Willard DeWitt: Indiana Pioneer, 1776-1881

Dewitt Family 1880 Census

Dewitt Family 1880 Census

The Oldest Man in Steuben County.
Correspondence of the SENTINEL.
CHAMBERLAIN, Oct. 1, 1880.

I have been up in Steuben county visiting Father De Witt, the oldest man in the county. He will be one hundred and six years old next March. When I went there he was out husking corn. He carried the corn in a twelve-quart pail–I helped him pick up four or five bushels. He then told me to go to the house and visit with them, he said that he must husk some more corn. He said that he would come up after while. He has four daughters, the youngest is ten years old. Before I came away I asked him to read to me. He then turned to his wife and asked her what he should read in. The Bible was handed to him, he turned to Romans, the ninth chapter, and read from the first to the twenty-third verses–he read without specs. He was an officer in the M.E. church for about forty years. I believe he is now a member of the Wesleyan Methodist. He resigned his office in the church about nine years ago. Below will be found a piece written by his own hand.

“Whereas has been circulated in the Steuben Republican, and I am informed other papers, that I had been a class leader in the Methodist church; and now, when over one hundred years of age, that I am a Universalist. Let me state a few facts: I feel very much grieved that any one should think that the devil had got me as he had Mother Eve. I have been a member of the M.E. church for forty years, and filled various offices in that society, and exhorted men to flee from the wrath to come. It is true I have been a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church for many years, endorsing its reformatory principles. I am trying to live Godly in Christ Jesus, and only regret whatever I may have fallen short in my efforts so to do. I believe there is a devil to despise and regret. I believe there is a God to love and obey, a hell to shun, a heaven to gain. I am looking earnestly toward the place Jesus is preparing for me, that where he is I may be also, and I would disown the kinsman that would circulate so base a falsehood on an old man whom God has blessed and helped in the world for more than a hundred years. As many papers as have circulated the former, please copy. This is signed with my own hand.”


Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana) Oct 13, 1880


This is a second  marriage for Willard. Previously, he was married to a woman named Elizabeth Mosier, who died in 1860.

Name:  Willard Dewitt
Spouse Name: Sarah B. Flood
Marriage Date: 26 Mar 1861
Marriage County: Dekalb
Performed By: S. W. Widney
Source Title 2: EARLY MARRIAGE RECORDS 1837 – 1882
Source Title 3: BOOK II
OS Page: 88


From a newspaper clipping (Steuben Republican)–28 Jan., 1881. Sent by Robert & Harriet Hippenhamer.

“Last Friday morning, at a little past midnight, Uncle Willard DeWitt, the oldest surviving soldier of the War of 1812, and the oldest person in this section of the country, closed his eyes on the scenes of this world. According to the best authority obtainable, he was born March 25, 1776, therefore, was about 105 years of age at the time of his death. He served for some time in the War of 1812, being a member of Capt. I. Bartlett’s New York militia. For the past nine years he has received a government pension of $8 per month, obtained for him by Lawrence Gates*. He was married a few years ago to a woman many years his junior. She bore him several children, She still resides with them on their farm in Scott township.”

Posted by an anonymous source on Ancestry.com.


*CAPT. LAWRENCE GATES, an honored veteran of the Civil war and one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Angola, was born in Germany April 25, 1839, and received his early education thee and then came to America. He arrived at Angola in 1853 and had some further education in the schools at Nevada Mills in Steuben County. He worked as a clerk in Angola until 1862, when he volunteered in Company H of the Seventy-Fourth Indiana Infantry. For his meritorious service he was promoted to first lieutenant and later to captain. and served until May 15, 1865. He was in the battles of Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge and in the Atlanta campaign. Two weeks after the fall of Atlanta he lost a leg during a railroad wreck. After the war Captain Gates engaged in the dry goods business at Angola, and was one of the local business men who organized the First National Bank. He held the post of director as long as he was content to serve. In recent years he has busied himself with a fire insurance agency. He is a Republican and cast a vote in 1860 for Abraham Lincoln and Oliver Morton. He was first city clerk of Angola after the incorporation of the town. He is a past grand patriarch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and he and his family are members of the Christian Church.

