Posted By:Carol Page Tilson
Subject:Pioneer Women of Saybrook
Post Date:April 14, 2010 at 06:15:13
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Forum:Ashtabula County, OH Genealogy Forum
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From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part I, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, July, 1896], p. p. 137-140:


Midway between the thriving city of Ashtabula and the town of Geneva lies the town of Saybrook. Into this town in 1809 came Joseph Hotchkiss, wife, and daughter Orline, then a child of two years of age. They settled on the South Ridge at the extreme west, adjoining the Geneva line. The South Ridge was the first road cut through the wilderness and for a long time was known as the old Salt road. It was a dreadfully rough road for many years, but it was the principal mail route from Ashtabula, through Saybrook, Austinburg, and from the south.

Joseph Hotchkiss and family came from Harpersfield, N. Y., in 1807 and settled in Harpersfield, O. While residing there he took up his land in Saybrook and built a comfortable log house, which was ready for occupancy some time previous to February, 1809.

At this time came George Webster, who, desiring the honor of being the first settler, rolled some logs together, spread cloth over the top, and took possession. He was accompanied by his widowed mother. The next day Mr. Hotchkiss’ family joined him in the comfortable home he had provided for them, Mr. Hotchkiss being in truth the first settler.

Mrs. Webster, nee Deborah Dewey, of Delhi, N. Y., mother of George and Philo Webster, arrived in Saybrook one day previous to Mrs. Hotchkiss, therefore was the first woman settler of Saybrook, where she remained until her death. Mrs. Webster’s farm adjoined that of Mr. Hotchkiss on the east. Joseph and Rhoda Hotchkiss lived on their farm until their death. Their daughter Orline married William C. Sexton and settled on the same farm, where she has lived for eighty-seven years.

At the time of their settlement, in 1809, the Indians were quite numerous. Mrs. Sexton well remembers their LEAVING THEIR PAPOOSES with her mother for several days at a time while they went to Pennsylvania for oil. The supposition is that it must have must have been the crude petroleum that they found floating on the surface of the ground. [line missing] . . . carried it home. Her mother, true to [line missing] . . . . The squaws’ confidence in Mrs. Hotchkiss speaks more for her goodness of heart than any other recommendation we could offer, as they were a very sagacious people and knew whom to trust.

In speaking of her mother’s strict honesty, Mrs. Sexton relates an incident of her attending school, two miles from home, where the South Ridge is crossed by Cowles Creek. Fruit was very scarce in those days, there being only one orchard between her house and the school house. On returning from school one night she picked up an apple that had rolled through the fence and her Christian principles, made her carry it back and place it where she found it.

Previous to 1816 there were settlements made by the following persons, accompanied by their families; Josiah and Samuel Wright, Jessie Blackington, A. Whipple, Thomas Stevens, Theodore Blynn, Jesse N. Wright, Solomon Bates, Jarvis Harris, Charles Pratt, Amaza Tyler, Chandler Williams, and others. They all settled on the South Ridge except Charles Pratt, who erected his dwelling on the North Ridge, near the center of the township.

Mrs. Jessa N. Wright (Laura Dunning) came to Saybrook, February, 1815, using a sled as a means of conveyance. When they arrived at South Ridge, Saybrook, there were but three families between Cleveland and Erie. While residing on the farm, which now in part is occupied by the East Brick school house, they lost a child by fire. Mrs. Wright had ASCENDED THE LADDER to the chambers, when she was startled by a scream. She hastened down, but was too late to save her little daughter from fiery death, she having fallen into the open fireplace.

This was the first death of a white person occurring in the township. The funeral sermon was delivered by the Rev. Joseph Badger, and is believed to have been the first funeral service in the township.

Mr. Wright’s house had no floor and oxen drew their back logs in directly to the fireplace. He had to go to Erie to mill on horseback. Would be gone three days, and often would have to subsist on potatoes and salt during his absence.

