Residence of S.J. Smith

Block & Store of S.J. Smith

[157] I soon had supper in readiness; and my friend has often informed me that it was the best meal of victuals to which he ever sat down, made up of my pot-pie, bread, pepper, and salt. When it was time to retire I spread my straw bed upon the floor as usual, and by lying crosswise four of us enjoyed a comfortable night's rest."

The year 1800 notes the arrival of Seth Harrington, Jas. Harper, and Jas. Montgomery, with their families, and Daniel Baldwin and James and Nathaniel Laughlin. The Montgomery families and Mr. Harper settled at first on the east side of the creek, near the lake. Mr. Baldwin and the Laughlins first settled on the west side of the creek, near the Harbor, but soon removed to the east part of the township, on lands now owned and occupied by Hugh and Wm. Laughlin. It has been impossible to obtain the exact dates of the arrival of some of the early settlers of this township. Dr. Nehemiah King, the first physician who settled in Conneaut, is among this class; also, Peter King, Jr., Elisha and Amos King, Peter King, Sr., Hananiah Brooks, Caleb Thompson, William Perrin, David Gould, Zebadiah Thompson, Seth Thompson, Sr., Joseph Tubbs, -- Pitney, -- Harvey, Daniel Sawtelle, ---- Robinson, and James Dunn. The Kings mere quite a numerous family among the early settlers. They were from New Hampshire. Peter King, Jr., settled on the present William Storey farm, at the junction of the Gore and Ridge roads. Elisha King settled on the south side of Conneaut creek, near the centre of the township, on the farm now owned and occupied by O. L. Houston, and Peter King, Sr., settled on the north side of the creek, near the present residence of C. R. Goddard, Esq. Hananiah Brooks first settled on the present Gilbert farm, on the east side of the creek, opposite the Harbor. Caleb Thompson's residence was on the site of the old fair grounds at Conneaut Centre, and that of Seth and Zebadiah Thompson was in the south portion of the township, on the present L. L. Skinner farm. Joseph Tubbs settled on the present Wilder farm, near Amboy, Daniel Sawtelle near the present residence of D. Cummings, at Conneaut Centre, and the Pitney family near the Harbor.

In 1807, Ezekiel and Thomas Olds settled in the township. Ezekiel Olds settled on what is known as the Ralph Wright farm, on south ridge, but afterwards, in 1811, removed to the eastern portion of the township, settling on the farm now owned by John Dean. Josiah Brown, Sr., from Stanstead, Lower Canada, settled in the township near the present site of the residences of Joseph and Josiah Brown, in the year 1807.

In 1809, David, Joseph, James, and Stephen Hicks, brothers, arrived in Conneaut, and settled in the western portion of the township, near the present site of the Amboy cheese-factory. They also came from Canada, though natives of Vermont. In 1810, Henry Lake and Dr. Nahum Howard and family settled in Conneaut. Dr. Howard was from Kennebec county, Maine. He settled near the site of the present residence of P. M. Darling, on Harbor street. Mr. Lake was a native of Vermont. He started the first furnace in Conneaut, on the flats of the creek, a short distance above the paper-mills. He was afterwards landlord of the old Mansion House. Charles De Marranville and sons Lewis and Jabe settled in the south part of the township, on the south ridge, in 1811, on the farm now occupied by descendants of the family. This same year, Earl Pierce, from New Hampshire, settled on the lake-shore, near the present Kelsey farm.

Accessions to the settlement were now becoming quite frequent, and in various parts of the township began to appear the pioneer's cabin; the dense forests began to disappear in many localities, and in their stead could be seen fields of wheat, corn, and other grain.


Aaron Wright erected the first grist-mill in the township in 1806-8, on the present site of Mr. Rathbone's mill. Prior to this time the settlers were compelled to carry their grain sixteen miles in order to get it ground, the nearest mill being this distance from Conneaut, at Elk Creek, Pennsylvania. Mr. Wright says, "I have often carried a bushel and a half of wheat on my back to this mill, and if on my return my provisions failed, I struck a fire, dropped some water in the mouth of my bag with my hands, and mixed my bread, and then spread it on a basswood bark, brought for the purpose, and baked it before the fire."

