Palmyra

PALMYRA 1800 - 1850

Palmyra, in Portage county, received its first settlers in June, 1799. It was originally part of Deerfield, was separated from it in 1810 and named Palmyra. The original proprietors of the township offered David DANIELS 100 acres of land if he would settle there and make improvements. His courageous wife, Lucinda MEIGS (cousin of Governor MEIGS of Ohio) with her two little children left Grafton, Conn., with all its endearing associations, to go to a place uninhabited save by Indians and wild animals, with no house nor school house nor church, only the trees pointing up to God and reaching out their protecting branches.

It is said the Indians helped to select their farm, one and one-half miles south of center, and by fall they had one and one-half acres of wheat sowed. After being harvested and threshed with a flail, Mrs. DANIELS kept house in the wilderness while Mr. DANIELS shouldered a bushel of wheat, went thirty miles to a mill, had it ground, and returned.

Roller process flour never made a more tempting loaf than this when baked in front of a fire in a bake kettle. Their children were Electa, Frederick, Horace, Orville, Harvey, and Elmira. Mr. DANIELS died in 1813 and Mrs. DANIELS in 1849, at the age of eighty-three.

In 1800 Mrs. William BACON (Polly THURBUR) remained in Connecticut with three children while her husband walked to Palmyra, settled one and one-quarters south of the center, made improvements, walked back to Connecticut, and brought his family in an ox wagon in 1802. Mrs. BACON used to exchange bread for venison with the Indians.

At the same time came Mr. CUTLER and wife Josepha, daughter of Nehemiah BACON. Their daughter Emeline was the first white child born in the township.

In 1804 Mrs. David CALVIN (Catherine McDANIELS) settled in the southern part of the township. The first evening they were greeted by their nearest neighbors, the wolves of the forest.

James McKELVEY and wife, Sarah STEVANS, came from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, in 1804, bought 200 acres of land and raised a family of ten children.

Also the same year came Widow PRESTON and son Amasa and settled north of the center on the ledge. One fine day as they were boiling sap in iron kettles, blacksnakes began crawling out of the rocks and they killed over fifty.

In 1804 the first school was taught by Betsy DIVER, of Deerfield.

The first marriage was that of Benjamin McDANIELS and Betsy STEVENS, in 1805. Betsyís sister Polly married Gapson McDANIELS. They lived together in the same humble cabin and began their pioneer life in early spring, the boys doing the chopping, logging, etc., the girls gathering and burning brush.

One of the boys walked seventeen miles and carried home a bushel of potatoes, which were forbidden for food until after the patch had been planted. While one of the wives went up in the loft to take a nap the sister roasted twelve potatoes in the ashes, ate ten with a relish, then went to the foot of the ladder and called: "Sister, come down, I have roasted each of us a potato. Come quick or the boys may come in." So each ate a potato and no one was the wiser until the crop was harvested. Such the enjoyments of pioneer life.

If health and contentment be there,
If faith and hope crown the brow of the wife,
It will lighten the burden and care.
     

Mrs. Catherine McARTHUR BALDWIN, her husband and three sons, came from Connecticut in 1805. Their wagon was the second that came through on the "Old Palmyra road" with not a house between Canfield and Campbellsport, 25 miles. They came to a cleared spot with the word "center" on a post and a scythe hung on the limb of a tree. There they camped and settled near. Mrs. BALDWIN was a lover of flowers. A rosebush which she planted in 1805 still blooms in the old homestead yard.

John TUTTLE, with his third wife (Polly PARKER WRIGHT) and eight children, one having died, came from Sunderland, Mass., in 1805 in an ox cart, it taking seven weeks to perform the journey. They afterward had nine children, making eighteen children belonging to one father. Isaac (eighty years old) is the last of this large family. The first death in the township was John TUTTLE, son of the first wife, aged twenty-one. He had gone down in a well for a cup which had been dropped in, and was suffocated by gas.

In 1806 Mrs. Truman GILBERT arrived with her family. They lived in their traveling wagon, till with the help of Indians and a few white neighbors, they got their house put up. Mr. Gilbert had to go twenty miles to mill, cutting his way through most of the distance. Once the barrel of meal failed, and they lived on turnips till he returned. They had eight sons and one daughter, Rebecca. Their eldest son, Charles, and wife Amelia also had eight sons and one daughter, Laura. Forty-five years elapsed before a death occurred in their family.

