Historical Collections of Ohio
by Henry Howe
Cincinnati: Derby, Bradley & Co., 1847-48
First Edition Front Cover
The population of Portage in 1820, was 10,093; in 1830, 18,792, and in 1840, 23,107, or 46 inhabitants to a square mile.
Ravenna, the county seat, so named from an Italian city, is 34 miles Se. of Cleveland and 140 NW. of Columbus. It is situated on the Cleveland and Pittsburgh road, on the crest of land dividing the waters flowing into the Takes from those emptying into the Gulf of Mexico: the Ohio and Pennsylvania canal runs a short distance south of the town.
This place was originally settled by the Hon. Benj. Tappan in June, 1799, at which time there was but one white person, a Mr. Honey, residing in the county. A solitary log-cabin in each place, marked the sites of the flourishing cities of Buffalo and Cleveland. On his journey out from New England, Mr. Tappan fell in with the late David Hudson, the founder of Hudson, Summit county, at Gerondaquet, New York, and "assisted him on the journey for the sake of his company. After some days of tedious navigation up the Cuyahoga river, he landed at a prairie, where is now the town of Boston, in the county of Summit. There he left all his goods under a tent with one K***** and his family to take care of them, and with another hired man proceeded to make out a road to Ravenna. There they built a dray, and with a yoke of oxen which had been driven from Connecticut river, and were found on his arrival, he conveyed a load of farming utensils to his settlement. Returning for a second load, the tent was found abandoned and partly plundered
PORTAGE COUNTY. 415
by the Indians. He soon after learned that Hudson had persuaded K***** to join his own settlement." *
On Mr. Tappan's "removing his second load of goods, one of his oxen was overheated and died, leaving him in a vast forest, distant from any habitation, without a team, and what was still worse, with but a single dollar in money. He was not depressed for an instant by these untoward circumstances. He sent one of his men through the woods, wilh a compass, to Erie, in Pa., a distance of about 100 miles, requesting fromCapt. Lyman, the commandant at the fort, a loan of money. At the same time, he followed himself the township lines to Youngstown, where he became acquainted with Col. James Hillman, (see p. 338,) who did not hesitate to sell him an ox, on credit, at a fair price, -- an act of generosity which proved of great value, as the want of a team must have broken up his settlement. The unexpected delays upon the journey and other hindrances, prevented them from raising a crop at this season, and they had, after the provisions brought with him were exhausted, to depend for meat upon their skill in hunting and purchases from the Indians, and for meal upon the scanty supplies procured from western Pennsylvania. Having set out with the determination to spend the winter, he erected a log cabin, into which himself and one Bixby, whom he had agreed to give 100 acres of land on condition of settlement, moved on the first day of January, 1800, before which, they had lived under a bark camp and their tent." *
View in Ravenna.
The engraving represents the public buildings in the central part of the village: in the centre is seen the court house and jail; on the right in the distance the Congregational, and on the left the Universal 1st church. Ravenna contains 1 Congregational, 1 Disciples, 1 Methodist and 1 Universalist church, 10 mercantile stores, an academy, 2 newspaper printing offices, and about 1500 inhabitants. It is a thriving, pleasant village and is noted for the manufacture of carriages.
About the time of Mr. Tappan's settlement at Ravenna, others were commenced in several of the townships of the county. The sketches of Deerfield and Palmyra we annex from the Barr Mss. *
Deerfield received its name from Deerfield, Mass., the native place of the mother of Lewis Day, Esq. Early in May, 1799, Lewis Day and his son, Horatio, of Granby, Ct., and Moses Tibbals and Green Frost, of Granville, Mass., left their homes in a one horse wagon, and arrived in Deerfield on the 29th of the same month. This was the first wagon
* From the sketch of Hon. Benj. Tappan, in the Democratic Review, for June, 1840.
416 PORTAGE COUNTY.
that had ever penetrated farther westward in this region than Canfield. The country west of that place had been an unbroken wilderness, until within a few days. Capt. Caleb Atwater, of Wallingford, Ct., had hired some men to open a road to township No. 1, in the 7th range, of which he was the owner. This road passed through Deerfield, and was completed to that place when the party arrived at the point of their destination. These emigrants selected rites for their future dwellings, and commenced clearing up the land. In July, Lewis Ely and family arrived from Granville and wintered here, while the first named, having spent the summer in making improvements, returned east. On the 4th of March, 1800, Alva Day, (son of Lewis,) John Campbell and Joel Thrall, all arrived in company. In April, George and Robert Taylor and James Laughlin, from Pennsylvania, with their families, made permanent settlements. Mr. Laughlin built a grist mill, which, on the succeeding year, was a great convenience to the settlers. On the 29th of June, Lewis Day returned from Connecticut, accompanied by his family, and his brother-in-law, Major Rogers, who the next year also brought out his family.
Much suffering was experienced on account of the scarcity of provisions. They were supplied from settlements on the opposite side of the Ohio, the nearest of which was Georgetown, 40 miles distant. These were conveyed on pack-horses through the wilderness. On the 22d of August, Mrs. Alva Day gave birth to the first child -- a female -- born in the township, and on the 7th of November, the first wedding took place. John Campbell and Sarah Ely -- daughter of Lewis -- were joined in wedlock by Calvin Austin, Esq., of Warren. He was accompanied from Warren, a distance of 27 miles, by the late Judge Pease, then a young lawyer of that place. They came on foot -- there not being any road -- and as they threaded their way through the woods, young Pease taught the justice the marriage ceremony, by oft repetition.
The first civil organization was effected in 1802, under the name of Franklin township, embracing all of the present Portage and parts of Trumbull and Summit counties. About this time, the settlement received accessions from New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The Rev. Mr. Badger, the missionary of the Presbyterians, preached here as early as February 16, 1801. In 1803, Dr. Shadrac Bostwick organized an Episcopal Methodist society. The Presbyterian society was organized, Oct. 8th, 1818, and that of the Disciples in 1828.
In 1800, there was an encampment of seven Mohawk Indians in Deerfield, with whom a serious difficulty occurred. John Diver, it is thought, in a horse trade over-reached one of these Indians, named John Nicksaw. There was much dissatisfaction expressed by these Indians at the bargain, and Nicksaw vainly endeavored to effect a re-exchange of horses.
On stating his grievances to Squire Lewis Day, that gentleman advised him to see Diver again and persuade him to do justice. Nicksaw replied, "No! you speak him! me no speak him again!" and immediately left. On this very evening -- Jan. 20th, 1806 -- there was a sleighing party at the house of John Diver. Early in the evening while amusing themselves, they were interrupted by the rude entrance of five Indians, John Nicksaw, John Mohawk, Bigson and his two sons, from the encampment.
They were excited with whiskey, and endeavered to decoy John Diver to their camp, on some frivolous pretence. Failing in this stratagem, they became more and more boisterous, but were quieted by the mildness of Daniel Diver. They changed their tone, reciprocated his courteousness, and vainly urged him to drink whiskey with them. They now again resumed their impudent manner, and charging Daniel with stealing their guns, declared they would not leave until he returned them. With much loss of time and altercation, he at last got them out of the house. Shortly after, John Diver opened the door and was on the point of stepping out, when he espied Mohawk standing in front of him, with uplifted tomahawk, in the attitude of striking. Diver shrunk back unobserved by the company, and not wishing to alarm them, said nothing at the time about the circumstance.
About 10 o'clock, the moon shining with unusual brightness, the night being cold and clear, with snow about two feet deep, Daniel observed the Indians, standing in a ravine several rods from the house. He ran up and accosted them in a friendly manner. They treacherously returned his salutation, said they had found their guns, and before returning to camp, wished to apologize for their conduct and part good friends. Passing along the line he took each and all by the hand, until he came to Mohawk, who was the only one that had a gun in his hands. He refused to shake hands, and at the moment Diver turned for the house, he received a ball through his temples destroying both of his eyes. He immediately
PORTAGE COUNTY. 417
fell. On the report of the gun, John Diver ran to the spot, by which time Daniel had regained his feet and was staggering about. Mohawk was standing a few paces off, looking on in silence, but his companions had fled. John eagerly inquired of his brother what was the matter? "I am shot by Mohawk," was the reply. John instantly darted at Mohawk, intending to make him atone in a frightful manner for the injury done his brother. The savage fled towards the camp, and as Diver gained rapidly upon him, Mohawk threw himself from the road into the woods, uttering a horrid yell. Diver now perceiving the other Indians returning toward him, fled in turn to his brother and took him into the house. The wound, although dangerous, was not mortal, and he was living as late as 1847.
The Indians hurried to their encampment, and from thence fled in a northwest direction. The alarm spread throughout the settlement, and in a few hours there were twenty-five men on the spot ready for the pursuit. Before daylight this party -- among which was Alva Day, Major H. Rogers, Jas. Laughh'n, Alex. K. Hubbard and Ira Mansfield -- were in hot pursuit upon their trail. The weather being intensely cold and the settlements far apart, they suffered exceedingly. Twenty of them had their feet frozen, and many of them were compelled to stop; but their number was kept good by additions from the settlements through which they passed.
On the succeeding night the party came up with the fugitives, encamped on the west side of the Cuyahoga, in the present town of Boston. The whites surrounded them; but Nicksaw and Mohawk escaped. They were overtaken and commanded to surrender, or be shot. Continuing their flight, Williams, of Hudson, fired, and Nicksaw fell dead; but Mohawk escaped. The whites returned to Deerfield with Bigson and his two sons. A squaw belonging to them was allowed to escape, and, it is said, perished in the snow. On arriving at the centre of Deerfield, where the tragedy had been acted, Bigson appeared to be overpowered with grief, and giving vent to a flood of tears, took an affectionate leave of his sons, expecting here to loose his life according to a custom of the Indians. They were taken before Lewis Day, Esq., who, after examination, committed them to prison at Warren.
The sequel of this story we take from the narrative of Mr. Cornelius Feather, in the papers of the Ashtabula Historical Society.
It was heart-rending to visit this group of human misery, at Warren, and hear their lamentations. The poor Indians were not confined, for they could not run away. The narrator has seen this old frost-crippled chief Bigson, * who had been almost frozen to death, sitting with the others on the bank of the Mahoning, and heard him, in the Indian tongue, with deep touching emotions, in the highest strain of his native oratory, addressing hia companions in misery, -- speaking the language of his heart; pointing towards the rising, then towards the setting sun, to the north, to the south, till sobs choked his utterance, and tears followed tears down his sorrow-worn cheeks.
At the trial, nothing was found against the prisoners. Nicksaw was followed to Sandusky, perhaps Detroit, by the whites, of whom he killed two or three, and wounded others, but was not taken by them. After which, a few resolute Indians at Sandusky, engaged to take and deliver him either dead or alive to the whites, for $100. Armed with rifles and tomahawks, they traced him out, and had a bloody fight. He killed two or three of them, but they succeeded in taking him alive. He was brought to Cleveland, tried, and sentenced to be hung.
This sentence, " to be hanged," so repugnant, so disgraceful in any nation, according to the Indian idea of national honor, caused great excitement. Like an electric shock, every tribe in the territory felt its effects. The Indians proposed to pay 100 pairs of buckskin pantaloons, that he might be delivered up to them to be shot, tomahawked, burned, or tortured to death in any way, rather than that their national honor should be disgraced by the execution of one Indian by the halter. Fearing that the Indians would rise in one body and attempt his rescue, the militia were called out to guard the prison, and he was finally hanged without any disturbance from them.
We now return to the Barr Mss. for another incident of early times, exhibiting something of Indian gratitude and customs.
* Bigson, the chief, was intelligent, robust and brave. He had long been the friend of the whites, had fought with them under Wayne, and been entrusted by that general with important and hazardous missions.
418 PORTAGE COUNTY.
John Hendricks, an Indian, for some time lived in a camp on the bank of the Mahoning, with his family -- a wife and two sons -- and was much respected by the settlers. Early in 1803, one of his sons, a child about 4 years of age, was taken sick, and during his illness was treated with great kindness by Mr. Jas. Laughlin and lady, who lived near. He died on the 4th of March, and his father having expressed a desire to have him interred in the place where the whites intended to bury their dead, a spot was selected near the residence of Lewis Day, which is to this time used as a grave-yard. A coffin was prepared by Mr. Laughlin and Alva Day, and he was buried according to the custom of the whites. Observing the earth to fall upon the board and not upon the body of his deceased eon, Hendrirks exclaimed in a fit of ecstacy, "Body no broken!"
Some days after, Mr. Day observed these Indians near the grave, apparently washing some clothing, and then digging at the grave. After they had retired, prompted by curiosity, Mr. Day examined the grave and found the child's clothes just washed and carefully deposited with the body. Shortly after, he inquired of Hendricks why he had not buried them at the funeral. "Because they were not clean," replied he. These Indians soon left the neighborhood, and did not return for one or two years. Meeting with Mr. Laughlin, Hendricks ran towards him, and throwing himself into his arms, embraced and kissed him with the deepest affection, exclaiming, "body no broke! body no broke!"
The first improvements in Palmyra were made in 1799, by David Daniels, from Salisbury, Ct. The succeeding year he brought out his family. E., N. and W. Bacon, E. Cutler, A. Thurber, A. Preston, N. Bois, J. T. Baldwin, T. and C. Gilbert, D., A. and S. Waller, N. Smith, Joseph Fisher, J. Tuttle, and others came not long after.
On the first settlement of the township, there were several families of Onondaga and Oneida Indians who carried on a friendly intercourse with the people, until the difficulty at Deerfield, in 1806, in the shooting of Diver.
When this region was first settled, there was an Indian trail commencing at Fort M'Intosh, (where Beaver, Pa., now is,) and extending westward to Sandusky and Detroit. This trail followed the highest ground. It passed by the Salt Springs, in Howland, Trumbull county, and running through the northern part of Palmyra, crossed Silver creek in Edinburgh, 1 1/2 miles north of the centre road. Along this trail, parties of Indians were frequently seen passing, for several years after the white settlers came. In fact, it seemed to be the great thoroughfare from Sandusky to Ohio river and Du Quesne. There are several large piles of stones by this trail in Palmyra, under which human skeletons have been discovered. These are supposed to be the remains of Indians slain in war, or murdered by their enemies; as tradition says, it is an Indian practice for each one to cast a stone upon the grave of an enemy, whenever he passes by. These stones appear to have been picked up along the trail, and cast upon the heaps at different times.
At the point where this trail crosses Silver creek, Frederick Daniels and others in 1814, discovered painted on several trees various devices, evidently the work of Indians. The bark was carefully shaved off two-thirds of the way around, and figures cut upon the wood. On one of these was delineated seven Indians, equipped in a particular manner, one of which was without a head. This was supposed to have been made by a party on their return westward, to give intelligence to their friends behind, of the loss of one of their party at this place ; and on making search a human skeleton was discovered near by.
Franklin Mills is 6 miles west of Ravenna on the Cleveland road, Cuyahoga river and Mahoning canal. In the era of speculation a large town was laid out here, great prices paid for "city lots," and in the event large quantities of money exchanged hands. It however possesses natural resources that in time may make it an important manufacturing town, the Cuyahoga having here two falls, one of 17 and the other of 25 feet. The village is much scattered. It contains 1 Congregational, 1 Baptist, 1 Episcopal and 1 Methodist church, 4 mercantile stores, 2 flouring mills, 2 woollen factories, and about 400 inhabitants.
The noted Indian fighter, Brady, made his celebrated leap across the Cuyahoga about 200 yards above the bridge at this place. The
PORTAGE COUNTY. 419
appearance of the locality has been materially altered by blasting rocks for the canal. Brady's pond -- so called from being the place where he secreted himself on the occasion related below, from a
[graphic - not copied]
Capt. Samuel Brady seems to have been as much the Daniel Boone of the northeast part of the valley of the Ohio, as the other was of the southwest, and the country is equally lull of traditionary legends of his hardy adventures and hair-breadth escapes. From undoubted authority, it seems the following incident actually transpired in this vicinity. Brady's residence was on Chanter's creek on the south side of the Ohio, and being a man of herculean strength, activity and courage, he was generally selected as the leader of the hardy borderers in all their incursions into the Indian territory north of the river. On this occasion, which wag about the year 1780, a large party of warriors from the falls of the Cuyahoga and the adjacent country, had made an inroad on the south side of the Ohio river, in the lower part of what is now Washington county, on which was then known as the settlement of "Catfish Camp," after an old Indian of that name who lived there when he whites first came into the country on the Monongahela river. This party had murdered several families, and with the "plunder" had recrossed the Ohio before effectual pursuit could be made. By Brady a party was directly summoned, of his chosen followers, who hastened on after them, but the Indians having one or two days the start, he could not overtake them in time to arrest their return to their villages. Near the spot where the town of Ravenna now stands, the Indiana separated into two parties, one of which went to the north, and the other west, to the falls of the Cuyahoga. Brady's men also divided; a part pursued the northern trail, and a part went with their commander to the Indian village, lying on the river in the present township of Northampton, in Summit county. Although Brady made tin approaches with the utmost caution, the Indians, expecting a pursuit, were on the look-out, and ready to receive him, with numbers four-fold to those of Brady's, whose only safety was in hasty retreat, which, from the ardor of the pursuit, soon became a perfect flight. Brady directed his men to separate, and each one to take care of himself; but the Indians knowing Brady, and having a most inveterate hatred and dread of him, from the numerous chastisements which he had inflicted upon them, left all the others, and with united strength pursued him alone. The Cuyahoga here makes a wide bend to the south, including a large tract of several miles of surface, in the form of a peninsula: within this tract the pursuit was hotly contested. The Indians, by extending their line to the light and left, forced him on to the bank of the stream. Having, in peaceable times, often
420 PORTAGE COUNTY.
hunted over this ground with the Indians, and knowing every turn of the Cuyahoga as familiarly as the villager knows the streets of his own hamlet, Brady directed his course to the river, at a spot where the whole stream is compressed, by the rocky cliffs, into a narrow channel of only 22 feet across the top of the chasm, although it is considerably wider beneath, near the water, and in height more than twice that number of feet above the carrent. Through this pass the water rushes like a race-horse, chafing and roaring at the confinement of its current by the rocky channel, while, a short distance above, the stream is at least fifty yards wide. As he approached the chasm, Brady, knowing that life or death was in the effort, concentrated his mighty powers, and leaped the stream at a single bound. It so happened, that on the opposite clifT, the leap was favored by a low place, into which he dropped, and grasping the bushes, he thus helped himself to ascend to the top of the dill'. The Indians, for a few moments, were lost in wonder and admiration, and before they had recovered their recollection, he was half way np the side of the opposite hill, but still within reach of their rifles. They could easily have shot him at any moment before, but being bent on taking him alive, for torture, and to glut their long-delayed revenge, they forbore to use the rifle; but now seeing him likely to escape, they all fired upon him; one bullet severely wounded him in the hip, but not so badly as to prevent his progress. The Indians having to make a considerable circuit before they could cross the stream, Brady advanced a good distance ahead. His limb was growing stiff from the wound, and as the Indians gained on him, he made for the pond which now bears his name, and plunging in, swam under water a considerable distance, and came up under the trunk of a large oak, which had fallen into the pond. This, although leaving only a amall breathing place to support life, still completely sheltered him from their sight. The Indians, tracing him by the blood to the water, made diligent search all round the pond, but finding no signs of his exit, finally came to the conclusion that he had sunk and was drowned. As they were at one time standing on the very tree, beneath which be was concealed, -- Brady, understanding their language, was very glad to hear the result of their deliberations, and after they had gone, weary, lame and hungry, he made good his retreat to his own home. His followers also returned in safety. The chasm across which he leaped is in sight of the bridge where we crossed the Cuyahoga, and is known in all that region by the name of "Brady's Leap."
Garrettsville, 12 miles NE. of Ravenna, on the Mahoning river, where there is considerable water power, has 4 churches, 4 stores, 1 woollen, 1 chair and 1 axe factory, 2 flouring mills, and about 400 inhabitants. Campbellsport, 3 miles SE. of Ravenna, has 1 linseed oil, 1 woollen factory and several warehouses, it being an important point of shipment on the canal. Mogadore, 14 or 15 miles SW. of R., on the line of Summit, has about 200 inhabitants, and is noted for its extensive stone-ware manufactories. Deerfield, 15 SE. of R., has a Methodist and Disciple's church, and about 200 inhabitants. There are other small places in the county, but none of much importance.
Added to 1891 edition, (Vol. 2, p. 445):
HIRAM occupies the highest elevation on the Reserve, being 1,300 feet above sea-level, which gives it great salubrity and healthfulness. This is a fine fruit and dairy region. It is twelve miles northeast of Ravenna, two miles from the N., Y., P. & O. Railroad. It has one newspaper (Bugle Echo), D. H. Beaman, editor, and about 500 inhabitants. It is especially noted as the seat of Hiram College, the institution where James A. Garfield was educated. Its president is George H. McLaughlin. It was opened in 1851 as the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, received its charter in 1867, and was rebuilt and enlarged in 1886.
Jo. Smith -- The Morman Prophet.
In the winter of 1831 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon came to Hiram, held meetings and made many converts to the then new faith of the Latter-Day Saints, or Mormonism. But after a while it was rumored that they designed eventually to get possession of all the property of their converts. The people became alarmed; among them were some of their dupes, who went to the house of Smith and Rigdon, stripped them, gave them a coat of tar and feathers, and rode them on a rail -- whereupon they left the place.
Jo. Smith in his personal appearance was well adapted to impose upon the weak and credulous. His complexion was of corpselike paleness and waxy, his expression grave and peculiarly sanctimonious, his words few and in sepulchral tones. At Nauvoo he claimed a revelation from Heaven to take spiritual wives and established polygamy.
Note: The above passages appeared in each edition of Howe's book, beginning with the "1888 Centennial Edition" (published in 1891). The wording is very similar to that found on page 474 of the 1885History of Portage County. Howe accepts the latter book's dubious assertion, that Smith and Rigdon were ridden about on a rail, without alteration or explanation.
in: "Home Reminiscences" series
by Lucius V. Bierce
Ravenna: Portage Co. Dem., Feb 15, 1860
Lucius Verus Bierce (1801-1876)
(Communicated for the Portage County Democrat.)
Col. Tilden was a man of wealth and talents; had served through the war of the Revolution, as an officer, with distinction -- and in his native town held many offices of honor and distinction. He was a man of strong resolution, and when resolved on a course of action, not easily turned aside. The meeting house, in Lebanon, did not stand by a place where a majority of the Society desired, and by a large majority vote it was resolved to take it down and remove it to the spot which would accommodate the most of the congregation. The feeling on the subject ran high, and Jonathan Trumbull, then Governor of the State, living in Lebanon, was in favor of retaining it on the old site, and Col. Tilden in favor of removal. They became leaders of the respective parties, and the war was waged with bitterness. Col. Tilden, according to the vote of a large majority of the Society, proceeded to take down and remove the old house, and Governor Trumbull, with his party, in the name of the State, opposed. Tilden carried the day, and removed the house -- but not till the third attempt -- having been twice repulsed by the militia, called out by the Governor to suppress insurrection. Political animosity entered into the controversy, as Tilden was opposed to the Federal party, then in power in Connecticut. He was removed from all the offices he held, on account of the part he took in this controversy, and prosecuted for a riot, and fined to the extent of the law. The fine and cost shattered his fortune, and the proceedings soured his temper toward his native State, so that he resolved to leave it. The prosecution was in 1804, and in 1822 he came to Hiram, where he lived in comparative obscurity until Dec. 8, 1835, when he died at the age of 90. He surveyed the township in 1802 with the aid of a man named Bissell.
David Green, another of the proprietors, died in Connecticut, but in what year is unknown.
In 1802, Elisha Hutcheson, Mason Tilden, and Elijah Mason, came out to look at the country -- made some small improvements, and went back. Mason was a descendant from Captain John Mason, who commanded the Connecticut troops in May, 1637, that broke down the power of the Pequot Indians in Connecticut.
On the return of Hutcheson, Tilden and Mason, in 1803, they were joined by Joseph Metcalf, one of the proprietors, who was taken sick while on the lake, with what was called 'Lake fever,' and died at New Lebanon, in the State of New York.
The same year that Metcalf died, Levi Case, another of the proprietors, set out to visit his new township, but go no farther than the lake shore, in the State of New York, where he was subsequently found standing against a tree, frozen to death. Mason died June 27, 1833. In 1802 or '3, a man by the name of Williams went into the township, and made a small improvement west of the Center, but soon left, and was never afterward heard of. About the same time, Abraham Honey, from Nantua went into town, and put up a hut on the farm subsequently owned by Miles T. Norton, but he soon left, and went to Poland, where he is believed to be still living. While Hutcheson, Tilden and Mason were there in 1802, they hired David Owen and wife, of Nelson, to go to Hiram and cook for them. The first breach of peace in the township was in Hutcheson whipping Owen while cooking for the company. Hutcheson had planted a piece of corn, and when it was large enough to hoe, he by mistake, took Owen's hoe, which made Owen mad. To retaliate, Owen got Hutcheson's hoe and hid it. Mason Tilden seeing Owen hide it, and wishing a little sport, took the hoe and hid it in another place, than then sat down to see the fun that he knew would follow. Owen went to the place where he had hidden it, could not find it, and told Hutcheson so -- but supposing Owen did not wish to find it, seized him by the collar and dragged him along to a tree where there were plenty of sprouts, and, pulling one off, gave Owen a most unmerciful whipping. Owen and his wife packed up their duds, and left -- leaving Hutcheson, Tilden and Mason, with eleven hired men, to cook for themselves. -- This they soon found to be inconvenient, and they concluded to go and see Owen, and try to get him back. Taking with them a jug of whisky, as a mutual friend, they started for Owen's. They found him in no very pleasant mood -- but Hutcheson says, 'Owen, I want to speak to you.' They went out to where the jug was deposited, and Hutcheson says, 'Owen, you and I have had a little difficulty, and I want to settle it. I calculate to move out here to settle, and we shall be neighbors and I am going to bring along a good coon dog, and you and I will hunt coons together; come, Mr. Owen, take some whisky.' Owen never waited for a second invitation, but took some. 'Now,' says Hutcheson, 'I have switched you some -- did not hurt you much. How much do you think I ought to pay you, and we be friends?' Owen says, 'you hurt me a good deal, and ought to pay me two dollars.' 'Two dollars!' says Hutcheson. 'Oh my God! that is too much. Mr. Owen, take some more whisky.' Owen took two or three more nips, when he concluded he was not hurt more than three shillings worth -- which Hutcheson paid, and all went back happy as a bed of clams. Owen subsequently went to Parkman, Geauga County, where he died some ten years ago, and Hutcheson died in Hiram, in June, 1837.
The first permanent settler was Richard Redding, who, with three sons, John, Richard, and George G., and one daughter, Eleanor, came into town, and settled one mile south of the Center, on land now owned by Mace Luther and Carnot Rider. Redding was originally from New Jersey, but came to Hiram from Washington County, Pa. The old man died in Hiram. The sons were robust, brave men. Two of them, Richard and George G., were volunteers in 1812 in Captain Campbell's company, and were lying at Fort Stevenson at the time of Hull's surrender, and taken to Malden, and then sent home on parol. George G., while a prisoner on parol, went out again, as a substitute for Chester Adams, who was drafted. In this tour he went by the name of Adams. He was in the battle at Mackinaw, when Major Holmes was defeated. John, the oldest, was not in the service, but was Captain of a militia company, and a very good military man.
They left Hiram in the Spring of 1837, and went to Illinois, where they all died.
In 1805, Cornelius Barker, William Fenton, and Jacob and Samuel Wirt, moved into town, Barker settling on what is known as the 'Hinckley farm,' Fenton and the two Wirts on a farm a mile south of the Center, cornering on the Redding farm. Barker left in the Spring of 1806, and went to Warren, and died. The Wirts were old bachelors, and settled on the farm now owned by Erastus Young, which they subsequently sold to Thomas Johnson, and went to Chagrin (now Willoughby) where they died.
In June, 1806, Abraham Dyson came, with the Garrett family, from Delaware, and settled on what is called the Hazen farm, opposite to the grave-yard, near Garrettsville. In 1808 he purchased the Barker farm, and moved on to it. He was a blacksmith, and the first in the township.
In 1810, Orin Pitkin came into town, and settled on the Miles T. Norton farm, where Honey had made a small clearing. He afterwards sold out, and went to Wisconsin, where he is supposed to be still living.
The same year Simon Babcock, the father of Edwin Babcock, of Shalersville, Purdy Hughes and Ephraim Hacket came into town. Hughes purchased the northwest corner at the Center, where Esq. Young's tavern now stands. Hacket settled on top of the hill one mile west of the Center, and Babcock west of him, at the foot of the hill, on what is since known as the Harrington farm. Babcock left there many years ago, and the last that was heard of him, he was in Dresden, Muskingum County. Hughes and Hacket left there and went to the Wabash country.
In 1811, Seth Cole, George Young and James Young, came in August -- and the second day of October Elisha Hutcheson came. They have all been dead for several years. -- James Young died in March, 1852, and Seth Cole in December, 1848.
In the fall of 1812 Thomas F. Young arrived in town from Windham County, Connecticut, having married Lydia Tilden, a daughter of Col. David Tilden, a few months before he left that State. He was a relative of Guilford Dudley Young, who was a Colonel in the war of 1812, and subsequently entered the patriot service in Mexico, under General Mina, where he was killed by a cannon ball.
Thomas F. Young was elected Justice of the Peace in Hiram in 1814, and was the first Justice in the township. He served three terms, and was elected for a fourth, but declined serving. A Post Office was established at the Center, October 10, 1816, and Esq. Young appointed Post Master, which office he held for thirty-six years, and till the day of his death. His mantle has fallen on his son Clinton, who is now Justice of the Peace and Post Master. The first suit in the township was before Thomas F. Young, between Abraham Dyson and Perley Hughes. Dyson sued Hughes for poisoning his dog, and recovered $6 damages. Esq. Young died November 27, 1852, at the age of 67.
The first couple married in town was Gersham Judson, of Mantua, to Eleanor Redding. They were married in 1804, by Judge Atwater. She died in Mantua, and he in Illinois, leaving a large family of children.
Judson was more of a practical than a theoretical man. Being engaged, one day, in a discussion with a theorist who contended that stones grew, Judson said he knew better, for when he built his house he constructed a stone chimney, and carried it no higher than the ridge of the house, and if stones grew his chimney would have grown and topped itself out, but it wasn't a bit higher than when he built it.
The first birth in the township was Edwin Babcock, who was born March second, 1811. He is now living in Shalersville. His mother was Sabrina Tilden, a daughter of Col. Tilden.
The first death was Mrs. Fenton, wife of William Fenton, who died at the birth of a son, John Fenton, in March, 1811. It was a bad job all round -- for John was, after arriving at manhood, sent to the penitentiary for forging an order for a quart of whisky, and afterwards died in the poor house. She was from New Jersey.
On the organization of the County of Portage in 1808, there were but six organized townships. Speringfield and Hudson included the two townships set off to Summit County, and also what are now Randolph and Suffield. The balance of Portage was organized into four townships -- Hiram, Franklin, Deerfield and Aurora. The land tax of resident owners of what is now Hiram, due for that year, $36.31.
Hiram then included Mantua and Nelson, which were partially settled -- Windham and Freedom, which were wholly unsettled -- and Shalersville, which had but one family, Joel Baker. At the October election of that year, there were forty-two votes given, among which are those of Delano Mills, of Nelson, John Redding, of what is now Hiram, Amzi Atwater, of what is now Mantua, and Joel Baker, of what is now Shalersville. William Kennedy, Jr., of what is now Nelson, was elected Justice of the Peace, and all set down as done in Hiram.
Party politics could not have run very high at that time, as out of forty-two votes given, Thomas Worthington had thirty-nine for Governor; Jeremiah Morrow had forty for Congress; David Abbot forty for Senator, and Abel Sabin thirty-eight for Representative.
The first road in the north part of Portage County was laid in 1800, from Warren to Cleveland, through the Center of Hiram to the east line of lot 24 in Mantua, where it turned south westwardly to the Center of Aurora. In 1806 the road was laid from Warren through Garrettsville, and the south part of Hiram.
The first mill in Hiram was built by Lemuel Punderson, at Cuyahoga Rapids, in 1807, for Esq. Lord, of Cheshire, Connecticut. A flood came in the fall and carried it off. -- In 1808 the dam was re-built, and a saw mill put in operation. The dam flows the water back for several miles, submerging a large tract of low land, and has been productive of an immediate amount of sickness and lawsuits. It still holds out favorable hopes to the doctors and lawyers.
In the early settlement of the township it was much infested with rattlesnakes. On the fifth of July, 1804, Richard Redding was bitten by one, but Indians then being as plenty as snakes, he applied to them, and was cured by the application of the wild indigo weed, -- On getting well, he swore vengeance on rattlesnakes, and made his oath good by killing over a hundred while he lived in the township. Indians were very plenty, and their path from Beaver on the Ohio to the lake, led up the Mahoning, through Hiram, crossing the Cuyahoga at the Rapids. Just above the Rapids was a village of fourteen huts. Those frequenting this township were mostly Wyandots under their Chiefs -- Wapanung, Big John, Little John, Big Cayuga and Splitnose Cayuga. In June, 1806, a party of them were encamped opposite to the house of Delano Mills in Nelson, at the time of the total eclipse of the sun. Believing the Evil Spirit had got on to it, and was trying to destroy it, they commenced shouting at him, and yelling, to kill or frighten him off. As the sun began to appear again, they commenced yelling in screams of joy that they had driven the Evil Spirit away. In the fall of 1811 they all disappeared, and three days afterward news came of Harrison's battle at Tippecanoe. The Indians got the news, by their runners, three days before the whites. They mostly joined the British. There was no more of them ever seen in Hiram until 1816, after the war, when five of them were found camped on the Cuyahoga, at the Rapids, their old home, George G. Redding, Luther Cole, John Dyson, and some say Delano Mills, were at the Rapids that day, and but one Indian ever left there. While Redding was a prisoner, at Malden, he saw many Indians he had known at Hiram, in the British service. This, perhaps, was a particular cause of his hostility to them.
In June, 1813, Benjamin Hinckley arrived in town, from Willington, Tolland County, Connecticut, and settled on lot 39, known as the Hinckley farm. He came with a yoke of oxen and a span of horses, and was forty days on the road. When he arrived at Burton, he put his wagon and goods on to a boat, to be rowed down to the Rapids, while he came down the bank with his team. He taught the first school in the township, commencing on the 13th of December, 1813, and closing on the 22d of February, 1814.
The school house stood half a mile south of the Center, on the west half of lot 33, near the north-east corner. There were nineteen scholars -- two Hitchesons, three Johnsons, six Youngs, two Hughes, two Hinckleys, two Dysons, one Hampton, and one Judson. Eight of the scholars only are now living -- Orrin Hutcheson, James Young, Betsy Young, (now wife of Abner Harris) Susan H. Hinckley, (now wife of Ariel Proctor) and John Dyson, living in Hiram; Ann Hinckley, (now wife of Moses Bundy, of Farmington,) and John Young, of Newberry, Geauga County. In his school book is the following entry:
'Father of light and life! Thou God Supreme!He was a Surveyor, and for five years before his death was Justice of the Peace. He set out a row of maple trees, half a mile in length, beside the road next to his farm, which will be a lasting monument of his good taste. He died May 3rd, 1835, at the age of 53.
In 1819 the first military company was organized by the election of Simonds Rider, Captain, Orrin Hutcheson, Lieutenant, Silas Raymond, Ensign, John Tilden, Orderly Sergeant. Previous to this it would appear there was not much military pride in Hiram, except among the Reddings, as Hiel Tinker, Eli Case, Orin J. Messenger, and Benoni Messenger were drafted in time of the war -- but all found they had business in another direction, and did not answer at roll call.
In 1831 Hiram became voted as the chosen locality of the Mormons. Joe Smith had found the golden plates in Palmyra, New York -- translated them into the Book of Mormon -- made his exodus to Kirtland, Ohio, where he had driven one of his stakes, and made many converts. Among the converts were Rev. Ezra Booth and John Johnson, of Hiram. Johnson was a substantial farmer, living on the road from 'Atwater's tavern' to Garrettsville. This offered better prospects of a good living than Kirtland -- and Smith, Rigdon, Cowday [sic], Harris, Whittemore, and other leading Mormons, pulled up their stakes and moved to Hiram. Smith and family took up their abode with Johnson; Rigdon in a log cabin opposite, and others in the vicinity. Here they had a revelation that the Temple was to be located, and the site was pointed out on a hill near the 'Hinckley farm.' Proselytes were flocking in fast, and among them were many Campbellites or Disciples. -- This soon raised opposition, which ripened into open war. Some one bored an auger hole into a log of the house in which Rigdon lived, and filling it with powder, tried to blow it up. -- At length the people resolved to clear the town of them, and raised a company to mob them. One of the Disciples called on John Tilden to help tar and feather the Mormons, who cooly told him there were some Campbellites that deserved it as well as the Mormons, and if he would help him tar and feather them, he would help tar and feather the Mormons. They excused him, but the others went, took Smith and Rigdon out of bed, and covered them with a coat of tar and feathers. The most unfortunate part of it was, that two of Smith's children were in bed with him, sick with the measles. In the affray they took cold and died. The Mormons at once abandoned the idea of making Hiram 'a stake' -- left the town, and returned to back to Kirtland. Their success since that time, until they can defy the whole force of the United States, and have become a nation themselves, is an additional evidence to prove that persecution is not the weapon with which to combat error.
As the forms of conveyance in the first settlement of the town were some what novel, it may be worth preserving. In a deed to George Young from William Perkins, one of the proprietors, the land conveyed is thus described: 'Five hundred acres from any of said lots, at his election -- but shall take the whole of said lot he elects, if so much shall be necessary to complete his quantity. If part of a lot should be necessary, it is to be taken in such shape as not to injure the remainder. Said George to make his election by the first day of August next.'
On the back of the deed is the following entry: 'Know all men, that I, George Young, have elected the west end of lot 25, and lot 7 -- also the west end of lot No. 5, partly across said lot, so far as to make, in all, five hundred acres. George Young.'
The people of Hiram do not appear to have been much given to the 'tender passion,' as there was not a marriage in the township from 1804 until 1817, when Henry Paine was married to Miss Parthena Mason, daughter of Elijah Mason. They subsequently moved to Illinois, where he died in the Spring of 1859, and where she is still living. In 1818 Symonds Rider was married to Miss Mehitable Loomis. The ice being broken, they went on, after this, like other folks.
In 1802, when Col. Tilden was removed from all office by the Federal Legislature of Connectucut, he was strongly urged to apply for the office of the Western Territory, which he could have then obtained, but he declined all further public life.
No documentary history of the township exists prior to 1820. The records were probably kept on loose sheets of paper, and lost. In April, 1820, Thomas F. Young was elected Township Clerk, previous to which George C. Redding was Clerk. The book in which Young kept the records is called 'Book B' -- the previous book is lost.
In 1850 'the Disciples' established the Eclectic Institute in this town. The first step in this movement was taken at a quarterly meeting of this denomination held at Russell, Geauga County, in June, 1849. Mr. A. S. Hayden having consulted with his brother, William Hayden, Zeb Rudolph, A. L. Soule and others, introduced the subject to the meeting, claiming that 'a school to meet the entire educational necessities -- intellectual and moral -- of society, ought to be founded on the Bible -- that it was not enough for a school to be conducted according to Divine precepts, but that its grand elements, and outlines of Divine revelation should be thoroughly taught in it.' This may be considered the foundation stone on which the Institution rests.
Mr. Hayden requested all who concurred in these views to meet at the residence of Mr. Soule, to take measures to give action to their views. At this meeting an unanimous opinion was expressed to bring the subject before the public -- and a committee of twelve, residing in different parts of 'the Reserve,' was appointed to lay the matter before the Churches. This meeting adjourned to meet in Bloomfield, Trumbull County, at the annual meeting to be held in the ensuing August.
At the meeting in Bloomfield, the committee reported a general feeling, among the Churches, in favor of the immediate establishment of a School in harmony with the platform laid down. A call was then made on the Churches to send delegates to act in this behalf, to a meeting in Ravenna in the following October.
At the delegate meeting in October, a constitution and regulations for the government of the School were discussed, and the meeting adjourned to meet in Aurora, Portage County, to decide the question of location. B. F. Perky, Zeb Rudolph, Aaron Davis, William Birchard and A. L. Soule, were appointed a committee to visit and make examination of different places desiring its location. The points to be taken into consideration by them were Health, Moral Influences, feeling of the people toward the School, proximity of other Schools, and facility for obtaining building materials.
At the meeting in Aurora, in November, thirty-one Churches were represented by delegates. Dr. J.P. Robinson was Chairman, and A. S. Hayden Secretary. The committee made their report, when the meeting decided the location by ballot. Hiram having received a large majority of the ballots, was fixed upon as the location. A. S. Hayden and Ira Errett were then appointed to draft a constitution, and procure a charter for the Institution. The charter was prepared, and sent to George Sheldon, the Representative of Portage County in the Legislature, and it became a law.
In December following, Delegates from the Churches, for the last time, met at Hiram, and approved the charter. The corporators named in the charter were George Pond, Samuel Church, Aaron Davis, Isaac Errett, Carnot Mason, Zeb Rudolph, Symonds Rider, J. A. Ford, Kimball Porter, Wm. Hayden, Frederick Williams and A. S. Hayden; a Charter drafted and approved...