History of northeast Indiana : LaGrange, Steuben, Noble and DeKalb Counties
Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York, 1920


Lived to be 105 years old. Politically a Whig but subsequently became a Republican and Abolitionist. He was a strong and zealous Methodist class leader.

[Ellis and Owens Families.FTW]

Posted by Harold McClure on Ancestry.com.

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51 Responses to “Willard DeWitt: Indiana Pioneer, 1776-1881”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Mom Blogs – Blogs for Moms…

  2. Pat Hornsby Jakel Says:

    Was glad to find this. Willard was my g g grandfather. Always looking for more info on the Dewitt’s.

  3. donald dewitt Says:

    Was interesting to read the story about Willard DeWitt. He was my g g g grandfather. I have gathered a great deal of information on the DeWitt family from Willard on down. Have been in contact with various relatives to piece together a good history of the Calvin DeWitt and Nancy Shaw family. Just attended a birthday party for one of the line who is turning 100 next week. That will be the 3rd person since Willard to reach that milestone.

    • mrstkdsd Says:

      Wow, you are the second descendant to find this post! I always enjoy hearing from people who are related to those in my posts. I am a genealogy addict, and I am thrilled at any little thing I can find on my ancestors.

      Thanks for reading and leaving your connection.

    • Pat Hornsby Jakel Says:

      Would like to see what you have on Calvin and Nancy’s family. See if you have anything I don’t. Do you have pictures?

      • donald dewitt Says:

        Actually I do have 4 or 5 pictures of the Calvin and Nancy’s family. My g g grandfather was john DeWitt who was the youngest son. Did you ever hear of a gentleman by the name of Jay Rentz? He did alot of work on the Willard DeWitt family. He was in possession of some pictures of at least two of the children of Calvin and Nancy. His grandmother, Rachel Jane and Charlotte, the oldest child. I have pictures of John, Spencer, Sarah, and Arvilla. So good to be in touch with you. Let me know is there is any information you are seeking to see if I have it.

  4. Joe W. DeWitt Says:

    g.g.g. grandson of Willard Dewitt, 1st cousin of Don Dewitt
    my Father John W. DeWitt & motherWava M. Sherrick

  5. mrstkdsd Says:

    If the three of you would like to make contact through email, but don’t want to post your email addresses here in the comments, I would be happy to email all of you with your contact info so you don’t have to post it here in the comments.

    Let me know if it is something you would find helpful.

  6. donald dewitt Says:

    That would be fine with me. I already have Joe DeWitt’s email address. Would our replies on here still stay so anyone else might see them? I would very much like to touch bases with Pat because I believe she is the granddaughter of Sarah Dewitt Hornsby. My aunt who just turned 100 remembers Sarah coming to their house to visit and I have pictures of her when she was young and older in life. Would love to share this with Pat if she is interested.

    Don DeWitt

  7. mrstkdsd Says:

    Hi Don,

    I will leave all of the comments that are posted here, no problem with that. You never know, another descendant just might run across it too.

    If Pat doesn’t respond here within a day or two, I will email your email address to her so that she can contact you.

  8. Pat Hornsby Jakel Says:

    I am very interested in the pictures. I’ve been trying for years to get a picture of Sarah or anyone in the family. Please e-mail me.

    • Catherine Fry Says:

      Pat…once you noted on one of my genealogy pages about Christian and Catherine Hart, my great great great grandparents. I have a photo of each and did not know if you ever did get photos from me or not. I still have not been able to get any information of their parents or other relatives. Have you? How do I get my email information to you, or perhaps a print out? Let me know. Thanks.

  9. Pat Hornsby Jakel Says:

    Would like to have e-mail addresses and you can give mine.

  10. mrstkdsd Says:

    Will send an email to you all.

