Ashtabula Co., Ohio
SOURCE: History of Ashtabula County, Ohio
Large, Moina W.
Topeka :: Historical Pub. Co.,, 1924, 1132 pgs.
ORGANIZED IN 1825 - FIRST OFFICERS - FIRST WHITE SETTLER -
OTHER EARLY SETTLERS - SETTLEMENTS - FIRST EVENTS - IN THE CIVIL WAR -
REMINISCENCES BY JOEL BLAKESLEE.
In the records of the county
commissioners may be found the following entry, made on March 7, 1825: "On the
representation of Isaac H. Phelps and others, it was ordered that all
that part of the township of Harpersfield, in the fifth range, between the north
line of the township at Windsor and the south line of No. 11 in said range, be
erected into a new township by the name of Trumbull, and that the first meeting
for the election of township officers shall be holden on the first Monday of
April next at the house of Isaac H. Phelps."
The organization meeting ordered in above quotation
resulted in the naming of officers for the township as follows: Ezra
Griffin, James Brown and Ezra Gregory, trustees;
Isaac H. Phelps, clerk; Ezra Griffin, treasurer;
O. Brown and Daniel Woodruff, overseers of the poor; D.
Woodruff and O. Brown, fence viewers; Ezra Gregory,
lister and appraiser; Benjamin Moore, lister. At the following
year's election the town took on added dignities by election of a justice of the
peace and constable, the former being Isaac H. Phelps, and the latter
Windsor being Township No. 8, and Harpersfield No. 11,
the boundary given above includes what was later divided into Trumbull and
Hartsgrove. This division was made in 1830 by the drawing of a line through the
center, from east to west, and calling the north half thus made Trumbull, and
the other half Hartsgrove.
The first white man that undertook to settle in this
territory, Trumbull, was Holly Tanner, whose experiences are the
subject of another article. To him the owners of the tract deeded 200 acres of
land, on condition that he move onto it, clear at least 20 acres and live upon
it at least two years. Tanner met all the requirements of the agreement,
excepting that of remaining a tenant for two years. After he and his wife had
been there a year and a half, and no other families had come into the territory,
they became discouraged and moved "back to civilization". The township continued
in its state of uninterrupted tranquility after the departure of the Tanners,
until 1818, before its silence was again broken by the arrival of Daniel
Woodruff, who had come to stay, and following closely came Isaac H.
Phelps, Obediah Brown and Leonard Blackmer. These families all
settled in the eastern part of the township. Ezra Griffin, Nathaniel Brown,
Ebenezer Andrews, Osborn M. Baker and others, with their families, followed
within the next few years, and Trumbull began to assume a position of importance
in the county.
The township of Trumbull included three distinct
settlements that were known, respectively, as Trumbull Center, in the center of
the township; East Trumbull, on Trumbull creek, in the southeastern part of the
township, and Footville, also on Trumbull Creek, but in the southwestern
A postoffice was established at the Center, in 1823, in
the home of Isaac Phelps, who was named postmaster; and in 1848 East Trumbull
was given a postoffice, with O. H. Price as postmaster.
George Rich was proprietor of the first store in
the village, at the Center, which opened for business in 1847, the stock of
goods being brought from Cleveland by wagon.
The first schools were established at the Center in
1829, and at Footville in 1842.
Daniel Woodruff and wife were parents of the first white child born in
the township, a boy, who made his debut in 1819. The first death chronicled was
also in that year, being Leonard Blackmer, who died from the effects of
injuries sustained in his efforts to capture a big elk single-handed.
East Trumbull boasted the first tavern, which was
established by A. T. Codding, in 1839. Scott Jenks built and
opened a hotel at the Center in 1858.
Trumbull Creek, flowing through the southern section of
the township, toward the Grand River, has played a prominent part in the
commercial activities of Trumbull. Many mills, in the earlier years, when water
power was the predominating force for mills, were built along its banks. The
township also had its share of prosperous cheese factories, located in different
The Rev. Giles W. Cowles, in 1819, preached the
first sermon ever heard in the township, to a small party congregated at the
home of Daniel Woodruff. From that time meetings were held at the
homes of residents from time to time, and the Methodists organized in the early
years of the town's history. The first church building erected was for that
organization and was put up in 1855. The Disciple Church was organized in 1859,
with a membership of eleven women and four men. This society increased rapidly
and, in 1874, built a church home, and another society of the same denomination
put up a church in East Trumbull in the same year.