In 1807, Mrs. Betsy GANO and her husband David walked from Virginia and drove two cows with their personal effects strapped on the cowsí backs. There were no roads but bridle paths. Mrs. GANOís first experience with company is as follows:

A gentleman rode up to the door and wished to spend the night, and of course wanted supper. I felt streaked and he noticed it. It was Elijah BOARDMAN, land agent from Connecticut. He said he would like bread and milk for supper. If I chose, I might skim it. If I did, he would like the skimmings. He praised his supper, and I felt relieved.

Some CROWs came in 1810. Polly CROW married Isaac HAWK, and they had four HAWKs, Ruth, John, Sally, and Samuel. At the same time was Agnes PANCAKE and later Miss CIDER married a BEAN. Circuit preachers occasionally coming through gathered the neighbors together in some house, barn or out of doors. Women wore homespun dresses, aprons, a kerchief over their heads, and used thorns for pins.

In 1816 Mrs. Luman WESTOVER (Sabre SMEDLEY) with her husband, five sons, and five daughters came from Litchfield, Conn. On the way little Harry impatiently climbed out of the wagon and was badly hurt, but in his fear of being left, cried out: "Donít leave me, donít leave me!"

He didnít "get left." They settled in a small log house, and had one shilling (12 Ĺ cents) left, with which they bought salt to eat with their potatoes. Corn was such a common meal, that one of the boys, tiring of it, wished he had the last grain so he could put it where it would never grow.

They were an enterprising family, and were soon possessors of a good farm and pleasant home. Their daughter Phebe married Osro BALDWIN, and again began pioneer life in Iowa, living for a while in a dug-out.

Nelson WESTOVER and wife, Ruth CORBET, had four daughters. Like their predecessors they were industrious, spinning, weaving, and making their own garments. They made bonnets for the belles of the town from palm leaf brought from Boston by Ruthís mother.

The following from the diary of H. GIDDINGS in 1821 shows great improvements:

"Palmyra, in Portage county, is a township of pretty good and more settlers than any other town on the Reserve, except Cleveland and Warren. The people, mostly from Connecticut, are distributed all over the town. The land is nearly all taken up. Large farms improved; large bearing orchards; peaches in abundance, and many other kinds of domestic and wild fruits; wheat 25 cents cash, $1 in trade. Cattle 50 per cent lower than in New England."

Cornelia RUGGLES was the first person buried in the West Cemetery - 1824.

In 1827 Mrs. Henry KIBLER (Barbara FRONK) with her husband and large family and twin sister Sally, came from Virginia. They moved into a small cabin, made a bedstead by boring two holes in the wall and putting one end of a pole in each hole, the other ends being supported by forked sticks, and hickory withes for a bed cord. Barbara helped her husband saw the logs for their house.

In the year 1827, Mrs. John KERNS, Mrs. Jacob BEAN, Mrs. Jacob NIPPLE, Mrs. William ERNEST, with their families, thirty-two persons, came from Miffin, Pa., in two wagons. They stopped in Pittsburg for a soup kettle.

Mrs. Alex SCOTT (Christena BEAN), with her husband and five children, came from Pennsylvania in 1830. Mr. SCOTT purchased 200 acres of land at $5 per acre, with two log houses and sixty or seventy acres cleared. Mrs. SCOTT was the mother of twelve children. Three of them died of dysentery on three successive days in August, 1841.

The DARLING family, the mother of which was Margaret PENNOCK, came in a covered sled from Cataraugus, N.Y., in 1830. Fidelia married Henry GILBERT, and her twin sister married Almon BACON. The latter have three children, and not a death in the family for fifty-three years. They reside in Edinburg.

Mrs. John E. DAVIS (Catherine DAVIS) came from South Wales in 1830, stopped in Pennsylvania while Mr. DAVIS came and settled northeast of the center, made improvements, and moved in 1831. They were the first Welsh settlers and wrote back such glowing accounts that in 1832 several families joined them. Among the number was Mrs. William WILLIAMS (Martha ROBERTS) and family, who moved into a little house with a thatched roof. She was very helpful in time of sickness.

Also from Pennsylvania came Mrs. William RANNELS (Elizabeth CARNES), with her husband and five children. They settled in the woods, built a log house and barn, working hard to clear away and burn the timber, making some into charcoal. They killed a bear one morning, then had meat. They raised, spun, and wove their own flax. The women folks had calico dresses for "nice." They lived on corn and buckwheat and sold their wheat for fifty cents a bushel until they got their farm of 160 acres at $3 per acre paid for; then sold their produce for "boughten things." Their nearest market was Akron, twenty-eight miles. They were a kind family, often furnishing meals for neighbors who were putting up their cabins.

