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/
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.
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.
Updates about our Leavitt genealogy research, our DNA projects, and other notes to keep our membership informed.