PIONEER WOMEN OF FAIRFIELD
HURON COUNTY
1816-1859

The first settlers of Fairfield, and others following, planted shade and fruit trees until our streets are bowers of beauty. Fairfield is one of the loveliest, most peaceful spots in the world. "For corn fields green and purple vines," it should rank equally with the countries noted in story and song.

This township is unique in that it was first settled by a woman, Mrs. Sample, a widow with a family of children who came from Newark, O., 1818, and settled near where Thomas Gannet now lives. Her daughter, Martha, cooked the first meat here. She married Amos Harkness. Squire Cook of Greenfield officiating. Mrs. Sample was of foreign birth and a remarkable woman. She was handy at work, both in and out of doors and out-reaped a man in a grain field, across a ten acre lot. She made forty yards of cloth from wild nettles, gathered in spring when the park was loose from the stalk. She married Mr. Rush, and soon after moved away.

Phillip and Hannah Moffit, the former a native of Connecticut, the latter of Connecticut and Massachusetts, (the state line passed through her father's house) came here in 1817. Their daughter, Hannah, was the first white girl born in Fairfield; when a child she often sought protection at her parent's side from the much feared Indians who frequently called at their home for food. She was an observer, 1833 of the "falling stars." A party of young people were enjoying the evening at her father's house when the meteors commenced falling in showers, which occasioned such fright that the party dispersed.

She married Hawley S. Belden, and lived to see the woods cleared away and villages built and improved by manufactories.

She and her husband lived to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary, which was observed by a family reunion of the son and daughter with their families. She was a charter member of the Congregationalist church, and ever ready to help in times of distress. She died at the age of sixty-nine.

Lois, daughter of Thomas Starr, born in Danbury, Conn., 1774, married Eliphalt Hoyt, and with him settled here 1827. She endured many hardships and privations, yet was content with her lot in the hope of securing a home. She was a charter member of the Baptist church; spun and wove the first linen tablecloth for communion use, and gave her necklace of GOLD BEADS to aid the purchase of a communion set. She rode fearlessly on horseback through the woods to the place of meeting. Her daughters were: Sally, Almira and Jerusha.

Maria Moffit, born in Connecticut, 1805, married George Baker, and with him came to Fairfield, 1822. At first their log house had no door or window, but muslin curtains were used instead, and a bright fire was kept constantly on the hearth to scare the wolves away. Mrs. Baker was left a widow with eight children; she also reared two grandsons to manhood. Wild game was often shot from her door and the red man received many favors from her hands. She once killed a rattlesnake that made its appearance on the floor of her house, near where one of her children was sitting. She was a cheerful woman, a good companion for both old and young, and had many friends.

Mrs. Ann Meade, wife of David Meade, came from Connecticut and settled here when the country was a wilderness, with but few settlers. Indians and wild animals were not an uncommon sight, but they were very unwelcome guests. Mrs. Meade was a most worthy woman. Her daughters were: Mrs. Julia A. Parker, Mrs. Lucy Sutliff, Mrs. Merilda Peck.

Mrs. Parker moved to Michigan; Mrs. Sutliff lived a few years in Indiana, then returned to Fairfield, where she was active in church and temperance work.

Merilda, Mrs. Lyman Peck, passed her life here and was also active in all good works. Her daughters were: Mrs. C. S. Whitney and Mrs. G. A. Booth, now deceased.

Mrs. Elijah Price, Sr., and her daughter, Mrs. Sylvia Barnes, bore the hardships of pioneer life like brave, true women.

Mrs. Polly Kellogg was a devoted member of the Methodist church, and a thorough temperance worker.

Mrs. George Parker, Mrs. P. Standish, Mrs. Close, Mrs. Mary Price, Mrs. Betsy Irwin, Mrs. C. Berry, Mrs. Havilah Smith, Mrs. Solomon Davis, Mrs. E. Ells, were all pioneers who lived to be aged, but their work is finished and they are at rest. Mrs. Sylvia Smith, Mrs. Betsy Sweet, and her daughters, Mrs. Ellen Vail and Mrs. Jossie Carpenter, deceased were all worthy of honorable mention.

