From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part I, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [published under the auspices of the Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, July, 1896], p.p. 17-21:
PIONEER WOMEN OF ASHTABULA [TOWNSHIP], 1800 - 1850
Nothing more picturesquely wild and beautiful can be imagined than the scenery about the Ashtabula River, in the beginning of the nineteenth century.
The marvelously fertile soil, with its gigantic growths of oak, maple, and cedar, the great gulfs and shadowy gorges in the recesses of which the ghostly white forms of the sycamore intertwined with the dark green of the hemlock and pine, and the sullen hidden river rolling far down beneath the summits of it's lofty, forest-crowned boundaries, formed a picture grand and awe-inspiring.
This tortuous winding stream was the dividing line between the Algonquin and Iroquois races of Indians, and across these gloomy and rock-fortified gorges the showers of flinty arrows that answered to their warring may yet be found embedded in the soil on either side.
The name Ashtabula is said to mean many fish, but tradition gives it as the one word left us from the Eries, that lost tribe which once fished and hunted on the shores of this BEAUTIFUL LAKE AND RIVER.
To these solitudes, once the home of a prehistoric race whose record has only been preserved in their mound graves, came our pioneer women with their husbands and little ones, hearing only the scream of the panther, or the hooting of the owl, as night overshadowed them.
The first white woman to settle in Ashtabula was probably Mrs. George Beckwith, who with her husband and two little children, girls, came here in 1803, from Austinburg, O. They occupied a log cabin located about a mile above the mouth of the river.
The following January Mr. Beckwith perished in the snow while returning from Austinburg with a supply of salt and provisions upon his shoulder, which he had made the journey to obtain. His brave young wife, left alone and becoming anxious at his prolonged absence, locked her little ones in her cabin and made her way to her old neighbors in Austinburg, a distance of twelve miles, and with their aid, followed the trail of her husband until at last they found his body frozen where it had fallen in the snow.
Mrs. Beckwith bravely remained in her cabin, supporting herself and children, in part, by helping travelers across the river with her canoe. She is described as a woman of great energy of character, and a public benefactor, in the very efficient aid she rendered the traveler. She lived to be nearly ninety years old, and finally died at the county almshouse, at Kingsville. For many years she answered to the name "Granny Becket."
The one most frequently named as the first settler in Ashtabula was Colonel Matthew Hubbard, formerly of Middletown, Conn., who in 1804, as agent FOR NEHEMIAH HUBBARD, one of the land proprietors of New Connecticut, made the journey on horseback from Trenton, N. Y., to Ashtabula, in twelve days. After spending four summers in the woods clearing land and building a log house, in April
of 1808, he brought his wife and six month old child also on horseback over the Indian trail to the new home. Mrs. Hubbard, nee Willard, of Connecticut, although subjected to all the privations of pioneer life, lived to the age of eighty, dying September 5, 1865.
It is related that when the family reached the bank of the Ashtabula they found the stream swollen and turbulent, but as there was no settlement on the eastern side, Colonel Hubbard set the example of swimming his horses across the river, and his heroic wife, with her babe in her arms, plunged in, forded the stream, and climbed the steep bank of the western side to see before her their future home. The following morning they found their bed covered with snow. Thus their housekeeping alone in the wilderness began.
Two or three families are mentioned as having come to this place during the same year. One, Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson, only remained two years, and are not largely identified with the history of the township.
Mrs. Joseph Kerr has the distinction of being the mother of the first white child born in the town, in the year of 1804. She received a premium of fifty dollars from the proprietor of the township, Mr. Nehemiah Hubbard.
The log tavern of the frontier was a prominent factor of pioneer life, and Mr. Gideon Leet, from Connecticut, in 1806, opened one a mile from the lake on the east side of the river, where for many years he and his good wife WELCOMED THE TRAVELER.
Another tavernkeeper and public benefactor was Mr. Peleg Sweat, who, with his wife and family, arrived in 1807 from Rhode Island. He bought a tract of eight hundred acres of land on the east side of the river, and settled his family around him. His wife was Mary Wilkinson, an English woman, and was a jovial, free-hearted hostess, giving a smiling welcome to all who came to their door. Several tracts of land donated by this worthy couple to the town are monuments to their generosity.
Another resident of 1807 was Enoch Fuller. His wife bore the apocryphal name of Karen-Happuch. She had a large family of children, and was a stirring, energetic woman.
In a little settlement in the woods of Salem, now Conneaut, as early as 1806, was born a little girl who was given the name of Julia Montgomery, and as a proof of the beneficent influence of the forest grandeur, despite privations and homely fare, grew to be a most lovely maiden, in person and mind.
