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Pettee Family Papers

Pettee Family Papers, 1860-1901

Otis Pettee (d. 1853) lived in Newton Upper Falls from 1817 until the end of his life. He was the founder of Pettee Machine Works, which manufactured cotton machinery.

Pettee established the post office in Upper Falls in May, 1825, and served as its first postmaster. He owned a large amount of land, mills, and dwellings in the Newton area, including the Elliot Manufacturing Company, which he bought in 1840. He also was a driving force behind the railroad coming to Upper Falls.

Otis Pettee married Matilda Sherman and had two sons, Otis Jr. and George. The first son, Otis Pettee, Jr., was born in Upper Falls on December 5, 1823. He was educated in Newton and then entered into the cotton and cotton machinery manufacturing business with his father.

Otis also served in prominent positions in the community as a selectman, a town auditor, an alderman, chairman of the board of health, and a trustee of both the Newton Cemetery and the Newton Hospital. He married Julia Maria Smith and had one son, Otis T. Pettee.

The second son, George Pettee (1828-1896), was also prominent in the public life of Newton. He was born in Upper Falls and educated in Newton and at the Wilbraham Academy. Like his brother, Otis, George joined his father at an early age at the Pettee Machine Works. He also managed the thread and sheeting factory until his fathers death in 1853.

In the community, George served as chief of the fire department, an alderman, a director of First National Bank of West Newton, member of the Newton Club and the Veteran Firemen, and an honorary member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He married Delia Wetherell and had two daughters, Ethel D. and Florence Pettee.

This collection consists mainly of the diaries of Otis Pettee, Jr., which span the years 1891-1897 and 1901, and a surveyors book from 1889. The diaries include detailed menus, the weather, and guest lists, as well as his daily events.

This collection also has materials located in one folder in the vertical file. It includes an illustration of Otis Pettee from a book, photocopies of federal tax bills for George Pettee, a poem written by Otis, Sr., upon the death of his first son (name unknown) in 1823, four photographs of various family members, and genealogical data.

Perhaps the most interesting item in this collection is a handwritten letter from Louisa and Matilda Pettee. It was written on January 15, 1840, and describes life in an affluent family in Newton. In addition, an original deed for Otis Pettee is housed in the box "N-Z."

Extent: 1 small box, 1 folder; .33 linear ft.
Finding Aids: None

Newton, Garden City of the Commonwealth, 1874, pp. 64, 128; Folders Newton Upper Falls; IndustryNewton Upper Falls