Conneaut History & Genealogy - Ashtabula Co., Ohio

History of
Ashtabula Co., Ohio

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

Rome Township



     That section of Ashtabula County embraced in the township of Rome, in which are some of the finest farms in this part of the state, was sold by the Connecticut Land Company for 40 cents an acre, in the year 1798. It was then almost solid forest, through which flowed along the west border the Grand River and along the east border the Rock Creek, names given to the streams by the Indians many years before the foot of a white man ever touched that soil. The two streams afforded splendid water supply and excellent fishing, and, in the early years of the settlements, boats of a considerable size plied the Grand River the entire length of the county and beyond.
     The first work of the white man's ax was done by direction of Elijah Crosby, who purchased 550 acres in lots 13 and 14, a little northwest of the center of the township. Crosby and Daniel Hall rode horses from East Haddam, Conn., to look over the former's possession, in 1805, and he left Hall with instructions to clear two acres on the northeast corner of lot 13. Crosby returned to the East for his family and to arrange his affairs so that he could leave them permanently for a new home in the West. The following year he journeyed again to Ohio and left his family at Rock Creek while he erected a log house on the clearing that had been made on his property.
     In the meantime Abner Hall had bought a homestead in lot No. 12 next north of Crosby's and made a clearing and built a house, which was the first one in the township. These two separate clearings were adjoining, making them as one and when Crosby's home had been built it constituted quite a good start for a new settlement, and the Crosby family also formed a very respectable nucleus for a new town's population, including as it did the parents and ten children and two young men who had accompanied him from the East to help in the work of establishing the home and also to eventually make homes for themselves. Mrs. Crosby, some months after their settlement here, gave birth to the first male child born of white parents in the township, and that was good luck for the family, for the original owner of the township, Henry Champion, had agreed to give to the first boy baby born in the township a deed to fifty acres of land, which he promptly executed for the child Henry. Further impetus to the population was given this year by the arrival of a caravan from Connecticut which brought Mr. and Mrs. William Crowell and their eight children, Mr. and Mrs. John Crowell, Mr. and Mrs. David Walkley, Jonathan Walkley and Ephraim Sawyer. This entire company spent the winter —their arrival having been late in the fall—in the original log house erected by Abner Hall, which had been vacated by Mr. Hall. During the winter months Mr. Crowell constructed a home for his family, into which they took up their residence in the spring. The Walkleys also settled nearby and made homes for themselves. Joseph Hall, Sylvester Rogers and Henry Brown were the next to arrive and establish their future abiding places. Doubtless with design and looking into the future, nearly all these homes were built in alignment, and the pathway that was broken in making their neighborhood calls developed, in after years, into a driveway and eventually into the principal north-and-south thoroughfare through the county. Other early settlers in the township included Asa and Linds Tinker, four Linan brothers, Edward C. Dodge, Calvin Church, David Rood, Simon Maltbie, Richard Miller, Samuel Ackley, Samuel Crowde, Henry Hungerford, Sylvester Cone, Erastus Chester, Andrew Champion, James Baldwin, Hazard Morey, Edmond Richmond, Stukely Stone and Azariah Smith. In view of their numerous offspring it was quite natural that Elijah Crosby and William Crowell should be deeply interested in the future educational facilities of Rome, and it was fitting that they should. be the ones to make a start in that direction, which they did in 1810, when they turned to and constructed a log school house. Upon the opening of school in the new house, each of the families named was represented by seven children. Prior to erection of this building, Miss Lucinda Crosby had taught a school class at the home of John Crobell. In 1821 the pupils of the Rome school graduated into a new frame school house, which was also used for holding religious assemblages.
     In 1808 at the home of Elijah Crosby the Rev. Jonathan Leslie, of Geneva, conducted the first religious meeting. A Presbyterian Society was organized in 1819, with the Rev. Giles Cowles as pastor. This organization built a church home in 1836 and one of its later ministers was the Rev. Ingersoll, father of the late Robert G. Ingersol, the famous lawyer, orator and infidel." Young "Bob" spent some years of his boyhood in Rome and there are -still living some who were his schoolmates and who tell amusing stories of the pranks of the preacher's son. The Congregational Society of Rome was incorporated in 1836.
     The Baptist Society built a church in 1835, the Episcopals in 1837 and the Methodists in 1877, the latter being located at Rome Station, in a building moved from the Center and rebuilt.
     Elijah Crosby was the first postmaster appointed in Rome, the office being located in his residence in 1815.
     The industrial life of Rome began in 1818, with the installation of a sawmill built by E. C. Dodge on the bank of Rock Creek. Two years later John Reid constructed a grist-mill, and in 1830 Walkley & Hall added another saw-mill. In 1824 T. A. Miller opened the first store in the township. Sylvester Rogers, in response to the demand for accommodations by travelers, converted his home in the early '20s into a public tavern, which soon gained an enviable reputation as a good place at which to stop. In 1819 John Crowell built the first tavern and stage house. Among other public houses of succeeding years was one conducted at Rome Station by James Kelsey, which he named the "United States Mail." Rome had its cheese factory and cheese-box manufactory, which were almost indispensible to towns of Ashtabula County.
     Rome Township was regularly named in 1828, up to which period it had continued as the last vestige of the original township of Richfield. The death knell of Richfield, which had at one time embraced practically all of Ashtabula County, was rung in a petition filed with the county commissioners on June 2, 1828, notation of which appears on the records as follows: A petition of Christopher Champlin and others, inhabitants of the township of Richfield, praying that the name of said township be changed, was pre­sented and read, whereupon it was resolved by the board that said township, it being surveyed township No. 9, in fourth range of townships, and heretofore known by the name of Richfield, shall be hereafter known and designated by the name of Rome, and said name of Richfield be abolished." In pursuance of the organization of the newly named township, there was held, on the first Monday in April, 1829, an election which resulted in an organization with the following officers: Joseph D. Hall, William Watrous and Samuel Crowell, trustees; Justin Williams, clerk-treasurer; Charles Crowell and Justin Williams, constables; Lynds Tinker, Reuben Sanders and Silas Washburn, supervisors of highways; Sylvester Rogers and Asa Tinker, overseers of the poor; Daniel and David Walkley, fence viewers. The first justice of the peace was Justin Williams.
     One of the educational advantages of Rome was an academy that was incorporated in the spring of 1836 by the Rome Academical Company, which conducted a more or less profitable school for some years in the village.
     When the railroad was put through Rome, in 1872-3, it had the effect of soon making a new center of activity about the station, somewhat removed from the village center, and with stores, mills and numerous residences the new settlement assumed the position of a rival to the original town.

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