Conneaut residents immediately abandoned their village and hurried to take refuge in the nearby woods. The two vessels proved to be, however, passenger ships sailing up the lake from Erie. Their attempts to land Conneaut-bound passengers had given the townspeople the impression of an enemy invasion.
CROP PRICES DROP
The war with Great Britain ended in 1814 and the nations were once more at peace. Prices of farm products dropped to low levels in a short time and many farmers became discouraged at being unable to find markets for their grain and produce. However they stayed on and enjoyed the prosperity that followed a few years later.
Sickness and accidents were the common experience of all the pioneers, and the treatment of disease had been left to the judgment of the members of each household. Herbs, poultices and home-concocted potions were used according to the tradition of the family, the advice and the recipes having been handed down from generation to generation.
VENEN FIRST PHYSICIAN
In 1815 the town was fortunate in having a doctor choose to make his residence here. Dr. John Venen, Conneaut's first physician, opened an office soon after his arrival, and continued his practice until his death 60 years later.
Because many new families had come into this vicinity, the one school -house was no longer large enough to accommodate all of the children, and an additional school was required. In 1816, the first school in Conneaut Township was opened. The building was a log structure located not far from the South Ridge cemetery, and the first teacher was Chester Sanford, who had received his education in Massachusetts. The School building burned to the ground four years later.
THE SECOND TEN YEARS
The events of Conneaut's second decade were as important and as varied as events of its first ten years. Regular mail service had been established, a stage coach line had promoted travel into the Western Reserve, Ashtabula County had been organized, the number of stores and business houses had increased, and our nation had engaged in and successfully ended a major war. The post -war depression was passing, census figures showed a large gain in population, the schools were expanding and Dr. Venen had come to carry on his lifelong fight against disease and pain.
Within a year after the close of the War of 1812 the price of wheat had dropped from $2.00 a bushel to 25 cents and owners of woodlands were adding to their incomes by selling timber.
At the same time much fertile land was cleared for farming. Timber was plentiful in the Conneaut area and two enterprising pioneers, Lemuel Jones and Obed Edwards, saw the need for a speedier process of getting lumber to markets.
FIRST SAW MILL IN 1817
In 1817 the first saw mill, mentioned in Conneaut's history was built by these two men. The lumber thus produced was used locally and also shipped in quantities on sailing vessels. Other saw mills were soon built and many acres of forest were cut. The modem version of this industry is found in the operation of many lumber companies in and near Conneaut.
Company military training was instituted in 1817. Daniel Sawtelle was the first captain and served in that capacity for about two years, when, he was succeeded by Marshall Williams.
The building of lake-craft at Conneaut was an industry that gave employment to a large number of men during several decades of the nineteenth century, and a lengthy chapter must necessarily be devoted to this phase of our local history.
Shipbuilding at Conneaut started in 1818 when Elias Keyes and Captain Samuel Ward built the "Salem Packet" on Conneaut River a few rods south of the main street bridge. This craft had two spars and had a capacity of 27 tons. After its completion carpenters and other skilled workmen had many busy seasons constructing similar vessels.
This was the beginning of the new industry here and each year saw larger and speedier ships being built
in numerous spots along the banks of the stream between Main Street bridge and the mouth of the river.
The early residents of Conneaut exhibited keen interest in shipbuilding, large crowds always congregated to witness the launching of new ships, and
"... as each new sail flashing
came to sight
Broke forth a thousand plaudits
The "Farmer," Conneaut's second boat was built at the harbor by Christopher Ford. The "Farmer" was wrecked on Long Point in 1827, rebuilt at Cleveland and was in service for 43 years.
Next followed James Tubbs' 30 ton schooner "Independence" built on the lake shore one mile west of Conneaut Harbor, and John Brooks' sloop "Hummingbird."
The government realized the importance of good harbors on the southern shore of Lake Erie and in 1829 granted Conneaut its first appropriation, the amount being $7,500, for harbor improvement- Other and larger appropriations were granted frequently in later years. The improved harbor was an incentive to local shipbuilders and soon many craftsmen were employed in that line of work in Conneaut and vicinity.