In 1812, when their homes were threatened by the invasion of the British, one night a sentinel upon the beach saw some boats approaching. In a frenzy of fear he threw away his musket, jumped on his horse, and rushed among the inhabitants, shouting; "Turn out! Turn out, and save yourselves!" The terrified settlers hastily dressed, and, taking what they valued most, fled to the shelter of the woods.
Mrs. Montgomery took her family Bible and the little six-year-old Julia, who never forgot that night, nor the being hidden behind a big log with ANOTHER LITTLE GIRL with the strong admonition to "keep very, very still." But childish fear is soon allayed, and little tongues could whisper very softly, so there, behind the log, the children their strings of beads, while their mothers' hearts were throbbing with anxiety. A little dog they had would bark, and the women sacrificed him by hanging him by their "elastics" to a sapling.
Julia was daughter of James Montgomery, and married John R. Watrous, becoming one of Ashtabula's most valued citizens.
We can see this fair bride of sixteen years in the dim-aisled forest home, taking upon her the vows of wifehood. Her dress, of lemon-colored crepe, with its short waist, but three inches under the arms, its closely gored, clinging skirt and its short puffs of sleeve, ala-mode Empress Josephine, showing the dimpled arms and rounded white neck; the fair pink-tinted girlish face, with shining brown hair and speaking blue eyes, mirrors of the pure soul within, rising above the delicate drapery, and forming a picture of marvelous loveliness. She became the mother of eleven children, and lived to be seventy-six years old, impressing all who knew her with the beauty of her character which was said to be faultless.
Mrs. William Jones, with her husband and ten children, came to Ashtabula in 1808, from their home in Connecticut. With them came also her father, Manoah Hubbard, and his family, making quite an INCREASE IN THE POPULATION of the place. They were six weeks upon the way, and their home upon the west bank of the Ashtabula is notable as being near the site of an ancient fortification, apparently built by a people who lived here before the Indians who then frequented the forests. One daughter, Almira Jones Willey, who at the time of her father's coming was but five years old, is yet living, at the age of ninety-three, hale and active for her years, and from her we learn much of the story of those early days. We can scarcely think now of giving a cow for a barrel of salt, as she says her father did, or of going forty miles on horseback to get flour for the family.
When she was six years old, she went to her first school, going across the great gulf through the woods, a distance of two or three miles, to attend it. This, too, when the Indians as well as wolves and bears frequented the forests. Her teacher was Esther McDaniels or McDonald, daughter of James McDonald, another of the early settlers here,
Esther afterwards married Nahum Miller, and was mother of Rosa Miller Avery, and grandmother of Cyrus Avery, who married Rachel Foster of woman suffrage renown. When Almira Jones was sixteen years old, a young blacksmith, Andrew Willey, came to Ashtabula, and her father hired him to make a butcher knife.
The knife finished, Mr. Willey laughingly asked Mr. Jones if he had any daughters, and said he would take one of them in payment. As soon after married Almira, she was always said to have been sold for a butcher knife, she is MOTHER OF TWELVE CHILDREN, five of whom are living. She has also three sisters living. Elizabeth Jones Ager and Julia Jones Hill, of Wisconsin, and Lucy Jones Pinney, of Nebraska. Two half-sisters, Mrs. Adelia Amy and Mrs. A. C. Fox, live here, the last at the old historic homestead. Mrs. Willey lives about two miles from town, and on pleasant Sundays comes to the Baptist church, of which she is one of three living pioneer members.
The first school on the west side of the river was taught by Julia Hubbard, daughter of Manoah Hubbard, in a little log schoolhouse.
Catherine Braddock was the first white woman to be married in Ashtabula, and her husband was Beverly Starr, the ceremony being performed by William Perrine, Esq., in the year 1807 or 1808. The twain soon returned to their Connecticut home.
The wife of Rev. Joseph Badger, whose history is so closely interwoven with this part of the Reserve, and whose descendants still live in Ashtabula, should be mentioned here. Although they did not permanently locate here until 1810, Rev. Mr. Badger, as a traveling missionary, visited at the homes, of its earliest settlers. His wife, who was Lois Noble, of Massachusetts, moved with him from place to place, bearing hardships innumerable, with the burden of the care of children and household upon her. Her husband says of her "She bore with Christian fortitude and patience the trials we had to encounter." His grandson, Lucius D. Badger, of Ashtabula, is among our most esteemed citizens.
Sarah Badger, daughter of Rev. Joseph Badger, married Rev. John Hall, who came to Ashtabula in 1809, and whose contributions to the history of the county have aided much in preserving DATA AND INCIDENT of those early days. She was beloved and respected by all who knew her, and well merited the devotion which her husband ever accorded her.
