CONNEAUT, OHIO HISTORY & GENEALOGY

History of
Ashtabula Co., Ohio

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

Colebrook Township

CHAPTER XVII.
p. 257

SURVEYING PARTY - AREA OF TOWNSHIP - FIRST OFFICERS - EARLY RESIDENTS - JOEL BLAKESLEE - SUCCEEDING FAMILIES - FIRST SCHOOLS AND CHURCHES.

     Colebrook, situated between Orwell and Wayne townships, originally in Green, Trumbull County, was one of the townships that was merged into Ashtabula County in the early organization of the last named.  The township embraced 16,000 acres, which were platted in 1808 into lots one-half mile square, until an allotted 100 lots were surveyed.  One of the members of the surveying party, Samuel Phillips, was so favorably impressed with the surroundings that he later became a resident of the township.
     In 1811 the territory organized into Wayne Township included Colebrook, but two years later Colebrook and New Lyme territory were set apart as Lebanon, which name was changed to New Lyme in 1825.  In 1834 the subject of this chapter was given the name of Phelps, probably to commemorate Oliver Phelps, the man who owned and surveyed the territory in 1808.  That lasted, however, but a couple of years, and then the name Colebrook was restored.
     An old record contains the following account of the organization of the township:
     "Organization of the township of Colebrook at the first township election held in the township of Colebrook, county of Ashtabula, and state of Ohio, the first Monday of April, - being the second day of said month, - in the year of our Lord one thousand, eight hundred and twenty-seven, the following named persons were elected to their respective offices, viz.:  Joel Blakeslee, township clerk; Halsey Phillips, Theodorus Miller and Levi Rice, trustees; Charles Hall and Francis Drake, fence viewers; Ira Kee, supervisor; Benjamin F. Phillips, constable; Samuel Phillips and Levi Rice, overseers of the poor."
     A correspondent who signed himself "Uncle Tim", writing regarding the above entry, had teh following to say under date of South New Lyme, Apr. 3, 1876:
     "The above named voters constituted the entire voting population of Colebrook at that time, from which it appears that every voter had an office and one of the trustees, the said township was declared to constitute but one school district, containing thirteen householders, viz.:  All these above mentioned as officers and in addition Samuel Emmitt and Jesse Drake.  On Mar. 3, 1828, the township was divided into two school districts, one to contain eight householders, and the other four.  The first treasurer's bond was that of Samuel Phillips, with Halsey Phillips as his security, binding them in the sum of $1 for the faithful fulfillment of the office.
     "Up to this time, Apr. 5, 1830, there is nothing to show that there was ever a red cent in the hands of our treasurer, but in 1831 in anticipation that there might be, at some future time, the trustees ordered the treasurer's bond raised to $50."
     A family named West is stated to have been the original white settlers of Colebrook, they arriving in 1812.  They chose for their future home a site bordering on Mosquito Creek.  Evidently they were not favorably impressed with their new home, for, after staying long enough to clear a few acres, they departed and nothing is known further regarding them.
    In 1819 came Joel Blakeslee, his wife and two children, for New York State, transported by a team of oxen.  They had been on the road twenty-nine days and were weatherworn and weary when they arrived at the "Land of Promise".  During the trip they had been obliged to abandon the sleigh, in which they had started from their eastern home, in the winter, and complete the journey with a wagon.
     Residents from nearby settlements came to greet the new arrivals and volunteer their services toward erection of a cabin for the Blakeslee family.  The month of May found the family comfortably housed and ready to face the hard work ahead.  Mr. and Mrs. Blakeslee laid a good foundation for future citizenship, as they raised a family of seven children, all of whom married and remained in the township excepting one.
     Mr. Blakeslee was more of a scholar than a farmer and he spent many hours at his desk.  He at once evidenced an interest in the general life of the county and soon gained  a wide acquaintance and the esteem of all with whom he came in contact.  He was one of the early and most active members of the Ashtabula County Historical Society and contributed largely to the written records of that organization.
     Following the Blakeslee family, the next settlers were Halsey Phillips and family.  This family started from Colebrook, Conn., in the summer of 1820, induced by the glowing accounts of the new country written "back home" by Mrs. Joseph B. Cowles, a sister of Mrs. Phillips, who was among the early comers to Austinburg.  The Phillips party was composed of himself, his wife, their four children, and his two brothers.  Austinburg was their objective and they arrived there in the early fall of the year named.  They had not, however, decided to make that place their abode, at least until after they had looked around.  Casting about for a place in which to establish a permanent home, Mr. Phillips decided upon Colebrook.  Leaving his family with the Cowles household, he and his brothers went to Colebrook and proceeded to build a log house for their occupancy.  They moved into their new domicile in a few weeks.
     Succeeding families who came into the neighborhood included the names of Rosswell Stillman, who stayed but a short time and moved on to Andover; Z. Cutter, Francis Drake, Medad Canfield, Theodorus Miller, Frederick Jones, Levi Rice and others and within a few years there was a very respectable colony in quality and size.
     In 1822 a school house was erected, from logs, near the Watson Corners.  Miss Cleora Phillips was the original schoolmaam of the town.  Her charge included a class of six pupils.  She was paid one dollar a week and boarded herself.  IN lieu of cash, which was a scarce article with those sturdy pioneers, she received two bushels of wheat, worth 50 cents a bushel.
     The Rev. Ephraim T. Woodruff, employed as minister of the churches in Williamsfield and Wayne, preached the first sermon ever delivered in Colebrook.  The congregation assembled at the home of Joel Blakeslee.  That was in 1820.  The first church organization was effected in 1831, under direction of the Rev. Giles H. Cowles, of Austinburg.  It was of the Congregational denomination and the original number of members was 18.  Not long thereafter a Methodist Church was organized with a membership of about the same size.  In 1836 a Baptist Society was formed by 20 of the residents thereabouts, and i 1849, 14 persons signed the charter list for a Free Baptist denomination.  New Lyme and Orwell residents contributed to the congregations and supported the early churches.
     Halsey Philips was the first postmaster in Colebrook.  The postoffice was established in that town in 1826 and located and located in Mr. Phillips' residence.  The institution continued for many years, but ultimately was discontinued and the town folk have for some years been served daily by rural free delivery, as have many small communities of the counties that once boasted their own postoffices.
     To David Chase, who journeyed from New York, is given credit for opening the first store in Colebrook.  He transported the stock from the east in 1836 and put it on sale in a log house at the Center.
     In 1830 Isaac L. Jayne opened a hotel at the Center and it continued as a hostelry for many years.

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