Mayfield, Cuyahoga county, is situated about sixteen miles east of Cleveland. It has no railway communication within its own limits. The Chagrin River winds through the town on its way to the lake. The scenery along its banks is varied and beautiful, especially at that season of the year when the foliage of the forest trees have “put on their dress of red and gold, for summer has gone, and the days grow cold.”
Every generation has its early settlers, in whose life experience all succeeding generations become interested. If we look back into the record of early times we shall encounter the surprising fact that less than a century ago the township was a vast forest.
The lives of the early pioneers abounded in brave deeds, and the women of that period were as brave and heroic as the men, and we should rejoice that there is a spirit at last awakening by which their memory is to be preserved, for we are indebted to them for many of the privileges and blessings we not enjoy. In this way the lessons of pioneer life, with its joys and sorrows, its trials and hardships, can be gathered up and preserved, and it becomes of interest to know the manner in which they lived; to what perils they were exposed, the opportunities they had for education and social enjoyments, and the difference there must have been between the log cabin in the forest and the comfortable homes they had left behind them.
In the year 1805 Abner JOHNSTON, Samuel JOHNSON, and David SMITH came with their families from Ontario county, New York, and made the first settlement in the present township of Mayfield. In the spring of 1806 they were agreeably surprised to see three of their old neighbors, with packs on their backs, guns on their shoulders, and dogs by their sides. Mrs. Daniel S. JUDD and his two sons. They had started for Portage county, where they intended to settle, but having lost their way, they accidentally found their old neighbors, and were so well pleased with the country that they began a settlement near them, and returned East in the fall for their families and personal property.
After their return the first wedding was celebrated in the township, the parties being John HOWTON and Polly JUDD. The marriage ceremony was performed by Squire TURNER, of Chargin (now Willoughby).
Mrs. Samuel JOHNSON and David SMITH with their families moved from the township, and their place was taken by John JACKSON, who married Sally JUDD. In the spring of 1807 Martha JUDD, who married James COVERT, Sr., came from Seneca county, New York, with her husband and one child. She was the daughter of Daniel JUDD. Mr. and Mrs. COVERT walked ten miles to where the man lived who was to bring them to the new home in the forest. Their courage almost failed them when they saw his poor horses and wagon, but as they had started they decided to come on. When they reached the bank of the Grand River they found the stream so high they could not cross with the horses and wagon, so they came across in a boat, and walked from there to their new home - a distance of twenty miles - carrying their child, ax, and a few things in a bushel basket.
Like most of the early settlers, their worldly wealth was very limited, consisting of $3 in money, an ax, and a dog. After putting up a shanty with a puncheon floor, he went on foot to Painesville, bought a peck of poor salt for a dollar, carried it home on his back , and with the remaining $2 bought two pigs; and thus they began life in Mayfield. She was a kind, hospitable woman and an excellent nurse.
She was the mother of many children. On son yet resides in Mayfield. She endured all the privations incident to pioneer life. The first birth in the township was a girl, born in the latter part of 1807 to John and Polly HOWTON, who was named Phoebe HOWTON.
The early settlers were largely Methodists, and as soon as 1809 they formed a class of that denomination under the charge of the Rev. Mr. DAVIDSON, who is said to have been an eloquent and successful preacher. For many years their meetings were held in private houses and in the woods, as there was not even a school house for them to assemble in.
The first death in the township was that of Daniel S. JUDD, a veteran of two patriotic wars, who died of apoplexy in 1810. There were no roads laid out in the township, and for a few years there were few newcomers, but the scattered settlers kept busily at work clearing around their respective cabins. They were, however, much isolated. Fortunately, the country was quite healthy, but there were many annoyances. The bears and wolves committed many depredations, and would often come up to the very doors of the settlers’ houses in search of food. They killed sheep and other stock.
The war of 1812 stopped even what little progress there was before that time, and it was not until 1816 that a log school house was erected. It was used for some years as school house, church, and town hall.
