John Pettes
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John Pettes
John Pettes
United States Marshal for the District of Vermont

Jacob Kent Jr.
Charles Chapin
Sheriff of Windsor County, Vermont

Daniel Bowen
Joel Lull
Personal details
Born(1793-03-17)March 17, 1793
Amherst, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedMarch 24, 1868(1868-03-24) (aged 75)
Windsor, Vermont, U.S.
Resting placeOld South Cemetery,
Windsor, Vermont
Political partyWhig
Spouse(s)Lucy Richards (m. 1820-1849, her death)
Government official

John Pettes (March 17, 1793 - March 24, 1868) was a businessman and public official who was active in Windsor, Vermont. Among the offices in which he served were Sheriff of Windsor County (1837-1839) and United States Marshal for the District of Vermont (1849-1853).

Early life

John Pettes was born in Amherst, Massachusetts[1] on March 17, 1793,[2] a son of Joseph Pettes (1757-1811) and Charlotte (Wales) Pettes (1761-1849).[3] Joseph Pettes moved his family to Windsor, Vermont in 1800,[1] where he operated a coffee house and hotel.[4] After his death, Charlotte Pettes took over management of the business, which she operated until the early 1840s.[3]

Business career

After the Pettes family's move to Vermont, John Pettes was educated in the schools of Windsor, then became the operator of a general store in Windsor, which he owned in partnership with his brother Frederick.[4] Pettes also became active in the Vermont Militia; in 1820, he was first lieutenant of the Jefferson Artillery, a Windsor battery commanded by Allen Wardner with the rank of captain.[5] Pettes advanced through the militia's officer grades to become a major in a Windsor-area unit, and afterwards was frequently addressed by his rank.[1]

Among the other ventures Pettes pursued in addition to the store were an ownership stake in the Cornish-Windsor Covered Bridge,[6] a wool brokerage partnership,[7] real estate sales,[8] serving on the board of directors of the Bank of Woodstock,[9] importing and reselling foreign goods transported to Vermont via steamboat on the Connecticut River,[10] an interest in a fire insurance company,[11] and owning and managing a family farm.[12] In 1833, he was one of the incorporators of the Ascutney Mill Dam Company.[13] In 1845, he was an original incorporator of the Vermont Railroad Iron Company, which manufactured rails and other railroad train and track components.[14]

Murder of Homer Cooper

In June 1842, the family of John Pettes was reported on in newspapers throughout the United States in connection with a murder that took place on the Pettes farm.[15][16][17][18] According to contemporary newspaper accounts, a crew of laborers including several of Pettes's sons and a man named Peter McCue were working on the farm.[15] The group included Pettes's son Frederick Dudley Pettes, who was about 11 years old, and a local African American boy, Homer Cooper, who was four.[15] As the adults left the field where they had been working, McCue told the group he was going to return and provide additional assistance to the boys.[15] Instead, he attacked them with two hoes.[15] Both boys were severely injured, but Frederick Pettes was able to run for help.[15] McCue fled by attempting to swim to the New Hampshire side of the Connecticut River,[15] but drowned before he reached the shore.[19] Cooper later died as the result of his injuries.[15] Frederick Pettes recovered, served as Deputy U.S. Marshal for Vermont during his father's term as Marshal, and later owned and operated the family farm.[20]

Public official

A Whig, Pettes was active in Vermont's politics and government.[21][22] He served as Sheriff of Windsor County from 1837 to 1839.[23] In 1849, he was appointed United States Marshal for the District of Vermont, succeeding Jacob Kent Jr.[24] He served until 1853, and was succeeded by Charles Chapin.[25]

Later life

For many years, Pettes suffered from a tumor which started near a place on his neck where he had been injured after he was thrown from a horse and impaled on a fence.[1] The tumor negatively affected his breathing and disfigured his face, and in his later life Pettes became a near-recluse as a result.[1] In 1867, his hip and leg were broken when the horse he was attempting to bridle knocked him down, after which he was confined to his bedroom.[1][26]

Death and burial

Pettes died in Windsor on March 24, 1868.[1] He was buried at Old South Cemetery in Windsor.[2]


In 1820, Pettes married Lucy Richards (1799-1849) of Dorchester, Massachusetts.[2][27][28] They were the parents of seven children who lived to adulthood:[1]

  • William R. (1821-1881)[29][30]
  • Mary E. (1823-1841)[31]
  • John Jr. (1825-1866)[32]
  • Edward C. (1829-1877)[33][34]
  • Frederick D. (1831-1907)[35]
  • Robert T. (1833-1867)[36]
  • Lucy E. (1834-1911)[37]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "The Late Maj. John Pettes", p. 4.
  2. ^ a b c "Vermont Vital Records, 1720-1908, Death Record for John Pettes".
  3. ^ a b "Deaths: Charlotte Wales Pettes", p. 3.
  4. ^ a b Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, Vt., for 1883-84, p. 270.
  5. ^ Vermont Register and Yearbook, p. 99.
  6. ^ "Meeting Notice, the Proprietors of Cornish Bridge", p. 3.
  7. ^ "Wool Purchase Notice", p. 4.
  8. ^ "Notice: Farm for Sale", p. 4.
  9. ^ "Directors of the Bank of Woodstock", p. 3.
  10. ^ "Notice: Fresh Goods", p. 3.
  11. ^ "Ascutney Fire Insurance Company", p. 3.
  12. ^ "Windsor Co. Agricultural Society", p. 1.
  13. ^ Acts and Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Vermont (1832), p. 76.
  14. ^ Acts and Laws Passed by the Legislature of the State of Vermont (1845), p. 63.
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shocking Murder", p. 2.
  16. ^ "Murder in Windsor", p. 3.
  17. ^ Mord, p. 3.
  18. ^ "Attempted Murder", p. 3.
  19. ^ "Murder -- Quick Retribution", p. 3.
  20. ^ "Obituary, Frederick Dudley Pettes", p. 8.
  21. ^ "Whig State Convention (1839)", p. 2.
  22. ^ "Whig State Convention (1856)", p. 3.
  23. ^ Gazetteer and Business Directory of Windsor County, Vt., for 1883-84, p. 35.
  24. ^ "Appointments by the President, p. 2.
  25. ^ "Vermont Appointments", p. 2.
  26. ^ "Maj. John Pettis (sic) of Windsor", p. 1.
  27. ^ "Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, Marriage Entry for John Pettes and Lucy Richards".
  28. ^ "Death Notice, Mrs. Lucy Richards", p. 7.
  29. ^ "Death Notice: Helen H. Pettes", p. 3.
  30. ^ "Gravestone Photo, William Richards Pettes".
  31. ^ "Death Notice, Mary Elizabeth Pettes", p. 3.
  32. ^ "Death Notice, John Pettes, Jr.", p. 8.
  33. ^ "1850 United States Federal Census, Entry for Edward C. Pettes".
  34. ^ "Miscellaneous: Capt. Edward C. Pettes", p. 5.
  35. ^ "Death Notice, Frederick Dudley Pettes", p. 6.
  36. ^ "Death Notice, Robert Thaxter Pettes", p. 6.
  37. ^ "Death Notice, Lucy Ellen Sabin", p. 8.





External links

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