Joseph Collins Leavitt


Joseph Collins Leavitt

Autobiography  OF JOSEPH C. LEAVITT April 6, 1958


By request of my family, and for the benefit of my children, I will attempt to give, or write, a history of my life to the best of my knowledge and memory.

I was born June 20, 1892, at Mesa, Arizona, in a small adobe house that stood for many years at the northeast corner of East Main Street and Hobson Street.  It was on twenty acres of land now known as the Joe Reed Tract.



My father, Lyman Leavitt, was born May 24, 1831 at Compton, Province of Quebec, Canada.  He married my mother, Ann Eliza Hakes, December 27, 1875.  (This was his second marriage.)  She was born February 15, 1858 at Santa Clara, Utah.  My parents moved to Mesa from Utah in 1882.  They had three small children at that time, my oldest sister, Mable Clare, born September 23, 1876, my sister Lavern, born June 17, 1878, and my brother John born October 4, 1880.  While living in Mesa they had eight other children born to them.  Three of which died in infancy:  Lyman Hakes, born June 13, 1885, died September 18, 1885; Clarence Edgar, born August 25, 1890, died September 18, 1891; Francis Harry, born April 8, 1896, died July 6, 1896.
In 1899, my father was called to Pine, Arizona, by the church, to settle and be Bishop of that ward.  At that time my two older sisters were married, leaving six of us children to make the trip with our parents:  These were my older brother John, my two sisters Lucinda and Pearl, my brother George and myself, (both too small to drive one of the teams) and our baby brother Floyd.

Though I was only seven years old, I remember our trip to Pine.  We started out to travel the old Black Canyon Road or wagon trail at that time.  I saw to it that I got my regular turn riding Billy, the little Bay Pony.  He was very gentle and safe for children to ride.  I very clearly remember many of the places along the way such as New River, Black Canyon, and Bumblebee (just a homestead ranch).  Then we crossed the divide into Copper Canyon; from there down Cherry Creek into Camp Verde; and from there it was a long hard drag to Pine.  We followed the old Fort Apache Trail.  It was about 14 miles of heavy pulling before we reached the top of the old government grade.  We then traveled through several miles of thick cedars, and then the road opened out on the open country known as the Mud Tank Mesa.  From there we soon reached the tall pine timber.  There were large oaks and junipers and mountains and canyons—something we children had not seen before.  It was real exciting and lots of fun.  I well remember seeing the tossled ear squirrels climbing up those tall pine trees.  I thought they were the most beautiful little creatures I had ever seen.  We camped one night in the tall thick pines known as Twenty Mile Lake.

The next day shortly after noon, we reached the top of Strawberry Mountain.  We all took a look at the beautiful green valley and ranch homes below, while father and John checked the wagons over to see if the brakes and other parts were safe to start down such a rough steep mountain.  It was over a mile long and the steepest and roughest mountain of the trip.  We reached the bottom safely and started down Strawberry Valley.  There we met a young man on a buckskin pony.  He told my father it was five miles to Pine.  This boy was Bert Randall who later married my sister Pearl.  We reached Pine before night, ending our trip of about 200 miles.  It took us almost 2 weeks to make it.

We spent the first night at Sister Zelpia Earl’s home.  It was here that I tasted cane sorghum or molasses, and hot corn bread for the first time in my life.  I really enjoyed that meal and will never forget it.
In a few days, my father bought a 40 acre farm with a large barn, and a small log house.  It had a nice orchard of apples, peaches, plums, pears, and two cherry trees.  Besides the farm we had two large city lots of approximately two acres, which we could irrigate from a small stream that ran the length of the town.  But all the fields were dry land farming such as corn, cane, beans, potatoes, oats, rye and wheat.

After about one year, maybe two years, Father started to build a new house next to the street.  When he picked the spot to build, there were three small walnut trees growing about three feet high.  Father gave me a shovel and digging bar.  He told me to dig up the trees and transplant them, which I did.  Two of them lived and are still living.  One on the south side of the Leavitt house, and one on the east side.  They have been planted 56 years.

