Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0940172980

From: Gina Reasoner <>
Date: Sun, 17 Oct 1999 11:09:40 -0400




The history of the settlement of the township of Tallmadge is peculiar. At
a drawing among the members of the Connecticut Land Company, at Hartford,
Connecticut, Jan. 30. 1798, this township was drawn by the "Brace Company"
and others. In 1803 the proprietors made a division. The Brace Company took
all west of the meridian, one-half mile west of the centre line. The
remainder of the township was taken by Ephraim Starr and Col. Benjamin
Tallmadge, of Litchfield, from whom the township was named.
No settlement was made in Tallmadge until the summer of 1807, when Rev.
David Bacon, a missionary in the Western settlements, built a log-house on
the south line of the township, half a mile west of the centre, and moved
in with this family, the only one in the township.
Mr. Bacon had conceived the idea of a religious colony, and made a
contract with the owners for nearly the entire township; in all about
12,000 acres at $1.50 per acre. Payments were to be made upon time, but
when payments were made for any part in full a deed was to be given.
In the preceding year he had a new survey made of the township upon his
own plan. He divided it into sixteen squares of 1,000 acres each, called
Great Lots, a mile and a quarter on each side. A road or highway was
established sixty-six feet wide on each line of the Great Lots, except the
exterior or township line. These roads all run north and south or east and
west. A public square of seven and a half acres was laid out as a common
centre for churches, schools, stores,etc. From this square roads ran to
each of the four corners of the township. The plan is shown in the annexed
diagram, as given in 1842, by Col. Charles Whittlesey (see page 521), in
his sketch of Tallmadge. Here he passed his youthful days and from his
sketch these facts are derived.
"At the common intersection of roads on the public square stands (1842) a
guide-post, having eight fingers or hands, pointing in as many directions,
with the names of two to four adjacent places painted upon each. On each of
these avenues there are now planted double rows of elms from the adjoining
forests. The northwest diagonal intersects the town line about half a mile
east of the corner, in order to avoid the Cuyahoga river, and the southwest
diagonal has a deviation in a straight course in the village of Middlebury;
otherwise all these roads, amounting to forty-five miles in length, are now
travelled in right lines through the town as laid out Mr. Bacon.
It was the intention of the contractor, Mr. Bacon, to introduce a
community of property to some extent, and among other things to have a
large tract appropriated as a common pasture for all the sheep of the
settlement, the proceeds to be drawn in proportion to the stock put in.
No immigrants were to receive land who were not professors of the
Congregational or Presbyterian Church, and two-dollars for each 100 acres
was to be paid for the support of the gospel. The latter provision was
inserted in some of the early contracts and deeds, but, in fact, never went
into effect.
During the spring and summer of the year following Mr. Bacon's
establishing here, families came in rapidly, nearly all originally from
Connecticut, especially from Litchfield county; many came direct from other
settlements in Ohio, as those from Ravenna who "were driven out," writes
Whittlesey, "by the systematic oppression of a large proprietor and agent,
The first settlers prior to 1812 were: In 1808, Dr. A.C. Wright, Joseph
Hart, Adam Norton, Charles Chittenden, Jonathan Sprague, Nathaniel Chapmen,
Titus, his father, Titus and Porter, and others of his sons, William Niel,
Joseph Bradford, Ephraim Clark Jr., George Kilbourne, Capt. John Wright,
Alpha Wright, Eli Hill.
In 1809, Jotham Blakeley, Jotham Blakelee, Conrad Boosinger, Edmund
Strong, John Wright Jr., Stephen Upson, Theron Bradley, Peter Norton.
In 1810, Elizur Wright, Justus Barnes, Shubel H. Lowrey, David John,
Samuel, David Jr., and Lot Preston, Drake Fellows, Samuel M'Coy, Luther
Chamberlin, Rial M'Arthur, Justin Bradley.
In 1811, Deacon S., Norman, Harvey, Leander, Cassander, Eleazar and Salmon
Sackett, Daniel Beach, John Carruthers, Reuben Upson and Asa Gillett.
On the 21st of January, 1809, Geo. Kilbourne and his wife Almira, Justin
E. Frink, Alice Bacon, wife of David Bacon, Hepsibah Chapman, Amos C.
Wright, and Lydia, his wife, and Ephraim Clark Jr., with his wife Alva A.
Clark, associated themselves together as a church, named the Church of
Christ in Tallmadge. Thus in the second year of its existence were the
principles of the Bible adopted as the rule of moral government in this
settlement. In 1813 the church had twenty-seven members, mostly heads of
families within the township.
The stern purity of those New Englanders relaxed none of its rigor in
consequence of a removal from the regular administration of the gospel in
the East to the depths of a Western wilderness. The usual depreciation of
morals in new countries was not experienced here. To this day the good
effects of this primitive establishment of religion and order are plainly
visible among this people and their posterity, who will no doubt exhibit
them through all time.
Individuals not professors of religion considered it a paramount duty to
provide for religious services on the Sabbath. Elizur Wright, who became an
extensive proprietor in the Brace Company's tract, readily adopted the plan
of Mr. Bacon, and inserted it in his first conveyance. but this scheme was
considered by most of the inhabitants as an encroachment upon their
personal independence, and was generally resisted. Very early, however, a
regular mode of contribution was established for the support of the gospel.
The materials of society which Mr. Bacon had introduced were not of the
proper kind to carry out his project. There was too much enterprise and
independence of feeling among the early settlers to form a community of the
character contemplated by him. Differences of a personal nature rose
between him and many of the inhabitants, both upon pecuniary and religious
matters. His purchases being made on time, without means and at high
prices, and the sales not being sufficient, payments were not made to the
original proprietors; the expenses of survey had been considerable,
interest accumulated and the contract was finally abandoned. He left this
region in the spring of 1812. The lands not sold came back to the
proprietors; and some that had been sold and the payments not made to them
were in the same situation. The large owners at this time were Tallmadge
and Starr in the central and eastern part; Elizur Wright and Roger Newberry
in the West.
In the summer of 1875 two of the grandsons of Mr. Bacon, both
Congregational clergymen, Theodore Woolsey Bacon and David Bacon, came from
the East, and selecting a boulder had engraved upon it an historical
statement, as a memorial to him and the founding of the church. A picture
of it on another page is engraved from a photograph. A large concourse of
people attended the memorial services, which consisted of addresses by the
grandsons and others, with prayer and songs. The site is about two miles
south of the centre and half a mile north of the Cuyahoga, on the spot
where stood the Bacon cabin, the ground having been purchased for the purpose.