Mrs. Electa Adams-Young, Mrs. Wm. Trembly, Mrs. Abijah Baker, Mrs. Elisha Royce, Mrs. Harmon Royce, Mrs. Amos Smith, Mrs. Samuel Foote, Mrs. Benjamin Hildreth, all pioneer women, still live to tell what they have done to make Fairfield what it is today, a desirable residence.

Mrs. Fanny Wicks and Mrs. Lewis Owen, long years ago changed the log- house for nice farm buildings, cultivated fields, orchards and everything necessary to make life enjoyable

Mrs. Susan Harvey and her sister, Mrs. Sarah Newton came from England and experienced many hardships and privations, but they patiently waited for the time when they could enjoy the fruits of their labor. They have been well rewarded in the blessing of home comforts.

Mrs. Letta Buck, one of the excellent ones, is now at rest. Mrs. Chloe Crawford, Mrs. L. Carpenter and Mrs. J. Tappan, are all names worthy of honorable mention.

Mrs. Polly Smith was a devoted member of the Baptist church. Her daughters were: Mrs. Hunt, Mrs. Priscilla Fuller, Mrs. Betsy Platt, Mrs. Mercy Bryant and Mrs. Martha Adams.

Mrs. Rhoda Jennings was born in Fairfield, Conn. 1802. She married Walter Jennings, and with him came to Fairfield, 1835. Their journey thither was tedious, and twin daughters were taken sick and died soon after their arrival, the result of exposure on the way. Mr. Jennings purchased a farm of eighty acres on which was a log house. He cleared the land and built a more comfortable home, but hard work and exposure brought on a lingering illness from which he died.

There was an indebtedness on the place, which Mrs. Jennings, with the aid of her children, succeeded in paying. She afterwards built a frame house in which she lived a few years, then removed to Delphi, where she died, 1868.

Early in the '30's Mrs. Branch Snow, nee Eunice Shaw, came with her son, Walter Branch, from Sempronious, N.Y. and settled in what is now the eastern part of the village. At the same time her two daughters, Mrs. Berilla Cheny and Mrs. Alvin Whittier came and made this town their home the remainder of their lives. A few years later another daughter, Mrs. Eunice Brome from Borodino, N.Y., settled here, and remained until her death.

Mrs. Aaron Smith, (Esther Walling) came from Cayuga County, N.Y. 1820. She always lived on the same farm and her daughter, Mrs. Fred Pannett, cared for her in her old age. She died 1851. Her daughters are Mrs. Gilbert of Battle Creek, Mich., and Mrs. James Abbott of Bowling Green, O.

Mrs. Oliver Harrington, nee Lovina Perry, came from Cayuga County, N.Y. 1831. She was a relative of the gallant COM. OLIVER PERRY. Her daughter, Mrs. Caroline Benson, lives in Reading, Mich.

Mrs. Horace Carbine, (Clarrissa Harrington) came from Cayuga County, N.Y. in 1832. A few years later she moved to Hillsdale, Mich., then a wilderness, where she endured many hardships. She was left a widow with the care of her children; after rearing them to manhood and womanhood she died at the home of one of her sons. One daughter, Mrs. Irving Adams, still lives in this township.

Mrs. Calvin Lazell, (Olive Taylor) came from Mt. Morris, N.Y. 1839. She was a very industrious woman, a kind neighbor, and always visited the sick. She was a life long resident of this place. Her death occurred 1895.

Miss Prudence Shepherd Benson, born in Skaneateles, N.Y. 1820, came here in 1836; she married Augustus E. Smith. She is now seventy-six years of age and in the enjoyment of good health.