We found Pine to be a very friendly and sociable community of people.  In case of sickness the neighbors all came in to help and would sit up nights, if necessary.  The nearest Dr. was 18 miles, and we would have to go horse back to notify him.  Later on, the nearest Dr. was at Camp Verde, 25 miles by trail.  In case of death the ladies would prepare the clothing.  Two or three men would build the casket, and six or eight men would go dig the grave.  The school house and church were both log houses.  The school soon had to be enlarged as there were nearly 50 pupils from the first grade to the eighth, and only one teacher, James L. Patterson.
My two sisters, Lucinda and Pearl married Frank and Bert Randall.  My brother, John, married Lucy Hough.  George married Mary Earl.

I well remember my first job for real money.  I hired out to Mr. Miller to hoe weeds for 25 cents per day, and only had to work 10 hours.  When Saturday came, I was so happy and proud to think I was going to have $1.50 real money all my own.  Mr. Miller said that I had done a good job and that he would pay me 30 cents a day.  I took the $1.50 home to my mother and I foolishly squandered the other 70 cents.  He raised my wages again.  The rest of the summer I would take home two big silver dollars each week.  When school started, mother had taken the biggest part of my money and bought me some shoes, a cap, coat, a double slate, and a pencil box.  Then she had me pay 20 cents each week for tithing.  How proud I was with my first tithing receipt, signed by my dad, as he was Bishop.  When I was about 13, Brother W. J. Randall came and asked my folks if I could go with him on the freight road.  He was freighting from Flagstaff to the one and only little store in Pine.  I was really thrilled to be a swamper (break tender) on the trail wagon of a real freight outfit, and to be with one of the finest men I ever met in my life.  In future years I became very closely connected with the Randall Brothers, especially Frank and Bert who married my two sisters, Lucinda and Pearl.  W. J. Randall and O. T. Clark bought a goat ranch at Oak Springs, four miles from Pine.  I herded goats for them one summer for $15.00 per month.  From then on, I would work for Randall brothers and others.  (This was when I was not helping my father on his farm.  I would help him plant the crop in the spring, then help with the harvest in the fall.)  My oldest brother, John, soon married and moved to Mesa.  George, being 4 years older than myself, could hold down full time jobs, so it just left me to help father.  Our youngest brother, Floyd, was six years younger than me.

I would sometimes get five months schooling during the six months term.  The most enjoyable part of my limited education, (and it was very limited) was received from my dear old mother, as we would sit at the table and study by the light of a coal-oil lamp.  Father always found time to let me go work for someone else, so that I could earn some money.

Time flew by fast.  Many things happened which I will not try to write.  Some few things I would rather not remember.  When I was 16, John and his family decided to go to Blue Water, New Mexico.  He wanted me to go with him.  I had then been working for the Randall brothers.  (Bert would take me on range work quite a bit, and I would wrangle horses, and help with the camp work and the pack horses.)  But I decided to go to New Mexico.  I had a horse and saddle.  So early one morning, around the first of June, I started for Roosevelt.  It took two full days travel.  When I arrived, John and his family were waiting at a nice campground.  The next morning we started for New Mexico.  We arrived in Globe, and from there we trudged along the hilly, rough roads and into the Salt River Canyon.  Then we went across Black River, up the mountain to Harry Ellsworth’s Ranch, (which is now the McNary Sawmill).  This was about a five day travel from Roosevelt.  The grass was high and green.  We stayed over there one day to let the horses rest and graze on the feed, as that was the hardest part of the trip.  We then went to St. Johns, Arizona, camping at the home of David K. Udall, who became the first President of the Arizona Temple.  From there we went to the Zunie Indian Village in New Mexico, and then on to Rammah, New Mexico.  From there to Blue Water, and what a happy day that was!  We had many relatives living there; Grandfather and Grandmother Hakes, Uncle Coll and his family, Edd Hakes and his family, Aunt Ruby Hakes McNiel, Uncle Lute, and Aunt Lottie Lamb and their large family.  (Two of which were married.)  Hattie, Annie and their brother, Earl, were all about my age.  I had big ideas and high hopes of a full summer vacation—just having a big time with the kids in Bluewater, (as there were many, and they were all good friends to my cousins and inlaws who lived there), but I soon had that idea changed by my brother John.  He and Uncle Call and Edd got a job with their teams at Kettner, New Mexico, hauling railroad ties and building railroad grade.  I was put to work driving a team on a Slip Scraper.  Out of 25 drivers, I was the only white person.  All the rest of the drivers were Mexicans.  I don’t think I was ever so home-sick in all my life, but we stayed on the job until fall.  Then we started back for Arizona.  We had a very pleasant trip home.  We didn’t have so many mountains to climb and the weather was good all the way.  If ever a boy was happy to see home, it was me.  I got there in time to help dad with the crops.

