Name: Joseph Pettet
Born: ca. 1815128
Died: by 1888
Place: prob Putnam Co., MO
Married: 20 Jan 1835
Place: Morgan Co., OH35
Photo courtesy of Joan G Italiano
According to the census schedules, Joseph
could neither read nor write. The natural assumption, then, is that he
didn't know how to write, even spell, his own name. Because his daughter
appears to have always spelled it P-e-t-t-i-t, and because
that's the most commonly-found spelling, I've always spelled his name
that way. And it's because of the commonality of the spelling that I called
my short-lived periodical, published The Pettit Correspondent
(TPC), not The Pettet Correspondent. However, anyone studying the
Pettits of Morgan County, Ohio will quickly see a pattern in the two
spellings, certainly by the 1850 census. Generally, the spelling for those
living in the county having New Jersey origins is generally spelled Pettit
and those of Pennsylvania origins have their names almost invariably spelled
Pettet, sometimes Petit and other small variations. The reasons for this
apparent convention are now lost to us, but I speculated a bit about that,
"The Civil War Pension
Records of Oscar B. La Pettit". I'm no longer certain that the premise
Sometime ago I was browsing the genealogy pages of fellow researcher and
Joseph-descendant Rick Lewis and
noticed and noticed the contemporary family consistently spells that name as
Pettet. The convention obviously passed through to at least some of
Joseph's children and grandchildren. I now realize hat despite Joseph's
illiteracy, he might certainly have known how to spell his name. My
question now is whether they knew why they spelled differently.
They might simply have wanted to distinguish themselves from their New
Jersey born Pettit neighbors. But the "et" spelling appears to have
originated prior to their migration west. For whatever reason, there's a
long-standing convention among the Morgan County, Ohio Pettets.
So, I no longer shy from the Pettet spelling. That the spelling did not
survive down my branch of the family is no reason to doubt the
purposefulness of it. And, despite what most of the records for him say,
I've decided to re-christian, as it were, this most elusive ancestor, as
Joseph Pettet, as I'm now convinced that he likely was not indifferent to
the spelling, and that that's how he would have wanted it.
According to the 1900 Federal census131 for Joseph's wife, Elizabeth
Pettet, they had ten children, nine living. I don't know the identity of the
|1: Solomon Corrick
2: Thomas Avis1
||Thomas and Margaret Avis appear on the 1900
census for Lee county IA, page 310. She had 5 children.
||15 May 1842
|James M Avis1
27 May 1866
Lee co IA
|3 Mar 1926
Putnam co MO
|Cole C Lewis
29 April 1860
Putnam co MO
||11 Apr 1846
26 Apr 1866
Putnam co MO
|19 Jun 1930
Putnam co MO
||19 Nov 1848
|Harvey B Powers
12 May 1867
Putnam co MO
|19 Jun 1927
||9 Feb 1849
Morgan co OH
13 Feb 1873
Putnam co MO
|7 Oct 1931
||27 Aug 185?
Morgan co OH
|Sarah Elizabeth Riddle
23 Feb 1873
Putnam co MO
|8 Jan 1931
Rock Island IL
||1 Jun 1855
Morgan co OH
|1: Curt Buckworth
11 Jan 1877
Putnam co MO
2: Joseph Robertson
8 Aug 1879
Putnam co MO
|2 Jul 1937
||20 May 1856
Morgan co OH
|Emma Rose Leighton
22 Jun 1879
Putnam co MO
|20 April 1902
Canyon co ID
Piecing together the Pettets of Morgan County, Ohio is very complicated
and possibly the most difficult genealogical puzzle I've encountered. I'll
present an overview here but there's no point in repeating what I'd already
published in The Pettit
Correspondent. Before providing some of the background, it may be best
to first explain my pet theory about Joseph's parentage to illustrate the
relevance of the following.
There are two general theories for Joseph's parentage. The first and the
simplest -- that has was one of the younger, unknown sons of Thomas Pettit
of Muskingum County, Missouri -- may be the best. But there's a good and
sensible second theory, particularly considering that Joseph has been so
difficult to connect to the main branch.
I believe Joseph may have been an illegitimate son of Nancy Ann
Pettet, daughter of the below mentioned Elijah Pettit and niece of the
above-mentioned Thomas. Although we're not yet certain about Joseph birth
year, 1815-1816 seems likely. Nancy is known to have had an illegitimate
daughter (Martha) in Perry County, Ohio in 1818.3 In 1825, she
married her cousin, Plummer Pettet, in Muskingum County, Ohio as his second
wife, bearing him three sons (he had two sons from his previous marriage to
Amanda Bixby). Plummer died by 1830 and Nancy married her widower
brother-in-law, Hugh Riley -- her deceased sister's husband -- in Morgan
County in 1834. This already leads us to a rather twisted genealogy,
especially when considering that her illegitimate daughter, Martha Pettet,
married into the New Jersey descended Pettit clan. (I had long considered
that the two families were not related. But Y-DNA results are telling us a
Genealogists typically look toward our targets' neighbors for clues.