The Wright families came from Powell, Vt. Josiah Wright gave his grandson, Jessa N. Wright, a farm of forty acres, which he lost at his grandfather’s death. Thereupon he removed to North Ridge. Here he and his good wife spent the remainder of their lives. When Mrs. Wright died she left a large circle of relatives to mourn and revere the memory of the dear pioneer grandmother.

Zadoc Brown, who married Cyntha Mitchell, of Blandford, Mass., came to Saybrook in 1810. A son, William, was born to them that year. It was the first white child born in Saybrook. They were living at the time on South Ridge. Mrs. Brown was very brave. One day she heard a noise in the pigsty, and, going out, she saw bruin in the act of carrying off a pig. She shot, but failed to kill him. However, bruin did not call again.

In after years Mr. Brown and family removed to Illinois, where they died. The first mercantile establishment in the township was opened in the spring of 1828 by Hubbard Tyler, who operated a store about two years.

Later he and his good wife, Aunt Katie Brindle, moved to a cross road between the ridges, where they lived until their demise. They reared two sons and three daughters. Aunt Katie was widely known. She usually took the place of a physician in case of sickness. Physicians were a luxury not to be indulged in unless in cases of necessity. Aunt Katie’s visits in sickness were all gratuitous labors of love. Aunt Katie was an extensive weaver, doing a great amount of work.

When Oliver Stewart, Jr., died, his wife, Carolina Talcott Stewart, was left with eight children to support. She displayed great courage in caring for and directing her boys, and in clearing the farm, and later in building a new house, where she now resides.

Afterward she married Josiah Fuller, who recently died. She is now an invalid, having received three years since a stroke of paralysis.

In the olden time corncob ashes were used in place of soda. To secure clean ashes a kettle of water would be hung on the crane in the fire place, and closely covered with an iron cover. Upon this would be placed the cobs, which were set on fire, the smoke from them ascending the chimney, leaving the PURE WHITE ASHES.

In 1838 religious meetings were held in private houses on South Ridge, Elder Elihu Babcock presiding. Two meetings in the day time were held on Sundays. A sister invited the elder to-go home with her to dinner one day. Her house was a log one. The dinner was baked in an oven placed upon a burning stump, at the back of the house. The meat was brought in on a platter. It was stuffed and baked, and pronounced excellent. The elder partook heartily, and after dinner the hostess asked him if he knew what he had been eating. He replied in the negative. “Well,” said she, IT WAS COON.

Their principle fare was wild deer, coon, and johnny cake. Their meat was usually such as could be taken with a rifle. Sometimes in cold weather large flocks of wild turkeys would be driven by hunger to the very barnyards of the settlers.

The Methodists in those days often met in Mr. Munson’s corn barn, which still stands in the same place, but is like the old man's knife, which had four new blades and five new handles, but was the same old knife.

When Mrs. Peter Corbin, nee Julia Ann Brockett, and husband came here from New York they traveled on the Erie Canal to Buffalo, and then took a steamer, with the privilege of landing where Ashtabula Harbor now is, although at that date it was not known as the greatest ore port of the great lakes. It was simply nothing. When they reached that important place the captain very unkindly refused to land them without the payment of $10 extra. This they could not do. Mrs. Corbin began to cry. Whereupon a gentleman interfered and told the captain that he would prosecute him at the next landing, Cleveland, if he did not let them off. They, with their household goods, were finally lowered in a small boat and taken ashore. If they had been taken to Cleveland it would have been a great expense and labor to have reached the site selected for their home, on South Ridge, Saybrook. At first there were only three or four families living near them, and no roads whatever. Blazed trees served to direct them; that was the only highway known.

Mrs. Corbin was a faithful member of the Congregational Church for sixty-five years.

