Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt
|Birthplace:||Compton, Coaticook, Québec, Canada|
|Death:||Died in Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, United States|
|Place of Burial:||Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, United States|
Son of Jeremiah Leavitt and Sarah Leavitt
|Managed by:||Richard Arthur Neary|
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About Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt
The following History of Lemuel Sturtevant Leavitt was researched, summarized and complied from various histories, recorded interviews, records, and personal knowledge, and was written by Clark L. Cox, and was found on Family Search.org: Lemuel Sturtevant Leavitt was born to Jeremiah II and Sarah Sturtevant in Compton, Quebec, Canada on November 3, 1825. He was the third son and seventh child in a family that would consist of a total of twelve children. Two of the children died at the time of birth. Though the family lived in humble circumstances, they were both proud of their lineage. Both the father and the mother could trace their names back to the early Puritan stock, some of the ancestors of both having come over on the Mayflower. The Leavitt family came from a line of note in England, their family coat of arms representing a rampaging lion and the motto meaning, “The Quick” or “Active”, denoting that they were physically superior.
Lemuel was a Mormon Pioneer and colonizer. The traits of the family’s pilgrim forefathers were inherent in their souls, for this family, after accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was one of the first to leave their native soil and kindred fold, to join the Saints in Illinois. Sickness, sacrifice, sorrow or pain could not discourage them for they were willing and determined to find a place where they could worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience.
At the time of Lemuel’s birth, Jeremiah II and Sarah had moved to Canada, only 15 miles from the State of Vermont. The soil was rich and deep and the timber plentiful. They would set their roots and raise their family there. While living there Lemuel’s mother, Sarah, had joined the Baptist church because she believed in baptism by immersion. Through the paper which was published by her church, she read of a strange new sect which claimed their prophet received revelations direct from God. The stories were much distorted and so fantastic that they were comical. Yet, she was strangely interested in the idea of new revelation. In her prayers and meditations she had been impressed that she was to receive new light from some source.
One afternoon, one of her husband’s sisters called upon her and asked her to go for a walk. When they were out in the fields where they would not be overheard, she told Sarah that she had been to listen to some Mormon Elders preach. She found Sara, Lemuel’s mother, a sympathetic listener, so she went on to say she believed this was really the true Church of Christ restored again, finally admitted that she had been baptized. Suddenly, it flashed on Sarah’s mind that this was the new light for which she had been looking.
She told her husband of the incident and, together, they went to a Mormon meeting. They accepted all the literature they could get, and spent long evenings reading aloud from it, comparing the Scriptures, and discussing them. Sarah’s real conversion came when she read the Doctrine in Covenants. In her journal, written after she had grown old, she said: “I knew that neither man, nor set of men, that could make such a book, or would dare try, from any wisdom that man possessed. I knew that it was the word of God and a revelation from Heaven and received it as such. I sought with my whole heart knowledge of the truth and obtained a knowledge that never has nor never will leave me.”
After much further discussion, meditating, reading, and listening to the Mormon missionaries, they decided to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The next thing they decided to do was to take their large family and join the Saints in Kirkland, Ohio. With such a large extended family, 23 in total, this was a most stupendous undertaking. They left Hatley, Canada on July 20; 1835. The traveling was a new experience for Lemuel, at the ripe old age of seven. Camping out, cooking over a fire, sleeping under the stars, and exploring the countryside as they slowly wended their way to Ohio. Thus, his life as a frontiersman began early and many of his accomplishments might be traced to these early days.
They arrived in Kirtland, Ohio early in September. It was here they met the Prophet Joseph Smith. To the children, in their childish minds, here was a Prophet who talked with God and angels, so he seemed a little more than human. Later in life some of the children would have a close association with Joseph Smith, an association which seemed only to strengthen their first impression.
Some of the group continued on to Twelve Mile Grove in Illinois, but the Leavitt family was out of money, they could go no further. However, the Leavitt family traveled ten miles to the village of Mayfield, where there was a mill and some chair factories. Here, Jeremiah and his oldest sons found employment. After they had sufficient funds the family moved some five hundred miles to Twelve Mile Grove, near Nauvoo, Illinois. Near Lake Michigan they had to stop again while the father earned enough to go on. In due time, they moved on. It was a long and tiresome trip. The roads were bad all the way. In one place there was a bridge five miles long that crossed a swamp area. The bridge was made out of poles, without a covering of dirt. The iron tired wagons nearly jolted them to pieces.
