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Robert Cowan Petty
Birth: Nov. 20, 1812
Dickson County
Tennessee, USA
Death: Feb. 2, 1856
Mayes County
Oklahoma, USA

Robert Cowan Petty
Written by M. Shane Symes

Robert Cowan Petty was born to Thomas Petty and Jane Darwin on Friday the 20th day of November 1812 in Piney River, Dickson Co., TN. Land that his father received as a Military Land Grant issued by the Governors of North Carolina for services rendered in the Continental War. (

On 27 Oct. 1831 in Dickson Co., TN Robert Cowan Petty who liked to be called R. C. married Margaret Jefferson Wells Petty. Peggy Petty whom the family called her was married to R. C. Petty's first cousin Samuel Petty. Samuel died in 1829 leaving Mrs. Petty with two small children Eliza and Sarah. On the 3rd of June 1833 R. C. and Margaret Petty's first child was born. This child was a little girl they named Mary Pyrannah. This was a happy time for the Petty's but soon after the birth of little Mary Pryannah, Margaret's oldest child Eliza died at age six.

On 2 April 1834, Thomas Petty Sr., sold his remaining land in Dickson Co., TN to his son James Darwin Petty. In 1835 Thomas his wife Jane, daughter Keziah along with the families of John M. Petty and Robert Cowan Petty moved west to the area that was about to become Benton Co., TN. Shortly after the arrival into Benton Co., Peggy gave birth to twin daughters, Jane Caroline Petty and Keziah Albine Petty, on 8 July 1835. Darwin, Christopher B. The Descendants of William Darwin of Louisa County, Virginia (typescript, Revision F, February 2008)

According to "The Petty Papers" compiled by Barbara McGee, Elder Petty was well educated for his time and would be known later in life as Doctor Petty because of his knowledge of medicine. He was also versed in knowledge of law and in 1836 he became the Sheriff of Benton Co., TN. It was through his office as Sheriff that he first came into contact with the Mormons.

On June 19, 1836. About forty men armed with deadly weapons, led by Sheriff Robert C. Petty and a Colonel and Major, with some other officers, and a Methodist priest with a gun on his shoulder, surrounded the house of Seth Utley, In Benton Co., TN. The Sheriff informed the brethren that he had a States' warrant for D. W. Patten, W. Parrish and W. Woodruff, issued on complaint of Mathew Williams the Methodist priest, who swore that those brethren had put forth the following false and pretended prophecy: ‘That Christ would come the second time before this generation passed away.' and ‘That four individuals should receive the Holy Ghost within twenty-four hours.' After examination bros. Patten and Parrish were bound over to appear on June 22, under $2000 bonds. (Journal History Book 17: June 19, 1836 p. 2)

In a family story that is passed down "When R.C. arrested the missionaries, he thought they were such clean men that he didn't want to put them in the dirty jail. So, he took them home with him. Then he asked what they were teaching that upset the preachers so much. They proceeded to tell him. They were up most of the night telling him and his father, Thomas. Thomas was converted immediately. It took R.C. a little time before he was ready to be baptized -- partially due to the objections of his wife Margaret.

State of Tennessee, Benton County, July Term 1842
Personally appeared in open court R.C. Petty, Guardian of Sarah Petty, Minor heir of Samuel Petty, Deceased and together with A.C. Presson and E.W. Hegler his securities and entered into and acknowledged their bond in the sum of Two hundred Dollars conditioned as the law directs for the faithful performance of said Guardian.

August Term 1843
The Clerk of this County presented a settlement Made with R.C. and John M. Petty, Executors of the Estate of Thos. Petty deceased which said settlement was examined by the Court and ordered to be recorded.

The Clerk of this Court presented a settlement Made with R. C. Petty guardian of Sarah Petty, a Minor which said Settlement was examined and approved by the Court and ordered to be recorded.