The Trumbull Grange was organized in 1873, and there
was also a lodge of the I. O. O. F. that flourished for some years.
One of Trumbull's claims for credit was that it
furnished more men and more financial support to the government during the war
of the rebellion than any other township in the county of the same population
and financial standing.
The first road built through Trumbull was laid out in
an irregular course from north to south, somewhat east of the center of the
township. It was put in as a means of communication and travel from Harpersfield
to Warren, before the white man's ax had been used, otherwise, in the township.
The county road was put through the center of the township in 1816, and was
adopted as a state road in 1820. Other early day highways that formed the
principal routes of travel are found on the records to have been laid out from
time to time as need demanded. The East road was broken through from
Mechanicsville in 1820; in 1835 a road was ordered to begin at the north line of
the township and run southward through the township, one mile west of the center
road, and in 1837 another, beginning at the east-and-west road on the south side
of Grand River, in Harpers-s field, between lots 108 and 109, and running
southward; to intersect a new road laid out in Trumbull. Other roads, through
and intersecting, were built as the settlement increased. The town's latest
glory was the brick paved road that was built in the summer of 1923, from
Hartsgrove straight north, through the center of the fifth range of townships.
Trumbull was always a distinctively farming and
dairying section, but it had one manufacturing plant of some pretensions, for a
number of years. That was a shoe peg and clothes pin factory that was located at
Footville, and employed about 25 hands up to the time of its destruction by fire
on January 15, 1868.
Joel Blakeslee, a local chronologer of
the middle of the last century, contributed to the Ashtabula County Historical
Society the following regarding the pioneer settler of Trumbull. It was written
"The following extracts are made from a communication
from Mrs. Tanner and her son, who now live in Dover, Pa. It was
written by the son and sent by Mr. Calvin Dodge, New Lyme
merchant, who called at the Tanner home recently. The letter in part said:
"I will try to tell you about the times some over 53
years ago. May 15, 1799, Holly Tanner and Hannah Tanner,
who were my father and mother, and their two sons, David and Joseph,
left Scipio, N. Y., for Ohio. With a number of families, they took a boat on
Cayuga Lake, then Lake Ontario, hauled the boat around Niagara Falls on the
Canadian side, and next onto Lake Erie; then up Lake Erie, and on the sixteenth
day of June they landed at Harper's Landing, Madison Dock. On the twenty-third
day of July, the next month, 1799, my brother, James, was born in
Harpersfield. He was the first white child they knew of being born in that
region. I will now tell you the way they went to mill, as I have often heard
Father tell. A number went to the Marsh settlement, in Lake County, with
the boat from Harper's Landing. They bought 60 or 70 bushels of grain, all that
could be procured, for bread for all the families until the next harvest, and
this was in November, 1799. After they returned, Johnathan Gregory
and Father took the boat down the lake for grinding. Conneaut, I think, was the
place. They got their grinding and, on their way home, just at night, a cold
storm came up. They struck for shore for safety, and fortunately struck the
mouth of a creek which had been barred up by sand, but the water had cut a
narrow channel through which they ran the boat, struck a setting pole in the
sand, tied the boat and then lay down to sleep. As they slept, Johnathan
dreamed the boat was gone. He was weary and wakeful. He awoke. His dream made
him feel uneasy. He got up and went to see whether his dream was false. The boat
was gone. He went back and awoke Father, saying the boat was gone. 'Can you see
it?' said Father. 'I see something black on the lake; what it is I can not
tell.' Then Father went, stuck two stakes in the sand and took sight by them,
saying, 'It is the boat—it moves along.' Johnathan Gregory and
Father must have felt bad. They thought the boat and all was gone and they could
not get it. It was then 80 or 90 yards off shore, and drifting farther away.
This was late in the fall, a cold night, and in the boat all the breadstuff for
all the families till the next harvest. As Father was a swimmer, and considering
that drowning was not much worse than starving, should he not succeed, he
stripped and plunged into the lake. He kicked and paddled till he reached the
boat. Johnathan, in fearful anxiety on the shore, waited for Father's
success until he had reached the boat and started it back, then he built a
large, flaming fire, by which Father warmed himself, after Johnathan had
helped him get the boat in. I have heard Father say he had a cold time of it,
but he saved the boat, and incidentally the winter's breadstuff for the