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About George Leavitt

Biographical Summary:

George Leavitt (1828-1889) "...This history was taken from his journal written just a short time before his death. George Leavitt, son of Wire Leavitt and Phoebe Cole, born near the Canadian line in Sheerbrook County, the 29 August 1828. His father was born about 1785 in New Hampshire and baptized in Hartleyville, Sheerbrook County, Canada and died in Wilson County, Illinois in 1846. He married sisters, Abigail and Phoebe Cole.

Abigail Cole and Wire Leavitt had two children: Jeremiah and Charlotte. Abigail was born in New Hampshire in 1784 and also died there in 1824. Her son, Jeremiah died in Wilson County, Illinois and her daughter, Charlotte married Simon Baker and came to the Rocky Mountains.

Phoebe Cole was born in New Hampshire in 1796, married George Leavitt in 1825 and died in Salt Lake City in the fall of 1849.

She was the mother of six children:

  1. Charles,
  2. George,
  3. Emeline,
  4. Louisa,
  5. Abigail
  6. Levi.

Abigail and Levi died in Sheerbrook County in lower Canada.

George Leavitt moved with his father and mother, brother and sisters to Wilson County, Illinois. It was here his father died. After his father's death, Sister Leavitt and the children moved to Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. It was here that his older brother Charles left and went to Chicago, Illinois. George then took up the task of taking care of his mother and two sisters, Emeline and Louisa. George was baptized in Wilson County, Illinois by George G. Jonson.

After his arrival in Nauvoo, he worked for some time in the stone quarry for the benefit of the Temple. Also under the direction of Colonel Rockwood became a part of the Whistling Company. Colonel Marcon had charge, and Benjamin Coney was the Bishop. In the fall of 1845, he was called and went up the river to get timber to repair and make wagons to take them west in the Spring of 1846. He was called to take Bishop Hunters's family up the Mississippi River with Larry Shiner and his mother and come down on the other side and meet Bishop Hunter and his company, on the on west to the Missouri River and across the river to where the Saints wintered.

In 1846 George started west with his mother and sisters. They stopped at Piegen a short time, then moved to the Missouri River and crossed over to Winter Quarters. His mother and sisters stayed there while George went to St. Joseph to work to earn money for the trip west in the spring. He went in the company with Charles Decker, Henry Crow, Charles Decker, Henry Crow, Charles McGrey, and others. He worked for Colonel Estel and all returned in the spring.

They started to cross the plains in the spring of 1847, in the company with Simon Baker and his wife, Charlotte, George's half sister. They were in the Bates Nobles's hundred, and Jedadiah M. Grant's fifty. Simon Baker being captain of ten. They arrived safely in Salt Lake Valley 2 October 1847.

George Leavitt built a home in the North Fort, and lived there with his mother and sisters. In the summer of 1848, George went to help the companies that were coming in that summer. Also, he secured a lot in the Third Ward, and by fall had a house built for

his mother. She didn't live to enjoy it long, as she died late in the fall of 1849. Bishop Wiler was their Bishop in that ward, and Owen Dewel preached at her funeral.

In the spring of 1850, George went to California to the gold mines, in company with Edward Thompson where he worked some in the mines, then returned that fall with Charles C. Rich, Porter Rockwell, Tom Goodwell and others.

He had just returned when he was called to go in George A. Smith's Company south to help settle Parawan, Iron County, Utah. They reached the Beaver River on Christmas Day and while there Indians shot across the river and killed one of George A. Smith's oxen.

They reached Corn Creek on New Years Day, where they found it cold with plenty of snow. While at Parawan, he received a call to go and explore further south in company with Peter Chi, Simon Hood and two others. In their travels they found considerable iron ore, and at Cedar City, coal. This coal was found while eating their dinner at the creek.

In the spring of 1851 he returned home again and rented Owen Dewels place in Centerville, Davis County, Utah. He remained there a number of years. It was while living there that he married Janette Brinkerhoff on 29 August 1851. (It was his twenty forth birthday.) He then secured some property and built a home.

