On the Erie Railroad, midway between Cleveland and
Youngstown, lies the town of Hiram. As the stranger steps from
the train, he is surprised to see only a little wooden station
with a circle of maple-crowned hills rising rapidly to the
north. Two hundred feet above the station, out of view from the
railroad, save at a single point, nestles the pretty village
whose thriving college and martyr President have given it a name
that is more than national. There was little in the pioneer
history of Hiram prophetic of its later importance as an
educational and religious center.
The original proprietors were all Freemasons, and on the
suggestion of Colonel Daniel TILDEN, named
the town that was to be Hiram in honor of the King of Tyre. The
original Hiram included six other townships successively cut
off, viz., Mantua 1810, Shalersveill 1812, Windham 1813, Nelson
1816, Freedom 1825, and Garretsville 1864.
There is some doubt concerning the first settlers. It is
thought that Abraham S. HONEY made a small
clearing and built a cabin and went away in the fall. This is
said to be the first sign of civilization in the town.
In 1802 Elijah MASON, Mason
TILDON, from Connecticut, and Elieha
HUTCHINSON, from New York, came to the
township and located lands, leaving their families in the East,
then returned home.
John FLEMING came the same year, cleared
the timber from sixteen acres of land, built a cabin, and
planted the first crop of corn and potatoes in the town. MASON
returned and put in the first crop of wheat in the town, which
he harvested in 1804.
In 1803 Richard REDDIN and his wife,
Nancy JACOBS, with
REDDIN's father and family, were the first white families to
winter in the town.
In 1807 Miss Sarah REDDIN was married to Gershom
JUDSON, of Mantua, this being the first
marriage in the town. In 1817 Parthenia MASON, daughter of
Elijah MASON, was married to Charles W. PAINE.
This was the second marriage in town. Zeb
RUDOLPH, originally from Virginia, came from Nelson to Hiram
in 1835. He married Arabel MASON, another daughter of Elijah
MASON. Mr. RUDOLPH, at the age of ninety-three, is still living
in Mentor with his daughter, Mrs. President
This was the third township settled in the county. It was
more the hunting grounds than the home of the Indians. They had
a little village of twelve or fifteen huts just above Hiram
Rapids, where they spent part of each year hunting. Aunt Asenath
YOUNG, a sprightly little old woman, tells
us of seeing young Indians racing by her present home on their
ponies, and of seeing bears trotting across the stumpy fields
near the house. The Indians frequenting this town were mostly
Wyandots. The relations between them and the whites were
friendly until after the war of 1812; then the few remaining
were forced to leave.
>From what our oldest people say, the snakes, especially
rattlesnakes, were the greatest dread of anything. Richard
REDDIN was bitten by one while harvesting wheat, where Tillie
ELLIS now lives. He was taken to the
Indians for a remedy. A squaw gathered indigo weed and applied
it and cured him. We have received numerous incidents of the
women going out of their way to kill the venomous reptiles. Aunt
Betsy YOUNG HARRIS got off her horse to
kill a large one, then mounted and went her way.
Henry DYSON, a fine-looking old pioneer
still living, tells us that his mother, Polly DYSON, kept a hoe
hanging on the outside of her cabin with which to kill snakes,
and many were the rattlers she dispatched. The famous
rattlesnake den is south of "Big Hollow," a rocky ravine on the
west side of the road near the watering trough. There they
wintered by the hundreds. One fall John DYSON and Luther
COLE fastened them in and kept them there
several years till their rattling ceased.
Polly TILDEN was born in Connecticut in 1779. She enjoyed
more than the ordinary advantage of girls at that time, and her
vivacious manner and her brilliant conversation made her the
belle of the town. She became the wife of Elisha HUTCHINSON in
1796. He was one of the first to locate land here in 1802. In
1814 Mrs. HUTCHINSON came to Hiram with her family from York
State, making the journey in a three-horse covered wagon.
Buffalo had just been burned by the British, and the ruins were
still smoking when they passed along.
The home of this pioneer woman was a log house west of Hiram,
where E.A. CROSSE now lives. There is an
old pear tree still standing opposite this place. Mrs.