John and George both decided to start freighting in the wintertime.  They would freight from Mesa to Payson for W. H. Hilligas.  In the summertime they would freight from Flagstaff.  John and family moved back to Pine.  George married Mary Earl and continued to freight for about a year.  John more or less took over the farm.

I went to work steady for the Randall brothers, and went through my first spring round-up when I was 17.  The cattle were wild, and the country was rough.  We each had four good saddle horses and plenty of excitement.  The work was so hard on the horses we would feed them grain.  All the stock men in Pine would round up their cattle together.  They would appoint one man as boss of the round-up.  The round-up would take about 2 months.  All food, bedding, camp equipment and grain was carried on pack horses.  About every week, two men would take 8 to 10 pack horses and go to Pine for a new supply of grub, grain, and other things we would need.  I always wanted to be one of the pack train men to go to town, so I could get a bath, clean change of clothes, and two home cooked meals.  (Either at home or one of my sister’s homes.)  In a year or so, the Randall brothers secured a tract of land and a range right by virtue of a homestead at Willow Valley.  They the cattle that they intended to sell in the fall would be driven to the mountain and grass fattened.  We would then trail drive them to Flagstaff or Winslow for delivery to the beef buyers.  Many things of interest happened that I will not try to mention.  (They were very interesting to me.  Some funny things happened, and some things happened that I didn’t think was so funny…especially when the joke was on me.)


In February, 1912, father passed away.  The next winter, I went to Mesa with some horses I had.  We decided that Floyd would go to High School that winter in Mesa, and we would board with our sister, Lavern Rogers.  Lavern had a son, Rulon, who was near Floyd’s age.  During the latter part of the winter, we got a letter that mother was very sick and must leave Pine and come to Mesa.  I was working for Mr. Lang on a dairy ranch near Gilbert, Arizona.  I got the word about 9:30 a.m., and was on my way for Pine at 11:00 a.m.  Grandfather Hakes had gone earlier by freight to Roosevelt, and there he caught the mail buckboard by team to Payson.  The folks from Pine met him there.  Bill Lang, Mr. Lang’s oldest son, said to me, “Joe, your horses are on pasture and are in no shape to make a trip like that.  You take Old Roman.”  And the horse was rightly named.  He was a long legged gangling built horse, and had the longest, most crooked head and Roman nose I ever saw on any horse.  But he was one of the best horses I ever rode.  About 9:00 p.m. the first night, I arrived at the Sunflower Cow Ranch.  I told them where I was headed and why.  They put my horse in the barn and fed him some oats and hay.  Then they gave me a nice hot meal.  They gave me some blankets and told me I could sleep in the hay loft.  About 3:00 a.m., I awoke and was about frozen.  I saddled my horse and started out as it was a bright moonlit night and I could see to follow the trail.  I arrived at the Rye Creek Ranch about 10:00 a.m.  I rested and fed my horse.  Then I let Old Roman rest for about two hours.  I rode into Payson late that afternoon.  I phoned to Pine and mother was better, so I decided to stay in Payson until morning.  My poor horse was sure a hard-looker.  As I was leading him to the Piper Stables to put him up for the night, a mouthy, smarty guy stepped out of a saloon and shouted very loud, “Hey, kid, did your horse kick when you pulled his guts out?”  I said, “Hell yes he did.”  Any fool can see he tipped over his nose and bent it.”