January Term 1844
Know all men by these present that we R.H. Hawthorn, Seth Utley, Williams Barnes, A.J.B. Hudson, S.H. Davidson, Jas. I Rogers, John W. Utley, John W. Davidson, P.B. Hubbard, R.C. Petty, G.W.L. Hudson, and Noah Strickland all of the County of Benton and State of Tennessee and held and firmly bound unto his Excellency

James C. Jones Governor of said State for the time being and his successors in office in the penal sum of two thousand dollars which payment well and truly to be Made we bind ourselves and each of our heirs, executors and Administrators jointly, severely and firmly by these presents sealed with our seals and dated this first day of January 1844.

The condition of the above obligation is such that whereas the above bound R.H. Hawthorn was at the January Term of the County Court for Benton County 1844, duly elected surveyor for said County Now Therefore if the said R.H. Hawthorn shall well and truly perform the duties of surveyor as the law directs and in all respects do and perform his duty as surveyor during his continuance in office then the above obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force and effect
Signed R.H. Hawthorn, Seth Utley, William Barnes, A.J.B. Hudson, S.H. Davidson, Jas. J. Rogers, John W. Utley, John W. Davidson, P.P. Hubbard, R.C. Petty, G.W.L. Hudson, Noah Strickland
Approved of by the Court - Test. D.P. Hudson, Chairman

Robert Cowan Petty was baptized 4 April, 1844 by Albert Petty

"In the Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 606, is a communication under date of June 23, 1844. The Eagle Creek, Benton Co., TN, Branch was organized, with 17 members. "Robert C. Petty was chosen to preside and was ordained an elder." (Report of A. O. Smoot.)

In the summer of 1846 Robert C. Petty and his family moved to Council Point on the Missouri River. The story was told was that Margaret did not want to leave TN...but R.C. told her he was leaving and she could come or stay there in Benton Co. She decided to go. (Petty Papers)

State of Tennessee, Benton County, January Term 1847
David Brewer Sheriff & Collector of the public Taxes of the County of Benton appeared in open Court and returned a list of Taxable property & polls in said County for the year 1846. And oath having been Made to the same prescribed by law that the same is insolvent and that he has been unable to collect the State and County taxes due severally thereon or any part thereof for the said year 1846 and which said report is as follows; (to wit)
R.C. Petty One poll $1.00

Friday, June 21 1850. Elder Wilford Woodruff organized a company of emigrants at Council Bluffs, Iowa. Elder Robert C. Petty was appointed Captain of First Hundred and Elders Leonard W. Hardy and Edson Whipple, Captains of Fifty. (Doc. Hist. 1850: 51)

Thurs. July 18, 1850. Robert C. Petty lost a child six months old; it was buried in the morning.
Sat. July 20. Robert C. Petty was taken with the pleurisy in his side today. His teamster, Mr. [Thomas] Strickney, is dangerously sick. We traveled 18 miles and camped on the Platte.
Sun. July 21. Bro. [Robert Cowen] Petty is dangerously sick; this morning we administered to him. Mrs. Woodruff and Mrs. Foss both had dreams last night that appeared to be omens of death or distress. We lay in camp today. Many of our oxen have sore necks and lame feet. We held a meeting today.
Mon. July 22. Traveled 8 miles. Bro. Petty still dangerously sick.
Mon. July 29, 1850. In a wild stampede ‘Bro. Petty's two wagons were turned over. My (Wilford Woodruff) family wagon with four yoke of oxen ran over one of his wagons, and a wagon ran over one of his children. (Woodruff, Wilford, 1850)

On Aug. 30, 1848 while in Winter Quarters Robert C. Petty took for a plural wife Mary Adelia Carbine Northrup soon after that doctrine was announced by the Church. Mary's husband, Amos Northrup, had been murdered in Winter Quarters.

