History of
Ashtabula Co., Ohio

SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.

Windsor Township



     Windsor Township holds down the southwesterly corner of Ashtabula County, as Conneaut does the northeastern corner.  From the latter place to Windsor corners, which is situated in the eastern part of the township, the distance is 42.5 miles.  From Geneva, in the northwestern corner, to Williamsfield Center, the southeast corner, is 34 miles.  Thus is indicated the irregularity of the north, or shore line of the county, as all other boundaries are straight.  The territory covered by Windsor and Orwell townships were originally embraced in Middlefield Township, which was one of the group of four townships constituting the "Northern election district? so assigned in 1801, when the Western Reserve was divided into two election districts.  Windsor was detached from Middlefield in 1811 and organized into a separate township, its territory including Orwell.  The organization meeting was held at the home of Solomon Griswold and resulted in the election of Samuel Higley, Michael Thompson and Timothy Alderman, trustees;  Samuel and Jonathan Highley, appraisers;  Oliver Loomis, Garry Sackett and Thompson Higley, supervisors; Garry Sackett and Andrew Loomis, overseers of the poor; S. D. Sackett and John Gladding, fence viewers; Ebenezer K. Lampson, clerk, and Elijah Hill, Jr., treasurer.  Jonathan Higley was justice of the peace at the time of the organization.
     Although the most remote section of the county, Windsor was settled earlier than many of the other townships.  This was due to the fact that the persons to whom this territory was allotted in the Connecticut Land Company's drawing in 1798 at once took a personal interest in the settlement and development of their portion.  These men were Simeon Griswold and William Eldridge, and Griswold very soon acquired the Eldridge interest and proceeded to business.  Griswold's brother-in-law, George Phelps, came from Connecticut in 1799, going direct to the Windsor locality.  He located his home on the bank of a creek in the southeastern part of the township and the stream has sine been known as Phelps Creek.  The cabin he erected for himself and family consisting of wife and two children and the first house built in the township.  Solomon Griswold, a brother of Simeon, was the second settler, he arriving in 1800.  He chose for his place of abode a lot in the northeastern portion of the township, and built a house thereon for his family.  The Griswolds had six children, the oldest of whom was 17 years of age.  Incidentally it might be mentioned that Mr. Griswold was associate judge of the first county court organized in Ashtabula County.
     The next comers into the township were the family of Charles Jewell, who arrived in 1802.  The year 1804 brought Jonathan Higley, Joseph Alderman and his sons, Joseph, Jr., and Alexander.  S. D. Sackett, Hezekiah Skinner, Oliver Loomis, Elijah Hill and Elijah Hill, Jr., and John White were the arrivals during the year 1805.  In 1806 came John Gladding, Benjamin Cook and Benjamin Cook, jr.  Caleb Holcomb came in 1807, Russell Loomis and Giles Loomis in 1811, and the following year there was an influx of several families, including John and Cornelius Norris, Elijah and Gaal Grover, Samuel and Erastus Rawdon, Stephen and West Windslow, Johnathan Clapp, David Morgan, Moses and Francis Barnard and Gideon Morgan.  Windsor, it may be seen, started out early and very auspiciously.
     Johathan Higley and Miss Keziah Griswold furnished the first matrimonial sensation, their marriage being solemnized in 1806.  The first death of a white person in the township was of an alien, Eli Porter, a resident of Austinburg, who had been in ill health and started for Mesopotamia to consult a doctor.  When he had journeyed as far as the home of Solomon Griswold, in the winter of 1801, he could go no farther, and was taken care of there till he died.  He was buried on the Griswold farm, his wife and other mourners from Austinburg coming by boat on Grand River to attend the funeral.
     In 1805 Jonathan Higley erected the first frame house in the township.  The first brick building was erected in 1822 by Nathaniel Cook.  Miss Keziah Griswold taught the first school in the township, in 1804, in S. D. Sackett's blacksmith shop.  The following year the inhabitants of the town got together and built a school house of logs a short distance south of the center.
     The home of Solomon Griswold was the place of the first death and in this home, in 1802, was held the first meeting in the interest of that which prepares for death.  The Griswolds were ardent Episcopalians, but were not narrow-minded, and their home and influence were always at command in the interest of religion.  The first sermon delivered in the township was by the Rev. Joseph Badger, whose activities had much to do with the starting of Ashtabula County people in the right direction morally.  There were but three families in the township at this time.  The following entry in Rev. Badger's diary relative to the conditions in Windsor at this time, is interesting:
     "In the month of June 1 visited Mesopotamia and Windsor.  Found seven families in the former and three in the latter . . .   In Windsor the late Judge Griswold had commenced breaking the forest.  Their garden back of the small cabin covered with bark was cultivated by the two daughters, and was well stored with culinary roots, plants and vines, but to get bread was a herculean task.  No flour could be had short of 50 or 60 miles, excepting in the spring, when keel-boats, with great exertion, were worked up the Mahoning to Warren with a few barrels of flour.  But packing on horseback was the only mode of conveyance from Warren, the rider having frequently to sleep in the woods."
     This difficulty of obtaining the material for making the "staff of life" was the big problem of the settlers during the first few years of Windsor history.  To meet this need numerous devices were tried, but the one that seemed to be most effective was the result of the ingenuity of Charles Jewell.  The "mill" that he designed consisted of two buhr-stones about two feet in diameter, arranged like similar stones in regular flouring mills.  One was stationary on the floor while the other, placed above it, did the work.  Near the edge of the upper stone a gudgeon was inserted into a small hole made for the purpose and connected with a pole that extended through the floor above.  The man turning out the grist worked the stone with one hand and fed in the grain with the other.  It was a slow process but accomplished the desired end.  This mill was placed on exhibition in the court house at Jefferson after regular mills erected nearby put it out of use, but met untimely destruction, for the day after it was placed in the Ashtabula County Historical and Philosophical Society's cabinet, on Aug. 16, 1850, the building was destroyed by fire and the mill with it.