When I got to Pine, grandfather Hakes was there.  John had a wagon all arranged with bed springs ready to start for Mesa with mother.  We left the next day.  As soon as we started down Oxbow Mountain into lower climate, mother started to feel better.  The fourth night from Pine, we camped at Fish Creek, 44 miles from Mesa.  I had a feeling that I should go on to Mesa the next day.  Grandfather said to go ahead as he would drive the team now that mother was strong enough to take care of herself.  I left the camp about 6:00 a.m. on horseback.  I felt that I should hurry as fast as possible.  Why, I didn’t know.  But arriving in Mesa about 3:00 p.m., I found out why.  I found my brother Floyd lying at the point of death with pneumonia.  Brother Hugh Dana, who asked me what was wrong, said, “Get in my ford.  We will go meet the wagons and bring your mother on to Mesa.”  We found them camped at Weeks ranch, 20 miles out of Mesa.  Soon mother and grandfather Hakes were headed for Mesa.  I stayed to drive the team on in.  Floyd was not expected to live.  The Doctors had tapped his lungs to drain them.  Through faith and prayers and the skill of our faithful Dr. Nelson, Floyd lived and became a husky and healthy man.  He served two years in the U. S. Navy in World War I.


I went back to work for the Langs, milking 20 cows, night and morning.  In April, I packed my pack horses and headed for Pine to my old job with the Randalls.  I would work winters and springs at Pine, and then spend the summers at Willow Valley.  In the fall of 1916, Bishop Hunt asked me to go on a mission.  I told him it would be impossible for me to fill a mission, as I had no money and my mother was a widow.  I don’t believe I have ever felt so miserable and down cast as when Bishop Hunt walked away and said, “Well Joe, think it over.”  For the first time in my life, I humbly knelt by my bed and ask the Lord to open the way for me to go on a mission.  A day or two later, Bert Randall and I were riding home from the range, when Bert looked over at me and said, “I understand the Bishop wants some young fellows to go on missions.”  I told him I had heard that.  “Has he asked you?”  I said yes.  “What did you tell him?”  “I told him I couldn’t go.”  “Would you go if you could?”  “I would like to.”  “Then don’t unsaddle when you get home, go on up to the Bishop’s home and tell him you will accept the call.”  Which I did.  Bishop Hunt just smiled and said, “I thought it would work out O.K.”

In November my call came.  My brother, John, brought me to Mesa in his Model T Ford pick-up.  I reported to President Lesueur, who was Stake President.  He gave a letter folder and a record book which I still have, 42 years later.  I stayed with my sister, Mrs. G. S. Rogers in Lehi, during my stay in Mesa.  I visited the State Fair on the 14th – 16th of November.  The evening of the 17th, I went to a dance in Chandler and was invited that night to stay at Bishop Henry Peterson’s home.  I was treated very fine.  The 18th and 19th, I attended conference in Mesa.  I wondered after listening to such grand men preach and give council why they would want such an ignorant cowboy as myself to represent the Church and preach the gospel.  On the 20th I left Phoenix for Salt Lake City.  I arrived and reported at the Lion House where the missionaries stayed.  Brother George Lewis, who was a guide at the Temple grounds, and who worked at the Information Bureau, really treated me grand.  He took me to a ward dance at the 13th Ward, and to Sunday school and Sacrament meeting at the 18th Ward.  I was set apart for my mission by Joseph Fielding Smith, and went through the Temple on the 26th.  On the 28th, Thanksgiving Day, seven of we Elders left Salt Lake for the Southern States Mission.  We visited the mission quarters at Independence, Mo.  We were taken through the printing press building and other places of interest.  We boarded the train Sunday night for Chattanooga, Tenn.  There we were met at the station by President Callis.  For the next few days we were taken to many places of interest.  We saw the old historical battle grounds of the Civil War.


On December 7th, through the 16th, we were all appointed our fields of labor.  Elder Preece and myself were sent to the Alabama conference.  We went to Montgomery and stayed that night in a rooming house.  Next morning, being Sunday, we went out to the L.D.S. Church, and sat down in rear seats where we wouldn’t be noticed.  Brother Frank Knight, (who later came to Mesa with his family…..his wife is still living in Mesa), was in charge.  He stood up, smiled and said, “I see we have two new Elders with us.  Will you please come to the front?”  (I could write a little story on that morning.)


