Ashtabula Co., Ohio
SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.
ORGANIZATION - "FOBES DALE" - FIRST OWNERS - EARLY SETTLERS -
INDIANS - REMINISCENSES -
EARLY DAY SCHOOLS - ANECDOTES BY MISS HOLDEN -
CENTRALIZED SCHOOLS - CHURCHES - NORTH KINGSVILLE -
WHISKEY STILLS - NUMEROUS
EVENTS - INFIRMARY HOLACAUST.
The village of
Kingsville was organized in the year 1810. It is one of the lake
townships, situated east of Ashtabula and Plymouth, north of Sheffield and west
of Conneaut & Monroe, being township No. 13, of range 2, in the original map of
the county, after it had been divided into townships. Organization
followed its detachment from the township of Ashtabula, a part of which it had
been in the original assignment of townships.
A log cabin on the bank of the Conneaut River, which
stream bends in from the east to almost the center of Kingsville Township, then
out to the east again, was the scene of holding the first election of the town.
On that occasion William Ferguson, Israel Harrington and Roger
Nettleton were named the trustees, Alpha Nettleton, clerk; Silas
Tinker, Jr., assessor; Thomas Kezartee, constable.
The first township map made
designated this township as "Fobes Dale", that name having been given it
by the settlers in honor of the first permanent resident Capt. Walter Fobes,
who established his home in the township in the fall of 1805. Some of the
later comers scoffed at the name and insisted on calling it "Fobes Tale",
which the loyal ones would not stand for, so it became advisable to change the
name. This gave rise to many suggestions as to an appropriate title for
the town and, by general acquiescence, it was for some time called Norwich.
This still indicated the disposition to make it a memorial to Capt. Fobes,
who came from Norwich, Conn. This, however, did not hit the fancy of all
and, when a man by the name of King, a transient who had no interest in
the place, came along the learned of the controversy he suggested a remedy and
said he would give four gallons of whiskey if they would compromise on his name
and call the town Kingsville and his proposition was accepted, and that is how
it came to be "Kingsville".
In the original assignment of the
various portions of the county, by the Connecticut Land Company's lottery
scheme, Kingsville territory fell to the ownership of John H. Buell, Timothy
Burr, Elijah White, Theodore Ely, Enoch Perkins, Royal Taylor and Ephraim
Robbins. The total price of the tract was $12,903.23. None of
the original owners evinced any personal interest in the opening up and
development of their land, but they proceeded to sell it off to whomsoever they
could induce to invest and cast their lot with the hardy venturers who wanted a
hand in the making of a new annex to the eastern populated section.
Capt. Walter Fobes, the first to break into the
unopened country at this point, was a man of means and might have continued to
live and prosper in the settled states of the East, but he was ambitious to have
a hand in the future growth of new country, so he purchased 500 acres in
Kingsville, and the same amount in what is now Madison, about 20 miles farther
west. This investment was with the idea of locating himself and wife upon
the Kingsville tract and his five children on the other, so they might he
neighborly, while each worked his own land. Mr. Fobes' purchase
included what is now covered by North Kingsville, and also the county infirmary
property. He donated an allotment for the village cemetery and, as it
happened, his was the first burial therein.
Prior to the arrival of Capt. Fobes, for a
couple of years, a white man by name of Eldad Harrington had resided in a
cabin that he built on the bottom land at the bend of the river in 1803.
He had, however, no rights of possession and was merely a "squatter". When
this nomadic roamer, who had come into the wilderness with no particular
objective as to where he would settle, came to this spot, he was attracted not
only by the beauty of surroundings, which to this day is remarked on by
strangers who happen to pass that way, but he found a ready-made opening that
had been cleared by Indians and used by them for raising corn. When he
realized this advantage, and coupled it with the fact that the surroundings
afforded excellent hunting and fishing, he decided to stay right there.
About the time that the Fobes family entered and
established themselves several other men of the irresponsible class came along
and "squatted" along the river front. Among them were Andrew Stull,
Leonard and Michael Widener, Daniel Tolbert, Elijah Lewis, Israel
Harrington, ____ Blackman and _____ Blackmore. Most of these
men came from over the line in Pennsylvania, and nearly all were without
possessions or resources, living happy-go-lucky existence, with no aspirations
for the future, but content to take life as they found it day after day.