In 1816 Nancy COVERT (Mrs. Peter BILSON), her husband, and four children came from Seneca county, New York, in a lumber wagon drawn by oxen. She knew many of the hardships of pioneer life, and used to have to work out of doors, mow, cut grain with a sickle, break flax, spin and weave cloth for her children’s clothes. She is remembered as a very cheerful woman and a good nurse. Two of her daughters are living, Polly, widow of Samuel JOHNSON, and Lorinda, wife of George PATTERSON.
Julia SMITH (Mrs. Seth MAPES) came to Mayfield in 1815, her husband arriving a few days before to prepare a home for his family. She covered and ox cart with canvas, made such preparation as she could for the journey, and, with her children, came to the new home. She cared for her little ones, and drove the oxen the entire distance, and arrived safely, as much to the pleasure as to the surprise of her husband. She was a woman of wonderful courage, kind, and hospitable, and lived to be eighty-seven years of age.
Polly SMITH (Mrs. Peter KEESLER) came here from Seneca county, New York, in 1816, bringing seven daughters and two sons with her. They came with an ox team and wagon over poor roads, and fording unbridged streams. Their home was in a log house in the forest, which they cleared, sowed wheat and corn among the stumps, and began pioneer life. Their children had to go a long way through the woods to school. She is remembered as a kind woman in sickness and trouble.
Abigail ALLEN married Rufus MAPES in 1816; was a descendant of Ethan ALLEN, and was born in the province of Maine before it was a State; came to Ohio and settled in Mayfield in 1818. She was the mother of seventeen children, fifteen of whom grew to maturity. Her husband was a soldier in the war of 1812. She was an excellent nurse, and was indispensable to her neighbors and friends in time of sickness and death. Brave in time of danger, being often left alone with her little children, she would keep fire burning on a stump near their cabin all night to prevent wolves from killing their sheep. Being sent for when her father was dying, her husband being away from home, she left her older children and home, took a colt from the lot that had never been broken, saddled and bridled it and, taking her baby eight months old in her arms, rode to Willoughby, a distance of ten miles, and saw her father before he died. The golden wedding of Mr. and Mrs. MAPES was celebrated in 1868. She was a devoted Christian, an affectionate mother, and very kind to everyone.
Margaret McLAY was born in Pennsylvania, moved to Mentor, O., and was married to Benjamin WILSON in 1818. The day after the wedding they came here and commenced housekeeping in a log house in the forest. She was a very industrious woman, and used to go out in the evening by the firelight of the brush-heaps that her husband was burning and spin flax. She was very hospitable, and in the good old days, when it was fashionable for neighbors to go and spend the evening and have supper, her home was the scene of many a joyous gathering. She was very devoted to her family. Her oldest daughter, Pauline, who married Ira HOFFMAN, is one of the oldest ladies living here who was born in Mayfield, and is a noble woman.
After the war of 1812 the population steadily increased, and we find the names of MAPES, RICHARDSON, GRAVES, GLOGE, FRANCISCO, and OVEROCKER. In 1819 a new township was formed and named Mayfield. The first town meeting was held in June of that year, twenty voters being present; of those thirteen were elected to fill various offices. There could not be found a more accommodating kind-hearted people than inhabited the town at this time; if a neighbor was in trouble or sick, all were ready to minister to his wants; if there was to be a logging bee or a barn to be raised, they would come many miles to assist in the work.
Sally COVERT, nee POTES, was noted for being an excellent cook, and they used to send for her to cook the dinner for a logging bee or barn raising, she being the only young lady that could cook and season a pot pie made in a caldron kettle. She was also one of the early school teachers, was a beautiful woman, and is still living in her Western home.
Lucinda SHELDEN came with her husband, Pleg SHERMAN, Sr., and children from North Adams, Mass., in 1824. She was the mother of a large family of boys and two daughters. Her daughter, Phoebe, married James COVERT, Sr. Sarah married Hiram EGGLETON, and is living in Michigan. Mrs. SHERMAN died at the home of one of her sons in Michigan.
