OHIO COUNTY INFO: History of the Western Reserve

The Pioneers of New Connecticut

Chapter III, History of The Western Reserve, by Harriet Taylor Upton, 1910

Although the French (both Protestant and Roman Catholic), the Spanish, the Dutch, the Quaker, and the English (Cavalier and Puritan) colonized the new world, we are apt to think of the early inhabitants of the Massachusetts Puritans alone. Somehow the Puritan, especially the Pilgrim, with his plain, dark clothes, his high hat and his determined countenance, impresses itself deeply upon our sub-consciousness. Just so do we give all the credit of the successful settling of the Western Reserve to the Connecticut emigrants, which is entirely incorrect.
There were two ways to enter the New Connecticut, namely, through New York state to Buffalo and along Lake Erie, or through Pennsylvania to Pittsburg, up the rivers. From the state of Pennsylvania came the Pennsylvania Dutch and the Scotch-Irish; some of the most frugal and industrious were the Pennsylvania Dutch. The Yankee considered himself superior to his neighbors, who said "du bish" or had a brogue. His education as a rule was better, his family longer established in these United States, and he believed himself resposible for the development of the country. On the other hand, the early Dutch Pennsylvanian saw faults in his Yankee neighbor, and commented upon the same. The early Dutch housewife would say to her neighbor, when inviting her to stay to a meal, "It's not much we have, but anything is better than the weak tea and crackers of the Yankees." The "Dutchmen" were frugal, near, industrious, but liked good living. Early settlers in Pennsylvania uniformly testify to the excellent cooking of Pennsylania Dutch women. A Trumbull county man, now fifty years old, who was a boy taught school in western Pennsylvania, refers with pleasure to those days when he boarded around. A prominent citizen of Warren, whose grandparents were Pennsylvania Dutch, and whose mother and wife were excellent housekeepers, gives credit to both for being successes as homemakers, but usually ends with "but no one ever quite came up to grandmother's cooking."
It was the Scotch-Irish who made the mrith for the pioneers, particularly at "frolic times," as house-raisings, log-rollings, and the like occasions were called. They cared less for money than did the Yankee or the German, and did not leave land fortunes to their descendants. They did, however, one thing for which they are never given credit. They, and not the men from the state of the Blue Laws, were first in establishing and maintaining churches.
Lest we may be tossing our heads in pride, we who trace back to the Connecticut forefather, let us see what others thought and think of us. W. H. Hunter, of Chillicothe, in an address at Philadelphia, on "Influence of Pennsylvania on Ohio", says:
"The claims made for the Puritan settlement at Marietta give us an example of Puritan audacity; the New England settlements on the Western Reserve give us examples of Yankee ingenuity. In Connecticut he made nutmegs of wood; in Ohio he makes maple molasses of glucose and hickory bark. In New England the Puritan bored the Quaker tongue with red-hot poker; in Ohio he dearly loves to roast Democrats. The Reserve was the home of crankisms. Joseph Smith started the Mormon church in Lake county. And there were others."

Colonized by College Man

The Connecticut pioneer impressed himself on the Western Reserve history because he was a college man. He became the surveyor, the lawyer, the judge, the legislator, the governor, because he was mentally equipped for such positions. Almost every leading jurist of that day was a Yale graduate.
It is known that for many years before the organization of the Connecticut Land Company, as early as 1755, people had traveled from Pennsylvania to Salt Springs, between Niles and Warren, for the purpose of making salt. Long vats and kettles showing much wear and little care were early found by travelers and explorers. Men who were identified with the early times have written of seeing travelers with kettles thrown over the back of a horse on their way to the springs. Salt was expensive, costing, according to some authorities, six dollars a bushel; others, sixteen dollars a barrel. The water here was only brackish and cost of making too expensive to be profitable. Some of the Salt Spring kettles were later found in a spot near Braceville, where the Indians used them for making mapel syrup, and within the last few years one of them still existed.

