Rootstown derives its name from one of the two original
proprietors, Ephraim ROOT, from Coventry,
Conn., who came in the spring of 1800 to survey his Western
In the early part of 1801 Mrs. David ROOT came with her
husband and the brothers put up a log cabin of two stories at
the northeast corner of the town, later known as Cambellsport.
Nathan MUZZY came with them to do
carpenter work. He was a graduate of Yale College, but meeting
with disappointment in a love affair, he wandered to the West.
He always carved the name of Emma HALE on
the buildings and gates he constructed. His name is give to one
of the beautiful lakes in Rootstown.
In 1802 Mrs. Samuel McCOY came from Ireland and settled by
the well-known McCoy spring.
Ephraim ROOT promised fifty acres to the first white child
born in the township. Little McCOY won the prize.
May 2, 1803, Lydia LYMAN, who lived in
David ROOT's family, was married to Asher
ELY, of Deerfield, by Esquire
HUDSON, of Hudson. This was the first
marriage in the township.
In 1804 a large number of settlers came from Connecticut and
Massachusetts, "the land of steady habits," and gave character
to the township. Their descendants are now some of our best
citizens. Among them were the REEDS, CHAPMANS,
ANDREWS, BOSWICKS, BISSELLS, and
These pioneer women were homemakers. The spinning wheel for
linen and woolen and the loom formed part of each housekeeping
outfit, for home-grown, home-spun, and home-dyed fabrics were
worn exclusively, for the daughters were taught to spin at a
very early age. The children were taught to love and cherish
their country, and this bore fruit in the late war, when
fifty-seven went to her defense, eleven of whom laid down their
lives in her service.
Mother WARD, who left her husband in
Ireland, came to Rootstown in 1806. She still lives in name
through "Mother Ward's Pond," while better women have been
Miss Polly HARMON was the first lady to
teach in the public school.
Fannie CLARK (Mrs. Ephriam
CHAPMAN) had taught in her own home for
three or four years previously.
Laura SEYMOUR (Mrs. S.B.
SPELMAN) came from Massachusetts in 1811.
Mr. SPELMAN held the office of justice of the peace for many
years. He was a man of good judgment, but slow in comprehending
law. Happily for him, his better half had a judicial mind and
could more readily catch the meaning of legal phraseology, so
when a new or difficult case came before him he would read to
her, and she, while about her household duties, would give him
her understanding of the points in the case, thus aiding him
Mrs. SPELMAN was the mother of the late H.B. SPELMAN of
Cleveland, and the grandmother of Mrs. John D.
The saddest occurrence of those early days was the burning of
the house of Hawkins CLARK, containing his two daughters.
The pioneer women were full of courage in defense of their
children and their possessions when occasion required. As an
instance, Asher GURLEY, who, with his wife
Laura, came in 1811, bought two pigs and enclosed them with a
picket fence. One evening, in the absence of her husband, she
knew there was something wrong with the pigs. She seized an ax
and as she neared the pen an animal met her at the fence, and
when he reared upon his hind feet she smote him such a blow that
he fell back a dead bear.
Mercy HAZEN SHEWELL, a native of New
Jersey, came to the Western Reserve in 1802 with her husband and
four young children. The journey from the Ohio River was made on
horseback, the children on improvised pack-saddles of bedding.
The last forty miles of the journey were through an unbroken
wilderness. Their first home was in Deerfield. Her husband, Rev.
Henry SHEWELL, was a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. A pioneer of the Reserve, he was also a pioneer in
carrying the gospel to every new settlement.
His work took him often from home, and the care of the family
devolved mainly on the mother. Although retiring and domestic in
disposition, she had plenty of pluck. One day a full grown deer
bounded into the clearing around their cabin. As it paused for
an instant she seized the rifle and killed it. With the help of
her small sons she was skinning it when a party of hunters came
up and claimed the deer. Although she had been the only one to
wound the animal, the hunters took it from her. When she
protested they gave her a haunch of the venison.
In 1814 they moved to Rootstown where they spent the
remainder of their lives. Their cabin was the "meeting house"
for several years. The forests were dense and people often
Not long after they moved to Rootstown, when alone with her
children one evening she heard the faint cry of a woman's voice.
Thinking someone was lost, she answered, and the calls were sent
back and forth in the gathering darkness. She heard the last
answering call end in a growl, and she realized she had been
answering the cry of a treacherous panther. Hastily barring the
door, she with her children climbed into the loft, where they
listened with anxious hearts to the tread of the beast round the
cabin. At last, with a frightful scream, it bounded off into the
She was a devoted Christian, teaching both by precept and by
example. Three sons and three daughters were hers, all of whom
lived past the age of three score years and ten.
Born in 1770, she lived till past eighty-five, ten years
after the death of her husband.
One of the first women to brave the trials of a new world was
Sarah WHITNEY (Mrs. Beman CHAPMAN), who
came as a bride from Tolland, Conn. Her first home was a log
cabin in Campbellsport. She lived to see her youngest child, Ira
O., almost ready to enter upon his life work as a teacher in Mt.