We labored with two other Elders and got our first experience in holding street meetings.  December 18th, the District President, Heber L. Mower, assigned me to labor with Elder Joseph S. Johnson, of Byron, Wyoming.  We were assigned to labor in Baldwin, Washington, and Mobile counties.  I had my first boat ride, crossing Mobile Bay.  We labored together 9 weeks, holding several meetings and some baptisms.  The first Elders we met were Elder Preece, from Vernal, Utah, and Elder Allen, from Mesa, Arizona.  (A few years later, Elder Allen became my brother-in-law.)  On January 8th, through the 17th, we headed for DeFuniak Springs, Florida to hold conference.  We had a wonderful two day conference.  President Callis was in charge.  Elder Johnson was released to go home.  I was assigned to labor with Elder Jardon Palmer of Taylor, Arizona.  I wondered why I was blessed with two such wonderful companions.  They were both wonderful missionaries, and grand companions for a new green Elder like myself.  Elder Palmer and I labored together for 20 weeks, and what grand 20 weeks that was.  It was then I began to get the spirit of my mission, and not be quite so homesick.  There were times when I really longed for the horse and saddle, and longed to lay out under the stars and listen to the coyotes; instead of the moanful croaking of the bullfrogs, and the sound of the whipperwill.

June 7th, 1917, we walked to Clayton, Alabama.  There we were arrested by the Sheriff.  (I am sorry I didn’t get the buzzard’s name).  We were being investigated for being German Spies.  We were held in the court for several hours.  We were called very unkind names by the Sheriff and also the Judge and anyone else who wanted to insult us.  At 2:30 p.m., the Sheriff escorted us out of town on horseback.  He told us not to come back or even look back.  He was by himself.  I had stood about all I could.  I told him I hoped to hell he died with the belly ache, and that a Mormon Elder preached at his funeral.  I also told him that the devil and his imps would be waiting for him.  He turned his horse and started back to town.  Elder Palmer thought we had better get going, as it was only a few miles into the next county.  However, we walked 22 miles that night before stopping at a R. R. Station at Eufaula.  We took the train to Montgomery.  There we met Elders Bush and Shaw.  We canvassed the District of Montgomery.  From there we headed for Elkmont to hold conference.  We arrived at Elkmont, June 29, 1917 about 11:00 a.m.  President Calles and Bills were already there.  In the afternoon, President Callis told me to meet the train and escort a new Elder to the church house for Priesthood meeting.  I asked if he would be dressed in the regular missionary suit.  He smiled and said that surely I would know a missionary by now.  I soon found out why he sent me.  The new Elder was Roy Fuller from Pine.  We held a wonderful conference.  I then was assigned to labor with Elder Heber Taylor from Milford, Utah.  We were assigned to three counties; Cluman, Winsor, and Morgan.  They were new counties to me, and most of the people there were quite bitter.  I was then Senior Elder.  I really was weak and humble and felt that I needed the help of the Lord more than I ever had.  Elder Taylor was a humble, fine Elder, but his health soon failed.  We were together 13 weeks.  We went back into Elkmont, and he was stricken with a heart attack.  I wired to Elder Bills.  He notified President Callis.  They both came to Elkmont.  I had taken him to the best Dr. we could find.  I sat up with him for two nights and one day, giving him his heart medicine.  With the help of one of our members, who held the office of an Elder, we administered to him several times.  I was very thankful to see President Callis and President Bills, for I had gone about as many hours as I could without rest.  In about one week, Elder Taylor was able to travel and was taken to Chattanooga.  From there he was released to go home.  He died soon after arriving home.  I then labored with Elder Bills for 4 weeks.  He really was power in the mission field, and a wonderful district President.


