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Sarah Sturtevant and Jeremiah Leavitt

[F119]. Sarah STURTEVANT. [PC T4].
Born 43 (31)(51) SEP 1798 at Lyme, Grafton County, New Hampshire, daughter of Lemuel STURTEVANT [F238] and Priscilla THOMPSON [F239].

Autobiography of Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt

I was born in the town of Lime [Lyme-S6], County of Grafton, New Hampshire (date torn off-S2)(4 SEP 17993) and am now 76 years, seven months and fifteen days old. My father was Lemuel Studevant and my mother was Priscilla Tompson. (S2,S3).

From childhood I was seriously impressed and desired very much to be saved from that awful hell I heard so much about. I believed in the words of the Saviour, that said, "Ask and you shall receive." I prayed much and my prayers were sometimes answered immediately; this was before I made any pretentions to having any religion. (S2,S3).

My Parents were very strict with their children, being descendants of the old Pilgrims. They taught them every principle of truth and honor as they understood it themselves. They taught them to pray and read the Bible for themselves. My father had many books that treated on the principle of man's salvation and many stories that were very interesting and I took great pleasure in reading them. He was Dean of the Presbyterian Church. For years his house was open to all denominations, so his children had the privilege of hearing the interesting religious conversations, but as I had the privilege of reading the Bible for myself, I found that none of them understood the Bible as I did. I knew of no other way to understand it only as it read. The Apostle said, "Though we or Angels from Heaven preach any other gospel than that which we preach, let him be accursed," and it was very evident to my understanding that they all came short of preaching the doctrine that Paul preached, but I was confident we should have the faith.

When I was 18 years old the Lord sent me a good husband Jeremiah LEAVITT (S3) [see 118 in Vol. 15]. We were married at my father's house, March 6, 1817, in the town of Barton, County of Orleans, State of Vermont.

The next June we moved to Canada, fifteen miles from the Vermont line, into a very wicked place. They would swear and drink and play cards on Sunday and steal and do any wicked act their master, the Devil, would lead them to. This was very different from what I was brought up to2. My father would never suffer any profane language in his house. (S2,S3).

The next February I had a daughter born. She lived only 12 days. There was some things very strange connected with the birth of this child, which I do not think best to write, but I shall never forget, which I never shall know the meaning of until the first resurrection, when I shall clasp it again in my arms. (S2).

The next January I had another daughter born. (S2,S3). When she was about six months old I had a vision of the damned spirits in hell, so that I was filled with horror more than I was able to bear, but I cried to the Lord day and night until I got an answer of peace and a promise that I should be saved in the Kingdom of God that satisfied me. That promise has been with me through all the changing scenes of life ever since. (S2).

When I was getting ready for bed one night I had put my babe into the bed with its father and it was crying. I dropped down to take off my shoes and stockings, I had one stocking in my hand. There was a light dropped down on the floor before me. I stepped back and there was another under my feet. The first was in the shape of a half moon and full of little black spots. The last was about an inch long and about a quarter of an inch wide. I brushed them with the stocking that was in my hand and put my hand over one of them to see if it would shine on my hand. This I did to satisfy others, as for myself, I knew that the lights were something that could not be accounted for and for some purpose. I did not know what until I heard the Gospel preached in its purity. The first was an emblem of all the religions then on the earth. The half moon that was cut off was the spiritual gifts promised after baptism. The black spots were the defects you will find in every church throughout the whole world. The last light was the Gospel preached by the Angel flying through the midst of Heaven and it was the same year and the same season of the year and I don't know but the same day that the Lord brought the glad news of Salvation to Joseph Smith. It must have been a stirring time among the Heavenly hosts, the windows of Heaven having so long been closed against all communication with the earth, being suddenly thrown open. Angels were wending their way to earth with such a glorious message -- a message that concerns every one, both in heaven and earth. I passed through all this and not a neighbor knew anything of it, although I prayed so loud that my husband was afraid they would all hear me. (S2).