Union College. Her eldest daughter, Marilla (Mrs. Willis
JEROME), went as a pioneer to Missouri.
Six sons and four daughters were her contribution to the
community. She was a loving mother, kind neighbor, and notable
Lois ELY came with her husband, Nathan
CHAPMAN, Sr., in 1804. He bought a tract of several hundred
acres of land for their seven sons. He died suddenly five years
later, leaving his wife an invalid. If she had done nothing
more, it is worth recording that she gave seven stalwart
settlers to Rootstown. Her daughter Abigail (Mrs. John
O'NEAL) was also a pioneer settler.
Mary WHITNEY came west from Connecticut in November of 1806
with her uncles, Samuel and Thaddeus ANDREWS,
and their families. They came with ox teams, and were six weeks
on the road. A slender, active girl of nineteen, Mary, with her
cousins, Lorin and Loomis ANDREWS, walked most of the way. One
evening the three cousins found themselves far in advance of the
teams, tired and hungry. While waiting for the rest of the party
a woman with true pioneer hospitality asked them to eat supper
with her. The cabin was of the most primitive style, the table
was of puncheons laid on wooden pins driven into the log walls,
and Mary's seat was a pumpkin. The supper which she always spoke
of as "The best I ever eat" was pumpkin johnny-cake and fresh
woods pork - hogs fattened on mast, which gave the meat a flavor
of wild game.
Soon after her arrival in Rootstown she was married at the
home of her sister, Mrs. Beman CHAPMAN, to
Nathan CHAPMAN, Jr. A wedding at that time was a matter of much
importance. Hers was celebrated at Campbellsport, and the
inhabitants of four townships were invited. Some came in ox
sleds the distance of eight miles. While they were inside
enjoying the festivities of the occasion, which lasted until the
morning cock crowing, a warm wind had so disposed of the snow
that the next day, if there had been any to behold, they might
have seen the wives on the sleds and the husbands taking the
long walk home.
For a time she lived in the first log cabin built in the
town. As soon as a clearing could be made, they moved onto the
west end of the tract of land bought by his father, and there
she lived until her death, in her ninety-ninth year.
One daughter, Harriet, still lives at the homestead aged
eighty-seven. Another, Irena (Mrs. Henry
SHEWELL, Jr.), lives near by, aged eighty-five. Her first
child was a daughter, and once when little Mary (Mrs, James
SHEWELL) cried, a doe looked in at the door, and answered the
cry with a bleat, apparently thinking it the cry of her fawn.
In those days it was thought no heavy work could be done
without the aid of whiskey. Having seen the disastrous results
from its use, Mr. and Mrs. CHAPMAN decided against its use in
the raising of their framed house. The master workman expressed
doubts of the possibility of getting the frame up without its
use, and a jug of whiskey was brought. Aunt Polly hid the jug,
and the house was successfully raised, the first one in the
township on a strictly temperance foundation.
Five daughters grew to womanhood, the youngest, Fannie (Mrs.
Loren DOOLITTLE), was a successful teacher
in the fifties, and a charming singer.
Aunt Polly was a charter member of the Congregational Church,
and her home was always a home for ministers of all
denominations. The needy never left her door unaided.
Granny McKNIGHT was a Methodist, converted in Ireland under
John Wesley. She was very devout, and lived to be over one
hundred years of age.
Her son married Mary HENNING - was
killed by a falling tree in 1815, and his widow became Mrs.
Lucy CLARK (Mrs. Dr.
BASSETT) came early in the century to share the trials and
the successes of a beloved and trusted country doctor.
Aunt Sallie TUPPER (Mrs. Ezekiel
TUPPER) was an active worker and leader in church circles at a
little later date.
Lorin ANDREWS, mentioned above, eventually became a
missionary to the Sandwich Islands, the second sent out by the
Presbyterian Board of Missions.
Caroline CAMPBELL (Mrs. George
BENTON) is remembered as an ardent
Methodist, and a leader in congregational singing.
Clarissa CHAPMAN (Mrs. Erastus SEYMOUR)
had two daughters, the younger of whom, Mrs. Celestia
LEWIS, is a noted singer, and a successful
teacher of music.
Mary WILLIAMS (Mrs. G.H.R.
PRINDLE) was a leader among women, and
though she had no daughter, she was a real mother to at least
three young girls.
Memory brings back many familiar names that were once like
household words, but the deed that enshrined them in the hearts
of those who knew and loved them best are dimly seen in the
vista of the receding years. What has been written of a few
might have been chronicled of many mothers and spinsters.
It has been tersely said that every orthodox family of New
England had six sons and seven daughters. The sons and six
daughters in time were married and went to homes of their own.
The seventh and best one of all stayed to be the support of the
old people and lend a helping hand to her brothers and sisters.
Rootstown held a number of proofs of the statement, and of
any one of them it might have been said she was
"A perfect woman, nobly plann'd To warm, to comfort, and
Mrs. M.A. SPELMAN
Chairman and Historian
Rootstown Committee - Mrs. Martha CHAPMAN, Mrs. William CAMP, Mrs. Jared
SHEWELL, Mrs. Clara BARLOW, Mrs. Maria BOWE