Genealogical and Family History
STATE OF MAINE
Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.
LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY
[Please see Index page for full citation.]
[Transcribed by Coralynn Brown]
[Many families included in these genealogical records had their beginnings in Massachusetts.]
From early times the male members of the family of Pitts in Taunton, Mass., were engaged in manufacturing, and among them have been men whose inventive genius and mechanical skill have produced machines that have been of inestimable value to the world.
(I) Peter Pitts, of Taunton, who came from England and settled there before 1643, was the pioneer ancestor of the well-known family of this surname of whom different members have been distinguished as manufacturers in Fitchburg, Leominster and Lancaster, Mass., Springfield, Ohio, Alton and Chicago, Illinois, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo, New York.
Peter Pitts married Mary Hodges, widow of William Hodges, and daughter of Henry Andrews, about 1651. His will was made at Bristol, Rhode Island, where he died in 1692, and it was proved Jan. 12, 1692-93. His children named in his will were:
Samuel, Peter, Alice, Mary and Sarah.
(II) Samuel, eldest son of Peter and Mary (Andrews) (Hodges) Pitts, was born about 1660, and married March 25, 1680, Sarah Bobbett, daughter of Edward Bobbett.
Sarah, born March 10, 1681.
Mary, b. March 10, 1685.
Henry, b. July 13, 1687.
Abigail, b. Feb. 3, 1689.
Peter, b. Aug. 8, 1692.
Ebenezer, next mentioned.
(III) Ebenezer, youngest child of Samuel and Sarah (Bobbett) Pitts, was born Nov. 27, 1694. He resided in Taunton and was a well-known manufacurer of clocks. The destruction of the town records of Taunton render it impossible to give the names of all his children.
(IV) Seth, probably a son of Ebenezer Pitts, was born about 1734 in Taunton, Mass., and died in Maine. He was a soldier in the French and Indian war and held rank sergeant. In the "Massaschusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War" there are six entries of service by Seth Pitts, the first being Aug. 12, 1775, and the others being in the years 1776-78-80-81. Whether all these terms of service can be credited to one man is doubtful, but as Seth Pitts is noted as "of Taunton" in three cases, and as the roll was sworn to at Taunton in another case, there is little room to doubt that Seth Pitts of this sketch assisted in establishing the independence of this country. The records are as follows:
1. Seth Pitts, private, Captain James Perry's company, Colonel Paul Dudley Sargent's regiment; muster roll dated Aug. 12, 1775; enlisted Aug. 20, 1775 (service not given) also, company return dated Oct. 6, 1775; also, order for bounty coat or its equivalent in money dated Camp before Boston, Nov. 14, 1775.
2. Seth Pitts, Taunton, private, Captain Matthew Randell's company, Colonel Thomas Marshall's regiment; abstract for advance pay, mileage, etc., dated Camp at Hull, June 18m 1776; also, same company and regiment; enlisted June 1, 1776; service to Nov. 1, 1776, five months; also, same company and regiment; pay roll for Nov., 1776; service one month two days including travel home.
3. Seth Pitts, private, Captain Matthew Randal's company, Colonel John Daggett's regiment, enlisted Jan. 7, 1778; discharged April 1, 1778; service two months twenty-six days, at Rhode Island; regiment raised to serve for three months from Jan. 1, 1778.
4. Seth Pitts, private, Captain Josiah King's company, Colonel John Daggett's regiment; entered service Aug. 26, 1778; discharged Sept. 1, 1778; service, eight days, at Rhode Island; company detached from militia. Roll sworn to at Taunton.
5. Seth Pitts, private, Captain Israel Trow's company, Colonel Isaad Dean's (Bristol county) regiment; entered service Aug. 1, 1780; discharged Aug. 7, 1780; service nine days, at Rhode Island on the alarm of Aug. 1, 1780, including travel (2 days) home. Roll dated Norton (eight miles from Taunton).
Family tradition says he was a captain and took his third son Shubael, aged nine years, as his servant. After the revolution, Maine offered a promising field for ambitious men who wanted to avail themselves of the advantages of virgin soil and opportunities to build homes and factories. Seth Pitts was a man of energy and foresight and saw opportunities in the new territory that caused him to settle there. Seth Pitts, senior, was taxed in Hallowell or Augusta in 1785. His son Ichabod was taxed there in 1786 and son Shubael in 1796. In 1788 the record in the Kennebec Registry of Deeds shows that Seth Pitts bought land in Winthrop, and the tax list of 1790 shows that he was assessed in Winthrop that year. In 1797 he bought about three hundred acres in Sidney.
Seth Pitts made a will which was proved in the Probate Court of Kennebec County, and in the will is found the names of his children, as follows:
Seth, Ichabod, Shubael, Abiel, Elizabeth, Rosanna, Celia, Polly, Abigail and Sally.
(V) Abiel, fourth son of Seth Pitts, was a blacksmith and resided in Clinton, Maine, where he died March 1, 1837. He married Abiah Wade.
Olive, born 1792, died Oct. 10, 1818.
John Avery and Hiram Abial (twins) (see below).
Calvin Wade, born April 25, 1802, married (second) Margaret Melcher.
Betsey, married, 1826, Peter Trask, of Dixfield.
Parthenia, married, 1826, Thomas Eustis, of Jay.
Selah, born Feb. 10, 1807.
