A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF JOSEPH WIRE LEAVITT
Told by hisself about a year before he died.
(Retyped from a copy in Julia Whitney Rawlins' records by S. L. Rawlins, July, 1997. This was completed in 1952, apparently by one or more of the Joseph's children.)
Joseph Wire Leavitt was born 14 Nov. 1859, in Centerville, Utah. He was born in a small rock house on the east side of Centerville, not far from grandfather Joseph Riche's. They lived in a small dobey house with three rooms in it. The back of the house was against the front fence, with the front of the house in the garden. This house stood there for years.
He was the oldest child of his father, George Leavitt and Nancy Minerva Earl. The first thing he can remember was when he was 2 years old. This was in the winter, he went to the door at 4 o'clock in the morning to watch Joseph Porter hitch up his team. His mother held a candle for them to see by. When he turned around and looked back his shoes were on the hearth where he had put them to warm and they were sure warm for they were burned up and he had to go the rest of the winter without any shoes.
When 4 years old went up the canyon with his father going up the mountain. It was about 1 miles he road a big bay horse named Pete. A big flat rock was upon the op of the mountain and on this was a rattle snake. This was early in the morning. The sun was just coming up. The horse stopped. His father wanted to know what was the matter. He told him there was a snake so his father took his ax and mashed its head and it had 16 rattles on it.
About 5 years old his father put up a saw in the canyon east of Centerville. This was a up and down saw to cut lumber. Was run by water power.
Between 5 and 6 years old his mother went out with the sick and left him to tend the children younger than himself. At this time his brother William was a baby in long clothes. About this time he run away from home to play and stayed until dark. His mother put him in a celler under the house that had a trap door in the floor. Here she let him stay for a while but he never ran away any more.
When he was 7 years old he used to fight a boy by the name of Phil Fender. When he went to school in 1867 his teacher was Dell Rimple. One morning when he didn't get to school on time for he had to take the cows to the pasture, was about 10 minutes late. The teacher gave him a licking with a club. He told the teacher if he ever got big enough he would whip him. In years later he met this man but had more respect than to whip him, but he told him about it. In 1868 in the spring when they went south, him and his brother Jim, who was two years older than him, they drove their cattle all the way down to Dixie 550 miles on foot going down the Virgin River. Got to playing and had to wade the river, they would get a cow by the tail and hold on till they got a cross the water.
The first thing that happened after they got to their new home an Indian throwed a rope around him and tried to scare him. Then the rocks begin to fly. He threw rocks at the Indian till he left his rope and run. Then he left him alone for he found he could not scare him.
1869. Herded cattle about 3 miles from home. Had no horse to ride had to always go afoot. One day while herding saw a camel coming down off the hills. They always had a rope with them. The camel came for a drink and they caught it. Told it to lay down. The got on it and rode it home. The cattle was sure scared of it. They knew it was a camel by the pictures they had seen them in books.
While herding cattle found a cave and saw 3 Indians and 1 white man in it. When they went home they told what they had seen. The next day their father and some more men went and saw them. They were decayed so bad and smelled so they could not touch any of them.
The white and Indian boys used to play together. They chose up sides and played mud dob. When one got hit he had to go and sit down. The Indians didn't have anything on only a brich clout. This was some of the sport they had when small boys. This was before he was 10 years old. In 50 years after Joseph and Charles went back and met some of those Indians that they played with when children.
Jim and Joe were 9 and 10 years old while they were down on the Muddy. At this time they used to go and get wood with a yoke of cattle would pull it out of the ground, and drag it home. When their father was not at home they would have to let the oxens carry the yoke for they could not take it off for they were too small.
