Chief Claim to Fame Was that It Was Home of Dr. Samuel Guthrie, Discoverer of Chloroform--Silas Godfrey Was First Settler, Arriving in 1802--John Pettit Was Hamlet's Most Distinguished Native Son.

By L. L. Allen

Watertown Daily Times, Tuesday Afternoon, August 20, 1935


        The rural district just outside of Sackets Harbor on the historic military road and known as Jewettsville, which held a reunion of the teachers and old pupils of the district on Sunday, has had a notable record.

        Its chief claim to distinction lies in the fact that it was the home of Dr. Samuel Guthrie, the discoverer of chloroform, who resided there from 1817 until his death in 1848. It was also the birthplace of Hon. John Pettit, one of the pioneer statesmen of Jefferson County. Jewettsville was also the center of many important manufacturing industries and several of Watertown's business structures were erected from Jewettsville brick.

        Silas Godfrey was the first settler of Jewettsville hamlet in 1802. Benjamin Barnes, the first tavern keeper of the place, also settled there soon after. The Barnes tavern was located on the site of the stone house later occupied by Olin Lepper. Barnes also started the pioneer brickyard of the neighborhood about 1812, disposing of it later to Abram Jewett, for whom the hamlet was named, Mr. Jewett moving to the place from Watertown in 1818, with his brother Nathan. The Jewetts were among the pioneer families of this city, coming here from Massachusetts in 1800. They cut the first trees in the limits of Watertown at a point where the Y. M. C. A. now stands.

        Heman Pettit was another pioneer who settled in Jewettsville early in the century, coming from Watertown in 1804. Pettit was a millwright and built many of Sacket Harbor's first wharves, the military village being in its early history the center of a vast amount of shipping. Pettit also built the first saw mill in the village for Augustus Sacket, for whom the village was named. He also built a saw mill and grsit mill for Samuel Luff, another pioneer settler.

        The Pettit family, from whom Supervisor Roland Pettit, of Sackets Harbor, is a descendant, had seven children, their daughter, Susan, being the first female child born in the town of Hounsfield. Two other children, Eliada and John, became distinguished legislators, the former being a member of assembly from Wayne county, and John Pettit becoming one of the nation's premier statesmen. Mrs. Martha Pettit was a member of the First Presbyterian church of this city, organized in 1803.

        John Pettit, the hamlet's most distinguished native son, was born at Jewettsville July 24, 1807, and removed to Indiana in 1831. He served in the Indiana legislature, was a member of the House of Representatives from 1843 to 1847, of the United States Senate from 1853 to 1855, a member of the constitutional convention of Indiana for 1850, judge to the Indiana Supreme Court, and Chief Justice of Kansas in 1859. Mr. Pettit was a Democrat and took a prominent part in the stirring days of Congress just before the beginning of the Civil War.

        The Luff family settled in 1805 near the mouth of Mill Creek, where it flows into Black River bay. They came from England. Luff's land at that time included about half of the present parade ground of Madison Barracks. Luff also built one of first grist mills in the county, locating it near the mouth of Mill Creek. He also built a saw mill where most of the lumber for Sackets Harbor's first buildings was made. A large amount of lumber was also shipped from Sackets Harbor in those days.

        In 1832 Camp's Ditch was completed, running from Black River at Huntingtonville, to Sackets Harbor village. This canal was built to supply water power to Sackets Harbor, which at that time was of greater promise commericially then Watertown, there being a strong rivalry between the two towns. Camp's Ditch furnished water power for the many manufacturing industries of Jewettsville. The ditch was named for Elisha Camp, who built it, he being a brother-in-law of August Sacket. The canal was built in 1830-2 but after about ten years was abandoned. One of the industries operated by the power from the canal was a paper mill, erected by Elisha Camp, which burned soon after its erection at a loss of $10,000.

        Abram Jewett, for whom the hamlet was named, had three brickyards, several lime kilns and a saw mill in Jewettsville. Previously he operated a brickyard in Watertown where the Chamber of Commerce now stands. The old arsenal on Arsenal street was built from brick from this brickyard. The following buildings in Sackets Harbor were erected from the product's of Jewett's brickyard: The Presbyterian church, Dr. Guthrie's residence, the first village school building, the Eveleigh hotel, the Methodist church parsonage and several residences. It is also said that the Woodruff House in this city was built from Jewettsville brick.

        Abram Jewett and his wife were buried in a small lot adjoining the cross road that runs from the Pettit homestead to the Jewettsville school house on the old Military road. There is a tradition that this burial place was chosen by Mrs. Jewett, as it was beside a pathway used by her husband which led from their home to a nearby tavern, where his frequent visits were a cause of sorrow for the wife of the pioneer. The manufacture of liquor was one of the hamlet's industries. Other industries were a tannery, a woolen mill, a brewery, several asheries, five distilleries, a malt house, a glove factory, a gunshop where Dr. Guthrie's invention of the percussion cap was used in transforming old flint lock muskets, coopershops, three vinegar factories, a rope factory, and Dr. Guthrie's powder mill.

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