Early History of Lorain County
- All to Benefit from the Results of Joint Effort
- Surrender State Claims
- Creating the Western Reserve
- Claims of the Native Americans
- The Firelands
- Moses Cleveland's Survey
- Dividing the Land
- Civil Government in the Western Reserve
- Creating Lorain County
- Providing for Schools
- Settlement of Lorain County
- The War of 1812
- Delivering the Mail
- Organizing Lorain County
- Judge Boynton Sums up
- Biographical Sketch of Judge Washington W. Boynton
Transcribed for electronic media by Charles A. Smith, Jr.
Excerpts from A Historical Address By W W Boynton, Delivered July 4, 1876, at Elyria, Ohio.
In 1748, an eminent French writer informed his readers that a prosperous and great people, having the form of a free government, was forming and rising in the very forests of America, which they were sent forth to inhabit.
One hundred years ago today, that great people, cutting loose from the restraints of foreign domination, declared that the United Colonies were, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; an utterance involving immense and weighty responsibilities.
That all men were entitled to life and liberty, and to engage in those pursuits that were calculated to secure their prosperity and happiness; that governments instituted among men derived their just powers from the consent of the governed, were propitious both self-evident and self-vindicating, and found the public mind of the Colonists, not only prepared to yield a ready assent to the principles involved in them, but to give battle for their establishment upon the American Continent.
It is not my purpose to undertake to explore, or trace, the causes which led to the Declaration of Independence, and to a pledge of life, fortune and honor in its support; nor to follow the glorious history of the past hundred years, and note the progress and march of a civilization purely American, and the advancement of a people whose rise and growth, whose ascent into a higher national life, have been the marvel of the world, and unequaled in its history.
Interesting and appropriate as this would be to the day and occasion, I am expected to occupy a narrower field, and confine myself to an historical account of the settlement and growth of our immediate neighborhood, to which, for a short time, I bespeak your patience.
In 1609, James the First granted to a company called the London Company, a charter under which the entire claim of Virginia to the soil northwest of the Ohio was asserted. It was clothed with corporate power, with most of its members residing in the city of London.
The tract of country embraced within this charter was immense. It commenced its boundaries at Point Comfort, on the Atlantic, and run south two hundred miles, and thence west across the continent to the Pacific; commencing again at Point Comfort, and running two hundred miles north, and from this point northwest to the sea.
This line run through New York and Pennsylvania, crossing the eastern end of Lake Erie, and terminated in the Arctic Ocean. The vast empire lying between the south line, the east line, the diagonal line to the northwest, and the Pacific Ocean, was claimed by virtue of this charter. It included over half of the North American Continent.
Notwithstanding the charter of the London Company included all the territory now embraced within the boundaries of Ohio, James the First, on the 3rd of November, 1620, by Royal Letters Patent, granted to the Duke of Lenox and others, to be known as the Council of Plymouth, all the territory lying between the fortieth and forty-eighth degree of north latitude, and bounded on the east by the Atlantic, and on the west by the Pacific.
This description embraced a large tract of the lands granted to the Virginia or London Company. In 1630, a portion of the same territory was granted to the Earl of Warwick, and afterwards confirmed to him by Charles the First.
In 1631, the Council of Plymouth, acting by the Earl of Warwick, granted to Lord Brook and Viscounts Say and Seal, what was supposed to be the same lands, although by a very imperfect description.
In 1662, Charles the Second granted a charter to nineteen patentees, with such associates as they should from time to time elect. This association was made a body corporate and politic, by the name of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Connecticut.
This charter constituted the organic law of the State for upwards of one hundred and fifty years. The boundaries were Massachusetts on the north, the sea on the south, Narragansett River or Bay on the east, and the South Sea on the west.The Pacific Ocean was at that time called the South Sea.
This description embraced a strip of land upwards of sixty miles wide, stretching to the Atlantic to the Pacific, including a part of New York and New Jersey, and all the territory now known as the Western Reserve.
In 1681, for the consideration of 16,000 pounds, and a fealty of two beaver skins a year, Charles the Second granted to William Penn a charter embracing within its limits the territory constituting the present State of Pennsylvania. This grant included a strip of territory running across the entire length of the State on the north, and upwards of fifty miles wide, that was embraced within the Connecticut charter.
Massachusetts, under the Plymouth charter, claimed all the land between the forty-first and forty-fifth degrees of north latitude.
In 1664, Charles the Second ceded to his brother, the Duke of York, afterwards James the Second, by Letters Patent, all the country between the St. Croix and the Delaware. After the overthrow of the Government of "New Netherlands," then existing upon that territory, it was claimed that the grant to the Duke of York extended west into the Mississippi Valley.
Thus matters stood at the commencement of the Revolution:
Virginia claimed all the territory northwest of the Ohio.
Connecticut strenuously urged her title to all land lying between the parallels 41 and 42 deg. 2 minutes north latitude from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
Pennsylvania, under the charter of 1681, had taken possession of the disputed land lying in that state, and had granted much of it to actual settlers.
New York and Massachusetts were equally emphatic in the assertion of ownership to land between those lines of latitude.
The contention between claimants under the Connecticut and Pennsylvania charters, on the Susquehanna, frequently resulted in bloodshed.
The controversy between those two States was finally submitted to a Court of Commissioners appointed by Congress, upon the petition of Pennsylvania, under the ninth article of the Confederation, which gave Congress power to establish a Court of Commissioners to settle disputed boundaries, between States, in case of disagreement.
The Court decided in favor of Pennsylvania, and this decision terminated the controversy. The question of the title to land lying west of Pennsylvania was not involved in this adjudication, but remained a subject for future contention.
A party sprung up during the war, that disputed the title of the States asserting it, to lands outside of State limits, and which insisted upon the right of the States by whose common treasure dominion was to be secured, to participate in the benefits and results arising from the joint and common effort for independence.
This party was particularly strong in the smaller States. Those colonies that had not been the favored recipients of extensive land grants, were little inclined to acquiesce in claims, the justice of which they denied, and which could be secured to the claimants only by the success of the Revolution.
The convention that assembled in 1777 to frame a constitution for the State of Maryland, unanimously resolved that the very extensive claim of Virginia to the "back lands" had no foundation in justice, and that to acknowledge the claim would greatly endanger the liberties of the people; and in 1778, she called the attention of Congress to the matter, and made a relinquishment to the United States, of the claims of the individual States to the Western lands, a condition upon which, and upon which only, she would join the Confederation.
She insisted as the whole people were engaged in a common cause, having a common end in view -- the achievement of national independence -- that if the outcome should secure to the country the vast domain stretching from the Alleghenies to the Mississippi, it should become the common property of those by whose united labors it was thus secured.
Added to these embarrassments, the claiming States encountered a denial of their title to some of the lands claimed, emanating from the very source from which they were supposed to have derived it. George the Third, either repudiating the charters of his Royal predecessors, or rejecting the construction placed upon them in respect to their boundaries, in October, 1763, upon the heel of the treaty of Paris, issued his proclamation forbidding all persons from intruding upon, or disturbing the Indians in the enjoyment of, their lands, in the Valley of the Ohio.
There is little doubt that the conflict in the early charters respecting boundaries grew out of the ignorance of the times in which they were granted, as to the breadth, or inland extent, of the American Continent.
