Ashtabula Co., Ohio
SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.
ORGANIZED IN 1811 -
EARLY SETTLERS - FIRST MARRIAGE -
FIRST DEATH -
RELIGIOUS INTEREST - REV. JOHN
BADGER - PIONEER CONDITIONS - LODGE -
CHEESE MAKING - OTHER INDUSTRIES.
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
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
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
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