The Iowa Raitts from Maine

When I came across the unusual name of Byrl Raitt in Iowa, I thought I’d try and find out more about this family. As I progressed backwards through his ancestors with a view to creating an Iowa Raitt page, I realized that the family stemmed from the Maine Raitts! Then a very recent request from someone for details about her family (father Ellwood Allen Raitt) prompted further research and it appears they too are from the same stock as the Maine Raitts - though some have since moved on to Minnesota (see under this state on the American Raitts page)! So instead of starting with Byrl and going backwards, I shall start from the other end - with a little background from the Maine Raitts - and come forward!

The earliest in the Maine Raitt line is Captain Alexander Raitt. It is not known yet precisely when he was born in Scotland or who his parents were. He died, however, in 1776 in Jamaica, West Indies.  He married Miriam Frost on 2 October 1747 in New Castle, Rockingham, New Hampshire. She was born on 8 October 1722 in New Castle and died on 3 June 1807 in Durham, Strafford, New Jersey. Her parents were the Honourable John Frost and Mary Pepperell, both of Kittery, who had a total of 15 children between 1703-1726. John’s father Charles came from Tiverton, Devon, England. Alexander and Miriam had seven children: Alexander (1749), James Straten (1751), William (1753), John (1755), Andrew (1757), Mary (1761) and Miriam (1762).

Most of these children and their spouses and descendants are largely accounted for on the Maine Raitts page. Though in an effort to be self-contained it is worth noting the facts about Alexander’s son William since it was his son, George, who moved to and died in Iowa and his descendants flourished there rather than in Maine. Hence, the decision to create a new page for these particular Iowa Raitts. It should be noted that in the details below, whilst I mention the names of daughters, I have only followed the male Raitt line here. (There were other Raitts in Iowa at the time and the major ones will be found under the Iowa Raitts from New York page.)

William Raitt (1753-1834)

William Raitt was born on 22 April 1753 in Kittery, York, Maine and he died in Eliot, York on 8 September 1834. His father was Captain Alexander Raitt and his mother was Miriam Frost. William married Sarah Leighton on 16 December 1773 in Eliot. She had been born in Kittery on 12 November 1753 and died in Eliot on 16 February 1828. The couple had nine children between 1774-1795: Isabella (1774), Elizabeth (1777), James (1779), Mary (1781), John (1784), William (1787), Miriam (1790), George (1792) and Olive (1795).

Of their sons, apart from George nothing much is yet known about them and their families. James was born on 4 April 1779 in Kittery; John was born on 16 July 1784 in Eliot and died there on 28 August 1860; William was born on 22 January 1787 in Kittery and died on 5 November 1868.

George Raitt (1792-1859)

George Raitt was born in Eliot, York, Maine on 1 July 1792. He married Eliza Daffern Hamilton on 2 October 1820 in Eliot. Eliza was born on 7 February 1796 in North Yarmouth, Cumberland, Maine. She died in Eliot on 19 October 1848, while George died on 29 November 1859 in McGregor, Clayton, Iowa. The couple had three children all born in Eliot: Elizabeth, in 1824; Oliver, in April 1826; and George, in 1834.

Sometime between April 1857 and November 1859, George Snr and sons Oliver (and new wife Martha) and George Jnr (possibly with a wife, Maria - see below) moved from Maine to Iowa. It is not yet discovered whether Elizabeth went with them. It is possible she had married and remained in Maine - but I have yet found no records of her marriage anywhere or her death.

In the 1850 census for Elliott, York, Maine we have George Raitt, 58, farmer; daughter Elizabeth, 26; and son George, 16, farmer - all born Maine.

