Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

Pittser Lewis S. – Highland County, Ohio


Lewis S. Pittser, one of the esteemed citizens of Dodson township, comes of an old pioneer family and has many interesting stories to tell of the achievements and characteristics of his ancestors. The first of the name in America was John Pitzer (for so it was originally spelled), who came from Baden, Germany, about 1770, with his brother Michael, who was the father of twenty-four children by two marriages. John Pitzer settled in Berkeley county, W. Va., where he followed fanning and weaving, reared a family and passed away. Among his ten children was John Pittser, born in January, 1777, who married Elizabeth Pifer and by her had two sons, Mathias and Jacob, and by a second marriage three children, Rachel, Adam and Andrew.

Jacob Pittser, the second son of John and Elizabeth, was born in Berkeley county, W. Va., August 19, 1800, and in September, 1828, married Catherine Speagh. She was a daughter of Lewis Speagh, born about 1756 of German parentage, who settled in Washington county, Md., followed farming and shoemaking, and by his marriage to Elizabeth Cramer about 1797 had the following children: John, George, David, Michael, Nancy, Catharine (born June 11, 1801), Mary, Charlotte, Rachel, Margaret and Sarah, all of whom except Michael, who died in infancy, lived to be more than sixty years old, and three reached the age of nearly ninety years.

About 1824, Lewis Speagh migrated to Licking county, Ohio, and ten years later settled in Highland county, where he died October 26, 1855, at the age of ninety-six years. A very large German Bible, formerly owned by him, bearing date of publication, 1737, is now treasured by his grandson, the subject of this sketch, the leaves being fairly well preserved but most of the binding is long since gone. The lids, which still remain, are of wood, ten by nineteen inches and one inch thick. In September, 1825, Jacob Pittser and wife, his father and Uncle Michael with their families, and others who made a party of about twenty persons, started from Virginia, came in private conveyances by way of Wheeling and Columbus over the rough and difficult trails of those days, and eventually reached their point of destination in Highland county. The entire party settled on the banks of the East fork of the Little Miami river, where most of them spent the remainder of their lives.

Jacob Pittser first leased and later bought part of a military grant belonging to Capt. William White, of Virginia, to which he added by subsequent purchases until his holdings of land amounted to between four and five hundred acres. An incident in his early life is worth recalling as an illustration of pioneer methods and hardships. Mrs. Pittser longed to see her father and mother, who had located in Licking county several years before. Though the distance was not great, as measured now, it was then almost as if an ocean lay between, so imposing were the difficulties of travel in a country covered by the primeval forest. Wheeled vehicles were not obtainable and would have been useless in the absence of roads, so the only recourse was to walk or ride horseback. The only beasts of burden in possession of the family was an old mare brought from Virginia and one of her colts three years old.

So Mrs. Pittser courageously mounted the former while her husband bestrode the frisky colt, and they took turns carrying the six-months-old infant. Thus equipped, they started late in the summer of 1829 to thread their way through the wilderness, often traveling many miles without seeing a human being. The third day out, a drove of wild hogs by suddenly starting up front their brush covert so frightened the colt that Mr. Pittser was thrown headlong from the saddle, and narrowly escaped falling upon and crushing the baby. Aside from this accident, which was afterward often recalled and discussed around the fireside, the travelers reached their destination without further adventure after five days of wearisome and dangerous journeying.

After a glad reunion, the Pittsers, a month later, arrived safely at their Highland county home, Mrs. Pittser bringing back a ten-year-old sister who remained an inmate of the household until her marriage in 1840 to Jacob Ellis of Clermont county.

Jacob Pittser was a man of strong anti-slavery views and though a life-long Democrat abandoned his party on that issue and joined the Republicans as soon as they became organized. He was also an ardent advocate of temperance and in later life was accustomed to vote at general elections with the Prohibition party. Shortly after its organization he became a member of the Methodist Protestant church and was chiefly instrumental in building on his farm a meeting-house called ”Pleasant Hill,” which was an object of his solicitous care and generous contributions during the remainder of his life.

He was an exhorter, held all the minor offices in the society and at different times represented the Lynchburg circuit in the Ohio annual conferences of the organization. He died January 6, 1886, and his good wife passed away December 20, 1888, on the old homestead, where they had spent together more than sixty years of joint trial and mutual happiness. The children of Jacob and Catherine Pittser were George W., William, Sophia, Lewis S., Martha J., Harvey A., Margaret E., and Mary O., the first born in Virginia in 1824 and all the others on the farm in Dodson township, near Lynchburg. The four now living are George W., in Van Buren county, Iowa; Sophia, in Sabina, Ohio; Lewis S., noticed below; and Margaret E., in Olney, Ill.