Later I was assigned to labor with Elder Knowlton from Salt Lake City.  He was not quite 18 years old—a swell boy, and a fine missionary.  He was very witty and full of faith.  We were arrested at Montgomery about 9:00 p.m., November 18, 1917, while walking out to Brother Knight’s place.  They marched us to the county court house and put us in jail.  They locked us up by ourselves in a round tank cell.  I told Elder Knowlton they could have at least put us with someone else so we could preach to the Spirits in Prison.  About midnight, the U.S. Marshall came and we were brought in the court room.  About 100 people were waiting to see what happened to the Mormon German Spies.  The U.S. Marshall reached out his hand and said, “I am MacDuff Cane, U. S. Marshal for the State of Alabama.”  We introduced ourselves.  Then he excused the other officers and told them they would never find a German Spy carrying a L.D.S. ministers certificate.  We were granted the privilege of holding a meeting in the court house after midnight.  The U.S. Marshall announced that the Elders were going to hold a meeting and for the people to not cause any disturbance.  If they didn’t want to listen, they could get up and leave.  They didn’t leave.  We sold two copies of the “Book of Mormon”, some small ten cent books, and gave away about 50 tracts.  Elder Knowlton and I labored together 13 weeks.  We later went into Hartford, Alabama.  I was whipped with a garden rake by a man who evidently did not like the Mormon Elders.  (I could tell quite a story on this, but time and space won’t permit.)  I must have looked suspicious for I was arrested five times for being a German Spy, but I never was so provoked or angry as I was the first time we were arrested by the Sheriff at Clayton, Alabama.


My next companion was Elder Hemsley from Rigby, Idaho.  Our 11 weeks together were very quiet and enjoyable.  We had lots of meetings.  My next companion was Elder I. D. Sprague from Bunkerville, Nevada.  We were together eleven weeks.  Elder Sprague was sick about 5 weeks out of the eleven.  I held several meetings alone.  Elder Sprague and Elder Warren were both released on account of bad health.  I then labored with Elder H. D. Morrill from Jancton, Utah.  We were together 19 weeks.  He was a cowboy from the Buckskin Mountains, and would fight at the drop of the hat.  (And drop the hat himself.)  I had to take up quite a labor with him, as Elder Palmer did with me.  Elder Morrill’s health was not the best.  It seemed that many of the Elders contacted malaria and were in poor health part of the time.  Morrill and I held several meetings and some baptisms.  I enjoyed Elder Morrill’s companionship very much.  He was very willing and sometimes too willing.  When the flue hit, we would try to get among a settlement of Saints to help them.  We Elders experienced making molasses, shucking corn, splitting rails, butchering hogs, chopping and splitting fire wood, and many other things.  I also put in a day picking cotton when Elder Morrill was sick.

Then my old friend from Pine, Arizona, Roy Fuller and I were privileged to labor together.  I had already had my turn at the flue, and we were sent to Lamison to labor.  The second day there, we met Brother and Sister Surgner.  They had a plantation, and ran a store.  They also farmed, milked cows, and raised hogs.  That night their youngest child, Clifford, took the flue.  The next morning they received word that their son, Evvie, was very sick at Demoplas, Alabama.  Their son, Oscar, their daughter, Effie, and myself started for Demoplas in a 1916 Model T. Ford to get the sick man.  It rained all the way but we got there and started back the next day at noon.  The roads were in very bad shape from the rain.  We got within seven miles of home when we stalled the ford in a creek.  While trying to get the ford out, two members of the church, John Sealey, and Frank Cratzer, came along in a dodge truck and pulled us out.  Cratzer took Evvie, the sick boy home.  John Sealey, myself and Oscar, went on another road and came home with the ford.  We found eight Elders in the neighborhood, five of them with the flue.  There were 12 or 14 families of Saints in Lamison.  Roy and I stayed with Brother Surgner.  In a few days, Sister Surgner and all four of their children were down with the flue.  This left Brother Surgner, myself and the colored cook to take care of the sick, do the house, tend the store, milk the cows, feed the stock, and many other chores.  The colored cook said, “You alls Mormons is de beatiness Preachers I eva seed.  We aint got no Preachers around hear that knows nuthin abot work.  No sah, they knows mo about yeller legged chickens when they is fried.”


