IIJUANITA LEAVITT PULSIPHER BROOKS 1898-1989
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Orson Pratt Brown's distant cousin through his Uncle Myron Abbott
Juanita Leone Leavitt Pulsipher Brooks
Written by Levi S. Peterson
Juanita Brooks, a noted Utah historian, is famous for the integrity with which she insisted upon recounting the saga of the Mountain Meadows Massacre. She was born in Bunkerville, Nevada, on January 15,1898, descending through both her father, Dudley Henry Leavitt, and her mother, Mary Hafen, from Mormon pioneers of southwestern Utah and adjacent areas in Arizona and Nevada. Her grandfather Dudley Leavitt's brother, Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt had a daughter, Louisa Leavitt, who married Myron Abbott, the son of .
Juanita was raised in Bunkerville and on September 15,1919 married Leonard Ernest Pulsipher, who died of cancer little more than a year later on January 8, 1921, leaving her with an infant son, Leonard Ernest Pulsipher, Jr., born on September 28, 1920.
Most of Juanita's formal education was in the field of English language and literature. After graduating from Virgin Valley High School in Bunkerville in 1916, she attended Dixie Junior College in St. George, Utah, then Brigham Young University, from which she graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1925. She returned to Dixie to teach English and serve as Dean of Women from 1925-1933, but took the school year of 1928-1929 to complete her Master's degree at Columbia University under great adversity as a widowed mother.
In 1933 she resigned from the college to marry the local sheriff, widower Will Brooks, to whose four sons she became a devoted stepmother. Within five years the couple added a daughter and three sons to their family.
As a compensation for her interrupted teaching career, Brooks turned her attention to the history of her native region. Writing late at night on a typewriter on her kitchen table, she established herself as a historian of professional competence. She had a genius for locating pioneer diaries, which she collected for the WPA (Work Projects Administration) in the 1930's and for the Huntington Library in the 1940's. She excelled in editing pioneer documents, her most important productions being the diaries of John D. Lee and of Hosea Stout. She wrote numerous historical articles and a variety of family narratives, including a classic biography of her pioneer grandfather, Dudley Leavitt, as well as her own autobiography. For many years she served on the Board of the Utah Historical Society.
Two books elevated Brooks to fame: The Mountain Meadows Massacre (1950, revised 1962) and John Doyle Lee: Zealot, Pioneer Builder, Scapegoat (1961). The books demonstrated that Mormon militia, acting upon prior orders, assisted Indians in the treacherous massacre of California-bound emigrants in 1857 and that John D. Lee, tried and executed for the massacre, was unfairly singled out from a number of responsible officers. Characterized by impeccable research and deep compassion, these works showed that the massacre was a tragedy for the Mormons as well as for the emigrants who died at their hands. The thesis of the book, which blames the heightened passions of the Mormon Reformation, the Utah War and the over-reaction of the stake leadership at Cedar City for the massacre rather than Brigham Young (as skeptical Gentiles had always suspected) or John D. Lee (whom the Mormon church allowed to suffer alone as a scapegoat to avoid further investigation), would seem to have been a moderate, reasonable statement.
Courageously defying leaders of her church who would have preferred to leave the topic unstirred, Brooks became a symbol of intellectual independence in a faith noted for its emphasis upon conformity. For southern Utah Mormons, though, who had avoided all discussion of the event for almost a century, the book pricked sensitive folk and family memories, and Mrs. Brooks, even though she was a loyal and active Mormon before and since, suffered considerable ostracism in her community.
See: Levi S. Peterson, Juanita Brooks: Mormon Woman Historian (1988); and Juanita Brooks, Quicksand and Cactus: A Memoir of the Southern Mormon Frontier (1982).
1898 Born in Bunkerville, Nevada.
1919 Married Leonard Ernest Pulsipher; he would die just over a year later.
1925 Received bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University.
1933 Married William "Will" Brooks, sheriff of Washington County, Utah.
1930s Worked part-time for the Works Progress Administration's Historical Records Survey, and for the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
1940s Began collecting and transcribing pioneer manuscripts and diaries.
1942 Biography of her grandfather, On the Ragged Edge: the Life and Times of Dudley Leavitt published.
1950 Mountain Meadows Massacre published.
1955 Co-edited A Mormon Chronicle: the Diaries of John D. Lee, 1848-1876.
1961 Biography of John D. Lee, John Doyle Lee: Zealot, Pioneer, Scapegoat, published.
1973 Elected to honorary life membership in the Western History Association.
1978 Awarded the Charles Redd Prize in Humanities and Science by the Utah Academy of Science, Arts and Letters.
1989 Died August 26 in St. George, Washington County, Utah.
PAF - Archer files = Captain James Brown + Abigail Smith Abbott; widow Abigail of + Stephen Joseph Abbott > Myron Abbott + Louisa Leavitt < Lemuel Sturdevant Leavitt + Laura Melvina Thompson; Lemuel is the son of Jeremiah Leavitt II + Sarah Sturdevant > Dudley Leavitt I + Thirza Hale Riding > Dudley Leavitt II + Mary Hafen > Juanita Leavitt Pulsipher Brooks
Bold, additions, etc. added by Lucy Brown Archer
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