History of
Ashtabula Co., Ohio

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

New Lyme Township



     Township No. 9, in the third range of Ashtabula County, was originally Lebanon, now it is New Lyme, and its confines also include South New Lyme, Dodgeville and Brownsville, all distinct settlements. The land covered by this township was purchased in 1799 by Elisha Tracy, from the Connecticut Land Company, and later Josiah Barber became owner. During 1801 to 1803 he disposed of it to S. Gilbert, E. Tracy, J. Pepoon and Joel Owen. The latter's ownership included 1,000 acres, and Mr. Owen set out from his home in the far East, with his family, to take possession, but owing to the inclemency of the late fall weather, he left his wife and children at Amsterdam, N. Y., and finished the journey alone. After he had reached his destination and chosen a site for his future homestead, he proceeded to erect a house, which was the first residence put up in the township. In the spring, his home all completed, he returned to Amster­dam, rejoined his family and with them came back to the new home. Not­withstanding the cozy cabin that awaited them, it was a lonely place for them all to settle down in, surrounded by forest and seven miles removed from the nearest neighbor.
     In this solitude the family passed the succeeding years until 1811, in which year Samuel G. and Daniel Peck, Joshua Strickland, Vinton B. Way and John and Salmon Gee arrived from Connecticut and settled in the vicinity of the Owen home. Later in the same year Dan Huntley, Joseph Miller, Peter Chapman and Perry Beckwith came on from the East with their families and chose future residence spots in the township. In the fall the Pecks and Mr. Hay went back to Connecticut after their waiting families, and on their return were accompanied by Eusebius Dodge, Zopher Gee, Charles Knowles and Sanford Miller, the entire party making the journey with ox teams in just six weeks. The above named individuals and families constituted the real pioneer settlers of New Lyme Township, wherein many of their descendants still reside.
     The influx of 1811 gave the population of New Lyme Township a big impetus. The experiences of many of the emigrants en route to the new home section were not all pleasant. For much of the way there were no broken roads and most of them followed the lake shore from Buffalo. It took several weeks to make the journey and the travelers encountered varied weather, in addition to other unpleasant features. The beach of the lake, generally, afforded a good road for the heavy wagons, but the outfits were often soaked by the waves in their passage around headlands that came near to the water, and in many instances it was necessary to push their teams and wagons through the surf for some distance. One company came very near to losing their teams, while thus making one of the difficult passages, and even their lives were endangered. Eusebius Dodge on this occasion was carrying in his pocket his title to the 1,280 acres that he had purchased in New Lyme, together with $1,000 in cur­rency. When he had once again reached sound footing, he found the papers and money completely soaked and had considerable difficulty in restoring them to a condition of usefulness. Arrived at Ashtabula, they found much hard going still ahead of them before they could reach their goal in the interior of the county.
     When the township was organized, in 1813, it was given the name of Lebanon, which was changed, by act of the State Legislature, in 1825, to New Lyme. The original town officers were Daniel Huntley, Samuel Peck and Perry Beckwith, trustees; Joseph Miller, clerk; Joel Owens, treasurer, and Edward Peck, constable. Eusebius Dodge was the first justice of the peace. Lemuel Lee was the first postmaster in the township, the mail for that village, from a route established in 1826 between Warren and Painesville, via Jefferson and Austinburg, being "worked" at his home. The first tavern to meet the needs of the traveling public was established by Elijah Brown, in 1876. The first regular mercantile establishment in the township was a general store opened in 1830 by Hayes & Carpenter. The needs of the community for store goods had been supplied prior to that time by members of the community who would make occasional trips to the nearest metropolis, purchase all sorts of merchandise for which they had advance orders from the people of the township generally, and, returning, fill the orders from house to house, exacting a small commission for their work. Jeremiah Dodge was for years the leading "commission merchant" of the vicinity.
     The first comers to New Lyme found only blazed trails, making difficult traveling for many miles before reaching their destination, and there was little else in the way of roadways until about the time of the township organization, immediately after which attention was given to means of travel, and by 1820 fairly good roads had been built in all directions.
     The first religious meeting was held at the home of Zopher Gee, in 1812, and conducted by the Rev. Giles H. Cowles, of Austinburg, who made frequent pilgrimages to neighboring settlements for the purpose of planting the seed of Christianity. In 1826 Elder Samuel Wires was instru­mental in the organization of a church of the Free Will Baptist faith. The original membership numbered less than a dozen, but the society prospered and grew in numbers, and in 1836 was regularly incorporated. Ten years later they built their own house of worship at Dodgeville settlement. In the meantime the Close Communion Baptists had organized a society and built a church in 1832. The South New Lyme Presbyterian Church was built in 1890.
     Albert Latimer and Johnathan Bishop built a cheese factory in 1865, and Dodge & Brown installed a like institution a few years later. New Lyme very soon took a place as a leader in the cheese making industry, for which Ashtabula County became famous the country over. The out put of cheese in that township has been known to reach nearly to the half million pound mark in a year.
     Dodgeville lodge of Masons was organized in the middle years of the century, and a lodge of the Order of Good Templars was instituted in Brownsville.
     Aside from the cheese factories, a carriage manufactory, owned by Richmond, Dodge & Company, was the leading industry of the township. A water power saw mill on Whetstone Creek, built in 1814, and another located on Lebanon Creek, in 1820, were other sources of industrial output.
     In the early fifties water cure institutions were introduced and sprang up here and there over the Western Reserve. The Ashtabula Western Reserve Water Cure Institute was added to the attractions of New Lyme Township in 1852, the proprietors being Doctors Kee and Ely. A sanitarium 36x40 feet on the ground and two stories high, with a wing on one side 28x40 and two stories high, and another wing 16x24 and one story, the building presented a quite formidable appearance. This institution enjoyed a more or less profitable business for a number of years, but the "water cure" eventually had its run and went the way of all fads.
     From a history of New Lyme compiled by B. F. Phillips, the following is taken:
     "In 1807 and for many succeeding years, girls' wages ranged from 50 cents to 75 cents a week. One lady tells us that when she was a small girl she carded and spun tow for Captain Flint, of this town, for 6 cents a run, until she earned enough to buy her a calico dress; it then required seven yards to make a grown person a dress; the price of prints was 75 cents a yard.
     "Mrs. Jeremiah Dodge, in her early days, went out spinning for 62½ cents a week, that being the usual price. The ladies, both young and old, wore plain yet neat and tidy dresses of their own manufacture. They braided their own hats from straw or bullrushes. You would see them walking for miles to meeting, barefooted, carrying their shoes (if they were so lucky as to have any) in their hands, to put on when near the church. But the young, as well as the aged, often appeared at church in their bare feet, as it was no easy task to get shoes at any price. The wife of Joseph Miller, who was well off for those times, was in the habit of wearing a pair of old shoes, and carrying a pair of better ones in her hand, until one Sunday, upon returning to the place where she had left the old ones, she found a porcupine just using up the last of them. This so provoked her that she walked home in her bare feet.
     "The first wedding in this town took place in the spring of 1812, in the log cabin of Samuel Peck. The groom was Calvin Knowlton, of Morgan ; the bride, Miss Susan Peck, daughter of Samuel Peck. Courting was not done in those early days, as at present, for it was then expected that every young couple should pass through a series of Sunday night courtships extending from 12 to 18 months, and often still longer. It was plain to be seen that it wore hard on Calvin, for the lovers were separated by almost trackless wilderness, full of all manner of wild beast, with only blazed trees to guide the lover. Yet, by an edict of those old Connecticut Puritans, this must all be done after sundown, and that, too, on Sunday night. Now Calvin had eight long miles to walk, through mud and snow. One night he slipped out at the back door while a faint glimpse of the sun was yet to be seen above the horizon, and was soon under fair headway for his Susan. The next day poor Calvin was brought before his betters and fined $1 and costs for thus profaning the Lord's Day. Thus say the records of our county at Jefferson."