HUTCHINSON had something of a poetic turn, often writing her
letters to her Eastern friends in rhyme. To this tree she once
addressed a poem now before me. After saying she would soon be
gone, she added:
"You'll live and bear, for some distant heir That perhaps is
That pear tree is perhaps over eighty years old, and will now
almost furnish the town with fruit.
One of the grandchildren of this nice old lady, Mrs. Mary
STEVEN, the mother of one of our
committee, lives in the beautiful old home from which Joe
SMITH was taken to be treated to tar and
In the year 1811 Elizabeth YOUNG, wife of George YOUNG, and
Hannah, wife of James YOUNG, with their families, made the
journey from Connecticut with ox teams and carts. In the year
1821, Sallie, daughter of Elizabeth YOUNG, was given in marriage
to John DYSON, for which occasion the pretty changeable red and
black silk wedding dress of the mother was used by the daughter.
A few years later she exchanged the same for a cow, thus showing
the good sense and self-denial which characterized our
grandmothers. This same young girl, when the joys and cares of
motherhood came upon her, used to sit and sew by the light of
the chimney fire, while her eldest boy, Henry, fed the blaze by
throwing on hickory bark, which leaping into flame, would make
better light than gas or electricity.
Ann TILDEN ABBOT cooked the first
tomatoes about 1838. They were thought to be poisonous. After
this they came into general use. Amanda BARNES
made herself useful by spinning wool for the farmers' families,
forty knows or a run being a day's work. For this she received
seventy-five cents per week.
One mother, whose son was about to leave home, decided a new
suit must be prepared. In a very short time (I think three
weeks) the wool, just as it came from the sheep, was converted
into a nice brown full cloth suit, all the process of carding,
spinning, weaving, coloring, pulling, cutting, and making having
been carried through by that devoted mother with her own hands.
Lydia TILDEN, daughter of Colonel Daniel (who was an officer
under General Washington and personally acquainted with him)
with her husband, Thomas YOUNG, came to Hiram from Connecticut
In 1816 the first postoffice was opened. Thomas YOUNG was
postmaster and continued to be thirty-six years until his death.
Mrs. Jude STEVENS, Mrs. Pelatiah
ALLYN, and Mrs. Fanny
RYDER (the husband of the latter is Jason RYDER, now living
at the age of ninety-seven years) were the proud possessors of
the first stoves used in the township - 1837. Mrs. Silas
RAYMOND owned the first buggy used in
town, to the envy of some of her neighbors, one of whom declared
that he would have a buggy with epileptic springs. Training days
were big days. Some of the women took time to go and watch the
drilling, though I imagine they took their knitting with them.
The ground on which the company drilled was about five acres of
the present college campus. It was the only open space, and they
had to dodge the stumps then.
The father-in-law of Emma DYSON, one of our committee, tells
her of the first and best meal he ate in Hiram. It was at the
home of Richard REDDIN, cooked by Nellie,
his daughter, who was noted for her talent in this direction.
She swung the griddle over the coals in the fireplace, greased
it with a bit of pork, which was suspended by a string to her
apron, then let it hang by her side till wanted for the next
griddle pull. From a large crock, standing in the corner the
batter was dipped on to it. A large pile of these cakes were
baked. When the pork was fried large hunting knives were taken
from the pouches to cut the meat in mouthfuls. Sharpened sticks
were used as forks. The invitation was given, "Stand by and take
In the earliest days most of the cooking was done in one bake
kettle. Tea water was first boiled, potatoes cooked, then cake,
next meat. Visitors kindly contributed tea.
Uncle Henry DYSON says the linen dress
the girls wore to meeting - some of them one stripe copper color
and one stripe the natural color of the linen, when ironed
nicely shone like silk. "I tell you they looked nice." He has in
his possession linen sheets, also a bed quilt, made before the
Revolutionary war. They were formerly owned by Rhoda
GOODRICH STANLY. The sheets are fine and
hemstitched as they do them at the present time. The quilt is
bonbazine, wool and linen. All was done by hand.
Aunt Abbie HUTCHINSON, a nice, motherly
old lady, has in her possession a very pretty, fine, home-made
linen tablecloth woven by the mother of one of Cleveland's
prosperous men, William BOWLER. His mother
was one of the best weavers if not the best in the county.
