NATHAN LEAVITT, whose history is closely interwoven with that of Stamford, was born October 6, 1834, in Clinton, Kennebec county, Maine. His father, Nathan Leavitt, was also a native of that state, while his mother, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Hanson, was born in St. Johns, New Brunswick. In their family were ten children who reach maturity, four sons and six daughters. There were also two others who died in infancy.
Nathan Leavitt was reared to manhood in his native state. His boyhood days were devoted to the occupation of farming and lumbering. His advantages for education were somewhat limited but he made good use of his opportunities. He resided with his parents until the age of eighteen years and he purchased a part of his father’s farm in Maine, retaining the ownership for a number of years or until he came to the west in 1855. He settled in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, and with the proceeds of what his farm brought him together with his other earnings he had capital sufficient to enable him to engaged in the lumber business in Fond du Lac. He became a member of the firm of Fuller, Leavitt & Company, lumber manufacturers, owning and operating a saw mill and planing mill, but in the financial crisis of 1857 the firm failed. From that time on Mr. Leavitt engaged with other concerns and with the earnings thus secured he paid off every dollar of his share of the indebtness of the firm of Fuller, Leavitt & Company. He was thus connected with the lumber interests of the north until 1862, when on the 15th of August, he responded to the country’s call for aid, enlisting in Company A, Twenty-first Regiment of Wisconsin Volunteers, with which he served for about eight months. He was in the battle of Perryville, Kentucky, October 8, 1862, and was at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in the latter part of that year and in the early part of 1863. There he was under the command of General George H. Thomas. In the battle of Perryville the company entered the fight with forty-two men but came out with only twenty-one after being under fire for probably not more than ten or fifteen minutes, the loss in that time, however, being just one-half of the company. When the company was organized on the 15th of August, 1862, Mr. Leavitt was elected by the command to the office of first lieutenant. On account of failing health, however, he resigned his commission in the army upon a surgeon’s certificate of disability and returned to Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
Mr. Leavitt then embarked in the lumber business of his own account once more and also conducted a farm near the city, which he maintained until 1873. He then sold his interests and went to California, locating in Honey Lake Valley, Lassen county, where he embarked in the dairy business in connection with farming. He remained there for about a year, but not being satisfied with his experience in California he returned to Wisconsin, locating in Brown county near Green Bay. There he farmed and also began contracting and building. In this connection he helped to build the Milwaukee & Northern Railroad extending from Milwaukee to Green Bay. He did the bridge work, taking the contracts for the same and constructing nearly all the bridges on the entire line.
In May, 1877, Mr. Leavitt came to Texas, landing in McLennan county, where he purchased a farm, which he owned and operated until 1889, at the same time following mechanical pursuits. In the year mentioned, however, he removed to Jones county, where he was connected with agricultural interests until 1900. On the 16th of January of that year he was appointed postmaster of the young town of Stamford, then an office in the fourth class. The gross receipts for the first day’s business was ten cents. In about fourteen months time the office became one of the third class with a salary of fifteen hundred dollars a year. This remarkable increase in receipts will also give an idea of the rapid growth of the town. When the office became one of the third class the postmaster was required to give a bond of five thousand dollars and that at least two men should go upon this bond and represent an aggregate security of ten thousand dollars. Mr. Leavitt, however, was not only able to secure two men but ten men volunteered to go on the bond, which they did. No higher testimonial of public confidence could be given than the fact that so many were ready to stand as a guarantee of his fidelity to duty. Mr. Leavitt owns some of the most valuable business property in the city of Stamford and it returns a good interest upon the money invested. He has been closely associated with public affairs especially in the substantial upbuilding and improvement of the town and has served on several important committees for public improvement. Whatever tends to benefit the municipality or to promote its substantial growth receives his endorsement and hearty co-operation.
Mr. Leavitt was first married in 1855 to Miss Mary Ann Jewell, of Clinton, Maine, who died in the spring of 1857. She was the mother of two children, one of whom died in infancy, while the other, Edward J. Leavitt, is now a resident of Sacramento, California, in the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. Mr. Leavitt was again married in August, 1862, to Miss Harriet A. Soper, a native of Vermont, but at that time living in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. They have four living children, two sons and two daughters: William H.; Nathan D. L.; Eliza, the wife of Claude Seth, all of whom are living in Stamford. Mr. Leavitt is entirely a self made man, owing his advancement to his own efforts and to the recognition and utilization of opportunity. What he has accomplished in the business world shows his force of character and his laudable ambition. In the years of his residence in Stamford he has won the entire respect and confidence of his fellow men, and in official service and business life has made a creditable record.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 525-526.