Nancy and two of her sons from Plummer are living near Joseph much later in
Putnam County, Missouri. This doesn't prove anything -- cousins often
relocated near one another. But considering Nancy's history, the
relationship is very possible, if not likely.
The Pettets lived in Morgan, Muskingum and Perry counties Ohio in
reasonably large numbers by the 1850 census. Apart from some marriage
records, deeds, and census records, few primary documents survive from the
earlier dates. It's certain, however, that an Elias Pettit died and left a
will in Westmoreland county PA in 1789. It names sons George Hughes, Thomas
Pettit and Elijah Pettit. (Anyone's best guess at this time is that George
Hughes was either a stepson or son-in-law.) Son Elijah died in the same
county only ten years later, leaving the following heirs: wife Leah,
daughter Ann (Nancy), son Joseph and daughter Elizabeth (Betsy).
An 1816 deed in Washington county, Ohio ties Elijah's family to the
Morgan county Pettets. His son Joseph, born June 5, 1795 sold the father's
land, by consent of his co-heirs, to Henry Kerns. Elijah's heirs are listed
in the deed as Thomas and Lea Fate (his widow and her second husband), Ann
Pettit (Nancy -- she was not yet married), and Hugh and Elizabeth Kelly
[sic, should be Riley], all of Washington County. (Elijah's daughter,
Elizabeth, married Hugh Riley the previous year in Fairfield County,
So, per the 1816 deed, we can prove the following, leaving out "son"
Elias Pettit (-1789)
Thomas Elijah (-1799) m Leah
Nancy Ann Joseph Elizabeth m Hugh Riley
(1792-1887) (1795-1855) (c1830)
Does my Joseph Pettet fit into that family? In a one word, no, unless he
was Nancy's son. Elijah's son, Joseph Pettet, had three children, all sons:
- Elijah (c1820-1881) m Susanna Moore
- Francis (c1823-) m1 Jane Parker m2 Frances L Dolson
- Joseph, Jr (c1825-)2 m Sarah Ann Morris
Joseph Jr, it should be noted, was divorced by his wife after running off
Elias's son, Thomas (brother of Elijah), is not as well documented. But
we do know he had a daughter named Lovey. An article was published about
her in 1905, which I reprinted in TPC. From
that we know the following:
- Lovey was born in 1809.
- Thomas moved his family to Muskingum County, Ohio in 1819.
- Thomas had 9 children, one an infant in 1819.
- Plummer Pettit was Lovey's half-brother.
- Lovey's mother (presumably Thomas's second, or more, wife) spun thread
which Lovey sold in Zanesville. The mother died in Zanesville in 1821.
- Thomas (Mr Pettet) moved to Deerfield township, Morgan County, after his
wife's death. He later moved just across the county border to Bearfield
township in Perry County.
The following obituary came to me from Ann Auskin in June, 1985. I've
never been 100% certain that Lovey and Thomas were brothers, however it's
very likely the case. The particulars, including the year of emigration to
Ohio, fit perfectly.
PETTET-Death has invaded the home of Thomas Pettet, and claimed him for its
victim. He was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, March 19, 1807; removed
with his parents to Ohio at the age of 12 years; married to Jennie Barron,
June 21, 1838, with whom he lived happy for over fifty years. He died July
19, 1888, aged 81 and 4 months. He leaves a wife, three sons, four
daughters, four grand-sons, four grand-daughters, one brother and three
sisters to mourn their loss.
Mr Pettet was one of the pioneer settlers of Porterville [Perry county,
Ohio]. He located here when this was part of a vast wilderness, and by his
labor and industry, and the help of a very frugal companion, he improved and
cultivated the farm on which he lived, from that time until his death.
Honest, truthful, generous qualities adorned his life. In sickness or health
he was kind and benevolent. He was a consistent member of the Christian
Union church. The minister who labored at the Zion church will long remember
the kindly greetings with which they were always received at his home and
the friendly chats with brother Pettet around his fireside.
According to researcher Elvin Pettet, his William Pettet, who died in
Hocking county, Ohio in 1885, is of this family. I received this in an email
from him in December 2007:
I met Mary Mossaline (Pettet), Ketchum in Perry County, who was 95 years
old, and sharp as a tack! She was a gg granddaughter of Thomas b.1765, and
had a large family bible filled in with the family line, back to this
Thomas. She didn't have his birth year filled in, but I saw his name listed
in her bible, as the father of Thomas b.1807, and William b.1805
We now have this as a possible re-creation of Thomas's family:
Thomas Pettet, Sr
| | | | | | |
Plummer William Thomas Lovey male 2 females 2 others
(c1790s-1830) (1805-1885) (1807-1888) (1809-1907) living living died by
1888 1888 1888
We now know that the living male was probably Daniel, 1811-1900+. The
last known record for Joseph is the 1880 census. If the Lovey story is
accurate, and Joseph belongs here, he was dead by 1888.
A Rachel Pettet (note the spelling) married Peleg Rumfield on 18 April
1839 in Morgan Co, OH. She was born in PA in 1819. Might she have been the
infant in the 1819 immigration story? She died in Miegs County in 1886 so
could have been the second of the two died by 1888.
