From The Pettit Correspondent, Volume 4, Number 1, page 155
Submitted by Harriet Hull
(1923 E. Joyce St. #343, Fayetteville, AR 72703)
The Pettits were originally French Huguenots, who, to escape from religious persecution, came to America in 1660 and settled at New Rochelle and Newtown, L.I. Some members of the family removed thence to Northern New Jersey, and about 1742 are found in Hardwick, Warren Co., at Newton, and at the Log Jail, now Johnsonsburg.
There were six brothers who came to Sussex County. Jonathan Pettit lived in Hardwick, and died in 1753 (he was one of four judges for the county who were first appointed by George III.); Amos, who lived in Brighton, was born in 1724; John, who lived in Newton, was born in 1726, and died in 1796; Nathaniel was the first representative of Sussex County, elected Aug. 17, 1772, to the Legislature of New Jersey; Isaac and Charles were Tories, and removed to Canada during the Revolutionary war.
The descendants of John Pettit are the only ones residing in the county at present, the others having all removed. Governor John Jay, of New York, owned a large tract of land northeast of Newton, and, probably because they were the national descent and co-religionists, he appointed John Pettit collector of rents and general agent for his property. He erected the stone house on the farm now owned by G.M. Ryerson, in which is a room still called the "Governor's room," which His Excellency occupied in his annual visit to his estates. John Pettit also erected a stone building, known for a hundred years as "The Parsonage." It has been remodeled, and at present belongs to the estate of the late Levi Sheppherd. It is the oldest house in Newton. He was one of the first wardens of Christ Church, and served many years in that capacity. His patriotism and integrity may be inferred from the fact that during the Revolution his two Tory brothers were put in charge by the Committee of Safety, and the custody was faithfully observed till they were permitted to depart for Canada. His wife was a daughter of Richard Fisher, of Hackettstown, who belonged to the light-horse infantry of the American army, and who is said to have erected at Hackettstown and carried on the first iron rolling- and slitting-mills in this country. His children were Samuel, Nathaniel, John, Sally (who became the wife of James English, of Newton), Mary (who became the wife of Alexander Huston), Betsy (who became the wife of James Huston, once a sheriff of Sussex County), Amos, and William.
In the first generation his descendants numbered eight, in the second generation thirty-nine, and in the third ninety-four. Among these are the well-known citizens Winfield H. Coursen, attorney-at-law in Newton; Capt. Robert Pettit, of Montague, who served with honor during the Rebellion; Mrs. James Henry Hoyt and Mrs. George H. Coursen, of Newton; Rev. N. Pettit, rector of Christ Church, Bordentown, N.J.; James H. Simpson, a successful merchant at Dover; James C. Pettit, of the Park Bank, New York City; and Judge James B. Huston, of Lafayette.
William Pettit, youngest child of John , was born March 16, 1788, and married, Feb. 17, 1816, Nancy, daughter of Robert and Mary (Jacques) Morrow, of Sparta, Sussex Co., N.J. She was born Oct. 21, 1794, and resides (in 1881) with her daughter, Mrs. Hoyt, in Newton. Many of the facts contained in this sketch were obtained from her, and she retains the faculties of both body and mind to a remarkable degree for a person who has reached her eighty-seventh year.
The other children of Robert Morrow were Rebecca, a twin-sister of Mrs. Pettit, who became the wife of Nathan Drake, and, having survived her husband many years, resides in Newton; Margaret, who became the wife of Samuel Rorbach; Sally, who became the wife of Henry Hart; Eliza, unmarried; Henrietta, who was the wife of Dr. John R. Stuart, a prominent physician of Newton; and George. Of these children, only Mrs. Pettit and Mrs. Drake survive.
Prior to and after his marriage William Pettit was a clerk in a general store of his brother Nathaniel, who for many years before his death did a successful business in Newton.
Upon his brother's decease Mr. Pettit purchased a farm near Newton, where he resided several years, but about 1827 he returned, established himself in the trade at the old stand where he served a clerkship, and continued in business until he retired from the active duties of life. His place of business was on the north side of the public square in Newton, where he erected his store and dwelling. Mr. Pettit received a good practical business education in early life, mostly while a clerk, from his brother, who was a man of fair education, and had been for some time a teacher before engaging in mercantile pursuits. He belonged to the class of substantial business men of "long ago," who started very many of the interests that added to the growth and prosperity of Newton as developed in its early history. Unostentatious in his ways, he followed his chosen business quietly, seeking neither official position nor its emoluments. He was identified with the party of reform in his locality, and was a member of the Whig and Republican parties. Mr. Pettit was known as man of sterling character in all his business relations, temperate in his habits, and a man of good moral and Christian influence. Both he and his wife were members of the Episcopal Church of Newton, and did their part well in contributions to church and charitable objects. He died Jan. 1, 1847. Their children are Sarah and Mary, died young; Sarah Elizabeth, born March 6, 1823, married, Sept. 16, 1847, James Henry, son of James Moody Hoyt, of New York City, and has one surviving child, Miss Mary Nesbitt Hoyt. James Moody Hoyt married Mary, a daughter of Dr. Nesbitt, a noted physician, and for many years was a prominent flour-merchant in New York. Upon his death his sons, who had been associated with him, succeeded him in the business, in which James Henry continued until his decease. He was born July 4, 1823, and died Nov. 29, 1869. The only son of William Pettit is Robert Morrow Pettit, who was born Oct. 17, 1824, and resides in Newton.