Ashtabula Co., Ohio
SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.
FIRST OFFICERS - JOSEPH WILLIAMS - SCHOOL IN 1801 - SAWMILL
BUILT IN 1811 - RAILROAD FACILITIES - GIDDINGS HOTEL - CAPT. STANHOPE.
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 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
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.