Lydia, born June 10, 1810.
Mary, born Dec. 12, 1812.
Sarah, born Sept. 15, 1815.
(VI) John Avery, eldest son of Abiel and Abiah (Wade) Pitts, and twin brother of Hiram Abial Pitts, was born in Clinton, Maine, Dec. 8, 1799, died in Buffalo, New York, July 1, 1859. Both sons received common school educations and learned the blacksmith trade in their father's shop. They lived in Winthrop for some years, where they carried on their trade in a stone building on the main street, near the cemetery. This building is still (1908) standing.
Abiel Pitts went to Winthrop in 1806, and in 1811 bought land at the head of Bowdoin street, where in 1813 he built the two-story house now standing, and still known as the "Pitts house." This continued to be his home the remainder of his life. In the cemetery rest the remains of Olive Pitts, and several of her brothers and sisters.
The brothers early developed mechanical and inventive abilities. In 1830 they patented a threshing machine with an improved railway or tread power, which consisted in the substitution under the movable platform, connected by an endless chain of rollers, for the leather belt. They began the manufacure of this device, introducing it in the New England states, in connection with the common thresher, or "ground log," as it was sometimes called. Later they conceived the idea of combining this improvement, applied to the old-fashioned thresher, with the common fanning mill, in a portable form, and after years of labor, produced in 1834, the first practicable separating thresher put to actual use. Other improvements were gradually added by the two brothers, and on Dec. 29, 1847, a joint patent was granted to them for the new machine; which was the original of the great family of "endless apron" separators. These machines were capable of threshing from three hundred to five hundred bushes of wheat in a day.
John A. Pitts left Maine, and engaged in manufacturing threshing machines first in Albany, New York, then in Rochester, later in Springfield, Ohio, and finally in Buffalo, New York, where he organized the Pitts Agricultural Works in 1837. This was the oldest company making threshing machines in the country and it is still in existence (1908), having been incorporated in 1877 as the Buffalo Pitts Company. He subsequently invented an attachment for measuring and registering the number of bushels threshed and bagged, and received a gold medal at the Paris Exposition of 1855.
Hiram A. Pitts went to Alton, Illinois, in 1847, and began to manufacture his machine in the shops of a brother-in-law, but becoming dissatisfied with the conditions, soon constructed a new thresher, a number of which he sold on plantations along the Mississippi river. He settled in Chicago, Illinois, Oct., 1851, and there continued the manufacture of his machine, making many valuable improvements to it. He secured in all fourteen different patents, among them one "for a chain pump," one for a machine for breaking hemp and separating the stalks from the fiber, and several for corn and cob mills. He died in Chicago, Illinois Sept., 1860, leaving his business to his four sons.
John A. Pitts married at North Wayne, March 22, 1826, Mary Jennings, of Wayne, who was born in Wayne Oct. 20, 1801, daughter of Nathaniel and Tabitha (Ford) Jennings. She died at Buffalo, N.Y. Sept. 15, 1876.
1. Horatio, born March 31, 1827, died in Havana, Cuba.
2. John Beman, b. Feb. 22, 1833, married Belle Perrin, and they had two children, John and Belle.
3. Mary Ann, mentioned below.
4. Emma, born Nov. 13, 1829.
5. George W., died young.
6. George W., died young.
(VII) Mary Ann, daughter of John A. and Mary (Jennings) Pitts, was born in Winthrop, Jan. 8, 1831, and died Dec. 11, 1890, in Buffalo, New York. She married, at Springfield, Ohio, April 7, 1851, James Brayley, who was born in Exeter, England, in the parish of Swinbridge, county Devon, April 17, 1883. Mary Pitts inherited from her father a large interest in the Buffalo Pitts Company. This she transmitted to her three daughers, who became owners of the establishment, which employs nine hundred persons.
1. Mary Pitts, born Feb. 3, 1854, married Aug. 24, 1876, John R. Gomez, of Malaga, Spain, b. Nov. 15, 1849, died July 19, 1902. They had six children: i. John, b. Sept., 1877, died young. ii. Mary, b. 1879, died young. iii. Guillermo Jorge, b. April 28, 1881, resides in Buffalo, N. Y.; he married Louise Griffin Nov. 28, 1907; iv. Carlos Eduardo, b. Dec. 20, 1882, married Evelyn Bell, April 22, 1908, and lives in Buffalo. v. Rafael Meliton, b. July 31, 1884, is in Malaga. vi. Juan, b. Feb. 22, 1888, is in Buffalo.
2. Carrie, born March 26, 1858, died April 1, 1859.
3. Osmond, born June 21, 1859, died Feb. 16, 1859. [trans note: perhaps these dates are transposed, because they have him dying before he was born.]
4. Alice, born Feb. 27, 1861, married April 17, 1883, Carleton Sprague, of Buffalo, b. Dec. 24, 1858.
6. [their numbering, not mine] John, born Nov. 16, 1862, died Dec. 3, 1863.
6. Grace, born Aug. 17, 1864, married Dec. 14, 1893, Francis Root Keating, who was b. in Buffalo April 25, 1862, and died in Buffalo Jan. 7, 1901. They had three children: i. Alice, b. Nov. 12, 1894. ii. Mary Caroline, b. June 10, 1898. iii. Francis Ruth, b. June 10, 1900.