Some fifteen miles from Cleveland in a southwesterly direction, out what is known as the Wooster pike, lies Strongsville (being called after John S. STRONG), a township like many another in this Western Reserve, almost wholly given up to agriculture. Although it can boast of one railroad - the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling - on its western border, running from north to south through the township. True, will see here and there a mill, shop or factory, and at splendid distances from each other may be observed the general store, where the wisdom and genius of the township congregate to talk over public matters and learn the latest news.
Passing through the township now, and observing the thrift and prosperity of its inhabitants, the comfort of all, and the affluence of many, one would hardly imagine that this was once a dense forest, whose slumbering echoes were awakened by the scream of the panther, the howl of the wolf, and the whoop of the savage.
To glide along at almost lightning speed on that prince of modern pleasure inventions, the bicycle, over the many smooth and obstructionless roads that stretch their endless lines through and across this region, and then realize that much less than a century ago, to cover the same distance which you have made in one short hour, meant days and perhaps weeks of tedious toil and danger. We meet the aged and infirm old settlers and smile at their quaint and primitive ways and sayings, but we never realize what it really signified to be a pioneer of this region in our grandfather’s day.
Much of the history of those early days has never been written, save by the recording angel in that great Book of Remembrance which God keeps, and whose pages will never be scanned by mortal eye until that day when we shall see the King in His beauty. To write even a sketch of the people without singling out here and there individual persons would be at least a difficult task.
In February, 1816, Mrs. John HILLIARD (Bernica WHITNEY) came to Strongsville with her husband and father and little daughter, Eliza, and a company of men who came to survey the township, from near Marlboro, Vermont. They built their log cabin a little southeast from the center, and commenced life by clearing a few acres of land and planting it to corn that spring.
During the spring and early summer of that year Mrs. HILLIARD, then only twenty-one years old, was the only woman in Strongsville township, and, with her little daughter, consisted the entire female society of this town; and it is not saying too much for them to assert that they were very largely the leaders of fashion.
Did Mrs. HILLIARD ever have callers? Oh, yes. One bright summer morning after she had swept the floor, covered the fire - for they had no matches in those days - and dusted the stone hearth, she heard a strange noise, and, turning towards the fireplace, saw a huge rattlesnake stretched at full length on the warm hearthstone and rattling “to beat the band.” She ran to the door and called her husband, who came and dispatched the creature, which measured over five feet in length.
The husband returned to his chopping and she to her work, but soon she heard a similar noise behind the hearth stone. Again her husband was summoned, and the mate to the first snake was dragged from his hiding place and sent to bear the other one company.
Again during the summer, while her husband and all the rest of the men who came west with them were gone to Columbia to a raising, leaving Mrs. HILLIARD and little Eliza alone, and the only inhabitants of the township, as they supposed, the door to their log cabin was unceremoniously pushed open and a big Indian, with gun, knife and tomahawk, walked in and asked where the men were.
As soon as she could catch her breath, which her beating heart seemed to have sent after the men, she told him in trembling tones where they had gone, expecting herself and child to be murdered, of course. Mr. LO walked along and took a seat. Little Eliza, not thinking of harm, went up to him and offered him the piece of bread she happened to be eating at the time. He took it, began eating it, and took her on his knee. Soon after he got up and left, without making known his business or even leaving his card, and Mrs. HILLIARD neglected to ask him to call again.
In the fall of that same year Guilford WHITNEY, Mrs. HILLIARD’s father, returned to Vermont and brought his wife, Annie, and five children back to this western home, and with them came Mr. Thaddeus LATHROP and family and Miss Charlotte WALLACE, also Retire Grove STRONG, a young unmarried man. May we not hope that in the fond embrace of that loving mother, who also came with the family, and whose heart had throbbed with a thousand fears for her girl who had gone out from the old home to make for herself a new one, away on the Western Reserve, and the sisters’ and brothers’ presence and affection were more than compensation for all her heretofore solitary glory?
This year was one fraught with great interest to Strongsville, for we find recorded that during the winter Charlotte WALLACE, who accompanied Mr. WHITNEY and his family back to Ohio, was married to Hollis WHITNEY. I am half inclined to think that that was premeditated and that she came all the way from Vermont to break the previous record of this township, and to inaugurate a custom which, it seems, has prevailed here quite extensively ever since.