Another lovely woman whose name has been honored through her descendants, was Persis Duty, daughter of Ebenezer Duty, who came to town with her father's family in 1808. She was a woman of sterling character, and for several years a teacher in the wilderness. She married Platt R. Spencer in 1828, and was regarded by him as his guardian angel. One son, Robert, was born here.
Platt R. Spencer's mother, Mrs. Jerusha Coville Spencer, is also identified with early history of Ashtabula. She married Caleb Spencer, a Revolutionary soldier, and was mother of eleven children. She was a woman of great energy and ability, and greatly beloved and respected. She died at Ashtabula August 14, 1836.
Her daughter Phoebe Spencer, married Dr. Elijah Coleman, who was one of Ashtabula's first physicians, and whose ride covered many miles of forest land. She was the only sister of Platt R, Spencer, a woman of superior intellect, and mother of ten children.
Another resident of 1808 was Pelatiah Shepard and family. An anecdote of Mrs. Shepard, recorded in the journal of Rev. Mr. Hall, illustrates one phase of pioneer life. An Indian purchased a dog of Mr. Shepard, and when the latter was at work, over a mile from the house, appeared and demanded the animal of Mrs. Shepard. She told him she had not seen the dog since morning. "You lie!" cried the Indian, springing toward her and brandishing tomahawk and scalping knife. To pacify him, the frightened woman bade him sit down, while she went TO CALL THE DOG.
Threatening her life if she failed to bring it, the Indian sat down, while Mrs. Shepard with an infant in her arms and two little children following her, went out, calling the dog and hastening toward her husband. Fortunately, she met him half way, and seizing a heavy cudgel, he returned with her to find Mr. Indian gone.
Amasa Castle, Sr., a brave soldier of the Revolution and possessed of the energy and determination necessary to meet and conquer the obstacles of life on the frontier. His wife, Mary H. Stanley, was well fitted to become his helpmeet and mother of children who should make the prosperity of the New Connecticut, for she, too, had felt the terrors of war. Neither did she escape them by coming to the new West, for in the war of 1812 her son Daniel answered to the call for volunteers. The mother lived many years in Ashtabula and died in 1846.
Her granddaughter, Julia, wife of General John H. Howe, of Pomona, Cal., gives us this pen-picture of her:
"Grandma's corner was a heavenly place to us. Here she kept all her treasures. Her Bible was within reach and she knew it by heart. In the long winter evenings we used to spread down a buffalo robe and sit at her feet, while we listened to her stories of the Revolution, how her father died on board a prison ship, and how his friend offered a guinea for an inch of candle to see his brother die, and was refused; how they gave him green water to drink. When clear, sweet water was in sight; how the British URGED THE INDIANS ON in their bloody work, and how they marched by, with the heads of their neighbors on poles; of their hardships and privations and how they fed the last straw in their beds to keep their cow from starving."
Of the arrivals in 1809 was Nathan Strong and family. Rev. Hall, in his record of the pioneers, pays Mrs. Strong this tribute: "Nathan Strong had a smart wife, lived well, was noted for hospitality, and always paid his debts." Multum in parvo.
In 1810 Ashtabula received an addition to its inhabitants in the notable family of Mr. and Mrs. John Watrous, from Chester, Conn., who, with eight of their children, John, Sarah, Winthrop, Sylvia, Rosalinda, Nancy, Warren, and Martin, came to make a home in the woods bringing with them in ox-carts their household goods and stores, a journey occupying four days.
Their son William had preceded them by two or three years, and the usual log house was built to receive them. With the exception of the floor, which, with the implements at hand was more difficult to complete. Six weeks after their arrival the husband and father injured himself while lifting the planks for the flooring and died, leaving his brave wife to face alone the privations of the pioneer.
Mrs. Watrous was Rosanna Buck, born 1760, and was a beautiful woman, bright and capable, her wedding dress being made of linen of her own spinning, the texture of which was so fine that a skein of ten knots could be drawn through a common-sized thimble. Her husband was at the time of their marriage, in 1780, a soldier in the Revolutionary war, and two brothers, while defending New York, were captured and DIED ON A PRISON SHIP.
Even after coming to Ashtabula, Mrs. Watrous did not escape the anxieties of war, for in 1812, while the little band of Ashtabula waited in fear and trembling the news of the nearer approach of the British, her family, being the only one near the shore, to insure the safety of their valuables, placed them in iron and brass kettles and buried them in the ground.
Just before the battle of Lake Erie, the three British vessels, Lady Provost, Queen Charlotte, and Little Belt, were sighted off Ashtabula, and the men and boys, including several of Mrs. Watrous' sons, and numbering thirty in all, were hastily called together back of Fort Hill, and, to appear more formidable, dummy men of clothing and straw were carried between them. Around this hill they marched in single, double, and triple file, again and again, to give the appearance of numbers, bearing guns and sticks on their shoulders. The ruse appeared successful, at least the British delayed landing until a severe thunder storm came and drove them away.