Salt Spring Region

So far as we know, nothing very good ever came out of the Salt Spring region. The first man who owned the tract - Judge Parsons - was drowned. A man stationed in one of the cabins to watch the goods belonging to a Beaver firm was killed. The white men who constructed cabins there were in constant fear of the Indians, and were not financially repaid for their trouble. "The Pennsylvanians who had recourse to it during the Revolution erected cabins there. In 1785 Colonel Brodhead, commanding the troops at Fort Pitt, had orders to dispossess them, and did so. The Indians soon burned the cabins they had erected." Here occurred the first murder on the Reserve, and here, time and again, in the latter part of the nineteenth century, people have had hope of making fortunes from the mineral water, only to give it up in despair later. In 1906 or 1907 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad acquired the land, and now, where once men, white and red, boiled water into walt, while they drank whiskey and fought; where women and children suffered from fear of the red man; where men invested time and money to no purpose, runs a great trunk line, and men and women sleep and eat as they pass over the spot where so much unhappiness existed, and never think of Indians or murder or even salt, for the latter served them in the diner by black men without cost.

First Land Purchases

General Samuel H Parsons, of Connecticut, whose father was a distinguished clergyman, and whose mother (a descendant of Henry Wolcott) was a strong character, was the first lawyer, and the first purchaser of land on the Western Reserve. He was an early friend of John Adams, a graduate of Yale, took an active interest in colonial politics, and became one of the boldest of America's generals. Old records in the hands of the family attribute to him the planning of the siege of Ticonderoga, which was the first hostile move in the war of the Revolution. Congress, in 1785, appointed him as one of the commissioners to treat with the Indians for cessions of land. Cincinnati stands on one of the portions ceded. Two years later he was appointed judge for the territory of the United States northwest of the Ohio river, and in 1789 became chief justice of the Northwest Territory. Having traveled through this country, he was familiar with the land, and finally bought from the commissioners appointed by the Connecticut legislature to sell land, a tract situated in the townships now known as Lordstown, Weathersfield, Jackson and Austintown. The deed to this twenty-five thousand acres is now on record in the Trumbull county court house, and all records and maps agree as to its boundaries. He chose this spot, undoubtedly, because the Indians and traders had cleared land round about, because the springs found there contained brackish water from which he hoped later to manufacture salt, and because Pittsburg was comparatively near at hand and stores could be gotten at Beaver and other points on the river. He, however, never occupied this purchase. He was drowned, as above stated, in the Beaver river, probably at the falls, when returning east. Little or no money had been actually paid down for the land, but his heirs claimed it nevertheless. From Webb's manuscript we learn:
"And although the Connecticut Land Company ran their township and range line regardless of this claim, and although they in their proceedings at the time called it only a 'pretended claim', yet in making partition of their lands, they reserved land enough in the townships No. 2 and 3, in the third and fourth range, to satisfy this claim, which they never aparted and which they ultimately abandoned to the heirs and assigns of General Parsons."

First Land Purchaser

The rules and regulations of the Connecticut Land Company are of great interest. Every possibility of misunderstanding is provided for, minor details are mentioned, and the document shows the workmanship of the careful, conservative New England mind.
The directors of the company were Oliver Phelps, Henry Champion, Roger Newberry, and Samuel Mathews, Jr.
Following is a list of the surveying party of 1796:
General Moses Cleaveland, Superindent
Augustus Porter, Principal Surveyor and Deputy Superintendent
Seth Pease, Astronomer and Surveyor
Amos Spafford, John Milton Holley, Richard M Stoddard and Moses Warren, Surveyors
Joshua Stow, Commissary
Theodore Shepard, Physican

Employees of the Company

Joseph Tinker, boatman
George Proudfoot
Samuel Forbes
Stephen Benton
Samuel Hungerford
Samuel Davenport
Amzi Atwater
Elisha Ayers
Norman Wilcox
George Gooding
Samuel Agnew
David Beard
Titus V Munson
Charles Parker
Nathaniel Doan
James Halket
Olney F Rice
Samuel Barnes
Daniel Shulay
Joseph McIntyre
Francis Gray
Amos Sawtel
Amos Barber
William B Hall
Asa Mason
Michael Coffin
Thomas Harris
Timothy Dunham
Shadrach Benham
Wareham Shepard
John Briant
Joseph Landon
Ezekiel Morly
Luke Hanchet
James Hamilton
John Lock
Stephen Burbank

We are told in several original manuscripts that this party consisted of fifty, but as the above numbers only forty-six; Gun, who was to have charge of the stores in Conneaut; Stiles, who was to have like position in Cleveland; Chapman and Perry, who were to furnish meat and trade with the Indians, must have made up the number. In some of the original records the full list of men are given with these words, "and two females." So unused were makers of books and keepers of records to giving a woman's name, unless she were a queen or a sorceress, that this seemed nothing unusual.
The "two females," who made the first real homes on the Reserve, were Ann, the wife of Elija Gun, and Tabiatha Currie, the wife of Job Stiles. Not only did they keep house, one at Conneaut and the other at Cleveland, but they kept them so well that the surveyors took themselves there upon the slightest pretext. They also had an oversight and care of the company.

