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