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Col Donn Piatt of Ohio

Donn Piatt was born to Benjamin M Piatt and Elizabeth Barnett on June (or January) 29 (or 19), 1819 in Cincinatti, Ohio and died on November 12, 1891 (some says 1881) at his 'Piatt Castle' Macochee, in Monroe Township, Logan Co, OH. He married first, Louise Kirby who was the daughter of Thomas Kirby and author of 'Belle Smith Abroad'. She was born November 25, 1826, and died October 2, 1864. She and Donn are both in the south masoleum at the Piatt Family Cemetery in Monroe Township, Logan County, Ohio. Donn married second Ella K ? who was born March 17, 1838, in Ohio and died November 30, 1920. Ella was an invalid for many years before Donn's death. Ella is also buried in the Piatt Family Cemetery in Logan County, Ohio.

Donn and Louisa Piatt had the following known descendant:

By the 1860 census Donn and family appeared as follows at least two times:
In Hamilton County, OH, we find: In Millcreek Township, Hamilton County, Ohio we find:

This might be a different Donn and Louisa Piatt as the daughter, Jenny, is not enumerated and their ages differ by a few years from the other two enumerations of this couple. However, perhaps Louisa's father was Timothy, not Thomas Piatt, and this is her with her parents and husband. I need to view the actual entry for myself to check spellings, etc. Note that Julia Kirby is also a daughter of Timothy.

Then, in Pickereltown, Monroe Township, Logan County, OH, Donn and family appear with his parents as follows:

Neighbors in Logan County include Donn's younger brother, A S Piatt.

By the 1870 census of Monroe Township, Logan County, Ohio, Donn and family appeared as follows:

Nearby neighbors include: Donn's brother, A S Piatt, and family; A S Piatt's sons, Kentucky Ben Piatt, Riveroak J Piatt and William McCoy Piatt, and their families.

Donn and Ella appeared on the 1880 census of Monroe Township, Logan County, OH, as follows:

Others living nearby include his brother, A Sanders Piatt, and family; A Sanders Piatt's sons, William McCoy Piatt, Kentucky Ben Piatt (w/ yet another Ella) and Riveroak J Piatt, and their families.

We glean much information from "A History of Ohio in Words of One Syllable" written in 1888 by Annie Cole Cady, pages 137-141
A Noted Pioneer and His Sons

The eighth of these [children of Judge Benjamin Piatt], the well-known scholar and writer, Donn Piatt, was born in Cincinnati, January 29, 1819; he taught at the Athenaeum, now St. Xavier College, and later studied law. While President Pierce ruled our land, Mr. Piatt went to Paris as secretary to Mr. Mason, who was Minister to France. As Mr. Mason soon became too ill to attend to his duties, the whole charge of affairs fell to Mr. Piatt, and for more than a year were left in his hands. During this time, his wife, a bright lady, fair in face and mind, wrote under the name of "Belle Smith" letters to the "New Era" of Washington, then having for its head the well-known Gamaliel Baily. In time Donn Piatt started a paper in Washington called the "Capital" of which he was the head for a long time. The fine sturdy traits of the judge are seen in this son, who has ever been noted for his firm, free views in the politics of the country and those things which go to make up our everyday life. At present, Mr. Piatt is the Editor of "Belford's Magazine", one of the leading powers in our land. Like his father, he is fond of the peace and quiet which farm life gives; and when tired and worn by hard brain work, he flees to his home on the Macochee; where, among his friends, his books, and his farm work, he gives the rest and health which only Dame Nature can give.

The following biographical sketch sheds much light on Donn Piatt:
Donn Piatt was born in Cincinnati and made Logan County, Ohio his home. He attended public schools in Urbana and Bellefontaine and was enrolled for a short time at Athenaeum (Xavier University). He is also reported to have been one of the first students to attend Notre Dame. Piatt then undertook the study of law, but after his marriage to Louise Kirby in 1847 he take up residence at the family estate at Mac-o-cheek. He served as judge of common pleas court in Hamilton County from 1852 to 1853 and during President Pierce's administration joined the Diplomatic Corps and served as Secretary of Legation at Paris from 1853 to 1855. Returning to the United States, Piatt resumed the practice of law which he continued until the Civil war began. He volunteered as a private, was promoted to captain, and assumed the position of Adjutant General on the staff of General Robert C. Schenck. Before the end of the war he saw duty at Bull Run, Cross Keys, and Bull Pasture Mountains and acted as Judge Advocate. Piatt lost favor with the Maryland state governument after trying to enlist slaves into the Marlyland militia during the Civil War. Piatt was indicted during the election of President Rutherford Hayes for "inciting insurrection" but the charges were later dropped after Hayes was elected President. Piatt took up politics for a few years but finally turned to journalism. He was first employed by the Cincinnati Commercial as its Washington correspondent. After three years in Washington as a correspondent, Piatt, with George Alfred Townsend started the Washington Capitol, a weekly journal. [Sources: Biographical Sketch & History of Logan County and Ohio (Chicago: O.L. Baskin & Co., 1880); William Coyle (ed.), Ohio Authors and Their Books: Biographical Data and Selective Bibliographies for Ohio Authors, Native and Resident, 1796-1950 497 (Cleveland: World Publishing Co., for the Ohioana Library Association, 1962)]

Here is a listing of the writing attributed to Donn Piatt:

Bibliography: Charles Grant Miller, Donn Piatt: His Work and His Ways (Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1893)

Also shedding light on this family is the obituary for Louise Kirby Piatt:
NY Times 7 Oct 1864 pg 2 column 3 from the Cincinnati Commercial 4 Oct
The death of Mrs Louise Kirby Piatt, wife of Col Donn Piatt, and daugther of Timothy Kirby, Esq, which was announced in the city journals of yesterday morning, gave a shock of painful surprise to thousands. Though her health had for sometime been very frail, she was so marked by high-spirited vivacity and kindliness, and the graces of genius and culture, that her friends find it hard, indeed, to realize her sudden departure from among them forever. In her death, society loses one of the brightest ornaments, and American Literature a gifted contributor. She was best known in the literary world as "Bell Smith", over which signature she some years since wrote a series of charming essays, her pen adorning and making interesting all she touched, that first appeared in the Home Journal, and were speedily reproduced, far and near. Her letters from Paris, enriched with observations of the society and scenery of the city, vivid and sparkling with humor and wit, were collected and published in a voume, well known as Bell Smith Abroad.

It must have been a shock to Donn to lose his wife just as the civil war was drawing to a close. We can surmise that they had spent much of her last few years apart.

Donn's obituary appears as follows:
NY Times 13 Nov 1891 pg 1 column 6 DON PIATT DEAD
Col Donn Piatt died at his home, Macochee, in Logan County, Ohio, at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. He had been ill for two weeks with a form of the grip, but it was only in the last few days that his indisposition was regarded as at all serious. After Col Piatt's retirement from active journalistic work he resided quietly at his country place in Logan County. He was called from his retirement in 1888 to edit BELFORD'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE in New York. After one year at that work he returned to Ohio and engaged upon an extensive biographical history of Gen George H Thomas, which was almost completed at the time of his death. His latest work for the press was a series of letters to the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the issues and candidates of the late campaign, which attracted wide attrention. Col Piatt was born in Cincinnati 19 June 1819. He prepared for the law and was elevated to the Common Pleas bench at a very early age. As a journalist and editor of his paper in Washington, the CAPITOL, he gained a reputation that was world-wide. Col Piatt was twice married, and his second wife, for many years was an invalid, survives him. The funeral will be held on Sunday afternoon at 3 o'clock.


Updated Feb 2003

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