East Cleveland township lies between the uplands and the lake. Warrensville bounds it on the south. Its western limit comprises part of Lake View Cemetery and the village of Glenville.
Its eastern boundary is marked on Euclid avenue by the crossing of Nine-Mile Brook. Following that same parallel south it touches the township lines of Mayfield, Warrensville, and Euclid. On the north it divides the village of Collinwood to the lake.
The most of this territory slopes in level stretches from the foot of a range of hills on the southern border. Standing anywhere along these heights and looking upon the beautiful lowlands, growing each year more populous, a charming panorama is presented. Lovely homes set in ample spaces, suburban villages, shaded streets, and blossoming gardens, and lined against the blue sky and bluer lake.
A white sail, a steamer’s smoke, the rush of a railroad train. A trolley car off on a country road, and most of all, the smoke and grime of the adjacent city, affect the beholder with a sense of nineteenth century civilization.
Not so did it look when eighteen hundred was in its teens. A vast, silent forest covered the country. Homes were miles apart. Roads were at best but forest paths or Indian trails. Wolves and wild cats, deer, and bears were neighbors, and rattlesnakes made themselves at home on the clearing or at the door of the settler.
Hunger and cold and privation also stalked in and sat in the chimney seat. The half has not been told of those rough, hard, yet happy times of the long ago. Men were specially endowed with courage and hardihood, and to their sterner heroism was matched the patience and self-denial of the women who helped to found the State.
From that most simple civilization to this which is so complex; from the days of the bake kettle and brick over to these of the gas stove and furnace, has been a long journey and the starting point already fades iin the distance.
It is good to stop at once and review those earlier days. On the women of this generation devolves the delightful task of bringing to our grateful remembrance the names of pioneer mothers and as far as we can the stories of their lives.
At the close of a day in April, 1801, a tired woman might have been seen on horseback, with a baby in her arms, threading the forest path between Painesville and Cleveland. Her escort, mounted upon another horse, carried two little girls. It was Mr. Daniel DOANE, and the lady was the wife of his brother, Captain Timothy DOANE. The baby still lives as a very old gentleman, Mr. John DOANE, the only survivor of all those early settlers.
This family were just completing a long, hard journey by water and land from Herkomer county, New York State, to this wild settlement in the “far West,” whither Captain DOANE had already preceded them. The log cabin built soon after by him was the first white man’s house in the township of East Cleveland, and the lady who converted it into a home is still remembered as “Great-grandma DOANE.”
Can you imagine, you who live in warm, comfortable homes, with all modern appliances and luxurious appointments, what it meant in the olden time to establish a home in the wilderness? Mrs. DOANE was only the first of many intrepid women who brought from the Eastern States Yankee wit and invention and brave hearts.
Inside the four walls of the house homely comforts were dispensed in a homely but picturesque fashion. The fireplace was the center of the family life in the room which was at once living room and kitchen.
To guard the precious fire on the hearth became as much a study as in the “home of the vestal virgins.” If, by chance it went out, there we no matches with which to rekindle, and not every settler possessed even a tinder box or sun glass. Mrs. Asa DILLE, who came into the township in 1802, used to tell of the weary walks she had taken, three miles through the woods, to her nearest neighbor, Mr. DOANE, to get a pan of coals when she had had the misfortune to let her own fire go out. Starting back through the woods, she had to stop many times to coax the coals back to glowing, by feeding them with pieces of hickory bark and blowing them with her breath.
Over this same fire on the hearth the cooking was done, usually with but three utensils - a kettle, hanging from a crane, used for soups, boiling meats, etc.; a frying pan, for frying doughnuts; and a long-handled bake kettle, in which a loaf of johnny cake could be baked if someone would attend o its being surrounded on all sides and covered on top with living embers.
The brick oven built into the vast chimney was used once a week. That oven wood of right length and quantity should be prepared was demanded by the thrifty housekeeper. The fire was built in the oven, and when the wood had been consumed to ashes it was swept out carefully with an oven broom and the week’s baking was put in. It was an evolution from the Indian method of cooking on hot ashes.
Underneath the oven was a compartment where were kept the kindling wood and the dye pot, for not only spinning wool or flax, but coloring them was part of woman’s work. Some wove their own cloth as well, but the wool was often taken to a neighbor, who, besides her home duties, followed the profession of weaver.
The big and little wheel stood in the living room, and many times a cobbler’s bench ready for the semi-annual visit of the shoemaker. Once a year it was the duty of the father to buy a cow skin for boots, a calf skin for shoes, and a piece of sole leather. With this the son of Crispin shod the family. Each household had a kit of tools with which repairing was done. Rubbers were unheard of, but father’s old woolen stockings, slipped on over the shoes, kept children’s feet warm and dry. Dishes were few, heavy, and homely. A set of trenchers of different size hewn from logs served many purposes. In the twenties, blue ware was brought from Pittsburg, and much affected by those who could afford it.