About one week later, after everybody was getting better, I walked over to Brother Joe Martin’s place.  I found the Elders there much improved.  I walked on to Magnolia and got the mail.  Elder Preece came back to Surgners with me.  We crossed a stream on a pine log bridge.  The log broke and Elder Preece fell in the water.  Of course I laughed.  It was the first good healthy laugh I had had in several weeks.  Roy then was up and around, but pretty weak.  On the 9th of December, Elder Glen Smith came down from Chattanooga.  He was sent by President Callis to check up on us.  We held a very wonderful Priesthood and Testimony meeting, as all nine Elders were able to attend.  We sang “We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet”, “All is Well, All is Well”, and “Put Your Shoulder To The Wheel”.  Then Elder Lefevre and I were assigned to labor together.  We then went into West Florida.  The state would not allow a public meeting, so we went to Simsville and Sink Creek.  We had several families of Saints there.  Nearly all of the families of George and Will Sims were sick.  We put on bib overalls and work shirts and went to work harvesting corn and peanuts, plowing new ground with a mule, and branding cattle.  While we were there, Will Sims’ wife, Henry Rooks’ wife, and Everet Sims’ baby passed away.  We held all three funeral services at the grave side.  We were not allowed to hold services in meeting houses.  Many people came to listen and we made many friends.  The people could hardly feature Ministers of the Gospel, putting on work clothes and doing any kind of hard labor to help non members as well as members…and with no charge for preaching.  They could not imagine preaching funeral sermons for non-members as well as members, and they were impressed that we actually gave one hopes for a hereafter.

After Thanksgiving, Elder Preece, Morrill, Lefevre and myself helped Jerry Sims build a new house.  Preece and Morrell were quite handy with tools, so Lefevre and I helped haul lumber from the mill, and other work where it only took a strong back and weak mind.  We were soon ordered by President Callis to start canvassing our territory and doing missionary work, which we were very happy to do.  Elder Chamberlain and I went to Clarksville, and spent Christmas with the Saints there.  (the Phillip and Williams families.)  Elder A. J. Palmer and I were the first Elders these families had met, and they joined the church early in 1917.


We started gradually to work our way to Montgomery, Alabama where we would hold conference the latter part of February, 1919.  We had one of the most enjoyable times of my mission.  We walked all the way to Montgomery, some 350 miles, taking our time and canvassing for entertainment.  At night we held a good many meetings, baptizing several people.  We walked all the way, stopping with friends, helping them when we could.  We even split rails.  I shoed a pair of mules for one man, and then went to the saw mill about 15 miles away and hauled lumber for two days.  They thought that was the most wonderful thing for a preacher to split rails, shoe mules and to know how to put a binder twister on a load of lumber.  I learned a few years later that several people in that one neighborhood had joined the church.  We finally reached Montgomery, Alabama in good spirits, and ready for a rousing good conference which we certainly had.  President Callis had arranged to hold conference in the court house where Elder Knowlton and I were jailed about a year and a half before.  President Callis said that this conference would be held in honor of Elder Knowlton and myself, as we were the cause of opening the way to hold conference in the court house.  I was released at that conference.  Archie Millett was discharged from the army at the same time.  We left Montgomery at 7:00 p.m., February 27, by train.  We arrived in Tempe, Arizona at 2:45 a. m., March 2nd.  Archie’s folks met us at the depot.  We spent the rest of the night at the Millett home.  I then called my sister, Lavern Rogers, in Lehi.  They came right up after me and I spent Sunday and several days afterwards with them.  Then I got a ride on a truck to Payson.  My brother John was driving the mail truck from Payson to Pine and my dear old mother was waiting with out-stretched arms.  Bless her heart.  There was never a grander mother ever lived.  I often wondered how I could be blessed with such wonderful parents.


I then went back to work for the Randall brothers.  I did some range work, but the greater part of my work was on the farm with Frank Randall, or driving the freight team from Flagstaff to Pine.


