Lake County Ohio GenWeb
From The Painesville Telegraph, Painesville, Ohio, January 31, 1861, "Sketches of the Pioneers No. 12," and reprinted in the January 1985 "LakeLines," the newsletter of the Lake County Genealogical Society.
Anson Sessions was born in the town of Windham, Conn., April 16th, 1770. His father was a deacon of the Presbyterian Church and Teacher of the School in that town. When about 20 years of age he left his native place and came to Cooperstown, N.Y. When the defeat of the army of St. Clair had left the heads of the Western inhabitants exposed to the tomahawk and scalping knife of the Indians, he joined the army under Wayne, and was with him on the Maumee when the Indians on the 21st of August, 1794, suffered such an overwhelming defeat that they never afterwards made serious head against the whites in the North-west. In that battle there was but one commissioned officer killed, and he was Lieut. Campbell. SESSIONS used to relate that at the time the troops, - and among whom Campbell was particularly distinguished, - were rushing on the Indians and driving them from their cover, a very aged Indian, whose sands of life were nearly out, stepped from behind a tree, and in full view, and but a few rods from the enemies of his people, raised his rifle, and deliberately took aim at Campbell and fired. He fell dead and the old Indian, as he evidently expected, was instantly cut to pieces by the enraged soldiers. After the treaty at Greenville, in this State, was concluded, he was ordered with the army to the cherokee country. He was at Natchez when the head of Mason, the notorious leader of a banditti that infested the Mississippi country, was brought in, he having been killed by one of his followers for the reward offered. While at the South, Butler, his Colonel, died, and by the request of that officer made just before his death, he accompanied his wife and children back to Pittsburg, then Fort Duquesne.
Being a soldier and frontier man, he was solicited by Barr to join his expedition, but suspecting its true character, he refused. For his services in the army, a warrant for 100 acres of land was issued in 1851, to his widow. It stated in the warrant that he was Seargeant in Captain Butler's Company, 4th sublegion Wayne's War. It was obtained chiefly on the testimony of Mr. Stevens of Montville, - who was also in that army and one of its very few, if not its last, survivor. He stated that he knew SESSIONS at Greenville, to whom he had to go for his rations. - SESSIONS was discharged from the Army, having served in it three years in the Indian wars, which on account of the part Great Britain took in them, was stated to be by Harrison in his speech at Fort Meigs, a continuation of the war of the Revolution. SESSIONS had not during that time, - to use his own expressions, - slept under a shingle.
He returned to Cooperstown, N.Y., where he resided three years, and then started on horseback, with a few hundred dollars in coin, which he had saved, for Tennessee, where he had intended, as he told his friends, to buy a farm on which to live and die. He stayed over night at Buffalo, - there being at that place then two log cabins only, - and following the Lake shore he arrived at Painesville in October 1800, - it being the same year that the first inhabitants, General Paine and Judge Walworth, came to this town. SESSIONS was kindly and hospitably entertained by Walworth, and was induced, - although contrary to his original purpose, - to purchase of him what is now the beautiful and very valuable farm of the widow of the late William Fobes, containing about 180 acres, for which he paid four dollars per acre. He immediately built a log cabin on the first hill near the river, just above where Mr. Storrs has now a Nursery, - and at that time not being married, he had Judge Jesse Phelps and family occupy it, with whom he and his hired man boarded. The most of the bottom land and a portion of the up land he soon cleared and set out extensive orchards of fruit. Mr. William Fobes, - who died on the farm last Summer, - remarked that he ate peaches on that farm in the year 1806.
On the 16th of December, 1804, SESIONS married Asenath A. Fobes, daughter of Lemuel Fobes, Esq., who had removed from Norwich, Mass., with his family, the year previous.
An incident occurred a year or two after SESSIONS came to Painesville illustrative of his character. Major Lorenzo Carter, well known to the early inhabitants of Cleveland, and to whom frequent reference is had in the early history of that city, was a very brave, resolute man, and a person of immense strength. Although an honorable, high minded man, he had an uncontrollable temper. It seems that from some cause, in the heat of passion, he had beaten a man at Cleveland nearly to death. A warrant had been issued for his arrest, but he set the Sheriff and his posse at defiance, and they could not in his region muster force to take him. The Sheriff, - a Mr. Austin - came to Painesville for aid, and in company with Judge Walworth, visited SESSIONS and solicited him to go to Cleveland to capture Carter, - urging the importance ot the community of having the laws enforced. It was long before SESSIONS could be persuaded to go; but, finally, out of regard to his friend Walworth, he consented. As the company approached Cleveland, Carter was discovered with his rifle at no great distance from their path, and was pointed at as being the man. SESSIONS enquired of the company why they did not take him, but none seem disposed to attempt it; whereupon SESSIONS leaped from his horse and made towards him. As Carter saw him approach he turned and fled. SESSIONS followed, and as Carter looked back and saw that he was gaining on him, he wheeled round and took aim at SESSIONS breast. Seeing that this did not cause him to falter in the least, Carter lowered the muzzle of his rifle and aimed at his legs for a moment, and then wheeled and fled again, and just as SESSIONS was about to overtake him he turned and with both hands struck him a full blow on his head with his heavy rifle. The blow was enough to have killed an ox, - but SESSIONS seeing it, caught his rifle in his hand, and having on a stiff beaver hat, partially broke the force of the blow, which brought him down to his knees. SESSIONS held to the gun, and after a severe struggle succeeded in wresting it from him. By this time the balance of the company had arrived, and Carter was bound and taken into Cleveland, although foaming and raving like a madman. Both SESSIONS and Carter were dripping blood. SESSIONS carried the mark of Carter's rifle on the crown of his head, in the shape of a large wen, to his grave. Carter was examined and required to give bail, but he declared he would go to jail first - the jail at that time being at Warren. SESSIONS started on the way to Warren with the prisoner, and when they had proceeded about five miles, Carter asked him if he would go his bail, to which he readily assented and they returned to Cleveland.
