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Something of the Pettijohn (Pettyjohn) Family

 




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ABRAHAM  PETTIJOHN

(13)


AMONG the children of William Pettyohn (7) was a son, Abraham Pettijohn (13), our grandfather, who, together with his descendants, spelled his name with an "i" instead of a "y," as do some of the braches of the family. Abraham was born on his father's plantation, mentioned above, on Gladys Creek, about seven miles from Fairmont, West Virginia, and reference can be had to the Genealogical List for exact dates when it has been possible to obtain them. Abraham's father, William (7), died at the age of 45 years when his son, Abraham (13) was about eight years old. Thereafter <William's (7) mother, Constance, married Daniel Jobes and with him and most of her children, including her daughter Ruth (10), who had married a cousin, Thomas Pettyjohn (50), loaded their household goods aboard a flat-boat and floated down the Ohio River as far as Cincinnati, where they landed and began literally to chop out their homes in the beech woods of Highland County, Ohio. In this new country they, of necessity, had much hard work to do, but with resourcefulness and industry they wrought on their new homes. Game was plentiful and tanned deer skins were used for moccasins and pantaloons for the boys, and made soft warm rugs for the floor. They all kept sheep and raised flax and by spinning the flax and wool the women clothed their families from head to foot.

The Pettijohns of the old school were strict religionists - Presbyterians of the old Scotch Covenanter type - "Having a gentleman's agreement with the Almighty." Sunday was a day of rest and church going, observed with zeal, at least by the older members of the family and enjoined upon the younger, was endured if not enjoyed.

Our grandfather Abraham (13), next to the younger of great-grandmother Constance's children was eighteen years old when they bade farewell to the home of his father and grandfather, on Gladys Creek in West Virginia and started on the westward trek. When he was twenty-three he married Jane Sloan, our grandmother, who was the daughter of John and Mary (Scarborough) Sloan. In figure Abraham was tall and muscular and in temperament was nervous and energetic. Grandmother Jane was calm and even tempered. Their children was Lydia (14), Isaac (23), John (24), Eli (25), William (33), Harriet (34), Jerome (36), Amos (36a), Hannah (182), and Dyer Burgess (37), our father. Abraham Pettijohn (13) and Jane Sloan were married in Highland County, Ohio, but had moved to Brown County before our father Dyer Burgess (37) was born.

In September, 1840, Abraham, our grandfather, following other Pettijohn families, moved from Ohio to Schuyler County, Illinois, and bought land near Huntsville. The trip was made when father was about six years old and at that time Lydia (14) was married, and Isaac (23) had preceded them to Huntsville. On the journey grandfather Abraham and the older sons rode on horseback and drove the loose stock, while grandmother Jane with her daughters, and her son, Dyer, who was the youngest rode in what they called "the carriage." On the way they passed many good houses, but it was not always easy to find lodgings for the night. The boys and grandfather slept on the ground near the livestock, but grandmother was rather frail so they traveled each day until they could find lodgings for here and the girls. One day they had traveled quite late, hoping to find a place where they could stay over night. Finally they were told that there was a stopping place a few miles farther on, so on they went. It was beginning to grow dark when a log cabin came into view. As they came nearer they made out a ramshackle house with a quilt hung over the opening that served as a door. In answer to their hail a pack of dogs ran out barking and a woman's head thrust aside the quilt. "Yes, we keep travelers," she called, in answer to the query as to whether they could get accommodations for the night. It must have made quite an impression on the six year old, for Father told us the story more than fifty years later and also related that on the way his father and brothers John and Eli voted for William Henry Harrison for president.

Upon reaching Huntsville grandfather Abraham began immediately making preparations for the coming winter. He brought corn, hogs and cows and hired his nephew Jonas (85) to cut rails for fencing. The family lived in cramped quarters that first winter, but the next spring work on the new house was begun. The work continued all spring and summer and it was several years before it was finally finished. It was a big two story structure with twelve rooms, none too many for the large family and their many visitors. Grandfather Abraham was noted for his hospitality and it was the usual thing for someone other than members of his family to be staying with them.

As it has been said, there were ten children in the family, Amos (36a) died in infancy in Ohio. John (24), a fine handsome young man, died of typhoid fever in the first summer after coming to Huntsville. It has been observed that typhoid has been a menace to many newly settled communities and Huntsville was no exception. William (33) died in his young manhood, at the age of twenty-three while he was studying to be a doctor. He contracted tuberculosis and grandfather Abraham sent him to Florida, with his brother Eli (25) along to care for him, with the hope that the warm climate would help him regain his health. In those days the mails were slow and two long months passed with no word from the boys to encourage the folks waiting at home. Then one day they saw Eli coming walking slowly up the garden path alone. William had died on the Mississippi River boat and had been buried at Natchez.

