|Birth: ||1758, USA|
|Death: ||Jan. 14, 1820|
West Virginia, USA
John and his wife Nancy are oldest known ancestors in this DeWitt clan.
The first known reference to John was the 1790 census taken in Westmoreland Co, PA on 14 Apr 1791. He was listed living with one female and next to John Culbertson, his father-in-law.
The location of John Dewitt's birth has been debated for many years.
The following reference includes information regarding one viewpoint about John's birth.
On page 911-912 was written a story about MADLAIN DeWITT. It is a four paragraph story. I have included a transcription below because it mentions without naming, him, John DeWitt in paragraph 3. The importance is that this document claims that this ancestor was born in France.
(Madlain was Madlain McCullough, the second wife of Thomas Buffington Dewitt, who was a grandson of John and Nancy Dewitts' via their son Thomas Dewitt. -- See link below to Thomas (1791-1879).)
HISTORY OF FRESNO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA
WITH Biographical Sketches OF
The Leading Men and Women of the County Who have
been Identified with its Growth and
Development from the Early Days to the Present.
History by Paul E Vandor
Complete in Two Volumes
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California
"MADLAIN DeWITT. --- A distinguished lady of Selma, the descendant of noted American Forebears, and highly esteemed in the town where she is best known as the widow of a very worthy citizen, Mrs. Madlain DeWitt enjoys a wide circle of friends. She was born in Sullivan Coutny, Mo., and is a daughter of John McCullough who married Elizabeth Bell, a native of Pittsburgh, the ceremony taking place in Pennsylvania. He had been born in Ohio, went South to Louisiana, then North again and West to Missouri, where in Sullivan County he develped a farm; and when the Civil War broke out, he enlisted in the Union Army, served with the Twenty-third Missouri Volunteers, and was made a major. Eight children were born to these devoted parents, among whom our subject was the fifth and the oldest girl.
She grew up in Sullivan County, attended the common schools, and when twenty-one years of age was there married to Thomas Buffington DeWitt, a native of Virginia who served in the Home Guards at Milan, Mo. He was a farmer and stock-raiser at first in Adair County, that state, in 1872, and in 1884 came to Fresno County, where they settled on a ranch four miles north of Selma, on what was known as the Russell Quarter. They had ten children, of whom the second daughter, Luella E., now Mrs. Garnet Adkins of Los Angeles, was married in Missouri, and the seventh child, a little girl named Alta, died there; so that they brought with them to California eight children, namely: Mary Elizabeth, who is Mrs. W. H. Say; William Henry, the blacksmith at Caruthers; Oscar, a well-borere at Selma; Florence, the wife of W. J. Boles of Fresno, a rancher near Caruthers; Viola, wife of R. M. Pettus, a housepainter in Oakland; Shearon, an engineer at Sacramento; and Thomas Buffington, at Selma.
This son, Thomas Buffington, recalls Mrs. DeWitt's husband, who was born at Wheeling, Va., in 1833, the son of Thomas DeWitt, a Virginia farmer, whose estate near Wheeling is still owned by a member of the DeWitt family. His father, in turn, was born in France, became a soldier in the French Army, and came to America with Lafayette, to aid in the great struggle for American Independence.
Mrs. DeWitt is an active member of the Presbyterian Church and there, as well as in such circles as the Red Cross, works for the betterment of society. Her duaghter, Mrs. W. H. Say, is a well-known club-woman, and was president of the Woman's Improvement Club at Selma for five consecutive years, an organization that has accomplished much for that beautiful town. Upon leaving that office she turned over $1,200 in cash, which had been raised during her incumbency, and was in turn presented with a beautiful hand-painted jardiniere, by the club, in appreciation of her vauled services."
Thank you Terry Meehan for this resource.
If anyone has access to information about Lafayette that verifies this 1919 claim about our DeWitt ancestor, please contact me. Lafayette's first ship was called the Victory and they arrived in 1777 in Virginia. Several men accompanied him. We now need to determine if a DeWitt came with him. Hopefully, it was our John DeWitt.
Note: It should be noted that for folks to refer to Wheeling, WV as the location of the Dewitt estate, it is easy to understand the confusion by Californians about Wheeling and the actual estate down the Ohio river a few miles north of Ravenswood, WV. Wheeling is the largest city in the region. I have never found any evidence that the Dewitts lived in the immediate Wheeling area.
The Dewitts still living on the estate in 1919 would have been great grandsons James Dallas and John Calvin Dewitt who were sons of John DeWitt (1823-1849) who was a son of Thomas Dewitt (1791-1879) who was the first son of this John Dewitt.
All of their children are listed below the DNA Connections note.
Over the last five years modern technology has offered a new way to connect families via DNA Y-chromosome analysis. The author of this biography has found that his DNA matches closely to a descendant of another heretofore unconnected Benjamin DeWitt (1754-1802) clan. The analysis suggests that the two DeWitt clans are related via a common ancestor within 300 years but most likely in the 1750s.