An exception to this rule, however, was Andrew Stull, who was a
blacksmith and, as he proved, a genius. He invented a spur for use in
climbing trees. These were so fashioned that, when strapped to the knees
and wrists, they rendered tree climbing expeditious and quite safe. At the
quest of the men for game very often necessitated tree climbing, Mr. Stull's
spurs were in demand, not only at home, but in places far removed to which their
fame had spread.
It is to the credit of some of these men that
Kingsville proved so attractive that it inspired them with a new spirit and a
desire to settle down and accomplish something, in pursuance of which they
eventually became useful and respected neighbors and tok active part in the
upbuilding of the settlement. In later years their descendants were known
among the best Kingsville's people.
In 1806 Capt. Roger Nettleton, who had been
among the first settlers of Austinburg, decided to leave that place and cast his
lot with the pioneers of Kingsville. He purchased 300 acres of land
adjoining that of Mr. Fobes on the west, and established his family home
thereon. Mr. Nettleton had come from the East in 1800.
Previously he had been a soldier of the territorial government forces and had
been commissioned a captain by the governor of the Northwestern Territory.
He was very religious and was one of the organizers of the first church in the
Thomas Hamilton also came to Kingsville in 1806
and purchased the North Ridge property on the east of the Fobes
land. Other comers in the next succeeding years included Clark Webster,
B. L. Noyes, M. Whitney, H. L. Dibell, Jeremiah and A. Luce, F. B.
Phelps, Amos Barrett, Alvin Fox, H. P. Newton, F. B. Nettleton, Edwin Dibble,
Morris Carter, A. Nettleton, S. J. Wright, L. D. Fox, R. L. Grover, E. O'Harra,
Charlotte Brown, A. B. Luce, P. H. Dibble, E. M. Webster, E. O. Butler, J. V.
Welton, Judson A. Knapp, Daniel C. Phelps, Edward and Nathan Blood,
William Woodbury, Reuben Heath, Girard Griswold, Reuben Harmon, William and
Stutson Benson, Charles Brown, Jacob Crater, Exekiel Sheldon, Wheeler
Woodson, Samuel Rugg, Anson Titus, Aaron Lyon, Smith and Elijah Webster,
Urial and Stephen Munger, Libeus Hill, Eden Wilcox, Samuel Rice, Jedediah
Hibbard, Samuel Newton, Gideon and Reuben Luce, Zacheus Bugbee, Thomas
and Roswell Cook, Daniel Noyes, Nathan Russell, David Wood, Ives Morse,
William Corwin, Andrwe Stanton, Obidiah and Samuel Wood, John and
Obed Dibble, Andrew and Silas Harvey, Elijah Hill, a Mr. Beardsley
and the Rev. Benjamin Barnes. Descendants of many of the above
named old-time residents have their homes in Kingsville today.
Indians - Notwithstanding that the Indians of this section were
generally friendly in their attitude toward the white settlers, there was
occasional evidence of a latent feeling of resentment, because of the
encroachment of the strangers from the civilized world, which would be displayed
in some despicable little act that was calculated to tantalize the white.
In the treaty which closed the title of the Redmen to
the land in this section, there was a stipulation that the Indians might
continue to enjoy the privilege of hunting and fishing hereabouts for a stated
number of years. The right of some of the friendly ones to continue their
sojourn in this vicinity was not questioned by the incoming white men, and there
were a few resident Indians living here until as late as 1811. Every
winter brought hosts of Indian hunters from their distant wigwam towns.
They came in the fall, by land or water, and pitched their camps for the winter,
to enjoy the best hunting season.
In evidence of their friendly feeling, it was the
custom for the hunters when they arrived to make a circuit of the homes of the
white settlers and call on each, and on this visiting tour they would be decked
out in their most elaborate regalia, including feathers, heads and silver
ornamentations. It was the custom for the whites to welcome their visitors
and spread a feast for them before their departure. This was expected by
the Indians and it would have been considered an evidence of unfriendliness if
any setters family had failed to extend to them this courtesy. The
settlers realized this and felt it must be done. At the close of the
gaming season, before taking their departure for their homes, the hunters would
repeat the performance, making farewell calls and enjoying another big feed.