After this there were two of his aunts came in and commenced talking about being slighted in not being invited to a quilting. I had no relish for any such talk and said nothing. They saw that I made no comment. Being astonished that I was so still, they asked me what I thought about it. I told them I didn't know or care anything about it, all I cared for was to know and do the will of God. This turned the conversation in the right direction. My telling my experience to these women and the effect it had on their minds was probably of much good, as they spread the news through the neighborhood. The result was, the whole neighborhood were convinced that the manner that they had spent their time was wrong and instead of taking the name of God in vain they cried to Him for mercy. In short, the whole course of their former lives was abandoned. There were some exceptions, for the leopard cannot change his spots, how then, can men do good that are accustomed to do evil, so says the prophet. (S2). But there was a minister come from the states and formed a church, called the Baptist, which I joined because I wanted to be baptized by immersion2,3. I had been sprinkled when an infant, but as I said before, I did not believe in any church on earth, but was looking forward to a time when the knowledge of God would cover the earth, and that glorious time is rolling, all glory to the Lord. I lived very watchful and prayerful, never neglecting my prayers, for I felt that I was entitled to no blessing unless I asked for them and I think so yet. (S2).

We took a freewill Baptist paper that I thought always told the truth, but there was a number of columns in this paper concerning a new sect. It had a prophet that pretended he talked with God. They had built a thing they called a meeting house, a huge mass of rock and wood, on the shores of Lake Cryenth (I am not sure of the spelling of this word) to make the blue waters of the lake blush for shame. In this Joe would go talk, he said, with the Lord and come out and tell them what the Lord said. But if I should go on and tell all the lies in that paper, how they healed the sick and managed their affairs, it would be too much for me. If you ever read the Arabian Night tales you might guess of what importance they were, for I could compare them to nothing else. No person of common sense would believe a word of it, and yet they wrote it for truth, thinking that would hinder Mormonism from spreading. But in this the Devil overshot himself, for they were too big lies for anyone to believe. (S2).

But I will go on with my experience. I had a place that I went every day for secret prayers. My mind would be carried away in prayer so that I knew nothing of what was going on around me. It seemed like a cloud was resting down over my head. If that cloud would break there was an angel that had a message for me or some new light. If the cloud would break there would be something new and strange revealed. I did not know that it concerned anyone but myself. Soon after this there was one of my husband's sisters came in and after spending a short time in the house she asked me to take a walk with her. She had heard the gospel preached by a Mormon and believed it had been baptized. She commenced and related the whole of Joseph's vision and what the Angel Moroni hand said the mission he had called him to. It came to my mind in a moment that this was the message that was behind that cloud, for me and not for me only, but for the whole world, and I considered it of more importance than anything I had ever heard before, for it brought back the ancient order of things and laid a foundation that could be built upon that was permanent; a foundation made by Him that laid the foundation of the earth, even the Almighty God; and he commanded his people to build up the kingdom of God upon the foundation he had laid, and notwithstanding the heathen raged and Satan mustered all his forces against the work; it has gone onward and upward for more that forty years, and will continue until the work is finished. (S2).

I read the Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and all the writings I could get from the Latter-day Saints. It was the book of Doctrine and Covenants that confirmed my faith in the work. I knew that no man, nor set of men, that could make such a book or would dare try from any wisdom that man possessed. I knew it was the word of God and a revelation from Heaven and received it as such. I sought with my whole heart a knowledge of the truth and obtained a knowledge that never has nor never will leave me. (S2,S3).

The next thing was to gather with the saints. I was pondering over in my heart how it was possible for such a journey with what means we could muster. We had a good farm, but could not get much for it, but the voice of the spirit said, "Come out of Babylon, O my people, that you be not partakers of her plagues." From the time the voice spoke so loud, clear and plain to my understanding, I knew the way would be open for us to gather with the Saints. for the Lord never gives a commandment to man but what he gives them a chance to obey. From this time we set out in earnest and was ready to start with the rest of the company July 20, 1835. The company was made up of the Leavitt family, Mother Sarah Shannon Leavitt and her children, consisting of twenty-three souls. Franklin Chamberlain, her oldest son-in-law, took the lead. He did not belong to the church, but his wife did. (S2,S3).

We had a prosperous journey of eight hundred miles to Kirtland, Ohio. I had no chance to be baptized and join the Church until I got there. My daughter, Louisa, and I, along with some others were baptized at this place, and were confirmed. We stayed at Kirtland about a week and had the privilege of hearing Joseph preach in that thing the Baptists said they called a "meeting house," which proved to be a very good house. We went into the upper rooms, saw the Egyptian mummies, the writing that was said to be written in Abraham's day, Jacob's ladder being pictured on it, and lots more wonders that I cannot write here, and that were explained to us. (S3).

