Biographical Sketch of

Chauncey Leverich

"The rest of the Leverich Story"

Link to Chauncey Leverich Obituary

The story of Chauncey Leverich's murder is locally well known. According to The History of Mower County “The first person murdered was Chauncey Leverich, of Austin, by two men by the names of Silvers and Oliver, in 1856. Leverich had just opened a saloon, and Silvers and Oliver becoming intoxicated and noisy, were ordered out. They went into the street and dared him to come out; just as he stepped out of the door Silvers struck him with a steel wagon spring, and he died about one week after that time. Silvers and Oliver were arrested; the former fined $2,000, and the latter $1,000 and costs.”

But Chauncey's story begins much earlier. He was born in 1827 in Richland County Ohio to Joel and Matilda Jane (Farrell) Leverich.

From the book, “Pioneer Life In and Around Cedar Rapids, Iowa, from 1839 to 1849” by Rev. George R. Carroll we learn this about Joel Leverich, “Everybody knew him and everybody dreaded him, especially when he was under the influence of liquor, which was often the case. Even his best friends then felt it to be prudent to give him a wide berth, not knowing what instant he would take it into his head to knock them down. Whiskey seemed to make a demon of him, and to attempt to reason with him while under its influence would have been as futile as to try to reason with a cyclone. His poor wife, a most patient and estimable Christian woman, would sometimes hide away from him for days, lest in his fits of uncontrolled and uncontrollable passion he might take her life. And yet “Old Joe,” as he was popularly called, had a good deal of influence in the community. He was a strong partisan politician and whoever arrayed himself against him, was sure to have a hard battle to fight, and in the end would very likely meet with defeat.”

This leads us to assume that Chauncey’s early life was not an easy one.

According to “The History of Linn County Iowa 1911”, Chauncey married Marilla Usher March 20, 1845 in Linn County Iowa. Three children were born to them, all in Iowa; Sarah Caroline in 1846, James Birdsall about 1850, and Sylvester P. in 1853.

Marilla died before 1854 but it is unclear if she died in Iowa or Minnesota.

Chauncey is first documented in Mower County as early as 1853 with The History of Mower County stating, “The first permanent settlers in the county were: Hunter Clark, John Tifft, A. B. Vaughan, Chauncey Leverich, Austin Nichols, and others, in 1853.” It goes on to say, “The original claim on which the city is located belonged to Austin Nichols, after whom the town was named. He entered the claim in 1853, and in 1855 sold it to Chauncey Leverich.”

“The first frame house was erected by C. Leverich in 1855. He built a saw-mill and sawed his own lumber, with which to erect the building.”

Early accounts hint at Chauncey being a difficult and shrewd businessman.

In 1854 or 1855 Chauncey married a young Hannah E. Tifft.

An address by Judge Ormanzo Allen delivered at a Mower County Old Settlers Association reunion on June 12, 1884, included the following observation: "The first frame house built in the county was built by Chauncey Leverich on lot 5 in block 2, in the village of Austin, near where the dwelling house of James T. Sargent now stands. By so doing the Leverichs were accused, at the time, of putting on 'aires' which frame house long since went down before the corroding tooth of time.”

Hannah Tifft Leverich was born about 1836 in New York to John and Elizabeth Tifft. Two of her brothers, Robert T. and Stephen were killed in the Civil War. Robert died from a gunshot wound at Vicksburg Mississippi May 22, 1863. Stephen died of his wounds, at home in Austin, on April 12, 1864.

Little has been written about the Leverich family after Chauncey’s untimely demise but one interesting fact is that when Chauncey was killed, his second wife Hannah E. (Tifft) Leverich was pregnant with his child. Lillian C. Leverich was born in Austin December 14, 1856.

Also, the 1860 census shows another child, Tully D. Leverich [could be “Tilly”], age 6, female, born about 1854, living with Hannah and Lillian, age 4. [Hannah, Tully, and Lillian are erroneously listed as “Levins” instead of Leverich in the 1860 Mower County census]

It’s unclear who Tully is as no relationship is stated but she does not show up in any other censuses with Hannah and no other trace of her is to be found.