Gilman Appleby and A B. Tubbs were the builders of the "Conneaut Packet," and shortly afterwards the sloop "Dart" attracted attention as it was built at Kingsville and trucked to Conneaut for launching. At Harmon's Landing the "Oregon" of James Brooks and John V. Singer, and the "Commercial" of Reed & Lyon were built about 1833-34.
Soon a different type of vessel was to be built at Conneaut Harbor. A stock company had been formed, the shares being $ 100 each, and about 1834 the 300 ton "North America," Conneaut's first steamer was built. Its first captain was Gilman Appleby.
"The North American" soon was surpassed in size by the Wisconsin," a steamer of 400-ton capacity, built at Harper's Landing in 1836 and towed to Buffalo to be fitted out. It too was owned by a stock - company.
This was the beginning of a race in building larger and faster craft. The steamer Constitution was next with a capacity of 450 tons.
But the building of steamers did not halt the construction of sail -boats. The 130-ton schooner "Troy" of Capt. Harrison Howard appeared in 1840, and soon afterwards Capt. Howard and a Mr. J. W. Brown of Toledo built two 200-ton vessels the "J. W. Brown" and the "Belle."
In 1844 the brig,"Lucy Walbridge", was built by Charles Hall, George B. Walbridge and Capt. 0. Salisbury who commanded it.
The following year the brig "Lucy A. Blossom" was launched. Its capacity was 330 tons. Then in 1847 Zaphna Lake and Benjamin Carpenter built the 500-ton "Banner" the largest sailing vessel on the Great Lakes that year. Capt. Capron had command of the boat.
The years of greatest activity in shipbuilding were from 1845 to 1852. It was in the latter year that the C P. & A R. R. (later called the New York Central) was built, taking away much of the lake business. The harbor felt a sharp decline in freight handling which continued until the Civil War when a short period of activity was again recorded.
O. Rugby of Buffalo built the bark "Ogarita" at Conneaut Harbor. It had an 800-ton capacity and was the largest on the lakes at that time.
At least one vessel was built at our harbor for ocean trade. It was built by Wesley Lent in 1862-63 for Tupper & Streiver of Buffalo and carried 450 tons.
Prominent among the many names of Conneaut's shipbuilders is that of Capt. Marshall Capron who built the following craft: the 450-ton schooner "Ann Maria" and 300-ton bark "T. B. Rice" at Demick's Landing, and at Conneaut Harbor the 60-ton scow "Times," the 500-ton bark "Monitor", the 300-ton bark "Valentine," the 60-ton scow "J. G. Palmer," the 260-ton schooner "Conneaut" and the 250-ton schooner "M. Capron."
Cargoes became fewer in the 60's and as result many vessels were sold and withdrawn to see service in the upper lakes. Conneaut Harbor became nothing but a fishing port and remained as such for about a quarter of a century during which time it rapidly deteriorated.
The exciting and colorful days of the sailing vessels were ended.
Although religious meetings had been held frequently in Conneaut since 1800, the organization of churches was not begun until 1818. The Reverend Joseph Badger, an itinerant minister, was probably the first preacher to conduct services in Conneaut, but his work was prior to the church organizations.
CHURCH SOCIETY FORMED
No regular church organization was effected until May 23, 1818, when the Conneaut Christian Church Society was formed at a meeting in the Peter King school- house near Amboy. The sermon, at this service was delivered by Elder John Cheney.
Names of 15 members appeared on the original roster of the church. Services were held at the school - house until 1834 when a church building was erected at Conneaut Center. This building was afterwards moved to the Buffalo Street site, the moving being done by the Pullmans who later became famous as builders and operators of Pullman cars.
FIRST CHURCH IN 1819
Residents of this section who were of Congregational and Presbyterian faiths, met at the home of Robert Montgomery on April 14, 1819 to organize their church. They had a building ready for use in 1828. A little more than a century later Conneaut's two earliest churches united and became the United Congregational-Christian Church which now meets in the Record-Findley Memorial building
Amboy, where a large camp meeting had been held in 1824, had also been the place where, a year previous, the first Methodist class had been formed. In 1828 another class was formed in the village of Conneaut which today has one of the largest congregations of the many denominations represented here. Their church stands at Madison and Buffalo Streets and has, in addition to its large auditorium, a spacious annex for Sunday- School purposes.
