Ashtabula Co., Ohio
SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.
New Lyme Township
PURCHASED BY ELISHA TRACY - FIRST SETTLERS - ORGANIZED IN
1813 - FIRST OFFICERS - ROAD BUILDING - FIRST RELIGIOUS MEETING - CHEESE FACTORY
- OTHER INDUSTRIES - LODGES - EARLY CUSTOMS - FIRST WEDDING - NEW LYME
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
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
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
"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
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
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.