Conspicuous among the early residents of Union township, Crawford county, where he has attained a position of prominence and affluence, is John Pett, whose birth occurred September 27, 1824, at Eddington, Warwickshire, near Stratfordon-Avon, England, the birthplace of the immortal Shakespeare.
His parents were William and Hannah (Gascoyne) Pett, the former of whom was born in Seven Oaks, County Kent, situated a few miles from London, and there he followed the vocation of a nurseryman. The mother was born in Warwick. They were the parents of five children, of whom but two survive: John, of this review; and Thomas, who is a contractor and resides in England. The parents never left the old country but spent their entire lives there, the father dying in 1838 and the mother passing away in February, 1865.
John Pett was educated in the Wiltshire and Dorchester schools, which he attended until twelve years of age, at which time his father died and he began the struggle for existence on his own account. His first position was in a drygoods store, where he served an apprenticeship of four years, but being dissatisfied with that kind of work he gave it up and was on the police force for two years. He then learned the carpenter trade, which he followed until his departure from England in 1851. On March 4 of that year he sailed from Liverpool and on May 2 landed at New Orleans, whence he went to St. Louis and there worked at his trade for awhile but as cholera was raging in the city at that time he concluded to leave and proceeded to Muscatine, Iowa. After spending one summer in that city he returned to St. Louis and followed his trade for the succeeding two years.
He next went to Utah and from there to Nevada, where he remained working at his trade for twelve years, at the end of which time he removed to Shelby county, Iowa, and in 1864 came to Union township, Crawford county, where he rented a farm for two years and then bought one hundred and sixty acres of land on section 26, only eighteen acres of which were broken. However, he continued to gradually improve the rest of the land and, as his financial circumstances would allow, added to his holdings until they now amount to two hundred and forty-five acres, which he utilizes for general farming and the raising of graded stock. His first venture in the latter industry was with hogs, which he sold in Council Bluffs, Iowa, then the nearest market. During his spare time he worked at his trade and helped to construct the first store of H. C. Laub, for whom he clerked at odd times. He saw the ground broken for the first railroad into Denison and has been an eye witness to almost all the improvements that have been made in Crawford county during the past forty-seven years.
Mr. Pett was married in Birmingham, England, in 1846, to Miss Mary Anne Ingraham, of Oxfordshire, England, and they became the parents of eleven children, of whom ten survive: Mary Anne, who is the wife of Fred M. Shaw and lives in Osborn county, Kansas; William, who resides in Shelby county, Iowa; Oliver J., at home; John M., of Union township, Crawford county; Jane, deceased; Samuel R. and Fanny L., at home; Ellen N., who became the wife of David P. Young and lives in Johnson county, Missouri ; George A., of Dunlap, Iowa; Fred A., at home; and Serena, who married George H. Young and makes her home in Houghton, South Dakota. Mrs. Pett died in this county, July 11, 1892, but was buried in Galland Grove, Shelby county.
In politics Mr. Pett is a stanch democrat and has always taken an active interest in the welfare of his party as well as the public affairs of his community. He held the office of assessor for one term, has been township trustee for twenty years and for a number of years has held a position on the school board. While his family on the other side of the water hold membership in the Church of England, his religious views coincide with those of the Latter Day Saints and he has been an elder in this church since 1863. His family are also members of the same congregation. Having passed the eighty-seventh milestone on his life's journey, he looks back upon a record of industry and usefulness, of years well spent in fulfilling every duty to his family and to his fellowmen, and he is today enjoying the peace and contentment of an honored old age in the midst of his family and among his many friends, who accord him their highest esteem.
Source: History of Crawford County, Iowa. Vol. II. Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1911.