SOUTH RIDGE CHURCH
Late in 1826 the Freewill Baptists of Conneaut Township effected an organization, and on October 18, 1831 the Baptist Church at South Ridge was formed, their first pastor being the Reverend ASAP Jacobs. Services were held at the South Ridge School house until 1837 when the meetings were conducted in Conneaut Village. The first Baptist Church in the city was dedicated at State and Broad Streets, in February 1844. The building was destroyed by fire in 1900. The following year a new church was erected at State and Mill Streets.
REV. TRACY FIRST PRIEST
In 1861 the work of the Catholic Church was in charge of a circuit priest Rev. John Tracy. The first church erected in this parish stood on the east- side of Chestnut Street, a short distance north of the Nickel Plate Railroad. St Mary's Church which now stands at State and Chestnut Streets was dedicated in 1888 and Rev. G. P. Jennings was the first resident priest. The church that has been used more than 50 years was enlarged and redecorated in recent years.
The first Episcopal services in Conneaut were conducted by the Rev. Philander Chase, D. D., of Hartford, Conn., who arrived Saturday March 15, 1817, and delivered his first sermon the next day. About 1880 the Rev. Lewis Burton, of Cleveland visited Conneaut and officiated at the first Episcopal baptism in this city. The church built by members of St. Paul's parish was formally opened on Sunday, April 1, 1897.
Grace Lutheran Church was organized in 1901 with 26 members and a church building erected three years afterwards. A serious fire in January of this year damaged the interior of the church, which has since been repaired and redecorated.
A Society of the Church of Christ Scientist was formed here in April of 1905. Their church located on State Street was chartered in 1907 and dedicated in l916. Pleasant reading rooms are maintained in the Walrath Block.
The Finnish Lutheran Church, Buffalo Street, organized in 1895 observed its fiftieth anniversary last year and at the ceremonies on that occasion many of the original members were present. Their church at Broad and Erie Streets was built in 1901.
The members of the Hungarian Reformed Church organized in 1904 and through the courtesy of other denominations their meetings were held in various churches in the city until their own building at Harbor Street and Lake Road was completed in 1914.
The North Conneaut United Brethren Church was organized in January of 1894. The Reverend G. N. Bames was the first pastor. Their church on White Ave. was used for many years, and now the congregation is meeting in their church on Clinton Ave. which was erected in 1926. Among the places of worship, for people of Conneaut and vicinity today are Assembly of God, Forrest Anderson, pastor: First Baptist, W. E. Powell South Ridge Baptist, H. W. Stevens; St. Mary's Catholic Church, Bartley Kennedy; Church of Christ, Scientist, Clare Stokes; St. Paul's Episcopal, Peter Spehr; Finnish Lutheran, Saker Halkola; Finnish Saalem Assembly, K. A Hellman; Four Square Gospel, Ray Singer; Free Methodist, Samuel Stimer. Hungarian Reformed, Zsigmund Balla, Grace Evangelical Lutheran, Martin L. Clare, First Methodist, Sidney G. Suitor, Amboy Methodist, Horton S, Chance; East Conneaut Methodist, H. B. Rasey; Wesleyan Methodist, H. A Markell United Congregational-Christian, Wm. B. Mathews; United Brethren, J. W. Plummer; State Line United Brethren, F. M. Langell, Pentecostal Holiness, Chester Freede; Apostolic Faitth, John T. Cox.
Mills were being built to meet the needs of the community. On the Ridge Road, one-half mile west of the city, the first cider mill was built in 1820 by Eleazer Peck, and three years later a second one was built in Conneaut Township by Seth Thompson. Eh Sanford built the first grist-mill at South Ridge in 1821 which was of great convenience to the farmers of that neighborhood.
Early 1826 saw the beginning of an active settlement at the extreme northern edge of Monroe Township which for many years was known as Benton, the name being changed some time later to Tinker's Hollow.
Ezekial Benton and his son Ira built a grist-mill and saw mill on the bank of Conneaut Creek that year, and the following year they started a distillery which operated for a few years.