Instructions to Moses Cleaveland

Here is given the instructions of the directors to their agents:
To Moses Cleaveland, Esq., of the County of Windham, and State of Connecticut, one of the Directors of the Connecticut Land Company, Greetings"
We, the Board of Directors, of said Connecticut Land Company, having appointed you to go on to said land, as Superintendent over the agents and men, sent on to survey and make locations on said land, to make, and enter into friendly negotiations with the natives who are on said land, or contiguous thereto, and may have any pretended claim to the same, and secure such friendly intercourse amongst them as will establish peace, quiet, and safety to the survey and settlement of said lands, not ceded by the natives under the authority of the United States. You are hereby, for the foregoing purposes, fully authorized and empowered to act, and transact all the above business, in as full and ample a manner as we ourselves could do, to make contracts in the foregoing matters in our behalf and stead; and make such drafts on our Treasury, as may be necessary to accomplish the foregoing object of your appointment. And all agents and men by us employed, and sent on to survey and settle said land, to be obedient to your orders and directions. And you are to be accountable for all monies by you received, conforming your conduct to such orders and directions as we may, from time to time, give you, and to do and act in all matters, according to your best skill and judgment, which may tend to the best interest, prosperity, and success of said Connecticut Land Company. Having more particularly for your guide the Articles of Association entered into and signed by the individuals of said Company.
Pittsburg and Canandaigua were the outlying posts for travelers to the Western Reserve. The Connecticut Land Company instructed the surveying party to gather at Canandaigua and proceed.
Several of the journals of these young surveyors are in the possession of the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the entries in some of them which have never been published are curious. Mr. Seth Pease says under several dates in close succession: "I began my journey, Monday, May 9, 1796. Fare from Suffield to Hartord, six shillings; expenses four shillings six pence. *** At breakfast, expense two shillings. Fare on my chest from Hartford to Middletown, one shilling, six pence." In telling about his trip to New York, he says: "Passage and liquor 4 dollars and three quarters. When he arrived in New York we find the following entry: "Ticket for play 75c; Liquor 14c; Show of elephants, 50c; shaving and combing, 13c." Apparently Mr. Pease was seeing New York.