In the summer of 1921, Charles Morris and family came to Pine from Mesa for a summer vacation.  Blanche Allen came along with them.  I thought she was the sweetest girl I had ever seen.  I was crippled at the time with a sprained ankle.  We went to the dance together.  About every third or fourth dance she would set it out with me, as I was unable to dance.  I was losing no time in trying to convince her that the name Leavitt was more appropriate for her future than Allen.  I thought she had had that name long enough.  She went that fall to teach school at St. Johns, Arizona.  She invited me to spend Christmas with her.  I didn’t need any coaxing.  In fact, I got a job in St. Johns and stayed that winter.  There were some very likely young men around St. Johns.  I was taking no chances.  On the 3rd day of June 1923, we were married at the Allen ranch, five miles South of Gilbert, Arizona.  We lived on father Allen’s farm until late fall when we moved to Pine.  We lived on my brother’s farm north of Pine.  In June, Blanche’s father and mother came to visit us.  We were expecting a new arrival soon.  Blanche came back to Mesa with her folks.  In a few weeks, I got a letter that I was daddy to a fine big boy, Joseph Allen Leavitt.  It didn’t take me long to sell the prospect of our little corn and potato crop, tow cows, some chickens, three turkeys, two hogs and a horse, and head for Mesa.  Our son was born on July 8, 1924.  Another lovely fine Son was born to us September 29, 1925.  We named him Bert Randall.

I worked on the Mormon Temple for over a year.  I then took over the merchant police job in Mesa.  I stayed on that job for about six months, and then went to work as a regular police.


On September 29, 1927, our first and very lovely little girl came into our lives.  We named her Moneta.  (Little Buggsie)  Blanche did not approve of me taking the police job.  I told her not to worry, I would only take it temporarily until I could find another job, as work was hard to find, and Police work was steady and paid better than the average salary.  On June 8, 1929, the stork brought us another swell big son, Floyd Lyman.  On May 17, 1931, little Johnny came into our lives.  We named him John Seymour.  This made four boys and only one girl.  But Moneta, (Little Buggsie), pretty well held her own.  On May the 11, 1932, God called our Johnny back home, leaving us three sons.  We were blessed with four more very lovely, beautiful daughters; Joe Ann, born December 18, 1932, Barbara, born August 26, 1934, Fawn, born March 4, 1938, and Fern, born September 19, 1939.  We were very proud of our family as they grew up around us and married off.  (Fern is the only one at home on this date, June 3, 1958.  She is going to Tempe College.)


I worked on and on, year after year at police work until I became 65 years of age and retired on June 15, 1957.  I was retired from police work, serving almost 32 years in different parts of police work.  Less than one month after my retirement from the Mesa Police Department, on July 13, 1957, I fell down a flight of basement stairs and broke my leg.  My leg was in a cast for seven months, but it is rapidly healing, and doing fine.


Today as I am writing this history it is our 35th wedding anniversary.  We have eight living children and fourteen grandchildren.  We love our daughters-in-law and sons-in-law as we do our own children and hope they will always feel that way when they come into our home.  At this point, I will take time to make a few statements regarding our children and their mates.  Joseph Allen, who is now an Osteopathic Doctor, married a lovely wife, Donna Wells.  They have three daughters.  Bert Randall is connected with the Mesa Fire Department, and his lovely wife is Rosalee Kelly.  They have three children, one boy and two girls.  Floyd Lyman is teaching school.  He also has a very lovely wife, LeOla Rogers, and they have two very sweet little girls.  Moneta married H. H. Muse who is a teacher and a school football coach…considered among the best.  Joe Ann married Rae Brimhall who is finishing his last year in college and expects to be a teacher.  They have no children as yet?  Barbara married Duane Lanier, who at present is farming in Colorado.  They have one boy and a girl.  Fawn married Ray Ladel Hunt, who holds a good job at Williams Airfield Base as a Plane Technician.  They also have two children, a girl and a boy.  Fern is our only one left at home.  We hope she finishes college before marrying.  But if she does as well as the others, we won’t object.


For any teaching or guidance that might have influenced the lives of our children, I give credit to their wonderful mother, as my work kept me away from home at night. I slept days while she managed the affairs and saw that they all got off to Primary and Sunday school.  She taught them to pray and to live good clean lives.












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