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Ashtabula County

 

Page 261

 

Ashtabula was formed June 7, 1807, from Trumbull and Geauga, and organized January 22, 1811.  The name of the county was derived from Ashtabula river, which signifies, in the Indian language, Fish river. For a few miles parallel with the lake shore it is level, the remainder of the surface slightly undulating, and the soil generally clay. Butter and cheese are the principal articles of export, and in these it leads all other counties in the amounts produced.  Generally not sufficient wheat is raised for home consumption, but the soil is quite productive in corn and oats. In 1885 the acres cultivated were 129,992; in pasture, 150,152; woodland, 62,223; lying waste, 3,700; produced in wheat, 234,070 bushels; corn, 382,238; oats, 677,555; apples, 587,385; pounds butter, 1,042,613; and cheese, 354,400.  School census, 9,441; teachers, 543.  Area 720 square miles, being the largest county in Ohio.  It has 191 miles of railroad.

 

 

Townships

And Census

1840

1880

 

Townships

And Census

1840

1880

Andover,

   881

1,168

 

Monroe,

1,326

1,459

Ashtabula,

1,711

5,522

 

Morgan,

   643

1,223

Austinburg,

1,048

1,208

 

New Lyme,

   527

   893

Cherry Valley,

   689

   698

 

Orwell,

   458

   973

Conneaut,

2,650

2,947

 

Pierpont,

   639

1,046

Denmark,

   176

   697

 

Plymouth,

   706

   780

Dorset,

 

   613

 

Richmond,

   384

1,011

Geneva,

1,215

3,167

 

Rome,

   765

   668

Harpersfield

1,399

1,116

 

Saybrook,

   934

1,384

Hartsgrove,

   553

   798

 

Sheffield,

   683

   688

Jefferson,

   710

1,952

 

Trumbull,

   439

   960

Kingsville,

1,420

1,621

 

Wayne,

   767

   835

Lenox,

   550

   820

 

Williamsfield,

   892

   974

Colebrook

 

   956

 

Windsor,

   875

   964

 


 


            The population in 1820 was 7,369; in 1830, 14,584; in 1840, 23,724; in 1850, 31,789; in 1880, 36,875, of whom 1,274 were employed in manufactures and 2,814 were foreign born.

 

            This county is memorable from being not only the first settled on the Western Reserve, but the earliest in the whole of Northern Ohio. The incidents connected with its early history, although unmarked by scenes of military adventure, are of an interesting nature.

 

            On the 4th of July, 1796, the first surveying party of the Western Reserve landed at the mouth of Conneaut creek.  Of this event, John Barr, Esq., in his sketch of the Western Reserve, in the "National Magazine" for December, 1845, has given a narrative:

 

                The sons of revolutionary sires, some of them sharers themselves in the great baptism of the republic, they made the anniversary of their country's freedom a day of ceremonial and rejoicing.  They felt that they had arrived at the place of their labors, the - to many of them -- sites of home, as little alluring, almost as crowded with dangers, as were the levels of Jamestown, or the rocks of Plymouth to the ancestors who had preceeded them in the conquest of the seacoast wilderness of this continent.  From old homes and friendly and social associations they were almost completely exiled as were the cavaliers who debarked upon the shores of Virginia, of the Puritans who sought the strand of Massachusetts.  Far away as they were from the villages of their births and boyhood; before them the trackless forest, or the untraversed lake, yet did they resolve to cast fatigue and privation and peril from their thoughts for the time being, and give to the day its due, to patriotism its awards.  Mustering their numbers they sat down on the eastward shore of the stream now known as Conneaut and, dipping from the lake the liquor in which they pledged their country—their goblets some tin cups of no rare workmanship,

 

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 yet every way answerable, with the ordnance accompaniment of two or three fowling pieces discharging the required national salute –the first settlers of the Reserve spent their landing-day as became the sons of the pilgrim fathers –as  the advance pioneers of a population that has since made the then wilderness of Northern Ohio to "blossom as a rose," and prove the homes of a people as remarkable for integrity, industry, love of country, moral truth and enlightened legislation, as any to be found within the territorial limits of their ancestral New England.

 

                The whole party numbered, on this occasion, fifty-two persons, of whom two were females (Mrs. STILES and Mrs. GUNN, and a child).  As these individuals were the advance of after millions of population, their names become worthy of record, and are therefore given, viz.: Moses CLEVELAND, agent of the company; Augustus PORTER, principal surveyor; Seth PEASE, Moses WARREN, Amos SPAFFORD, Milton HAWLEY, Richard M. STODDARD, surveyors; Joshua STOW, commissary; Therodore SHEPARD, physician, Joseph TINKER, principal boatman; Joseph McINTYRE, George PROUDFOOT, Francis GAY, Samuel FORBES, Elijah GUNN, wife and child, Amos SAWTEN, Stephen BENTON, Amos BARBER, Samuel HUNGERFORD, William B. HALL, Samuel DAVENPORT, Asa MASON, Amzi ATWATER, Michael COFFIN, Elisha AYRES, Thomas HARRIS, Norman WILCOX, Timothy DUNHAM, George GOODWIN, Shadrach BENHAM,, Samuel AGNEW, Warham SHEPARD, David BEARD, John BRIANT, Titus V. MUNSON, Joseph LANDON, Job V. STILES and wife, Charles PARKER, Ezekiel HAWLEY, Nathaniel DOAN, Luke HANCHET, James HASKET, James HAMILTON, Olney F. RICE, John LOCK, and four others whose names are not mentioned.