When Mrs. Uriah Goodwin, whose maiden name was Laura Loveland, was a young girl, she met with quite A THRILLING EXPERIENCE. Having decided to visit a friend who lived on the other side of Ashtabula Creek, she went alone without a thought of danger. At that time, but few, if any, bridges spanned the stream, but a fallen tree served to good purpose in many instances, as it did in this case. After proceeding carefully some distance, she glanced to the other side of the log, and much to her discomfiture, saw a bear approaching. She screamed. The discomfiture was mutual, for the bear, as well as the girl, TURNED AND FLED into the woods. That probably was the end of their acquaintance.

Later she married Mr. Goodwin, and came to Saybrook, South Ridge, to live. Seven children were given to them, one son and six daughters, four of whom are still living. Her son married, his wife dying, left two children, a son and daughter, which grandma took, giving the same loving care as she bestowed upon her own, until they married. Mrs. Goodwin was a kind, loving mother, a good friend and neighbor, and a Christian. She passed away in the early 90’s.

When Mrs. Chandler Williams, whose maiden name was Anna Hall, came to the South Ridge, Saybrook, there was only three-fourths of an acre of land cleared around her house. She was a dear, earnest, Christian mother, a devoted member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Ashtabula. She reared her family in truth and honest industry; her husband was a brick and stone mason. Everybody knew Uncle Chandler. He with his tall bent form was a welcome guest in every home. Their son, Charles, still lives on the old homestead.

Mrs. Daniel Hays, nee Betsy Crossman, was born in 1787 in Massachusetts, came to Saybrook in 1816, settled on New London street. She was known to every one as "Aunt Betsy." She and her husband were a childless couple and very peculiar. Many amusing incidents are told of them. She had a large Bible which she had read through fifty-five times. On a fly leaf was the above statement, and a request that at her death her Bible should be given to Mrs. Elisha Walker, whom she esteemed above any living person. Her request was granted. Mrs. Walker now has the book. It is food for thought that one pair of eyes had traversed those pages fifty-five times.

Mrs. Elisha Walker, whose maiden name was Julia A. Blackington, daughter of Jessa Blackington, a pioneer of 1811, was born in Saybrook, 1819. She resides with her daughter, Mrs. W. S. Harris. Her husband died in 1884. Mrs. Walker is a lovely Christian lady, and was always a friend to the poor and needy. In speaking of her recently, an old gentleman remarked that “she was and is the best woman that ever lived.” Mr. Walker’s grandfather, Charles Walker, and his son Charles came to Saybrook, in 1821; they were natives of Rhode Island, whence they emigrated to Massachusetts, thence to Saybrook. He was twice married, his second wife bearing the name of Edmonds. His only child, Charles, born in 1778, and a prosperous farmer of many acres, married Maria Arnold; They had six children, Elisha, Lydia, who married Dr. Solomon Jenks, a pioneer physician of Ashtabula county; Ora, who married a Methodist clergyman of Princeton, Ill.; Smith, married to Susan McBain, [text missing] and died in 1884; Alma married Ralph Abel, a resident of Des Moines, Ia; Alden married Miss Kelley, and both died in Saybrook.

Elisha Walker was twice married, his first wife being Harriet Sabin, who had one son, Charles, who yet lives on the old homestead.

Mrs. Rufus Harris, nee Louisa Bliss Simonds, born at Westminster, Vt., was the daughter of Moses and Priscilla Stetson Simonds, and through her mother, a lineal descendant of an ancestor who came to America on the Mayflower. Her husband was the fifth generation of his family, who settled in Rhode Island in colonial days.

Mr. and Mrs. Harris lived on the homestead in Saybrook sixty-nine years. They were people of sterling integrity, superior ability, and greatly esteemed by friends and neighbors.

One very good thing can be said of Saybrook, one which many a broken-hearted wife, sister, or mother will envy us, there is no saloon in its boundries.

A pleasant thoroughfare is North Bend, in Saybrook, extending to the North Ridge to the Geneva line. In 1836 it was covered with trees of gigantic growth.

