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Erie County (PA) Genealogy

Family Histories & Biographies

Stories About Matthews Harrington and His Descendants

Contributed by Andy Pochatko

Conneaut Township coordinator Andy Pochatko has provided the family history below. Matthews Harrington and his family settled in Erie County around 1802 in the area of Conneaut Township known as Cherry Hill. Any questions or comments concerning this family history should be sent directly to Andy Pochatko .


Written by Chester Smith Harrington, Sr. as he recalls them as they were told by members of his family and friends.

The spelling of the name Matthews is uncertain as it is spelled Mathews on the stone in the cemetery marking his own grave, but on the stone marking Elizabeth Spry Harrington’s grave it says wife of Matthews.


Born is Massachusetts in about 1784, to a father addicted to alcohol, his mother died when he was 16 years old.  Matthews Harrington left his home to travel to the untamed wilderness of western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania. 

On this trip he came to a large forested area.  He heard that a man traveling on horse-back had just passed over the trail, headed toward the setting sun.  Soon after darkness fell he saw a campfire ahead.  To be sure he wouldn’t take the man by surprise he began to shout.  The man soon returned his greeting, and was glad to see another human, as Matthews was soon to have his company.  The greeted one another as old friends, and from then traveled on westward together, taking turns riding the horse. 

Matthews worked for a time in Chautauqua County, N.Y. but finally came to Springfield on Erie County, Pennsylvania.  Here he worked for and lived with a family whose home was south of the present site of East Springfield, Pa.  (We think the families name was Salisbury)  The location of their cabin was near the present Perry Bridge, on the north bank of Conneaut Creek. 

A few years later Matthews returned to Chautauqua County where he married Elizabeth Spry.  Before they returned to Erie County they had two children, William and Loretta.  Just before their third child was born they set out for the place where he had planned to make their permanent residence.  The spot is now known as Cherry Hill. 

They traveled by sled drawn by a team of horses.  Their roadway for a part of the trip was the frozen surface of Lake Erie, as close to shore as possible, no doubt.  Near the New York - Pennsylvania Line the ice broke and their outfit settled down into the icy water.  Matthews was able to get to shore and reach a tavern, here he found help to her his family out of their predicament. 

Continuing their trip to a rise south of Conneaut Creek at a spot near the present junction of Route 6N an old State Road, he built their first house.  Just east of this cabin stood a large, wild Cherry Tree.  This tree, growing on a hill near the road was a landmark for many years, resulting in the spot known as Cherry Hill.

The cabin was anything but an imposing dwelling.  Elizabeth prepared meals for the family over a fire built before an opening in the cabin wall.  At night a deer skin was hung over the opening.  Probably this was the cabin in which their third child was born.  The experience of the trip over the rough ice was blamed, by the family, for this daughter being an invalid until her death, which occurred when she reached her early forties. 

During the 1790’s the Spaulding family settled near the junction of the west branch and the main stream of Conneaut Creek, just west of Keepville.  Matthews and his family arrived to stay in 1802, making them the second family to settle in the township. 

We have a deed, signed in 1804, by one of the Salisburys, giving Matthews Harrington title to 80 acres of land in the Northern Section of Conneaut Township.  The consideration was $360.00.  If he bought the land by verbal agreement, and lived there for two years before this deed was drawn, which is speculation on our part, it seems very likely that this 80 acres was the first of his extensive holdings at Cherry Hill. 


Soon after his arrival he spent the day working at the first of the Griffeys to settle in the area.  After dark he started home carrying a quarter of a sheep on his shoulder.  As he walked through the woods he could hear wolves howling in the distance.  He knew the spot where the beasts normally crossed the path he was taking.  He began to run to try to reach that spot before the wolves did, but as he approached he could see in the moonlight the wolves on the path just ahead of him.  At about that instant the beasts saw him, or caught scent of the meat he carried, and the whole pack started in his direction.  He turned about and ran as fast as he could.  He gained the fence around the Griffey cabin clearing, as he jumped the fence he gave a loud shout and someone opened the cabin door.  Looking behind him he could see the wolves standing on the top rail of the fence, their eyes shining in the dark.  He stayed at the Griffey cabin all night and worried about his family with only a deer skin over the whole that served as the fireplace. 