 

                On the 5th of July the workmen of the expedition were employed in the erection of a large, awkwardly constructed log building; locating it on the sandy beach on the east shore of the stream, and naming it "Stow Castle," after one of the party.  This became the storehouse of the provisions, etc., and the dwelling-place of the families.

 

                The view was constructed from a sketch on the spot taken by us in 1846, altered to represent its ancient appearance.  The word Conneaut, in the Seneca language, signifies "many fish" and was applied originally to the river.

 

CONNEAULT, THE PLYMOUTH OF THE RESERVE, IN JULY, 1796

 

            It was then a mere sand beach overgrown with timber, some of it of considerable size, which we cut to build the house and for other purposes.  The mouth of the creek, like others of the lake streams in those days, was frequently choked up with a sand bar so that no visible harbor appeared for several days. This would only happen when the streams were low and after a high wind either down the lake or directly on shore for several days.  I have passed over all the lake streams of this State east of the Cuyahoga and most of those in New York on hard, dry sand bars, and I have been told that the Cuyahoga has been so. They would not long continue, for as soon as the wind had subsided and the water in the streams had sufficiently risen they would often cut their way through the bar in a different place and form new channels.  Thus the mouths of the streams were continually shifting until the artificial harbors were built.  Those blessed improvements have in a great measure remedied those evils and made the mouths of the streams far more healthy.

 

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Judge James KINGSBURY, who arrived at Conneaut shortly after the surveying party, wintered with his family at this place in a cabin which stood on a spot now covered by the waters of the lake.  This was about the first family that wintered on the Reserve.

 

                The story of the sufferings of this family has often been told, but in the midst of plenty, where want is unknown, can with difficulty be appreciated.  The surveyors, in the prosecution of their labors westwardly, had principally removed their stores to Cleveland, while the family of Judge KINGSBURY remained at Conneaut.  Being compelled by business to leave in the fall for the State of New York, with the hope of a speedy return to his family, the judge was attacked by a severe fit of sickness, confining him to his bed until the setting in of winter.  As soon as able he proceeded on his return as far as Buffalo, where he hired an Indian to guide him through the wilderness. At Presque Isle, anticipating the wants of his family, he purchased twenty pounds of flour.  In crossing Elk creek on the ice he disabled his horse, left him in the snow, and mounting his flour on his own back pursued his way filled with gloomy forebodings in relation to the fate of his family. On his arrival late one evening his worst apprehensions were more than realized in a scene agonizing to the husband and father.  Stretched on her cot lay the partner of his cares, who had followed him through all the dangers and hardships of the wilderness without repining, pale and emaciated, reduced by meagre famine to the last stages in which life can be supported, and near the mother, on a little pallet, were the remains of his youngest child, born in his absence, who had just expired for the want of that nourishment which the mother, deprived of sustenance, was unable to give. Shut up by a gloomy wilderness she was far distant alike from the aid or sympathy of friends, filled with anxiety for an absent husband, suffering with want and destitute of necessary assistance, and her children expiring around her with hunger.

 

                Such is the picture presented by which the wives and daughters of the present day may form some estimate of the hardships endured by the pioneers of this beautiful country. It appears that Judge KINGSBURY, in order to supply the wants of his family, was under the necessity of transporting his provisions from Cleveland on a hand sled, and that himself and hired man drew a barrel of beef the whole distance at a single load.

 

            Mr. KINGSBURY was the first who thrust a sickle into the first wheat field planted on the soil of the Reserve.  His wife was interred at Cleveland, about the year 1843.  The fate of her child—the   first white child born on the Reserve, starved to death for want of nourishment—will not soon be forgotten.

 

            CONNEAUT in 1846.  The harbor of Conneaut is now an important point of transshipment.  It has a pier with a light-house upon it, two forwarding houses and eleven dwellings.  Several vessels ply from here, and it is a frequent stopping place for steamers.  Two miles south of the harbor, twenty-two from Jefferson, twenty-eight from Erie, Pa., is the borough of Conneaut on the west bank of Conneaut creek.  It contains four churches, eleven stores, one newspaper printing office, a fine classical academy, Mr. L.W. SAVAGE and Miss Mary BOOTH, principals, and about 1,000 inhabitants. --Old Edition.

