Thursday, March 25, 2010

Levi North

Levi was born 17 July 1817 in Rising Sun, White County, Illinois, “near Carmi”. His children had listened to their father explain his birthplace as “near Carmi” in southern Illinois. This was his way of saying that while he had indeed been born in Rising Sun, the place was no longer existed and was not shown on any maps. His parents had moved from Rising Sun, Indiana to this spot on the Illinois side of the Wabash River, just a few miles upstream from its confluence with the Ohio River. Having come from Rising Sun, Levi’s father, Sidney, had named the place Rising Sun. But the North family lived there just a few years and after they left the little settlement became obscure.

Levi’s parents were Sidney North & Mary Hawthorne. Sidney’s family was from the Hartford, Connecticut area, recently from Ohio County, Indiana, where he spent his youth and early adult life. Mary’s family was from the Carolinas with a period of time spent in Kentucky. Sometime in the 1820s Sidney moved his family to central Illinois, near Effingham. Here, Sidney and Mary would live there remaining years.

Levi met Arriminta Howard in Effingham, her family having moved there from Madison County, not far from East St. Louis, Illinois. The two were married in Effingham in November, 1837. Levi had joined the LDS Church (then called the Mormons) sometime before the spring of 1832. He had been baptized in the Presbyterian Church as a three year old and his father was upset at Levi’s choice of religions. There were some heated discussions between father and son on this. Arriminta had joined the Mormons with her mother and family before moving to Effingham. It was there that their first child, a son they named Charles Addison, was born.

Soon after his birth, Levi and Arriminta decided to join their church’s movement to gather to Nauvoo, Illinois, on the east bank of the Mississippi River. They, however, chose to settle in a smaller, Mormon community on the Iowa side of the river. This is where some of Arriminta’s family had settled. The tiny settlement was called Sugar Creek, named for the small river which ran through there.

This was not to be an easy period for this family, nor for the ever increasing members of their church, who were gathering from all over the earth. Within a year or two it was decided that the members living in Sugar Creek should move across the river into Nauvoo. There were several reasons for that. The Church was growing at a tremendous rate, bringing to the area several thousand people a month. This alarmed those who did not agree with the Mormon beliefs. There were incidents of violence which threatened to increase. But the more important reason for Levi moving his family into Nauvoo was his work on the construction of the Mormon Temple there. This had become a high priority for the church members. It was completed the first of 1846.

But the problems between the LDS and their neighbors had increased. A number of them had become serious enemies of the church which eventually led to the martyrdom of the church’s prophet Joseph Smith and his brother.

By 1846 it had been determined that the whole church membership would move west to the Rocky Mountains. Levi would pl ay an important role in this movement for he had learned carpentry while living with his father and had specialized in the building of wagons, which was, of course, the major conveyance for both people and freight. He helped build hundreds of wagons for the Saints in their exodus to the West. So, while the majority of the church at Nauvoo reached the Salt Lake Valley, Levi and Arriminta moved west only to the Kanesville area of western Iowa. There they would live, supplying wagons for the rest, until 1852. They then joined the body of Saints (which included many of Arriminta’s family) in Utah.

Brigham Young, the new church leader had saved a homesite for Levi’s family. It was just west of the fort where the Salt Lake City & County Building would later be built. The lot was located between 4th & 5th South between Main & State streets. It was a great place if you wanted to be right in the middle of everything. But that wasn’t at all what the Norths wanted. Levi quickly determined that they liked an area south-east of Salt Lake in what would later be called Millcreek. There he built a nice, comfortable home for Arriminta and the children which now numbered six. He acquired several acres of land on both sides of the country road which served as the main highway through the south-east part of the valley. He built barns, sheds and fences; he planted flower and vegetable gardens, crops and trees (both shade and fruit). He constructed a pond to hold fresh, cool water produced by a nearby spring and taught his children all he knew about the natural and spiritual realms that he loved and enjoyed.

Levi soon became involved in many of the construction projects, building roads, bridges, canals, mills, etc. He had the spacial ability to see how these things ought to be done and was respected for his work ethic and integrity. He served his community and his church in many capacities, never slacking on providing for his family’s needs.

The family did not record the events surrounding Levi’s & Arriminta’s decision to participate in their church’s principle of Polygamy. But on 2 March, 1865, thirteen years after arriving in Utah and 27 years after their marriage, Arriminta & Levi received into their home a second wife. Her name was Maren Kirstine Pedersen, a native convert from Denmark. She had immigrated to Utah to be with the Saints a few years earlier and had found employment and housing with Arriminta’s sister and family. Levi built her a home on the west side of the Country Road, across from Arriminta. There Levi and Maren would have the sweet joy of bringing nine children into the world (two would die in infancy, a third would die at age 3). Levi & Arriminta would also have nine children . Levi’s children would provide him with almost 100 grandchildren.

