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Mary Elizabeth Leavitt


Mary Elizabeth Leavitt (Reed)

Mary was born November 5, 1827 in Clinton, Maine, to Nathan Leavitt and Mary Elizabeth Hanson Baldwin Leavitt, making her the half-sister of Hannah Elida Baldwin and full sister of Sarah Ann Maria Leavitt. Mary moved to Lowell about 1844 and there joined the LDS Church and participated in the Lowell Branch while it remained in existence. In 1849, Mary had a savings account in Lowell, and was working as a carder in one of the mills. In 1855 she had another savings account.

On April 17, 1856, Mary E. Leavitt married George Everett Reed of Westford MA, in Lowell. Rev. D. C. Eddy officiated. At the time of marriage, George was working as a stonecutter. It is unlikely that he was ever LDS, yet while remaining in Lowell rather than "gathering with the Saints" in Utah, Mary remained faithful to her belief in Mormonism throughout her life.

Mary's husband George was the son of Barnard and Mary Reed, born June 27, 1819 at Acton, Massachusetts (nine miles southwest of Lowell), although raised in Westford (five miles southwest of Lowell). By 1850, he and several brothers all worked as stonecutters in Westford.

George and Mary had three children, although the names of only two are known:

  1. George N. Reed, born December 13, 1858 in Westford, Middlesex, Mass; married Estella _____ about 1883; died April 16, 1887
  2. Frederick B. Reed, born September 1869; never married

In 1860, George "Read" and his small family (Mary Leavitt Read and their one year-old son George) were running a small "Poor Farm" in Westford. Four elderly adults and one teenaged boy were inmates of their poor farm. One year later, George Reed opened a savings account in Lowell, as a "farmer". By the mid-1860s, both George and Mary Reed had savings accounts at the Lowell bank. In 1870 George, Mary, and their two boys were living in the boarding house in Lowell run by Mary's sister Sarah Lougee (along with about 35 other boards who worked in the cotton mills). George was then working in Lowell as a machinist for one of the mill corporations, and doing quite well. Their 11 year-old, George N. Reed, was attending school, and Mary was still caring for their infant son, Frederick B. Reed. (The 1900 Census gives us the information that Mary had three children, but only one survived - Frederick - so Mary apparently had given birth to another child during the 1860s.)

By 1880, the Reed family had moved to Manchester, New Hampshire, where George and Mary were running a large boarding house at 36 State Street, for 45 mostly female cotton mill workers there. Their eldest son George N. Reed became a a stonecutter and later machinist and married Estella ____ (born in Goffstown NH) about 1883. Two years later, Estella Reed gave birth to David Grant Reed on February 6, 1885. Tragically, George N. Reed grew very sick and died at 28 from lympho sarcoma and peritonitis acidemia on April 16, 1887 and then his and Estella's two year-old son David Grant Reed died four months later on August 5, 1887 from acute tuberculosis, leaving only little Frederick Reed, who never married and who lived with his mother until her death. (Estella Reed's fate is not known; no marriage or death certificates have been found for her after her husband's death in 1887.) George Reed Sr. died sometime during the 1880s or 90s and by 1900, Mary Reedand her son Frederick had returned to Lowell, where her sister Sarah Lougee had continued to live until her death. In 1899 Frederick Reed had a savings account in Lowell. A year later Frederick was working as a lathe operator for a local lumber company. The family also had three older female lodgers living with them on Elm Street in Lowell.

In 1909 the LDS Church sent two Utah missionaries to Lowell to reorganize the long defunct LDS Branch there: Elders Walter Hancock and George Rounds. (These were probably Walter Francis Hancock from Ogden, 1879-1917; and George Clarence Rounds from Bountiful, Utah, 1879-1951.) Upon arrival they somehow discovered that "Sister Reed" (Mary Leavitt Reed) had "remained true to the faith" even though there had been no branch there since the early 1850s. Thus Mary Elizabeth Leavitt Reed was a founding member of the new branch when it was reorganized by the two Elders on October 11, 1909. Unfortunately "Sister Reed," the sole person to link the old Lowell branch of the 1840s, with the new one, only lived two more months before she died in Lowell on December 19, 1909 at the age of 82.

Although Mary had been living at 9 Elm Street, she fell and fractured her hip. She was then hospitalized in the Lowell Hospital on December 14, where her broken hip became complicated by hypostatic pneumonia and myocarditis, leading to her death five days later. Her son Frederick had her interred in the Forge Village Cemetery on December 22.

[See her Death Certificate, incorrectly giving her husband's middle name as her father's surname.]

Her only surviving child, Frederick B. Reed, continued to live on Elm Street, working as a postal clerk. In 1910 he had an elderly woman living with him as his domestic housekeeper, and also had a 10 year-old girl "lodger" named Elizabeth K. Osgood living with him, perhaps as a foster child. Unfortunately Frederick died in Lowell later that year on November 19, 1910 at the age of 41.

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