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.

Williamsfield Township



     Until the year 1826 the township now Williamsfield, in the very southeastern corner of Ashtabula County, was a part of Wayne and included in the section of Trumbull County that was detached and added to Ashtabula County by a special act of the legislature in 1811. Incident to the assuming of its independent status officers of the new township were named as follows: Gilbert Palmer, Samuel Tuttle and Samuel Morse, trustees; Jonathan Tuttle, clerk; Charles Brooks, treasurer; Levi Smith and Levi Leonard, overseers of the poor; Reuben Phelps and William Jones, fence viewers; Aranda P. Giddings and William Leffingwell, constables, and Anson Morse, Bartlet Leonard, Valentine Tourgee, Ebenezer Woodworth, Johnathan Tuttle and William North, supervisors of highways. Johnathan Tuttle was justice of the peace prior to the formation of this separate township, when Samuel Morse was named as justice.
     Joseph Williams, the man for whom the town was named, in 1799 purchased from the Connecticut Land Company a parcel constituting about three-fifths of the eastern half of the township. Samuel Parkman, John. Allen and Joseph Brown, together with Williams, were the first owners of the land in the township, after the Connecticut Land Company. The township was surveyed into sections one mile square, excepting those along the eastern border which were a mile and one-eighth from east to west. These lots were subdivided into twelfths. In the summer of 1804 Charles Case and his son Zopher emigrated from Connecticut and selected a site for their future home in the southeastern portion. Among other early settlers were John L. Cook, David Randall, Samuel Tuttle, Anson Jones, Aaron Rice, Thomas Ford, Ezra Woodworth, Cotton Fess, Silas Babcock and Daniel Hutchinson. In 1809 Joshua Giddings moved from Wayne to Williamsfield, and in 1822 moved to Jefferson. Justus Peck, originally from Colebrook, Conn., moved from New Berlin, N. Y., to Williamsfield. Levi Smith, who moved from the East in 1816, was the first man to settle east of the "Old Salt Road". He was of the old Methodist stock and always ardent in the cause of religion. He donated the land on which the first Methodist Church was built, and subscribed liberally to the cost of the building.
     The Williamsfield community first had the advantage of a school in 1809, a building being erected that spring for the purpose. Mrs. Babcock was the first teacher. The Rev. Johnathan Leslie preached the first sermon in the village in the year 1.807, the meeting being held at the home of Thomas Ford. Rev. Leslie and the Rev. Joseph Badger were then making a missionary tour through the eastern part of the county. Religious meetings were held occasionally from that time until 1816, when a church was erected. The history of this church is related in the department of this work devoted to Wayne, and need not be repeated here. The Methodist Church at the center was organized in 1825, and the society erected a house of worship in 1834. Thomas Carr and Joseph Davis, circuit riders, alternated in serving the organization, but the first sermon delivered in the new house was by Justice Woodworth. The Congregationalist Society built a church in 1848 at West Williamsfield, and the Disciples built in 1875 south of the Center.
     In 1814 Swan & Herrick erected the first saw-mill, in the southeastern lot of the township. This was run by water power. The first steam mill was put up in 1850 by Smith Brothers & Lefiingwell. H. H. Vernon opened the first store in the township in 1822 at West Williamsfield. The first store at the Center was established in 1848 by A. B. Leonard.
     The town of Williamsfield is particularly blessed with railroad facilities in that it had two railroad stations, on different lines and convenient to the needs of the people on both sides of the town. West Williamsfield is the station on the Youngstown branch of the New York Central road and Simonds, near the eastern boundary, is on the Franklin branch. Both of these points are centers of considerable population and another settlement is in the center of the township. A post office was opened at West Williamsfield in 1812, with Elias Morse as postmaster. In 1850 another postoffice was opened at Williamsfield Center, with A. B. Leonard in charge.
     A post office was installed at Simonds when the Franklin branch railroad was opened, in 1872, H. W. Simonds being postmaster.
     Williamsfield was one of the principal dairy and farming townships of the county and was noted as the home of much fancy stock in horseflesh and cattle.
     Mr. and Mrs. Charles Case were parents of .the first white child born in the township, 1806 being the year of its arrival. J. W. Giddings opened a hotel in West Williamsfield in 1820, and in 1830 H. H. Vernon installed a hostelry in the same settlement. The first visitation of the "Grim Reaper" to the township was made to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Anson Jones in 1809, taking away a child of the household. John Inman was the first adult to pass on, he dying in 1813. He was buried on the bank of the Pymatuning.
     West Williamsfield was always the most populous section of the township and among its industries were a wagon manufactory owned by W. S. Mullen and a furniture factory owned by C. Russell.
     Williamsfield Township occupies an eminence of a considerable altitude and is well watered by numerous streams in all sections, none, however, of great magnitude.
     One of the attractive places of Williamsfield for many years was Capt. Stanhope's place "Burnside", a great stock and dairy farm. Here were to be seen rare specimens of stock, including Cuban cows, Hairless and woolless sheep, real imported Hamburg geese and other varieties of animals and fowl foreign to local breeds. Capt. Stanhope spent much time and money and did a great amount of traveling to acquire the different species, and he always took great interest in exhibiting his collection to his friends.

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