That first winter had its hardships for the Harrington family.  The only food they had was the game he could shoot for meat, and Johnny Cake made from their supply of corn meal.  They did however have two heifers which were to freshen in the spring.  Toward the end of winter Elizabeth would go to the log barn each day to feel the heifers’ bags for signs of coming freshening.  Each morning the udders felt smaller than the day before, but finally the calves did arrive and there was milk to supplement the diet of Johnny Cake. 


About the year 1834 Elizabeth decided to pay a visit to her family in York State, as the old timer used to express it.  The only means of transportation in the family was a one-horse wagon.  A crude vehicle, two poles rested on the front and rear endgates, with the seat resting on these.  Theses poles were slender but strong giving a measure of comfort, as they acted like springs. 

Israel, our grandfather, was 16 years old at this time, and was to accompany his mother on the trip.  At one place a river could be crossed only by a ford.  Sitting on the porch of an inn on the river bank was an old Stage Coach driver. Since he knew the best places to cross he was engaged to drive the outfit across the river.  Grandfather rode a horse on which the man would return.  He said he kept that horse’s nose right between the rear wheels of the wagon as the driver twisted to avoid the deep holes in the river. 

Elizabeth’s mother had died but her father was still living.  He mounted a horse and accompanied Grandfather and his Mother on visits to all the relatives in the area.  After this he took sick, and three days later he died.  Elizabeth stayed for the funeral, making her three days late starting home. 

The day after the funeral Grandfather hitched the little black mare to the wagon early in the morning.  They were 90 miles from home, on a hot day so the mare sweat considerably.  At noon they stopped to eat and feed the horse beside a stream, where before going on grandfather washed the mare all over.  If he had then let her stand she would have been ruined, but he kept her moving, her bath had refreshed her, so what could have been a foolish act was a real help. 

All afternoon they kept going on and on into the night, toward morning they rattled into Cherry Hill, two tired people and a mighty weary little horse.  Was it any wonder that after the experience Grandfather loved his horses more than any of his animals. 

Matthews had not gone to bed when they arrived home, in fact he started down the road to meet them when he heard the wagon coming, he was so anxious about them since they were three days late returning home. 


Uncle Smith and I were back on the land that I once owned.  This was a part of the original Matthews Harrington Tract, later Grandfathers, then Uncle Cash’s, and finally Uncle Smith’s, before it became mine.  Uncle Smith pointed out the place where he said, “I have seen Grandad (Matthew) with a dozen turkeys in a pen right here.”  The pen was so constructed that when the turkeys went in through a tunnel following the corn with which it was baited they never found their way out.  Instead of retracing their entrance through the tunnel they kept trying to escape between the poles forming the roof of the trap.  We have often wondered how he got them out of the trap without letting them escape. 

Later Grandfather shot turkeys as they came off their roost only a short distance from where his fathers turkey trap had been.  He killed the turkey for dinner before breakfast. 


During the War of 1812 Matthew helped with the building of Perry’s fleet at Presque Isle Bay, and helped get the ships across the sand-bar at the entrance to the bay.   History tells us that the guns were do heavy that they caused the ships to float so deep that they had to be removed and remounted after the vessels were in deeper water.  All this time the British ships were in sight and their officers were watching, but didn’t know what was going on.  Had they know they could have sunk Perry’s fleet. 

While her husband was at Erie the British were inciting the Indians to attack the settlers.  Elizabeth was warned that the Indians were on the warpath, and advised to take the children and go to the Block House near what is now Kidder’s Corners.  She started out, carrying her youngest child, leading the others.  William, who was 7 or 8, was leading the cow.  As they struggled along, the cow went on a rampage and dragged William through the brush and briars.  They stayed at the Block House for a few days and returned home.  Later she was warned of a pending Indian attack but she was decided to take her chances with the Indians rather than to go through that ordeal again.  The Indians came, if they had we would not be here to tell these tales of her adventures. 


