Nathaniel Petit, BiographyPorter County biographical sketches . . . .

Transcribed biography of Nathaniel Petit


As far as can be ascertained, the Pettit family removed to Canada from the State of New Jersey a considerable time before the American Revolution, and settled in the vicinity of Hamilton. Nathaniel Pettit plainly recalls the fact that his grandfather kept a tavern at the foot of what was known as "The Mountain," some thirteen miles east of Hamilton, and this building was built and occupied prior to 1776. He also remembers having heard some of the elder members of the Pettit family tell of trips which their progenitors took from Jersey to Canada, and that on one of these occasions, which was made on horseback, the traveler had to be taken across an intervening river in a basket. The name of the paternal grandfather was John, and his family consisted of the following children: Robert, Charles, James, John, Annie and Joseth. Robert Pettit, the father of the subject of this sketch, was married June 25, 1812, to Miss Abigail Wilson, whose home was in the vicinity of the historical battlefield of Lundy's Lane. After his marriage, Robert Pettit tilled a farm on the summit of the "Mountain" at the foot of which his father had his tavern. To Robert Pettit and his wife six sons and three daughters were born: Charles, born April 10, 1813; Thomas W., born October 22, 1814, and died November 18, 1844; Mary A., born October 18, 1816; William, born February 11, 1819; Martha, born August 8, 1821; John, born February 7, 1823; Nathaniel, born October 18, 1825; James R., born July 12, 1829; and Abigail, born October 12, 1832. Mary A. died July 21, 1869, and Charles on the 21st of March, 1890. The father of these children, passed away November 1, 1844, and his wife, who was born at Lundy's Lane, died on the 18th of October, 1861. Nathaniel Pettit was born in Wentworth county, Canada, October 18, 1825, and started out in life for himself at the age of nineteen as a farmer, and in company with his brother-in-law, J. T. Forbes, he left his home and pushed on farther into the unbroken wilds, locating about 150 miles from his old home and some 20 miles north of Lake Ontario, where he entered land and commenced to hew out for himself a home. He took up 200 acres in one tract, and on this he erected a log house and the frame-work of a barn, which he roofed over. This move of his north-eastward, however, proved unsuccessful, as crops would not do well on account of the severe weather and climate, and at the end of three years Mr. Pettit sold his claim to a man by the name of James Thomas for the small sum of $80, and thus abandoned all idea of farming in that section, June 6, 1848, he was married to Miss Tryphena Nickerson, and in 1850, in company with his father-in-law's family, he came to Indiana, via Buffalo, Detroit, New Buffalo, and thence to Indiana. The household and other goods were hauled by wagon from New Buffalo, and Mr. Pettit recalls some unpleasant incidents connected with this journey, such as fording a stream by the light of a borrowed lantern at nine o'clock at night, etc. During 1850 he delivered cross ties for the Michigan Central R. R., at which work he earned $5 per day. In the winter of 1851 he worked at grading on the New Albany road, and also built a shanty along the line, in which he boarded the hands. He worked on the railroad and hauled wood for its building during 1852, and in this year his little daughter Lorintha, the only child they then had, died at the age of two years and four months. The same year Mr. Pettit moved to Laporte County, Indiana, where he farmed for two years; but in 1855 he was called upon to mourn the death of his wife, and life then becoming unendurable and impossible on the farm, he left it and spent the winter with his brother-in-law, Forbes, near Coburg, Porter County, Indiana. From there he moved to the farm on which he is now living, and on the 16th of April, 1856; was married again; but November 11, 1872, was divorced, from his wife. To this marriage the following children were born: Tryphena Oela, born April 7, 1859; Clara Aurelia, born June 10, 1861, and Flora, born December 11, 1863. The eldest daughter was married to Thomas Blake, by whom she has two children living and one deceased: Flora May, born September 9, 1880; Madge, born July 23,1885, and died January 5,1888; and Leslie Nathaniel, born May 13, 1889. This family lives in Chicago. Clara Aurelia married S. J. Butcher, lives in Burlington Junction, Missouri, and has one child, Byron D., who was born November 10, 1885. Flora married Dr. J. H. Perm, lives in Sidney, Iowa, and has two children: Bruce and Clara. May 27, 1874, Mr. Pettit was married to Sarah Rebecca Burch, daughter of Ruth Burch, in whose family there are eleven children: William, Hiram, Lydia, Sarah, Newton, Charles, Ella, Flora, Ida, Louis and Edward. Newton, Ida and Louis are dead, and the rest are married and living in different parts of the country. Hiram resides in Ohio with his wife, who was formerly Louisa Smith; William married May J. Derby, and lives in South Bend, Indiana; Lydia married William Marshall, and also lives in South Bend; Charles married Mary Rust, and lives in Dayton, Illinois; Ella married William Rust, is now a widow, and lives in South Bend; Flora married Jacob Williams, and lives in Lake County, Indiana; and Edward lives in Valparaiso. Mr. and Mrs. Burch were born in Delaware County, New York, and removed from there to Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, and from there to Huron County, Ohio, where the father and three sons enlisted in the service of their country during the Rebellion. Hiram and Newton were wounded and Newton sacrificed his life for his country. Both the grandfather and great-grandfather formed part of the brave little army that faced British bullets in the never-to-be-forgotten engagement at Bunker Hill, fighting throughout the Revolutionary War as members of the Colonial Army. Members of this family also took part in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War Mr. Burch lived to the age of 71 years, dying in 1889, and the mother died in 1892, at the ripe age of 78 years. The grandmother of Mrs. Pettit often related incidents of the battle of Bunker Hill, in which her husband had taken part, and Mrs. Pettit well remembers them. The battle of Big Creek, Canada, took place but seven or eight miles from the old home place of the Pettits, and after the battle the retreating armies could be plainly seen from the old house on the heights. By his present wife Mr. Pettit has become the father of two children: Ida F., born December 15, 1877, and Nattie W., born February 1, 1881, and died May 12, 1883. Mr. Pettit has ever been a staunch Republican, but is of far too genial a disposition to be a bitter partisan. In religious matters he leans toward Methodism, though not a member of the church, and Mrs. Pettit is an ardent Baptist. Mr. Pettit's advantages were by no means of the best in his youth, but by close application he has made himself familiar with those practical means of knowledge which have made him the successful man and farmer that he is to-day. There is no better conducted farm in the country, nor a finer home than his within the limits of the county, and there a refined and generous hospitality is dispensed.

Source: Goodspeed Brothers. 1894. Pictorial and Biographical Record of La Porte, Porter, Lake and Starke Counties, Indiana. Chicago, Illinois: Goodspeed Brothers. 569 p.
Page(s) in Source: 42-44

This biography has been transcribed exactly as it was originally published in the source. Please note that we do not provide photocopies or digital scans of biographies appearing on this website.

Biography transcribed by Steven R. Shook


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