We are not informed as to who issued the marriage license, whether it was Moses CLEAVLAND or John FARLEY, but be that as it may, nothing is said in the record, so far as we can find, as to what the bride wore, who gave her away, whether the bridal party were showered with rice, or anything else of importance that occurred at the wedding. Evidently the record from which we take the above facts was kept by a man that didn’t know the difference between point lace and a rag carpet, or he would not have neglected all the important features of the occasion.
In 1823 Polly TOWSLEY was married to Elijah BOSWORTH and moved to Strongsville. Like most of the young women of her day she was expert with the spinning wheel and loom, and well she might be, for on the deftness and swiftness of the fingers of the housewife rested very largely the comfort and happiness of the family in those days. Think of the infinite difference there is now from what it was when the hatcheling, carding, spinning, weaving, cutting and making all had to be done by hand, and often by one pair of hands, and that, too, the hands of the mother! And this was not for herself alone, but for her husband and little ones growing up in the household, with its constant cares and many wants. Yet with all these duties pressing upon her, she found time to let her light so shine that it is lovingly said of Polly TOWSLEY “she was a devoted Christian woman.”
In the year 1825 Mira BOSWORTH was born, and when eighteen years of age she taught a district school at seventy-five cents a week and boarded herself. The next year she was married to John Flemming HEAZLET, and died in 1859.
In 1817, Ahijah HAYNES settled in Strongsville with his wife and family, of which were Theodocia, Susan and Lucy. What privations that journey from Sudbury, Mass., brought to those sturdy people one can but imagine.
Susan HAYNES (Mrs. Caleb CARPENTER) was born 1801. She was one of the six children of Ahijah HAYNES, and, being one of the oldest of the family, had her part in the care, labor and privations which belong to pioneer life, Beside the housework, which fell to all, she was teacher in district school. In 1833 she married Caleb CARPENTER and commenced housekeeping in a log house he had built on his farm about three years before, one mile east of the center.
Here she faithfully performed the duties of wife and mother. To be a pioneer needed courage; in this she was not deficient. Her home was a mile from any neighbor, but she remained alone with her children, caring for home and stock when it was necessary for her husband to make a three days’ trip to Newburgh with wheat and corn for the family’s bread.
At one time while alone, a bear made a raid on the pig-pen near the house and carried off a young pig, one which sent back a shrill squeal in the dead of night. There is now standing on the place an apple tree which sprang from the core planted by Mrs. CARPENTER in front of the log house, from an apple Mr. CARPENTER was lucky enough to bring home on one of his trips to Newburgh, being the first fruit she had seen since coming from her eastern home.
Mrs. CARPENTER, like most of the women of her time, was expert at spinning and weaving, and provided the family with wearing apparel. She was a member of the Congregational Church of Strongsville. Her influence was always felt for good in family and neighborhood.
She had five girls and three boys; twice the mother of twins. She died where she lived, in 1841. The lumber for the frame house now standing on the CARPENTER place, was ready for the builder at her death, but she was never to see the new home she had waited for and hoped to enjoy. Do we often think of the privations and hardships our predecessors suffered, to prepare the present comforts and luxuries for our use?
Deborah FISHER, of Canton, Mass., married Apollos SOUTHWORTH and moved to Strongsville in the year 1820, where, with her family, she lived and died, leaving a record behind enshrined in the hearts of those who knew her, of a life well spent and full of good works.
Asa DRAKE came to Strongsville in the year 1820, walking all the way from Stoughton, Mass., bringing with him his wardrobe in a knapsack swung across his back with a cane which had been handed down four generations - the cane still remains in the family. He purchased 170 acres of land in the southeastern part of the township; the next year returning to Stoughton as he came, stopping at Pompey, N.Y., to visit an uncle where he became acquainted with a Miss Charlotte DEAN, whom he afterwards married, bringing her to Strongsville in 1820, with all their wealth stowed away in an ox wagon.