During the reign of James the First, Sir Francis Drake reported, that, from the top of the mountains on the Isthmus of Panama, he had seen both oceans. This lead to the supposition that the continent, from east to West, was of no considerable extent, and that the South Sea, by which the grants were limited on the west, did not lie very far from the Atlantic; and as late as 1740, the Duke of Newcastle addressed his letters to the "Island of New England."
Hence it was urged as a argument against the claims of those States asserting title to Western lands, that the call in the grants, of the South Sea, being, by mutual mistake of the parties to the charter, an erroneous one -- the error resulting from misinformation or want of certainty concerning the locality of that Sea -- the claiming States ought not to insist upon an ownership resting upon such a footing, and having its origin in such a circumstance.
Popular feeling on the subject ran so high, at times, as to cause apprehension for the safety of the Confederation. In 1780, Congress urged upon the States having claims to the Western country, the duty to make a surrender of a part thereof to the United States.
- The debt incurred in the Revolutionary contest,
- the limited resources for its extinguishment if the public domain was unavailable for the purpose,
- the existence of the unhappy controversy growing out of the asserted claims,
- and an earnest desire to accommodate and pacify conflicting interests among the States,
led Congress in 1784, to an impressive appeal to the States interested, to remove all cause for further discontent, by a liberal cession of their domains to the general Government, for the common benefit of all the States.
The happy termination of the war found the public mind in a condition to be easily impressed by appeals to its patriotism and liberty.
New York had in 1780, ceded to the United States the lands that she claimed lying west of a line running south from the west bend of Lake Ontario; and in 1785, Massachusetts relinquished her claim to the same lands - each State reserving the same 19,000 square miles of ground, and each asserting an independent title to it.
This controversy between the two States was settled by an equal division between them of the disputed ground.
Virginia had given to her soldiers of the Revolutionary war, and of the war between France and England, a pledge of bounties, payable in Western lands and reserving a sufficient amount of land to enable her to meet the pledge thus given, on the 1st of March, 1784, she relinquished to the United States her title to all other lands lying northwest of the Ohio.
On the 14th day of September, 1786, the delegates in Congress from the State of Connecticut, being authorized and directed so to do, relinquished to the United States all the right, title, interest, jurisdiction, and claim, that she possessed to the lands lying west of a line running north from the 41st degree of north latitude to 42 degrees and 2 minutes, and being one hundred and twenty miles west of the western line of Pennsylvania.
The territory lying west of Pennsylvania for the distance of one hundred and twenty miles, and between latitude 41 and 42 degrees 2 minutes north, although not in terms reserved by the instrument of conveyance, was in fact reserved - not having been conveyed - and by reason thereof was called the Western Reserve of Connecticut.
It embraces the counties of Ashtabula, Trumbull, Portage, Geauge, Lake, Cuyahoga, Medina, Lorain, Huron, Erie, all of Summit except the township of Franklin, and Green; the two northern tiers of townships of Mahoning; the townships of Sullivan, Troy, and Ruggles, of Ashland; and the Islands lying north of Sandusky, including Kelly's and Put-in-Bay.
In 1795, Connecticut sold and conveyed all of the Reserve except the "Sufferer's Land," to Oliver Phelps and thirty-five others, for the consideration of $1,200,000. These purchasers formed themselves into a company called the Connecticut Land Company.
Some uneasiness concerning the validity of the title arose from the fact that whatever interest Virginia, Massachusetts, or New York may have had in the lands reserved, and claimed by Connecticut, had been transferred to the United States by the treaty made with England at the close of the Revolution.
This condition of things was not the only source of difficulty and trouble. The Reserve was so far from Connecticut, as to make it impracticable for that State to extend her laws over the same, or ordain new ones for the government of the inhabitants; and having parted with all interest in the soil, her right to provide laws for the people was not only doubted but denied.
Congress had provided by the ordinance of 1787, for the government of the territory northwest of the Ohio; but to admit jurisdiction in the United States to govern this part of that territory, would cast grave doubt upon the validity of the company's title.
It was therefore insisted that the regulations prescribed by that instrument for the government of the Northwest Territory, had no operation or effect within the limits of the Reserve.
To quiet apprehension, and to remove all cause of anxiety on the subject, Congress, on the 28th of April, 1800, authorized the President to execute and deliver on the part of the United States, Letters Patent to the Governor of Connecticut, whereby the United States released for the uses named, all right and title to the soil of the Reserve, and confirmed it unto those who had purchased it from that State.
The execution and delivery, however, of the Letters patent were upon the condition that Connecticut should forever renounce and release to the United States, entire and complete civil jurisdiction over the territory released. This condition was accepted, and thereupon Connecticut transferred her jurisdiction to the United States, and the United States released her claim and title to the soil; and thus, while jurisdiction for purposes of government was vested in the United States, a complete title to the soil, in so far as the States could give it, was transmitted to the Connecticut Land Company and to those who had purchased from it.
While this controversy was going on, there was another contestant in the field, having the advantage of actual occupancy, and in no wise inclined to recognize a title adverse to his, nor yield, upon mere invitation, a possession so long enjoyed. This contestant was the Indian. During the war between France and England, which terminated in 1763, the Indians espoused the cause of the French. They entered into an alliance with them, and joined in their battles.
Soon after the close of the Revolution, the United States sought by peaceable means to acquire the title from the Indians, to the lands northwest of the Ohio, and on the 21st of January, 1785, concluded a treaty, at Fort McIntosh, with four of the Indian nations or tribes. These were the Wyandots, Delewares, Chippewas, and Ottawas.
The section of country between the Cuyahoga and Maumee seemed to belong to the Wyandots; the region a little further south, and comprising the section between the Muskingum and the Ohio, to the Delewares.
By this treaty, the Cuyahoga, and the portage between it and the Tuscarawas, were agreed upon as the boundary of the Reserve, between the United States and the Wyandot and Deleware nations. All east of the Cuyahoga was, in effect, ceded to the United States.
The Indians soon became dissatisfied, and refused to adhere to the terms of the treaty. Instead of resorting to arms to enforce its obligations, the United States entered into further negotiations with them, and on the 9th of January, A.D. 1789, another treaty was concluded at Fort Harmar, at the mouth of Muskingum, between Arthur St. Clair, acting for the United States, and the Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa, Potawatomi and Sac Nations.
By this treaty the boundary line agreed upon by the treaty of Fort McIntosh was renewed and confirmed, and for the sum of $6,000 to be paid in goods, the Indians, among other lands, relinquished those lying east of the Cuyahoga, to the United States. The consideration agreed upon was paid.
But a short time, however, elapsed before the Indians, with characteristic disregard of their promises, refused to submit to the obligations of the new treaty. They reasserted their title to the lands conveyed. They declared that both treaties were made, and their assent to them obtained, under the menace and constraint of the guns of the forts; and, therefore, were not binding upon them, a conclusion necessarily following if the premises were true.
The Government employed every effort to conciliate them, and to secure their observance of their engagements. Peaceful means failing, resort was had to arms. At first, the Indians were successful in their resistance. Generals Harmar and St. Clair, who successively encountered them, were drawn into ambush, and defeated with great slaughter.
