When in 1795, the Connecticut Land Company sent out its surveyors to inspect the “worthless patch of woodland” in the middle-west, peopled only by Indians, which land it had acquired by purchase from the State of Connecticut, there was no vision that this wilderness would be in after years, become one of the most important parts of the country. For this “worthless woodland” became the Western Reserve of Ohio which has produced some of the ablest men and women in the United States.
When the surveyors arrived, headed by Moses CLEVELAND, it was a question whether the new settlement to be formed should be located upon the low-lands bordering Lake Erie, or further southeastward where hills and gullies existed. “Cleffland,” as it was first called, won the day and Newburgh became its environ.
Yet, in those early days Cleveland and Newburgh were rivals; and five year later Newburgh had the larger population. This was due to the malarial conditions existing in Cleveland at that time. The marshes bordering the crooked Cuyahoga river were breeding places for fever and ague. Scarcely any of the early settlers escaped the disease. And it is recorded that after a short sojourn in the Cleveland hamlet, many removed to the higher ground of Newburgh, although most of them retained their land holdings in Cleveland.
Newburgh was formed into a separate township in 1814 and was not annexed to Cleveland until 1872. Yet from 1796 until a few years ago, Newburgh was always mentioned as a suburb of Cleveland. On this account it has been difficult to separate the early history of pioneers, one from the other, as they are so intermingled. Consequently this sketch of early Newburgh residents can only be considered as supplementary to the Cleveland narrative found in this volume.
In the vital statistics of Newburgh occur the names of KINGSBURY, EDWARDS, WILLIAMS, GUN, HAWLEY and BLINN, these families coming before 1800. A year later came the two HAMILTON families, the GAYLORDS, THORPS and GILBERTS, followed during the next five years by the BURKS, Asael ADAMS and his wife Lucy MYGATT, and the MILES family. Many other notable families well known in Newburgh history came within the next ten years during which time Newburgh village was incorporated.
In a sketch necessarily as brief as this only a few of the earliest pioneer women can be mentioned.
Levi WHITE and his wife Sabrina KINNEY came to Newburgh from Bennington, Vt., in 1804. He purchased land at $1.50 an acre on the site occupied now by the State Hospital. Mrs. WHITE had many interesting experiences with the Indians. They called her “The Good Squaw,” demanding food which she dared not refuse. But they always came back bringing venison and animal skins, much more valuable than the food, to repay her for her kindness. Her husband died in 1812 leaving her with twelve children to support. The records say that she “performed her task nobly.” And when her day was done she was interred in the Axtell Street Cemetery which was laid out in 1801.
MILES was an important name in Newburgh as early as 1806, Charles MILES, Sr., having owned many acres of land in this section at that time. Mrs. Charles MILES, Sr. (Ruth THOMPSON) was the daughter of Deacon Stephen THOMMPSON and Mary WALTERS THOMPSON of Goshen, Conn. Mr. MILES serving in the War of the Revolution was ordered home on account of illness. When able, he purchased land at Tinmouth, Vt. And moved his family there. Seven of their eight children were born in Tinmouth.
Meanwhile the parents, brothers and sisters of Ruth THOMPSON MILES, having come previously to the Western Reserve, wrote back such glowing accounts of the new land that she persuaded her husband to join them. They first joined her family at Hudson, Ohio, but later decided to locate in Newburgh.
Mrs. Ruth THOMPSON MILES is spoken of as a kindly-faced woman, tall, dark haired and of graceful carriage, never wanting in courage and bravery, traits needed in the new land. Her daughter Mary married at the early age of fifteen and died when barely sixteen. Another daughter, Susannah, married Dr. Nathan MANTER. The two oldest sons, Theodore and Erastus - better known as the “MILES Brothers,” - are closely connected with Newburgh history both having held public offices. Theodore MILES was a man of public spirit. He gave Miles Park to the village and Miles Avenue, the longest street in Newburgh was given the family name.
Lydia CLARK, the first wife of Theodore, was mother of Eben MILES who married Eunice BATES. The second wife, Fanny Buel HAWLEY, had two sons and four daughters, Livinia, the only unmarried one spending all her days in the old family homestead on Miles Avenue.
Mrs. Erastus MILES (Laura CARTER) was a young woman of determined character and full of spirit. It is related that when she was but thirteen years of age a band of Indians came to their home frightening her invalid mother. Seizing a broom she went out amongst them wielding the broom right and left, hitting heads and legs promiscuously and crying: “Get out! My mother is sick!” It is needless to state that the Indians, unused to such feminine tactics left without more ado. She married Erastus MILES when but seventeen year old. They were parents of Emily who married Timothy T. CLARK, and being left a widow, Joseph K. CURTIS; and Lucretia who became the wife of the Hon. Edward S. HAMLIN of Elyria, Ohio. Mrs. Erastus MILES, late in life chose for her second husband, James STRONG of Cleveland.