Hannah KNOWLTON, Mrs. GRANT, came from the East with her son, Halsey GATES, in 1826, and to Mayfield the following spring. She was one of the pioneer women who could card, spin, and weave cloth and blankets, spin flax and weave linen. One of her great-granddaughters has a white woolen coverlet that she made for her mother, embroidered with colored yarn that she spun and twisted, as fine as the split zephyr we use now; it is a very nice keepsake to be handed down from generation to generation as a specimen of the work done by our pioneer grandmothers. One of her seven children lived to be eighty-two years old.
Lucy Ann BRALLEY, wife of Halsey GATES, was born in Delaware county, New York, came here in 1826. They bought their land of the Connecticut Land Company in its wild state, built a log house and commenced housekeeping in the forest. Mr. GATES brought with him the gearing of a sawmill which was completed the next year, and the year following he erected a grist mill. He helped survey the first road from GATES’ Mill to Cleveland, established the first mail route between those places, and carried it the first year at his own expense.
Mrs. GATES raised a family of eight children, the first three of whom were cradled in the sap troughs. In 1834 they erected a fine frame hotel, which is used now as a dwelling house. She was a very genial landlady, a consistent Christian, and gave liberally to all works of charity.
In 1829 Laura SHERMAN (Mrs. Samuel DEAN) came from North Adams, Mass. She started to cross the river when the water was high, with two of her children, in an ox-cart. When they reached the middle of the stream the cart tipped over, and she and the children came very near being drowned. He husband caught her by her hair, and lifted her out. She had a child under each arm.
In 1843 there was a tornado. It blew her sick child through a window about twenty rods from the house. It took another child, two and one-half years old, carried him up out of sight, and when he came down, she caught him in her arms. Her seven children all were hurt, except the one that crawled under a straw stack. It took the house up and turned it over on one side of the roof. The report was current that her husband had a great amount of money in gold, and people came for miles around to search for it. It demolished the school house, but the teacher, seeing the storm coming, dismissed the school, and none of her pupils were hurt. Mrs. Anthony SHERMAN (nee ALDERMAN) was rolled over and over on the ground, her husband took their little boy, put him in a hollow place in the ground, and lay down over him to keep the wind from blowing him away.
In 1828 there was an outbreak of Mormonism in the township. Quite a number of the inhabitants were converted to that faith; several families were broken up, and some of their members moved away to Salt Lake. Sally JACKSON, who was born in Mayfield, was one of the early school teachers. She and her sister, Eliza, went with their parents to Salt Lake.
The first framed school house was built at Mayfield center in 1830, and was used as school house, church, and town hall, elections being held in it until 1848.
Harriet WILSON was born in Phelps, N.Y., in 1808. At the age of sixteen she married David McDOWELL, and energetic young man of Phelps, and in 1830 they moved to Mayfield with their three children and their household goods. They made their way through the forest where were only narrow roads and blazed trees to mark the route to their new home - a log house - which they soon left to live in the dwelling house and store, built by WAITE and McDOWELL - the first store in Mayfield. In 1833 her husband and brother, Frederick WILSON, built the first hotel, and she was the first landlady, and by her kind, cheery disposition, won many warm friends; she was hospitable in manner, witty in conversation, and given to deeds of kindness - nursing the sick and relieving the wants of the poor. She was left a widow in 1843 with six children to care for. In 1847 she married Egbert JOHNSON, by whom she had one daughter, at whose home she died in 1879, and is buried near her hold home in the Willson’s Mills Cemetery.
Caroline SANFORD came from Genesse county, N.Y., with her husband Caleb RUSSELL, in 1830, knew many of the hardships of pioneer life, and was the mother of two sons and four daughters. She was one of the brave mothers whose sons gave their lives to save the country they loved. Two daughters survive her, Emily, who married Benjamin FISH, and Harriet, who married Loren CURTIS. Mr. and Mrs. RUSSELL were members of the Methodist church for many years.
Sally RATHBUN (Mrs. Samuel WHITING) came from Pittsfield, Mass., in 1831, was one of the settlers in this part of town, could spin, knit, and do all kinds of work done by the women of that time; was one of the members of the early Presbyterian church, and was an efficient church worker and kind woman.
