JOHN MCNITT (1828-1909) AND SUSAN ARNOLD (1833-1909)

Daniel John McNitt, the sixth of Daniel and Jane's children, was born on July 20, 1828, at Victory, Cayuga County, New York and was six when the family moved to Ohio. The family soon began calling him John and did not use his first name. On March 14, 1852, John married Susan Arnold, the daughter of a former trustee of Thompson Township.

Late in the summer of 1854, John and his family, along with his sister Martha and her family, moved to Michigan to join their brother William. After arriving in Michigan in September, John and his family must have stayed with friends or relatives briefly before buying an 80 acre farm in Chester Township, Ottawa County on November 3. This land was about five miles north of his brother William's farm and three miles north of his sister Martha's home. John traded his team of horses and two cows to cover part of the $400 cost.

On November 19, John and his family moved into a shanty built by him and two others in two days. The snow was 20 inches deep that day. During that first winter in his new home John undoubtedly got some help from relatives, but he also made baskets which he exchanged with neighbors for food.

By 1860, John had cleared and improved half of his 80 acres and owned two milch cows, two working oxen, six other cattle, 15 sheep, and eight swine. His farm produced rye, corn, oats, wool, potatoes, butter, hay, hops, and maple sugar. Four years later, on August 27, 1864, John sold his farm for $3000 and purchased 160 acres on sections 19 and 20 of Chester Township for $5000. This farm, located northwest of the town of Conklin, still belong to his descendants.

As John became prominent, the area around his home became known as the McNitt Neighborhood. Nearby was the McNitt School and across from his house was the McNitt Cemetery. John was so successful at farming that he retired at age 55. He then bought a lot in the town of Ravenna and erected a comfortable home there. Several of his children later settled there also.

John took an active interest in politics, working to improve the lot of farmers. In the 1870's he was an active Greenbacker and two decades later he was a Populist. In 1872, John helped to organize the Chester Grange, a lodge of the national fraternal association of farmers known as the Patrons of Husbandry. The Chester Grange did not flourish and John eventually helped with a merger into the Ravenna Grange and worked for the construction of the Ravenna Grange hall.

John and Susan spent 56 years of married life together and had 13 children, two of whom died in infancy. Susan, 11 children, 33 grandchildren, and 28 great grandchildren survived John when he died on January 2, 1909. Susan lived only four months longer before dying on April 17, 1909.

Sources used in writing this chapter


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