  11. Cynthia Theusch Says:

    I was delighted to see this great item. I am also a descendant through Calvin and Nancy Shaw DeWitt. I would love hearing from others. I have put some of Calvin’s information out on WeRelate.org and would love to have others add what they have researched.

    • donald dewitt Says:

      Hi. Cynthia,
      Good to find another of the descendants of Calvin and Nancy. So, which of the children of Calvin and Nancy are you linked with? Would love to information.
      The author of this website will hook us up via email if you are okay with that. Looking forward to chatting with you.

      Don DeWitt

  12. Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin Says:

    Hello, cousins! Willard DeWitt, Sr. is my great grandfather. My line of descent is (2) Paris (3) Charles Willard. Pat and I, several years ago, were in contact. I would like very much to communicate with all of you and exchange data.

    • donald dewitt Says:

      Hi. Willa,
      My g g g was Willard DeWitt. I had gotten started back in to the family history last fall but haven’t done much since then. So good to know someone else from the family line. My g g was Calvin. I have been in touch with 4 or 5 of the relatives from various parts of the country. I, too, would love to chat and compare what information we have that the other could use. Feel free to contact me at my email address(ddewitt001@insight.rr.com)

  13. Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin Says:

    Delighted to find your response. I shall be in touch!

  14. Mike Gillett Says:

    No relation to the DeWitts… or any connection with Angola or Indiana. I’m a Civil War reenactor (and was at an event there in Angola next to the cemetery) and a genealogy nut. I came across Willard’s gravestone and have since been fascinated with him and his story. Every time I’m there, I’m sure to visit his grave. I would love to know more. And would love to see a photograph of him. Is that possible – is there one? How many descendants are there of his? Thanks! – Mike G. yankeechaplain@gmail.com

    • donald dewitt Says:

      To my knowledge no one has a picture of Willard. I have some of his grandchildren but that is all. He did have quite a history while here on this good earth. Would be glad to share any of that if you are interested. He actually had five children after he turned 85 with his second wife. I have never been able to track any of their descendants over the years.

  15. Mark Rachels Says:

    I would love contact info my line is Calvin DeWitt

    • donald dewitt Says:

      Hi. Mark,
      Have done quite a bit on the DeWitt line. Would love to share what I have that you might be interested in. What’s your connection to Calvin? I do have pictures of some of his children.

  16. Mark rachels Says:

    My grandmother was a Houser, I am on Ancestry my id is
    Lady1129 it is under the Rachels Tree
    Arvilla DeWitt is my connection


    • donald dewitt Says:

      Great to hear from you. I am connected through John DeWitt who was Arvilla’s younger brother. I do have pictures of Arvilla that were sent to me by Linda Pierce, a descendant of Arvilla. She resides in Oklahoma. I’ll get on Ancestry tonight. My email address is: ddewitt001@insight.rr.com

    • Patrice Hauser Says:

      Mark – I realize you posted this quite a while ago, but I just ran across it. I’m curious about possible connections. I am a Hauser and my mothers maiden name is DeWitt, and her family is from Northern Indiana. I am almost certain I heard the name Arvilla growing up. Do you have more DeWitt history regarding Arvilla’s family?

      • Don DeWitt Says:

        Hi. Patrice,
        Don DeWitt hère. Not sure what information you may have received from Mark but if you let me know I’ll try and fill in any information I have at my disposal. Nice to hook up with yet another in the DeWitt line.

  17. Pat Jakel Says:

    I do have a picture of Willard. Will try and post it.

  18. donald dewitt Says:

    Almost fell out of my chair this morning when I read your posting. I have been searching and searching for a picture of Willard. If you would be so kind to try and send it I would be forever grateful. My email address is: ddewitt001@insight.rr.com

    Don DeWitt

  19. Pat Jakel Says:

    Sorry, I spoke to soon. My picture is of Willard Spencer, I think.