Lemuel’s parents had to find work to support their large family. They learned that there was a great canal being built at Juliette, Illinois, 14 miles away. Jeremiah got a job working with his team at three dollars per day. Sarah took in washing for the workmen. The older girls helped Sarah. All the boys who were old enough to work found odd jobs to help bring hard cash into the family’s purses. Altogether, the family did very well. They stayed there from November until spring and then went back to join their relatives at Twelve Mile Grove. However, their mother became dangerously ill for over a month. As soon as she got better they decided to move to Nauvoo. Most of their friends were there and they wanted to be with the body of saints.
Upon arriving, they bought a house and farm three miles from the city. They planted the land in grain; however, they soon found out that the land was surveyed incorrectly. Thus, they had to find another farm. They found one to their liking by Big Mound, some seven miles from the city. This was in 1841.
For six years the family had been on the move, living a few months or a year at a place where they could get work. Now, at last, they had found a place where they felt they would be permanent. The farm was in a fine location with a site for the new home that they planned to build on top of the mound. There was every promise that they would soon be prosperous. At this time, Lemuel was fourteen years of age. With such a group of stripling young fellows to help him, the father could soon get the farm in nice shape.
It was while the family was here that Lemuel became a good friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Through his association with the Prophet, his faith in the principles of the Gospel became strengthened and he obtained an undying testimony of its truthfulness. To the end of his days Lemuel had a profound love and deep respect for the great Prophet.
For three years they lived on the place, increasing their acreage, stocking the farm with cattle, preparing to build a fine house. Everything seemed to be working as planned until the year 1844, when their troubles began again. It was then the mobbing began. Before this time, the Leavitt family had lived often among people who were not in sympathy with their beliefs. However, never before had they had such depredations as they were now to witness. From their mound they could see, night after night, the distant fires of homes burning. They could hear the sound of horse’s hoofs on the road. Only once were they in bodily danger, but this was not much comfort when they could see the things that were going on around them and hear the stories of the whippings and the tarring and feathering that went on.
Even with the things witnessed they were thunderstruck when they heard the Prophet was taken prisoner. When they heard he had been murdered they just couldn’t believe it. They felt they must do something; they must go somewhere and find out about it. They hurried to the city to see crowds of grief-stricken people passing on the street or gathering in groups. Gloom and hopelessness was evident on every face. With their Prophet and leader gone, what could they do? The next day the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum lay in state at the Mansion House. Lemuel stood in the line that passed single file before the bodies. Something in the majesty of the dead faces strengthened his testimony of the work this man had established; something of the sublime seemed to reinforce his assurance that here was a man who was called of God. Whatever it was, the experience was so indelibly stamped on his mind that he never forgot it.
As the family started for home, downcast and troubled, they received word that the mob again was scouring the countryside with the threat that they would drive out every Mormon. The Great Drum, the signal of alarm to the saints, beat out its warning. They gathered at William Snow’s house, where the women and children sat in the dark and the men and older boys stood guard. With Joseph Smith and his brother killed, the mob soon settled down. For several months the people lived in peace, working their farms and tending their businesses. But it wasn’t the same. Their Prophet and leader was gone. They were like sheep without a shepherd. Even though they got together and met often, they kept asking themselves the question, “what can we do now?’.
It was sometime later when the leadership all came home and got together to select a new leader. The Leavitt family was present on that occasion, August 8, 1844, for, to them, this was a matter of great importance. Seventeen year old Lemuel was with his friends near the back of a large audience which had gathered to hear the talks of the leadership of the Church. There were two significant leaders that were vying for the leadership position. Soon it became very evident to those in the gathering that there was only one man for the great responsibility, Brigham Young. A vote was called. The people present were almost unanimous that they would be led and directed by the Twelve Apostles, with Brigham Young at the head.
