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Curtis Hussey Pettit

Male 1833 - 1914


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  • Name  Curtis Hussey Pettit 
    Born  18 Sep 1833  Hanover Township, Columbiana, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender  Male 
    Died  11 May 1914  Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID  I423  My Genealogy
    Last Modified  20 Mar 2009 

    Father  Joseph Pettit,   b. 28 Jun 1809, Hanover Township, Columbiana, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Oct 1892, Mount Pleasant, Jefferson, Ohio, United States Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother  Hannah Grubb Hussey,   b. 29 Aug 1810, Cincinnati, Hamilton, Ohio, United States Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Nov 1869 
    Married  21 Nov 1832  Short Creek mm, Mount Pleasant, Jefferson, Ohio Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Divorced  Yes, date unknown 
    Family ID  F161  Group Sheet

    Family  Deborah Mcbride Williams,   b. 28 Oct 1833, Oakland, Juniata, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 26 Mar 1926, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Married  2 Jun 1857  Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Children 
     1. Irene Hussey Pettit,   b. 1858,   d. 1877
     2. Louis Williams Pettit,   b. 6 Jan 1862, Oakland, Juniata, Pennsylvania Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 23 Jul 1884, Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Find all individuals with events at this location
     3. Edward Curtis Pettit,   b. 30 Apr 1864,   d. 11 Aug 1865
     4. Alice Mary Pettit,   b. 18 Oct 1868,   d. 6 Jun 1869
     5. Bessie Tabitha Pettit,   b. 22 Oct 1870,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified  24 Feb 2006 
    Family ID  F168  Group Sheet

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 18 Sep 1833 - Hanover Township, Columbiana, Ohio Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 2 Jun 1857 - Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 11 May 1914 - Minneapolis, Hennepin, Minnesota, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • EXTRACTED FROM: History of Minneapolis, Gateway to the Northwest; Chicago-Minneapolis, The S J Clarke Publishing Co, 1923; Edited by: Rev. Marion Daniel Shutter, D.D., LL.D.; Volume I - Shutter (Historical); volume II - Biographical; volume III - Biographical ======================================================== Vol III, pg 243-246 HON. CURTIS HUSSEY PETTIT On the pages of the pioneer history of Minneapolis appears again and again the name of Curtis Hussey Pettit, and on down through the years it is identified with almost every chapter in the annals of the city's development and progress. His life work, therefore, constitutes an integral part in the records of both city and state, from the time when as land agent he began handling properties in Minnesota and down through the years when as banker, as journalist and as grain merchant he largely directed the commercial and financial development of the city, while at the same time he was giving of his ability and his efforts in shaping the political history and the civic progress of the Northwest. A native of Ohio, Curtis Hussey Pettit was born near Hanoverton, Columbiana county, September 18, 1833, and traced his ancestry in direct line back to Thomas Pettit and his wife, Christian, daughter of Oliver Mellows. Thomas Pettit was in Boston as early as 1634 and removed thence to Exeter and later to Newtown, Long Island, where according to the public records he was appointed marshal in 1655. Younger generations of the family scattered over New Jersey and other states. Nathaniel Pettit, son of Thomas Pettit, located on eight hundred acres of land in what is now the city of Trenton, New Jersey. William Pettit, the great-great-grandson of Nathaniel Pettit, became a resident of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and his grand-son, Joseph Pettit, married Hannah Grubb Hussey and with his young wife went to Ohio. It was this worthy couple who were the parents of Curtis H. Pettit of this review. Both father and mother were ambitious to give their children the best educational advantages possible and provide them with every means for the development of high character and the attainment of liberal culture. Curtis H. Pettit accordingly attended a Friend's school at Sandy Springs and afterward the public schools of Hanoverton, Ohio, and later became a student in Oberlin College. A severe attack of typhoid fever, however, obliged him to give up his college work and with the recovery of his health lie started upon his business career as a bookkeeper in the Forest City Bank of Cleve-land, Ohio, which had recently been established by his uncle, Joseph G. Hussey, who was the president of the institution. After about a year's experience there Curtis H. Pettit, following the advice of another uncle, Curtis G. Hussey, for whom he was named, went to Pittsburgh and became an employe of the firm of C. G. Hussey & Company, controlling one. of the first iron and steel interests of that city. The oppor-tunities of the west, however, attracted Mr. Pettit and in the fall of 1855 he determined