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Below is a family biography included in Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published by Biographical Publishing Company in 1893.  These biographies are valuable for genealogy research in discovering missing ancestors or filling in the details of a family tree. Family biographies often include far more information than can be found in a census record or obituary.  Details will vary with each biography but will often include the date and place of birth, parent names including mothers' maiden name, name of wife including maiden name, her parents' names, name of children (including spouses if married), former places of residence, occupation details, military service, church and social organization affiliations, and more.  There are often ancestry details included that cannot be found in any other type of genealogical record.

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PETER CRITCHET, the subject of this biographical notice, enjoys the distinction of being the oldest surviving settler of Galien Township, Berrien County, where for many years he was actively engaged in general farming and stock-raising. Now retired from the arduous labors that occupied former years, he is spending the twilight of his life tranquilly and happily in his pleasant home in Galien. He has witnessed the most of the improvements that have been made during the present century, and has himself contributed to no small extent to the present high standing of the township and county. During his useful life of almost four-score years, he has gained and retained the esteem of the people of this community, and is highly regarded as one of the honorable and energetic citizens of Galien.

The son of William and Catherine (Schleigh) Critchet, our subject was born in Northumberland County, Pa., April 18, 1815. At the age of sixteen years he removed from his native place to Ohio, locating with his mother in Miami County, and there attending the district schools. Later he secured employment on the canal, where he was “boss” of the men and superintended the work. Associated with this position is the memory of the night when the men were aroused to view the falling of the stars, lighting the heavens with a beauty unequaled by any modern pyrotechnic display. To this day Mr. Critchet recalls the scene as one of the most wonderful he has ever witnessed.

After sojourning in the Buckeye State for about ten months, our subject went to Indiana and settled in La Porte County, at a period so early in the history of the State that Indians still roamed over the prairies and wild animals had not yet retreated before the wave of the oncoming civilization. While residing in Indiana, on New Year’s Day of 1835, Mr. Critchet married Miss Margaret, daughter of Obadiah Ritten house, formerly of Pennsylvania and later a prominent farmer of La Porte County, Ind. Remaining in La Porte County for a short time after his marriage, he removed thence to Michigan and settled in Berrien County in 1836. Upon the site of the present flourishing town of Buchanan, he rented land and remained for about four years. Coming thence to Galien Township, he located on section 4, where he resided from 1849 until July of 1883. He always took great pride in his farm, which consisted of fifty-four acres, and which he devoted to general farming and stock-raising.

Mrs. Margaret Critchet died on the 5th of February, 1890, and our subject was afterward married to Catharine, the sister of his first wife. Mrs. Critchet was born in Miami County, Ohio, where she was reared to womanhood, receiving an excellent education in the public schools. Fourteen children have been born of Mr. Critchet’s first marriage, seven of whom reached mature years and four are now living, namely: Ava, who is the wife of Jacob Klasner, a farmer residing in Galien Township; Jennie, the wife of Henry Ritzier, who owns and conducts a restaurant at South Bend, Ind.; Katie, Mrs. Charles Artus, of Galien; and Alzina, who married David Wright, a business man of Galien. Harriet, who married Oliver Sanford, a farmer by occupation, died in Iowa, where her husband’s demise also occurred; Almeda married Jed Clawson, and both died in Kansas; Sophia married David Cornell, a blacksmith residing in Galien, where she died.

In July of 1883 Mr. Critchet moved into the pleasant residence in Galien which he had erected and in which he still makes his home. While living retired from business cares, he still retains an active interest in public affairs and gives his influence to the candidates and principles advocated by the Democratic party. Since the election of Andrew Jackson to the Presidency, and, indeed, throughout his entire life, he has been a warm advocate of the principles of his chosen party.

His popularity is evinced by the fact that he has held the office of Highway Commissioner of Galien Township for the past twenty-five years, although the township usually gives a large Republican majority. He has served as Treasurer of the township and Justice of the Peace for one term.

Upon locating in Berrien County, Mr. Critchet found himself surrounded by every evidence of frontier life and primitive environments. His land was in its original primeval condition, upon which not a furrow had been made, but, undaunted by hardships and obstacles, he labored with diligence and unwearied perseverance, and succeeded in clearing the land and placing the soil under splendid cultivation. He also maintained a deep interest in opening and improving roads, and contributed his quota to the development of the county. A few years ago he united with the Larger Hope Church, of which he is the present Treasurer, and to the support of which he contributes with liberality. He is also generous in his contributions to other denominations, as well as all benevolent projects.

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This family biography is one of numerous biographies included in the Portrait and Biographical Record of Berrien and Cass Counties, Michigan published in 1893. 

View additional Berrien County, Michigan family biographies here: Berrien County, Michigan Biographies

View a map of 1911 Berrien County, Michigan here: Berrien County Michigan Map

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