In the winter of 1816, while the family were at church, their house caught fire and burned. Nothing was saved. Beds, clothing, silverware, and whole webs of cloth woven in their Connecticut home were gone. But another house was built, and the brave woman lived to brighten the community by her presence until February 14, 1823.
Her sons and daughters, all worthy of especial mention, did space allow, and their many descendants now living, by their beauty of person and intelligence, testify to the superiority of their ancestry.
To one of these, Mrs. H. L. Morrison, who was Nancy Parmelia Castle, daughter of Daniel Castle, and granddaughter of Daniel Castle, and granddaughter of Mrs. Rosa Watrous, we are indebted for much of the data and incident collected for this article. Both Mr. and Mrs. Morrison have given much of their time and enthusiastic labor to the historical work of the town and country, and to HER UNTIRING PERSEVERANCE as one of the historical committee, and the printed sketches from her pen, we owe much.
Another descendant of Rosa and John Watrous to whom we are indebted, as a member of the committee, is Mrs. Mary Watrous Fassett, wife of Hon. Henry Fassett, and daughter of Julia Montgomery Watrous.
On the ridge west of the village lived Samuel Strong. His wife, Ruth Gage, who came here in the fall of 1810, was granddaughter of Daniel Gage, who served as captain in the battle of Lexington, and her father had his foot shot off in crossing Charlestown Neck to participate in the battle of Bunker Hill, and her Uncle Daniel was believed to have shot Major Pitcairn in the same battle.
Of such ancestry were the women who braved the perils of the frontier. Her nearest neighbor upon the west was at Painesville. Once when she went to get water from a spring north of the house she came upon a bear in the bushes by it. The bear growled while the courageous woman filled her pail and fled with it to the house, leaving bruin in possession of the spring. Here she lived for sixty-six years, to see the forests cut down and the city built up around her.
And now the limit of space for this time has been reached. Our record only extends to 1810, and half has not been told.
This is the tale of Ashtabula,
Hunting ground of tribes long vanished;
This the burden of my story,
You whose steps are growing feeble,
You whose locks are growing hoary,
You who are the scattering remnants
Of those hardy pioneers;
Or the sons, mayhap the grandsons,
Of the heroes of those years,
Look afar upon the dim years,
Fast receding into shadow---
Fast into the dreamland fading,
Freighted with their joys and tears,
With thanksgiving to those brave ones,
To those early pioneers.
ETTA LUCE GILCHRIST, Chairman and Historian. Ashtabula [Township] Committee -- Mrs. Thomas Fricker, Mrs. C. J. Jaques, Mrs. Henry Fassett, Mrs. H. L. Morrison, Mrs. Lucy Lowe Watson, Mrs. Edward Large, Mrs. Charles Vaughn, Miss Mary Hubbard.
From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part IV, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [published under the auspices of the Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, February, 1897], p.p. 626-631:
PIONEER WOMEN OF ASHTABULA [TOWNSHIP], Additional
In a previous article the history of the pioneer women of Ashtabula has been traced to the year 1810. At this time there were a dozen or more houses scattered about through the woods; their household conveniences were few, food and provisions were scarce and the daily fare had little variety. A wedding feast in one of the best families is described as consisting of "cake, metheglin and raw turnips." The surroundings are described by Mrs. Morrison as follows: "The loft of the log house is the dressing room. In one corner is an opening, from which a ladder leads to the single room below. A coverlet serves as a portiere to hide the descent of the bridal party. Here in the room, which is at once all apartments from parlor to kitchen, await the family guests."
But youth carries light hearts, and mirth and merriment sent joyous echoes through the ancient woods. We are told of another wedding at "Granny Becket's" home, when one of the mischievous young maidens present found the board upon which she was seated rested on an iron kettle, containing stewed pumpkin, and made free with it among the guests, bespattering even the broadcloth of Dr. Coleman, who officiated at the ceremony.
To visit one another the women went on upon horseback, our pioneer mothers riding for miles through the woods, jumping their horses over logs and going down into the great gulfs, whose labyrinthine recesses might well strike terror to the stoutest heart. At this time, too, the Indian had not left the forests, and wild beasts were numerous.
Mrs. Mary Hubbard Fisk was a pioneer of 1810 from Middletown, Conn. To her and her good husband, Amos Fisk, the Baptist church society was indebted for its first church building, and Ashtabula for one of its first houses of public worship. While Mr. Fisk defrayed the expense of house and lot, Mrs. Fisk boarded the workmen who built it, through the many days and weeks, until its completion. Ruth Fisk a worthy daughter of her mother, married the Rev. Asahel Chapin. She was a lovely woman, with beauty of feature that only indexed the beauty of her soul and life, but she did not long remain to brighten her husband's home. She died on 1839, leaving a little daughter to be the father's solace in after years.