 

            Conneaut, on Lake Erie, sixty-eight miles east of Cleveland, also on the L.S. & M.S. and N.Y.C. at St.L. Railroads.  The main shops of the Nickel Plate railroad are located here.  It is expected that the harbor will shortly be opened by the Conneaut, Jamestown, and Southern Railroad, giving improved shipping facilities.

 

            Newspapers: Herald, Republican, W.T. FINDLAY, editor; The Reporter, Republican, J.P. REIG, editor.  Churches: 1 Congregational, 1 Baptist, 1 Methodist, 1 Catholic and 1 Christian.  Banks: Conneaut Mutual Loan Association, Theron S. WINSHIP, president, C. HAYWARD, cashier; First National, S. J. SMITH, president, B.E. THAYER, cashier.  Principal industries are railroad shops, paper mill, Record Manufacturing Company, Cummins Canning Factory.  Population in 1880, 1,256; school census in 1886, 564; E. C. CARY, superintendent.

 

                The first permanent settlement in Conneaut was in 1799.  Thomas MONTGOMERY and Aaron WRIGHT settled here in the spring of 1798.  Robert MONTGOMERY and family, Levi and John MONTGOMERY, Nathan and John KING, and Samuel BEMUS and family came the same season. 

 

                When the settlers arrived some twenty or thirty Indian cabins were still standing, which were said to present an appearance of neatness and comfort not usual with this race.  The Massauga tribe, which inhabited the spot, were obliged to leave in consequence of the murder of a white man named WILLIAMS.

 

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                Two young men taken at the defeat of St. Clair were said to have been prisoners for a considerable time among the Indians of this village.  On their arrival at Conneaut they were made to run the gauntlet, and received the orthodox number of blows and kicks usual on such occasions.  In solemn council it was resolved that the life of Fitz GIBBON should be saved, but the other, whose name is not recollected, was condemned to be burned.  He was bound to a tree, a large quantity of hickory bark tied into fagots and piled around him. But from the horrors of the most painful of deaths he was saved by the interposition of a young squaw belonging to the tribe.  Touched by sympathy she interceded in his behalf, and by her expostulations, backed by several packages of fur and a small sum of money, succeeded in effecting his deliverance: an act in the lowly Indian maid which entitles her name to be honorably recorded with that of POCAHANTAS, among the good and virtuous of every age.

 

                There were mounds situated in the eastern part of the village of Conneaut and an extensive burying-ground near the Presbyterian church, which appear to have had no connection with the burying-places of the Indians.  Among the human bones found in the mounds were come belonging to men of gigantic structure.  Some of the skulls were of sufficient capacity to admit the head of an ordinary man, and jaw bones that might have been fitted on over the face with equal facility; the other bones were proportionately large. The burying-ground referred to contained about four acres, and with the exception of a slight angle in conformity with the natural contour of the ground was in the form of an oblong square.  It appeared to have been accurately surveyed into lots running from north to south, and exhibited all the order and propriety of arrangement deemed necessary to constitute Christian burial.  On the first examination of the ground by the settlers they found it covered with the ordinary forest trees, with an opening near the centre containing a single butternut.  The graves were distinguished by slight depressions disposed in straight rows, and were estimated to number from two to three thousand.  On examination in 1800 there were found to contain human bones, invariably blackened by time, which on exposure to the air soon crumbled to dust. Traces of ancient cultivation observed by the first settlers on the lands of the vicinity, although covered with forest, exhibited signs of having once been thrown up into squares and terraces, and laid out into gardens.

 

            There was a fragment or chip of a tree at one time in the possession of the Ashtabula Historical Society, which was a curiosity.  The tree of which that was a chip was chopped down and butted off for a saw log, about three feet from the ground, some thirty rods southeast of Fort Hill, in Conneaut, in 1829, by Silas A. DAVIS, on land owned by B. H. KING.  Some marks were found upon it near the heart of the tree.  The Hon. Nehemiah KING, with a magnifying glass, counted 350 annular rings in that part of the stump, outside of these marks.  Deducting 350 from 1829, leaves 1479, which must have been the year when these cuts were made.  This was thirteen years before the discovery of America by Columbus.  It perhaps was done by the race of the mounds, with an axe of copper, as that people had the art of hardening that metal so as to cut like steel.

 

            In the spring of 1815 a mound on Harbor street, Conneaut, was cut through for a road.  One morning succeeding a heavy rain a Mr. WALKER, who was up very early, picked up a jaw bone together with an artificial tooth which lay near.  He brought them forthwith to Mr. P.R. SPENCER, secretary of the Historical Society, who fitted the tooth in a cavity from which it had evidently fallen.  The tooth was metallic, probably silver, but little was then thought of the circumstance.