General Wayne, in 1795, with a force of 3500 men, met the combined forces of the Indians on the Miami of the Lake, now the Maumee, and after a sanguinary conflict, gained a decisive victory.
Nearly every chief was slain. The spirit of the Indians being completely broken by their unexpected defeat in this contest, they met General Wayne in council, and the result was the Treaty of Greenville.
This treaty was made between the United States and the Wyandots, Delewares, Shawnees, Chippewas, Ottawas, Potawatami, Miamis, Eel Rivers, Weas, Kickapoos, Piankishaws, and Kaskaskias. The Indians, submitting to imperative necessity, again yielded their claim to the lands east of the Cuyahoga, and made no further effort to regain them.
It, however, for them, was a trying hour. Brought to realize that they must quit forever their hunting grounds, both memorable and sacred to them for the pleasures they had afforded, their bravest and best slain on the field of battle, they threw themselves upon the ground and bitterly wept, giving unrestrained expression to the wildest grief.
The Cuyahoga river, and the portage between it and the Tuscarawas, as between the United States and the Indians, constituted the western boundary of the United States, upon the Reserve, until July 4, 1805. On that day, a treaty was made at Fort Industry with the chiefs and warriors of the Wyandot, Ottawa, Chippewa, Munsee, Delaware, Shawnee and Potawatomi Nations, by which, the Indian title to all the lands of the Reserve lying west of the Cuyahoga, was extinguished.
By this treaty all the lands lying between the Cuyahoga and the meridian, one hundred and twenty miles west of Pennsylvania, were ceded by the Indians for $20,000 in goods, and a perpetual annuity of $9,500, payable in goods at first cost. And although this annuity remains unpaid, because there is no one to claim it, the title to the land on the Reserve, west of that river, was forever set at rest.
During the Revolution, the British, aided by Benedict Arnold, made incursions into the heart of Connecticut, and destroyed a large amount of property in the towns of Greenwich, Norwalk, Fairfield, Danbury, New and East Haven, New London, Richfield, and Groton.
There were upwards of 2,000 persons and families that sustained severe losses by the depredations of the enemy. On the 10th of May, 1792, the Legislature of that State set apart and donated to the suffering inhabitants of these towns, 500,000 acres of the west part of the lands of the Reserve, to compensate them for the losses sustained.
These lands were to be bounded north by the shore of Lake Erie, south by the baseline of the Reserve, west by its western line, and east by a line parallel with the western line of Pennsylvania, and so far from the west line of the Reserve, as to include within the described limits of the 500,000 acres.
These are the lands now embraced within the countries of Huron and Erie, and the township of Ruggles, in Ashland county. The Islands were not included. The lands so given were called "Sufferer's Lands," and those to whom given, were in 1796, by the Legislature of Connecticut, incorporated by the name of the "Proprietors of the half million acres of land lying south of Lake Erie."
Ohio had become an independent State, this foreign corporation was not found to work well here, not being subject to her laws; and to relieve the owners of all embarrassment, on the 15th of April, 1803, the Legislature of the Sate conferred corporate power on the owners and proprietors of the "Half million acres of land lying south of Lake Erie," in the county of Trumbull, called "Suferer's Land."
An account of the loss of the inhabitants had been taken in pounds, shillings and pence, and a price placed upon the lands, and each of the sufferers received land proportioned to the extent of his loss. These lands subsequently took the name of "Fire Lands," from the circumstances that the greater part of the losses suffered resulted from fire.
I have already mentioned the fact, that after this dedication to the sufferers, and in 1795, Connecticut sold the remainder of the lands of the Western Reserve, to a company, known as the Connecticut Land Company, for $1,200,000. The subscription to the purchase fund ranged from $1,683, by Sylvanus Griswold, to $168,185, by Oliver Phelps. Each dollar subscribed to this fund entitled the subscriber to one-twelve-hundred-thousandth part in common, and undivided, or the land purchased.
Having acquired the title, the company, in the following spring, commenced to survey the territory lying east of the Cuyahoga; and during the years of 1796 and 1797, completed it. The first surveying party arrived at Conneaut, in New Connecticut, eighty years ago to-day, and proceeded at once to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of American Independence.
There were fifty persons in the party, under the lead of General Moses Cleveland, of Canterbury, Conn. There will be found in Whittlesey's Early History of Cleveland, an extract from the journal of Cleveland describing the particulars of the celebration. Among other things noted by him, was the following: "The day, memorable as the birthday of American Independence, and freedom from British tyranny, and commemorated by all good, free born sons of America, and memorable as the days on which the settlement of this new country was commenced, and (which) in time may raise her head among the most enlightened and improved States." A prophecy already more then fulfilled.
I shall occupy but a few moments upon the particulars of the survey. The point where the 41st degree of north latitude intersected the western line of Pennsylvania was found, and from this degree of latitude, as a base, meridian lines, five miles apart, were run, thus dividing the territory into townships five miles square.
It was not until after the treaty of Fort Industry, in 1805, that the lands lying west of the Cuyahoga were surveyed. The meridians and parallels were run in 1806, by A. Tappen, and his assistants. The base and western lines of the Reserve were run by Seth Pease for the Government. The ranges of townships were numbered progressively west, from the western boundary of Pennsylvania.
The first tier of townships, running north and south, lying along the border of Pennsylvania, is range No. 1, the adjoining tier west, is No. 2, and so on throughout the twenty-four ranges. The townships lying next north of the 41st parallel of latitude in each range, is township No. 1 of that range. The township next north is No. 2, and so on progressively to the lake.
Ridgeville being in the sixteenth tier of townships from the Pennsylvania line, and in the sixth tier from the base line of the Reserve, is township No6, in range of No. 16. Wellington is township No. 3, in range 18. Elyria township is No. 6, in range 17.
It was supposed that there were 4,000,000 acres of land between Pennsylvania and the Fire Lands. If the supposition had proved true, the land would have cost thirty cents per acre. As it resulted, there were less than 3,000,000 acres. The miscalculation arose from the mistaken assumption that the south shore of Lake Erie bore more nearly west then it does; and also from a mistake made in the length of the east and west line.
The distance, west from the Pennsylvania line, surveyed in 1796-7, was only fifty-six miles. That survey ended at the Tuscarawas River. To reach the western limit of the Reserve, a distance of sixty-four miles was to be made.
Abraham Tappen and Anson Sessions entered into an agreement with the Land company, in 1805, to complete the survey of the lands between the Fire Lands and the Cuyahoga. This they did in 1806; and from the width of range 19, the range embracing the townships of Brownhelm, Henrietta, Camden, Brighton, Rochester, and Troy, it is very evident that the distance from the east to the west line of the Reserve is less than 120 miles.
This tier of townships is gore shaped [shaped like a wedge or triangle], and is much less than five miles wide, circumstances leading the company to divide all south of Brownhelm into tracts, and use it for purposes of equalization. The west line of range 19, from north to south, as originally run, bears to the west, and between it and range 20, as indicated on the map, there is a strip of land, also gore shaped, that was left in the first instance not surveyed, the surveyors not knowing the exact whereabouts of the eastern line of the "half million acres" belonging to the sufferers.