United again under a competent leader, the people went on with their work, finishing the temple, and carrying on church duties. The persecutions that had temporarily stopped began anew. Again, marauding bands scoured the country-side at night and burnings and mobbing became common. It soon became obvious that they either must leave the state or renounce their religion. The Leavitt family never even considered the latter alternative. In general, the entire group decided to leave. All they needed was enough time to gather their crops and make preparations. Sarah, the mother of the Leavitt clan wrote the following in her journal: “We soon found that we had to leave this place if we meant to save our lives, and we, with rest of the brethren, got what little we could from our beautiful farm. We had forty thousand bricks that my husband and sons had made to build a house and part of the rock to lay the foundation. For this we got an old bed quilt and for the farm a yoke of wild steers, and for two high post beds-steads we got some weaving done. Our nice cherry light stand we left for the mob, with every other thing we could not take along with us.”
They had a very difficult time because they were not fitted for a long journey, either from the standpoint of supplies or outfit. They had let the church use one of their teams to haul out. This meant that they had only one wagon left and one team of oxen to pull it. Loaded as it was with household goods all members of the family had to walk as the oxen could not pull the heavy load. That meant that the mother and the children must walk, wading the sloughs and climbing the hills. It was April in 1846 before they reached Mt. Pisgah, one hundred and fifty miles west of Nauvoo.
This was to be one of the camps of the saints, so father and the boys set about to build a shelter and plant crops. Since they did not have provisions to last until harvest, the father, Jeremiah II, went back to Bonaparte, Iowa to secure some. He took his son Dudley with him so they could both work for the summer to earn the necessary money. They left the mother, Sarah, Lemuel, the girls, and the rest of the family. After the father left for Bonaparte, the mother became extremely sick, with chills and fevers. Then the entire family came down with the illness, leaving no one in the family to wait on the others. They received all the needed help, preparing meals, washing, etc. from their neighbors. Approximately 300 died from this scourge, but her life was spared.
Meanwhile, the husband, Jeremiah II, was also sick back in Bonaparte. Although they nursed him the best they could, it soon became apparent that he was not going to get well. Soon, without a struggle or a groan, he passed away. He was buried in Bonaparte. Three sons came from their location and Dudley returned from Bonaparte with the outfit and a load of provisions. Now, for a short time, the Sarah had all five of her sons together . It was the last time they were ever together.
As soon as the boys had all gathered they decided to move on to Council Bluffs, where two of the older boys had planted crops. They arrived in November, and since they had no house in which to live, they had to camp out. Sarah, the mother came down with the chills and fever again. The boys fixed her a shelter of hay in which she lived until a house was built at Trade Point on the Missouri River.
As soon as Sarah became well she took in boarders and washing and baked bread and pies to sell to the emigrants. The boys, including Lemuel, all found work; with an eye of expending whatever work necessary toward getting an outfit with which to cross the plains to Utah. Lemuel (age 23) preceded the rest of the family’s move to the Salt Lake Valley, leaving with the Silas Richards Company in 1849. The Company departed Council Bluff, Iowa on July 10, 1849, and arrived in Salt Lake October 25, 1849. The Company was composed of about 72 wagons.
Added here are a few of the diary quotes taken from The Wagon Train guided by Silas Richards, leaving Winter Quarters on July 10, 1849, and arriving in the Salt Lake valley on October 25, 1849: We started from Winter Quarters fully organized Captains of 10 were all assigned. We had 72 wagons heavily loaded with our families, provisions, merchandise, household goods, farming and mechanical tools, etc. After a long and weary journey of hardship and fatigue, through a dreary wilderness without any inhabitants, except Indians, we arrived at the Great Salt Lake October 25, 1849, without any very serious accident, there being but one death (that of a little sickly child) and very little sickness in our company, on the route, though we encountered heat, cold, rain, and snow. In one snowstorm at Willow Creek, the snow fell 18 inches deep and we lost 62 head of cattle and pigs and chickens froze to death.
Morning clear and fine. Called a council of officers. Gave some instructions and adopted more speedy and efficient regulations for the guard. Directed the Marshall to call all the men of the camp together at four o’clock PM and inspected their arms. Council dismissed. Evening beautiful. Marshall made reports of inspection of arms as follows: Sixty-one men in camp. Fifty-four on parade. Forty-four well armed. Four in bad order. Three without arms.