Lewis Speagh Pittser, fourth in age of the children, was born one mile north of Lynchburg, Highland county, Ohio, on the farm where he now resides, July 3, 1831. His education was obtained in the common schools, followed by one term each in the graded school at Vienna and the Normal university at Lebanon. With this equipment, commencing in 1855 he devoted most of the next ten years to teaching in his own and the adjoining school districts. On June 30, 1857, he married Anna E. Moore, who was born near Winchester, Adams county, Ohio, October 24th, 1836. Her parents, William and Margaret (Beam) Moore, were married January 15, 1828, and had nine children: Sarah J., Daniel, Samuel T., Harriet, Anna E., Margaret A., Colista V., Elizabeth A. and William. Those living are Sarah J., widow of Robert Orr, and Margaret A., widow of Jesse Wright, residents of Austin, Texas; Samuel, of Louisville, Ky.; Harriet, widow of John Maines; Colista V., wife of Theodore Gibner of Cincinnati, and Elizabeth A., wife of John Steen, of Flora, Ind.

William Moore was a farmer and stockraiser in Adams county until 1852, when he bought a sawmill at Moscow, Clermont county, and was engaged in the lumber business until his death August 3, 1855. His widow survived him many years and died at Louisville, Ky., October 28, 1868. In 1864, with his brothers, George W. and Harvey A., Lewis S. Pittser enlisted in Company E, One Hundred and Sixty- eighth regiment, Ohio national guard, with which he served under Captain Smith until honorably discharged.

In the early spring of 1865 with his little family, he moved to LaSalle county, Ill., where he spent the summer in farming. In the fall he purchased a farm of one hundred acres in Scotland county, Mo., on which he built a house and made some other improvements, after which he again turned his attention to school teaching. Subsequently he sold his farm and became assistant teacher in a select graded school at Memphis, the county seat of Scotland county, Mo. In the fall of 1868, he organized a select school at Athens, in Clark county, Mo., employed an assistant and was doing very well until a small pox epidemic in the spring caused a sudden closing of the term. He and his family then went to Chatsworth, Ill., and the next few years were spent in teaching at various points in that state.

In 1873, Mr. and Mrs. Pittser made a visit to the old home in Highland county and spent two summer months most pleasantly with father, mother and other relatives, which period they often recalled as the most delightful of their lives., Returning to Illinois Mr. Pittser spent some years in teaching and later bought a farm in Iroquois county where he remained until 1888, when he sold out and returned to Highland county. In 1889 he purchased the old homestead of his brothers and sisters, occupied the same with his family and since has made his residence there.

Mr. Pittser cast his first Presidential vote in 1852 for John P. Hale and George W. Julian, and being strongly opposed to slavery was identified with the Republican party for many years, but is now independent in politics. In 1846 he joined the Methodist Protestant church, but after removing west affiliated with the Methodist Episcopal church, in which he has constantly held one or more of the minor offices and been a member of the official board.

Lewis S. and Anna E. Pittser have had four sons and a daughter: Milton L., born May 25, 1858, died May 11, 1860; Xelson H., born May 25, 1860, was married to Anna Harris in Louisville, Ky., November 26, 1887, and died October 25, 1890, leaving an only child, Eula B., born September 5, 1888, and now living at Shawneetown, Ill.; Sarah V. D. was born May 20, 1865, in La Salle county, Ill., and married Ferdinand D. Eateliff in Hillsboro, October 8, 1893. Jacob J. was born in Missouri November 18, 1867, and married Lilian Griffith in Leesburg, Ohio, September 15, 1892, their-children being Hazel G., born in 1893, and E. Eugene, born in 1899. William O. was born at Oliver’s Grove, Ill., July 12, 1871, married Dora Miller of Piper City, Ill., September 19, 1895, and was killed in a railroad accident at Terre Haute, Ind., November 12, 1895.

THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND :A History of Highland County, Ohio, from the Earliest Days, with Special Chapters on the Bench and Bar, Medical Profession Educational Development, Industry and Agriculture and Biographical Sketches By REV. J. W. KLISE ; A. E. HOUGH, Editor ; MADISON, WIS. ; NORTHWESTERN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION I902; pages 433-436

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