John Wood Leavitt was sixteen years and six months old when he left the family farm in East Winthrop, Maine , and took the 10-mile trek to Augusta. He had just enlisted, on the 20th of November 1863, as a "20"-year old, enrolled by "A.S." (Arnold Sweet) Richmond, a fellow townsman and acting deputy provost marshal. As a private in the Seventh Maine Battery (of Light Artillery), he was mustered into service for three years, on 30 Dec. 1863.
Through the month of January, 1864, while other volunteers continued to arrive, the men were formed into detachments and drilled on a daily basis at Camp Coburn in Augusta. At the end of the month, John Leavitt received a state bounty of $100, as well as a U.S. bounty of $60 and $13 monthly advance pay. The unit left the capital on the morning of 1 Feb. and headed south.
Transported via rail and steamer, the 7th Battery arrived in Washington, DC on the morning of 5 February 1864, and settled into Camp Barry, the Artillery Camp of Instruction. Having already left a few men behind in Augusta due to sickness, the camp life and change of climate continued to take its toll.
A letter, written by someone stationed at Camp Barry and published in the Oxford Democrat on 8 April 1864, pg 2, mentioned the 7th Battery:
"It came here with 143 men...[ ]. There has been much sickness in this company since its arrival. Four have died..."
John W Leavitt was one of those four men, succumbing to double pneumonia on the 16th of March, 1864. He was two months shy of his seventeenth birthday.
His body was returned home, where he was buried in the East Winthrop Cemetery, beside his sister Mary, who had died in 1860, at age 14.
Photos taken 21 Sept 2019 (by S. Dow)
Descendants of John Leavitt Through His Son, Israel and Lydia Jackson (pg 77)
History of the Seventh Maine Light Artillery (archive.org)
Seventh Maine Battery Descriptive Roll (pg 63); Monthly Return (pg 195); Muster In Roll (pg 108 pay, pg 109); Muster Out Roll (pg 130)
Maine, Civil War Enlistment Papers: John W Leavitt (Declaration of recruit) - being under 21 years of age, a parent or guardian needed to sign a consent form. As seen below, John's father Hiram H. Leavitt signed off on his son being 20 years old.
In June of 2017, I visited the Knowlton-Edgerly Cemetery in Chichester, New Hampshire, to photograph and document the Leavitt burials there. In one plot, I took notice of Judith Leavitt and her son Ephraim Merrill, who had died a day apart (our Samuel genealogy book, on pg 85, errs in his death year), he being one of six children who died relatively young within this family.
Searching the old newspapers online [at GenealogyBank, a paid subscription site], the above two were the only ones I was able to find from the 1820's. The following notice is from the New Hampshire Patriot & State Gazette, printed on Monday, April 2nd, 1821 (pg 3):
At Chichester, March 19, Mrs. Judith Leavitt, aged 43; and on the 20th, Mr. Ephraim M. Leavitt, aged 21; wife and son of Mr. Ephraim Leavitt - both of consumption, and both buried the same day. Mrs. L. had been for years a member of the Methodist church, and was highly respected in life, and her death is deeply lamented. The son was a promising young man, and his premature exit is deeply regretted. The afflicted father has been called within the past year to follow to the grave no less than four adults of his own family.
Mr. Leavitt had, during the prior year, lost two other children: Dorothy Frost Leavitt, on 12 Apr 1820, and Mehitable Clement Leavitt, on 26 Sept. They are also buried in this same lot in Knowlton Cemetery (for more grave photos in this yard, see "Chichester Cemeteries").
Ephraim Leavitt would remarry in 1822, to Abigail Piper, and relocated to Levant, Maine the following year. He died in 1846, and was buried in the Simpson's Corner Cemetery in Corinth, Penobscot, Maine.
Prior to leaving town, Ephraim Leavitt sold his property to his son, Jeremy Nathaniel Cogswell Leavitt [Rock. Deeds, Bk 235, pg 471], who would pass it on to his son Augustus. Following his death in 1886, the homestead was occupied by his widow, Betsey (Towle), the "Mrs. B. Leavitt" seen on the 1892 map of Chichester, NH.
In the Hingham Centre Cemetery sits a brick monument, atop which lies a now undecipherable slab. Sharing this lot are the gravestones of Israel Leavitt (d. 1696, though stone says 1690 or '99), and his father John Leavitt (d. 1691). This is the tomb of Jacob Leavitt, the great-great-grandson of Deacon John, and the man who is said to have been responsible for having the remains of his ancestor(s) reinterred here.
