Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Gov. Samuel Huntington

From The Painesville Telegraph, Painesville, Ohio, July 5, 1860, "Sketches of the Pioneers No. 8," and reprinted in the January 1984 "LakeLines," the newsletter of the Lake County Genealogical Society.

Perhaps we have had no more prominent subject in all the sketches which have preceded this, or in those that may follow, - when his education, his public postion, and his intercourse with the great men of his day are taken in the account, - than the one now under consideration. Highly educated, he was sought out for the highest trusts and positions of usefulness and honor in the Territory and afterwards the State in which he lived. His epistolary correspondence, which we have before us, was quite extensive for that day and age, and was with the most distinguished men in the land. Among these were Thos. Jefferson, Albert Gallatin, Gov. St. Clair, Gen. William H. Harrison, Gen. Cass, etc. These facts place our subject foremost in point of usefulness and importance among the circumscribed galaxy of names with which we have to deal in restoring to the present, though meagre outline it may be, those sturdy and sterling men of the early days of our County and State. We approach the task in the present case with more misgivings with respect to our ability, with the means at hand, to do the subject ample justice, than in any we have dealt with before.

Gov. Samuel Huntington was born at Coventry, New London County, Conn., in 1767. Of his boyhood nothing has come down to the present time. Circumstances made his uncle, Gov. Samuel Huntington - who for fourteen years was Governor of Connecticut - his friend and patron. under his auspices, and with his pecuniary aid, the subject of our sketch attended Yale College, at which institution he graduated in 1785. In Connecticut he also read law with his uncle, and probably practiced there for some years. But of his life and transactions prior to his removal to the West we have only the most meagre accounts.

In 1801, Gov. Huntington moved his family in a wagon from Connecticut to Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio. We are not positive about the matter, but believe he made a visit to that place before he moved his family, at which time, we believe, when he moved to Cleveland. The first six or eight years after coming to Ohio, lived there about two years. Again he moved back to Cleveland. Finally, his home became fixed by moving to Painesville, the 1st of April, 1807, upon lands now occupied by his two surviving sons, - Julian and Colbert Huntington. He exchanged property previously with Judge John Walworth.

He held numerous public positions, but we find difficulty in fixing the time when he held many of them, and are obliged in some instances to infer it from his correspondence, which, in one way and another, allude to them. He was Colonel of the Militia, under the Territorial Government. When his commission began, or when it ended, are matters that we have been unable to determine. He was Judge of the Common Pleas, and we infer from a letter addressed him by John Young, of date February 10, 1802, that he was elevated to that position sometime shortly previous to that date.

We find in a letter from Wm. Dean, bearing date "On board the Contractor, July 7th 1805," that on the 4th day of the month, the anniversary of American Independence, the title of the Indians to the "unextinguished part of the Western Reserve" was secured, and by treaty the same was secured "to all the lands South and extending West to the line of the Reserve."

Another letter dated at Cleveland, Dec. 20th, 1808, addressed to Gov. H. says: "We have not as yet received any correct or official account of the election of our Chief Magistrate, but from the best information we have, you are elected."

We find in a letter dated "New Haven, Feb. 24th, 1803," the following: "By letters lately reveived from Trumbull County, we learn that the good people of the County have elected you their Senator to State Legistaure.
John S. Edwards"

Thus it will be seen that he was elected to the Legislature - a fact that we had never heard of except through Gov. H.'s correspondence.

We find also another letter, from which we take the following:
"Warren, Feb. 28, 1805
"Our Court House and Gaol were burned last night, either by the carelessness of the joiners or some incendiary, but I think most probably by the former.
Calvin Pease"

February 24th, 1804, Gideon Granger writes to Gov. H., "There will be a mail to Cleveland" - which shows the time of the starting of the first mail to that place.

Gov. Huntington was also Supreme Judge, as the following extract of a letter from Edward Tiffin, dated "Chillicothe, Dec. 5th, 1804," shows.
"Dear Sir - Yesterday Judge Meigs came here on his way to the upper Louisiana, and resigned his office of Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of the State of Ohio. I have therefore forwarded you a commission, constituting you the Chief Judge of that Court."

