WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY (Washington County, Utah)
LEVI SAVAGE JR.
(early settler of Toquerville)
BIOGRAPHYLevi Savage Jr. was born in Greenfield, Ohio on March 23, 1820 the son of Levi Savage Sr. and Polly Haynes. He was the second of 15 children. He lived his early years in Ohio and Michigan.
The Savage family was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1843 and became fully involved over the next few years. On May 5, 1846, they left their home in Michigan and left to join the other "Saints" leaving for the West. Levi Jr. was baptized into the Church in June of 1846. The family arrived in Council Bluffs in July of 1846.
On July 16, 1846, Levi Jr. signed up for a one-year enlistment in the Mormon Battalion. He was discharged from that enlistment in Los Angeles in July of 1847 arriving in Salt Lake City on October 16, 1847. There he was reunited with his father and other members of his family who had arrived in the Salt Lake Valley three weeks earlier. There he also learned of the death of his mother.
He renewed an acquaintance with Jane Mathers who he had met while traveling from Nauvoo to Council Bluffs and who his father had engaged to cook for him as they crossed the plains. Levi and Jane were married on June 23, 1848 and built one of the first cabins in the Sugarhouse (then called Canyon Creek) area of Salt Lake City. There they had a son in January of 1851, but Jane died in December of that same year.
At the October conference in 1852, Levi Jr. was called on a mission to Siam (Thailand) with four other Elders. They traveled to San Francisco and then sailed to Calcutta, India. From there they sailed to Rangoon, Burma hoping to cross into Siam, however, they learned that the country was a jungle infested with ferocious animals and renegades which made it unsafe to cross. After staying in Burma more than 3 years, he sailed back to Calcutta and in October 1855, he obtained passage to Boston arriving in February 1856.
In July, he arrived in Iowa City, Iowa where he was assigned to assist the Willie Handcart Company as a sub-captain. In Florence, Nebraska Territory, August 13, 1856 when asked to share his opinion regarding whether to continue or not, Levi related the conditions that they would most likely face leaving for the Valley so late in the season. His recommendation "to go into Winter Quarters and wait until spring" was overruled and in tragic confirmation of his warning, one fifth of the company died of starvation or freezing before arriving in Salt Lake on November 9, 1856.
In Salt Lake, Levi was reunited with his son, not yet six and a half years old. In January of 1857, Levi requested permission from Brigham Young to remarry and Pres. Young granted him permission to take one or two good sisters to wife. On October 31, 1858 in Lehi, Levi married a widow, Ann Brummell Cooper, who had two daughters - Mary Ann (then 9 years old) and Adelaide two years younger.
When the call came in 1858 for defenders to go to Echo Canyon and prevent the U.S. Army under the command of General Johnston from entering by force, Levi was there; building fortifications, standing guard, and witnessing the new Governor Cummings pass down the canyon without the army - a mark of victory for the Saints. He moved south to Lehi until the "Utah War" crisis had passed. He was a farm boy with some schooling; became a teamster, soldier, teacher, pioneer in Utah, helped to complete the Salt Lake "Old Fort" and fight in the "Cricket War". He helped colonize in Utah from Lehi, to Cedar Springs (Holden), Round Valley (Scipio), and then a brief pioneering experience at the call of President Brigham Young to Kanab, Utah where he plowed the first furrow and built the first house. Because of persistent Indian troubles, the group was told to move to Toquerville where he lived the last 45 years of his life.
Levi Jr., his three wives and the four children shared all the ordinary difficulties, sacrifices to educate the children and to send the boys on missions, deaths of grandchildren, weddings, & family dinners. This was a close knit family tied together with love for one another and for the Gospel - each one willing and happy to carry their share of the load. They traveled 23 miles to St. George on horseback frequently for church conferences, attending the temple, paying taxes, taking care of business and visiting the children in school. Frequent company for meals and "stopping overnight" was a definite part of their lives.
In 1885, at 65 years of age, Levi was arrested by U.S. Federal Marshals for "unlawful cohabitation". He was brought to trial where the judge showed him no leniency, fined him the usual $300, and sentenced him to six months in the Utah Territory Penitentiary. He was faithful to a doctrine he knew to be right even though it was now against the law of the land. He was released March 29, 1888.
The church was a dominant part of Levi's life. Everything else was second place. He was never critical of church officials under any circumstances. He was privileged to enjoy the association with authorities from President Brigham Young and many of the Apostles.
From the journal pages covering routine and often monotonous entries of daily happenings and important historical events as well, the true character of Levi Savage Jr. unfolds.
Levi Savage Jr. died in Toquerville, Washington County, Utah on December 13, 1910 and is buried in the Toquerville Cemetery.
REFERENCESLevi Savage Jr. Journal (unabridged)
First entry - 6 October 1852
Last entry - 11 March 1903
The following files were transcribed by BYU as part of their Collection of Missionary Diaries:
#1 - 1852-1855
#1a - 1855-1856 [missed pages]
#2 - 1856-1857
The following files were transcribed1 by great granddaughter Carol Christensen (April 2012):
#3 - 1858-1859
#4 - 1860-1861
#5 - 1873-1877
#6 - 1881-1890
#7 - 1891-1893
#8 - 1894-1895
#9 - 1896-1897
#10 - 1898-1899
#11 - 1900-1903
Excerpts from the Journal of Levi Mathers Savage2
Journal of Levi Mathers Savage - very large file (42.3 MB) so may take a while to load
1 Every effort was been made to correct any typographical errors while endeavoring to keep the original spelling intact.
2 Gives insights into the life of his father, Levi Savage Jr., during dates when there are no journals available.
Missionary Recommendation from Brigham Young
Handwriting Samples from Levi Savage Jr.
Brigham Young's Christmas Dinner Invitation
Plural Marriage Permission of Brigham Young
Wikipedia article about Levi Savage Jr.
Genealogy of Levi Savage Jr.
Levi Savage Jr. in Mormon Missionary Diaries
Levi Savage and Obedience to Church Authorities