Century Farms

  19 MAY 1951

Pettit Farm

The Edgar Hitcome farm on Pettit Road, Clymer Hill, has been owned and operated for 125 years by member of only three generations of the Pettit family.

The house and barn, built in 1844, appear almost exactly today as they did more than a century ago, even to the red and white paint on the house which has been customary as long as any member of the family can recall.

The farm was founded by Ralph Pettit, one of the first settlers in the Town of Clymer, who came here from Wilksborough, Essex County.  He married Julia Lyons Perry in 1826, and that same year purchased the farm.

He built a log house on the site a few feet from the present dwelling and began clearing the land which was then all wooded.  Family legend relates that Ralph Pettit went as far as Westfield by ox team to a mill and for groceries, and that sometimes he walked the distance.

Another incident concerned an outdoor owven near the log house.  The family investigated the barking of their little dog, and discovered that a wolf had been chasing it.  The dog had jumped inside and was defying the wolf from the safety of the oven's interior.

The Ralph Pettis had 10 children, five boys and five girls, all of whom lived to adulthood.  In 1850, Mr. Pettit built a log school house on a crest of hill adjacent to the farm, which was later replaced by another building on the Clymer Hill Road.  The second building is now a private residence.

In 1886, Ralph Pettit retired, and one of his sons, Burrows Pettit, purchased the farm that year.  He married Lottie Whitman, Guy Mills, Crawford County, Pa.  They had two daughters, Clara and Ida who is still on the farm.

Burrows kept sheep and cattle on the place.  Ralph Pettit, of Stoneledge Road, Ashville, a cousing of Mrs. Hitcome, says that hay was stacked near the barn, and every day the cattle would come for the hay pitched down to them.

He recalls another story about one of the boys, chard with driving the cattle in, who tarried along the way to break open a beaver dam.  He stayed to watch the beavers rebuild it, and that day it was dark before the cows were milked.

Burrows Pettit also kept turkeys, and Mr. Pettit says that wild turkeys from the nearby woods would join the tame flock during the day and leave again at night.

Ida Pettit married Edgar Hitcome in 1907 and occupied the farm, purchasing it shortly afterward.  The farm now includes 114 acres, though at one time it was about 175.  They usually keep a mixed herd of about 15 dairy cows, as well as chickens, and worked an excellent sugar bush on the farm for many years.

The interior, as well as the exterior, of the house, is much the same today as when it was built.  The only changes include the removal of a large fireplace, which had become unsafe, and the addition of a bath and electricity.

All the doors are original, hand-made by the pioneer family and still sturdy today.  The windows have been replaced, but the original heavy frames are still in use.

Mrs. Hitcome has a hand-made rocking chair, part of the original furniture, and a tin candle lantern which she beleives is at least 150 years old and is similar to those used in Biblical times.