Warrensville received its name from Daniel WARREN, who was the first settler in the town. It is eight miles southeast of Cleveland, and is bounded on the north by East Cleveland and Euclid, east by Orange, south by Bedford, and west by Newburg. Three principal streams carry the surplus waters of the town to the lake: Doan Brook on the north, Kingsbury Run in the center, and Mill Creek on the south. The latter probably received its name from the fact that the first grist mill in Cuyahoga county was built on its banks, where it falls over the rocky ledge at Newburg.
It was not alone hardship and privation that the early pioneers of the Western Reserve were called upon to endure, but even death itself sometimes met them on the way. Such was the case in the first attempt at settlement in the township of Warrensville. There is a tradition among the early settlers that a man by the name of Carlton bought land where the Shaker East House (so called) now stands. Coming through the woods from Newburg, with an assistant to clear a place whereon to build his cabin, their dog treed a bear.
At once the instinct of the hunter displaced all other thoughts, and laying off their coats, their gleaming axes and sturdy strokes soon brought the tree to the verge of falling. Directing his assistant to station himself with a good club just beyond where the tree would fall, he added a few more strokes, which sent the tree crashing to the ground. The bear was soon dispatched, and shouting out a note of victory, the hired man waited in vain to hear his leader’s voice. Becoming alarmed, he ran hastily to the stump, where he found Carlton dead beneath a large limb which had been broken off when the tree began to fall. The enterprise was at once abandoned, and it was left to other hands to unfurl the banner of approaching civilization, and to build an alter around their humble hearthstone in the wilderness to the worship of God.
In the spring of 1810 Daniel WARREN bought a farm in the western part of Warrensville. A little spot was cleared, and in the middle he built his cabin, so that falling trees could not crush it. And then his wife, Margaret (PRENTISS) and their two children were installed in their new home, and were living in their own new house which they had built from “start to finish” without using a single nail.
But life in the woods grew monotonous, and towards the fall we see Margaret mounted on the horse, with the baby in her arms, and Hiram on the pillion behind, going four miles through the woods to visit their nearest neighbor’s wife. A pleasant day was spent. Returning home at evening, the fierce howling of a wolf far back on her track while she was yet nearly a mile from home, told here that there was no time to lose.
Telling Hiram to hold on with all his might, she gathered her babe in a close embrace, and then applied the whip. The horse needed no second admonition, but went racing along the path as if he knew that death was on their track. They reached the clearing none too soon, for, glancing back, she could see amid the gathering gloom the fiery eyes and lolling tongues of the savage brutes as they came rushing on to their intended feast. Hearing the howling of the wolves, and knowing that it meant danger to wife and children, Daniel came running out and met them. But now the danger past, he assisted her to dismount at the cabin door, but her trembling limbs would not support her, and he had to assist her into the house.
W.H. Warren, born in 1812, son of Daniel and Margaret Warren, was the first white child born in Warrensville, and was the third one in a family of eight; two of the numbering being daughters; Paulina, who married Rodric BEBEE, and Julia, who married A.H. SHUNK. She has been matron of the Cleveland Protestant Orphan Asylum more than twenty-five years.
In 1811 Jedediah HUBBELL, with his wife, whose maiden name was Hannah TURNER, came from Vergennes, VT, locating first in Newburg, near the river, where the ague proved such a scourge that they soon moved to Warrensville. Of their nine children, four were daughters, one of whom passed in early life to the home beyond. Of the other three, the oldest, Sarah N. Hubbell, married Moses Warren, Jr.,; Maria HUBBELL married Hiram GLEASON, and Mary married William BOWLER.
It is related of Maria that, being left at home one Sunday with Oliver and Baby Mary, while the rest of the family attended the Shaker meeting, the house caught fire from the old stick chimney. Hastily dragging a feather bed out in to the yard and placing baby on it, she undertook to subdue the fire by dashing the pans of milk upon it.
But the flames had gained too much the start, and an hour later the family returning from church met a forlorn little girl bespattered with milk and blackened with smoke and soot, carrying the baby and bringing the news that the house was burned to the ground. Bad news spread with wondrous speed, and the next day men from all directions, some with axes, some with ox teams, came to help, and when the sun went down on the second day the family moved into a new home, which was all complete, even to a new out-door mud oven, which was ready for the Wednesday morning’s baking.