Mrs. Andrew WIMPLE tells the story of her husband’s mother, Mrs. Mandrivt WEMPLE, who came in 1807. Wishing a set of blue ware, she carried twenty pounds of butter on horseback to Alonzo GARDINER’s store and exchanged it for the coveted dishes. In the days when tea was worth $3 a pound, and salt $3 a barrel, luxuries were not to be thought of. The settler must wait two years before a field could be cleared and his first crop of corn ready to cut. Meanwhile, he took a big on a handsled or led a cow to the nearest store and exchanged it for flour or salt. The white ashes of burnt corn cobs served for soda, and home-made starch was made from potatoes. Corn usually was ground in a hand mill at home. This was hard work, and devolved upon the father.
Mrs. Benjamin JONES - Mary HORTON - came to the township in 1814. The next winter, in order to keep his stock alive, Mr. JONES drove it to the woods of Pennsylvania to browse on the beech leaves. Before his return, meat and meal had given out, and mother and children had to subsist on boiled corn. Maple sugar was used for sweetening - and illuminating gas was firelight and tallow dip. The winter’s supply of sugar and candles was kept under the four poster bed.
Mr. John DOANE remembers that when he was a little boy his playmates, the Indian papooses, taught him to eat candles. In lieu of candies he found them desirable substitutes. Yielding to as inordinate appetite for them he secreted himself under the bed, and before discovered had devoured half the winter’s supply. One can imagine the consternation of the mother whose long winter evenings at her needle and spinning needed the adjunct of the sputtering, but necessary tallow candles. The little boy’s aid and abettor in mischief was old “Jim,” a deaf and dumb Negro brought from the West Indies by Captain DOANE.
Homely and democratic as was life in the woods, there were distinctions and class lines. “I remember,” says a descendant, “my great grandmother Doane, a very old lady, when I was a little girl. She used to come into church leaning on the arm of her daughter Nancy, my grandmother DODGE, old Jim following with the foot stove. After she was seated, he placed it at her feet and returned to the rear of the church and the servants’ pew.
“I also remember that on my visits to my great-great-grandmother DOANE I was allowed as a favor to sleep on the couch in her room.” A pretty picture was painted on the little girl’s memory, of waking in the early morning, as old Jim tiptoed in to lay the fire in the fireplace, of the light leaping up on the wall, the old-fashioned dresser, and the porcelain tankard on the mantel, brought from the West Indies, and cracked with hot whisky toddy, and on the little old lady buried in feathers on the big bed. But that was fifty years ago, and the ending of long lives spent in the new country.
No wonder the women of those days were heroines. Their situation developed bravery. There yet stands on Noble street an old house, which at first was windowless and doorless. Quilts were hung up to keep out the storms, but they did not keep out the cold muzzles of bears who could walk in and help themselves to the family larder.
The story is told of Mrs. Timothy EDDY that she started to drive home the cows one evening. The way led deep into the forest, and when she found them by the tinkle of their bells, they refused to move, in spite of coaxing and switching. As the shadows deepened, she realized that it was too late to find her way back alone. So she laid down upon the fragrant moss and slept. Meanwhile her husband and friends in alarm were searching for her and the conch shell which Timothy DOANE kept for just such occasions, and which is yet in the possession of his son, was sounded again and again. It could be heard for miles, but it did not waken Mrs. EDDY. Not till morning did she return “bringing the cows behind her,”
Mrs. Harmon BRONSON, after living here six years, was overcome with longing for her old home in Waterbury, Conn. In the words of an old settler, “She jest took a notion to go back and see the old place.” So in 1812 she struck a bargain with a man who owned a wagon. She furnished the horse. Leaving the eldest daughter at home with Mr. BRONSON, she took the baby and two other children, the eldest barely eight years old. The party of five drove as far as Ashtabula, when the man was stricken with a mortal illness. Mrs. BRONSON waited a few days, and leaving him with relatives, proceeded on her journey.
Having no claim on the wagon, she mounted her horse, the baby in her arms, and the children trotting beside as fast as their little legs could carry them. After a mile or two, she would dismount, let them ride, and walk herself. So they proceeded, until after many weary weeks Waterbury was in sight, and their long journey ended.
Mrs. Rodney STRONG, who came in 1816, at a later date also accomplished the journey from Connecticut on horseback with a baby in her arms.