While their father was after flour about 250 miles away, they run out of flour and had to live on bran and molasses. They raised cotton and had to pick it, so the boys would go and get melons and give to the Indians and Squaws would pick the cotton for them while the Indian men laid in the shade. The Indians would get in and steal the melons so Jim and Joe set a shot gun in the patch they fixed a string to it so when the Indian touched the string the gun went off and shot one in his legs in about 6 months he came back on crutches and they never bothered the melons any more. One day their father was coming out of the field and saw 3 Indians along in the bushes where there was a trail. They had a white man. A dutchman. They were making their way to came to kill him. Their father took the white man home with him, and he stayed a long time. Some people came along that was going out of the country and he went with them. Along time before the Dutch came through there and killed a lot of Indians and this was why they wanted to get rid of all the Dutch people that came that way.
While the boys were herding cattle they saw the Indians drive two of their big fat cattle into the river and drown them. The boys went home and told what they had seen so the white men went and got the cattle out, skinned them, cut the beef up and wouldn't let the Indians have any of the meat. This made the Indians mad and they were going to have a war. About 75 white men and 150 Indians met in front of father Leavitt's house for council. At this time Jim and Joe looked behind the house and saw the Indians sneaking around there in the bushes and sage brush. Joe went out in the road among the whites and Indians and told his father. So some of the men was sent out to drive them back. In a short time all left but a few braves. They stayed and settled up things and there was no war among them.
In the Summer of 1869, President Brigham Young came down and released father Leavitt and all were to return to their home in Utah. This was in Nevada called "West Point". They started back in Nov. 1869 and stayed the winter in Santa Clara stayed until Mar. 1870. Came up to Beaver stayed and raised a crop.
When in Beaver saw an Indian killed. This Indian met two men that were mining. He was hungary and they told him to go their cabin and get food. He went and he found food and their gun. He went back and killed on one of the men. The other got away. There was a small fort where 3 or 4 houses were. The Indian stayed out in the hills till he was very hungry then he came in here and they shut the gates and kept him. He was taken to Beaver and put in an old dugout, was to be hanged the next day. This day the brother of the man the Indian had killed wanted to see him. He stepped inside the door, pulled out two pistols and shot 5 shots into the Indians heart. He then went out and gave himself up but they did nothing with him.
At this time there was 7 or 8 small boys in the celler where the Indian was and saw him killed. Joe was one of them.
Here in Beaver his mother picked the small pieces of wool from the fences, bushes and r sage brush and from this made cloth and suits from the cloth for her three small boys, Joe, Charles, William. This cloth that she made, she took the bark from some bushes and colored the cloth a pretty brown.
During the 2 years they were south each woman lost 2 babies, 4 in all and 2 new babies were born to each. This trip had its sorrow and trouble with it. After leaving Beaver they stayed at Chicken Creek with George Davis. While here they lost 4 horses and the colts they had raised on the trip. From here they came up to Centerville, Utah. Were there 4 days then went up to Mendon, Utah, Cache Co. They stayed here 2 years. When winter came 4 or 5 would ride on a pair of long snow shoes and fasten them together and ride from away up on the hill and come down into town about 1 « miles. Oh what fun.
In the spring of the next year Joe was herding cows and up in the hills here he sprined or hurt his left leg. He was hunting a cow with a young calf. He was in bed for three months. There was a whit swelling came on it. He must have cracked a bone for there was a dozen pieces of bone that worked out of his leg. In fact one bone is gone entirely. After it was so he could get around on crutches. He was out behind the house at the woodpile at the near neighbor's. They had company. It was some of their folks from Salt Lake City. This was Dr. Sember B. Young. When he was a very young man, he saw the boy on crutches and called to him. He wanted to look at his leg. The Dr. Went in the house, got a small box, a dish of warm water. He opened up the hole in his leg and bathed it and took a lot of pieces of bone out of it. Dr. fixed it all up nice and clean and the boy said "Dr. I haven't any money" Dr. said you don't need any. This han't in the hospital this is in the mountains. This kind act was never forgotten.