Note 1: During the late 1850s an Akron lawyer named Lucius V. Bierce (an uncle of Ambrose Bierce) began writing a detailed history of the various townships in the Ohio Western Reserve. His father's family lived in the township of Nelson, in Portage County, and Bierce himself had served as Portage's Prosecuting Attorney during the mid-1830s; so he had ample opportunity to travel through the area, questioning the early settlers about their experiences. As Ohio Grand Master, during the late 1850s, Bierce also maintained personal relationship with Freemasons throughout the state, and probably could have compiled sufficient material to write a history of the Western Reserve, had he not been distracted by his participation in the Union Army during the Civil War. As things turned out, Bierce's published writings on the subject were confined to an 1854 history of Summit County and an 1855-60 series of township histories, printed by the Ravenna Portage County Democrat, under the series title of "Home Reminiscences" and "Unpublished History of the Western Reserve." So far as can presently be determined, only his chapters on seven Portage County townships ever saw publication: Atwater, Aurora, Deerfield, Freedom, Hiram, Mantua, Palmyra and Randolph. Evidently Bierce never submitted an article on his family's home township of Nelson.
Note 2: Although Bierce's Portage County histories were never compiled for book publication, portions of the series were quoted or paraphrased throughout the 1885 volume, History of Portage County, which gives him some passing credit in its introductory pages. Sundry selections from Bierce's newspaper series also turn up in various instances, in the 1874 Combination Atlas Map of Portage County. For example, his reference to the Mormon leaders' 1831-32 residence in Hiram is quoted almost exactly on page 16 of the 1874 volume. Bierce provides the earliest known reference to a proposed Mormon temple at Hiram -- the site of which he locates rather vaguely as being "on a hill near the 'Hinckley farm.'" Had Bierce's source of information come from what was then called "Stevens Hill," he probably would have provided a better site description. It thus seems unlikely that he consulted the Johnson, Stevens, Ryder or Hinckley familes directly on this matter. Bierce rather oddly describes the Mormon headquarters at the Johnson farm, as being "on the road from 'Atwater's tavern' to Garrettsville. Jotham Atwater's "brick tavern," (then located about a mile north of Mantua Station) was indeed the terminus of what is now called Pioneer Trail Road -- but a writer more familiar with the township would have located the hilltop farm in terms of its proximity to Hiram Centre, and not by the spot it occupied on a cross-township Portage road. Quite likely Mr. Bierce derived his "Mormon" information from John Tilden, whose story of non-participation in the 1832 tar and feathering Bierce singularly recounts.
Note 3: Abram Garfield, while writing his 1934 fictional story of the Mormons at Hiram, obviously relied upon Bierce's 1860 article (or upon its 1874 atlas reprint) in crafting a story that mentions the proposed Hiram Temple and replicates Bierce's error, in spelling Whitmer as "Whittemore."
"Early Settlement of Hiram"
by Charles H. Ryder
Cleveland: (off-print), 1874
(page numbers inserted from rough draft original manuscript -- see
1864 MS text is practically the same
what field notes he had, and also from what he could remember of the old survey, and finally made a report that they accepted, although the work was very imperfectly done. The privilege of naming the town was given to Colonel Daniel Tilden, who was one of the proprietors, and also a Royal Arch Free Mason. He called the town Hiram, after Hiram Abiff, King of Tyre. This name was given in an early day, at a spring on the south side of the road, a few rods west of the center, now owned by Thuel Norton. A small crowd of settlers gathered there, and after partaking quite freely of whisky, loud talk ensued, as also some display of pugilistic skill -- a thing very common in those early times. After the naming of the town the party separated. Before it received its present name it was called No. Five, as being in the seventh range of townships in the Connecticut Western Reserve.
It appears from all the circumstances that Hiram was more the hunting grounds of the Indians than their homes. There were a few who lived at the Rapids until the Spring of 1812, when they all left, and, it has been generally supposed, joined the British. Some of the whites who were taken at Hull's surrender and carried to Malden in Upper Canada, state that they saw and knew many of their old neighbors (the Indians) whom they before had often fed when hungry and warmed when cold. In the Spring of 1815, after the war of 1812 was over, four or five Indians returned to their old home at the Rapids, but soon strangely disappeared, and since then no Indians have been seen in Hiram.
The first white man that made any improvements in Hiram was Abraham Honey, who came from Connecticut in the Spring of 1799.
1864 MS does not call Hiram Abiff the "King of Tyre"
He chopped and cleared a few acres of land, and built a cabin in the northeast part of lot No. 32, near a beautiful spring. The second settlement was made by John Fleming, who commenced in the year , on the south corner of lot number 33, just south of where Clark Norton now lives. He cleared a tract of land and raise[d] the first crop, which consisted of corn and potatoes. 1803 was a memorable year for Hiram. The indications were fair for its settlement. Large preparations were being made in Connecticut for immigrating to the New Continent as they called it, and Hiram with its hills and dales completely filled with delight the minds of the Yankees. Among these were Elijah Mason and his two sons, Mason Tilden and Elisha Hutchinson. They started early in the spring for the Reserve to make arrangements preparatory to moving,
1864 MS adds: Rufus Edwards came in 1799 -- "settled in Mantua"
1864 MS adds: Elijah's sons were Roswell M. and Peleg L. -- Mason Tildon was son of Daniel
1864 MS adds: "Elisha Hutchinson began on the east part of Lot No. 23 where Zeb. Rudolph now lives -- Mason Tilden began on the west part of lot 29
and hired one by the name of Owen, and his wife to do their cooking and washing. So Mrs. Owen was the first white woman that lived in Hiram. All of their provisions were brought from Warren through the unsettled forest. The population of the township in the winter of 1803 numbered some seven.
1864 MS adds: Richard Redden and Jacob and Samuel Wirt from Pennsylvania were Mason's hired men -- Richard bought out John Flemming on the west part of lot 33
1864 MS adds: "Christopher Redden the Father and his wife the Mother, the children were named John, Sarah, Richard, George and Eleanor" were the first family of Hiram settlers
1864 MS adds: Roswell M. and Peleg L. Mason refused to move to Hiram at this time
In the fall of 1804 Richard Reddin, a man whom Mr. Mason had hired to harvest his wheat, was bitten by a rattlesnake. He immediately sent to the Rapids for an Indian who lived there, to come and cure the bite. He came with his squaw who carried the "bruised medicine," (as it was called,) and applied it to the wound with a favorable result. Being asked the next morning what he thought of his patient, his reply was "Me cure him." It was found afterwards that his "bruised medicine" was indigo weed, and this was used in Hiram for the bite of the rattlesnake ever afterwards. Hiram now reposed for several years mostly in its wilderness state, her tranquility rarely disturbed
1864 MS adds: Elijah Mason harvested his wheat in 1804 and left Hiram
except now and then by the fall of the coon or bee tree, or the report of the hunter's rifle. The Reddins, as they were called, built their log cabin near a spring where Nelson Raymond now lives. It was soon found that the rattlesnakes were very plentiful in the spring of the year. Accordingly a search was made in every direction for their den. At last it was found in a rocky ledge, about fifty rods from their cabin, nearly opposite from Erastus Young now lives. In the fall of the year the snakes in great numbers repaired to this den for winter quarters. On examination it was found that although they could not get at them to destroy them, they could easily stop them in. This was accordingly done. Yearly, at a proper time, they would run in a pole to see how their prisoners were prospering. Furious rattling was the reply up [to] the fifth year, when it was rather faint, and the sixth year all noise entirely ceased. This did not destroy all of the rattlesnakes. Large dens were found in several different places; hundreds were destroyed yearly.
1864 MS adds: "About the year 1825 Olmstead Johnson was bit" by a rattlesnake, but was cured
The rattlesnakes have long since disappeared, and no trace of them is left.
Hiram in 1804 had an abundance of game; there were any number of bears, deer and turkeys, and strong inducements were offered the hunter to follow the chase, rather than to clear and cultivate his land. In the spring of 1805, Jacob and Samuel West, two brothers from Pennsylvania, started for what they called the Indian country, to look for land. They came to Hiram and commenced clearing the farm that Erastus Young now owns. In September, 1806, Abraham Dyson, from Pennsylvania, settled in the eastern part. He was the first blacksmith that settled in Hiram.
1864 MS adds: "Jacob and Samuel Wirt [sic - West]... took up the east half of lot No. 38" -- "Abraham Dyson... settled on the East part of Lot No. 36"
All of the settlers thus far from Pennsylvania came here poor, yet they were honest and honorable citizens. From this time onward the Yankee element prevailed in the settlement of Hiram. The population in 1809 was about twenty.
1864 MS adds: Roswell M. Mason "had the agency of his father's land in Hiram... hired the Reddens to clear... twelve acres in the Southeast corner of Lot 32"
1864 MS adds: The Wests "sold out to Thomas Johnston"
Simeon Babcock and his wife came from Connecticut with a two horse team, in the summer of 1809, and settled near a beautiful spring where Horace Munn now lives. Parley Hughes, Ephraim Hatch [Hacket?], and their families, came from Vermont in the fall of 1810 with their ox teams and settled in Hiram. The population was about thirty.
In 1811 Orrin Pitken and wife came from Vermont to Hiram.
1864 MS adds: "Simeon Babcock, Son-in-law of Col. Tilden and his wife came... in the summer of 1809 or 10 and settled on the east part of the west half of Lot No. 22" -- "Parley Hughes... in the Spring of 1810... settled on the west half of lot No. 23"
1864 MS adds: Ephraim Hacket came... in the fall of 1810... settled on the west part of the east half of lot No. 22, Hacket was son-in-law to Hughes"
1864 MS adds: In 1811 Orrin Pitken and wife, "who was Elijah Mason's daughter came from Hartford, Vermont"
Also George Young and family, consisting of his wife and five children; James Young and family, and Seth Cole and family. George and James Young settled in the northern part, and Cole commenced clearing in the southern part of the town. James Young was a tailor, and Cole a cooper by trade. At this time there was a tailor, a blacksmith, and a cooper in the township, but they could not obtain steady employment as tradesmen; and a large portion of their time was devoted to working their lands.
1864 MS adds: "Mason was to give Pitkin's wife one hundred acres... off the east end of 32... Pitkin broke down and the one hundred acres of land from the east end of lot 32 passed into the hands of Miles T. Norton"
1864 MS adds: George and James Young and Seth Cole came... August 16, 1811 -- James Young bought... the west half of lot No. 18... George Young bought... the east half of No. 18, also the west part of Lot No. 25 where he began, built a cabin -- Seth Cole bought the betterments... of William Fenton on the east part of the west half of Lot 38"
1864 MS adds: "Elisha Hutchinson... hired Isaac Hill of Nelson to clear off the brush... arrived with a three horse team the 20th day of October 1811"
The population now was slowly on the increase. In the fall of 1811 it numbered fifty-eight. 1812 was a great fruit year in the line of hickory nuts and chestnuts. Babcock being quite fond of climbing, would climb the trees and shake the nuts off, for his wife to pick up. About this time Babcock employed Jas. Young to cut a coat for him. His wife having made the garment, upon trying it on, he was obliged to hold his arms over his head. Babcock was greatly disappointed, for new coats were very scarce in Hiram at the this time. He went to Young to see what was the matter. Young very gravely examined the coat, and then told him that his wife had made the coat so it would be convenient to climb trees in, that when the chestnut season was over if she would rip out the sleeves and sew them the other side up it would come round all right. Babcock went away a happier and wiser man. In the fall of 1812 Thomas Young came from Connecticut to Hiram.
The population of 1812 was the same as 1811. 1812 was the year when war began; and when Hull surrendered there was great excitement in Hiram.
1864 MS adds: "20th day of October 1811... Orrin [Hutchinson arrived] his wife was Col. Tilden's daughter"
1864 MS adds: "Thomas F. Young... son-in-law of Col. Tilden... settled at the center of Hiram, having traded land with Parley Hughes"
Several of the inhabitants hid their farming tools in the woods, and turned their stock into fields containing their grain, and were for leaving the country, when orders came for all the Militia to muster at Ravenna; but no danger appearing they were dismissed, the Indian whoop which they heard proved to be only the howling of wolves.
1864 MS adds: "Benjamin Hinckley, wife and three children... arrived in September 1813... and settled on the west part of the west half of lot 38 having bought... improvements of Abraham Dyson and the land of E. Burnham, he also owned lot 39 except 120 acres off the west end and two hundred acres off the west part of Lot No. 1 for which he had exchanged... with E. Burnham."
1864 MS adds: "Abraham Dyson settled again on the northeast quarter [of] Lot No. 23 near where E. Mott now lives north of the center.
The population in the fall of 1813 numbered sixty-four. On the 6th of January, 1814, Symonds Ryder came to Hiram on horseback from Hartford, Vermont, and bought one hundred and fifteen acres of land of Jas. Young, preparatory to the moving of his family, which came the following year. Being short of funds, he boarded with Orin Pitkin, and gave him two days work out of each week for his board, and worked the remaining four days for himself. One day, in looking about his land to see what he had bought, he saw the rattle weeds shaking directly before him, and advancing, behind to his dismay a huge bear with three cubs. The cubs immediately ran up a tree, but the bear arose on her hind feet and gave an inquiring snuff. Ryder immediately retreated, and such was the celerity of his movements that he lost his balance and fell among the rattle weeds. But not stopping to resume his former position he scrambled away in hot haste. On looking back he saw Bruin occupying the same perpendicular position. He immediately summoned
1864 MS adds: "Symonds Ryder... bought 115 acres of land in the center of the lot No. 32 of James Young, who had exchanged land with Roswell M. Mason"
the neighbors and began a search for the bear and cubs. The cubs were still in the tree and were soon brought down. Being fat they were distributed among the neighbors. No trace of the bear however could be found.
1864 MS adds: "Mr. West a Baptist preacher who lived in Nelson used to go to Mantua to preach and Sunday after meeting go home."
It is said that the deer were so tame at this time that as the men were at work they would come and eat the leaves of the trees that they were chopping, and after eating their fill, quietly move away. In the fall of 1814 the population numbered sixty-five. In 1815 it was seventy.
1864 MS adds: "In the fall of 1814 the population of Hiram numbered 65. In thirteen families -- On June 29th, 1815, Joshua Ryder... settled on the middle 115 acres on Lot 32 that Symonds his son had bought of James Young"
In 1816 it could not number more than thirteen permanent settlements and about eighty in population.
1864 MS adds: 1815 incident involving Sergeant Richard Redden, Corporal Symonds Ryder, and "Corporal J." of the Hiram militia
The average price for land was about three dollars per acre, although some could be bought for two. In 1817 the population increased more rapidly, numbering at its close one hundred and twenty.
1864 MS adds: "In the Spring of 1816 Arunah Tilden... settled on the west half of Lot No. 37 [with] his wife, his wife's brother John Jennings and Lydia Tilden his sister. In the fall of 1816 Parley Hughes and Ephraim Hacket sold out to Elisha Hutchinson... the middle of December Elijah Mason... exchanged lands with Samuel Phelps Esq. of Painesville for the west half of Lot 43, where he settled."
1864 MS adds: "In 1817... Gershom Judson sold in Mantua and settled on Lot 31 in Hiram -- Stephen H. Pulsefer and brother... settled on Lot No. 19... Ira Herrick with his father and Mother settled on the east end of Lot No. 33... John Tilden settled on the South half of Lot No. 28 his father Benjamin lived with his son Arunah till  -- Ebenezer Penney came... in October on the west end Lot 39, after on west end of 40"
The first public improvements that were made were the clearing of roads. In 1827 the Legislature appointed commissioners to lay out what was then called a turnpike from Warren to Aurora, now known as the "State rode." Other roads in the township were laid out and opened as they were needed.The citizens of Hiram have been quite enterprising in the line of good roads.
1864 MS adds: "in 1818... Dan Hampton moved... on the west end of the east half of Lot No. 33 where C. Raymond now lives... first of March, John Johnson... settled on the west end of Lot No. 32. Charles Loomis... settled on the middle of Lot No. 27. Martin Miller and Thomas Cowen... occupied vacant cabins for a while."
1864 MS adds: "Gideon Chapin... settled on Lot No. 17. Also Lemuel Herrick... with Ira his brother... lived on the east end of Lot No. 33. In the summer of 1818 Miles T. Norton came... Joel Button moved on the west half of Lot No. 13. Horace A. Loomis... on the west part of Lot No. 30. Curtis Eggleston... on the east part of Lot No. 29. Also Truman Bran... on the middle of 21. Capt. William Harris bought out Paul Davinson's improvements on the west part of the east half of lot No. 29 and moved from Mantua"
1864 MS adds: "In 1819 John M. Tilden... settled on the west part of the east half of Lot No. 25. In June Paul Pitkin... bought out Gershom Judson who lived on Lot No. 31. He was father to Orin Pitkin -- In 1821 and 22 Col. Daniel Tilden... settled on the east part of Lot No. 29. In March 1825 Mason Tilden... settled on the west part of Lot No. 26."
1864 MS adds: "the center road east and west was partly opened at an early day but not entirely... till... 1820 -- The old state road... from Garrettsville to Aurora was north of where the road now runs... leaving most of lot 37 and all of Lots 38 and 39 without any road. The spring of 1814 the road was altered on to the lot lines between parts of lots 34 and 37, all of lots 33 and 38 also 32 and 39"
The first public building, a log school house, was erected in the fall of 1816. It was built about half a mile south of the center on what was then called the "Poplar Ridge." The township made but one district. But in 1818 the district was divided into two, the "South Road" district and the Center district. Each built a log school-house. These were used for meetings of various kinds, and answered all the purposes of public buildings.
1864 MS adds: "in 1818 the district was divided into... south road district and the center district, each built a log school-house -- In 1820 a frame schoolhouse was begun in the south road district. In the center district... a frame building... for a Town house, school-house and a Masonic hall... was never finished"
The first school in Hiram was taught by Benjamin Hinckley, in the "Poplar Ridge" district. It commenced Dec. 13th, 1813; ended Feb. 22d, 1814, having continued ten weeks. The scholars were twenty in number, and the wages paid were twelve dollars per month. Common schools have continued regular in the township at proper seasons from that time to the present. The first religious meetings were held in 1812, at the house of George Young. But the first regular Lord's day meetings were conducted by the Methodists in the summer of 1818, at the "Popular Ridge" school-house. In 1820 Mr. Bigelow, a Universalist, preached one-fourth of the time, or twelve Sundays. No arrangement was made relative to compensation for his labor, but when his time expired he demanded five dollars a Sunday. This taught the Hiramites a lesson which was not soon forgotten. The above circumstance, together with Bigelow's meddling disposition in the affairs of others, was a death blow to Universalism in Hiram.
1864 MS adds: "first religious meetings... 1812 at George Young's on the center road and at the Reddens on the south road and Mr. West... officiated, about a dozen were present -- In 1814 Mr. Hanford preached at Pitkins, about 15 or 20 attended."
1864 MS adds: "first regular Lords Day meetings were carried on by three Methodists women[,] Old Mrs. Herrick, Mrs. Ryder and Mrs. Hinckley in the summer of 1818, at the south schoolhouse. Deacon Paul Pitken held meetings at the south schoolhouse in 1819."
The first store was opened by John D. Hazen near Garrettsville.
The first saw mill was built in 1808 at the Rapid, by Punderson.
The first blacksmith shop was opened in 1806 by Abraham Dyson.
The first cooper shop was opened by Seth Cole in 1812.
The first tailor shop was opened by James Young in 1812.
The first tanner and shoemaker was Elisha Taylor, who commenced in 1818. Before the opening of these shops the settlers got their work done in Mantua or Nelson, or else did it themselves as best they could.
The first post office was opened at the Center of Hiram in 1816. Thomas Young, the first postmaster, held his office from the time of appointment to the day of his death, a period of 36 years.
The Western Reserve Chronicle published at Warren was the only paper that circulated at an early day in Hiram.
1864 MS adds: "in 1813... Hiram and Nelson... held their election at Mr. Rastus Pritchard's near the dividing line of the two townships on the East center road."
I have only designed to give a cursory sketch of the pioneer days of Hiram. A proper regard for the length of this article prevents me from presenting a detailed account of the vast improvements and changes that have taken place within the last half century. The steady growth of the village, the founding of the Eclectic Institute (now Hiram College); the conspicuous parts played by the religious elements, Spiritualism and Mormonism and other facts of interest are within the memory of most of the citizens now living.
1864 MS adds: "at the first election about 16 voters were present... Thomas F. Young was chosen Township Clerk, James Young, John Redden and Benjamin Hinckley is believed to have been elected Trustees and Richard Redden was chosen Treasurer"
(Matter from MS pp. 26-34 was not published in the 1874 article. The only text relating to Sidney Rigdon or Mormonism is this excerpt from pages 31-32: "To give particulars as to the Mormon excitement in 1831 would require a volume[,] therefore a few lines must suffice, It has been stated that from 1815 to 1835 a period of 20 years[,] all sorts of doctrines by all sorts of preachers had been preached, and most of the people of Hiram were disposed to turn out and hear. This went by the spurious name of liberal. The Mormons in Kirtland being informed of this peculiar state of things were soon prepared for the onset. And in the winter of 1831 Joseph Smith with others had an appointment at the South Schoolhouse and such was the apparent piety, sincerity, humility and meekness of the speakers that many were greatly effected [sic - affected] and thought it impossible such preachers should lie in wait to deceive. Accordingly during the next spring and summer several converts were made and their success seemed to indicate immediate triumph in Hiram. But when they went to Missouri and left their papers behind it gave [their] converts an opportunity to become acquainted with the internal arrangements of their church which revealed to them the fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the Prophet. This was too much for the Hiramites and they left the Mormons faster than they had ever joined them and by fall the Moron church in Hiram was a very lean congregation. But some who had been the dupes of this deception determined not to let it pass with impunity. Accordingly a company was formed from Shalersville, Garrettsville and Hiram in March 1832 and proceeded to headquarters in the darkness of night and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds and tarred and feathered them both and let them go. They soon left for Kirtland. Thus proving that sometimes two wrongs make one right. --- This was a sovereign cure-all for all excitements to those who had experienced Mormonism. So that when Second Adventism, Animal Magnetism, and Spiritualism made their appearance it only reminded them of days gone by. But in the West part of the Township Spiritualism had its day and expired.)"
Note 1: Susan Easton Black ascribes the author's historical monographs to as early a period as 1846. Charles H. Ryder (1853-1883) was the grandson of Symonds Ryder of Hiram. His writings on Hiram, Portage Co., etc. (preserved at Hiram College and at the Portage Co. Historical Society) are typically mis-dated. His "Early Settlement of Hiram" appears to have been Charles' revamping of an 1864 compilation of his grandfather's, edited by Charles as a hoperful submission to L.H. Everts' 1874 Combination Atlas Map of Portage County, Ohio. Some biographical pieces written by Charles' father, Hartwell Ryder, were accepted for publication in that volume. In 1950 Mary B. Treudley characterized the manuscript as recording "the settlement of Hiram as Symonds and Hartwell Ryder remembered it." Treudley reproduces lengthy excerpts from Charles' history. One segment of this 1864/1874 compilation saw publication during the life of Symonds Ryder, in the form of an 1868 "letter" presented with his name subscribed, in A. S. Hayden's 1875 volume.
Note 2: See also Charles' 1877 article, "A Hill of Zion," which parallels the text of his father's five-page manuscript in the Archives of Hiram College, entitled "Short History of the Foundation of the Mormon Church, Based on Personal Memories and Facts Collected by Hartwell Ryder..." (one version of which is on file in box 247 of the H. Michael Marquardt Papers, at the University of Utah's Marriott Library). For a similar manuscript history in the Hiram College Archives, see James Abram Garfield's 1934, 38-page document, "An Episode in the Thirties," preserved in the (Mildred Bennett Memorial Collection, box 3-c1, fd. 3).
Note 3: The 1874 published version of Charles H. Ryder's history, presented above, has been transcribed to include the page numbers and some short excerpts from his rough draft manuscript.
by L. H. Everts
Chicago: Everts, 1874
[ 16a ]
At that early period the geographical knowledge of Europeans concerning America was very limited. Patents that had been granted often interfered with each other and caused confusion and disputes, the same land or territory being granted to different colonies. In this way the territory comprising the eleven Counties of Northeastern Ohio, containing three million four hundred and fifty-nine thousand seven hundred and fifty-three acres, exclusive of the islands of Lake Erie, but inclusive of Sandusky Bay, with much more territory, was claimed to have been granted to New York, Connecticut, and Virginia.
By a charter issued in 1662, King Charles II, of England granted to the colony of Connecticut all lands contained between the forty-first and forty-second parallels of north latitude, and from Providence plantations on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west.
For some years after the United States became an Independent nation, the interfering claims occasioned much collision of sentiment between the Union and the State of Connecticut. The controversy was, after many years, compromised by the United States relinquishing all their claim, and guaranteeing to the State of Connecticut the exclusive right of soil in the land as before described, exclusive of the waters of Lake Erie.
This territory was called the Connecticut Western Reserve.
The United States, by the terms of the compromise, reserved to themselves the right of jurisdiction, and in due course of time they united the Western Reserve to the Northwestern Territory, from which was created the State of Ohio. This Western reserve, of which Portage County is a part, is bounded on the north by lake Erie...
EARLY SETTLEMENTS.The first settlement within the present limits of the County was made in Mantua, by Abraham S. Honey...
ORGANIZATION.Portage County was organized out of Trumbull, in 1808, according to act of Legislature passed February 10, 1808, which act went into effect on the 7th of June following. It originally contained thirty townships, ten of them being the ten in ranges ten and eleven on the east side of what is now Summit County. These ten townships were cut off from Portage and became a part of Summit, by an act of the Legislature passed at the session of 1838-9.
Since then Portage comprised twenty townships, until a session of the County Commissioners in June 1874, the new Township of Garrettsville was erected from territory taken from the Townships of Nelson and Hiram....
[ 16b ]
This Township offering better prospects of a good living than Kirtland, Smith, Rigdon, Cowday [sic], Harris, Whittemore [sic], and other leading Mormons, pulled up their stakes and moved to Hiram. Smith and family took up their abode with Johnson; Rigdon in a log cabin opposite, and others in the vicinity. Here they had a revelation the Temple was to be located, and the site was pointed out on a hill near the "Hinckley farm."
Detail from the 1874 Atlas' Hiram Twp. Map, (with Temple Site, etc. added)
(view larger excerpt from same township map -- view 1855 Hiram map)
Proselytes were flocking in fast, and among them were many Campbellites or Disciples. This soon raised opposition, which ripened into open war. Some one bored an auger-hole into the house in which Rigdon lived, and filling it with powder, tried to blow up the cabin.
At length the people resolved to clear the town of them, and raised a company to mob them. They took Joe Smith and Rigdon out of their beds and covered them with a coat of tar and feathers. Unfortunately, two of Smith's children were in bed with him, sick with the measles, and in the affray they took cold and died. The Mormons at once abandoned the idea of making Hiram a "stake," left the town, and returned to Kirtland....
[ 20a ]
The first improvements in Mantua were made in the fall of 1798, by Peter French, on the northwest corner of Lot 24, upon which he sowed a few acres of wheat. This was the first wheat sown in the County. It was harvested the following summer by Rufus Edwards, who took possession of of this parcel in the spring of 1799.
The first settler in this Township was Abraham S. Honey, who came originally from New Hampshire. In the fall of 1798 he commenced a clearing on the hill east of the Cuyahoga River, and about the 1st of May, 1799, moved his family in, and located on the southwest quarter of Lot 24.
He was followed soon after by Elias Harmon and wife, who came June 12. Mr. Harmon, however, passed about three months in Aurora previous to settling permanently in Mantua.
Then came, within the same year, Samuel Burrows, Paschal P. McIntosh, Elisha and Rufus Edwards, all unmarried.
Moses Pond and Jonathan Brooks arrived in Mantua March 31, 1800, bringing with them from Connecticut a quantity of apple-seeds, which they planted about the centre of the west half of Lot 35. This was the starting of the first nursery in town.
The first sermon was preached in the fall of 1800, by Rev. Joseph Badger. The service was held in the house of Abraham S. Honey. This was the first religious meeting in the township.
The first church in the Township was organized in September, 1807, by Rev. R. R. Roberts, of the Methodist Episcopal denomination. It began with six members.
The first church edifice was built by the Methodist Society, in 1821, and stood near the Center road, on the line between Lots 21 and 52. It was a log structure, twenty-four by thirty-two feet.
The first school was taught by Patty Cochran, in the summer of 1807, in a log cabin school-house, which had just been erected on the southwest quarter of Lot 24. The next school was taught in the house of Amzi Atwater, in the following winter, by John Harmon, who died in Ravenna.
The first grist-mill, which was worked by hand, was built by Rufus Edwards, and was ready for business in October, 1799.
The first marriage was that of Rufus Edwards and Letitia Windsor, in December, 1803. The party officiating was Amzi Atwater, Justice of the Peace of Hudson.
The first child born was Eunice, a daughter of Elias Harmon. The event occurred July 16, 1800.This was the second birth within the present limits of the County.
The first death in Mantua was that of Mrs. Anna, wife of Enoch Judson, then recently married. Her death occurred on July 2, 1804, and was caused by taking arsenic by mistake for medicine. Her funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Shadrach Bostwick. In the winter of 1806 Jacob Blair was killed at the raising of a log house.
The first male child born was Horace, son of Moses Pond, in the fall of 1803.
As soon as Mantua furnished hides for that purpose, Moses Pond commenced the business of tanning, which he followed till 1812, when Daniel Ladd, Jr., erected the first tannery. While Pond followed the business, he took his hides to Burton to be finished off at the tannery of Mr. Cook, his old master.
The first sheep were brought to Mantua by Moses Pond, in the fall of 1802.
The first saw-mill was erected in 1820, near the north line of the County, on Black Brook, by the Dresser family. The property is now owned by Orville Blake.
Late in December, 1805, Samuel Pond, in going to Burton, lost his way in a blinding snow-storm, and for six days wandered about on foot, with nothing to eat but what nutriment he obtained from the bones of a deer which he found in the hut of a hunter. On the morning of the sixth day he was so weak that he had to crawl on his hands and knees, by which method he reached a small settlement in the southeast part of Chester, in Geauga County. His feet were so badly frozen that his toes had to be cut off. Amzi Atwater performed the operation with a chisel and mallet.
The order of the County Commissioners for the organization of Mantua was issued March 5, 1810, and the Township was organized shortly afterwards. At this time Mantua included the present Township of Shalerville. The first records of Mantua were burned in 1815, with the house of John Harmon, who was then Township Clerk. Who the first Township officers were cannot now be ascertained. Shalersville was cut off from Mantua on April 6, 1812. At the organization of the County, Mantua furnished one of the Judges of the first election, Amzi Atwater; one of the Judges of the Common Pleas Court, Amzi Atwater; and the first County Treasurer, Elias Harmon.
The southeast part of Mantua is rolling, uneven land, watered by the Cuyahoga River -- which has a southwesterly course -- and by numerous springs and brooks; but nearly all of that part northwest of a diagonal drawn from the southwest to the northeast corner is quite level, and well adapted to grazing. The southeast part is best adapted to fruit and grain, although interspersed with excellent meadow and grazing land. It also has a good variety of soil and timber.
The Cuyahoga River enters Mantua on the east, about half a mile north of the east and west Center road, and across the south line about two miles west of the southeast corner of the Township.
In 1873 this Township stood number two in the manufacture of cheese, producing four hundred and eighty-eight thousand six hundred and ten pounds.
[ 23a ]
Among the attempts at settlement may be mentioned that of Joseph Metcalfe, -- one of the proprietors, -- who died in New York in 1803 on his way to the Township. Also, in the same year, Levi Case, another proprietor, set out from Connecticut to visit his new Township, but got no farther than the lake shore in the State of New York, where he was found standing against a tree, frozen to death.
In 1802 or 1803 a man by the name of Williams went into Hiram and made a small improvement west of the Center, but soon left. About the same time, Abraham Honey, from Mantua, went in and put up a hut on the farm subsequently owned by Miss T. Norton. But he also soon left.
The first permanent settler was Christopher Redding, who with his sons, John, Richard, and George G., and daughter Eleanor, came in about the year 1804, and located one mile south of the Center. Ezra Wyatt was in town about the same time.
In 1805, Cornellius Barker, Wm. Fenton, and Jacob and Samuel Wirt arrived, Baker settling on what was known as the "Hinckley Farm;" Fenton and the Wirts, one mile south of the Center, carrying on the Redding farm.
The first couple married in the Township was Gersham Judson of Mantua, to Peggy Redding, in 1804, by Judge Atwater.
The first birth was that of Edwin Babcock, March 2, 1811. His mother was Sabrina, daughter of Colonel Tilden.
The first death was that of Mrs. William Fenton, who died in March 1811, leaving an infant son, John.
The first grist-mill in Hiram was built by Lemuel Punderson, at the Cuyahoga rapids, in 1807, for a Mr. Lord, of Connecticut. It was carried off in the fall by a flood. In 1808 the dam was rebuilt, and a saw-mill put in operation.
At the organization of the County in 1808, Hiram included Mantua and Nelson partially settled, Windham, and Freedom unsettled, and Shalersville, which had but one family, that of Joel Baker.
In June, 1813, Benjamin Hinckley arrived from Connecticut and settled on Lot 39, known as the Hinckley Farm. He came with a yoke of oxen and a span of horses, and was forty days on the road. He taught the first school in town, commencing December 13, 1813, and closing February 22, 1814. The school-house stood half a mile south of the Center, on the west half of Lot 33. The school comprised nineteen scholars. Mr. Hinckley also set out a row of maple-trees, half a mile in length, but he side of the road next to his farm, which work will be a lasting monument to his good taste and beneficence.
No Document history of the Township prior to 1820 can be found.
In April, 1820, Thomas F. Young was elected Clerk; previous to this Geo. C. Redding was Clerk.
In 1831 the Mormons, under Joe Smith, made as unsuccessful attempt to effect a permanent settlement in the Township, an account of which will be found in the Country history proper.
In 1850 an Eclectic Institute, under control of the Disciples, was established in this town. This was the foundation of the interest which, in 1867, took the name of HIRAM COLLEGE, a history of which appears in the Country history.
In 1873 Hiram Township stood fifth in the Country in the manufacture of cheese, producing three hundred and ninety-one thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds....
[ 24a ]
The first settler was Captain Delaun Mills, who, in 1800, located on Lot 21, and thereon built the first cabin in the Township. This was about a quarter of a mile west of the Center. He received from Mr. Holmes, the principal proprietor, one hundred acres as a reward for his daring and perseverance in locating in an uninhabited territory.
Captain Mills was a man of strong, natural good sense, but with little cultivation; energetic and determined, and brave to excess. He was selected the first militia captain in the town, and in the war of 1812 commanded a company at the battle of Mackinaw, under Colonel Croghan, with great credit.
When he first settled in Nelson, Indians were plenty and hostile. They often threatened Mills' life, and ambushed his path; but his courage defeated their threats, and his caution their ambush.
At one time, there were ten or a dozen at his house, under their chief, Big Cayuga, when the chief drew his knife to kill him. Mills knocked it out of his hand, and, with the second blow, knocked down Cayuga, and beat him till the Indians had to carry him away on a blanket. His courage so awed the others that they dare not assist Cayuga.
For this Big Cayuga swore vengeance on him and, as soon as he was able, proceeded to put his purpose in execution. As Mills was out hunting, he heard a noise behind him, and on looking around saw Cayuga rise up from behind a large tree that had just been blown over, and level his rifle at him. The Indian fired, but missed the mark. Mills brought up his unerring rifle and shot him dead. Dragging the body around to where the roots had turned out the earth, he deposited him; then deliberately took his axe and cut off the tree, when the root turned back to its natural bed, and Big Cayuga slept the sleep that knows no waking.
His nephew, Snip-Nose Cayuga, as was the Indian custom, became the avenger...
Asahel Mills, brother to Delaun, was the second settler. He located in the northwest quarter of the town. He became a Methodist preacher, and died in Deerfield. R. R. Roberts, late Senior Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States, was then a circuit rider, and preached once in two weeks at Captain Mills' house. Settlers now began to come in rapidly, -- Daniel Owen, William Kenneda, Thomas Kenneda, Asa Truesdale, Benjamin Srow, and Stephen Baldwin. Baldwin and Owen lived opposite to each other, on the Center road, east of the "Ledge;" William Kenneda at the Center, and Benjamin Stow south of the Center, on the creek. These composed Nelson in 1804.
In this year Colonel John Garrett and Abraham Dyson settled in the southwest corner of Nelson, which part is now included within the Town of Garrettsville. In this year, also, two men by the name of Stiles came in and settled at the Center, and Isaac Mills, brother of Delaun, settled northwest of the Center, on the farm afterwards owned by Deacon Sherwood, and Origen Harmon, who settled in the north part, where Seth Johnson afterwards lived; and in the fall of 1804, John Noah arrived with his family, and settled about half-way between Garrettsville and the Center. He was a German from Saxony, and died on the farm where he first located.
For some years after the settlement in Nelson, the road from Warren to the Lake ran through Nelson. Captain Mills, almost of necessity, kept a tavern, and occasionally got a keg of whiskey from pack-horsemen passing through the town. A knowledge of the fact reaching the ears of the Grand Jury of Trumbull County, which then included the whole Reserve, they indicted him for selling liquor without a license. On his arraignment, the Captain plead guilty. Judge Kirtland, who had often stopped at the Captain's house, and partaken of some, told Judge Pease he did not believe he was guilty within the meaning of the statute; that he, with others, had been much refreshed by the Captain's whiskey. Whereupon, Judge Pease asked the Captain if he could not conscientiously change his plea. "If it please your worship," said the Captain, "I plead not guilty;" and thereupon was discharged.
In the spring of this year, Enoch Judson, of Mantua, was married to Anne Kenneda, being the first marriage in the Township.
The same year a Mrs. Norton, sister of Anne Kenneda, was married to Joseph Nourse, a lawyer of Burton.
The first person born in the Township was Harmon Mills, a son of Delaun, who was born in November, 1802. Judge Elias Harmon, of Mantua, had stopped at the house of Captain Mills, as he was traveling through the town, and as there were neither physicians nor neighbors in the Township, they concluded to embrace that opportunity, and avail themselves of the Judge's services. In token of their gratitude they named the new settler Harmon, after the Judge.
The first school taught in the Township was in a log house, at the Center. It was kept by Hannah Baldwin, in the summer of 1804.
In September of this year, a son of Colonel Garrett died, being the first death in the Township. It was also the first death in the present limits of Garrettsville.
In the summer of 1805, Judge Atwater cut out a road from his place, in Mantua, on the south line of Hiram, to where Colonel Garrett was erecting his mills, which was near the line on which the Mahoning Railroad now runs; and one was also laid out through Windham and Braceville to Warren, and west to Aurora, in the spring of 1806. Judge Atwater surveyed the one to Warren, and E. Sheldon the one to Aurora.
In the fall of 1805, John Tinker, and Nathaniel Bancroft, sons-in-law of Benjamin Stow, and Dan Stow, his son, arrived with their families from Granville, Massachusetts. Tinker settled on the road west of the Center, and Bancroft on the road from the Center to Garrettsville.
In January, 1806, Colonel John Garrett died, at the age of forty-six, being the first man that died in Nelson. He resided and died in what is now the Township of Garrettsville. He was a man of strong sense, cultivated mind, kind feelings, an honest man, and a devout Christian.
The first church was organized in the Township in 1807, at the house of John Noah, by Rev. Thomas G. Jones, of the Baptist denomination. Mr. Jones was a Welshman, of strong practical sense; was at one time a member of the Ohio Legislature, and President of the German Bank of Wooster.
The first settled minister in the town was William West, who came from New Jersey about 1810. The original proprietors donated him fifty acres of land on the north and south road, west of the Center. He was an excellent man, and his wife was "a mother in Israel."
In 1811 a large accession was made to the inhabitants of the town, by the arrival of Titus Bonney, Joshua Sherwood, Wells Clark, and others, with their families, from Cornwall, Litchfield County, Connecticut....
AURORA TOWNSHIP.The original proprietors of this township were David, Ebenezer, and Fidelio King, and Martyn Sheldon. The first settler was Ebenezer Sheldon, who came from Suffield, Connecticut, in the latter part of June, 1799, selected Lot 40, and put up a cabin July 2. Elias Harmon and wife also came the same month as employees of Mr. Sheldon, to assist him in making an opening, which was upon Lot No. 40. Mrs. Harmon was the first white woman in the Township. Mr. and Mrs. Harmon left Aurora in the autumn following, and settled in Mantua.
In June, 1800, Mr. Sheldon brought his wife on, and located on Lot 40, on the east side of the Township, where he resided till August, 1829, when he died, at the age of seventy, leaving it to his son Albert R., who died in February, 1856.
Between Warren and Aurora was a distance of twenty miles without a house. In passing through this dreary wilderness, Mr. Shelden was overtaken by a violent tornado, which tore up the trees and threw them all around him, completely enclosing him in the "windfall." He was obliged to leave his teams and return to Warren for help to cut his way out. This took so much time that they had to sleep in their dreary pen that night, but the next day they arrived at Aurora.
