WILSON LEAVERTON. - Wilson Leaverton, who as a loyal soldier of the Union Army, as an enterprising business man, progressive citizen and reliable friend, made a most creditable life record, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, March 16, 1825, a son of Noah and Nancy (Bunton) Leaverton. His father was born, reared and married in Highland county, Ohio, and in 1820 removed to Indiana, where with one or two others he laid out the city of Indianapolis. there he built the old Browning House, which stood on the present site of the Bates House. He was engaged in building operations, was one of the contractors at the time of the erection of the first state house of Indianapolis and also erected the first bridge over the river. This is still standing. In 1837 he removed with his family to Bond county, Illinois, where he purchased thirteen hundred acres of land, and in connection with farming and stock-raising he continued contracting and building. he followed farming successfully for a number of years and became well known and influential in his community. In 1838 he was called upon to mourn the loss of his first wife, by whom he had seven children. In 1840 he married Miss Farrar and unto them several children were born. Leaving Illinois, he went to Leavenworth, Kansas, and became one of the incorporators of that city. He lived there a the time of the border warfare and his residence was frequently the place of rendezvous of Jim Lane, John Brown, and other leaders of the Abolition movement. At a later date he became a resident of Oskaloosa, Kansas, where he died.
Wilson Leaverton, known in Bond county as a wide-awake, energetic boy, early became familiar with the stock business while assisting his father, and at the age of twelve years began trading in stock on his own account. When a few years older he bought apples and other produce on a larger scale and hauled them to the St. Louis market, forty miles away. He also shipped to New Orleans. He went to the gold mines of California during the period of early discoveries there, crossing the plains in 1849, when about twenty-four years of age. He had many exciting and dangerous adventures when on the way, and with the others of the party almost perished for water while crossing the desert. When all the rest had given out and could go no farther he and a comrade walked ahead fifteen or twenty miles at night for water. The distance, covered, they could not speak, their tongues being so badly swollen, but after a short rest they returned with the water they could carry to the remainder of the party. Mr. Leaverton did little mining in California, but engaged in freighting to the mines and also became a successful trader, especially in horses and other live stock. After nearly two years' sojourn in California he returned by way of the Panama route. The sailing vessel on which he took passage was becalmed on the Pacific and several weeks elapsed ere they arrived at Panama. Many died of cholera while on the vessel and cholera and yellow fever were very prevalent on the isthmus, but Mr. Leaverton succeeded in at once embarking for New Orleans. In that city he was followed by some men, evidently robbers, who supposed he had gold with him, and, indeed, he had several thousand dollars in gold dust in a belt which he wore around him, but, drawing a revolver, he ordered the men to leave and was not molested any more.
Mr. Leaverton returned home with the intention of going again to California with stock, horses and cattle, but his marriage changed his plans. On the 28th of August, 1851, he wedded Jeannette T. Johnson, a daughter of Benjamin and Rebeccah Johnson, and established his home in Bond county, where he invested in land and engaged in farming and stock-raising. he was thus engaged until 1864, when he enlisted as a private of Company F, One Hundred and Thirty-fifth Infantry, under Colonel Wolfe, with whom he served for about six months. The regiment was mustered in at Mattoon, Illinois, June 10, 1864, and four days later departed for the field, reporting to General Rosecrans at Benton Barracks. They did guard duty and were mustered out, September 28, 1865. Governor Yates of Illinois said: "The officers and men of these regiments evinced the highest soldierly qualities and fully sustained the proved record our veterans have ever attained in the field." A contemporary writer, in speaking of Mr. Leaverton's service, said "It was quite a sacrifice financially for him to enlist, as his large business needed his care, as did his family, consisting of wife and several children. he was intensely patriotic and willing and anxious to do all in his power to preserve the Union and government." He became a member of Stephenson Post, G.A.R., and was known to its members for his feeling of comradeship. Notwithstanding his wealth and social position, he was ever ready to take a comrade by the hand and was ever fond of recounting the deeds of valor of brave comrades.
At the close of his military service Mr. Leaverton resumed farming and stock-raising and in 1871 removed from Bond county to Chatham township, "Sangamon county, where he purchased about one thousand acres of land. This became known as the Roselawn Stock Farm, and he made it one of the finest stock and grain farms of central Illinois. There he resided until 1893, when he removed to Springfield, where he remained until his death, which occurred September 16, 1895, when he was seventy years of age. His wife survived him until November 24, 1903, passing away at the age of seventy-five. Straightforward honesty and integrity, great energy and perseverance and an intense abhorrence of evils were the distinguishing traits of his character.
Mr. and Mrs. Leaverton were the parents of seven children, four of whom are yet living. Sadie L. was married December 23, 1875, at Chatham, to Robert L. McGuire, of Springfield, and they have one child, Susan Jeanette, born December 9, 1878, and now the wife of John Sidney Burnet, of Chicago. They were married October 28, 1903, at the Second Presbyterian church in Springfield. Mary C. Leaverton became the wife of B. C. Richie, of Georgetown, Illinois. They had four children - James K., Wilson Leaverton, Harold Benjamin, and Sadie May, deceased. The sons are Richard L. and Samuel J. the former was married October 19, 1893, to Miss Rosella Southwick, of Ball township, Sangamon county. they have one living child, Hester Rosella, born March 24, 1900, while Ester, born June 3, 1896, and Howard Richard, August 7, 1898, are deceased. Mr. and Mrs. R. L. Leaverton make their home in Springfield, at No. 551 South State Street. He feeds stock for the market to some extent, but is practically living retired. Samuel J. Leaverton married Nannie Henry, March 23, 1892. They have four children - Henry, Nettie, Ida and Martha, and live on the old Chatham farm.