Margaret MIDDAUGH (Mrs. Elijah SORTOR) came from Seneca county, N.Y., in 1831. She was one of the pioneer women who suffered many privations in the new home and used to weave in order to buy seed corn to plant. When she rode on horseback, she would carry two and sometimes three children. She raised a family of ten children and lived to be eighty-eight years old. Mr. and Mrs. MIDDAUGH celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary with a golden wedding, to which relatives and cherished friends were bidden. Such privileges come to but very few in life.
Sally SORTOR, nee JONES, came to Mayfield with her parents and was the mother of ten children. A very kind-hearted Christian lady, one of her daughters said she could not find language to write of her mother that could express what she was to her, and that her childhood years were full of little errands of sympathy and good things for the sick and needy sent by her mother. She was a Christian mother and still lives in the hearts of her children and friends.
The first physician in the township was the Dr. A.L. DILLE, who settled at the Wilson’s Mills in 1834. He married Jane BOOTH, of Mentor, O. He died some years ago and was taken to Mentor and buried by the side of his father. Mrs. DILLE went to Michigan to live with her sister and died there.
Dorcas WAKEFIELD, nee RUDD, came from Watertown, N.Y., in 1834. It took sixteen days and nights on Lake Erie before they reached Cleveland. Her first home was a log house without any floor, a shake roof, and no door or window. They used to hang a quilt at night at the opening and would wake up mornings in the winter and find their beds covered with snow. She was a tailoress and supported the family by sewing. An excellent nurse, she took care of her family, who were ill with typhoid fever, without the aid of a physician. She was much beloved for her amiable, Christian character.
After a journey of nine weeks on the ocean from England, Hannah LEUTY, her husband, John NEVILLE, and two little boys landed at New York. The children were very sick on the water, and she hardly knew whether they would live to see land or not. Her first home was a poor log house, but she lived to exchange it for a beautiful home and see Mayfield change from a wilderness to a nicely settled township. She saw her children grow to manhood and womanhood and become useful members of society. She was a devout Christian and church worker and by her works will she be remembered.
Rhoda ARNOLD (Mrs. Lemuel SOUTHWICK), with her husband and children, became residents of Mayfield in 1834. They came from Albany to Buffalo by canal and from there to Cleveland on the steamer Walk-in-the-Water, the first vessel propelled by steam that traversed the waters of Lake Erie. She is spoken of with respect and kindness by all who know her. An only daughter, Lydia, who married Benjamin SHERMAN, was a lovely woman. She was found by the bedside of the sick and among those who had need of her gentle voice and helping hand, was a devoted mother, kind neighbor, and “Aunt Lydia,” as she was called, will long live in the memory of those who knew her.
Mrs. John HOLMES, nee Betsy WARE, made the journey from Connecticut in a lumber wagon drawn by an ox team. She had two daughters, Harriet, who married William SOUTHWICK. Maria married Buell ALLEN and is still living in Youngstown.
Achsah SHERMAN, who married Lyndon JENKS in 1825, came to Ohio from North Adams, Mass., in 1834, bought the JENKS homestead the following year, and lived there until her death in 1893. She was one of the active, useful women of her time, was active in church work, and had great decision of character and energy. After sixty years of age she took woolen rolls, spun and colored the yarn, and made a suit of clothes for each of her three sons. A typical pioneer woman and a worthy helpmeet, she endeared herself to the whole community in which she lived and her children “rise up and call her blessed.”
Arethursa PORTER, with her husband Luther BATTLES, and eight children started from Herkimer, N.Y., in 1834 to their long talked of home. There was a small log house on their land, but no roads, and but few improvements had been made in the neighborhood. Here they commenced the long, weary struggle for life anew. She sacrificed one of her sons at the shrine of liberty. She was a kind, Christian woman and had great love for her children.
