Surveys of the Western Reserve
On July 7th, the members of the surveying party left Conneaut. They were ambitious not only to do their work quickly, but well. Joyously they started into the unknown wilderness, Porter, Peace and Holley ran the first east line. They found the north corner of Pennsylvania, and ran down five or six miles west of that line.
New Connecticut, Not Heaven
Moses Warren and party had a line farther west. Before the summer was over, it was written of Warren, sometimes, "he was
a little less energetic," and other times, "he is indolent." He was either ease-loving or slow. However, the author owes him
a debt of gratitude because he wrote a full, clear hand and was a good speller. Manuscripts of long ago try the patience of
the readers of today. Both Pease and Holley left copious notes, and from them we learn that the first line they ran caused them
much trouble and many vexations, as the land was not covered with huge trees, but with small ones and with thick underbrush;
it was impossible to sight at long range. The spring had been a wet one, the streams swollen, and the swamps sometimes
impassable. The land lay flat, and on the whole was uninteresting. The horses often wandered off at night and precious
morning time was spent corralling them. Sometimes the surveyors waded the swamps and streams, sending the cooks, supplies,
horses, and laborers around. This always brought about delay and more or less distress. As the surveyors took the shortest
route, they arrived first, and, wet, tired, and hungry, they were obliged to wait for the rest of the party, who were sometimes
hours late. Mr. Stow, the commissary, had his trials, first, in finding it hard to obtain fresh supplies, and second, in reaching
the various parties in the field. Very often we find notes like: "Ate our last breakfast," or, "Only one more dinner left," or "Had
less than a half of a pint of rum left."
They had been seventeen days running this line. Surely, they had not been idle, and they had overcome grievous obstacles. Their poor instruments showed variations, and they did not have time to prove their work. When the whole survey was finished, they were half a mile out of the way. It was intended that each township should have sixteen thousand acres of land, and not one of them has just exactly that much.
Moses Warren and the other surveyors came up with the Pease-Porter party on the 23rd, and they then separated, beginning five miles apart, and ran the line back to the lake. The return trip was about the same, except that the laborers showed less inclination to work, and the cooks became more irritable.
On the 5th of July the laborers began the erection of a crude log house on the east side of Conneaut creek, which was used for a storehouse. It is referred to in the early history as "Stow Castle." A second house was later erected as a dwelling for the surveyors. It was then expected that Conneaut would be the headquarters.
Mouth of the Cuyahoga River
As soon as all was under way, General Cleaveland started by lake for the Cuyahoga river. He reached his destination the
day before the corner post was set in Poland, July 22nd. Among those accompanying him were Stow, the commissary,
and Mr. and Mrs. Stiles. There is no record of how this spot pleased the party, although several writers have drawn
imaginary pictures and noted possible thoughts. So far as the writer knows, Moses Cleaveland did not commit to paper his
first impression. True it is, that many a purchaser of New Connecticut land, who intended to settle near the present site of
Cleveland, when he saw the desolate sand of the lake shore and felt the chilly winds, retraced his steps onto the Hiram hills,
to the Little Mountain district, or the ridges of Mesopotamia, Middlefield or Bloomfield.
Work Stopped for the Year
The cold fall days warned the party that they must stop work. They were not satisfied with the results, and neither was the
Land Company. The latter had spent $14,000 and apparently had little to show for it. The southern boundary of their
territory had not been run west after the fourth range. A large tract had not been surveyed at all. All of the territory "east of
Cuyahoga, west of the fourth meridian, and south of the sixth parallel" was still not touched. None of the six townships
intended for sale were ready except in the neighborhood of Cleveland. However, the surveyors had done the best they
could under the conditions, and one can read between the lines of their ordinary surveyor notes an intense desire to be at
Before Mr. Kingsbury was able to travel, he set out and reached Buffalo the 3rd of December. This winter was a severe one, and the snow was over five feet deep in the lake region. However, Mr. Kingsbury, with an Indian guide, traveled toward his family as fast as he could. His horse became disabled, but still he staggered along and reached his cabin Christmas eve. Mrs. Kingsbury had recovered enough to be up and had decided to leave with her family for Erie Christmas day. "Toward evening a gleam of sunshine broke through the long-clouded heavens, and lighted up the surrounding forest. Looking out she beheld the figure of her husband approaching the door." So weak was she that she relapsed into a fever, and her husband, nearly exhausted, was obliged, the first minute he could travel, to go to Erie for provisions. The snow was so deep he could not take the oxen, and he drew back a bushel of what on the sled. This they cracked and ate. Presently the cow died and the oxen were killed eating poisonous boughs. The low state of the mother's health and the death of the cow caused the starvation of the two-months old baby. Tales have appeared in newspapers in regards to this incident which stated that as Mr. Kingsbury entered his door on his return he saw the baby dead on its little couch and the mother dying. The child did not die until a month after Mr. Kingsbury reached home.