Here they lived three years before another settler came in. Mr. Sheldon was soon appointed Justice of the Peace by Governor St. Clair, Governor of the Northwestern Territory. On the 21st of November, 1801, he married his daughter Huldah to Amzi Atwater, of Mantua. This was the first marriage in the Township, and probably the fourth in the County.
The first sermon was preached in 1802, at the house of Mr. Sheldon, by a Methodist preacher by the name of Bostwick. He had the whole town to hear him, which consisted of Mr. Sheldon's family.
In 1803, Samuel Forward, from Granby Connecticut, arrived, and settled at the Center, on Lot 18, where General Nelson Eggleston now resides. Mr. Forward's sons, Samuel and Oliver, with their families, moved in with him, and Samuel settled on Lot 34, and Oliver built a log house, and settled a few rods south of his father's location.
Samuel Forward, Jr., taught the first school in the Township, at his own house, in the winter of 1803-4.
The second school was taught by Oliver Forward, at the Center, and the third by Polly Cameron, in the summer of 1807. She is now the widow of Josiah Starr, and lives in Stow Township, Summit County.
The first child born was Cromwell, son of Oliver Forward, April 6, 1804.The second birth was that of James Henry, son of James M. Henry, in 1806; the third birth, that of Leverit W., son of John Cochran, Jr., in the same year.
In 1804, James Henry, John Cochran, Jr., and David Kennedy, with their families, arrived from Massachusetts. Henry and Cochran settled on Lot 13, and Kennedy on Lot 9. In the same year, George Holcomb and family arrived from Connecticut, and settled on Lot 33. In 1805, Solomon Cochran and family, and the Widow Cannon, mother of Eli and Stephen Cannon, with her family, and Horace Granger, -- a single man, -- came in. Granger settled on Lot 10, Mrs. Cannon on Lot 20, and Mrs. Cochran on Lot 27.
In 1807 came Benjamin Eggleston, Samuel Taylor, Jeremiah Root, Samuel Baldwin, and Joseph Eggleston, with their families. The three first named came in a company of thirty-five, of which only three are now living, viz. Colonel Royal Taylor, and his brothers, Worthy and Marcus.
In 1808, Justus and Horace Bissel, with their families, arrived, and settled on Lots 11 and 12. Also Major Elijah Blockman, and Elijah Blockman, Jr., Abner Pease, and Samuel Blockman, with their families, settled on Lots 19, 20, and 27.
In the fall of 1809 two hundred dollars were raised by subscription to build a Town-house. Money being out of question, subscriptions were mostly in sugar and grain.
This Township was organized in the fall of 1807. Samuel Forward was elected Justice of the Peace.
The first church (Congregational) was organized by Rev. Nathan B. Darrow, at the house of Colonel John C. Singletary.
[ 28 ]
a native of Connecticut, was born November 22, 1781; his wife Susannah Davis, was born in Connecticut, January 2, 1782. In the year 1813 they came to Ohio; at this time they had three children: the settled on the farm now owned by his son E. D. Hinckley. Mr. Hinckley was one of the most prominent men in his town; besides having held various offices, he taught the first school ever organized in this town, and did so for many years, giving unqualified satisfaction to the inhabitants; it can thus be said of him that he first unfurled the standard of civilization and education the Township of Hiram.
Just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined."
E. D. Hinckley, son of Benjamin and Susannah was born July 10 1812, in Tolland Country Connecticut; came here with his father when but one year old; his advantages for an education were fair; he was bred a farmer; when a young man, from thirty-six to forty-two, he taught school. In 1848 he noticed a gradual failure of health consequently he gave up farming and engaged as insurance agent for the Ohio Farmers’ Insurance Company; commenced November 10, 1848, and has continued at it ever since. His business qualities render him an expert agent; during his term of office he has insured some seven million dollars' worth of property; every loss has been paid and not one dollar paid out for litigation; it is about twenty-six years since he began. March 15, 1888 he was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Miss Nancy Joslin, of Ohio. As a result of this union nine children have been born whose names are here given, viz; John B, Harriet S., Bester R., Ann L., Ann, Nancy E., Eber P., Mary A., and Henry. Ann L. Died October 20, 1845 aged thirteen months; Harriet died _______; Bester R. died in service; he belonged to the 42d Regiment, Ohio Volunteers. Although it is hard for a father to part with a son in the prime of life, -- to have our flesh and blood stricken from its accustomed place in the society of home, -- yet when they die so nobly, and for such a glorious cause as did young Bester R., we should entertain the sorrowful, yet uncomplaining, feelings of Cato (so admirably expressed by Addison) when speaking over the dead body of his son, who had perished on the ensanguined field for Rome and the Romans:
Welcome, my son! Here set him down, my friends,
Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure
The bloody corse, and count those glorious wounds.
How beautiful is death when earned by virtue;
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!" etc.
JASON RYDER,Hiram Township.
Among the early settlers of this Township, none deserves a better record than the subject we have taken into consideration this present time. Jason Ryder, a native of Vermont, was born Dec. 12, 1798; his early life was spent in rural scenes; his opportunities for getting an education were few; however, he was taught the value of time, and applied himself to farming at the age of eighteen. In the year 1816 he, in company with his father's family, eight in all, came to Ohio and settled on the same farm which he now owns; at that time there were omly thirteen families in town. Jason and his brother Symonds took the old homestead of one hundred and fifteen acres. In 1822, Jan. 27, Mr. Ryder was married to Miss Fanny Johnson, who was born in the town of Pomfret, Windsor County, Vermont, March 3, 1803. This union produced eight children, -- five boys and three girls, -- seven of whom have arrived to manhood and womanhood; one son, Calvin, was wounded at Port Gibson, and died in four days, -- died May 4, 1863. Mr. Ryder has held different offices in the town, and as a citizen is much respected; has also been Deacon of the Disciples Church in this place for more than thirty years, and is among its most worthy members. In politics Mr. Ryder was first a Whig, after this he joined the ranks of the Republican party; he is to the core a strong temperance man. Deacon John J., son of Jason and Fanny, was born in Hiram, Nov. 17, 1831; he received a fair amount of education; attended Hiram College for several terms; taught school several terms, greatly to the satisfaction of the people. December 24 of the year 1856, he was united in matrimony to Miss Emily L. Mason, * of the same town, and as a result, five children -- four boys and one girl -- were born; all are living. He followed his father's footsteps in politics as well as religion. Prompted by honesty and industry to a close application of the secular responsibilities of life, Mr. Ryder has secured considerable wealth; his premises, more especially his barns, are the prettiest and most comfortable of any that we have seen in this County; it is an acknowledged fact that a "good farmer" is known by the neatness and capacity of his out-houses.
* daughter of Carnot Mason (1804-1866) and Olive Cole Mason (1804-1851)
ELDER SYMONDS RYDER,Hiram Township.
son of Joshua and Marilla Ryder, was born in Hartford, Windsor County, Vermont, Nov. 20, 1792, and, like his brother Jason, was reared on a farm; his school experience was limited. In the fall of 1814 he came alone on horseback to this place, made a selection of land, and began a log cabin; in the following year he returned to Vermont, and brought his father's family in the spring following, 1816. In 1818, Nov. 12, he entered the bonds of marriage with Miss Mehitabel Loomis, who was born in Windsor, Vermont, 8th July, 1798; three sons were born, viz.: Hartwell, Cyrus, and Symonds; the last is dead. He at first owned the one hundred and fifteen acres spoken of in his brother's record, and he gave one half to his brother; by industry and frugality he became well off, owning at one time between four hundred and five hundred acres of land.
At an early age he identified himself with the Disciples Church in this place, and subsequently was appointed Elder, which position he held for more than forty years; in the church's incipiency there were but some fifteen members, but under his brotherly administration it constantly increased until it numbered nearly three hundred. When the first organization of State militia took place in this locality, Mr. Ryder was appointed its Captain.
In politics he was first a Whig and then a Republican; he was a strong advocate of temperance principles. Elder Ryder's life was one of charity, usefulness, and good will towards men; but he had lived over fourscore years, and his life-work was coming to a close. Like a true soldier of the cross, he laid down his armor and patiently awaited his Captain's summons. On the 1st of August, 1870, his spirit took its eternal flight; his aged partner followed him to the spirit-land October 1, 1873.
Hartwell Ryder, eldest son of Symonds and donor of this sketch, was born here Sept. 24, 1821; his early advantages were not the best for education; but by close attention to self-study and observation of the world he has acquired a good practical education. He was married Oct. 11, 1843, to Miss Julia C. Lee, who was born in Suffield, Conn., August 20, 1825; three children crowned this event, viz., one girl and two boys, -- their names: Ella L., Charles H., and Edwin L.; Ella died Dec. 24, 1868, aged twenty years.
It is not for the sake of writing an encomium on Mr. Hartwell Ryder that we append the following few remarks, but, on the contrary, a duty we owe to our sense of appreciation of the merits of the man.
The old homestead of four hundred broad acres, rich in fertility and dear to him from the associations of his ancestry, is in his possession; notwithstanding his wealth in houses and lands and herds, he is still the unassuming gentleman; kind, charitable, and breathing the love of a Christian; in a word, he is one of nature's noblemen.
HARVEY BALDWIN,Steetsboro' Township,
son of Samuel S. and Hannah Baldwin, was born December 31, 1797, in Danbury, Fairfield County, Conn. He settled in Cleveland in the spring of 1807, and in the fall of 1807 came to Aurora with his father Samuel's family. In 1818 he married Laura Kent; of this union four children were born, and two are living. He was married to his second wife, Lucinda Brown, in 1832, by whom he had four children, three of whom are living. In the fall of 1819 he commenced to speculate in cheese, the result of which was a great pecuniary success. His daughter, Hester A. Beneduct, is well known in the United States as a celebrated elocutionist, besides being a writer of prose and poetry.
ZEB RUDOLPH,Hiram Township,
Among the early pioneers of this country we desire to place the name of Zeb Rudolph, son of John and Susan Rudolph; he was born on the 23d of February, 1808, in Shenandoah, Virginia. His father being a farmer, young Zeb was early taught the practical part, which in turn revealed to him the value of time and money. At the early age of one year he removed with his father to Pennsylvania, and settled at Whitestown, Greene County. In 1805 they came to Portage County, Ohio, and settled at Garrettsville. Although not blessed with advantages for learning, yet in after years he applied himself studiously in gleaning from books a good education, and by observing the motives and actions of men, and studying the philosophy of the times, he acquired a general knowledge of the world. He is a self-taught classical man, intelligent and communicative. When he was seventeen years old, and on his natal day, he commenced to work at the carpenter and joiner trade, as an apprentice.
Zebulon Rudolph, c. 1850
(graphic not in 1874 atlas)
In 1830, October 7, he was married to Miss Arabella Mason, of Vermont, who was born April 18, 1810, at Hartford. In 1816 she came to Hiram. As a result of her marriage she had four children born to her, viz." Lucretia, born April 19, 1832, -- General Garfield was married to this daughter; John C., born July 22, 1835, -- he married Martha G. Lane; Joseph, born August 13, 1841, -- he married Miss Libbie Phillips; Ellen, born June 4, 1845, -- she was married to Camden Rockwell. Mr. Rudolph followed farming chiefly for a living. During the years from 1828 to 1855 he labored faithfully as a servant of Christ, and was much respected while a minister of the Disciples Church. He has held offices in town, and for more than nineteen years was one of the Trustees of Hiram College. John C. died in service at Lexington, Kentucky, August 12, 1862. His son Joseph, who is the generous donor of this sketch, was a soldier in the 28d Ohio Volunteers for nearly one year; for two years he was Sergeant in the 42d Ohio Volunteers, and during the two following years he held the position of Commissary Subsistence, with the rank of Captain, and was mustered out as a Major by brevet. The record of Joseph Rudolph is worthy to be handed down to latest posterity; for we deem that any one, be he great or humble through accident of birth and circumstance, who willingly takes up arms in defense of his country and his God, has traits of nobility in his character. These men should be remembered, and hence the benefit of history.
JOHN RUDOLPH,Hiram' Township,
Among the earnest workers and worthy citizens of Portage County, a link would be missing were we to omit the name of the noble-hearted John Rudolph, born on the 21st of December, 1798, at Shenandoah, Virginia, and educated a farmer. In the month of November (11th), 1805, he removed to this County, and settled at Garrettsville. On the 23d of December, 1822, he married Miss Cleona Atwater, daughter of Judge A., of Mantua. As a result of marriage nine children were born, four of whom are living.
On the 8th of November, 1842, his faithful wife, and an affectionate mother, died.
On the 31st of March, 1843, he married Sally M. Starks, of Trumbull County; she also passed away, on the 8th of February, 1871.
Mr. Rudolph has always been a consistent member of the Disciples Church of his town, and for more than nineteen years one of the Trustees of Hiram College. His son, James K., is the generous donor of this brief sketch, and was for many years a soldier in the 23d Ohio Volunteers.
"Early History of Hiram"
by Alvah Udall
(Garrettsville: The Journal, 1880)
June 3, 1880
Early History of Hiram.
In or about 1800 the then owners of the township, who lived in Connecticut, employed Partridge Bissell to survey it into fifty equal sized lots, five east and west and ten north and south. Something was wrong with Bissell or his instrument, for his lines varied in some places from two to ten rods from true straight lines. Adding to his trouble he lost his field notes, whereupon he attempted to cure the whole difficulty by an untrue report to his employers, one of whom being himself a surveyor mistrusted the truth because of its great accuracy, and refused to pay him. Bissell then went to work and by memory and guess made a report which they finally accepted. By the imperfect survey some lots fell short from five to twenty acres, while others overrun as much.
In the spring of 1799; Rufus Edwards and Abraham Honey arrived from Tolland, Conn., with the view of settling on the Reserve. Edwards settled in Mantua and Honey the next year began to improve the east part of lot 32 by cutting the trees less than a foot in thickness and girdling the larger timbers. He improved about six acres in this away and built a log cabin, when he left for Mantua where he settled. This clearing and cabin were the first footprints of civilization in the forests of Hiram. John Harmon, one of the first settlers in Mantua, however, says, that a man by the name of Wm. Wheeler Williams made a small improvement west of the Center and built a cabin in 1799, and then left and settled in Newburgh, Cuyahoga Co. and built the first mill there about the year 1800; he never settled in Hiram. In 1802, John Flemmings, the second white man in Hiram, arrived and began improvements on the southwest corner of the west half of lot 33, girdled the timber that would stand girdled upon sixteen acres, cleared it off and planted it to corn and potatoes, the first crops raised in Hiram. In 1803 there was a movement in the East promising the speedy settlement of Hiram, which with its generous soil, salubrious climate and beautiful hills and dales, filled exactly the yankee idea.
Elijah Mason with his two sons, Roswell M. and Peleg S., aged respectively 17 and 19 years, Mason Tilden (son of Col. Daniel Tilden) of Cannestres, and Elisha Hutchinson, from Herkimer, New York, started early in the spring for New Connecticut, leaving their families at home. They had visited the township and located their lands the year before 1802. Arriving in Hiram, Elijah Mason began to make improvements on the west half of lot 23, and cleared about twenty-two acres in a rectilinear shape, extending westward from the Center about one-fourth of a mile, on which he sowed for a crop of wheat and built a log cabin. Elisha Hutchinson cleared twenty acres and built a cabin on lot 23 near where Zeb Rudolph's house now stands. Mason Tilden in like manner cleared and built on lot 23 or 22. Soon after their arrival two or three of them happened to be out looking over the township one day when they came suddenly upon a considerable stream of water. As the sun shone upon it, it looked in contrast with the dark wood from which they had just emerged, like a sheet of polished silver, in consequence of which Tilden proposed that it should be called "Silver Creek," the name of which the stream has borne ever since. They hired considerable help, among others one Mr. Daniel Owen and his wife; Mrs. Owen was the first white woman that lived in Hiram.
The following account of the first breach of the peace, is extracted from General Bierce's History: "Hutcheson had planted a piece of corn, and when it was large enough to hoe, he by mistake, took Owen's hoe, which made Owen mad. To retaliate, Owen got Hutcheson's hoe and hid it. [Mason] Tilden seeing Owen hide it, and wishing a little sport, took the hoe and hid it in another place, and then sat down to see the fun that he knew would follow. Owen went to the place where he had hidden it, could not find it, and told Hutcheson so, but supposing Owen did not wish to find it, seized him by the collar, dragged him along to a tree where there were plenty of sprouts, and pulling one off gave Owen a most unmerciful whipping. Owen and his wife packed up their duds, and left, leaving Hutcheson, Tilden and Mason with eleven hired men, to cook for themselves. This they soon found to be inconvenient, and they concluded to go and see Owen, and try to get him back. Taking with them a jug of whisky -- as a mutual friend -- they started for Owen's; Owen then lived in Nelson. They found him in no very pleasant mood. Hutcheson says, 'Owen, I want to speak to you.' They went out to where the jug was deposited, and Hutchinson says, 'Owen, you and I have had a little difficulty and I want to settle it. I calculate to move out here to settle, and we shall be neighbors and I am going to bring along a good coon dog, and you and I will hunt coon together. Come, Mr. Owen, take some whisky!' Owen never waited for a second invitation, but took some. 'Now,' says Hutcheson, 'I have switched you some -- did not hurt you much. How much do you think I ought to pay you and we be friends?' Owen says, 'you hurt me a good deal and ought to pay me two dollars.' 'Two dollars!' says Hutchinson. 'Oh my God! that is too much. Mr. Owen, take some more whisky.' Owen took two or three more nips, when he concluded he was not hurt more than three shillings worth! which Hutcheson paid and all went back happy as a bed of clams. Owen subsequently went to Parkman, Geauga County, where he died some twenty or thirty years ago; Hutchinson died in Hiram, in June, 1837."
They bought all their provisions in Warren, then a little collection of about half a dozen log houses, and where all the merchandizing for a large section was done then and for a considerable time afterwards. The goods brought here were very expensive and had to be transported through the woods to their homes, making them still more costly. Three of their hired men, Jacob and Samuel Wirt, and Richard Redden, from Pennsylvania, were so much pleased with the township that they determined to settle in it. Redden bought out Flemmings and sent of went for his father and family who arrived in the fall, and who were the first white family that wintered in the township. The Wirts bought the east half of lot 38 on which Dea. E. M. Young now lives. The number of white inhabitants in the township this winter was nine. Mason Tilden and Hutchinson had gone east in the fall and commenced at once preparing for an early emigration in the spring. Many others also were induced to emigrate as soon as the condition of the roads would permit. Roswell and Peleg Mason objected for themselves to going again into the woods of the Reserve, which considerably perplexed their father, inasmuch as he was somewhat dependent on them for help. He was, however, resolved to follow his previous intention but Gov. Marsh, who was the father of his first wife, and whom he visited in Vermont prior to starting, during the winter advised him under the circumstances, to purchase a particular farm in that State, which, to use his own language, he "was fool enough to do!"
June 10, 1880 (Part 2 of 8)Instead of emigrating westward as he had intended he moved on to the sterile hills of Vermont, which defeated for the time the purposes of those that were associated with him, not one of whom emigrated to Hiram for several years thereafter. Mason came and harvested his wheat in 1804 which was a good crop; and those who had first come with him disposed of their affairs in Ohio as best they could. While harvesting this wheat Richard Redden was bitten by a rattlesnake very near where James Newcomb's house now stands. Redden said he was much alarmed by the appearance of his urine which in fifteen or twenty minutes was about the color of fresh blood. They sent to the Indian village at the Rapids for a medicine man to come and cure him. The Doctor sent his squaw to the wood for herbs and they came and applied a remedy to the bite which had the desired effect. The Indian being asked next morning what he thought of his patient replied, "Me cure him." Afterwards it was ascertained that the medicine used was bruised Indigo weed which was used in similar cases [ever] after.
From this time but little progress was made for several years in the settlement of Hiram, her forest solitudes being only broken by long familiar echoes and the occasional fall of a coon or bee tree or the crack of a woodsman's rifle. In all the hilly sections in the early time, snakes were the greatest terror and annoyance of the settlers. The Reddens had built their cabin among the trees by a beautiful spring of water near where Nelson Raymond now lives, but they soon found that the rattlesnakes were prior occupants of that locality. The den of the reptiles was found in a rocky hollow, about fifty or sixty rods distant from their cabin, when in the fall of the year they would collect in great numbers for winter quarters; this den was so situated that it was impossible to get at its occupants but it could be closed up thus taking them prisoners in their stronghold which was accordingly done. Yearly at a proper time a pole was run into the den to ascertain the state of affairs among the captives, which was always greeted by a fierce rattling until the fifth year when it was rather faint, and [in] the sixth silence told them they had at last succumbed. There were large dens of rattlesnakes about a mile eastward of the southwest corner of the township and they were to be found altogether too frequently in many other places. They were watched very closely by the settlers, especially when they first came out in the Spring to sun themselves, at which time they being very clumsy, were easily killed. Many adventures occurred in the warfare which was maintained against these dangerous reptiles; but so vigorously was this war of extermination carried on, that they became yearly less and less numerous, until at last they entirely disappeared. It is stated that at and near a den in the southwest part of the township seventy snakes were killed in one day. The game, consisting of bear, deer, turkeys and other smaller animals, with which the forests abounded, and which in the shack season became very fat, was too tempting for the better interests of the settlers, for most of them soon learned to be better hunters than farmers, which caused improvements to be pushed forward rather tardily, if indeed any progress was made.
In the fall of 1804, William Fenton began improvements on the east part of the west half of lot 38, and Cornelius Barker on the west half of the same lot. In the same year, 1804, Col. John Garrett moved from Delaware to Garrettsville for the purpose of building mills and brought Abraham Dyson and family, consisting of a wife and two sons, Dyson being a blacksmith, and settled very near where Hiram Pierce's house now stands. Dyson lived there until Sept. 1806, when he moved onto lot 36, north of Dr. Lee's house, nearly opposite the old cemetery. He was the first blacksmith that settled in Hiram. The same year, 1806, Roswell M. Mason changed his opinion in regard to emigration, and came from Hartford, Vermont, to settle on lot 32, a gift from his father. His father owned considerable land in Hiram and constituted him his agent, but instead of settling on his lot, he turned his attention to the study and practice of law and hired the Reddens to improve it. Under their contract they cleared twelve acres for him in the customary manner, leaving twelve brand heaps upon the job which they facetiously denominated the "Twelve." The usual price for clearing land was at this time about ten dollars per acre.
In the fall of 1807 Gershom Judson then a widower living in Mantua, was married to Miss Sarah Redden, by Elder West [sic - Wirt?] of Nelson. This was the first marriage that transpired in Hiram. The first mill in the township was built by Lemuel Punderson, at the Cuyahoga Rapids, in 1807, for Esq. Law, of Cheshire, Connecticut; a flood came in the fall and carried it off. In 1808 the dam was rebuilt and a saw mill put in operation. This mill was superseded by others by the Messrs. Canfield, which afterwards passed into the hands of Garrett & Quinbys and Philbrick & Rice and these mills were made famous by the great Pope and Rice lawsuits of recent occurrence, and which cost the parties several thousand dollars. For a few years prior to the erection of these mills lumber had to be obtained at Garrettsville, and before the building of Garrett's mill, sawed lumber was not in fashion, but a sort of split plank called puncheon used in its stead. The most of the settlers up to this time were from Pennsylvania. They had come poor, but were hospitable and generous to a fault. Some of them were at first squatters, settling upon land and improving it until somebody appear[ed] from whom they could get a title. These improvements, or betterments as they were termed, were frequently the subjects of sale, and sometimes constituted all the wealth which the settlers were able to gather around them for many years. The first road in the north part of Portage County was laid in 1800 from Warren to Cleveland through the center of Hiram to the west line of lot 24 in Mantua, where it turned southwesterly to Esq. Sheldons, in Aurora, thence northwesterly to the Center of Aurora. In 1806 the road was laid through Garrettsville and the south part of Hiram. On the organization of Portage County, in 1808, Hiram included Mantua, Shalersville, Freedom, Windham, and Nelson, At the October election of that year 42 votes were given, among which those of Delaun Mills, of Nelson, John Redden, of Hiram, Amzi Atwater, of Mantua, and Joel Baker, of Shalersville; William Kennedy was elected Justice of the Peace, and all set down as done in Hiram. Party politics could not have run very high at that time, as out of forty-two votes given Thomas Worthington had thirty-nine for Governor, Jeremiah Morrow had forty for Congress, David Abbott forty for Senator, and Abel Sabin thirty-eight for Representative. From 1809 the yankee element predominated among the incoming settlers until in a few years New England had a great majority of representatives in Hiram. This year Thomas Johnson, an Irishman from Braceville, Trumbull county, came and bought out the Wirts, (who moved away) contracting to pay them for the land in whiskey, which was considered a good substitute for that then very scarce commodity -- money. The number of inhabitants now in the township was about twenty. Simon Babcock, in the summer of 1809 or 1810, came from Lebanon, Connecticut, with a two horse team and settled on lot 22, near where Horace Munn now lives. Col. Daniel Tilden had given Mrs. Babcock, who was his daughter, two hundred acres of land in Hiram. In 1810 Parley Hughes came from Hartford, Vt. with a yoke [of] oxen and settled where Elijah Mason had begun improvements, he having purchased the land before leaving Vermont. The improvements he found upon this land were worth but little, as fire running in the woods had destroyed most of the fences, and the neglected underbrush had grown thickly over it. Hughes brought many farming and mechanic tools with him, which proved very valuable, as there had been up to this time, great scarcity of such implements in the settlement.
June 17, 1880 (Part 3 of 8)In the fall of the same year his son-in-law Ephraim Hackett arrived with his family and settled on the west part of the east half of lot 22 near where Alexander now lives. The population was now augmented to about 30. In June, 1810, Orrin Pitkin and wife came from the same place with a span of horses and settled on the east one hundred acres of lot 32 where A. Honey made a quite small improvement in 1800. Elijah Mason was to give Mrs. Pitkin, his daughter, one hundred acres of land of her own selection, but she traded her right to her brother Roswell for the land on which they settled. Pitkin was to pay one hundred dollars for the betterments but he never paid the money and Roswell never gave the title which finally passed into the hands of Miles T. Norton by the way of Judge Norton, of Middlebury. On the 8th day of March 1811, Mrs. Betsey Fenton, wife of Wm. Fenton died, which was the first death of a white person in the township. Elder West [sic - Wirt?], of Nelson, attended, and preached the funeral sermon. The settlers in Hiram used the burial ground at Garrettsville as a place of interment for a considerable time. John Fenton, son of Mrs. Fenton, born upon the day of his mother's death, was afterwards sent to the Penitentiary for forging an order for whiskey, and finally died in the poorhouse. The first birth of a white child that occurred in the township was that of Edwin Babcock, now a prominent citizen of Shalersville, who was born on the third day of the same month. On the 16th day of August in the same year, 1811, George Young, James Young and Seth Cole, each with large families, came from Sterling, Conn. James, who was a tailor by trade, purchased and settled on the west half of lot 18, and George purchased the east half of the same lot, also the west part of lot 25 on which he settled, where Nelson Steele now lives. Cole bought Fenton's betterments on lot 38, and obtained a title from a man living in Warren where the owners of some of the lands in Hiram then lived. Cole was a cooper, and there was then in the township a blacksmith, a tailor, and a cooper, each of which was of great value to the settlement. Among the earlier jobs of the tailor was the cutting of a coat for Simon Babcock. Mrs. B. made the coat, and not being a very skillful tailoress, got the sleeves in wrong side up, so that whenever her husband attempted to come out in his new coat it drew his arms up in a ridiculous shape over his head; Simon was not pleased with the attitude, so off he went to the tailor to learn the difficulty. It was plentiful shack season which Babcock had pretty well improved. So Young after very gravely examining the coat told him that his wife had made the coat for convenience in climbing trees for chestnuts; that when the shack season was over she could rip out the sleeves and set them in the other side up which would make it all right,
It is not to be supposed that in a new country all professed mechanics are skillful and scientific workmen although very useful and necessary in the settlement in a new country. A neighbor needed a new churn and agreed with the cooper to make him one, which the cooper did, probably to the best of his ability. The churn was made and sent home. There happened to be another neighbor present when the churn was brought in who also was a mechanic, and sometimes rather rude, and as it was set down on the floor he fell down on his knees and commenced to worship. Upon being asked for an explanation he said that that was a legal object of worship, for it was not "in the likeness of anything in Heaven above, in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth," and consequently it was perfectly legitimate and right to adore and worship it.
A little story is told of the blacksmith. A neighbor wanted a horse shod, and as it was fashionable for the blacksmiths in those days to drink a little liquor, especially when shoeing horses, he gave his boy a pint bottle of whiskey and told him to go to the blacksmith's with the horse and get it shod, and if the smith shod it to give him the whiskey. So to the smith the boy went with the horse and bottle, and says, "Father wants to get you to set this horse's shoes." The reply was, "I can't do it for I have not a bit of coal to make the nails with! (In those days horse shoe nails were all made by hand, machine nails were not invented) consequently can not do the work." The boy says he "is very sorry as father wants the horse and cannot do it without shoeing." The smith says he is "very sorry too, but cannot possibly shoe him for want of coal." "Well," says the boy, "I suppose I shall have to take him home without shoeing; but father sent up a little bottle of whiskey for you, but seeing you cannot do the work I suppose I must take that home too!" At that the smith's countenance changed suddenly, his eyes brightening, and he said: "I guess I can go down in the fallow where I have been burning chestnut log heaps and pick up coal enough to make the nails!" takes a basket and off he went on a quick step, came quickly back with a basket full of coal, took a swig of whiskey, made the nails, set the shoes, drank the rest of the whiskey and appeared to feel first rate and well satisfied with the profits of the job.
On the second of October, Elisha Hutchinson arrived with his family and settled upon the spot where he had begun in 1803, the brush on which had been cleared off by Isaac Mills, of Nelson whom he employed to do the work when in the township in the spring previous. In the fall of 1811 there were eleven families, embracing fifty-eight persons, in the township. In the spring of 1809 Abraham Dyson moved on to lot 38, having bought out Barker who moved to Warren and there died. There was great alarm in Hiram upon the breaking out of the war between the United States and Great Britain, in June 1812, which was greatly increased by the surrender of General Hull a few months later. Some expecting the Indians daily hid their farming implements, destroyed their fields of grain, and were for leaving the county, when the order calling upon all the militia proved that a defense was to be thrown between their homes and the much dreaded enemy. The Indians who lived at the Rapids disappeared mysteriously about this time, but the secret was explained when it was learned that some of the Hiram boys who were taken at the surrender, saw and knew some [of] them at Fort Malden in spite of their war paint. They had joined the red partisans of the British and although they had received many kindnesses at the hands of men who were prisoners, those men were very careful not to be recognized by them. In 1815, five of these Indians came back to the Rapids, but punishment followed them, only one escaping with a bad wound in his hip. Quite a number of the citizens of Hiram served in this war.
In the fall of 1812, Thomas F. Young came with his family from Windham, Conn., by the way of Pittsburg, and settled at the center of the township, having traded land with Parley Hughes. An anecdote is related of Mrs. Hughes: When the news came to Hiram of the first murder that was committed in the County, which happened in Deerfield, Mrs. Hughes expressed great astonishment and said, "O Dear I don't know what this world is coming to; they've got to killing! I really believe they'll get to gambling and stealing next!" It was this year that the first religious meetings were held, which met at the houses of George Young and the Reddens. Elder West [sic - Wirt?], of Nelson officiated, and about a dozen usually attended. From this time occasional meetings were held under the supervision of preachers of different denominations from adjoining townships. The first regular meeting[s] upon the Sabbath day, however, were instituted and carried on by three Methodist women, Mrs. Herrick, Mrs. Ryder, and Mrs. Hinckley in the summer of 1818 at the south log school house.
June 24, 1880 (Part 4 of 8)Benjamin Hinckley and family arrived in September 1813 from Connecticut and settled on the west part of the west half of lot 38, the improvements on which he bought of Dyson obtaining his title elsewhere. He purchased considerable land besides. There were now in Hiram thirteen families, embracing sixty-four persons, twenty-nine of whom were adults. Of this twenty-nine none are now known to be living. In the fall of this year a log school house was built upon a spot then called Popular Ridge, about a half mile south of the center of the township near the top of the hill south of where Benjamin Tilden's house now stands. In this house the first school was taught the ensuing winter by Benjamin Hinckley. He begun his school on the 13th of December and taught ten weeks, having an attendance of twenty scholars. The names of the scholars were as follows: Betsy Young, James I. Young, L. P. Young, Andrew Young, Lydia Young, Sally Young, John C. Young, Orrin Hutchinson, Harriet Hutchinson, John Dyson, James Dyson, Sarepta Hughes, Polly Hughes, Samuel Johnson, Alex. Johnson, Susan Johnson, Susan Hinckley, Ann Hinckley, Peggy Hampton and ______ Judson. Six of those are now known to be living, viz: Betsey L. Harris, Susan H. Proctor, James I. Young, John C. Young, Capt. Andrew Young, and Alexander Johnson. In his school book is the following entry: "Father of light and life. Thou God supreme; Oh teach me what is good! Teach me thyself! Save me from folly, vanity, and vice -- from every low pursuit, and feed my soul with knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue fine, sacred, substantial, never failing bliss." He was a surveyor and Justice of the Peace, and set out the beautiful row of maple trees now standing in front of Eber D. Hinckley's house and farm.
From this time schools were maintained in the township. At this time Hiram was but one school district, but in 1816 the township was divided into two which were known respectively as the center and south road districts, in each of which a log school house was built soon after the districts were formed. These houses served the people for all public purposes. It had now been ten years since the first permanent settlement had been made in Hiram, and matters of public improvement, although at times sadly neglected, had not been wholly unattended to. Roads demanded and received first attention. The one running east and west through the township was, as before stated, first laid out and partially opened at quite an early day, 1800. Though it was not until the beginning of 1820 that it was fully opened through, when it was opened from the center of Hiram direct through to Mantua to the center of Aurora. The one running through the south part of the township was first laid out in 1806, and in leaving Garrettsville a little west of Dr. Lee's residence, bore northwesterly from where it now runs and went up the hill very near or a little north of Mr. Gate's house, and then run to where Mr. Thrasher's now stands so as to save bridging that little ravine east of his house, and came on to the present road bed near Mr. Hull's house; it then followed near its present location until it reached to near the east line of lot number 33; then its location was considerably north of where it now runs. It run up the hill near where the late Chas. Raymond's house now stands, and near where Nelson Raymond and Clark Norton now live, and still north of the present location to Caleb Vaughn's residence, but in the spring of 1814 on the petition of Thomas Johnson, Seth Cole and Benj. Hinckley it was altered and placed upon lot lines between parts of lot 34 and 37, and all of lots 32, 38, and 39. John Harmon says he was the surveyor who surveyed for the change. This change made the road very crooked at ends of the alteration. In 1827, the Legislature appointed Commissioners to lay out a turnpike from Warren to Aurora. These Commissioners remedied the crooks above mentioned by locating the road as it now runs. The Legislature also appointed Commissioners to lay out a turnike from Warren to Aurora through the center of Hiram and other townships, but their location varied so little from the old road that the alterations were not much regarded.
For a few years after the war of 1812 there existed considerable of a military spirit among the inhabitants and several townships were united to form military companies, and whiskey was considered a necessary article to promote expertness in military drills. From one of the military trainings held at or near Garrettsville some of the non-commissioned officers [were] returning home and found one of their company, a corporal, laying beside the road, and supposing him drunk did not like to leave him there, so picked him up and carried him along. As they arrived at the road crossing near the south school house, and as they were thoroughly tired out with his weight they laid him down. As they were upon the point of leaving, what was their surprise to see the before helpless corporal rise to his feet apparently as well as anybody!
This surprise was turned to another feeling when he took off his hat and making a low bow said, "Gentlemen, I thank you for fetching me up." "This is too much" said sergeant R., and knocking him down he commenced to demonstrate his exasperation in a very forcible manner. Officer Ryder however pulled him off, declaring that it was a good joke although rather practical. "By Moses!" said the still infuriated sergeant, "I'll learn him not to joke quite so hard next time;" but suddenly he thought the better of the matter and they left the joking corporal to the enjoyment of his fun, which undoubtedly was sufficient solace for his bruises.
In the winter of 1816 Symonds and Jason Ryder with their father, mother, and sisters, arrived and settled on lands previously located by Symonds, who had built a cabin near to where Jason and his son John J. now reside. They afterwards divided their lands, Jason retaining the homestead and Symonds building where Hartwell and son now reside.
As has been stated, at first several townships were united for public purposes. As the population increased one after another had been set off until at the time to which we have now arrived only Nelson remained attached (except Freedom, which had no settlers in it) which had been the case since 1813. The elections were then held at Mr. Pritchard's house near the line between the townships, on the center road where Nelson Talcott some years afterwards built his first chair factory. When the election was held in the spring of 1816 the people of Hiram were very anxious to have for township clerk some one of their number, as Nelson had had this office for some time and it was probable that the townships would be divided before another should be elected, and they wished to have the records which are now unluckily lost. Early upon election day most of the voters of Hiram assembled at the usual place, and while they were in the midst of the discussion of their interests a messenger rushed in breathless and excited with the intelligence that the "Presbyterians," as they called the Nelson people, were coming to get all the offices! It was their custom, although an illegal one, to ballot for one office at a time and hurried by the alarming news they elected as soon as the business could be done a Clerk who immediately qualified and took his seat. Thus all the offices were hurried through for fear the Presbyterians would come en masse and outnumber them. There was not, however, a single Presbyterian present at the election. The loss of the early records before alluded to makes it impossible to give the result of the first local elections held in Hiram after being separated from the other townships, which is a matter much to be regretted.
July 1, 1880 (Part 5 of 8)It was this year that the first post-office in Hiram was opened at the Center. Thomas F. Young was appointed Post Master, which office he held for thirty-six years, until the day of his death, which occurred on the 27th of November, 1852, at the age of 67.
In the spring of 1816, Aruna Tilden came into the township with his family including his brother-in-law, John Jennings, and settled on the west half of lot 37. In the fall, Parley Hughes and Ephraim Hackett having sold to Elisha Hutchinson, moved out of the township. About the middle of December, Elijah Mason fulfilling his intention of 13 years before, came with his family and settled on the west half of lot 43.
The tide of emigration which afterwards so rapidly settled the western country, was just beginning to rise and the prospects of Hiram, with her sister townships, began to brighten in its influences, which was first strongly felt in the year 1818. The price of land at this time was from two to three dollars per acre. In the spring of 1816 Nelson was set off and Hiram stood a township by itself. At the April election this spring sixteen voters were present, and entire unanimity prevailed. Thomas F. Young was chosen Clerk, James Young, John Redden and Benjamin Hinkley Trustees, Richard Redden, Treasurer; the other officers elected are not remembered.
This year Gersham Judson came from Mantua and began on lot 31, afterwards sold to Paul Pitkin and moved to Illinois or Missouri and died there leaving a large family. Stephen B. Pulsifer and family arrived in the township and settled on lot 19. Ira Herrick with his father and mother began at the east end of lot 33. Daniel Tilden, Benjamin Tilden, John Tilden and Polly Tilden arrived sometime during the spring of this year. Daniel settled on lot 31, which he afterwards sold to Samuel Udall. John Tilden settled on the west half of lot 28, but his father, Benjamin Tilden lived with his son Arunah, who had arrived the year previous. In October Ebenezer Piney arrived and settled on the southeast part of lot 31, which afterwards passed into the hands of Samuel Udall and then to Lucy Judson and is now owned by Hartwell Ryder. These arrivals, which were all in 1817, augmented the population to about one hundred and twenty.
Early in January, 1818 Daniel Hampton came from Trumbull County and settled on the west part of the east half of lot 33. About the 23d of January, 1818, John Johnson, Samuel Udall, Martin Miller, Charles Loomis and Thomas Cowen left Pomfret and Hartford, Vermont, with their families, which were large, all bound for Hiram. Johnson had two or three yoke of oxen, one span of horses and two cows. Udall had four yoke of oxen, three horses and one cow. Loomis, Miller and Cowen also had teams of oxen and horses. Cows were brought mostly for their milk on the road, as the several families mostly boarded themselves. The snow was deep all the way and they were about six weeks on the road, arriving in Hiram on the fourth day of March. Mr. Johnson settled on the west ends of lots 22 and 39, where he had caused a cabin to be built the year before, and where William W. Stevens now lives. Mr. Udall moved into a cabin owned by Mr. Hutchinson, where Zeb Rudolph now lives, and bought and settled on the west halves of lots 24 and 27. Mr. Loomis settled on the middle part of lot 39 where Nelson Udall now lives. Mr. Miller settled on the west half of lot 36, the land now owned by Bela Wheeler. Mr. Cowen first moved into a cabin owned by Richard Redden, and afterwards to Miles T. Norton's cabin.