     The marked road traversed by George Phelps when he came into the township in 1799 from the south, and the one marked and traveled by Solomon Griswold when he entered from the north, became routes of travel for strangers coming in or passing through the township,  and other roads were added as the population increased and spread over the township.  In 1803 a regular mail route was established through the township, running north and south, and the town was honored with a post office, Judge Griswold being appointed postmaster and holding the position continuously for 28 years.   The route was from Warren, in Trumbull County, via Mesopotamia, Windsor, Morgan (Rock Creek), Austinburg, Harpersfield, and thence westward via Painesville, to Cleveland.  The mail was carried by a man on foot until such time as roads suitable for horses to travel were made, then the carrier rode a horse.  The carrier brought the mail once a week at first.  In later years a post office was established at Windsor Mills.
     A Methodist Episcopal Church Society was early organized in Windsor in 1812 and erected a church in 1827.  That building gave way to a more pretentious structure in 1854, which was reconstructed in 1877.  The first church building erected in Windsor was that of the Episcopalian faith, in 1816.  This was given the sobriquet of "Solomon's Temple", which was intended as a compliment to Solomon Griswold, who was a generous contributor toward the cost of the house of worship.  In 1844 a church of the Wesleyan Methodists was formed at Windsor Mills, and another, nine or ten years later, in another section of the township.  The Universalists organized in 1868 and in 1876 purchased the lower part of the Grangers' building for their church meetings. 
     A lodge of the I. O. O. F. was instituted in 1857 and the organization put up their own building in 1876 at the "Corners".  Windsor Grange was instituted in 1874.  In this same year a division of the Sons of Temperance was organized in Windsor, with a good membership.
     Cheese factories, a cheese-box factory and a peariash factory constituted the principal commercial interests of the town for many years.  Two cheese factories were turning out three tons of cheese a day in the early '50s.  It was an interesting sight to see 125 to 150 tons of cheese in stock.  By this time the facilities for shipping were very good, plank road from Bloomfield to Painesville running through Windsor.
     A short drive south of Windsor Corners brings one to Windsor Mills in the same township and, at this writing, showing little evidence of the bustle and activities of its earlier years.  Along about the middle of the last century Achland Skinner chose a site on the banks of the Grand River in a picturesque spot for the location of mills for turning out flour.  Here, it is said, the farmers for many miles around came to dispose of their grain because Mr. Skinner offered them the best market.  He also had a store and later the small hamlet was endowed with a post office, of which Mr. Skinner was the postmaster for many years, being assisted in the office and store by his wife and their children as they grew up.  A Mr. Hughes, who kept another store, was also postmaster for some time after the office was established, following the installation of the railroads that run within a few miles either side of the hamlet.  There was a cheese-box factory that did a thriving business in its day, but what developed into the greatest industry of the town was the stone quarry,  which was opened following the uncovering of a high grade building stone along the creek on the farm of D. J. Alderman.  This stone was found to be solid for a depth of sixty feet and was pronounced of a better quality than the celebrated Berea stone.
     This quarry furnished the stone for all the culverts, bridges and other highway improvements requiring stone throughout the county for many years.  Robert Stewart, a contractor residing in Kingsville, who did the greater part of the road work in the county, found this quarry so productive and its output of such high quality that he superintended the work of getting out stone for a number of years before his death.  There were numerous interests represented in this industry.  The Windsor Stone Company, composed of Pittsburgh and Youngstown men, built a narrow gauge railroad from the source of stone production to Burton, on the Painesville & Youngstown Railroad.  A. A. Warner opened a new quarry in 1876 and several other parties worked the vein at different times.  The P. & Y road was of narrow gauge and in later years, when it was changed to standard, the spur did not share in the change and the quarrying business has not since been carried on to any great extent.
     In the course of "stripping", or removing the surface dirt, to get at the stone along the stream, there was unearthed evidences of a mill dam in shape of timbers that had been part of its construction many years before.
     About a half-mile down the creek from this point early settlers found an old Indian fortification, occupying a vantage spot on a point overlooking the river on one side, a deep ravine on the other, and the front looking out across the level country, this face having been protected by a double fortification of stone.  Thus it may be seen that this little spot, constituting about an acre of ground, was practically inaccessible to an enemy.
     The banks of the river rise from 75 to 100 feet above the water for a long distance here, and are of solid sandstone formation.
     The beautiful dells around where Windsor Mills was located, the splendid fishing in the rivers and hunting in the forests were a great attraction for the displaced Redmen, and for a long time they came back in large numbers every fall and pitched their camps and stayed in the vicinity for weeks.  See miscellaneous story devoted to the Indians for more extended mention.

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