by Joyce Brown-Willis, with help from Janice Brown-Hollingshaus



Exeter, New Hampshire was the birthplace of our ancestor, John Leavitt. Many records give Hatley, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada as his birthplace. His parents did live in Canada and travel between Exeter and Hatley was so commonplace that a mother might be in another community with relatives when a baby was born. In the 1850 Census of Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan, John's birthplace is listed as New Hampshire.

John born 27 July 1798 Exeter, Rockingham, New Hampshire


Hatley was the birthplace of Lucy Rowell. Her parents, Thomas B. Rowell and Lydia House (Hawes/Haws) were listed as residents of Fisherfield, New Hampshire as late as 1802. They moved to Hatley before Lucy's birth.

Lucy Rowell born 15 August 1803 Hatley, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada

John and Lucy were married 13 March 1822 in Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

Even though Hatley was the hub of activity for the Leavitt and Rowell families, John and Lucy chose to make their home in Compton, a small town about eight miles southeast of Hatley. Several of their children were born there.

Josiah Leavitt born 22 December 1822 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

Lucinda Leavitt born 5 July 1825 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

Cinderilla Leavitt born 12 March 1827 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

Orilla Leavitt born 10 February 1829 Hatley, Stanstead, Quebec, Canada

Lyman Utley Leavitt born 24 May 1831 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

John Quincy born 1 October 1833/34 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

Sarah born 21 February 1836 Compton, Compton, Quebec, Canada

John and Lucy Leavitt and the above children left Hatley in a wagon train with John's mother, Sarah Shannon Leavitt, and most of their Leavitt relatives, intent on traveling to Ohio. It is known that John's sister and sister-in-law, Hannah Leavitt Fish and Sarah Sturdevant (Sturtevant) Leavitt, had heard the doctrines of the LDS religion, and had read the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. Sarah Shannon Leavitt became an early convert (investigator) and gathered her family around her and plans were made to organize a wagon train. Seven of her children believed sufficiently to join in the venture. The journey of eight hundred miles began in 1837, but they were not able to stay together for the entire way. Provisions gave out, forcing some families to stop to work for provisions, some visited friends and relatives along the way, and sickness and death took its toll.


Although John and Lucy Leavitt's next place of residency was Burton, they stopped for a short time in Chardon, a village nearby, where Phoebe was born.

Phoebe Leavitt born 27 January 1839 Chardon, Geauga, Ohio

In Burton, they took up land in a beautiful forested area, cleared the land, built a home and began to farm. On a neighboring farm lived a widower, William Brown, and the three youngest of his nine children. Benjamin Franklin and Philander Brown would follow the Leavitts to Michigan and their sister, Emeline, would join them sometime after 1852 for the journey west. In Burton two events of note occurred:

Cinderilla Leavitt died 16 June 1841 Burton, Geauga, Ohio

Flavilla Leavitt born 8 April 1842 Burton, Geauga, Ohio


In 1845, the Leavitt family again turned their hearts and wagons westward, traveling to Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan. They acquired land and began farming. Lucy Rowell Leavitt gave birth to her tenth child, who lived but a few months. Daughters Lucinda and Orilla married the sons of William Brown of Burton, namely Benjamin Franklin and Philander Brown. Sons, Josiah, Lyman Utley, and John Quincy Leavitt found their companions in Michigan. They became a close-knit, small community of families, much as the Leavitts had been in Canada. They farmed the land they had cleared. "They worked together there gathering sap from the maple trees and making sugar and maple syrup for market". (From a John Quincy Leavitt history.) They helped construct roads in the area and worked on the Southern Michigan Raiload. John Quincy wanted to be a teacher and so he studied at Michigan College. We learn from John Quincy Leavitt's history that "They were definitely an enterprising family, accomplishing almost anything they set out to accomplish." John Quincy's history tells us "they all wanted to go west together. They were delayed however, due to the untimely death of their father whose passing and burial beside his infant son, Thomas, in a Michigan cemetery made necessary the change of plans."