On June 17, 1806, an eclipse of the sun occurred. It occasioned much
consternation among ignorant whites throughout Ohio, and great terror among
the Indians. Those in Summit county were greatly frightened,
notwithstanding its having been foretold by some of their squaws, who were
not believed and put to death for witchcraft. (The squaws probably got
their information from some of the whites.)
When the sun was obscured, the terrified savages gathered together, and
forming a circle, commenced marching around in regular order, each one
firing his gun and making all the noise possible, so as to frighten away
the evil spirit menacing the destruction of the world.
One "brave," who had fired off his rifle just as the shadow began to pass
from the sun, claimed the distinction of having driven away the evil spirit
-a claim which his fellow-barbarians recognized, and for his valorous deed
and invaluable service, at once raised him to the dignity of chieftainship.
Stigwanish, or Seneca, as he was sometimes called by the whites, although
that was the name of his tribe, had many noble traits of character, was
friendly to the whites and much respected by them. (See lake County).
His people for years cultivated corn fields near where the village of
Cuyahoga Falls now stands. In Boston township they erected a wooden god or
totem, around which they held feasts and dances, before starting on hunting
and possibly marauding expeditions.
They would make offerings and hang tobacco round the neck of the totem,
which the white settlers would steal as soon as the Indians had left. The
tobacco was said to have been of a superior quality.
When the Indians went farther west in 1812, this god was taken with them.
Stigwanish had a son, "George Wilson," and a son-in-law, Nickshaw, each of
whom was killed by a white hunter named Williams at different times, but in
both cases under circumstances hardly creditable to the white hunter. The
death of Nickshaw occurred in December, 1806; he had traded a pony with one
of the settlers, and being worsted in the bargain wanted to trade back,
which John Diver, the settler, refused to do. Nickshaw threatened
vengeance; he told the settlers he had been cheated, and intended to shoot
Diver. Later while at the cabin of his brother, Nickshaw and another Indian
called and tried to get Diver to come out, but he would not, and his
brother Daniel went out to placate the Indians when he was fired upon, and
though not mortally wounded was blinded for life.
The Indians fled, and a party of settlers, under Maj. H. Rogers, started
in pursuit. They came upon the camp of the Senecas about midnight on a
cold, clear night, at a point near the northwestern boundary of the county.
Surrounding the camp, they closed in upon the Indians, but Nickshaw escaped
them and fled to the woods. He was followed by George Darrow and Jonathan
Williams, who, after a three mile chases, overtook Nickshaw and called upon
him to yield; this he refused to do, although without means of defence.
Williams then shot over his head to frighten him into subjection, but
without the desired effect; whereupon he fired again, killing the Indian.
The body was placed under a log and covered with brush. Afterward it was
decently buried by the whites.
Some of the settlers, deeming the death of Nickshaw unwarrantable, and
likely to occasion trouble with the Indians, demanded an investigation. The
investigation, however, ended in a "hoe-down," with plenty of whiskey and a
$5 collection for Williams.
Jonathan Williams belonged to that class of old pioneer hunters who knew
no fear, were fully equal to the Indians in woodcraft and bore them an
inveterate hatred. He lost no opportunity to kill an Indian. He was six
feet in height, with strong physique, swarthy complexion, lithe and
noiseless in his movements. He supported a family. With his two dogs and
rifle he was feared and shunned by the Indians, and was continually on his
guard against them, as his life was threatened many times.
On one occasion, stopping at the house of one of the settlers, Williams
was told that "George Wilson," a good-for-nothing son of Stigwanish, had
been there, drunk and ugly, and had made an old woman, whom he found alone,
dance for his amusement until she sank to the floor from exhaustion.
Williams at once started after the Indian, and overtook him in the vicinity
of a piece of "Honeycomb swamp." Taking advantage of the Indian while off
his guard, he shot and killed him. Then depositing the body in the swamp,
he pushed it down into the mud until it sunk out of sight.
The disappearance of "George Wilson" created a great sensation among the
Senecas, but it was not known until years afterward what had become of him,
although the Indians and settlers suspected Williams as the cause of it.
Some years after the organization of Copley township in 1819, one of its
citizens, early one Sunday morning, was aroused from his slumbers by the
noise of a great commotion in his pig pen. Hastily donning his clothes, he
seized a rifle and rushed out of his cabin just in time to see a bear
disappear in the forest with one of his pigs. He pursued the bear and shot
it; whereupon he was brought before the Squire for violating the Sabbath,
and fined $1. Shortly afterward the citizen left that community and joined
the Mormons. The historian does not so state, but if he was prompted to
this as a result of the fine imposed for violating the Sabbath, he was so
far, perhaps, justified in joining the Mormons, who had no laws against
shooting marauding bears on the "Lord's day."

-continued in part 6

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