William Woodbury and wife were also arrivals of 1810. Mrs. Woodbury, nee Mary Hall, was a most estimable woman and mother of seven children. Her daughter Mary, born in 1814, married Israel G. Shaylor, a WELL-KNOWN SHIP-BUILDER of this place, and also became mother of seven children, several of whom have been, and are, popular citizens of the township.
Other children of William Woodbury are Minerva, wife of James Hillson, M. H. Woodbury, who died in 1894, Emily E. wife of Emory Luce; Sarah, wife of Lorenzo Gates; William N., and Amos J. Woodbury.
Another of these very early settlers was Mrs. Lot Newell [Avis Fargo], a very resolute, capable woman and good financier. One of her sons, Rollin, was drowned in the launching of the "Superior." It had been a gala day to the community, and most of those who gathered to see the launching went on board. The command: "Rock her, boys, rock her," reiterated by a drunken man, was obeyed until the boat was overturned and all others were thrown into the water. Seven young men who were in the rigging were drowned -- a terrible blow to the little community.
Another son of Mrs. Newell was killed by the falling of a tree, again to desolate a home which was ever open to the sick and homeless. Twice they were visited by fire, first the primitive log house which afforded them shelter in their early days, and later the pretty frame house, which their thrift and industry had built, and with it the accumulation of years was swept away.
The clock of the pioneer was the wooden one. One day an agent came through the settlement introducing a brass clock. He found Tom Fargo, a brother of Mrs, Newell, ploughing in the field. With the usual loquacity of his profession the agent dwelt upon the merits of his clock at last mentioning that it was an eight-day clock.
"That will do; that will do!" cried Mr. Fargo. "What do you suppose I want of a clock that only strikes once in eight days!" and he started his team along the furrow, leaving the agent to recover best he could.
In 1811 a notable family came from Cheshire, Conn., traveling with ox teams to this land of promise. It consisted of Thomas Benham, Sr., his wife [Esther Bonnell], and his two sons, Samuel and Adnah, with their wives, Hannah [Johnson] and Nancy [Wetmore]. With them came also a single lady, Lucretia Hubbard, afterward Mrs. Lawson Terrill of whom it has been said: "She had the happy gift of always saying the right word in the right place." They settled on the west of the turnpike as it leaves the south ridge, and organized the first Methodist class meeting in Ashtabula, which was the mother of the present Methodist church. These families, although suffering the usual hardships of their time, became prominent factors in the community, and their descendents are popular citizens of the town. It is told Mrs. Samuel Benham once frightened away a bear who stepped into the path before her, by lifting her big apron and waving it at him. Hannah Benham lived in the first frame house built in what is now called Saybrook, then called Mathertown, and later Wrightsburg.
In the same year several families from Plymouth, Conn., settled in south Ashtabula and began to meet together for worship by lay-reading, led by Mr. Zadoc Mann. Six years later Rev. Roger Searle, their former pastor from Connecticut, arrived and organized the first parish of the Episcopal church in Ohio. It was called Parish of St. Peter's.
This was doubtless subsequent to the time when the woman was asked if there were any Episcopalians in the neighborhood and replied that "she never saw any but had heard there were animals in the woods that were called that."
Lemuel Booth and wife, formerly Mehitable Morse, together with their son, Philo and his wife [Sophia Cooper] and family started in 1813 [after Perry's Victory had removed from the West, the fear of hostile Indians] for Cleveland, Ohio. Upon arriving at Buffalo they found all of the boats in government use, conveying Gen. Harrison's army down the lake, and leaving most of their goods at Buffalo, they continued their journey to Erie.
Meanwhile, the British burned Buffalo and they lost all the goods left there. While at Erie, Gen. Harrison arrived from the west, and the town being crowded with soldiers, they started again with their remaining stores and reached Ashtabula, January 15, 1814. Here being detained by the birth of a son, they concluded to remain, and the town thus secured some of its most valued citizens. Mrs. Mehitable Booth lived to the age of eighty-five, and died in 1838, at her home in Ashtabula.
Mrs. Philo Booth, who reared two sons and six daughters, nearly all of whom remained in Ashtabula, died September 3, 1861.
Mrs. Hall Smith, who as Achsah Nettleton had taught the children in the log schoolhouses of Kingsville and Ashtabula, came to reside here permanently in 1811, and was associated with her husband in many benevolent and philanthropic enterprises. One of the first public buildings to be used for religious and other purposes, was donated in part by them. Ashtabula is also indebted to them for the north public park and adjoining cemetery lot, as well as other benefactions.
