Leggroan, Henry Alexander

Biography

picture of Henry Alexander Leggroan

Henry’s mother and father were slaves. He was also born into slavery in the deep South. His mother, Florida, died while he was a young boy and his father, Edward “Ned” Leggroan, married Susan Gray Reed in January 1870. [1] Susan was a widow with two young sons. Henry’s father and step mother migrated to Great Salt Lake City in April, 1870. They made that trip with Ned’s sister, Amanda and her husband Samuel Chambers. Samuel Chambers had been baptized in the South while still enslaved, but his wife, and the Leggroans where not Mormons. In 1873, three years after they arrived in Utah Territory, the adults joined the LDS church. Henry was likely baptized at the same time although a record of the ordinance does not survive. [2] Although the exact date of Henry’s baptism is lost, LDS records consitently indicate he was a member.

Henry’s father, Ned and Susan had a large family, so Henry grew up with his half-brothers and sisters. The Leggroan family moved to several locations around the Salt Lake Valley, establishing farms before homesteading in southeast Idaho. Henry was an adult when his father and stepmother left Salt Lake. He stayed behind and on May 20, 1889, Henry married Esther Jane James, who was the daughter of Sylvester and Mary Ann Perkins James and the granddaughter of Jane Elizabeth Manning James. [3] The newly married couple settled in Mill Creek and farmed there the rest of their lives.

Henry and Jane Leggroan lived near other black farming families, most of whom were related to each other. Henry and Jane grew vegetables, cultivated fruit trees and berries and raised farm animals. A daughter remembered that after her grandparents had moved to Idaho, her father took peaches to her grandfather, Ned, in exchange for apples her grandfather grew. [4] Henry also worked on a farm owned by the Spears family and did road work to supplement his income. He farmed in Mill Creek for over fifty years. [5] In 1915, Henry was appointed as a delegate to the annual conference of the National Negro farmers and Rural Teachers Association in San Francisco. [6] Annie Dexter Clayton was a neighbor and fellow ward member. Many years later she remembered the Leggroans and their farm, “They had this little fruit farm up there and their income must have been very meager because we used to buy our peaches and things that we didn’t have on our own place from him [Henry]. They just had two rooms and . . . about six children in those two rooms. They were just the finest people.” [7]

Henry and Jane actually had seven children, Hyrum, Sarah Ann, Henrietta, Gilbert, Edward, and Russell. An unnamed baby girl, who died as an infant, was the seventh. Gilbert died as a seven-year-old child, but the other children lived to adulthood. All of them were baptized into the LDS Church. The family belonged to and attended the Wilford Ward. [8] According to Clayton, Leggroan family members were not completely integrated into the ward. She remembered Henry’s wife, Jane, as a more active participant than Henry. [9] Clayton knew “they felt the prejudice.” [10]

Annie Clayton recognized that her ward members could have done a better job befriending the black families who lived in Mill Creek. She felt that she, as an Englishwoman, did not have the same biases as her American neighbors and enjoyed visiting with Henry’s family. She described Henry as “a fine person. He was quite a large man.” [11] She summed up her opinion of him by saying, “Yes, Henry was a nice person.” [12]

Henry and his wife, Jane, remained in the LDS Church throughout their lives. He died on July 9, 1944 and LDS Bishop LeRoy Karren officiated at his funeral at the Wilford Ward chapel. He is buried at Elysian Burial Gardens in Millcreek, Utah near other family members. [13]

Primary Sources

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection. Wilford Ward, Part 1. CR 375 8, box 7640, folder 1, image 31. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Funerals," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 12 July 1844, 17.

“Judge Loofbourow Appoints Delegates.” The Salt Lake Tribune. Salt Lake City, Utah. 31 Jul 1915.

“Leggroan.” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1914-1935. Granite Stake. Wilford Ward. 11 Dec 1914, 16 Dec 1920, 31 Dec 1925, Aug 1930, 6 May 1935. CR 4 311. Church History Library. Church of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Leggroan." Presiding Bishopric stake census, 1940. CR 4 313. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

“Loofbourow appoints thirteen Negroes to Represent Race Here.” Salt Lake Telegram. Salt Lake City, Utah. 30 July 1915.

Mississippi. Marriages, 1800-1911. Ned Lagrone and Susan Reed. 18 Jan 1870. Database, FamilySearch. Microfilm 900,889. Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Obituaries," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 10 July 1844, 11.

"Obituaries," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 12 July 1844, 17.

United States. 1870 Census. Utah Territory, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City.

United States. 1880 Census. Utah Territory, Salt Lake County, Butler.

United States. 1900 Census. Utah, Salt Lake County, Mill Creek.

United States. 1910 Census. Utah, Salt Lake County, Wilford.

United States. 1920 Census. Utah, Salt Lake County, Precinct 3.

United States. 1930 Census. Utah, Salt Lake County, Precinct 3.

United States. 1940 Census. Utah, Salt Lake County, Precinct 3.

Utah. County Marriages, 1887-1937. Henry Leggroan and Esther Jane James, 20 May 1889. Database, FamilySearch. Microfilm 429,054. Family History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Utah State Board of Health. Bureau of Vital Statistics. Certificate of Death. Leggroan, Henry Alexander. File No. 1176. Registrar’s No. 1388. Utah State Archives. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Secondary Sources

Bankhead, Henrietta Leggroan. Oral interview by Florence [Leggroan] Lawrence. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1977. Transcript. Helen Zeese Papanilolas Papers, 1954-2001. Ms0471. Box 2, folder 3. Special Collections. J. Willard Marriott Library. University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

Clayton, Annie. Oral interview by William G. Hartely. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972. Transcript. OH 1. Church History Library. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Leggroan, Henry Alexander. FindAGrave.com.


[1] Mississippi Marriages, 1800-1911, Ned Lagrone and Susan Reed, 18 Jan 1870, database, FamilySearch, microfilm 900,889, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[2] United States, 1870 Census, Utah Territory, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City.

[3] Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1937, Henry Leggroan and Esther Jane James, 20 May 1889, Database, FamilySearch. Microfilm 429,054, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[4] Henrietta Leggroan Bankhead (Henry and Jane’s daughter) oral interview by Florence [Leggroan] Lawrence, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1977, transcript, Helen Zeese Papanilolas Papers, 1954-2001, Ms0471, box 2 folder 3, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[5] Bankhead, oral interview.

[6] “Judge Loofbourow Appoints Delegates,” The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), 31 Jul 1915.

[7] Annie Clayton, oral interview by William G. Hartely, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1972, transcript, 6, OH 1, Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[8] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Wilford Ward, CR 375 8, box 7640, folder 1, image 31, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[9] Clayton, oral interview, 7.

[10] Clayton, oral interview, 9.

[11] Clayton, oral interview, 6.

[12] Clayton, oral interview, 7.

[13] "Obituaries," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 10 July 1844, 11; "Obituaries," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 12 July 1844, 17; "Funerals," Salt Lake Telegram, (Salt Lake City, Utah) 12 July 1844, 17; Leggroan, Henry Alexander, FindAGrave.com.

Documents

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