The first roads were Indian trails. The main line of travel was at first along the beach, the fording of the streams being accomplished with difficulty. In 1800 the first road was marked out by Seth Harrington, Aaron Wright, and Nathan King, being the present middle road, leading to Ashtabula. Nathan King was the first supervisor, and his district extended from the State line to the ten-mile stone in Kingsville.

The first school was taught in 1802-3 by a Mr. Loomis in one of the building then standing at the mouth of the creek.

The first religious meetings were held at the cabin of Aaron Wright about the same time, Rev. Joseph Badger being the first minister.

The first marriage among the settlers occurred in 1800, Aaron Wright and Anna Montgomery being the contracting parties. They were married in Harpersfield, Justice Wheeler performing the ceremony.

The first death, with the exception of the little child of Mr. Kingsbury, was the daughter of Samuel Bemus, in 1799. The coffin was made by Aaron Wright, who says he made it from a white-oak tree, from which he cut and split the boards, obtaining the nails in making the coffin from a boat that had been wrecked and drifted near the mouth of the creek, and was painted by using the ashes from burnt straw.

The first birth was a daughter to Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Bemus, born in 1801, and named Amelia. She became the wife of Daniel Hewett.


The Indians, for a number of years following the first settlement in the county, frequented this locality during the hunting season for the purpose of killing game, and seemed to take great pleasure in revisiting their old hunting-grounds, where lay buried the dust of their ancestors, and where from time immemorial roamed their fathers in chase of the bear and elk. They realized a considerable profit from the sale of the furs of wild animals, and their canoes annually descended the Conneaut richly laden with the product of the winter's hunt. Oftentimes traders would visit them on their grounds, and give them, in exchange for their furs, goods and money.

Rufus S. Reed, merchant, at Presque Isle, or Erie, was accustomed to traffic with the Indians, and for a number of years in the early settlement of this township visited frequently this locality for the purpose of trading with those red hunters. He was in the habit of traversing the woods through snows with pack of goods on his back, or on the back of a French pony that sometimes accompanied him. Engaged in one of these expeditions, he left Conneaut on a severe wintry day with his pony, intending to reach the station of old Philip, a Seneca Indian, well known to the early settlers, encamped at the time referred to somewhere within the limits of the present township of Denmark.

As the pony on this occasion had no other encumbrance than a sack of dollars, which was firmly attached to his saddle, it was supposed that he could occasionally well afford to endure the weight of his master. Mr. Reed accordingly mounted on his back, and pursued his way very industriously, following a trail which the Indians had made through the snow, until, becoming chilled, he alighted and continued on foot his journey, driving his pony before him. Whether or not there was in the mind of the intelligent animal some consciousness as to the value of the sack of money fastened to the saddle we cannot tell, but it is certain that when Mr. Reed desired to remount, the pony peremptorily refused to let him approach near enough to consummate this purpose. The hitherto docile animal rejected all terms of conciliation, and with provoking cunning perseveringly eluded every attempt to entrap him into submission, In the pursuit the trail was soon lost, and Mr. Reed, after wandering many hours, found his strength nearly exhausted. At this juncture he was so fortunate as to fall in with Seth Harrington, Esq., a resident of Conneaut, and a hunter rarely excelled, who was just returning from a hunting expedition, having just been at Phillip's camp. He besought Harrington to catch his pony for him, and if he could not secure him in any other way to shoot him and obtain the money, as he cared more for this than for the pony, Himself tired and cold, took Harrington's track and followed it to the encampment. Harrington soon overtook the pony, and by driving him into a narrow point of land in a bend of Ashtabula creek, succeeded in capturing the animal, and brought him and the money in triumph to the owner.


General Hull's surrender in 1812 at Detroit, whereby the British obtained possession of that commander's army and of the Territory of Michigan, left the whole northern frontier exposed to the incursions of the English, who also had undisputed control of Lake Erie. The settlements along its shore were, therefore, kept in a continued state of agitation and alarm.

The country had been actually devastated as far east as the Huron river, and the inhabitants either murdered or driven from their homes before a sufficient force could be collected to arrest their progress. To repel this invasion the whole effective force of the country had been called into the field, leaving the new settlements in an exposed and defenseless condition. Knowing the wide-spread consternation among the settlers, the British vessels took delight in sailing along the coast, firing cannon, and making other sundry demonstrations of hostility in order to increase the alarm of the inhabitants.