Notwithstanding this generally friendly attitude of the
Indians, the underlying nature would occasionally come to the surface. The
late Harvey Nettleton, who spent his earliest years in Kingsville,
reminiscing on his boyhood experiences, in an article for one of the papers,
gave the following account of incidents that vividly illustrated the "inward
cussedness" of the men of the forest:
"When a child, I remember being left with two younger
sisters in the cabin, while the remainder of the family were in attendance at
religious worship, and of receiving a visit from some eight or ten of the
natives, who, on finding us alone, exhibited the genuine malignity of the savage
by brandishing their weapons and threatening us with instant death. A
young chief of the company, by the name of Po-ca-caw, or John Omick,
cocked and pointed his rifle at us, moving the muzzle to correspond with our
movements to avoid the shot. He likewise raised the tomahawk above our
heads, as if about to strike, and then, feeling of the edge, signified that the
weapon needed sharpening, and compelled me to turn the grindstone while he gave
to the tool the necessary edge. After thus inflicting us for about two
hours with, and compelling us to realize, all the horrors of an Indian massacre,
he possessed himself of a set of teaspoons, a quantity of salt, with some other
trifling articles from the house, and decamped with this party into the woods.
Another instance is related in which an Indian by the
name of Armstrong made his appearance on a certain day at the only cabin in the
center of Kingsville and was observed to be in great ill-humor. He entered
the cabin, with his rifle in his hand, instead of leaving it at a little
distance, a courtesy usually observed by the Indians before entering the houses
of the whites. Mr. Webster, the owner of the cabin, observing this
circumstance, met him on his entrance, took hold of his gun, which he
relinquished very unwillingly. Mr. Webster set it aside and invited him to
take a seat, but he remained very unsocial and sullen during his stay. The
family were all convinced that he was meditating some evil design and were much
relieved to see him soon rise from his seat and depart. He then went to
one or two more cabins in other parts of the township, repeating his former
movements, but did not meet with any favorable opportunity of gratifying his
At length, calling at the cabin of one of the settlers
who happened to be absent from his family, he made his introduction by seizing
one of the children by the hair, drawing his knife and passing it near the
child's throat, then twirling it dextrously above the child's head, representing
the manner of cutting and tearing off the scalp. The child uttered violent
screams, in which the other children joined. The mother, with great
coolness, stood at the window, anxiously looking for the coming of her husband,
and exhorting the children not to be alarmed, as their father would soon arrive.
Hearing this, the Indian gave a grunt, significant of it being time for him to
go, and hastily snatching up his rifle, followed the nearest pat into the woods.
The father soon arrived. The story made his blood boil. He hurriedly
seized his rifle, inquiring which direction the Indian villain took. He
was a determined man, fearless of danger, and the outrage to his little ones
stirred within him the deepest sense of the wrong of the brutal savage.
The flight of the Indian was swift, but that of the outraged father was swifter.
The result can be given in a few words. The Indian paid for his brutal
folly by the forfeiture of his life.
Another story related by Mr. Nettleton was the
experience of one of the settlers along the banks of Conneaut Creek, who owned a
valuable drove of hogs, and although he was obliged, in common with his
neighbors, to occupy the woods as a place of pasturage, he watched over them
with great care, and to prevent the depredations of the bears, built them a bed
near his dwelling, to which they were in the habit of returning every night.
Notwithstanding his pains he had the mortification frequently on their return
of finding one or more of their number missing. His drove was rapidly
diminishing. The settler soon perceived that this state of things must not
continue, or the dreams of rich supplies of hog and hominy for the winter wood
soon vanish. Armed with his rifle, he started for the forest, resolved to
punish the bears for their depredations. Placing himself at a convenient
distance, where he could watch unperceived any disturbance among his swine, he
saw an Indian dart suddenly form a thicket upon one of the herd, but missing his
hold he again slunk back into the bushes. This maneuver was repeated
several times with like result, when the patience of the settler was fully
exhausted and a rifle ball was sent through the body of the Indian and the hogs
were no more disturbed.
Some of the pioneer settlers valued the life of an
Indian very lightly indeed. There was a class who entertained a feeling of
deadly hostility toward the savages. They had passed the greatest part of
their lives upon the frontiers witnessing their cold-blooded massacres, had seen
their nearest friends fall victim to the deadly tomahawk, and thus had sworn
eternal vengeance against the race.
