This message is in reply to message #471 and #472 posted on the Pettus Forum. Thanks for your interest in my book on the Pettus family. I had expected to complete my book last year, but I decided to add another generation. Of course, later generations usually have more people in them, so I am still hard at work. At the same time, I have been strengthening Part II of the book, which contains the analyses of the evidence that support the arrangement of the biographies in Part I.
With regards to Elizabeth Pettus, conjectured wife of Dr. Arthur Hopkins, I believe that I have presented a sound argument that disproves the particular claim made in the book by Walter Lee Hopkins. I have always maintained that Dr. Hopkins could have married another Elizabeth Pettus, but I know of no records that provide convincing proof of his wife's name. I have posted queries to see if anyone has a bible record, for example, that identifies Dr. Hopkins's wife as Elizabeth Pettus, but no one has responded with that sort of evidence.
Walter Lee Hopkins was not the first writer to make the claim. The earliest reference I have seen is a book on the Pettus family by Charles J. Colcock, written almost a century ago. I don't know whether Colcock relied upon a genuine Hopkins's family tradition or whether he created the tradition, himself. After all most of us had not yet been born. In any case, Colcock claimed that Dr. Hopkins's wife was Elizabeth, the daughter of "Capt. Thomas Pettus" [Thomas Pettus II]. Hopkins probably had no other candidates on record, and that is still a problem for the modern genealogist.
It is true that Dr. Hopkins's wife was named Elizabeth. She is mentioned in his will. Furthermore, one of his daughters or granddaughters had some variation of Pettus for a middle name, as I recall. But not all variations of Pettus are necessarily of the Pettus family (descended from the progenitor of the Pettuses of Virginia).
One of my correspondents believes that Elizabeth was the daughter of Capt. Thomas Pettit of King and Queen Co., and perhaps he is right. Still his claim is only a conjecture, because the evidence for the supposed marriage is lacking. As you pointed out, Dr. Hopkins's wife could have been the sister of Stephen Pettus of New Kent Co., or some other Pettus, for that matter. In my way of thinking, there has to be some basis in truth for whatever claim is put forward.
Getting back to Capt. Thomas Pettit, I don't consider him a Pettus, because I know of no evidence linking the two families. I know about Stacy's theory that identifies Capt. Pettit's father, Thomas, as the Thomas Pettus, Jr., who arrived in Virginia in 1643, but her theory is founded upon assumptions that I have disproved by reference to original records in England.
To conclude, if you or any other reader can provide some evidence for Colcock's claim that Dr. Hopkins's wife was indeed a Pettus (and not a Smith or Jones, for example), then I will be delighted to consider the information and possibly revise my book accordingly.
One other point, I would indeed like to include all early Pettuses in my book, provided that I have some basis for demonstrating their existence. If there is another Elizabeth Pettus that I have overlooked, I would be eager to include her, but I would also have to figure out how she is related before I can place her on the family tree with any confidence.
Nevertheless, even if I do find another Elizabeth Pettus in the right time frame to have been Dr. Hopkins's wife, I still can't legitimately make the claim unless I have some reliable evidence that his wife was named Elizabeth Pettus.
W. W. Pettus
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