As is evident today, the stone monument is easily covered by lichens, which makes any inscriptions impossible to read. However, we do have a record of what was written, or at least a partial transcription. In 1996, NALF officers hired a Weymouth, MA man to repair the brick work and to clean the slab of growth [NALF Cemetery Report, 1996; reprinted in Desc. of Israel Leavitt 1997 Update, pg 93]. When completed, only the following could be read:
JOHN LEAVITT DIED
1 - 9 -
JACOB LEAVITT DIED JANUARY
1826 AGED 85
----- WIFE DIED -----
----- AGED -----
Jacob Leavitt died on 7 Jan 1826, and his wife Leah (Fearing) died on 14 Oct 1838. With the grave markers of Israel and John Leavitt also in this lot, and John's name inscribed on the stone, one would hope their remains (had they survived over a century underground) were also removed from their original burying places near the Old Ship Church (see below) when the stones were brought over to the Plain. The question is, who else is buried in this tomb?
In his will [Plymouth County Probate, case #12506], dated the 6th of July 1824, he wrote that his "tomb should be kept for the use of the family to the latest generation".
Jacob Leavitt had nine children, and most of them had offspring of their own, so there may have been two dozen people of the "latest generation" at the time of his will being written. Two of his sons were deceased by 1824: Benjamin and Elijah. While the former had moved to Portland, Maine and died there, the latter passed away in Hingham but there's no record of his burial place. With three of his children having stones in front of this lot (so either buried there or were placed in the vault), Elijah is very likely in the tomb with his parents. Most of Jacob's other children and their families have lots elsewhere in the Centre Cemetery, so did not take up the offer left to them by their father. Daughter Lydia (wife of Edward Battles) died in Charlestown, MA in 1860, her death rec says she was buried in Hingham, and may be with her parents.
Fifty years of burials had taken place there in the 1600's, though it seems most were without gravestones. A single burial plot was made for the majority of them in the Hingham Cemetery where, in 1839, the town erected a large monument in their honor. Those grave markers that did exist were placed around this new location. On the 1873 map below,  is Main St., where its shape bears the evidence of running alongside the southern part of the hillside  that once sat there.  is the reinterment place of those bodies removed during the road construction.
As late as 1877, bodies were still being dug up at this location [History of Hingham, Vol 1, Part 2, pg 356], found in front of the homes of Caleb B. Marsh and John Siders (as can be seen beside the Derby Academy on the above map). Their houses, built in the 1750-70's (according to the tax assessor database), shared the hill with the burial ground. From a 2017 street view, the Academy building (now the Historical Society, left), the Marsh home (right), and the Siders place (far right) all stand, and this viewing angle helps show how the hillside had been cut away.
While it is said [Desc. of Israel Leavitt, pg 22] that Jacob Leavitt was the one responsible for the reinterment of Deacon John (and presumably Israel, as well) to the "Plain" (now the Centre or Center) Cemetery, this project was done prior to the town's 1831 vote for the removal of the original burial ground, as Jacob died in 1826. Perhaps, in the years prior, town meetings had proposed the excavation on Main Street, so Jacob Leavitt took the initiative and had his ancestors saved from a mass burial by having them brought over to his tomb prior to his death.
A Visit with Deacon John
F. ALBERT LEAVITT was a few months shy of his eleventh birthday when he left his home that Saturday morning, the 2nd of January 1886, telling his mother that he was going up to visit his grandmother. Instead, he headed out onto the river with a few of his friends to go ice skating.
The river was not totally iced over, however, and young Albert ventured too close to the edge and fell in. Jack Hayes, a local man being close by, made an attempt to grab Albert, but he also slipped into the water. He was able to pull himself out, but the boy was lost under the water.
Once word got back into the city, crowds of people came down to the river, to help in the search. Solon S. Andrews, a Biddeford man, arrived that afternoon with diving equipment, to search for Albert's body, while men in boats and rafts dragged the river with grappling hooks and poles. Several of the searchers fell into the river on Sunday, due to the thin ice, but were saved by others close by.
The distraught mother, widow Mrs B. Frank Leavitt, would even offer a $500 reward for whoever was able to find her son's body.
Young Albert's body was found that Friday, January 8th, down by Cow Island. He was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery, in Saco.
While the majority of Leavitt names living in Saco, Maine descend from the "Thomas line" (ie. Descendants of Thomas Leavitt of Hampton), this particular family can be found in the Descendants of Samuel Leavitt book, on 134. Father Benjamin Franklin Leavitt, son of Benjamin and Sarah E (Stevenson), had come from Exeter, NH. This volume, however, only listed a daughter for B. Frank and his wife Laura (Patterson), but left out son F. Albert Leavitt.
