Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Early Settlers of LeRoy

From The Telegraph 20 December 1860, pg. 3:

This appeared in "LakeLines," retranscribed by teen volunteer, Casi Dosky and submitted by Sally Malone.

Early Settlers of LeRoy

The following very interesting communication with reference to the "olden times" we deferred last week hoping to accomplish some other matters bearing upon the subject it treats of, but failing, we give it as we received it, thankful to receive all articles of this kind.

(For the Telegraph)
Mr. Editor: You having manifested a disposition to publish the early history of Lake County, and as the old pioneers are fast "passing away," with the assistance of a friend (not being able to write myself for the reason that I am deprived of the sense of seeing) I send you my recollections of the first settlement of LeRoy, which if you think would interest your numerous readers, you are at liberty to publish.

In the year 1800 a company of six or eight persons from Chesterfield Hampshire Co., Mass., purchased of the Connecticut Land Company part of a township then known as New Connecticut, now LeRoy. The names as near as I can recollect, are Col. Amasa Clapp, Benj. Bates, Moses Kingsley, Nathanial Edwards, Ebenezer Parsons, and Benjamin Parsons. About the same time, one Samuel Lord, of Conn., also purchased a part of the same township. In the Spring of 1802, Col. Clapp sent on his two sons, Paul and Elah, and a hired man by the name of Jonathan B. Russel. In the course of the season they built a log-house, cleared six acres of land and sowed in wheat. In the Fall Elah returned home. Russell settled in Mentor on the place where O.S. Hodges now resides. He was for many years Clerk of the Township. He removed to Lorain County where he probably died. In 1803 Eliah Clapp returned to LeRoy myself accompanying him. Soon after we arrived I bought lot of land and commenced clearing it. Elah Clapp commenced clearing up a farm near mine. That Summer I helped to reap the first wheat sowed in the township, on the farm of Paul Clapp.

In 1804 Paul Clapp returned to Chesterfield, and in the Summer of 1803 moved his family, being the first family that settled in LeRoy. The same year, three young men, John and David French, and Charles Keneep came on and took up land. In 1806 three families by the name of French, and Chrisgan Keneep, settled in the township. The same year a child of Paul Clapp's four or five years of age, died: this was the first death that occurred in the township.

In 1808 Elah Clapp was married to Rebecca French, which was the first wedding in the township. I was a guest at the wedding. True, we had none of the huge bride's loaves and highly seasoned vians of the present day, yet we had plenty of the substantial of life, and I presume (though my memory is a little treacherous) we had a quantity of what Tom Corwin once called, "the great leveler of modern time."

In December of the same year I was married to Mary, daughter of Chrisgan Keneep - this was the second wedding in this patriotic little "State." In 1809 three families, Bates's and Reed Burney, settled in the township. Elah Clapp died in 1811 of bilious cholic, leaving one son, who now resides on the old homestead.

In 1815 I sold my farm to Esq. Brakeman, who still owns the farm. I soon after settled in Painesville, now Concord, on what is called "Johnny-Cake Ridge. The farm is now owned by Wm. Merrill. About this time I was called on to join the army, since which time I have not been familiar with the history of LeRoy.

Now, Mr. Editor, this is perhaps the last you will hear from me. I have passed through almost four score winters, and am totally blind - a great misfortune you would say, which is true - still it might be worse; my bodily health is reasonably good for one of my age; have a good appetite, sleep well of nights; have dutiful children to administer to all my wants; and kind neighbors to cheer me in my continual night. Although I am blind I have lived to see the dense forests "bud and blossom as the rose." I have lived to see our beautiful lake whited with the sails of commerce; I have been conveyed by the iron horse East to the land of my birth, and again West to the Des Moines, to visit my children; have witnessed, as I believe, the triumph of pure Democracy - while very many of early pioneers "have died without the sight," so aught I not to be content and I am. I hope the time may come, though of course I shall not live to see it, when everybody can exclaim with the poet -

                    From North to South the land is free,
                    And man enjoys a Jubilee.

SPENCER PHELPS

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