Sometime in the summer of 1818 Gideon Chapin arrived and for a while lived in a cabin which Hutchinson had erected at his saw mill in the southwest part of the township, which mill was the first one built in the township, except those built at an early day at Cuyahoga Rapids. Chapin settled on lot 17 which he had purchased previous to his emigrating to Hiram. About the same time Lemuel Herrick came and moved in with his brother, Ira, afterwards settled on lot 25 or 26. Sometime in the summer or fall Miles T. Norton came and boarded with Thomas Cowen who lived in his cabin. Joel Button arrived and settled on lot 14 where G. B. Murwin now lives. Elisha Taylor arrived from Connecticut and settled on the west half of lot 18. Taylor was a tanner, currier, and shoemaker, and was the first one who worked at these trades who settled in the township. Horace A. Loomis arrived from Connecticut the same year and begun on the west half of lot 30. Curtis Eggleston and Truman Brace also from Connecticut, came and settled on the middle part of lot 21, and afterwards moved on to the north part of lot 24 and built a saw mill which he finally sold, joined the Mormons, and with them went West. Captain William Harris came from Mantua and bought out Paul Davidson's betterments on lot 29. He was the father of the late Abner Harris, whose widow now lives at the same place on the top of "Hiram Hill." During the summer or fall of this year Charles H. Paine, the first settler in Freedom, moved from Painesville and lived with his father-in-law, Elijah Mason, until he could build a cabin upon his land in Freedom, which was completed in November. In March, 1819, John M. Tilden, (son of Mason Tilden) moved into the township with his family and began on the west part of the east half of lot 25. In June, Paul Pitkin came with his family from Vermont and bought out Gersham Judson who moved back to Mantua. There were a number of arrivals of those who proved to be transient settlers this year, most of whom settled in the northern part of the township. In 1821, or the year after, Col. Daniel Tilden arrived and settled on the east part of lot 29. The population of the township in 1820 was about 225. There were four men now in Hiram who had served in the war of the Revolution. They were Col. Daniel Tilden, who was a lieutenant, and who was a pensioner, old Mr. Turner, also a pensioner, Elijah Mason, of the Connecticut Militia, and Christopher Redden of the New Jersey Militia. About 1820 or 22, Deacon John Rudolph, who had lived in Nelson since 1806, moved into Hiram near where Mr. Orman Newcomb now lives. He had a large family among which were John Jr. and Zeb, both now residents of Hiram, and have lived in Nelson and Hiram about seventy-five years. John married for his first wife a daughter of Judge Atwater, of Mantua, and raised a large family. Zeb married a daughter of Elijah Mason, and is the father of General Garfield's wife. The family emigrated to Ohio from Maryland, John Jr. being about six years old when his father moved into Garrettsville; he was married and moved into Hiram about the same time or a little before his father did, his residence having for the past fifty or sixty years been where he and his son James now live.
July 8, 1880 (Part 6 of 8)A few anecdotes will serve to illustrate the status in many respects, of the community of Hiram in the early day, but while reading them, it should be remembered that crudity of ideas in regard to some things, is excusable in men who are proficient in matters pertaining to their particular avocations.
At a little gathering at Esq. Reddens, the question as to whether stones grew or not. From a parliamentary phrase, the house soon divided and the discussion waxed warm without leading to any satisfactory conclusion. At least one of their number arose and said that he should take the negative and as a proof that stones did not grow he would state that he built a stone chimney upon his house 7 years before, just even with the ridge, and that it had grown no higher since. This entirely disposed of the question which was at once dismissed. This was the first scientific discussion in Hiram.
In about 1825 a young man held a meeting at the south school house. After opening, which he began at once, talking so loud and fast as to become incoherent, stamping his feet clapping his hands and running about the floor while the tears flowed from his eyes and mingled with a copious perspiration, rolled off profusely from his chin. After raving this way some thirty or forty minutes, he stopped suddenly and blowing his nose as vociferously as he had talked sat down. For a moment it was perfectly still, and then an old gentleman who never stood upon propriety when he wished to express an opinion, spoke up, "Well, well, my lad, you've blowed it out pretty straight. That's not the way to preach. Why don't you take a text and keep your place and not go bawling about the house in this way? Your way is not the way to preach. I'll leave it to Deacon Maxson if it is." This young man, no doubt, was impressed by these suggestions, for he afterward became a very popular preacher and a strong debater of biblical questions.
The same old gentleman who criticized the preacher came to the school-house to meeting one morning, stood in the door leaning on his staff, and looking over the house, seeing no vacant seat, spake and said, "T'aint now as it used to be when I lived in the Jerseys; then when the old man come to meeting the boys would get up and give me a seat but here the boys get all the seats and let the old man stood."
Some considerable time prior to the above meeting, Rev. Caleb Pitkin, of Charleston came to Hiram and preached and after meeting he went home with Dea. Paul Pitkin whose family occupied one part of a cabin while another family did another part. The maternal head of this other family was very loquacious and the following dialogue took place between her and the minister:
Mrs.____ "Don't you think St. Paul was a snorting preacher?"
Mr. P., "I don't know what you mean by snorting preacher."
Mrs.____, "I mean that he was a rip snorter to preach."
Mr. P. "I do not know what you mean by the words rip snorter any better than I did by the word snorting."
Mrs.____, "Why I mean that he preached loud and fast!"
Mr. P., "No, Mrs., it appears from his writings that he was very mild yet zealous in his preaching."
Mrs.____, "Well I don't know, but I always thought that St. Paul was a rip snorter to preach!"
This lady's husband was the man who so satisfactorily settled the stone question.
During the year 1820, the first frame school house was begun in the south road school district, and after much effort was completed. In the Center district a little time afterwards, a frame building was put up to subserve the purpose of a school house, and with a Masonic hall above, but it was never completed. Some years previous to this Thomas Johnson and Elisha Hutchinson built each a frame barn which were the first two frame buildings in the town. About the same time, 1819 or 20, Jesse Bruce came into the township with his family and built the first frame dwelling house in the township. It stood on the hill a few rods east of Alvah Udall's barn on lot 25; a few years later he moved on to the east part of lot 24, and died there. He was one of the first carpenters in the township and put up many buildings; his family moved to the Western States.
In 1819 the first military company was organized by the election of Symonds Ryder, captain; (Ryder had previously been an ensign in the company formed by Hiram and Nelson) Orrin Hutchinson lieutenant; Silas Raymond, ensign; John Tilden, orderly sergeant; George Udall, drummer; John M. Tilden, fifer. Udall and Tilden afterwards became drum and fife majors of the regiment.
From 1820 the population of the township gradually increased and her forests to slowly disappear, her soil to develop its wealth, and both her public and private improvements to be improved upon. Hiram was fairly on the road -- a long one it is true -- towards the place she now occupies as among the best townships in the County. Hiram, owing to its elevation and the consequent rapidity of its streams, is one of the healthiest townships on the Reserve, yet there are some diseases that have but little partiality of place. In 1825 the dysentery prevailed terminating mortality in some ten or twelve cases. This was the only extraordinary sickly year in the history of the township, except 1852, in which erysipelas prevailed. About 1820 Dea. John D. Hazen, son-in-law of Elijah Mason, arrived from Hartford, Vermont, and settled on the east part of lot 45, where Dr. Lee's house now stands, and he built the original of that house. He went into trade in Garrettsville in company with his brother-in-law David J. Garrett for a short time, and then built a small store on the corner of State and North streets. This was the first store for general merchandise built and opened in Hiram township. Dea. Hazen run that store many years and then he and his son Joseph superseded it with a large commodious building which was after the Deacon's death sold by Joseph to David B. Lee and his son Robert, and was either by accident or design burned and was never rebuilt. The farm has been divided up into small pieces and lots, Dr. E. B. Lee owning that corner.
There was one thing in which the settlers in Hiram kept fully up with the prevailing fashions of the times, and that was in the free use of alcoholic liquors. Perhaps a little explanation will be an admissible excuse in some measure for that fashion. When the country was new, the soil fertile and productive, people were clearing up their lands and raising an abundant surplus of grain of all kinds for which there was no market. Previous to the opening of the New York & Erie Canal a load of wheat or corn would not buy a pound of tea, or cloth for a shirt, because the merchants had no use for it, there being no means of sending it to market, and if you put the corn into pork you could sell it for only two cents per pound, consequently large quantities of the grain[s] corn, rye and wheat went to the distillers to be worked into whiskey, some of which was shipped to New York by way of the river and New Orleans. The market price by the barrel was from 12 1/2 to 18 cents per gallon, consequently large quantities of it were consumed in the country. There were two distilleries in Mantua, one in Hiram, one large one in Parkman and two in Nelson. Grain would fetch from one and a half to two gallons of whiskey per bushel, while it would fetch nothing in money or store goods. One man a little south of here being in need of money, sold 100 bushels of nice wheat for 12 1/2 dollars. Large quantities of good wheat was fed out in the sheaf in the yards for cattle, horses, sheep, hogs and geese to do their own threshing. After the New York Canal was completed a market was opened for wheat and flour, and wheat if it was clean and nice would command 40 cents per bushel, and whiskey manufacturing became a less profitable branch of business. Thus it will be seen that liquor being so cheap and so plenty that the people would very naturally acquire the habit of using it to excess, especially as it was very fashionable for doctors, lawyers, judges and even clergymen to use it on all public and other occasions; clergymen would take a glass of bitters before commencing to preach a funeral sermon.
July 15, 1880 (Part 7 of 8)An anecdote will illustrate some of the prevailing fashions. One minister at intermission at noon, was in the habit of calling, with the deacons of the church, on a brother who lived near by. Before dinner, as was the fashion, the brother set on the bottle and invited them to drink; the minister declined, so the deacons also refused. After dinner while walking back to church, the deacons asked him why he declined? He answered that he did not want to drink. They replied they did, but did not like to drink without he did; so next Sabbath they called there again and the bottle came on as usual; on being asked to drink his reverence replied that he did not wish to drink himself, but he thought probable his deacons would like a little! One thing in regard to liquor drinking in those days: The liquor was either different from that which we get now or else the habits of the people in living and dressing make their constitutions different, for notwithstanding the excessive use then, delirium tremens was scarcely ever heard of; now, with much less liquor consumed, it is a very common disease. The temperance reformation which commenced in about 1829 or 30 caused a great change which could be seen in all the relations of society in the township, and at the present time (1880) and for many years past, there is no place in the township where alcoholic liquors are sold. If the inhabitants use liquor they must go out of the township for it, and for a sober and temperate place Hiram ranks as high as any township in the Country.
From the date of the first preaching in 1815 to 1835, all sorts of doctrines were promulgated by all sorts of preachers, and it was the peculiar aptness of the people to listen to new isms, that induced the Mormons, then beginning to gather in Kirtland, to turn their attention to Hiram. In the winter of 1831 Joseph Smith, Jr., with others, had an appointment to preach at the south school house and such was the apparent purity of his religion, which went by the name of "liberal," that he won for himself and it many friends. During the next spring and summer several converts were made and matters seemed to be going on prosperously for the "Latter Day Saints." Soon, however, very luckily for their dupes, they went temporarily to Missouri, probably to locate a State [sic - Stake] of Zion, and accidently left behind them papers which discovered to the public some of the dirty ropes and pulleys that worked the machinery of their church behind the well-painted screen that they exhibited to the Gentile world. Those papers revealed a deeply laid plot to get possession of the property of their converts and place it under control of Joseph Smith, their prophet. This opened the eyes of the Hiramites and by fall the Mormon church in the township was [a] very lank concern. It was determined by some not to suffer this flagrant attempt at humbug and swindle to pass with impunity. Accordingly in March, 1832, a company of men from Shalersville, Garrettsville, and Hiram, went under cover of night to Mormon headquarters and took the saints, Smith and Rigdon, from their beds, and denuding them of their sleeping costumes, gave them a plentiful covering with tar and feathers and at the same time gave them the pleasure of "riding on a rail." That manner of rail riding is presumed to be not quite so enjoyable as the present mode of rail riding. This produced the desired result, for the township was soon purged of their presence. They went to Kirtland where Mormonism flourished until 1837, when their emigration to Missouri took place. It is highly probable that had it not been for the discovery of this plot and the resulting tar and feather visitation of the prophets, that Hiram would have been revealed to be a State [sic - Stake] of Zion. Several of the men who engaged in this summary proceeding are still living, no doubt with the consciousness of having contributed a public benefaction, while others perhaps with more deliberate judgment would decide that mobs and persecutions were not conducive to the welfare of mankind and do not tend to the eradication of evil.
The prevailing religious sentiment up to this had been and for a short time subsequent continued to be, Baptist. This denomination had a small church building at the Rapids which has since been burned. The Congregationalists also had a small church organization at the same place, but it proved too weak to sustain itself. On the first day of March 1835 a church of Disciples was organized at the south road school house, consisting at first of thirteen members. In one year its membership embraced twenty-one, and it continued to steadily increase and prosper until it now numbers between two and three hundred. In 1844 its members erected a church building at the Center which was burned in about twelve years thereafter to be succeeded by the fine and commodious brick edifice that now stands upon the site of the old building.
In 1844 also, the Methodist[s] built a neat frame church building a few rods north of the corners at the Center. This church had a society in Hiram, but Methodism does not seem to prosper in Hiram. Some of its members moved away, and other leading members died, and the church run down, so that it was deemed advisable to sell the building and appropriate the money where it would be more beneficial to the general cause of Methodism. Besides these organizations the membership of the three Churches in Garrettsville are largely swelled by citizens of Hiram. The Methodist church was afterward sold to the township and fitted up and is now used for a town hall.
An anecdote will serve to illustrate the character of some of the members of the Methodist church: There were one or two members who were rather fond of the operation of the "spirit ardent;" other members who were fond of money would furnish the spirits for their enjoyment. As the Fourth of July drew near the temperate members of the church thought it expedient to look after one member in particular. So they resolved to appoint a committee of one to attend the case and appointed Mr. Gridley the committee. There was to be that year two celebrations of the Fourth, one at Ravenna, called the Harrison Whig celebration, and one at Mantua Corners called the Union celebration. As the Corners was known as a place where spirits could be readily obtained the members thought it a dangerous place for their brother to go to celebrate, so Mr. Gridley went over, thinking to persuade him to go with them to Ravenna, and said to him: "Well, brother Robert, where are you going to celebrate the Fourth? Will you go with us to Ravenna to the Whig celebration?" He replied, "Well, brother Gridley, I tell you what it is; I have been at work very hard this spring and am tired and think I will go to neither place, but will go to the Rapids and get a jug of whiskey and stay at home and have one day of real sacred rest!" Mr. Gridley concluded his mission was ended and so returned home.
July 22, 1880 (Part 8 of 8)The Western Reserve Eclectic Institute, as it was named in its first charter granted in 1850, and Hiram College as re-chartered in 1867, has now long been considered, wherever it is known, to be one of the best institutions of learning in Northern Ohio. It merits its high reputation through the perfection of all the means usually made use of in imparting knowledge, and although it does not boast of an illustrious alumni, yet many of the first men in the country feel proud to acknowledge it as their Alma Mater. Its influence, radiating over a wide extent of country, is seen and felt in the morality and intellectuality of communities comparatively remote, but its benefits in these regards to those in its more immediate vicinity are immeasurable.
THE RAPIDS.The corner of the township of Hiram, the northwest corner, commonly known by the name of "Rapids," which is the name of the post office, was not much improved until after 1830. As has been before stated, the first saw mill built in town was built in about 1808 for a Mr. Law, of Connecticut, who owned six hundred axres of land in that part of the township. The mill was kept up until after 1820, and was tended by a very small man by the name of Phineas Pond; he was so small (about the size of a 13 or 14 year old boy) that he went by the name of "little Pond," but he did not like to be called small. One anecdote is told of him: he went to Mr. James Young, the tailor, to get an overcoat made. At that time overcoats were always called "great coats" instead of overcoats. he wanted Mr. Young to measure the cloth so as to know whether there was enough of it. The tailor measured it and said there was a great plenty to make him a great coat. Little Pond thought that was insinuating that he was smaller than men in general, spoke up very impertantly and said, "I want you to understand that it takes as much to make me a great coat as it does for any man!" Some time after or about 1820, the mill was worn out and both the mill and dam rotted and washed away. About 1830 two or three families had settled in that vicinity, among which were the Furman and Rice families. In 1832 Mr. Henry Canfield, of Auburn, bought the land and mill site of Mr. Law. The premises had grown up to bushes, and was a wild looking place. About September, 1832, Mr. Canfield's son Charles came there and commenced cutting logs for a cabin, and lumber was hauled from Auburn and the cabin completed and the family moved in about the first of the year 1833; a mill dam was built the preceding fall. The next spring a saw mill was built and Newman Wadsworth and Nathan B. Canfield built a building which they used for a cabinet shop; this was the first frame building built at the Rapids, excepting the mills. There were no roads then that could really be called roads, and no bridge to cross the river. The Canfields built a foot bridge directly over the mill dam. Over this bridge a lady was crossing in the spring while the river was high and full of ice. She had on her arm a small tin pail with a cover, and in it a quart or two of whiskey, and perhaps a little in her head. Something caused her to lose her balance and overboard she went into the water and among the floating cakes of ice. Chas. Canfield happened to be below on shore and seeing something floating which he did not understand, watched until he saw a hand raised up above the water. He then saw some person was drowning, and he being a good swimmer, run, throwing off his coat and vest, but had no time to pull off his boots which very much troubled him about swimming; the water was high and running fast, but he succeeded in reaching his object, and at first caught her by the hair but could not well hold her up so caught her by the arm, but the surging and whirling of the water and cakes of ice necessitated the using of so much force that her arm was broken. On the other arm hung the pail, but the cover and whiskey had mingled with the raging waters of the Cuyahoga. He landed her on shore apparently lifeless, and he was nearly exhausted himself. There happened to be a Baptist meeting there that day and the people hearing the alarm rushed to their assistance. The lady was brought to her senses, her broken arm dressed and both were tenderly cared for. Mr. Canfield was sick a long time the next winter and this lady was his most kind and indefatigable nurse, and always a firm and kind friend. Mr. Canfield's dam soon became a bone of contention with the people of Troy township, who claimed that the inundation of the low lands along the river caused an unnatural amount of ague and sickness along the river. The citizens of Troy clubbed together and commenced suit against Mr. Canfield, but the Court decided no cause of action. Another suit was brought, resulted as did the former. In the winter of 1835 Jason Burnell attempted to take soundings just above the dam, and to this end began to cut holes through the ice, when Charles G. Canfield promptly fired upon him from the mill, the ball striking the ice uncomfortably near, when Mr. Burnell incontinently fled. Later a party from Troy made a night attack, intending to burn the mill, but again Charles confronted them with a mill-bar, and the assaulting force retired in good order. In July 1836 war was openly declared. The besieged who then lived in the house afterwards occupied by Quinby, procured a cannon from Garrettsville, loaded it with odds and ends of chains, &c., and planted it so as to be in range with the apparently doomed mill and dam, while skirmishers with loaded rifles took their stations among the saw logs and elsewhere in readiness for a charge from the "light brigade." The looked for day at length arrived, when a company of determined men, under whose leadership the writer is not informed, was formed on the west bank of the classic Cuyahoga, bent on victory or destruction of the mill and dam.
Note: Although the July 22nd installment of Alvah Udall's "Early History of Hiram" ends with the promise of "to be continued," publication of the series in The Journal ceased on that date. Charles Reynard, in his 1937 "Comparative Historical Accounts: Udall, Ryder, Brown," says: "In the following account, an attempt has been made to show the remarkable similarity between these two histories (Alvah Udall's 'Early History of Hiram' and Charles H. Ryder's "History of Hiram")... This leads one to suppose that either Udall obtained much of his information directly from Ryder, or that both had a common source of information from some previous account..." Reynard goes on to mention "General Bierce's History" of 1860, which was not the sole common source for Udall and Ryder. The most logical explanation is that Ryder had access to both Bierce and an unidentified early historical narrative (which Reynard guesses "is now lost"). Ryder's manuscript history was only partially published in 1874, after he failed to have his full essay inserted into the 1874 Everts' Atlas. Udall evidently drew upon additional historical information not available to the earlier writers, Bierce and Ryder. Excerpts from all of these four sources appear scattered throughout Brown's 1885 volume.
Memorial to the Pioneer Women
of the Western Reserve
by Gertrude V. Wickham
(Cleveland: Centennial Commission, 1896)
PIONEER WOMEN OF HIRAM,
The original proprietors were all Freemasons, and on the suggestion of Colonel Daniel TILDEN, named the town that was to be Hiram in honor of the King of Tyre. The original Hiram included six other townships successively cut off, viz., Mantua 1810, Shalersveill 1812, Windham 1813, Nelson 1816, Freedom 1825, and Garretsville 1864.
There is some doubt concerning the first settlers. It is thought that Abraham S. HONEY made a small clearing and built a cabin and went away in the fall. This is said to be the first sign of civilization in the town.
In 1802 Elijah MASON, Mason TILDON, from Connecticut, and Elieha HUTCHINSON, from New York, came to the township and located lands, leaving their families in the East, then returned home.
John FLEMING came the same year, cleared the timber from sixteen acres of land, built a cabin, and planted the first crop of corn and potatoes in the town. MASON returned and put in the first crop of wheat in the town, which he harvested in 1804.
In 1803 Richard REDDIN and his wife, Nancy JACOBS, with REDDIN’s father and family, were the first white families to winter in the town.
In 1807 Miss Sarah REDDIN was married to Gershom JUDSON, of Mantua, this being the first marriage in the town. In 1817 Parthenia MASON, daughter of Elijah MASON, was married to Charles W. PAINE. This was the second marriage in town. Zeb RUDOLPH, originally from Virginia, came from Nelson to Hiram in 1835. He married Arabel MASON, another daughter of Elijah MASON. Mr. RUDOLPH, at the age of ninety-three, is still living in Mentor with his daughter, MRS. PRESIDENT GARFIELD.
This was the third township settled in the county. It was more the hunting grounds than the home of the Indians. They had a little village of twelve or fifteen huts just above Hiram Rapids, where they spent part of each year hunting. Aunt Asenath YOUNG, a sprightly little old woman, tells us of seeing young Indians racing by her present home on their ponies, and of seeing bears trotting across the stumpy fields near the house. The Indians frequenting this town were mostly Wyandots. The relations between them and the whites were friendly until after the war of 1812; then the few remaining were forced to leave.
From what our oldest people say, the snakes, especially rattlesnakes, were the greatest dread of anything. Richard REDDIN was bitten by one while harvesting wheat, where Tillie ELLIS now lives. He was taken to the Indians for a remedy. A squaw gathered indigo weed and applied it and cured him. We have received numerous incidents of the women going out of their way to kill the venomous reptiles. Aunt Betsy YOUNG HARRIS got off her horse to kill a large one, then mounted and went her way.
Henry DYSON, a fine-looking old pioneer still living, tells us that his mother, Polly DYSON, kept a hoe hanging on the outside of her cabin with which to kill snakes, and many were the rattlers she dispatched. The famous rattlesnake den is south of "Big Hollow," a rocky ravine on the west side of the road near the watering trough. There they wintered by the hundreds. One fall John DYSON and Luther COLE fastened them in and kept them there several years till their rattling ceased.
Polly TILDEN was born in Connecticut in 1779. She enjoyed more than the ordinary advantage of girls at that time, and her vivacious manner and her brilliant conversation made her the belle of the town. She became the wife of Elisha HUTCHINSON in 1796. He was one of the first to locate land here in 1802. In 1814 Mrs. HUTCHINSON came to Hiram with her family from York State, making the journey in a three-horse covered wagon. Buffalo had just been burned by the British, and the ruins were still smoking when they passed along.
The home of this pioneer woman was a log house west of Hiram, where E.A. CROSSE now lives. There is an old pear tree still standing opposite this place. Mrs. HUTCHINSON had something of a poetic turn, often writing her letters to her Eastern friends in rhyme. To this tree she once addressed a poem now before me. After saying she would soon be gone, she added:
That perhaps is still unborn."
One of the grandchildren of this nice old lady, Mrs. Mary STEVEN, the mother of one of our committee, lives in the beautiful old home from which Joe SMITH was taken to be treated to tar and feathers.
In the year 1811 Elizabeth YOUNG, wife of George YOUNG, and Hannah, wife of James YOUNG, with their families, made the journey from Connecticut with ox teams and carts. In the year 1821, Sallie, daughter of Elizabeth YOUNG, was given in marriage to John DYSON, for which occasion the pretty changeable red and black silk wedding dress of the mother was used by the daughter. A few years later she exchanged the same for a cow, thus showing the good sense and self-denial which characterized our grandmothers. This same young girl, when the joys and cares of motherhood came upon her, used to sit and sew by the light of the chimney fire, while her eldest boy, Henry, fed the blaze by throwing on hickory bark, which leaping into flame, would make better light than gas or electricity.
Ann TILDEN ABBOT cooked the first tomatoes about 1838. They were thought to be poisonous. After this they came into general use. Amanda BARNES made herself useful by spinning wool for the farmers’ families, forty knows or a run being a day’s work. For this she received seventy-five cents per week.
One mother, whose son was about to leave home, decided a new suit must be prepared. In a very short time (I think three weeks) the wool, just as it came from the sheep, was converted into a nice brown full cloth suit, all the process
of carding, spinning, weaving, coloring, pulling, cutting, and making having been carried through by that devoted mother with her own hands.
Lydia TILDEN, daughter of Colonel Daniel (who was an officer under General Washington and personally acquainted with him) with her husband, Thomas YOUNG, came to Hiram from Connecticut in 1812.
In 1816 the first postoffice was opened. Thomas YOUNG was postmaster and continued to be thirty-six years until his death.
Mrs. Jude STEVENS, Mrs. Pelatiah ALLYN, and Mrs. Fanny RYDER (the husband of the latter is Jason RYDER, now living at the age of ninety-seven years) were the proud possessors of the first stoves used in the township -- 1837. Mrs. Silas RAYMOND owned the first buggy used in town, to the envy of some of her neighbors, one of whom declared that he would have a buggy with epileptic springs. Training days were big days. Some of the women took time to go and watch the drilling, though I imagine they took their knitting with them. The ground on which the company drilled was about five acres of the present college campus. It was the only open space, and they had to dodge the stumps then.
The father-in-law of Emma DYSON, one of our committee, tells her of the first and best meal he ate in Hiram. It was at the home of Richard REDDIN, cooked by Nellie, his daughter, who was noted for her talent in this direction. She swung the griddle over the coals in the fireplace, greased it with a bit of pork, which was suspended by a string to her apron, then let it hang by her side till wanted for the next griddle pull. From a large crock, standing in the corner the batter was dipped on to it. A large pile of these cakes were baked. When the pork was fried large hunting knives were taken from the pouches to cut the meat in mouthfuls. Sharpened sticks were used as forks. The invitation was given, "Stand by and take a bite."
In the earliest days most of the cooking was done in one bake kettle. Tea water was first boiled, potatoes cooked, then cake, next meat. Visitors kindly contributed tea.
Uncle Henry DYSON says the linen dress the girls wore to meeting -- some of them one stripe copper color and one stripe the natural color of the linen, when ironed nicely shone like silk. "I tell you they looked nice." He has in his possession linen sheets, also a bed quilt, made before the Revolutionary war. They were formerly owned by Rhoda GOODRICH STANLY. The sheets are fine and hemstitched as they do them at the present time. The quilt is bonbazine, wool and linen. All was done by hand.
Aunt Abbie HUTCHINSON, a nice, motherly old lady, has in her possession a very pretty, fine, home-made linen tablecloth woven by the mother of one of Cleveland’s prosperous men, William BOWLER. His mother was one of the best weavers if not the best in the county.
Andrew YOUNG used to boast of what his little three-year-old Nell did one day. When digging potatoes he placed a basket conveniently near and the little one picked up the large potatoes one at a time and dropped them into the basket, he emptying it when full. She picked up twenty baskets. Little Nell (now Mrs. Ellen PATTON) is a cultivated woman of sixty-three years of age and her poetic contributions to religious papers have been read in many States. Her father, when driving his ox card load of neighbors and friends home from church, met with an amusing accident.
He was riding on the tongue of the cart, when the pin that held the bow down came out and dumped the whole load in the road. A rocking chair was in the load. No one was hurt, but it caused a great deal of merriment. This occurred on Buckingham hill.
Emily HILL has in her possession part of a set of pewter dishes brought from England by her grandmother during the eighteenth century.
People often wonder was is the history of the famous row of maples on Ryder street. Various things have been published. Some have ascribed them to the Mormons. The following is the truth:
In 1808 a daughter was born to Benjamin HINKLEY and wife in Connecticut. The child was christened Susan Harriet. In 1814 Susan started with her parents for the West with a yoke of oxen and span of horses with a large wagon. Buffalo was burned and the chimneys were still standing. The British soldiers, with their plumes and gaudy uniforms, made a lasting impression upon the young girl’s mind. At Burton they loaded into a boat and "poled" on the Cuyahoga River to Rapids. On Mr. HINKLEY’s land was living, in a log cabin, Polly DYSON and her husband, Abraham DYSON (the first blacksmith in the town, also a gunsmith). Mr. HINKLEY built another cabin for his family and in the spring of 1819 a boy named John F. TAYLOR, Susan, then twelve years of age, and her father planted the trees. The part that Susan
took in this work was to pour water in the hole dug by the boy, while her father put the trees in.
Susan HINKLEY PROCTOR, known as Grandma PROCTOR, died in 1891 at Hiram Rapids at the age of eight-four. She was an unusually bright and intelligent old lady to the last. Rachel KENT, wife of Henry CANFIELD, with family, came to Rapids from Auburn, formerly from New York in 1834. They endured many hardships. Mrs. CANFIELD’s uncle married the mother of Stephen A. Douglas.
Martha CANFIELD, M.D., of Cleveland, is granddaughter of these CANFIELDs by marriage. Benjamin HINKLEY taught the first school in town. The following are some of the old girls who were his pupils: Betsy YOUNG, Fanny and Marinda JOHNSON, Elenor REDDIN, Susan and Ann HINKLEY. The old log school house was down by "Big Hollow."
Harriet Rebecca HARRINGTON, wife of Thuel NORTON, came to Hiram in 1832, formerly from Connecticut. Her life was one of great activity. She was a charter member of the church here. There is a record of the NORTON family back nineteen generations. They came from France to England in 1066; to America in 1635.
In 1818, early in January, a company of about forty men, women, and children started from Vermont with ox and horse teams and sleds. The snow was deep. The horse teams would go ahead about as far as the slow oxen could travel, then locate for the night in cabins by the way, tumble the bedding from the sleds on to the floor, and sleep almost any way. In the morning the ox teamsters had their breakfast first and were started on their way. Those remaining did up the work and perhaps some baking, then followed on with the horses, pass the oxen, and find a place again for the night. There were many young people among them and they had a jovial journey. They reached Hiram in March. The snow began to thaw the day after they reached their destination. The following are some of the women: Mrs. Anna BRUCE UDELL, Olive LOOMIS, Mehitabel LOOMIS, Elsie JOHNSON, Misses Nancy, Polly, Lucinda, and Sarah UDELL, Miss Fanny JOHNSON, Chloe LOOMIS, etc., etc. Mehitabel LOOMIS became Mrs. Symonds RYDER. The RYDERs were descendants of a RYDER who came over in the Mayflower.
Hiram’s pioneer population was not remarkably religious. One of the earliest public religious services was conducted at the old south school house in 1818 by three Methodist women, Mrs. Marilla RYDER, Mrs. HERRICK, and Mrs. Susannah HINKLEY. The pioneer church of Portage county was the "Bethesda" Baptist, organized July 30, 1808, in what is now Nelson township. The only religious people who seem to have become deeply rooted in Hiram were the Disciples, an offshoot from the "Bethesda" Baptist Church in 1824. The Hiram church was organized March 1, 1835, with thirteen members, as follows: Symonds RYDER, Arrunah TILDEN, Pelatiah ALLYN, Jason RYDER (still living in his ninety-eighth year), Thuel NORTON, Mehitabel RYDER, Amelia ALLYN, Lucretia MASON (grandmother of Lucretia GARFIELD), Emeline RAYMOND, Amelia ALLYN, Jr., Harriet NORTON, and Betsy SPERRY.
The famous Mormon episode in Hiram occurred in 1831-32. At this distance it looks like a comedy; to the Mormon leaders and the Hiram church it was more of a tragedy. The new ark of Mormonism had recently been set up at Kirtland. There was a serious attempt to transfer it to Hiram. The Mormonism of 1831 was not that of Brigham Young, with its "revelation" of polygamy. John JOHNSON had built a fine large frame house on Ryder street. The JOHNSONs visited Joseph SMITH at Kirtland and Mrs. JOHNSON was miraculously (?) healed of a rheumatic arm by the Mormon prophet. They became confirmed converts to the delusion. For a time their home was both palace and temple to SMITH. Sidney RIGDEN, who furnished the brains for the Mormon movement in its infancy, took up his abode in a log house across the street from the JOHNSONs. Ezra BOOTH, a Methodist minister of some culture, from Mantua and Symonds RYDER, the leading Hiram Disciple, fell temporary victims. For a few months it seemed as though the whole Hiram church would be swept into the Mormon fold. But the real drift of Mormonism was soon apparent, and the end came suddenly, when on a March night in 1832 Joseph SMITH and Sidney RIGDEN were treated to a coat of tar and feathers. SMITH was taken from the JOHNSON house, RIGDEN from his own log cabin across the road. In the confusion Miss Vashti HIGLEY was dragged from her bed. The mistake was soon discovered. Miss HIGLEY afterward married Peter WHITMER, one of the original witnesses to the "golden plates" on which the Mormon bible was based. She left with the Mormons, but returned on the death of her husband. The JOHNSON
family went out with the Mormon exodus.
Mrs. Susannah HINCKLEY, wife of Benjamin HINCKLEY, remained in Hiram, a Mormon to the day of her death, in 1873, at the age of ninety-one years. She kept her ascension robe for forty years in daily anticipation of the advent of Christ.
In 1849 steps were taken by the Disciples of the Western Reserve to found a school. The result was the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram (now Hiram College), which opened its doors in November, 1850. It was the school that drew Zeb RUDOLPH from his farm home in the eastern edge of the township, and the boy GARFIELD from obscurity of his Cuyahoga county home to become Hiram’s illustrious student, teacher, and citizen. And so it came to pass that Hiram has the happy memory of having been the home, during the mature girlhood and golden days of womanhood of Mrs. Lucretia RUDOLPH GARFIELD. Here was the well ordered home of her father and sweet-faced, modest mother. And here, while her honored husband was bearing a leading part in that trying campaign which culminated in the battle of Chickamauga. She remodeled and rebuilt the modest cottage which was for many years her own home.
Modest and retiring always, she has filled every place to which duty has called her with a singular fidelity and grace. As student and teacher, as daughter and wife and mother, her life has held a charm for its devotion and its silent well doing. More than this she would not wish us to say. Less than this we cannot say.
GARFIELD once said:
"The pioneers who first broke ground her accomplished a work unlike that which will fall to the lot of any succeeding generation. The hardships they endured, the obstacles they encountered, the life they led, the peculiar qualities they needed in their undertaking, and the traits of character developed by their work, stand alone in our history."
Mrs. Emma. J. DEAN,Hiram committee -- Mrs. Emma Y. DYSON, Mrs. Emily M. RYDER, Mrs. Hattie V. ALLYN, Mrs. Chestina A. YOUNG, Mrs. Belle R. YOUNG, Miss M. Ella STEVENS.
Chairman and Historian
Note: "Miss M. Ella Stevens" later became a journalist in her own right. See also her 1909 article, written under the name of "Ellen S. Dilley."
PIONEER WOMEN OF MANTUA,
Mantua bears the honor of receiving the first settlers that entered Portage County, an honor of which it is justly proud. The township was originally the property of an eastern land company and was surveyed by Daniel ABBOTT, a member of the convention which framed the first Constitution of Ohio.
The first man to drive a stake, put up a cabin and settle down to business in Mantua was Abraham HONEY, 1798. Elias HARMAN and wife arrived at the clearing HONEY had made 1799. Their daughter, Eunice, was the first white child born in the town, and for this honor was presented fifty acres of land. She became Mrs. Simeon SHELDON, and passed her life here.
In 1799 Baschal McINTOSH with his wife and five children, came from Haverhill, N.H. Mrs. McINTOSH was undoubtedly the first white woman to arrive in Mantua and perhaps the first to settle in Portage County. She brought from the east apple, peach, and cherry seeds, which she planted, and her’s was the first bearing orchard in the county.
No better mince pies were ever made than those made by her in the fall of 1799, as follows: The flour for the crust was made by pounding wheat, the meat was venison, and the fruit, crab apples. It has been handed down even to this generation that those pies were the best.
Both Mr. and Mrs. McINTOSH were charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, organized 1807. She was a valued citizen, and a genial, hospitable lady. Her husband was one of those who, disguised as Indians, boarded the British ship and emptied the tea into Boston harbor in Revolutionary times.
In 1800 Basil WINDSOR and wife, with a family of children, settled in the east part of the town. They united with the Methodist Episcopal Church at its organization. Mrs. WINDSOR experienced many hardships, but accepted all with fortitude and resignation.
Lettia WINDSOR married Rufus EDWARDS in 1803. It was the first wedding in town and a gala day for the few settlers. Her husband came in 1799, being the second white man to make a settlement. He constructed a hand grist-mill, which was the first built in Mantua. Mrs. EDWARDS had charge of it and was an excellent business woman. She could also manage a spinning wheel as well as a grist-mill. The first public Fourth of July celebration was held at her home, in honor of the return of the Mantua soldiers from the war of 1812, her husband being one of the number.
Huldah SHELDON married Amzi ATWATER at her father’s house in Aurora in 1801, and with him settled here on a two hundred acre farm. He became an associate judge in Portage County, and was a man of great influence. The farm is now the site of the village of Mantua Station, and the hospitable homestead a part of the Cuyahoga House. John ATWATER, who filled the President’s chair at Hiram College, was Huldah’s grandson.
Lydia ALCOTT SNOW, with her husband, Franklin SNOW, and two children arrived from Becket, Mass., 1807. It was said of her that she would listen to a sermon with such interest as to be able with her wonderful memory, to repeat it verbatim. She died in 1820.
Clarissa LADD CARLETON was born 1789, one week before the inauguration of George Washington as President. She lived in Stafford, Conn., until 1811, when with her husband, Peter CARLETON, she came to Ohio and not long thereafter settled her. She was a most hospitable, loving lady.
Sally CARLETON KNEELAND, born in Stafford, Conn., 1795, came here some time prior to 1816, with her husband, George KNEELAND, and bought a farm on Lime Ridge. It was completely in the wilderness, there being but one other family in that locality. Mrs. KNEELAND lived to see the wilderness transformed into productive farms, and surrounded by friends and neighbors, continued to reside, first with her children, then with her grandchildren, on the same farm.
Rhoda BRAMP CARLETON, born in Rhode Island, came here in 1814, and with her husband, Caleb CARLETON, settled in the western part of the town. The farm is still owned by the son, C.C. CARLETON, of Cleveland, O. Mrs. CARLETON made a home for many of the newcomers, and clothed many destitute boys with cloth of her own spinning and weaving. She was blind for several years before her death, which occurred in Cleveland, but patiently submitted to her affliction.
Rosetta PETTIBONE, wife of Oliver SNOW, from Becket, Mass., 1805. Lived on the place which she aided in settling until 1837.
Hannah McINTOSH, whose mother was a pioneer of 1799, married Peter CADY, a Frenchman from Canada, and settled on a farm near the old grist-mill. Mrs. CADY cultivated many varieties of flowers, and was noted for having the most beautiful flower beds in the town. Her daughters, Marosia and Catherine, married and settled in Michigan.
Mrs. Wareham LOOMIS, with her husband, came in an early day and settled in the Cuyahoga Valley. She buried a child, aged two years, 1805, the first white child to die in Mantua. The second person who died was Mrs. Enoch JUDSON. Mrs. LOOMIS was a devout, noble woman. She left many descendants, who now wield a great influence for good in this community.
Mrs. Pattie SMITH BLAIR, with her husband, John BLAIR, and children, came from Massachusetts in 1806, and settled on a farm a little north of Mantua Station. They built the first frame house and opened up a hotel, which remodeled still stands. Mrs. BLAIR’s hospitality was one of her many virtues. Her daughter, Anna, married Avery PATTERSON, and lived in Mantua for more than eighty years. Mrs. BLAIR also lived to be eighty, and was a woman of great influence and much respected.
Betsy WINDSOR, left a widow with three daughters, came with her brother in 1800, and settled in the southeast part of the town. She was the owner of the first loom in all this region, and took in weaving to help defray the expenses of the family. The first summer here the girls cleared six acres, which they sowed to wheat. They harvest it with the sickle, threshed it with the flail, and cleaned it with the fanning mill. Their reward was a well stored bin of excellent wheat.
It is related of these girls that they could do a man’s work in the field, yet they were genteel and handsome.
Mrs. POMEROY and husband owned and operated a carding mill on the Cuyahoga River. She was an experienced carder and often ran the mill unattended. She was a woman with convictions of her own. Her daughters, Emily and Eliza, were considered the handsomest girls in Mantua. They were also pleasant and agreeable women. The former married John WILLIAMS and moved to Michigan. The latter became Mrs. J. VAN DUSEN, and moved to Hudson.
Mrs. Joseph SKINNER and husband settled here in 1819, and built a distillery, for which the latter made the machinery. He was a fifer in the war of 1812. Mrs. SKINNER was a quiet, orderly woman who never allowed trifles to annoy her.
Mrs. Gresham JUDSON and family settled near the line next to Hiram township. She was a brave, fearless woman, who wielded great influence. She induced some Mantua men to join the Hiram mob that "tarred and feathered" the prophet Joseph Smith, who was then endeavoring to build a Mormon temple in Hiram. Smith left, "tar, feathers and all," and built his temple in Kirtland.