The 1800 Mercer county, PA census shows Thomas with no wife, two males to
10 and two females to 10. If this is an accurate representation of his
family, then we can assume that Thomas had four children, one of them
Plummer, by his first wife, all born in the 1790s, and that she was dead by
1800. His second wife, then, bore six children by the time of her death in
1821: Lovey, Thomas and four others.
Here we have Thomas with six children, four (presumed) sons and two
daughters, along with his wife in 1810. Clearly, his son Thomas had a
brother close to his own age -- William. Plummer and Lovey would also have
1810 > PENNSYLVANIA > MERCER > MAHONEY TWP
Series: M252 Roll: 52 Page: 64
Thomas Pettit 20201 1101000
So we have Plummer and an unknown male (presumably the second boy on the
1800 census), William and Thomas, Lovey (born within the year), and a
daughter some years older than her. In other words, we can be certain of
four of the six children.
There are two Thomas's on the 1820 census for Zanesville. Thomas B Petit
is engaged in commerce, 26-45 years old. I believe him to be the shoemaker,
Thomas B Pettet, of Morgan county. He was born in Pennsylvania, 28 August
1795 and died 11 Dec 1873 in Morgan County. More on him later.
Thomas Pettit, found on the next page, is likely Lovey's father. However,
the enumeration doesn't match to what we know of his family. There is no
female, for example, of sufficient age to have been Lovey's mother. In
fact, the three females listed are all 10 or under. Lovey would have been
closer to 11. Also, there are 10 children altogether. Far more than Thomas
would have had living at home at the time.
1820 > OHIO > MUSKINGUM > ZANESVILLE
Series: M33 Roll: 92
p 136 Thomas B Petit 000010 01010
p 137 Thomas Pettit 321101 30000
There is Thomas Petit in Bush Creek town (page 156) but he is of
insufficient age, 16-26, to have been Lovey's father.
We know from the article on Lovey that her father moved to Bearfield
township in Perry county, which is just across the county line from
Deerfield township, Morgan county. We can be fairly certain that this is
him. Lovey was married to David Appleman by this time.
1830 > OHIO > PERRY > BEARFIELD
Series: M19 Roll: 137 Page: 375
Thomas Pettit 001100001000 002000000000
Judging from the census and other data, Thomas appears to have first been
married by the early 1790s and married again between 1800-1805, say c1803.
The 1830 census indicates he was born between 1760-1770. If this is
accurate, he had a son and two daughters born between 1816 and 1820, and a
son born circa 1811-1815. It's now all but certain that the oldest son was
Daniel (1811-1900+). If Joseph was of the family, he was the younger of the
two. The age would be right as he married Elizabeth Mohler in 1835.
Elvin Pettet believes, and I am tempted to concur, that the elder male
named in the 1840 census for William's household is William's father,
Thomas. (It's possible, of course, that this person was an in-law or
1840 > OHIO > PERRY > BEARFIELD
Series: M704 Roll: 419 Page: 112
Thomas Petitt 0000101000000 1000200000000
William Petitt 1200010001000 2000010000000
As I edit this once again on 27 November 2018, I've stumbled on this note
at this spot: "NOTE: This is where I left off 7 Dec 2007. I will resume
soon!" Eleven years was a lengthy pause! It's okay, because each time I go
through this, I learn something new. And it now seems more likely that
Joseph was Thomas's son. Frankly, there are no other good candidates who
could have been this missing son.
I've started working on article I hope to publish in my genetic genealogy blog during January
2019 about the DNA evidence. I've held back to date because I've not been
able to convince any Pettet cousins to test. But a benchmark exists. Not
only has a descendant of William Pettet (1805-1885) tested, so have a number
of men who claim descent from Thomas Pettit (1609-) and Christian Mallows.
One of the premises of TPC was that researchers shouldn't jump to the
conclusion that all Pettits were descended from this couple. However, the
DNA results of at least eleven testers, including the Thomas Pettet family,
are undoubtedly related to one another. Whoever the founding couple was,
they left progeny throughout the country by the 19th century. DNA can begin
sorting that out.
If a male descendant of Joseph's has mismatching Y-DNA markers, then
we're a step close to proving Joseph's illegitimacy. But I'm now more
confident than ever that he was Thomas's son. More about that later.
Thomas B Pettet
Thomas lived in the midst of this family. He undoubtedly used his middle
initial (consistently) to distinguish himself from the other Thomases. He
is known to have been born in Pennsylvania in 1795 and died in 1873. He's
the only documented person for the area who could have been Plummer's
brother of about the same age -- or an adoptee or cousin. And it wouldn't
be unusual that Thomas Sr had another son of the name by his second
But Thomas B Pettet's progeny beyond his three grandsons has never be
found. There may be no living DNA among his descendants who could tell that
story. The early census records suggest that Thomas Sr had ten children.
Thomas might well have been the first. If this is true, though, it put a
kink in the above analysis as it would place Thomas B as the unknown child
born of Thomas Sr who died by 1888.
Well, we'll see.
All original portions ©
Michael Cooley, OrbitInternet.net -