A letter from Washington shows that in the winter of 1805 a plot was arranged to make an attack on New Orleans, by Americans under foreign officers. It was to make an attack on New Orleans, by Americans under foreign officers. It was thougth that they were to co-operate with Col. Burr, or were a part and parcel of his project. Gen. Wilkinson was ordered on with his whole force to protect the city. The measures were so prompt that the scheme was defeated. p> As early as in the Spring of 1806, a war was expected with England, and in the event of its taking place it was intended to take Canada. Ways and means were devised in view of the expected event, to take it, and the matter considered as to what benefit it would be to us. Gov. Huntington's correspondence shows that the distinguished men of the time considered the matter fully; but as subsequent events show, we did not get it when the war came.

March 17th, 1806, Stanly Griswold writes from Detroit that "wood is from $2.50 to $3.00 per cord, and butter and cheese 50 cts. per lb., etc."

In 1808 he was elected Governor of Ohio, and his letters show the congratulations of his friends on the event. Whilst filling the office of Governor, he performed his journeys to the Capitol, Chillicothe, by the usual mode of travel that day, on horseback. As may be easily imagined, these trips were long, tedious and unpleasant.

By Jefferson he was offered the Governorship of Michigan Territory, but refused the position.

We present here again the evidence of another Government appointment:
"Treasury Department May 2, 1808
"Sir: It having become necessary to remove from office _______, Receiver of Public Monies on the Land Office at Steubenville, I am directed by the President of the United States to inform you that he intends appointing you to the office, if you are disposed to accept the same.
"Your obedient servant,
"Albert Gallatin"

This position Gov. H. refused, having been elected Governor of the State in the Fall preceding, as has been seen above.

We refer to another letter from Calvin Pease, resigning his judgeship, bearing date March 6th, 1810. On the back of it, in Gov. Huntington's own handwriting, is the following curious and interesting memoranda:
"March 12, offered David Abbott the appointment; 13th, offered to Mr. Webb, F. Potter, Mr. Parkman, Mr. Hitchcock, Mr. Edwards, Mr. Kirtland, Mr. Austin, and sent a commission on the 14th to Sampson King."

People in those days were certainly more modest than in these. Offices don't beg now.

The following extract of a letter, shows still another appointment:
"War Department, Oct. 3d, 1812
"Sir: Your letter of the 27th is received, and the Paymaster of the Army will forward to you, an appointment of Paymaster, with the necessary funds and instructions.
"Very respectfully your ob't servant,
Wm. Eustis"

This appointment Gov. H. filled for some time. His correspondence shows orders for sums of money as large as $80,000, on the Secretary of the Treasury.

Thus we have connected Gov. Samuel Huntington with the events and transactions of his times just as we seek to do with all the pioneers of this vicinity. We seek thus to identify each man. It shows more effectively than any other method can, the importance, the usefulness, and the opinion in which each is held by the community in which he lives, or the public with which he has to do.

We could go further and show the fears of himself and the principal men of the country of incursions of Indians, both here and around Detroit,but we forbear lest we are carried to a tedious length in this article.

Whilst he was living in Cleveland, an incident occurred which would be quite likely, using a vulgar phrase, "to make one's hair stand up" if caught in similar circumstances. When riding home rather late one afternoon, he was attacked near Doane's corners by a pack of wolves. His horse was frightened, and so was he. He had an umbrella in his hand and with that he beat them off and returned home safe. One account says that he lost his umbrella in the scrape, and went back the next day and got it; another, that it was badly shattered, but that he retained it in his hand.

After he located himself on his farm in this town, he devoted himself industriously to clearing it up, and attending to the affairs at home. But his career was doomed to a tragic ending. While hauling logs one day in the Winter of 1816-17, on a "crotch," the woodman's most convenient carriage for such purpose, and walking by the side of the log, the crotch struck some obstruction which slid it around, caught his leg between it and a stump, and crushed it. This accident, it is said, was the incipient cause of his death, for quick consumption ensued and he died in 1817, the 8th of June. His sufferings are described by those now living who saw him in his last hours, as being of the most excruciating character. His gun hung up in the primitive natural growth hook, and looking up to it he is said to have begged of his attendants to use it, and thus end his agony. His remains repose on the banks of Grand River, on his old farm, the scenes of his last labors on earth.

P.S. - In addition to his many preferments we have to add that in November, 1802, he was elected to the Constitutional Convention, and was Speaker pro. tem. at the close of the first term of the Legislature at Chillicothe.

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Last updated 22 Apr 2003

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