Written by Steven G. Nelson A Great Great Great Grandson Revised: October
October 27, 1998
This historical text is dedicated to the loving
memory of my wonderful wife of thirty five years, Doris Jane Powell Nelson. Jane
unexpectedly passed away on September 27, 1998 just as this history was being finalized
for publication. "Her love and faith sustained me and it is hard to believe that this
precious gift is gone." She was a marvelous companion as well as mother to our five
lovely daughters. She has been my constant cheerleader over many years of research to
understand my family’s roots. She has encouraged and accompanied me on countless
visits to grave sites, significant family sites, family history and genealogical libraries, visits
to family members and reunions to collect information. My mother has called my
enthusiasm for this work my magnificent obsession. Although I have enjoyed this work
my motivation is inspired by the spirit of Elijah. Instead of tiring of my obsession Jane
encouraged and promoted opportunities to feed my appetite for this fulfilling activity. I am
overwhelmingly grateful that Jane is now enjoying this next estate of her eternal life with
my beloved ancestors. As she arrived in Paradise I can clearly envision my ancestors
eagerly welcoming her with their loving embrace and expressions of gratitude for her
unselfish support. I will be forever grateful for her patience and eternal love.
Steven G. Nelson
2117 West 1300 North Clinton, Utah 84015 Phone 801 773-7100
Weare and Phoebe Cowles Leavitt’s Westward Migration:
Migration Destinations: Approximate Milage
Hatley to Kirtland.............650 Miles Kirtland to Twelve-Mile Grove..350
Mile Grove to Nauvoo....235 Miles Nauvoo to Winter Quarters......250 Miles Winter
Quarters to SL Valley.1,015 Miles
Total Migration........2,500 Miles
A History of Weare Leavitt and Phoebe
Written by Steven G. Nelson A Great Great Great Grandson Revised: September 1998
This history was first written in 1996 in response to my desire to learn
these wonderful ancestors. After an unsuccessful effort to find an existing history of
Weare and Phoebe Cowles Leavitt, I determined to use all of the information that was
then available to me to prepare a brief history. More than two years have elapsed since
this initial effort and additional information is now available. Most notably, a grand
Leavitt reunion involving nearly 2,000 Leavitt family members was held in Salt Lake City,
Utah on June 19-21, 1998. During this reunion I was asked to make a brief presentation
about the life of Weare Leavitt and his family. During preparation for this presentation
and at the reunion itself much additional information was obtained that was not available
during this history’s initial preparation. This new information has now been added to this
Two valuable sources of information were found in documents prepared
by William P.
Leavitt and Lyman D. Platt. William P. Leavitt in 1996 published "Leavitt Pioneers-
Western Migration and Colonization." It provides a very detailed description of the history
surrounding the Leavitt families migration to the West along with considerable Leavitt
family history. Lyman D. Platt’s 1998 document, "Jeremiah Leavitt II and Sarah
Sturtevant, A History Of Their Lives in New Hampshire, Canada, Ohio, Illinois and Utah."
is excellent. Jeremiah II is Weare’s younger brother. Both of these documents contain
much of the remarkable text of Sarah Sturtevant’s autobiography. Sarah was the wife of
Jeremiah II. Their history parallels much of Weare and Phoebe’s history. I would
recommend that everyone get copies of these histories for their own Leavitt libraries. I
have also attached a list of Leavitt references at the end of this history for those who wish
to obtain more information. I have tried to include all information that I have found on
Weare and Phoebe in this history. Unfortunately, the records that were available are not
complete and in some instances were not in full agreement. I would appreciate any
clarification or additional information that the reader might have that could be used to
enhance a third edition.
The correct spelling for Weare and Phoebe’s names has been confusing
and at times
controversial. There have even been some interesting variations for the accepted spelling
of Leavitt such as Louvett, Louvet, Lovett, Livit, Levit, etc. The spelling of Weare’s first
name appears to have been derived from a maiden name of one of his ancestors.
However, later generations of Leavitts used this same name for their children and they
have used other forms of spelling such as Wire, Wier, Wear, Wiar, etc. In this history I
have used the Weare Leavitt spelling. Phoebe Cowles had a grandmother named Phebe
Cole and this appears to have caused some confusion in the spelling of both her first and
last name. Most records and histories written by her children that I have reviewed have
used the Phoebe spelling for her first name and her maiden name is definitely Cowles. For
this history I have determined to use the Phoebe Cowles spelling.
There are lots of people to thank for helping me gather information
and review this text
for errors. A few that I would especially like to mention are my daughter Michiko Nelson,
my mother Dorothy Geddes Nelson, Annette Hyer Hansen, and Dan and Lu Hyer
Stoddard. Dan Stoddard has been especially helpful in gathering historical and
genealogical information and preparing the pedigree charts included in this history. All of
the help that was given has been outstanding and has certainly contributed to the value of
this history. The mistakes and errors in this history are all mine.
Weare Leavitt’s Ancestors:
Weare Leavitt’s ancestors were descendants of British royalty through
Edward III, born
13 Nov 1312, eventually to become King of England. The first of our line of Leavitts to
settle in America was Deacon John Leavitt (1608-1691). He was probably born in
England in 1608 (some think that he may have come from Scotland). The Pilgrims came
to America in 1620 aboard the ship "Mayflower" and landed at Plymouth Rock near
Boston, MA. Family history asserts that John came to America on a subsequent voyage of
the Mayflower with his arrival in 1628. Unfortunately, available records do not confirm
this arrival. However, within a few years he settled in Hingham, MA, a coastal town just
south of Boston. He was a Deacon in his church and worshiped in a unique structure
called the Old Ship Church. This church was constructed in 1681 with its exposed ceiling
beams resembling an upside down ship. It is now the oldest meeting house in continuous
use in America. Deacon John Leavitt’s pew was number 19 and his name is proudly
displayed on the wall as one of the founding members. Deacon John Leavitt was married
twice and had a total of thirteen children.
Weare’s direct ancestor, Moses Leavitt, (1650-1730) was the second son
of John and his
second wife Sarah Gilman. Moses spent most of his adult life in the south east portion of
New Hampshire in the communities of Hampton and Exeter. He was one of the most
prominent men in his community. He and his wife, Dorothy Dudley, also had a large
family of at least twelve children and spent their lives in Hampton and Exeter, New
Hampshire. Weare’s direct ancestor was Moses’ son Joseph. Joseph Leavitt (1699-1792)
married Mary Wadleigh and together they had at least seven children. It is interesting to
note that within Joseph’s family is the first time that we see the name Weare. Joseph’s
son, born in 1733, was given the name of Weare which was evidently derived from the
maiden name of Mary Wadleigh’s mother. The next direct ancestor was Joseph’s first
child Nathaniel. Nathaniel Leavitt (1727-1824) spent most of his adult life in central New
Hampshire. One family history suggests that he moved to the southern part of the
Province of Quebec, Canada, however, this is unconfirmed. Many other Leavitt family
members moved to this area during this time. Nathaniel married Lydia Sanborn and
together they had a large family of twelve children. Their fourth child was Jeremiah,
Weare's father, Jeremiah, was born on July 10, 1760 in Exeter, New Hampshire.
mother, Sarah Shannon, was born in 1765/66 in Chester, Rockingham, New Hampshire.
Jeremiah and Sarah were the parents of ten children: Weare (1785/86-1839), Nathaniel
(1790- 1838), Lydia (1792-1846), Josiah (1793-1838), Jeremiah II (1794- 1846), Sarah
(1795- ?), John (1798-1852), Rebecca (1802-1892), Betsey (1802-1848), Hannah (1804-
1876). To eliminate confusion, which results from having two Jeremiahs in the same
family, their descendants have designated the father as Jeremiah I and the son as Jeremiah
II and we will follow this formality.
Jeremiah I spent his young adult years in New Hampshire. About
1800 Jeremiah I and his
family along with other Leavitt family members, moved to the southern part of the
province of Quebec in Canada. Jeremiah I and most of his children eventually settled in
Sherbrooke County, Quebec near the town of Hatley which is a few miles above
Vermont’s northern border and a few miles west of New Hampshire’s western border.