On 20 April 1857 he married Sarah Angeline Porter, who lived in Centerville. Then on the 11 July 1857 he married Nancy Minerva Earl, who also lived in Centervillewith her grandfather, Joseph Rich. Her mother had died when she was a baby, and her grandparents raised her. Her grandmother Rich died October 5, just three days after they had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847, so her grandfather Rich took care of her and she lived very close to him until she married. Bishop Porter was their Bishop at one time and William R. Smith was also Bishop for some time.

George was called to be a teacher, then President of the Teachers Quorum for a time. He was called to be first Counselor to Bishop William R. Smith, serving in this capacity unit the Bishop was called to take a mission in Europe. During his absence from the ward, George acted as Bishop. He was in the Bishopric at the time of Johnston's Army in the spring of 1858. They went with the move south to Spanish Fork, then returned to Centerville that summer.

About 1864 he put up a sawmill in the canyon east of Centerville. It was an up and down saw to saw lumber. It was run by water power. Upon Bishop Smith's return from his mission, George Leavitt and families were called in the spring of 1868 to go to Nevada, down on the Muddy River. He therefore had to dispose of his 160 acres of farm and 40 acres of pasture he owned for almost nothing and prepare to go.

He, with two of his wives, Janette and Minerva and their children went by team and oxen. James and Joseph Wire, sons 10 and 9 years old, the oldest boys, walked the entire distance of 550 miles. They drove the 10 cows and some young stock. The milk was churned to butter by the jolting of the wagons. The boys used the cows to help them wade the Virgin River by holding the cows' tails. They remained south a little overtwo years, and endured a lot of hardships. All of them suffered with chills and fever. Each mother had a baby and each mother buried a baby while there. They had to travel by team 250 miles to get flour. Often the families were without flour before the father could return from these trips. They had to live on bran and molasses at these times. They raised some cotton while there, which th boys had to pick. They had considerable trouble with the Indians, who often stole or drove away their cattle or were on the war path. These war troubles were settled without any bloodshed.

George Leavitt was called to act as Bishop while on the Muddy River at West Point, Nevada.

It was during this time that his second wife, Sarah Angeline Porter, who had remained behind in Centerville, called for a bill (of divorcement) which he gave her when he returned. In his own words, he said, "The cause all summed up together would have been like Paddy's flee. When putting your finger on it there wouldn't have been anything there.

In the summer of 1869, President Brigham Young came to West Point, Nevada and released the Leavitt families. They started back in November of 1869, going as far as Santa Clara, where they spent the winter, leaving there in March 1870 for Beaver. They remained at Beaver long enough to raise a crop. While at Beaver, the women and children would gather wool left on fences and bushes. They cleaned and dyed it and made it into clothe and then into suits for the boys, After leaving Beaver, they stayed at Chicken Creek with George Davis, where they lost four horses. They were colts raised while south. They came to Centerville and on to Mendon, Utah. It took four days to make the trip from Centerville to Mendon. In Mendon the children derived quite a lot of pleasure by fastening a lot of snow shoes together and getting on them and going pell-mell downthe hill over the snow. Sometimes going as far as 1 1/2 miles.

The families remained at Mendon about two years. While there, Minerva's son, Joseph Wire, hurt his left leg while hunting astray cow and calf. This put him to bed for about three months and on crutches for a long time after. One day Dr. Seymore B. Young happened to visit some neighbors of the Leavitt families and seeing the boy on crutches called him over to him and after examining a white swelling on the leg, cleaned andopened it and took out a number of pieces of bone. Dr. Young refused to take any pay for his services. Bishop Huss was the Bishop at Mendon.

After two years there, the Leavitts moved to Lewiston. It was in the spring of 1872. Bishop William H. Lewis presided there. When they went south, they had two teams of horses and two yoke of oxen. Janette drove the horses Pete and Molly; Minerva drove the Horses Puss and Kit and George drove the oxen, Dave and Bolly, Buch and Berry. They drove these south andback to Lewiston in 1872.