The following is an extract from a letter written by them to his father in December, 1820 (now in possession of their only daughter, Mrs. Thomas BRODIE):
“We left Pompey, N.Y., the 10th of October, and had a prosperous journey, although it rained nearly every day till we arrived at Buffalo, which was the 19th. The roads were muddy but not very deep. After that the weather was very pleasant, but through the beech woods for about 30 miles it was very unpleasant traveling. Through the blessings of God we enjoyed the comforts of health, which we never can be thankful enough for. We arrived at Strongsville the 30th of October, found Apollos SOUTHWORTH and family well; they have a very fine daughter (Deborah), born the 4th. We expect to leave here in a few days, as our house is nearly ready. Charlotte says she if very well contented and likes the situation of the place, and that is a great consolation to me to have her so contented. You wished me to tell you how the oxen stood the journey. They traveled very well and proved to be tough, hardy yoke of cattle. One of the spokes worked loose in the felly, which appeared to be some rotten, but answered to get here with. We had the good fortune not to leave or lose anything, but found a sixpence, a whip and some old iron, which I sold for two shillings. This from your affectionate children. Charlotte and Asa DRAKE.”
We do not need to be told of the labors and joys and triumphs, the griefs and burdens that fell to the lot of Charlotte DRAKE ere the Master said to her “It is enough; come up higher.”
Mrs. John TARRY (Rosaline CLARK) came to Strongsville in 1820 with her father’s family, Timothy CLARK. They came with an ox team from Westerfield, Conn. She, like others of that time, lived in the modest log cabin, remaining in the township seventy-five years. She is now living at Litchfield, Ohio, with a sister’s son, Mr. Charles STONE. Suffice it to say she identified herself with this community very early in the period of its existence, and rightfully claims a place for her name in the list of Strongsville pioneers.
Relief NEWTON was married to Ebenezer FULLER, July, 1810, and moved to Strongsville in 1826, purchased a farm in the southwestern part of the township which was then a wilderness, and raised twelve children. Was a kind and loving mother, strictly religious, and friendly to all.
Sally DURFEE was married to Oliver Hicks, and in 1834 moved to Strongsville. They built a little log cabin on the western town line, where, it is significantly said, “They could hear the beach nuts rattle down the small, low chimney as the wind swayed the overhanging branches.”
She had to content with sickness, misfortune and poverty, as he husband’s health failed, leaving much of the care of clearing away the forest and caring for a family of eleven children upon her hands. She remained in this place until the year 1852, when they sold their farm and moved to Clinton County, Michigan.
Susan HICKS (Mrs. Lyman COBB) came to Strongsville in 1833, at the age of six months, and remained here for twenty years. She was a golden-haired, curly-headed girl, chuck full of fun and mischief. She, like the rest of her neighbors, was poor, but she says of herself, “I was contented and happy.” She received her education in a little log school house, where, at times, she frankly admits, she was compelled to sit upon or under the cross-legged table for some violation of rules.
She was taught when quite young to do all kinds of housework, such as spinning, weaving, carding and knitting of flax and wool. Think of it, O ye girls of today, who do all your spinning on a pneumatic tire over faultless roadways! How would you like to change places with the girls of long ago?
She moved to Michigan in 1852, where she now resides, and although her brow is furrowed, and the golden hair which once adorned her head is fast giving place to the silver gray, her heart is young, and her mind wanders back to the days of her childhood, where, with her father and mother, brothers and sisters, she lived in the old log house.
Betty Ann BRAINARD married Franklin STRONG in 1835, and settled in the southern part of the township, on what is known as “Stone Hill” where she lived for over fifty years. Even as late as the time of her coming there were to be found deer, bear, and wild turkeys in abundance. She was early left a widow with the care and training of five small children, and she, too, struggled with cares, hardships and privations. A member of the church and always ready to help her neighbors in times of trouble and sickness. She died at the age of 77 years. “And thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
Mary HITCHENS married Thomas REED at Sithney, England, and died in this country in 1872, shortly after the birth of their youngest child. Mr. REED came to this country in the year 1837; located in Strongsville, where later on, he was joined by his wife and twelve of their thirteen children; the eldest, Thomas REED, Jr., remaining in the old country. Who can doubt but that her life, too, like those other noble women, was spent in usefulness and Christian love and fortitude?
Hannah, daughter of Wheeler COLE, married Edward Hitchens REED. She was born in Strongsville, 1825, and died 1857, leaving one daughter, Florence, now Mrs. H.K.W. STEBBINS of Youngstown, Ohio.