The Sad First Burial
A reliable old man, who was about eighty-four years old in 1874, in talking of the hardships of the people of New Connecticut,
said: "But the ahrdest day's work I ever did was the one in which I got ready to bury my boy." There were then no hearses,
no coffins, no undertakers, no grave-diggers, but there were tender, loving friends, all of whom were ready to do all in their
power. But the first family of the Reserve was without such comfort. Mr. Kingsbury, entirely alone (when the Guns left, we
do not know), was obliged to do everything there was to be done for his dead baby. He, and his thirteen-year-old nephew,
found a box, and, laying the body in it, carried it to the top of a hill, where Mrs. Kingsbury, on her bed, could raise herself
enough to see the body lowered to the grave. When this sad duty had been performed, and Mr. Kingsbury returned to the
house, he found his wife unconscious, and for two weeks she took no notice of anything going on. Mr. Kingsbury, still feeble,
was nearly discouraged, when suddenly the severe north winds were supplanted by southern breezes, and in the atmosphere
was a slight promise of spring. Early in March, when he was hardly able to walk, he took an old rifle which his uncle had carried
in the War of the Revolution, and went into the woods. Presently, a pigeon appeared. He was no marksman. He was so
anxious, however, to get something which was nourishing to his wife that the tears fairly came to his eyes when he shot and
saw the bird fall. He made a broth and fed her, and saved her life.
The Survey of 1797
The principal surveyor of the party of 1797 was Seth Pease, who had occupied the position of astronomer and surveyor
the year before. He was born at Suffield, 1764, married Bathsheba Kent, 1785, died at Philadelphia, 1819. From Pease
Genealogical Record we learn: "He was a man of sterling worth, accurate and scientific. He was a surveyor general of the
United States for a series of years and afterwards assistant postmaster general under Postmaster General Gideon Granger
(his brother-in-law) during the administrations of Jefferson and Madison." He has descendants of his own in the central
part of the state, and the sons of Frederick Kinsman, of Warren, are his grand-nephews.
Amzi Atwater, in speaking of the second trip, makes this curious and interesting notation: "In passing down this stream (Oswego), which had long been known by boatmen, we passed in a small inlet stream two large, formidable looking boats or small vessels which reminded us of a sea-port harbor. We were told that they were, the season before, conveyed from the Hudson river, party by water and finally on wheels, to be conveyed to Lake Ontario; that they were built of the lightest material and intended for no other use than to have it published in Europe that vessels of those dimensions had passed those waters to aid land speculations." Thus early did some Yankees attempt to interest(?) Englishmen in western commerical enterprises.
Amzi Atwater, born in New Haven in 1776, was early thrown upon his own resources, as his father lost his health in the war
for Independence. He learned to read and write, but was early "hired out" to an uncle for sixty dollars a year. At one time
he went to visit this uncle, Rev. Noah Atwater, who was a successful teacher of young men. Upon invitation he spent the
winter there, studying surveying. His title in the first Connecticut Land Company's employees was that of "explorer's assistant."
He started from Connecticut on food and alone, to meet Shepard at Canandaigua. He had charge of the cattle and pack
horses and went the entire distance on land. He served in almost every capacity. When the survey was finished here, he
worked at his profession in the east, and in 1800, accompanied by his brother, came to Mantua. He bought a farm on the
road between Mantua and Shalersville, on the Cuyahoga, and there he lived and died. Judge Ezra B. Taylor, of Warren,
now in his eighty-seventh year, remembers Judge Atwater well, having first seen him when he was a boy thirteen years old.
He describes him as a gentle, dignified, influential person, who was known to almost all the early residents of Portage county.
He died in 1851, at the age of seventy-six.
"Moses Warren, Jr. left Connecticut May 1, 1796, on the schooner 'Lark,' for the Connecticut Reserve. The party reached Schenectady May 12th; there loaded forty-four boats under the order of Mr. Porter for 'Fort Stanwix.' On July 4th, the boats reached Walnut Creek, three miles from the neck, with a fine beach all the way to Coneought. Plenty of springs of good water. About Elk creek the land is high and is called Elk Mountain. We found the shore line of Pennsylvania twenty-five miles from Delaware, and after traveling about four miles found the west line, passed it. Eight in our company, and gave three cheers for New Connecticut. About two miles farther is Coneought creek, at which place we arrived at 5 P.M. At 6 the boats and cattle arrived and a federal salute is fired and a volley for 'New Conn.' The enlivening draughts went round in plenty, five or six toasts were drank, 'The President,' 'The Conn. Land Co.,' 'Port Independence,' and the 'Sons of Fortitude that by preserverance have entered it this day,' & c; and in the future this place is to be called 'Port Independence.'