The above 1872 map of Saco shows (in red) where "F. Leavitt" (Benjamin Franklin) and his family lived on Common Street, while the blue circle was the home of "E. Patterson", who was the widow Eunice, Albert's maternal grandmother.
JOHN HENRY LEAVITT was an Irish immigrant, and probably not a descendant of John or Thomas Leavitt of the 1600's, though he is worthy of mention.
A former resident of Newmarket, NH, he moved to Dover, NH and worked as a gate tender for the Boston & Maine Railroad. It was here, on the 13th of December, 1905, that he died from "hiccough", which had afflicted him for 10 days. The contributing cause was "mental excitement" of two weeks, though his obituary gives no clue as to the circumstance which caused this.
John H Leavitt was born in County Kerry, Ireland, and had immigrated here in June 1848. In 1861, he declared his intent to be a citizen of the U.S. [MA Naturalization Recs: US Circ Crt Vol 14, #222]. He had first lived in North Abington, MA, where his three children were born. He afterwards moved to Newmarket, NH.
This interesting grave stone is located in the High Street Cemetery in Hampton, New Hampshire, and belongs to ABRAHAM MARSTON LEAVITT. He was the son of Thomas and Mary (Marston) Leavitt, born in Hampton on 6 Mar 1827 [Descendants of Thomas Leavitt, pg 150/155].
He moved to Boston, Mass, where he worked as a police officer in the 1860's. In 1868, he became a truant officer for the city [Boston Traveller, 3/31/1868], a position he held until his death in Roxbury on 7 Oct 1898.
His wife was SARAH J SANBORN, the daughter of William and Hannah (Chase) Sanborn of Seabrook, NH [death rec]. She died in Stoughton, MA on 13 Jan 1910, and was buried in Hampton, NH [MA Death Rec].
They had two sons, William Sanborn Leavitt and Alfred Marston Leavitt, both of whom lived in Boston, and were also buried in the High St Cemetery.
- Hampton, NH Cemetery page
- Boston Evening Times, 8/28/1860 (pg 4): Abraham appointed officer on 27 Aug.
This gravestone is located in the Woodlawn Cemetery, Buxton, Maine, formerly called "Emery Cemetery". This "Wm. P." is WILLIAM P LEAVITT, born in Buxton, Maine on 30 Jan 1811, the son of Bradbury Leavitt [Buxton VR, Bk 4,pg 65]. He died on 7 Aug 1844, AE 33 yrs. 7 mos. [grave]. On the same stone is Charles P. Leavitt, son of Wm P. and Martha Leavitt, who died "May 16, 1844" AE 10 mos.
The Portland Weekly Advertiser newspaper, dated 6/11/1844, has Charles P. dying "in this city, 2d inst", which matches that of his record of burial in Eastern Cemetery, A Tomb 75 [note: this tomb has only 7 members of the Brooks family inscribed on its cover, so perhaps Charles was placed here temporarily] while the city vr (recorded in Jan 1846) lists his death as 4 June 1844. This same newspaper, on 8/13/1844, published "In Buxton, 5th inst, Mr William P. Leavitt, merchant tailor, of this city", so dates differ for both William and his son.
William P. Leavitt and Martha Brown were married in Portland, Maine on 31 May 1841 [ME vr]. This was his second marriage, having been divorced from Anna Berry in Nov 1839 [Cumb County SJC Vol 13 pg 239]. He and Anna had been married on 25 Dec 1831 in Buxton [Buxton VR Bk 3, pg 101]. The Buxton town records [Bk 4 pg 160] has the family of William and Anna:
The date this family information was recorded in the town book is unknown, but the full birth dates of his two children (by 1st wife) were not written down. The "Sept 1830" birth of dau Elizabeth, 15 months prior to her parents' marriage, may be wrong [she died on 16 Jan 1896 in Brockton, MA, aged 63 yrs 4 mos, calculating a birth date of Sept 1832, though too close to brother Wm H's birth]. Portland vital records [Vol 4, pg 292] list their birth dates as "Elizabeth b. Sept 1829, William H, b. Mar 1833, and Charles P, b. Aug 1843".
The will of William P. Leavitt of Buxton, gentleman, is recorded in York County Probate [file #11299], and was dated 16 July 1844, just a few weeks prior to his death. Mentioned in the papers are his wife Martha, daughter Elizabeth, son William Henry, as well as brother Daniel, who was appointed executor. These two children would live with their Uncle Daniel, William being listed as an "adopted son" in Daniel's family record [Buxton VR Bk 2 pg 21], with Elizabeth seen in his household in 1850 census [hh 393/414]. William stayed in Buxton, where he married Roxanna Harmon, while Elizabeth married Timothy Haseltine, and moved first to Abington, MA, then to Brockton.