Mary Price was born in Owasco, N.Y., 1817. Her father died when she was nine years old; when seventeen she came to Fairfield with her mother and other members of her family. She married Lucas Foote, with whom she lived most happily for sixty years, until his death, 1894. During those years they cleared and prepared for cultivation two farms. They feared not the danger, toil and privations of pioneer live, but worked bravely on, preparing the way for others to follow. Her granddaughter, Euletta Foote, lives with and cares for her in her old age. She is one of Fairfield's noble mothers.

Sarah Jane, daughter of Joseph K. Owen, was born in Orange County, N.Y. 1810. She married James Hopkins and arrive with her husband and children in this place 1834. They settled on a new farm in a loghouse. She died 1896 in the eightieth year of her age. Her daughters were Mary E., Caroline, Harriet, Sarah J., Ann, Drusilla and Addie.

Rachel Reed, born in Butler, Pa., 1824, moved with her parents to Ohio 1838. She married Giles L. Baker, and with him settled on a farm here; she removed from the farm to Fairfield village a number of years ago. She is now a widow and lives with her daughters, Sarah R. and Alma L.

Mrs. Elisha Farmer (Juna Ball) settled on a farm 1841, where she continued to reside until her death 1860. She was a kind neighbor, and a very conscientious, Christian woman.

Mrs. William Robinson (Abigail Baker) came in 1836 from Walcott, N.Y. She was a very industrious, frugal woman and always lived on the same farm. She died 1854. Her only surviving child, Mrs. Mary Robinson Davis now lives in Fairfield village.

Mrs. Dr. Ambrose Smith moved here 1835, with three daughters. Levantha married Dr. J. T. Campbell, the first physician that located here. She lived but a few years. Dr. Campbell afterward married Jane Smith of Milan, who is still living in Oberlin with a son and daughter. Viternia Smith married Horace Moulton. She died 1865, leaving one daughter, Sarah, who is still living. The third daughter married a Mr. Everett. She died young, leaving one daughter, Mrs. Mary Vrooman of Norwalk.

Mrs. Samuel Foote (Eliza Hunsiker) came here with her husband from Onondaga County, N.Y. in an early day. They were enterprising, public spirited people, just such as are needed in a new country, and indeed every- where. The only surviving member of this family is one son, Lindon, who is in the west.

Lusina Butler, born in Lee, N.Y. 1809, married Wm. N. Godden, and with him settled here 1834. Her father, Jonathan Butler, was a soldier of the War of 1812 and she was a relative of the late Gen. Benj. Butler.

Eliza Chittendon, born in Onondaga County, N.Y., 1818, married Daniel Stevens, and with him came here 1838 and resided here until her death 1887.

Mary Robinson came from Wayne County, N.Y. 1836. She married Saul Davis and is still a resident of the village, never having been out of the state but once in ALL THOSE YEARS.

Mrs. Spencer Baker (Betsy Foote) came with her husband from Onondaga County, N.Y., 1819. Their daughters were Lurintha, Loro, and Lucinda. They built the first frame barn in the town.

The Fourth of July, 1822, was the first general gathering in Fairfield. A liberty pole 105 feet high was raised. About four hundred people came from all the townships around. There was an oration and a great feast. The company were mostly strangers to each other, but that day's acquaintance was never forgotten. No day here since, has been hailed with more joy or gladness. This meeting brought the town into notice, and it soon received many additions of enterprising young men.

Amy Warner, of Providence, R.I., married David Angell, of that place; moved to state of New York and lived several years. From there they came here and lived in a log house. Mrs. Angell did her baking in a Dutch oven, built of stone, out in the yard. She spun and wove dresses for her girls, of which they would even now be proud. She also made beautiful blankets and table linen. In a few years they built a large two-story house, and owned the first cook stove in the neighborhood. Mrs. Angell was a worthy member of the Baptist church, and lived to be eighty-six years old. Mrs. Ed. Curtiss, of this place, is her daughter, and Mrs. Linden, a granddaughter.

