01 November 2012

Obituary: John Pittwood

One of the things that I like about the obituary postings is the things I learn about history in general.  I always thought of the Civil War as being fought by U. S citizens, born and bred.  But with the immigration from European countries, many people who fought were born in other countries. 
Such is the case with today's obituary.  Mr. Pittman was born in England and came to America with his parents at the age of 6 years.
And look, we even found his picture!  
This clipping and picture came from our Civil War files, from an unattributed area newspaper.  (Unfortunately, something that happened a lot from the collector of those files.)  From the font and format of the surrounding articles, I am guessing that this undated paper was the Newaygo Republican.  It is as flowery as are most obituaries of the time

John Pittman, Veteran of Civil War, and Splendid Citizen, Lays Down His Burden 
The subject of this memorial was born at Ringsash, Devonshire, England, Feb. 15th, 1843, and with is parents came to this country in 1849, first settling in Genesee county, N. Y., afterwarding moving to Standstone, Jackson county, and finally in Litchfield at Litchfield, Hillsdale county, which was Mr. Pittwood's home until he came to Newaygo.  He was one of the first to volunteer in defense of his country, enlisting in Co. H of the Fourth Michigan Infantry.  At Fairfax station, during the first battle of Bull's Run, the thumb of his hand was shot away and he was soon afterward discharged.  He again enlisted as chief bugler and a member of the band of the First Regiment Michigan Engineers and Mechanics, serving in that capacity until his term of enlistment expired in 1864.  He took part in the battle of Stone River, (illegible).  After his discharge, he again entered the service of the (illegible) and was (illegible) in bridge building until Lee's surrender after which he returned home , and December 24, 1866 was married to Mar(illegible) Ribler, who survives him.  He came to Newaygo in 1872 and for many years followed the business of architecture and builder , and there are standing in Newaygo county today many buildings constructed by him. every one standing as monuments to his ability and integrity as a contractor.  He would never undertake anything that he was not sure of doing well.  Upright just, and fearless in his idea of honor, nothing could swerve him him from a course he had once decided was right.  He was an estimable citizens in every respect.  His value was many times recognized by his fellow citizens who called upon him to hold public office and he never failed to perform his full duty.  Four children were born to Mr and Mrs Pittwood; Mrs Blanchard of Milwaukee, William H. Pittword who died August 24, 1903, Mrs Ethelyn Janda and John Pittwood, Jr.  The death of his son William who was just entering manhood's estate and whose bright intellect and pleasing personality gave promise of an enviable position in life, was a blow from which Mr. Pittwood never recovered, and while by many the change was not noticed, his intimate friends and family knew that the affliction was a terrible one, all the more because he made every effort to conceal it.  While steadily failing in health he made a brave effort to continue in the activities of life, but a few months ago was compelled to give up.  Almost to the last he looked forwarded to recovery and made plans for the future, which it now seems was solely on account of his devoted wife and family.  When told by his physicians that the end was near, he met the situation without complaint of fear, and it was evident to all that he was prepared for the worst.  The nature of the disease was such that his stomach would not contain or digest food and death was a longed for release from the pain and suffering he so heroically endured.  His life was a model of probity and uprightness.  What John Pittwood promised, that he performed at whatever cost to himself.  His word was as good as the bond of any man.  His memory is a priceless heritage to his family and he will long be remembered as a "just and upright man."
The funeral will be held from the house at two o'clock this afternoon and will be conducted ty the Masonic fraternity of which deceased was an enthusiastic and devoted member for many years.  Fremont and other lodges have intimated their intention to represented. Rev. Greenaway of the Congregational church will officiate in the religious exercises.

Whew!  Apparently the author of this gem loved run-on sentences and a bit of poetic flavor in his writings.  And did you notice how Mr. Pittman kept on enlisting?  I never realized that happened.  I always thought they were in for the duration of the war.  Too much Gone With the Wind I guess.
The other thing that struck me in this obituary was lack of information.  Granted, the fact that wife's name was incomplete was the fault of the microfilm or copy.  But the lack of age or date of death drives me crazy!  I am not even sure he was still in Newaygo at the time.  
But of course, that isn't a far drive for me to make at times.

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