Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0940994558

From: Gina Reasoner <>
Date: Tue, 26 Oct 1999 23:22:38 -0400

Historical Collections of Ohio By Henry Howe, LL.D.


JOHN STRONG NEWBERRY was born in Windsor, Conn., December 22, 1822. Two
years later his father, Henry Newberry, removed with his family to Cuyahoga
Falls. The last-named was a lawyer, a large landholder, and one of the
Directors of the Connecticut Land Company, which he founded on land
inherited from his father, Hon. Roger Newberry. Young Newberry graduated at
Western Reserve College in 1846, and at Cleveland Medical College in 1848.
Travelled and studied abroad two years; then practised medicine at
Cleveland until 1855.
In May, 1855, he was appointed assistant surgeon and geologist with a
United States exploring party to Northern California. In 1857-58 he
accompanied Lieut. Ives in the exploration and navigation of the Colorado
river. In 1859 he travelled over Southern Colorado, Utah, Nerthern Arizona
and New Mexico on an exploring expedition, which gathered information of
great value concerning a hitherto unknown area of country.
June 14, 1861, although still on duty in the war department, he was
elected a member of the United States Sanitary Commission. His medical
knowledge and army experience led to his becoming one of the most important
members of the Commission. (For a sketch of his valuable service on this
Commission, during which hospital stores valued at more than five million
dollars were distributed, and one million soldiers not otherwise provided
for received food and shelter, see Vol. i "Ohio's Work in United States
Sanitary Commission.")
After the war, Dr. Newberry was appointed Professor of Geology and
Paleontology at the Columbia School of Mines -a position he still holds. In
1869 he was appointed State Geologist of Ohio, filling this office till the
close of the survey, making reports on all the counties of the State. The
results of the survey are embodied in nine volumes, of which six are on
geology, two on paleontology and one on the zoology of the State, with a
large number of geological maps. In 1884 he was appointed Paleontologist to
the United States Geological Survey. In January, 1888, the Geological
Society of London conferred on him its Murchison medal.
He is a member of most of the learned societies in this country, and many
in Europe. He was one of the original incorporators of the National Academy
of Sciences; has been President of the American Association, for the
Advancement of Science, and President of the New York Academy of Science
since 1867, and President of the Torrey Botanical Society. The publications
of Prof. Newberry are quite numerous, and include, in addition to his
reports to the United States Government, the State of Ohio, and the
Sanitary Commission contributions to the scientific journals, and
transactions of learned societies, of which the titles number nearly two
The northernmost part of this county is formed by two townships. That on
the west is Northfield and that on the east Twinsburg. It has a village
centre called Twinsburg, wherein stands on the village green a
Congregational church and a Soldier's monument, thus symbolizing God and
When old Pomp took me over the State, I passed through this village and
found it was an educational spot for children -boys and girls largely from
farmers' families form the entire country around. They told me that in many
cases children from the same family kept house and boarded themselves -the
girls cooking for their brothers, and they chopping wood, kindling fires,
and doing the rough work for their sisters. This struggling for an
education among the young people aroused my sympathy. As Pomp bore me away,
I felt I had a pleasant indestructible picture for my mind's keeping. the
good things are eternal. Then Twinsburg is not a bad name; it brings the
thought of two at one time to coo and be loved.
From that period until now Twinsburg has been as a far-away picture in the
dim remote. Now, on opening the county history, there comes a revelation of
the great work done there in the early years, starting out of the
wilderness. then, withal, a hero is behind it -a great moral hero. The
contemplation of one who liveth not unto himself alone swells the heart.
SAMUEL BISSELL is of Puritan stock; his ancestors among the founders of
old Windsor on the Connecticut. In 1806, when he was nine years old, he
came with his father into the wilderness of Portage county, where he helped
to clear up the woods. He was educated at Yale, took charge of a then
feeble Congregational Society at Twinsburg and taught school. The church
grew under his ministrations, and after a lapse of fourteen years he gave
up his pastorate and devoted all his time to the "Twinsburg Institute." He
has devoted himself to the institute for over fifty-two years,during which
time more than 6,000 students of both sexes have been under his
instruction. The details of his work are here given from the history issued
in 1881.
It was in 1828 that he came to Twinsburg, when the Society erected a
block-house for his family, and he took for his school a rude log-house
twenty by thirty feet. It had for windows three small opening in the logs,
each with rude sashes and four small panes of glass. The furniture
