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