Mrs. Marvin STONE (Hannah WEST) was born in Ludlow, Mass., and died at Berea 1893. She was married at Strongville to Marvin STONE in 1834.
Mrs. STONE was a woman of rare gifts and most definite and interesting personality. She inherited a cheerful, courageous spirit, which had been disciplined by trial, united to a clear Christian faith, which did not falter in times of darkness. Her home was always open to friend and stranger, and her hospitality was a characteristic recognized by all who knew her, leading people of all denominations to seek the social joys of her home.
The whole community in which she lived bear willing tribute to her usefulness, which was devoted to its highest public interest, and her kindness and sacrificial spirit as a neighbor and friend. In early times, before the day of professional nurses, she was ever ready to leave her home to watch by the bedside of the sick, or in other ways to minister in sympathy or service.
In the hard time when the farm was not paid for, she wrought to win the day of freedom from debt, and with nine children, all of whom lived to maturity, she fought a good fight, and rejoiced at last in victory.
Miss Rosaline Clark STONE was born in Strongsville in 1838. She was married to Rev. Wm. M. INGERSOLL, 1861, and died at Washington, D.C., in 1878. Mrs. INGERSOLL was a woman of rare grace of character and decided conviction as a Christian believer. She won the affection and confidence of all classes as a pastor’s wife, and has left in the places of her husband’s pastorate a memory long cherished by those who came under her influence.
Dorothy BRETT came to Strongsville in 1831, when a piece of land they settled upon was a wilderness. She married Stephen ASHBY. By their untiring efforts that wilderness farm was transformed into a home of comfort. She was an invalid for many years, being afflicted with palsy, and, prior to her affliction, a woman of unusual energy and ambition. She was tenderly cared for by her daughter Jane through all her declining years.
Betsy, the oldest daughter, who married Russell FREEMAN in 1838, at the age of 18, settled on a farm in this township where she lived for over fifty years.
Jane ASHBY, another daughter, married Jonathan Hubbard HANCOCK. She was a consistent Christian and lived in Strongsville for over fifty years. She was a model housekeeper and a true friend.
Judith A. POTTER, the wife of William BARBER, arrived in Strongsville 1841, where she still resides. She was a good nurse, a kind and sympathetic woman.
Mrs. Daniel DRAPER (Sarah SAVERY) came to Strongsville with her husband and four children from Wantage, Eng. There were six weeks crossing the ocean and two weeks coming from N.Y., arriving here July, 1837, where seven more children were born. She lived here until the time of her death, which occurred September, 1881.
Achsah COLBURN, wife of Elijah LYMAN, came to Strongsville in 1846. She was a woman of fine, Christian and educational attainments. Her life was a very busy one and very helpful to those under her instruction. In her early years at Strongsville she was more or less engaged in literary work, being for some years a paid contributor to the “Rural America,” published at Utica, N.Y.; also to the “Guide to Holiness,” a monthly magazine, published at Boston, Mass., and an occasional contributor to the “Oberlin Evangelist,” and “Christian Press,” of Cincinnati. When the “Ohio Farmer” first came out in Cleveland, the first paper in the state that was entirely devoted to the interests of farmers and their families, she adopted it at once, as did also her husband, and contributed to its columns quite frequently as long as the first editor (Thomas BROWN, Esq.) remained in charge.
Mr. and Mrs. Thaddeus LATHROP (Betsy EASTMAN) and family came to Strongsville in 1819, from Connecticut. The journey in those days was a slow and tedious one, the hardships of pioneer life which they encountered would appear to the younger generation almost incredible.
Did you ever visit a cemetery and there give reign to your thoughts? Go with me, if you will, to that little spot where death laid his first victim. If you need the inscription on the stone that loving hands have since raised over the spot, you will simply read that on such a day, Polly, wife of Lyman STRONG, died; and as you mark the ever-increasing number of those mounds, and read the bare statement that on such a day this one or that one fell, you will get all the English language can convey of those sad events.
Susan LATHROP (Mrs. Benjamin TUTTLE), daughter of Thaddeus LATHROP, on one occasion, while employed as a teacher, saw a huge rattlesnake stretched at full length across the threshold. Instantly a small boy was out at an opening in the wall, which served as a window, and ran to a field where some men were working, who came and dispatched the snake before school could be resumed.