consisted of rude seats and desks hastily constructed. The dismal room had
a broad fire-place, with chimney built of stones and clay. He thus began
his work of philanthropy. The school was opened free of any charge to all
young people desirous to attend, except from those disposed to pay, in
which case the tuition for the term was to be two dollars. From the first,
it was a success. Three years later a combined church and school-house was
erected. In 1843 a large two-storied frame building was secured, and in the
lapse of five years two others. The reputation of the Twinsburg Institute
was now so extended that he had about 300 pupils of both sexes largely from
abroad. Seven teachers and assistants were under him, and the students
wherever desired fitted for college. No charger was obtained and no public
money given -the entire institution rested upon the shoulders of one man.
the ordinary tuition charged was two dollars for the term, and when the
classics were taught never more than four dollars.
More than six thousand students have been in attendance at the institute
during its continuance, and out of these about two hundred have been
Indians of the Seneca, Ottawa, Pottawatomie and Ojibway tribes. Ministers,
statesmen, generals, lawyers, professors, physicians and artisans, in all
portions of the country, trace the beginning of their education to the door
of the Twinsburg Institute. A good library was secured, and literary and
other societies were instituted.
The benevolence of Mr. Bissell was such that he not only greatly lowered
the tuition, but even educated hundreds at his own expense who were unable
to pay their own way. He was accustomed to give such students a few light
chores to do, and these, trifling duties were so divided and subdivided
that the work was more in name than in reality. It is related that on one
occasion Mr. Bissell having gone to extremes in this respect, some of the
students thus detailed grumbled about having more to do than others.
Considerable ill-will was thus incited. One morning Mr. Bissell arose at
his usual hour, five o'clock and, beginning with these chores, completed
the entire round before the time for opening the school. Not a word was
said; but the act spoke in volumes to the fault-finding students, who,
after that, vexed the ear of the principal with no more grumblings.
Among the Indian youth was George Wilson, a Seneca, about whom a great
deal has been said. He became a fine scholar -superior in many important
respects to any other ever in the institute. His presence was fine and
imposing, and he displayed rare gifts in logical force and fervid
eloquence. Mr. Bissell says that the quality of his eloquence, the unusual
power of his intellect and the force of his delivery, resembled in a marked
manner those of Daniel Webster. He afterward became chief of his tribe, and
was sent to represent their interests to the New York Legislature and to
the New York Historical Society, receiving from the latter several thousand
dollars for his people, who were in a starving condition in the West.
Another one, named Jackson Blackbird, or "Mack-a-de-bennessi," was an
Ottawa, and a direct descendant of Pontiac. He excelled in composition,and
composed a comedy, three hours in length, that was presented by the
societies of the institute publicly to large audiences with great
success.Mr. Bissell became know throughout the Reserve for his philanthropy
in the cause of Indian education. Some two hundred were educated at the
institute, from whom no compensation worth mentioning was ever received.
all their expenses were paid -including board, tuition, room, fuel, light,
washing, books and stationery, and some clothing -at the fair estimate of
$200 each a year. This expense, borne by no one except the Principal,
estimated at these figures, has amounted during the history of the
institute to over $40,000. Almost as much has been expended on indigent
white youth; and when the cost of erecting the various buildings is added
to this, the total amount foots up to the enormous sum of over $80,000; all
of which has been borne by Mr. Bissell. To offset this not more than
$12,000 have been received from all sources.
When the rebellion ensued the institute received an almost ruinous blow.
Several of the buildings were sold to pay its debts. From the materials of
the wreck he saved a few hundred dollars, obtained a loan of $1,500 and
erected the present stone building, largely doing the manual labor himself,
he then a man of seventy years. Without any previous experience he put on
the roof, made the doors, window frames,etc. The entire cost was about
$8,000. "Not only," says the 'County History,' "was the undertaking
gigantic, but its wisdom may be doubted. The institute is likely to fail
altogether when the Principal's hand is removed by death from the helm.
"Mr. Bissell is now almost penniless, and is compelled to teach for a
living at the age of more than eighty years. Considering the invaluable
service he has rendered the village and township in the past; how scores of
people now living there have been the recipients of his generous bounty;
how patient self-denial and faith in God have been the watchwords of this
venerable old man; it is unquestionably due from the citizens to provide
him with a least the necessaries of life.

-continued in part 11

This thread: