From: "Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and
Brown Counties, Illinois 1892", by Biographical Review Publishing
Company, Chicago, Illinois; pages 372-373, a reprinted by Stevens
Publishing Co., Astoria, Ill., 1971, is sold by the Schuyler County
Historical Society, Rushville, Illinois.
Samuel H. Peterfish was born in Rockingham county, Virginia,
April 30, 1824, son of Jacob Petefish, a native of the same State. His
grandfather, Christian Petefish, was born in Germany.
When a young man, Christian Petefish entered the army. He came
to America as a Hessian soldier during the time of the Revolutionary
war. His sympathies, however, were not with the British Government, and
after the battle of Princeton he joined the Colonial ranks and fought
for independence until peace was declared. He then settled in Virginia,
where he reared his family and spent the remainder of his life.
Jacob Petefish was reared and married in the Old Dominion, and
resided there until 1834. That year, with his wife and eight children,
he started for Illinois. They made the journey with a four horse team,
brought their cooking utensils along, cooked and camped on the way, and
arrived in what is now Cass county in October. Mr. Petefish purchased a
tract of land in what is now Virginia precinct, engaged in farming, and
resided here till the time of his death, in 1849. The maiden name of
his wife was Elizabeth Price, she too, being a native of Virginia. Her
death occurred in 1854. They reared a family of eleven children. The
names of the sons are as follows: William, Jacob, Samuel H., John A.,
Andrew J. and Thomas B. Andrew J. was a soldier in the late war, and
died in the service. Of the daughters we record that Mary wedded Reuben
Fultz; Sarah married Robert Maxfield; Elizabeth was the wife of Levi
Conover; Ellen married Joseph Crum; and Diana became the wife of Daniel
Samuel H. Petefish was eleven years old when he came to Illinois
with his parents, and has witnessed almost the entire growth and
development of the county. At the time they settled here, much of the
land was owned by the Government; it was many years before the whistle
of the locomotive sounded in Cass county; the people lived chiefly on
wild game and the products of their own land. The pioneer wives and
mothers cooked by fireplaces, they dressed their families in homespun
manufactured by their own hands, and many were the hardships and
privations they endured. In the primitive log schoolhouses, with their
rude furnishings, the children of these pioneer families conned their
lessons in the three R's.
The subject of our sketch attended school in the winter and
worked on the farm in summer. When he was twenty-one his father gave
him and his brother, Jacob, a tract of unimproved land, upon which they
commenced life as independent farmers. The father furnished them a team
and they at once set about the improvement of their land. A year later
they made a contract with a neighbor for 350 acres of land near by, the
greater portion of it being improved. The contract price was $3,500.
They were to take possession one year later, at which time they were to
pay $1,000, and then yearly payments of $500 with interest at six per
cent. After farming together three years they divided their land.
Samuel H. was very successful, made his payments as they became due,
and continued farming till 1857, when he rented his land and went to
the Territory of Kansas, going via the Illinois, Mississippi and
Missouri rivers. He resided in Leavenworth and Atchison about one year,
and in April, 1858, returned to Cass county. In 1859 he located on his
farm, and there resided, engaged in agricultural pursuits, until 1867,
since which time he has made his home in Virginia. He is still,
however, interested in agricultural pursuits, being now one of the
largest land owners in the county, owning upwards of 1,500 acres.
The business career of Mr. Petefish has been a remarkably
successful one. He first became interested in banking in 1864, being
one of the original stockholders in the Farmers' National Bank. In
1870, the firm of Petefish, Skiles & Co. was formed, which firm has
since conducted a banking business in Virginia. He is also a member of
the firm of Petefish, Skiles & Mertz, of Chandlerville, this
company having been formed in February, 1881; the firm of Skiles,
Rearich & Co., bankers of Ashland, established there in August,
1881; the firm of Bloomfield, Skiles & Co., Mount Sterling; and is
a stockholder in the Schuyler County Bank, of Rushville. He is the
owner of several business blocks in Virginia, and it was he who platted
and named the addition to Virginia, known as Grand Villa. Besides his
farms in Cass county, he owns 200 acres of fine farming land in
Crawford county, Iowa, also 778 acres in Decatur county, Iowa.
Politically, Mr. Petefish was for many years a Democrat. At
present he is a Prohibitionist in principle and practice, and votes
with that party.
Mr. Petefish is a man of family. March 18, 1848, he wedded Nancy
M. Hudson, daughter of Peter and Melinda (Huffman) Hudson. They have
two children living, Mary E., wife of E. D. C. Woodward of Virginia,
and Louis A. Such is an epitome of the life of one of Virginia's most
prominent and popular citizens.