Thomas J. Leavitt born 8 February 1847 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan. Thomas J. Leavitt died 3 July 1847 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

John Leavitt died 17 February 1852 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

I do not want to leave Cambria without writing of the spiritual experiences of the family here. John Quincy's history states, "It is here the family first heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preached by the Mormon Elders. It was a religion they all accepted." I have read in so many family histories that they first heard of the Mormon religion in Michigan. What a difference those five little words "preached by the Mormon Elders" make! They had leaned on the testimonies of others for along time. What they heard in Canada motivated them to join the wagon train. They did not reach Kirtland, but lived not far from there in Burton. They hired Mormons to help clear their land, they knew of the martyrdom of Joseph Smith and the expulsion of the Saints from Nauvoo. They journeyed in their own way, stopping to replenish their resources, to deal with the sorrow of losing family members and the joy of babies being born. In Michigan, the fire began to burn in their bosoms that would be a light to them for the rest of their lives. Reflecting on John Quincy's words and the way they lived, the scripture found in Mosiah 4:27 comes to mind.

"And see that all things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order."

The missionary who taught them was Elder William Folsom, who not only was their spiritual mentor but became a lifelong personal friend. I wonder if they knew they shared common ancestors. John Leavitt and William Folsom both counted among their ancestors, Edward Gilman and Thomas Dudley, second Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Lucinda Leavitt married 12 February 1848 or 12 October 1848 (both dates given) Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

Orilla Leavitt married 13 October 1848 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

Josiah Leavitt married 25 December 1851 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

Lyman Utley Leavitt married 28 January 1855 Pulaski, Jackson, Michigan

John Quincy Leavitt married 21 May 1858 Pulaski, Jackson, Michigan

John Leavitt died 17 February 1852 Cambria, Hillsdale, Michigan

Lucy Rowell Leavitt and her family left Cambria in 1854. I do not know if Lyman and John Quincy left with their mother and the family. They did marry their wives in Michigan. John Quincy and his wife, Malinda Minion, left for Illinois soon after their marriage. It appears Lyman and his wife, Ellen Adell Brown, remained in Michigan until they left for Oak Lawn, Cook, Illinois on 1 June 1862. Lyman and his family remained in Oak Lawn until 12 May 1863 when they started west.


Oak Lawn was the home of John's sister, Rebecca, and her husband, Franklin Chamberlain. He led the group that left Hatley, chosen by Sarah Shannon Leavitt because he had the best outfit. The Franklin Chamberlain family along with James and Betsey Leavitt Adams, settled at Twelve Mile Grove in 1837. The Chamberlains lived there until 1845 when they moved to Oak Lawn, where they remained until the late 1800's. Their home was a stopping over place for many of the Leavitts going west.

Lucy and her children traveled from Cambria to Oak Lawn. We do not know the route they took or if they made any stops along the way.

One event that needs to be recorded for Oak Lawn is the marriage of Sarah Leavitt to her cousin, James Adams Chamberlain. She may have remained in Illinois when her family was there, but I think a more likely scenario was that she traveled with the family to Iowa and returned to marry James. Records show this information:

Sarah Leavitt married February 1859 Oak Lawn, Cook, Illinois

Sarah and James lived in Oak Lawn for many years. The 1880 census shows them enumerated in the same household with Rebecca and Franklin. We could not find any of the family on later censuses. Recent information indicates they moved to California just before the end of the nineteenth century.


An event that brought great sorrow to her family, was the death of Lucy Rowell Leavitt. She had kept her family together thus far. Various histories say she died in Iowa at Norrisburg, Morrisburg, or Norrisbury, and even that she is buried in the Pioneer Memorial Cemetery at Winter Quarters, Nebraska. Extensive research shows that there are no towns by these names nor were there in the 1800's. A personal search has been made in the area. This is the information most consistent with family traditions: She died in Iowa near the Platte River. Her body was buried in a wagon box. A fire was built over the grave so it could not be found and desecrated.

Lucy Rowel Leavitt died near the Platte River, Iowa 23 July 1858


Being comfortably situated for those times, the family was able to organize their own independent company. They had good oxen, government wagons and were able to take many of their belongings with them. At Florence, Nebraska, other families were assigned to travel with them. Some were the Seamons and Thurston families who settled in the Logan (Utah) area, principally in Hyde Park. One of the others in the company was the noted Utah photographer, Charles R. Savage and his family. He had photographic supplies packed in his wagon. He may have`taken pictures along the way but no photos of that era have been found. He was chosen as chaplain and secretary of the company and his well-kept notes of the journey are found in the (LDS) Church Historical Department.

