Dudley Leavitt

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This article is about a Mormon pioneer. For the American publisher, see Dudley Leavitt (publisher). For the 18th century Congregational minister, see Dudley Leavitt (minister).
Dudley Leavitt, ca. 1880

Dudley Leavitt (August 31, 1830 – October 15, 1908) was an early patriarch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon pioneer and an early settler in southern Utah.

Biography[edit]

Leavitt was born in Stanstead, Lower Canada. Although born in Canada, Leavitt came from a long line of early New Englanders. Leavitt was named for his ancestor Thomas Dudley, the founder of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and second colonial governor of Massachusetts. His ancestor John Leavitt, an early Massachusetts Puritan, was deacon of Old Ship Church in Hingham, Massachusetts, when it was built in the 17th century.

Leavitt crossed the Great Plains on the Mormon trail as a young man. He was a member of the 1850 Milo Andrus Company, which left the outfitting post at Kanesville, Iowa (present day Council Bluffs) on the 3rd of June and arrived in Salt Lake Valley on August 30, 1850. He is credited as one of the founders of settlements in Washington County, Utah.

While he is cited in Jon Krakauer's bestseller, Under the Banner of Heaven as a participant in the Mountain Meadows massacre of 1857, Leavitt is said to have never discussed the massacre, except to have remarked later in life, "I thank God that these old hands have never been stained by human blood." Leavitt's granddaughter Juanita Brooks later investigated the Massacre, writing the seminal The Mountain Meadows Massacre. On the role of her grandfather, Brooks seemed ambivalent. "We can only wonder as to Dudley's relation to the Massacre," Brooks wrote of him. Brooks also devoted a book to her ancestor entitled On the Ragged Edge: The Life and Times of Dudley Leavitt.

Later in his life, the pioneer Dudley Leavitt became pivotal in dealing with the Indian tribes of Southern Utah on behalf of the Mormon settlers. Leavitt was credited by Brooks for having intervened with the Indians in southern Utah, preventing an attack on non-Mormon settlers. Leavitt married several wives, and spent a decade hiding from federal officers seeking to apprehend polygamists.[1]

Leavitt and his wives, circa 1880

Dudley Leavitt died in Bunkerville, Nevada, near Mesquite, in 1908. Although polygamy had been outlawed, Leavitt never abandoned his several families, according to historians.[1]

Notable descendants[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Brooks, Juanita. (1942). Dudley Leavitt: Pioneer to Southern Utah. St. George, Utah: privately printed.
  • Brooks, Juanita. (1973). On the Ragged Edge: The Life and Times of Dudley Leavitt. Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah State Historical Society. ISBN 0-913738-24-7.

External links[edit]

Media related to Dudley Leavitt at Wikimedia Commons