to investigate these for himself and made a prospecting tour to Galena, Illinois, thence traveling by boat and stage to Minneapolis, where he arrived on the 22d of October. The natural advantages and resources of the country and the possibilities of the embryo city at once impressed him and he made purchase of a lot, with twenty feet frontage, on the east side of Nicollet avenue between First and Second streets, then the business center of the town. He also purchased a small frame building at the south-west corner of Nicollet and Washington avenues, which had been used as a meat market and after making arrangements to have the little building removed to his lot he left on the same day to return to the east with the intention of bringing his posses-sions to Minnesota before navigation closed for the season. In the shortest space of time possible he returned with a capital of five thousand dollars for investment, due to the liberal kindness of his uncle, Dr. Curtis G. Hussey of Pittsburgh. Mr. Pettit then opened a bank and real estate office in his little building, sleeping in the office and taking his meals with the family of Mr. Edwards, from whom he had purchased his land. His was the second bank opened in this city, the first having been started by Samuel Snyder and William K. McFarlane, early in October, 1855. Mr. Pettit was at the time but twenty-two years of age. He realized a considerable profit on a quantity of pork and some flour which he had bought in Iowa, but during his first year he confined his attention largely to dealing in townsite shares in Glencoe, Hutch-inson, Watertown and other places, owning for a time a quarter interest in the town-site of Glencoe. He continued in the banking business and was one of those who put into circulation notes of eastern banks, endorsing them across the face with a guar-anty of payment and he redeemed each of these at its face value, amounting to over twenty thousand dollars. By the 12th of July, 1856, so wisely and carefully had he managed his business affairs that he had an investment of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars in his bank and land agency. In the summer of 1856 Mr. Pettit went to board with the family of Captain Louis H. Williams, who had removed to Minneapolis from Newville, Pennsylvania, and on the 2d of June of the following year he was united in marriage to the second daughter of the family, Miss Deborah McBride Williams. It was in the fall of the following year, 1858, that Mr. Pettit became the first owner of the Minneapolis Journal, which he started with his wife's cousin, John G. Williams, a well known newspaper man of that period, as editor. After a few years, however, Mr. Pettit disposed of the paper and in 1860 sold his banking interests, while in 1861 he established a retail hardware business, which later developed into one of the present large wholesale houses of the city, under the name of the Williams Hardware Company, Mr. Pettit entered into active connection with the lumber trade in the autumn of 1866, by becoming a member of the firm of Ankeny, Robinson & Pettit, operating a sawmill at the Falls. He also became interested in the manufacture of flour, erecting, in con-nection with others, the Pettit mill, operated by the firm of Pettit, Robinson & Company until it was destroyed in an explosion in 1878. It was immediately rebuilt, however, and Mr. Pettit remained an active owner of the business until it became the property of the Northwestern Milling Company in 1891. In 1879 Mr. Pettit was one of the builders of Elevator A, the property of the Minneapolis Elevator Company, of which he was a stockholder. This elevator was erected near the tracks of the Great Northern Railroad at Chestnut avenue. It was the largest elevator west of Chicago, having a capacity of seven hundred and eighty thousand bushels. Mr. Pettit was treasurer of the company, with Loren Fletcher as president. In 1884, associated with Jabez M. Robinson, with whom he was connected in various other business ventures, Mr. Pettit purchased a large amount of land in the northern part of the state, in St. Louis and Lake counties, in order to acquire the pine timber and stumpage remaining on it, but with no idea at that time of the vast beds of iron ore that were later developed on the Mesaba range. Some of these properties acquired by Mr. Pettit and Mr. Robinson proved to have valuable deposits of ore, so that in the later years of his life the man-agement of his ore lands constituted the chief business interest of Mr. Pettit. He was also prominently associated with the development of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railroad, of which he was a director from the organization of the company. From the time of his marriage until his demise Mr. Pettit continued to make Minneapolis his home and here five children were born to him and his wife: Irene Hussey, Louis Williams, Edward Curtis, Alice Mary and Bessie Tabitha. The last named was the only one to reach maturity and she is now the wife of George P. Douglas of Minneapolis. While Mr. Pettit rose to notable distinction in business circles with the passing years he was equally active in support of those forces which contributed to the