Although in later years Matthews Harrington became quite prosperous, his first years at Cherry Hill were a constant struggle to keep his family fed and clothed.  William, the oldest sons only garment was a shirt that reached to his knees.  His father ordered him to take the cow to the neighboring farm.  Now the neighbors had daughters, the oldest of whom was about William’s age.  He felt embarrassment to go there as he was, but obedient to his parent he did as he had been told.  Arriving at the neighbors he found the oldest girl of the family dressed as he was in a long shirt.  This was Grandfathers version of the affair.

Uncle Moses had another way of telling it.  He said William was paying court to the young lady, and that the errand was to borrow an auger.  Both Grandfather and Uncle Moses agreed that he was reluctant to go to the place with no pants to wear.  But Uncle ended his version of the story by claiming the two young people went into the cabin and had a “shirt-tail sparking session.”


Matthew and his sons went down to the bridge a mile north of Kidders Corners to look at the place where they were starting a burying ground (the word cemetery was not used at that time).  They looked the place over and reserved one row of spaces for graves, across the full width of the plot.  We heard Grandfather once say, “We looked at the place and decided that here was where we would like to be buried.” 

Two stone mark the graves of Matthews and Elizabeth. Matthews stone states that he was the fourth generation from England.  One of the stones marks the grave of Lucretia, and the most imposing monument marks the graves of Israel and Matilda.  Three smaller stones are marked Barney, Chester, and Hattie, the three children of Israel who never grew to adulthood.  Each year Grandfather went to the burial place when they had a cleanup gathering.  Later my Father was notified of the clean up days, after Father passed on I was the Harrington who went to help for many years.


After years of hard work and careful management Matthews had become one of the most affluent men in the township.  He then built a large frame house on the north side of the road at the top of the hill.  As there were few places of public accommodation along the road, many migrants, westward bound found shelter for the night under that spacious roof. 

The story is told of a man spending the night with the Harrington family, suggesting that he might buy property and settle in the neighborhood.  Would they be good neighbors?  Matthews answered his question with another, “What kind of neighbors did you have where you came from?”  When told their former neighbors were the meanest people ever, he was advised not to stay here, the people here are the meanest folks you ever saw.  Later when an old couple who were spending the night told of the good folks they had lived among, how they had lost their farm, and were coming farther west seeking cheaper land to make a fresh start. 

The Great-Grandfather said, “You should stay here among the best people in the world.”  Here you would have good neighbors, too.”  After they had gone he said “Good neighbors make good neighbors.”

One day the big house caught fire, the men were working in the fields working.  Elizabeth grabbed the dinner horn, ran out the back door, blew it frantically, turned around, took it back into the house and put it up on the shelf were it was kept, it burned along with the house. 


After the death of Elizabeth, in 1845, Matthews married a daughter of Elihue Crane.  Here first husband was named Pomeroy.  I once told the family of Pomeroy’s that this fact makes us “almost relation”. 

This woman was either the first or second white child born in Conneaut Township, Erie County, Pennsylvania.  Two baby girls were born on the same day in the same cabin, down near the Salisbury Bridge, she was one of these.  This is the Crane family for whom Cranesville, Pennsylvania was named. 

This second wife must have been much younger than her husband, Matthews.  While my father (Jay Harrington) who was much younger than his brothers and sisters, could not have known his own grandfather, he did remember going to Salisbury Bridge with his mother to visit Matthews second wife.  She was then living with some of her own children. 


The last few years of his life Matthews was blind.  During a part he lived with Grandfather’s (Israel Harrington’s) family, in the brick house which still stands on the north side of the road a quarter of a mile west of Cherry Hill. 

