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Cantrall, Illinois

The First Church of Sangamon County, Illinois
Organized May 15 1820
Stephen England

The Brittin Family

Pages 189 - 195

Page 189

Evans E. Brittin was the first Brittin to come to Sangamon county, Illinois, and settle near Cantrall, Illinois. Evans E. (Elijah) Brittin was born October 28, 1791 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, the son of Elijah and Jane (Evans) Brittin. Elijah Brittin was the son of Nathan and Ann (Thomas) Brittin. Nathan died Sept. 1, 1778 in Pennsylvania. Ann Thomas Brittin was the daughter of Rev. John Thomas.

Evans E. Brittin married Mary Jane England, a daughter of Stephen England and Anna Harper England. Their children: Stephen Brittin married Jane McClelland Miranda Brittin married John Canterbury Elijah Brittin married Martha Canterbury James M. Brittin Evans E. Brittin married Melissa Peeler and then Elizabeth Ridgeway Washington Brittin married Eliza Mallory Henry Brittin married Nancy Mallory Mary F. Brittin married Thomas Glasscock Eleanor Brittin

From Powers' History of Sangamon County, Illinois: "The Christian Church, organized May 15, 1820, the first in Sangamon County, built its first house of worship on Mr. Brittin's farm, near the present town of Cantrall.

Left: Stephen Brittin (1819-1862), oldest son of Evans E. Brittin & Jane (McClelland) Brittin.
Right: Mary Jane England Brittin (1822-1865)

Page 190

The picture above are Henry Brittin and his wife, Nancy D. Mallory Brittin. Henry was the son of Evans E. Brittin and Mary Jane (England) Brittin. Nancy D. Mallory was the daughter of Valentine P. Mallory and his wife, Nancy Dawson Mallory. Nancy (Dawson) Mallory was the daughter of John Dawson, one of the Long Nine who brought the capital of Illinois to Springfield, Illinois.

Page 191

The above pictures are John Brittin and his wife, Martha Melissa (Canterbury) Brittin. John was the son of Henry Brittin and Nancy D. Mallory Brittin. Martha Melissa was the daughter of Oliver P. Canterbury and Elizabeth (Council) Canterbury.

Page 192
From an undated newspaper article:

John Brittin             Mrs. John Brittin

John Brittins to be wedded half century

Mr. And Mrs. John Brittin, 101 South Walnut street, lifelong residents of Sangamon county, will celebrate their golden wedding Saturday. They will keep open house from 1 to 5 o'clock in the afternoon. No formal invitations have been issued, but all friends and relatives will be welcome.

Mr. And Mrs. Brittin were married Jan. 23, 1877, at the home of the bride's parents, Mr. And Mrs. O. P. Canterbury, Cantrall. Mrs. Brittin before her marriage was Martha Melissa Canterbury.

Mr. Brittin followed the occupation of a farmer until a few years ago, when he retired and moved to Springfield, residing at 101 South Walnut Street.

He farmed the land near Cantrall that was settled by his grandfather in 1818. A son, J. Harry Brittin, still resides at the home place.

Eight children were born to Mr. And Mrs. Brittin, six of whom are still living. They are:
Mrs. John (?) "torn off", Springfield rural route
Charles H. Brittin, Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Mrs. Nancy McMurray, Daytona, Fla.
Harry Brittin, near Cantrall
Mrs. Edwin Aarup, Springfield
Mrs. Charles Stewart, Stuttgart, Ark.
A son, Dr. O. P. Brittin, was a member of Doctor Ottis' Hospital Unit W, was killed in 1919
A daughter, Marie Brittin, died twelve years ago.

There are seventeen grandchildren. Mrs. Stewart is expected from Stuttgart, Ark. For her parents' anniversary.

Both Mr. And Mrs. Brittin are members of prominent Sangamon county families. Mr. Brittin's brothers are:
Dr. A. L. Brittin, Athens
Dr. E. H. Brittin, Auburn
Dr. W. A. Brittin, Virden
Ed Brittin, Los Angeles, Calif.
Roger Brittin, Arkansas City, Kan.

Mrs. Brittin has five sisters and two brothers:
Mrs. Mary Grant, Athens
Mrs. Margaret Vandagrift, Springfield
Miss Anna Canterbury, Springfield
Mrs. Myrtle Hamilton, Harristown
Mrs. Nell Dixon, Pasadena, Calif.
William R. Canterbury, Springfield
John H. Canterbury, Cantrall

Page 193

From a newspaper article, undated, but occurred in 1919:


Miss Nellie Courtwright-Captain Oliver P. Brittin

Ottis Hospital Unit to Have Charge of Services

Military funeral rites for Capt. Perry Oliver Brittin of Athens, who was instantly killed at 12:15 o'clock Wednesday afternoon, when the automobile in which he and Miss Nellie Courtwright, nurse at Springfield hospital, were riding was struck by a Chicago & Northwestern freight train, eight miles northwest of Springfield, will be held at 10:30 o'clock tomorrow morning at the family residence in Athens. Rev. Elmer Stackhouse, pastor of the Christian church at Cantrall, will officiate, assisted by Rev. C. F. McKown, pastor of the Methodist church of Athens, and Rev. J. W. Coleman, pastor of the Christian church of that city. Burial will be made in Brittin cemetery.

