Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Pioneer Women of Painesville
Lake County, 1800-1850

Taken from Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve, published under the auspices of The Women's Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, edited by Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, 1896

Transcribed and submitted by Becky Falin, 1996.

The township of Painesville, Lake county, includes the villages of Painesville, Fairport and Richmond. It is situated on the Lake Shore Railroad, thirty miles east of Cleveland. It derives its name from General Edward Paine, an officer of the Revolutionary army, and one of the earliest settlers. After the land was surveyed in 1798, and the townships divided up by the Connecticut Land Company, immigration from the New England States set in. The homes of the pioneers were rude huts, made of logs. Within these homes was to be found refinement, and many cultivated minds. All society was on the same level. To quote Carlisle: "No one was superior to the matron, who with her busy daughters kept the hum of the spinning-wheel incessantly alive, spinning and weaving every article of dress."

In the month of April, 1800, came hither John Walworth and family, he having purchased two thousand acres of land in Painesville township, upon which he erected the first log house in the settlement. His family consisted of his wife, Julianna Morgan Walworth, three sons, and two daughters. The daughters afterwards married Doctors Long and Strickland, of Cleveland. John O'Mic, an Indian, who was hung for the murder of two white trappers was in his youth a playmate of the Walworth children. The Walworth farm was on the bank of the Grand River, and was called Bloomingdale. In 1806, Mr. Walworth made an exchange of land with Governor Huntington, of Cleveland, and moved with his family to that place.

In 1799 General Edward Paine came from Aurora, N.Y., and purchased one thousand acres of land. The following year he returned, bringing his wife, Rebecca White Paine, and eight children with him. From Buffalo they crossed the lake in flat boats, and landed at his farm on the bank of Grand River, where he erected a log cabin. Two years after a daughter was born to them, whom they named Eliza. She was the first white child born in Painesville. Miss Eliza Paine, or "Aunt Eliza" as she was generally called, never married, and lived to the age of eighty-five years. Her life, although full of vicissitudes, did not embitter a naturally sweet and lovable disposition.

Lydia Paine Phelps was born in Canandaigua, N.Y., February 13, 1786. She was the daughter of General Edward Paine. At the age of fourteen she went along on horseback to Harpersfield, a distance of fifteen miles, through the woods with only an Indian trail to guide her, taking a grist to mill and returning with it ground into flour. A few years after she went again, alone and on horseback, to Canandaigua, N.Y., to visit her sister. She followed the bank of the lake, there being no other road, and through several rivers was obliged to swim her horse. She was married while in Canandaigua to Samuel W Phelps, a young lawyer of Painesville, to which place they returned. Her early days of pioneer life developed a character of unusual strength and energy.

Mrs. Asenath Fobes Sessions was born in Norwich, Mass., and came to Painesville in 1803. She was a woman of marked eccentricity, excellent natural abilities, and tender heart. She was in close sympathy with nature, and all dumb creatures turned instinctively to her.

Among the names of women who came to the township from 1800 to 1808 we find Mrs. Abraham Skinner, Mrs. Joseph Pepoon, Mrs. Samuel Huntington, Mrs. Mary Thomas Calwell, Mrs. Sarah Pomery Bond, and Mrs. Beriah Jones, of whose daughters three an anecdote is related. As they were passing the house of General Paine his attention was directed to what was then not a frequent sight, and he remarked to his sons - of whom he had a goodly number - there, boys, are some wives for you. The sequel of which was that one daughter, Frances, afterwards became the wife of the General's son Asahel. The year 1812 brought war, and its alarms, which hung like a threatening cloud over the settlers. With the news of Hull's surrender came a call for every able-bodied man. On receiving orders General Paine, gathering the militia under his command, marched with them to Cleveland. The campaign lasted only ten days, but they were days of darkness and dismay to the frightened women and children, who, in their terror of Indians, hid their valuables, consisting chiefly of iron pots and kettles, and prepared to fly at a moment's notice.