Among the pioneer names that of Mrs. Jacob COMPTON - Mary JOHNSON - who came in 1819, and raised a large family, is coupled the testimony that “She was one of the best women in the country,” and her hospitality was proverbial. Mrs. Clark CURRIER - Sarah WOOD - when her husband’s mind became unbalanced, assumed the duties of both parents, and brought up her eight or nine children to be a credit to herself and the town.
Mrs. Young WELSH - Rebecca MERCHANT - figures in early annals. She also was one of the courageous mothers. Her brother, Ahaz MERCHANT, surveyed the township.
Mrs. Elias LEE - Mary BRYAN - of Marlborough, Mass., who came with her husband ,Judge LEE, in 1812, appears the ideal wife, being devotedly attached to her husband. They lived long and happily together. She was often heard to say that she hoped when the Lord took one home he would take the other, too. And her wish was realized, for she survived her husband but one day, both dying of typhoid pneumonia and were buried in the same grave.
Martyrs there certainly were to the hardships of pioneer life. Young and delicate women left the comforts of an older civilization to follow their sturdy husbands. Among these was the first Mrs. Elijah BURTON, who came in 1820, with her husband, the first doctor in East Cleveland. Little is remembered of her, for she lived only six years after coming, save that she was gentle and delicate, and sung in the village choir, and her daughter, Mrs. DODGE, remembers being led to church as a little child by her young mother.
Indians were frequent visitors in pioneer homes, and their papooses played with the children. Of Mrs. Samuel RUPLE it is said that she one day harbored a poor squaw, who told her she way flying from her people, who had condemned her to be burned as a witch. She was fed and sent off in the early morning. Not long after a party of Indians arrived who proved to be the pursuers. Mrs. RUPLE silently fed them and treated them kindly, trying to make time for the poor fugitive to escape. But alas! The next day they returned with their captive, whose fate she never knew.
The teacher’s influence comes next to the mother’s, and the old people of today cherish pleasant memories of the school ma’ams and the log school houses of their childhood. Seventy-five cents a week was the salary of novices, one dollar for experienced teachers, and both must board around. Mr. Thomas CROSBY remembers when he was a boy eighty-five years ago, that his first teacher was Betsey CROCKER. He recalls an incident in connection with her. A big fire place in the school house was filled with green boughs in summer time. One hot afternoon a little boy heard a rustling in the hearth behind him, and, glancing down, he saw the head of a big rattlesnake peering out between his bare feet. He called out in terror, and there would have been a panic if Miss CROCKER, with great presence of mind, had not quieted the children, and kept them in their places until a man could be summoned to dispatch the snake.
The names of Mary DODGE and Eliza McFARLAND appear in the first thirty years of the settlement, and Miss Rebecca Sherman PEET kept a private school in her own house. Miss Katie WELCH, teacher in Collinwood previous to 1829, first gave it the name of Kingsville. The second Mrs. Elijah BURTON - Abigail HOLLISTER - also taught in Collinwood. Miss Mary A. INGERSOL, now Mrs. Thomas CROSBY, relates her experience upon one occasion. Her nine scholars left much time on her hands. Teaching a little reading, arithmetic, and spelling, setting copies, making quill pens, and instructing little girls in sewing did not half consume the day.
Some of her scholars came with such dirty hands and faces that she kept basin and towel for their use, and the dunce block, ferule, and split stick on the nose were often in use.
On one occasion her father sent her a pair of shoes by a gaunt, uncouth fellow, who dangled them be the strings and drawled out: “School ma’am! Here’s a pair of shoes come to learn A, B, C.” Whereupon he was promptly set down upon by Miss Sweet Sixteen, who had been educated in old Massachusetts, having journeyed there in a buggy with her grandparents, she seated in a splint-bottomed chair, the chair of olden times.
The social instincts of the pioneers found expression in apple pairings, house raisings, corn huskings, sewing bees, and dances. Horseback riding was not an accomplishment, nor a pastime, but almost the only means of transit, and the women all rode and rode well.
The religious life centered about the church on the hill. From miles around on Sunday tired mothers and daughters rode on horseback alone or on pillions behind fathers and brothers, and many walked.
It is told of Grandma HARRIS that she and her husband often walked the whole distance from their home, corner of East Madison and Superior street, to the old church on the hill.
The sisters, daughters, and wives of the McILRATH brothers were prominent among the early families of the church and special mention should be made of the aged mother, who came in 1806, at the age of eighty. Mrs. Phebe CONDIT, her granddaughter, lived till within a few years since. She was a Christian woman of remarkable qualities.