*** We had a prosperous journey of eight hundred miles to Kirtland, Ohio. I had no chance to be baptized and join the church until I got there. My daughter, Louisa, and myself and some others were baptized at this place and were confirmed. Louisa had been sick for a year, under the doctor's care, and had taken very much medicine, but all to no purpose. She was very feeble, could sit up but little. She had been in the states with my friends for more than a year. Her father and myself went after her with a light carriage. As she was 18 years old, I gave her her choice to go home with us or stay with my sister. My sister told her if she would stay with her she should never want for anything, but she said she would go with her father and mother. My sister said, "Louisa, if you ever get well, don't say that Mormonism cured you." So much for her judgment on Mormonism. She was rich, high spirited, and proud and belonged to a church that was more popular than the Latter-day Saints. (S2).

Now I will go back to my story. We stayed at Kirtland about a week and had the privilege of hearing Joseph preach in that thing the Baptist said they called a meeting house, which proved to be a very good house. We went into the upper rooms, saw the Egyptian mummies, the writing that was said to be written in Abraham's day, Jacob's ladder being pictured on it, and lots more wonders that I cannot write here, and that were explained to us. (S2).

But our money was all spent, we could go no further. We had to look for a place where we could sustain ourselves for the present, while the rest of our company went on to Twelve Mile Grove in Illinois. We promised them we would follow them the next year. This was the first of September. (S2,S3).

My husband found a place ten miles from Kirtland -- Mayfield, a little village with mills and chair factories, and every chance for a living we could wish. Some one asked my husband why he went there. There was everything gathered out of that place that could be saved, but he was mistaken, although it was a very wicked place. There was a man by the name of Faulk, that owned almost the whole village. Of him we hired a house. It was about twenty feet from his tavern. But they opposed Mormonism, so I said little about it. I thought I would first get their good will and then perhaps I could have some influence over them. Of course, so long as they thought me an enemy it would be of no use to preach over to them. I was persecuted and abused in many ways, but not by Faulk's family. But I paid no attention to vulgar expressions, for I cared nothing about them. I had something of more importance that was shut up like fire in my bones. (S2,S3).

But it was a hard case when the children would come from school with their nose bleeding and crying, saying that they had been pounded most unmercifully. I went to the teacher very candid and told her that unless she could stop the scholars from abusing my children I should have to take them out of school, which I did not want to do. She said she would. (S2,S3).

My husband said nothing, only what was necessary to get employment. He got plenty of work with his team, so we got plenty to live on and something to lay up. The people watched us mighty close to see if they could discover dishonesty in our dealings. When they found nothing to complain of, they let us alone. There were some who had the mob spirit in so much that they said Louisa should have a doctor. She was then confined to her bed. They were going to take our team to pay the doctor, so I heard, and I thought she had already taken too much medicine. I lay pondering on our situation, thinking we should be undone if our team was taken from us, and prayed earnestly to the Lord to let us know what we should do. There was an angel stood by my bed to answer my prayer. He told me to call Louisa up and lay my hands upon her head and in the name of Jesus Christ, administer to her and she should recover.

The time drew near for our departure. My husband had not only provided for his family, but had gotten considerable besides; however, only $30 in money. He told Faulk he wanted to settle with him for the house rent, that he wanted him to take other property, as we had but little money. He could get no answer from Faulk, but he was very kind and obliging. So were all of our neighbors. Those who had hated us when we came into the village, appeared now our devoted friends. It was to our advantage, for they helped us to get ready for a journey of five hundred miles. (S3).

When we settled with the merchant and I took a bill of goods, I found there was not a charge for thread, needles, buttons or any such trifles, while at one time he gave me a whole card of buttons and told me to put them on Tom's coat. Tom was his constant visitor. He stayed in the store most of the time. He was four or five years old. But Faulk would not settle with us until we got our team harnessed to start. "Now," my husband said, "we must settle." Some of the windows were broken, and we expected the rent would be high. Faulk would not settle, he did not want a cent, nor would he take a cent. He wanted to see if Mormons were willing to pay their debts. He called to the merchant and said, "Put up a half pound of tea for this woman, and charge to me, and another half pound and charge to yourself. She must not go to the Mormon swamps and drink the water, it will kill her." I will only add that I got the tea, and more favors than I can write here, and that Faulk joined the Church and came to Nauvoo afterward. How many more I don't know and can't say, for I did not see him myself, but my boys did. (S3).