Chloe HOWARD (Mrs. William APTHORP) was born in Stockbridge, Mass., in 1808. Her father served as drummer boy in the year of 1812 and died at Sackett Harbor. She was trained to spin, weave, and knit, was married in 1835, and in 1838 came to Mayfield. She ate the first meal and spent the first night at Condit’s tavern, Euclid road. She remembers the cups and saucers used then as being like those of her mother at home. Soon after they went to their farm of one hundred acres of unbroken timber land in the northwest part of Mayfield and bought and paid for it with their united savings. In a log house her son and daughter were born. It is needless to say she knew what pioneer life meant. She is eighty-eight years old, well, hearty, and above all cheerful and glad to see her friends.
Names of women who were members of the First Presbyterian Church: Mrs. Anna STRONG, Mrs. Lucius STRONG, Mrs. Samuel WHITNEY, Mrs. HUMPHREY, Mrs. Daniel WILLIAMS, Mrs. Lyman RUSSELL, Mrs. Daniel SHEPARD, Mrs. Ralph TYLER, Mrs. Milton RUSSELL, Miss Maria BECKWITH, and Mrs. Tabitha TYLER. Their influence for good is felt at the present day. Meetings were held in the school house at the center of the town on one Sunday and at State Road Corners the other. After some years the meetings were discontinued, some of the members having moved away. There is but one denomination now in Mayfield, the Methodist.
Mrs. David LAW, nee Alice WILLIS, came from Ireland in 1835. Her husband built a log cabin in the forest, and they settled down in agricultural pursuits. She was the mother of five sons and four daughters. Mr. and Mrs. LAW lived only a few years after coming here. The daughters grew up lovely women. Alice married Gideon HENDERSON, afterwards Howard ALLEN; Jane married Wales HENDERSON; Mary, Horace TIBBITTS, and Martha, Mr. GREGORY. Two of the sons made Mayfield their home - John LAW, deceased, and Mr. Robert LAW.
Esther COLLINS was born in Brandon, Vt., moved to New York when quite young, was a schoolmate of Stephen A. DOUGLAS’ father and mother, was married to George WILLSON, whose father was a soldier in the Revolutionary War. She left a nice home in the East, and came to live in a log house in the woods in 1836. Her husband, returning to his old home to visit, was taken sick and died there. After a few years, she went to live with her son, Frederick WILLSON, and spent the remainder of her life in his home. She used to knit stockings and mittens for the soldiers. She lived to see her great-grandchildren. She had a remarkable memory, and we all loved to listen to her stories of the Revolution and “the olden times.” She lived to the advanced age of ninety-four years. Jane (WILSON) SORTOR, her youngest daughter, was one of the early school teachers at Mayfield Center.
Eliza HENDERSON came with her parents from Columbia county, New York, to Orange township in 1833, and was married to Frederick WILLSON in 1836, and came here. Together they shared the joys and sorrows of life for many years. She was the mother of nine children, and lived to see six of them consigned to their last places of rest. Two of her sons enlisted in the war for their country, and both gave their lives in its defense. She had an innate love for the beautiful was very fond of flowers, and is spoken of with love and respect by all who shared her society or enjoyed her hospitality. She was a great lover of home.
Hannah PRATT (Mrs. Luke WASTE) came from Washington county, New York, with her husband and two children in 1837. They first settled in Willoughby, and came to Mayfield in 1840. She was a very kind-hearted woman. She bore the noontide toil and heat, and at eventide, with tired, folded hands, waited for the summons which should open unto her the morning of eternal day.
Fidelia TAGGART, wife of Lyman RUSSELL, was born in Blandford, Mass., came to Mentor in 1831, and to Mayfield in 1838. She was a very hospitable woman, and made a home for the pioneer preachers who held services in the log school house and barn. She lived a beautiful home life with her family, and although an invalid many years of her life, was always cheerful and very grateful for any little kindness shown her. She died on the sixty-third anniversary of her wedding, aged eighty-four years.
Harriet HOLISTER was married in Bennington, Vt., in 1829 to Ruel CUTLER, moved to Kirtland, O., in 1840; two years later she came to Mayfield. She was left a widow at age of forty, with eight children to care for. She managed, by industry and frugality, to keep her children together until they were old enough to take care of themselves, giving them all the education possible. She lived to see two sons (who served in the civil war) and her three youngest daughters pass away with that dread disease, consumption, in less than five years time. When seventy-five years old she went to live with her daughter, Mrs. STRAIGHT, in Michigan, but in one short year her remains were brought back and interred a short distance from where she had spent so many years of her life.