We are not sure if his second wife was living with him at this time or if she ahd gone to live with some of her own family, but we think that by now both Uncle Ira and Uncle Moses (Grandfather’s brothers) were living at Cherry Hill.  So that Matthew could walk to the village to visit them a pole and post railing was built to guide him.  One of these rails was broken out, so when he came to his place he would stop and shout “Son” so that Cash or Smith, his Grandsons, would come lead him on to the next section of railing.  The Grandsons soon learned that if they just stood quietly he wouldn’t know they were within hearing distance.  Their father (Grandfather, Israel) caught them at this one day and took a stick to them for it.   This helped their hearing so that from then on when he called “Son” they heard and responded.  

One day when Uncle Smith was accompanying his blind Grandfather along the road he mentioned that someone was approaching riding a pretty horse.  When they came opposite the man Matthews said to him “That’s a nice fat horse you are riding.”  He assumed the horse was fat even though he couldn’t see it, else why would a boy say it was “pretty”?


MATILDA BARNEY  1819 - 1913

Born in 1818, our Grandfather, Israel, married Matilda Barney.  He was younger than William and Loretta, who had come with their parents from Chautauqua County, N.Y.  The Barney family originally owned land adjoining the Harrington property.  Loretta married a brother of Matilda Barney (our Grandmother) named Ben, so my father and his sisters and brothers were “Double cousins” of Hattie Kinney, Homer Huntley’s mother and Henry Barney. 

Grandfather was given a hundred acres of land just west of Cherry Hill, the west boundary was at the top of the hill.  Here he built and lived until he was 76 years old.  Later he bought from Griffey, additional land on the west slope of Harrington Hill. 

Grandfather first built a cabin, and it was their home from the first ten years of their married life.  He said that when he was building that cabin he intended to occupy it for only a year or two, but some old man told him “Israel, if you move into that cabin you will be there for ten years.”  This prediction came true, it was just ten years before he had a brick house ready for occupancy. 

Barney and Chester, two sons who never lived to grow up, and Aunt Lucy (Harrington) Barns, were born in the log cabin.  Cash was also born before they moved to the big house.  Smith, Aunt Libby (Harrington) Brown, Father (Jay) and we think a daughter Hattie, who died shortly after Father was born, were born in the big house. 

On the south side of the road Grandfather had 18 acres cleared.  It was next to this clearing a Brick Kiln was built to burn the brick made from the clay dug out of the swamp land. 

We recall being told that the brickmaker lived in a building near the kiln.  We surmise that his name was Standish.  Because the 18 acre field was know as the Standish lot.  Uncle Smith was given 25 acres on the south side of the road. This was probably that part of the property bought from the Griffeys, lying on that side of the road.  He also bought 15 acres from Grandpa.  This made him a building spot on the top of the hill.  Uncle Cash got 25 acres on the other side of the tract and bought 10 acres joining.  Leaving about about 30 acres still in grandfather on the south.

Grandfather cut the logs and put them in the mill, in the woods.  The man who sawed them in half got half for his part of the job.  The lumber was sold for $6.00 per M.. in Conneaut. 

This project was going on when Father was married in 1885.  Grandpa had a yoke of cattle.  They weighed 3900 and with them hitched to the log and fathers good team of horses ahead, those 4 ft. logs got dragged into the will yeard.  Dad once said, "With Fathers big cattle and my team a head, it was an awful big log we could not skid."

Speaking of cattle, Grandpa once raised a yoke of Durham, twin calves.  They were closely matched that no one but himself could tell which was the "near" and which was the "off" ox. He cut a ring around the off oxes right horn so his boys could know how to yoke them properly. 

It was while he was using this team, that while cutting wood a way back on the south side, he laid the ax into the right side of his foot. 

Uncle Smith ran all the way to the barn and chased the cattle into their stall.  They went into the wrong sides and not noticing that they were wrong he yoked them that way.  He consumed some valuable time getting them hitched to a sled and headed for the woods.  Halfway to the place where they had been working, he met Grandpa walking towards the house.  Grandpa laid down on the sled and they turned the outfit around.  Headed for the barn the cattle started to run.  As they crossed the road and passed the house, Grandpa rolled off into the snow.  Every step he had taken since he had left the woods was marked with blood in the snow. 