They had in two or three instances effected a landing from their vessels in small parties, killed some cattle, and possessed themselves of some other articles of plunder of more or less value.

Tidings were frequently arriving from the seat of war, and it was not uncommon for the people to be called out of their beds at the dead of night to hear exaggerated [158] accounts of the murders and cruelties of the Indians engaged in assisting the enemy.

It was during this period of feverish excitement that the following occurrence took place, the particular time being the night of August 11, 1812:

Two British vessels of rather suspicious appearance had been observed off shore during the previous day. A guard had been stationed at the mouth of the creek who watched the movements of the vessels with close attention. A larger number of persons was descried upon board, it was thought, than was consistent with peaceable intentions, and grave suspicions as to the hostile purposes of the vessels were entertained, and it was believed that they were only awaiting the approach of night, when they would land and execute their warlike designs. About dusk some boats were discovered by the sentinels at a short distance from the shore, steering directly towards the mouth of the creek. One of the guard hailed lustily, fired his musket, threw it upon the beach, mounted his horse, and fled precipitately. As he dashed through the settlements, he cried, in stentorian tones, "Turn out! Save your lives! The British and Indians are landing, and will be upon you in fifteen minutes!"

The wildest :consternation and direst confusion ensued. Before the fifteen minutes had expired, almost every home in the settlement was deserted, and a large portion of the population had taken refuge in the woods. Such was their haste that in many instances the doors were left standing open, and their lights, unextinguished. In one instance a family commenced their flight in so much trepidation that they left one of their children, a little girl of two or three years of age asleep in the house, and the mistake was not noticed until they had gone some rods from the dwelling.

The inhabitants of the upper settlement fled across the creek, and sought refuge on Fort Hill, where amidst its ancient ruins, then covered with a dense forest, they hoped to find a place of temporary security. Before reaching the :spot, however, a variety of disasters, more or less serious, had occurred, principally occasioned by the necessity of fording the Conneaut.

The younger children, and some of the women, were carried over on the shoulders of men. One rather portly lady was being thus transported on the back of her husband, who was a small man, and lost his footing on a slippery rock in the centre of the stream, and he and his precious cargo were submerged in the current; and as the little man occupied the nether position he was nearly drowned before he could shift his ballast, and get his head above it and the water.

Within the dilapidated walls of the old fort, hid among the bushes, they passed a most uncomfortable and tedious night, momentarily expecting to hear, the yells of the savages, or to witness from the hill the conflagration of their dwellings.

The people of East Conneaut had found shelter from danger of discovery, as they hoped, in a thick hemlock grove on the banks of Smoke Run, a small tributary of the Conneaut, about one-fourth of a mile south from the Ridge road. In the recesses of this grove were collected quite a numerous company, consisting principally of women and children. The locality seemed to promise security, except that its proximity to the main road made it necessary to maintain perfect silence. By the soothing attention which the mother knows so well how to bestow the children were kept reasonably quiet, but the noisy and pugnacious qualities of the canine species caused infinite annoyance and vexation. One little dog, in particular, would not keep quiet. In spite of all they could do to keep him silent, he would yelp, yelp, yelp, "without any mitigation or remorse of voice." Finding that they could not quiet him, they unanimously passed upon him the sentence of death, and resolved to hang him without benefit of clergy. The elastics of the ladies served as a cord, and soon the little culprit was dangling in the air, suspended from a sapling that was bent down for that purpose. Thus did the villagers pass the never-to-he-forgotten night. Soon the cheerful morning light began to appear, and scouts were sent out to reconnoiter. There stood their cottages; no hand had touched them. No enemy could be found. The alarm was a false one, and all eagerly and joyfully returned to their dwellings. The boats which the heated imagination of the sentry had filled with British and Indians, belonged to a Captain Dobbins, of Erie, who was on his way down the lake, having on board some families bound for Conneaut, whom he was endeavoring to land; but upon discovering that his vessel was creating alarm, he turned from the shore and continued his voyage.


The incident that follows took place in the month of September, 1817, and created no little sensation at the time. As it is prominently connected with the early history of this township, we give a full account of it, substantially as given by Mr. Nettleton:

Sweatland was an active young man, residing with his family on the lake- shore, a short distance below the mouth of Conneaut creek. He was fondly attached to the sports of the woods, and made the chase a source both of profit and amusement.