About 1811, Asa STILES, with his wife, Rebecca (CAHOON), with their four daughters and three sons, arrived from New York. The oldest daughter, Hannah Stiles, married William ADDISON; Rhoda T. STILES married James WATSON; Ekecta Stiles married Calvin FISH; Betsy Stiles never married, but spent her life at the old homestead, caring for her aged parents and her nephews, Hiram and Harry ADDISON, the former being the famous “Father Addison” of Cleveland. In 1815 Moses Warren, Sr., with his wife, Pricilla (NOURSE) with their children arrived from New Hampshire. During the winter, which he spent with his son, Daniel Warren, he built on his own farm the first frame house in the township.
In 1822 Moore BELL, with his wife, Annice (PATTERSON), and their family of five daughters and two sons, moved into the log schoolhouse until they could build a house on their own land. Subsequently four more daughters were born.
The eldest daughter, Lucinda BELL, married Solymon HUBBELL and became the mother of three daughters, the second one being the Mary Hubbell mentioned in history. Those who knew her best will testify that she was far above the average in mental capacity, of a cheerful, sunny disposition, a beautiful singer, and an honor to her parents and the town in which she lived.
About 1823 the young people of Warrensville decided to celebrate the Fourth of July with a ball. It was also agreed that the young men should all wear white trousers on that occasion. Moses Warren, Jr., invited Clarissa SHEPHERD. When the eventful day arrived, he put the sidesaddle on “Old Bald Fact,” a steady and reliable old horse, for the lady to ride, while he himself rode a younger and more mettlesome steed. When within half a mile of their destination an approaching thunder shower frightened the young horse, causing him to jump sidewise. The sudden strain on one stirrup strap was too great. It broke, and Moses went sprawling in the mud. Leaving his lady in the friendly shelter of the old log schoolhouse, he hastily rode home and soon returned clad in a more sober garb, which caused much comment when they arrived at the party. But when the misfortune which had befallen the white trousers became generally known, all readily forgave the apparent break of backwoods etiquette. The subject of this sketch is still living in his ninety-third year and able to enjoy a visit from old friends who call to see him.
In 1813 Jacob RUSSELL, with five sons and several daughters, arrived from Connecticut. In 1821 Ralph Russell organized the Shaker Society, all of the other Russells joining soon after. They adopted the teachings of “Mother Ann Lee” as their rule of faith and practice. Two fundamental principles were the foundation on which their structure was built. First a life of celibacy, and second a community of interests. For a time the society flourished. Property was acquired either by purchase or by voluntary gifts of incoming members, until the society owned thirteen hundred acres of land. A grist mill, a sawmill, and woolen mill were built, and the fabrics manufactured by the Shaker sisters at their woolen mill were eagerly sought for by those who wished to buy. Their hospitality was proverbial, and many a widowed mother with her destitute children found there a hearty welcome and a home. But as the years went by and the children taken there in childhood grew to man and womanhood, they often deserted to the world. Death also thinned their ranks, and at length it was decided to sell their possessions, and the few remaining member of their once prosperous society joined a kindred society near Dayton.
Another of those pioneer mothers that all delighted to honor was Mrs. William COLE, whose maiden name was Lovina GLEASON. Of her ten children we only have apace to mention the eldest daughter, Mary, who married D.W. GAGE. From the Ohio Messenger we quote: “By her temperance work she was known throughout the State, having been an active member of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, for years laboring in its various departments for the suppression of the liquor traffic and the elevation of manhood to purer and better lives.”
Miss Almira WOOD, who married Lewis BENNETT, was the mother of three daughters. The second, Lucretia Bennett, who married Andrew CONKEY, is yet a resident of Warrensville, and well remembers the line of blazed trees that guided herself and sisters through the two miles of unbroken forest to the log schoolhouse, where the foundation of an education was laid which has made them honored and respected members of the place in which they live.
In 1831 Norman WILCOX was returning home one evening from a day’s logging for a neighbor. Night having already fallen, he carried a hickory bark torch to light himself and oxen on the way. Suddenly he heard a woman’s piercing scream. Hastily tying the oxen to a tree, he ran with all speed to the rescue. Guided by the continued screaming he soon reach the place, where he found Mrs. Thomas OTHERTON keeping a panther at bay by waving the torch which she carried. The top of a large tree lay near at hand, with dry leaves yet adhering to the limbs.
