With many annual Fourth of July celebrations, the following day's newspapers are usually filled with stories about the exciting fireworks displays, along with the mishaps that always seem to follow them. The summer of 1859 was no different, and included a Leavitt family member from New Hampshire:
The above news report was printed in the Mirror and Farmer on 9 July 1859, recounting a fireworks accident that occurred in Pittsfield, NH at 9:30 PM that past Monday evening, during a Fourth of July celebration. BENJAMIN F. LEAVITT of Chichester [Desc. of Thomas Leavitt v.4, pg 104-5] was one of several persons who were injured when a pile of fireworks were accidentally set-off and struck the gathered crowd.
While the Manchester newspaper stated that a rocket had struck the right side of his nose, breaking it, and then gouging out his left eye, other accounts claimed "the whole of one side of his face stricken off, carrying with it the eye and nose" [Boston Post, 7/7; and copied by other New England papers]. The papers added: "although alive this morning, cannot survive but a few hours at most".
The Boston Daily Traveller, on the 7th of July, had given a more detailed account about Benjamin F. Leavitt Esq. himself. The New York Herald copied their version, and printed it on the 9th [below, clipped from the Chronicling America website]. Though off on his age by a few years, they added interesting details about his life, including time spent in California, earning enough to pay off family debts back home, and serving in the N.H. Legislature in 1857 and '58.
The Dover Enquirer, dated Thurs., July 14th, while continuing with the horrific description of Mr. Leavitt's face, followed with the postscript:
"We are informed by Mr. Freeze, the driver of the Pittsfield stage, that only three of the above persons (Leavitt, Garland, and Willey) were injured, and that all are in a fair way to recover. - The injury which they received was not so great as reported".
Benjamin Franklin Leavitt survived more than a "few hours". In fact, he lived until 16 May 1882, dying from bronchitis at age 73 [buried in Leavitt Cem, Chichester]. Mr. Calvin Drew (initially called "Daniel" in early reports) Garland, the other man "fatally wounded", would live until 1896. The young boy John Willey was perhaps the son of Hazen Willey, and had just turned 7 years old that July 4th day. He died in 1914.
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.
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!
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