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Col. Jonathan Pettibone

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1741 to 1826
Location: Connecticutmap
Surname/tag: Pettibone
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Hannah Owen, who married Jonathan Pettibone, J r., was the daughter of Judge Owen, Justice of the Peace for Hartford County, Connecticut, 1755-1781, and Judge of the Probate Court of Simsbury, Connecticut, 1769-1781. Jonathan’Jr.'s father was the equally noted Colonel Jonathan Pettibone who died of camp disease on his way home from the battlefield of Long Island in 1776, a journey on which he was accompanied by Jonathan, Jr. [see J44 Jonathan Pettibone]. Jonathan Pettibone, Jr., was thirty-four years old, the father of three small children, and an ensign in Captain Abel Pettibone’s company of the Simsbury militia when he marched from Simsbury to the defense of Boston in the summer of 1775 [RSCMR, 49]. By October he had been elected 2nd Lieutenant of his company. He re-enlisted January 1, 1776 in the 22nd Connecticut Regiment under the command of Colonel Samuel Wyllys and served through the siege of Boston and the campaign to defend New York in the summer and fall of 1776. Two letters written to Jonathan in the summer of 1776, one from his wife and one from his father, reveal the tenor of life in Simsbury in that second summer of conflict with Great Britain, just before the major battles began. Hannah wrote in July 1776:

Loving husband Hoping these lines will find you well as they leave me And our little children It is a mellancole Time Hear Father Pettibone Is Sick but we Hope not Dangers . . . I feel very much Troubled about you but I hope God will preserve you in all your Dangers I shall Send you a pare of Stockings as quick as I can Ase Case has listed and gon in to the sea quite unexpected and has Disapointed us very much I can Hire Sam Jary but his prise is three pound a month and I cannot Hire anybody else Martha -and Hannah Send thare Love to thare dady I remain your loving wife Hannah Pettibone

Colonel Pettibone apparently recovered from his illness promptly, for on August 5, 1776, he wrote to his son as follows:

These lines are to my son Jon‘ now in New York In the camp Hoping they will find you in good Helth as they thrue the goodness of God Leave all your friends at Hom I take this opportunity to let you know your bisiness goes on your Horses is got all your first Crop of hay your hilling own flax pulled your plowing Tom Cysbeki and we do as well as we can but bisiness all verry pressing and what to do I know not. I am employed to fetch from Salsbury to old Hartford twenty cannon and forty-two tons of pig iron and cannon ball by the Governor and Counsel. . . I would have you take Cair with Ensign Sadoce Willcocks and see that he is as comfortable as the rest of the solgars and not to spend His money Neadlessly and take Cair of him in all biseness I am in great haste and Cant ad more but remain your Loving father Jon‘ Pettibone

Colonel Pettibone may have known that he himself might soon be coming to the battlefield, as by the time he wrote to his son he had already received an urgent order to call the 18th Regiment to active duty, and he arrived with his men on Long Island August 17, 1776. Jonathan, Jr., meanwhile, was promoted to 1st Lieutenant August 10, 1776 [Doc. 95148, Revolu- tionary War, National Archives]. In September 1776 Jonathan was given leave to accompany his seriously ill father on a homeward journey, hoping his father could be nursed back to health; but his father died en route, at Rye, New York, September 6, 1776, and was buried there. Since a massive British fleet was moving from Boston toward New York at the time, Jonathan .Ir., had to return immediately to the battlefield [see J94 Abel Pettibone]. Jonathan, Jr.’s second term of duty ended December 31, 1776. There is evidence that he enlisted for at least one more two-year term of duty and was promoted to the rank of captain; his name appears in the Revolutionary pension application of one Jonathan Beach of Goshen, Connecticut, who deposed in his application that he entered service 1 June 1779 in the regiment of Matthew Mead of Wilton, Connecticut, and served in the company of Captain Jonathan Pettibone [Beach and Beach, Editors, Beach Family Magazine, 2:49 1 April 1926]. There also exists an official receipt for reimbursement of losses suffered by soldiers in his company signed by “Jonathan Pettibone, Capt, Hartford, June 6 1780." [Connecticut Archives, Revolutionary Series I, XVII:116a,b]. After the war Jonathan Pettibone returned to his family home at what is now [1992] 4 Hartford Road in the Weatogue section of Simsbury. He operated a tavern in his home for many years, from as early as 1776, when a notice about it appeared in the Hartford Courant [March 4, 1776, 33]. In Connecticut in the 18th century town authorities appointed certain reputable individuals who lived on frequently traveled highways to be tavern keepers. They were required to have at least two beds for travelers and enough food and other amenities for an overnight stay. Jonathan Pettibone’s tavern burnt to the ground at some time near the end of the 18th century, and he rebuilt it on the same site in1801 [Simsbury Historical Society, Historic Simsbury Houses, n.p.] The 1801 house is said to have been built on the original foundation of its burnt predecessor, using some of the charred original timbers; and this building still stands today [1992]. It has been a tavern or inn for much of the time since its construction, and was called The Pettibone Tavern for much of the mid-20th century, but has been renamed by new owners several times since then. It is now called Chart House. Jonathan was an exceedingly capable man. After the Revolution he remained active in the militia and rose in rank until he became a colonel, as had his father. He had the privilege in 1797 of presenting to his own son, the then most recent Jonathan, Jr., a commission as sergeant major in the historic 18th regiment of Connecticut militia [Manuscript Collection, Local History Department, CSL]. In addition to managing his tavern, Jonathan (no longer called Jr.,) was active in various commercial activities. He managed a Simsbury lottery in 1781 to raise funds for the construction of a much needed bridge across the Farmington River, a project that was successful. In 1782 he was listed in the Hartford Courant as a member of the Susquehanna Committee, a membership he probably inherited from his father [See J35 Noah Pettibone]. For some years he was partner in a mercantile firm with two men named Moore and Bolles, which firm was dissolved in 1797. For some years around the turn of the century, Jonathan Pettibone was also the overseer of Newgate Prison in the northeast section of Simsbury. In the fifty-four years of the prison’s operation starting during the Revolution there were fourteen overseers, so if Jonathan’s reign in that position was of equal length with all the others, he probably served as overseer for about four years or less [see _____ _____ for details of Newgate Prison]. An interesting event is found in the records of the General Court of Connecticut which reads as follows [Jonathan Humphrey, mentioned below, was a brother-in-law of Jonathan Pettibone"s; see I446 Annis Pettibone]:

