Sunday, July 10, 2011

Austinburg, Ohio

"In the spring of 1800, the population of Austinburg was increased by the following arrivals: those of Joseph Case, J. M. Case, Roger Nettleton, Joseph B. Cowles, Adam Cowles, Josiah Moses, John Wright, Sterling Mills and family, Noah Cowles and his son Solomon, Dr. O. K. Hawley, and Ambrose Humphrey. The most of this numerous company made the journey from Norfolk, Connecticut, to Austinburg on foot. The greater part of them came without their families, returning for them after they had erected cabins wherein they might live. Some of the number finally took up their residence in other townships."

When Sterling Mills and family arrived, they were provided with two horses, and accompanied from Madison or Harper's Landing by Joseph M. Case. They set out for Austinburg in the afternoon and when it turned dark, the party was stranded in the middle of the forest in a rainstorm. The next day after the storm cleared off, they started out again and ran into "Austin's Camp," as it was then called, after about three-quarters of a mile.

"The number of settlers within the limits of the present county of Ashtabula during the winter of 1799-1800 was therefore not far from fifty persons. Harpersfield outranked the other townships as to the number of inhabitants; Conneaut came next, then Austinburg, then Windsor and Monroe."

There has been some talk in the news and other programs of religion and secularism in early America. Some argue that the country was established on religious ideas and some not. Here is the Williams brothers take on it as written in the History of Ashtabula County: "The Pilgrims gave tone to the society of New England and their independence moulded the religious character of the whole people. The removal from the monarchies of the Old World, and the love of freedom, which found scope in the New, resulted in the establishment of a pure democracy, both in the church and in the state. The aristocracy of the south and the democracy of the north were largely the result of church influences."

"The first church which was organized in Ashtabula County was that at Austinburg in October, 180l" [by the Reverend Joseph Badger].

This is a drawing of the first church built in Austinburg in 1815 and is still standing. I was going to post a more recent picture, but I couldn't find it. It is called the Old Congregational Church. On second thought, maybe they have torn that one down and built a new one that looks like it. The names of the first settlers are emblazoned on the windows.

Here is another drawing, both taken from the History of Ashtabula County, of Sterling Mills' house also built in 1815. In the beginning, the houses were not as elaborate, being log cabins built to last a few years until the more luxurious structures were built.

Joseph Case and son Joseph M.were among those who built temporary cabins and returned to Connecticut in 1800 to collect his family. Joseph had ten children, and they all removed to Ohio, except for one or two of the girls who married and stayed in Connecticut.

More on their lives in the next post and who moves on from there.


  1. Big families in those days. Even when I was born, at least in the south, farm folks still have big families. Great history tidbits.

  2. Thanks, Charles. No birth control, my father had 12 kids, 4 with the first wife who died in childbirth or shortly after and 8 with my mother. Only 2 of us left and we're gettin' old.

  3. A brief article in The Clarkesburg Telegram newspaper (W. Va.)of June 1, 1900 tells an interesting story about the dedication of the Congregational Church at Austinburg, Ohio. As none of those erecting the building would climb to the top of the spire, a lake sailor was called upon and when the last timber was placed he drew up a bottle of whisky from the ground by rope,broke it over the spire,and shouted: "Three Cheers for the New Church." (To read the article and see sketch of Church Google: Chronicling America, restrict search to West Virginia, and type: Unique Ohio Church - into the slot.)Victor C. Ernst, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.