But the United States Government, at the insistence of some congressmen and many church enemies, did not look upon polygamy, even based on strong religious beliefs, as being morally or socially acceptable. The opposition did not start on the legislative level however. If fact, it would probably have been upheld by the laws of the land (however repulsive it is to many people) if the dissident, apostate ex-members of the LDS church had not continued to foment ill feelings among the neighboring communities. And that agitation continued, eventually spreading across the East, long after the Mormons left to settle in the Rocky Mountains, which at that time was far removed from the jurisdiction of the United States. Nevertheless, after almost 30 years of strong and bitter debate in congress and in the courts, and under the prejudicial governing of a few “anti-Mormon” governors and judges in the Utah Territory, it became law that polygamy, as practiced by the Utah Mormons, was illegal and it was ordered that all polygamous men either renounce the polygamous wives and the children of those marriages; or they would be arrested and remanded in the Territorial Prison. In 1887, under that law, Levi and his son, Hyrum, served six month sentences and were fined for their “crime”. A lot could be said about the justice system that imprisons someone who “righteously” lives a principle that has no detrimental effect on society and overlooks the actions of individuals who engage in adulterous and salacious activities which clearly cause health and social problems. At least one of the Territorial governors and several of the judges who were sent to Utah to prosecute the “lawbreakers. One of them even kept a mistress while serving in Utah, all the while having a wife and children back in the more “faithful law and church-going” East. Levi returned home after the prison term saying that it taught him a good lesson. . . in basket weaving and stitching; which is what the men did while serving their time.

He returned home just in time to be with Maren for the birth of their last child. They named him Levi Edward, but sadly the little boy lived a short three years, dying in the summer of 1990. Levi, himself lived only another three-and-a-half years, dying in February, 1894. Fortunately, he had lived a very healthy, active life all of those seventy-seven years. We have no record of the cause of his death. He left Maren with a ten year old boy, a fourteen and a seventeen year old girls. Otherwise, his other 14 surviving children were grown and most married; leaving his two wives in the capable and loving care of the children. Arriminta died in March, 1903, 9 years later, at the age of 84. Maren, who was much younger, died in September, 1939, a long 45 years after Levi. These three true “pioneers” had lived to witness the taming and the settling of the Western United States. They had begun their move to Utah in a day when Indians were the only permanent inhabitants of Utah.



  1. Does anyone in the family have a plot of the original farm in Holiday? My daughter just moved there and I would love to know if she now live on his original farm. Thanks, Mike North of the Hyrum Bennett clan.

  2. I don't know, but I'll forward your question on to my dad and see if he is aware of anything.
    Jenny, of the Charles Addison North Clan

  3. Jenny,
    Do you have a complete lineage linking Levi to John Dudley North? I cannot make the clear connection between them. If you could would you provide a link.
    Sheila (Levi North)

  4. Genny,

    I do have a complete lineage linking Levi North to John Dudley North. In fact, I have two, as Levi's great-grandparents were second cousins. Here they are:

    John Dudley North (b. 1582) and Frances Brocket
    John North (b. 1612) and Mary Bird
    Samuel North (b. 1642) and Hannah Norton
    Thomas North (b. 1674) and Hannah Woodford
    Timothy North (b. 1714) and Hannah North
    Lot North (b. 1756) and Silence Horsford
    Sydney North (b. 1782)and Mary Hawthorne
    Levi North (1817)

    John Dudley North (b. 1582) and Frances Brocket
    John North (b. 1612) and Mary Bird
    Thomas North (b. 1649) and Hannah Newell
    Thomas North (b. 1673) and Martha Royce
    Hannah North (b. 1722) and Timothy North
    Lot North (b. 1756) and Silence Horsford
    Sydney North (b. 1782)and Mary Hawthorne
    Levi North (1817)

    Does that help?

  5. My name is Guy James Fulton. I am DNA matched to many members of the North family, including Levi North, but cannot make the connection yet. I was born in Switzerland County, Indiana. My "Fulton family" has lived there since the early 1800's. My GGGrandparents married there in 1827.

    My research tells me that Levi’s parents Sidney North and Mary Hawthorne North lived in Rising Sun, Indiana just prior to their move near Carmi, Illinois. This must be where my connection to the family exists. Switzerland County, where I was born, is the neighboring county. Rising Sun is located in Ohio County. The town where I was born is less than 15 miles from Rising Sun. I actually attended the Rising Sun High School during my freshman year.

    There is a nearby community, on the Ohio River in Switzerland County, named “North’s Landing”. It was an important docking area for riverboats which were the principal means of commerce and travel in that era. I am confident this community was named after the same “North” family. I am continuing to research this connection. There is a historically important family cemetery located in Rising Sun, named “The Fulton Burying Ground”. This site is identified with a “National Historic Registry” marker. I do not know if any North family members are buried there.
    If interested you can google “Fulton Burying Ground” for more details.

    If you have any information about their lives in Ohio County, or Switzerland County, or are aware of any connection to the Fulton’s of Switzerland County or Ohio County please contact me @