In 1806, Amos Spafford, of Cleveland, and Almon Ruggles, of Huron, were agreed on by the two companies to ascertain and locate the line between the Fire Lands and the lands of the Connecticut Company. They first surveyed of the "half million acres" belonging to the Sufferers, and not agreeing with Seth Pease, who had run out the base and west lines, a dispute rose between the two companies, which was finally adjusted before the draft, by establishing the eastern line of the Fire Lands where it is now. This left a strip of land east of the Fire Lands, called surplus lands, which was included in range 19, and is embraced in the western tier of townships of Lorain county.
The mode of dividing the land among the purchasers was a little peculiar, although evidently just. An equalizing committee accompanied the surveyors, to make such observations and take such notes of the character of the townships, as would enable them to grade them intelligently, and make a just estimate and equalization of there value. The amount of the purchase money was divided into 400 shares, of 3,000 a share. Certificates were issued to each owner, showing him to be entitled to such proportion of the entire land, as the amount he paid, bore to the purchase of the whole.
Four townships of the greatest value were first selected from the part of the Western Reserve, to which the Indian title had been extinguished, were divided into lots. Each township was divided into not less then 100 lots. The number of lots that the four townships were divided into, would at least equal the 400 shares, or a lot to a share, and each person, or company of persona, entitled to one or more shares of the Reserve-each share being one four hundredth part of the Reserve-was allowed to participate in the draft that was determined upon for the division of the joint property.
The committee appointed to select the four most valuable townships for such division, was directed to proceed to select of the remaining townships, a sufficient number, and of the best quality and greatest value, to be used for equalizing purposes. After this selection was made they were to select the best remaining township, and this township was the one, to the value of which all others were bought, by the equalization process of annexation, and if there were several of equal value with the one so selected, no annexations were to be made to them.
The equalizing townships were cut up into parcels of various size and value, and these parcels were annexed to townships inferior in value, to the standard township, selected in the manner indicated, and annexations of land from the equalizing townships were made in quantity and quality to the inferior townships, sufficient to make them all equal in value to the township so selected.
The lands of Lorain County, that were taken for the purpose of equalizing townships of inferior value, were those of Rochestor, Brighton, Camden, Black River, and that part of Henrietta that did not originally belong to Brownhelm:
Tract 8, in range 19, being partly in Brighton, and partly in Camden, consisting of 3,700 acres, was annexed to Penfield.
- Tract 1, in gore 4, in range 11, consisting of 2,225 acres, was annexed to Eaton.
- Tract 2, in gore 4, in range 11, consisting of2,650 acres, was annexed to Ridgeville;
- 4,600 acres, in tract 9, in Camden, were annexed to Grafton;
- 4,000 acres, tract 7, in Brighton were annexed to Wellington;
- 4,300 acres, in tract 3, gore 6, range 12, were annexed to Russia;
- 1,500 acres, in tract 14, in Henrietta, were annexed to Sheffield;
- 3,000 acres in tract 11, in Camden, were annexed to Pittsfield;
- tract 3, consisting of 4,050 acres, in Rochester, was annexed to Elyria;
- 4,000 acres, in tract 2, in Black River, were annexed to Amherst, Bass Islands
- No, 1, 2 and Island No. 5, lying north of Erie county, consisting of 2,063 acres, were annexed to Avon;
- Kelly's Island, consisting of 2,741 acres, was annexed to Carlisle.
After the townships were all made equal in value by the process of tacking and annexation, they were drawn by lot.
There were ninety-three townships, or equalized parcels drawn east of the Cuyahoga, and forty-six on the west. The draft of the lands east of the Cuyahoga, took place prior to 1800, and of those west of that river on the 4th of April, 1807.
In the draft of the lands east of the river, it required an ownership of $12,903.23 of the original purchase money, to entitle the owner to a township; and in the draft of those west of the river, which included the lands of Lorain county, it required an ownership of $26,087 in the original purchase money, to entitle the owner to a township.
The same mode and plan were followed in each draft. The townships were numbered, and the numbers on separate pieces of paper, placed in a box. The names of the proprietors, who had subscribed, and were the owners of a sufficient amount of the purchase money to entitle them to a township, were arranged in alphabetical order, and where it was necessary for several persons to combine, because not owning severally a sufficient amount of the purchase money, or number of shares, to entitle them to a township, the name of the person of the company that stood alphabetically first, was used to represent them in the draft, and in ease the small owners were unable from disagreement among themselves, to unite, a committee was appointed to select and class the proprietors, and those selected were required to associate themselves together for the purpose of the draft.
The township, corresponding to the first number drawn from the box, belonged, with its annexations for purposes of equalization, to the person whom he represented; and the second draw, belonged to the second person, and so on throughout the list. This was the mode adopted to sever the ownership in common, and to secure to each individual, or company of individuals, their interest in several, in what, before then, had been the common property of all.When a township, by the draft, became the property of several, resort was had to the courts after their organization here, to effect partition of the same.
Soon after the conveyance to the Land Company, to avoid complications arising from the death of its members, and to facilitate the transmission of titles, the company conveyed the entire purchase, in trust, to John Morgan, John Cadwell and Jonathan Brace; and as titles were wanted, either before or after, the division by draft, conveyances were made to the purchasers by these trustees.
Little was known of the south shore of Lake Erie, and the adjoining country, until near the close of the 18th century. It was formerly inhabited by the nation of Indians called the Erigas, or Eries, from which the Lake took its name. This nation was destroyed by the Iroquois, or five nations.
Charlevoix, in his "History of New France," published in 1744, in speaking of the country south of, and bordering on Lake Erie, says: "All this shore is nearly unknown." An old French map, made in 1755, to be seen in the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland, names the country between the Cuyahoga and Sandusky rivers, as Canahogue Bay; and the county designated as Canahogue, and east of the Cuyahoga, as Gwahoga. This is also the name given to that river which is made to empty into Canahogue Bay; and the country designated as Canahogue, is indicated as the Seat of War, the Mart of Trade, and the Chief Hunting Grounds of the Six nations of the Lake.
But Civil Government was not organized on the Western Reserve until the year 1800. The governor and judges of the northwest territory, under the ordinance of 1787, in 1788, by proclamation, organized the County of Washington, and included within it, all of the Western Reserve east of the Cuyahoga; and in 1796, the year of the first settlement of New Connecticut, the county of Wayne was erected, which included over half of Ohio, all of the Western Reserve west of the Cuyahoga; with a part of Indiana, all of Michigan, and the American portion of Lakes Superior, Huron, St. Clair and Erie to the "mouth of the Cuyahoga." The County Seat of Wayne county was Detroit.
In 1797, Jefferson County was established, and the Western Reserve, east of the Cuyahoga, became a part of it, by restricting the limits of Washington.
As before remarked, Connecticut and the Land Company refused to "recognize the jurisdiction of the United States, prior to 1800. The act of inclusion of their western land within the counties of Washington, Jefferson and Wayne, they declared to be unwarranted, and the power of Congress to prescribe rules for the government of the same, they denied; and from the opening settlement, in 1796, until the transfer of Jurisdiction to the general Government was complete, on the 30th of May, in 1800, the new settlers were entirely without municipal laws.