Under the direction of Apostle Wilford Woodruff, Captain of the Eighth Company about 209 individuals and about 44 wagons arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley on Oct. 14, 1850 (Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847–1868) (Journal History, Supp. after 31 Dec. 1850, p. 18)

Ft. Herriman built in 1855 by Thomas Butterfield, Henry Herriman, Samuel Egbert, Robert Petty and John Stocking, as protection against the Indians. The fort was abandoned in 1858, under instructions of Brigham Young, upon the approach of Johnston's Army. Some of the settlers returned a few years later and established the town of Herriman. The fort was named for Henry Herriman and Butterfield Canyon nearby for Thomas Butterfield, pioneers of this section. (

On the first day of November 1854, Robert C. Petty and his wife Margaret Petty received a Patriarchal Blessing from Isaac Morley at Fort Herriman. (15:194)

During the General Conference held April 6, 7 & 8, 1855 Robert C. Petty received his mission calling to go to the Indian Territory which is now Oklahoma.
On Monday the 7th day of May, 1855. The group of Missionaries left from Great Salt Lake City a account of the journey can be found written by Elder Hector C. Haight. "Sir: We take this opportunity of making a short report of our prospects. We left Great Salt Lake City on Monday, the seventh inst. At 4 o'clock, drove about s miles up Emigration Canyon, and camped for the night. A number of brethren from the city in company. Tuesday 8th. At half past 7, on the move; drove over the Little Mountain on the new route, through Killien's cut off, and camped at the foot of the Big Mountain at 11 o'clock a. m. At half past 1 o'clock had a heavy hail storm of 15 minutes duration, with cold wind and some rain. The company all being present at 15 minutes past 5, proceeded to organize by electing Hector C. Haight captain. Henry N. Miller, captain of the guard, Robert C. Petty, chaplain, the company consisting of: Missionaries for England, Ireland and Scotland.

Robert C. Petty and Henry W. Miller were bound for the Cherokee Nation. This company of missionaries arrived in St. Louis, MO., June 25, 1855. (Journal History Book 112: May 9, 1855 p. 3)

From the "Chronicles of Oklahoma" Volume 13, No. 2 dated June, 1935 titled "Missionaries of the Latter Day Saints Church in Indian Territory"

Thursday, July 19. Elder Henry W. Miller took leave of Bros. Cooper and Moody, who pursued their journey toward Texas. After that Elder Miller spent several days visiting with Bro. Croft and Bro. Crouch and also waited upon Bro. Petty who was sick.

Tuesday, July 24. Elder Henry W. Miller, accompanied by Bro. Slade, started out to go to Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation, to see the Chief, John Ross, they also had an interesting conversation with Judge Hicks and stayed overnight eight miles from the town.

Wednesday, July 25. Elders Miller and Slade continued their journey to Tahlequah which they found to be a small town situated near the Illinois River. Here they met Mr. Ross, chief, and Elder Miller gave him a letter of introduction written by President Brigham Young and had quite a conversation with him. He invited Bro. Miller to call again. The visiting brethren also saw Mr. Butler, the Indian agent who was sociable and friendly. They also met Bro. William Ritchie their fellow-missionary in Tahlequah. They rode out fifteen miles from town and stayed all night with a Mr. McCoy. The next day (July 26) the two Elders returned to Bro. Slade's place and stopped there over night and on the 27th Elder Miller returned to Bro. Croft's place, where he found Bro. Robert C. Petty very sick.

Monday, July 30. Bro. Henry W. Miller baptized and confirmed the wife of Bro. Duggin, Elder Miller spent the following week at the home of Bro. Jacob Croft waiting upon Bro. Petty who was still very sick.

Sunday, August 5. Elder Henry W. Miller preached at the home of a Mr. Rogers to an attentive congregation, and in the evening met with the Saints at Bro. Croft's, where the sacrament was administered. He also baptized and confirmed Elias Wright. A large congregation witnessed the ceremonies. Elder Miller spent most of the following week at Bro. Croft's, waiting on Bro. Petty (Henry W. Miller's Journal).

