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.

Monroe Township

CHAPTER XXVII.

NAMED FROM PRESIDENT MONROE - FIRST SETTLERS - CALEB BLODGETT - WATER POWER - WOLVES AND BEARS A MENACE - REV. JOSEPH BADGER - RELIGIOUS MEETINGS AND CHURCHES - ROADS - FIRST MAIL SERVICE - FERGUSON'S SETTLEMENT

     At the time of the organization of Ashtabula County, in 1811, the northeastern section of the county, embracing Townships Nos. 12, 13 and 14 of that first range, were set aside and given the name of Salem.  The assignment included what are now Conneaut and Monroe Townships.  In the first division that made two distinct townships of the one, Monroe was but five miles square, but when the town was organized, in 1818, it was given two miles more in length, the same being taken from Conneaut and added to the northern portion of the new township, thus making it seven by five miles in area and the largest township in the county.  The town was said to have been named from President James Monroe.  The election of 1818 was held in a log cabin on what was known as the Walker Bennett farm, on the Fourth of July.  After the election, David Niles, Harvey Dean and Stephen Webb were township trustees; Martin Kellogg, clerk; Asa Brown and Peter Peck, overseers of the poor; Perry Gardner and Isaac Bennett, fence viewers, and Amos Kellogg, treasurer.
     The first settler to locate in the township was Col. Stephen Moulton, who journeyed from Whitestown, New York, in 1799.  With him was a woman said to have been another man's wife, with whom Moulton had eloped, so it was not strange that they should choose as their place of hiding a location in a dense forest, where few white men had ever penetrated.  Probably the only men of the white race that had been over that section were the men of the original Connecticut Land Company's surveying corps.  History relates, further, that the woman was no more loyal to Moulton than she has been to her husband back East, for, not very long after their settlement in Ohio, other men came into the vicinity and she eloped with one of them, thus leaving the Colonel to live alone in his log cabin, the first that had been erected within the township, to ponder over the fickleness of humanity, and wonder what had become of the wife and children he had deserted in the East.  Moulton and his borrowed wife had three years of each others' company before another family intruded on their privacy and came to be their neighbors.
     The second comer was Johathan Harrington, and he established a home near the Moulton residence.  Then came William Moss, William James and George Ferguson.  In 1802 William Hardy, of Pennsylvania, decided to cast his lot with those who were already established in Ashtabula County, so he loaded such of his household effects as could be conveyed and, taking his wife and three children, he set out for the West.  While en route, Mrs. Hardy was taken ill and died.  Mr. Hardy arranged for her burial and then resumed his journey into the unbroken wilds of Ohio.  When he came to Monroe, he decided to go no farther, so he began looking about for a suitable location and had the good fortune to find a vacant  house at his disposal.  The family arrived here in April, 1803, after having been on the travel four months.  It happened that on the very day of their arrival, George Ferguson and family were taking their departure for Springfield, over the line in Pennsylvania, and, as they were abandoning their log house, the Hardy family moved into it and there established themselves, and for several generations the Hardy family continued to reside in the township of Monroe.
     Among the pioneer residents of Monroe, one man stood out conspicuously because of his activities in connection with the commercial interests of the settlement and its environs.  That was Caleb Blodgett, who attached himself to the town in 1810 and at once got busy.  He purchased 50 acres of land near where is now the village of Kellogsville, settled thereon and proceeded to clear and cultivate his property.  His first venture in the commercial line was to purchase a distillery that had been built a few years previously and was owned by W. B. Frazier.  That proved so profitable that he subsequently installed several other distilleries in the near vicinity.  He did not confine his activities to his own town, however, for he bought into companies operating stage lines between Buffalo and Cleveland and from Erie to Pittsburgh.  The latter route lay through Monroe Township, and was largely responsible for the upbuilding of the hamlet of Kelloggsville, through which it coursed.  Blodgett was progressive in his ideas and, while his chief interest lay in the enriching of himself, his work in some lines meant much to succeeding generations.  One of his best accomplishments was the building of a turnpike road from the north line of Monroe Township to the southwest corner of the township of Richmond, a distance of 15 miles.  People of that day and many later yeas knew this particular section of highway as "Blodgett's turnpike".  He built a flour mill in Sheffield, and a steam grist mill in Kelloggsville, and for a period of five years he had a contract to supply beef and pork for the U. S. garrison at Green Bay, Wis.  Williams Brothers' History relates further:  "He was a man who assumed great risks and many times would be unable to meet his obligations.  It is said that at one time he bought a boiler in Pittsburgh, and when transporting it home hid himself in it to evade being stopped by men whom he owed at his stage stations along the route.  At another time he came very near being kidnapped by a party who were going to take him to Batavia, N. Y., where a bail-bond was lying against him.  He was decoyed into their wagon by the parties, on a pretense of their desiring to buy his farm, but when they reached his place they whipped up, at the same time holding him in the wagon so that he could not escape.  He called to his men, and they, hearing him, took horses and pursued, overtaking the party in the vicinity of Clark's Corners, where they rescued him."