New Lyme Institute.—(By Floss Forman Barker.) In the year 1876 the pioneer residents of New Lyme were aroused with a keen desire for an institution of learning, for the benefit of their young people and those of future generations. The following year the agitation began to bear fruit, and when the co-operation of Judge William S. Deming was solicited, the success of the project became practically assured. The Judge showed his interest by volunteering to give $3,000 toward the proposed school whenever the citizens would raise an equivalent amount, and, in addition, he agreed to donate the campus, and make other generous gifts. He sug­gested that subscriptions be solicited to be paid on an installment basis, as called for by the building committee. With a vast amount of fortitude, and splendid harmony on the part of the citizens, they were able to overcome many hardships, due to lack of finances, and, through noble sacrifices on the part of many, finally succeeded in supplementing the generous gifts of Judge Deming.
The institution was founded in 1878 under the name of the Northern Collegiate Business Institute, but was not incorporated until 1883.
     The original building was finished and furnished, and dedicated on Aug. 21,1879, an elaborate program attending the ceremonies.
     A recitation hall, a boys' dormitory and a ladies' hall were first erected. The last named was consumed by fire a few years later, whereupon the alumni of the institute erected Tuckerman Memorial Hall, a modern and well equipped building, affording comfort and pleasure to young ladies attending the school.
     When James Christy died and left his small fortune to be devoted to educational uses in the county, there immediately arose petitions from both New Lyme and Grand River institutes for the dowry to be turned over to them to be dispensed. In this contest, N. L. I. had the better of the argument, for Judge Deming said he would give as much more as there was in the fund if it were turned over to the New Lyme school.
     Calvin Dodge was the executor of the Christy estate, and when he filed his final report, in August, 1888, it showed the total value of the estate to be about $27,000. The manner of disposal was put up to the County Teachers' Institute, convened" in Geneva, on Aug. 9, 1888, and that body voted to create the Christy Summer School of Pedagogy, which has proven a great advantage to teachers and prospective teachers in the past years.
     The buildings of New Lyme Institute were located in a picturesque and highly elevated spot, facing Lebanon Creek, and a semicircle of stately maples, and the campus is one of rare beauty. When the first commence­ment exercises were held, the hearts of New Lyme citizens glowed with triumph and pride over the completion of what eventually proved to be a famous school.
     In the fall of 1882 Prof. Jacob E. Tuckerman, A. M., Ph. D., became president of the institution, and remained at its head for 15 years. Closely associated with Dr. Tuckerman, during these years, was the late M. L. Hubbard, principal of the commercial department and teacher of expression. These, combined with an excellent faculty, were responsible for the ultimate success of the school, and during their administration the attendance reached over 300 students yearly, many of whom are persons of renown today, of whom might be mentioned: The late Benjamin S. Chapin, who was a noted Lincoln impersonator and author of "The Son of Democracy", which has been presented in all of the large cities of the United States; Judge Florence E. Allen, of Cleveland, granddaughter of Prof. Tuckerman, who has served as prosecuting attorney for Cuyahoga County, judge of the Common Pleas Court and judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio. During a recent visit abroad she was received by the English court, and when welcoming her they announced: "If the women of England had displayed the keen mental ability Judge Allen had shown, they would be very welcome to a seat in the English Court."
     Some years ago a strong endeavor was made by the trustees of New Lyme Institute to procure the State Normal, but politics and greater in­ducements prevailed in favor of Kent. Then an attempt was made to secure a state school of agriculture, but by a veto of the Governor, a similar disappointment resulted. An endowment campaign was next started in hope of establishing the Benjamin Chapin School of Expression, with the late Rev. C. L. Parker, of Cleveland, as financial agent.
     By the will of Judge W. S. Deming, the trustees of New Lyme Institute came into possession of the land and six dwelling houses in "Newtown," and also a $25,000. endowment fund, which promised perpetuity to the institution, and it was hoped it could be maintained and continue to rank as one of the best preparatory schools of the county. The endowment was not sufficient, however, to warrant a continuance.
     When the bill passed the Legislature making it compulsory for each township to maintain a centralized school, or pay the expense of sending their students elsewhere, the trustees turned over the institute buildings and campus to the township for centralization purposes. Thus the famous old New Lyme Institute, the memory of which is dear to the hearts of many, passed out of existence.

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