John Leavitt Family History
This web page is the history and genealogy of the John Leavitt and Lucy Rowell Leavitt family. John Leavitt is a member of the sixth generation of Deacon John Leavitt, who was the first Leavitt to arrive in North America in 1628. Our mission is to seek out and gather in descendants of Leavitt progenitors in order to nourish the living, honor the dead, and strengthen the sense of heritage". We encourage all Leavitts to support and become members of Western Association of Leavitt Families (WALF) and National Association of Leavitt Families (NALF)
John Leavitt, son of Jeremiah I and Sarah Shannon, was born in Exeter, NH, in 1798, at about the time the family began permanently residing in Hatley, Quebec Canada. Lucy Rowell's family came to Hatley about 1802 and she was born there in 1803. The following is excerpted and adapted from a more extensive history written by their great great-grandaughter, Joyce Brown Willis.
Even though Hatley was the hub of activity for the Leavitt and Rowell families, John and Lucy chose to make their home in Compton, a small town about eight miles southeast of Hatley. John and Lucy with the seven children born in Canada left Hatley in a wagon train with Sarah Shannon's family and most of the Leavitt relatives, intent on traveling to Ohio. John's sister and sister-in-law, Hannah Leavitt Fish and Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt had heard the doctrines of the restored gospel and had read the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. Sarah Shannon Leavitt became an early convert, gathered her family around her and made plans to organize a wagon train for an 800 mile journey to Ohio, to find the Church. Seven of her children and their families believed sufficiently to join the venture.
They departed all together in 1837, but they were not able to stay together for the entire way. Provisions gave out, forcing some families to stop and work for supplies. Some visited friends and relatives along the trek and sickness and death took its toll. A baby, Phebe, was born to John and Lucy in January 1839. They took up land in a beautiful forested area in Burton, Ohio, c1eared the land, built a home and began to farm. On a neighboring farm lived a widower, William Brown, and the three youngest of his nine children. Benjamin Franklin Brown and Philander Brown. These two young men and later their sister Emmeline, joined John and Lucy's family as they pressed further, settling again in Cambria, Michigan. Here the family finally heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preached by the Mormon elders. They had leaned on the testimonies of others for a long time. They were baptized by Elder William Folsom. who became a life-long friend of their family.
Their aim to join with the saints was always before them. They journeyed on their way again, stopping to replenish their resources and to deal with the sorrow of losing family members and the joy of babies being born. John Leavitt died on February 17, 1852 in Cambria, Michigan. Cinderilla had died earlier. Orilla and Lucinda married Philander and Benjamin Franklin Brown. Lucy left in 1854, traveling west, in company with other members of the family. Stops in Cook County Illinois, but always drawn westward to join the Saints. But Lucy Rowell Leavitt died near Platte River, Iowa, 23 July, 1858.
The company now led by the Brown brothers, husbands of John and Lucy's daughters, continued to prepare for the final westward leg of their journey. Being well prepared, they were able to organize their own independent company. They had good oxen, government wagons and were able to take many of their belongings with them.. At Florence, Nebraska, other families joined them, notably the Seamons and Thurston families. The company left Florence, Nebraska on 9 June, 1860. On June 22 near the Wood River, they met a company of missionaries and teamsters led by Joseph A. Young, a son of Brigham Young, traveling east from Salt Lake City. They camped together for the night and Brother Young organized the company according to the policies of the Church. The journey was long and tedious, but because they were well prepared, there was hardly any sickness and no deaths. A handcart company that had traveled near the wagon train since June, ran out of provisions. They were given provisions by the Brown company.
As they neared the mouth of Echo Canyon, it was debated as to which was the better way to enter the settlements. Franklin Brown favored following the Weber River to Ogden, while others favored going down Parley's Canyon to Salt Lake City. On August 25, 1858 [Editor’s note: This is inconsistent with their arrival date of 1860.], a meeting was held and Franklin was released as captain. He, Josiah Leavitt, John Quincy Leavitt and others were free to travel to Ogden, where they first settled. By 1868, many of this family were called to the Muddy mission, where their adventures equaled or exceeded those of the long trek west. It was a long way from Hatley, Quebec, Canada to the extremities of the Muddy Mission in southern Nevada. But for the family of John Leavitt and Lucy Rowell Leavitt, driven by faith and conviction, it was part of their pattern.