Reminiscences. - In the latter part of the last
century William C. Phelps, a brother of F. B. Phelps, wrote a
historical sketch of Kingsville which was never published, but is still in
possession of his great-niece, Miss Frances Holden, by whose courtesy the
writer is given access to the article. It appears that North Kingsville is
really the parent town, as the earliest settlers, Capt. Walter Fobes and
Roger Nettleton, and numerous families of later comers, purchased land
along the North Ridge road and there started the town. Excerpts from
Mr. Phelps' writings follows:
"Mr. Fobes built a double log house on the north
side of the North Ridge road about 20 rods east of the four corners. This
style of house was made by building two log houses about ten feet apart and
standing end to end and in line with each other. The roofs of the two
houses were extended so as to cover the space between them, making an open hall
in which the family could sit on days or evenings. One of the houses was
used for cooking, carding, spinning and tailoring and the other for sleeping
apartments and the reception of visitors. The sleeping rooms were
generally in the chambers, separated or partitioned from each other by blankets
hung between one bed and another. The hall, or open space, was a part
common to all; and I might say to everything from mop and broom to hoe, ax,
cycle, harness, buff caps, hats, shoes and stockings (if they had any).
Bare feet and heads were much more common those days than shoes and caps.
"One of the first things to be provided for, after a
shelter for families and cattle secured, was the education of their children.
The first schoolhouse was built of logs, on the southwest corner of what are now
the four corners in North Kingsville, in almost the exact site of the brick
house which was destroyed by fire a few years since. This log school-house
stood with its gable to the east and its door in the east end of the building.
The west end was occupied by a large fire-place, on each side of which was a
closet - one for the girls and the other for the boys - in which to hang their
caps, or make-believe shawls. In each side of the house were two windows,
one pane of glass high and six panes wide. On each side of the room from
the closets to the door, holes were bored in the logs and pins driven in them to
support the tables or desk on which the pupils were to imitate the copies set by
teachers in the copybooks, made by the pupils or their parents. In front
of each of these writing desks was a continuous bench, or seat, made of slabs,
for the larger pupils, and in front of these, a row of lower benches for the
little folks. A movable stool or chair for the teacher completed the
furniture of the schoolroom. The first frame schoolhouse was built in
1821, nearly opposite the burying ground in North Kingsville.
"A Methodist minister named Johnson, a man over
70 years of age, was the pedagog during the years 1813-14. He was not only
old in years, but old-fashioned. He ware an old blue coat 'all buttoned
down before' like old Grimes', called in those days a shad-bellied coat, and
rounded out from the collar to the waist and from the waist nearly to the
ankles; white vest and very long; pants came down to his knees, where they were
met by a pair of long stockings, and they were united by tying them together
with a ribbon having a tassle at each end so that the tassles were hanging at
the outside of each knee. His shoes were low and fastened with silver shoe
buckles. He and his wife lived during the winter in the schoolhouse,
sleeping in one of the closets and eating in the other, he managing the school
on week days and preaching on Sundays.
"The religious needs of the pioneers were not neglected
by them. Before the schoolhouses were built, meetings on the Sabbath were
held in private houses and conducted by Deacon Webster or Deacon
"From the very early settlement of the town, the
daily consumption of whisky in every family was considered necessary to
neutralize the bad effects of unwholesome water, or poisonous air, or as an
antidote for every disease or prevailing sickness. If the minister called,
he must partake of a drink of whisky with you; if a child was born, a drink must
be given to every caller; at weddings whisky was furnished to the guests.
"About 1830 the first building was raised in Kingsville
at which there was whisky. It was finished by Nathan Blood for
William Fobes. In 1829 the first meeting for the formation of a
society on the pledge of abstainence from ardent spirits was held. Many
signed the pledge. Jugs and bottles gradually disappeared, and it was not
many years before it was considered an insult by many to be offered a drink of
Schools of Kingsville - It stands to the everlasting credit of the
pioneers in all sections of Ashtabula County that they who emigrated here from
the Eastern states were of a class that realized the importance of education,
and, like its neighboring towns, Kingsville turned early to that important
necessity. Little more than a year after the first settler came, the
school was introduced and the first class assembled numbered seven children.