Into the wilderness that year came Mrs. George Holmes [Maria Smith], born in Kent, England, 1799 -- accompanied by her husband and four children.

Mrs. Holmes was in truth a pioneer doing all kinds of work on the farm, except to hold the plow. The unnatural life of these days ruined her health, and she was an invalid for twenty years previous to her death, which occurred in 1866. Apart from her own work, she took the place of a regular physician, often being absent from her home days at a time attending to the sick and needy, for which services she RECEIVED NO RECOMPENSE. She left a husband and six children to revere her memory.

The next earliest settler in that part of town was Mrs. Allen Prindle [Nancy Baker], who in ten years after her marriage in Connecticut came to Ashtabula and from thence in 1834 to Saybrook. It was all woods then, with merely a sled track over logs and brush.

Following her was Mrs. Barney Lyons [Olive Fitzgerald, of Austinburg]. She settled on what is the Tracy farm, and after several changes, removed to Sheffield, where Mr. and Mrs. Lyons died in 1883, leaving nine children.

In 1883 [sic] came Mrs. John Brasington, nee Elsie A Brundage, born in New York, in 1814. She still resides in Saybrook.

Later arrived Mrs. Zedekiah Fisk [Sarah McDonald], also Mrs. Samuel Allcock [Anna Cooper].

Dear “Aunt Anna” Allcock! You well deserve a page to your memory. But we must pass on with mere mention.

Among other women who lived on the shore were Mrs. Whelpley, of Red Brook; Mrs. Samuel Rodgers [Adaline Stow], on the Captain Brown estate of to-day; Mrs. Watterson, on the present Cook farm; Mrs. Henry Wilkenson [Elizabeth Mitchell], Mrs. William Brown [Louise Titus], Mrs. Ira Merchant [Elvira Seeley], and Mrs. Captain Amasa Savage [Sarah Hatch].

Mrs. Josiah White [Fannie Mann], born in 1797, was the youngest daughter of Zadoc Mann. She was a true, faithful wife and the devoted mother of three sons and a daughter, and after her family reached maturity, cared for two orphan grandchildren with the same tenderness she had bestowed upon her own. Her husband was a famous hunter, and took an active part in the war of 1812.

The first pioneer woman who settled on the lake shore was Mrs. Nathan Bugbee [Sarah Demot], from Chautauqua, N. Y., in 1801. When the harbor was built she lived in the government house for two years, and boarded the civil engineers.

Her husband then bought a farm on the shore in the dense forest, and after ceaseless toil for six years they found a mistake had occurred, and that they were on the wrong land. With their six children they began anew on what is now Red Brook avenue. “Aunt Sarah” was a great weaver. Thousands of yards of carpet, sheeting, and toweling passed through her hands. When past eighty-five years of age she wove 500 yards. She died at the woodland home of her son Dobbins, in Kingsville, in 1890.

Uncle Nathan Bugbee was a soldier in the war of 1812, and highly prized his old canteen and fife, relics of those trying days to the young republic.

The next settlers on the shore were The Whelpleys, at Red Brook; Samuel Rodgers and wife [Adaline Stow], on the Captain Brown estate of to-day; Henry Wilkinson and wife [Elizabeth Mitchell], William Brown and wife [Louise Titus], Ira Merchant and wife [Elvira Seeley], Captain Amasa Savage and wife [Sarah Hatch], and the Walterses, on the Cook farm. **

The greater part of the pioneer women are laid away, their tired hands are still, their weary feet at rest; but who shall say they were not happy in their day? There was so much less evil and temptation then to grieve the mother heart. Their lives were noble and true. May we cherish their memory.

MRS. HARRIET WALKER HARRIS, Chairman. Fannie Holmes Harley, Historian. Saybrook committee -- Miss Stella Mitchell, Lucy Pierce, Ruth Wilkinson, Mabel Walker.

** Although arranged slightly differently, this same basic paragraph does appear twice in the sketch.