  20. Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin Says:

    Willard and Elizabeth Mosier DeWitt are reported to have had 12 children, 6 sons, 6 daughters. The sons are Calvin, John, David, Willard, Jr. & Daniel (twins), Paris (my grandfather, of his second marriage). The daughters I know of, and have traced, are Cornelia (1821-1906) and Elizabeth (1823-1848). Does anyone know the names of four others? Some list a Cornelia as the oldest child. If so, she must have died as did three others. I have no further record of John or David, as well. Will happily share my extensive research. Also have researched the family of Willard, Sr.’s second wife, christened in England as Sarah Grubb Bellamy. She married Batholomew Flood in 1851 in Richland, Ohio using the name Sarah G. Bellamy. He is reported to have died less that two years later.

  21. Adrian De Witt Says:

    Who was Willard, Sr’s father?

    I am of the Hoyes/Accident, Maryland line of De Witt’s.

    Tjerck (d.1700, NY), Lucas (NY), Jan (NY), Ezekiel (NY), Peter(NJ,KY), John (Hoyes, MD), Joseph (MD), Freeman (MD), John (d. 1989, Hoyes, MD).

    I am curious if/how Willard, Sr is related.

  22. donald dewitt Says:

    Hi. Adrian,
    From information I have seen Willard’s father was “Moses DeWitt”. The one who would be able to provide you with the most information is Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin. Send me an email and I’ll get you her address. Willard was my ggg grandfather.

    Don DeWitt

  23. Jean Marie DeWitt Says:

    Hi all! I am searching for Spencer DeWitt 1796-1868 Indiana, he is my g.g.g.g.father. I noticed a comment about a picture of Spencer (with John, Sarah & Aravilla) on 7/21/10 to Pat from Donald DeWitt earlier in the posts and was wondering if if this could be one and the same. My line is Spencer to James Andrew DeWitt to Henry Allen DeWitt to Chester Maxwell DeWitt to Roger Sherman DeWitt to my father William P. DeWitt. Any information about Spencer and his family and earlier would be exciting. Thank you! JM DeWitt

    • Don DeWitt Says:

      Hello again Jean,
      Just checked your post again and noticed the dates 1796 – 1868. I will need to go through my records when I get home from Florida this week to follow up on your request. Do you know where in Indiana Spencer might have resided?

      • JM De Witt Says:

        Hi Don,
        It is very exciting to hear from you. The information I have uncovered regarding Spencer is that he was born on Sept 30, 1796 in Virginia and died 1886 in Hamilton County, Indiana. Spencer was married to Lucinda Milburn (1807 Ohio – 1868 Indiana). Spencer & Lucinda lived in Tuscarawas, OH for many years where they had 8 children prior to moving to Hamilton Cty, IN in 1847, where they remained until their death (1868). Any information or even a photo of Spencer would be incredible! Enjoy Florida! And Thank you!

  24. Don DeWitt Says:

    Hi Jean,
    Good to see your post. My great grandfather was John DeWitt, younger brother of Spencer. I would be most happy to share with you any information or pictures I have of Spencer DeWitt. My email address is:

  25. Don DeWitt Says:

    Hi. Jean,
    Still haven’t gotten much information for you. Will continue to see what I can dig up.

  26. Scott Says:

    Hello everyone, a descendant of Caroline P. DeWitt, (the eldest daughter born in Jul 1818 in New York) chiming in here. I was wondering if anyone has further info on the exact children and grandchildren of Willard and photos of any of them.

    Initially I was doubtful that Caroline was a daughter of Willard’s (as there seemed to be no connection and no one across the internet recognized her as such) but she not only got close to his longevity (living from 1818 to somewhere after 1910), she also appeared below Willard on the page of either the 1850 or the 1860 census (as Caroline Sanders). This would be merely coincidence except for the fact later in life she would mention DeWitt as her maiden name on a later census meaning her and her husband were living either with, or near, her parents shortly following their marriage. If not for this subtle connection I likely never would’ve found out the name of this wonderful ancestor of mine!

    Please e-mail me if you have pictures and info, I’d greatly appreciate it!

