The northern boundary of this township was once bounded by Lake Erie, but in 1836 that part of it became “Ohio City,” and years later was annexed to Cleveland. Its present boundaries are Independence on the east and Parma on the south.
Its first settlers were the BRAINARD and FISH families from Haddam, Ct., in the fall of 1811. These two families inter-married so often that it is safe to conclude that every Brooklyn BRAINARD one meets is descended from the first pioneer who bore the name of FISH and that every FISH that still resides in the township had a BRAINARD ancestor.
Ozias BRAINARD with his family, riding in a wagon drawn by oxen, left Old Haddam for Brooklyn and were six weeks on the road, only stopping long enough to eat, sleep and washing their clothes. Their house was the first one built on the south side of Big Creek, and the first apple trees in the vicinity were brought by them from the east. Two of these are still living and bearing fruit.
The nearest neighbor of the family was a squaw who, one day, appealed for food for her hungry papooses. As Mrs. BRAINARD had no bread in the house, she baked a quick johnny cake over the coals in the fireplace, and gave her a share which was gratefully received. Mrs. BRAINARD helped to found the First Methodist church of Brooklyn.
In 1815 came Jerusha RAY (Mrs. Amos BRAINARD) and Dorothy ELY (Mrs. William BRAINARD). Harriet and Charlotte, daughters of the latter, have lived single in the old home. They were fine looking women and so witty and genial that their society was much sought and young girls were always delighted to receive an invitation to the home of the “BRAINARD girls.” The sisters made a beautiful home and an art of housekeeping.
Other daughters of the family were Philema and Jerusha. George BRAINARD married Delight HILL of Twinsburg. Their two daughters grew up in a home of plenty and their characters were formed by kind and upright parents. Mary married Samuel SLOAN and lives in West Virginia, Annie became Mrs. Sherry FISH and lives in Brooklyn.
In 1815 Jeremiah GATES came from Delhi, N.Y., on foot in order to examine the country between that place and Brooklyn. Satisfied with his survey, he returned home, married Phoebe DEMING and started back with her, making the trip, this time, with horse and wagon to Buffalo and thence to Cleveland by boat.
Their only daughter, Matilda, was the first white child born in the township. She married Isiah FISH, and died at the age of thirty-three.
As early as 1814, Seth BRAINARD with his wife Delilah came from Haddam, Ct., and bought a large tract of land, adding to it from time to time, until it numbered 100 acres. A fine inheritance for their children.
The same year came Elijah YOUNG and his wife Candace, also their son Warren and wife Mary DEAN. A covered wagon drawn by oxen brought them on they journey from Chatham, Ct., in forty days. They settled on farms in fine locations and put up their log cabins, one a double one.
The Seneca Indians were not infrequent callers, were friendly, but too much inclined to beg. Flour for some time was $18.00 a barrel, and brave Mary DEAN YOUNG had to exercise much forethought in providing bread for her little flock until land could be cleared for a crop of wheat. Once she was forced to open the oven door and remove the top crust of a johnny cake she was baking to quiet the hungry crying of her children.
Candace was a sprightly little lady, and always walked to the “village,” as she called what is now the city of Cleveland, even after it had grown to be one of good size.
Her son, Warren YOUNG, was the first settler to construct a road through Big Creek valley. This was a serious but very necessary undertaking since the “Loaf Hills” in rainy seasons supplied mud of the most baffling nature. Also he started the first toll gate kept in the township.
One of his daughters recalls her alarm when a big Indian, standing in the doorway of the road house, uttered a war whoop with all the power of his lungs. It was, however, only an expression of good feeling as he stalked away with the tobacco he had just begged.
Warren YOUNG kept the first tavern in the settlement, which means that Mary had to prepare beds and meals at all hours of the day or night. For many years this place, under different managers, was a tavern site.
Their three daughters Emmeline, Harriet and Emily, always resided in the township. Emmeline became the wife of Lawton ROSS, and the hospitality of her home was proverbial. They had no children but adopted two orphans, William CUSHMAN and Mary GREEN. Out of this grew a romance, for, when arrived at a suitable age, the pair were married.
Emmeline passed away at the age of eighty in the home to which she came as a bride. She had a gentle, sweet nature and was beloved by all.
Emily became Mrs. Samuel LOCKWOOD, and like her sisters was a notable housekeeper.