There was no regulation governing the transmission of, or succession to, property on the decease of the owner. No regulations of any kind securing the protection of rights, or the redress of wrongs. The want of laws for the government of the settlers was seriously felt, and as early as 1796, the company petitioned the Legislature of Connecticut, to erect the Reserve into a county, with proper and suitable laws, to regulate the internal policy of the territory for a limited period.
This petition, however, was not granted, and for upwards of four years the intercourse and conduct of the early settlers were regulated and restrained only by their New England sense of justice and right. But on the 10th of July 1800, after Connecticut, had released her jurisdiction to the United States, the Western Reserve was erected into a county, by the name of Trumbull, in honor of the governor of Connecticut, by the civil authority of Ohio.
At the election in the fall of that year , Edward Paine received thirty-eight votes out of the forty-two cast for member of the Territorial Legislature. The election was held at Warren, the County Seat. This was the first participation that the settlers had in the affairs of government here.
During the same year , the Court of Quarter Sessions, a tribunal that did not serve the Constitution of 1802, was established and organized, and by it the county was divided into eight organized townships. The township of Cleveland was one, and embraced not only a large portion of territory east of the Cuyahoga, but all of the Reserve lying west of that river. This spot was once a part of that township.
On December 1, 1805, the county of Geauga was erected. It included within its limits nearly all of the present counties of Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Cuyahoga.
On the 10th day of February, 1807, there was a more general division into counties. That part of the Western Reserve lying west of the Cuyahoga and north of township No4, was attached to Geauga, to be a part thereof, until Cuyahoga should be organized.
All of the present county of Lorain, north of Grafton, La Grange, Pittsfield and Camden, belonged to, and was a part of the county of Geauga, from February 10, 1807, until January 16, 1810.
At that date, 1807, Ashtabula was erected out of Trumbull and Geauga, to be organized whenever its population would warrant it. Also, all that part of Trumbull which lay west of the fifth range of townships, was erected into a county by the name of Portage, and all of the Western Reserve, west of the Cuyahoga and south of township NO. 5, was annexed to, and declared to be a part of Portage.So that all of the present county of Lorain, south of Eaton, Carlisle, Russia and Hennrietta belonged to and was a part of Portage, and remained a part of it until January 22, 1811.
On the 10th day of February, 1807, the county of Cuyahoga was carved out of Geauga, to be organized whenever its population should be sufficient to require it. On the 16th of January, 1810, the population having become sufficient, the county was declared organized. On February 8, 1809, Huron was erected into a county covering the Fire Lands, but to remain attached to Geauga and Portage, for the time being, for purposes of government.
On January 22, 1811, the boundary line of Huron was extended east, on the line now dividing Camden and Henrietta, Pittsfield and Russia, Carlisle and La Grange, to the southwest corner of Eaton; and from there, north on the line dividing Carlisle and Eaton, and Elyria and Ridgeville, to the northwest corner of Ridgeville; thence west to Black River, and down the same to the Lake.
On the day that these lines were so altered and extended, the Legislature extended the south line of Cuyahoga county, from the southwest corner of Strongsville, west to the southwest corner of Eaton; thence north, between Eaton and Carlisle, to the northwest corner of Eaton; and from that point, west between Elyria and Carlisle, to the east branch of Black River,and down the same to the Lake.
Here was a conflict in boundaries. The boundary of Huron county included all of Elyria, extending east to Ridgeville; and the boundary of Cuyahoga included within its limits that part of Elyria lying east of the east branch of the river. The river was the dividing line between the two counties, in the one act; in the line between Elyria and Ridgeville was the dividing line in the other.
This conflict was removed at the next session of the Legislature, by adopting the township line, instead of the river, as the boundary line between the two countries, at this point. This adjustment of boundaries gave to Huron county the townships now known as Elyria, Carlisle, Russia, Henrietta, Brownhelm, Amherst and all of the Black River, and Sheffield lying west of the river; and to Cuyahoga county, Eaton, Columbia, Ridgeville, Avon, and all of the townships of Black River and Sheffield lying east of the river. At that date, 1811, the territory now comprising the county of Lorain, belonged to the counties of Huron, Cyuahoga, and Portage.
The county of Huron, although established in 1809, and extended east of Black River in 1811, was annexed to Cuyahoga in 1810, for judicial and other purposes, and remained so annexed, until January, 1815, when it was organized, and assumed control of its own affairs.
On the 18th day of February, 1812, Medina was formed, and comprised all of the territory between the eleventh range of townships and Huron county, and south of townships number five. It therefore included all of the present county of Lorain, south of Eaton, Carlisle, Russia and Henrietta. On the 14th day of January, 1818, that county was organized, and its local government put into operation, it remaining in the interim, from the date of its formation to the date of its organization, attached to the county of Portage, for county purposes.
On the 26th of December, 1822, Lorain county was established. It took from the county of Huron the territory embraced in the townships of Brownhelm, Henrietta, Amherst, Russia, Elyria and Carlisle, and those parts of the townships of Black River and Sheffield that lie on the west of Black River; and from the county of Cuyahoga the townships of Troy, (now Avon), Ridgeville, the west half of Olmsted, (then called Lenox), Eaton, Columbia, and those parts of Black River and Sheffield lying east of the river; and from the county of Medina, Camden, Brighton, Pittsfield, LaGrange, and Wellington.
The County, as originally formed, embraced seventeen and one-half townships, which, until the county was organized were to remain attached to the counties of Medina, Huron and Cuyahoga, as formerly. It was, however, organized independently, and went into operation on the 21st day of January, 1824.
In the organization of the county, it was provided that the first officers should be elected in April 1824; and at that election, that part of Lenox that was brought into Lorain, should vote at Ridgeville, and that part of Brighton, lying in Medina before then, should vote in the adjoining township of Wellington.
On January 29, 1827, the boundary lines were changed. The townships of Grafton, Penfield, Spencer and Homer, Huntington, Sullivan, Rochester and Troy - some of them organized and some not - were detached from Medina, and annexed to, and become a part of, Lorain; and the half of Lenox belonging to Lorain, was set off to Cuyahoga, to be a part of Middlebury, until otherwise provided.
Upon the formation of the county of Summit, in 1840, the townships of Spencer and Homer were reattached to Medina; and upon the formation of Ashland county, in February, 1846, Sullivan and Troy were detached from Lorain, and made a part of that county.
Prior to this, and on the 29th of January, 1827, an act was passed, fixing the northern boundary of the county. The mode of forming and organizing the counties had been such as to leave unsettled the northern limit of the counties of Ashtabula, Geauga, Cuyahoga and Lorain. And in matters involving the exercise of criminal jurisdiction of offenses committed on the lake, in the vicinity of the shore, the question was of too much practical importance to be left in doubt.
The treaty between the United States and Great Britain, fixed the line running through the middle of the lakes as the dividing line between the two countries. Connecticut had reserved the land between the 41st degree of north latitude and 42 deg. and 2 min.
The course and shape of Lake Erie were such that the parallel of 42 deg. and 2 min. would cross the middle line of the lake; and adjoining Ashtabula, that degree of latitude would be south of, and adjoining Lorain north of, the boundary line between Canada and the United States. It was therefore declared, by this act, that the northern boundary of these four counties should extend to the northern boundary of the United States. This carried the northern boundary of Lorain to the middle of Lake Erie, without regard to the northern limit of the Western Reserve.