Recent visits by Leavitt family members to the town of Hatley report that it is an
extremely attractive area with rich soils and beautiful forests. Lyman D. Platt points out in
his history of Jeremiah II that this area was initially explored and partially occupied by the
French. After the French and English war of 1759 this area and all property claimed by
France in Canada was ceded by the King of France to the British Government. This vast
area eventually became the Province of Quebec, Canada in 1763. Sherbrooke County, at
this time, was virgin land, large forests with areas for farming. There was also an
abundance of wild animals for hunting, trapping, and fishing. The Leavitt families helped
pioneer this area, building homes and establishing farms. Unfortunately, Jeremiah I only
lived in this area a few years before he suddenly died in 1806, at the age of 46, leaving his
young family to be cared for by his wife. Fortunately, Sarah had older children, including
Weare now 21 years old, who helped the family through this crisis.
Weare And Phoebe Cowles Leavitt:
Weare Leavitt was born 1785/6 in Grantham, Sullivan County, New Hampshire,
child of Jeremiah Leavitt and Sarah Shannon. Weare eventually married sisters Abigail
and Phoebe Cowles, the daughters of Phineas Cowles (1762-1839) and Catharine Stone
(1766- 1839). All of Weare’s children were born in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec,
Canada. Abigail Cowles was born in New Hampshire in 1794 and also died there in 1824.
Weare married Abigail about 1815 and from genealogy records they had three children
before her death. Their first child, Jeremiah, was born about 1816 and died as a young
man in 1837/38. Their second child, Charlotte, was born December 5, 1818. Their third
child, Anna, was born October 7, 1820. An Anna Leavitt is reported to have married
Nathan Rowell. This may be Weare’s daughter, however, there is a twenty year difference
in their ages. Unfortunately, there is no other information available about Anna.
Weare’s second wife was Abigail’s sister, Phoebe Cowles.
Phoebe was born on July 26,
1796 in Claremont, Sullivan, New Hampshire. Phoebe married Weare November 11,
1825 after her sister's death. Phoebe eventually bore him six children: Charles, born about
1826, George, born August 29, 1828, Emeline, born July 26, 1832, Abigail, born about
1833, Louisa, born December 10, 1835, and Levi, born about 1836. Abigail and Levi
died as children prior to 1837.
There are few details known about Weare and his own family during their
years in Canada.
Charlotte’s history records that the family lived on a small clearing in the forest. They had
little educational facilities and were obliged to produce their own food and clothing. All
of the sugar they used was made from the sap of maple trees. They raised, spun, dyed and
wove the flax and wool from which their clothes were made and spun the thread with
which it was sewed. Louisa’s history records that her father worked for a while as a
trapper for the Hudson Bay Company. While acting as a trapper during one challenging
winter, Weare was unable to supply his family with the necessities of life. Several days
had passed and the young family was near starvation. Mother Phoebe prayed for food for
her little family. That afternoon a large flock of geese passed over the house. Weare,
being a good shot with a rifle, took aim and shot at one of the larger birds and it fell down
to their doorway. Louisa accepted this as a complete answer to her mother’s prayer.
Weare’s other brothers and sisters also married during their time in
Canada. Much of
what we know about the family comes from the autobiography of Sarah Sturtevant who
married Weare’s brother, Jeremiah II. According to her autobiography, she grew up in a
very strict environment and was taught the principles of truth and honor by her parents,
who were descendants of the old Pilgrims. Jeremiah II and Sarah Sturtevant were married
in 1817 in New Hampshire and returned to Canada to be with the rest of the Leavitt
family. From her history it is apparent that she was very spiritually motivated. She had a
firm belief in the power of prayer and records some remarkable answers to her prayers.
From her descriptions, she fit right into the home environment of the Leavitt family’s
Introduction To The Church of Jesus Christ:
Juanita Brooks, in her history of Dudley Leavitt, notes that after the
death of Jeremiah I,
Sarah Shannon Leavitt continued to be a strong influence in her family. Sarah was very
much concerned that her descendants live Christian lives by observing the Sabbath,
attending to morning and evening prayers in their homes, reading and discussing the
scriptures, doing good, helping those in distress, and walking up-rightly before their God.
The whole Leavitt family wished to be part of a good Christian congregation, but they
were never really satisfied with local congregations in Hatley.
During the early-1830s much was being said about a new church that was
organized by a
young man named Joseph Smith who professed to be a modern day prophet. The Prophet
Joseph Smith testified that he had received revelations from God and had been given
divine authority to perform saving ordinances. Joseph Smith also professed that he had
been given ancient scriptures recorded on gold plates which he translated into English by
the gift and power of God. This translation, known as the "Book of Mormon," is a record
of prophets who lived in ancient America and has the divine purpose of being another
witness of Christ. The Prophet Joseph Smith, under direction and authority from God,
organized on Apr 6, 1830 at Fayette, NY, The Church of Christ subsequently called The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also nicknamed the Mormons). Thus, the
ancient church that Jesus Christ had established in the meridian of time with divine
authority, essential priesthood offices such as apostles and prophets, and doctrine received
through divine revelation from God was once again restored to the earth.
In spite of intense persecution, this unique church grew very rapidly.
By 1831 the Prophet
Joseph Smith was sending missionaries to surrounding communities to preach this restored
gospel. By 1835, there were branches of the church established in New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, and west into Missouri. In 1836, one of the Church's early apostles,
Parley P. Pratt, went on a mission to Canada where he preached and distributed copies of
the newly published Book of Mormon along with a pamphlet that he wrote called "A
Voice of Warning." While on this mission to Canada, Apostle Pratt concentrated his
personal missionary labors in the Toronto area. He organized a large branch of the
church in Toronto. From there missionary labors extended to other areas of eastern
Canada. The town of Hatley, Sherbrooke, Quebec, is about 300 miles east of Toronto.
They had received word-of-mouth accounts of this new church and the reaction to these
reports by the local people was mostly negative. Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt reports that one
of her husband’s sisters (probably Hannah) came to her and revealed that she had heard
the gospel preached by a Mormon and believed it and had been baptized. Hannah’s
baptism is reported to have occurred in 1836. Hannah related to Sarah what she had been
taught by the Mormon missionary. Sarah readily accepted these accounts as an answer to
her own personal prayers. There is some question as to when these events occurred and
specifically when the first Leavitts were baptized or officially joined the church. Charlotte
Leavitt, Weare’s second oldest child, in her autobiography, reports that she joined The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the spring of 1834. This would make
Charlotte fifteen years old at her baptism. In other family histories, it is reported that
Weare’s family joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1837, having been
converted by Elder Hazen Eldredgs. Charlotte may have joined the church before the rest
of the family so both records may be correct.
Juanita Brooks in her history of Dudley Leavitt, reports that, eventually,
a man came into
Hatley who had attended Mormon gatherings and brought copies of the two books
distributed by Apostle Pratt: "A Voice of Warning" and "The Book of Mormon." After
some persuasion, he loaned these books to the Leavitt Family. Night after night the
Leavitt family gathered to read these books aloud and discuss their contents. Jeremiah II
reports that, "...when we saw the Book of Mormon & Covenants we believed them
So intense was the Leavitt family’s belief that they were determined
to leave their
established homes and community to gather with others who also believed in this message
of the restoration. The Leavitt families studied and gathered information and prepared for
their journey to join with other believers. In 1837 there were two major gathering places
for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first was in Kirtland,
Ohio, and the second was in western Missouri on the very edge of the United States'
western frontier. The Leavitt family determined that they would all leave together. From
the records that are available it appears as though the Leavitt family’s primary goal was to
reach Mormon communities in either Kirtland, Ohio or western Missouri. They may have
also planned a stop at Twelve-Mile Grove, Illinois, where they stayed for several years.
Twelve-Mile Grove is located in Wilton Township, Will County, Illinois, about 40 miles
south of Chicago and about 14 miles from Joliet. Many family histories have incorrectly
referred to Twelve-Mile Grove as located in Wilson or Wilson County.
The Leavitts Migrate To The United States:
Finally, with their preparations complete, the Leavitt family left Hatley
on July 20, 1837.