Harriet married Willard BRAINARD. Their daughters, Emmeline BRAINARD now Mrs. Abel FISH; Clarissa, Mrs. Leonard FISH; and Celia, Mrs. Lewis BRAINARD, settled near the childhood home.
Sarah B. YOUNG, who may have been a sister of Warren YOUNG, was born in East Haddam, Ct., came to Brooklyn in 1819, and married Jonathan FISH. George AIKEN of Haddam, Ct., aged forty-five years, and his wife, Tamzen HIGGINS, aged forty-three, came to Brooklyn in 1811. Mrs. AIKEN survived her husband nearly a quarter of a century, dying when a very old lady.
Her children were Cyrel, Jared, Julia, Laura, Caroline and William. They intermarried with the families of the earliest settlers. Cyrel married Harriet RUSSELL, Jared married Julia BRAINARD and lived in Amherst, Ohio, Caroline married Diodate CLARK, and William married Betsey CLARK, sister of Diodate.
Julia AIKEN married Alonzo CARTER, son of Lorenzo of Cleveland, and kept tavern with her husband on the West side opposite the foot of Superior St. A Julia AIKEN, also daughter of George and Tamison (or Tamzen) AIKEN, is recorded as being the wife of a RATHBUN, secondly of Abner COCHRAN.
Betsey CLARK AIKEN lived to be ninety-one years old. She is said to have been a most worthy pioneer, and held in the highest respect.
Joseph and Hannah COLE CLARK also lived in Haddam, Ct. Mr. CLARK died, and his widow with all but one of her ten children came to Brooklyn among its earliest settlers. Her children were of the foremost element of progress in the town and connected with leading families of Brooklyn and Cleveland.
They were Joseph, who married Clarissa DICKENSON; Corey, who married Mary SKINNER; and Diodate, who married Caroline AIKEN.
There were also six daughters in this family: Ruth, who became Mrs. Isaac ROBINSON; Mary, Mrs. Joseph BRAINARD; Phoebe, Mrs. Warren ELY; Betsey, Mrs. William AIKEN; Maria, Mrs. Erastus SMITH of Warrensville. Lydia and Hannah were the wives successively of Sylvanus BROOKS of Newburgh.
Martin KELLOGG, born in Chatham, Ct., in 1793 married Laura ADAMS, daughter of Benjamin ADAMS of West Chester, Mass., in 1818. Soon after, accompanied by his young wife, he started with others for a new home in Brooklyn. They traveled as was the usual way, by ox team, and it also took the usual time for the journey, forty days.
They settled upon a farm upon a part of which their son now lives in a fine residence. Mrs. KELLOGG’s children were all sons and, lacking sisters, they must have had to assist their mother in her household work more than is usual for boys to do.
Alfred married Louise ACKLEY, daughter of Asa ACKLEY, and old settler who lived on a farm near the Infirmary.
Among the noble pioneer women of Brooklyn was Mrs. Isaac HINCKLEY, nee Sarah SHEPARD of Chatham, Ct., who arrived here with her family in 1815. She had seven children, four of whom were daughters. They brought two ox teams, two cows, a horse and a dog. One of the wagons contained the household goods. The most valuable were the loom and spinning wheel, also the precious store of provisions that were to last the large family until the land was cleared and made productive. They reached their future home in the forest after six weeks of steady travel, and found themselves five miles from the little hamlet of Cleveland. The wilderness swarmed with bears, wolves, panthers, deer and other wild animals. Fires were kept burning all night and day, alternately fed by Mr. and Mrs. HINCKLEY for protection. Wolves came so close at night that they could hear the rustling of the leaves and twigs under their feet, also Indians passed closely by frequently, but usually were friendly, though their presence was always terrifying.
The log cabin had but two rooms and a loft reached by a ladder, where the children slept. The huge chimney was built of mud and cement, while the floor was of hewn logs. The loft was so open that the children could count the stars through the wide cracks, and often in winter snow would beat in over the bed and floor.
Mrs. HINCKLEY was a typical pioneer’s wife, standing by her husband’s side, day after day, burning brush or tilling the unclaimed land. The first year was one of peril and anxiety, for the store of provisions brought from Connecticut became so low that starvation threatened. For months they lived on pounded corn made into mush, supplemented by occasional game. Once Mr. HINCKLEY tried to mortgage his farm of 200 acres for a barrel of flour, so great was the extremity. But no flour could be obtained.
