Leggroan, Susan Gray Reed
Susan Gray Reed Leggroan  began life in bondage in Mississippi. After emancipation, she migrated west to make a new home with the Latter-day Saints in the Rocky Mountains. Remarkably when she and her husband Ned made the decision to leave the South and relocate to a place so different from their early homes, they were not yet baptized into the LDS faith. After migrating to the West, they were not content to settle into city life. Ned, with Susan at his side, farmed in several rural areas of the Salt Lake Valley before leaving Utah and pioneering an uncultivated area of southeastern Idaho. When Susan died in 1928, she left a large posterity behind. The Leggroan family which she presided over with her husband was an important part of the black communities of Utah and Idaho and still is today. Family members live throughout the West, including California.
Susan, like many slaves, did not know her birthdate. She was most likely born around 1850. She used the name “Gray” as a maiden name and so was probably owned by one of the Gray families in Lowndes, Noxubee, or Kemper County in the state of Mississippi. According to the 1860 slave schedule, William G. Gray of Lowndes County held several young “mulatto” girls as enslaved servants.  Susan might have been one of them. Her family believed she was the daughter of her master.
While evidently still a teenager, Susan married Samuel Reed late in the 1860s and had two sons with him, Samuel and Andrew. Her husband must have died soon after the marriage because in January 1870, Susan married Edward “Ned” Leggroan, a widower with a young son of this own.  Susan and Ned worked in Mississippi until the following spring when they migrated to Utah with Ned’s sister and her husband, Samuel and Amanda Chambers. After arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in April, they made their home in the First Ward. The 1870 census for Great Salt Lake City, lists Susan, Ned, his son Henry, and her sons, Samuel, and Andrew, living in the household. Susan’s little boys from her first marriage did not survive long in Utah. Samuel died in October 1870 and was buried in the pauper section of the Salt Lake City Cemetery.  No death or burial information has yet been found for Andrew, but he does not appear with the family on the 1880 census.
Susan and Ned joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 5 June 1873 according to a note in The Elevator, an African American newspaper published in San Francisco.  A Salt Lake City correspondent, Frank Grice, reported items of interest taking place in Utah and the Leggroans’ conversion merited notice.
Susan and Ned’s family grew to include more children in Utah. They had their first child, a baby girl, the December following their arrival in the valley. By 1875, they and their children had moved into the LDS Eighth Ward where they lived close to several other black families in downtown Salt Lake City. Susan participated in proxy baptisms and confirmations for deceased relatives on 3 September 1875 in the Endowment House.  She stood proxy for her mother, Margaret, Ned’s first wife, Florida, and her first mother-in-law.  On 13 January 1876, while living in the Eighth Ward, she accepted rebaptism, a sign of her continued commitment to the LDS faith. 
Susan and Ned were not content to stay in downtown Salt Lake. They moved to the farming communities of Butler and Mill Creek in the southeast part of the valley. Eventually they homesteaded in southeast Idaho, establishing a sheep ranch.  There they became members of the Willow Creek Ward in 1890.  In each place in which they farmed and ranched Susan not only had to set up new households, but she also gave birth to children and cared for them under harsh frontier conditions. Besides the two little boys from her first marriage, Susan lost three of the children she and Ned had together to early deaths. George died at the age of six, daughter Lydia at the age of two, and son David at the age of eight. Out of the thirteen children born to her, she was able to rear eight to adulthood. She also cared for her stepson, Henry.
LDS records show that many of the Leggroan children were blessed and/or baptized into the church. Even after the family moved to Idaho two of Susan and Ned’s daughters, who were born after 1890, were baptized at the same time in the spring of 1900.  When the Leggroans’ seven or eight-year-old son David died in 1902, his death was recorded in the ward record. Benjamin Franklin, the youngest Leggroan, born in 1895, does not appear in any of the ward records. His descendants do not believe he was ever baptized and that while Ned and Susan remained in the LDS Church, they may have participated less during their later years in Idaho.  They never severed their affiliation with the church, however. They appear in a church wide census in 1921 and Ned, at least, had a “Mormon funeral.” 
Ned’s oldest son, Henry, did not go with his parents to Idaho, but rather stayed in Mill Creek, Utah and farmed. Like Henry, some of Susan and Ned’s children married and established homes in Utah, while others lived in Idaho as adults. The family remained closely connected, visiting back and forth. This became easier when Susan and Ned bought a car.  About 1911, they purchased a home in Idaho Falls and retired from the hard work of ranching. 
Susan’s grandchildren described her as a nice and quiet grandmother. They knew she had been a slave, but when the family discussion turned to her life in the South, Susan did not have much to say. She never talked much about the days she spent in slavery. One of her granddaughters remembered her saying, “I want to forget” because it had been “horrible.” 