Applying the torch it burnt with such a fierce and crackling blaze that the panther was frightened away. Being too terribly frightened to continue on to her own home, which was yet some distance away, she thankfully accepted the invitation of Mr. WILCOX to stay with his family until morning.
Mrs. Elizabeth RADCLIFF HARRISON came to Warrensville, October, 1832. She was the mother of two daughters and three sons. Her son William Harrison, who is still living in the town, aged eight-six years, came to Warrensville the year previous and bought the home in which he still lives. They left their home in the Isle of Mann in 1828. When they arrived it was all woods except a small plot around the little log house. Deer and wild turkeys were numerous. There was a spring a short distance from the house that supplied the house with water. Deer would be often seen going there to drink. A well-worn path on the hillside made by the deer showed that it was a favorite drinking place. Flocks of wild turkeys would be seen on the sunny side of the woods.
Ellen McSAYLE Wade arrive in Warrensville, August 1834, with her husband and four children, residing in New York city six years before coming to Warrensville, They left their home in the Isle of Man in 1826. Their first night in Warrensville was spent at a neighbor’s. Next morning she and her four children crossed through the woods to see their new home. She was disappointed, but, being of a cheerful disposition, bravely met the trials incident to pioneer life. She was the mother of three daughters and six sons.
Catherine Wade HARRISON came to Warrensville with her parents, August, 1834. She was the mother of six daughters. Loving her home and family, earnest in her devotions to the church, a kind neighbor in times of sorrow and death, she was one of those of which the Scripture speaks: “Her children shall rise and call her blessed.”
Miss Polly CUSHMAN belonged to the eighth generation from Thomas Cushman, who came from England to the colony at Plymouth, Mass., in the ship Fortune, which came a few months after the Mayflower. She came to Ohio from Bennington, Vt., in 1839, and was a year later married to John HEWITT.
Lurancy THOMAS moved to Hudson, O., from Vermont, where she was married to Andrew Wilson in 1829, at that time becoming a resident of Warrensville. Of her, her son writes: “Her children were her especial care, to whom she was for the most part mother, nurse, and doctor.”
Belinda Bell, who married J.E. ADAMS, Jr., was the mother of six daughters and one son, all of them still living to bless a mother’s loving care.
Catherine McCULLOCK, who married Truman KENT, although nearly eight years of age, well remembers the time when she taught school in Orang. James A. GARFIELD, then but seven years of age, being one of her pupils, and though so young in years, his kindness to his teacher and loving tenderness to his mother won for him a kindly place in her memory that death alone can obliterate.
The old frame schoolhouse in Warrensville in which Garfield taught school in 1850 is yet in use, not as a schoolhouse, but as a farm residence. In searching through the time-worn records of the past the historian found in an autograph album belonging to a granddaughter of one of the men who were school directors at that time, the following memorandum, which had been cut out and pasted into the album as a keepsake: “James A. Garfield commenced keeping school November 11, 1850, ending February 22, at $15 per month, 3 ½ months, $52.50.”
It was the custom in the early times to hold religious services in the schoolhouse, as the people had not then built a regular place of worship. One evening services were being held in what is now known as the beehive. Mrs. Ann WATERSON happened to sit facing her own house in which three of her children were sleeping. Suddenly she saw flames bursting through the roof. She was so terrified that she could not speak, but, springing to her feet and pointing toward the house, she gasped: “Oh! Oh! Oh! And then sank down again. The minister was surprised, but a moment later he was dumbfounded to see the whole congregation rush pellmell out of the house without waiting for doxology or benediction. The children were saved but the house was consumed. Again the men turned out as they did when the HUBBELL house was burned and in two or three days they had a new and better house than the one that was destroyed.
But the log houses are gone. In their stead palatial residences or comfortable farmhouses have been built. The kind and loving Christian mothers that made those humble hearthstones the dearest spot on earth to toiling husband and prattling children have gone “to that bourne undiscovered, from whence no returning feet come.” Happy will it be for us if we perform as well our parts in life’s wondrous drama, so that our children and children’s children shall love and cherish and revere our memories as we do the memories of those who have gone before.
MRS. WILLIAM M. WARREN,
Chairman and Historian.
Warrensville committee - Mrs. Thomas J. CAINE, Mrs. John CALEY, Mrs. George PENTY, Mrs. Richard COWLES, Mrs. Andrew L. CONKEY, Mrs. Henry CLARK, and Mrs. Harry CORLETT.