Like every other pioneer’s home, Mrs. HINCKLEY’s shuttle played no insignificant part in the home. Emily and Lucy were not old enough to be useful, but even the younger ones soon learned to wind bobbins for their mother.
It was a God-loving home. Morning and evening the bible was read, hymns sung, and earnest prayers were given for divine guidance. The nearest church was two miles distant, at first only a school-house, and it was the custom of the HINCKLEY children, as well as others to carry their shoes and stockings in their hands until within sight of the church, then sit down on a log and put them on, thus saving the wear of those precious articles at the expense of their feet.
These children were an honor to their mother after leaving the home nest. The youngest surviving one died in Iowa aged eighty-four. Emily married Herrick GOULD, and died in Newburgh in 1849. She was the mother of Mrs. Oliver HARTZELL of Cleveland. Lucy married Starkweather BRANCH of Cleveland, in 1827, and died the same year. Cleantha married Phineas SHEPARD, Jr., of Cleveland and died in 1886. She was the mother of Mrs. G. GUILFORD of Cleveland and Mrs. A. W. MEREDITH of Washington, Iowa.
Sarah HINCKLEY became Mrs. C.S. GATES of Brooklyn, and died in 1873, leaving four sons.
Mrs. Demas BRAINARD (Nancy) who came from Haddam, Ct., in 1818, had three daughters and a son who were all born in the township. Phoebe marred Alfred FISH, Lucinda married Leonard HUNTLEY, Betsey remained single, and Luther married Marcia SPRAGUE of Parma. She was born in Keene, N.H.
In 1824 Nathaniel GATES and his wife, Nancy SMITH, with her sister, Sally SMITH, came from Chatham, Ct., after a short stay in Delhi, N.Y. Their daughter Caroline married Dan WILLIAMS. Sally became Mrs. James PATTERSON and Mary GATES remained unmarried.
The settlement had now become prosperous. Roads through the hilly country surrounding had been laid out with the hardest kind of work. Good feeling prevailed as the settlers were mostly connected by marriage or by strong bonds of sympathy. But pioneer life was not all toil by any means, for much visiting back and forth kept warm the friendships. These visits were made in ox carts or on horseback.
About 1837 Levi LOCKWOOD and his wife, Tamison, came from Madrid, N.Y., with their grown-up family and kept the Brooklyn tavern. Their three daughters, Finette, afterward Mrs. Lewis WRIGHT of Fremont; Malvina who married Ducay LOSEY and Helen, who became Mrs. George MATHEWS, were all efficient aids in the business, and the generous fare and well kept rooms of that necessary institution the “Country Tavern” were largely owing to the industry and zeal of these bright girls.
Malvina, the only one now living, is a useful woman of good mind and possessed of a singular gift of preparing herbs and roots for medical use. She had a fine disdain for doctors and their “stuff,” and, had she come upon the stage of life years later, would have been an invaluable nurse, or even a physician herself, at least for her own sex.
Rev. Edward FULLER, with his wife Anne GREEN of Granston, R.I., came to Brooklyn and became a minister of the town. Mrs. FULLER was a lovely woman with a fund of cheerfulness that never failed and an inborn love of flowers and a gift for cultivating them. Her life was well rounded out with years.
She had unusual business faculty, and by her enterprise in allotting and recording of her property, made possible the incorporation of the village. Without such help, it would have been almost impossible.
Her eldest daughter, Mary FULLER, was a beautiful girl who early joined the Society of Friends in which faith her mother had been raised. Her rosy face beaming from the depth of a Quaker bonnet of drab silk, was a revelation to the townspeople who passed her. She married Thomas PINKHAM of Salem, and died at the age of thirty-one.
The youngest daughter, Anna FULLER, grew up in the retirement of the pretty village, and was married to her school teacher, William TREAT, and still resides in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn in those days was very attractive, occupying a high, sandy ridge which assured its healthfulness, and with a soil that was very productive. Society was at its best. Education advantages were held in high esteem. Much was thought of and done for young people. Debating societies, singing classes and informal parties were frequently held at some home or at the tavern. The last were not monopolized by the young, for there were many social events for real enjoyment held by their elders, where friends met early in the afternoon, visited, danced, and enjoyed a good supper.
The old tavern passed through many hands, and has finally disappeared. Many other changes also have taken place. A long viaduct spans the Big Creek valley and over the pioneers roads made with so much effort and toil, rush symbols of the new age, the automobile and the electric car.
Anna E. TREAT