 

The adventure of Mr. Solomon SWEATLAND, of Conneaut, who crossed Lake Erie in an open canoe, in September, 1817, is one of unusual interest.  He had been accustomed, with the aid of a neighbor, Mr. COZZENS, and a few hounds, to drive the deer into the lake, where, pursuing them in a canoe, he shot them with but little difficulty.  The circumstances which took place at this time are vividly given in the annexed extract from the records of the Historical Society:

 

                Adventure of Solomon SWEATLAND.- It was a lovely morning in early autumn, and SWEATLAND, in anticipation of his favorite sport, had risen at the first dawn of light, and without putting on his coat or waistcoat left his cabin, listening in the meantime in expectation of the approach of the dogs.  His patience was not put to a severe trial ere his ears were saluted by the deep baying of the hounds, and on arriving at the beach he perceived that the deer had already taken to the lake, and was moving at some distance from the shore.  In the enthusiasm of the moment he threw his hat upon the beach, his canoe was put in requisition, and shoving from the shore he was soon engaged in rapid and animated pursuit. The wind, which had been fresh from the south during the night

 

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 and gradually increasing, was now blowing nearly a gale, but intent on securing his prize SWEATLAND was not in a situation to yield to the dictates of prudence.  The deer, which was a vigorous animal of its kind, hoisted its flag of defiance, and breasting the waves stoutly showed that in a race with a log canoe and a single paddle he was not easily outdone.

 

                SWEATLAND had attained a considerable distance from the shore and encountered a heavy sea before overtaking the animal, but was not apprised of the eminent peril of his situation until shooting, past him the deer turned towards the shore.  He was however brought to a full appreciation of his danger when, on tacking his frail vessel and heading towards the land, he found that with his utmost exertions he could make no progress in the desired direction, but was continually drifting farther to sea.  He had been observed in his outward progress by Mr. Cousins, who had arrived immediately after the hounds, and by his own family, and as he disappeared from sight considerable apprehensions were entertained for his safety.

 

                The alarm was soon given in the neighborhood, and it was decided by those competent to judge that his return would be impossible, and that unless help could be afforded he was doomed to perish at sea.  Actuated by those generous impulses that often induce men to peril their own lives to preserve those of others, Messrs. GILBERT, COUSINS, and BELDEN took a light boat at the mouth of the creek and proceeded in search of the wanderer, with the determination to make every effort for his relief.  They met the deer returning towards the shore nearly exhausted, but the man who was the object of their solicitude was nowhere to be seen.  They made stretches off shore within probable range of the fugitive for some hours, until they had gained a distance of five or six miles from land, when meeting with a sea in which they judged it impossible for a canoe to live they abandoned the search, returned with difficulty to the shore, and SWEATLAND was given up for lost.

 

                The canoe in which he was embarked was dug from a large whitewood log by Major James BROOKES, for a fishing boat; it was about fourteen feet in length and rather wide in proportion, and was considered a superior one of the kind.  SWEATLAND still continued to lie off, still heading towards land, which a faint hope that the wind might abate, or that aid might reach him from the shore.  One or two schooners were in sight in course of the day, and he made every signal in his power to attract their attention, but without success.  The shore continued to sight, and in tracing its distant outline he could distinguish the spot where his cabin stood, within whose holy precepts were contained the cherished objects of his affections, now doubly endeared from the prospect of losing them forever.  As these familiar objects receded from view, and the shores appeared to sink beneath the troubled waters, the last tie which united him in companionship to his fellow-men seemed dissolved, and the busy world, with all its interests, forever hidden from his sight.

 

                Fortunately SWEATLAND possessed a cool head and a stout heart, which, united with a tolerable share of physical strength and power of endurance, eminently qualified him for the part he was to act in this emergency.  He was a good sailor, and as such would not yield to despondency until the last expedient had been exhausted.  One only expedient remained, that of putting before the wind and endeavoring to reach the Canada shore, a distance of about fifty miles.  This he resolved to embrace as his forlorn hope.

 

                It was now blowing a gale, and the sea was evidently increasing as he proceeded from the shore, and yet he was borne onwards over the dizzy waters by a power that no human agency could control.  He was obliged to stand erect, moving cautiously from one extremity to the other, in order to trim his vessel to the waves, well aware that a single lost stroke of the paddle, or a tottering movement, would swamp his frail bark and bring his adventure to a final close.  Much of his attention was likewise required in bailing his canoe from the water, an operation which he was obliged to perform by making use of his shoes, a substantial pair of stoggies, that happened fortunately to be upon his feet.

 

                Hitherto he had been blessed with the cheerful light of heaven, and amidst all his perils could say, "The light is sweet, and it is a pleasant thing for the eyes to behold the sun," but to add to his distress, the shades of night were now gathering around him, and he was soon enveloped in darkness.  The sky was overcast, and the light of a few stars that twinkled through the haze alone remained to guide his path over the dark and troubled waters.  In this fearful condition, destitute of food and the necessary clothing, his log canoe was rocked upon the billows during that long and terrible night.  When morning appeared he was in sight of land, and found he had made Long Point, on the Canada shore.  Here he was met by an adverse wind and cross sea, but the same providential aid which had guided him thus far still sustained and protected him; and after being buffeted by the winds and waves for nearly thirty hours, he succeeded in reaching the land in safety.