     Monroe Township was particularly favored with water that could be utilized for power, as both the Conneaut and Ashtabula Rivers flow through its boundaries.  This advantage was improved by many and water mills of all descriptions used in that period were constructed here and there throughout the portions of the townships where the rivers were.  Distilleries were among the most essential requirements of that time, and were as common as grist mills.
     Wolves and bears menaced the early comers to this section, where they seemed to be particularly numerous.  They preyed on the stock of the settlers and made it a very hazardous and trying experience for the owners at all times.  There were also quite a number of Indian families scattered throughout the township, but they were always friendly and the whites got along with them very well.  This vicinity was full of elk, and at certain times of the year many Indians would come and spend weeks hunting.  History relates that on one occasion Thomas Hamilton was out hunting and came upon a drove of 13 elk in a bend of the Conneaut River, where they could not get out without passing him, and that he killed every one of them.  After he had completed the job of dressing them, he deposited the meat in the water to keep it fresh, and then sent word broadcast for everybody to come and help himself.
     The Rev. Joseph Badger was never lacking in performance of what he considered his duty.  He was ever watchful of the opportunities presented for extending the work of the gospel, and when it seemed propitious to plant the seed of righteousness, he was always in the right place.  Accordingly, the growing settlement of Monroe Township was considered needy of his attention, and, in 1804, he organized a "class meeting" and preached to the dwellers thereabout at stated intervals in his itinerary of the county.  These meetings were held for many years at the homes of members, and taken to the schoolhouse, after one was built in 1814.  An organization of the Congregational faith was affected in 1829, and the Rev. Ephraim Woodruff was the first minister.  This organization erected a church home in 1832, at a cost of $1,500, which was contributed in fifths by leading members.  A branch of the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in the Kelloggsville section in 1832, one of the same denomination at Monroe Centers in 1835, and another at Clark's Corners in 1860.  Church buildings of the early years were put up at Kelloggsville in 1850, Monroe Center in 1852, and Clark's Corners in 1867.  A Christian Church was organized in the winter of 1824-25, and in 1848 they erected a church home at Hatch's Corners.  In 1853 a society of Universalists organized and proceeded at once to build their church.  One of the ministers of this congregation, in later years, was the Rev. Charles L. Shipman, who was known as the "Marrying Parson".  When he died, a few years ago, he had performed over 2,000 wedding ceremonies.  The editor of this book can vouch for the success of two of those ceremonies, for he married her parents, and, twenty-odd years afterward, performed the same service for their daughter, the writer.
     Monroe was one of the fortunate townships as pertains to public roads, lying, as it did, on the course of the initial surveying party, their road had been worked through before anybody and settled there.  This party began this portion of their survey at the Pennsylvania line, at the northeast corner of Monroe Township, they worked through in a diagonal direction, breaking a road as they went, and continued on through the township and others till it ended at Austinburg, from which point it was later extended to Cleveland.  This was known as the "Old Girdled Road" for many years.  The state road was put through in 1807, and some years later the county road, which traversed from south to north, and hitting the Ridge a short distance east of Amboy.  The state road went to Conneaut.
     The first mail service given to Monroe was the route installed from Warren to Salem (Conneaut), via Kinsman.  The postoffice was named Kelloggsville, in compliment to Amos Kellogg, the first postmaster.  The place of distribution and dispatch of the mail was in the Kellogg residence, and that particular section of the township has since been known as Kelloggsville.  Subsequently two other postoffices were established in the county, one at Monroe Center, and the other at Clark's Corners.
     Prior to the establishment of the postoffice in Kelloggsville, the place now known by that name was called "Ferguson's Settlement", for the Ferguson family, previously mentioned among the first settlers, who made their homes in this immediate vicinity.  This was a very lively center in its palmy days, with distilleries, several kinds of mills, stores, churches, schools, and all that goes to make up a thriving little village.  At one time this township had more inhabitants than any other in the county, but as years passed, the attractions of the cities drew the boys from the farms, the girls married men who took them from the old home town, the elders gradually joined the "silent majority", and today the town is a very unassuming little hamlet. 
 

Back to Table of Contents - History of Ashtabula Co., Ohio

This webpage created by Sharon Wick 2008