Mrs. Andrew STURDEVANTís husband made spinning wheels and baskets. Their family consisted of Mahala, Laura, Julia, and Grandma JUDSON. Children living one and one-half miles from school often stopped to warm at their house. Grandma usually had her Bible or knitting, and Mrs. STURDEVANTís wheel either kept busily buzzing or quietly standing one side of the fireplace. A pan of apples for the children and a kind word from the dear old people made it a memorable place.

Mrs. George KEAN (Agnes FRAM)and her husband, from Scotland, settled between two roads in Palmyra forest, in 1834. They named their farm "Black Meadows," from the soil. There is now a coal bank on the place. Their house consisted of one room with a loft, two windows, and a door, over which grew a dipper gourd vine. The chimney was made of sticks on a stone foundation. Mr. K. used to roll backlogs in with a handspike. Inside were two beds with plaid curtains, two chests, a long pendulum clock, a three-cornered cupboard, homemade table, a stand with well-worn Bible and psalm book, a few splint-bottom chairs, a bench, and spinning wheel. They had a few nice dishes, some pewter and wooden plates, wooden and horn spoons. Their dinners were often Scotch kale (soup), their supper mush and milk. For company fare shortcake and honey. A few old-time posies and such as pinks, old man, and old woman, grew near the door. The large eggs and best roll of butter to sell illustrates her character. The good old people lived to be quite aged. Their descendants are now energetic and prosperous citizens.

Mrs. Ebenezer FORSYTH (Hannah TONKIN), from England, settled in Palmyra in 1836 and had five children living at the time of her husbandís death, in 1846. She died the week following her younger son Eben in 1855. Three children still live, James in Deerfield, Mrs. H.G. SPOONER at Palmyra Center, and Mrs. S.F. LUDWICK at Campbellsport. The latter was wide awake in temperance work. Elizabeth (Mrs. William TUFFING) passed from gay, lively girlhood into earnest Christian womanhood, following the pathway of her parents. Her life was crowded with good deeds until she lay down the cross to take up the crown in 1888.

The following is from a slip of paper found in a journal:

"Rhoda WHITNEY emigrated from Washington, Conn., to Boardman, O., in 1820. Passing through New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the Alleghenies she walked nearly all the way from Connecticut to Ohio. She joined the Methodist Episcopal Church fifty years ago; kept house twenty-three years for Hiram GIDDINS, Palmyra, O., at whose house she died aged eighty years."

Mrs. Elizabeth STITSEL BYERS was born in Franklin county, Pa., in 1793. Her mother died when she was seven years old. She was then bound out till she was eighteen, was married at twenty-two, boarded the first men that worked on the old Sandy and Beaver Canal, and raised a family of nine children, her husband being blind for eight years before he died. She lived in Palmyra six years and has lived in several other places, and now at nearly one hundred and three years of age is living with her son William, in Edinburg township. She has a remarkably preserved mind, can converse on present topics of the day as well as the past, is interested in the farm work, and keeps posted on prices of grain, stock, etc.

Mrs. John CROUSE (Martha Jacobs WOODARD) had four children born in Palmyra, Rachel, Hannah, Lovina, and Leonard. Hanna was born in 1834, weighed less than nine pounds, at six months weighed forty pounds, at ten years 280, when she was exhibited as "the Ohio fat girl." At twelve she weighed 360 pounds, and later was advertised at over 600 pounds. She had an unusually bright intellect, committing chapter after chapter from the Bible. One Sabbath she recited 600 verses. She once came near being drowned in the Mississippi River. The boat sank, but she was floated ashore on an inverted table. She died suddenly at Philadelphia, about twenty-one years of age.

Mrs. William SPOONER (S.M. GIDDINGS) and family came from Kent, Conn., their house being the first erected in that place without intoxicating drinks. They settled, 1838, on a farm just south of the center, where their son Hiram and family still reside. Their home has always been a welcome stopping place for preachers and speakers. An old pastor called the spare bed room the prophetís chamber. Father and mother SPOONER both died at the age of eighty-two.

Catherine JONES, wife of Rev. H. POWELL, came from Wales in 1838. After his death, though quite old, she frequently walked one and one-half miles to church. One Sunday, the road being icy, she crawled on hands and knees some distance rather than miss the meeting.

In other days as now sad accidents occurred. In 1839 two little children of Mr. and Mrs. David S. DAVIS were playing in the house alone. One fell in the fire and was burned and soon died.

Two small children of Mr. and Mrs. John PHILLIPS were playing when their parents were at work. The limb of a tree fell, killing the son, but the daughter Susan had her skull patched with a piece of silver and still lives.