Monday, August 13. Elder Henry W. Miller baptized and confirmed three of Bro. Slade's children and then went to Bro. Croft's where he found Elder Petty's health improved.
Thursday, Aug. 16. Elder John A. Richards went twenty miles east to see what he could do there. Elder Miller crossed Grand River to see Sister Wright, while Elder Cook remained with Bro. Petty at Bro. Croft's.

Friday, Feb. 1. Bro. Slade came to the home of Mr. McNane and informed Pres. Henry W. Miller that Bro. Robert C. Petty who lay very sick at the home of Bro. Slade was not expected to live. Bro. Miller went to the Slade residence at once, where Bro. Petty died at 2:45 o'clock a. m. the following morning (Feb. 2nd). Bro. Miller stayed with the Slade family the remainder of the night.

Saturday, Feb. 2. Elder Robert C. Petty having died early in the morning (at 2:45 a. m.) Pres. Henry W. Miller left the Slade home and went to Bro. Croft's to make arrangements for the funeral.

Sunday, Feb. 3. The remains of Elder Robert C. Petty were interred at the burial ground of Joseph M. Lynch, between Grand River and the Spavinaw River. The death of Elder Petty cast a gloom over the Saints of the Indian Territory Mission. After the funeral, Elder Henry W. Miller, who was still sick, spent the entire month at the home of Bro. Croft's preaching occasionally on Sundays as well as his health would permit.

It is said that Margaret Jefferson Wells Petty learned of her husband's death 6 months later. After the abandonment of Ft. Herriman in 1858 Mrs. Petty moved to Lewiston in Cache Co., UT with her four youngest children Thomas, Louis, Margaret and Sarah. She died 20 Jan. 1890 at her home in Lewiston. She is buried in the Richmond City Cemetery in Cache Co., UT.

This past spring in June of 2008 I went to the Spavinaw Valley and learned that the Mormon Colony was in Spavinaw and that the old Spavinaw cemetery was located on the banks of the Grand River. In 1922 the Spavinaw Dam was constructed and water was pumped the distance of 65 miles. The old Spavinaw Cemetery was moved to the present day Spavinaw/Strang Cemetery. If Elder Robert Cowan Petty was buried in this cemetery and his body was found in this area his remains will be at the Spavinaw/Strang Cemetery and his grave will be unmarked and unknown. If his body was not recovered from the old cemetery, if that is where he was buried, his body will lay under Lake Spavinaw.

This story has been printed in the 2010 book:

The Transfer, Volume 2: In The Performance Of Duty The Legacy Continues.

Compiled and edited by Susan E. Woods 
Family links: 
  Margaret Jefferson Wills Petty (1806 - 1890)
  Mary Adelia Carbine Taylor (1824 - 1906)
  Mary Priannah Petty Homer (1833 - 1901)*
  Keziah Albine Petty Beckstead (1835 - 1907)*
  Jane Caroline Petty Dudley (1835 - 1909)*
  Martha Narcissa Petty Lewis (1837 - 1905)*
  Louisa Minerva Petty Egbert (1839 - 1891)*
  Robert Thomas Petty (1841 - 1904)*
  Lewis James Petty (1846 - 1936)*
  Margaret Jefferson Petty Davenport (1849 - 1922)*
  Llewellyn Petty (1850 - 1850)*
  Sarah Abigail Petty Cherry (1851 - 1928)*
  Mary Adelia Petty Homer (1851 - 1918)*
  Eleanor Roberta Petty McHamilton (1854 - 1937)*
*Calculated relationship
Spavinaw-Strang Cemetery
Mayes County
Oklahoma, USA
Plot: Unknown
Created by: Shane Symes
Record added: Aug 05, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 55977822
Robert Cowan Petty
Added by: Paul Petty
Robert Cowan Petty
Added by: Paul Petty
Robert Cowan Petty
Added by: Paul Petty
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- AnnieB
 Added: Jan. 21, 2013
"3rd Great-Grandfather"
- Rose
 Added: Nov. 21, 2012
I salute my ancestors and thank them.
- Karl Petty
 Added: Jul. 12, 2012
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This page is sponsored by: Paul Petty

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