Phoebe Leavitt


Phoebe Leavitt was born January 27, 1839, at Chardon, Geauga, Ohio. She was the eighth of ten children born to Lucy Rowell and John Leavitt.


Phoebe’s early years were spent in Ohio with her parents and brothers and sisters. Her parents had come from Hadley, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada with other members of the Jeremiah Leavitt/Sarah Shannon family. The widow of Jeremiah Leavitt, Sarah Shannon, gathered around her seven of her ten adult children along with their spouses and children. It is known that John’s sister and sister-in-law, Hannah Fish and Sarah Sturdevant had heard Mormon missionaries preach, had read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants and wished to travel to Kirtland, Ohio and join with the members of this new religion that taught that the heavens were open and revelation came from our Heavenly Father. We know Sarah Shannon became an early convert and her other children believed sufficiently to be part of this unusual trek. The wagon train was under the direction of a son-in-law, Franklin Chamberlain, who was said to have had the best outfit. The journey of eight hundred miles began in 1836, but they were not able to stay together for the entire way. Provisions gave out, forcing some families to stop to earn money to replenish their supplies. Some visited friends and family along the way, and sickness and death took it’s toll.


John and Lucy stopped at Chardon, Ohio where Phoebe was born, then settled in nearby Burton for a time. Here, her sister, Cinderella died in 1841. In 1845, Phoebe’s family resumed their westward trek, traveling to Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan where they would be enumerated in the 1850 Census. The years in Cambria were eventful, filled with much happiness and sorrow. Phoebe’s sisters, Lucinda and Orilla married brothers, Benjamin Franklin and Philander Brown. Josiah Leavitt married Charlotte Lane and John Quincy Leavitt married Malinda Minion.Lucy Rowell Leavitt gave birth to son, Thomas, who was born and died in 1847. Perhaps their stay in Cambria was extended by the death of Phoebe’s father on 17 February 1852. He was buried by the family home, next to his infant son. The family left Michigan in 1854, hoping to meet relatives who had been with the main body of the Church in Nauvoo and Twelve Mile Grove, Illinois, before going to Council Bluffs, Iowa.


Enroute, the family visited John’s sister, Rebecca Leavitt and her husband, Franklin Chamberlain, who had settled in Oak Lawn, Illinois. Phoebe’s sister, Sarah, married her
cousin, James A. Chamberlain sometime in February of 1859. She remained in Illinois with her husband’s family. Another brother, Lyman Leavitt, did not travel west with his family. He stayed in Michigan with his wife, Ellen Adell Brown and journeyed to Utah in a wagon train in 1863.


One of the great sorrows suffered by Phoebe was the death of her mother on 23 July 1858 at Norrisburg, Iowa. Family tradition says she was buried in a wagon box near the Platte River.

The Browns and Leavitt’s organized their own independent company. These families were comfortably situated for those times and, thus, were able to have good oxen and government wagons, taking many of their belongings with them. The company left Florence, Nebraska on 9 June 1860.


As the B.F.Brown Company was waiting for the ferry used to cross the Wood River to be repaired, they met a company of missionaries and teamsters led by Joseph A. Young, a son of Brother Brigham, traveling east from Salt Lake City. They camped together and Brother Young organized the company according to the policies of the Church. An important event took place in the life of Phoebe Leavitt at the Wood River when she was baptized a member of the LDS Church. The trek was long and tedious, but because they were well prepared, there was hardly any sickness and no deaths.


The company reached the mouth of Echo Canyon 25 August 1860. Some of the pioneers wanted to continue traveling along the Weber River to settle in Ogden. Benjamin Brown and Lucinda were in that group, as well as the family of Phoebe’s brother, Josiah. B.F. Brown was released as captain of the company. Their group traveled on to Ogden, while the remainder of the company traveled through Parley’s Canyon to Salt Lake City and Provo. We assume Phoebe traveled to Ogden with Lucinda, since she spent most of her adult life with her sister.


In 1870, calls came from President Brigham Young for the families of Lyman Leavitt, Philander and Orilla Brown and the now-widowed Lucinda Brown and her four children to go on the Muddy Mission. [Editor’s note: Other histories give the date of the call as 1868.] We know that Phoebe was with her relatives and suffered the same trials and hardships, and was faithful in doing her duty. They were released from the mission on 1 February 1871.


As they were traveling north to the settlements of Kanosh and Fillmore, they stopped at what was called Upper Settlement (Sink Valley), an old cedar fort that had been built by a group of Mormon pioneers, but was abandoned. Lyman’s family moved into one house, and his two sisters moved in another. They set to work planting crops, but the grasshoppers came and took it all. They had no choice but to continue north and settled in Kanosh, then moved on to Fillmore. Here, Lucy Adell Brown, Lucinda’s oldest daughter, married Abraham Alonzo Kimball, who had been with the Leavitt’s on the Muddy Mission.


In about fourteen years, Phoebe, Lucinda and her three children, moved to Woods Cross, and, eventually settled in Loa, Wayne, Utah.


Tirza Brown Parker, the daughter of Benjamin Franklin Brown II, remembers Aunt Phoebe living with them, after her Grandma Lucinda died. She helped with the housework and chores. Tirza remembers her as a shy person, who kept to herself. Aunt Tirza said she had a little trunk that she had had since her years in Ohio or Michigan, opening and looking at it’s contents often, but when others in the house came near, she would hurry and close it and put the trunk away. In 1911, Tirza’s father was working to build a water system for the town of Loa, when he became very ill. The local doctor determined he had a kinked intestine and he would have to have surgery. As they waited for the doctor to come from Richfield, Aunt Tirza remembers Aunt Phoebe standing with the children at the corner of the house, crying and wondering why this was happening to her nephew, so needed by his family and such a pillar of strength in the community. She would have gladly traded places with him. Frank survived the surgery, but died from the infection that followed the operation. To supplement her income, Frank’s wife, Lotie (Phylotte), made ice cream to sell on holidays and at the town dances. Aunt Phoebe was always pleased when they would wake her up after a dance, for a dish of Lotie’s delicious ice cream was a special treat.


Phoebe died in Loa on 12 March 1914 and is buried in the Loa Cemetery.


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