The surname "Pickett" is a very ancient one, its roots going back nearly 900 years. It is somewhat unusual in that it is unrelated to any occupation, but is rather patronymic, coming from the personal
name of the father of the original bearer. "Pickett" thus literally signifies
"The son of [or the descendant of] Picket". The personal name itself is a variant of "Picot", itself a deminutive of the Old French personal name "Pic", introduced to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066.
That "Picot" was a personal name is verified by the Domesday Book of twenty
years later, in which one "Picot" appears as a chief tenant in Hampshire. The same reference identifies a "Picot de Grentebrig". It is also interesting to note
that two families in Cheshire, the "Pigots" and the "Pichots", lived side by side
for generations, and both are believed to spring from the one common ancestor,
"Gilbert Pichot", Lord of Braxton [Earwaker's East Cheshire, ii, 361].
Another early reference to the name is a "Robert filius Picot" in
the Red Book of the Exchequer for Yorkshire in 1186. The "filius" here,
meaning "son of" again testifies to the surname's patronymic origins. There is
a "Walter Piket" in the Berkshire Pipe Rolls of 1177, while a "Godfrey
Piket" appears as a resident of Somerset in the Court Rolls of Edward III.
Today in England the surname is chiefly associated with Wiltshire. As we shall see,
it was also among the first names to become established in the New World
Zerubbabel was born abt. 1591 in Kent County, England, and died there.
The unusual name Zerubbabel comes from the bible, mentioned in Zachariah 4:9.
There is only one known child:
John Pickett 1616-1684
John Pickett (1616 - 1684)
Margaret Metcalf (abt. 1620 - 1683)
Both John and Margaret were born in Derbyshire, England. They were married about 1642, and emigrated to America in 1648, living first in Salem, Massachusetts. John was a Puritan at the time.
They moved to Stratford, Twp., Fairfield County, Connecticutt in 1660. He was a deputy to the colonial assembly 1673-75. Margaret died 6 October 1683, and John on 11 April 1684.
Their children were:
James Pickett 1644-1700
Thomas Pickett bef 1648-1712 m.(1) Abigail Seymour
(2) Sarah Barnham
Sarah Pickett 1648-1724 m. Robert Lane
Rebecca Pickett bef 1650-? m.(1) James Sention
(2) Andrew Messenger
Daniel Pickett 1652-1711
Jacob Pickett bef 1654-1664
John Pickett 1656-1687
Thomas Pickett (bef. 1648-1712)
(1) Abigail Seymour (1654-1681)
(2) Sarah Barnham (abt. 1660-1744)
Thomas was born before 1648 in Salem, Essex County, Mass. He died in 1712 in Danbury, Fairfield, Conn.
He married, first, on 16 November 1676 Abigail Seymour, daughter of Thomas Seymour and Hannah Marvin. She was born in January 1654 in Norwalk, Fairfield, Ct, and died about 1681 in Stratford.
Thomas then married, second, Sarah Barnum, a daughter of Thomas Barnum and Hannah Hurd. Sarah was born
between 1657 and 1665 in either Stratford or Norwalk, and died in 1744 in Danbury CT.
There were three children with Abigail and seven with Sarah:
Abigail Pickett 1678-? m. Samuel Benedict
Hannah Pickett 1680-1715 m. John Noble
Jacob Pickett (died young)
Ephriam Pickett 1685-?
Thomas Pickett 1689-1774
Sarah Pickett 1694-? m. John Vidito
James Pickett 1697-?
Joseph Pickett 1700-1766 m. Abigail Seeley
Benjamin Pickett 1703-1724
Ebenezer Pickett 1706-1784
Joseph Pickett (1700-1766)
Abigail Seeley (1698-?)
Joseph was born 28 March 1700 in Danbury, Fairfield, CT, and lived his entire life there.
He married bef. 1730 Abigail Seeley, daughter of John Seeley and Rebecca Stanford. She was born 9 March 1698 in Stratford.
There was one known child:
Joseph Pickett 1730-1785 m. Ruth Barnum
Joseph Pickett (1730-1785)
Ruth Barnum (1740-1784)
Ruth was a daughter of Samuel Barnum.
There were two known children:
Samuel Pickett bet. 1758/65 - 1812 m. Phoebe Finch
Job Pickett 1760-?
Samuel Pickett (bet. 1748/1765 - 1812)
Phoebe Finch (1760-?)
Samuel was born between 1748 and 1765 in either Danbury CT or Spencertown NY. He married Phoebe Finch, daughter of Peter and Rebecca Finch.
The known children of Samuel and Phoebe were six in number, the first three born in Spencertown NY, the younger three in Sherburne, Chenango Cty, NY:
Daniel Pickett 1783-1855
John Pickett 1789-?
Selah Pickett 1791-1872 m. (1) Olive Lawson
(2) Christiana Comstock
Phoebe Pickett m. Arva Owen Austin
Samuel died 19 December 1812 in Chautauqua NY. Phoebe died there as well, date unknown.
Selah Pickett (1791-1872)
(1) Olive Lawson (1794-1825)
(2) Christiana Comstock (1794-1872)
Selah Pickett was born 8 October 1791 in Spencertown, Columbia Cty. NY.
He appears in the Federal Census for the years 1820, 1830 and 1840 living in Chenango County, New York.
He was a Michigan pioneer, arriving from New York after 1840. He took up a homestead in Cass County, settling on farmland at the junction of three roads later to become known as "Pickett's Corners." Selah was about 50 years old when he made this move with his family.
Selah Pickett married, first, on 13 May 1813 Olive Lawson, and second, on 22 January 1826 Christiana Comstock. Christiana was born 9 December 1794 in Shelbourne VT, and was a daughter of Zachariah Comstock and Polly Wood.