Before recounting the incidents connected with the early settlement and organization of the county, and the townships comprising it, brief allusion should be made to a fact connected with the history of the Reserve, respecting its common schools. By the ordinance of congress, of 1785, it was declared that section 16 of every township should be reserved, for the maintenance of public schools in the township.
The ordinance of 1787, reaffirmed the policy thus declared. The provisions of these ordinances, in this respect, were not applicable to, nor operative over, the region of the Reserve, because of the fact that the United States did not own its soil; and although the entire amount paid to Connecticut by the Land Company, for the territory of the Reserve, was set apart for, and devoted to, the maintenance of public schools in that State, no part of that fund was appropriated to purposes of education here.
Here was an inequality of advantages between the people of the Reserve and of the remainder of the State, in that respect. This inequality was, however, in a measure,removed in 1803, by an act of Congress, which set apart and appropriated to the Western Reserve, as an equivalent for section 16, a sufficient quantity of land in the United States Military District, to compensate the loss of that section to school purposes, in the lands lying east of the Cuyahoga.
This amount was equal to one thirty-sixth of the land of the Reserve, to which the Indian title had, before that time, been extinguished. The Indian title to the lands of the Reserve west of the Cuayhoga, not then having been extinguished, the matter seemed to drop from public notice, and remained so until 1829.
At this date, the Legislature, in a Memorial to Congress, directed its attention to the fact, that by the Treaty of Fort Industry, concluded in 1805, the Indian title to the land west of the Cuyahoga, had been relinquished to the United States, and prayed in recognition of the fact, that an additional amount of land lying within the United States Military District, should be set apart for the use of the public schools of the Reserve, and equal in quantity to one-thirty-sixth of the territory ceded to the United States by that Treaty.
The Memorial produced the desired result. In 1814, Congress, in compliance with the request of the Legislature, granted such an additional amount of land to the Reserve for school purposes, as to equalize its distribution of lands for such purpose, and in furtherance of its object to carry into effect its determination, to donate one-thirty-sixth part of the public domain to the purposes of education.
The lands first allotted to the Reserve, for such purpose, were situated in the counties of Holmes and Tuscarawas, and in 1831, were surveyed and sold, and the proceeds arising from their sale, as well as the funds arising from the sales of those subsequently appropriated, were placed, and invested with other school funds of the State and constitute one of the sources from which the people of the Reserve derive the means of supporting and maintaining their common schools. This fund is called the Western Reserve school fund.
In undertaking to notice some of the events, connected with the early settlement of the townships of the county, I fully appreciate the liability to error. But every few of the early settlers are left to recount the incidents, privations, and rude pleasures of early life. Tradition is not always reliable, and memory, once fresh and faithful, fades with the approach of advancing years.
We venture only a glance at the township history, and vouch only its general accuracy. In September, 1807, a company of thirty persons left Waterbury, Connecticut, for the township of Columbia. They were Calvin Hoadly, his wife, and five children; Lemuel Hoadly, wife, and three children, his father, and his wife's mother; Lathrop Seymour, and wife; John Williams, wife, and five children; a Mrs. Parker, with four children; Silas Hoadley and Chauncey Warner; Bela Bronson, wife, and child.
This company were two months in reaching Buffalo, and in undertaking the journey from there, by the lake, were overtaken by disaster, and thrown ashore. Many of them were compelled to make the journey from the spot where Erie now is, on foot, nearly to Cleveland.
The greater part of this company stopped at Cleveland and remained through the winter. But Bela Bronson, wife and child; Levi Bronson, John Williams, and Walter Strong, pushed across the Cuyahoga, cut their way through the wilderness to Columbia, erected a log house, and commenced pioneer life. They were eight days in cutting their way from Cleveland to Columbia.
In the winter of 1807-8, the families of John Williams and James Geer, arrived; and in the spring and summer of 1808, those who remained at Cleveland during the winter, arrived also. At the apportionment, by draft, in 1807, Levi Bronson, Harmon Bronson, Azor Bronson, Calvin Hoadly, and Jared Richards, had formed an association the Waterbury Land Company. This company, Benjamin Doolittle, Jr, Samuel Doolittle, and William Law, drew that township, as No5, Range 15, with 2,650 acres in Richfield and Boston, in Summit county, annexed, to equalize it.
Columbia, at the time of its organization, which took place in 1809, was a part of Geauga county. The first election was held on the first Monday of April, of that year, at the house of Calvin Hoadly. There were nineteen voters at the election. Calvin Hoadley, Jared Pritchard, and John Williams were elected trustees. Bela Bronson was elected clerk. Having no use for a treasurer, none was elected. Lathrop Seymour was elected constable; and to provide him employment, in May following, Nathaniel Doan was elected Justice of the Peace.
All of Geauga county lying west of Columbia, was annexed to that township for judicial and other purposes. The jurisdiction of that judicial functionary, covered, in territorial extent, nearly an empire. The plaintiff in the first action brought before him, lived on Grand River, and the defendant on the Vermillion. It was the case of Skinner v. Baker. The plaintiff had judgment, which was paid, not in legal tender, but in labor.
The first school taught was in the summer of 1808, by Mrs. Bela Bronson, in the first log house erected. The first winter school was taught by Bela Bronson, in the blacksmith shop, during the winter of 1809-10.
In August, 1812, after the commencement of the war between England and the United States, an event transpired which occasioned feelings of great apprehension and alarm, not only to the pioneers of Columbia, but to the inhabitants of the entire Reserve.
Information came, and spread rapidly, that the British, and their allies, were approaching the settlements with intent to kill and massacre the inhabitants. A large party had been seen landing at Huron, which was supposed to be the forces of the enemy. Men, women and children fled from their homes in terror. As the inhabitants of Ridgeville reached Columbia, in their flight, they found the Columbia settlement nearly abandoned.
This flight, however, lasted but a short time, when Levi Bronson, returning from Cleveland, brought the news, that the persons landed at Huron, were the prisoners that Hull surrendered, at Detroit, to the British. On the return of those who had sought safety in flight from Columbia, the elder Bronson, who had refused to join them, informed them that "the wicked flee, when no man persueth."
The inhabitants of Columbia, Ridgeville, Middlebury, and Eaton, at once joined in the erection of a Block House, just south of the center of the town. This was the fortress, to which to flee for safety, in an hour of danger.
Captain Hoadley had the honor of commanding this post. A company was organized to garrison it; but we are all well informed that the enemy had not the temerity to come within reach of its guns. The Captain and his men were mustered into service, and paid as soldiers of the United States army.
Able-bodied men constituted the garrison, while the old men, women and children, were left unprotected, at their homes, to cultivate the soil, and receive the first assault of the expected foe. I believe, however, that the roar of the cannon, off Put-in-Bay Island, on the 10th of September, 1813, was the first and the last heard of the enemy after these military preparations for defense were made.
The first mail, west of Cleveland, was carried by Horris Gun, in 1808. The route was from Cleveland to Maumee. The only houses on the route were one at Black River, occupied by Azariah Beebe, and one at Milan, occupied by a Frenchman by the name of Flemins.