Susan lived until 11 December 1928. Ned died two years earlier. At that time, the Idaho Falls and Salt Lake press published tributes that told of the respect he had earned by hard work and his survival through the “early pioneer period of privation.”  Susan lived with him through the difficult homesteading years, also earning the respect of her communities. An obituary in the Times Register reminded its readers that Susan had been born a slave and that she had come to Idaho with her husband, “the late Ned Leggroan, well-known colored man of Idaho Falls. She and her husband were always held in high regard,” the newspaper declared.  Susan was buried next to her husband and their son, David, in the small Milo, Idaho, cemetery situated in what is now lush farmland.
by Tonya S. Reiter
Bankhead, Henrietta Leggroan. [Susan’s granddaughter.] 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.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Colored Brethren and Sisters, Endowment House, Salt Lake City, September 3, 1875.” Microfilm no. 255,498. Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Eighth Ward, Part 1. CR 375 8, box1862, folder 1, images 89, 90. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Record of Members Collection. Ucon Ward. CR 375 8, box 7164, folder 1, images 49, 50. Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Correspondence,” The Elevator (San Francisco, California), 14 June 1873.
“Death of Aged Woman,” The Times Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho), 11 December 1928, 3.
Fleming, Frances [Leggroan]. [Susan’s granddaughter.] Oral interview by Leslie Kellen. Salt Lake City, Utah, 1983. Transcript. “Interviews with Blacks in Utah, 1982-1988.” Ms0453. Special Collections. J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
“Former Slave Dies in Idaho: Colored Convert Mormon Religion to Be Buried by Whites.” Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2 February 1926.
Idaho. Department of Health and Welfare. Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics. Leggroan, Mary Susan. Certificate of Death. File No. 64025, Registrar’s No. 207. Boise, Idaho.
“Leggroan.” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1914-1935. CR 4 311. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
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.
United States. 1860 Census, Slave Schedule. Mississippi, Lowndes County. (Possible)
United States. 1870 Census. Utah Territory, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City Ward 1.
United States. 1880 Census. Utah Territory, Salt Lake County, Butler.
United States. 1910 Census. Idaho, Fremont County, Rigby.
United States. 1920 Census. Idaho, Bonneville County, Idaho Falls.
Leggroan, Suzanne Rebecca “Susan” Reid. FindAGrave.com.
Reiter, Tonya. “Black Saviors on Mount Zion: Proxy Baptisms and Latter-day Saints of African Descent.” Journal of Mormon History 43, no. 4 (October 2017): 100-123.
Reiter, Tonya. “Life on the Hill: The Black Farming Families of Mill Creek.” Journal of Mormon History 44, no. 4 (October 2018): 68-89.
 Some posthumous sources list Susan’s first name as “Mary.” Her daughter carried the name of “Mary Susan,” but there is no record made during Susan’s lifetime which includes “Mary” as her first name. Her first married surname “Reed” is also spelled in various ways and may have been “Reid” or “Read.”
 United States, 1860 Census, Slave Schedule, Mississippi, Lowndes County.
 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.
 “Utah, Salt Lake County Death Records, 1849-1949,” Sameann Legrow, 30 Oct 1870, microfilm 4,139,616, Family History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. The record lists Samuel as a female, but the other information listed about the death matches with Samuel, Susan’s son.
 “Correspondence,” The Elevator (San Francisco, California), 14 June 1873. Thanks to Christopher Jones for his research which uncovered this important source.
 See Tonya Reiter, “Black Saviors on Mount Zion: Proxy Baptisms and Latter-day Saints of African Descent,” Journal of Mormon History 43, no. 4 (October 2017): 100-123.
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, “Colored Brethren and Sisters, Endowment House, Salt Lake City, Sept. 3, 1875,” microfilm no. 255,498, Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Eighth Ward, Part 1, CR 375 8, box 1862, folder 1, images 89, 90, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Louis Duffy, telephone interview with author, April 2018.
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Ucon Ward, CR 375 8, box 7164, folder 1, images 49, 50, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Record of Members Collection, Milo Ward, Part 1, CR 375 8, box 4224, folder 1, image 14, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Leggroan family researcher Judith Lawrence Williams believes this to be the case.
 “Leggroan,” Presiding Bishopric stake and mission census, 1914-1935. CR 4 311, [4 Jan 1921]. Church History Library, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
 Frances [Leggroan] Fleming, oral interview by Leslie Kellen, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1983, transcript, 93 “Interviews with Blacks in Utah, 1982-1988,” Ms 0453, Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City.
 United States, 1920 Census, Idaho, Bonneville, Idaho Falls.
 Fleming, oral interview, 95.
 “Former Slave Dies in Idaho: Colored Convert Mormon Religion to Be Buried by Whites,” The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, Utah).
 “Death of Aged Woman,” The Times Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho), 11 Dec 1928, 3.
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