 

                What were the emotions he experienced on treading once more "the green and solid earth," we shall not attempt to inquire, but his trials had not yet ended.  He found himself faint with hunger and exhausted with fatigue, at the distance of forty miles from any human habitation, whilst the country that intervened was a desert filled with marshes and tangled thickets, from which nothing could be obtained to supply his wants.  These difficulties, together with the reduced state of his strength, rendered his progress towards the settlements slow and toilsome.  On his way he found a quantity of goods, supposed to have been driven on shore from the wreck of some vessel, which, although they afforded

 

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him no immediate relief, were afterwards of material service.

 

            He ultimately arrived at the settlement, and was received and treated with great kindness and hospitality by the people.  After his strength was sufficiently recruited, he returned with a boat, accompanied by some of the inhabitants, and brought off the goods.   From this place he proceeded by land to Buffalo, where, with the avails of his treasure, he furnished himself in the garb of a gentleman, and finding the "Traveller," Capt. Chas. BROWN, from Conneaut, in the harbor, he shipped on board and was soon on his way to rejoin his family.  When the packet arrived off his dwelling, they fired guns from the deck and the crew gave three loud cheers.  On landing, he found his funeral sermon had been preached, and had the rare privilege of seeing his own widow clothed in the habiliments of mourning.

 

            The First Regular Settlement made within the present limits of the county was at Harpersfield, on the 7th of March, 1798.  Alexander HARPER, Wm. M'FARLAND and Ezra GREGORY, with their families, started from Harspersfield, Delaware county, N.Y., and after a long and fatiguing journey arrived on the last of June, at their new homes in the wilderness.  This little colony of about twenty persons endured much privation in the first few months of their residence.  The whole population of the Reserve amounted to less than 150 souls, vis.: ten families at Youngstown, three at Cleveland and two at Mentor.  In the same summer three families came to Burton, and Judge HUDSON settled at Hudson.

 

            Pioneer Trails. -- Cut short of their expected supplies of provision for the winter, by the loss of a vessel they had chartered for that purpose, the little colony came near perishing by famine, having at one time been reduced to six kernels of parched corn to each person; but they were saved by the intrepidity of the sons of Col. HARPER, James and William.  These young men made frequent journeys to Elk Creek, Pa., from which they packed on their backs bags of corn, which was about all the provision the settlers had to sustain life during a long and tedious winter.  Some few of their journeys were performed on the ice of Lake Erie, whenever it was sufficiently strong to bear them, which was seldom.  On the first occasion of this kind they were progressing finely on the ice, when their sled broke through into the water.  A third person who happened to be with them at this time exclaimed, "What shall we do?" "Let it go," James replied.  "No!" exclaimed William, who was of a different temperament, "you go into the woods and strike a fire while I get the grain."  He then with great difficulty secured the grain, by which operation he got completely wet through and a cutting wind soon converted his clothing into a sheet of ice.  He then went in search of his companions and was disappointed in finding they had not built a fire. The truth was, they had grown so sleepy with the intense cold as to be unable to strike fire.  He soon had a cheerful blaze, and then converted himself into a nurse for the other two, who on getting warm were deadly sick.

 

            Jefferson in 1846. -- Jefferson, the county-seat, is 56 miles from Cleveland and 204 northeast of Columbus.  It is an incorporated borough, laid out regularly on a level plat of ground, and contains 3 stores, 1 Presbyterian, 1 Baptist, 1 Episcopal, and 1 Methodist church, and 73 dwellings.  The township of the same name in which it is situated was originally owned by Gideon GRANGER, of Conn.  In the spring of 1804 he sent out Mr. Eldad SMITH from Suffield, in that State, who first opened a bridle path to Austinburg, and sowed and fenced ten acres of wheat. In the summer of the next year Michael WEBSTER, JR., and family, and Jonathan WARNER made a permanent settlement.  In the fall following, the family of James WILSON built a cabin on the site of the tavern shown in the view.  The court-house was finished in 1810 or 1811; and the first court held in 1811; Timothy R. HAWLEY, Clerk; Quintus F. ATKINS, Sheriff.—Old  Edition.

 

            Jefferson, county-seat, is fourteen miles south of Lake Erie on the Franklin Branch of the L. S. & M.S. R..R., in the midst of a very prosperous farming district.

 

            County officers for 1888: Auditor, Ellery H. GIKLEY; Clerks, Chas. H. SIMONDS, Benjamin F. PERRY, JR.; Commisioners, Edward P. BAKER, Thomas McGOVERN, Edward G. HURLBURT; Coroner, Wm. O. ELLSWORTH; Prosecuting Attorney, James P. CALDWELLl; Probate Judge, Edward C. WADE; Recorder, Edgar

 

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L. Hills; Sheriff, Starr O. LATIMER; Surveyor, John S. SILL; Treasurer, Amos B. LUCE.