Juanita Brooks reports that the train of seven wagons pulled out in good order; all agreed
that they might not stay together long. This was really a tremendously difficult
undertaking. The trip would take them from Quebec, Canada, through the states of
Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and then to Twelve- Mile Grove,
Illinois. A distance of about 650 miles to Kirtland, Ohio, and an additional 350 miles to
Twelve-Mile Grove. They determined that each would manage as best they could and
strive to gather as a family at their final destination.
The first wagon included Rebecca Leavitt and her husband, Frank Chamberlain,
family. Mother Sarah Shannon Leavitt rode in this wagon because it was the best outfit
on the road. The second held Betsey Leavitt and her husband, James Adams, and their
children. The third wagon contained Hannah Leavitt and her husband, Horace Fish, and
their family. The fourth belonged to John Leavitt and his wife, Lucy Rowell, and their
family. The fifth wagon included Nathaniel Leavitt and his second wife, Betty Baer, and
their family. The sixth wagon had Jeremiah II and his wife, Sarah Sturtevant, and their
family. The seventh wagon belonged to Weare Leavitt and his family. Weare was the
eldest son in the Sarah Shannon Leavitt family. He was now fifty-two years old. Weare's
family consisted of his three older children from his first marriage, Jeremiah now twenty
one, Charlotte now nineteen, and Anna almost 17. (Anna’s situation at this time is not
clearly known. She was reported to have married Nathan Rowell. She was not identified
as accompanying her parents.) Weare’s second wife, Phoebe Cowles, now forty one, and
their four living children, Charles, now eleven, George, now eight, Emeline, now five, and
two- year old Louisa were included in Weare’s wagon. In all the wagon train included
about fifty Leavitt family members.
The Leavitt Family traveled together during this first leg of their
journey and arrived in
Kirtland, Ohio, probably in August or early September, 1837. Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt
reports that she had had no opportunity to be baptized as yet. She and her husband,
Jeremiah II, and their family were baptized while the family was at Kirtland. One of their
children’s baptismal date was reported to have occurred on August 22, 1837. There may
have been others in the Leavitt family who were also baptized at this time.
Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt reports that they stayed in Kirtland only about
a week and heard
the Prophet Joseph Smith speak in the Kirtland Temple. This unique temple is still
standing and was constructed in response to a command from God. It was constructed by
members of the church at great sacrifice and represents their overwhelming testimonies
and faith in the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restored gospel. This temple was the scene
of an overwhelming outpouring of spiritual events during its construction and particularly
during its dedication on March 27, 1836. Hundreds reported that they heard the voices
of heavenly hosts and angels appeared to many. The temple seemed to shine throughout
the night in a marvelous manifestation of Heavenly Father’s spirit. The Prophet Joseph
Smith received a number of key revelations in this temple including heavenly visits from
Jesus Christ, Moses, Elias and Elijah. The family’s visit to this temple eighteen months
after its dedication must have been very impressive.
Sarah also reports that the family was allowed to visit the upper rooms
in the temple and
saw the Egyptian mummies and the scrolls that were translated by the Prophet Joseph
Smith into the Book of Abraham. Weare’s oldest daughter, Charlotte, also reports that her
family gathered with the saints at Kirtland, Ohio. Betsey Leavitt Adams’ daughter, Sallie,
reports that during their stay in Kirtland that they visited with the mother of the Prophet
Joseph Smith. She indicates that it was then perilous times for Joseph and his people and
that he was in hiding. However, while they were there that he appeared and preached to
the assembled saints on Sunday.
At this time in Kirtland, members of the church were under tremendous
much of it was directed at the Prophet Joseph Smith. He was being hounded by mobs and
finally had to leave Kirtland for his own safety. He left in January 1838 for Mormon
communities in western Missouri. Charlotte also reports that the persecutions of the
saints in Kirtland had become unbearable so the Leavitt family left and went into the
eastern part of Illinois. This would seem to indicate that their desire was to remain in
Kirtland but persecutions against members of the church changed their minds. By 1840, in
response to this persecution most faithful members of the church left Kirtland to join other
Mormon communities in the west.
As the Leavitt family left Kirtland circumstances demanded that
they separate in
order to care for their individual needs. Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt reports that her family’s
resources were all spent and they had to settle about ten miles from Kirtland for about a
year while most of the family continued on to Twelve-Mile Grove. Nathaniel Leavitt and
his family stopped near Lake Michigan in St. Joseph County, Indiana. Unfortunately,
Nathaniel grew ill and died while there and his wife and younger children returned to
Canada. Nathaniel’s three older children from his first marriage had also become ill and
were left in the care of neighbors. These older children were eventually reunited with the
family when Jeremiah II and his family continued their westward trek in 1838. Weare and
Phoebe and their children, along with the rest of the Leavitt families, continued their
westward trek and arrived at Twelve-Mile Grove in the fall of 1837. This stop was
evidently intended to be temporary on their journey to join with a community of other
members of the church.
Since 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith had designated Independence, Missouri,
gathering place for members of the church. Missouri and the border town of
Independence was on the edge of the western frontier of the United States. As Mormon
communities in Missouri began to grow and flourish, troubles erupted between the old
settlers and the emigrating Mormons. There were many reasons for this conflict but they
centered around economic, political, and religious differences. By 1834 Mormon families
living near Independence were driven from their homes by mobs. They eventually settled
in sparsely inhabited neighboring counties of Caldwell and Daviess. Their main
headquarters was established in Far West, Caldwell County, Missouri. Far West and the
surrounding area became a major gathering place for Mormons during the mid-1830s. As
many as 10,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints eventually
settled in this and surrounding areas. The Leavitt families were probably heading for this
gathering place as well.
Unfortunately, by 1837/38 the Mormons in and around Far West were under
persecution by mobs intent on driving them out of the state. In October 1838 false
accusation by members of the mob to Missouri’s Governor Boggs instigated his infamous
order that the Mormons "Be driven from the state or face extermination." By the fall of
1839 member of the church in these Mormon communities were driven from Missouri.
Most fled to Illinois where they valiantly established their next gathering place at Nauvoo,
The Leavitts Arrive In Twelve-Mile Grove, Illinois:
Weare and the other Leavitt families are reported to have arrived at
on September 19, 1837. They obviously decided or were counseled to stay in Illinois until
the Missouri conflicts were resolved. The Leavitt families bought farms in the area and
also worked at any job that was available to meet their families needs. The rich soil
brought forth abundant crops. They were also building a canal in nearby Joliet. Lyman D.
Platt reports that Wilton Township was first settled by white men about 1832. The area
was previously an Indian reservation. The grove was said to have been one of the finest
tracts of timber in Northern Illinois and was full of deer, wild turkeys and other game.
Unfortunately, the area was also a sickly place to live with the potential for fever and
Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt reports that they were not able to join the
family at Twelve-Mile
Grove until the next year in November 1838. As Jeremiah II’s family traveled to Illinois
they found Nathaniel’s three older children abandoned in St. Joseph County, Indiana, and
brought them with their own family to Twelve- Mile Grove. When they arrived at
Twelve-Mile Grove they found the rest of the family very discouraged because of death
and sickness. Mother Sarah Shannon Leavitt had passed away. Genealogy records
indicate that her death occurred in 1839/40; however, Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt’s record is
probably more reliable and reports her death as occurring before November, 1838. She
also reports that Weare’s oldest son had passed away and that Weare was very sick with a
cancer. Weare oldest son was Jeremiah and was about 22 years of age. It is undoubtedly
this son that Sarah was referring to in her autobiography. Some family historians have
thought this might have been Weare’s son, Charles, but he stayed with the family for many
years after this date.
