt went to Bangor where for several years he was engaged in mercantile pursuits. He returned to Athens after a time, bought a stock of goods and went into trade. H. C. Tobey was associated with him in business until their store burned in 1864. Mr. Leavitt then bought his partner's interest in the goods saved, acquired the stock of Charles Lord and moved into his store. Two years later he sold out and moved away for a year or so. In 1867, Mr. Leavitt returned to Athens and built a large saw mill and has been in active business there since.
Mr. Leavitt was treasurer of Somerset County during the war, member of the House in '76, was elected a member of the board of County Commissioners in 1886, and was re-elected in 1890 for six years. He has also held important town offices.
The 1860 Somerset County map shows, in its detailed view of Athens Village, the home of Albert Leavitt, on the street to the Somerset Academy. The "Athens Directory", printed on the map, listed: Albert Leavitt (Leavitt & Tobey), Merchant Dealers in dry goods, groceries, produce, &c. There were numerous buildings in town marked as "stores", but none specifically marked as their business place.
The East Somerset County Register, which includes brief histories of each town, shows that Albert Leavitt was the town clerk for Athens from 1861 to '63. He was also a selectman, in 1883, '84, and in '91.
The 1883 map (above) shows Mr. Leavitt's home next to the Academy, as well as his saw mill on the river. His brother-in-law, Horatio C. Tobey, is on the east side of the waterway with his flour (grist) mill. In the 1876 ME State Register, they were in business together as "Leavitt & Tobey", dealing in "long lumber, shingles, planing, and a grist mill". Leavitt's father-in-law, Dr. James Sullivan Tobey, can be seen labeled on several buildings in town.
Mr. Albert Leavitt died in Athens on 4 June 1899, and is buried in Mt Rest Cemetery. His gravestone, and many others, can be found in the cemetery section on this site.
It is not currently known (the online tax listings weren't functioning correctly) if the house located on Academy St. is the same place that Albert Leavitt owned, or is a former part of the building. The GPS is: 44.926554, -69.672643
See Digital Maine: [search: Caleb Leavitt] for maps surveyed by Albert's father Caleb
1851, 1855 Bangor City Directories: Albert NOT seen in these listings
1860 Athens, Somerset, ME census (pg 1): hh 4/4; Albert a merchant
Map of Somerset County, 1860 [Library of Congress]
1870 Athens, ME census (pg 19): hh 146/155; Albert a lumber manfr, val $4200/300
Maine State Yearbook, 1876: (pg 143) Albert a State Rep.; also a surveyor of land for Athens
1880 Athens, ME census (pg 3): hh 22/24; Albert a mill owner
Atlas of Somerset County, 1883 [Internet Archive]
Maine Register or State Yearbook, 1889 [Google Books]; (pg 621-2) "A. Leavitt", manuf. lumber; surveyor of land
Pittsfield Advertiser newspaper [28 Sept 1893, pg 2]
East Somerset County Register, 1911-12 [Athens History, pg 22 and 24]
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
Updates about our Leavitt genealogy research, our DNA projects, and other notes to keep our membership informed.