William P Leavitt was a merchant tailor, and had a store on Middle Street in Portland, Maine, where he sold clothing, furnishings, and had a tailoring business. His home was on Federal, near Temple [1841 Portland City Dir, pg 56]
He is found in the Descendants of Thomas Leavitt book, pg 153, though wrongly listed as a son of Samuel of Buxton, who was born in 1797. Only wife Anna Berry is listed in the write-up, and the deceased infant son Charles is listed with a wife and dau, a totally different Portland couple [from an unknown Canadian Leavitt line]. Daughter Elizabeth, living with her Uncle Daniel Leavitt during the 1850 census, is erroneously listed as a dau of him [Thomas Leavitt gen, pg 108].
Below is an 1841 advert from the Portland, Maine City Directory:
The above (hard to read) stone is in Hampton's Ring Swamp Cemetery, and belongs to SHUBAEL LEAVITT. He was the son of James and Betty (Batchelder) Leavitt, and was born 1 Jan 1791. He died on 22 June 1814, drowned in Portsmouth Harbor while he and several others were taking a pleasure cruise out on the water when the boat overturned.
He was a veteran of the War of 1812, having (briefly) served as a sergeant in Captain Jacob Dearborn's company, Major Edward J Long's Regiment. He had enlisted on 25 May 1814 but deserted on 14 June. He had been stationed at Fort Washington, Portsmouth Harbor. Records say he was discharged on June 22nd, but it is unclear if this was prior to his boating accident, or if he was struck from the rolls following his death that day.
Family data from LEAVITT Descendants of Thomas Leavitt, the Immigrant 1616-1696, and Isabella Bland, pg 43.
BRACKETT LEAVITT (Nathaniel, James, James, Aretas, Thomas) was born abt Oct 1789 in Limerick, Maine, the son of Nathaniel (a Revolutionary War soldier) and Mary (Elkins) Leavitt. He died 21 Apr 1866, and is buried in the Hillside-Baptist Cemetery in Limerick.
He married, on 28 Oct 1811, to MARY WORMWOOD of Alfred, Maine. She was born 30 Apr 1790 and died on 9 Oct 1878.
Brackett (also spelled Brackett, Bracet) was a War of 1812 veteran. He served as a private in Capt Solomon Strout's Company, Lt Col John Spring's regiment, which was raised at Limington, and served at Saco [Massachusetts, Dist of Maine]. He enlisted on 10/30/1814 and was discharged on 11/13/14. He also served in Merrill's 4th MA Militia under Capt Strout.
They had the following children:
I. George Washington Leavitt, born 12 May 1812
II. Lydia Wormwood Leavitt, b. 4 June 1815
III. Shubael Leavitt, b. 26 Jan 1822
IV. Sarah Anne Leavitt, b. 8 July 1829
V. Louise Stevens Leavitt, b. 27 Feb 1832
VI. Julia A. Leavitt
Family data from LEAVITT Descendants of Thomas Leavitt, the Immigrant 1616-1696, and Isabella Bland, pg 53,65.
According to the 1856 York County map, "B. Leavitt" lived on the corner of what is now Route 5 and Range E Road. A clipped image (below) from Google Street View shows the house at this location, which may have been Brackett's. The home has a "1795" plaque on the front.
JOHN LEAVITT was born on 10 June 1836 in Exeter, NH, the son of John and Abigail (Lee) Leavitt. He died in Exeter, NH on 8 Mar 1906 [NH VR], and was buried in Exeter Cemetery.
His wife was IRENE S DOLLOFF, the daughter of Stephen P and Judith A (Rowell) Dolloff. They were married on 28 Nov 1861 in Brentwood, NH. She was born in Exeter, Nov 1838 [1900 census], and died on 26 Oct 1911 in Exeter [NH VR].
John was a Civil War veteran, serving in Co E, 13th NH Infantry. He enlisted on 9 Aug 1862, age 25, and mustered in as a private on 09/19/62. He was transferred on 13 Oct 1863 to the 19th US Veteran Reserve Corps, Co D; He was discharged on 13 July 1865.
John and Irene lived their lives in Exeter, NH, where he worked as a farmer and shoemaker. According to the 1900 census, Irene had two children, but neither were living. Census records do not record any children in their household, so it seems they died while young.
His ancestry, according to the LEAVITT Descendants of John, the Immigrant, Through His Son, Moses book (pg 101): John (John, John, John, John, Moses, John)
stones and stories
More than just names and dates engraved on a grave stone, a look into the Leavitt families found in our cemetery photographs.