civic, political and moral development of his community. He always manifested a most helpful interest in public affairs and in 1859, less than four years after his arrival here, was elected a member of the second city council. In 1866 he was chosen to repre-sent his district in the state senate and was reelected to that position in 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1871. Three years afterward he was chosen a member of the house of ses-sions and was reelected in 1875, 1876 and again in 1887. His political allegiance was always unfalteringly given to the republican party and for many years he served as a member of its county, congressional and state central committees and at different periods acted as chairman thereof. From Governor William R. Marshall in 1869 he received appointment as member of the board of trustees of the State Reform School and with the exception of a few months in 1897, he continuously served in that capacity for thirty-two years, or until the board was (with the boards of other state institutions), superseded by the state board of control in August, 1901, through act of legislature During the last twelve years of that thirty-two year period Mr. Pettit was president of the State Reform School board. He always manifested a personal interest in the boys sent to that institution and the position to him was not one of political preferment but rather an opportunity to help misguided youths. He became acquainted with them as individuals and in later years there were many, who, having become good and use-ful citizens, came to him to express their thanks for his friendliness and fatherly interest, which had helped them to regain their self-respect and aroused their ambition to make good in spite of the first misstep. The Minneapolis patrol law up to 1887 had been in force only as a city ordinance, which could be amended or repealed at any time by the city council. During the legislative session of that year Mr. Pettit intro-duced a bill, which became a law, defining the limits and making operative the patrol law by act of legislature, thus taking the matter from the control of the city council and making the patrol limits practically a permanent policy of the city government. This law proved to be one of the very best devices ever used for controlling the liquor traffic in cities before the days of national prohibition. Mr. Pettit also deserved the honor of having definitely shaped the plan by which Minneapolis and Hennepin county united to erect a much needed building, in which to conduct city and county business. During the same legislative session in which he secured the enactment of the patrol law, he outlined his ideas and had the bill drawn up, which he introduced. The site of the proposed building was fixed in the bill, this foresight solving the problem of a location which might have caused great difference of opinion and long delays. At the time of its erection Mr. Pettit was much criticized for the magnitude of the structure but that he would have been justified in making plans tor a building twice the size was proven long prior to his death. It was on the llth of May, 1914, after gradual and general failing of strength, without being confined to his bed, that Curtis H. Pettit passed away. He had long been a devoted member of the Westminster Presbyterian church and had participated in its organization on the 23d of August, 1857, at which time six of the eight original mem-bers were members of the Williams family. This church was incorporated under the revised statutes of Minnesota, April 6, 1858, and Mr. Pettit was elected one of the board of trustees. He served continuously in that position until his demise fifty-six years later and during the greater part of that time was chairman of the board. He was interested in the various branches of the church work, was a careful guardian of its financial interests and did everything in his power to advance its welfare and growth. He was regarded as an ideal trustee and not a little of the success of the man-agement of the business affairs of the church was due to him. He served on the build-ing committee in 1876, again when the church at Nicollet avenue and Seventh street was built and was chairman of the building committee at the time of the erection of the present house of worship, at the corner of Nicollet avenue and Twelfth street. He was ever a man of broad, benevolent spirit and wise philanthropy. He was continually extending a helping hand where aid was needed, always in a quiet and unostentatious manner and frequently no one knew of his benefactions save himself and the recipient. He was ever cheerful and his kindliness of heart and honesty of purpose, his quiet strength of will and his warm sympathy have made his memory cherished by all who knew him. He was in the eighty-first year of his age when "the weary wheels of life at length stood still and he slept." His name is closely and honorably associated with the early history and later development of Minneapolis and there is no phase of her progress along commercial and financial lines, or in relation to her intellectual, civic and moral development with which he was not associated to a point of notable and resultant helpfulness.