Catherine Rose Stevens, born in Delaware County, N.Y., 1807, died in Washington, D.C. 1896. She was the widow of the late Morgan L. Stevens, M.D., of Lansingburg, N.Y. Her daughters who survive her are, Mrs. Wilber Huson, and Mrs. Phillip S. Steele, of Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Stevens was of Scotch ancestry. Rose being the family name on the father's side, and Grant on the mother's side. From childhood to the last she maintained sturdy honesty and strong religious convictions, characteristic of her people. Her life shows how beautiful is character founded on Christian belief and practice.

Her father, Donald Rose, emigrated to this country and settled in Albany, N.Y., where her early life was passed. Upon the occasion of Lafayette's visit to that city, 1824, she was one of the girls appointed to strew flowers in his path, and was personally presented him in the old capitol. She bore a conspicuous part in the festivities attending the opening of the Erie canal, also in those connected with the running of the first railroad between Albany and Schenectady.

In 1838 she, with her husband, took up her residence here. A space was cleared in the forest large enough to erect a log house and cultivate a garden. Here she made her family a pleasant home and carefully reared her children. When William Henry Harrison ran for president, she won a wager on his election, and during the incumbency of that office by his grandson, Benjamin Harrison, she was presented to him at a White House reception, and related to him the incident of the wager. The president was much interested and invited her to come and see him again. The latter years of Mrs. Stevens life were passed in Lansingburg, N.Y., and in Washington, D.C.

Hannah Owen, of Ithaca, N.Y., became Mrs. C. Hustis, and moved to this place about 1834. Her husband was an itinerant Methodist minister, whose conference extended to Michigan. He was often absent from many weeks at a time, leaving Mrs. Hustis alone with her family of little children, but she nobly did her part. She was much beloved. Her daughters were Carrie and Jennie.

Mrs. Elizabeth Hustis, born here, married Mr. Joseph Owen. Her daughters were Harriet, Deborah, Sarah Jane and Hannah.

Harriet A. Aikens, born in Ontario County, N.Y., 1814, moved here with her sister, Mrs. Lewis, 1838; became Mrs. Israel Wicks, and settled in the north part of the town. Their seven children are all living. Mrs. Wicks is now eighty-three years old, is a great reader, and still reads aloud to her husband, who is blind. They live on the old place and are cared for by their daughter, Mrs. Lewis Curtiss, and her husband.

Mrs. Haviland Smith (Sally Warwood) came here with her husband 1822. They endured poverty, but later owned a fine farm of three hundred acres, and a brick residence, with many comforts.

Mrs. Oldfield was one of the first teachers in the union school. She was well educated, a model teacher, and a highly respected lady. She was sister of Mrs. Charles Simmons, of this place and an aunt of the eminent physician, S. E. Simmons, of Norwalk. Mrs. Oldfield died several years since in a southern city, but her name is still mentioned with love and respect by the now middle-aged people, who were once her pupils.

Mrs. John Cherry (Pamelia Adams) came with her husband and children from Sempronius, N.Y. Their daughter Phoebe Minerva, became Mrs. Aaron D. Abbot, and died 1850. Emma Samantha married N. B. Robinson, of Norwalk. Of her the following incident is related: When a child, five or six years old, she was standing with her father by a well FORTY FEET DEEP when she saw a chicken fall into it. She begged her father father to go down into the well and get the chicken. He lowered her in a bucket. She secured her pet and came up safely.

There were many women pioneers in an early day, of whom but little known but their names. Among these are: Mrs. Ransom B. Ellsworth (Eliza Prentice), Mrs. Col. Greenfield (Abbie Cole), from Onondaga County, N.Y. She survived her husband several years and lived with her brother, Gen. Cole, in Greenfield; Mrs. Lemuel Brooks (Elmira Adams), Mrs. John Bedine (Augusta Carpenter), and Mrs. Elisha Savage (Deborah Owen).

The Methodist, Baptist, Disciple and Congregational churches have each and all done grand, good work here in which they have been largely assisted by women.