Mrs. Samuel JUDSON and husband settled
in the Cuyahoga valley, 1806. She was dubbed the "herb doctor" by the early settlers, as her "loft" was always well stored with native herbs of medicinal qualities. These were gathered in their season and well cured before storing away. As there were not regular physicians in those days, her skill was greatly in demand. She was in every way a typical pioneer woman.
In 1816 Mrs. Benjamin SHARPE, and her husband, settled in the east part of the town. They were colored people, and Mrs. SHARPE’s face was as black as the blackest, but she had a heart full of love and delighted in doing good to others. It is believed her house was a station on the underground railway where the good Deacon WOODFORD used to send the escaping slave for a few days’ rest.
In 1806 James RAY, Sr., with his wife and children, settled on the place now occupied by Samuel COLT. They built a log house, the foundation of which is plainly seen. Mrs. RAY was a quiet, unassuming woman, with strong convictions jealously adhered to, and was well fitted for life in the wilderness. On one occasion, in broad day-light, while her husband was away in the field at work, a bear came prowling around the pig-pen, intent on a feast of fresh pork. She seized the dinner horn, called the dogs, and blew the horn for her husband. Relating this incident to her neighbors, she said: "I tooted the dinner horn till my husband came and shot it." Where are the women who have the nerve to hold a bear up a tree with a dinner horn for hours?
A most excellent woman of early times was Margaret KOONCE, who came from Mercer County, Penn., soon after her marriage to Patrick RAY, a soldier of the war of 1812. Mrs. RAY could always be counted on in charity and church work, especially in time of sickness and death. She possessed that rare tact which caused everyone to feel at home in her presence. After her husband’s death in 1856, she lived on the farm for twenty years, and was very successful in the management of her business. She was greatly respected throughout a useful life of 76 years. Her six sons were all volunteer soldiers in the Union army during the rebellion. Of her three daughters the eldest, Julia RAY BRADLEY, settled in Wisconsin. Emeline RAY CARTER settled in Kansas. Sarah died in Mantua, aged 18.
Mrs. RAY was a great horsewoman, and on one occasion, on her return from visiting relatives in Mahoning County, she carried in her hand a willow twig for a riding whip. On reaching home she thrust it into the ground near a spring, where it grew to an enormous size, and was referred to for more than fifty years as "Mrs. RAY’s riding whip." Rebecca RICHARDSON, born in Lemstead, N.H., 1792, married Wm. PIERCE, and with him came to Mantua, 1824. She was one of the sixth generation descended from Thomas RICHARDSON, who came from England, 1635, and settled in Massachusetts. Lewis, one of the RICHARDSON family of England, married Ann Washington, a relative of Geo. Washington. Mrs. PIERCE’s father was a soldier of the Revolution. Rachel GILLETT came from Suffield, Conn., 1833, with her husband Dumas HARMON, and one daughter, Maria. They settled on the state road and lived in a log house a half mile removed from the highway. In connection with their farm they owned and operated a sawmill. Mrs. HARMON was left a widow and subsequently married Mr. MOONY. She was again widowed, but by the aid of her children was able to clear the home from debt. She is still living with her daughter, Mrs. REED, on the same place. Mrs. MOONY is the most aged person living in Mantua, being ninety-one years of age. She still retains her mental faculties and her health is good. Sarah GREGORY, wife of Jonah WHITE, came in an early day. Her daughter, Mary, married Orville BLAKE, a Baptist minister, and lived here. Mary, the other daughter, never married, but devoted her life to teaching. She was most successful, spending several years at Twinsburg, and later in Cleveland. Her memory is still precious to those with whom she associated. Mrs. WHITE was the mother of Dr. E.E. WHITE, who has been prominently connected with education in various cities, through his numerous text-books.
Among the first to lay the foundation of Mantua Center were the SQUIRES. As the more elderly ones look back they can see the home once occupied by them; the old doctor known by so many, Clarissa STEWART SQUIRE, came from Becket, Mass., 1816. Her daughters were Lucy, Clarissa and Sally. The doctor married Martha WILMOT.
Sophronia WARREN GREGORY, wife of Samuel GREGORY, came from Vermont in 1820. She reared a large family of children and carefully did a mother’s duty in training them.
Another family that helped to build the frame work of this town was the SANFORDS. Rhoda ATWATER SANFORD, with her husband, Samuel SANFORD, came from Hamden, Conn, 1817. Her daughters were Julia, Emeline, Parthena, Charlotte, and Jane. One of her sons married Harriet WILMOT.
Nancy PERKINS, Mrs. Seth SANFORD, who came from New York, 1839, lived to see her children settled in homes of their own. She had many friends. Her daughters were Mary GRANGER, Sarah PEEK and Martha SMITH.
Zenas KENT and his wife, Ann, came from Leyden, Mass., 1814. Their daughter, Maria, married Deacon CHAPIN, and some of their children still reside here. No one remembers Mrs. CHAPIN without recalling the accuracy with which she did her work. Hon. Marvin KENT, grandson of Ann, was the one who first broke ground, and drove the last spike, in the Atlantic & Great Western R.R. He was also elected president of the road, which office he creditably filled for many years.
Dorcas TAYLOR BOOTH, born in Great Barrington, Mass., 1800, came to Mantua, 1835. Her sole wealth was in her daughter, Almeda, whose life was devoted to educational pursuits. At the age of twenty-four, this young lady met with a loss, which shattered her hopes for life. She was preparing for her nuptials when her lover, Martin HARMON, a most estimable young man, teaching in Kentucky, was stricken with a sudden and fatal illness. Her plans and hopes seemed buried in his grave, her heart being wedded by ties as sacred as any that marriage can consecrate.
In 1851 Miss BOOTH was chosen instructor in English in Hiram College. She also pursued her studies there, graduating at Oberlin. She was later superintendent of the schools at Cuyahoga Falls. Prof. James MONROE said of her:
"It was one of the pleasures of my life to have had under my instruction in a collage class Miss BOOTH. What at first struck my attention was the union in her character, in a degree very uncommon; of masculine intellectual strength and womanly gentleness."Another said of her: "In natural powers of mind, in breadth of scholarship, and in quality of effective work, she has not been excelled by any American woman." Those who knew her best loved her most. She was ever ready to impart aid and direction to the inquiring mind, deeming it not task, but rather a pleasure.
Fanny SARGENT, Mrs. Benjamin MOORE, who came from New Hampshire, 1843, was an active, intellectual woman, who could entertain her friends in a way as never to be quite ready to have them depart. She was also one of whom her visitors could say: "I am better for having been in her company." She has one daughter, Mrs. DERTHICK, with whom she lives, being now eighty-four years of age, still bright and active.
Miss Eleanor KENT,Mantua Committee -- Mrs. Walter MOORE, Mrs. Maria WHITE, Mrs. Lydia THAYER, Mrs. C.H. RAY, Mrs. E.M. KENT, Mrs. Phila MERRYFIELD
Chairman and Historian.
Note: Keith W. Perkins, on page 101 of his "The Prophet Joseph Smith in 'the Ohio': The Schoolmaster," (in Porter and Black, The Prophet Joseph: Essays on the Life and Mission of Joseph Smith, 1988), cites Mrs. Gresham Judson as one who "used her influence with some men from Mantua, Ohio," to incite the March 24, 1832 attack upon Smith and Rigdon.
PIONEER WOMEN OF AURORA,
The first white family to enter for permanent settlement was Ebenezer SHELDON, his second wife Lovey DAVIS, five stalwart sons, and one daughter, Huldah, from Suffield, Conn., who arrived in June, 1800. They came all the way with an ox team, a span of horses and a small, rude wagon. Their eldest daughter, Mary, was married just before they started and remained in Suffield. Mr. SHELDON had been on the ground the year previous, selected his land, erected a log cabin, and, with the assistance of Elias HARMON and wife, a young couple also from the East, had kept house for the summer, cleared enough land for a small patch of wheat, and returned to Connecticut in the fall. Mr. and Mrs. HARMON went at the same time to Mantua, which they made their future home.
This first home in Aurora was on lot 40, two and a half miles east of the Center, and still owned and occupied by a descendant of the family -- A. G. SHELDON. This pioneer mother, "Aunt Lovey," as she came to be called, was of commanding size, great strength of character and more than ordinarily handsome. She was resolute and brave enough to deal with the Indians. She was of a lively, buoyant, and social disposition, and kept up the spirits and courage of her husband and sons through the toils and discouragement’s incident to the hard pioneer days. She stuck the willow ox gad they brought from the East into the ground, and, like Mr. Phinney’s turnip, it grew and grew, and became a famous great tree, and the mother of many of the willows in this section. It remained standing
until a few years ago. For three years she was, as she said, the “smartest and best looking woman in the town.” And it was many a long day, even after the township was well settled, that she had an equal, much less a superior.
In November, 1801, their daughter, Huldah, was married to Amzi ATWATER, of Mantua. There being no clergyman near, or authorized person to perform the marriage ceremony, the father took that responsibility upon himself, joined their hands, and, by the great law of the Territory of Ohio, pronounced them man and wife. They went on their wedding tour on foot to their future home five miles away. A year later, Governor TIFFIN, as the first governor of Ohio as a state, sent Mr. SHELDON a commission as justice of the peace, dating it prior to the wedding, for fear of legal difficulties.
In 1802, a Methodist itinerant preacher called, and after dinner preached a sermon to the gathered family, which, no doubt, was greatly enjoyed in their isolated position and dearth of religious privileges. Their house became headquarters for newcomers to the settlement and their hospitality was proverbial. Mrs. SHELDON became a ready and practical nurse in times of sickness far and near. They outgrew the old log structure and erected the first frame house built in the town. She lived to see and enjoy many of the comforts of life. She died in 1846, aged eighty-six years.
Her son, Gershom, married Roxana RUSSELL, also from Connecticut. Her husband inherited the old homestead, and it was there she raised her family of four children. She was said to be the first woman who refused to set out the decanter on the arrival of a guest, as was at that time the universal custom.
Her son, Albert, in turn inherited the farm, and took to wife Cornelia DOW, a woman of queenly looks and bearing, handsome in face and figure, who became the worthy mother of four promising children, and was soon after left a widow. She exhibited superior tact and management and lived to see all come to maturity and take worthy positions in the world. She died in the old home, beloved by all who knew her.
Another son of the first family was Festus SHELDON, whose wife was Sally ____. They settled on the place now owned by their son, Charles, whose wife, Jane EGGLESTON, was a descendant of another pioneer family, a name still numerous and familiar in all this region.
"Aunt Patty" COCHRAN SHELDON, wife of Ebenezer SHELDON, second, raised a family of seven children, two of whom were girls. She was of industrious but quiet habits, became an invalid in middle life from the effects of rheumatism, and sat helpless in her chair or bed for twenty years. During a religious revival she desired to be baptized and was taken to the river and immersed in her chair.
Sarah SIZER was the wife of Ebenezer SHELDON, third, an exemplary woman of Christian faith and works, a faithful mother to her family of seven children, all but one of whom are now living.
The FORWARDs came in 1803 from Granby, Conn., and were an unusually intelligent and scholarly family, and an important factor in the early development of the town. The first Mrs. FORWARD died in 1832. There were three generations -- Samuel Forward, Sr., his wife, Susannah HOLCOMB, their sons and daughters, some married and with families of their own. Mrs. FORWARD, Sr., came nearly all the way on horseback. They took up a tract of land at the Center, while a son, Samuel, Jr., and his wife, Abigail HIGLEY, moved into a vacant cabin, where Mr. FORWARD opened the first school of the township.
The only girl of the number was his sister, Julia, a girl of thirteen, who started one night to go through the woods to her father’s at the Center. A snowstorm setting in, she became lost, and, long after dark, came out at Wyatt’s Mill on Tinker Creek, in the northwest corner of Streetsboro. There was high water, and the rattle of machinery to drown her repeated cries for help, for the mill was on the opposite side. She made a last despairing effort, as she saw the men leave the place with a lantern, but all in vain. With resolute purpose she turned in the direction she thought home lay, and, finding the trail, finally reached home by morning.
Mrs. Oliver FORWARD was the mother of the first white child born in the township. This child was named Oliver Cromwell. A few days later the mother’s mind became clouded, and, slipping out of the house, she became lost in the woods, and, in spite of the most vigilant pursuit, she eluded them for three days. On the third day marks of her naked feet were discovered in the light covering of snow which had fallen. She was presently found near the Mantua line. She was taken back to Connecticut for a year, where she fully recovered her health.
Mrs. Samuel FORWARD was Abigail HIGLEY, a woman of resolution and of resources, so essential in the rude, scant time of the early settlers. Her daughter Orsie married Harry BALDWIN, and lived half a mile east of town, and was noted for the whiteness of her floors and thorough housekeeping. She was of a cheerful, hopeful, and energetic disposition, and became a devoted member of the Church of Christ, which was organized in 1830. She had but one child, a girl also named Orsey, who married Staughton BENTLEY, of Chagrin Falls. She was early left a widow by the scourge of cholera, which swept through the county in 1852, with a family of six dependent children. Her hopeful, buoyant disposition never deserted her. She was a woman of wonderful resources and management; earned much with her needle, besides keeping her own little ones in neat and tidy appearance. She gave her eldest son to the army in ’61. The rest live to call her blessed and to appreciate something of the sacrifices and struggles she went through in those earlier times. Later years have added a sweet gentleness to other worthy qualities, but her decision and executive ability remain active to the present day. Her home has been in Bryan, O., for a score of years.
The name FORWARD became extinct many years ago, but there are numerous descendants of the family living here -- the oldest of whom is Samuel HICKOX, whose mother was a strong woman intellectually and physically, of noble presence, living to the great age of ninety-seven. Her maiden name was Betsey FORWARD, and her life spanned nearly the whole history of the town. She died in 1884.
Minerva HICKOX, her daughter, was a gifted and promising woman, with a graceful pen, either for prose or poetry. Her ambition and development were checked by the burdens of married life when she became the wife of Marcus TAYLOR, although some articles from her pen appeared occasionally after that. She died in 1885.
In 1805, quite a colony arrived in the Aurora woods, from Blandford, Mass., among them a family of CANNONs, who have been prominently identified with the history of the town ever since. Mary BUTLER CANNON, a widow with four grown sons and two daughters, was the pioneer mother of all. The boys, John, George, Stephen and Eli, grew to be among the most substantial and public-spirited men of the place. High in moral and strong in religious convictions, they gave an impress to the little settlement, which made for righteousness and order.
Among the number in this colony was the family of John COCHRAN, who had purchased sixteen hundred acres of land in Aurora. Mr. COCHRAN was taken sick on the way, and the teams were hurried forward to Buffalo, where help and medicine might be obtained. Mrs. COCHRAN, with one daughter, remained with him, while the two other girls were sent with the company. Rhoda, being helpless from rheumatism, was brought all the way on a bed, her sister, Laura, a girl of thirteen, serving as nurse and companion.
Their trials and hardships on the way form a sad chapter of the pioneer days, and space does not admit to the recital here. It was written up and published some years ago. A man by the name of MILLS was hired to bring the girls to Aurora, but Laura was compelled to walk a good part of the way. She followed the wagon day after day, sometimes with sore and blistered feet, hungry and weary, but with a pluck and perseverance which characterized her whole after-life. One night the man unhitched the team, and with his wife, departed and left the girls in the deep, dense woods, four miles north of Burton, alone all night. They were hungry, defenseless and forsaken,
and Laura was taken ill, but, fortunately, was better by morning. The next day he appeared and brought them near a settler’s cabin, where he wholly deserted them twenty-five miles from their destination. When Lura comprehended the situation she gave way to bitter tears, but rallied from her despondency, made known their forlorn condition to the sympathetic people of the cabin, asking for food and shelter for herself and sister until she could communicate with friends, for which she offered to work, resolutely determining to earn their support until their future was revealed. The generous captain of a boat, which plied between Mantua and Burton on the Cuyahoga, with grain to the mill there, offered to bring them to Mantua. There they learned of the death of their father at Buffalo, and that their brother had gone to meet the desolate mother. He was the first white man buried at Buffalo, which then consisted of but a few rude cabins. Rhoda COCHRAN, the crippled girl, died in 1806, aged twenty-four, and was the first person buried in Aurora. The mother lived to experience nineteen years of pioneer life.
The brave girl, Laura, married Stephen CANNON, and her subsequent history and long, useful life make an interesting chapter in the developing history of the little town. She was a famous horsewoman, braving the terrors of the woods to visit the sick at night when necessity called, being skillful in the use of herbs and roots and home remedies. Many of the babies of that day were arrayed in their first suit by her motherly hands. One day she mounted her horse and rode to Randolph for certain medicines needed for a sick patient, and arrived at home at ten o’clock at night, after a ride of fifty-two miles. The streams had no bridges, and Streetsboro, still an unbroken wilderness, was traversed after dark. The wolves followed the horse on every side, with snapping teeth and gleaming eyes. She was a weaver of yarn carpets, those marvelous and enduring productions of our foremothers’ days, as well as full cloth and "kersey" blankets. In her fifty-fifth year, besides her housework, she wove six hundred yards of woolen cloth, five blankets, one hundred yards yarn carpet, five plaid fancy shawls and some other odd jobs, and did her own coloring, in seven months’ time. We stagger at the account of such wonderful industry in this age of light and frivolous “fancy” work.
She died in 1880, at the age of eighty-eight.
Her sister, Fanny, married Eli CANNON, a brother of Stephen, and was a woman of solid sense and many virtues. Always helpful and sympathetic toward the needy and unfortunate, she was Aunt Fanny to the next generation in all that section, and mother of a family of worthy sons and daughters, all of whom lived to attend her funeral and cherish her lovely character and motherly advice. She died in 1877, at the age of eighty-four. She was cared for in the declivity of life at the old homestead by her son, Frederick, and his estimable wife, Sarah HAYMAKER, a mile and over south of town. Mrs. Martha HURD, of Cleveland, is one of her daughters, and Mrs. Cecelia GILLETT of Colorado Springs, both now living. Another daughter, Mrs. Melissa Bishop, a worthy wife, mother and friend, died in Solon a few years since.
In 1807 the ROOT, TAYLOR, SPENCER, and BALDWIN families arrived.
In 1806, the married daughter, Mary SHELDON HARMON, whom the first family left behind in Suffield, Conn., came with her husband, Col. Ebenezer HARMON, and three children, Huldah, Sheldon and Calvin, to find a home in New Connecticut. Arrangements for the home had been made a year or two before, when Mr. HARMON visited the place, purchased land west of the Harmon pond, and erected a cabin, returning east for his family. In coming through Chester the wagon broke down, and it being the day of the great eclipse, and so dark that he could not see to make repairs, he mounted his wife and children on the horses and started for Aurora, returning later for his wagon and goods.
Mr. HARMON was a man of indomitable will and energy, and Mrs. HARMON a woman of perseverance and tact in coping with the conditions of the early settlement in the wilderness. Three children were added to the number here -- Israel, Charles and Eliza. Charles R. HARMON is the only one now living, and still owns the old homestead, but does not occupy it. He, with all
the rest of the children inherited the pluck and wonderful powers of work and endurance of the father, who was taken off by a fever in 1826. The cares of the farm devolved upon the younger son, and the mother found a home with him until her death in 1852, at the age of seventy-three.
Huldah HARMON became the helpmeet of Jeremiah ROOT, and settled on the tract now occupied by their son Henry at the edge of Mantua. They frequently attended church at Aurora Center, coming on foot and carrying a child or two in arms. She experienced many sharp trials her family of five children, with spinning, sewing, knitting needed for all, and the close times often encountered. She died in Cleveland at an advanced age, and is remembered by the sturdy qualities of her character and refinement of manner and speech. Her daughter, Arvilla, became the consort of N.P. BOWLER, a well-known business man of Cleveland. She became interested more and more in sweet words of charity as life sped on. She loved the memory of early friends and friendships, and the meeting of old companions was always a source of satisfaction and delight. She had a decided love for flowers, and their cultivation was a source of pleasure and delight, and when the sad hour came for the friends to gather at her bier in the summer of ’95, they brought in rich and wondrous profusion offerings of the flowers she had loved so well. The other daughters are
Another of the original HARMON family was Mrs. Eliza HARMON DOW, a woman of fine disposition and excellent qualities of mind and heart. She died a few years since in Chicago, her home for a score of years, leaving a family of grown sons and daughters, two of whom are Mrs. Dr. KEELEY, of Dwight, Ill., and Mrs. Stella JUDD, of Chicago, both exceptional in the gifts and graces of refined and worthy womanhood.
Mrs. Robert BISSELL spent her first night in the Aurora wilds in a log structure, with four walls but no roof. For some reason, Mr. B. had to go back some distance, which obliged him to be away for the night. She barricaded the opening for a door as best she could, disposed of her tired children, and, with a faithful dog for guard and company, kept vigil through the night. The wolves howled and bears prowled around, rubbing against the logs, but did not climb up, as must have been her terrible fear.
Judge FORWARD’s family had kept a sort of tavern at the center for a time, and in 1811 the BISSELs rented the place and kept hotel there for many years. The first fire in the town was on this place, a son of the family, little Sammy, starting the blaze by igniting the stray straws of flax that hung from the scaffold with his lantern. This boy Samuel became a noted scholar and teacher, graduating at Yale, and teaching nearly all the years of his long and useful life.
Major BLACKMAN, a soldier of the Revolution, and wife, Elizabeth HALL, came from Chester, Mass., in 1808, with their married sons and daughters, making quite an addition to the growing population. Their possessions were a mile nearly south of the center, and the BLACKMAN place was a landmark until recent years, when it was moved off the premises, the land passing into other hands. Mrs. Elijah BLACKMAN, on arriving at the desolate cabin (erected the previous day by her husband, who had returned for the family), with provision exhausted and children crying with hunger, sat down and wept bitter tears, the first during the long and tedious journey of many weeks. She exclaimed: “Elijah, if I had seen this wild and desolate country as you did, I never should have brought my family here!” But friends who were expecting them soon came in with ample supplies of ready food, and her tears were speedily dried. Harriet, now Mrs. BARTHOLOMEW, of Ravenna, was born two years later. Her cradle was a sap-trough, the common rock-a-by of pioneer babies. She is by a few days the oldest person now living who was born in Aurora.
Mrs. BARTHOLOMEW still has the little rocking chair her mother rode in all the way from Massachusetts.
Mrs. Elizabeth BLACKMAN was a woman of the old-time industry and the spinning of tow and wool went on day and evening, and with the other work her time was completely consumed. Her daughters were early taught to be useful
and industrious, and began spinning when so short that a little platform had to be made for a track to walk back and forth on. While her husband was in the army, she helped to burn the logs on three acres and clear it off ready for a crop. In later years, the little mother was tenderly cared for by her children, and knew a time of rest before being summoned to the sweet home on high, for which she was fitted by a life of consistency and good service.
Mrs. Nancy STRONG HICKOX came with her husband and children from Hopewell, N.Y., in 1831. Their goods were sent by the Erie canal, and the family with a strong team and covered wagon came through in six days.
She was a kind and excellent mother. She survived her husband for 30 years, and died in Cleveland in 1874, but lies side by side with her husband, Larman HICKOX, in the Aurora cemetery.
Her daughter, Jane, married Austin BLACKMAN and is of rare intelligence; has a gifted mind and poetic pen, and an occasional publication of her lines has shown merit and beauty and been read by the public and friends with appreciation and pleasure.
Having no children of their own, Mr. and Mrs. Austin BLACKMAN have opened their hearts and home to the orphaned children of others. Now, in advancing years, with the unchanging affection and loving confidence of youthful ardor for each other, which has marked their whole journey together, their faces grow luminous with the beautiful years as they await the final summons.
The first church, Presbyterian, was organized the last day of the year 1809, by Nathan DARROW, a missionary sent from Connecticut. The charter members were Ebenezer and Laura SHELDON, James M. and Sarah HENRY, Anna WITTER and husband, Mary EGGLETON, Thankful ROOT, Mary CANNON, Jeremiah ROOT and Brainerd SPENCER.
The family lunch basket was an institution in those days of two long sermons with a Sunday school between. The EGGLETONs and LITTLEs were all musicians, and this gift has descended through all the generations to the present time. They were prominent in church affairs, and the music in the Presbyterian choir depended chiefly upon them for many years. Instruments used were the bass viol, bassoon, clarinet and violins. The use of the organ came later. Singing schools in the winter for education in music were a strong feature of those times. From forty to sixty was the usual attendance. Young ladies from the outskirts of the township came on horseback behind their brothers or escorts. For years there was no heating apparatus in the church, and the little tin foot-warmer, with its basin of coals brought from home, was an institution of comfort and necessity. The choir were perched in the gallery and at certain stages in the service, when the cornet and all kinds of music set up, the congregation were wont to right about face, and see as well as hear the great choir render the sacred psalms.
Mrs. Anna FISK ELDRIDGE, whose husband, Sylvenus, died on the way from “York State,” came on with her children in 1814. The eldest daughter, Betsey, married Apolios WHITE. Anna became the wife of Chester CARVER, a descendant of Governor CARVER, and the mother of two children. Her daughter Emily is the wife of Harvey BALDWIN. On the death of Mr. CARVER she married Deacon Oliver SPENCER, and became the mother of three more children. “Aunt Anna” was a thorough-going business woman of thrift and remarkable energy, yet thoughtful of the poor, the sick and needy. Knowing no discouragement herself, she brought cheer and brightness to other homes and hearts. She died in 1892, widely known and esteemed by all. Her daughter Matilda, who married C. J. PAINE, was of a lovely disposition, very devout and spiritual. Through long years of declining health her patience and resignation were remarkable. Deacon Brainerd SPENCER and his wife, Amy, were widely known as fervent religious people in their time. Two of their boys graduated at Hudson. Their daughter Susan married a HIGLEY and Sally was wife of ____ PARKER. All were devout Presbyterians.
In 1810, the widow, Anna REMINGTON KENT, came from Suffield, Conn., with her three sons and three daughters. From this pioneer woman have descended the numerous families of the KENTs, who have always proved substantial and intelligent citizens, marrying and inter-marrying into Aurora families until half the population are in some
way connected with the blood. Eunice KENT married into the EGGLESTON family and is elsewhere mentioned. Harriet became the wife of Worthy TAYLOR, and her daughters, Mrs. Harriet BULL of Solon, Mrs. Wealthy EGGLESTON, and Mrs. Arbell BURROUGHS, and Mrs. Eliza PARKER, of Ravenna, inherited their mother’s genius and cunning workmanship with the needle. The two daughters of Achsah EGGLESTON and Zardis KENT, Cordelia and Emily, married brothers, Dr. Mendal JEWETT and A.V. JEWETT. They were active women in church and town, and but recently passed to their reward.
Emily GRANGER, daughter of Julius GRANGER, became the wife of Zeno KENT, Sr., and raised a family of seven children, one of whom, Arabella, also marred a JEWETT and moved to Wisconsin. Elizabeth KENT married Horace RUSSELL.
The first roses were introduced by Mrs. Samuel BALDWIN, nee Hannah NORTHUP, from a sprout handed her for a whip, in Cleveland, as she mounted her horse for home, after a visit there with friends. Sticking it into the earth, it grew and bore the finest of double pink roses, rich and fragrant. She died in 1822. Samuel BALDWIN built a log house where the old brick now stands, which was built later by his son Alanson and wife, Ruth WALLACE, who was remarkable for her devout, religious nature and constant study of the Scriptures. The old Bible, worn and soiled, is a precious relic in the possession of her only child now living, Mrs. Betsey CANNON, who resides a mile south of town, and whose house has ever been open with generous hospitality to friends and travelers from far and near, her husband, Squire R.P. CANNON, being noted for his genial social qualities, high degree of public spirit, and wide information on general subjects. They have both rendered valuable aid in the necessary data for this sketch.
Miss Lucy BALDWIN, daughter of Ruth BALDWIN, as a young lady was of a lively social nature, popular with the young people and exceptionally entertaining. The old brick house was the center of the social life of the time. Uncle “Lanson” was proverbial for generous hospitality, and their house was headquarters also for the Disciple people, sometimes over forty lodging there at the time of the “yearly meetings,” which lasted several days and were attended by hundreds from the surrounding towns. Lucy BALDWIN married Oliver KENT, lived for a time in Chester, but spent her last years in Cleveland where she died a few years since, lamented by all who knew her. She had a charming grace of manner, and attained to a marked degree of spiritual excellence, and the memory of her beautiful life and triumphant death is like a sweet benediction.
Hannah BALDWIN married C.R. HARMON. She possessed a keen wit and was quick at repartee, a fine entertainer and a worthy and excellent woman. She died in 1864. Rachel BALDWIN was the first wife of Reuben AVERY, Sr. She came with her family from New York city in 1816. Of the four children of the marriage, the oldest is now living, Mrs. Malvina HARMON. She was wholly deprived of sight more than twenty years ago, but still enjoys a good degree of health. Her memory of early people and times has materially assisted in gathering the facts for this history.
The second wife of Reuben AVERY, Sr., was the widow of Isaac FAXON, formerly a Miss LEWIS, a teacher, and a woman of ability and unusual intelligence, and noticeable for her neat attire. She assumed a great responsibility in taking the place of stepmother to these four motherless children, for she had four boys of her own already and six more children came into the family to claim her care and love. She died at an advanced age in 188_.
Mrs. Caroline BALDWIN CANNON, daughter of Samuel BALDWIN of Newburg, came to Aurora when six years of age, living with an aunt until her marriage in 1827, to Victor CANNON. She had been noted for her thorough housekeeping, wise family management and industrious life. Now, near the close of a long and exemplary life, an accident compels her to keep her bed and she is tenderly cared for in the old home by her son and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Artemus CANNON. Her mental faculties are keen as ever, and her vivid memory of early incidents has been helpful in the preparation of this paper. Mrs. Hannah HERRICK and Mrs. Cornelia
STANLEY, of Akron, are worthy daughters of this worthy mother. Her sister, Lucretia, born in Connecticut in 1805, lived for some years with her uncle, Harry BALDWIN, before her marriage to Reuben I. HENRY. She thought much of the good and pleasure of others and self-denial for their sakes was a part of her generous and kindly nature. Even in those times of heroic women she was no ordinary person.
Mrs. Julius GRANGER, whose maiden name was also GRANGER, was born in Suffield, Conn., in 1768 and died in Aurora in 1835. She married Major Julius GRANGER in 1785. He was a brother of Gideon GRANGER, who was postmaster general from 1810 to 1814, a member of the Connecticut Land Company, and owned thousands of acres. A rare old portrait of Gideon GRANGER has been in possession of the GRANGER family for nearly a century. Soon after the death of his father, Julius decided to move to Aurora, a point where Gideon had bought largely, and they arrived in 1811. Their nine children were all born at Suffield, Conn. Their daughter Emily had married Zeno KENT the preceding year and came in 1810. The genealogy of the GRANGER family in America extends back over two hundred and fifty years to Launcelot GRANGER, of old Crusader stock, who came to America prior to 1640.
When the BLACKMANs came in 1808, little Sallie, the child of Samuel, was but a few months old, but she survived the long journey and flourished in the Ohio woods, growing into a tall and comely maiden and was married to Samuel GRANGER in 1829. She was a woman of quiet demeanor and staunch Christian faith, finishing her mission in 1873. Her sister, Almira, was married to Calvin HARMON. She became dejected and broken in spirit ere half her life was done.
Hopson HURD, the progenitor of all the family in this vicinity, came to Aurora as a young man with a stock of goods, and set up trade in 1815. His natural thrift, economy and knack to accumulate have descended as strongly marked characteristics of the race through the succeeding generations. He married Betsey LACEY, who came from Boston with her mother, whose name was BERKLEY. Of their family of seven children two remained in Aurora, the others settling in Cleveland. Mary Louisa WILLIAMS, of Tioga, N.Y., a thorough-going, energetic and handsome young lady, became the wife of Elisha HURD and the worthy mother of four children. She was left a widow and brought up her boys to be successful business men. Her daughter, Mrs. ALDRICH, of Cleveland, is a refined, generous and lovely woman.
Mrs. Rebecca TAYLOR BLAIR brought up a large family. She was considered rather odd in her ways but keen for business, and shrewd in money matters. They made frequent neighborly visits of an evening on a stoneboat drawn by oxen, a common custom in early times, when people were more sociable and took a hearty interest in each other.
Mrs. Emily WOODRUFF was a LACEY girl, and a sister of Mrs. Hopson HURD, Sr. She was the landlady for a time at the old stand now known as the Aurora House. She married for her second husband Mr. STARK. She lived in total blindness the last years of her life. Her death occurred in 1878 at her brother’s George LACEY’s.
The widow Anne COE PARSONS, who had one daughter who was given her mother’s name, lived at Granville, Mass., and married Captain John SEWARD. Their two children were Rev. John SEWARD and Persis. They came in the early years to Aurora. John SEWARD took a tract of land where Otis CASE, his grandson now lives. Persis, the daughter, married Dr. Gideon CASE and had seven children, all born at Granby, Conn., except one. They all came in 1816. One of the sons, Otis, married Melissa Jane HOPKINS, of Crown Point, N.Y., and both are still living. Their six children married and all settled within a radius of a few miles. Mrs. CASE has many grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. Her work as one of the committee has been of much value. She is of a social and lively turn, always cheerful and entertaining, and of cultured religious faith and practice.
Charlotte SNOW, wife of Jacob BLAIR, from Becket, Mass., carried her step-son, the late Benjamin BLAIR, of Mantua, in her arms and walked a good share of the way. Becoming a widow, she married Horace GRANGER.
Mrs. Chester CARVER is thought to be the first woman to use a cook stove. It simulated a fireplace in one respect. As the two large doors in front could be opened, it had but two griddles on top.
The primitive bedstead was superseded by the aristocratic high-posted affairs, with their long slim turned posts reaching to the ceiling, canopied with white linen, which hung down a foot or more all around for a lambrequin, bordered with the fine knotted fringe for which our grandmothers were so famous, and looped at the corners. To be possessed of one of these stately bedsteads was many a woman’s ambition. The children found delight in "shinning up" the posts when mother was not in sight.
Mrs. Emily CARVER BALDWIN still has in possession some of this finger wide curtain fringe made by Mrs. LOW, of "York State," in the pioneer days. Beneath this, lambrequin curtains of white or colored stuff often hung to the floor, completely enclosing the bed. They were looped back during the day, and dropped at night for the guest who desired to retire early, as this often stood in the family sitting-room, and the disrobing was done on the bed.
Mrs. Clara STUART SQUIRE came with her husband, Dr. Ezekiel SQUIRE, and two children, Lucy and Sylvester, from Becket, Mass., in 1810. They lived east of the station and he was the first physician to settle in the town. Mrs. SQUIRE was a woman of great sympathy and kindness of heart, and was a sister of Mrs. Amy STUART PARSONS, who was an important factor in the history of the town, widely known for her kindly ministry to the sick, and her love for flowers and success with them. Her long life closed at the age of ninety-three, in 1882. Two of her daughters, Mrs. Abigail BIRDSALL, of Aurora, and Mrs. Elizabeth ROOT, of St. Louis, are still living. The latter is widely known for her generosity and practical interest for everyone in need.
Corintha PHELPS made her home at her Grandmother FORWARD’s; was a fine tailoress and skillful nurse among the sick. She married Enos BISSELL and had eight daughters.
At Chester CARVER’s funeral in 1827 two strangers were observed. They were found to be newcomers from the East, Samuel and Jonathan WAITE, who with their families, had just arrived. They settled on farms south of the Center; one on the well-known WAITE place, now owned by Horace ELDRIDGE, and the other on the JUDSON farm, where Albert MILLS now lives.
Prudence SAWYER was from Painesville. After her marriage to Isaac LACEY and the birth of three children, a change in her religious convictions led her to abandon her family and take up her residence at the Shaker settlement in Warrensville, where she remained until her death in 18__. One of the girls thus deserted was Caroline, who married Gen. Nelson EGGLESTON. Time developed a dissimilarity of tastes, and each found their own ways of enjoyment. She was a woman of low and gentle voice, whose quiet services were very acceptable to the sick, and whose ministrations were sought to enshroud the dead and prepare them for their narrow bed. Her own sweet flowers were freely culled on every occasion. The flowering trees she planted and the fragrant blossoms in the old home yard still remind us of the gentle hand, and cultivated taste of "Aunt Carrie," who, from the old historic home was borne to the sepulcher of the dead in 1884.
John Ingals ELDRIDGE moved to Aurora in 1814, accompanied by his mother and three sisters and a brother. Their names were Caroline, Anna, Betsy, Daniel. Marietta COOK, of Burton, became the consort of John I. ELDRIDGE. They settled on a farm on the Hudson road, which is now owned by the son, W.J. ELDRIDGE. Their daughters were Mrs. Caroline BRUCE, Mrs. Eliza OSBORN, of Kansas, and Mrs. Harriet KENNEDY. All were members of the Baptist church and interested in every good work. Alice ELDRIDGE, the mother of John I., died in 1850 at the age of eighty-seven.
Betsy HATHAWAY, a bright and interesting young lady, taught school at the Center in 1820, one of her scholars being Samuel HICKOX, and the only one now living. She was married the year following to Justin KENNEDY, a family who came from Blandford, Mass., in 1804, and whose descendants are still numerous here. They settled on land west and north of the Center. She died in 18__.
Attaline COLLINS, who was brought by her parents from Granville, Mass., when six months old, to Charlestown, this county, married Henry, another of the KENNEDY boys. Much of her married life has been spent in Bainbridge, but she now lives here, almost the only representative of the old-time women. She has been of material assistance in data for this article. Sarah GROW, of Granville, O., became the first wife of Perry KENNEDY, who was a minister of the Baptist faith, and served that church as pastor in Aurora for some years. Catherine KENNEDY TINKER was the mother of a large family, but afterwards moved to Michigan and is still living at an advanced age.
Sarah COCHRAN HENRY of Harpersfield, N.Y., with her husband and three little children, came in 1804. She was a woman of heroic courage when occasion demanded, but gentle, religious, and faithful to every obligation. A fine Bible scholar herself, she taught her children to search the Scriptures and to accept and live by its precepts. She was a devout member of the first church organized in 1809, and at her death in 18__, was the last but one of the charter members. Mrs. HENRY was a lineal descendant of the sister of Oliver Cromwell, and the HENRYs still have in possession a Bible presented by the great Protector to his sister, Margaret. The HENRYs were the third family to settle here.
Dr. W.S. STREATOR, of Cleveland, practiced as a physician in Aurora for some time after his marriage to Sarah STERLING. His mother’s name was Clarina PLUM. She was born in Connecticut. There was a large family of girls, Susan and Charity married brothers, Alonzo and Obadiah ROOT. Artimisia was the wife of Zenas KENT.
The EGGLESTONs have been identified with Aurora history from very early times. Moses and Joseph, his brother, came from Middlefield, Mass., in 1806, young men without families.
Joseph went back on horseback and in the spring returned with the EGGLESTON, ROOT and TAYLOR families, thirty-six in number. He had married while East, Miss Perlea LEONARD, who was a woman of sturdy good sense and excellent qualities. She brought up a family of six children. Emily, her daughter, married James CONVERSE. They had a store here for a while. Her last residence was at Maumee. Harmony was the first wife of Chase DOW, and died quite young, leaving three children. Jane married Charles SHELDON and had two daughters.
Milton EGGLESTON was the husband of Emerancy LOVELAND, and after her death married Mrs. Sarah COLLINS PARKER, whose death occurred in 1894. Sidney married Wealthy TAYLOR. In 1810 Moses EGGLESTON married Sally TAYLOR, and the names of her children were Nelson and Wealthy (Mrs. KELLY, of Tuscola, Ill.)
Eunice KENT, from Becket, Mass., at the age of sixteen, came with her father’s family, and a year later married Chauncey EGGLESTON. She was the mother of ten children, of whom but two are now living. She was a remarkable woman for business, and often came on foot to church from their home in the northeast part of town. She was herself a sweet singer, and all her children assisted in the church music. Eliza married Wm. HURD, Minerva married Lathrop SMITH, Emily married Lyman KENT, and Eunice married Erastus JACKSON. Mr. EGGLESTON bought a calico dress for his wife, when the goods were first introduced her, at a dollar a yard.
The Disciple Church was organized in 1830. Among the seventeen charter members appear the following names: Mrs. Isaac STREATOR and daughter Charity, Mrs. Alonzo ROOT, Mrs. Simon NORTON, Mrs. Gamaliel KENT, Polly RUGGLES and Sophronia STANTON.
Four years later, in 1834, a third church was organized with twelve members, seven of them women. Alice ELDRIDGE, the mother, and Marietta, the wife of John I. ELDRIDGE, Sally WELLS, Catherine WILLARD, Hepsibah McCLINTOCK, Lydia McCLINTOCK and Clarissa JACKSON. In two years there were fifty members, and some of the prominent women connected with the work were Mrs. Wait FRANKLIN, Mrs. John E. JACKSON, Mrs. WELLS and Mrs. BRADLEY.
Rebecca P____ GOULD was the first of the name and mother of seven children, from whom all that branch of the GOULD family sprung. They came from Vermont in 1835. Elmira married Zeno KENT, dying in 1867, leaving a
family of six children. She was a timid, quiet person, devoted to her family and had many virtues.