Unfortunately, Weare passed away on March 3, 1839, and was buried
along with his son,
Jeremiah, at Twelve-Mile Grove. Weare Leavitt was a noble father and son. He had
given a lifetime of service to his parent’s family as well as his own. His courage, industry,
and integrity, and above all, his faith in God, provided his family with a heritage and
legacy that would bless their lives throughout eternity. With Weare’s passing, this left
Phoebe to care for her young family which now included Weare's older daughter,
Charlotte, as well as her own children, Charles, George, Emeline, and four-year old
Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt records that the family had not had any contact
from the Mormon
Church since they left Kirtland. Their discouragement because of death and sickness had
taken its toll on the family. With the coming of Sarah and Jeremiah II the whole family
renewed their commitment to the gospel and were rejuvenated by their testimonies. She
records that they got together every week and had prayer meeting in which all of the
family participated. As soon as the Mormons got settled in Nauvoo they sent Mormon
Elders to many Midwestern towns to visit, hold meetings with members, and perform
missionary work among non-members. Two of Phoebe's children are reported to have
been baptized while the family was at Twelve-Mile Grove. Emeline's baptism is recorded
as occurring in 1842 at the age of 9 or 10. Family histories indicate that George’s baptism
was performed while the family was in Wilton by an Elder George G. Jones (or Jenson or
Johnson) on March 16, 1844. However, a church census indicates that Phoebe and her
children were in Nauvoo by 1842 so the baptismal year for George probably occurred in
1842 as well. As the Missionaries visited these outlying areas they encouraged all
members to come to the new gathering place being established in Nauvoo, Illinois.
The Leavitts In Nauvoo:
With the expulsion of members of the church from Missouri, they had
themselves in another location. They were initially received kindly in Quincy, Adams
County, Illinois. Members of the church were intent on making a new start and valiantly
purchased property a short distance north of Quincy in Hancock County in an area called
Commerce. The property they initially purchased in Commerce consisted mostly of marsh
and swampland on a bend of the Mississippi River. Through sacrifice and industry they
turned this undesirable area into a beautiful city which they named Nauvoo which was
derived from a Hebrew word meaning beautiful situation or place. Headquarters for the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was also established at Nauvoo.
Many members of the church from all over the world were flocking to
church membership in the area increasing by thousands every year. The Leavitts in
Twelve-Mile Grove prepared to make their next move to join with other members in
Nauvoo which was about 235 miles away. Members of the Leavitt family left Twelve-Mile
Grove as their own circumstances permitted. Sarah Sturtevant Leavitt records that her
family started for Nauvoo in 1840. Phoebe and her children probably arrived in Nauvoo in
1842. A few Leavitt family members moved to other communities. Lyman D. Platt
identified an 1842 church census taken in Nauvoo in the spring of that year that records
the names of many Leavitt family members living in Nauvoo at this time, including
Weare’s family. This census used a different form for spelling their names but includes:
Phebe Levit, Charles Levit, George Levit and Loisa Levit. Emeline’s name was not
included but she was undoubtedly with the family as well.
There is a record in the property office in Nauvoo of a home site belonging
to Weare and
Phoebe on the north edge of the city identified as block 35 lot 2. This is a beautiful home
site with a commanding view of the Mississippi River and the city of Nauvoo. Weare had
passed away before Nauvoo was established, however, Phoebe put his name on the
property title as was the custom at this time. Many eventful things happened to Phoebe
and her children during this Nauvoo period. A few that have been recorded are as
follows. Phoebe’s youngest daughter's baptism was recorded as taking place during their
stay in Nauvoo on August 1, 1844. Phoebe's step daughter Charlotte was married on
April 8, 1845.
As reported in Simon Baker’s history he was a convert to the church.
He was a recent
widower with eight small children. He needed to find a new wife or someone who could
help care for his children. With this thought in mind, he asked a friend if he could refer
him to someone who would make a good mother. The friend recommended Charlotte
Leavitt, the daughter of a Widow Leavitt, living at Nauvoo. Simon traveled from his
home on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River to a church conference in Nauvoo. While
there he visited with Phoebe and Charlotte and made his circumstances and desires known.
Charlotte consented to go home with him and care for his children for a while and if she
liked him she would marry him. Simon stayed at their home for a few days while the
conference was in progress. After the conference they left for his home. Before arriving
at Simon’s home in Iowa Charlotte had made up her mind and they were married on the
ferry as it crossed the Mississippi River.
Phoebe’s oldest son, Charles, also decided at this time to return to
Twelve-Mile Grove to
seek his own fortune. Young George now assumed the responsibility for the care of his
mother and two younger sisters. George helped support the family by working in a stone
quarry for the benefit of a beautiful temple that was being constructed by the church in the
center of the city. Even during Nauvoo’s most trying times members of the church gave
this most important building project their highest priority. The men in the community
were asked to donate as much of their time as possible, usually one day in ten. Relief
Society sisters recommitted themselves to contribute a penny a week per member for
glass and nails. Louisa’s history records that Phoebe gave her last corn to complete the
Nauvoo Temple. It was completed in April 1846 ready for dedication. Sorrowfully, it had
to be abandoned at almost the same time because of overwhelming persecution. Prior to
its being abandoned Phoebe along with 5,615 other worthy members of the church were
able to receive their endowments in the Nauvoo Temple. For Phoebe this sacred
ordinance was performed on January 3, 1846.
Phoebe was also vicariously sealed to her husband Weare. Church
records provide several
dates for this sealing ordinance: June 13,1934, Apr 14, 1941, Aug 21, 1992, January 12,
1994. I am sure that this confusion occurred because of the various spelling forms used
for their names. The ancestral file also records a Phebe Cole and a Diana Cole that were
sealed to a Benjamin Covey as his fourth and fifth wives. A connection has been made by
some family historians between this Phebe Cole and Phoebe Cowles Leavitt. Nauvoo
records indicate that there was at least one other Phebe Cole living in Nauvoo at the time
and there may have been more. I have been unable to verify the accuracy of this sealing.
No other known record within family histories or other official records are available to
indicate that Phoebe Cowles Leavitt married or lived with Benjamin Covey as his wife.
The Mormon church grew and flourished during its early Nauvoo period.
and new converts to the church poured into Nauvoo and the surrounding region the
Mormon population expanded to about 20,000. In the six years the Mormons stayed in
Nauvoo it became the largest city in Illinois and the tenth largest city in the United States
at the time. Businesses flourished, beautiful brick homes and businesses were being built
all over the city, and a most impressive white limestone temple was being constructed at
the most prominent location within the city. Visitors to Nauvoo marveled at the industry
and development of this beautiful community in such a short period of time.
Sadly, as the church grew so also did envy, hatred, mistrust, and persecution.
On July 27,
1844, the Mormon’s beloved Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, the church’s
patriarch, were brutally martyred in a neighboring town of Carthage, Illinois. The
martyrdom happened while Joseph and Hyrum were under the protective care of Illinois'
Governor and State Militia. Despite all of the church's valiant efforts to resolve their
differences with their enemies from Missouri and Illinois, violent mobs eventually
succeeded again in driving the Mormons out of their established communities, businesses,
homes and farms. These were challenging times for the Leavitt families who lived in and
around Nauvoo. Mobs continually harassed outlying communities with threats. Crops
and homes along with other property was stolen or destroyed, members of the church
were beaten and even killed.
Even in Nauvoo, mobsters and other despicable characters would roam
the city looking
for opportunities to do mischief. George participated in one of the community’s efforts to
control this mischief. Young boys in the community were organized into what George
referred to as the Whistling Company or as it was officially known, the "Whistling and
Whittling Brigade." As these trouble makers came into Nauvoo, looking for opportunities
to cause mischief, these young boys would quickly find them. Then they would gather
around the stranger in groups of fifteen to twenty and whistle and whittle on sticks of
wood giving these questionable strangers little peace. It was said that they would hang
around them like fleas on a dog. The Whistling and Whittling Brigade would never say
anything to them just follow them around until they got the message. It didn’t take long
for these despicable characters to realize that they were not going to be left alone long
enough for their dark deeds to be accomplished. In exasperation they simply left town
with a brigade of boys following them out of the city.
George was also called to go up the Mississippi River to get timber
to repair and make
wagons for the hastily planned evacuation of Nauvoo. This massive evacuation was to
occur during the spring of 1846 as soon as the weather became warm so that roads would
be passible and there would be enough feed for their livestock. Unfortunately, many were
forced to begin their westward migration in early February during the coldest part of the
winter. George was called in the early spring of 1846 to help other families begin their
evacuation from Nauvoo. He helped several families move across the Mississippi River,
across the plains of Iowa, until they were settled near the Missouri River where the Saints
planned to winter. After completing this challenging assignment he returned to Nauvoo to
help his mother and sisters begin their westward trek.