Major Carter and SESSIONS were ever after friends. Whenever SESSIONS afterwards was in Carter's neighborhood, as he frequently was while engaged in the survey of the Reserve, West of the Cuyahoga, Carter would always invite him to his house, and entertain him in the most hospitable manner. He would sometimes say that SESSIONS never would have come to take him had he not been told a pack of lies. It may be here stated that SESSIONS remarked that when Carter aimed his rifle at his breast that he did not apprehend that he would fire; but when he saw him lower it, he thought he intended to wound him.
From a history of the survey of the Connecticut Land Company, written some ten years ago by the Hon. Abraham Tappan, late of Unionville, in this County, and published in the Cleveland "Herald" and other papers, we find the following from Judge Tappan, who says:
"I had spoken to Mr. Anson Sessions to join me and endeavor to obtain a contract for surveying the new purchase the coming season. Mr. Sessions was not a Surveyor, but he as a man then in the prime of life, and possessing energy of character and great perseverance in any business he undertook, which would make him a safe and trustworthy partner. We accordingly made the following proposals to be laid before the Directors -
"Painesville, August 20, 1805.
"To Gen. Henry Champion: We will survey the land belonging to the Connecticut Land Company, West of the Cuyahoga River, at the rate of --- Dollars --- cents per mile. We will survey it into townships and make other sub-divisions as shall be directed by the Company. We will plainly blaze and accurately chain the lines. Will map and return field books, etc. We will begin and finish surveying next season. For the purpose of furnishing provisions and other necessaries for said survey to recive --- dollars in hand at the commencement of the survey. Remainder at the close. For the well and faithful performance of such survey we will bind ourselves in bonds wih sufficient security.
"Many other proposals were put in by other parties, but the above was accepted by the Directors of the Company, and Ephraim Root, Esq. came to Warren in November, as Agent, to close the contract."
Judge Tappan goes on to state that he was absent at the time. "Articles of agreement, however, were made, dated November 19, and signed by Anson Sessions. I returned to Painesville in 1806, and signed the articles of agreement the 20th of that month."
In pursuance of that contract Mr. Sessions and Judge Tappan surveyed all that protion of the Western Reserve lying West of Cuyahoga River, comprising over eight hundred thousand acres. After this SESSIONS continued to reside on and cultivate his farm. He built about the year 1809 another house on the brow of the highest hill near the River, where there had been an ancient fortification, built by the oboriginal people that inhabited this country, covering over an acre of ground, - the outline of which could be plainly traced, and on which flint arrowheads, stone battle-axes, and pottery, mostly broken and of ancient character, were frequently found.
SESSIONS, after Hull's surrender, volunteered and went to aid in repelling the advance ofthe British and Indians down the Lake. He used to relate that one day while working in his field some distance from the road, Gov. Huntington,- whose farm adjoined his, - passed on horseback, and shouted to him the news, saying that - "Washington City is burned and all the silk-stocking soldiers ran."*
In a notice of Mr. ANSON SESSIONS published in the Cleveland "Herald" in 1831, by Hon. Abraham Tappan, he says: "Sessions was large and well proportioned, and in his younger days was decidedly good looking. He was a man of peculiar strength. Among the Pioneers he was known and esteemed as a very kind and benevolent man."
In a sketch of him published some years since in the "Telegraph", it is remarked, "that any notice of the early times of this region would be incomplete without honorable mention of him - the bravest man that ever lived on Grand River." And in describing his character it goes on to say that "he had many of the noblest qualities of manhood. He was brave and generous, kind-hearted, scrupulously true to his word and honor." He died in August, 1827, and was interred on his farm where his remains now repose.
He left a widow and four children, two having died before him. His widow still survives and now resides in this village. Norman, his eldest son, died in Indiana, in 1841, leaving two sons, who are still living. His daughter, Aurel, the widow of Mr. Isaac Cary, died last Summer in this place. His eldest daughter, Marina, still lives here with her aged mother. His son Horace resides at Defiance, where he has been for the last twenty-seven years. His residence is on the bank of the Auglaze, a few rods above its confluence with the Maumee, and in full view of Fort Defiance, situated on a high point of land at the junction of the two rivers. This Fort was erected by Wayne's little army, of which ANSON SESSIONS was one, in August, 1794 - a short time previous to the battle at which the Indians were so terribly defeated.
*Wonder if the Southern chivalry and silk-stocking soldiers will prove as brave in their threatened attempt to capture Washington City, as they were then in defending it against the British?
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