FOUND: Another Old Genealogy of John Pettit (1608) Hand Written by Elnora Pettit (1808-1886), Daughter of Dr. James Pettit (1777-1849) and Lucy Felt (1777-1859)

By Brandon

Preface by Pettit Research Project

What follows is a transcribed account of some of the John Pettit (1608-1662) family history as written by Elnora Pettit DELVIN (1808-1886) who was the daughter of Dr. James Pettit and Lucy Felt.  This history appears to have been written for Elnora’s granddaughter, a daughter of Lucy Delvin BAILY.  It was compiled from personal experience, recollections of stories passed down, as well as from ancient letters and records in the possession of her sister, Harriet Pettit, which stretched back into the late 1700s.  Elnora’s account starts by retelling an 1825 record taken down by her brother William Pettit from his interview of their grandfather, Captain Johnathan Pettit (1753-1835).  Elnora began this family history project in 1864 and concluded it on July 20, 1878.  The primary focus of her writing was her mother, Lucy Felt Pettit, who she affectionately called “Golden Hair”.  However, a good number of other family members and other figures are discussed.

Excerpt from Elnora Pettit letter summarizing the 1825 account of the Pettit genealogy given by Captain Jonathan Pettit.

Following her self-described conclusion in July of 1878, in November of that same year, her sister Harriet died, and Elnora inherited the family records which had been in her sister’s possession.  She described these records as “voluminous”.  It would seem she also came to possess 38 letters written between her brother William Harrison Pettit and his wife Hannah BARLOW.  William worked as a clerk in Washington DC in the war years from 1863 up until the time of his accidental death in 1865.  The sum of all these records eventually found their way into the hands of one Mr. Paul Durrie.  Mr. Durrie’s wife, Marion Lucille Waldron, was the daughter of Edward Moorhouse and Lucy Orinda Pettit.  Lucy Orinda Pettit was William Harrison Pettit’s daughter and a niece to the author of this account.

Elnora Pettit and William Harrison Pettit’s father, Dr. James Pettit is known for inventing the Pettit Eye Salve later sold by the Howard Brothers, as well as his family’s involvement in the underground railroad prior to Lincoln’s War.  Many of his children were involved in the abolition movement.  Perhaps the most prominent was Eber M. Pettit whose memoirs were published in Sketches in the History of the Underground Railroad in 1879.  (A full PDF version of this book is available for download in the Documents section of this website.)

This branch of Pettits was well educated and careful to preserve their lineage to the 1600s.  Aside from the account which is the subject of this article, there are at least two other accounts, both of which are senior to this one. These early accounts traced their lineage to the Pettits of Sharon, CT and a John Pettit born around 1608.  It is said that the Pettits came to New Rochelle, NY from France at the time of the revocation of the Edit of Nantes which doesn’t easily square with the historical timeline presented.  Nevertheless, this tradition is firmly cemented in the written and oral history of this Pettit clan and should not be dismissed without considering the root of the legend .

From other records, Elnora Pettit’s lineage appears to be as follows:

  1. Elnora Pettit (1808-1886)
  2. Dr. James Pettit (1777-1849) + Lucy Felt (1777-1859)
  3. Captain Jonathan Pettit (1752-1835) +Agnes Riddell (1752-1833)
  4. John Pettit (1720-1754) + Hannah Dunham (1721-1805)
  5. Jonathan Pettit (1693-1772) +Hannah Holly (1694-1739)
  6. John Pettit (1668-1715) +Mary Bates (1671-1702)
  7. John Pettit (1638-1676) +Sarah Scofield (1645-)
  8. John Pettit (1608-1662) +Debrow (-1654)

Dr. James Pettit and his wife Lucy Felt (“Golden Hair”) had the following children:

  • Samantha Pettit (1798-1871)
  • Sophronia Pettit (1800-1855)
  • Dr. Eber Moffat Pettit (1802-1885)
  • James Jacob Pettit (1804-1877)
  • Lucy Maria Pettit (1806-1812)
  • Elnora M. Pettit (1808-1886)
  • Harriet Pettit (1810-1878)
  • Samuel Felt Pettit (1812-1812)
  • William Harrison Pettit (1813-1865)
  • Charles Pettit (1815-1868)
  • Melancton Smith Pettit (1818-1878)
  • Lucy Marie Pettit (1821-1821)

With the background given above, the family history produced by Elnora Pettit can be understood in its original context.  The account is full of details which can easily be verified and other private information which simply cannot.  Be that as it may, the reader is advised to weigh this source carefully and respectfully.  The transcription has been produced as near to the original form as possible with minimal comments, edits, or corrections.