Morning fair, we sent several men to examine for a fording of the river. About seven o’clock they returned to camp and reported that the bottom of the river through the deepest water was rock, and that the fording was the best known on the river though it had never been used. The bank being forty feet high, this river, like the Platte, is very broad, though not deep. The quick sands making crossing very dangerous. We concluded to dig the high bank down enough to pass our wagons down and avail ourselves of the advantages of the rock bottom. The men went to digging the bank down, and by eleven o’clock began to let the wagons down with one yoke of oxen to each wagon with two teamsters who had to wade, holding to the ox-bows, to keep on their feet. The water was very cold and river rising rapidly. It was getting dark before we all got over. My three wagons and carriage, I kept to the last, having to raise the wagon beds by placing ox yokes under them to keep the water out.
Morning and cool. A dragoon came into camp three days from Fort Laramie, one day from Cap’t. Taylor’s company. Reported the roads very bad for sixty miles. He said he was going on express to Fort Childs. Day cool, road good. Traveled fifteen miles. Camped at the west foot of sands bluffs, a good place for grass. Passed a number of large herds of buffaloes on each side of the river. We were scarcely out of site of them during the day.
Sunday morning fair and cool, hard west wind. Did not travel today. Here, John Thompson and Harvey Hutchens, left our camp and traveled without our council or permission. They were not willing to comply with our camp rules or tie up their oxen at night. They were obstinate and profane, and left on their own responsibility. We had a meeting in the afternoon.
Sunday morning clear. This place being the first timber where we could burn coal, we improved the opportunity, and set a great number of wagon tires. The Indians crowded our camp and Mr. Reynolds came as an interpreter. I called a council inside the corral, placing a guard at the entrance. We had a talk, a smoke, and gave them a variety of presents, consisting of flour, meal, tobacco, sugar, coffee, lead, matches, handkerchiefs, calico, clothing, etc. They were a band of Sioux, with their chief, Whirl Wind, and a band of Cheyenne, with their chief, Bony Frenchman. This bonus was demanded for the privilege of traveling through their country.
Morning pleasant. Then clouded up, cold wind from the N.E., snow falling on the mountains. Began to blow and snow violently. Continued for thirty six hours. Snow was in deep drifts, probably one foot of snow fell. Continued in camp four days. The snow not melting. Many of our cattle perished in the storm. In our company seventeen were found dead and six missing. Pigs and chickens froze to death in coops and cages on the back end of wagons.
The rest of the Leavitt family arrived in Salt Lake in 1850. As the family was preparing supper, a tall young man, with a smile on his face, came walking through the crowd. No one noticed him until his sister, Priscilla, called out. “Here’s Lem, mother! Here’s Lem!” Lem had grown taller and broader, really a fine looking young man. The greetings over and the supper eaten, they still had a long evening in which to visit. All were eager to learn more of their new location and neighbors, so Lem explained as best he could. The little group of houses where Lem lived was called “The Deuel Settlement,” because a Brother Deuel had built the first log house there.
After arriving in Salt Lake City Lemuel worked on a surveying project for several months. With his income Lem built a log house at Deuel settlement, because he was going to get married in a few months. Also, he had another cabin under construction, a little larger than his, to which he thought they could add a lean-to as an extra bedroom for Dudley and Tom. The girls and mother could sleep in the larger room or they might make different arrangements after they looked things over. Also, he had been working for flour and potatoes and he had a young beef ready to kill. This was truly a joyous homecoming, especially for a very tired and weary mother. After spending the next day in the “City“, the family went on to the Deuel Settlement, where Lemuel lived.
On May 24, 1851 Lemuel married Laura Melvina Thompson in Salt Lake City, Utah. After intra-family discussions it was agreed that Dudley would proceed to Tooele, Utah, where sufficient land was available for settling. He was to go by himself and be prepared to be self-supporting through the first winter. He must also take the tools he would need as well as animals. Therefore, Dudley took one yoke of oxen and one cow. He secured a solid cart from an uncle in which to haul his clothing, bedroll, temporary supplies, and a few necessary dishes. Lem and Tom would have the other yoke of oxen, a cow, and most of what they had hauled across the plains. Lem would let Dudley take a horse with the knowledge that he must return it in the spring. As Lem and two other brothers had claimed land in Wellsville, Utah, and were well satisfied with their location, Dudley did not lay claim to any land for his brothers.