Two old ladies remain with us, links to the early days, whose lives, reaching nearly fourscore and ten, have spanned nearly the whole existence of the township. Mrs. Thomas PHILLIPS and Mrs. Sergeant CURRIER have lived all their lives within a mile of their birthplace. Space forbids us to speak of all who deserve mention, but the lives of two, conspicuous among the rest must not be omitted. The wife of the first pastor, Mrs. BARR, a model minister’s wife. Fair looking, accomplished, and educated, a lady of the old school, vivacious, bright, and much loved. She died in 1812, and this inscription may yet be read on her tombstone:
“A Prudent wife is from the Lord,
And a wife was Mrs. Susannah Barr,
Who departed this life October 6th 1812
While living, the heart of her husband
Did safely trust in her.
Now she is dead,
Her children rise up
And call her Blessed.
Her remains lie here.”
Associated with Mrs. BARR is the name of Mrs. Sarah McILRATH, who always will be a dear memory in the community, as she with her husband founded Shaw’s Academy. She was a fearless, independent, competent woman, whose character was made up of strength and goodness. Scourged by sorrow in early youth, she came to this new country mentally equipped for hardships. That even in those days of church domination she did not take her opinion second hand is set forth in the old church records of the trial of Mrs. SHAW.
The story is so well told by another that I quote it:
“During the summer of 1811 a large ball was given at Seth DOANE’s tavern, and people came from far and near to trip the light fantastic toe ‘Up the middle and down again. Swing your partners, and all hands round.’ All was gayety under the tallow dip and spruce boughs. Maple sugar, short cake, and home-made whisky lightened the feet of the dancers and made nimble the fingers of the old fiddler, as he rent the air with the strains of ‘Money Musk’ and ‘Jump, Jim Crow’ mingling with the shouts of laughter.
“Alas! A reckoning came on the Sabbath following the ball. A hush rested on the congregation as the minister sternly reproved such of his flock as had been participants in the forbidden pastime. Setting forth their folly, he insisted that they should come forward and publicly profess repentance or be suspended from church membership. Slowly, one at a time, then by twos and threes, they arose, confessed, expressed repentance, and took their seats with brighter faces. But there was one who did not rise with the rest, though equally guilty. When arraigned by the minister she acknowledged she had danced, but as for being repentant, not she! For ‘she would do the same thing again.’ The church was scandalized, and then Mrs. SHAW was suspended.
“For a year she endured what to a woman of her friendly, warm-hearted nature no longer was possible, the ostracism of the church she loved. At last, she came back and publicly confessed sorrow for her misconduct, and was received with open arms and smiling welcomes!”
Physically strong, great-hearted, and big-brained, she was a notable nurse and a born leader. With no children of her own, there were always young men in her house whom she and her husband were helping to fit for college. Three young Indians were once sent from Macinac to be educated, and “Aunt SHAW” gave them a home through the summer free of charge. They afterwards became missionaries to their own people. Her husband favored the school and she the church. On one occasion he offered her a certain sum of money for her favorite charity, if she would for one year drink sage tea, instead of real tea. She accepted the challenge and kept the contract.
That this strong and unusually endowed woman had with her nobler traits the delicate grace of sentiment, is shown by the beauty of her friendship and loyalty to the memory of Mrs. BARR. Though she survived her friend thirty-eight years, she asked at last that she might be laid to rest at the feet of Mrs. BARR, and said she desired no greater honor. Her request was complied with, and there on the hill in the old burying ground, the oldest in the State, rest the remains of Susannah BARR and Sarah McILRATH SHAW, bright lights in their day, whose memories should not fade from our hearts.
The histories of our pioneer mothers teach us that character emerges from seasons of trial purified, and strengthened. Love is sweetened, patience and courage grow under stern necessity, and faith and hope are bright stars that shine through the darkest night.
Collamer, now East Cleveland, was the birthplace of Millie ANDREWS, daughter of Augustus and Julia COZAD ANDREWS. She was educated at Shaw’s Academy, and at Samuel BISSEL’s school at Twinsburg, and in 1877 married Dr. J.R. BELL, a well-known Cleveland dentist. No one who well knew Milly BELL could write of her save in the tenderest words. In her days of mental poise, she was the brightest and sweetest of women. While a resident of Cleveland, she was interested in every movement that tended toward better living and higher thinking, and identified with many good works. As a member of the Woman’s Press Club, and an earnest worker in the temperance cause she won the love and respect of her associates.
The sudden and long-continued illness that for years has banished her from home and friends is one of those mysteries of Providence that worldly vision may not solve.
A little book of poems by Millie ANDREWS BELL, and “Mother Goose Temperance Rhymes” remain to her friends, a legacy of what she once was to them and to the community in which she lived.
MARY A.O. CLARK
Chairman and Historian
East Cleveland committee - Mrs. Andrew WEMPLE, Mrs. Frank WELTON, Mrs. Charles MORGAN, Mrs. R. MASON, Mrs. Claire BALDWIN