Asher SELOVER and wife (Ruth BAKER) came to Strongsville in 1841, purchased a farm on what is known as the Berea road. Mrs. SELOVER was a daughter of Capt. Peter BAKER, one of the old Revolutionary soldiers, who suffered with hunger, lacerated feet and little clothing on that long, cold winter at Valley Forge. Mrs. SELOVER died some years ago, leaving a large family, most of whom are living in Ohio.
Mrs. Nathan FOSTER, nee Betsey HULET, was born in Lee, Berkshire County, Mass., April, 1811. In 1816 her father’s family removed to Brunswick, Medina County, O., and suffered many dangers, hardships and privations.
November, 1832, there was a double wedding in John JULET’s home, when his daughters, Jane Terena and Betsey, were married, the first becoming Mrs. Aaron PORTER, and Betsey, Mrs. Nathan FOSTER. The ceremony was performed by Rev. John JANES, of precious memory. His wife and infant daughter, now Mrs. Mary B. INGHAM, of Cleveland, were present.
Soon after marriage the young couples located in Albion, living in the same house. There Jane, Mrs. FOSTER’s eldest child, was born. Mr. FOSTER purchased a farm one half mile east of Albion and built, in the then thick woods, the log house which, as the years sped past, became too small for the growing family, and was abandoned for the new brick house erected a little east of the old cabin. Mrs. FOSTER is the mother of three sons and five daughters; all except the youngest, Fannie, who died in infancy, are still living. Jane married Frederick J. BARTLETT, and resides at Cedar Point, this county. Mary became the wife of Mitchell CLARK and was widowed in early life. She subsequently married J.T. HULET; her home is in Berea. Hanna A. lives with her parents; and Emily M., wife of Rev. J.P. MILLS, owing to her relation to the itineracy, has “here no continuing city.”
Two daughters and the three sons are college graduates. Mrs. FOSTER’s father was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, as were three of her uncles. Her eldest brother served in the war of 1812, and George H., her eldest son, in our civil war. Mrs. FOSTER, at eighty-six, is bright and active, both in home duties and the various church and reform societies of which she is a member. As a “real” daughter of the American Revolution she was recently presented with an elegant souvenir spoon, from Washington, D.C., through the “Western Reserve” Chapter, Cleveland, of which she is a member. Well posted on the vital questions which are stirring society, and with mental powers still forceful, she is spending her sunset days in her pleasant Berea home.
Hanna A. FOSTER, daughter of Betsey HULET FOSTER, should not be omitted from this memorial, originated and sponsored by Cleveland women, with whom she has long been intimately associated, and by whom she is admired and loved. A valued member of the Ohio Woman’s Press Club, a poet of more than local reputation, gentle, refined, and unselfish to the degree of immolation, her life has been one of devotion to others. At the celebration of Cleveland’s Centennial birthday, she easily won the prize offered for the best written ode for the occasion. As non de plumes were signed to all the poems, the judges had no idea to whom they belonged until after a decision had been reached.
Miss FOSTER’s dainty verse and prose have not only graced the pages of print, but have contributed much to the pleasure of church anniversaries and college reunions in the town in which she resides.
Lucy A. WHITMAN (Mrs. Lucy A. MERRICK) was born at East Haddam, Conn., 1817, and her girlhood days were spent in Connecticut and New York. At the age of twenty years she came with her father’s family to Brunswick, Medina County, Ohio, and two years later, 1839, married Edgar M. MERRICK, and migrated to Strongsville, settling on a farm. Mrs. MERRICK had two sons, J.E. and H.W. MERRICK, who are still residents of the town. The father, Edgar M. MERRICK, died September 1889, at the ripe old age of eighty-three years, their wedded life being a period of fifty years and two days.
Mrs. MERRICK has been a resident of Strongsville for fifty-seven years, and during that time has seen the city of Cleveland grown from a mere village to a mighty city, second to none in the great state of Ohio.
Rosanna BOSWORTH, wife of Russell HARRIS, was born in Herkomer County, N.Y. 1796, married in Perrington, N.Y. Coming to Ohio about 1821, rode most of the way in a sleight on the border of Lake Erie and settled on Strongville.
She had ten children, the first child born 1818, in Moroe County, N.Y.