Sylvia SKINNER was born in Kirtland, O., in 1817, and was one of the first school teachers at Little Mountain, and was married to Amherst PINNEY in 1842. She used to spin and weave cloth for her children’s dresses, also coverlets and woolen carpets, She was kind and hospitable to every one. He husband was from Mesapotamia, and people going from the eastern townships of Geauga and Trumbull to Cleveland used to stop and stay all night them. They called it the half-way house. She died quite young. Her three daughters survive her.
Sally PEASE (Mrs. Selden MINER), who came with her husband and children from Hebron, Conn., in 1843, was a bright, capable woman. Her daughter Clara (Mrs. Leroy WHITING) has been a worker in the Sunday school for many years. A young lady in her class says: “She is one who will never grow old, for she is so in sympathy with young people.” Melissa (MINER) AIKEN was a noble Christian woman, interested in all works of charity and love, and although an invalid a good share of her life, her hands were never idle. Many will remember her “cheerful countenance, which doeth the heart good like a medicine.” Truly may it be said of her:
“The sweetest lives are those to duty wed,
Whose deeds, both great and small,
Are close-knit strands of one unbroken thread,
Where love ennobles all.”
Mr. and Mrs. Welman BRAINARD came from Brooklyn, O., in 1843. He was one of the pioneer preachers. Mr. William LEUTY deeded him five acres of land for a home if he would come here and organize and superintend a Sunday school. Many are indebted to him for the good seed sown in their hearts in their youth, and the Book of Life will the shining record tell. Mr. and Mrs. BRAINARD were respected and loved by all who knew them. They lived a long, useful life, and celebrated their golden wedding.
The first church edifice was erected in 1842, and has since been replaced by a larger one.
Among the early teachers we find the names of Ann STRONG (SNOW), Eleanor STRONG (WHITING), Hannah BROWN, Jeannette EGGLESTON.
Harriet BRAINARD (nee BATTLES) was president of the Soldiers’ Aid Society which did so much good during the civil war for the sick and wounded soldiers “and to it belongs the great and lasting honor of being the first society of women organized for the noble work of bearing a people’s love to a people’s army.”
Lucinda MILLER (Mrs. Henry HIGGINS) came from the East to Augurn in 1844, rode the entire distance in a lumber wagon with her husband and three children, was fourteen days on the road, then moved to Newburg, and came from there to Mayfield. She was a member of the Disciple Church a great many years, was an excellent nurse, cultivated and loved flowers, and was a great reader. Her daughters who came with her were Helen, who married Dr. WASTE, and Rosina, who married Greer PAGE.
Mayfield was the birthplace of Mary A. SORTOR, who grew up to be a useful and influential woman, was a successful school teacher, and taught for some time here in the Cleveland schools, and while there was instrumental in organizing a mission school. She was married to Mr. A.D. McHENRY in 1873 and they went as missionaries to India, and spent eight years in that noble work. She came home broken down in health, and died six weeks after her return.
Irene SHEPARD was born in Mayfield in 1841. She married Dr. CHALLIS, and for a number of years they were missionaries in Bulgaria, where they did a grand work. They have returned, and are living in Michigan.
Mrs. Selden MINER (Sally PEASE) came to Mayfield in 1843, a widow. Some of her sons lived here, and after their father died, one of them went back for the mother and her two daughters, Mrs. Clara MINER, who married Leroy WHITING, and Melissa MINER, who married Ashahel AIKEN.
May the shadows of time deal gently with the few who are left.
Mrs. David GILMORE
Chairman and Historian
Committee - Mrs. Clarinda LAMOREAUX, Mrs. Nellie MINER, Mrs. Sarah RUDD, Mrs. Ida RUSSELL, Mrs. Clara WHITING, Mrs. Laura STRAIGHT, Miss Florence LAW, Mrs. James COVERT, Mrs. Hattie KEESLER