Leavitts Begin Their Migration To The Rocky Mountains:
In 1846 Phoebe and her son and daughters started west. By mid- May more
members had crossed the Mississippi River. Phoebe and her family stopped for a while at
Mt. Pisgah (George’s history indicates this as Piegue which is probably a misspelling of
Pisgah). Mt. Pisgah was located near the center of the state of Iowa. They then
continued their westward trek and crossed the Missouri River into Winter Quarters at
Florence, Nebraska. This was a trip of about 250 miles which under normal conditions
could have been traversed in less than a month. Unfortunately, challenging conditions of
weather, wilderness, limited preparation time, and the massive number of wagons on the
trail increased this trip to two and sometimes three months.
Temporary camps were set up across Iowa to increase the chances of survival
homeless thousands. Camps of Israel, such as Garden Grove, Mt. Pisgah and Winter
Quarters, were established along the trail where crops were planted and temporary shelters
were built to give more time to prepare for the arduous journey into the wilderness.
Everyone in these temporary camps were destitute and their living conditions were
extremely desperate as the winter of 1846/47 set in. Weare’s brother, Jeremiah II died on
the trail in Iowa in 1846. It is reported that 346 deaths occurred in Winter Quarters alone
between September 1846 and May 1847. Weare’s sister, Betsey Leavitt Adams, is
reported to have died at Winter Quarters the following year in 1848.
Phoebe’s situation, a widow with three children and few resources, was
desperate. It was finally determined that George, now a teenager, should leave the family
and try and find work in Missouri to pay for the supplies they would need to continue their
journey to the Rocky Mountain. It was very challenging for George to leave his mother
and two little sisters to the care of others during these desperate times in Winter Quarters.
George had no choice and valiantly went, along with a few companions, to St. Joseph,
Missouri, to earn what money he could for their trip west. George returned to Winter
Quarters in the spring of 1847 with the meager resources he had managed to obtain.
It is interesting that the Prophet Joseph Smith, as early as 1842, had
church’s migration to the Rocky Mountains. This would mean moving beyond the
western boundary of the United States into the Great Basin area which was then claimed
by Mexico. The martyrdom of Joseph Smith left the organization and leadership of this
migration in the capable hands of his successor, Brigham Young. Brigham Young was
also shown in a dream the mountain valley where the saints would eventually dwell.
Brigham Young was determined to leave Winter Quarters early in the spring
of 1847 in
order to reach that valley as early in the year as possible. He organized a strong vanguard
company of men, equipment, and animals to blaze the trail to this mountain valley
knowing other companies must soon follow. They left Winter Quarters on April 16,1847.
They followed the Platte River traveling on the north side to give them better access to
feed and fuel and to keep them separated from other travelers who generally traveled on
the south side of the river. They traveled to Fort Kearny then followed the North Platt
River past Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff to Fort Laramie. From there they crossed the
Continental Divide through Emigrant Gap past Independence Rock and followed the
Sweet Water River on to Fort Bridger.
While at Fort Bridger Brigham Young questioned Jim Bridger who had already
the Great Salt Lake valley. From his description, Brigham felt that this was the valley that
he had seen in his own vision. They left Fort Bridger and continued on through
Emigration Canyon towards the valley of the Great Salt Lake. As part of an advanced
party two members of this vanguard company Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow saw the
valley for the first time on July 21, 1847 and shouted for joy at the extensive valley and
grand view that was displayed before them. The next two days were spent in exploring
this valley and making preparations for the arrival of the main company. Brigham Young
had been ill with Mountain Fever and was being cared for in the back of a wagon. As his
wagon reached the mouth of Emigration Canyon he looked out over the valley for the first
time and confirmed for the company, "This is the right place, drive on!"
They entered the valley on July 24, 1847. This first company consisted
of 143 men, 3
women, and 2 children. They set about immediately to plant and prepare for the hundreds
and thousands who would soon follow. On August 14, 1847 the new city to be built was
named, "The City of the Great Salt Lake, Great Basin, North America." The city was
officially incorporated on March 6, 1851 as "Great Salt Lake City." By 1850 more than
11,000 people lived in the valley. Prior to construction of the Transcontinental Railroad in
1869, more than 80,000 Mormon Pioneers in wagon trains and handcarts had made this
same momentous trek.
In 1847, however, more than 7,000 saints lived in destitute conditions
in temporary camps
across Iowa and into Nebraska. Phoebe, now fifty years old, along with her children,
George, now eighteen, Emeline, now fourteen, and Louisa, now eleven years old started
across the plains from Winter Quarters, Nebraska in the first year of the great Mormon
migration to the Rocky Mountains. They traveled in company with Simon Baker and his
wife, Charlotte Leavitt, and their nine children. Simon Baker’s history records that Phoebe
and her children were very destitute of clothing, having neither hats nor shoes for the
journey. I am sure that Simon and Charlotte stretched their meager supplies to help
Phoebe’s family as well. Their company left Florence, Nebraska, on May 1, 1847. They
went out to the Elk Horn River, where the Saints met in camp to organize into companies
to cross the plains.
Their company was the third hundred wagons of emigrating saints.
consisted of Amos Neff, Captain of ten; Joseph B. Noble, Captain of fifty, and Jedediah
M. Grant, Captain of hundred, who was over the other Captains. When their organization
was completed, the company started on their march through the wilderness to the Rocky
Mountains. As they journeyed on they found that their wagon teams were too heavily
loaded, so they yoked up their cows, their steers and anything that could pull. A review
of the Journal History of this company with particular comments by Eliza R. Snow, a
member of Capt. Noble’s company, provides interesting insights into the Leavitt family’s
experiences during this pioneer trek:
Thursday, June 17, 1847: At a meeting held at the encampment on
the Elkhorn River it
was moved by Apostle Parley P. Pratt that the camps move to the banks of the Platte
River, and that they move in hundreds (100 wagons) and camp about half a mile apart. It
was moved that Jedediah M. Grant’s company be called the Third Hundred.
Thursday, June 24: Apostle John Taylor complained the Bros. Jedediah
M. Grant and
John Young had refused to obey orders and were out of their place in the line of travel and
that the 3rd hundred had got before his, which was the 2nd hundred. Later in the day the
officers and men of the whole camp were called together. Bro. Taylor entered his
complaint against Bros. Grant and Young and after a great deal said by the brethren,
Apostle Parley P. Pratt spoke and reproved Bros. Young and Grant and said they should
ask forgiveness, which they did and all was made right.
Wednesday, July 15: "This morning a fearful circumstance occurred.
shaking a buffalo robe at the back of a wagon from which some of the cattle in the corral
took fright and started on the run; this frightened others; they commenced bellowing, and
all in a huddle, ran for the gateway of the enclosure, which being altogether too narrow
for the egress of the rushing multitude that thronged into the passage, they piled one on
the top of another until the top ones were above the tops of the adjacent wagons, moving
them from their stations while the inmates at this early hour, being so suddenly and
unceremoniously aroused from their morning sleep, and not knowing the caused of the
terrible uproar and confusion, were some of them almost paralyzed with fear. At length
those that could broke from the enclosure, the bellowing subsided and quiet was restored,
but the sad effect of the fright cause much suffering to some who’s nerves were not
sufficient for the trying scene. In the encounter two wagon wheels were crushed, only one
cow was killed and several oxen had horns knocked off." Eliza R. Snow
Wednesday, August 4: "Death made occasional inroads among us.
Nursing the sick in
tents and wagons was a laborious task, but the patient faithfulness with which it was
performed was no doubt registered in the achieves above, and an unfailing monument of
brotherly and sisterly love. The burial of the dead by the wayside was a sad office. For
husbands, wives and children to consign the cherished remains of loved ones to a lone
grave was enough to try the firmest heart stings." Eliza R. Snow
Thursday, August 19: Sister Love was killed by a wagon loaded
with 1600 lbs. One
wheel ran over her breast.
