William B. Leavitt, a prominent resident of North Grantham, widely known as the compiler of Leavitt’s Almanac, was born August 7, 1812, son of John and Susan (Burnham) Leavitt. The family has been in America since the early part of the seventeenth century, when three brothers came from England to the shores of the New World. Robust, sturdy, and energetic, these brothers soon assumed a leading position among the early settlers. Since that time the family tree has grown so that now its branches may be found in several parts of the country. It has given men of upright lives and noble characters to the nation, and has helped to swell the roll of brave soldiers who have fought in defence of liberty and the Union.
Nathaniel Leavitt, the grandfather of William B., was born December 27, 1727, at Exeter, N.H., and died in 1824. He lived in Exeter during the greater part of his life. When he was quite advanced in years, he moved to Grantham, where he took up his residence with one of his sons. His wife, in maidenhood Lydia Sanborn, who was born in February, 1736, died October 30, 1827. She had six children by him; namely, Nathaniel, Jr., Dudley, John, Josiah, Moses, and Jeremiah. The first married, spent the greater part of his life in Grantham, and died in Vermont. Dudley and Josiab, who were Grantham, married and had children. Moses, a resident of Sanbornton, this State, and a farmer, had a large family of children, who are now widely scattered. Jeremiah lived in Canada and was engaged in farming. John Leavitt, the father of Mr. William B., born at Exeter, December 5, 1769, died in October, 1854. He was the first Leavitt to settle in Grantham, coming here when a young man. He carried on farming on an extensive scale, and was very active in town affairs, but never desired public office. He was known as a religious man, and was much respected on account of his many amiable qualities. He was three times married, on the first occasion to Mehitable Ring, who, born November 12, 1769, died October 16, 1807. Her five children were: Jonathan, John, Moses, Mary, and Thomas. His second marriage was made with Susan Burnham, of Essex, N.H., who was born in October, 1763, and died in October, 1836. Of her children Mchitable, born November 28, 1809, died October 12, 1842; Nathaniel was born on March 1, 1816; and Phylura, July 19, 1818. The others were: William B. and Isaac. The third wife, Rachel D. Bliss Leavitt, had no children. Jonathan, the eldest son of John Leavitt, was a farmer of this town, and represented it for a time in the legislature. John also was a farmer here and a Representative. Moses, likewise a farmer, lived at Grafton. Mary married Ezekiel Alexander, a farmer of Grantham. Thomas died at the age of eighteen. Isaac, twin brother of William B. Leavitt, has not married, and is a farmer in the State of Illinois. Nathaniel also was engaged in farming in Illinois, and married Susan Martin. Phylura married Samuel B. Hastings, of Grantham.
Early in his life William B. Leavitt showed a great fondness and aptitude for the sciences. He was instructed by Dudley Leavitt, a teacher of philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics, who first compiled Leavitt’s Farmer’s Almanac in January, 1796, when Washington was President of the United States and our government was but eight years old. As this publication has been continued through a period of one hundred years down to the present time, the name of Dudley Leavitt is a familiar one in all the rural households of this and many other States of the Union. At his death in 1851 Dudley left the almanac to be carried forward by his successor and former pupil, William B. Leavitt. At present the calculations for this great work are made out to the year 1914. Mr. Leavitt is a student now, as he has always been. He has given much thought to the questions of public interest which have arisen in the life of the town. His townsmen have many times wished to make him one of the public officers of the town; but Mr. Leavitt has resisted all importunities, consenting only to serve as Town Treasurer for two years and as Town Clerk for the same length of time.
Mr. Leavitt married Frances B. Merrill, who was born in Croydon, March 12, 1817, and died March 20, 1893. She was descended from one of the old and most influential families of the State. Her children were: Mandana, born August 3, 1843, who died July 28, 1869; Mary M., born November 14, 1845; Malana E., born August 28, 1847; Phylura, born August 25, 1850; William M., born April 25, 1853; Fred A., born November 14, 1856; and Frank W., born August 14, 1858. Mandana married Daniel Hanson, of North Weare, N.H., a manufacturer of shoemakers’ knives. Mary became Mrs. Oscar S. Buzzell, of Newport, and the mother of three children. Malana married Moses P. Burpee, a prominent man of Grantham, and has had three children, Phylura married Daniel Hanson after the death of his first wife, and has one daughter. William M., a government printer in Washington, successively married Ella Hines and May Renner. Fred A. married Mary Brown, of Grantham, and is largely interested in the milk business in Boston. Frank Leavitt was educated in the schools of his native town and at Colby Academy. After finishing school, he went West for a time, and did some prospecting. Since his return he has lived on the homestead with his father, engaged in farming and running a steam sawmill, which employs a number of men. He is very prominent in town affairs, and at this writing is the Town Treasurer. He married Addie Pinney, of Grantham, who was born March 28, 1863. They have three children: William B., born November 27, 1885; Wallace E., born September 20, 1890; and Ernest, born October 27, 1895.