Mrs. Ephraim Penfield (Esther Turney), born 1770, was nine years old when the British force burnt her native town of old Fairfield, Conn. She well remembered seeing the houses burning. She married, was left a widow, came here with her children 1827. She died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Treadwell, aged eighty-three years.

Ellen Penfield, born 1796, married Jerry Kingsbury and died 1833, leaving one daughter, Esther, afterward Mrs. Henry Spearing, who is still living on a portion of the old estate. Mr. Kingsbury afterward married Tamar Griffin, of Greenwich. Their daughters are Caroline (Mrs. Geo. Plummer) and Julia, both living in Attica.

Three daughters of Mrs. Nathan Treadwell (Catherine Penfield) are now living. Mary A. married John Roberts; she is now a widow and lives in Petosky, Mich.; Eliza (Mrs. Brown) and Catherine. Mrs. Treadwell's family had the misfortune to lose their house and all its contents by fire two years after coming here.

Jane Penfield, born 1800, married Michael Artman, soon after coming to Ohio, and lived many years near the town line between Fairfield and Ripley. She died, 1872, in Hillsdale, Mich.

Clara Allen Woodward came from Mayfield, N.Y., about 1831, and taught school for a time before her marriage to Samuel Penfield. She died 1862, leaving one daughter, Frances, now Mrs. F. H. Kellogg, of Norwalk.

Elizabeth Swartwout, daughter of Judge Robert Swartwout, was born in Pompey Hill, N.Y., 1803. He father was of Dutch descent, her mother English. When eight years of age her mother died, and she went to live with her grandfather, Col. Renardus Swartwout, and until sixteen, passed her summers near Tarrytown, her winters in New York city. She married Dr. Moses C. Kellogg, of Perry, N.Y., and with him came here, 1844. Her daughters, Martha, Cornelia, and Mary, all lived here for many years after their marriage. They are, respectively: Mrs. C. C. Sexton, of Medina; Mrs. Hall, of Toledo, and Mrs. Price of Collins, Cal.

Hannah Foote, daughter of Timothy and Lucy Fiske Foote, born in Skaneateles N.Y., married Wm. Cherry, and with him came here 1825. Her daughter, Mrs. Adeline Austin, lives in Kansas.

Mrs. Peter Adams (Esther Mowrey) came with her husband from Sempronius, N.Y., 1824. When they had been here a short time the families of Baker and Cherry, old neighbors in the east, sent word they were coming to visit them. Mr. Adams went to Cold Creek for flour, but could only obtain corn meal. The wife made a pumpkin Johnny-cake and baked it in a bake-kettle over the coals. The kettle is in the possession of her daughter, Mrs. Esther Wright. The had died peaches, salt pork and butter brought from New York.

After the guest were seated at the table, Mrs. Adams was so overcome with what she considered the poverty of the meal that she burst into tears. On learning the cause of her grief her friends assured her that they had not partaken of so good a meal since coming to Ohio.

This lady was quite a physician, well skilled in the use of roots and herbs, Bud Hoyt was taken with inflammatory rheumatism very bad. They sent for her and she bound wilted leaves of skunk cabbage on the afflicted parts. He recovered rapidly and is still living, over seventy years old, and has never had a like affliction since. Her daughters were Almira Vail, Esther Wright, and Eliza Angell.

Mrs. Daniel Smith (Mary Foote) came here 1833. Her daughters were Priscilla Fuller, Mary Bryant, and Martha Adams.

In closing this sketch it may be said that the farmers' wives of this town may well be proud of their reputation as butter makers. They stand among the best in the state.

Mrs. L. E. Turner, Charmin and Historian

Fairfield Committee: Miss Sarah Baker Miss Nellie Enderley Mrs. F. H. Rumsey Mrs. S. Harvey Mrs. Lyman Peck

Gertrude Van Rensselear Wickham, editor, A Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve: published under the auspices of the Woman's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission 2 volumes (1896; reprint, Middleton, KY.: Whipporwill Press, 1981), 637-642.

Transcribed and submitted by Cathi Vannice 01 January 2002

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