 

     Newspapers: Ashtabula Sentinel, J. A. HOWELLS, editor, Republican; Jefferson Gazette, Republican, Hon. E. L. LAMPSEN, editor. Churches: one Congregational, one Baptist, one Methodist, one Episcopal, and one Catholic. Banks: First National, N. E. French, president, J. C. A. BUSHNELL, cashier; Talcott's Deposit, Henry TALCOTT, president, J. C. TALCOTT, cashier. Population in 1880, 1,008.

The village is well situated on a slight eminence which falls off in each direction. Its streets are wide, well kept and finely shaded. It has been the home of a number of prominent men, including Senator B. F. WADE, Hons. J. R. GIDDINGS, A. G. RIDDLE, Wm. C. HOWELLS, Rufus P. RANNEY, etc. Mr. HOWELLS is the father of W. D. HOWELLS, the author, and is one of the oldest editors, if not the oldest, in the State; he was at one time United States Consul in Canada. The eminent Rufus P. RANNEY was born in 1813 in Blanford, Mass.; passed his youth in Portage county; studied law with WADE and GIDDINGS; in 1839 became a partner with Mr. WADE; was twice Supreme Judge; member of the Constitutional Convention, United States District Attorney for Northern Ohio in 1857; in 1859 was , the Democratic candidate- for governor against Wm. Dennison. He now resides in Cleveland and is considered by many as the first lawyer in Northern Ohio.

 

Drawn by Henry Howe, in 1846

COUNTY BUILDINGS AT JEFFERSON.


 


TRAVELLING NOTES.

Tues., Oct. 5.—At noon I stepped from the cars at Jefferson. There is not in any land a community of 1,200 people who live in more substantial comfort and peace than this. The streets are broad, well shaded, the home lots large, where about every family has its garden and fruit, trees, where all seem to be on that equal plane of middle life that answered to the prayer of Agar ; and, more-over, as the home of Joshua R. GIDDINGS and Benj. F. WADE, those Boanerges of freedom, and the spot of their burial, it has an honor and memory of extraordinary value. The village, too, is well named, being in memory of' one who said that God was just and his justice would not sleep forever, for he had no attribute that sympathized with human slavery.

 

     The Old Man and his Grapes.—After leaving the cars I turned into the mail street leading to the centre, when my attention was arrested by the sight of an old man four rods from the road standing on a chair plucking grapes from an arbor by the side of his cottage. One of the pretty things in rural life is the sight of people plucking fruit; in­stinctively the thoughts go up, and there. drops into the heart with a grateful sense the words "God giveth the increase." Early this morning while in a hack going from Chardon to Painesville I had passed an apple orchard where men and boys were on ladders plucking the golden and crimson fruit and carefully placing it in bags hanging from branches ; and the sight was pleasing.

 

     It is a weak spot in the education of city people that they can know nothing of the gratification that comes from the cultivation and development of the fruits of the earth, nor that exquisite pleasure, the sense of' per­sonal ownership that must arise in the breast

 

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of the husbandman as he looks upon his fields of golden grain, majestic forests, and grassy hills dotted with pasturing kine and gamboling herds, and feels he looks that the eye of the Great Master is over it all: there, where the dew of morning upon every tender blade and fragile leaf sparkles with His glory.

 

                This is a vain and deceitful world.  My mouth watered for a bunch of the old man's grapes, cool and fresh from the vine; so I approached him under the guise of an inquiry about the way to the centre of the village, which I knew perfectly.  As I neared him he excited my sympathy, for I discovered he was paralyzed in one arm which hung limp and useless by his side, and there were no grapes left except a few bunches under the roof of the trellis which he could with difficulty reach with the other, and he said in plaintive tones, "The boys came and nearly stripped my arbor when the grapes were not ripe.  They did them no good; if they had only waited they should have been welcome to a share with myself." I couldn't help thinking, as I listened to his sorrowful tones, the genus boy is the same everywhere, and then there is something so irresistibly comical in the nature of a boy that the very thought of one often makes me laugh; that is, internally, though at the moment the expression of my countenance may be quite doleful.  On my arrival at the centre I found standing the court-house and tavern that I had sketched in the long ago only a little changed; a grove of trees had grown in the court-house yard and a porch had been built on the front of the tavern.  They gave me a good dinner therein and then I went for a walk about the village to see the comfort in which the people lived.

 