After the oxen were put away Uncle Smith went to the house.  Grandfathers face was white as snow behind his coal black whiskers.  He told Uncle what to do. "Go out to the grannery and get a slice of salt pork out of the barrel.  Cut off one slice and lay it aside.  Cut another slice and go to the salt barrel and rub the salt on both sides, and bring it in."  Grandma took the pork and slapped it onto the wound and bound it there.  He was up and walking sooner than he would if he owuld have been if he had been treated as we take care of injuries now.  In fact the old timers not only used salt pork to prevent infection on cuts but also given internally to sick cows. 

Back to the 40 acres of timberland.  This of timber had not been cut previous to the fire.  It was good business in those days to have some timberland.  Not only were trees cut for lumber, to be used on the farm, but also for keeping the house warm for winter and uear around supplying the old cookk stove with fuel.  Grandmother never cooled with any fuel but wood.


Which son of Matthew was called Daniel?  We think that he was older than Israel, Moses, and Ira.  As far as we know his only child was Louise, who eventually became the wife of a prosperous man by the name of Al Bliss.  Daniel, unlike his father, was not opposed to the use of hard liquor.  While under the influence of drink, in a moment of recklessness, appropriated another's harness.  As a result of this act he was convicted and sentenced to prison, where died.  Because of his misstep his father (Matthews) cut him off from his inheritence.  He probably had, at the time of his marriage, been given 100 acres of land, the amount of real estate each of brothers and sisters recieved when they established their homes. 

Louise Harrington Bliss was the mother of Charles and Irus Bliss, and a daughter who married Attorney Stanley Andrews.  Her daughter, Louise Andrews, married Carl Tinney and to the best of our knowlege resides on a farm on the South Ridge just west of Center Road (Ohio Rt. 7).  She has one son, Carl Tinney, Jr.  As far as we know neither Charles or Irus had any children. 

Al Bliss owned one of the finest farms in the neighborhood.  It was located on Furnace Road at the intersection of South Ridge Road, just north of Conneaut Creek.   Al Bliss had the reputation of never owning a poor horse.  He used to go to Conneaut with a beautiful span of horses on a Democrat wagon, a very high carriage with two seats perched on small legs on the side boards. On one trip with Louise perched on the back seat holding her silk parasol, when they were crossing the Conneaut Creek Flats, Al spoke to the team, and they picked up speed, throwing Louise with her parasol, seat and al out onto the road.  Al, being occupied with his driving, didn't see what happened and continued on across the flats in to East Conneaut (then known as Little Hope).

The following is a copy from a card from Louise Andrews Tinney:




The old brick house was the childhood home of many of the people who attended the reunion.  While I was living on the farm we thought it would be a fine gesture to invite the members to hold their gathering at the old farm.  So at the 1919 gathering at the Bert Kinney home, I invited the family to meet with us the following year, July 4th, 1920.

On June 16, 1920 our first baby was born.  For this reason it was impractical to entertain the reunion.  The committee got together at Sister Hazel's summer home, the Cheney house at Cherry Hill, and it was decided to meet at the Grange Hall. 

Being a patriotic family we always displayed the flag at our reunion.  We secured a rope and decided to put the flag between the hall and the horse chestnut on the Orford lawn.  I grabbed the rope and jumped up into the tree.  Irus said to Father, "Jay, he won't do that as easy when he gets to be your age and mine."  We didn't know what he meant, but now nearly 45 years later, we know what they were talking about. 

Irus and his brother Charles took ober the old farm on the Furnace Road.  They stocked the farm with shorthorn cattle adn perchion hourses.  One day Irus and his hired man drove up in front of the Kimbell store at  Clark's Corners.  They were driving a pair of colts, neither of which had ever been hitched before.  Irus said, "I went down to see my wife at the hospital.  I remarked that I thought I would go home and hitch one of the colts with an old horse."  She said "You must be slipping.  You always hitched up two colts together."  "I thought if she wanted to get me killed, I would.  So I went home and hitched up this pair."



Catherine was the mother of eight daughters

Eleanor married Chauncey Chappell.  We recall Mr. Chappell at Penna. R.R. Depot, was also Postmaster.  [Wanetta] was the name of the office.