Oliver Raitt (1826-1873)

Oliver Raitt was the eldest son of George Raitt and Eliza Daffern, born in April 1826 in Eliot, York, Maine. He died in in Worthington, Nobles, Minnesota on 8 November 1873. Oliver Raitt of Kennebec, age 23, married Nancy H. Torr, 22 (born 24 May 1827 at Salem (near Danvers), Essex, Massachusetts) on 6 August 1849 in Danvers. Nancy was the daughter of Andrew Torr and Clarissa Stevens. She died 19 September 1850, aged 23, in Maine. Oliver then married Martha Ann Kimball in Kennebunk, York, Maine on 17 April 1857. Martha had been born in Kennebunk on 3 March 1842 - she died on 9 July 1911 in East Waterloo, Blackhawk, Iowa. They had three boys: William, born Iowa about 1858, who died young it seems; Charles W. born in Clayton, Iowa in July 1861 and then a second William born there in 1865.

In the 1850 census for Kennebunk, York, Maine Oliver Raitt, age 24, tanner, born Maine, is living with his wife Nancy, 23, born Maine.

In the 1860 census for McGregor, Clayton, Iowa there is Oliver Raitt, 32, tanner, born Maine; wife Martha, 18, born Maine; son Willie, 2, born Iowa; brother George, 25, mason, single, born Maine; and mother-in-law Betsey Kimble, 53, born Maine.

On 1 July 1863, age 37, residence McGregor, Oliver Rait (sic), born Maine, was registered for military duty. His occupation was given as stave (stone?) cutter. Unlike his brother’s record on the same day, it does not state that he was married.

In the 1870 census for Mendon, Clayton, Iowa there is Oliver Raitt, 43, farmer, born Maine; wife Martha, 26, keeping house, born Maine; and sons Charles, 9; and William, 5 - both born in Iowa.

In the 1880 census for Mendon, Clayton, Iowa there is Martha A. Prapert, 38, farmer, suffering from dropsy, born Maine as were both parents; children Charles Raitt, 19, farmer; William Raitt, 15; Ray Prapert, 3; and  Martha Prapert, 5m. All children born Iowa, both parents born Maine. Martha is (re)married and seems to be head of the household.

In the Iowa State Census for 1885 living in Mendon, Clayton is M. A. Probert, 41, born NY; and children Chas Raitt, 24, labourer, born Clayton; Wm Raitt, 21, labourer, born Clayton; Raymond Probert, 6; and Martha Probert, 4. All children born Iowa, both parents born Maine. Martha is married and seems to be head of the household.

George Raitt (1834-1870)

George was the youngest son of namesake father George and wife Eliza Daffern. He was born in Eliot, York, Maine in 1834 and died in Crystal, Hennepin, Minnesota in March 1870. Along with his father and brother, sister-in-law, and possibly his own wife, he moved from Maine to Iowa sometime between April 1857 and November 1859.

In the 1850 census for Elliott, York, Maine we have George Raitt, 16, farmer, living with his father George Raitt, 58, farmer; and sister Elizabeth, 26 - all born Maine.

In the 1860 census for McGregor, Clayton, Iowa George Raitt, 25, mason, single, born Maine is living with his brother Oliver Raitt, 32, tanner, born Maine; the latter’s wife Martha, 18, born Maine; and their son Willie, 2, born Iowa; also in the household is Martha’s mother, Betsey Kimble, 53, born Maine.

On 1 July 1863, George was registered (as George W. Raith) for military duty. He was aged 29, born Maine, and residing in Allamakee County, Iowa. His occupation appears to be lumberman and it states he is married.

George moved to Minnesota between 1863 and 1870 for he appears in the 1870 census for Crystal Lake, Hennepin under Schedule 2: Persons who died during the year ending 30 June 1870. His age was given as 36, he was married and he was born in Maine. He died of consumption. His occupation appears to be stone manufacturer. His home seemed to be Excelsior, Hennepin. He presumably married between 1860 and 1863, while still in Iowa. However, a search for any female called Raitt in Excelsior, Hennepin revealed Maria Raitt, aged 28, born Maine. Unfortunately the census page is totally unreadable, so no further information can be gleaned. She does not appear to be in the 1880 census there, so probably she remarried. However, if she was born in Maine (about 1852) then it is more than likely that she met and possibly married George there - i.e before they moved to Iowa. And that she then accompanied George, his brother Oliver (plus wife) and their father George Snr, when they relocated from Maine to Iowa. However, she does not seem to be in the 1860 census with him and George appears not to be married in 1860.