The company left Florence, Nebraska on 9 June 1860. On June 22, near the Wood River, they met a company of missionaries and teamsters led by Joseph A. Young, a son of Brigham Young, traveling east from Salt Lake City. They camped together for the night and Brother Young organized the company according to the policies of the Church. The journey was long and tedious, but because they were well prepared, there was hardly any sickness and no deaths. A handcart company that had traveled near the wagon train since June ran out of flour at Fort Laramie and turned to the Brown Company for help. It was observed there were many sick among them. They were given seventeen sacks of flour and other provisions. Lydia Seamons (Crowther) wrote in her history: "They would have starved had it not been for our company's helping them. My mother gave flour and bacon from our supplies."


As the Brown company neared the mouth of Echo Canyon, it was debated as to which was the better way to enter the settlements. Franklin Brown favored following the Weber River to Ogden while others favored going down Parley's Canyon to Salt Lake City. On August 25, a meeting was held and Franklin was released as captain. He, Josiah Leavitt, John Quincy Leavitt and others were free to travel to Ogden and the remainder of the company traveled to Salt Lake City and Provo.


The following people have been identified as going on the Muddy Mission:

They were released from the mission and left the area 1 February 1871. Philander and Orilla traveled to Kanab and Provo while the others went to Long Valley and Kanosh.


Josiah Leavitt died 24 June 1896 Ogden, Weber, Utah

Lucinda Leavitt Brown died 23 December 1904 Loa, Wayne, Utah

Orilla Leavitt Brown died 20 April 1896 Provo, Utah, Utah

Lyman (Utley) Leavitt died 23 February 1912 Pine, Gila, Arizona

John Quincy Leavitt died 27 September 1913 Garland, Box Elder, Utah

Sarah Leavitt Chamberlain probably died in California after 1919

Phoebe Leavitt died 12 March 1914 Loa, Wayne, Utah

Flavilla Leavitt Adams died 20 March 1863 Centerville, Davis, Utah

(This material was located in the Historical Department of the LDS Church as noted below. The descriptions of life on the Muddy Mission by A. Kimball is relevant to the Lucinda Leavitt Brown history as he was married to Lucinda's daughter. Lucy Adell. Family traditions include many of the conditions he describes.)


(From Pearson S. Corbett, A History of the Muddy Mission, Masters Thesis. BYU)

Moved into new house...moved in and felt at home again. But when the warm weather came we were unable to sleep in the house and were compelled to resort to the sheds and sleep on top of them to keep from the scorpions, tarantulas and rattlesnakes and no escaping the mosquitoes. Many a time I have got up in the night and rolled in the ditch to cool off, but soon found it injurious to my health. I have often seen the chickens at daybreaking, holding their wings up and lolling for breath, the same as at noon in a decent country. An egg would roast in the short time laying in the sand. I have eaten as fine roasted onion, (sun roasted) as need to be. By watering carrots in the morning they would cook by noon, so the skin would all slip off them by pulling them up...

I have been very much amused to see the children going home from school at noon. They would take their bonnets, aprons, or some green brush (if they had them) in their hands, run as far as they could, throw them down and stand on them until their feet cooled off ..then run again... (Abraham A. Kimball Journal) Vol. 1, pg. 70-71

(Page 90) The homes and other buildings in the Muddy Valley were built of mud adobes which they made from the clay of the valley. The roofs were thatched with bundles of the tule canes which grew so abundantly in the swamps. Oftentimes the roofs would be coated with a layer of mud; but when it dried out it would not stick to the tule canes and would crack and chip, and rain would seep into the house. Even though the roofs could not always keep out the rain, they at least provided the cool shade which was so much in demand.

The heat was most discouraging to most of the people. When anyone thought of or heard about the Muddy Missions, he always thought immediately of the intense heat of the summertime. Many of the people would leave for the settlements in northern Utah to spend the summer during the hottest months of the year. The hot weather was particularly difficult for the young married couples with children who had a hard time adapting to the hot climate. After a short time there, many of them would move out.

(Excerpts from the History of Lyman Utley Leavitt; on file at the DUP Library.)

They left Centerville, Davis, Utah the 5 November 1868 with two wagons, two span of mules and one cow. The cow was sent ahead in the company herd. They met with William H. Seegmiller at Battle Creek, Utah, now Pleasant Grove. They traveled together to St. George where all Saints who were going to the Muddy were to meet and organize into a company. Their captain was John W. Young from St. George. The company consisted of about thirty families. The roads were bad so progress was slow. Some days not more than ten miles were traveled. after they left the Beaver Dam, it was one continuous bed of sand. About the fifth day out of St. George they camped at what was known as Mesquite Flat on the Virgin River. There was plenty of grass all around camp and their captains thought there was no need for night herding so they turned the animals all loose overlooking the fact that they were in a country where the Navajo Indians had been making some raids on stock. That night the Indians stole 65 head of horses and mules leaving only two animals. They followed their trail all day but never got sight of them. Ellen and Sanders' wife never went to bed until they returned.