The pages that focus on the history of the Sharon. CT, descendants of John Pettit (1608-1662) will be presented below.  They represent just the 6 pages that focus on the Pettit family out of the entire 18-page document.  The full transcription will be included in another article which will be published soon.


Family Reminiscence by Elnora Pettit c 1864

Transcribed by B. W. Pettit at Pettit Research, March 29, 2022

Note: Researchers may freely copy this transcription but are asked to please cite the source similar to what is exemplified below.

Sample Citation: Pettit, B.W., “FOUND: Another Old Genealogy of John Pettit (1608) Hand Written by Elnora Pettit (1808-1886), Daughter of Dr. James Pettit (1777-1849) and Lucy Felt (1777-1859)”, The Pettit Research Project, March 29, 2022.

[Written on the front and back of old ledger pages with two columns per page. Pages 12-17 transcribed below.  They are numbered page 6-9 in the original.  The complete transcription and paper including the source will be published in a separate article.]


“First draft of my family reminiscence.” by Elnora Pettit (b1808)

Page 12 Column 1

  1. “In the year 1695 Lewis fourteenth of France
  2. Revoked the edict of Nantez granted by Henry
  3. fourth for the toleration of the protestant
  4. While their worship was suppressed
  5. their churches demolished, and their minis-
  6. ters banished, the protestant layety were
  7. forbidden under the most rigorous penalties
  8. to quit the kingdom. France however by
  9. this measure, lost above 500,000 of the
  10. most industrious and useful subjects,
  11. and the name of Lewis fourteenth is
  12. execrated to this day”  [See note #1] Among the
  13. many who found a welcome in the new
  14. world, were three young men, Hugonuts
  15. who being pursued, escaped in a small
  16. boat in the harbor of Rochelle, and em-
  17. barked in a vessel which lay at anchor
  18. in the bay. When but a little way from
  19. the shore, they saw the baffled troops
  20. of their royal murderers, it is not for
  21. a certainty known where they landed
  22. at all events it is ^a certainty that they selec-
  23. ted a place for a home, and named it
  24. New Rochelle, after their home in France
  25. Which still bears that name. It is situated
  26. on the coast of Long Island Sound not far
  27. distant from NY City. The year is
  28. not known in which they made their
  29. escape nor whether they were brothers one
  30. two, or three, Pettitt was the name of one at
  31. least and from him is descended all of
  32. that name, now very numerous.
  33. In my possession is a record given by
  34. my grandfather Johnathan Pettit, taken from
  35. his lips by my brother William, about
  36. the year 1825, of which the above is a
  37. copy also that his ancestry were farmers,
  38. persons of information, and respectability
  39. men of influence and nominated and
  40. second in public offices of the places in
  41. which they lived also that his great


[Note #1: This quotation appears to be copied from a book titled Elements of General History: Ancient and Modern by By Lord Alexander Fraser Tytler Woodhouselee and published in 1831]