"The land looks well, the timber is plenty, here we encamp and conclude to make our first storehouse. On July 6th they laid the first log of the first house in New Connecticut." [This is what they thought, but we have seen that they were mistaken.]
On Sunday, July 10, 1796, is the following entry: "General Cleaveland, Mr. Stow and Captain Buckland go to Ash de Bouillon [notice the spelling of Ashtabula Creek] on discovery and all hands at rest once more; the hands seem more inclined to whist and all fours than the Gospel."
On Saturday, June 10th, 1797: "Started from Cleveland to run the E and W line No. 5 from the corner left by Mr. Pease last year, to Pennsylvania, being forty miles; then to run E and W line No. 2 from Penn to Cuyahoga. Have three pack horses with stores of various kinds; pork 100 lbs., flour 320 lbs., etc. With me is Col. Wait, Solomon Giddings; chainmen John Hine and Samuel Keeney; axemen John Doran and Eli Canfield; pack horseman Thomas Green; also to return in ten days with the grey mare. The horses Hannah and Peggy remain with me. West east with Shepard and his party to the east line of Cleveland; then south to No. 6, 10th range; then east till past the Sugar Orchard, and camped on Sugar creek. Good feed for the horses, and the land hereabout is excellent, being No. 7, 11th range. Northern and middle part of the line between Cleveland and No. 7 is strong beach land, but not very tempting."
Under date June 12th is a note, as follows: "The post that I set last year in the 9th meridian was thrown down and all the marks cut out with a Tomahawk. I set a new one and remarked it yesterday."
Under date of Aug. 15th, while they were near Mahoning hill and creek: "The muskitos are the plentiest I ever found them and, like the furnace of the King of Babylon, heated with 7-fold rage. I never was so tormented with them before. (Their wrath increases as their time grows short.) So greedy they were they as to light on the Company's glass and try to pierce it with their bills; I suppose deceived by the agitation of the needle and expecting blood instead of magnetism."
The records of the second party of surveyors are more distressing than those of the first. Nearly every entry mentions illness. Mr. Pease obliged to discontinue his journal because of his fearful chills and fever. Warren seemed to have escaped, or at least, he does not mention it. During this summer occasional prospectors appeared at Conneaut, at Cuyahoga, and the placed in between. "The three gentlemen we saw the other day going to Cleveland hailed us. As they contemplated becoming settlers, we furnished them with a loaf of bread." Generous!
Sunday, October 8: "Opened second barrel of pork. Found it very poor, like the first, considering almost entirely of head and legs, with one old sow belly, teats two inches long, meat one inch thick."
The party was at Conneaut October 22nd, on their way home. There they met Mr. John Young, of Youngstown, who brought them word of the drowning of three acquaintances at Chatauqua, the murdering of a man on Big Beaver, and like news. The party, in several divisions, then proceeds eastward, arriving in Buffalo November 6. The winter snows had begun. The party continued to Canandaigua and dispersed, Mr. Pease remaining some time to bring up the work.
The survey is practically finished.
The facts in regard to the distribution of land, the Connecticut Land Company, and so forth, are of great interest, but there is not space to tell of them here. How, and when, and by whom these lands were purchased will, in part, be told later.
In the unpublished journal of Turhand Kirtland is a letter written by Samuel Huntington, under date of April 12, 1806, in which he says: "At town meeting I am told there was much abuse of the Land Company. *** A harrange from C. *** and sent them and all their agents to the D_e_l. Those who were mad were in the majority. *** I think you will have a warm time when you come here."
With the close of this narrative which so vividly portrays the numerous difficulties attending the survey of the Western Reserve,
it may be well to call attention to a few facts. The territory of the present counties embraced in the old Reserve has an
area of 5,280 square miles. It is the narrowest at the east end of Huron and Erie counties. The extreme northwest land of
the Reserve is the Isle of St. George, which is seventeen miles farther north than Cleveland, and very near to the parallel
that passes through the villages of Painesville and Jefferson, and over the spot famous for Perry's victory. As a rule, the
townships on the Reserve are five miles square, but this is not true of those bordering on the Lakes. There are two
hundred and eighteen townships on the Reserve - more than one-seventh of the number in the State of Ohio.