Mrs. HARRIS died in Cleveland, August 23, 1878, and was buried in Riverside cemetery. She would have been 100 years old had she lived this centennial year. A daughter of John BOSWORTH, Baptist minister, she was a member of the Baptist Church all her life, a good, Christian woman; and her daughter, Mr. M.A. HAMMOUR, resides on Case avenue, Cleveland.
Among the first settlers in Strongsville township were Jonathan POPE and wife (Kezia June), with their family of four sons and four daughters, one daughter remaining in New Bedford, Mass., from whence the family emigrated.
The oldest son came a year in advance of the rest of the family, and upon his departure from home his mother made for him a knapsack, which, when filled weighted twenty-five pounds. Curious to know the contents, he began to investigate, and almost the first thing that met his eye was, as he termed it, the “family chart,” the precious Bible, which made such an impression upon him that even in his last years he often referred to it.
Her family were remarkable for their piety. She brought her strong faith and trust in God with her to her wilderness home, and always made religion paramount to everything else. A Methodist church was organized at their house soon after their arrival, and she did much toward molding the religious sentiment of the community.
She cheerfully and bravely bore the burdens and hardships of pioneer life, and in every way possible, by her industry and frugality, helped to sustain and rear her family.
To her latest day every philanthropic and Christian work received her hearty sympathy and support. She lived to a ripe old age, respected by everyone.
Her children emulated her example and carried out in their lives the principles which were taught and practiced by her.
They all now have left the shore of time, but their influence is still felt, and the world is the better for their having lived in it.
Of her descendants two grandchildren, Dr. Harlan POMEFOY and Mr. Frederick D. POP, and four great-grandchildren, Mr. F.T. POMEROY, Mrs. Ida POPE McKINSTRY, Miss Hattie L. POP, a teacher in the High Schools, and Miss Julia POPE, are residents of Cleveland.
Mrs. Kezia POPE POMEROY came from New Bedford, Mass., with her father’s family in the year 1819, at the age of ten years, to make a new home in the forests of Ohio. They settled in Strongsville. The hardships of pioneer life only helped to develop the noble self-sacrificing character that has left a lasting influence upon all with whom she came in contact. She was married in January, 1831, to Alanson POMEROY, and proved indeed a helpmate in the truest and highest sense of the word. Always interested in her husband’s line of business she was a continual strength to him. The love and devotion she always gave her family was most beautifully returned to her by both her sons and daughters.
Wise in her counsel she helped and uplifted all who came in her presence. She and her husband were strong forces in building and maintaining the town that was their home for many years, giving liberally of their means as God had prospered them. No weary heart or empty hand ever appealed to her in vain. Many a weary one has been cheered by her kindly remembrance. Of the nine children that blessed their home six are still living. Her three daughters are Mrs. Henry DAY, Elyria, O.,: Mrs. C.W.D. MILLER, formerly of Berea, now living in Santa Barbara, Cal.; Mrs. W.W. SMITH, Litchfield, O.
In June, 1819, Guilford WHITNEY’s second daughter, Vina, married Retire Grove STRONG, the young man who had accompanied the family from Vermont. Thirteen children were added to this home, only seven living to maturity. Her life work was finished at the age of forty years. (She must have suffered the pangs and perils of maternity, added to that of pioneer life oftener than every two years).
At one time she was very ill, and help was needed. Her husband’s brother, Lyman STRONG, who was a cripple, having lost one leg, took a tallow candle in his hand and started through the woods on his crutches, going from the STRONG homestead to Albion, one mile distant, not over brick pavement, but over logs, through the dense forest, and wading the river. Had his feeble light gone out he would have been obliged to remain just where he was with the wolves howling around him.
Her eldest daughter, Marcia A., born in 1823, became the wife of Robert M. ASHLEY, and died in 1853 Her second daughter, Mary D., born in 1825, married William H. ASHLEY, in 1849. Her death occurred in September, 1854. He third daughter, Harriet E., born in 1832, married Chipman STRONG. He lived but a few years. After his decease she married Edward H. REED, with whom she lived happily sixteen years, when the angel of death called her home in November, 1880, after many months of intense suffering. To know her was to love her, for she was a noble Christian woman, always ready to do her part in every good work. During the civil war she was one of the leading workers who sent help to the soldiers. Her life and work long will be remembered.