                The Four Little Maids.- On the plank walk on the outskirts I met two little girls. I stopped them and said, "Where are you going, my little girls?" and they replied, "To the primary, sir."  And then I inquired of one of them, "How old are you - ten years?" "No, sir, I am nine."  Whereupon the other chimed in "I too am nine."  "That," I remarked," makes eighteen years of little girls."  By this time two other of their mates had come up and, pausing, I asked each "How old she was," and each answered as the others, in the soft, musical tones of childhood, "Nine,sir." "That," said I "makes in all thirty-six years of little girls."  I wanted to hold this interesting group, so pointing to an oak near by, the symmetry of which had arrested the eye, I said, "Is not that a beautiful tree? What kind of tree is it?" when one of them replied, "It is an acorn tree."  I thought it quite a pretty name.  She had evidently admired acorns and had picked them up, and not knowing the right name of the oak had called it by its fruit.  I too admired acorns - indeed, had one at that moment in my vest pocket - with its dark, rough reticulated saucer and smooth, light-hued conical cup. Then I said, "I make it a rule when I meet a group of little girls like you to catch the prettiest one and kiss her." I so spake because I thought it at the time to bring the conference to a close, and I should have the fun of seeing them scream, laugh, and scamper away.  Man proposes, God disposes.  They didn't scare a bit - stood stock still: one indeed, the prettiest, the one to whom I had first spoken, the one who had called the oak an acorn tree - a plump, rosy-cheeked, blue-eyed little puss she was - advanced and, looking archly in my face while holding betwixt finger and thumb a gladiole, said, "Will you please accept this, sir?" Could anything be more irresistible? a cherub dropped from the skies inviting a kiss!  Can anything that happens up yonder be sweeter than this?

 

                I had no sooner accepted the flower than a second little one thrust forward her hand holding a large, golden pippin and said, "Will you please take this, sir?" and I took it.  Then a third one did not advance, but in the hollow of her hand lay a small, wee peach, and as she spoke she gently waved her open hand to and fro, while her body waved in unison from right to left, and in a half-shy, deprecating tone said, " I have nothing but this little peach to offer; will you take it, sir?" The fields and gardens around were blooming with flowers and orchards were bending under their burden of many-colored apples and golden, luscious pears, but Jack Frost had lingered too long in the springtime and cruelly nipped the peach blossoms; so I declined the peach, as peaches were scarce, thereby I fear wounding her feelings.

 

                Ere I parted I gave each my card, whereupon was told who I was and what my errand.  And as I did so, I thought long after I had passed away and these little people will be mothers, they will show my book to their offspring with its many pictures of their Ohio land, and stories of pioneer life and later stories of heroic men who fought for the Union in that dreadful, bloody war of the Rebellion, and point out the portrait of the author and describe this meeting with him when they, too, were young things on their way to the "primary;" meeting with him, an old, white-bearded man, by the beautiful oak on the wayside of the village.  And then to a question from the children, they may answer: "Oh, he has been dead many years, long before you were born; it was in ___ he died."

 

                An Early Acquaintance.—Twenty minutes later I was in the office of the Ashtabula Sentinel, and there met Mr. J. A. HOWELLS, editor.  I had seen him but once before; he was then a nine year old boy standing by my side watching me sketch Rossville from the Hamilton side of the Miami River.  And when the book was published and he looked upon that picture with the old mill, bridge and river, it was always with a sense of personal ownership - he was in at its birth.  And the whole family valued it; and when his brother, the famed novelist, had a family of his own, he wrote from Boston, where he lived, for a copy; for he wanted, he said, his boys to enjoy the book as he had done in his boy days.

 

 

 

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                To illustrate the fruitfulness of the land Mr. HOWELLS showed me thirty-six pears clustered on a single stem only about twenty inches long; the entire weight was eleven pounds.  He told me that this county last year raised 587,000 bushels of apples.  One cider factory, that of Woodworth, at West Williamsfield, sent off in 1885 twenty carloads of sixty barrels each, fifty-two gallons in a barrel - in all 62,400 gallons.

 

                The old fashioned cider mill is here a thing largely in the past—the rustic cider mill, unpainted and brown as a rat, with its faithful old horse going around in a circle turning the cumbrous wheel, was always a picturesque object, and the spot attractive by its huge piles of apples in many colors, especially to the boys and girls who flocked hither to "suck cider through a straw."

 

                Few peaches are now raised on the Reserve; formerly they were so superabundant that they could not use them all and had to feed them to the swine; now in the absence of the peaches we have to look for the exquisite tints on the cheeks of the merry, healthy children.

 

            Anecdotes of GIDDINGS.—Mr. HOWELLS gave me some ancedotes of the renowned Joshua.  WHEY he came home from Congress after the long session often prolonged into the heated term of midsummer he would as one might say, "turn out to grass."  He went about the village barefoot with old brown linen pants, old straw hat, and in his shirt sleeves engage in games of base ball of which he was very fond, and enter people's houses and talk with the women and children, for he knew everybody and was eminently social. "On an occasion of this kind" said Mr. HOWELLS, "he picked up my wife, then a child, and illustrated his prodigious strength by holding her out at arm's-length, she standing on his hand."

 

Frank Henry Howe, Photo, 1887

GIDDINGS AND WADE’S MONUMENTS, JEFFERSON.

The monument of Giddings is in the foreground: that of Wade in the distance.






 

                To a question Mr. HOWELLS answered me that Mr. GIDDINGS was such an even common sense man so devoid of eccentricities that there were but few floating anecdotes in regard to him.  "I once however," said he, "remember hearing him relate this startling incident. When a young man clearing up the forest he one day leaned over and grasping at both ends a decaying log he lifted it up with outstretched arms to take it away, and had it drawn up to within a few inches of his nose when he discovered curled up in a hollow place within a huge rattlesnake."  I presume at this discovery Mr. GIDDINGS gently, very gently laid down that log; it would be characteristic of him if characteristic of anybody.

