James Leitch and family, Canada, c 1850
James Leitch and family, Canada, c 1850

I have been for some time been curious about the family of Mary Ann Leitch, who married Robert Neil and then moved from Upper Canada to Iowa. I have been fortunate to find information from censuses from Iowa, but there were a few blanks which I found to be a bit annoying. One of the parts of these blanks is the fate of Mary Ann’s mother, who according to a cousin, died when she was visiting her daughter in Iowa. But where was she? I could find no death notice, and no burial.


Known in various sources as Jane Frue Neal, Jean Frew, and Jean Leitch, she was buried in Long Grove Christian Church Cemetery as Mrs James Leitch. I found her on findagrave.com. I also found a Jennie Leitch buried in the same cemetery, although the dates look wrong for her daughter Jean or Jennie Leitch, it is possible it is her. And there also lies the grave of four of her grandchildren, daughter of Mary Ann Leitch Neil.

So with this information in hand I asked myself, why Long Grove Cemetery, and is this a Presbyterian or Baptist Church? I googled the church and the city of Long Grove Iowa, and I have a bit of a picture of the community, and well the circumstances that brought Mary Ann there.
A history of the church was put online, written in 1934, and revised in 1974. [Long Grove Christian Church 1839-1974 One Hundred Thirty-Five Years” by Mrs William Neil (perhaps related?). [www.celticcousins.net/scott/longgrovechurch.htm]

“In May, 1826, the Brownlie family arrived in Canada from Scotland. Alexander and James lived there until 1838. Having become dissatisfied with the British rule in Canada, they converted all their property into money and clothing and started out to look for a suitable location.”

“Robert Brownlie and his wife came to Long Grove in 1839. William and his wife and five children came in 1840. At later dates came other settlers whose names are familiar to us and whose descendants live here. Hugh Thomson, John Robertson, John Frieve and John Pollock, brothers-in-law, came together from Scotland. William Robertson followed them. John Neil came in 1846. Robert Neil, his mother and sister came in 1847.”

The whole community appears to have formed not only on dissatisfaction with British rule, but also with their religious life. They founded their own church, and it does not appear to have been connected to the Presbyterian Church. I know that Robert and Mary Ann married in the Presbyterian Church in Cornwall, Upper Canada in 1841. Curious.

I am unlikely to visit Iowa, but I would really like to see the family graves, and maybe have more information on the Neil family, and their life in Long Grove, Iowa. Anyone?

mary ann leitch chart

james leitch chart