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.

Trumbull Township



     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 Jehoikim Burget.
     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 portion.
     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 sections.
     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 in 1853:
     "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 settlement."

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