Page 12 Column 2

  1. grandfather’s name was John and it
  2. is probable that he was the refugee
  3. as the revocation occurred in 1695.
  4. His grandfather’s name was Jonathan
  5. Born 1703, died aged 90 in 1773
  6. In the gazettes of the state of Connecticut
  7. it is mentioned that Johnathan Pettit was
  8. one of the first settlers of the town of
  9. Sharron, which is ^in the north west
  10. corner of that state, He was the grand
  11. father mentioned of our grandfathers of
  12. the same name. His father’s name
  13. was John named after the Hugono
  14. ancestor, and his mother’s name was
  15. Hannah Dunham, daughter of
  16. Samuel Dunham also one of the first
  17. settlers of Sharon, and of Welsh origin
  18. John Pettit died young leaving a family
  19. of six children. Four sons and two
  20. daughters after the death of his father
  21. our grandfather ^Born July 25, 1752 only 69 years after the revocation  Johnathan Pettit was
  22. apprenticed, bound to learn the trade
  23. of a tanner and shoemaker, the two
  24. trades being one in those early days
  25. at the age of seventeen. I have heard
  26. him say often that he never went to
  27. school but one day and a half
  28. in that early day it did not in this
  29. new world, require a capitol to set
  30. one’s self up in the trades. A man
  31. possessed of that was the artist of his
  32. own fortunes. So when our grand
  33. father came to his majority he
  34. settled himself, sunk his vats
  35. and prepared himself to commit
  36. into leather the skins of animals
  37. killed for the sustenance of the new
  38. settlers, in the wild of saratoga.
  39. here he set up housekeeping hired
  40. a scotch woman to do the work
  41. boarded his journeyman and apprentice


Page 13 Column 1

  1. this was in the year 1773
  2. meantime among the many who were
  3. attracted to the now celebrated town of
  4. Saratoga was a man named ^George Riddel
  5. from Freehold Monmouth Co N Jersey
  6. pure scotch Irish of the genuine John
  7. Knox type of Presbyterians of keen
  8. **** intellect. A weaver by trade
  9. and occupation. emigrated to America
  10. from country uncertain[?] his native
  11. place at the age of twenty years
  12. his wife Margaret Melegan was
  13. brought to America when a child
  14. of eight years by her uncle
  15. David Rae and bound to a Dutch
  16. family name forgotten by whom
  17. she was brought up in the habits
  18. of industry, economy and thrift
  19. peculiar to that nation of people.
  20. The family consisted of four daughters
  21. and one son ^born November 2, 1755 the oldest to whom
  22. our grandfather Johnathan Pettit
  23. married ^in 1775 after an acquaintance of
  24. six weeks. Polly or Mary who
  25. married twice, first husbands name
  26. Dunham probably a cousin of our
  27. ancestor the second Daniels Margaret
  28. married a very pious man an
  29. Irishman tailor by trade who after
  30. many years of respectability proved
  31. to be a thief and in his shame
  32. ran away leaving a large family
  33. He never was heard from
  34. but his children were all very
  35. respectable people and highly intellect-
  36. ual if James Finn is an exception
  37. on account of his infidelity
  38. made one by the investigations
  39. of doctrines of the Calvinistic
  40. creed as I have heard him
  41. [last line under fold of page]


Page 13 Column 2

  1. Elizabeth married an Irishman a tailor
  2. named Laverty also very pious but was
  3. subject to sprees when he abused his
  4. wife as drunken brutes are apt to do
  5. between times he was a thorough **
  6. Methodist the son David by name
  7. also married and raised a very respectable
  8. family After the marriage of our grandfather
  9. to Agnes Riddel in 1774 they lived in
  10. Saratoga until two years previous to the
  11. commencement of the revolutionary war
  12. they remained in Saratoga until after
  13. the town of Schenectady was burned
  14. by Tories and Indians as was not uncommon
  15. in those times of trial. “brother was against
  16. brother the father against the daughters. As
  17. there were strong partisan feelings in both
  18. families but great grandfather Riddle being
  19. a born subject of the British Crown continued[?]
  20. loyal to that party also a part of the
  21. Pettit family were what was called Tories
  22. grandfather and his brother James and one
  23. sister were of the Revolutionary party
  24. The brother Dunham Pettit was one of the number
  25. of whom General Washington said he hoped
  26. they would go to Ne**** but they went
  27. go by the way of Name **** and this same
  28. Dunham Pettit was father of John Pettit the
  29. Democratic member of Congress from
  30. Indiana, Seemingly inheriting the strong
  31. Democratic principles of his tory father
  32. one of the sisters was married to a tory
  33. named Bissell also emigrated after the
  34. war to Canada. This Bissel was put
  35. into jail at Saratoga for some offense
  36. of his party. and the morning of the
  37. day in which he was to be tried
  38. it was discovered that he had escaped and
  39. our great grandmother Pettit’s blanket
  40. made into a rope