Wednesday, September 8: "The road went over a slough, the bridge
over which was so
much out of repair that it was thought impossible for wagons to cross, and a halt was
called to repair the crossing. The slough was at the foot of a long, gentle slope and the
teams two and three abreast, were standing from the top nearly down to the place where
the men were commencing to fix the bridge. At this time many of the teamsters were
lounging at ease. Two of our young men, riding at full speed with blankets flying and
whips in hand, rode up, and in passing the teams in the rear, so frightened them that they
started down the hill, and as they went they started others, until almost in a moment nearly
all were in motion, increasing their rapidity until the scene was fearfully alarming. Many
of them crossed the slough in different directions and where the best of teamsters would
not dare to drive, not one team crossing on the bridge. Many lives were exposed, but
through great blessing of our Heavenly Father, no one was much hurt." Eliza R. Snow
Thursday, September 9: In the morning it was discovered
that between forty and fifty
horses and mules had been stolen by Indians during the night. At 10 a.m. Colonel
Markham and about 20 other brothern started out in pursuit. In the afternoon two of the
men returned with two of the horses which had been found about thirty miles distant. In
the evening two or three men came in with three other horses which had been found near
the same place as the other two; they were probably left by the Indians in the hurry of the
Friday, October 1: "Today we traveled through brush and timber, but
what was still
worse, through black dust, with which we were all so densely covered that our identities
might be questioned. When up the mountain we met Bro. John Taylor, who having
reached the Valley was returning to meet that portion of his company now in the rear.
Riding on horseback, through the interminable dust his face was covered with a black
mask, and in his happy, jocular way, lest I should compliment him he hastened to ask me if
I had lately seen my own face! Our appearances was truly ludicrous. It mattered little to
us as we went slash, mash, down the mount, over stumps, trees, ruts, etc., where no one
dared to ride who could walk." Eliza R. Snow
Saturday, October 2, 1847: Part of this company arrived in the Great
Salt Lake Valley.
Among the members being Sister Eliza R. Snow, Charles Decker, Edmund Ellsworth,
John R. and Franklin w. Young, Levi Riter, the Dilworth family, ... and of course the
The Leavitt family arrived safely in the Great Salt Lake Valley on October
2, 1847. They
had traveled more than 1,000 miles from Winter Quarters arriving in the valley about two
months after Brigham Young and his vanguard company of Mormon Pioneers. It had
been little more than ten years since the Leavitt families had left Hatley, Canada on July
20, 1837. During their migration across the American continent they had traveled more
than 2,500 miles by wagon train. Most of the Leavitts had established homes and farms
three or more times during these 10 years. Following the strength of their testimonies of
the restored gospel they continued to migrate with Mormon communities and shared the
trials and tribulations of those communities. Many members of the Leavitt family were
overcome by these trials and had passed away. Weare, his mother, Sarah Shannon
Leavitt, and his first son, Jeremiah, his brothers Nathaniel, Jeremiah II, and John, as well
as his sister, Betsey Leavitt Adams, all died along the way. In addition to Weare’s
immediate family many Leavitt spouses and children had passed away as well. Their
graves and sacrifices to find a place of refuge give testimony to this family’s faith in the
restored gospel. Charlotte’s autobiography provides this poignant comment on their
arrival in the valley, "...we arrived in the valley...not to a place of comfort and plenty but
to a howling wilderness, but the Lord never forsook us, but gave us his Holy Spirit that
we had joy in affliction."
Weare’s family was the first of the Leavitt families to arrive in the
Great Salt Lake Valley.
Other Leavitt family members arrived in the valley in later years as their individual
circumstances permitted. The Horace Fish family and most members of Jeremiah II’s
family, as well as Nathaniel’s older children arrived in the valley in 1850. James and
Betsey Leavitt Adams’ family arrived in 1852. After the death of their parents many of
the children of John and Lucy Rowell Leavitt’s family completed their preparations and
finally arrived in 1860. Others would follow and they all helped pioneer this western
The Leavitts In Great Salt Lake Valley:
As the Pioneers started their settlement in the valley they built forts
to house and protect
the people. The first fort known as the Old Fort was constructed mostly of adobe brick.
The area where this fort was located is now Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park. Later forts
were constructed of wood poles. A Pioneer Park brochure records that each small house
in the fort had windows and doors facing inward and a loop hole in the rear to
accommodate a rifle barrel looking out. Each house had a roof made of willow brush and
dirt which sloped inward toward the center of the fort. This dirt and willow roof added to
the misery of the inhabitants allowing water from the heavy winter snow to seep in, as well
as attracting insects and mice. In the center of the fort was a bowery, built of tall vertical
poles and cross poles with a topping of brush, which served as the public gathering place.
About 1,500 people spent that first year in the valley.
Phoebe's son, George, initially built a shelter in the Old Fort and
lived there with his
mother and sisters. That first winter in the valley was very difficult. A great deal of
sickness and disease was prevalent. Phoebe went out nursing to help relieve the sickness
and suffering of those in need. The next spring Brigham Young encouraged young men in
the community to return to Winter Quarters to help other pioneer companies make their
trek to the Salt Lake valley. During the summers of 1848 and 1849 George went back to
provide this help. During 1848 more than 2,200 new pioneer emigrants came into the city.
As the forts became full, Brigham Young established a land office and people took lots out
in the city.
George secured a lot in the Third Ward. George’s lot is shown
as block 10 lot 6, on a
Pioneer Map of Great Salt Lake City, prepared by Orson Pratt. George’s lot is one of the
eight lots in this block between Sixth and Seventh South between State and Second East.
Utah Power & Light’s 6th South Substation is now located on this lot. By the fall of
1849, he had built a house on this lot for his mother and sisters. Unfortunately, Phoebe
was not able to enjoy this home very long. Her health finally failed from years of hardship
and deprivation and she passed away. George indicates that her death occurred in the fall.
Other histories indicate that she died in the spring. Church and cemetery records indicate
that her death occurred on Apr 6, 1850. She would have been only 53 years old at time of
her death. Bishop Wiler and Owen Dewel preached at her funeral. Salt Lake City
Cemetery records indicate that she was the 34th person to be buried in this cemetery.
Phoebe’s life, struggles, and pioneering spirit are a tremendous heritage
to her posterity.
Her posterity call her blessed. They will always be proud of the courage, service, and
dedication she gave to her family, to her church, and to her God. She truly is a pioneer
mother of faith and fortitude. Weare, Abigail and Phoebe Cowles Leavitt, were wonderful
parents. Their children and grandchildren’s lives are a monument to their success as
parents against the overwhelming challenges they had to endure.
By 1910 Weare’s four generations of descendants numbered more than seven
As we approach the year 2000 their 8th and 9th and perhaps 10th generations are being
born. Conservative estimates of their descendants now number more than ten thousand.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in 1830 with six members.
At the time of the Leavitt families initial conversion in the mid-1830s the church’s
membership had grown to about thirteen thousand. When the pioneers entered the valley
in 1847 the church’s membership had increased to thirty five thousand. Today the church
has grown to international proportions with organized branches in more than one hundred
and sixty countries with growth in Church membership expected to exceed eleven million
by the year 2000.
The descendants of Weare Leavitt can be justly proud of their heritage
and the legacy of
faith and courage displayed by their ancestors. President Ezra Taft Benson has said: "If
we truly cherish the heritage we have received, we must maintain the same virtues and
...character of our stalwart forebears---faith in God, courage, industry, frugality, self
reliance, and integrity! We have the obligation to maintain what those who pledged their
lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor gave to future generations." As recipients of
this legacy and heritage it is our challenge and privilege to extend the faith of their legacy
to the footsteps of our posterity!
Summary Of The Lives Of Weare And Abigail’s Children:
Jeremiah was born about 1816, in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec,
migrated with his family from Canada to the United States. He died while the family was
living in Twelve-Mile Grove, Wilton Township, Will County, Illinois, in 1837/38.
Charlotte was born on December 5, 1818, in Hatley, Sherbrooke County,
Canada. Her mother, Abigail passed away when she was only six years old. Her father
then married her mother’s sister, Phoebe, whom Charlotte loved and respected as her own
mother. Quoting from her own history:
"I was born in Lower Canada...joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
the spring of 1834 and gathered with the saints to Kirtland, Ohio. About this time...the
persecutions of the saints had become unbearable and the family left Kirtland and went
into the eastern part of Illinois...By this time (1839) Nauvoo had been selected as a
gathering place for the saints. My father having died during this time and left the
responsibility of the family on my mother (step-mother), ...we gathered with the Saints to
Nauvoo. I remained at home helping mother in support of her family and we now hoped
to be free from the persecutions of our enemies, but we were disappointed in this for they
came against us with renewed energy and killed our Prophet and Patriarch."
