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Preface

Before white settlers trickled in from places like the Tidewater and Pennsylvania, the road in western Virginia was an important artery of travel for local Indians. The route was known to the Indians as Athawominee, or The Path of the Armed Ones. Connecting the great Iroquois Nation of the North to the Catawba and Cherokee of the South, the "Warrior's Path" had been carved out of the dense Blue Ridge forests by native Americans over a century before white men even knew it existed.

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As early as 1630 - Colonel Thomas Pettit is found in the colonial settlement of Rappahannock County, Virginia - born 1592 - the 12th of 17 children. Other Pettits mentioned in the colonies are John and William. Life was difficult decreasing the lifespan to the average man to 55 to 60 years maximum. Colonel Pettit died 1664 leaving a legacy to his daughter Dorothy and wife Katherine. Son Thomas born posthumously was fortunate as his maternal grandfather left him land which set the course for Pettits even today.

1700's - Capt. Thomas Pettit, the posthumous son of Colonel Pettit, leads a platoon of dragoons, acts as sheriff and coroner as well as justice in Essex Cty., VA. The natural desire to explore drove the colonials including Pettit and his kin westward. Their daily lives were filled with hard work and near-death experiences which served to strengthen the character and resolve of the new Americans setting the stage for the future. Capt. Pettit died 1719 testate; leaving a wife and six children.

1720's - Find descendants of Thomas Pettit in the southern parts of Virginia that later became North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The 18th century marked the advent of surveyors from Colonial Williamsburg and South Carolina - many were hunters and trappers. Benjamin Pettit and wife Elizabeth have property in Yadkin County, NC.

1750's - Captain Benjamin Pettit and brothers Thomas and George as well as sisters Elizabeth and Mary split from familiar ground as the lure of Kentucky and lands westward draw hunters like Elisha Walden and Henry Skaggs to open a world of commerce as they prepare the abundance of hides procured in Kentucky to be sold back east. The Native American people followed the wildlife through the path they called Athawominee through the Cumberland Gap as would future explorers like Daniel Boone, Richard Henderson, and Dr. Thomas Walker.

1770's - Captain Benjamin Pettit, wife and children seek the adventure of a new land. Like many who dreamed of a place beyond the east coast settlement that could be reached by crossing the Indian path - the Athawominee - into "Caintuck"; Benjamin Logan, Daniel Boone, Benjamin Pettit and many others first moved their families toward the Cumberland Gap in 1773 waiting to found settlements in the Virginia territory of Kentucky.

In 1775 - Daniel Boone and 30 axmen blazed the 208 mile trail for settlers to follow and began the civilization of Kentucky. Logan and Pettit settled in what is today northwestern Kentucky near ample water supply building forts to provide the necessary protection from the Indians and wildlife. The American Revolution would follow soon as well as the ongoing battles with the Indians who stalked the area for food and scalps. Many Pettits fought for America's independence and protected their families against enemies and the unknown wilderness.

1776 to 1820 between these years over 200,000 pioneers, both free and enslaved followed this trail to the west. American won her independence from the British crown. Captain Benjamin Pettit's family grew - daughter Elizabeth and sons matured, married and all moved westward from Kentucky through Tennessee, Missouri, into the Mississippi territory. In 1803-1804, Captain Pettit lost his eldest son, Benjamin Jr. - leaving a widow and five children. In the summer of 1827 while visiting daughter Elizabeth (Pettit) Donahue and youngest son William McDowell Pettit, Benjamin and wife Rebecca died one month apart in Warrenton - six miles south of Vicksburg. Captain Pettit's descendants continued on westward - some as far as California.

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Early History
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