In 1812, following Indian trails through a dense forest, Sophia Kimball came, with her father and his family, from Ringo, N.H. to the then Western wilderness of Northern Ohio. As the little party journeyed on they met couriers from Sandusky Bay, shouting the news of Hull's surrender, and warning them to turn back to escape the Indians, who, it was feared, would soon overrun the country. Undismayed, they pressed forward and selected Madison for their new home. In 1817 she married a young physician, Dr. Storm Rosa, of Painesville. Her father, in his efforts to furnish the home of the young couple, sought several days for a mirror, and at last heard of one which belonged to a family living on the lake shore. By paying a good price he secured it. Young housekeepers of to-day would, we fear, scorn the little 6x10 inch mirror which reflected but a distorted image of the fairest face. Mrs. Rosa's home was on Washington street, and there she passed her long married life. There her two children, one granddaughter, and a great-grandson were born. She lived to the age of ninety-five, having welcomed two great-great-granddaughters before she passed to the better land.

In 1813 Artemisia Perkins, of Solon, was married to Benjamin Blish, Jr., of Painesville, who, when he went for his bride took with him an extra horse and sidesaddle upon which she rode back, back through the wilderness to their new home. Miss Ann Wallace was born in Ackworth, N.H., in 1784. She married Hezekiah King, in 1806, and came to live in Painesville. Never was there a more loyal wife, kind and judicious mother, and helpful friend. Of marked individuality and force of character, she possessed excellent qualities of heart. She was known through the community as "Mother" King, a term expressive of the affectionate regard in which she was held by all who knew her.

Miss Harriet Wolcott was bon in Hartford, Conn., in 1788. She was married in 1810 to James Beard, and together they made the first bridal trip to Chicago. In fact Mrs. Beard was the second white woman who visited that city. Mr. Beard and his wife came to reside in Painesville in 1823. Her husband died the following year, leaving her with a family of five children to care for and educate. She was a woman of culture and intelligence, and, up to the time of her death at the age of eighty-eight, she possessed the faculties of her mind unimpaired. She was the mother of the noted artists James and William H Beard, and the grandmother of Frank Beard, of Chicago.

Mrs. Julia Morley Gillet was bon in 1793. She came from Weedsport, N.Y., in 1823. She was a woman of strong personality, and held ver decided views of life. She was among the first to take a firm stand for temperance. Her sympathies were enlisted for the enslaved colored race, and many a runaway slave found refuge in her home; among others Lewis Clark, the George Harris of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were welcome guests.

Mrs. Caroline Cook Mathews was born in Bedford, Westchester county, N.Y., in 1797. She came to Painesville with her husband, Stephen Mathews, in 1824. They crossed Lake Erie in the steamer "Walk in the Water," the only one which navigated the lake at that time. They landed at Fairport, and came thence to Painesville. Their household goods were brought from New York in wagons over corduroy roads, and were many weeks on the way. Among these goods was a piano, which Dr. Cook had purchased for his daughter in London, England. It was manufactured by Astor & Norwood, and is now in the possession of Mrs. Mathew's daughter, Mrs. Catharine Cook Raynolds, who occupies the old homestead. Mrs. Mathews was the first woman in Painesville who took a stand against intemperance, and it required no small amount of courage then, when at all dinners and parties wine and liquors were used freely. She, seeing the evil results, determined to do what she could to bring about a reform, and at her next entertainment everything intoxicating was omitted. In consequence, many of her personal friends became enemies. Nevertheless, her example, with that of others, accomplished the desired end. She was large-hearted, sympathetic, and ever ready to espouse the cause of the oppressed. She was intensely patriotic, and, during the civil war, with prayerful heart, and willing hands, did all in her power for her country. At the time of her death in 1887, she was nearly ninety years old. Mrs. Susan Frisby Marshall was bon in Colsbrook, Conn., in 1783. In 1836 she removed with her family to Painesville. Born of New England stock, by inheritance she was fitted for a life of earnest and persevering industry. Living on a farm with her family of four daughters and three sons, she found no time to be idle. Her mind was as active as her body, and her interest in all reforms was intense. Sixty years before her death, she expressed her firm belief that she should live to see slavery abolished, and she did. She died in full possession of her faculties at the age of ninety-six eyars. Quietly the angel of death descended and took the aged Christian home. Her daughter, Mrs. Helen Marshall Rockwell, is now ninety-three eyars of age, vigorous in mind and body, and a delight to all who know her.

Mrs. Ann Phelps Sanford was born in 1813. She was General Edward Paine's granddaughter, and inherited rare qualities of head and heart. Her love for flowers was intense. To quote her words, "Flowers were friends that never disappointed her." Her conservatory in winter and her gardens in summer won the admiration of all. In those days beautiful flowers were farm more rare than now and therefore more highly appreciated. She was kind, sympathetic, and generous, firm in her convictions and ever ready to stand by them.