Mrs. John Crowell, Sally Lois Badger, born Dec. 9, 1814, at the house that used to be called Badger Place, on Lake street is yet living to tell of her early life in the woods. Their house had isinglass for windows, something very few had at that time. Her father used to take out fire-brands to scare the wolves away from their sheep. Indians used to travel through the woods selling goods after Mrs. Crowell's remembrance, and she still has a mortar and pestle she bought from them.
THE NAME OF HARMON is a prominent one in Ashtabula, and long identified with its history. Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Harmon, [Temperance Fargo] settled on a farm on the lake shore in 1815. Mrs. Harmon was an exemplary Christian woman and her loss was felt by the community, when a few years later she died, leaving four sons to her husband's care. Mr. Harmon married for his second wife, Abagail Tyler, a most excellent woman to take the place of mother in the household. Three more sons were born to them, John, Shelden and Gilbert. Mrs. Abagail Harmon died suddenly, when on the way home from a service in her church.
Anan and Tryphenia [Harmon] Harmon, from Berkshire Co. Mass. joined the tide of western emigration and arrived in Ashtabula, in 1816. They settled on a tract of wild land one mile north of the present city. Six children came to bless their home, Clarissa, Edwin, Roxana, Achsah, Anan and Polly. Edwin was for many years identified with the progress and prosperity of the township. He built several vessels to sail upon the lake and it was to him Ashtabula owed the grist-mill at the foot of Main st., affording the inhabitants a convenient means of turning their grain into flour.
The Harmon homestead, built in 1828 was in its architecture and elegant construction, far in advance of most of the residences of that day, and to this beautiful home, a year later, he brought his bride, Miss Miranda Cunningham, of Hamilton co., N. Y. She was a woman of rare social qualities, and an affectionate wife and mother. Of eight children, Mary, wife of Charles Collins, died in 1898, and Gertrude in 1891. Both were generous-hearted, noble women, beloved by all who knew them. Francis E. and Albert Harmon are still residents of this city.
Elizabeth Ingersol, born in Lee, Mass. in 1797 came with her husband, James Hall to Ashtabula on her bridal trip, in a one-horse covered wagon, a part of the way from Buffalo, on the ice of Lake Erie.
Upon reaching here, the husband left his bride with his brother, the Rev. John Hall, and went to Dover, Ohio to prepare the log house, with its floor of tree bark, for her reception. Two years later, they returned to make Ashtabula their home and became identified with every good work. Mrs. Hall a charter member in the Presbyterian church, transferring her membership to the Congregational church, when the division was made in 1860, and was for many years, President of the ladies' society. She was, also charter member of the first Temperance society, formed here, her father, Rev. Moses Ingersol delivering the first temperance lecture. He was so rigid in his views that he cut down his apple trees, that the apples might not be made into cider.
Perhaps his extreme measures may not appear so unwarranted, if we remember the customs of those days and some of the stories that have been handed down to us. A certain amount of stimulant was thought to be necessary to health, the whiskey toddy was a common drink even of good men of the most rigid morals in other particulars.
One day one of these good men, who was a wit and very intelligent when sober, met another, with a long beard and accosted him by asking why he did not have it cut.
"I belong to the sect of Drunkards," replied the other, "and never cut my beard."
"Well, I belong to the set of drunkards, too, but I'll be blamed if I don't keep sober long enough to shave," he replied.
Mrs. Hall's home, ever open to the needy, was the rendezvous for the escaping slave in ante-bellum days. It was on Walnut street, at the harbor, and from there, Fugitives were aided to Canada by boat. Mrs. Hall was granddaughter of Rev. Jonathan Edwards of Yale College, and mother of Dr. Perry Hall of Ashtabula. Another of her five children, Lucinda Hall, wife of Joseph Dewey Hulbert, a woman of sweet and refined nature and rare amiability, remained to follow in her mother's footsteps in all her loved characteristics. For many years president of the Congregational society, she was the central figure around which the ladies loved to cluster. The old homestead is yet occupied by Mr. Hulbert, who is one of the pioneer business men of the town.
Emily Newton, daughter of Miles and Chloe Newton, born in Litchfield, Ct. in 1814, came to Ohio with her parents in 1816, and in 1833 married Phillip Whitman, moved upon a farm in this township and lived there for sixty years. She now lives with her son Harvey Whitman on the East Side. She tells the following:
One day when her husband was gone she rocked her baby to sleep and going to lay him down, met a LARGE BLACK SNAKE coming toward her. Putting down her baby and calling her little boy to hold the candle, she grasped a stick of wood and the shovel and soon killed it. The snake measured four feet four inches in length.