In 1809, the mail over this route was carried by Benoni Adams, of Columbia. It required two weeks to make the trip. The only road was an Indian trail,along the lake,and the carrier went on foot. there was no post office between Cleveland and the Maumee,no way mails, and but few who could read or write. the carrier was compelled, from its extent, to lodge one night in the Black Swamp.
Town No. 6, in the 16th range of townships (Ridgeville) was drawn by Ephraim Root, a lawyer of Hartford. For a few years after its settlement, it was called Rootstown. In 1809-10, Oliver Terrell, Ichabod Terrell, and David Beebe, residents of Waterbury, exchanged lands by them owned there, for a little over one-forth of the township of Ridgeville.
In the spring of 1810, David Beebe, and his sons, David and Loman; Philander and Oliver Terrell, sons of Ichabod; Joel Terrell and Lyman Root, left Waterbury, and after a long journey, reached Ridgeville. These were the first settlers.
On the 6th of July, of that year, Tillotson Terrell arrived, with his wife and three children. His was the first family that settled in the township. In the summer of that year, David Beebe, Jr, returned to Waterbury, and brought on the family of his father, and the wife and children of Lyman Root.
At the same time, Ichabod Terrell, his wife Rhoda, and five children; his father, and Asa Morgan, his teamster, exchanged their Connecticut homes, and comforts, for the untried experiences of frontier life. Oliver Terrell, father of Ichabod, upwards of eighty years of age, made the entire trip on horseback.
They reached Ridgeville in the Fall, cutting a wagon road from Rocky River to the place of destination. They were two days and three nights, en route, from Rocky River. The company that came on in the spring had built a small cabin of logs of such size as so few could carry, the roof being of bark, and the floor of mother earth. This cabin was built in the first clearing made, and on land now owned by John Lansbury.
Here all had lived together, and kept bachelor's hall. Upon the arrival of Tillotson Terrell and family, in the early part of July, he "moved in" and remained until the erection of a log house for himself and family, on the premises now owned by Mrs. Harry Terrell. This was not long after his advent into the town.
About the same time, David Beebe, Sr, built a log house, a little west, nearly opposite the residence of the late Garry Root. These log cabins were an improvement on the one previously built, in one respect at least: each had a puncheon floor, and an opening for a window. As window-glass was an article not possessed, foolscap paper was employed in its stead; and while it was a poor instrument to exclude the cold air from the rude dwelling, it was the best means possessed as a substitute, for the admission of light.
Joel Terrell, one of the first of the spring company, returned to Connecticut in 1810, and remained until 1811, when, with his family, he directed his steps again westward, to his future home. The families of David Beebe, Sr, Lyman Root, and Ichabod Terrell, that came on in the fall of 1810, consisted of twenty persons. They were seven weeks on the way. Two yokes of oxen to a wagon, with a horse as a leader, constituted the motive power that conveyed them hither.
Rhoda Terrell, the wife of Ichabod, was a survivor of the Wyoming Massacre; and at her death, occurring over twenty years ago, left ninety-one grand children, and a large number of great grand children surviving her.
The first school house was erected near the center of the town, on the spot where the Tuttle House now stands. It was consumed by fire in 1814. The first framed house was built by Major Willis Terrell.
The first mill for grinding flour was the offspring of necessity. It was erected near where Tillotson Terrell built his log house. It was the Mortar and Pestle. A log about three feet in length, cut from a pepperage tree, set on its end, burned out round in the top, with a pestle attached to a spring pole; these were the sum total of its parts and its mechanism.
This was familiar and friendly acquaintance of the neighboring inhabitants, and by them was kept in constant use, until time and means brought in better days. In 1812-13 Joseph Cahoon, of Dover, built a grist mill on the small creek at the center. Capt. Hoadley, of Columbia, possessed a hand grist mill; and in the winter of 1816-17 a mill was built at Elyria, thus removing the necessity for then further use of the Mortar and Pestle.
The township of Ridgeville was organized in 1813. At the spring election of that year there were fifteen voters; and they were all at election. Judges of elections were provided,and the polls were open. David Beebe, Ichabod Terrell and Joel Terrell were elected trustees. Joel Terrell was elected justice of the peace; David Beebe, Jr, constable, and Willis Terrell township clerk.
A post office was established in 1815, and Moses Eldred appointed postmaster. Up to this date the Cleveland post office was the nearest. Town No5, in the same range (Eaton), was included in the organization of Ridgeville.
It required a population having ten electors to secure the privileges resulting from the civil organization of a township, and where the population was not sufficient in a surveyed town to secure incorporation as a township, two or more towns could unite, and thus secure such privileges. And such union usually continued, until the increase of population the number of electors required to secure individual and independant organization became residents of a town.
Adjoining towns, with less than the required number of electors to secure incorporation, were annexed to organized townships, for the purpose of civil and judicial administration; and they remained so annexed until of sufficient growth to entitle them to separate and independent incorporation.
During the continuance of the annexation, the inhabitants of the annexed territory were to all intents and purposes, citizens of the township to which annexed, with the same privileges, and subject to the same exactions as actual residents therein.
Pierpont Edwards became proprietor at the draft, in 1807, of town No. 7, range 16 (Avon), together with Bass Island, No. 1, comprising 1,322 acres of land, Bass Island, No2, 709 acres, and Island No5, 32 acres, in Lake Erie, west of north of Sandusky, annexed to the town for the purpose of equalization.
In 1812, Noah Davis settled on the lake shore, erected a log house, remained but a short time an left, never returning. In 1814, Wilbur Cahoon, Lewis Austin and Nicholas Young made the first permanent settlement of the town.
In 1815, Elah Park and others were added. On the 27th of October, 1818, the town, together with the annexations herein before stated, was set off from Dover, and organized in a separate township by the name of Troy, by the commissioners of Cuyahoga county.
It will be remembered, that at this date, the river from the point where it passes into Sheffield, north to the lake, was the boundary line between Huron and Cuyahoga counties. A special election was ordered for township officers, to be held November 9, 1818. Elah Park, John Williams and Lodovick Moon were elected trustees; Larkin Williams, township clerk; Abraham Moon, treasurer. In June, 1819, Jabez Burrell, living in the Sheffield district, and Wilbur Cahoon, were elected justices of the peace.
Previous to 1818, the inhabitants called the town Xeuma, notwithstanding it was a part of Dover. In December, 1824, upon petition of forty citizens, the name of the town was changed from Troy to Avon, by the commissioners of Lorain county. In 1818, the first school-house was built, near the center of the town, and in the fall of that year, Larkin A. Williams opened the first school to the youth of the few settlers of the town.
At the organization of the county there were not to exceed ten organized townships. At the spring election, 1824, Asabel Osborne, John S Reid, and Benjamin Bacon, were elected Commissioners for the county; Sherman Minott, auditor, and Josiah Harris, sheriff. In the fall of the same year they were re-elected. At this election there were three hundred and thirty-two votes cast.
The first term of the court of Common Pleas was held on the 24th of May, 1824 by Hon. George Tod, President of the Third Circuit, and Moses Eldred, Henry Brown and Frederick Hamlin, his associates. Wolsey Wells, the only resident attorney, was appointed to prosecute the pleas of the State, and also clerk of the count for the time being. He served as clerk only one day, when Ebenezer Whiton was appointed and assumed the duties of the office. Edward Durand was appointed surveyor for the county. Court continued its session for three days and finally adjourned.