Andrew YOUNG used to boast of what his
little three-year-old Nell did one day. When digging potatoes he
placed a basket conveniently near and the little one picked up
the large potatoes one at a time and dropped them into the
basket, he emptying it when full. She picked up twenty baskets.
Little Nell (now Mrs. Ellen PATTON) is a
cultivated woman of sixty-three years of age and her poetic
contributions to religious papers have been read in many States.
Her father, when driving his ox card load of neighbors and
friends home from church, met with an amusing accident.
He was riding on the tongue of the cart, when the pin that
held the bow down came out and dumped the whole load in the
road. A rocking chair was in the load. No one was hurt, but it
caused a great deal of merriment. This occurred on Buckingham
Emily HILL has in her possession part
of a set of pewter dishes brought from England by her
grandmother during the eighteenth century.
People often wonder was is the history of the famous row of
maples on Ryder street. Various things have been published. Some
have ascribed them to the Mormons. The following is the truth:
In 1808 a daughter was born to Benjamin
HINKLEY and wife in Connecticut. The child was christened
Susan Harriet. In 1814 Susan started with her parents for the
West with a yoke of oxen and span of horses with a large wagon.
Buffalo was burned and the chimneys were still standing. The
British soldiers, with their plumes and gaudy uniforms, made a
lasting impression upon the young girl's mind. At Burton they
loaded into a boat and "poled" on the Cuyahoga River to Rapids.
On Mr. HINKLEY's land was living, in a log
cabin, Polly DYSON and her husband, Abraham DYSON (the first
blacksmith in the town, also a gunsmith). Mr. HINKLEY built
another cabin for his family and in the spring of 1819 a boy
named John F. TAYLOR, Susan, then twelve
years of age, and her father planted the trees. The part that
Susan took in this work was to pour water in the hole dug by the
boy, while her father put the trees in.
Susan HINKLEY PROCTOR, known as Grandma
PROCTOR, died in 1891 at Hiram Rapids at the age of eight-four.
She was an unusually bright and intelligent old lady to the
last. Rachel KENT, wife of Henry
CANFIELD, with family, came to Rapids from
Auburn, formerly from New York in 1834. They endured many
hardships. Mrs. CANFIELD's uncle married
the mother of Stephen A. Douglas.
Martha CANFIELD, M.D., of Cleveland, is granddaughter of
these CANFIELDs by marriage. Benjamin HINKLEY taught the first
school in town. The following are some of the old girls who were
his pupils: Betsy YOUNG, Fanny and Marinda
JOHNSON, Elenor REDDIN, Susan and Ann HINKLEY. The old log
school house was down by "Big Hollow."
Harriet Rebecca HARRINGTON, wife of
Thuel NORTON, came to Hiram in 1832,
formerly from Connecticut. Her life was one of great activity.
She was a charter member of the church here. There is a record
of the NORTON family back nineteen generations. They came from
France to England in 1066; to America in 1635.
In 1818, early in January, a company of about forty men,
women, and children started from Vermont with ox and horse teams
and sleds. The snow was deep. The horse teams would go ahead
about as far as the slow oxen could travel, then locate for the
night in cabins by the way, tumble the bedding from the sleds on
to the floor, and sleep almost any way. In the morning the ox
teamsters had their breakfast first and were started on their
way. Those remaining did up the work and perhaps some baking,
then followed on with the horses, pass the oxen, and find a
place again for the night. There were many young people among
them and they had a jovial journey. They reached Hiram in March.
The snow began to thaw the day after they reached their
destination. The following are some of the women:
Mrs. Anna BRUCE UDELL, Olive
LOOMIS, Mehitabel LOOMIS, Elsie JOHNSON,
Misses Nancy, Polly, Lucinda, and Sarah UDELL, Miss Fanny
JOHNSON, Chloe LOOMIS, etc., etc. Mehitabel LOOMIS became Mrs.
Symonds RYDER. The RYDERs were descendants
of a RYDER who came over in the Mayflower.
Hiram's pioneer population was not remarkably religious. One
of the earliest public religious services was conducted at the
old south school house in 1818 by three Methodist women, Mrs.
Marilla RYDER, Mrs. HERRICK, and Mrs.