Dr. Ottis' unit, of which Captain Brittin was a member, will have charge of the funeral.

Miss Atta Courtwright, sister of the injured nurse, who resides at Athens, is in a critical condition at St. John's hospital as a result of the shock from learning of the accident. It is not known whether she will recover.

Victim of the Crash

Miss Nellie Courtwright, it was thought at first, had sustained a fracture of the skull. A more minute examination later showed that she was badly injured about the head. It was also found necessary to amputate the toes of her right foot. Favorable reports for Miss Courtwright's recovery were received from St. John's hospital late last night.

Skull Believed Crushed

Captain Brittin was to have left today for Atlanta, Ga., where he expected to marry Miss Constance Berry, his fiancee, within two weeks.

After a lengthy inquest, the coroner's jury returned the verdict yesterday afternoon that Captain Brittin met his death at 2:15 o'clock July 2, "from injuries accidentally received in a collision between the automobile, which he was driving, and the left side of Northwestern engine No. 1497." The jury met at 2 o'clock in the afternoon instead of in the morning, because of the difficulty in rounding up the train crew. The Chicago & Northwestern railroad does not run through Springfield and is used for coal hauling only.

The accident occurred at what is known as Brush crossing. The place is considered dangerous because of the bushes and small trees which obstruct the view. The train approached from the north and it is believed Captain Brittin was too close to the rails to escape crashing into the train.

Right of Way Clear

Information gathered by Coroner Scott Walter tended to show that the bushes and weeds, which obstructed the view of the crossing, were not on the railroad's right of way. The crossing is one of the most dangerous in the county and a bell has been installed to warn of the approach of trains. The crew stated that the bell was ringing.

Page 193

"This is only one of a very many dangerous crossings in Sangamon county where the view is obstructed," Coroner Walter said. "Until the danger is removed re-occurrences of such accidents can be expected. A railroad company can be compelled by law to do their part and there should be a law governing the obstructions outside the railroad right of way. Such death traps are a crime and an outrage."



Captain Oliver Perry Brittin of Athens, and a member of the Ottis Hospital Unit, was instantly killed, and his fiancee, Miss Nellie Courtwright, a nurse in training at Springfield hospital, severely injured, when their automobile dashed into a Chicago & Northwestern freight train, eight miles northwest of this city, at 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon. The couple enroute to their homes in Athens.

The accident occurred at "Brush Crossing," so called because of the underbrush, which almost obscures the track approaches at this grade. It is believed that Dr. Brittin did not see the train, which was coming from the north, until too late to avoid the collision.


The victims were placed in the caboose of the train and brought to the Huddleston farm, four miles from this city. Coroner Scott Walter was immediately notified, and with Dr. T. J. Knudson went to the scene. Dr. Brittin had been dead for some time when the coroner and physician arrived. Miss Courtwright was placed in Bisch's auto ambulance and rushed to St. John's hospital. It was found that her right foot was so badly crushed that it was necessary for physicians to amputate the toes. She also received a deep gash on the head, a cut on her left hip and was badly bruised about the head and body. Although her condition is serious, physicians and hospital authorities believe she will recover.


Captain Brittin returned home on a seven days furlough last Saturday. He came to Springfield yesterday morning for a short visit with Dr. Don Deal, with whom he had luncheon. About 1 o'clock he called at the hospital to see Miss Courtwright. She told the physician that she wanted to surprise her folks and decided to make the trip to Athens with him. They had been gone from the hospital but a short while when the superintendent of the hospital was notified by the State Journal of the death of Dr. Brittin and the serious injury to Miss Courtwright.

Dr. Brittin and Miss Courtwright had been sweethearts for several years. Before he entered the service, about a year and a half ago, he was a practicing physician at Athens. For several years prior to this time, Miss Courtwright had been employed in his office. When Dr. Brittin left for camp with the Ottis Unit, Miss Courtwright came to Springfield and entered training at the local hospital. Recently she went on duty as assistant night supervisor. Captain Brittin had not been discharged from the service on account of remaining overseas on special duty after the unit had been ordered home.

Page 195

He was to have secured his release on the expiration of his furlough.


Nurses at Springfield hospital declared last night that the young couple were soon to be married.

Miss Courtwright's parents, Mr. And Mrs. Halley Courtwright, were preparing to move to Springfield, when they were notified of the tragedy. They immediately came to this city and are atending at the injured girl's bedside.

Dr. Brittin is survived by his parents in Cantrall, one brother and a sister, Mrs. McMurray, also of Athens, who is a registered nurse. His uncle, Dr. A. L. Brittin, who is now a prominent practicing physician and surgeon at Athens, was at one time president of the Illinois State Medical association.


The body of Dr. Brittin was brought to this city and removed to the undertaking parlors of C. T. Bisch and Son. It will be taken to Athens for burial.

Coroner Walter last night announced that he would make a searching investigation of the causes of the tragedy.


The prior two articles regarding Captain Oliver Perry Brittin are contradictory of each other, and need some explanation. Captain Brittin was the son of John Brittin and Martha Melissa (Canterbury) Brittin. See the article regarding the 50th wedding anniversary of John and Melissa Brittin for more details on this family.

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