The petition of Jonathan Humphrey and Jonathan Pettibone both of Simsbury in Hartford County showing that sometime in the month of September 1786 your Honour’s petitioners apprehended and actually took up one John Gibb John Holley and David Stittman for uttering and passing certain false forged and counterfeit publick securities (made in lmmetation of the Publick Securities Emmitted by the State of New York and Likewise for Uttering and passing Certain Counterfit Dollars made in Immatation of the True Spanish Milled Dollars — and them the said Gibbs Holley and Stittman had upon Examanation before proper and lawfull authority, when and where they owned the facts charged against them and they were by authority (for want of sufficieut bonds) Committed to the keeper of goal in Hartford within the Prison for trial in the premises — and Soon after they were committed as aforesaid . they broke said Goal and made their Escape therefrom. . . . Your petitioners pray that they may receive the premium by law allowed in Such Cases and their Legal Costs and that your Honours will take their Cause into your wise Consideration.

Dated in Simsbury Sept 10 1787 Jonathan Humphrey Jonathan Pettibone [Connecticut Archives, VI:334a]

Resolved by this Assembly that the memorialists Receive Ten Pounds Lawfull Money and the Treasurer is hereby directed to pay the same out of Monies raised for the support of the Civil Life.

Passed in the Upper House October 17 1787 Concurred in the Lower House [Ibid., VI:335]

In addition to his business affairs, Jonathan Pettibone was very much involved in governmental and political matters. He was the member for Simsbury of the General Court of 1795 [Connecticut Archives, V1112], during which one of the resolutions passed was one which gave income from Connecticut’s Western Land fund to Societies which supported public schools in the towns [Marguerite Allis, Now We Are Free, __]. In 1818 Jonathan engaged in what was undoubtedly the most important of his many duties to his country. William M. Vibert, one of Simsbury’s local historians, stated in his tricentennial history of Simsbury that Simsbury sent "two of its leading figures, Judge Elisha Phelps and Jonathan Pettibone" as delegates to the convention called in 1818 to establish a state constitution. After the authority of the 1662 royal Charter of the Colony of Connecticut was obliterated in 1776 by the Revolution, Connecticut relied entirely on the laws passed by the combined Assembly and General Court which were in turn based in general on British common law. Ever since the days of Jefferson demands had been made and rriotions passed for calling a convention, but to no avail until 1818. Simsbury town had voted against calling a convention, but once a resolution was passed in the general assembly to do so, it decided to send its delegates along with those of all the other towns. (Another Pettibone, Augustus Pettibone [J4413] of Norfolk, Connecticut, was also a delegate to the convention.) Remarkably, the convention of 1818 produced a written constitution in only two-and-a-half weeks’ deliberation, between August 26 and September 12, 1818 [Vibert, Three Centuries of Simsbury;1670-1970, 134]. A product of extremely vigorous debate between the conservative Federalists and the Jeffersonian Republicans, the new constitution retained many precedents from common law, including a long list of individual rights. It also set up operating procedures and introduced two major new provisions: (1) it formally divided the state government into three departments, legislative, executive, and judicial; and (2) it disestablished the Congregational Church. Many people in the conservative northwestern towns of Connecticut vehemently opposed the disestablishment of the Church, but liberal forces fought for rights of conscience and recognition before the law of all Christian sects, and the entire constitution was approved by the convention on September 15, 1818, 134 to 61. Since there were at least seventy-one Federalist delegates and some Republicans who voted in the negative, some minds were obviously changed by the debate [Albert E. Van Dusen, Connecticut, 189-190]. The constitution still had to be ratified by the towns, however, and Simsbury voted 116-111 against ratification. Other northern Connecticut towns voted in the negative, too, but the coastal and central towns overwhelmed them and the constitution was passed by 1,554 votes [Vibert, 114-115]. Jonathan Pettibone died in Simsbury, March 20, 1826 at the age of eighty-four, and his wife, Hannah (Owen) Pettibone, died there at the age of seventy-seven just twenty days later, on April 9, 1826.


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