"About this time I married Simon Baker, who had lost his wife leaving
him with eight
small children. This I looked upon as being my duty to help a servant of God in distress,
and I will assure you, my sisters, that the Lord was with me in all my trials and sorrows. I
left Illinois or Nauvoo in the spring of 1846 with the body of the Church in the face of
poverty and came to Winter Quarters, where I had the care of the family during the entire
winter, now having one child of my own, being nine children. Mr. Baker having to go 200
miles to Missouri to get work to get the necessary supplies to come to the valleys. We
started with the body of the Church in the spring of 1847, with scarcely clothing enough
to cover our nakedness, and I gave birth to a child while traveling on the plains, and the
Lord gave me strength, so that I suffered no inconvenience and traveled every day after
my child was born, and had the strength to attend to my family affairs. We arrived in the
valley October 2, 1847, not to a place of comfort and plenty, but to a howling wilderness,
but the Lord never forsook us, but gave us his holy spirit that we had joy in affliction.
Now I want to bear my testimony to the goodness of God, that he will fulfill all of his
promises to his saints if they will put their trust in him and seek to keep his
Charlotte and Simon Baker had 9 children together. She honored
her parents and step
mother by naming some of her children after them. Her husband, Simon Baker, married
two additional wives, Elizabeth and Ann Staples. In total, Simon and his wives had 24
children. Charlotte and Simon Baker lived most of their time together in the Salt Lake
Valley. In 1863 Simon traveled to Mendon, Utah, in Cache Valley intending to establish
his home there. While there he fell ill and passed away. Like her step- mother, Charlotte
too raised her family as a widow. Charlotte also moved to Cache Valley and passed away
there on November 19, 1906, nearly 88 years old.
Anna was born on October 7, 1820, in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec,
Canada. It is
reported that she married Nathan Rowell although this seems unusual because their was a
twenty year difference in their ages. There were a number of marriages between the
Leavitt and the Rowell families. Weare’s brother, John Leavitt, married Lucy Rowell. His
sister, Lydia Leavitt married Thomas Rowell Jr. Another sister, Sarah Leavitt married
William Rowell. No other information is known about Anna.
Brief Summary Of The Lives Of Weare And Phoebe’s Children
Charles was born about 1826 in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec, Canada.
accompanied the family to Twelve-Mile Grove, Illinois, in 1837. After his father died he
went with the family to Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1842. For some reason he decided to return
to Twelve-Mile Grove which is near Chicago. He did not migrate with his family to the
Salt Lake Valley. In Emeline’s history it indicates that some years later he visited the
family. He did not join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but returned to his
home in the east. No other information is known.
Quoting from his autobiography: "I was born near the Canada line in
August 29,1828, in
Cherrbrook (Sherbrooke) County. Moved with my father and mother to the state of
Illinois, Wilson County (Twelve-Mile Grove, Will County). Here my father died. We
then moved to Nauvoo, Hancock county, with my mother, brother Charles and two
sisters, Emeline and Louisa. Here my brother, Charles, went back (to Twelve-Mile
Grove). I was baptized in the state of Illinois by George G. Jones. Went back to Nauvoo
with my mother. Here I worked in the stone quarry for the benefit of the temple for some
time under the direction of Carnel Rackwood. I was among others, called the "Whistling
Company." Carnel Narcon had the charge. I think Benjamin Coney was my bishop."
"There in the fall of 1845 was called and went to the Mississippi River
to get timber to
repair and make wagons to go west. In the spring of 1846 I was called to take some of
Bishop Hunter’s family and go up the Mississippi river with Larry Shimer and her mother,
which I did and came down on the other side and met Bishop Hunter and company and
went on west to the Missouri River and crossed the river where the saints wintered. In
1846 started west with my mother and sisters. Stopped at Piegue (Pisgah) a short time
then moved over to the Missouri River and crossed over to what was called Winter
Quarters. My mother and sisters stayed there while I went to St. Joseph to work to get
means to go west in the spring. Went in company with Charles Dicker, Henry Gron and
Charles. My friend Mr. Gery and others worked for Carnel Estal. All of us returned in
"In the spring of 1847, started across the plains with my mother and
two sisters in
company with Simon Baker and his wife Charlotte (being my half-sister) and his family by
another wife who had died. Fifty arrived safe in Salt Lake Valley, October 1847. I built in
the northern part (of the Old Fort) and lived there with my mother and sister. In the
summer of 1848, went back to help the company in. In that winter and next spring went
after the Indians in Provo Valley that had been stealing our cattle. In the summer of 1849,
helped the companies that were coming in that summer."
"This summer and fall I got a lot in the third ward and built a house
for my mother. This
fall (actually April 6, 1850) my mother died. Bishop Wiler was our Bishop. Owen Dewel
preached her funeral. In the spring of 1850, I went to California gold mines in company
with Edward Tompson. Worked some in the mines, and returned the same fall with
Charles Colson Rich, Porter Rockwell, Jim Goodwill and others. Had just got back when
I was called to go with George A. Smith’s Company to go south to help settle Parowan,
Iron County. Reached the Bear River on Christmas day. There the Indians shot across
the river and killed one of George A. Smith’s oxen. We reached Corn Creek on New
Years Day, cold and plenty of snow. While at Parowan, I was call to go and explore the
south in company with Peter Chi..(Shirts) and Simon Hond (Hool)and two others. In our
travels, we found considerable iron ore. Also found coal at Cedar City. This coal we
found while eating our dinner on the creek."
"In the spring of 1851, returned to Centerville. I rented Owen
Dewel’s place and farm,
and stayed there in Centerville. Here I married Janet Brinkerhoff, August 29, 1852. Built
a house and lived there a number of years. I married in April 1857, Sarah Porter and
Nancy Minerva Earl. Sarah lived in Centerville (with Bishop Porter). Bishop Porter was
Bishop at Centerville. (Minerva also) lived in Centerville with Father Rich, her
grandfather. (George married Sarah on April 20, 1857 and Minerva on July 11, 1857.
George and his three wives had a total of 28 children.)"
"I was called to be a teacher and shortly after that was called to be
president of the
teachers, acting in that position for some time. There was called to be first councilor to
Bishop William R. Smith. Remained that way until William R. Smith was called to take a
mission to Europe, then I acted as Bishop until he returned. During the first part of the
time I was in the mountains when Johnson’s Army was there in the spring of 1858. Went
with the move south to Spanish Fork, and returned to Centerville that summer."
"After Bishop William R. Smith returned home I was called to go south
to the Muddy in
Nevada, where part of my family and I went and stayed until called away. During the time
we were there we lost four children, two boys and two girls. I was called there to act as
Bishop on the Muddy and West Point. I was in that country a little over two years. I had
chills and fever most of the time and so did my family while down there. This was a
sorrowful time for us. During this time my wife Sarah Porter, who stayed in Weber Valley
called for a bill which I gave when I returned. The cause all summed up, to get it, would
have been like Paddy’s Fleas. When putting your finger on it, there wouldn’t have been
anything there. On our return we stayed one summer in Weber, then came to Mendon,
Cache County. Then I was called to take charge of building a meeting house, which I did.
My family and I have resided here in Lewiston up to this time...1886."
George and his families moved to Lewiston, Utah on the Utah- Idaho
border in the spring
of 1872 and he remained there the rest of his life. He passed away on January 23, 1889, at
the age of sixty and is buried in the Lewiston, Utah Cemetery.
Emeline was born on July 26, 1832, in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec,
migrated west with her family first to Twelve-Mile Grove, Illinois, where her father passed
away when she was only six years old. She then accompanied her family to Nauvoo,
Illinois, in 1842. Along with her mother, older brother, George, and younger sister,
Louisa, she joined the westward migration of the Latter-day Saints to the Rocky
Mountains and arrived in Salt Lake valley on October 2, 1847. Her mother, Phoebe, died,
in Salt Lake City in 1850 when Emeline was only seventeen years old.
Emeline’s brother George moved Emeline and her sister Louisa from Salt
Lake City about
fifteen miles north to Centerville, Utah, where he made them a small adobe home. This is
where she met her future husband, William Reed Smith. They were married on March 3,
1853. In March 1855 William Reed Smith was made a Bishop of the Centerville Ward.
Emeline, as a Bishop’s wife, had many responsibilities which she filled exceedingly well.