By Olive, there were six children, born from 1814 to 1824. Olive must have died about 1825, since he had another seven children with Christiana, all born from 1826 to 1839. Christiana was a brave girl to marry a widower with six small children ranging in age from an infant to 11 years old. Christiana was then 31 years old.
After 46 years together, Selah and Christiana both died in Dowagiac, Michigan in 1872, he on 11 October and she on 6 December.
There was a total of thirteen children, all born in Chautauqua, New York. The children of the first family with Olive Lawson were:
Malinda Pickett 1814-?
Alvinza Pickett 1816-?
Milo Pickett 1817-?
Polly Pickett 1820-?
Almond Pickett 1822-?
Norman Pickett 1824-?
There were seven more children in Selah's second family with Christiana
Olive Pickett 1826-1855 m. Sheldon Haskins
Daniel Pickett 1828-1886
Clarinda Pickett 1831-1916 m. Leverett Clark Howard
Sophie Pickett 1833-1899 m. ? Parkins
Selah Pickett 1834-1834
George Pickett 1836-1894 m. Margaret Irwin
Milton Pickett 1839-1909 m. Adelia Smith
We suspect that all the children of the first marriage remained behind in New York when Selah left for Michigan shortly after his last child (Milton) was born. It is known that Christiana's children all went with their parents since the 1850 census lists them in Michigan.
Selah's home farm was 80 acres of land in Section 23 of Wayne Township, Cass County, Michigan. It is described in the land records as the west half of the southwest quarter of Section 23, Township 5. The date of the original purchase is unclear, but it is likely he bought the land from the U. S. government in the early 1840s shortly after he arrived in Michigan.
Later land transactions involved the same basic parcel of land. There was a purchase on January 29, 1850 from his son, Daniel. Simultaneously, Selah also purchased the adjoining 40 acres across the north-south road described as the east half of the east half of the southeast quarter of Section 22. On January 14, 1853 Selah and Christiana sold for $800 to Norman Pickett of Iowa (relationship unknown); on February 23, 1854, sold for $200 to Selah; and on May 7, 1854 Selah purchased a small strip of land from Kingsbury.
His farm was at the juncture of three roads. It was well situated for the time when communication was often difficult -- a point Selah did not overlook when he established a tavern and stage stop at the intersection soon to become known as Pickett's Corners.
"He raised the sign of a public house on his corners, and also had the post office." He was postmaster until the office was removed two miles east to Volinia. In 1856, he was also Justice of the Peace.
The 1860 census of Wayne Township lists Selah, age 69 and a farmer, Christiana age 66, and Milton (their youngest) at age 21 a farm laborer. Their daughter, Clarinda Pickett Howard also appears in the same Wayne census with her husband, Leverett Clark Howard at age 36 and their daughter Florence age 7. (The Howard farm was just down the road from Selah). Also appearing with the Howard family group is Joseph Pickett age 18 from New York. It may be that he was related back to John and Daniel Pickett in Chatauqua
County, New York, whence Selah had emigrated.
By 1870, the census shows Selah and Christiana, ages 78 and 75 living alone. Close by in Wayne are sons Milton and George with their families.
The Old Stage Stop - - A historical note
The first stage coaches in Cass County are dated from 1830. They passed through the County on the Chicago Road and its branch that went off toward Niles. At first two stages went over the road each week, which increased to tri-weekly until 1832. At that time the Black Hawk War suspended operations.
In 1833 a new line was established between Detroit and Chicago. This route ran from Detroit via Ypsilanti, Jonesville, Coldwater, White Pigeon, Edwardsburg and Niles and on to Chicago. This line was operated by the Humphrey Line, later a part of the Western Stage Company. Local stops were franchised about every twelve miles for rest and for changing horses. Since the line ran through Wayne Township, Selah Pickett had such a franchise at his tavern.
The site of the old stage stop has been permanently marked. The existing Grange Hall is located at Pickett's Corners. Directly across from the building a monument to the stage stop has been erected. The plaque on the monument reads as ollows:
Tavern and Post Office
Built by Selah Pickett 1844
Humphrey Stagecoach Line Stop
Placed by Captain Samuel Felt Chapter
Daughters of the American Revolution
and Lyell J. Wooster, Great Grandson
During the early years of the nineteenth century what passed for "roads" were dirt trails of varying quality. This was especially true of rural western Michigan which was still considered something approaching the western frontier. Well-traveled roads deserving of paving improvements were plank roads, made of rough hewn logs or heavy plank
In 1848, the Michigan legislature appropriated three thousand dollars for the purpose of opening and improving new roads including a route described as "commencing at some point at or near the north bank of the St. Joseph river, in the vicinity of the village of St. Joseph, thence running in an easterly direction on the most eligible route to the village of LaGrange, formerly called Whitmanville, in Cass County."
The road was never built. While the plank roads were superior to the dirt roads which criss-crossed the State, as a technology they had but a brief life. The reason for this, of course, was the coming of the railroads. In fact, while many companies obtained grants and charters for plank roads, the only one constructed for any distance in Cass County was a section five miles long between Niles and Edwardsburg.
For about 25 years, then, through the Civil War and on to the late 1860s, travel in rural
western Michigan remained by horseback or stagecoach over dirt roads.
Clarinda Pickett (1831-1916)
Leverett Clark Howard (1822-1903)
For information on this family, see the HOWARD section of this book.
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 Return to textPickett's Corners is northeast of Dowagiac. The Dutch Settlement Road runs from Dowagiac about three miles NE and ends at the crossing of two section line roads, creating a "five points intersection".
 Return to textHistory of Cass County, Michigan,
unknown author, 1885, page 331.
 Return to textibid, page 169.