Page 14 Column 1

  1. The notorious Jones, who sent for
  2. his sweet heart and betrothed
  3. Jeannie McCrea[?] by in****
  4. and by whom she was murdered
  5. was a cousin on the mother’s side
  6. Jones is a Welch name and he held
  7. a commission in the royal army, but
  8. his name is only mentioned in con-
  9. nection with a deed of honor.
  10. The brother James Pettit died during
  11. the war, and his great grandparents always
  12. spoke of him with much affection
  13. He was engaged to Margaret Riddel
  14. the same who married the thief Finn.
  15. After the burning of the town Schenee
  16. ltady our grandparents moved to Albany
  17. for greater security. They both took a
  18. very active part in the stirring times and
  19. grandfather was made captain of the
  20. city guards and held office till the
  21. close of the war was an intimate
  22. personal friend of General Schuler
  23. and at one time being at fort Schuler
  24. at Utica he experienced religion and
  25. after in the account of his religious
  26. experience would maintain many
  27. circumstances connected with the times
  28. He was baptized *** grandmother in
  29. the Hudson River at Albany and ***
  30. from the first Baptist church in that city
  31. grandmother being the first woman
  32. baptized by immersion at that place
  33. The ceremony was performed by elder
  34. Jacon Statton an English Baptist When
  35. grandfather was coming up out of the
  36. baptismal waters, an old Dutch
  37. gentleman was heard to exclaim
  38. friend Pettit is right, for just as I
  39. read it in my old Dutch Bible


Page 14 Column 2

  1. In the statement before mentioned
  2. We learn that our grandfather and Peter
  3. *** Yates a lawyer set up the first
  4. ^Latin Grammar school in the city of Albany
  5. and ^was taught by George Merchant
  6. our father James Pettit was born in
  7. the city of Albany April 13 1777
  8. at the age of seven years he was sent
  9. to NYork to attend a grammar school
  10. and was at that school taught by
  11. Elder Holmes[?] the elements of latin
  12. also writing the peculiar hand we all
  13. so well know, At the age of eight
  14. years he attended the latin school at
  15. Albany and made great pro****
  16. Our grandfather we would ****
  17. possessed an enterprising business
  18. capacity for remembering as I do
  19. the many conversations and
  20. reminiscence held between my
  21. grandparents of journeys to NYork
  22. of frequent occurrence and he owned
  23. in company with another man a
  24. sloop which they named after their
  25. wives Mary Agnes. Besides this
  26. regular business, he engaged in the
  27. lumber trade and at one time have
  28. invested **** in the construction
  29. of an immense raft and had it
  30. ^*** as he thought anchored in NYork harbor. There
  31. occurred a terrible gale in the
  32. night, the raft broke up and was
  33. carried out to sea and as grand
  34. mother always remarked he was
  35. two proud to remain in Albany
  36. a poor man. A circumstance
  37. she never forgave him for and
  38. when our father was ten years
  39. of age he moved into the wilder
  40. ness in the town of Mayfield


Page 15 Column 1

  1. with a family of small children
  2. There he built a church, established
  3. a school was always very active and
  4. engaged ***and *** in the
  5. promotion of any improvements for
  6. the general good. By reference to
  7. dates in my possession they
  8. must have lived in Mayfield
  9. six or seven years when the spirit
  10. of unrest or a desire to improve
  11. his fortunes he again moved
  12. into a new community with a
  13. family this time consisting of
  14. children from twenty years
  15. down to infants in ****.
  16. There also he built up churches
  17. helped form them into associations
  18. Preached in layman  ******
  19. and was justice of the peace for
  20. thirteen consecutive years.
  21. There on the banks of the Chenango
  22. River it was that golden-hair
  23. ***** in a spirit of mischief
  24. drank the health of a **** young
  25. stranger to whom she was married
  26. after great opposition from every
  27. member of her family.  She was
  28. their housekeeper and they meant
  29. to keep her in that capacity as the
  30. mother had gone to her rest.
  31. Another reason for their opposition
  32. Was the superior cultivation
  33. and intellectual attainment of the
  34. family into which she would
  35. be introduced.  So after serving
  36. three as housekeeper and
  37. maid of all work, she went out
  38. from a house where she had
  39. received the blessings of that
  40. large household perfectly