History says that “Samuel Smith BALDWIN, son of Samuel and Hannah NORTHROP BALDWIN of Ridgefield, Conn. Came to Newburgh in 1808 and settled upon a farm on Aetna Street.” He brought with him his wife Sarah CAMP BALDWIN, and several young children. At this time they had been married about eleven years. The writer of this sketch had the privilege of examining a diary and docket written by Samuel S. BALDWIN and preserved through all these years by one of his descendants. In these he tells of much of the daily life of those early times. He held the offices of Sheriff and County Surveyor and was an important man in the community. His daily life was recorded as attending to acts of justice, surveying and taking up new tracts of land upon the Western Reserve, and “logging” in which neighbors with their oxen assisted him. Frequent mention was made of such neighbors as W.W. WILLIAMS, Joel THORPE and Amos SPAFFORD. In this Diary he tells of one of his surveyors crossing the ice at Black River on horseback, carrying a bag of provisions eagerly expected by the women at home. The horse broke through the ice and was drowned, its rider being obliged to walk back to Newburgh. The bag of provisions was later fished out of the river. Mr. BALDWIN also tells of the calamity that befell the CARTER family by the drowning of Harry CARTER, a lad of ten years, in the Cuyahoga River and the search for the little body.
Mrs. Samuel S. BALDWIN (Sarah CAMP) was a delicate woman of culture and refinement. In leaving the comforts of her Eastern home she had little realization of the hardships she would encounter as a pioneer in a new land. She brought with her a fine wardrobe and accessories, indicating wealth and good taste, but quite unfitted to pioneer life. She departed this life in 1818, after the birth of twins, at the early age of thirty-six years. Her daughter Lucretia married Reuben HENRY. Caroline became Mrs. Victor M. CANNON of Aurora, Portage county, Ohio. Julia married Thomas NORTH, Sarah, Almeron DODGE, and Emily, one of the twins, became Mrs. Francis MORAN.
After the death of his first wife, Mr. BALDWIN married Rhoda BOUGHTON, daughter of Nathan BOUGHTON of Stockbridge, Mass. And of Revolutionary War fame. She proved a real mother to his motherless children, but was herself left a widow three years later.
It has been said that while Connecticut created the Western Reserve of Ohio, pioneers from Vermont and New Hampshire settled it.
Upon Miles Avenue still reside descendants of Ashley AMES who came to Newburgh from Vergennes, Vt., in 1795. Ashley AMES was the son of David AMES a soldier in the Revolutionary War and a native of Hollis, N.H. He married Sarah WILLARD, daughter of John O. WILLARD of Cleveland in 1826
Sarah WILLARD AMES was a young woman of genius. Her fine taste and artistic ability was proverbial. She was not only proficient in fine needle work and embroidery, but her decorative skill was unsurpassed in those days. She was able to take almost any kind of material and from it make something beautiful; yet, with it all, she was the capable mother of ten children of her own, and her motherly instincts impelled her to adopt and bring up two other motherless little ones.
Of her ten children, the first seven were boys, who, lacking sisters, were taught all the intricacies of house-keeping, including knitting and sewing, by their practical mother. They stated, later in life, that these accomplishments were greatly appreciated by them.
Surely Mrs. Ashley AMES was a worthy ancestor of Miss May AMES, artist and teacher in the Cleveland School of Art, from whom she claims to have inherited her own talents.
Noble BATES and his wife, Aurilla BOOTH BATES, arrived in Newburgh in 1812 from Essex, Vt., bringing with them two little daughters, Sophia and Elvira. Afterwards, two little daughters, Lucy (Mrs. Benjamin WIGGINS) and Eunice (Mrs. Eben MILES) were born in Newburgh. Mr. BATES was a millwright, but as the early settlers had little to grind they had often only cornmeal upon which to subsist. When white flour was obtainable there was great rejoicing. There is a story that one night Mr. BATES brought home a cherished sack of white flour after the hungry children were in bed and asleep. Nothing daunted by the lateness of the hour, Mrs. BATES baked a large pan of biscuits as soon as possible and roused the children who proceeded to fill their little stomachs with the hot food, much to their hearts’ content. Late in life Sophia, the eldest daughter of Noble and Aurilla BOOTH BATES, became the wife of Thomas GARFIELD, uncle of President James A. GARFIELD.
INGERSOLL is a name that occurs often in the annals of Newburgh. The Connecticut Land Company sold nine hundred acres of land in Newburgh to Elijan INGERSOLL in 1812. The price was $1,400. Elijah was the son of David and Lydia INGERSOLL of Lee, Mass. When twenty years of age Elijah INGERSOLL had married Polly BARLOW, who lived out her brief life in her home town of Lee, Later he married Betsey THOMAS, who, with his eight children accompanied him to Newburgh, the three oldest being married before coming West.
