BENSON LEAVITT, was the eldest son of Thomas and Hannah (Melcher) Leavitt, born 21 Jun 1797 in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire. As the U.S. flag and its holder suggests, he was a veteran of the War of 1812.
A member of the New Hampshire Militia, he was in the company of Capt. Samuel James, under Col. Case Waldron. He served as a private with a detachment of artillery from the Third Regiment, raised for the defence of Portsmouth Harbor in Sept. 1814. He would have only been 17 years of age at the time of his enlistment.
He moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1826, establishing a wholesale grocery and fish store with his brother Joseph M. The 1831 City Dir. listed their business on Battery Wharf, but later references show their store on the Philadelphia Packet Pier. Following the death of his brother in 1849, the store of "B. & J.M. Leavitt" would change to "Benson Leavitt & Co." as he co-partnered with son Charles B. [Glouc. Telegraph, 4 Mar 1868]. The 1842 Dir. listed Benson as living at 11 Fleet, with Joseph at 10 1/2 (it was the same building). In 1831, they had been on Hanover.
He was a Justice of the Peace, as well as an alderman, in Boston for many years. In Nov. and Dec of 1845, as Chairman of the Board of Aldermen, he served as acting mayor in the city when the current official had passed away and elections needed to be held to secure a new leader. He was also among the list of bank directors, and was on the school committee in Ward 1, Boston. Party-wise, his name was often submitted on the ballots of several political parties in the years of running for an alderman position, but was noted as being either a Whig or American Republican (ie. Native American).
When his father died in 1852, both Benson and brother Joseph received the homestead farm in Hampton Falls (but remained in Boston), with their sister Hannah having the right to live there as a single woman [Rock. County Probate, file #16376]. From the 1856 map of Rockingham county, the location of the home is marked "C & B. Leavitt". This home still stands today. The cemetery where they are buried, not yet established when this map was drawn, is opposite the Old West View Cemetery, highlighted on the map.
Benson died from pneumonia on June 1st, 1869, in Watertown, MA, aged 72 [MA VR]. His body was a shipped back to Hampton Falls, where he was buried in the family plot at West View Cemetery. Newspaper accounts called him "the oldest fish dealer in Boston". One death notice read as follows:
His wife, Abigail Ward, had predeceased him in 1851, as did two of his children. He was survived by three daughters (Theresa, Susan, and Emily) and son Charles.
gravestones and their stories
More than just names and dates engraved on a grave stone, a look into the Leavitt families found in our cemetery photographs.