Page 15 Column 2

  1. empty handed.  She was not allowed a
  2. scrap of the scores of linen she had manufac
  3. tured with her own hands.  She went
  4. with her young husband at her marriage
  5. 5 day of November 1797 to his father’s
  6. home were scenes new and strange
  7. were opened up to her craving heart
  8. she had early determined to marry a man
  9. if she ever should to whom she could look
  10. up, her superior in advantages of education
  11. There she found her ideal her quick sense
  12. Taught her how in the home of her young
  13. husband opportunities appeared and she was glad
  14. to improve and educate herself up to his
  15. Standards she had said she would never
  16. marry a man of whom she would be ash
  17. ashamed and she determined to so improve
  18. that he should not be ashamed of her
  19. it was something new to her to
  20. see the large dining table left standing
  21. in the middle of the floor, candles lighted
  22. and set around while the member of
  23. the household each with his favorite
  24. book drew up to enjoy in his own way
  25. the evening hour after there would be discussions
  26. in different subjects the favorite ones being
  27. politics and religion the doctrines and creeds
  28. also the histories of nations their political
  29. and religions poetry also Shakespeare and
  30. all the old poets were their common
  31. reading our great grandparents were educated
  32. far beyond their times as also their children
  33. both their faces and manners indicated
  34. their moral and intellectual standing.
  35. our grandmother was naturally beyond
  36. the littleness of ignorant ***** women
  37. of her time.  she engaged the society of
  38. cultivated men.  she enjoyed arguing
  39. with ministers and politicians and
  40. she was a match for any of them.


Page 16 Column 1

  1. After a few weeks in the home of
  2. her husband golden hair felt that it
  3. would be better to go to house
  4.  keeping.  Her husband was teaching
  5. the school in the neighborhood
  6. and would be at home nights.
  7. But where could they find a
  8. house, a room even.  The aged
  9. grandmother Pettit was living with
  10. her son and grandfather besides
  11. there were children of every age
  12. from eighteen down to the baby, a
  13. daughter who was the child of their
  14. old age.  Grandfather still carried on
  15. the business of tanning leather.  So
  16. goldenhair **** the one of the
  17. carry **** for the winter to set up
  18. her housekeeping, and they took
  19. their little belongings, a bed with an
  20. improvised[?] bedstead, a little chest, which
  21. was her own, her mothers gift and
  22. had been brought from Connecticut
  23. which for the time being, served as
  24. a table.  not a chair, not a stool
  25. only as her husband made it,  a few
  26. dishes where brought, and three golden
  27. **** flax  to make her linen and
  28. their own clothing sitting on that
  29. same little chest which still is
  30. in existence in sister Harriet’s
  31. ***** *****, and there in due
  32. course of time her eldest child
  33. was born.  Her father gave her
  34. a cow in the spring,  and her
  35. husband made trays of bass
  36. wood to set the milk in, which
  37. tray she always kept.  But they
  38. did not long  live in the easy state
  39. nor did their homemade furniture
  40. long consist of a chest and a bed,