Eliza WYTHE was the wife of John JUDSON, a remarkably conscientious and charitable woman. She had very decided religious views and studied the Scriptures with great diligence for the comfort and support of her faith. She was very thoughtful for the needy and suffering, and dispensed from her limited means with generosity, but without ostentation. Of her family of three daughters, one, Eliza, became a skilled physician; another, Amanda the matron of a children’s hospital in New York, and the youngest, Mary, is the only one now living and is national treasurer of the Christian Woman’s Missionary society, and stationed in Indianapolis.
The RISLEYs came about 1811 from Hartford, Conn. Mrs. RISLEY was Content RUSSELL, and her husband, Nathaniel RISLEY, died while in his prime, leaving her with many cares, some debts and twelve children -- eight girls and four boys. Through many hardships, she cleared the farm of encumbrance and lived to see all her children grown men and women, and to bury four before she died in 1866, at the age of eighty years.
Amos Hall TREAT and wife Jane STEWART, from Glossonbury, Conn., came to Aurora in 1818, from Hudson, where they had lived for two years on the land since occupied by Hudson College. Mr. TREAT’s mother, Jane, spent the last years of her life with him on the farm which has been the home of the family for four generations. They have been an industrious and well-to-do people, without show or extravagance, straight-forward in business and valuable citizens of the town. Two sons, Levi and Amos Mortimer, descended from this first pioneer. The first wife of Levi TREAT was Nancy HICKOX, of Aurora, who left two daughters -- Mrs. Carrie MESSO, of Chicago, and Cornelia, who was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Austin BLACKMAN, and died in the bloom of youth. Eleanor NORTON married Mr. TREAT and is still living.
Amos Mortimer TREAT took to wife Harriet HATCH, and after a few years left the old place and went to Bainbridge, where she died a few years ago. The old homestead has descended to their son, John Mortimer TREAT, whose wife was Eunice RUDOLPH of Bainbridge, and it may be recorded in passing that two generations more have been born in the same house since they came into possession.
Sarah GORDON was born in Sidney, N.Y., and there married Dr. John HATCH and emigrated to Aurora in 1824. She was very energetic and could turn her hand to sewing, painting and drawing and was lively, social and neighborly. She died after four years of life here, leaving three girls, and the request that her sister Harriet be sent for to care for her orphaned children. Two years later she married Dr. HATCH. She was an intelligent and well-read woman, and a good mother to the little ones entrusted to her care. She was eighty-four at the time of her death in 1890. Of these three girls, the eldest, Susan, married Alvin SMITH and died in Bryan, O. Louise became Mrs. Norman SMITH, who was a clerk in Scram’s store where Harmon’s now is. The second Mrs. HATCH had four children of her own. Two are now living - Mrs. Frank AVERY, of Aurora, and Mrs. Augusta MARSHALL, of Cleveland.
Harriet WRIGHT of Tallmadge, was the wife of Rev. John SEWARD, whose pastorate extended through so many important years of the early history. They had no children, but adopted Amanda PEASE, now the widow of Charles RHODES, of Cleveland, and at present in California.
Eliza ANSON was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1805, and died in Iowa in 1893. She became the wife of Moses GRAY, when about seventeen, and their married life covered fifty-five years. She bore six children, four of them girls. The sons died young. For many, many years Mrs. GRAY was the famed landlady of the only hotel at the Center, known far and wide for her excellent cooking and well-managed house. Travelers went out of their way to take a meal at her table. Her life was full of work and worry. She had many excellent and generous traits of character. She was a good woman at heart, and esteemed by everyone. Some of the last years were spent with her daughter, Mrs. Frida MACOMBER,
who was a practicing physician at Atlantic City Iowa, and while driving to see a patient, was thrown out and died soon after. Her mother survived her for several years, being tenderly cared for there in the Iowa home by kindly hands.
The JEWETTs came from Colebrook, New Hampshire, in 1835. The mother of all was Susan WEEKS JEWETT. Of her family of ten only two or three settled here, and but one family of that name lives in this vicinity now. The families were identified with the Church of Christ, and were earnest, religious people. Two sisters, Mary Ann and Caroline Sill, married two of the boys, A.V. (second wife), and James R. JEWETT. Caroline and husband took up pioneer life in the West for a time, but loneliness and homesickness affected her mind and they returned; but she was never restored to reason. She lived for many years.
Leonora BROCKETT, of Colebrook, N.H., married Columbus JEWETT, one of the twin boys of the family, and with one child, Cordelia, came here ten years later than his father and mother. Avis was born here, and is Mrs. ALGER, of Corral, Mexico. She is an intelligent and excellent woman, with quiet ways like her mother. Cordelia was of a livelier disposition, and made a noble and charming woman, adding many of the Christian graces with accumulating years. She is Mrs. Dr. MACOMBER, of Atlantic City, Iowa. Mrs. Columbus JEWETT died in 1876.
Owen BROWN, father of the immortal John, married one of his wives in this place -- Sally ROOT, but she was not the mother of the martyr John. Victoria and Tennie C. CLAFLIN began their notorious career in this town. Their subsequent history is well known to the reading public.
Clara MORRIS’ grandmother resided here for years, and Clara played when a little barefoot maiden with the girls of the neighborhood.
The JACKSONs came about 1813. They were great readers, with a decided choice for substantial, improving literature, and this trait is characteristic of their descendants still. The wife of John E. JACKSON was Clarissa TINKER, of Nelson, a woman of unusual affection for her family and kindred. She often went with her husband on his long preaching tours and was a help to him in many ways. Their house was a station on the underground railroad in slavery times, and many a poor escaping slave received help and comfort at her hands. She had a thorough knowledge of domestic medicines, and ministered to the sick with hearty interest and skill. Mrs. JACKSON was actively industrious up to the time of her death in 1879. She was born in 1800. Her sons, Levi, John and Erastus, have been prominent in Aurora history, both religious and secular. Levi married Corintha PARKER, who was killed by the cars as they were crossing the track on their way home from church, in 1891. John married Roby BREWSTER, of Auburn, and Erastus married Eunice EGGLESTON, of Aurora.
Mrs. Alvin SEWARD was a bright woman, plain and outspoken, her quaint way of putting things was often pat and amusing, and her sayings repeated by the neighboring women as just to the point, terse and applicable.
Mrs. MIXTER was a dear motherly woman of devout spirit and of prominence in Baptist history. She was of sweet disposition, but very firm for the right. She was over eighty at her death, but her hair was as black, wavy and glossy as in the fair days of youth.
Time and space would fail me to speak at length of the LORDs, several families of whom lived in the southeast part of the township. And the FOOTs of the same neighborhood. There have been many families of BISSELs of little or no relation to each other. Mrs. Sylvester BISSEL was a HINSDALE. She was an interesting and charming woman to the day of her death. The PLUMs were also a numerous family, steady-going, orderly, reliable people. There were families of CROOKs before 1850, and some substantial, excellent women among them.
Abel and Ezra PARKER were the ancestors of that family and from these have descended a host of that name. The two branches of the PARKERs intermarried numerously. Sally and Chloe married Washington and Emerson PARKER, Melissa, Solon ELDER, and Clarissa, Chas. TAYLOR. Persis was the faithful wife of
Chauncey WINCHELL, Lucy BLACK was the wife of Alanson PARKER, and brought up a large family. She was a good neighbor, very practical in her religious activity, quiet in her demeanor and faithful as a mother. She is still living at nearly ninety years of age.
Capt. Abner PEASE, wife and nine children, came from York State in 1808 with an ox team.
Their eldest daughter, Betsey, was a very beautiful girl. She married a Mr. DARRAUGH, and after some years they joined the Shakers at Warrensville. One of their daughters, Mrs. BUTTERFIELD, still lives in Cincinnati.
The second daughter became Mrs. Simon NORTON, who lived to the ripe old age of ninety-four. She was a keen, bright woman, social, lively, and always interesting.
Polly, the third daughter, married for her second husband Dr. Henry LACEY from Connecticut, and outlived him by three years, dying in 1855.
Mrs. Seth GILLETT was the youngest of the family and well known in Aurora.
Mrs. Helen LACEY SEARL, now of Ravenna, is a daughter of Dr. LACEY, and was born, brought up, and married in Aurora.
Mrs. Ruby BURR BENJAMIN was born in Connecticut, left an orphan, married Zenas BENJAMIN, and lived in Cayuga County, New York. They came to Aurora about 1826 when it was a wilderness of wood. With no means to speak of, they went to work; lived in a log house for years in the west part of Aurora, later known as the Oviatt farm. Mrs. B. was the mother of six children that lived to man and womanhood. She was of an ambitious spirit, but in later years was a cripple and an invalid for many years.
But two of her daughters settled in Aurora. Maria married Israel HARMON and their home was in the southeast part of town, one mile south of the old homestead, now owned by C.R. HARMON. Mrs. HARMON was of strong nerve and will, a hard working woman for many years. But was stricken with paralysis at the age of 62, and died nine years later. She was the mother of four daughters and one son, three of whom are living in surrounding towns. The son, who lives on the farm of his parents, married Elizabeth HOPE, who was born in England and came to Ohio with her parents when two years of age.
Harriet BENJAMIN married C.R. HOWARD and settled near Aurora Station. Mrs. HOWARD was of a frail constitution, her health breaking at an early age, and was an invalid for many years. She died, leaving three daughters that are living within a few miles of the home where their parents built, lived and died. The youngest, Mrs. RUSSELL, now occupies this home.
We are especially indebted for material for this sketch to the researches of Mr. John GOULD, made some twenty years ago.
In contrast to this picture of the rude beginnings of the occupation and settlement here, let me present the Aurora of today, with its cindered roads, well-kept lawns, lovely flowers and general progressiveness in educational and musical matters. A branch of the Erie Railroad crosses it from east to west, so that our distance from Cleveland is but an hour’s ride. We have telegraphic and telephonic communication with all the world, and private telephone lines are numerous. There is a refined taste for the beautiful in home surroundings and in public improvement.
Mrs. C. R. HARMONAurora Committee -- Mrs. Harvey BALDWIN, Mrs. Otis CASE, Mrs. R.P. CANNON, Miss Helen KENT
Prelude to the Future
by Mary B. Treudley
(NYC: Association Press, 1950)
[ 9 ]
A hundred years, is the embodiment of a living tradition rather than a work of scholarly research. There are people still living who remember seeing Symonds Ryder, Zeb Rudolph, or Darwin Atwater, there are many more who have been told stories of the Eclectic Institute by those who taught or studied in its early days. The beginning of the school is not remote to the older generation of the present day....
Some of the histories of the Western Reserve and of Portage County have been read. That by Harriet Taylor Upton, History of the Western Reserve, Chicago, 1910, proved especially useful. The main reliance, however, for the early history of Hiram township has been placed on a manuscript account by Charles H. Ryder. It records the settlement of Hiram as Symonds and Hartwell Ryder remembered it. While the details may not all be accurate, the general picture of the slow conquest of this section of the wilderness seems correct. The development of religion in this area was traced by A. S. Hayden in Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio, Cincinnati, 1875. He was himself a part of the movement and was in addition a careful historian. Burke A. Hinsdale's talk at the funeral of Symonds Ryder throws additional light on the character of the presiding elder. Elsewhere in his formal and informal writings, his clear and penetrating mind
(pages 10-18 not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)
[ 19 ]
Few colleges in the United States have sprung full-bodied from one man's determination to build a memorial to himself or to translate his design for education into bricks and mortar, a curriculum and faculty. Hiram College does not belong in that small minority. It was founded by a group of men, farmers for the most part, some of whom spent days and weeks on horseback preaching through the wilderness. It has been shaped by hundreds of trustees and teachers, students and their parents, alumni and friends. Not many of their names are writ large in history, not even in this the story of their hopes and aspirations, their successes and their failures, their hard work and deep devotion. No other country but our own could have built Hiram or named it so or kept the college running as it has. The men who made it what it was and is would have been ordinary save in a democracy where people, acting together on their own resolve, have been expected to think great thoughts and to perform mighty actions.
This continent was not conquered by generals of genius marching at the head of well-armed troops, but by roving adventurers and little bands of families, traveling hundreds of miles in covered wagons, to make their homes among forest trees or on the plains. They spent their days in the hardest kind
20 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
of labor and their nights in dreams. Their simple lives take on significance and meaning because they saw themselves not as pawns, moved by the hand of fate or a dictator, but as small pieces set by their own determination in a magnificent design.
Read by itself in past or present, the story of the college lacks glamor and excitement. It has inched its way through the hundred years of its existence, its progress slow and painful. Its resources have always been too small, for its standards have risen faster than the pile of money to support them. Foreigners envy the American, the darling of the Gods, the spoiled child of easy fortune. They have never seen him in his native habitat. For America is Hiram, a small school set on a hill of vision and kept there by the sweat and toil of hundreds of common folk. Its foundations took half a century to lay, before the first brick building was erected and the first faculty and student body were assembled. The college is still being built and will always be in process of construction.
Hiram Hill stands thirteen hundred feet above sea level. Through the forests that it once overlooked, bands of Senecas, Ottawas, and Chippewas roamed, hunting bear and deer and turkeys. When danger threatened, they hid in the caves at Nelson Ledges. A few lived at Hiram Rapids until 1812, when, so the settlers believed, they left to join the British forces in Canada. Two men from Hiram, taken captive in the war, were certain that they recognized familiar faces among the redskin warriors at their Canadian prison prison camp. Four or five Indians returned to their familiar haunts around the Rapids in the spring of 1815, only to disappear "mysteriously" at the bloody hands of vengeful neighbors. They were the last ever seen within the township. Their memory lives on in the picturesque place names that dot the map of this section of Ohio. They
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 21
had beaten a path to carry their canoes from the Cuyahoga to the Tuscarawas River. From that path Portage County, in which Hiram is located, takes its name.
The Indians . never knew that King Charles II of England had given away their land to the colony of Connecticut. A century and a quarter later, Connecticut, now grown to be a state, agreed to surrender to the new nation of which it was a part its claims to lands stretching west to the Pacific. But it kept, to provide a school fund for the education of its children, the section of northeastern Ohio known as the Connecticut Western Reserve or New Connecticut. The land was sold in 1795 to residents of that and other states and resold again and again until it came into the hands of men who chopped down the forests and drove their plows into the rich soil thus laid bare.
Among the original purchasers was Colonel . Daniel Tilden of Lebanon, Connecticut. A church had been built at one end of that town but most of the residents had gathered at the other. They petitioned the governor for the right to move the church to suit the convenience of the greater number, but their request was denied since the governor himself lived in the less populous section. The dispute, in which Colonel Tilden sided with the majority and was defeated, sickened him with both church and state. The West offered to him freedom from both. He bought land, planning to settle on it his six daughters and their families. To him was given the right to name the fifth township in the seventh range in the Reserve. He was a Royal Arch Freemason and chose to commemorate Hiram Abif, the "curious and cunning workman" sent as a precious gift by Hiram, King of Tyre, to Jerusalem. The "Widow's Son" was in charge of the fine carpentry that decorated the magnificent temple of Solomon.
The great surveying party sent out in 1796 under the
22 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
leadership of Moses Cleaveland did not reach Hiram. The township was surveyed by one Bissell about 1800. He was instructed to divide it up into fifty as nearly equal lots as nature would permit. Some of his surveying instruments were out of order, and he suffered from exposure, lack of food, and chills and fever. In addition he lost part of his field notes. Returning to Connecticut, he produced a beautiful map with lines absolutely straight and lots exactly equal. His employers, blessed with a sense of reality, questioned whether he had ever made the long journey to Ohio and refused to pay him. He thereupon reconstructed from what notes he had and from memory a less perfect but more acceptable map. Lots varied in size by as much as forty acres.
In 1798 Abram S. Honey from Tolland, Connecticut, settled in Mantua, the first white man to live in Portage County. In 1802 John Flemming cleared about six acres in Hiram and raised the township's first crop of corn and potatoes. He proved to be only a temporary farmer of its soil. That same year Elijah Mason, a brother-in-law of Colonel Tilden, came to stake out his claim to one of the Hiram lots. In 1803 great plans were made in Connecticut for the settlement of the faraway township.
Elijah Mason with his young sons, Roswell and Peleg, and his nephew, Mason Tilden, a son of Colonel Daniel, started from Lebanon. Just across the border in New York State they were joined by Elisha Hutchinson, who had courted and married one of the Colonel's daughters. They walked along country roads and blazed trails, finally reaching Warren, where they bought provisions and hired help. From there they had to make their way through trackless forest. Arriving at Hiram, they cleared three fields of about twenty acres each, removing the underbrush, cutting down small trees, and girdling the larger growth.
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 23
They built rude log cabins. Mason at least sowed his land to winter wheat, for he planned to bring his family with him in the spring. In the autumn the men walked home again.
That winter Lebanon was all agog with preparations for migration, for a number of families planned to follow Elijah Mason to the West. But his young sons had had enough of the wilderness and flatly refused to accompany their father. Governor Marsh of Vermont, his first wife's father, urged him to settled in Pomfret in that state, a nearer frontier and somewhat more subdued. As he said later, he was "just fool enough" to take that advice. For twelve years he cultivated a hundred and fifty acres of sterile Vermont land, little dreaming that the small son of his second wife was in time to play an important part in founding a college on faraway Hiram Hill...
To Richard Redden should be given the credit for planting the first home in the township. Having spied out the land, he sent for his parents and his brothers and sisters. They arrived in the fall of 1803. That winter Hiram could boast its first permanent white population of seven persons. Only an occasional hunter and a den of rattlesnakes disturbed their quiet. For some years a relentless war was waged on the snakes that infested this region. Hundreds were killed each year until the township was rid of that menace to life.
In 1806 Roswell Mason came on horseback from Vermont. His family said that he preferred the law to work. He never lived in Hiram, but he engaged the Reddens to clear twelve acres and rode away again. In that same year
24 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
Colonel John Garrett came from Christian Hundred, Delaware, with a group of settlers to establish Garrettsville, named for himself. With him came Abraham Dyson, and his wife, two sons, and a daughter. In 1809 Dyson moved to Hiram and set up the first blacksmith shop in the township. A few other men, John Flemming, Jacob and Samuel Wirt, stayed for a while in Hiram before moving to a new frontier. So far the settlers had all been from Pennsylvania. They were poor and brought little with them in the way of possessions or of education. They were hospitable and generous to a fault. They were honest and democratic. They started to tame the wilderness and make it less grim and forbidding for human habitation. But from 1809 on, the settlers were dominantly New England in origin and Yankee in character.
Much of the new stream of migration started either in Lebanon, Connecticut, or in Hartford or Pomfret in Vermont. Many of the first families were either relatives of the Tildens and Masons or in some way connected with them. They came in covered wagons, filled with house furnishings and farm tools. The men at least may have had a term or two at district school. The first to come was Colonel Tilden's daughter, married to Simon Babcock and receiving from her father two hundred acres of Hiram land. That was the summer of 1809. In the spring of 1810 Parley Hughes, having bought land from Elijah Mason, hitched up his yoke of oxen to bring his wife and two young daughters from Hartford to the Western Reserve. His son-in-law came out in the fall of the year with his wife and son. Hiram had a population that Christmas of about thirty.
The next year Oren Pitkin brought his wife, daughter of Elijah Mason, to Hiram, but he never got together the hundred dollars which he had agreed to pay his brother-in-law,
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 25
Roswell for his land. In 1815 he moved to Talmadge, giving up fanning for "merchandizing." George and James Young and Seth Cole, with their wives and sixteen children, arrived in Hiram, also in 1811. They were farmer mechanics, James Young a tailor by trade and Seth Cole a cooper. Elisha Hutchinson returned in that same spring to claim the land he had cleared eight years before. On the eve of the War of 1812 Hiram had eleven families with their fifty-eight members settled within the limits of the township.
The news of war sent fear galloping through the forest. The militia were ordered to muster at Ravenna. They marched to Cleveland, but saw no trace of Indians along the way. Few easterners dared travel west during the war years, but those who came were of great importance to the future of the village. In September, 1813, Benjamin Hinckley arrived from Connecticut with his wife and three children. That winter in a log cabin, half home, half schoolhouse, about a mile south of the present village, he taught the first school held in Hiram. Out of the population of sixty-four, thirty-five were children. Education was an essential on the Hill, but it began simply.
In January, 1814, Symonds Ryder rode in on horseback, having made the journey from Hartford all alone. Without his leadership in building up a strong church, the village would never have been chosen as the site for the school to be founded a third of a century later. No one would have dreamed, on talking with that young man, that he would become the ruling elder of a church. Religion was farthest from his own thoughts. He was interested only in clearing land and settling his parents and his brothers and sisters on it as quickly as possible. In the middle of December, 1816, Elijah Mason finally came with his family from Hartford, opulent with a fine ox
26 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
team and another of two horses. By that time, with arrivals and departures, there were about a hundred people occupying the township. Only fourteen families with about eighty members, however, were counted as permanent. The rest were transients, living for a short while in vacant cabins and then moving on.
In the next three years, the population doubled. In 1818 Colonel Daniel Tilden came from Herkimer County, New York, to end his days in Hiram and to be buried in its cemetery. In 1825 Mason Tilden, the last of the original trio, returned to reclaim the land he had once cleared. It is not necessary to count the other families as they arrived. Enough has been said to show how slowly the countryside filled with people, and farms replaced the unmapped forests. In 1850 a population of eleven hundred occupied the township without crowding.
The first settlers preferred to handle guns rather than hoes, but hunting soon gave way to farming as the chief source of food. In 1818 one of a series of big hunts, which eventually cleared the region of game, was organized in Freedom. Men beat the woods and drove its denizens toward the "battle ground." More than twenty bears and uncounted deer and turkeys filled the winter larders of these pioneer households.
Early agriculture was exceedingly crude. Brush and small timber up to a foot in diameter were cut and, if the spring weather was favorable, burned. Larger trees were girdled. The ground was plowed in furrows curving around the stumps and standing trees. Corn or potatoes were planted and at the proper season cultivated or at least a hoe was "shaken" over the growing plants, to quote an early commentator. When the first frost came, the corn was harvested and put into shocks. Some households husked only what they needed. Others, more mindful of
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 27
the winter snow, in the late fall gathered the corn in cribs near the house. Potatoes were dug, heaped, and covered with six inches of straw. When a field would no longer yield a harvest of corn or potatoes, it was planted to oats or buckwheat. Sometimes winter wheat or rye was sown among the corn.
Gradually farming methods improved, as fields were better cleared and rotation of crops was practiced more scientifically. In time, too, the orchards planted by the early settlers began to bear fruit. Everyone knew when the Reddens' peaches were ripe and made an excuse for a visit at that time. Still later, dairying became one of the chief concerns of farmers, and cheese-making grew so important that the whole area was known for a time as "Cheesedom." Cheese glutted the local market and strong-smelling cargoes were floated down the Ohio canal and the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers in search for profit.
The center road from east to west was not completed through the township until 1820. Only slowly were other roads opened up. They were dirt roads. Travelers had to wait until the eighteen-nineties for hard surfaces that were not always either dust or mud. The first railroads through this country, though not through Hiram, were constructed in the eighteen-fifties. Ease of communication with the outside world did not seem of transcendent importance to this small, self-contained community. To be sure, people shopped , then as now, in Warren and Ravenna, but they made the long journey by horse and buggy very seldom. There was too little money in circulation to demand speed in the spending.
Even the simple crafts that pioneer families need to supplement their own labor came slowly to the Hill. Grain was taken to Garrettsville to be milled. Hiram Rapids had its own sawmill by 18o8. Hiram village, somewhat
28 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
later, could boast of Elisha Hutchinson's sawmill. By 1818 the township had a tanner and shoemaker, Elisha Taylor by name, and a man no longer had to go to Mantua or Nelson to get the family shod.
Benjamin Hinckley's first school, held in the South Schoolhouse, ran for ten weeks from December 13, 1813, to February 22, 1814. Twenty scholars gathered to receive his instruction. He was paid probably twelve dollars a month. The Center quickly copied the South District and built a log schoolhouse where all kinds of village meetings were held. When the people living along the South Road built a frame schoolhouse in 1820, the Center decided to surpass them. Ambitious plans were conceived for a town hall as well, with a Masonic Hall on the second floor, but the building proved beyond the resources of the little community to complete.
Originally five or six townships had been combined under the name of Hiram, but by 1813 only Hiram and Nelson were still united by a common government. They held their elections at Mr. Pritchard's, his home being near their common boundary line. In 1817 Hiram at last became an independent and organized township. Its sixteen voters that year elected Thomas F. Young its clerk; James Young, John Redden, and Benjamin Hinckley, its trustees; and Richard Redden, its treasurer. The year before, the first post office had been opened at the Center in Young's Exchange. For thirty-six years Thomas F. Young served as postmaster, with meticulous fidelity to every detail of his office. Standing among those waiting for the mail to be distributed and listening to the gossip, one could have learned much of early Hiram.
The first religious meetings were held in 1812 at George Young's and at the Reddens'. Mr. West of Nelson, the "Priest West" as the people called him, a shoemaker by
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 29
trade and a Baptist preacher by avocation, conducted those services and put the fear of God into a few hearts. Itinerant preachers of all the frontier denominations held occasional meetings from then on. In the summer of 1818 three Methodist women, "Old" Mrs. Herrick, Mrs. Symonds Ryder, and Mrs. Benjamin Hinckley, started the first regular Sunday meetings at the South Schoolhouse. Eventually a Methodist church was built, but its teachings never took a strong hold on this free-thinking, rationalistic community. The church building was in time turned to other uses, and later converted into a barn. It still stands, though not in its original location, that of the present administration building, as a reminder of early religious fervor.
Universalism had its day in 1820, when Mr. Bigelow preached for twelve Sundays. He objected so strenuously to the "hireling system" by which a minister's salary was fixed in advance, that no agreement was made ahead of time. When his term was up, he demanded five dollars a Sunday for the sermons he had delivered, a fortune for a depression year in a backwoods community. His "greed" and his meddling in the domestic affairs of his parishioners cured Hiram of any belief in Universalism.
On the whole, Baptist sentiment seemed to prevail, but close communion, which the Baptists stressed, was a little hard for this liberal community to take. Its inhabitants were not ready to sacrifice their intellectual freedom and their tolerant eclecticism to the doctrines and rule of any denomination. There was a church organized in Nelson for those families who wanted regular membership and fixed services. But most residents of Hiram were content with sampling all brands of religious orthodoxy as occasion offered.
Life in Hiram in the first quarter of the nineteenth
30 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
(this page not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 31
hard work of funding and maintaining a school. For its first quarter of a century, the township was not prepared to support even an organized church. Every wind of doctrine blew through its free air but no sect nor denomination took root in its rich soil. But outside its limits, religious traditions were in the making which in time changed its atmosphere and added depth and strength to its character.
It is not possible to understand the founding of the Eclectic Institute without knowing something of the way in which the Disciples of Christ came to the Western Reserve. The lives of Thomas Campbell and of his more famous son Alexander have been recounted elsewhere. It is not necessary here to trace every step of the journey which led them from their English home and their Presbyterian religion to found a new denomination and a college, Bethany, on the frontier of the New World.
Father Campbell was stirred by the reawakening of religious fervor at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It sent him back from man-made creeds to the Bible. He compressed his belief into a sentence: "Where the Scriptures speak, we speak; where they are silent, we are silent." On that platform he proposed that all Christians should unite, and so end the division of the church into countless sects. Other men were also finding their way to a Bible Christianity. After varying experiences, many groups merged in what they hoped might be the Church Universal. But for the Western Reserve the influence of the Campbells was paramount.
Of the denominations developed in the Old World, the Methodists and Baptists were best fitted to the American frontier. The Campbells were born into the Presbyterian faith, but they became convinced that baptism by immersion was the Scriptural commandment. For them
32 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
to believe was to act. In 1812 father and son were both immersed. The year before, they had organized the Brush Run Church in Washington County, Pennsylvania, just over the border from Bethany. In 1813 it was admitted to the Baptist Redstone Association, made up of churches in western Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio.
To Alexander Campbell the religious life was one of constant growth in understanding. To the "narrow, contracted, illiberal, and uneducated men" who made up the ministry of the Redstone Association, it was a matter of fixed covenants, articles of faith, and rules of order. By 1823 they were ready to read the Brush Run Church out of the Association. To forestall such a move, Campbell with about thirty of the brethren withdrew and founded a new church at Wellsburg, Virginia. It would only have been refused if it had sought admission to the Redstone Association. Instead it turned to the Western Reserve.
The Baptists were strong in northeastern Ohio and had planted sturdy churches in many small settlements. One of these was in Nelson, which adjoins Hiram to the east. There in 1820 the Mahoning Baptist Association was organized. It included a score of congregations scattered through Trumbull, Portage, Columbiana, and what is now Mahoning Counties. Into this Association the church at Wellsburg was admitted. Even before this formal action was taken, there was contact between Alexander Campbell and the leaders of these Baptist churches. Afterwards he came yearly to the Western Reserve. His brilliant mind and eloquent tongue soon shaped the thinking of its leaders to his own mould.
Hiram did not have a Baptist Church but as early as July 30, 1808, Nelson had organized one, called Bethesda. Of its six founders, John and Susan Rudolph are most inextricably bound by long continued ties to the college
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 33
yet to be born. The members of this little church came an the Lord's day over forest trails and dirt roads, from the small villages and crossroad settlements of a half-dozen townships. But only one member came from Hiram and he was soon excluded for "heresy and unworthy conduct." The church had no fixed abiding place, but met in homes or schoolhouses, usually either in Nelson, Mantua, or Aurora. There it called the roll of members and judged their behavior, cutting from its roll any who were accused of drunkenness or swearing, of making "insufferable missatements," or of holding heretical views.
Quickly two parties developed within Bethesda. The conservatives were led by Mrs. Eleanor Garrett and held firmly to the Covenant and the Articles of Faith of the Baptist Church. The larger number of the members followed the Rudolphs as they turned more and more to a simple Bible Christianity. On June 21, 1824, the church agreed peaceably to divide, but on June 29 the action was reconsidered and rescinded. On August 21 a third meeting was held in the South Schoolhouse in Hiram when, in the absence of most of the conservatives, it was voted to "renounce the Philadelphia Confession of Faith, the Constitution, the Articles, and Covenant of this church, which was formed the 3oth of July, 18o8, and to take the word of God for our rule of faith and practice." This was the first Baptist church definitely to lay aside the rule of the denomination.
On November 27, 1824, the conservatives met and voted to exclude the majority from fellowship. Over half of those excluded belonged to the Rudolph family. Both parties claimed to be the church, Bethesda. Both sent delegtions the following year to the yearly meeting of the Mahoning Baptist Association and both were received. In 1828 the conservatives joined the Grand River Association
34 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
and in time became the Baptist Church of Garrettsville.
The reforming party continued to meet in Nelson, Mantua, or Hiram. John Rudolph, Sr., was the deacon of the church. It had no form and no other officials, except the messengers whom it sent to the annual meetings of the Association. John Rudolph, Jr., his brother Zeb, and Darwin Atwater of Mantua were the younger men who gave it strength. In January, 1827, a formal organization of the church was effected in Mantua, and Sidney Rigdon was engaged to preach for the tiny congregation once a month. The church grew rapidly from nine members to seventy by April, 1829. In that month the families from Hiram and Nelson asked to be dismissed, to form a church nearer their own homes. Thirty-four persons withdrew to become the founding members of the Hiram-Nelson church.
Structure is necessary to the theology, practices, membership even of the simplest church. It was the genius of Walter Scott to phrase the new faith in words acceptable even to the most ardent believer in primitive Christianity. He was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh. After the death of his parents, he came to New York to live with an uncle. Soon the West called to his youth and he made his way to Pittsburgh. There he met Alexander Campbell and was won over to his understanding of Christianity. In 1827 he was asked by the Mahoning Valley Association to become its evangelist. As he went up and down the countryside, talking with the men who were preaching the new gospel, he developed the steps in the conversion of a sinner: (1) Faith; (2) Repentance; (3) Baptism; (4) Remission of Sins; (5) The Holy Spirit; (6) Eternal Life, through a patient continuance in well-doing.
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 35
In 1820 a Baptist church was organized in Braceville with Marcus Bosworth as deacon. On six days a week he was a farmer but on the seventh he turned preacher. Through the Mahoning Valley Association, he met Alexander Campbell and Walter Scott. By gradual and painless steps, Bosworth prepared the Braceville-Newton Falls Church for the new faith. On March 20, 1828, it was formally reorganized as a Christian Church.
In June, 1828, Bosworth, whose growing eloquence was constantly being drawn on by other churches, preached at Hiram. In the audience that day was Symonds Ryder. He had never belonged to any church, but he was much impressed by the simple preaching of Scott's doctrine. A week later, after listening to Thomas Campbell at Mantua, he made confession of his faith and was baptized. He was by far the most influential man in Hiram and his accession gave the infant church new strength and standing, though there were moments later when the Rudolphs and Atwaters must have had deep misgivings about this man.
The history of Hiram is never told without some mention of the brief period when Joseph Smith considered building a Mormon temple upon one of its ridges. An early adherent to Smith's teaching was Sidney Rigdon, who had preached regularly for the church in Mantua. It was Rigdon who added tothe Mormon doctrines scriptural interpretations common among the Disciples of Christ. It was he, too, who encouraged the migration of Mormonism to the Western Reserve. He had paved the way for the settlement of the Latter Day Saints in 1830 in Kirtland, Ohio. In 1831 Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon moved to Hiram, where Rigdon had already made a few converts. One was Ezra Booth, living then in Nelson, a Methodist preacher of "considerable culture and eloquence." Booth was instrumental in bringing Symonds Ryder
36 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
Ryder to a belief in the new revelation. Where Ryder led, others followed. The Mormon church flourished in Hiram in the summer of 1831.
It is necessary to remember that a church had been organized in Hiram for only two years. The Reformation, as the Disciples called their movement, had weakened the belief of people generally in traditional teaching and practice. Religious faith was plastic in the minds of unschooled men who insisted on thinking for themselves. Ryder had felt that there should be gifts of the Spirit at conversion in modern times as well as in New Testament days. To one who had caught the enthusiasm of the church of the Apostles, through reading the account in Acts as if it had been written yesterday, it seemed possible that God might reveal his will directly to men of the nineteenth as well as of the first century, and that he might still be able to perform miracles.
For a few months Ryder followed Rigdon and Booth whom he had known and trusted. But neither he nor Hiram were ready to accept communism of property. When Joseph Smith announced his heavenly instructions, that the saints should turn their land and other possessions into cash and entrust it to his care, disillusionment set in. Booth, who had been sent to Missouri to spy out the land, returned to denounce the new gospel. By the fall of 1831 Ryder had severed his connection with the temple and its prophet. He and Booth devoted themselves to reclaiming those whom they had led astray.
One cold night in March, 1832, young men of the neighborhood took Rigdon from his warm bed and tore Smith from the bedside of a sick child, and led them out into the darkness to be tarred and feathered and ridden on a rail. The child died of that illness, aggravated by terror. The dawn found the women of his household
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 37
scraping the tar from the prophet's body. With true courage he appeared at the morning service as if nothing had occurred to disturb his peace of mind. But soon after, Smith and Rigdon left Hiram never to return. The tree under which the tar was heated was long pointed out to strangers, but it too has disappeared. The attack provided a cruel and shameful ending for a temporary madness.
Symonds Ryder returned to the Hiram Church in contrition and meekness of spirit. In time he regained the confidence of its members and of himself. By 1835 the Disciples had grown strong enough so that Hiram and Nelson were each able to support a church. There were thirteen members of the Hiram Church on March 1, 1835. Their names are well known in local history: Symonds Ryder, Arunah Tilden, Pelatiah Allyn, Jason Ryder, Thuel Norton, Pelatiah Allyn, Jr., Mehetabel Ryder, Amelia Allyn, Lucretia Mason, Emeline Raymond, Amelia Allyn, Jr., Harriet Norton and Betsy Sperry. It grew slowly but surely under Symonds Ryder as Elder or Bishop until in January, 1849, it had one hundred and twenty-one members. In 1852 A. S. Hayden was chosen a second elder and for the next seven years shared the responsibility for the church and its services. From the time of its founding the Eclectic Institute, and later the college, reinforced the church and in turn made demands upon it for a more complex organization and for a trained, as well as an ordained, ministry.
Symonds Ryder is so important in the early life of Hiram that his career is worth recounting. He was born in Hartford, Vermont, in 1792. He was of Puritan stock and of Mayflower ancestry. His father moved from the eastern seaboard to the first western frontier, in Vermont, but the removal cost him his small estate. Young Symonds was early compelled to earn his own living. At the age
38 PRELUDE TO THE FUTURE
of fifteen he entered the service of Elijah Mason, and remained as farm laborer until he was twenty-one. Then, owning the clothes he wore and the horse he rode, and with a hundred thirty-three dollars in his pocket, he started out for Hiram which he had heard the Masons talk so much about.
Ryder was alone on the long journey across New York. The War of 1812 was being fought. He passed through Buffalo only twelve hours before it was captured by British troops. On January 6, 1814, he reached Hiram. He bought a hundred and fifteen acres. The price then was three dollars an acre. He worked for his board and for extra cash, and cleared his land in his leisure. The next winter he returned to Vermont to shepherd his family to the West. Then he had brothers to help him clear his fields of timber and of debt.
That he could be called probably the best educated man in Hiram, throws a flood of light on early culture, for he could have had little training save a few terms at district school. He was a tall man, six feet two in height and of great physical strength. His integrity was beyond question. His nephew tells of a dishonest neighbor who secured his services in an action for debt. The man confided to his "attorney" that he owed the money but the other side could not prove it. Thereupon Ryder stood up in court, told the truth, and recommended that judgment be given against the defendant.
We have no record of the long, homely sermons to which the Hiram church listened with patience year after year. They were designed to help its members live well in a small community. Symonds Ryder was a practical man and preached the old-fashioned virtues of industry, economy, honesty, and the payment of debts. He thought religion had to do with "the manufacture of wagons, the
EARLY HIRAM DAYS 39
weighing of sugar, the measuring of grain, the cording of wood" He was an elder in the Hiram church until his death in 1870.
But Hiram -- the village, the Eclectic Institute, and the College -- were made what they are, not by individuals but by families. The Tildens and the Masons have already been mentioned in relation to the early settlement of the township. The Rudolphs, who intermarried with the Masons, have not been given all the credit they deserve for the founding and maintaining Bethesda, for leading the liberal wing of that religious group to join the Disciples of Christ, nor for holding the infant church at Hiram steady through the Mormon madness. Their later contributions to the school will be duly recorded.
It is worth noting at this early stage that character has always been valued at Hiram more highly than brilliant intellectual ability or outstanding worldly success. The ornaments of the spirit have been welcomed, but only if they rested upon a solid foundation of moral worth and integrity...
(remainder of text not transcribed, due to copyright restrictions)
by James B. Holm
(Ravenna: Portage Co. Hist. Soc., 1957)
In 1956, the Reorganized [sic] Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints bought the house on Pioneer Road, still standing, in which Joseph Smith lived, with the expectation of making it a church shrine, or monument.
John Johnson Home -- Hiram, Ohio -- (from page 65)
Akron was then a village smaller than Hudson or Ravenna. It became the county seat, though Cuyahoga Falls almost got the prize.
This was the period, too, when the had taken the so-called Millerites gained many converts in this part of Ohio. People were swept off their feet by the promises made. Some of their teachings became unpopular, particularly their theory of "spiritual affinity" between men and women. The end of the world, with Ascension Day on April 23, 1844, was predicted and great preparations made for it. But when the world failed to come to an end, the sect suffered loss of prestige and eventually faded out, despite protests
PORTAGE HERITAGE 77
that only an "error" in calculation had been made but discoved too late.
MORMONS DEPARTBy this time the Mormons had been forced from. Portage county deespite their efforts to establish a stronghold at Hiram. Many then believed, as do many at present, that the place had been marked to be the Mormon capital instead of Kirtland. Only a few adherents of the faith remained after Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were so roughly treated that they left for good. But after the P. & O. canal had been in operation a few years there was an unusual reminder of Mormons here. According to older historians, a party of 150 Mormons were proceeding westerly on the canal, and when it reached Campbellsport, the voyagers discovered they had taken the wrong route toward their destination at Nauvoo, Illinois, then the center of church operationsThe travelers were held up one week at Campbellsport, and then retraced their route, proceeding the Ohio River to Illinois. It is pointed out that one of the e canal boat passengers was Jennie Lind, the famous Swedish singer of earlier days...
The Congregationalist Missionary Society of Connecticut, formed 1798, sent the first missionary into the Portage County country in 1801. This missionary, Joseph Badger, a Yale graduate and Revolutionary war veteran, preached one or more times from 1801 to 1804 at Deerfield, Nelson, Mantua, Aurora, Palmyra, Ravenna, and Randolph. Hungry animals, dense woods and cold rivers were perhaps less a trial to him than preaching to unfeeling hearts. At Ravenna he concluded that of twenty families who heard him there was "probably not a praying family among them." Of fifteen fouls who heard him at Aurora, March 1804 Badger commented, "alas, stupid as the woods in which they live." He was cheered a few weeks later by four families at Randolph "hungry for preaching."
FINDS NO ENTHUSIASMAnother traveling missionary preacher appointed by the Connecticut Missionary Society was Abraham Scott who in 1807 preached in Deerfield, Palmyra, Mantua, Hiram and Nelson. Although regretting the lack of education, Sabbath observance and faith, Scott nevertheless found that "...even... the worst... appear willing to hear what may be said against them..." and reported that"... I have been almost universally received and treated by all sorts since I came into this country with the greatest civility and friendship."