Usual Route to the Reserve

It will pay the reader to take a map and follow their route from Connecticut to Schenectady, up the Mohawk river into Oneida lake, on to the Oswego river, into Ontario lake, along the southern shore of this lake to Canandaigua, and then to Buffalo, from there touching at least once at Presque Isle (Erie), on past the Pennsylvania line. They rowed, sailed and walked the shore. Sometimes part of them turned back to help bring up those delayed, or went ahead of the party to counsel with military officers or to make necessary preparations for the party. It was a tedious trip.
The four batteaux filled with provisions, baggage and men were heavy, and most of the men were unused to river boating. One of them records that pulling up the Mohawk was as hard work as he ever did in his life. It was a relief when they began going down the Oswego and came to Fort Stanwix (Rome, N.Y.). Here Mr. Stow procured the necessary papers to allow the party to pass Fort Oswego, which was in the hands of the British. At this very time an agreement had been reached which provided that Americans could have access to the Lakes. The party therefore rapidly proceeded only to find that they had been too sanguine. The officers in charge of the fort had no new orders from Fort Niagara; the old orders allowed no Americans to pass. The party, somewhat disappointed, put into a little bay in the river. The land was low, the soldiers at the fort were many of them ill and dying, and the surveyors, ready and anxious for work in the far west, were not pleased at the thought of lying idly in this unwholesome spot until a messenger could go to Niagara and return. The directors of the Land Company had anticipated this trouble, as said above, and had instructed Mr. Stow, who was the commissary, not to pass the fort if there was opposition. The situation was trying to Mr. Stow. Since he disobeyed orders and brough the party through successfully, we consider him an intelligent, faithful employee. Had the winds been a little stronger, the waves a little higher, conditions a little less favorable, so that the boats and passengers had been lost, he would always have been referred to as a guilty, incompetent hireling.
The officers of the fort at Oswego knew that the party arrived in four boats; consequently, when Mr. Stow, with one boat, went by the fort, he was not disturbed. These officers did not observe he carried provisions; they only thought he was going to Fort Niagara to obtain permission for the party to move on. The guard not being on the outlook, the other three boats passed the fort under protection of night. Thus the party safely reached Lake Ontario. They had been hindered and bothered in many ways, but now they believed their troubles to be over. However, as is often the case when people are sanguine, the worst they were to see was near at hand. A storm came up quickly and violently, throwing the three boats into Sodus Bay, where one of them was utterly disabled and where the whole party, almost miraculously, escaped drowning. One can imagine the anxiety of Mr. Stow, who had gone on to Irondequoit (the port for Rochester) when he learned that the three boats following him had been lost and nothing saved but an oar and a gun, thrown on shore at Sodus Bay. Either he or Auguster Porter (accounts disagree) with some men, turned about from Irondequoit to go to Sodus, hoping to learn how the shipwreck occurred. They were overjoyed to meet Captain Beard, who told them that instead of all being lost except the oar and gun, the oar and gun were the only things really lost. One of the boats, however, which was useless, was abandoned, and the party proceeded on its way to Irondequoit, Canandigua and the new home.
The Indians at Buffalo were expecting them, and like all traders they were wondering what they dare demand; that is, how much could they get for their right to the land. It's a wise man who offers neither too much nor too little. A man who preceeded the party with the horses was forced to pay three dollars for pasture. Since the grass was neither cared for nor used by anybody, this was exhorbitant.

Bargaining with the Indians

It exasperates the reader of today to watch the slow movement of this party of surveyors. When they arrived at Buffalo, some of them went to Fort Niagara, possibly on business; some took a look at the Falls, while Holly, under the date of June 18th, says: "Porter and myself went on the Creek (Buffalo) in a bark canoe a fishing and caught only three little ones." How could people with such uncertainty ahead of them stop to angle?
Finally, the council with the red men was had, and a picturesque scene it was. On the shore fo the lake, under the starry June sky, the white men, forerunners of the Western Reserve citizens, with joy in their faces and hopes in their hearts, sat around the blazing fire prepared by the red men. Speeches were made on both sides, diplomatic messages exchanged,and while part of the Indians performed a swinging dance, the rest gruntedan accompaniment from their sitting position on the ground. Negotiations were not completed then - not at all; it was too soon. The Indian was "long on time" and short on whiskey. They must get drunk, of course. What was the good of a treaty without a pow-wow? What was the good of the white man except for his whiskey? So pow-wow and whiskey it was, fortunately with no bad results.
On June 23rd, "after much talking on the part of the Indians, Cleaveland offered Capt. Brant 500 pounds New York currency, which equals $1,000, provided he would peacefully relinguish his title to the western land. This sum was not large enough to please the captain, but after much parley he finally agreed to it, provided Cleaveland would use his influence with the United States and obtain from the government the sum of $500 annually for his trible. In case he could not accomplish this he was to promise that the Land Company would pay an additional $1,500 in cash."
Whether this agreement was kept, and whether the government or company paid this sum is not know to the author, but as white men were treating with Indians, we presume this money is the last they saw.

Title Bought of the Red Man

Cleaveland then gave two beef cattle and 100 gallons of whiskey to satisfy the eastern Indians, and a feast followed. The western Indians were also given provisions to help them home and all had been entertained during the coucil. It is greatly to the credit of the Connecticut Land Company, and a source of much satisfaction to the residents of the Western Reserve today that the title to the land was not stolen, but was bought and paid for, even if the price was low; further, that possession of the new country was given and taken under the best of feeling and without one drop of bloodshed. To be sure, our forefathers must have had a larger supply of whiskey than the sentiment of today would allow them, when we remember they gave away one hundred gallons and had plenty for all summer. History must be studied from its own time.