Page 16 Column 2

  1. Grandfather Pettit gave his son eight
  2. acres of land, and there grew[?] a log home, and
  3. the husband taught the schools in winter
  4. and could make shoes if he had any to
  5. make as he with all the sons were learned
  6. the trade of their fathers.  It was after the
  7. birth of their second daughter that
  8. the *** husband caught a cold  which
  9. laid him up for a year, and it was feared
  10. that he would die of consumption but
  11. after regaining somewhat of health
  12. again, he found that his constitution
  13. was imperial unfitted him for labor
  14. and then it happened that he studied
  15. the profession of medicine, with Dr.
  16. Greenby[?] of Hamilton village, moved
  17. his little family there, built a neat
  18. little house, and golden hair, *****
  19. General King and others, their supporting
  20. them while her husband studied.  He
  21. after would get discouraged, and so
  22. she intimated herself in his studies
  23. and became as versed and as thoroughly
  24. as he did, and then by her very force
  25. of character he obtained his diploma
  26. and was even a very successful pract-
  27. tioner It was a struggle for the first
  28. few years.  But after a time he settled
  29. in the town of Fabius in Onondago Co
  30. Grandfather went there with a baptist
  31. minister to organize a new church and
  32. form an association of churches.  The
  33. place was new and no one[?] in many
  34. miles, and he then and there made
  35. arrangements for our father to move
  36.   Brother James was an infant in
  37. **** at that time.  He prospered in
  38. every way there, bought land built a
  39. nice home, and it was the place where
  40. as one ****ttings, he should have lived
  41. and died


Page 17 Column 1

  1. In the course of time several *****
  2. were made, and also it fell to their lot
  3. to have the care of our grandparents in
  4. their old age, fourteen years.  They
  5. sleep in the cemetery in Cazenovia
  6. side by side.  They having died within
  7. two months of each other, grandfather
  8. aged eighty one, grandmother 78
  9. After those happenings my parents moved
  10. to Fredonia Chautauqua Co in 1835
  11. Grandfather died May 24, 1849
  12. aged 72 years
  13. Our mother the golden hair of my
  14. story died 1859 Feb 16, aged 81
  15. years 11 months 13 days
  16. And now in this 20 day of July 1878
  17. I bring my narrative to a close began
  18. eleven years ago.   It was ******
  19. as stated in the beginning, but as I
  20. proceeded I felt more and more inter-
  21. ist in the work until I here brought
  22. it down to the decease of our parents
  23. It is not without a just degree of
  24. pride of ancestry that I have jotted
  25. down some of the most prominent
  26. features of the lines of my forefathers,
  27. Still I cannot give full appreciation
  28. of the general characteristics of our
  29. mother, her strong good common sense,
  30. her warm****, her dignity
  31. her truthfulness, her virtue, her
  32.   Neither of the ******
  33. the gentle **** of my father, his
  34. intellect, his highly cultivated mind
  35. his sense of **** and prosperity
  36. His ***** of heart, which made
  37. him one of the earliest abolitionists, who
  38. bore the stigma of the party, also his
  39.  religion without ****, Let me
  40. sum it all up, a true man, and of
  41. my mother, a true woman


Page 17 Column 2

  1. [blank]
  2. [blank]
  3. November 19, 1878,
  4. After the decease of my sister Harriet
  5. which occurred the 13 September 1878, and
  6. who came to that old home with our
  7. parents, and who helped to make it the
  8. pleasant place it was,  the duty of look
  9. ing over the papers, letters & of the family
  10. the date of some extending back to the year
  11. 1783, has ****** on me, Voluminous
  12. as it was, I have opened with very few
  13. exceptions every letter or paper, many
  14. of which I read through looked all over
  15. so as to know their contents, and what
  16. most ***** impressed me was the
  17. strong religious vein of pure and
  18. uncorrupted religion that pervaded
  19. every one without exception,
  20. irrespective of the subject in
  21. hand, also the high sense of
  22. honor, honor between man and
  23. man, in all business relations
  24. also the respectful manners each
  25. addressed the other, especially
  26. between husband and wife,
  27. also between children and
  28. parents, and the strong affection
  29. and duty of parents to their
  30. children


NOTE:  This transcription is imperfect and will be revised and corrected as time permits.  All revisions will be tracked in a change log at the bottom of the page.  If you would like to comment on something, want clarification on something or would like to try to decipher a missing word, please leave a comment below.