Mrs. Esther Healy Morley, Mrs. Sarah Marshall Hitchcock, Mrs. Aurelia Loomis Tracy, Mrs. Margaretta Waite Perkins, Mrs. Holmes Tracy, Mrs. Maria Loomis Osborn, Mrs. Laura Loomis Aiken, Mrs. Louisa Seymour Lockwood, Mrs. Jane Morley Wilcox, and Mrs. Eliza Brewer Livingston were all pioneer women who loved their God, their country, their homes, and their children. Mrs. Jane Hubbard, of Sandusky, a daughter of Mrs. Livingston writes as follows: "I want to add a few lines in testimony of the almost universal goodfellowship among the early settlers. Things were no in common certainly, but there was a whole-souled generosity. Hired nurses were unknown, and neighbor served neighbor for love, in the hour of birth and of death, and, all along between, when sickness entered the house. Ladies, and they were truly ladies - went to spend the afternoon at 2 o'clock with their needlework. In the summer, after tea, a walk in the garden, some flowers gathered, and all the sweet complimentary things said; and then home to see that the milk was properly strained, and, in the winter, that the fires were duly and well covered, for, should the coals go out during the night, how could the fire be started in the morning. I remember the first lucifer matches that were ever in our house. The music of the spinning wheel could now and then be heard, and Mrs. Morley, nee Margaret Kerr and Mrs. Kerr, nee Catharine Case, had such a loom whereon they wove beautiful carpets. It was my delight to watch the process, for we little girls did a great deal of visiting and knew each other exceedingly well; all the mothers and fathers were so good to each other's children."

Mrs. Laura Kerr Axtell was born in Mentor in 1818. She was a generous, noble-hearted woman. For many years before her death, in 1890, she was an invalid, and the cheerful, patient resignation with which she bore her sufferings gave testimony of the pure light within.

Fairport was settled at an early day, and, the conditions being favorable, it bade fair to be the queen of the lakes. Of its women we find but little trace. Mrs. Joseph Rider, whose husband built the first house there, in 1803, Mrs. Oliver Andrews, Mrs. Catharine Van Ness Granger, a woman of fine social qualities, and Mrs. Maria Phelps Card, a granddaughter of General Paine, whose life of unselfishness endeared her to all. Mrs. Mary Welch Butler was born in Boston, Mass., in 1798. In 1810 she came to Ohio with her father, Jacob Welch, Jr., and resided at Welchfield several years. In 1816, she married Samuel Butler, of Fairport. Like all women of her day, she was a fine horsewoman and frequently rode with parties of ladies and gentlemen to Cleveland and back. In 1820 the Lord Lieutenant Governor of Canada with a party of friends came to Fairport by boat and were entertained by Mrs. Butler, who was a woman of refinement and education. She had many valuable family relics, silver spoons bearing the goldsmith's mark of Elizabethan times, a handsome porringer of ancient handsome fans, etc. She died in 1859.

In the early spring of 1832 Thomas Richmond learned, incidentally, of a tract of land for sale lying west of Grand River, and decided to purchase it. He was a man of means, ability and great activity. He soon had quite a model settlement on the bank of the river, which he called "Richmond." The names of Mrs. Mary Randall Oakley, Mrs. Olive Gates Richmond, and Mrs Helen Thomson Shepard are to be found among the first settlers. Like a dream the town grew up and then vanished; and, like a dream, the memory of it and its citizens is nearly obliterated.

Backward have rolled the portals of memory and many actors have appeared on the stage; but many are missing. Many noble women, pioneers of this township, whose names and the incidents of whose lives should be mentioned in this historical paper, but unfortunately their record is not to be found. These all, with a good heredity, great energy, and self-sacrifice, have left to posterity a priceless heritage. "Truly they builded better than they knew."

Mrs. Emilie J Sanford, Chairman and Historian
Painesville committee - Mrs. Catharine Raynolds, Mrs. Ann M Frisbie, Mrs. Lydia P Noble, Mrs. Frances J. Casement, Mrs. Augusta A. Stockwell, Mrs. Catharine M Warren, Miss Henrietta Oakley

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