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Jeremiah Leavitt IV

This is an autobiography that Milo Tullis had which was rewritten by Verda May Shaw Tullis in 1980. Blanche Leavitt Holt sent Verda a short history she had and some of its content was added to what Milo had.

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I was born February 7, 1851 in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, and came with my parents, Jeremiah Leavitt and Eliza Harrover to Utah when I was one year old. We first settled in Salt Lake Valley then later we moved to East Tooele. In 1857 we were to come to Dixie. We came to the Santa Clara and in the spring of 1858 we lived in St. George, or where it now stands. We cleared some ground and put in a crop on the west side of town and got water from the North Spring. Then in the fall of the same year we moved back to the Santa Clara Valley. In 1861 we moved to Gunlock in what is now known as the Gunlock field. At that time there were four families living there, my father’s family, my two uncles William Hamblin and Dudley Leavitt, also Isaac Riddle. While living there, George A. Smith came down and stayed all night with Uncle William. In the morning before he got ready to leave, he said, “What do you call this place?” William said, “All the name we have for it is Santa Clara Creek.” George A. replied, “Well Billie, we will name it after you. We will call it Gunlock.” That was the name they gave William while crossing the plains. He was a hunter for George A.’s company and was always cleaning and getting his gun, as well as others ready for business, so they called him Gunlock Bill. On Christmas day of this year, 1861, it started to rain and kept it up for thirty days, part of the time raining hard and part just a fine rain. During all this time the sun never came out. The creek kept rising until it reached from hill to hill and washed most of the land away. My father’s house was left with one corner reaching out over the bank. So we were forced to leave and moved to Clover Valley, now known as Bartley, Nevada. We lived there for a time then on to Panaca, fighting the Indians all the time; standing guard nights and herding our cattle days, with but little to eat or wear. In the course of a few years, on advice of President (then Apostle) Lorenzo Snow, we moved to Shoal Creek, now known as Hebron, where several other families were located. There were still Indian troubles, but before long peace was made and the settlers hired the natives to work for them, taught them many helpful things and learned much from them concerning the country. We lived in Hebron for a few years, then came back to Gunlock, where we have lived ever since. By the time we came back, the redmen were getting quite friendly. We could hire them to work for us, but still they were treacherous and we had to watch them to keep them from carrying off our things. They did not like our coming to take the land they called theirs and kill their game and destroy the seeds and roots they had lived on. I grew up from a small boy among the Indians and learned their language so I could sit and talk with them and understand what they said. The Indians always thought a lot of me and whenever they came where I was they always said, “I can get a favor from Jeremiah when not from others.” The old ones are all dead that were here when we came, but the younger ones all seem to notice me and call others attention whenever I was passing by. I have always worked hard and had but very little to do with in the shape of machinery. Our grain was cut with a cradle, threshed with a flail and cleaned up with the wind. I have made molasses every fall for over fifty-three years. For years I would take a load of molasses and go out on the Sevier River and trade it for flour to feed my family on. We would dry our fruit and sell it in the stores in St. George to get our clothes. In the winter I would haul wood to St. George and sell it for anything I could get to live on or use. I had a big family to care for. Before I was married I had to take care of my father’s family. He was a sickly man and could not work so he looked to me for help. I also had to care for my grandmother, Sarah Studevant Leavitt, as she was left alone and was deaf and old. Her husband, Grandfather Jeremiah Leavitt (II) died August, 1846, in Bonapart, Iowa. She came here with her family and lived alone. Her children were all married so I built her a cabin by my own so we could look after her. She died two years after her son Jeremiah, my father, was married and was laid to rest in the Gunlock Cemetery. She died 5 April, 1878. My mother made soft soap out of ashes and grease. We would take it north by the barrel full and sell for anything we could eat or use. Money was something we did not have. We lived mostly on corn bread, the corn ground in a coffee mill. We had very little to go with it, a little milk and molasses. We had no fruit and but very little meat or grease. I have went to bed many a time while mother washed and mended my clothes, which consisted of a calico shirt and a pair of jeans trousers. Shoes were a very rare thing. I went barefoot winter and summer until I was almost grown. I can remember going to dances barefoot and carrying a squash to pay my dance ticket. As time rolled on we got a little better off. There was a grist mill put up and a few small stores in St. George, and a cloth factory in Washington. We raised a little cotton and there were a few men that owned a small herd of sheep. We could trade our produce for cloth, so we were all dressed alike. By now, we had a large family so in 1898 I hired John Morse and Charley Larson to make enough adobe bricks to build me a house. In 1899 I hired William Marshal and Mr. Deeds to put up the walls, which they did. I traded for lumber and shingles enough to put on the roof that summer. I hauled lumber from Clover Valley, Parawan, Cedar, and Pine Valley, just where I could trade some of my produce for it. I hauled wood, traded produce, or anything I could to Addie Price in St. George to get shingles enough to cover the roof. In the fall I got help and we got the roof on and the floor laid, doors and windows in, and moved into it that winter. That was in 1900. I managed to get it plastered the next fall and hired Joseph Eldridge of Pinto to paper it, so at last we managed to get it done. I built a fence around my lot, a barn and other outdoor buildings. This I did and paid for it all with hard labor from all members of the family. We had fifteen children and they were all taught to work and to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. I believe they have all done this and they know what a dollar is worth. There was always plenty of work to be done on the farm and I never went off to work and was always careful to live within my means. I have never had any surplus, could just manage to get along. I have never gone into debt but a few dollars at a time. My greatest desire was to raise my family up right and to live true to the end. I have not felt to complain, but felt the Lord had greatly blessed us for we had not suffered, although we had gone very short of the comforts of life. I have lived to a good old age and have got past work, but I feel I have enough left to keep me and my companion as long as the Lord wants us to remain here. I am thankful to the Lord for this great blessing. Jeremiah Leavitt died 26 July, 1931, in Gunlock and was buried there. His experiences with the Indians were great. They loved him and would do anything for him. He believed what Brigham Young said, “It is better to feed them, than to fight them.” He spoke their language very well. After his death his memory lived among the older members of the tribe. When any of his family would pass the Indian Farm, they would cry out, “Jeremiah’s papoose.” He and his wife, Mary Ellen, lived happy lives in spite of the hardships they went through. They were full of faith, thrift, and honesty. Their posterity is large and their family appreciates the wholesome lives their parents lived, the good work they have done for their family, the Church, and the community. Bless their memory!

Owner/SourceVerda May Shaw Tullis
File nameJeremiahLeavittIV.jpg
File Size27.93k
Dimensions281 x 355
Linked toLEAVITT Jeremiah, IV

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