During the winter of 1874 James and Joseph Wire lived in a wagon box down on the Bear River with a bunch of sheep, with the snow 2 1/2 feet deep. Some of the family secured work on the railroad in Montana. George was called to take charge of a canal, fourteen miles long, surveying it with a spirit level which accounts for its crookedness, as they picked the high places for it. This canal, was the starting of the Cub River Irrigation Company. This was the first means of bringing water to Lewiston for irrigation. He held the position of President of this company for two years.

He was asked to take charge of building a meeting house. He helped with the building of the first church which was a one room structure, used also as a school house. It has been used for many things since then, but it still stands, although moved to a different location on the Saul Hyer farm. Later, he took charge of the building of the new meeting house, the front main room of which was later called the opera house. He also built the benches used in that building. This building was remodeled three times and made a very lovely opera house. It caught fire and burned to the ground on December 25, 1929.

George was the first Justice of the Peace and held that office until 1881. He was one of the first Trustees of the schools in Lewiston. The first school was taught in a small log house owned by John M. Bernhisel, before he was married. It was taught by Miss Mary Van Orden (Bair). The first Post Office here was called "Cub Hall".

George built two houses, just alike, one for each wife, when he came to Lewiston. They were very close together, one still stands and is being lived in. The other wasdestroyed by fire.

His last years were spent in Lewiston, with occasional trips to Montana and Wyoming. He moved his wife Minerva to Star Valley, and in the settling of that place, were pioneers. It was while she was living there, that George Leavitt died with Typhoid Fever, January 23, 1889 at Lewiston, Cache, Utah. The boys had to rig up a sleigh with a wagon box. They put a stove in it, as it was very cold weather. They drove by team to Star Valley, a distance of 200 miles, a 100 miles out and 100 miles back home again, so that Minerva and the family could attend the funeral.

The funeral had to be delayed a week so she could be there. In these days with convenient mortician services, you may wonder how his body was preserved for that length of time. In those days, they used cloth soaked in salt peter solution all over the body, and also any ice that was available. His son, Joseph Wire, was away at the time working in the mines at Tintic. He arrived home just in time for the funeral.

George Leavitt was a builder, pioneer, leader and public benefactor. He was an early riser, stern, but kind and a good husband and father. A man of few words and a lover of domestic animals, especially the cat. He didn't attend church very regularly in his later years, but tried to live his religion in every deed. He never forced his children to go to church, but when Sunday came, he always told them they knew their duty where they should be and left the decision up to them, so they generally went.

Although he was only sixty one years old when he died, he had been such a hard worker and gone through so many hardships and carried so many heavy loads on his young shoulders when just a boy, he aged and looked like an old man when he died. He had three wives and twenty eight children. He was buried in the Lewiston City Cemetery along with other early pioneers of the flat..."

SOURCE: Taggert, Eulalie Leavitt; “History of George Leavitt”; Information taken from his journal and a family history.


George married Janette (Janet) Brinkerhoff, daughter of James Brinkerhoff and Sally Ann Snyder, on 29 Aug 1852 in Centerville, Davis, Utah. (Janette (Janet) Brinkerhoff was born on 30 Oct 1836 in Marava, Sempronius, Cayuga, New York, died on 7 Dec 1925 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah and was buried on 9 Dec 1925 in Lewiston, Cache, Utah.)

George also married Sarah Angeline Porter on 20 Mar 1857 in Salt Lake City, S-Lk, UT. (Sarah Angeline Porter was born in 1836 in <Salt Lake City, S-Lk, UT>.)

George also married Nancy Minerva Earl on 11 Jul 1857 in Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah. (Nancy Minerva Earl was born in 1836 in <Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah>.)

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George Leavitt's Timeline

August 29, 1828
Hatley Hatton,Sherbrooke,Quebec,Canada
March 1841
Age 12
June 13, 1853
Age 24
Centerville, Davis County, Utah, United States
April 17, 1855
Age 26
Davis County, Utah, United States
March 20, 1857
Age 28
August 31, 1858
Age 30
Centerville, Davis County, Utah, United States