John Pittwood, architect and builder, resident at Newaygo, was born at Ringsash, Devonshire, Eng., Feb. 15, 1843. John and Elizabeth Pittwood, his paternal grandparents, passed their lives, died and were buried in the parish of Ringsash. Their only son, William, married Jane Stevens, of the parish of Winkleigh, Devonshire, Eng., and to them were born three children: John, Mary Elizabeth and William Henry. The last named died Nov. 6, 1847, in England. William and Jane Pittwood, with their two children, emigrated to America in the spring of 1849. They had a stormy passage, and were on the ocean nine weeks. They landed at Quebec and made their way to Oakfield, Genesee Co., N. Y. where they settled on 100 acres of land. There their daughter died, on the first day of October, 1849,k in the fall subsequent to their arrival. They lived there in prosperity about two years, and Aug. 1, 1851, another son, William Henry, was born. The mother died March 14, 1852. The father sold his farm and made a prospecting trip through the Western States. He finally bought 86 acres of land in Sandstone, Jackson Co., MI. He returned to New York and was married to Sarah B. Draper. In the fall of 1855 they took possession of their new home in Michigan. On this they remained two years, going thence to Homer, Calhoun Co., where they bought 100 acres of land. They made another removal to Litchfield, Hillsdale Co., where six children - three sons and three daughters - were born to them. One son died there in early childhood. Later, the family removed to Battle Creek, where Mrs. Pittwood died, Jan. 10, 1884. The father still resides there.
Mr. Pittwod, of this sketch, enlisted, at Litchfield, in the Civil War, in April, 1861, under the first requisition for troops, in Co. H., Fourth Mich. Vol. Inf., Capt. Funk, of Jonesville. He sustained the loss of his left thumb by a gunshot wound at Fairfax Station during the first battle of Bull's Run, and received his discharge in consequence. He returned home and re-enlisted in the First Reg. Mich. Engineers and Mechanics, under Col. William P. Innis, enrolling as Chief Bugler of the regiment and as a member of the regimental band. He served in that capacity until his period of enlistment expired, in November, 1864. He was in the battle of Stone River, or LaVergne, and in numerous skirmishes. He was discharged at Atlanta, GA, and returned home. After a short visit he joined the construction department of the army and was engaged in bridge building in Kentucky, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee until Lee's surrender, when he returned home and was employed in his vocation. He came to Newaygo in 1872 and established himself in the calling in which he has since continued.
Mr. Pittwood was married Dec. 24, 1866, to Martha E., daughter of Samuel and Deborah (Woods) Riblet, a native of Litchfield, born Oct. 19, 1843. Her family is one of the oldest and best known of Hillsdale County, being the lineal decedents of a French nobleman, who, in consequence of his embracing the Protestant faith, had his property confiscated and was exiled under penalty of being burned as a heretic. He suffered many indignities, and, in company with others, went to Germany, where he married and reared a large family. Two of his sons, Christian and Bartholomew, emigrated to America and settled in Northampton Co., Pa., where John Riblet, son of Christian, and great-grandfather of Mrs. Pittwood, was born in 1758. In the beginning of the war of the Revolution, he entered the service as First Lieutenant in a regiment of riflemen, but was soon after taken prisoner and confined three years on board the British man-of-war, "Roebuck." After his release, he married and settled near Hagerstown, MD., where Solomon Riblet, father of Samuel, was born, in August, 1872. In the year 1800, John Riblet moved with his family to Erie, Pa., where he commanded the body guard of Commodore Perry during the building of his fleet. Solomon Riblet was Captain in a regiment of minute-men, and served with distinction.
Samuel Riblet, father of Mrs. Pittwood, was born in the town of Harbor Creek, Erie Co., Pa., Feb. 22, 1811. He was taught the rudiments of a German education by his grandfather, and attended the district school during the winter months. At the age of 17 he went to Erie to complete his education at the academy at that place. He was obliged to teach winters in order to obtain funds to defray his expenses at school during the summer. He obtained a situation as teacher near Pittsburgh, which he filled acceptably three years, during which time he formed the acquaintance of Deborah Woods, to whom he was married Nov. 19, 1833. A son, S. K. Riblet, was born and soon after they decided to emigrate to Michigan; and in accordance with this resolution, they left Pittsburgh and moved West in one of the emigrant wagons since called "prairie schooners." After their long and tedious journey they settled on 160 acres of land on the Kalamazoo and St. Joseph trail, near Litchfield. They were there when the Indians were yet so numerous that it was a frequent thing for 500 or more of them to collect on their farm. Here their children were reared and all grew to maturity, and here the venerable coupled lived together 44 years, the mother dying Dec. 21, 1879. The father still lives on the old homestead. He was married Jan. 15, 1882, to Mrs. Clarinda Hartwell.
Four children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Pittwood: Mary Jane, Ethelyn D., William Henry and John S. Mr. Pittwood is a member of the Order of Masonry, belonging to Newaygo Lodge, No. 131. He owns his residence and 40 acres of land, on section 6, Grant Township, 40 acres on Section 1, Ashland, and 40 acres on section 8 in Deerfield, Mecosta Co. Mrs. Pittwood was a teacher in the union school at Litchfield, three years prior to her marriage.
Mr. Pittwood is a man of exceptional native genius, and is possessed of natural and acquired abilities in his profession far exceeding those of many who make greater pretentions. His traits of character render him one of the most estimable citizens of Newaygo.
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