Now I will start for the Twelve-Mile Grove in Illinois. Nathaniel Leavitt had come up the lake to Michigan, stopped at a place called White Pigeon. When he got into that place, we heard Nathaniel was dead and that his wife had taken all the property and gone back to Canada, leaving three children who were his first wife's children, among strangers and sick with the ague. The oldest boy was ten or twelve years old; he said when he got big enough, he was going to hunt his folks. They were with the Mormons somewhere. They told him the Mormons were all killed; he never would find any of them. What a pitiful situation for three sick orphans with hardly clothes enough to cover their nakedness, and did not know if they should see a friend again. They were at three different houses; their names were Nathaniel, Flavilla and John. (S3).

When we came you may guess what their feelings must have been. We took them with us, which increased our number to eleven, for whom I had to cook, and my husband buy the provisions. We had a hard and tiresome journey. The roads were bad all the way. In one place there was a five mile pole bridge over a swamp, without gravel or dirt on it, and the wagon jolted so it almost took our breath away. (S3).

Before we left Lake Michigan we had to stop and work for provisions and horse feed. After a long and tedious journey, we at last found ourselves in Illinois, at Twelve-Mile Grove. Here we found our friends almost discouraged. They had had much sickness among them. Mother Leavitt and Weir's oldest son had died. Weir was sick with cancer. We had doted much on seeing Mother Leavitt, and were greatly saddened to learn of her death. We stayed in Juliette until spring, when we went back to Twelve-Mile Grove and my husband took a farm on shares at the West Grove, five miles away, with five cows so we could make butter and cheese. We raised a fine crop and had a good living. My husband built a house on the prairie, a mile and a half from the place where his folks lived. At this time I took the chills and fever and some of the good neighbors took me to their place. They took me on a sleigh. I was very ill, and Louise and her father watched over me all night, then had to work all day. One night my husband said to Louise, "We must get our rest tonight." I thought it would kill me if I had to stay alone; the next thought I had was "the angels will watch over me." Then I went to sleep and did not wake up until morning. I felt calm and peaceful. A few elders came and we were glad to see them; we had not seen a Saint since we had left Kirtland. They gave us much encouragement. (S3).

My daughter, Mary, had a felon on her finger while I was very sick. I told her to get up on my bed; taking her hand in mine, I asked the Lord to heal it. The pain stopped and did not recur. In this case I said nothing aloud, but my faith was as a mustard seed. (S3).

Sorrow was ahead for us, for the Prophet was in prison, and we soon heard that he had been shot in Carthage Jail. When the news came the whole city of Nauvoo was thunder struck; such mourning and lamentation was seldom ever heard on earth. There were many who would gladly have given their lives for the Prophet. We knew he was a man of God3.

Brigham Young was the man clothed with all the power and authority of Joseph. My husband said he had the same voice and spirit, and had he not known, he would have thought it to be Joseph. We went to the city and were there when the bodies of Joseph and Hyrum came. It was after dark when they passed the house and we expected that the mob would come and kill the rest of the Saints. We soon found that we had to leave the place if we meant to save our lives. We had forty thousand bricks that we had made and we only got an old bed quilt for them. For the farm, we got a yoke of oxen. I never had a murmuring thought in my mind, although we left a beautiful place. We went into an old schoolhouse while we prepared for the journey. After we had stayed there, it was revealed to me in a dream that we should leave the place in a hurry, or we would be killed. We threw our things into a wagon and went eight miles to the Mississippi River. (S3).

One night, just after dark, there came into the camp, an officer. He asked if there was a man by the name of Brickmore. I thought a minute and there was a man by that name in the first company. I deceived him, and still told the truth, which saved Brother Brickmore's life. Sister Brickmore was in the door at the time. The officer said he could see no more than starvation before me, but I said I would not go back if I died. I kept the conversation going until I thought the mob of men were satisfied and the brethren were out of the way and safe. (S3).

Well, when all things were prepared, we started on our journey. As we had let one yoke of our oxen go to take Church property, and had but one yoke on our wagon with about a ton of loading, you may guess the hardships we had to endure. It was very little we could ride; we had to wade through sloughs and climb hills. What was remarkable, however, we never got stuck in a slough. The oxen seemed to know what they had to do when we came to a mud hole, and would push forward with such speed that the wagon had no time to settle down in the mud. (S3).

At last we got to Mt. Pisgah. There, a few of the brethren stopped and put in crops and built houses, expecting to winter there. This was in April, 1846. We had not brought provisions to last until harvest, so when my husband had bought a house and put in a crop, he started back to Bonaparte for provisions. He also wanted to bring along his son, Jeremiah, who had stopped in Bonaparte, as well as flour for bread. I forgot to say that we had three extra cows, so we had plenty of milk and butter. Here at Mt. Pisgah, my husband got back the oxen he had let go to draw Church property, so he had a strong team when he got ready to start back. There was a woman who wanted to go back with him, and she offered him two dollars if he would stop one day. That night was worth a thousand dollars to me. (S3).