There were many service responsibilities as a bishop’s wife and her home was always open
to the needy as well as the important. Brigham and Joseph Young as well as Porter
Rockwell and John D. Lee, stayed in her home.
Emeline was an extremely good homemaker and was a mild and lovable character
even disposition and an abundance of patience. She had eight children of her own, four
boys and four girls. Her husband married three other wives. All lived in the same home at
the same time and all were many years younger than herself. She died on August 8, 1888,
in Centerville, Utah, at the age of fifty six.
Abigail was born about 1833 in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec, Canada.
She died as
Louisa was born on December 10, 1835 in Hatley Sherbrooke County, Quebec,
She accompanied her parents when they emigrated to the United States. She lived for a
time in Twelve-Mile Grove, Illinois. She was only five when her father passed away while
the family lived at Twelve-Mile Grove. She moved with her family to Nauvoo, Illinois, in
1842 as they joined with other members of this Mormon community. As the Mormons
were driven from Nauvoo, she accompanied her widowed mother and older brother and
sister as they migrated to the Great Salt Lake valley. Her mother passed away in 1850
when Louisa was only 14 years old.
Her older brother, George, built a home in Centerville, Utah, a few
miles north of Salt
Lake City for him and his two younger sisters. It was here that Louisa met and married
Horton David Haight on February 12, 1854. The first baby was to be born under trying
conditions. A doctor told them that they would not have a live child. President Brigham
Young came to their Farmington home and blessed Louisa, telling her that she would be
the mother of a large family. They eventually became the parents of ten children.
The family moved for a while to Goose Creek Valley. Louisa served
as a counselor to
Aurelia S. Rogers in the church’s first Primary organization. In 1882 the family moved to
Cassia County, Idaho, where Horton became the first President of the Cassia Stake.
Louisa kept a beautiful home where all were welcome. She became the president of the
Stake Relief Society. Having lived a full and good life, happy and prosperous, she passed
away on March 28, 1915, to join her husband who had preceded her in death in January,
Levi was born about 1836 in Hatley, Sherbrooke County, Quebec, Canada.
He died as an
Author's Final Note:
In May, 1994, I made an effort to visit the grave of Phoebe Cowles Leavitt.
and the location of her grave is recorded in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. However, upon
visiting that location no grave marker was found. I am sure that Phoebe's children had
placed a monument on her grave but for whatever reason there was not a monument there
to pay tribute to her life and death. When this fact was made known at the Bert Nelson
and Caroline Luzell Leavitt family reunion, the family immediately began a fund to
purchase and place a monument in remembrance of this pioneer grandmother. The Nelson
and Leavitt families gathered enough funds to purchase a beautiful monument. On April
6, 1996, the anniversary of her death and 200 years from the year in which she was born,
three of her great grandsons, Earl Ray Nelson, Keith Leavitt Nelson, and Steven Geddes
Nelson, placed the monument in a concrete foundation on her grave. The epitaph on the
monument reads as follows:
PHOEBE COWLES LEAVITT, JULY 26, 1796 - APRIL 6, 1850, STALWART
PIONEER, MOTHER OF 6 CHILDREN, SPENT HER YOUTH IN NEW
HAMPSHIRE & QUEBEC, FAMILY LEFT CANADA IN 1837 TO JOIN LDS
CHURCH, HUSBAND WEARE(WIER), DIED MAR 3, 1839, ILL., DRIVEN FROM
NAUVOO, ARRIVED SLC, OCT 2, 1847, HER DESCENDANTS PIONEERED THE
The grave and monument were also re-dedicated to be a place where her
could gather and remember her wonderful legacy of faith and courage against tremendous
odds. Today we honor the memory of our Leavitt ancestors whose histories are
recounted in this brief story. They have blessed the lives of all their descendants with a
wonderful heritage of faith and fortitude and a legacy of strength and courage. The
following poem is dedicated to their memory: Faith In Every Footstep
By Steven Geddes Nelson July 1997
Our footsteps follow paths made by others. A legacy from our fathers
and mothers. A
heritage of names that each of us bear. Given to us by the parentage we share.
Each new generation on our pedigree Adds other grandparent’s names,
you see. It’s clear
to me now that we are a part Of each name on our genealogy chart.
Every ancestor listed in our lineage Has contributed to our vast heritage.
Our steps now
follow the paths they have trod. Their faith is our faith, their God is our God.
God grant us the courage to remain true, By honoring them in all that
we do, To extend
the faith of their legacy, To the footsteps of our posterity.
References For Information Contained In This History:
1. "The Story Of The Latter-day Saints," James B. Allen and Glen M.
2. Genealogy and Church Records found in the Church of Jesus Christ
Saint’s Ancestral File and IGI 1994 Edition and 1996 Addendum for Jeremiah Leavitt,
Sarah Shannon Leavitt, Weare Leavitt, Abigail Cowles Leavitt, Phoebe Cowles Leavitt,
George Leavitt, and Charlotte Leavitt Baker, Emeline Leavitt Smith, and Louisa Leavitt
3. "On The Ragged Edge, The Life and Times of Dudley Leavitt" by Juanita
history of Dudley Leavitt. Dudley was a well known pioneer and frontiersman who helped
settle southern Utah. Dudley was the son of Jeremiah II, Weare Leavitt's younger
4. "Jeremiah Leavitt II and Sarah Sturtevant-a history of their lives
in New Hampshire,
Canada, Ohio, Illinois and Utah by Lyman D. Platt, PH.D., Revised Edition, the Teguayo
Press St. George, Utah 1998.
5. "Leavitt Pioneers-Western Migration and Colonization" by William
P. Leavitt, 1985-
1996, PDBK Enterprise.
6. "Descendants of John Leavitt, The Immigrant," 5 volumes, by
Emily L. Noyes, 1941-
1956, Tilton, NH.
7. "The Leavitts of America," by Matilda J. G. Steed under contract
for Jane Jennings
Eldridge, 1924, Woods Cross, UT.
8. Royal Ancestors of 300 Colonial American Families, Compiled by Michel L. Call.
9. Histories Found in the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum:
a. Autobiography of Charlotte Leavitt and histories of Charlotte and
Simon Baker, given
by Esther B. Wright, Mary Jensen, 1919, Marie Topham Berrie, 1984. b. Autobiography
and histories of George Leavitt, 1886, written by himself and given by Eulalie Leavitt
Taggart, 1939, Colleen Jenson, 1989, Nethie Walton. c. Histories of Emeline Leavitt and
William Reed Smith given by Lula Evans Reading, 1940, Mahala Smith Parrish, 1940. d.
Histories of Louisa Leavitt Haight given by Clarissa Caroline Smith Rice Gillette, Louisa
Haight Nielson, no date. e. Histories of Betsey Leavitt and James Adams written by
Thelma W. Saunders, 1983. f. Histories of Hannah Leavitt and Horace Fish written by
Helen Thurber Dalton, 1961. g. Histories of John and Lucy Rowell Leavitt by Joyce B.
Willis, no date.
10. "Mormon Pioneer Companies Crossing The Plains (1847-1868)
Melvin L. Bashore and Linda L. Haslam, Historical Department of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1989, Revised Edition.
11. Other reference sources for data on Leavitt family as suggested
by Dan and Lu Hyer
a. US Census 1850 through 1920. Not all covered. b.
Descendants of Thomas Rowell
Leavitt. c. A. B. Leavitt, Owen Ken Earl. d. Vital Records of Mass to 1860, Separate
Volumes for each community. e. History of Hingham, Mass, by Lincoln. f. Descendants
of John Leavitt through his son Moses, by Julia Bumpus Berndt. Update of Noyes Vol
1,1990. g. Descendants of George Leavitt, by Michael Jack McClasky, 1980, Idaho Falls.
h. Genealogies of Maine. i. Wixom Family History, by Justin Humboldt Wixom and Ruth
S. Widdison, 1963, Salt Lake City, UT. j. The Libby Family in America. k. Pioneers and
Prominent Men of Utah, Compiled by Frank Esshom, 1914.