The fourth daughter, Vina W., born in 1834, married Leland SPENCER, and removed to Wisconsin, 1870. Their second son, D. Merrick STRONG, married Miss Almira BRYANT, daughter of Francis S. and Betsey E. BRYANT, who came to Strongsville from Coshocton County, Ohio, in 1844, but formerly from Nelson, New Hampshire. Mrs. BRYANT died in 1865, an active member of the Baptist Church, then existing in Albion.
Almira B. STRONG and husband still live on the old homestead where they have lived together for over 42 years, can tell many interesting things in regard to the early days of Strongsville.
Ann E. BRYANT, her eldest sister, married Laban HEAZLIT in 1836, and removed to Strongsville the same year from Coshocton County, and lived here until 1865, when she was called home.
Mrs. Charles DRAKE, nee Elizabeth BEAHAM, was born in Worcestershire, England, in 1840. When she was eleven month of age her parents started with her to America. Upon reaching Liverpool they wanted to do some shopping, and, as the captain of the steamer assured them of two or three hours before starting, they left little Elizabeth with some friends and went on a shopping tour. Imagine their surprise and grief to find, on their return, the boat had gone and their babe with it! The captain, however, tried to make amends for his blunder by being as generous as possible in every way, furnishing the milk for the little one. After being four weeks on the water they reached New York, and then were obliged to wait three weeks for the mother, who found her little one just alive. They remained in New York a few days, while the babe recuperated, and then started for Cleveland, and finally found their way to Strongsville, Ohio, where they settled. Mrs. DRAKE’s mother was a Methodist preacher.
Very early in the history of this township we find that the good people were laying the foundation for more than the present life, for as early as 1817 the First Congregational Church was organized with a membership of eight persons. They were: Seth GOODWIN and Deborah, his wife; Ahijah HAYNES and Jerusha, his wife; Guilford WHITNEY and Anna, his wife; Hollis WHITNEY and Barnicey HILLIARD. Of the noble men and women who got the first religious training (outside of their home) in this church, it is not in our province to speak. The list of ministers, judges, physicians, lawyers and soldiers would reach a score.
But these pages are devoted to women only, and hence their names and deeds, be they ever so brilliant and honored, must seek a record elsewhere; but that they need to be commemorated by a free and prosperous people, I pause from my present task just long enough to inscribe right here, in honor of the “pioneer women,” whose blood coursed through their veins, the fact that no less than twenty of this township’s noblest and best young men answered to their country’s call in her hour of its greatest distress; eleven of that number have answered their last “roll call,” and others bearing about in their bodies the marks of their loyalty, are waiting with lowered heads and listening ears, for the bugle call for the last muster out.
Names of other noble women who came to this township as late as 1846 have been handed us; to give but the most meager sketch of all their lives would require more time and space than a work like this would warrant; and, besides, Strongsville could hardly have been said to be a pioneer town as late as 1846. That much as has been left out in the story of the lives of those women whose names appear in these pages, no one is more conscious than the writer. The most that could be looked for would be just a word here and there, and the reader must fill in the space and be able to read between the lines.
What part those women took in the shaping of the thoughts of today, we shall never fully know in this life. How much of the spirit that was in them was bequeathed to their offspring, and served them well as they followed their country’s flag in after years through bloody conflicts, some to prison and some to death, and others with stricken bodies, back to their peaceful walks of life, is hid away in the bosom of God. But that a nobler harvest has been gathered and multitudes of noble men and women trained and fitted for the varied duties of life have gone forth from those Strongsville homes to add to the wealth and worth of other homes and other lands, we are sure.
Looking back over all these years, and contemplating the fruit of their hands, the outcome of their undertakings, and the possibilities of the future, we would stop with reverence beside their tombs; and summing up all our respect and admiration and wonder and love for them into one word, we would write on the marble slabs that silently mark their resting place, pioneer.
Mrs. Elizabeth BARTLETT CANNIFF
Committee, Mrs. Mary Jane HENDERSHOT BARTLETT, Mrs. Hattie STRONG CLARK, Miss Tamzen HAYNES, Mrs. Minnie WINTERBURN LATHROP, Mrs. Orilla CROSS GRAVES, Mrs. Eva CURTIS WARD