One can explore the other clan by visiting the memorial for Benjamin DeWitt (1754-1802) at: Benjamin History.
2012 - 2013 update:
Recently in 2013 additional DNA analysis has detected another DeWitt clan connection. This second clan is more distantly related perhaps within 12 generations. One can explore the other clan by visiting the memorial for Gideon (1731-1819) at: Gideon. If one notes Gideon's last name, this name of Witt plus the DNA match results suggest that this John Dewitt or his parent was originally a Witt rather than DeWitt!
The Witt family from which this Gideon Witt descends has as its Witt founding father, John Witt who was most likely born in England in 1612! Ref: John Witt Sr
So where was John born?
Some have suggested France as listed above.
But his youngest two daughters said differently:
- Charlotte Dewitt Hall (1807-1884) stated in the 1880 census that he was born in Virginia.
- Phoebe Dewitt Sherman (1810-1886) stated in the 1880 census that he was born in Massachusetts!
It is now doubtful that the story about France and Lafayette is true. We have now collected enough DNA samples from several John Witt (1612-1675) descendants to confirm the most likely hypothesis that John DeWitt is a descendant of John Witt. The consequence would be that our DeWitt branch comes from the Witt family from England whose most distant known ancestor John Witt arrived in Massachusetts about 1630.
Because of the almost identical DNA between the descendants of Benjamin DeWitt and John Dewitt, it could be that they were brothers. We are working on the hypothesis that their father was Isaiah Witt (1726-1771)
and their mother was Deborah Stewart (1726-1771). Many researchers have claimed this to be true but this researcher has not seen any documenation.
We are John Witt descendants.
When the possibility that we descend from John Witt became evident, we created a John Witt descendancy study and discovered:
1. More than 10 Witt descendant families changed thir last name to DeWitt during the late 1700s through the 1870s so the idea that John DeWitt could have changed his last name has support from others in the Witt family.
2. Several living male, John Witt descendants who have documented proof have been identified. They have contributed DNA samples which all match closely to this memorial coordinator's DNA. This study is a Y chromosome analysis which allows for the tracking of the paternal ancestry. One of these DNA donors still uses the Witt family name.
3. The remaining problem is that we have not found a John Witt who was born at the same time as our John DeWitt so we know we are Witt descendants but do not yet know how we connect and therefore do not know who John DeWitt's parents were. Hopefully research in 2014 will solve this last remaining challenge.
JANUARY 2014 UPDATE:
As mentioned before, we have confirmed via Y chromosome analysis that this DeWitt descendant clan of John DeWitt is descendant of John Witt (1612-1675).
We have tried to find other living male John Witt/DeWitt descendants. We have found that many Witt families changed their last name to DeWitt from the late 1700s thru the 1870s so this idea was prevalent in the family. I suspect that it was due to envy of the more famous Dutch DeWitt families of nearby New York and an attempt to improve impressions made on others. There is also some evidence that the Witts believed that their family actually descended from the DeWitts back in Europe before John Witt immigrated to Massachusetts from England sometime during the 1630s. No documentation has been found that confirms this claim.
What we now know via Y chromosome DNA analysis is that our Witt/DeWitt clan is NOT genetically linked to the Dutch DeWitts of the Kingston NY or Long Island NY regions whose ancestors also immigrated in the 1600s. So the claim that we Witts were actually DeWitts is not supported. Another fact that supports this nonDutch ancestry is that none of John Witt's family had Dutch names. The NY DeWitts used Dutch names for many of their children.
How do we know we DeWitts are Witts?
The author of this discussion, and 8 other John Witt descendants have Y chromosome DNA that matches very closely. One of those John Witt descendants still uses the Witt last name while all of the others are DeWitts.
What remains to be done?
Unfortunately, we have not been able to determine who the father of this John DeWitt was. We are trying to find a John Witt born at the same time who might have changed his name and headed west to Pennsylvania from Massachusetts. So please keep visiting this memorial for further updates.
Nancy Elizabeth Culbertson Dewitt (1770 - 1841)
Thomas Dewitt (1791 - 1879)*
John Dewitt (1792 - 1840)*
Margaret Elizabeth Dewitt (1796 - 1823)*
Martha Charlotte Dewitt Rardin (1797 - 1877)*
Nancy Elizabeth Dewitt Sherman (1801 - 1834)*
Alexander C Dewitt (1803 - 1823)*
Lydia Dewitt Robinson (1804 - ____)*
Charlotte DeWitt Hall (1807 - 1884)*
Phebe DeWitt Sherman (1810 - 1886)*
West Virginia, USA
Created by: Don DeWitt
Record added: Mar 26, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 35203368
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