Leggroan, Phillip Jackson

Biography

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Phillip grew up in Mill Creek, Utah on the farm of his adoptive parents, Louis and Alice Weaver Leggroan. He was born in Boise, Idaho in 1911, but soon after Louis and Alice married in 1912, they brought him into their household and raised him with Louis’s two daughters, Frances and Thelma. Leggroan descendants think Phillip may have been the child of someone in Louis’s or Alice’s family and therefore biologically related to one of them.

Like his sisters and his mother, when Phillip was old enough, he was baptized and conformed in the Wilford Ward. [1] Undoubtedly, he helped with the work on the family farm. The Louis Leggroan family lived near family members and other black families who cultivated fruit orchards and gardens in Mill Creek. [2]

In 1928, the Salt Lake City directory listed Phillip as attending school. [3] He completed one year of high school. Two years later as an eighteen year old, while still living at home, he worked as a waiter in one of the hotels in downtown Salt Lake City. [4] Phillip was also enumerated on the 1930 census in Denver. [5] He boarded with other young black men in the home of Inez Jones. He reported his occupation as being in the building trades. He stayed in Denver and found employment as a bellman the following year. [6]

In 1940 Phillip registered for the draft. [7] He named Olive Reed McBee, a widow from Arkansas and his lodger, as his next of kin. Phillip served in the U. S. Army from 20 April 1941 until 24 December 1945, when he was honorably discharged. At some point in the 1940s Phillip married Olive and at the end of Phillip’s service they made their home in Denver. [8]

Phillip and Olive did not have any children and eventually divorced. She stayed in Denver until her death and made her living as a cook, at one point operating a restaurant called “Olive’s Home Cooking.” [9] Phillip moved to Los Angeles where his sister Thelma lived. They remained very close through the next two decades.

Phillip was in good health during the first few years after he left the military and worked as a butler, but by the end of the 1940s, he had contracted an illness that left him wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. His disability did not dampen his sense of humor, however. His nephew Louis Duffy grew up visiting his “Uncle Phil” and enjoyed the jokes that he told. Phillip lived in a group home in Los Angeles where he had medical assistance and was often treated at the Veteran’s Hospital.

Phillip died in 1971 after suffering from throat cancer. He rests in Evergreen Memorial Park in Los Angeles along with his sister Thelma and her husband Mack Duffy. After leaving Mill Creek, Utah, Phillip did not continue to attend the LDS church, but did not join any other denomination. [10]

by Tonya S. Reiter

Primary Sources

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Wilford Ward. CR 375 8, box 7640, folder 1, image 241. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Fleming, Frances. Oral Interview by Leslie Kellen, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1983. Transcript. “Interviews with Blacks in Utah.” Ms 0453, box 7, folder 6. Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City.

Leggrean, Phil. City Directory. Denver, Colorado, 1931.

Leggroan, Phillip, City Directory. Denver, Colorado, 1945.

Leggroan, Phillip. City Directory. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1928.

Leggroan, Phillip. Draft Registration Cards for Colorado, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947. NAI: 5833895. Records of the Selective Service System, 1926–1975, Record Group 147. National Archives and Records Administration, St Louis, Missouri.

“Leggroan.” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1914-1935. [11 Dec 1914, 14 Dec 1920, 31 Dec 1925, 14 May 1935.] CR 4 311. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.

State of California. California Death Index, 1940-1997. Sacramento, CA, USA: State of California Department of Health Services, Center for Health Statistics.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. Records of the Selective Service System, 147, Box 138. The National Archives St. Louis, Missouri.

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

United States. 1930 Census. Colorado, Denver, Denver.

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

United States. 1940 Census, Colorado, Denver. Denver.

Secondary Sources

Leggroan, Phillip. FindAGrave.com.

Reiter, Tonya. “Life on the Hill: The Black Farming Families of Mill Creek.” Journal of Mormon History 44, no. 4 (October 2018): 68-89.


[1] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Wilford Ward, CR 375 8, book 7640, folder 1, image 241, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

[2] See Tonya Reiter, “Life on the Hill: Black Farming Families of Millcreek,” Journal of Mormon History, 44, no. 4 (October 2018): 68-89.

[3] Phillip Leggroan, City Directory, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1928.

[4] United States, 1930 Census, Utah, Salt Lake, Precinct 3.

[5] United States, 1930 Census, Colorado, Denver County, Denver.

[6] Phil Leggroan, City Directory, Denver, Colorado,1931.

[7] Phillip Leggroan, Draft Registration Cards for Colorado, 10/16/1940 - 03/31/1947. NAI: 5833895. Records of the Selective Service System, 1926–1975, Record Group 147, National Archives and Records Administration, St Louis, Missouri.

[8] Philip Leggroan, City Directory, Denver, Colorado, 1945.

[9] Denver Polk Directories.

[10] Louis Duffy is the source for information about Phillip’s military career, his illnesses, and personal traits. Telephone interview with author, 22 October 2018.

Documents

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