From The Pettit Correspondent, Volume 4, Number 1, page 167

The Civil War Pension Records of Oscar B. La Pettit

Compiled by Michael Cooley

Oscar B. (La) Pettit was the son of Joseph Pettit, Jr. and Sarah Ann Morris of Morgan County, Ohio,1 and was a descendant of Elias Pettit (Oscar5, Joseph Jr.4, Joseph Sr.3, Elijah2, Elias1).2 The following is transcribed from records found in the National Archives as WC 639-735.

29 July 1898. Report of the War Department to the Commissioner of Pensions stating that the rolls of Company D, 32nd Regiment, Iowa Infantry show Oscar B. Pettit "Deserted Jan 16/63 arrested and was under guard until Dec 21/63." Also that he deserted March 10, 1866 at Selma, Alabama but that these charges were removed and that "he is discharged to date Mar 10/66."

26 May 1899, Guthrie County, Iowa. Application for Invalid Pension signed by Oscar B. Pettit, resident of Panosa, Guthrie County, Iowa. Attests to enlisting at Des Moines, Iowa on March 30, 1864 as a corporal in Company D of the 32nd Iowa Volunteer Infantry and Company I, 8th Iowa Volunteer Infantry and was honorably discharged on March 10, 1866. He also states that he had previously applied for a pension under application #1208456 and that he is not a pensioner.

20 January 1900. Affidavit by C. M. Roberts of Pamona, Guthrie Co, Iowa testifying to the ill health of Oscar B. Pettit.

8 July 1907, Guthrie County, Iowa. Declaration for Pension signed by Oscar B. Pettit, of Panosa, Iowa attesting to his service record. He also states that at the time of his enlistment he stood 5' 6-3/4", had fair complexion, hazel eyes, dark hair and was born July 7, 1845 in Muskingdon [sic] County, Ohio. Also stated is that he is a pensioner under certificate #1003943.

16 November 1907. Certificate of Marriage from Guthrie County, Iowa attesting to the marriage of Oscar B. La Pettitt and Viola Cline by J. A. Walters, Minister, on 9 June 1883. Signed by H. H. Mercer, Clerk of the District Court.

2 September, Guthrie County, Iowa. Declaration for Widow's Pension signed by Mary V. Pettit attesting to her husband's service record, their marriage, his death on July 25, 1907, and that they had no children.

15 January 1908, Boone County, Iowa. General Affidavit by C. O. Dooley and John B. Dooley, both of Omaha, Nebraska, concerning the pension claim of Mary V. La Pettit, widow of Oscar B. La Pettit. They state that Mary V. (Cline) La Pettit was Oscar's only known wife and that they were Oscar's half brothers on their mother's side.

21 January 1908, Guthrie County, Iowa. General Affidavit of C. D. Nichols stating that he had known Oscar B. Pettit, his mother and step-father for more than thirty years and "through making or filling out and attesting as Notary Public his [Oscar Pettit's] pension vouchers almost invariably during that time, always under the name of `Pettit' instead of La Pettit which was his true surname...," and, "that Oscar B. La Pettit was the same man who enlisted in the army during the civil war under the name of Oscar B. Pettit..."

16 August 1909. Mary V. Pettit, now Eli, dropped from the pension rolls for remarrying.

The fact that Oscar claimed that his actual surname was La Pettit is of interest. First, that the prefix of La or Le has never been found in the records for these families in Morgan, Perry or Muskingum Counties, Ohio. Second, that he was aware of a French heritage. And third, that if he had been truly educated in the matter he would have spelled it Le Petit.

The descendants of Elias Pettit are often found with their names spelled in variance from the standard spelling of Pettit (often with an 'et' ending), unlike those in the eastern part of Morgan County, Ohio who are nearly always found as Pettit. I believe these differences occur too regularly and with such distinctive patterns that they cannot be ruled out altogether as record-keeping errors of the day.

Not only did Oscar change his name but, according to Clara Petit Behrens (P.O. Box 98, Cocolalla, ID 83813) her great-grandfather, Ellis (son of Plummer Pettit and probable grandson of Elias),2 5 intentionally changed the spelling of his name to Petit. After a certain date, Thomas B. (probable brother of Plummer's) and his son, Alva, are found consistently as Petet.3

It is also worth noting that when Oscar's father deserted the family he went to Louisiana (Cajun country?)1 4 and that there were many French in Cumberland County, PA where Elias "Petit" is first found in 1768.2

I am not suggesting that Elias was an immigrant from France or Acadia (from whence the British expelled many of the French in 1755 and 1758) but that it might well be worth looking into as this family seems to have been acutely aware of their heritage. [An aside: Acadia is part of French Canada and fell entirely into British hands in 1763. The French Canadians, when speaking, soften the 'd' in 'dian' to a near 'j'. Hence, Indian became Injun; Acadian, (A)Cajun.]

For further details and documentation citations see TPC: 1Apr 89 p48, 2Oct 90 p145, 3Jul 88 p23, 4Apr 88 p7, 5Apr 88 p9.