Now to look at it, the spirit knew he would be gone until the resurrection and he did not want me to get married to any other one. When I heard of his death I thought, "I will keep that request sacred." We now prepared ourselves to leave this place to go to the valley. Wier, my son, died in August, 1847, the same month his father died. (S3).

After arriving in Salt Lake Valley, we moved to Pine Canyon, in Tooele. We lived there until the Indians became so bad that we had to leave with the cattle and horses. They stole five head of horses in one night, and all the cattle they could get. Walker's band was in the mountains, just above us, and he said he was going to kill us all. They kept guards out in every direction. Some of the young men cried and said, "We shall all be massacred." As for myself, I had no fears. I thought we were in the hands of God, and it would be all right. (End of autobiography.)

While living at Tooele, Sarah Sturdevant Leavitt and her family were called to settle in southern Utah, then called "Dixie" by the pioneers. Always from her earliest hopes of going west, in 1835, she had dreamed of the time to come, when she could build a home in Zion (Salt Lake City) so she could hear the leaders of the Church. Although she did not question the "call," she wondered how she could forego all the dreams of many years past. Settling in Santa Clara, she spent the first years under very trying conditions, for many times she had nothing to eat but greens and bread. (S3).

Ever active in the Church, Sarah taught her children to become workers in the various organizations.

They moved from Santa Clara to Gunlock, which was also in Washington County, Utah. She died 5 APR 1878 at Gunlock, Washington County, Utah. (S1,S3).

[F118]. Jeremiah LEAVITT. [PC T4].

CHILDREN of Jeremiah LEAVITT [118] and Sarah STURTEVANT [119]:
  1. Ann LEAVITT. Born in FEB 1818 at Hatley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. She died in FEB or MAR 1818.
  2. Clarissa LEAVITT. Born in JAN 1819 at Hatley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. She died young.
  3. Louisa LEAVITT. Born 20 JAN 1820 at Hatley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. She married before 1846 William Ellis JONES. She died 29 MAR 1855.
  4. Jeremiah LEAVITT. Born 20 (10) FEB 1822 at Hatley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. He married 1 FEB 1845 Eliza HARROVER. He was a missionary to the Indians with Jacob Hamblin. He died 12 APR 1878. E. Lydia LEAVITT. Born 4 JUL 1823 at Hartley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. She died 9 JAN 1847.
  5. Weare LEAVITT. Born in 1825 at Hatley, Stansted, Quebec, Canada. He died in AUG 1847.
  6. Lemuel Sturdevant LEAVITT. Born 3 NOV 1827 at Compton, Quebec, Canada. He married (1) Laura Melvina THOMPSON. He died 13 OCT 1916.
  7. Dudley LEAVITT. Born 30 (31) AUG 1830 at Compton, Quebec, Canada. He married (1) 30 AUG 1853 Mary HUNTSMAN. He was a missionary to the Indians with Jacob HAMBLIN. He had a large posterity, having 52 children. He died 15 OCT 1908.
  8. Mary Amelia LEAVITT. Born 10 FEB 1832 at Compton, Quebec, Canada. She married in 1850 William Haynes HAMBLIN. She died 12 AUG 1893.
  9. Thomas Rowell LEAVITT. Born 30 JUN 1834 at Compton, Quebec, Canada. He married (1st) 1 MAR 1857 Ann Eliza JENKINS. He married (2nd) in 1861 Antoinette DAVENPORT. He married (3rd) (Harriett?) Martha DOWDLE. He was a missionary to the Indians with Jacob HAMBLIN. Thomas R. was called to settle in Canada where a large posterity grew up near Alberta in the Cardston district. More than a thousand of his descendants were counted at a reunion in 1936 at Leavitt, Canada. He died 21 MAY 1890 (1891).
  10. Betsy Jane LEAVITT. Born 12 MAY 1839 at Five Mile Grove, Hancock County, Illinois. She married in 1856 William Haynes HAMBLIN.
  11. [F59]. Sarah Priscilla LEAVITT. [PC T4]. Born 8 MAY 1841 at Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois. She married Jacob Vernon HAMBLIN [F58] on 11 September 1857. She died on 23 July 1927.