As was quite fitting, the first school was conducted in the residence of the
first settler, Walter Fobes, and the teacher of the young hopefuls was
Miss Rebecca Cowles. This school was instituted in 1806, and, although
regular sessions were held, the townsfolk did not put up a schoolhouse until
1812. Meantime, the seat of learning had moved around, from house to
house, wherever it could get houseroom. The building was constructed of
logs, on the Clark Webster clearing, a short distance east of the village
The first frame schoolhouse was put up in what is now
North Kingsville, in 1821. That section of the town had become quite
numerously populated at that time and this school enrolled nearly 50 scholars
during its first term. The word "scholars" is used advisedly, as the
pupils who attended and sought to improve their general knowledge by the best
means attainable were not all children. It was not all uncommon to
full-grown men, and of mature years, taking their places in the classes beside
the urchins and lassies, and it was not thought strange.
One of the children who composed the first class in
that school was F. B. Phelps, who died but a few years ago on the old
homestead a short distance west of North Kingsville corners, after having spent
his whole life, nigh unto a century, on the same farm. Mr. Phelps
was much sought after during the sunset years of his life by those who wished to
know about early Kingsville. He was the acknowledged historian, and his
mind was wonderfully retentive and he took pleasure in relating incidents of the
early days. (Of this we shall have more from his memoirs) Regarding
the old school, he said: "If that old schoolhouse could talk, it might
tell of the numberless apple cores and paper wads thrown at teachers' heads, and
the tunes stepped out at the measure of witch-hazel gads, as the consequence.
I stepped many a tune of that character in that old house, in which I thought
there were altogether too many beats to the bar."
In the winter of 1834-5 active measures were taken
looking to the introduction of means for acquiring an education advanced beyond
the "Three Rs". In those days academic education was becoming quite
popular. Ashtabula and other neighboring towns had establishments of that
nature, and some of the progressive citizens thought it was time for Kingsville
to get into line and, to that end, they expressed a willingness to risk an
investment, for the good of the cause. Accordingly, after much discussion,
a stock company was formed, several of the leading men of the town taking the
entire 60 shares, at $10 a share. They organized, electing D. M.
Spencer, president; Nathan Wakefield, secretary; B. S. Noyes,
treasurer; and Artemus Luce, Johnathan Gillette and J. P. Eastman,
trustees. Gilbert Webster donated ground for the proposed building
and little time was lost in preliminaries for its construction. The
academy building erected during the following year was 42x28 feet on the ground
and two stories high. It was done off into two rooms on each floor.
In December, 1847, this building was destroyed by fire, under rather suspicious
circumstances. Regarding this misfortune, the Williams history
"Suspicions were aroused that this unhappy event was a
result of incendiarism and the crime was finally fastened upon two students by
the names of Kinner and Moore. It is said that both the boys
confessed their guilt to Z. C. Graves, the preceptor at that time.
Their parents on their knees implored for the pardon of the young men.
They escaped punishment. Six or seven years after this Moore was
said to have been hung in California for the crime of murder, and to have
confessed upon a scaffold that the burning of the Kingsville Academy was his
first criminal act, which was followed by the murder of four of his fellow
beings during his career."
Not discouraged, the company rebuilt, during the next
year (1848), and the Kingsville Academy eventually became widely and favorably
known, and was a prosperous institution of learning for several years. In
the course of time, however, like institutions sprang up ore numerously in the
vicinity, which had the effect of detracting from the Kingsville school, and the
tide of prosperity turned. The owners struggled along a few years longer,
then, in 1872, the institution was voluntarily turned over to the township
trustees, who turned it into a public school. In 1885 a fine brick
structure for a high school was erected, and that eventually became the home of
the first centralized school in the state, which is the subject for another
story in the Kingsville history.
Anecdotes by Aged Pioneer - (By Miss Francis E. Holden) In
the yard of my home, a mile west of North Kingsville center, are still living
apple trees that were set out over a hundred years ago by Daniel Calvin.
These old trees have outlived all residents who were alive when they were set
out. One of the best known men in this section, who was born and spent his
whole life in this place, was my maternal grandfather, F. B. Phelps.
UP to the time of his passing away, he was the recognized historian of the
community, and when I was a child, I was kept "fed up" on anecdotes of the early
years, which he would delight in relating to me, I presume so he could enjoy my
youthful wonderment as the tales unfolded.
He told me that the first schoolhouse was built in "Northtown",
in 1821, and that he attended it, as a child, long enough to learn the alphabet.
