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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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Jonathan Leighton

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 394 - 395

Since 1844, our subject has been an honored and prominent citizen of Sheboygan County, and needs no introduction to his many friends and neighbors, who are ever welcome in his hospitable home, which is located on section 31, Sheboygan Township. He is a native of Somerset County, Me., and was born May 31, 1815. He is the only child of Jonathan and Nancy (Fowler) Leighton. He was reared on a farm until he was sixteen years of age, when he learned the carpenter's and joiner's trade. When ten years old he went to live with an uncle, who was his guardian, and remained with him for four years. His education was limited, as the schools of that day were of a primitive character. When fourteen years old he commenced the battle of life for himself without a dollar, and has always been an active and industrious man. For his first work he received the compensation of $8 per month, continuing at the same wages for three years. He then learned his trade in Athens, and afterwards went to the Penobscot River, where he lived for about four years.

The marriage of Mr. Leighton took place on the 11th of March, 1839, when Miss Elizabeth C. Littlefield became his wife. By their union have been bom eight children, six of whom are living. Frances E. is the wife of Melvin Gifford, a farmer in the town of Omro, Minn. George H., a resident of Lake Preston, S. Dak., married Miss Caroline Cary, by whom he has a son, Earl. George H. was a member of Company B, Twenty-seventh Wisconsin Infantry, under Capt. Stannard and Col. Krez. He enlisted at Plymouth, in August, 1862, and was honorably discharged at the close of the war. Some of the principal battles he was in were: fall of Vicksburg, Saline River, siege of Mobile, and capture of Ft. Blakery; he was also in the Red River expedition. Charles A., whose home is also near Lake Preston, married Miss Margaret May, by whom he has four children, Arthur, Hattie, Robert and Roy. Charlotte E. is the wife of Rev. Lucian J. Dinsmore, Pastor of the Third Universalist Church of Chicago. Both he and his wife are graduates of Lombard College, of Galesburg, Ill. They have one little daughter, Nina B. L. Isabel is a successful teacher of Sheboygan County, having taught for twenty-one years. She was educated in the Sheboygan Falls High School, and at present is teaching in the same city, this being her fifth year there. Arthur J., who has also been a successful teacher, is now engaged in farming in this county. He was educated in the Sheboygan Falls High School. His wife was formerly Mrs, Sadie Tras. Alice died at the age of two years. The youngest of the family died in infancy.

Our subject's wife was the eldest in a family of three children born unto Aurin Z. and Betsy (Littlefield) Littlefield. Their next younger child, Aurin D., was killed on the battle-field of Chickamauga, being first shot in the right hand, severing the thumb and forefinger, and then receiving a final wound, which proved fatal. He was a member of Company C, First Wisconsin Volunteers. Diantha, a resident of Riverton, Mich., is the wife of George W. Tyler, who was a farmer, and whose death occurred November 24, 1868. Mrs. Tyler is, at present writing, on a visit to Sheboygan, where she lived twenty-four years ago, She has two sons and a daughter living, all natives of this county. Henry H. is a resident of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and follows the occupation of a mechanic. He married Miss Catherine Grant, and they have one daughter, Georgiana. Ida is the wife of William W. Knapp, a farmer living near Riverton, Mich., and they have nine children, Emma O., Cora V., Fred W., Ernest L., Ella I., Alice, Roy, Leo G. and Walter E. Walter G., who married Miss Hattie Hathaway, is engaged in farming near Riverton, Mich.

Aurin Littlefield was born in March, 1800, in Maine, and died in 1847. Mrs. Leighton's maternal grandfather served in the Revolutionary War, and also in that of 1812. He was a youth of sixteen when he fought in the battle of Bunker Hill, and he also took part in the battles of Ticonderoga, Bemis Heights, Crown Point and Plattsburg. The residence of the Littlefield family in America can be traced back to the days of the Indian Wars. Mr. Littlefield was a poor boy in his youth, but became a well-to-do man in later years, being self-made in every particular, and an honor to his country. He often hauled produce on a hand-sled from the Kennebec River to Montreal, Canada, with the proceeds buying broadcloth, which he sold, and thus got his start in business life. His wife was bom in 1788, in Maine, and died in 1866.

The birth of Mrs. Leighton occurred October 2, 1822, in Somerset County, Me. She was educated in the common schools and in Bloomfield Academy. In the spring of 1844, she came with her parents to Sheboygan Falls, making the trip by stage as far as Hallowell, Me., thence by steamboat to Boston, and by cars to Buffalo, where they boarded a steamer bound for Milwaukee, arriving there in due time. The trip to Sheboygan was made by Mrs. Leighton and her daughter Frances in two days. After three years of married life our subject had come to the West to make a home for his family, and landed in Milwaukee in June, 1843. His first work was to set up the first billiard tables in that city, for he worked at the carpenter's trade. He helped to sink the first crib in the first Milwaukee Harbor, and he drove the first pile for the first pier in Sheboygan City. The former place contained four thousand inhabitants, and Sheboygan had scarcely fifty people.

In 1844, our subject embarked in the lumbering business, in which he continued for twenty years. In company with his father-in-law he built a sawmill, which was known as the Littlefield & Leighton Mill, and was located about a mile from his present home. It was erected on a wager with a Racine firm for a barrel of flour, the bet being made about July 1, and they were to be able to saw lumber by the 1st of September. It is needless to say that our subject and partner won the wager. The firm entered forty acres of land at the Government price of $1.25 per acre. The farm now cultivated by Mr. Leighton contains one hundred and thirty acres, with a comfortable home and good improvements.

In 1864, in company with twelve men, Mr. Leighton went to the mountains to engage in digging for gold. They started with ox-teams from Sheboygan on the 7th of April, and August 3, 1864, reached their destination, Bannock City, Mont. Our subject spent seven years in the mountains, undergoing all the hardships of a miner's life, and was rewarded by fair success. He has never desired official positions, though he has often been urged to accept them. He supported the Tippecanoe and Tyler campaign, and has of late years espoused the cause of the Republican party. Socially, he belongs to Harmony Chapter No. 11, A. F. & A. M., of Sheboygan. Mr. and Mrs. Leighton have many friends in this locality, and have ever been upholders of all public enterprises.


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