The growth of churches was slow, partly because of scarcity of preachers, partly because of the harsh physical struggle for survival, the scattered population, and the temptation to take advantage of the absence of restraints usual in more established societies. The Congregational Church at Randolph in its early years from 1811 to 1824 received only 32 members. At Edinburg in 1835 the Congregational Church had thirty-six members after thirteen years of existence. Ten years elapsed between the founding of Aurora and the first formal organization of a church in 1809.
In the thirty years from 1809 to 1839 churches practicing either the Congregational or Presbyterian form of church government were formed at Aurora, 1809, Rootstown, 1810, Windham and Charlestown, 1811, Randolph, 1811, Mantua, 1812, Nelson, 1813, Atwater and Shalersville, 1818, Franklin, 1819, Ravenna, 1822, Edinburg, 1823, Freedom, 1828, Garrettsville, 1835, Streetsboro, 1836. These churches all adopted very similar Calvinistic confessions of faith stressing the doctrines of predestination, man's depravity and the inspiration of Holy Scripture. Before admission
168 PORTAGE HERITAGE
to membership it was necessary publicly before the church or the representatives of the church to be examined on one's religious conversion experience and Christian character. Members were expected to practice family prayer, grace before meals, the Christian education of their children, refrain from work or travel on the Sabbath, and to submit to discipline by the church for doctrinal error or moral lapse.
JOHN BROWN ADMONISHEDThe clerks' minutes of Portage County churches to about 1870 contain a sprinkling of discipline cases. At Freedom in 1844 Ambrose Chapin and wife were excommunicated for "whipping, bruising, and even burning" an orphan girl in their charge. At Franklin, Barber Clark was reprimanded for "not making just measure in the sale of dryed fruit" to Sister Adams, fortunately of the same
PORTAGE HERITAGE 169
church. Also at Franklin, John Brown, of later fame, was admonished by the discipline committee of the congregational Church for taking Negroes to his pew with him in defiance of the custom of Negroes sitting in the rear of the church building. At Aurora in 1847 a church member was excommunicated for renting the ballroom in his tavern for "parties of pleasure, which consisted chiefly in the promiscuous dancing of the sexes to the tune of a violin, to a very late hour of the night." A church member at Edinburg was excommunicated for bringing civil suit in the court at Ravenna against a fellow church member and for neglecting to appeal "to the government of the church according to the rule of Christ and our covenant promises." In Windham in 1819 (then Sharon) Benjamin Higley was suspended for six months because his views on the Trinity were judged to be erroneous. The Congregationalists at Nelson from 1824 to 1830 had discipline problems over members going over to the Disciples of Christ, money affairs, and the liquor question.
OPPOSE STRONG DRINKIn 1830 there were sixteen distilleries in the county. When Joseph Meriam, Congregationalist pastor at Randolph, began efforts in 1827 to stop the use of strong drink, many bitter struggles took place in churches over whether to make abstinence from intoxicating liquor a requirement for church membership. At Nelson the organization of a temperance society in 1828 called forth a torrent of opposition. Of the 71 Congregationalists only 16 were prepared to pledge themselves to total abstinence. Some expressed disapproval that ministersshould leave their proper tasks to agitate, divide and excite.
STANDARDS STRICTThrough at least the first fifty years of the life of the Congregational churches in Portage County it was difficult to be a church member. The diary of Marcus F. Spelman reflects this. Becoming a member of the church at Edinburg in 1831, Spelman confided to his diary in 1838 that "I find the Christian life to be a life of struggle and self-denial too intolerable for human depraved nature to compete with without the assistance of Divine Agency." He felt he was "naturally of a mule disposition" and had to fight hard against sin and the hardening of his heart against what "the Word of God declared to be right." The standards were high; discipline was demanding. Though this Spartan severity certainly won ardent supporters for the churches, it also kept others from joining and helps explain why for so long church members were a minority group in most communities. Also, enforcement of excommunication
170 PORTAGE HERITAGE
decrees at times led to disputes, splits, and secessions within churches, to the detriment of good reputation of church members. In one case, after fifteen years of acrimony, there was held at Edinburg in 1858 "a day of mutual confession of delinquency and request for prayer... Some of the brethren who had been alienated were reconciled and determined to bury in oblivion all past offenses, and mutually to co-operate in seeking the peace and prosperity of the church."
THE BETHESDA CHURCHThe first Baptist Church in Portage County was formed by six persons at Nelson in 1808. This church, called Bethesda, met in homes or schoolhouses in Nelson, Mantua, and Aurora, and had no fixed church building for many years. This church practiced closed communion, strict discipline for drunkenness, swearing, falsehood, or views contrary to its Calvinist theology. By 1836 there were Baptist churches at Garrettsville, Mantua, Streetsboro, Franklin, Brimfield, and Aurora. In 1840 a Baptist church building was erected at Hiram Rapids called the Hiram Baptist Church. Portage County Baptists called themselves Regular Baptists. One of the leading Baptist ministers in the 1833-55 period was Amasa Clark, who cared for the Hiram and Mantua churches. A man of learning, as evidenced by his library and notebooks from his days at Hamilton College, Reverend Clark had become discouraged shortly before his death in December, 1855. His diary entry for November 6, 1855 stated that never since he came to Ohio had the state religion appeared so low. "The people do not wish for preaching. Last Sabbath two ministers were present at Mantua and had only a prayer meeting. To a human eye there is no prospect that the work of God will soon be revived. O Lord, keep active and revive thy work."
MISSIONARIES ACTIVEOne factor which limited the expansion of the Baptists was that Disciples of Christ missionaries made many inroads upon Baptists, particularly after 1827. Disciples did not demand, as a condition of membership a strong conversion experience. Communion was open, creeds were at a minimum, predestination and hellfire were put on the shelf. Voluntary acceptance of the New Testament and immersion were sufficient. Disciples of Christ churches were founded at Mantua Center (1827), Franklin (1827?), Randolph (1828), Windham (1828), Shalersville (1828), Ravenna (1830), and Aurora (1831), Garrettsville and Hiram (1835). By 1849 Freedom, Deerfield, Mantua, Streetsboro and Palmyra had Disciples churches and in June of that year 3,000 persons attended at Deerfield the annual county meeting of Disciples.
At Hiram in 1828 the Disciples converted
PORTAGE HERITAGE 171
a prominent member of the community, Symonds Ryder. In 1831 Ryder was next converted to Mormonism by Sidney Rigdon and Joseph Smith. But when Smith advocated communism of goods and in one of his revelations misspelled Ryder's first name Si-m-o-n instead of Symonds, Ryder lost faith in him, feeling that the Lord really did speak to Smith, he would spell his name correctly. Ryder led a mob to the house where Rigdon and Smith were staying in Hiram on the night of March 24, 1832. The crowd took Rigdon from his bed and tore Smith from the bedside of a sick child, tarred and feathered them and rode them on a rail out of Hiram. They were thrown unconscious in a field. When Smith crawled back to the doorway of his house, his wife Emma fainted upon seeing his bloody face. The former home of Joseph Smith in Hiram is still a shrine to which Latter Day Saints make pilgrimages. But Kirtland replaced Hiram as the Ohio capital of Mormonism. Ryder became a Disciples preacher and Hiram an important center of Disciples influence.
FINDS FEW PRESENTMany of the more struggling Disciples groups in the county were assisted by speakers from Hiram Disciple Church and from the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram, organized 1850 as a result of the Disciples' respect for rational learning as an aid to faith. James A. Garfield told of his mission to Freedom, March 27, 1852:
Attended the meeting of the brethren in Freedom. But few (14) at the meeting... I spoke three quarters of an hour in the afternoon on Divine Providence. This is my first attempt to speak away from my own congregation anything more than a mere exhortation.
At least from 1873 to 1877, possibly longer, the Hiram Disciple Church maintained a union Sunday school at Freedom of which Hartwell Ryder was superintendent. Mr. Watson Allyn of the Hiram Disciple Church (died March 1, 1903) for many years when the Hiram church service was ended would walk to Hiram Rapids where he kept this former Baptist Church going as a union organization of Baptists, Disciples, and some Methodists. After 1903 student preachers from Hiram continued his charitable work.
METHODISTS ORGANIZEThe founder of Methodism in Portage County was Rev. Henry Shewell, who formed a Methodist class at Deerfield in 1802. Shewell and his physician-preacher associate, Dr. Shadrack Bostwick, carried the Methodist message 1803-1823 to Mantua, Aurora.
PORTAGE HERITAGE 177....
One of the novels written by A. G. Riddle, the Mantua writer, was
"The Portrait." The scene of the story is mainly Mantua,
but virtually all towns in Portage County enter into it. The characters, many of them, are actual Portage County people
of the period. Of these are Prophet Joseph Smith, the Mormon leader, Sidney Rigdon, and others. Writer
Riddle gives the following character sketch of Smith: "The Prophet was then about twenty-five years of age,
and nearly six feet in height;
rather loosely but powerfully built, with a perceptible stoop of his shoulders. The face was longish, not badly featured,
marked with blue eyes, fair blond complexion and very light, yellowish flaxen hair. His head was not ignoble, and carried
with some dignity; and, on the whole his person, air and manner would have been noticeable in a gathering of men. He was
attired in neat fitting suit of blue, over which he wore the ample cloak of, blue broadcloth, which he threw back,
exposing his neck and bosom -- all with a simple and natural manner."
In another chapter, writer Riddle says: "Joseph Smith undoubtedly had a fair share of the lower elements of wisdom and sagacity which we call cunning. Was fertile in expedients and possessed much intuitive knowledge of the lower springs and motions of human conduct. He was naturally courageous, always cool, and his impudence reached the sublime; and the gambler's faith in luck, with him, was a chronic fanaticism. 'I will become the Mohamet of America', was his oft-repeated declaration to his confidants."
The principal proprietors of the township were residents of the village of Lebanon, Connecticut, and were Free and Accepted Masons. Among these was Col. Daniel Tilden. He had been an officer in the Revolution and was prominent in politics and in Masonry, being at that time High Priest of the Chapter. Also he had made the largest investment in the township. It was customary in those days to hold a social meeting after labor in the Lodge. On one such occasion back in Connecticut, the subject of their western possessions came up and one of the number proposed that the brother who would supply the punch might name the township. The principal ingredient of this punch was Jamaica rum, to which sugar and milk were added. Col. Tilden ordered the punch and when it was ready to be served, arose and said: "Brethren, let us drink to the Widow's Son. May peace, prosperity and brotherly love prevail for all time throughout our possessions to such an extent as to add lustre to our patron saint, Hiram, whose name we now give."
The Hiram mentioned above was, by legend, a great artificer in brass, a Mason, and as such a worker on Solomon's temple.
The Connecticut Land Company deeded this township to the following persons and the amounts contributed to the purchase are given below:
Daniel Tilden 3,600.00
William Perkins 640.00
John McClellan 1,452.00
Jonathan Devotion 1,650.00
Ichabod Ward -- Daniel Terrance 1,426.00
Samuel Terrance 815.00
Ichabod Ward 80,23
Phineas Pierce 1650.00
ONLY ONE COMES HEREEach township purchaser or group of purchasers was required to pay not less than $12,903.23 and it is probable that Ichabod Ward contributed his $80.23 in order to bring the total investment up to this required amount.
Some confusion rises from the fact that the 1885 Portage County History gives the names of the original proprietors as Daniel Tilden, Daniel Green, Joseph Metcalf, Levi Case, John Fitch, Joseph Burnham and Jos. Perkins. Except Daniel Tilden, these were not the men who purchased from the Connecticut Land Co. But most of those who did buy from the land company, made the investment for profit and quickly sold their property.
372 PORTAGE HERITAGE
Records of deeds show some transfers from purchasers from the land company to persons named. The name of Daniel Tilden is the only one found in both lists. He is the only one of the original proprietors to come to the Reserve and probably the only one who visited his western property. An old atlas reports that Joseph Metcalf, one of the original proprietors, died in New York on his way here, and that another, Levi Case, set out from Connecticut but got no further than the Lake Erie shore in New York where he was found leaning against a tree, frozen to death.
The earliest owners invested in this land with the expectation of selling it at a profit. Connecticut sold this Reserve land for $1,200,000, or approximately 40 cents per acre. Each township was supposed to contain 16,000 acres. Hiram contains only 15,630 acres but two lots lated added from other townships brought the acreage up to 17,780. With this additional acreage, the land cost proprietors a little over 72 cents per acre. As settlers came, the price increased. On Dec. 14, 1813, Elijah Mason sold 71 acres of land on Lot 23 to Parley Hughes for $338.00. Hughes deeded this land to Thomas F. Young for $535.00, or $7.53 per acre.
Thomas Young built a house at the northeast corner of the intersection of the north-south and east-west center roads. Most of this property has been sold, part to the college and part for building lots but what is left remains in the family.
We have no way of learning definitely who was the first to come into the township with the idea of remaining. John Harmon, an early Mantua settler, thought that Wm. Williams came in the spring of 1799, built a cabin, but soon left, but we do not know definitely whether he spent any time in Hiram. It has been said that Abraham Honey, Mantua's first Settler, stayed in Hiram a short time after leaving Mantua.
FIFTY LOTS SET OUTHiram was laid out in 50 large lots. No. 1 was located in the extreme northwest corner. The numbers then ran to the east, 1-2-3-4-5, then dropped to the next row and continued in reverse, back and forth until 50 was reached. Hiram Center was located on Nos. 23 and 28.
In 1802 Elijah Mason, Elisha Hutchinson and Mason Tilden came and located lands. Mason and Tilden were from Connecticut and Hutchinson from New York state. Tilden was a son of Daniel Tilden, one of the original proprietors. It is probable that Mason was a brother-in-law of Daniel Tilden and nearly his age for both had served in the Revolutionary War. Mason took the west half of Lot 23; Tilden took Lot 22; and Hutchinson a part of Lot 23. They returned "home" after selecting their lands. However, John Flemings, who came the same year, did begin the work of a settler on Lot 33. He built a cabin and his was the first crop raised in the township. He stayed a year -- perhaps less.
Mason, Hutchinson and Tilden returned in the spring of 1803 and built cabins. They left their families at home, though Mason brought two sons, Peleg and Roswell M. Mason. Mason cleared about 22 acres of land, Hutchinson 20 and Tilden an unknown area. Mason planted wheat but we do not know about the others. Soon after these three came they discovered and named Silver Creek.
Mason, Tilden and Hutchinson returned
PORTAGE HERITAGE 373
east, intending to come back permanently. But Mason's sons refused to come and he changed his plans and purchased a farm in Vermont. But Mason did return in 1804 to harvest his wheat.
Harry Abbott, who has always lived on a farm not far from the location, says that John Spencer harvested the first wheat crop on a high point known as The Pinnacle on the west side of the river. Spencer came to Mantua early, soon moving over into Hiram. Abbott says he once found the foundation of Spencer's house and that if it is in Mantua, it is just over the line.
Three men had come into Hiram from Pennsylvania as hired men. They were Richard Redden, Jacob Wirt and Samuel Wirt. They liked the country and decided to stay. Redden bought the property of Flemings, mentioned earlier, while the Wirts settled on Lot 38. Redden sent for his father and family and this was the first white family to spend a winter in Hiram. The Redden place was one mile south of the center, at a hill long known as Redden's Hill. At one time Redden had a still on the slope of Big Hollow.
"Big Hollow" -- South of Hiram Centre -- (graphic not in text)
For a few years few people from New England came in, but some did come in from Pennsylvania, mostly squatters.
BLACKSMITH ARRIVESIn the fall of 1804 William Fenton began work in Lot 38, with Cornelius Baker occupying another part of it. It is said that the first death in the township was that of Mrs. Fenton who died at the birth of a child. Burial was on the north Big Hollow Hill.
In the. fall of 1804, Col. John Garrett, whose name is preserved as that of the name of Garrettsville, came to this country. With him was Abraham Dyson who soon came to Hiram and opened a shop for blacksmithing and gun repairing. The shop was at the foot of North Hill.
In 1806 Roswell Mason changed his mind about life in the Reserve and came from Vermont to Lot 22, presented by his father. The father, Elijah, still owned considerable land here and made Roswell his agent. Roswell studied law.
In 1810 Parley Hughes came from Vermont and settled where Elijah Mason had done some work in 1803, and now as purchaser. That fall Hughes' son-in-law, Ephriam Hackett, brought his family to Lot 22. The township population was then about 30.
In June, 1911, Orrin Pitkin settled on Lot 32, where Honey had worked, it is thought. In August, James Young, George Young and Seth Cole and
374 PORTAGE HERITAGE
families came from Sterling, Connecticut. James, a tailor, was on Lot 18; George on the same lot and Lot 25; and Cole bought in Lot 38. Cole was a cooper. Elisha Hutchinson also changed his mind and brought his family to the spot he had first worked in 1803. In the fall of 1811 there were 11 families in the township and the population was 58.
In 1812 Thomas F. Young came from Windham, Conn., and settled on land at the corner bought from Parley Hughes. Here he built a log house, followed by a frame house about 1820, which still remains. For some years Young's Exchange was a tavern on the stage coach route, Warren to Cleveland. His wife, Lydia, was a daughter of Daniel Tilden. As far as known Thomas Young was not related to the family previously mentioned.
In September, 1813; Daniel Hinckley came with his family from Connecticut, taking part of Lot 38, and buying considerable other land. Later, a Moore married a Hinckley and this place is now known as the Moore place. Hinckley taught the first school, a log structure on the north brow of Big Hollow.
SYMONDS RYDER COMESIn 1816, Elijah Mason fulfilled his original intention and came West. The family settled on the west half of Lot 43. With him he brought Symonds Ryder, whom he had raised. The next year Symonds went East and returned with his parents, brother Jason and sisters, settling south of the center, on what has long been known as Ryder road. The Ryders were long ardent supporters of the church. Symonds preached until he was old and Jason was a deacon until he became feeble. That year, too, Arunah Tilden and family, with brother-in-law, John Jennings settled the west half of Lot 37.
Symonds Ryder -- (graphic not in text)
In 1817 Gersham Judson came to Lot 31 from Mantua, later selling to Paul Pitkin and moving away. Judson, a widower, married Sarah Redden in 1817 [sic - 1806] -- Hiram's first wedding. The next was ten years later when Chas. R. Paine married Perthenia Mason, daughter of Elijah. Others coming at this time were Stephen B. Pulsifer and family; Ira Herrick and parents; and Daniel (not owner) John, Benjamin and Polly Tilden. Ebenezer Pinney went to lot 51, later selling to Samuel Udall. By 1817 the population was 120.
Early in 1818 Daniel Harrington came from Trumbull county. The families of Samuel Udall, John Johnson, Martin Miller, Charles Loomis and Thomas Cowen reached Hiram after a trip of six-weeks through deep snow. Udall settled on parts of Lots 32 and 39. Johnson later built a frame house.
In the following summer others came in; Gideon Chapin, Lemuel Herrick, Miles T. Norton, Joel Button, Elisha Taylor, Horance A. Loomis, Curtis Eggleston, Truman Brace, William Harris and Chas. H. Paine, who later became Freedom's first settler.
In March, 1819, John M. Tilden and family arrived, settling on Lot 25. Paul Pitkin came in June that year.
About 1820, John M. Tilden, one of the original proprietors, came with his family, settling on Lot 25. He had been a man of considerable property and influence in Connecticut and came here to live in seclusion in order to forget disappointments of his life in the East. His first dwelling was located on the hill west of the cemetery.
PORTAGE HERITAGE 375
About this time Deacon John Rudolph came to a farm north of Garrettsville, coming from Virginia. He and family were active supporters of the church. His son Zeb married a daughter of Elijah Mason. Their daughter Lucretia became the wife of James A. Garfield. The first birth was that of Edwin S. Babcock March 3, 1811, son of Simeon Babcock and a daughter of Elijah Tilden.
OLD NAMES DISAPPEARA history student soon notices the disappearance of most of the early names, which were nearly all of English orgin. An early comer was Elisha Taylor, a tanner, leather worker and shoemaker who came in 1818. The wheel used in grinding tanner's bark has been preserved at the center as a relic. There are still Taylors on the first Elisha Taylor place. There is one family of Udalls left on the original place. There is one Mason but not a family. There are Spencers at the Rapids and center. There is one Norton left, and one Ryder on part of the original farm. There is one Young family on the original place, not connected with the Youngs once so numerous, but with Thomas Fitch Young. Apparently only the Spencers, the Taylors and the Youngs will leave their names for future generations.
Among those who came to Hiram a hundred years or more ago, not previously mentioned, whose descendants reside here, are: the Abbotts, Allyns, Bennetts, Coopers, Crafts, Davises, Everetts, Kings, Loomises, Marcys, Munns, Nicholses, Patches, Pritchards, Sanfords, Stockbergers, Turners and Vaughns.
The first mill was built at the Rapids in 1807 by Lemuel Punderson for Squire Law of Connecticut. It was destroyed by flood but re-built in 1808 and a sawmill added.
A postoffice was established at the Center in 1816. Thomas F. Young was the first postmaster, holding office until his death in 1852, a period of 36 years. With the exception of about one year the office remained in the Young family until 1861.
The following persons have been Hiram postmasters, with dates of appointment: Thos. F. Young 1816; Clinton Young 1854; Alva Udall 1854; Clinton Young 1856; Eber Mott 1861; Daniel Humeston 1870; Jason Streator 1873; D. H. Beaman 1882; Harry Leach 1892; Clinton Young 1896; George Vincent 1900; Helen Vincent 1907; A. G. Woodward 1910; Henry Dyson 1914; George Vincent 1918; Owen E. Reed 1918; Mrs. Joe Gettys 1925; John Hersey 1925; George Vincent 1925; Gilbert Wilson 1934; Arthur Fisher 1943; Wayne F. Grosse, 1954.
"STONE JUG" SCHOOLWhen the office was established the mail came once a week by stage, Warren to Hudson. Later it came by mail to Jeddo (Hiram Station), then a station. Still later it went by rail to Garrettsville, then to Hiram. Now all mail is handled by trucks.
When Benjamin Hinckley taught the first school this lasted for ten weeks. There were 20 pupils, seven Youngs, three Johnsons, two Hutchinsons, two Dysons, two Hughes, two Hinckleys, a Hampton and a Judson. From that time on schools have been maintained with regularity. In 1816 two districts were formed. At a later time there were five -- one at the Center, one a mile south, one in the east part, one at the Rapids and one at "Pigwacket," one and a half miles north of the Center. At one time the Center school was a fine stone building,
376 PORTAGE HERITAGE
affectionately known as the "Stone Jug." For some years Hiram did not have a high school as the college operated a preparatory department. When this was abolished, a town high school was established. Eventually, district schools were abandoned and pupils brought by bus to the central school.
The first store was opened by Deacon John D. Hazen in 1820. It is said that Eber Mott had a store at the Center, the building later used as a store by the Fergusons. House and Vincent also operated there. Streator's store at the Center was long a landmark -- a brick building on the east side of the north-south road where Gray Hall now stands. This was a general store and meeting place occupied by Mantle after Streator retired. At one time Clarence Young had a grocery and at a later time Syria (pronounced Syra) had a grocery.
Like most other towns Hiram had a band. One of the early leaders was Clarence C. Young, grandson of Thomas F. He had tuberculosis and knowing that the end would come, he asked that his body be buried by moonlight and that the band should play.
Another musical organization was the Dayton orchestra, composed of Noah Dayton and members of his family. Dayton also operated a coblers shop and repaired violins.
As the land was cleared and cattle increased there grew up a large business in butter and cheese, especially the latter. A cheese factory would be established wherever there was a good supply of milk. These factories are all gone and the milk is hauled to the cities.
HAD THREE INNSThomas Johnson and Elisha Hutchinson had built frame barns but it was not until 1819 that a frame house was erected. This was the home of Jesse Bruce.
In the ealiest days the only road in the northern part of the county was that between Warren and Cleveland, passing through Hiram center. In Hiram, three inns catered to stage coach traffic. One was a few houses east of the Center; Youngs Exchange at the Center; and Aunt Polly's Inn. These houses are still standing. Another old establishment was at the Rapids and is still standing.
There was once a road from the west part of the township to Garrettsville, south of the present Route 82. It ran near the north line of the farm long occupied by the Stockbergers for over a century. It is also probable that there was a road to Ravenna in the early days. There was a guide board at the Center in the early times saying "Troy -- Five Miles -- Not Open." There was a ford across the Cuyahoga on the Warren-Cleveland road, near the present bridge.
INTEREST IN RELIGIONThere is only one railroad in the township. Originally the Cleveland & Mahoning Valley, it is now part of the Erie after several ownerships.
One of the plans for railroads which flourished with Hudson as a center was the Clinton Air line which crossed Hiram. It is described elsewhere. Parts of the original road bed can be seen today.
The Methodists were most successful in early church missionary work and the former, at least, had a church at the Center. There was also one at the Rapids. In 1835 the Disciples organized a church at the south school house and this denomination proved
PORTAGE HERITAGE 377
to be so popular that it supplanted the others.
On the whole, however, this was a period of great interest in religion. One of the sects which arose at this time was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, often called Mormons. Joseph Smith, the prophet of that faith, and Sidney Rigdon, a preacher, brought their message into Hiram and made important converts. Some people were suspicious of the motives of these men, thinking they would try to get all property into the hands of the church, and there also were charges of the advocation of polygamy. A group went to the Johnson house, where Smith was staying, and near where Rigdon lodged in another house, and tarred and feathered them. We cannot judge either the Mormons or their assailants now;: certainly the Latter Day Saints have grown in strength and in 1956 the church organization bought the Johnson house containing the "Revelation Room" where Joseph Smith received some sixteen revelations. It is to be a church shrine. In later years the Mormon stay assumed historical significance.
Another movement which attracted many followers was Spiritualism. Many seances were held and many people had complete faith but interest in the belief gradually died out here.
EARLY PHYSICIANSThere has been a doctor at the Center from early times but no dentists as doctors did dental work. First was a Dr. Blackmar who arrived in 1832. He built a house containing kitchen, pantry, bedroom and office in a building 12 x 14 feet. Other physicians, roughly in order were Drs. Trask, Squire, Stanhope, Dyson, Page, F. H. Hurd and H. C. Hurd. Dr. Wilcox of Mantua Corners practiced at the Rapids.
For some years there were no cemeteries. There were at first few burials and these were made in a convenient place. Not always were graves permanently marked. At a later time, when the township was well organized, a town cemetery was established about a half mile west of the Center and is now well kept up.
The Center cemetery holds the graves of two soldiers of the Revolution -- Elijah Mason and Daniel Tilden. Allyn Turner, another Revolutionary Soldier is buried at the Rapids.
After the formation of Portage County Hiram township included the territory of Mantua, Shalersville, Nelson, Windham and Freedom, as set out by the county commissioners for government purposes.
The first election appears to have been held in 1816, with 16 votes cast. Officers chosen included a justice of the peace, trustees, clerk, fence viewers, overseers of the poor, and a lister. Officers chosen included Thomas F. Young, clerk; James Young, John Redden and Benjamin Hinckley, trustees; and Richard Redden, treasurer.
The first election of which there is any definite record was in 1826 when these officers were chosen:
Thomas F. Young, clerk; James Young, Aruna Tilden and George Redden, trustees; Seth Cole and Samuel Udall, overseers; Elijah Mason and George Young, viewers; John Redden, lister; John Dyson, appraiser; George Udall, Enoch Judson, Anson Booth, Thomas Johnson and Horace A. Lomice (Loomis), path markers; Samuel Udall, Milton Arthur and Gideon Chapin, path markers; Curtis Eggleston and Benjamin Hinckley, constables and John Redden, treasurer.
378 PORTAGE HERITAGE
In the earliest years the trustees, on instruction of Common Pleas court, selected grand and petit jurors, but this method lasted only a short time.
COLLEGE DOMINATESAfter the establishment of Hiram College (first as the Eclectic Institute in 1850) the history of Hiram township has been much the same as the history of the college as the college has dominated virtually all activities within its borders. History of the college has been set out in another section. But a few outstanding facts should be noted.
The reason for the selection of Hiram as a site was primarily the desire of the Disciple Church people, numerous in the area, for a school. Other reasons were the beauty, healthfulness and quiet of the place.
The start of the Institute brought a flood of students -- more than could be accommodated -- but gradually order was brought out of chaos. The first principal had the school work farmed out to him -- he ran the school, collected the receipts and if there was anything left over, he got it. The only building, "Old Main," was a veritable beehive of activity. Every inch of space was needed. The principal and janitor had living quarters in the basement. When the principal moved out, a boarding house was started there and this was helped by others outside. But many of the students, coming from the farms, boarded themselves. A special boarding-house was built for self-boarders. But regular board could be obtained for $1.25 per week.
A number of Hiram citizens were great help in getting "Old Main" erected and in doing other practical work required. Among these were Symonds Ryder, Alvah Udall, Carnot Mason and Pelatiah Allyn, Jr. A. Sutton Hayden was the first principal.
Hayden was followed as principal by James A. Garfield, Hiram's greatest son. During. the Civil War years H. W. Everest, J. M. Atwater, C. W. Heywood and A. J. Thompson acted as principal. The Institute became a College in 1867 with Silas E. Shepard as president. He was followed by J. M. Atwater and the well remembered B. A. Hinsdale. After Hinsdale left there came G. H. Laughlin, E. V. Zollars, J. A. Beattie, C. C. Rowlinson, Miner Lee Bates, Kenneth Brown and Paul H. Fall, current chief.
One building served until 1879 when Ladies Hall (later Bowler) was built and in 1883 Old Main was remodeled. Miller Hall came in 1889 and a Y.M.C.A. building in 1896 (later burned). Buildings today include the Library, Observatory, Play House, Colton Hall, Administrative Building, Zollars Dorm, Infirmary and various others.
Being a church school with a ministerial course, Hiram College over
PORTAGE HERITAGE 379
several decades furnished supply ministers for churches all over Northeastern Ohio.
Hiram's faculties have included many brilliant and dedicated men and of the study body, many have gone out to win fame elsewhere.
DEVELOP WATER POWERThere has not been much manufacturing in Hiram, though it existed. Evan Jones once manufactured hats in a log house west of the Center. He accumulated some money, went to Cleveland and was robbed and murdered.
At one time there were several mills scattered along Eagle Creek, which is about two miles south of the Center. At various places fall of water was sufficient to justify the building of dams to produce power. Silver Creek, east of the Center, also produced some power. About a mile south of the east-west center road was a mill, whether grist or saw, is not recorded. As late as 1900 its old timbers could still be seen. North of the road there was a grist mill, built about 1818 and operated by Mr. Secole. It was the first in that vicinity but not very satisfactory.
One and a half miles north, on the little brook that crosses the road there, Elisha Taylor had a tannery, the first in the neighborhood. He ground his bark in a circular vat by means of a large stone wheel with sharp notches on the rim. This was attached to a horizontal axle with one end fastened at the center of the vat, while the other end was drawn around the circle by a pair of oxen. The stone wheel outer end rolled around on the bark until this was ground fine enough for use. This stone is now preserved on ground across the street from the post-office.
Hiram College was one of the first to take up basketball. Its teams dominated college competition in the early part of the present century and in 1905 won what was called the world's championship in this sport at the St. Louis Fair.
NEW INSTITUTIONS COMEIn 1956 announcement was made of the purchase of approximately 300 acres of land in southwestern Hiram, by the Methodist church organizations of northeastern Ohio. The land was to be developed into a recreational area for the youth of that denomination, with buildings and equipment for this purpose. It was to be known as Camp Asbury.
The same year saw the establishment of a home for old and unfortunate men at Hiram Rapids. This was done by the Brotherhood of St. John of the Orthodox Catholic Church in the purchase of more than 100 acres southwest of the Rapids, with remodeling of buildings and new construction.
An electric line, the Eastern Ohio Traction Co., was operated for several years. It ran from Cleveland via Chagrin Falls to Garrettsville, coming in 1901, and lasted about fifteen years, doing both passenger and freight business. Another line called the Dodge Line was partly graded but never finished. Some grading work was done near the Rapids and remains of it can be seen today.
Outstanding Hiram men came mainly from connection with the college, but Perry L. Green, a Hiram resident 40 years, was prominent in other ways. He was a state representative, state director of agriculture and a Farm Bureau leader and official for many years.
Hiram was incorporated as a village in 1894 and almost immediately a
380 PORTAGE HERITAGE
municipal electric power and light generating plant was installed. The plant was on North Hill road. It is still in operation today.
In 1907 the Hiram Telephone Co. began operations and continued in that name until 1926 when it was sold to the Western Reserve Telephone Co., of Hudson. Dr. H. C. Hurd was a leader in the organization of the telephone system.
Hiram's fire department was organized in 1897. John Hedges and David Stockman were two of the early chiefs. Gilbert Wakefield is the present chief.
The Hiram Grange was organized in 1924 and Arthur Beton was the first master. A waterworks system was authorized and installed in 1898, after a typhoid fever epidemic attributed to contaminated well water, had developed.
Present village officers are: Jack Streeter, Mayor; L. C. Underwood, Treas.; Mrs. DeWight Berg, Clerk; Council, Arthur Benedict, George Breckett, Michael Bennett, Ruth Whitcomb and L. C. Pettit.
The school board is composed of Charles Sanborn, Chester Orcutt, Marian Belnnett, , Grace Goodale and Forrest King, with G. E. Bennett, Clerk.
The Township Trustees are Carl Nichols, Nelson Hayes and Ralph Geiger. Rev. Hunter Beckellymer is pastor of the Christian Church.
Charles (Blinky) Morgan, a name well known in Portage county criminal annals, was given his nickname because of the fact that he was blind in one eye.
The first law set the size of Western Reserve townships at six miles square. Before any of the townships were laid out a new law set the area at five miles square as they are today. In many other parts of the state a township is still six miles square.
In 1920 the McElrath Tire & Rubber Co. of Ravenna advertised for laborers at $6.50 daily wages -- a new high for common labor in Ravenna up to that time.
Passenger traffic on the canals was at first heavy. In 1843 a band of Mormons, enroute to Nauvoo, Ill., was held up one week at Campbellsport because of a mistake in routing. They then went back to the Ohio river and proceeded via the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.
Sidney Rigdon, the intellectual of the Mormons, was pastor of a Baptist Church in Mantua in 1826. In the following year he organized a Campbellite (Disciple) Church there, taking with him into it nearly all his former parishioners. In 1830 he left that church to become Prophet Joseph Smith's main advisor in the Mormon Church.
James. A. Garfield wrote that he owed much of his political fortunes to Lyman W. Hall, once a Ravenna publisher. Senator Ben Wade also said that Lyman W. Hall, in his opinion, did more than any other man to bring about the birth of the Republican party.
In November, 1896, Marvin Kent wrote a letter to Senator John Sherman seeking a better job for Dr. J. W. Shively, former Kent physician, who was employed in the Pension Department. Kent hestitated to approach William McKinley, Whom he knew, because it was soon after McKinley's election as president and he knew McKinley would be pretty busy. It is not known whether Shively got a better job.
[ 381 ]
In so doing she sits at a desk made from the Mantua woods of black walnut by Henry Cobb of the second generation -- crude, but full of space and secret compartments where many documents were filed during his office as justice of the peace for many years. He was also a writer of some renown.
His father, Samuel; Harriet, his wife, and sons came from Connecticut in 1833 and established a home near Silo. Henry later married Antoinette Hubbell Taylor, who lived just a mile to the north. Here Samuel became the first postmaster, serving seventeen years. It was known as Cobb's Corners.
The pigeon-holed, slant topped desk of black walnut also served for sorting mail. Today it reposes at Woods Store there. The few communications of that early day, sealed with wax, many bearing no stamp, and requiring days of travel by horses, undoubtedly told stories of romance, heartbreak and adventure -- enough to have made many an unwritten true story.
AMZI ATWATER HERE EARLYOne of Mantua's first citizens, Judge Amzi Atwater, was land agent, one, of 52 persons sent out to survey the Western Reserve in June, 1796.
Mantua township, containing 17,659 acres, was organized in 1810 and included Shalersville, which was cut off in 1812. Preceding, this date, log cabins were crudely fashioned from the plentiful woodland. In 1806 there were 27 men here. David Abbott surveyed the township. He was a member of Ohio's first constitutional convention.
The Cuyahoga River flows at the foot of Derthick Hill. Here Abraham Honey in 1798 made a small clearing, built a log hut and sowed wheat. It was the first known settlement within the township. Others soon followed -- Basil Windsor, Rufus Edwards and others. Edwards was a brother-in-law of Honey, who probably owned the land where the wheat was planted for he harvested it and constructed a hand mill and distillery east of the bridge below Derthick Hill. He was married to Letitia Windsor, Basil's daughter, for the first marriage ceremony, and Judge Atwater was officiant. The next settler was Elias Harmon, who married Sabrina Sheldon, coming to the new land from Connecticut in a two-horse sleigh. She was the first white woman here. To this union were born six children. Eunice, the first, was Mantua's first born white child. The first death occurred in 1804, when Mrs. Anna Judson took arsenic by mistake. A Davis
382 PORTAGE HERITAGE
Crooks is mentioned as the third settler. Pascal McIntosh came in 1799.
BRINGS APPLE SEEDSMore and more pioneers soon arrived; McIntosh, Burroughs, Moses Pond (who put out an apple orchard from seeds carried from his father's home, and who was probably the first tanner). Others included Darwin Atwater, Jotham Atwater, the Hines and Samuel Moore, who arrived with a wagon, yoke of oxen, two horses, a cow and seven children.
Given names have been handed down for several generations to the present so that we of this last century seem almost personally acquainted with those of the 1800s -- years of Moores, Derthicks, Harmons, Plums, Roots, Reeds, Bards, Bakers, Ridges, Blairs, Wilmots, Tinkers, Snows, Frosts, Algers and others. Still others were Joseph and William Skinner, Ray, Wareham Loomis, Capt. William Messenger, Jonathan Foster, the Sanfords, Ladd, Judsons, Carltons, Squires and their families.
TAVERN IS FAMOUSA log hotel stood east of the present "Brick Tavern" where Jotham Atwater had purchased some land, and wherein he and his wife, Laura Kellogg, entertained early visitors. In 1825 he built the "Big Brick," famous as a hostelry. The log hotel was near the intersection of the old Pittsburgh and Cleveland road with the diagonal road. It was here that the first July Fourth celebration was held in 1815 and Judge Atwater wrote a poem for the occasion. Atwater and Elias Harmon were instrumental in court establishment and laying out a road between Parkman and Ravenna via Mantua. Judge Atwater surveyed it. Years later the road was closed and the present road between the two "Big Bricks" was set up.
In 1810, Mantua had a population of 234.
In 1826, a man named Childs had a store at the Corners and in 1829, Alonzo Delano ran a store there succeeding Joseph Skinner. Calvin White opened the first store at the Center in 1835.
The first bridge over the Cuyahoga River came in 1814. It was built by Rufus Edwards on the Hiram Road crossing, at a cost of $100.00.
Among the original party of surveyors was a Mr. Leavitt, who selected the name, Mantua, it is said, in honor
PORTAGE HERITAGE 383
of Napoleon, who in 1796 captured the city of Mantua in Italy, and so was one of the heroes of the day. Mantua had the distinction of being the parent township of the county, being settled more than six months ahead of any other township.
EARLY MILLSPortage County industry got off to its first start when Rufus Edwards constructed his hand mill in 1799. In 1802, Moses Pond constructed a tannery. Dan Ladd took over the tannery in 1812. Pond is credited with bringing in the first sheep. A distillery was set up in 1810 by William Russell. Ezekiel Ladd also later operated this distillery, followed by Patrick Ray. In 1819, Hezekiah Mooney and Dr. Ezekiel Squire jointly operated a distillery. Thomas G. Washburn had an ashery at the Center for ten years after 1810. The first saw mill was erected near the Geauga line by the Dresser family in 1818. A glass factory was started by David Ladd in 1821, but two years later it was moved to Kent. Noah and Nobel Rogers had a tannery near Mantua Center in 1825.
Mantua today has almost all town facilities -- municipal officers, electrically lighted streets, homes and power for factories. It has been known chiefly as a fine residential town, with excellent sewage disposal, good pavements and sidewalks.
The waterworks plant was installed in 1902 on the Cuyahoga River flats, and is supplied by three deep artesian wells, with a pump house. The Reservoir is atop the hill on Reservoir Drive. Water is forced up hill by electric and Diesel pumps, pumping an average of 40,000 to 50,000 gallons daily. The pure water is one of the town's greatest assets.
In 1912, many sidewalks were laid. For this, one man, Alpheus Russell, editor and mayor, was largely responsible.
The Erie Railroad has been the chief transportation outlet. Much produce has been stored and shipped here. In past days, potatoes (selling for 80 cents a bushel in 1902, to $5.00 a bushel in 1955) have been stored, as many as 50,000 bushels at one time. Large quantities of hides, wool, and maple syrup have also been shipped out. M. R. Coit and I. A. Spencer were two of the better known dealers. Maple syrup at one time sold for 50 cents a gallon. James and John King were popular station agents and telegraphers here for years.
As the Cuyahoga River flows through the flats, the surrounding land was called Atwater Grove in honor of the judge whose home was along the main street. In 1892, this home was sold to Martin Merryfield for $200.00. This is the present site of the Samuel Moore & Co. plant. The building was erected in 1947. In the Atwater Grove, many picnics were held and sports played.