Among his schoolmates were the Burroughs brothers, who in their
manhood years attained much prominence, one as a United States senator and the
other as a judge; also the late Judge Woodbury. As I remember, the
first teacher's name was Bowen. Judge Burroughs, it was
said, spent his experimental oratory on the "North Woods", to which
secluded place he would repair when he wanted to declaim aloud and have none but
God and Nature hear his amateur efforts in that line. One of the teachers
in this early school, Daniel Bliss, founded a college, in later years, in
Beirut, Syria. Albion W. Tourgee, the once popular novelist, was
for many years a resident of Kingsville, before his chosen profession took him
to other parts.
The first Fourth of July celebration in Kingsville was
held at the old Heath home, where there was a large and noisy assemblage.
I recall the story of the first circus that came to town. The menagerie
consisted of a small elephant and a ring-tailed monkey. The exhibition was
given in the Walter Fobes big barn, with a man seated on a bundle of
straw grinding out music from an ancient cymbal. The populace assembled,
with their individual shillings, to see this wonderful caravan of animals, and
very few of them had ever seen an elephant before.
Grandfather was justice of the peace for the village
for 33 years, and he had many amusing cases. He had in his possession a
docket covering two years, 1830-32, in which 75 cases were recorded. He
explained the numerous cases as not strange, as going to law in those days was
cheaper than now, when pettifoggers could be employed for 50 cents a case, and
take their pay in labor.
Chandler Welton came here and settled in 1821.
He followed farming, shoemaking and vessel building for a living, his son
working with him. They devoted their spare time for six years to the
construction of a 30-ton vessel, which they built in the yard of their home.
When it was finished they made trucks for transporting it, the wheels of which
were made from whitewood trees. All the neighbors turned out and a
dozen yoke of oxen were hitched to the trucks and the boat was hauled to
Ashtabula Harbor, where it was sold. The boat was named "Allen Thimbel",
Later he built a 10-ton vessel, hauled it to Ashtabula and used it on July 4,
1836, in running pleasure excursions out onto the lake.
The Mormons made a visitation on this place in the
spring of 1834 and labored with residents persistently, and not without effect.
Joseph Smith's brother, Hiram, and Orson Hyde were the
evangelists, and they held meetings in the schoolhouse. They were
friendly, good talkers, good singers, and very gifted in scriptural doctrine,
and many persons were interested. In June, 1838, 20 families of Mormon
converts, emigrating from the East to Kirtland, spent three days in camp on the
Nettleton place. Five families of this town, well known to my grandfather,
accepted the Mormon faith.
Samuel and Burrell Newton came to
Kingsville in 1816 and soon made themselves useful and popular. They were
assigned as captains, to drill the men, when it was required that, on certain
days of the year, every man over 21 and under 45 years must assemble at
headquarters for military duty.
The feeder for Eastlake was formerly a pretty brook
that was filled with speckled trout, and was a favorite resort for anglers.
One of the most momentous occasions in the history of
Kingsville was the observance of its one hundredth anniversary, in the summer of
1906, on which occasion there was a great celebration in the village proper.
Schools. - One of the honors to which the
township of Kingsville lays claim is that of having been a pioneer in the
inauguration of the centralized school system in this country, which has proven
such a blessing to children of the rural districts and a great saving to school
finances wherever it has been adopted, which is nearly every section of the
settled territory of the United States.
In 1890, or about that time, C. A. Corbin, then
principal of the Kingsville High School, later for many years editor of the
Ashtabula Democratic Standard and for two terms postmaster of Ashtabula, laid
before the Kingsville Board of Education a plan for elimination of several of
the district schools adjacent to Kingsville village, and the bringing of the
scholars into town, to attend the village school. The board did not at
that time see the advantage of the plan proposed and the suggestion did not meet
with favor. However, ti was not dead, as was proven by its subsequent
revival and fruitful issue.
In 1893, during the incumbency of F. E. Morrison
as principal of the Kingsville schools, that gentleman succeeded in inducing the
board to try out the plan, and that decision put Kingsville "on the map", for,
after the system had been put into operation and proven successful beyond
question, in many respects, its fame was broadcasted through the press of the
country and representatives of educational boards from all over the State of
Ohio and the adjoining states came to Kingsville to witness the operation of the
centralization system and study its advantages.