Isaac (23) had gone with a party of gold seekers to California some time before his brother Eli and William left for Florida. For two years nothing was heard from Isaac and his father and mother feared that he too had died, either from accident or sickness, on the trip into what was known as the "Far West." Upon Isaac's return his party made camp in some timber in sight of his father's home. His face was covered with a great black beard, moccasins were on his feet, and his suit was fringed buckskin, and he wanted to see if the family would recognize him. Horse thieves had been active in the neighborhood and his father, seeing a rough looking individual approaching, remarked, "That man looks like a horse thief." But Hannah (182) knew her brother at once and exclaimed, "Why Father, its Isaac." The father could only say, "Is it Isaac? Is it really Isaac?" He could hardly believe the truth as the son had been gone for two years and not a word had come from him or his party. Needless to say he received a warm welcome, beard, buckskin suit and all. He had found no gold but had adventures enough for a lifetime. Two months after his return gold was discovered at Sutter's Creek in California. In the meantime Eli (25) had gone to Minnesota, bought a saw mill and had a big logging crew in operation in the pine woods. Isaac afterwards married Abigail Sawtelle and some of his descendants still live in California, the town of Sawtelle being named for his wife's people.

Great- grandmother Constance (7) died in Ohio, Oct. 17,1835, and it may be of interest to the descendants of John (47) and his wife, Deborah to know that Deborah died in 1829, in Highland County, Ohio, at the home of her daughter-in-law Ruth (10), daughter of Constance. We shall not go into this maze further but will say that with time and patience the relationship can be made clear with the help of the genealogical data given elsewhere in this work.

Grandfather Abraham was a man of considerable means and ability and stood well in his community. For years he was clerk of the school board and gave of his time and effort freely to the end that the children of that new frontier might have the best schooling possible under the primitive conditions - poor enough at best.

In those days people helped each other. If a man wanted to build a house or a barn the neighbors all got together and they had what they called "a raisin'." While the men worked on the building the women visited and prepared a big dinner. This was part of their social life. At the barn "raisin" at grandfather's while the men were eating dinner they missed twelve year old Jerome and his father went out to call him in. There was "Rome" (as our father always called him), walking along hewed joists of the barn twenty feet above the ground. After the lapse of more than one hundred years, and in the autumn of 1946, Gertrude Pettijohn (296), daughter of Jerome (36), pointed out that same old barn which was then still standing, although the house had been torn down.

Our grandfather Abraham was generous and hospitable, and his door swung open to friends and relatives and to the 'wayfarer within the gates.' A man named Ben, who was staying with the family for a time, thought it would be a good joke to steal some watermelons from a neighbor's patch, and he induced our father, Dyer, and Jerome to go with him, which was probably not hard to do. The neighbor came and told grandfather about it, saying that he had been saving some especially fine melons for his daughter Betsy's wedding; that some one had raided the patch and taken the finest ones, and, while he was not absolutely certain, he thought the man, Ben, had taken them and he also thought the boys were along too. At first grandfather could not believe it, but when, upon being questioned, the man admitted taking the melons, grandfather told him that, while he was sorry, he had no other course than to tell him to move on, as he could not keep a man around who would steal watermelons from a friend. Father told us this story more than a half century after the event and said that he did not remember that his father said anything to them about the affair. He probably understood boys pretty well by that time. However, they did have a wholesome respect for him when he did speak to them. A times they did not get up very promptly when he called on those early mornings, but when they heard grandfather coming up the stairs, two steps at a time, they could wake up mighty fast. Sometimes when called Jerome would answer, "What." "What's that, Sir?" would snap back from grandfather Abe, and just as snappy Jerome would answer, "What, Sir?"

A deck of cards was never seen in grandfather's house, and to him dancing was the devil's own invention. Our father told us that if the boys had any idea of going to a dance they always took the precaution of being seen starting off in the opposite direction.

In the stormy days preceding the civil war the border states were somewhat divided on the slavery issue. The Pettijohns were abolitionists to a man and hated slavery and everything connected with that institution. Grandfather Abraham (13) and his son Isaac (23) were conductors on the old Lovejoy route on the so-called "Underground Railroad." History tells that when a slave reached a station on the Lovejoy route we was usually safe and reasonably certain of making good his escape from his owner and finding his way to freedom in Canada. Today a monument erected to the memory of Elijah Lovejoy, clergyman, educator, editor, abolitionist and martyr, stands near the spot in Alton, Illinois, where he met his death in 1837 at the hands of a mob. Dr. Homer Mead, of Augusta, Illinois, who was a life long friend of the Pettijohns, writing in the Augusta Eagle says: "The Pettijohns were all elders in the Presbyterian Church, stalwart, handsome men, without flaw or blemish to mar their characters as good citizens. Non-observance of law does not always nor necessarily mean a degenerate America. They subscribed to the sentiments of that eloquent statesman Owen Lovejoy when he said, 'I would suffer my right arm to be severed from my body before I would obey the Fugitive Slave Law'." Owen and Elijah Lovejoy were personal friends of grandfather Abraham and were entertained in his home while the family lived in Brown County, Ohio.


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