In a few years Jacob Hamlin, an old friend of Dudley’s, received a call from Brigham Young to the Southern Indian Mission in the Tri-state area surrounding St. George. Later President Young instructed him to take his family with him. Did this mean his own, immediate family or his extended family? He decided to take all of the extended family that wanted to go. Lemuel and his family decided in 1856 to move to Santa Clara. They lived in Santa Clara and Gunlock until January 1, 1877. At one point Lem ask President Young when he would be released from his mission. President responded that he would be released in forty years or more!!
Several of the families, including Lemuel’s, went, not as Indian missionaries, but as colonizers. Lemuel’s family included his wife and four children. At first Lemuel and his family lived in Santa Clara, but then due to lack of water for irrigation, moved a few miles up the creek to Gunlock, Utah. Although they were warned about the problems with the Indians and that it was unwise to move away from the fort in Santa Clara, they went anyway. With Jacob Hamlin and Dudley Leavitt living there indicating they wouldn’t have any problems with the Indians. They both were missionaries to the Indians, knew their languages, and could speak it fluently. Also, they were very kind to the Indians, fed them often, and helped them get through the winters.
In October 1862, a great tragedy befell the family. Lem’s wife and the children’s mother, Laura, died and left eight children under twelve years of age. Also, her death was preceded the previous year by the death of their twin baby girl. The anguish of Lemuel and his family can hardly be described. Living among hostile Indians, isolated by trackless rugged wasteland, hundreds of miles from help and comforting friends. Yet, within the year, Lemuel was called to go East and accompany some emigrants to Salt Lake. He accepted the call without hesitation.
Among the immigrants to Santa Clara was a Danish girl named Betsy Amelia Mortenson, whom Lemuel ask to marry. They were married on October 13, 1863. They were very happy together and she was a devoted mother to his children and they loved her. However, the happiness was short lived, for on August 4, 1867, she passed away, leaving a small girl of her own for Lemuel to care for.
The children were too young to take care of themselves, and Lemuel couldn’t remain at home to take care of them for it took all of his time caring for the crops that was their livelihood. There was no help one could hire, and if there had been some one, there wouldn’t have been money to pay for the help. The obvious thing to do was to find someone who would marry him and accept the responsibility of caring for his large family, but this wasn’t an easy thing to do. There were no eligible women. The girls usually married at an early age and had families of their own.
There was an English lady, Mary Craig, whose husband had died and left her five children to care for, so she and Lemuel were married. This made a good size family, but they all received better care. Again, during these very hard times his wife, Mary died.
On November 17, 1873 he married another English widow named Mary Ann Morgan who had two sons of her own. On January 1, 1877, Lemuel, one of his sons, Orange, and others left to colonize the Virgin Valley, (Bunkerville) in Southern Nevada. By this time his family was well-established in Santa Clara, so he married another English widow named Rebecca Gibbons Waite, who had six children and he took them to Bunkerville to live.
The colonizing company was composed of twenty-three persons, six wagons, and 73 head of cattle. Lemuel was one of the counselors to Edward Bunker Sr. who was chosen by the people to be the President of the group. The wagons were loaded with provisions and some building materials, including lumber. They arrived at the Mesquite Flats on January 5th and spent the rest of the day looking over the valley in order to locate the best place for the sight of the settlement and the most productive farm land. As a result of this studied investigation they decided to move to the south side of the Virgin River. They selected a campsite about two and one-half miles east of the present town of Bunkerville.
The very day of their arrival they started to build a crude lumber hall and a long table to provide shelter and a place for the company to partake of their meals. Both the dining hall and the table were constructed from crude lumber in the same form it left the saw mill in Pine Valley, Utah, a distance of some 70 miles. Temporary rooms were constructed from the willows bordering the Virgin River with a roof of native brush, covered with a thick layer of clay consistency mud.
On Sunday all work ceased for church services, which were held in the “mess” house, as the dining room was called. Here, President Bunker gave not only religious instruction, but also those instructions pertaining to the work to be done as well as how it was going to be accomplished. The settlers, talking and reinsulated by of this colonization event, proudly boasted of a community of one “house” and six wagons.