A favorite method of capturing deer at this time was to chase up a herd of them with hounds, and drive them into the lake, as these animals readily take to the water when hotly pursued. Sweatland kept a canoe for the purpose of going upon the lake in pursuit of the deer, and one of his neighbors, who acted in concert with him, kept a number of hounds. The arrangement between the two men was that while Mr. Cozens, the neighbor, should go into the woods, and with the dogs start the deer towards the lake, Sweatland should be prepared to take his canoe, and pursue and capture the deer as soon as it should take to the water.

His canoe was nothing more than a large whitewood log hollowed out, and formed into the shape of a canoe, about fourteen feet in length, and rather wide for its length.

It was a lovely morning in early autumn. Sweatland had risen early, in anticipation of enjoying a chase upon the blue waters of the lake, and without putting on his coat or waistcoat, listening, as he went toward his canoe, for the approach of the hounds. He soon heard their deep baying, and by the time he reached the boat he found that a large deer had already taken to the water, and was rapidly moving away from the shore. Throwing his hat upon the beach and boarding his canoe, he was soon engaged in an animated chase. The wind, which had been fresh from the south during the night, began now to gradually increase until it became nearly a gale; but Sweatland, intent upon capturing his prize, paid little or no heed to this. The deer was a vigorous animal, and stoutly breasting the waves, gave proof that in a race with a log canoe, managed with a single paddle, he was not to be easily vanquished. Our hero had attained a considerable distance from the shore before overtaking the animal. The latter, turning and shooting past the canoe, struck out towards the shore. Sweatland, with alarm, now discovered his danger. Heading his frail bark toward the land, he discovered that with the utmost exertion he could make no headway whatever against the terrible gale that was now blowing against him, but, in fact, was every moment being carried farther and farther from the shore.

His outward progress had been observed by Mr. Cozens and others on shore, who now became alarmed for his safety. They saw at once the impossibility of his returning in the face of such a gale, and unless help could be got to him he was doomed to perish at sea. Soon a boat containing Messrs. Gilbert, Cozens, and Belden was launched, with the full determination of making every possible effort for his relief. They soon met the deer returning toward the shore nearly exhausted, but the man himself was nowhere to be seen. They continued their search until they had gone many miles from the shore, when, meeting with a sea in which they judged it: impossible for a canoe to live, they returned, giving Sweatland up for lost.

Our hero meanwhile was manfully battling with the waves of an angry sea. He possessed a cool head and stout heart, which, with a tolerable degree of physical strength and remarkable powers of endurance, were of immense advantage to him in his emergency. He kept heading towards the shore, faintly hoping that by and by the wind would abate; but it did not. As the day wore away he receded farther and farther from the shore. As he followed with his eye the outline of the distant shore, he could distinguish the spot where his own dear little cabin stood, filled with hearts burning with anxiety and distress upon his behalf. During the day one or two schooners were seen, which he vainly tried to signal.

Seeing the utter hopelessness of getting back to the American shore, he made up his mind to sail with the wind and strike out for the Canada side. The gale had now arisen until it was indeed furious. He was borne on over the angry waters, utterly powerless to guide his bark. He was obliged to stand erect, moving cautiously from one extremity of his vessel to the other, so as to trim it to the waves, fearing that each succeeding plunge would be the last one. He was obliged, too, to bail his boat of water, using his shoes for this purpose.

Hitherto our hero had been blest with the cheerful light of day. Now darkness was rapidly approaching. The billows of the sea looked dark and frowning. Thinly clad and destitute of food, our hero passed a terrible night. When morning came he found he was in sight of land, and that he was nearing Long Point, on the Canada shore. After being buffeted by the winds and waves for nearly thirty hours be reached the land in safety, and no mortal was ever more thankful. Still, exhausted with fatigue and faint from hunger, he found himself forty miles from any settlement, while the country that intervened was a desert filled with marshes .and tangled thickets.

We will not undertake to describe his toilsome journey towards the Canadian settlements, Suffice it to say, he arrived in the course of twenty or more hours, and was kindly received by the people, who showed him every hospitality. On his way to the settlement he had the good fortune to find a quantity of goods, supposed to have been driven on shore from the wreck of some vessel. Accompanied by some of the inhabitants, be returned and took possession of the goods,

Back      |     Next 1