 

                The homesteads of GIDDINGS and WADE were near each other in the centre of the village.  Mr. HOWELLS showed them to me, and then we went to visit their graves in the cemetery.  I felt as though he was an eminently proper person to pilot me to a graveyard, for only a few weeks had elapsed since he was in the most noted graveyard in Old England, the scene of Gray's elegy; there he stood by the grave of GRAY and witnessed an old-fashioned burial, that of a rustic borne on the shoulders of four men, with four others

 

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 for a relief- they had brought the body two miles over a country road.

 

                The village cemetery is in a forest half a mile from the centre and a beautiful spot it is, showing evidences of great care.  Rustic bridges cross a ravine there, at times a brawling stream; I pencilled some of the fancifully trimmed evergreens.  Such a handsome tasteful cemetery as this little village possesses a hundred years ago would have been world famed, now such are scattered over our land.  Even the first graveyard on the globe laid out in family lots dates only to 1796, that in New Haven, Conn., and by James HILLHOUSE, the man who planted the elms.  The monument to WADE is granite, about twelve feet high; that to GIDDINGS is taller and more ornate, and one side is occupied by a fine bronze portrait in bas-relief.  The inscriptions are:

 

"Benjamin F. WADE,

 

Oct.27,1800.   March 2, 1878"

 


"Joshua R. GIDDINGS, 1795-1864."

 

                As we stood there looking upon the scene I heard a low chirping and then an answering chirp, both in sad tones, and I inquired: "What birds are those?"

 

Frank Henry Howe, Photo, 1887 Joshua R. Giddings' Law Office."Mourning doves," was the reply, "male and female, and one is answering the other."

 

                At the end of the cemetery is a ravine over which crosses the railroad by a trestle forty-four feet high.  The previous summer two boys one night were crossing this on some open freight cars during a severe thunder storm.  They were from a Western State.  Their minds poisoned by the reading of miserable fiction they had run away from their homes to go forth and seek their fortunes; and were stealing rides upon the railways.  An electric flash darting from a telegraph wire knocked one of them off the car and he was found next morning in the ravine in a dying condition. Poor boy! He did not live long enough on earth to know much of it.

 

                In the evening a faint light glimmered in the window of the little building so long famed as the law office of Joshua Reed GIDDINGS.  I made my way thither and knocking at the door was bade to walk in.  The sole occupant was a young colored man; and I could not have had my sense of the fitness of things more completely gratified than by finding one of this race there; Charlie GARLICK the people called him.  I had rather have seen him there than the proudest white man in the land.  Mr. J.A. GIDDINGS, a son of Joshua, I found a few minutes later in a store hard bye, a lounging place for the old gentlemen of the village.  In the morning I had an interview with him in the old office; and these are my notes.

 

                A Chat with a Son of Joshua GIDDINGS - His father began the practice of law in 1819, his age twenty-six.  This building was built in 1823 for a law office, adjoining his dwelling, a wooden structure burnt in 1877.  For years it was the joint office of GIDDINGS and WADE.  The brick dwelling now on the site of the other is the homestead of his son, J.A. GIDDINGS.  In the office in his presence I write these lines as he sits in his rockingchair twirling his glasses.  He is now sixty-four years of age, a powerfully built man; not so tall as his father, whom he strongly resembles; has practised law, but playfully tells me his is now a "land-grabber."  I think he has his hands full, all out of doors to go for.  The building is 16 by 30, divided into a front and rear room, the latter once the counseling chamber, now the bed-room of Mr.GARLICK.  The office is just as left by his father; everything is plain, a box-stove for wood, a large office table, two plain shelvings for law books, each standing on low cupboards, three plain chairs, a rocking-chair and an old sheet-iron safe bought in 1836 and lined with plaster.  The greatest curiosity is Mr. GIDDINGS' desk.  It is just four feet high at its lowest place, the front, and is in the corner by the front window.  At this in the latter part of his life Mr. GIDDINGS stood and did all his writing.  The office looks out upon an orchard.

 

                Mr. GIDDINGS said: "My father never had an idea he could have a profession until he was about twenty-three years of age, when he commenced regularly going to school to a Presbyterian minister in the township of Wayne where my grandfather's family lived.  Prior to this he had not been to school since he was a small boy; there was no opportunity for developing his mind in the wilderness.

 

                "Soon after his settlement in Wayne my grandfather lost his farm through a defect in the title; so that they had to begin anew.  My father and an older brother went to clearing land, the hardest sort of labor.  By this they earned a farm for their parents and then one for each member of the family.  This developed my father's prodigious muscular power.  He was six feet two inches in stature, and weighed 225 pounds with no superfluous flesh.




 

                "He was fond of athletic exercises, often

 

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