Thenceforth the system spread abroad, and in many
states today the district school is but a memory to the older inhabitants, while
to the younger generation it is tradition. The result was the
consolidation of educational facilities of various districts, the construction
of large schoolhouses, centrally located, the introduction of the school van,
or, as it is jocularly termed, "kid-wagon", the saving of much money to the
boards affected, thus allowing of the employment of better talent and fewer
teachers. Added to these monetary considerations in this advantage the
children have of getting into a comfortable rig at their home gate and arriving
at the schoolhouse warm and dry, in contrast to the old method of wading through
slop or snow, reaching their destination wet and chilled, and having to sit
through the study hours with wet feet, perhaps in a poorly heated room, which
often resulted in contracting colds that not infrequently proved fatal.
The world owes much to the man who conceived the idea of the centralized school,
and it is a great honor to the village of Kingsville to have given the plan to
Churches - The first church association in
Kingsville Township was that of the Congregational denomination, in 1810, the
Rev. Samuel Crocker being its minister. It is to be supposed that the
question of salary was not to be seriously considered by the ministers of that
day, since a congregation the size of that over which Rev. Crocker
officiated could scarcely afford to pay very much for the services of a special
pastor. Walter Fobes and wife, Mr. and Mrs. James
Montgomery, John P. Read and Lois Badger, six persons,
constituted the membership, and they met pretty regularly, holding meetings
alternately at the homes of the members. In 1821 the congregation had
outgrown private dwellings, and they built a meeting house in the center of the
village. This burned in 1848. For some time previous to this
interruption to the services of the Congregationalists, there had been a growing
sentiment of Presbyterianism, and after the fire, members and committees from
both these denominations met in conference on a proposition to consolidate their
forces, which they did, and another and larger house of worship was erected
nearby, of which the Rev. Erastus Williams was the first pastor.
In 1813 a congregation of seven persons organized the
Baptist Church of Kingsville and held meetings in one of the schoolhouses of the
township, Elder Benjamin Barns performing the services of pastor.
After the log school-church building was destroyed by fire, in 1825, they hired
a hall for four years, at the end of which time they erected their own church
The Methodists did not seem to strike Kingsville very
numerously in the early years, as it was not until 1831 that they organized a
church society in the town. Then they started with 16 names on the roll,
they, too, holding their services in the schoolhouse at the center. Their
first pastor was the Rev. Samuel Ayers. In 1834 the congregation
had assumed such numbers, and consequent resources, that they were able to have
their own building, and they erected the first brick meeting house in the town.
In 1877 the spirit of religion moved the people of the
north town to build an independent church structure, purely undenominational, of
which character the county boasted several houses of worship. The doors
were open to any minister of the gospel who cared to conduct services and be
satisfied with the voluntary contributions tendered him. The religious
interests of the community progressed with the populous growth and the numerous
denominations of the present years are respectively housed as becomes the modern
- North Kingsville is that section of Kingsville Township lying north of the
Nickel Plate tracks and including also a small acreage projecting south of said
tracks. Kingsville village was never incorporated, and for many years the
residents of the section along the North Ridge road, known as "Northtown", felt
that they were being discriminated against, in respect to public school
advantages, and they resolved to "pull out" and organize a town of their own.
From information given by James Callow, who resides on the North Ridge a
short distance west of the North village, the writer learns much of interest in
connection with the divorcing of the two sections of the town.
It appears that the north section, with its Lake Shore
Railroad and its interurban trolley line, was supplying the lion's share of the
taxes that supported both villages, and therefore felt that it should have at
least an equal share in the public advantages, especially in the educational
line. So the leading residents got together and took steps looking to
incorporating their section of the township.
This action vitally concerned the people of the
village, as it was proposed by the Northtown faction to include the Nickel Plate
Railroad within their corporate limits, which would leave the south portion
practically "flat". Consequently there was a big fight over the boundary
line of the south, and the outcome was that the village proper retained the
benefit of the taxes from the Nickel plate line. The village of North
Kingsville was incorporated about 1910, and its citizens are very proud of their
little municipality. Within the year they have erected a splendid modern
school building, that quite meets their hearts' desire.
The town has the expansive late frontage, which is a
great advantage, and also within its environs there is an artificial lake, with
adjoining package, which affords good boating and fishing and a pleasant resort
on hot summer days.
Soon after the Lake Shore Railroad was put in
operation, the company located at North Kingsville a large repair shop, wherein
all of the iron and steel repair work for the system was done. Mr.
Callow's father was one of the foremen in that shop, and the son worked
there for some years before it was shut down, in 1876.