    The children I’ve traced by Willard and Elizabeth Mosher (daughter of Peter Mosher and Mary Rorich,) are:


    *-Denotes that these children were born in New York, shared a last name with Willard, were born in a similar period around or in between his other children, and were recorded on the 1860.

    From his second marriage Willard had 4 daughters, in his 90s:


    They’re recorded on the 1870 and 1880 censuses (with the exception of Olive who was born around 1871)

    Besides more info on all of the children I’m also interested in information on Elizabeth Mosher, which appears to be scarce. When she passed away has yet to be found by me (although I’m assuming around 1860 as she appeared on the census that year and by March 1861 Willard was remarried)

    email is: scottielep3@gmail.com

    Sorry if this was a bit long…

  27. Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin Says:

    I have been unable go reach you using the above email address. I am the granddaughter of Caroline’s brother Paris 1828-1908. Have much DeWitt/Witt and Mosher research to share. Eager to hear from you.

  28. Willa Charlene DeWitt Conklin Says:

    I have never heard of Elisha and Reuben as son’s of Willard, Sr. 1776-1881. Others I am certain of are Calvin, Elizabeth, Cornelia.
    Willard and Daniel are twins. The first child may have been a Cornelia who died and another girl named Cornelia. The twin Willard stated in the Pottawattamie Co. Biographical History that there were 6 girls and 6 boys in his father’s family.

    Willard’s second family had five children–first born was “John” who died at age 3.

  29. Becky Wilde Says:

    I am a descendant of Charlotte Dewitt who married Reuben Eli Cone. I just finished updating the Cone family and would appreciate anything concerning the Dewitts.

    • Don DeWitt Says:

      I am a descendant of John DeWitt, Charlotte’s younger brother. Would really like to communicate with you regarding the DeWitt Line. Trying to collect as many pictures of the Calvin DeWitt family as possible. Have 5 now.

    • Don DeWitt Says:

      Are you still tinkering with the Cone family ancestry? I have gotten back in to it again and wanted to connect with you regarding what I have on the children of Calvin and Nancy DeWitt.
      My email is: ddewitt001@insight.rr.com

  30. Don DeWitt Says:

    Hi. Becky,
    I am a descendant of John DeWitt(Younger brother of Charlotte). Not sure what information you would like on the DeWitt’s but I may be able to help you out. I have information and pictures on 5 of Charlotte’s siblings. My email address is: ddewitt001@insight.rr.com.
    Drop me a line and I will respond

  31. Lori Says:

    Was olive arvilla sherman. Ever lived in fenwick, michigan?
    Who are her childern? My great grandmother is olive. Her husband is charlie thompson? I do know olive worked in the post office. I have her bible and lots of pictures of this family. I have information that a roda and morenci sherman are her parents? Help!

  32. Don DeWitt Says:

    Hi. Lori,
    My name is Don DeWitt. Rhoda was a sister to my (g) grandfather John DeWitt. Arvilla(Your ggrandmother’s middle name) was a sister to Rhoda and John. I have pictures of Arvilla, Rhoda(I think), John(my grandfather), Sherman(another brother), and Rachel(another sister). Their parents were Calvin and Nancy(Shaw) DeWitt. You may already know that. Would love to know if any of your pictures match up with mine. Feel free to drop me a line on my email(ddewitt001@insight.rr.com). Would love to hear from you.


  33. Amy DeWitt Says:

    I am searching for a john Thomas Dewitt born in Ohio 1823. Married in Switzerland IN in 1844. Can trace WIllard Jr to Switzerland County death 6 months before John Thomas first marriage,buried in graveyards there the year of John Thomas DeWitt’s marriage to Diana Smith. Is there any record of John Thomas That you are aware of?

    • Donald E. DeWitt Says:

      Hi. Amy,
      Haven’t been on the ancestry for a few months so I didn’t see your post. You reference Willard Jr. in your post so I’m assuming your talking about Willard Sr’s son. Would that be correct? If so I might be able to help you.

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