Lois Bush who came to this place with her mother in 1818, married two years later, Thomas Cheney, an intelligent and able man. He was killed in 1852 by the falling of a tree. Their children who yet live here are Samantha Metcalf, Ruth Field, wife of Capt. George Field, Mary Field and P. H. Cheney.
No stone is left to show the location of Deacon Humphrey's home across the gulf. The history of Mrs. Humphrey is sad and pathetic. Her husband had chartered a vessel, the Parrot, to take a load of hogs to Detroit. A sudden storm came on and the Parrot was lost with all on board. The shock was too great for Mrs. Humphrey. Her reason was dethroned, and one day she was found in her house, dead.
Mr. William Humphrey, Jr. was possessed of great individuality of character and loved his joke. His last wife, who was Jane Taft of Kingsville, Ohio, was a most excellent woman and withal a rapid and fluent talker. She had a great horror of being buried alive, and charged her husband again and again to make sure she was dead before he allowed her to be buried.
"Well," said Mr. Humphrey with the slow speech peculiar to him, and a wink at those about him, "the probability is, that when you stop talking, it will be safe to bury you."
Mary Watrous, wife of Daniel Castle, came from Chester, Ct. in 1816. She was a judicious, affectionate mother, an excellent neighbor, and in days when physicians were few and trained nurses unknown, the sick never sought her care in vain. She died March 8, 1866
Mrs. Mary Willard Ticknor, also came here in 1816. She was a successful teacher and a beautiful woman, influencing many lives for the good. She died in 1871.
Another arrival of 1816 was Betsey Wright Kendall of Fitchburg, Mass., and daughter of Katie Boutwell [a relative of Gov. Boutwell] and Ephraim Kendall, who when Buffalo was burned was in the arsenal, and run bullets under command of Capt. Barras of Leroy, N. Y. A courier brought the report that her father was killed and the British and English were destroying all before them. She and her friends hastily packed for flight when a second rider brought news of the enemies' defeat and the fathers safety. They were then residing at Batavia, N. Y. Miss Kendall was another who taught in Ashtabula, Plymouth and Geneva, until 1820 when she married Valerious Hall. She was an exemplary Christian woman, and died at Ashtabula, December 1, 1889, aged ninety-one years.
Mrs. L. P. Collins' people came from New York by way of the canal and lakes. Arriving here after dark, her grandmother, [Mrs. Burr] with Mrs. Collins, then an infant in her arms, stepped from the gang plank into the water. She held the child as high as possible, but twice sank. Just as they were about to sink the third time, Mrs. Burr heard distinctly the words, "For God's Sake Throw a Rope," uttered by Mr. Joel Thomas, father of Mrs. Lorenzo Kendall. This gave her renewed courage and with one arm she held her child above her head, and with the other hand grasped the rope while Mr. Thomas pulled them ashore. They were taken to the nearest house, a doctor summoned and after sometime both were restored to consciousness.
Mrs. John C. McNutt, Lucy Ann Tinker born in 1811, came here in 1828[?]. The next morning after their arrival, having no meat for breakfast, her husband took his gun and standing in his doorway shot a deer.
Mrs. Gersham Thayer, born in Chautauqua in 1821, moved to the Harbor in 1826. She used to wade across the river barefoot. The first bridge she remembers being made of row-boats.
Mrs. Daniel Palmer, born in Upper Canada in 1808, moved here in 1833; from Schenectady to Buffalo they came by canal, taking ten days.
From Mrs. Mona Large we obtain an account of one of Ashtabula's noted women
Few can boast of as varied experiences in the mutations of a lifetime as Elizabeth Brown, born in East Ashtabula, Aug 21, 1816. When twenty-one years of age, she went to Chicago, and in 1846 married Jacob Stiles. Thirteen years later, they removed to Shawnee Town, Kansas, where, in Oct. 1862, Mr. Stiles was murdered at his own gate, by a band of one hundred and sixty guerillas under the famous Charles Quantrill. The rebels worn the blue uniforms of Union soldiers, and thus surprised them.
Mrs. Stiles was allowed her liberty and remained at her home, until it became unsafe for her, when a company of Union soldiers were sent to escort her to the fort at Leavenworth. She had already done valuable detective service for "Uncle Sam," and she was soon called to Washington be a letter from Gen. Lane, also signed by Abraham Lincoln.