Mrs. Job THOMAS (Martha PHILLIPS) came from South Wales to Palmyra with her family in 1840. Her mother lived to be one hundred and ten years old and her father one hundred and six. When her husband died she supported and raised their family of five children. After the death of a sonís wife, she kept house for him and two of his children until she was ninety years old. She died at the home of her daughter, Rachel JONES, in 1890, aged ninety-three years, being vigorous in her mind and body until the day of her death.

Mrs. Adeline WALES, from Windham, taught the first select and boarding school in 1842, teaching in all eight years. She was loved and esteemed by all who knew her.

Rebecca GIDDINGS married Hiram GIDDINGS in 1842 and came from Connecticut to Palmyra, where she soon won many friends by her pleasant disposition. After one short year of married life she died. Her affectionate husband not wanting her taken to the cemetery in a wagon, the usual way, had a bier made on which she was carried half a mile.

Taken from an inventory of goods belonging to the estate of Widow JONES GARDNER, who came from Connecticut in 1846, and died in 1861, aged eight years, the woolen and linen having been manufactured by her own hands; 20 pieces linen sheets, five linen table cloths, six towels, eight pairs linen pillow cases, five linen aprons, two woolen aprons, six pairs woolen and four pairs woolen stocking, linen curtains and valance, eleven woolen blankets, two coverlets, fourteen linen and two cotton undergarments, one large brass kettle, one small one, two pewter basins, one pewter platter.

Mrs. Harriet EARL came with her family in 1848. Their daughters were Maria (Mrs. James WILCOX) and Mary, who died of consumption. Mr. and Mrs. EARL were good Christian workers. Two grandchildren in Michigan are the only survivors of the family.

Two early settlers, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. JONES, lived affectionately together and died in close succession at the ages of eighty-five and eighty years. Both were buried in the same grave in February, 1895.

Also early residents, Mr. Edwin A. HALL and his wife (Emeline RUGGLES) died and were buried January, 1896, in the same grave, aged eighty-four and seventy-four years.

The earliest pioneer women born and still living in the township are Mrs. Clinton SCOTT (Mary A. GILBERT), born in 1818; Mrs. Lorin BIGELOW (Rhoda CALVIN), born in 1821; Mrs. James CHURCH (Phebe OLMSTED), came from Connecticut in 1826 and has been a resident ever since. Her good memory is valuable in recalling names and incidents of earlier times. Mrs. Royal MERWIN (Jane HITCHCOCK), the only surviving member of the class of 1839 in the M.E. Church, is still faithful, occasionally walking half a mile to Sunday school and church, aged eighty-four years.

Mrs. Sarah CLAY COLLINS, whose father was a nephew of Henry CLAY, and whose first husband was the late Robert JOHNSON, is in comfortable health in her eightieth year.

Mrs. J.J. SPOONER Historian Palmyra committee - Mrs. Jane MERWIN, Mrs. Phebe CHURCH, Mrs. Martha TUTTLE, Mrs. Elizabeth BEAN, Mrs. Maria WILLIAMS, Miss Mary BACON


PALMYRA (additional)

Among the earliest settlers of Palmyra township was Esther CLINTON, her husband Artemus RUGGLES and their two children. They came from New Milford, Conn., in 1807, and settled about a mile from Palmyra Center.

Their daughter Mercy married Dr. Alvah BOSTWICK of Edinburg. Cornelia became the bride of Dr. Ezra GILBERT and died early (1824). Her grave was the first one made in the cemetery which her father had donated to the town. There was another daughters, Caroline RUB\GGLES, and three sons, William, Gary and Noble RUGGLES. Artemus was a veteran of the War of 1812.

Stephen TROWBRIDGE and his wife (Sarah CASTLE) and their two children, Carlos and Elvie, came from Litchfield Co., Conn, in 1808. They settled about two miles and a half west of the Center.

Carlos married Mary STRONG and remained on the farm. Elvie became the wife of Gary RUGGLES in 1818. Together they cleared land of their own in the township. She was an expert in all women's industries of that day, carding, spinning, weaving; she also did beautiful embroidery all her life, keeping it up until but a few years before her death. The last use she made of her needle was to piece a wonderful bed quilt containing 1200 pieces, and then quilted it in beautiful fine stitches.

She lived her entire life after coming to Palmyra upon the farm she helped to clear, dying at the age of ninety-three years and leaving this world much better off because of her industry, her helpfulness and neighborly kindness.

Mrs. W.L. DAVIS, Historian  

 

 

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