All there was to do was to get help to move the company from where they were camped to their destination, about 35 miles. It was the closest place to get help, so when daylight came they put a man on a mule and started him for the Muddy Valley where there was a small colony of Saints living in a fort they had built to protect themselves from Indians. The company stayed in camp waiting for teams to come to move them into the valley. It was two long and dreary days, women weeping with fear, men downhearted and sad over the loss of their means they brought of supporting their families. The morning of the third day as the sun began to rise, someone saw them coming. They all ran to see a company of men and teams a few miles away coming up the Virgin River. The women prepared breakfast for them, and when it was over, they began to make preparations to start on their journey. They reached the little fort built on a high point overlooking the Muddy Creek and bottom lands on the first day of December, 1868 and were given a hearty welcome there by the families of the men that had helped them.

They remained at the fort for some time, some finding house room, others camping in their wagons until the men could decide on the place to build a town. The people living there were very kind to them, they divided provisions, also let them use their teams when they could spare them. Lyman traded one pair of mules for a yoke of oxen and the difference in wheat, straw and chaff. He rented two acres of land, planted wheat so they had their bread for the next year. The town site was laid off on what was called the Big Bench. The lots were numbered, each man drew from a hat his number so there was no chance for complaint. Lyman went to work right away making adobes and built a one room home. By spring they had a home to live in, even if it were small. Lyman started another room, got it about four feet high when he had to stop to go work on the canal to get water out on the town site. That was a long hard job. They had to build about a five mile ditch to get the water onto the bench, most of the distance was through deep sand. Over time (when) the wind blew, it would fill up the canal. One day a big wind blew for a day and night. When it stopped all there was left to tell where the canal had been was a wet streak of sand. There as a new ditch to be built for about two miles across the sand bench, this was repeated a number of times until the people became discouraged, and looked further up the valley for a place to settle. They found a place about two miles north of the first settlement where the soil was more firm. They began to move their buildings and rebuild their homes on the new town site called St. Joseph.

Lyman moved his house from the first settlement. He threshed his crop of wheat. He had no thresher in that part of the country, so they mixed mud, spreading it on the unfinished house for the floor. When it was good and dry, Lyman put James on one of the mules and he lead the other one to the floor. Lyman began to throw the bundles in on the floor, the mules would travel over it threading the wheat out. They kept this up day after day until they had the wheat and chaff separated from the straw. The next thing was to separate the wheat and chaff. this they did by getting a flour mill from one of the old settlers and blowing the chaff out. When their job was complete they had sixty bushels of the finest wheat ever seen.

They built two larger rooms on their home, in the meantime more saints were coming into the valley. There were four settlements along the Muddy Valley, two of Lyman's sisters, Lucinda Brown, a widow left with four children and Phoebe, the youngest sister, an old maid. They moved in with Lyman and his family.

The people decided to build a ferry boat on the Colorado River at the mouth of the Virgin River. Ten or twelve were chosen to go with them to get the timber out. It was sixty miles to the nearest timber. They took enough teams to bring it all back in one trip. When they reached the timber they erected a saw mill which they did by digging a deep pit, deep enough for a man to stand up in with a frame work of logs over it. They would roll a log over to the frame,one man would stand on the log to be sawed, and the other in the pit. They pulled a large hand saw up and down. When they were through and their wagons loaded they were so heavy the men were compelled to walk where the roads were bad. At one place they had to take a short cut from the way the teams went. Lyman was taken sick and could not travel, it was about four miles from where the teams expected to camp for the night. They were all thirsty and tired, one man by the name of Price Nelson volunteered to carry Lyman to camp. The rest of the men went on, Lyman tried to get Nelson to go on, but he said, "No, he would carry Lyman on his shoulder until he was tired then lay him down, rest and then again carry him until they reached camp." From there Lyman rode on the wagons. Lyman never forgot this man's kindness. They were always great friends after that.