At the first session of the Commissioners, Edmund West was appointed County Treasurer; and at the next session, John Pearson was appointed Collector of State and County taxes. This completed the official organization of the county.
Literary and educational societies sprang up at an early day, and supplied the means for mental culture and improvement. In 1828, the Lorain County Library Society was incorporated. Heman Ely, Reuben Mussey, and others, were incorporated by the name of the "Elyria High School," in 1831. This school flourished for some time, under the superintendence and tuition of the Rev. John Montiethy. In 1834, John Montiethy, and his associates, were incorporated by the name of the "Elyria Lyceun."
In March, 1835, Daniel L. Johns, and others, were incorporated by the name of the "Wellington Social Library Company." These were private corporations. These societies, and others of a similar character, served a good purpose, and were well supported until a more general diffusion of the means of education and mental culture obviated the necessity of their continued existence.
The time I have consumed reminds me that I am wearying your patience. I will detain you but a moment longer. One of the most pleasant features of this day's celebration is the coming together, and the warm greetings of old friends. It is like the reunion of the family at the Golden Wedding, where congratulations are interchanged, and the recollections and pleasures of youth are revived.
We are happy in having with us so many, then young, whose immediate ancestors were the ones who, upwards of a half century ago, exchanged their homes in New England for a life in this far-off land. They were the advance guard of the Empire of the West.
Little do we, of a later day, know of their trials and sufferings; little of the self-denial, the self-sacrifice, the longing for homes left behind, and the society of former days, of those who pioneered the way to this New Land of promise. Their hardships were not those of the battlefield, but those incident to a life at the outpost of civilization.
Most of them have gone to the rewards of a work well accomplished. Many of them are still here, survived to witness the Centennial Anniversary of their country's Independence, and to join in its acclamation; enjoying to the fullest and freest civil and religious liberty, surrounded by a thickly populated community in the enjoyment of like freedom, with the promise of its continuance forever.
But, as we look back to the day when they first made their advent here and note the intervening progress of events, and the great growth of people, and of the things which denote their prosperity and happiness, what changes have been wrought! The same sky above, and the same earth beneath, are still here. The same rock-bound rivers, and the same beautiful blue lake expanding upon the North, are also here.
But what else that has not undergone change? The dense forest has melted away, and its savage inhabitants are gone. The land then in the wilderness of nature is covered with cultivated and fruitful fields, with thriving and growing villages, with cities of great wealth and architectural beauty. There is one, but a short distance away, whose surpassing beauty is equaled only by the splendid promise of its future.
There are facilities for carrying, for transit and intercommunication, that bring remote neighborhoods into friendly intercourse. There has been an accumulation of industries and industrial products, surpassing all expectations. Institutions of learning, spreading a knowledge of the arts and sciences, and affording the means of high intellectual culture and scholarship, long since sprung forth, and found a welcome habitation and seat, in this New England of the West.
These are some of the fruits of that energy, and courage, brought hither by the Pioneers of that early day. The germ of New England culture, those influences that soften, elevate, and refine her social life, were brought. They brought the Bible, the church, and the school - the inevitable attendants, and sure security, of an enlightened future.
Some of them brought what DeTocqueville names, as the surest guarantee of equality among men - poverty and misfortune. But good neighborhood, common sympathy, and fraternal regard, mitigated the rigors of the latter, and supplied the needs, and necessities, of the former.
They brought with them a deep love of Liberty, and immovable trust in God, a Patriotism inspired afresh by the glories and achievements of the Revolution; and accepting, yet defying, the hardships and privations that threatened, they came, bearing aloft the emblem of their Country's Liberty, and led forth to this benighted wilderness and wild, the advancing hosts of civilization.
Let us, my friends, rejoice in the example, in the courage, in the patriotism, and worth of those hardy Pioneers. Let us rejoice that we are the honored recipients of the blessings they secured and transmitted. Let us rejoice in the happy and glorious future, of which the present is so full of promise.
And above all, let us rejoice in a country whose progress, during the century, up the highway of nations, commands alike the wonder and admiration of the world; and whose crowning glory is, that before the century's close, it extended the aegis of its protection, and imparted the full fruition of its liberty, to the humblest citizen of the land.''
Washington W Boynton was born in Russia township, January 27, 1833, and spent his early years upon his father's farm. His father being of limited means, and charged with the support of a large family, did not think it practicable to send young Boynton to college, and he was forced to content himself with such advantages as the common school of his district provided. Adding to this, constant study and close application, maturity found him eminent in scholarship, although no college had added a title to his name. From that time until the present he has been a hard student. For several winters he taught school, in the mean time pursuing the study of the law, which he early chose as his profession. He was for a number of years a member of the Board of School Examiners of Lorain County.
He was admitted to the bar in 1826, and he soon became prominent in his profession, a position until chose Common Pleas judge. In 1859 he was appointed to hold a vacancy in the office of prosecuting attorney, with the office he held for two successive re-election until the fall of 1863, when, on account of ill health, he reigned. A trip to Minnesota, where he remained during the winter of 1863-64, gave him necessary rest, which, together with the change of climate, greatly improved. Returning to Elyria, he again opened a lawoffice, and soon found himself in the midst of an extensive and lucratave practice.
In 1865, Judge Boynton was elected to represent Lorain County in the Legislature for the term of two years. In 1867 he was the unanimous choice of his party for re-election, but he declined it and continued in the practice of law,
While a member of Legislature, Mr. Boynton had the honor and pluck to introduce the resolution proposing an amendment to the constitution of Ohio to strike the word "white" from the clause relating to the election franchise. After a stormy debate in a House Largely Republican, a resolution was defeated, lacking a few votes of the necessary two-thirds majority required to submit it to a vote of the people. This debate aroused such a sentiment throughout the state that, in a few weeks after a similar resolution was introduced into the Senate by Hon. Abner Kellogg, of Ashtabula, and having passed that body, was sent to the House, and after a heated debate finally adopted and the question submitted to the people. The proposition was lost, but it was soon followed by the amendment of the Federal constitution which forever put the question to rest.
In February, 1869, Mr. Boynton was appointed by Governor Hayes a Common Pleas judge of Lorain, Madina, and Summit Counties, on the resignation of Judge Burke. At the ensuing fall election he was elected to fill the vacancy, and two years thereafter was re-elected for the full turn. As judge of the Common Pleas Court, Mr. Boynton won a fame as wide as the state, and at once stepped into the front rank of the legal profession of Ohio. In 1876 he was elected judge of the Supreme Court of the State, which position he still holds.
Mr. Boynton is a man who his friends and fellow citizens hold in the highest esteem. His record both in public and private life is free from blemish. He has been honored by the people with offices of trust and high responsibility, and in every capacity has proved himself a competent and fearless officer, and an upright and honest man.
As a lawyer, legislator, and jurist he has achieved a success that reflects great credit upon himself and honor upon Lorain County, whose representative he is.
From A HISTORY OF LORAIN COUNTY, OHIO
PHILADELPHIA: WILLIAMS BROTHERS. 1879
PRESS OF LEADER PRINTING COMPANY, CLEVELAND,OH.