Susannah HINKLEY. The pioneer church of Portage county was the
""Bethesda" Baptist, organized July 30, 1808, in what is now
Nelson township. The only religious people who seem to have
become deeply rooted in Hiram were the Disciples, an offshoot
from the "Bethesda" Baptist Church in 1824. The Hiram church was
organized March 1, 1835, with thirteen members, as follows:
Symonds RYDER, Arrunah TILDEN, Pelatiah
ALLYN, Jason RYDER (still living in his
ninety-eighth year), Thuel NORTON, Mehitabel RYDER, Amelia
ALLYN, Lucretia MASON (grandmother of
Lucretia GARFIELD), Emeline
RAYMOND, Amelia ALLYN, Jr., Harriet
NORTON, and Betsy SPERRY.
The famous Mormon episode in Hiram occurred in 1831-32. At
this distance it looks like a comedy; to the Mormon leaders and
the Hiram church it was more of a tragedy. The new ark of
Mormonism had recently been set up at Kirtland. There was a
serious attempt to transfer it to Hiram. The Mormonism of 1831
was not that of Brigham Young, with its "revelation" of
polygamy. John JOHNSON had built a fine large frame house on
Ryder street. The JOHNSONs visited Joseph
SMITH at Kirtland and Mrs. JOHNSON was miraculously (?)
healed of a rheumatic arm by the Mormon prophet. They became
confirmed converts to the delusion. For a time their home was
both palace and temple to SMITH. Sidney RIGDEN,
who furnished the brains for the Mormon movement in its infancy,
took up his abode in a log house across the street from the
JOHNSONs. Ezra BOOTH, a Methodist minister
of some culture, from Mantua and Symonds RYDER, the leading
Hiram Disciple, fell temporary victims. For a few months it
seemed as though the whole Hiram church would be swept into the
Mormon fold. But the real drift of Mormonism was soon apparent,
and the end came suddenly, when on a March night in 1832 Joseph
SMITH and Sidney RIGDEN were treated to a coat of tar and
feathers. SMITH was taken from the JOHNSON house, RIGDEN from
his own log cabin across the road. In the confusion Miss Vashti
HIGLEY was dragged from her bed. The
mistake was soon discovered. Miss HIGLEY afterward married Peter
WHITMER, one of the original witnesses to
the "golden plates" on which the Mormon bible was based. She
left with the Mormons, but returned on the death of her husband.
The JOHNSON family went out with the Mormon exodus.
Mrs. Susannah HINCKLEY, wife of
Benjamin HINCKLEY, remained in Hiram, a Mormon to the day of her
death, in 1873, at the age of ninety-one years. She kept her
ascension robe for forty years in daily anticipation of the
advent of Christ.
In 1849 steps were taken by the Disciples of the Western
Reserve to found a school. The result was the Western Reserve
Eclectic Institute at Hiram (now Hiram College), which opened
its doors in November, 1850. It was the school that drew Zeb
RUDOLPH from his farm home in the eastern
edge of the township, and the boy GARFIELD from obscurity of his
Cuyahoga county home to become Hiram's illustrious student,
teacher, and citizen. And so it came to pass that Hiram has the
happy memory of having been the home, during the mature girlhood
and golden days of womanhood of Mrs. Lucretia
RUDOLPH GARFIELD. Here was the well ordered home of her
father and sweet-faced, modest mother. And here, while her
honored husband was bearing a leading part in that trying
campaign which culminated in the battle of Chickamauga. She
remodeled and rebuilt the modest cottage which was for many
years her own home.
Modest and retiring always, she has filled every place to
which duty has called her with a singular fidelity and grace. As
student and teacher, as daughter and wife and mother, her life
has held a charm for its devotion and its silent well doing.
More than this she would not wish us to say. Less than this we
GARFIELD once said:
"The pioneers who first broke ground her accomplished a work
unlike that which will fall to the lot of any succeeding
generation. The hardships they endured, the obstacles they
encountered, the life they led, the peculiar qualities they
needed in their undertaking, and the traits of character
developed by their work, stand alone in our history."
Mrs. Emma. J. DEAN Chairman and Historian Hiram committee -
Mrs. Emma Y. DYSON, Mrs. Emily M. RYDER, Mrs. Hattie V. ALLYN,
Mrs. Chestina A. YOUNG, Mrs. Belle R. YOUNG, Miss M. Ella