Placing two of her children in school at Washington, and taking her daughter Clara with her, she entered the detective service of "Uncle Sam," and through the rebellion she was in almost constant service, being during the time in nineteen states and Canada. She was personally acquainted with nearly all of the noted generals, her work bringing her under their personal direction. She faced death many times, and her value as a spy was proven by her coolness and tact in saving herself from the fate that continually threatened. On one occasion, when arrested at Jefferson City, Mo., her horse was taken from her, and she was escorted to Gen. Price for trial. She succeeded in convincing them she was a rebel spy, and not only went free, but was given a better horse and fire-arms. In her travels, it not infrequently became necessary to dress the wounds of the unlucky blue-coats and even perform amputations have fallen to her lot to perform. Before she was five years old, her father, John Brown, taught her how to shoot a gun, which accomplishment served her well in after years. Mrs. Stiles has taken thirty children to raise, but has raised none of her own. Her mind is perfectly clear at the present time, and her recollection of dates and names is remarkable. She is proud to claim Ashtabula as her birthplace.
Another whose life was checkered with much of romance and sadness, was Mrs. Anna Millard, nee Anna Seeley of Lockport, N. Y. She was an aunt by marriage, of President Millard Fillmore.
Shortly after settling in Ashtabula, her husband went to the Southern states. Years went by, and no word was received from him. The wife and mother bravely took up the burden of the care of her two children, and brought them up, until they were married and gone. Her son died, leaving two little ones, twins, behind. These, Mrs. Millard also took home and cared for. After twenty years, Mr. Millard who had believed his wife dead returned to Ashtabula, and to his surprise found Mrs. Millard alive and well, and the COUPLE WERE REUNITED.
Mrs. McKnight, Mrs. Millard's last child, was killed while changing cars on a journey from the New England some years since, and from a recent newspaper cutting, we read: "Mrs. Anna S. Millard died at East Springfield, Pa., aged 87 years, leaving four grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren."
Ashtabula was also at one time the home of Caroline Rosekrans, wife of the Hon. B. F. Wade, of Jefferson. She was born in Lansingburg, N. Y., in 1805, and came from Middletown, Ct., to Ashtabula with her mother and half-brother, Mr. Henry E. Parsons in 1837, and lived with her cousin, Col. William Hubbard, in the old brick house on the Point at Ashtabula Harbor. She married Senator Wade May 19, 1841, when she removed to Jefferson, where she is buried.
Mrs. Parsons [Sarah Hubbard], daughter of Colonel Nehemiah Hubbard, deputy paymaster-general for Connecticut of the Revolutionary army, and mother of Mrs. B. F. Wade and H. E. Parsons, was born in Middletown, Ct., and married first Dupue Rosekrans in 1798 and secondly Enoch Parsons, of the Revolution, Feb. 15, 1808. She came to Ashtabula in 1837, and is buried in Chestnut Grove cemetery.
Laura Hinckley, granddaughter of Governor Thomas Hinckley, of Plymouth Colony, and wife of Mr. Azel Fitch, came to Ashtabula with her husband in 1829, to join their son, Hon Oramel Hinckley Fitch. They were from Lebanon, Ct. Mrs. Fitch died from the effects of a serious burn and is buried at Chestnut Grove, Ashtabula. Her mother, Elizabeth Hinckley, was the daughter of Rev. Benjamin Throop, of Boyrat, Ct., a descendant of Lord Sciope, one of the judges who passed sentence on Charles I, of England, whose ancestors assumed the name of Throop on arriving in this country, after the restoration of the Stuart dynasty by the accession of Charles II.
Harriet Ann Carey, wife of Benjamin Lockwood and cousin of Robert Carey, father of Alice and Phoebe Carey, came to Ashtabula in 1835, from Greenwich, Ct. She died in 1864, leaving several children, two of whom are yet residents of Ashtabula. Mrs. Lockwood was a woman of remarkable energy and ambition, doing all in her power to educate and advance the interests of her children and set before them the example of a cheerful presence and preserving industry. Her son, John W. Lockwood, still resides here, also a daughter, Delia M., widow of Pliney F. Lovejoy, who has reared nine children, and has now undertaken the care of the grandchild.
Elizabeth Webb Lockwood came here in 1834. She was cousin of Gen. Samuel B. Webb, of Stanford, Ct., who was aid-de-camp for Gen. Washington for one year during the Revolution. She had four boys and one girl, who made Ashtabula their home and aided much in the advancement of the town.
Mrs. William Ellis' father came to Ashtabula when there were only twelve houses in the town, and was a pioneer of the north bend, going there before a tree had been cut.
This sketch would not be concluded without mention of Lucinda Ellis, who married Abel Fitzgerald and removed from Ashtabula to Saybrook in 1831, and lived to become mother of twenty children, a large family, even when large families were the rule rather than the exception.
From such homes and from the care of such self-sacrificing mothers have arisen the legions who make Ashtabula the beautiful city of today.
ROSETTA L. GILCHRIST, Historian
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