HOTELS THRIVEThe Lower Hotel, or present Cuyahoga House, was the scene of much merrymaking in the old days, both as hotel and ball room, with an ever present bar room. The Taylor House and Mantua House were thriving hotels. Another hotel was in the Rhodes block, south of the tracks. There is no hotel today.
In 1910, N. D. Parker Sons purchased the lumber business of Hine & Cook. The Parker sons have owned it up to the present time. Wells Truck Line offices are located here.
Along the river, near the south bridge, about 1858, there existed a cider mill, a saw mill and a foundry.
384 PORTAGE HERITAGE
Sawing machine manufacture was a chief activity there.
In the 1920s, the Ku Klux Klan flourished here for a short time and many a fiery cross lighted the hillside beyond the river.
The Erie Railroad came through in 1855 and the depot was built in 1872. One agent, Eugene Pratt, got $37.50 per month as telegraph operator. Other agents here since 1909 have been J. M. Folger, E. E. Eyester, W. D. Alexander, J. F. Pritchard, Mr. Hyatt, J. A. Shannon, I. B. Sonnedecker, Arthur Jackson, Ed. Flack, Nelson, Nickles, D. H. Davis, C. S. Angelmyer, and H. E. Miller. Today many local people commute to work in the city daily.
Another railroad was projected before the Erie, but was never finished. This was the Clinton Air Line. Grading was started on this in 1853, and the old right of way can still be seen, though rails were never laid. It entered northeastern Mantua from Hiram township and proceeded toward Hudson diagonally with a southwesterly course.
ELECTRIC POWER COMESThe municipal light plant was installed on the south side of the Erie tracks opposite a crystal spring which provided water for its steam power. Light rates were first three lights for 75 cents a month, with no meters. Ed. Williams was manager. The plant was unprofitable and was closed. James Coit then bought it but the plant burned in 1917, when council granted a franchise to the Ravenna Gas & Electric Co. thence to the Ohio Electric Power in 1927 and finally to the Ohio Edison in 1933.
MUD HILL METROPOLISThe first collected industries of Mantua were at Mud Mill, north and east of the first hotel. Here, in 1819, William and Joseph Skinner operated a grist mill and distillery. Joseph was a master mechanic and inventor. On the east side was Ladd's blacksmith shop, a store on the west side was managed by George Houghton; an ashery was nearer the river; on the east bank was Alexander Pomeroy's grist mill; further east was a carding house, dye house and distillery; a saw mill, tannery, and Ladd's brick kiln and a glass factory on the diagonal road from the Brick Tavern. A second glass factory operated near.
After these industries declined, Mantua Corners became a trading center. The first store was built in 1820. A man named Childs had a store there in 1826. On the northwest corner stood the Yellow Store, opened by Joseph Skinner about 1828; on the northeast corner J. W. Foster had general merchandise for sale: Later Co. C. H. Ray occupied, still later moving it to Mantua village. Alonzo Delano also had a store there, as did Milo Wheeler in 1842. The Corners had started to assume city airs but its prospects were nipped by the coming of the railroad in 1856. A fire in 1857 destroyed many of the Corners business places. Calvin White had the first store at the Center -- 1835.
SCHOOL BUILDING CHEAPIn 1842, Judge Amzi Atwater donated land for a frame school house, corner Main and East High. The school cost $315.75, plus donated shingles, some other lumber and labor. In 1868, Darwin Atwater remodeled the building into a church for all denominations.
In 1867, the first brick school house was erected -- now the Town Hall. A second floor was added for a hall. In
PORTAGE HERITAGE 385
1893 another school was built which lasted well into this century. The cornerstone of a new and seemingly huge new building was laid in May, 1929.
The first school in Mantua was taught in Amzi Atwater's home in 1806-1807. Patty Cochran taught a school after this as did John Harmon. At the Center, Elizabeth Kent taught a school in 1815-16.
The first organized fire department came in January, 1909, with Thomas King as chief. About 1918, Mantua had the only motorized fire truck in the county.
A war memorial built by Dr. E. H. Houghton in the lower yard of the village was put on a more permanent footing with a plaque for the 1950 Home Coming. One of the distinguishing marks of Mantua is the statue and fountain in this yard donated to the town by Mrs. C. H. Thompson.
A fair grounds, with a grand stand facing east, and a race track, were in existence in the 1890s, across from the present park.
FAMOUS MAPLE DELLTo mention Mantua to old residents, their minds quickly revert to Maple Dell, or the Spiritualist Camp Grounds, along the Cuyahoga River in the northeast lower section of town. Cottages, a hotel and summer school were erected. The circular tabernacle stands today. Maple Dell was a favorite picnic spot of the 1900s and was visited by many celebrities. One was a member of the original Floradora sextette of the Gay Nineties. She possessed a fine soprano voice so that her appearance on the sage was momentous and she always drew admiring crowds. Later she came here and taught dramatics. A steamboat plied the river at ten cents a ride. In 1912, A. J. Griffa bought this land for private enterprise and a fish hatchery. He is still owner but gladioli are now raised commercially here by Chas. Hopkins.
East of the river and north of the oil tanks stood an old log house wherein the original of "Fred Warden", hero of Riddle's "Portrait," is said to have lived. After 1841, this hillside became known as Farr's Hill but today is called Wintergreen Hill.
CHANGES COMEOn Main St., the same buildings have housed the same businesses through the years. After the 1858 survey, Edwin Farr built the first house which later became the O. P. Hayes place. It is now a business block for Haylet's Foods, Chalker's store and the Park Dress Shop. Next door is the fine new bank building dedicated March 25, 1953. The old brick bank building was opened in 1885 by Hine & Crafts, which was re-organized in 1900 as the First National.
The first house on Prospect is now the rear of the former Mark Kellam home. Reagan St., below, was next settled. The Vaughn & Crafts block, on the hillside, still bears the owner's name. Vaughn and his wife had a millinery store there at one time. To the west about 1945, the Bell Telephone Co. built a new structure to accommodate the dial system. The first Home Telephone Co. was organized in 1901 and in 1903 was consolidated with the Portage County Telephone Co. with 175 subscribers, increasing to 310 in 1909. Charles Marshall and Charles Scott were managers. When Ohio Bell took over in 1942 there were nearly 800 subscribers.
To the westward, at the top of the hill, the old palatial homes of Hine, Crafts and Bowen command the scene.
386 PORTAGE HERITAGE
W. H. Crafts was a former state representative and built his home in 1882. There are 14 rooms. The south stairway winds to the third floor with a lavish use of curly maple. Walnut and maple are used all through the mansion. The present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Haylett, have made only a few changes. The Hine home, a 24-room house, is now Haylett's "Auction House." It is said that in building the house in the '90s, Mr. Hine used a different wood for each room. It has three stories and basement, with ball room on the third floor. The Bowen house to the west was spacious, but probably not as elaborate.
LOAN COMES HIGHThe Folger block along the Erie tracks was the first brick building here. It was five years in building and it is said the owner rode a pony all around this section to borrow money to complete it, paying as high as 10 percent for loans. It was later bought by J. B. Colt and called the St. James Hotel.
"Progressive Mantua," a 1912 publication, lists these businesses; "C. W. Brainerd, P. M. Mrs. J. C. Vaughn, millinery; C. M. Powers, Gen. Merchandise; Mantua Hardware (Stimperts); I. J. Hayes, clothing, etc.; C. J. Welf, Jeweler; A. F. Pash, Restaurant; V. A. Proctor, Central Hotel; A. L. Jones, Blacksmith; Buckley's Jewelry; Weber Hardware; Turner & Rathburn, Livery; Mantua Grain & Supply; Harris Bros., Restaurant; F. L. Warner, Blacksmith; Fred Weber, Grocer; J. G. Ritter, Shoes; N. D. Parker & Sons, Lumber; Wm. Peters, Harness; Dr. Algernon Payne, Dentist; G. W. Franklin, Harness Dealer; J. W. Sullivan, General Merchandise; A. E. Frost, Druggist; Hammel Bros., Meats; Conrad Lorenz, Barber; A. B. Zidenberg; Fruit Store; First Nat. Bank; E. W. Morgan, Barber and Julius Schallheim, Tailor. Of these, only four exist today. R. M. Wheeler succeeded Brainerd as postmaster, followed by Mr. and Mrs. Crafts and Mrs. Lillian Goodell who retired in 1955 and now Ray Lucht. Glenn, the druggist, succeeded Otto Steinbrueck, while Frank Lange & Son are plumbers. J. H. Wheeler has an insurance and undertaking business and across from the school house is the Woolf Memorial Home.
MANY PHYSICIANS HEREStranhan's Creamery to the west was always an interesting place. Joseph Smith and Ed Noble bought milk to make butter and cheese, first introduction to creamery butter.
Physicians are listed in order of succession as far as possible: They were Drs. Ezekiel Squire, Samuel Whipple, Edwin Coles, Cromwell, Henry Powell, Jason Moore, S. K. Wilcox, John Smith, O. Ferris, Tucker, A. S. Crafts, John Crafts, A. M. Erwin, Geo. Way, F. Morath, ____ May, S. D. Good, G. R. French, D. Reardon, D. S. Detchon, Marion Squire, E. S. Hannum, F. E. Bard, Geo. Hull, E. H. Knowlton, F. C. Newcomb, Ray T. Odell, Lloyd Drossell and E. A. Knowlton. Odell has limited his practice to ophthalmology and is physician for the Cuyahoga Tuberculosis Hospital at Warrensville.
Dentists: Chas. Trask, A. A. Carlton, D. M. Walker, Algernon Payne, J. P. Schock, Lindsey and D. S. Grayson.
Lawyers: H. L. Moore, Edward Foster, William Holbrock, C. D. Ingell, Geo. Canfield, E. P. Wilmot, Andrew Squire, O. S. Ferris, C. S. Bentley, Chas. Sanborn, and Wm. Silenius.
Mantua has given the military and
PORTAGE HERITAGE 387
naval forces an honor group both at home and on foreign shores. Individual records attest their loyalty. To them Mantua owes an enormous debt. Peter King of Mantua was one of the first to die in action in World War II. Ironically, three of our soldiers were not killed in actual warfare but in a motor accident while in service. They were Clyde Crafts, Donald Wilson, and Leon Hopkins.
During the 1860s a box factory operated on Main Street. It burned in 1870, rebuilt in 1871, then used by Frost & Kimes as a flour mill. Other changes were made later but it was long known as the Centennial Mill, with Gardner & Kitzelman, owners. The present building on this location was long the home of the revered bank cashier, Ira Hine, and his wife.
CHURCHES START EARLYAt this writing there are five churches in Mantua village, the latest being the Lutheran on Main St. in the former "Teddy Franklin" home. The second story was remodeled as a parsonage for the first pastor, Rev. Vernon Trahms. Mr. Bentrup is pastor at present. Bethel Church building has a dual function as church and school room, the latter because of an overflow in public schools. Other churches are the Hilltop Disciple, the Methodist, and the St. Joseph's Catholic.
Construction of a large new public school building went well and it was ready for classes by the fall of 1956. In 1950 the Mantua and Shalersville school districts were consolidated as the Crestwood District. Enrollment in 1956 was 1130.
First religious services were held early. They were scattered, usually directed by missionaries, including Rev. Joseph Badger and Rev. Shadrach Bostwick.
The Methodists established a church organization in 1807 with Rev. H. B. Roberts, pastor and in 1821, a log cabin church erected at the Center. This building burned, but was rebuilt. Later a new church was built, but a period of lagging interest and inactivity followed. Activity was resumed in the village. There was no regular organization until 1880 and about 1885, Rev. Norris directed a program for a new building in 1887, which also . burned, followed by a larger structure in 1890. At times it was a church center for Shalersville, Streetsboro, and the Center Methodist.
Among Mantua's Methodist pastors have been the well known Rev. W. T. S. Culp, Ferris, Windsor, Bump, Moore, Baker, Rhodes, Walter, Hyatt, Anderson, Jacob, Morris, Miller, Shaffer, Allen, Fast, Bowland, Lloyd, Orrin, Cope, Neeley, Evans, Hunscher, Beard, Hollinshed, Hughart, Hoagland, Scott, Bowers, Bretz, Thompson, Pennell, Birney, Chaffee, Haines, Norwood, Wannerstrom, and Hansen. Present pastor is Rev. Henry Maier.
The Congregationalists established a church in 1812, organized by Revs. Seward and Darrow, but after 1860, this body worshipped in Aurora.
BAPTISTS ACTIVEThe Baptists organized a church at the Center in 1809 through Albert Jones. This was part of the famous Bethesda "floating church" congregation with services held in various localities. It dissolved in the 1830s. Sidney Rigdon, the Mormon leader, was first a preacher in both Baptist and Disciples organizations.
The Universalists, with Rev. Reuben Jones as minister, was active from 1815 until about 1831.
388 PORTAGE HERITAGE
In 1941 a new edifice was erected at Prospect and High Streets for an organization known as the Bethel Assembly. Rev. Randolph Jacobs was the first pastor and Rev. Stephen Bogden.
The Mantua Center Christian Church was formed in 1827, when nine members withdrew from the Baptist group. This church is said to be the oldest Disciple Church in Ohio. Since then Christians or the Disciples have been strong and active in Mantua. First members included Zeb Rudolph, father-in-law of Garfield, and Darwin Atwater, father of three famous sons. In 1840 a building was dedicated on its present site. Members of this church were active in working toward the establishment of Hiram College. One member, John Atwater, was later a president, and Frederick Treudley was a noted educator.
Zeb Rudolph -- (graphic not in text)
In 1895, the congregation was incorporated as the Disciples of Christ. A notable step was taken in 1923 when membership was thrown open to all regardless of creed.
TWO DISCIPLE CHURCHESAfter varying fortunes this church has prospered, with a large Sunday school and an important part in community life. In 1951, the church was remodeled with an addition. Rev. B. M. Derthick was pastor until 1951, followed by Rev. Clayton Groves. During Mr. Derthick's pastorate, a 24 x 34 addition was added to the church building. Today's membership is 216.
As Mantua village grew, there was need of a Disciple church there and in 1889, Rev. R. M. Russell organized a group. In its early history, this church depended largely upon Hiram professors and students as preachers.
Rev. Amzi Atwater, son of Darwin, was one. Dr. Newington was pastor from 1913 to 1919 and after this Rev. Derthick had the charge for nearly 18 years in which period the church building was enlarged. Rev. C. B. Brown was also a pastor here and is now in charge.
St. Joseph's Catholic Church was organized in 1850 or 1851 by Father Kindergraph, first as a mission. Services were held in various places. In 1871, Father Murphy built a frame church and Father Edward Gracey was the first resident pastor. Other pastors who served here were Revs. Manning, Scullen, O'Brien, Weber, Droyler and Ruffing. Father Gracey was instrumental in rebuilding a church in 1924, with more modern features. Coming later were Revs. Mazenec Collins, Freeman, Bettes, and Toole. The present pastor is Father John Lavelle, who has worked hard to provide further facilities for the growing congregation.
OLD MANTUAOld Mantua roughly divided into the Center; The Corners, one mile east; and The Station, two miles south of the Corners. The Station came into existence when the railroad arrived in 1856. Many people today speak of "The Station."
The present hotel building at the Corners was built by Alvira Messenger. F. E. Herst was there in 1904, but he sold it to a Mr. Zipperle. George Brehm bought it in 1922, selling out to Herman Hitz in 1940. Mrs. Herman Hitz Whitcomb still owns the store.
The oldest house at Mantua Center is one built in 1822 by heirs of Dr. Ezekiel Squire. It is now owned by the Earl Monroes. South of the Center is the big brick house built by
PORTAGE HERITAGE 389
Samuel Sanford, now owned by Samuel J. Alger.
The present Julius Klimek home was once a one room school building. The first high school at the Center was in the old town hall on the east side of the square prior to 1900. The lower six grades were centralized there in 1903 with Crete Spray Reifsnider and Anna Wadsworth as teachers. The old M. E. church was then remodeled and used by the seventh and eighth grade and high school. Six bus routes were set up for pupils, but in 1906, a seventh grade was added to take care of the Mud Mill district. First year's enrollment was 115. In 1914, the new high school was built at the Center but in 1949, Center schools became part of the new Crestwood districts. Today pupils up to the sixth grade are taught at the Center, with an enrollment of about 300. The old church building mentioned was made into an auditorium in 1915, but since 1949 has been partly a gymnasium and partly class rooms.
POSTMASTERSFirst cemetery in town was the old South Burial Ground near the Stanford home. The second is located by the auditorium. West Cemetery was laid out in 1854 and is now known as Westlawn. The vaults date from 1880.
Samuel Cobb, previously mentioned, became postmaster when the Cobbs Corners office was opened in 1833. It is now Silo. The office was moved to Mantua Center in 1850, in which is now the Patrick Coyle home. In 1848 J. W. Foster was appointed postmaster with the office in his store at the Corners, remaining until Rural Free Delivery was established in 1902. Since R. F. D. came the only postoffice has been at the station.
The well known Tamarack Swamp lay north of the Center, owned by P. Y. Coyle, who is still living, Frank Moore, Roy and John Wheeler. These men ditched and dredged the swamp in 1912 and it is now known as the Mantua Muck Lands a thriving community with lovely homes. Vegetables grown there are marketed in Cleveland and in Warren.
Mantua can well feel proud of her sons and daughters, particularly those connected with the schools. Amzi Atwater was a professor at Hiram Eclectic and later Indiana State. Elbridge White was author of an arithmetic and other text books and Almeda Booth was a famous Hiram teacher. Others are Roxey Snow, writer of verse; Dr. Holbrook, science writer; Frederick Treudley, professor of Ohio University and Youngstown school head; H. B. Turner, Warren school head; L. C. Turner, Akron schools; C. C. Carlton; Kenneth Carpenter, radio executive; Kenneth Folger, artist; Henry J. Robison, state welfare head; Mrs. James Davis, classical authority; Alice M. Chalker, Dr. Wilson Scalon and Mrs. James H. Davis, classical scholar; Everest Derthick, Plain Dealer editor; John M. Atwater was head of Hiram College at one time.
WRITERS NUMEROUSIn literary fields, Lorenzo Snow, religious writer and missionary, became the first president of the Mormon church in 1848; A. G. Riddle, author of "The Portrait" and other romantic tales, used Mantua as a locale; Gerald V. Stamm, writer of the 500-page novel "District Schoolma'am" and others, as well as short stories; Mrs. James Crafts, verse writer and columnist; Mrs. Charles Horst, poet; Florence Halstead Jahn, columnist.
390 PORTAGE HERITAGE
In art, Anthony Anderla received a fellowship at Charles University and State Art Academy at Prague, also one in the University of London. Today he is an industrial tool designer. James Crafts, Jr., was listed in "Who's Who In Art." He heads the art department of Teachers College in Connecticut and holds many honors.
Few Mantua men were more widely known in Ohio than Frank A. Derthick. He was state Dairy and Food Commissioner 1888-1891 and member of the state board of agriculture. From 1900 to 1908, he was master of the Ohio State Grange. In addition to this he spoke and lectured over the entire country on agriculture and economic subjects. He was a trustee of Ohio State University and of Hiram College. Mr. Derthick died in Mantua in 1922. He was a pioneer worker for school centralization.
Perry L. Green, state representative, state agriculture director and Farm Bureau leader, who spent most of his life in Hiram, was a Mantua resident in his later years.
SCIENCE AND INDUSTRYIn science and industry, some of note have been David King, early inventor of potato-digging machine; C. Tinker, expert machinist; Hans Johnson, Sr., a Norwegian, inventor of shock absorber and engine (also a musician); Carl R. Briggs, inventor; Robert Brumbach, inventor; Richard Hahn, electronic inventor, and others. Mantua born Andrew Squire became a famous Cleveland lawyer.
Many remember the "Opera House." The structure was built at Mantua Corners as a store and cheese curing house. In the early '80s, D. M. King bought it and moved it to the village, raising it to three stories and using it as an implement store. Later it was christened King's Opera House. The back part was a shingle factory and later occupied by Ziba Houpt, first undertaker. When roller skating became popular it became the first rink, which was soon supplanted by another, "The Martha."
Then a basket factory moved in, but the Opera House continued as an entertainment center, dance hall and general auditorium. Various businesses were housed there. In 1900, it was sold to Prof. O. E. Bartel of Warren who organized a musical college and orchestra. Later it became the home of the Mantua Herald, subsequently the Mantua Review. Ten years later the building was damaged by fire. In 1913, A. L. Jones came from Parkman to start a woodworking and blacksmith shop there and the upper part was used for moving picture shows for Mr. Kleinfelt. Later it was sold to A. W. Walter of Burton. After that the building was used for a time by the Pentecostal church, and others, until its demolition in 1935.
PORTAGE HERITAGE 391
One B. O'Donnell edited the first newspaper here, the Times. It was short lived. Then a Clipper shone for a time, then faded to the Times. After it came the Gazette, the Herald, the Review and finally the Record of today with C. K. Butcher, publisher. Mr. and Mrs. Sherwood had the paper here over the longest period. Many loyal townsfolks have been contributors. The Record has modern quarters on First St.
Many lodges and civic bodies have contributed to the town. Henry Briggs was the last survivor of the G. A. R. which flourished long. The Masons, Eastern Stars, Odd Fellows and Rebekahs, Macabees, K. of P., D. of A. K. of C., American Legion and their auxiliaries all have been active. Today the Masons, Eastern Stars, K. of C. and Legion remain.
Among earlier groups were the Siritualists, the Mantua Phrenological Research, The Shakespeare Club, the Sorosis Club and the Woman's Study Club. Today are the Literary and Study Club, the Garden Club and others. In the 1920s the "Little Theater Players" group was organized, Fred Porte, director. Later, Prof. A. A. Crecelius of Hiram directed the ever changing body. It finally became the Dramatic Arts club but it was finally disbanded. Today, the Players Guild is in formation.
SERVICE CLUBS STARTBoth Boy and Girl Scouts have had organizations here. The Junior Women's Guild is a late organization, made up of those interested in home-crafting. A Rotary Club was organized in 1946.
About 1910, "The Pelhams," a theatrical road troupe, had tent productions at the end of Franklin St. and drew good crowds. The Coit Chautauquas and Lecture courses of six for $2.00 provided the more intellectual entertainment.
The Ladies Cemetery Association is a group ever watchful of the condition of the cemeteries.
On the extreme east side of town the Buckeye Pipe Line of the Standard Oil Co. has a pumping station and storage tanks first constructed about ____. Personnel there has changed greatly. There has been at least five spectacular and costly fires there.
Young people need safe playgrounds. One mayor, George Miller, realized this. In consequence, a five acre tract near the water works station was purchased in 1948 as a park and recreation grounds. A community raised fund was added to village funds and a system of modern improvements and equipment put through. The place is one of the finest in the county.
The Tom Moore Tractor Co. is located nearby.
Mantua has had it tragedies. One long remembered came in 1902, when Mrs. Colonel Vaughan and her mother, Mrs. Calhoun, were slain. A stepson, leading a hermit's life, was charged and found guilty.
BUILDING CONTINUESA Chamber of Commerce was started in the early '30s but dissension and
392 PORTAGE HERITAGE
loss of interest brought dissolution about 1950. A Board of Trade organization today watches after the village interests. Paul C. Jacobs is mayor today. There is a full time police officer. William Cowell, the incumbent, has held the office 36 years and gained some fame by foiling a bank robbery here, capturing a suspect, who revealed others.
The nation-wide trend toward building and expansion is in evidence here. Building lots are in demand and nearby acreage is being taken up. Many modern homes have been built as well as a modern rest home by Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Haas.
First colored people arrived in 1816. They were Mr. and Mrs. Benj. Sharpe, Lucy and Thomas Hughes. The latter married Flora, former slave girl of the Garretts of Nelson, who had been set free.
Note -- Many of the facts presented in this chapter have been supplied by Mrs. Clyde H. Alger, particularly concerning Mantua Center and Corners.
[ 381 ]
In the spring of 1800 three sons of Deacon Ezekiel Mills, of Beckett, Mass., started out to seek their fortune in the Western Reserve. They were: Delaun, his wife and three children; Asahel, his wife and one child; and Isaac, who was single. They came in two covered wagons, each drawn by a yoke of oxen. Several weeks elapsed before they reached Youngstown, then a small town of only a few cabins, which had been settled only three years previously.
By this time the money of the brothers had dwindled to eighteen cents, so that they sought employment in Youngstown. As luck would have it, Urial Holmes happened to be there on his way to his land for the purpose of having it surveyed. The brothers were hired as axe-men to the surveyors.
MAKE OWN ROADLeaving their families in Youngstown, where the women earned their own board and that of their children by working in a hotel, the brothers went forward to their work. In September they returned and Delaun immediately removed his family to Nelson to a cabin on one-hundred acres of land given to him by Holmes as a reward for settling thereon. This cabin, which had been built and used by the surveying party, was located on the northwest side of the creek just west of the Center.
From Warren it was necessary for him to cut his own road because there was only a blazed bridle-path to Nelson. This road passed near Phalanx, crossed the east and west Center road -- east of the Ledge Swamp, around the Swamp to the north and ascended the Ledge Hill, just east of the Center, following the contour of the hill. (It was not until about 1885 that the Ledge Hill was filled in, and straightened.) That first winter the Mills' family had for their food -- three times a day -- turnips, which Delaun had planted during the summer, and wild meat, which was abundant.
Asahel Mills remained in Youngstown until the spring of 1801, then settled on one-hundred acres of land a half-mile west of the Center near Tinker's Creek. He was a Methodist and preached at the services held in his home. He brought, his elderly parents to live with him in 1806. He later moved to Deerfield where he died.
Isaac Mills returned to the East. He and Origen Adams, grandson of Ebenezer Adams who was a "Subscriber" to an organization which founded a permanent church fund for religious purposes in Beckett, Mass., acted as scouts for this organization which soon was to settle in Windham. These
394 PORTAGE HERITAGE
two young men made this trip on foot several times. In 1805 Isaac married fifteen-year-old Polly Adams, Origen's sister, and came to Nelson to establish their home on land located about a quarter of a mile north of Asahel's. Isaac traveled the distance between New England and Nelson thirty-three times, either on foot or with a span of horses and a loaded wagon. A few of Isaac's descendents live in Nelson now.
WAS INDIAN FIGHTERDelaun Mills had an extremely adventurous life. He was a powerful man and absolutely fearless. He was an intrepid Indian fighter and had many encounters with them. The Ledges, in the upper part of Nelson, afforded an excellent shelter for the red-skins, and a few wigwams could always be seen under them. Delaun escaped from one Indian by placing his hat on his gun-stock so the Indian could see it. The Indian shot and ran toward him with his tomahawk in his hand. Delaun stepped from his hiding place and shot him. One day in spring, Sophia, Delaun's wife, was riding horseback to their sugar-camp, near the Mill Dam Falls, south of the Center, when an Indian leaped behind her, rode for a ways, then disappeared into the forest.
Of necessity Delaun kept a tavern where travelers could eat and sleep. He was located on the path from Youngstown to Cleveland and many travelers passed through. (This is now State Route 305.) A stage-coach road also passed through Nelson in the southern part of the township. Much of Delaun's trouble with the Indians resulted from the fact that he traded liquor with them for furs.
The Indians were no longer seen in Nelson after the War of 1812. During this war Delaun Mills became a militia captain and fought in the Battle of Mackinaw under Col. Croghan.
Captain Mills died in 1824, having never fully recovered from being bitten by a rattlesnake. Nelson was infested with rattlesnakes, as many as two hundred having been killed in a single day. He was buried in the cemetery west of the Center, but his tombstone does not indicate that he was the first settler in Nelson.
In addition to the three brothers already mentioned, other settlers who came to Nelson were: 1803 -- Stephen Baldwin; Benjamin Stow and his two sons, Daniel and Caleb; John Bancroft with four sons, Rudolphus, John, Artemus, and David (who later married Marilla Mills, Asahel's daughter); Daniel Owen (who, when he broke his arm in two places, walked to Warren for medical care and back the same day); the two Stiles brothers; William and Thomas Kennedy; and Asa Truesdale. In 1804 -- Col. John Garrett, who built the first mill, located in Garrettsville; Johann Noah; and Abraham Dyson. In 1805 -- John Tinker and Nathaniel Bancroft, who
PORTAGE HERITAGE 395
were sons-in-law of Benjamin and Daniel Stow; Martin Manley; and Ezekiel Wood. In 1806 -- Deacon Ezekiel Mills, who died two years later, and wife. In 1809 -- their son Oliver Mills, a school teacher; Charles May; the Rudolphs; and Rev. William West, a Baptist minister. In 1810 -- Charles Johnson and three sons, Erastus, Alanson, and Charles, Jr.
PRESBYTERIANS ARRIVEIn 1811 and 1812 a large company, mostly Presbyterians, came from Connecticut: Deacon Joshua B. Sherwood and Wells Clark, who were unfriendly because of a dispute concerning the sale of some cattle in Connecticut; Birdsey Clark; Theron Colton; David Beardsley; Titus Bonney; Hezekiah Bonney; John Hannah; David Goodsell; and several members of the Hopkins family. Emigration then almost entirely ceased until the end of the War of 1812. In 1815 -- Hezekiah Higley; Benjamin Pritchard; Robert C. Bennett; Sylvanus Hewlett; Elisha Taylor, Sr.; and David Stow. From 1815 to 1820 -- Jeremiah Fuller and two sons; Charles Whiting; Charles Hewlett; Marcus and David Morris; Thomas Barber; Thomas Perry; Benjamin Brown; Harry Spencer; Jacob and Ashbel Haskins, Jr.; Jared W. Knowlton; Ira Fuller; the Merwins, Eatons, Merritts, Pritchards, and Taylors.
There are only a few fourth-generation descendents of these early settlers living in Nelson in 1955: Nellie Mills Randall, a great-granddaughter of Isaac Mills; Elsie Burke Cartwright, a great-granddaughter of Alanson Johnson; Alice Fuller Chapman, a great-granddaughter of Jeremiah Fuller; George Bancroft, a great-grandson of John Bancroft; H. C. Newcomb and Seymour Newcomb,great-grandsons of Theron Colton. Nearly a hundred residents belong to families which have lived in Nelson more than a hundred years.
Many church denominations held services in Nelson from 1803 to 1825. Among these were: Baptist, Bethseda Baptist (which was organized by John Rudolph, who had come from Maryland in 1809), Pedo-Baptist, Presbyterian, Congregational, Methodist, and Universalists. The first Methodist sermon was given by Asahel Mills in 1801. The first sermon for the Congregationalists was given by the famous Rev. Joseph Badger in the spring of 1804. The deacons of this church were kept busy settling disputes according to the "Tell It To The Church" discipline, taken from Matthew 18; 15-17, which states: "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. But if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it to the church; but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican." The church meetings were held in the homes or else in the log school building.
WHISKEY PAYS PASTORThe Congregational Church was organized in 1813 and the building was erected in 1825. The church records of that period read: "Future generations will be astonished to learn that a barrel of whiskey was consumed in putting up the frame. About this time the pastor gave an order to a church member on a distiller for 29 or 30 gallons of whiskey. This was for grain
396 PORTAGE HERITAGE
furnished by him and which he had received on his salary."
Musical instruments used by this church during its existence included a bass viol, a melodeon, an organ, and a piano. Hymn singing was introduced in 1831. A parsonage was built a quarter of a mile north of the Center. The church prospered until well after it celebrated its one-hundredth anniversary. In 1925 after much deliberation the members of this church merged with the Methodists and in 1930 the church building was deeded to the Methodist Church. It was repaired and made into a gymnasium; later it was deeded to the school board with the reservation that it never be used for a public dance floor.
The Methodist Church was organized in 1814 and the building was erected in 1833, at a cost for building of $250. The property had been given to the organization by John and Grace Bancroft. In 1866 the building was remodeled and again in 1914 when a basement was added and, a furnace. Electricity was installed in 1926. The church has not had a resident pastor for over a hundred years, it has shared pastors with Southington, Windham, and at present with Garrettsville. The Methodist Church was undoubtedly the most prosperous during the years before and after 1914. The average attendance was 104, the Epworth League had an enrollment of 60 members, the Men's Brotherhood had a membership of 55 men, the Ladies' Aid Society met every two weeks, and Prayer Meetings were held every week.
The E.U.B. Church at Silica in Southeast Nelson was formerly in Nelson. The original church was Baptist and located at Newell Ledge, in the southeast corner of the township. In 1870 the church was moved to
Silica (called "Hell's Hollow" in days gone by). It took thirty teams, consisting of oxen, horses, and mules, to move the building. A new building was erected across the road in Windham Township and dedicated in 1920.
HAVE EARLY ACADEMYThe first school opened in the township was taught by Hannah Baldwin in 1804 in a log cabin located at the Center. The bell with which she called the children is at the present time kept in the trophy case in the James A. Garfield High School building. In 1816 a frame school building was erected at the Center. It was used as a meeting place for the township trustees; elections were held there (if not in a private home), and it was in demand for church services of all denominations. The first record book of the township clerk is extant as well as many old school records.
A library association was formed in 1820 with the Rev. Benjamin Fenn in charge. Expenses were paid by assessment. An academy was mentioned as being in existence as early as 1833. In 1835 school districts were laid off by the township trustees; the people elected the school board members in each district; they, in turn, elected the township board members who contacted the county and state. Names of 375 district school teachers are mentioned in the old records.
The Nelson Academy Association was permanently organized Jan. 6, 1852. The building was erected on the site of the old academy building and paid for by popular subscription, and directed by a board of trustees. Eleven teachers were listed in the clerk's book. Two of these, Oscar C. Fox and Miss Amelia McCall (who later taught in Mt. Union College) were beloved
PORTAGE HERITAGE 397
by all. Each teacher was responsible for damage done to the building and had to pay for damages he could not repair. Among the subjects taught were: literature, arts, science, and the virtues. A hand-written school paper "The Students' Weekly Museum" was published by the students, which not only gave the news but also gentle admonitions. There was trouble among the stockholders of the academy concerning fraud in the keeping of the records, and although the records were proved to be above reproach, no peaceable adjustment was ever made, and the last minutes of the association were recorded in 1876.
CODE IS RIGOROUSIn 1885 "The Mezzoramia Literary Society" was organized. The object of the society was "the propagation of literature, morality, and friendship." The constitution that these-young people drew up was stern and rigorous. Topics were debated at each meeting, some were: Resolved -- That the right of suffrage should be conferred upon women. -- That foreign labor in the U. S. is detrimental to the laboring class. -- That wealth is more useful than education. A debate on the spot "What is the greatest evil?" resulted in a decision that "Idleness is the greatest evil".
In 1887 a public high school was set up with Edward Truman as superintendent. He supervised the district schools on Monday and held high school Tuesday through Saturday. The first class to graduate consisted of one member -- Henry Pritchard, in 1889. In 1890, eight graduated -- two of whom are living in 1955: Col. Charles Stodter of San Diego, California, and Blanche Knowlton Robey of Lincoln, Nebraska. All of the members of the 1899 graduating class are living and reside in this area: Elsie Burke Cartwright, Mabel Nicholson Bancroft, Nellie Mills Randall, Alice Fuller Chapman, and Ella Barnum Parkhurst.
In 1900 the district schools were discontinued and the township schools were centralized, again using the Academy building which housed the high school. The children were transported to school in "Kid Hacks" which were furnished by the drivers. In 1914 a new brick school building was erected to meet state requirements and the Academy building was purchased by the township trustees and converted into a Community House.
The school system has been further centralized; in 1948 the state revoked the school charter and it became a part of the James A. Garfield school system with the high school convening in Garrettsville.
Teachers in the Nelson grade school in 1955-56 were: Michael Furillo, principal; Charles Zeiter, Richard Humphries, Treva Witherstay, Mrs. Lanna McCullough, Mrs. Sarah Buell, Mrs. Fern Sebastian and Mrs. Gertrude Barlow.
398 PORTAGE HERITAGE
R. B. Newcomb is Nelson's representative in the James A. Garfield consolidated district board of education.
An incident of some importance in Nelson was the conviction of Chester M. Day in 1889, on charge of poisoning Verdie Beardsley. A penitentiary sentence was imposed.
The monument at the Square was purchased after the Civil War at a cost of $1,225. The "Square" replaced the four-corners about 1890 and the monument was removed from the northeast section to the center of the Square. The trees in the park were planted by families who lived in Nelson at that time. Many of the trees had to be replaced after the devastating tornado which struck Nelson in 1924. The War Memorial located in front of the Community House was dedicated in 1944. Nelson furnished 109 soldiers for the Civil War; 4, for the Spanish-American War; 39, for World War I; 127, for World War II; and 24, for the Korean War.
LEDGES ARE FAMOUSThe Nelson Ledges represent the west bank of a pre-historic river which carried the run-off from a melting glacier sheet which covered this section of the country. The east bank of this river was the Kennedy Ledges. The Ledges consist of 175 feet of pebbly conglomerate, the debris of quartz boulders picked up south of Hudson Bay and carried here by the glacier.
Many nature lovers come every spring to see the profusion of wild flowers and plant life that grow all over the rocks, and to see and hear the many kinds of birds that migrate and nest here. In 1870 there was a gold rush at Nelson Ledges, but the gold proved to be iron sulfide, or "Fool's Gold." One large cave has been called "Gold Hunter's Cave" since that time.
The "Cascade Falls" above the "Old Maid's Kitchen" disappeared in 1955, possibly because of much blasting in the vicinity. A collection of Indian relics made by Cornelius Baldwin, which he found in the Ledges, was given to Hiram College. There is an old hotel building on the east side of the road. The original building called the "Grotto" was located on the opposite side of the road. After it burned the present hotel building was erected as a two-story building during the Civil War. A few years later a third floor was added for a ball-room. This old inn, known as the "Cascade House," did a flourishing business in the horse and buggy days. Many prominent names were written in the old guest book which is still extant.
In 1920 the State of Ohio purchased 40 acres of land from the Industrial Silica Co., which at the time owned the Ledges. In 1940 the state purchased 20 acres behind the hotel, and in 1948 it purchased 101 acres, known as the Kennedy Ledges, making a total of 161 acres which is called "Nelson Ledges-Kennedy Ledges State Park."
The Nelson Township picnics were held at the Ledges continuously from 1904 to 1921. Picnic dinners were spread on the ground everywhere, games and contests were carried on in the middle of the road, and all wanted to use the swing which was so high it gave a bird's-eye view of the affair as it swung out over the road. The Parkman Band was usually asked to give a concert, and there was dancing in the afternoon and evening.
PORTAGE HERITAGE 399
This gave the young people a chance to learn the current popular tunes.
WAS CATTLE DEALERNelson has always been an agricultural community. A record book dated 1835 lists the "marks" which were placed on cattle to signify ownership, and men were hired to be "fence-viewers". Cornelius Baldwin was perhaps the best-known cattle dealer in these parts. He made several trips to Holland to buy Holstein-Friesian cattle for dairy farmers.
The early days also found a chair factory, saw mills, blacksmith shops, a cheese factory, a cheese-box factory, and two stores, which also served as post-office between 1830 and 1901 when Rural Free Delivery came to Nelson.
The following doctors are known to have lived and practiced in Nelson: Dr. Hezekiah Palmer Hopkins, Dr. Sweeny, Dr. Guy Warren (grandfather of Mont Collins), Dr. Roberts, and Dr. Charles A. Witherstay (father of Treva Witherstay and Mrs. Lanna McCullough). The Garrettsville Waterworks are located in Nelson, a hatchery and several smaller poultry farms, and three fire-brick companies and one sand company which are making use of the Sharon Conglomerate. Many families live on small farms and commute to factory or mill work in the great Mahoning Valley.
One of the active organizations in Nelson is the Grange. It was organized in 1896 as the Garrettsville Grange but was transferred to Nelson in 1922. The Literary Musical Club (better known as the L.M.C.) was organized in 1908 by Olive Howell Lewis, its purpose being to better the community. This it has done throughout its existence: it has been the main force in remodeling the Community House, it has helped to repair the five cemeteries, making them usable again, and the members have been instrumental in keeping a fine community spirit alive.
The Nelson High School Alumni Association has continued to function since it was organized in 1895, adding the names of the local graduates each year. The Nelson School Picnic was organized in 1937, holding the annual picnic at the Ledges the last Sunday in July. Other organizations at the present time are: Boys' and Girls' 4-H clubs, Boy and Cub Scouts, a preschool P.T.A., Methodist Women's Society of Christian Service, Methodist Youth Fellowship.
Some of the iniportant people who have lived in Nelson are: Orville Nelson Hartshorn, who founded Mount Union College in 1846 and served as its first president. In 1923 Mount Union erected a monument to him in Nelson on his hundredth birthday; Jedediah Cole, County surveyor whose maps and surveys are still in use; Amelia McCall Brush, a professor at Mt. Union College; Almeda Booth, a professor at Hiram College; George Colton, a professor at Hiram College; Harriett Taylor Upton, who wrote a history of the Western Reserve; Col. Stodter, a graduate of the U. S. Military Academy; Henry J. Robison, a judge who has held important offices in both the county and state. Nelson has been the home of several missionaries, ministers, teachers, and other professional people.
Township officers in 1955 were: Trustees -- Harland Bell, Harry Clapp and Noble Hopkins; Clerk, Earl Goodsell.