The state of Nevada assessed taxes against the people on the Muddy for two years. They refused to pay them claiming they were in Utah or Arizona, but when the lines were set up they were in Nevada. The state then demanded their taxes for the past two years to be paid in gold. Some men owed as much as $400.00. The people were unable to meet this demand. About this time President Young and some of the Twelve came down and held meetings in each settlement giving the people their choice of pulling out, or staying. When the President put it to a vote there was only one man in the four settlements voted `stay'. President Young then told the people they were released from their missions and were at liberty to settle where they chose. The people got together and quietly made arrangements to leave on February 1, 1871. They worked to that end, moving some of their goods and property that they would not be able to take with them at the time back into the hills to the east, hiding them so they could return later and get them. When the time arrived they were all ready to go. They left after dark traveling all night. The next day they were across the line into Arizona camping at Beaver Dam for about a month until they could get their goods they had stored away. Lyman and Abe Kimball owned a threshing machine together which they had to leave back a number of miles on the road and they had to go back to it. After the people had their goods all together they broke camp at Beaver Dam, scattering through the country. Some going back to their former homes, a good many settled in the southern part of the State of Utah. Lyman left the family at Santidary (Santa Clara) at the home of his cousin, Lemeul Leavitt, and went to Long Valley (Orderville) in the company with Charles Brown, his sister's oldest boy. They arrived there on 1 April 1871. They went to what was called Upper Settlement (Sink Valley), an old cedar fort that had been built by the Mormon people, but was abandoned. Lyman's family moved into one house and his two sisters in another. They then set to work planting crops, but the grasshoppers came and took it all. They then had no choice but to go north to see what food they could get and to see what could be done. Lyman found his old friend and partner Abe Kimball at Corn Creek. He was running a threshing machine that fall and offered Lyman a job with him. Lyman came back, loaded everything they had and moved to Corn Creek, arriving there on 27 August 1871. Lyman's sisters moved to Fillmore a little later. After the threshing was over Lyman bought a place in Kanosh where they moved that fall, and they made their home there for many years. Lyman bought a little farm and a one room cabin, he soon added another room. The next year he built a new two room brick home, added one room and a kitchen later. Alonzo (Abe) Kimball did the brick work, Lyman did the carpentering and the plaster work for himself. They later helped build many of the homes in Kanosh. Lyman owned two lots in town, an acre and a half each. He also owned twenty-five acres east of town about eight miles. This was known as the Leavitt Ranch.

(This is part of a history of Lyman Utley Leavitt, a brother to my great-grandmother, Lucinda Leavitt Brown. His later life was spent in the Mesa, Arizona area. Lucinda and Phoebe spent the latter years of their lives in Loa, Utah where Lucinda's three children settled. Her second child, Lucy Adell, married Abraham Alonzo Kimball, being his second wife. They were married in 1876 after they both returned from the Muddy Mission.

This life story of Lyman Utley Leavitt was taken from parts of life stories written about Lyman, those being:


as found in the Historical Department of the LDS Church

Franklin Brown, wife and family

Philander Brown

Edmund Horton, wife and family

Mary King Seamons

Emma Horton Seamons

Lydia Seamons (Crowther)

Lydia Daines Wilkinson

Lydia Wilkinson

William Wilkinson

John Bloomfield

Harriet Bloomfield

James Hancey

Rachel Seamons Hancey

James S. Hancey, child

Horace Hancey, child

James Thurston

Mary Seamons Thurston

Hannah Thurston, child

Sarah Elizabeth Thurston, child

Stephen William Thurston, child

John Leavitt

Josiah Leavitt

Brother Stephens and family

Brother Wild

Brother Van der Woode

Brother McGee

(These names came from the day book kept by Charles R. Savage and from the history of Rachel Seamons Hancey.)


(as found by research by Joyce Willis & Janice Hollingshaus)

Lucinda Leavitt Brown, wife of B.F. Brown

Charles Albert Brown, child

Lucy Adell Brown, child

Orilla Leavitt Brown, wife of Philander Brown

Emeline Brown, sister of B.F. Brown and Philander Brown

Malinda Minion Leavitt, wife of John Quincy Leavitt

Elmer Brigham Leavitt, child

Charlotte Lane Leavitt, wife of Josiah Leavitt

Flora Leavitt, child

Clara Armedia Leavitt, child

Albert Levi Leavitt, child

Phoebe Leavitt, sister of the other adult Leavitts

Flavilla Leavitt, sister of the other adult Leavitts

Charles R. Savage

Annie Adkins Savage, wife of Charles S. Savage

Roscoe Savage, child

Ralph Graham Savage, infant (born 13 April 1860)