Early Drunkenness

Whiskey was as plentiful during the early days of the colonization as was food. To be sure, it was not our adulterated stuff of today, but it was whiskey, and it did what alcohol always has done and always will do to men. Its stimulating qualities for a time relieved the lonesomeness and fatigue, but the depression followed surely more than overbalanced the good. All of the misunderstanding among travelers and early settlers and Indians were caused more or less by whiskey. The women in the early settlements abhorred it. They feared to have their husbands take it, lest trouble should follow. Anxiously these women in their own cabins, with wolves howling near outside, and babies huddled close within, awaited the coming of the husband who had been to an adjoining clearing, not knowing what animal or savage might have made way with him because of his drunkenness. These women saw their neighbors succeed and become prosperous because of their self-control, while they remained poor because of the "fruit of the corn." Many and many an overworked wife who had looked forward to log-rolling for weeks went home from the same with weeping eyes and heavy heart, her husband too drunk to guide the horse or act as her protector. Some people believe that there was not as much drunkenness then as now, and will bring proof to bear upon it. This is not the place to discuss the temperance question, but when we know that in range one, number one, Poland, there were eighteen stills; that in many settlements ministers were paid in whiskey, we can scarcely believe that the drunkenness of today is greater. Then, as now, women were temperate; then, as now, they suffered from drunkenness and its consequences; then, as now, they persuaded and begged their very own to desist; then, as now, they wept and prayed, and then, as now, a few were heeded, while more were not.
One women of this section, whose husband took to much at stated intervals, when he came home in that condition, obliged him to sit in a straight-back chair till he was sober. If he started to mvoe, she raised a stick of wood as if to strike him, when he immediately resumed his seat. He finally declared there was no use in drinking if one had to sit still until sober, and he reformed. As a rule, however, the stick, in a real and metaphorical sense, was, and is, in the hands of the man.

First Independence Day

At last the surveyors had reached their destination. Even though they were adults, they had said good-bye to their home friends with thick throats and heavy hearts. They had paddled slowly the New York rivers, had outwitted the British officers, had suffered shipwreck, had endured the discomforts of long, slow travel, had successfully treated with the Indians, and now, in the afternoon of a summer day, they had come upon the "promised land." The blue waters of the lake lapped the shore, the creek sluggishly sought its bay, the great forest trees were heavy with bright green leaves, the grass was thick and soft, the sky was blue, and the lowering sun bathed the landscape with delicate reds and yellows. It was the Fourth of July, Independence Day, for which their fathers, twenty years before, had fought, and for which they themselves held holy reverence. They had double reason to rejoice, and they shouted, sang, fired guns across the water, adding an additional salute for the new territory. They drank water from the creek and whiskey from the jug; they named the spot Fort Independence, and drank toasts to the president of the United States, the state of Connecticut, the Connecticut Land Company, the Fort of Independence, and the "fifty sons and daughters who had entered it this day." When the camp fires died down, and the stars above were thick and bright, they went to sleep in the new land which was shortly to be broken up into thirteen counties, or parts of counties (Ashtabula, Geauga, Cuyahoga, Lake, Trumbull, Mahoning, Portage, Summit, part of Medina, aprt of Ashland, Erie, Huron and Lorain). If anyone had dreamed that night that in one hundred and fifteen years these thirteen counties would have almost as much influence on the world as the thirteen original colonies had at one time; that most of the huge forests would be supplanted by cultivated fields and prosperous towns; that Indian paths would be macadam roads; that over tiny wires one could talk to any part of this New Country as easily as they could talk to each other that night on the lake shore; that school houses and churches would be thick throughout the region; and that both would be free; that over the very spot where they lay sleeping passengers at the rate of sixty miles an hour; that vehicles without horses would spin along the lake front from Buffalo creek to the Cuyahoga in less time than it took them to put their camp in order; that mountains of ore would lie in the lake ships a few miles from them; that no man wilder than they would be east of the Mississippi; that the wildest animals would be the youthful bull or the aged house-dog; that in the nearby valleys would be some of the most wonderful industrial plants in the world, and that hundred of men would have sufficient money to buy and pay for the whole Western Reserve without inconvenience; that on this territory would stand the sixth largest city in the United States; that slavery would not exist; that women would have a voice in making school laws, and that men would float or fly through the air above their heads in machines made for flying, - if any one of the party had dreamed any or all of these things, and related them in the morning, he would have been declared untruthful or as suffering too much from that taken from the gurgling jug.

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