For Lemuel, hard physical work was the key watchword every day of the week, except Sunday. As he was a tall, well-proportioned individual, it came easy for him. He always relished physical labor and the opportunity to be working outside. The first week’s priority of the men and older boys at their first location was the building of an irrigation canal to bring water from the Virgin River to the land. Through back breaking days of work of the men and oxen they used horse drawn plows and scrappers and hand shovels to excavate a four foot wide, three foot deep and two and one-half mile canal. This Herculean effort cost the group 108 total work days. The land was rather uneven and had to be leveled before it could be irrigated. This handicap proved rather expensive, but by hard work, was overcome.
Shortly after, they were busy clearing areas for their fields. By July seventy five acres had been cleared. Initially, they planted grain in the newly cleared soil. After it was harvested in June and July, they planted corn, sugar cane, melons, and squash. The land prospered in this little, isolated community, as their crops were bounteous. This first year they produced 450 bushels of wheat, 1200 pounds of cotton on the seed, and 600 gallons of molasses as well as corn, squash, melons, and vegetables.
Lemuel was an integral part of the United Order that had been voted in by the Group and prevailed this first year. All contributed what they had. They lived as one big family, having one large dining room and kitchen and individual bedrooms. It was customary to gather for morning and evening prayers. The meal was first served to the men and older boys, followed by the women. Everything was done under the direction of the President, after frequent meetings with the brethren. The women divided their work, part of them taking charge of cooking the meals for the week, others caring for the butter, while others were responsible for the washing, ironing, and mending of clothing. Each week they rotated the tasks in regular order.
As the summer months progressed the water in the river got lower and lower until a dam had to be built. It was constructed from the surrounding brush and rock. The dam would raise the level of the river to the level of the canal. In August, came one of the many floods, which periodically swept out of the Utah, Nevada, and Arizona hills and mountains, taking out the dam and leaving the new settlement without water for culinary and drinking purposes and watering of the crops. On the 9th of August the settlers agreed to relocate their settlement two and one-half miles west to establish a permanent one at what is the present town of Bunkerville.
The Virgin River had both positive and negative effects on the early settlers. Living with the River and its unpredictable behavior was the greatest of their challenges, with a constant battle being waged between the settlers and the River. It wasn’t long after they built their dam in order to raise the water of the Virgin River to the level of their canal that the dam of cottonwood and mesquite trees, covered with rock, was completely destroyed by a flood. Most of the flood water had its origin in Zion National Park and the greater St. George area. As the periodic, torrential floods continued, each year, to cause havoc with their crudely built dam, the repair of the dam was a never-ending task.
There was much sickness the first few years after their move. The swampy conditions of the river produced hordes of mosquitoes that caused malaria to be very prevalent. Chills and fever were by far the most common ailment. While living in Bunkerville Lemuel not only farmed, but he freighted, especially from the mines in the Grand Gulch. He had several teams and wagons that he used in carrying products and minerals to and for the miners. In 1889, Lemuel’s wife, Rebecca Gibbons Waite passed away. The children who weren’t married went to live with Lemuel’s other family in Santa Clara.
Lemuel was a very intellectual and industrious young man. The two traits mentioned were essential in a colonizer and from childhood was taught the principles of truth and honor. He was a born leader and a diplomat, cheerful, honest, and sympathetic. These traits were early recognized by President Brigham Young, and therefore, was chosen by the President to open some of the most difficult missions in the new land. The missions upon which he was called included Cache Valley (Logan Utah area), Dixie Mission (Indian Mission in the St. George area), to go East and accompany emigrants to Utah, Santa Clara, Utah, and Bunkerville, Nevada.
To illustrate what kind of a person he was, the following story has been included from his personal notes: “Our crops had been very poor. There was never enough water for each man to I irrigate his scanty acres. We not only had our own families to feed, but often the Indians came and demanded bread. One winter was particularly hard. Our crops were more meager than usual and the winter was extra-long and severe. Our bins, as well as those of most of our neighbors, were getting pretty low so it was decided that I should make a trip to Parowan to replenish our supply of flour. At that time it was a hazardous undertaking, for in the winter a trip over the snow covered mountains to the north, with no road to follow, was a real undertaking, however, it was necessary that someone make the trip.”
