Levi Savage Jr.

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Levi Savage Jr. (March 23, 1820 – December 13, 1910) is a prominent figure in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was one of the earliest LDS missionaries to Asia, and was one of the leaders of the Willie Handcart Company.

Early life[edit]

Savage was the second of fifteen children born in Greenfield Huron County, Ohio to Levi Savage Sr. and Polly Haynes. He grew up in southern Michigan as a farm boy, exposed to some degree of schooling. During his lifetime, he was a teamster, soldier, teacher, pioneer, and missionary to India and Burma. He spent the remaining years of his life as a farmer in southern Utah. Levi kept a detailed journal starting 6 October 1852 to 16 March 1903.


In the early 1840s his father and mother joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The family moved from Michigan to Nauvoo, Illinois and later migrated as Mormon pioneers to Salt Lake City, Utah in 1847.

During the move from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah, Levi Jr. enlisted in the U.S Army as a part of the Mormon Battalion. Levi's enlistment commenced in July 1846 in Company D of the battalion. The battalion marched 1,400 miles from Council Bluffs, Iowa to San Diego, California.

Levi's family was a part of the 18 June 1847 Abraham O. Smoot/George B. Wallace wagon train company. Levi's mother, Polly Haynes Savage, died on the trek to Utah. Levi learned of his mother's death after he finished his enlistment with the Mormon Battalion. Levi arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah via San Diego on 16 October 1847, three weeks after the family.

Levi married Jane Mathers 23 January 1848. Jane had crossed the plains as the cook for Levi's parents. Levi and Jane had their only child Levi Mathers Savage on 11 January 1851. Jane died 29 December 1851 leaving Levi Jr. to raise their infant.


In October 1852, Levi Jr. was called on a Mormon mission to the Far East country of Siam. Levi Jr. left his 21-month-old son with his sister Hannah Maria Savage Eldridge while he served a four-year mission in the Far East.

Levi left for Siam 21 October 1852 by traveling through Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California and then by boat to San Francisco, California. On 30 January 1853 Levi left San Francisco headed for Siam. After the boat left, Levi was struck with smallpox but survived the outbreak. Levi arrived in Calcutta, India 25 April 1853 and then went on to Rangoon, Burma. Savage then went to Maulmain, Burma where he attempted to preach at the British cantonment but was prevented by the local British commander.[1] Siam was experiencing a civil war so Levi never reached Siam. Levi served 2½ years in the Far East mission and started home for Utah on 12 October 1855. He traveled from Calcutta, India to Boston, Massachusetts by going around the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Levi arrived in Boston 28 February 1856 and went on to Ohio and Michigan to visit family. From his journal Levi writes on 19 June 1856, “I have circled the globe.”

On 10 July 1856 Levi was in Iowa City, Iowa and joined the ill-fated Willie handcart company that was planning to travel to Salt Lake City. Levi was one of the “sub captains” of the group. On 13 August 1856 Levi is quoted as telling the group that going so late in the season was dangerous. According to a narrative of this fatal journey given by John Chislett, when Elder Savage was overruled he said, “What I have said I know to be true; but seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help all I can, will work with you, will rest with you, and if necessary, will die with you. May God in his mercy bless and preserve us.” Over one-fifth of the group died from freezing and starvation before the group arrived in Salt Lake City, Utah on 9 November 1856.

Levi arrived in Salt Lake City after four years and circumnavigating the world.


Savage worked as a teacher on his return to Utah. In 1858 he married Ann Brummel Cooper, a widow who he had first met in the Martin Handcart Company. Ann had two daughters from a previous marriage. He served with the Nauvoo Legion during the Utah War. In 1858 he moved to Lehi, Utah and worked as a supplier of the U.S. army at Camp Floyd. In October 1868 he married his two step-daughters, Mary Ann and Adelaide. From the marriage with Mary Ann were born three children, William, Riley, and Clara.[2] After seven years he moved on to Toquerville, Utah where he lived the last 45 years of his life with three wives and three children. Levi and his family lived in a small adobe house sharing all the common illnesses, ordinary difficulties, deaths of children, grandchildren, sacrifices to send boys on Mormon missions and children to school, weddings, special family dinners and being helpful to their neighbors.

One of Levi’s last journal entries was February 1903, “This date shows that I have neglected to note daily occurrences in my journal for some time past; however, it is better late than never.”

Levi Savage Jr. died on 13 December 1910 in Toquerville, Washington County, Utah and is buried in the cemetery in Toquerville.


  • Part of the initial westward movement of the LDS Church to Utah.
  • A member in one of the 1847 Mormon companies migrating to Utah
  • One of 500 members of the Mormon Battalion to assist the U.S. Army in the Mexican-American War 1846-48
  • An early Mormon religious missionary to Burma and India in the Far East
  • Circumnavigated the world between 1852 – 1856 at the age of 33
  • A leader and surviving member of the ill-fated 1856 Willie handcart company moored in winter storms in Wyoming
  • Writer of a personal journal from 1852–1903 that is quoted and referenced by many for his involvement in the early western Mormon migration and examples of life on the frontier


Levi Savage Jr. is the principal character (played by actor Jasen Wade) in the T. C. Christensen film 17 Miracles released in June 2011 by Excel Entertainment Group. This film is based on the actual events surrounding Levi Savage's efforts to aid the Willie Handcart Company in their journey to Salt Lake City in 1856, emphasizing in particular the miracles he and fellow travelers reported during the trek.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Warburton, Brian A. "Levi Savage, Jr. (introductory essay to Savage's missionary journals)". Mormon Missionary Diaries. Brigham Young University. 
  2. ^ Warburton, Brian. "Mormon Missionary Diaries - Levi Savage, Jr.". BYU - Harold B. Lee Library. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Levi Savage Jr. at the Internet Movie Database

External links[edit]