If she was in fact the child of Chauncey and Hannah, this means that Chauncey would’ve had to have married Hannah immediately after the death of his first wife Marilla as their son Sylvester had been born August 20, 1853.

After Chauncey’s death Hannah remained in Austin and lived in the hotel above the saloon. She apparently had all the children in her care, including Chauncey’s three young children by his first marriage.

From an interview with the Austin Daily Herald, July 1956, Grace Leverich Bixby, granddaughter of Chauncey had this to say, “His [Sylvester’s] famous father was murdered in his store on the corner of Bridge and Chatham streets. Sylvester was then three, youngest of three children, who were later abandoned by the second Mrs. Leverich.

The Leverich boys were reared by their older sister, Sarah Caroline, who was the grandmother of Helen L. Richards. Both Helen and Grace admired the Leverich family, but not for Chauncey's second wife [Hannah Tifft]. "who left the children to shift for themselves in a hotel over a saloon. The woman, who had been a school teacher 'had a pretty face, and that's about all.'

The 1860 census records seem to at least somewhat substantiate Mrs. Bixby’s account. It shows Hannah Leverich, widow, living in Austin with Tully and Lillian Leverich, as well as David Tubbs, who’s listed as a single man.

Chauncey’s three children by his first wife were separated; Sarah Caroline, age 14, is shown living in the home of the D.D. Pangburn family at Center Point, Linn County Iowa; James B., age 11, is found residing in the home of Theodore Flitcroft at Washington, Linn County Iowa, and Sylvester P. is shown living with his maternal grandmother Matilda Leverich at Center Point, Linn County Iowa.

Three years later, on September 9, 1863, Hannah eloped to Albert Lea, Freeborn County Minnesota and married David Tubbs. The following March a daughter named Eva was born to them.

David Tubbs was born September 12, 1831 in New York to Hiram and Sarah (Johnson) Tubbs.

David’s brother, Daniel J. Tubbs was a locally famous bridge builder and the draftsman of the original Mower County courthouse.

David was a Civil War veteran having enlisted into H Company, 1st Cavalry Minnesota on October 31, 1862. He was discharged due to a disability from 1st Cavalry (Minnesota) on Mar 23, 1863.

In about 1865 Hannah and David left Minnesota and moved to Gentry County Missouri where another daughter, Frances was born in 1866. A son, Ulysses Sidney soon followed in 1870.

By 1880 Hannah and David were divorced.

David went on to marry Sarah Elizabeth Weese, a woman 33 years his junior, in about 1885 and they had three more children; Frank in 1886, Lee in 1888, and Leonna in 1891.

The 1900 census for Noble County Oklahoma shows David at age 68 living with his son Ulysses and not with his wife Sarah (Weese) Tubbs.

David died November 30, 1919 at the age of 88 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Sarah (Weese) Tubbs died April 20, 1935 at Omaha, Nebraska.

Chauncey’s oldest child Sarah Caroline married Daniel Harvey Richards and died in 1931 at Sterling, Illinois.

Son Sylvester married Mary Louise Knight and died May 27, 1940 at Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Little is known of James Birdsall Leverich at this time.

Chauncey’s daughter with Hannah, Lillian C. Leverich married William Krariker. Lillian died December 6, 1938 at Gentry Co. Missouri. She was 82.

Although it is easy to view Hannah in an unfavorable light and taking into account what might have been considered scandalous at that time, it must be remembered that Hannah was a mere 18-19 years old when she married Chauncey Leverich, a man ten years her senior.

Just married, young, and pregnant when her husband was murdered, she was left to fend for herself. The responsibility of the hotel and saloon plus all of Chauncey’s other real estate and holdings fell to her. She was only 20 years old when left to deal with the aftermath of Chauncey’s passing, with 4 and possibly 5 very young children to care for. And contrary to some earlier accounts, Hannah didn’t “run off”. She stayed in Austin for about 8 years, from the time of Chauncey’s death in 1856 until she moved to Missouri with her new husband David Tubbs in 1864-65.

Hannah Tifft Leverich Tubbs died November 8, 1907 at Gentryville, Gentry Co. Missouri.

Written by K. Pike, April 25, 2008