“I suffered intensely from the cold, yes; even hunger, but I finally made the trip with 500 pounds of flour. Within twelve hours most of the neighbors had come to borrow just a few mixings. We tried to distribute it and make it go as far as we could until we were left with only fifty pounds. I could see that unless another trip was made soon the entire colony would be faced with starvation so the very next morning I set out again. This time I had to go to Beaver which is forty miles north of Parowan. My brother-in law owned the mill in Beaver. When I told him our dire needs he gave me twice the amount I could pay for, saying he had plenty. He insisted that I take the flour adding, “I can’t let my baby sister’s children go hungry. I think he would have done the same for anyone.”
“On the return trip I had the misfortune of getting both of my feet frozen, but the Saints in Santa Clara were kept from starvation.” It was said by most that Lemuel was truly a man of noble character. He was honest, truthful, prayerful--always a man of great faith. He had the gift of healing and also of talking in tongues. He had no known enemies. Also, he was a man that was steeped in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anything that couldn’t be done as a member of the priesthood he held, then it didn’t need to be done. After the telephones had come out he was often heard to say, “I have a good telephone between me and my Father. (God) So when I need to talk with Father I can because I keep that in good repair.”
His grandchildren thought Lemuel was the best. In fact, everybody in town called him Uncle Lem. One told the story that when he was a little kid he used to sit and listen to his grandfather tell his stories. He had one finger that stuck straight out. He would lay it on the cane head and the boy could still see, in his mind, his grandfather telling his stories with the extended finger. When Lemuel was in his advanced age he was quite deaf. He could hardly hear anything. The heat in Bunkerville during July, August, and September is extremely hot, especially without air conditioning. The only place they could meet was in the town bowery. It was hot, hot, and hot. However, Grandpa Lem always went to Church, hot or not. One of the kids said, “Uncle Lem, when you can’t hear anything why do you go to Church all the time?” He said, “Let me tell you. The Lord said I should. I can go there and partake of the sacrament, and I can sit there. The Spirit is there.” Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt, Uncle Lem, passed away in Santa Clara, Utah on October 13, 1916, at the age of eighty-nine years, eleven months, and thirteen days.
Departure: 10 July 1849 Arrival: 25-29 October 1849
Lemuel passed away on 28 Oct 1916 per death certificate and death notice in the local newspaper.
Son of Jeremiah Leavitt and Sarah Studevant
Married Laura Melvina Thompson, 12 Aug 1850, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake, Utah
Married Mary Craig, abt 1852, (widow with 5 children)
Married Betsy Amelia Speckler, 13 Oct 1863
Married Mary Ann Morgan, 17 Nov 1873, St. George, Washington, Utah, (widow with 2 sons).
Married Rebecca Gibbons Waite, (widow with 6 children), abt 1878, Bunkerville, Nevada. She died 1889, Bunkerville, Nevada.
Conquerors of the West: Stalwart Mormon Pioneers, volume 2
Lemuel and his family were baptized into the Church and followed wherever the church members were driven. As a young man, he went with his parents to Illinois, where he became acquainted with the Prophet. His father died, leaving him to take care of his mother and her children. He left his mother and siblings at Trade Point in the fall of 1858, while he went on to the Valley to prepare a home for them. When they came the next year, he had a log cabin waiting. He married his first wife about this time. He was called to go to Dixie and help settle that area. His life was not to be easy, as he lost all but one of his wives, plus some of his children. He was an honest and humble and prayerful man. He lived to be 89 years old. He gave as much love to his adopted children as to his own and was loved by them in return.
Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt's Timeline
November 3, 1827
Compton, Coaticook, Québec, Canada
August 4, 1851
Tooele, Tooele, UT
November 6, 1852
Tooele, Tooele, UT
January 1, 1854
Tooele, Tooele, Utah Territory, USA
January 15, 1856
Tooele, Tooele, UT
November 8, 1857
Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, United States
December 10, 1859
Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, United States
October 22, 1861
Santa Clara, Washington, UT