    • (Research):bA Half Century of Minneapolis
      /bBy Horace Bushnell Hudson

      PETTIT, Curtis Hussey (C. H. Pettit), a pioneer of Minneapolis who has been prominently identified with the business, social and political life of the city for the last half century, was born in Ohio, at Hanover, Columbiana county, September 18, 1833. He was the son of Joseph and Hannah G. (Hussey) Pettit. To give their children the best education possible was the strong desire of his parents, and though a farm er's boy he had the somewhat unusual chances, for those days, of a course at Obcrlin, after some time spent at a Quaker school at Mt. Pleasant, Ohio. After leaving college Mr. Pettit entered business in Cleveland for a short time going from Cleveland to Pittsburgh where he remained about four years returning to Cleveland for a few months. At the age of twenty-two he came to Minneapolis, in 1855, where he at once established himself in the banking business, maintaining at the same time a real estate and land office. In 1860 he disposed of his banking interests and engaged in the hardware trade until the autumn of 1866 when he went into the lumber business for a lime, operating one of the saw mills at the falls under the firm name of Ankeny-Robinson & Pettit. Later he went into flour milling and in connection with other parties erected the Pettit mill which was operated by the firm of Pettit, Robinson & Company. Tin's mill was destroyed in the mill explosion of 1878 but was immediately rebuilt and Mr. Pettit continued to hrve an interest in it until it became the property of the Northwestern Consolidated Milling Company in 1891. The mill was then dismantled and converted into an elevator. Mr. Pettit has long since retired from active executive work in business, finding his time fully occupied in looking after his extensive interests. From the first Mr. Pettit took an active part in public affairs of Minneapolis. He was a member of the second city council elected in 1859 and, always an active republican, was for many years a member of the county, congressional and state central committees of his party and at different times was chairman of each. He was a member of the Minnesota State Senate for the sessions of 1866, 1868, 1869, 1870 and 1871, and of the House of Representatives for the sessions of 1874, 1875, 1876 and 1887. The Minneapolis Patrol Law up to 1887 had been in force only as a city ordinance which could be amended or repealed at any time by the city council. During the legislative session of that year Mr. Pettit introduced a bill which became a 1 iw defining the limits of and making operative the Patrol Law by act of the Legislature thus taking the matter out of the control of the council and making the patrol limits practically a permanent policy of the city government. This law has been and is one of the very best devices ever made use of for controlling the liquor traffic in cities. During the same session Mr. Pettit prepared, introduced and secured the passage of the law under which the present Hennepin County Court House and Minneapolis City Hall has been erected. He was appointed a member of the board of managers of the State Reform School, now the State Training School for Boys and Girls, by Governor William R. Marshall in March, l8(xj. which position he held, with the exception of a few months in 1897, continuously for about thirty-two years and until the board was, (as were other boards of the state institutions) by an act of the legislature, superseded in August, 1901, by a State Board of Control. During the last twelve years of his term he was president of this board to which postion he was first appointed by Gov. A. R. Mc- Gill in January, 1887. He was married on June 2, 1857, to Deborah M. Williams, and has had five children, of whom four died. His youngest daughter, Bessie Tabitha, is the wife of George P. Douglas, and has three children. The family is Presbyterian.