Sarah, wife of Henry Pond.  As I recall he had something to do with the bank at Springboro????

Melissa married Eldridge Case, their children were James Case adn Mrs. Harry Seeley.

Loretta married Lafayetta Swap.  First master of Cherry Hill Grange, Justice of the Peace.  One of the most repected men in ther community and veteran of the Civil War.  Thier family:


Uncle William Harrington lived about 1 1/2 miles west of Pennside and the place was known as the Harrington neighborhood.  Since his brothers settled on or near Cherry Hill, for some reason he obtained a tract of land on Conneaut Creek and the bridge at that point is still officially called Harrington  bridge.  Near the bridge was the school house designated as the Harrington school.  Matthews Harrington settled at Cherry Hill but the area in which his son William lived became the Harrington neighborhood. 

William was the father of four sons.  Ira P., named for his Uncle Ira, and called by the family little Ira, lived in the house that today is the Albion Vets Club.  John and Milt remained in the neighborhood and Judd, who owned and ran the grist mill at Cherry Hill. 

John was the only son of William to enlist in the Union army during the wad between the states.  While in camp a message was recieved by his parents, that he was very sick.  His mother was so concerned about her soldier son that she could not sleep and being a large women the bed shook all night with her sobs.  Finally toward morning she said, "William, you are going to go to Washington tomorrow and see President Lincoln and get John out of the army.  Bring him home so that I can take care of him."  William, thinking that she had worried so much that she lost her mind, agreed with her and went to sleep. 

The next morning she called him early and beside the bed was his swallow tail suite and his plug hat, and on the floor his best shoes shined up.  She said, "Get up and get dressed adn eat your breakfast.  Judd is hitching up the horse out back to take you to Albion to the train."  After getting aboard the train at Albion he began to think, who am I that I should trouble the President of the U.S. with my affairs.  I will just get off the train at Pennside and go home. 

But for some reason he did not give up his mission and all day and all night he stayed on that train.  And early in the day he arrived in the Capitol City.  He found his way to the White House and seeing no one about walked around towards the stable.  The person he saw was a negro sitting by the barn.  He said, "I was tickled to see anyone, black or white."  He asked the man, "Where can I find President Lincoln?"  The reply that he got was, "See dat path around de stable?  Jes fellow dat path till you comes to de ribber.  Down by de ribber you will see a great big rock.  And on dat rock you will see a big tall man settin.  Dat man am Abraham Lincoln, President ob the United States." 

Following the path as directed and when he approached the man he had misgivings of his worthiness to trouble him with his request.  As he hesitated the tall man on the rock turned and spoke to him.  Uncle William intrduced himself and they soon were holding an interesting conversation.  Being men of similar background, they undoubtedly found much to talk about.  In fact Uncle William did not mention the errand that had brought him to Washington.  Finally the President said, "Mr. Harrington, is there something I can do for your?"  Being told the purpose of his visit to Washington, Mr. Lincoln said, "I don't know if I can do anything for you.  That is a matter for the War Department to decide.  If you will come to my office this afternoon at two o'clock I will know if I can get your sons discharge."

At the appointed time Uncle William wa at the President's office.  A few minutes later a man came from the inner office and said, "Mr. Harrington:  The President will see you now."  He was taken into the inner office to be greated like an old friend.  The discharge papers had been prepared and were given to the visitor.  The President said, "Now Mr. Harrington:  Take this paper to the army camp and get your son, and take him home where his mother may nurse him back to health."

When you visit the Capitol go down to the Lincoln Memorial and stand in that silent, sacred spot and experience the feeling of awe that comes to all visitors, in the presence of the graven likeness of one of our greatest Americans.  Then stop and reflect on how you would have felt, if not far from that spot you would have had the opportunity of speaking to that great man in the flesh.  And surely you will say to yourself, I do not wonder that Uncle William felt unworthy to bring his petition to Abraham Lincoln.


This page was last updated on  Saturday, April 17, 2004 .

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