Nathan, the oldest son, married Polly PERRY, daughter of Abraham and Temperance HATCH PERRY, in Lee, Mass. Their wedding journey was to their new home in Newburgh. The young bride had much fear of the Indians who were quite numerous in this section during certain season of the year. She soon learned, however, that their actions were not hostile.
Polly PERRY INGERSOLL was by nature sympathetic and philanthropic. She was always ready to lend a helping hand and no one was ever turned from her door unrelieved. She lived to be more than ninety years old. Her daughters were Adaline (Mrs. Thomas CROSBY), Samantha (Mrs. Charles HALL), Lucy (Mrs. John KELLY), and Jane who remained unmarried. Her three sons: Edwin, John and Barlow, became respected citizens of Newburgh and Cleveland.
From Sudley, Vt. Came Jonathan and Lucy SCOVILL PEARSE to Newburgh hamlet in 1817. They came by ox-team and covered wagon which was the only mode of land travel in those days. Their first home was a log cabin upon a ten acre tract of land near the corner of Harvard and Independence Streets. Their taxes per year upon the property were $13.65. As many of the early residents of Newburgh were “land poor” even this small sum was hard to raise. It meant a continuous saving of even the pennies.
Wolves howled about Newburgh during these years and terrified the residents. A bounty was offered for each wolf slain. Among the “wolf papers” still in existence is this one which explains itself:
“This certifies that Lorenzo NALLY has produced to me one scalp of a wild wolf over the age of six months, proven according to law, for which he is entitled to receive from the State of Ohio the sum of $4.00 as per act of the Leg.” (legislature.
Signed, Theodore MILES, J.P.
Mr. and Mrs. PEARSE were the parents of seven children, nearly all born in Newburgh.
At one time, a few years after the forming of Newburgh into a separate township in 1814, there were eight families in Newburgh hamlet by the name of RATHBUN. Among them were Edmund, George and Jonathan RATHBUN, originally from Rhode Island.
The wife of Edmund RATHBUN was Julia HAMILTON, daughter of Samuel and Susannah HAMILTON, whose bravery and fortitude under great tribulations has already been mentioned in these pages.
Mrs. Edmund RATHBUM was the mother of three daughters, Caroline, Melinda and Lydia, all of whom married into the family of David BROOKS, another pioneer resident of Newburgh. Caroline became Mrs. Samuel BROOKS and Lydia, Mrs. Freeman BROOKS. Edmund RATHBUN was a solider in the Revolutionary War.
The wife of George RATHBUN was Harriet WARNER, daughter of another early resident of Newburgh. Jonathan with his family moved to Orange County, but the families of Edmund and George lived on Harvard Street, Newburgh, for many years.
Aaron HUBBARD and his wife Esther TIBBALS HUBBARD, came to Newburgh hamlet in 1820. Two years before, Mr. HUBBARD had traded land in Broome, Schoraie County, N.Y. for unimproved land in Newburgh, sending his son ISRAEL and his married daughter Cynthia (Mrs. Stephen TITUS) to take possession of it. The Aaron HUBBARDS came as far as Buffalo with an ox-team and span of horses attached to two covered wagons. At Buffalo Mr. HUBBARD shipped some of his heavier freight on the small wooden steamer “Walk-in-the-Water” which plied between Buffalo and Cleveland. His wife drove the span of horses through to Newburgh. This would not be considered much of a feat in these days of automobile travel and cement roadways. But in those days when the Western country was mostly uncleared land, the public highways not much more than beaten paths, and wild animals howling at night, it took some bravery on the part of a woman to set out upon such a journey.
Mrs. Aaron TIBBALS HUBBARD was originally from Durham, Conn. She remembered many childhood incidents of the Revolutionary War - one, the passing of Gen. Washington and his staff past her home.
She was a woman of energy, exceptional good judgment - and possessed of a cheerful disposition. Fond of reading, she retained her mental facilities to the end of a long life.
This sketch is but a page in the early history of Newburgh. Much more might be told if time and space permitted. It is difficult for us of the twentieth century to realize the trials and hardships encountered by our pioneer ancestors upon the Western Reserve of Ohio.
Ella STURTEVANT WEBB
(Note: The information contained in this narrative was gleaned from various pioneer histories and from letters and original records still in existence.)
Middleburg committee - Miss Mary BIGELOW, Mrs. Lucy VAN TYNE, Miss Mary STONE, Mrs. Mary E. ELMORE, Miss Lou PEEBLES, Mrs. J. P. COLE