The house where Mr. Callow resides was the old
"Nettleton Stage House", an early day tavern and a regular stop for stage
coaches. In connection, there was a very commodious barn, which was
erected in 1812 and served until the fall of 1924, when it was torn down.
Whisky Stills. - ("Pioneer", in Kingsville Tribune, Aug. 1889)
In the log cabin days of Kingsville there was no market for the little surplus
grain that was raised, and, to put it into a more condensed form, that it might
be shipped to Detroit or Buffalo, they felt it necessary to distill it into
whisky. In 1823 there were three stills running within the radius of this
place. One by a man named Ward, on the place now owned by Squire
Ransom, in the east part of town; one by Smith Webster, at the foot
of Stephen Sabin's hill; and one by Enoch Stevens, in East
Ashtabula, on what is now the Frank Watrous place. Five years later
one was started by Walter Atwell, on north side of road, a little east of
Nickel Plate gravel pit. About the same time, Jonathan Gillette
started one where the late Jacob Fickinger's saw mill now stands, and
still later, Luce & Eastman started one at what is known as
Not all of these stills were running at the same time,
but enough were going to use up the surplus corn and rye, and make good whisky
easy to obtain, which at that time was considered legitimate and proper and even
necessary. Farmers would get some of their grain worked up on shares and
store it away in their cellars for future use, as it was thought to be very
useful to protect against cold weather. Ministers of the gospel drank it,
church members drank it; all used it more or less as a remedy. The article
was pure, easy to be obtained, kept in families as other remedies were kept, and
no more of its evil effects were noticed, comparatively, than now. Its use
was not opposed nor looked down upon, therefore none were unduly stimulated to
obtain it by stealth of its use being arbitrarily opposed.
Events - The Ashtabula County Infirmary was built in Kingsville and
was made ready for business in January, 1841. The original directors were
Colonel St. John, of Morgan (Rock Creek); Horace Luce, of
Kingsville, and a Mr. Grant, of Conneaut. Obed. Dibble was
In May, 1853, Abel Brumbley tied a 20-pound
stone to one end of a rope and the other end around his neck and jumped into the
mill pond. In an account of the suicide, a local paper said: "A long
course of whisky has brought poor Abel to this, at the age of 25.
We have no tears for his escape from the enemy.
In the summer of 1858 a move was started to make the
green in front of the academy into a village park, by having it graded, fenced
in and planted with shrubbery. Public-spirited citizens subscribed over
$500 for the purpose.
Crowther & Sons' woolen factory was destroyed by
fire on Oct. 16, 1860, together with contents. The loss was $7,000.
Prof. M. E. Barrett opened a commercial college
in the town in the summer of 1866.
Lulu Falls Cemetery was formally appropriated for
burial purposes on Friday, November 15, 1867. A landscape artist was
engaged and the lot sale opened.
Kingsville's big fire occured on Feb. 15, 1867, when
the business center of the town was wiped out. It was necessary to tear
down two buildings to stay the progress of the flames.
A. Y. M. C. A. was organized in Kingsville in 1869.
A crowd of 600 persons from far and near attended the
opening of Kelsey's trotting Park, in Kingsville, in the spring of 1877.
Holocaust. - The most distressing mishap in
the annals of Kingsville was the destruction by fire, on Feb. 2, 1858, of the
county infirmary and the cremation of six of the inmates, while the others were
turned out into the bitter winter's cold to find temporary shelter wherever it
was offered. The fire started just after dark, being discovered at 5 p.m.
when it had gained such headway as to be beyond any hope of control, and
the management gave their entire attention to the rescue of the inmates.
They succeeded in getting them all out excepting Thomas Neno, Joseph Brunson,
a Mr. Minor, Eliza Percival, Anna Ellison and a Mrs. Bennett,
formerly of Jefferson. Those who escaped, numbering about 60, were taken
in by the sympathizing residents of the village, there being scarcely a home
that did not take in one or more. Investigation disclosed that the fire
was started by one of the inmates, the incendiary being Mrs. Huldah Morrison.
A small boy said that she asked him to hand her a lighted stick with which to
light her pipe. Upon obtaining possession of the torch, however, instead
of touching it to the bowl of her pipe, she thrust the glow end into her straw
tick, then threw open the door to insure a draft, and no means available could
keep back the flames so nicely started. Mrs. Morrison was sent to
jail, the verdict of the jury being that the victims of the fire came to their
deaths by the willful act of the pipe smoker.