(This should have gone before)
When they went south they had 3 wagons. 2 teams of horses and 2 of oxens. Each woman had a team and wagon and each had a churn. They would put the milk in the churn and by the time they stopped the butter would be done. They did this every day. They had 10 cows and a few small cattle. When father Leavitt left Centerville, he had 60 acres of land and 40 acres of pasture land. This he had to dispose of for most anything he could get to help get started on the trip south. The teams grandfather drove were oxens. Dave and Bolley, Buck and Berry --these they drove to the south and then back again and came up to Lewiston with them. Grandma Janett; Pet and Molley, Horses. Grandma Minervas; Puss and Kit --horses. Came to Lewiston in the spring of 1872. Then in the winter of 1874 Jim and Joe stayed down on Bear River with a small heard of sheep. They always got up at day break no matter what kind of weather. They slept in a wagon box with the snow 2 feet deep.
In 1876 started work on the railroad and worked for about 5 years before he was married. Franklin A. Rawlins drove the team and Joseph W. Leavitt held the plow. This was the first sod that was broken for the railroad in Montana in 1879.
Experiences while on the railroad at different times. One time while going to Evanston, Wyo. Was alone, a man followed him. At night he tied one horse to the wagon and turned the other one loose. When this man came near, the horse that was loose came to the wagon and snorted and this awoke him. His bed was under the wagon. The other man was about 100 yards away. Father raised up and shot at the man and he left and never bothered again. This man had made his threats that he would have one of those horses, another fellow heard him till it, so he told father and he was prepared for him.
Another time the horses took a stampede into the hills. Father followed them all night and in the morning caught them in the tops of the mountains in the pine timbers. This was in 1881. He was married to Mary Eveline Rawlins 4 May 1882. They left home with a team and wagon. One horse took sick the first night and father was up doctering the horse all night. They had to stay one day and 2 nights in Mendon, Utah the next day they went to Ogden and stayed to Uncle Archie Kerr's the next day they went to Salt Lake. They were married Thursday 4 May 1882 in the Salt Lake Endowment House by Daniel H. Wells. They were gone 2 weeks from home before they got back.
Worked int he canyon that summer. This year had 40 acres of wheat and 20 Acres of oats. The frost came on the 7th of July 1882 killed all the wheat but the oats made good.
We lived during the fall in a tent Jim and Joe and their wives lived int he tent till they put up their houses. They were made of logs. Jim was sawed logs and Joe's was round logs.
Joseph W. Leavitt took sick in July 1929 the rest of that summer and fall and winter he was sick he tried to work a little but he was so sick. He said just before he died that he guessed he had been sicker than he really knew he was.
That year they moved uptown and lived in S. L. Smith or Tate Smith's home. There is where he died on 7 Jan. 1930. It was Tue. Morning, mother, Mildred and Walter L. Taggart were with him but he died without their knowing it. He was very glad to go on. Monday night the Bishopric came in and administered to him. Brother Saul E. Hyer gave him a wonderful blessing and it was fulfilled in the morning. He was at peace and rest.
Sat. 11 Jan. 1930 the funeral of Joseph W. Leavitt was held in the 1st ward meeting house at 1 o'clock. Bishop Saul E. Hyer presided. Opening song "Come, Come Ye Saints". Prayer by his brother-in-law Thomas Selvester Karren, second song, "Beautiful Isle of some where". 1stspeaker, his brother-in-law Goudy A. Hogan, President of the Benson Stake. 2. Hermon H. Danielson. Song by Mr. and Mrs. Herbert and Rachel Harrison "Beautiful Land". 3rd speaker, Dr. John M. Bernhisel. Song by Brigham Monson of Richmond "Lay My head Beneath a rose". 4th speaker, Bishop Saul E. Hyer. Last song "Rest, Rest". Closing prayer. Samuel F. Wiser. The grave was dedicated by his brother Charles C. Leavitt from Afton, Wy.
Pall barrers: Elden H. Leavitt, Hyrum A. Leavitt, Charles H. Last, Thomas A. Summers, Walter L. Taggart, F. Edis Taggart. Undertaker was Brother John M. Richards from Logan, Utah, but now lives in Preston. 1952.