Janett Brinkerhoff was born on October 30, 1836 in the town of Maravia Gayuga, New
York. Her parents were James Brinkerhoff and Sally Ann Snyder.
Her father, James Brinkerhoff followed several occupations: farming, raising and
making maple sugar, bee keeping and peddling fish. Early in life his children learned to be
supporting and industrious.
When Grandmother Janett was about six years old, she went with her parents in
the early settling of Nauvoo, Illinois. Their home was near that of the Prophet Joseph
Smith and across the road from Aunt Zina D. Young's. The Prophet also had a farm four
miles from where Grandmother often picked peaches. She remembers when as a very
young girl, she visited the Prophet's home where she sat on his lap and talked to him. She
was baptized at the age of eight years, by Elder Newman, in the Mississippi River, not far
from her home.
During the time they lived in Nauvoo, the temple was built, and she had the
privilege of going in several times with her parents, and also she walked on the top of the
temple, before it was finished.
It was while they were still here, her father was called to Ohio on a mission, shere
he remained until the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph and his brother, Hyrum Smith.
When the bodies were prepared for burial, thousands of people passed by the
caskets to view the remains. Grandmother being among the number. Hyrum's casket was
placed at the feet of Joseph's, in a long room or hall, while the immediate family sat in an
adjoining room. Grandmother also saw Carthage Jail, where they were killed.
After the burial, a large meeting was held, to which she and her parents attended
and witnessed the transfiguration of Joseph on the countenance and in the voice of
Persecutions had now become so great, that the saints at once prepared to go to
Winter Quarters. The Brinkerhoff's were in the first company and they traveled by way of
Upon arrival at Winter Quarters, the men hastened to erect log cabins to make it
more comfortable for the women and children while they went to Missouri to obtain work
to buy provisions for the journey west.
They started to the Rocky Mountains in the Spring of 1847 with Peregreime
Sessions as captains of their fifty. The buffaloes that roamed the plains furnished their
meat and the wild fruits were plentiful enough that they were able to obtain some to eat
and some to dry for future use.
Sundays were always observed as days of rest and worship, while every evening,
everyone met together for prayer, singing, and occasionally for amusement.
The journey was not without its trials and hardships. John Smith's wagon of flour
tipped over in the creek but all was soon put to right. The Brinkerhoff's wagon also tipped
over, mashing the chicken coop and releasing the chickens, but they were recaptured
without loss. There was plenty of good feed for their cows, and the jolting of the wagons
over rough ground, soon turned their milk and cream into butter.
Although Grandmother was not quite eleven years old, she drove a team the last
500 miles. After a long tedious journey, they at last arrived in Salt Lake Valley on
September 25, 1847.
As Winter was close at hand, all set to work building a fort to make themselves
comfortable for the winter and as a protection against the Indians.
The next Spring, 1848, Grandmother and her parents moved to Centerville, Davis
County, Utah, where she lived for a number of years.
On August 29, 1852, she was married to George Leavitt. When her third child
was still quite young ( in the spring of 1858 ) they were called to help settle Spanish Fork,
Utah. They stayed there three months, and then came back to Centerville, Utah, where
they remained until the Spring of 1868, when they received a call to dispose of possessions
and go to St. George, Utah. Prior to this time, on the 20th of March 1857, her husband
married Sarah Angeline Porter, and on July 11, 1857, he married Nancy Minerva Earl.
When they left for the South, Grandmother drove her own team down and back.
When they got there, they stayed for one winter and then were called to go down on the
"Muddy" or West Point, Nevada.
The winters down in the Southern part of Utah were mild and pleasant. January
was so warm that Grandmother did her weaving outside. The Indians were quite
troublesome doing such things as, driving off cattle and horses and sometimes driving
them in the river where they were drowned.
Janett took a small baby with her when she went south, and one was born while
there. Both of these babies died and were buried there.
In the summer of 1869, President Brigham Young came down to Dixie and gave
the Leavitt's their release. They had been there a little over two years, and had a
considerable sickness. Grandfather Leavitt as sick most of the time, with chills and fever.
Other members of the family had malaria fever; and they were all glad to start back to a
They remained one winter and long enough to raise a crop, just above St. George.
Then they returned to Centerville and from there to Mendon, Utah, in Cache County.
They remained in Mendon about two years and then came to Lewiston to help in
the settling of that place. They first settled in Southwestern Lewiston, but soon moved up
near the other settlers where they built two homes just alike on adjoining pieces of land.
One house still stands and is inhabited by a family. The other was destroyed by fire in July
The remainder of Grandmother's life was spent in Lewiston with occasional visits
to children and relatives in Idaho and Centerville.
She was President of the first Primary in Lewiston on the 24th of July, 1882, which
was a position she held for a number of years. Later she was a Relief Society teacher and
always remained a faithful Latter-day Saint all her life.
Her life was somewhat sad on account of death taking away so many of her loved
ones. She lost her husband and grown married son both within six weeks of each other
and both with Typhoid Fever in the winter of 1889. She lost four babies in infancy, a
young daughter budding into womanhood, and four children after they were married with
families of their own.
In spite of all this sorrow, I never remember hearing her complain or appearing
blue and discouraged. She was always cheerful, ready to joke and be a comfort to others.
Most of her later life was spent with her children or her children's families. She
gave birth to 14 children, eight boys and six girls.
She died on December 7, 1925, at the home of her daughter Georganna Leavitt
Karren in Lewiston Third ward and she was buried beside her husband, his other wife, and
the children that had died there in Lewiston. There is a Leavitt lot where most of them
lay. At the time of her death, she had buried approximately ten children, 24
grandchildren, and 2 great grandchildren. Her living descendants were four children, 57
grandchildren, 130 great grandchildren, 42 great great grandchildren, making a total of
233 living descendants at the time. She had been married 74 years and a widow 39 years.
Janett Brinkerhoff Leavitt told some of this
life's stories herself, and it was written by her
granddaughter, Elzira Janett Rawlins Kemp.
Janett Brinkerhoff Leavitt belonged to the Daughters of Utah Pioneers,
she was the only
one living that came to Utah in 1847, when the camp was named, so it was named for her-
"Janett Brinkerhoff Leavitt Camp of Lewiston" (First Ward) Utah.
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:
Charles, George, Emeline, Louisa, Abigail and 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, then
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 Centerville
with 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 over
two 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 the 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
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 down
the 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 and
opened 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 and
back 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 was
destroyed 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.
Information taken from his journal and a family history.
By Eulalie Leavitt Taggert.
Retyped by John Shaw - September 1998