PETEFISH, AARON WESLEY, one of the most widely known and honored farmers of Morgan County, Ill., residing at Literberry, is a descendant of one of the old pioneer families of the county. He was born on his father's farm near Literberry, now a part of the "three-mile strip" in Cass County, January 3, 1841. His father, George Petefish, was born in Rockingham County, Va., March 17, 1790, and was a son of a Hessian soldier who came to America with the British army during the early days of the Revolutionary War, but afterward left the Hessian force and joined the Patriots. George Petefish served three months with the American army in the War of 1812, and upon the expiration of his term continued for a similar period as a substitute for his brother Jacob. During most of this time he was stationed at Norfolk, Va. at which point it was expected that the British troops would endeavor to make a landing. In reward for his services he received from the Government a land warrant for 80 acres, on which one of his sons based a claim in Iowa. He was brought up to farming in Virginia, and for a time worked at the trade of a cabinet maker. About the close of the War of 1812 (probably in 1814) he removed to Ohio, locating for a time in Warren County. About 1823 he came to Illinois, purchasing an eighty-acre claim which was located on the so-called "three mile strip," then in Morgan, but now a part of Cass County. In payment for this land he gave a team of oxen. He subsequently entered a Government claim of 40 acres of timber-land, and ultimately became the owner of 200 acres of fine, easily cultivable land. In early life a Whig, he became a Republican upon the organization of that party, but never cared for public office. He was nevertheless a man of high public spirit, and accomplished all in his power for the advancement of the welfare of the community in which he lived. In the early days his home was a headquarters for the pioneer ministers in the Methodist Protestant Church, and services were frequently held there. He was one of the first members of the society of this denomination which worshiped in the Petefish log school-house, and was always deeply interested in the work of that denomination, as well as in Christian charities generally.
George Petefish was married three times. His first wife was Polly, daughter of Harmon Aughe, who bore nim the following children, all in Ohio; Jesse (deceased), who was born in July, 1818; Harmon (deceased), born October 2, 1820; and Mary Jane (deceased), born December 30, 1823, and married John Fry. His second wife was Margaret, daughter of John Ream, a native of Pennsylvania, and of German ancestry. She died in the summer of 1844. The children of this marriage were: John R. (deceased), born in Ohio, March 10, 1825; Eliza Ann, born in Morgan County November 24, 1826, married D. A. Gibson; David H. (deceased), born September 7, 1828; Dianah (deceased), born August 16, 1830, married Jackson Henderson; Jabez, born October 10, 1832, now resides at Oronogo, Mo.; Emanuel (deceased), born November 2, 1834; George W., born May 19, 1836, lives in Douglas County, Kans.; James M. (deceased), born July 17, 1837; and Aaron W., whose sketch follows.
The entire life of Aaron W. Petefish has been spent either in Cass or Morgan County. He received his education in the subscription schools which were conducted in the log school-houses of that period, but at the age of twelve years abandoned his studies to assist his father in work upon the farm. On August 9, 1862, he was mustered into the service of the United States as Corporal in Company E, One Hundred and First Illinois Volunteer Infantry, served through the Atlanta campaign, and October 29, 1864, was discharged on account of disabling wounds received at the battle of Peach Tree Creek, Ga., being then a Sergeant in the same company and regiment. After returning to the farm he was compelled to walk upon crutches for about a year. He first purchased a farm of 100 acres located in Cass County, which he traded for his present homestead near Literberry, and where he has resided since 1871. He now owns 410 acres of fine land, on which he is engaged in general farming and stock-raising.
Mr. Petefish cast his first vote for Abraham Lincoln, and since that time has faithfully maintained the cause of the Republican party. He has filled various local offices, and for many years has been a member of the School Board. In religion he is connected with the Christian Church at Literberry. On December 23, 1868, he married Martha L. M. Paul, a native of Morgan County and a daughter of Jacob Paul. Her death occurred July 28, 1882. The children of this marriage were: Alma O. (deceased), born November 4, 1869; Abraham Ellsworth, born February 7, 1871; Harrison Wallace, born May 9, 1873; Estella Clara, born November 4, 1875, married Melvin O. Smith; Gracie Margaret, born December 25, 1877, married Franklin L. Ogle; George Ellis, born November 28, 1828. On February 28, 1883, Mr. Petefish married Mrs. Lourena Wright, daughter of Jesse T. Liter. They are the parents of the following named children: Lora Dell, born January 29, 1885; Aaron Dudley, born March 21, 1887; Orville O., born December 17, 1889; Evalee, born November 30, 1892; Jesse Liter, born September 21, 1895; and Dewey Hobson, born June 12, 1898.