|Atwater township is bounded on the
north by Edinburg, on the south by Stark county, on the
east by Deerfield, and on the west by Randolph. The
Cleveland & Pittsburg Railroad runs through the center
of the township.
The original proprietor of the township was Captain Caleb ATWATER of Connecticut, after whom it was named.
In June, 1799, Captain ATWATER, Captain MERRICK, Asa HALL and others, with their families, came from Connecticut for the purpose of settling in the township. They at once built log houses near where Atwater Center now is, and lived there during the summer.
In the fall the whole company, with the exception of Mr. HALL and family, returned to Connecticut, leaving Mr. HALL's family the only white persons in the township. There were at that time two white families in Deerfield.
Mrs. Betsy HALL, wife of Asa, endured many hardships; but was always busy and cheerful. She lived in constant fear of the Indians, who often came to her house for cider. Once, while alone, her husband being away 40 miles to mill, they came and demanded cider, which was given to the amount of a whole cask. It was taken into the yard and drank before leaving.
She was a very fine needle worker, often mending holes in aprons and dresses, with stitches in lace work. Many times, sitting a the loom with a baby tied in her apron. Once, buying a calico dress and paying 50 cents a yard for it; it was brought home in a bag with indigo and entirely ruined.
Early in 1800 David BALDWIN and family came from Connecticut and settled in the southern part of the township. For two or three years the families of HALL and BALDWIN were the only white ones in Atwater, and even they lived five miles apart.
The first school was taught by Mrs. Almond CHITTENDEN. She was a very industrious, economical woman, and took her knitting to school with her, and frequently a basket of tow and a pair of cards, with which to employ her leisure time. The log schoolhouse stood on the southwest corner of the square, near the site of the Congregational Church.
Mr. Joseph C. BALDWIN and wife, Rosetta GRISWOLD, came to Atwater from Connecticut in 1816. They came over the mountains in a two-horse wagon, and were six weeks in making the journey. Their trip was full of hardships and affliction, burying their oldest son on the way. His grave was made in the deep forest, over which they rolled three large logs to keep wild beasts away. Mrs. BALDWIN was a hard working, earnest woman, always firm for the right. "Aunt Worthy" BALDWIN, "Aunt Nancy" BALDWIN, and "Aunt Rosetta" BALDWIN were all mothers of Israel, co-workers together to help the sick and suffering. Friend and stranger alike received the extent of their hospitality.
Mrs. Anthony, "Aunt Naby," as she was called, was very fond of flowers and her front yard was all through the summer a flower-garden of great beauty. Her daughter-in-law, Mrs. Anthony, is still living on the old BALDWIN homestead in the southern part of Atwater township.
She still has in good preservation the splint-bottom chair her mother sat in during their journey over the mountains. The covered wagons of those days were not supplied with spring seats.
It is to these early BALDWIN settlers we are indebted for our Baldwin apple, they bringing the apple seed from Connecticut with them when they first came to settle on the Western Reserve.
James and Huldah (HOLOWAY) HATFIELD reached Atwater in 1820. Had eight children. Mrs. HATFIELD came from Virginia to Larington. Not a stick of timber had been cut in the township at that time. They came to Atwater and settled on the Aaron BETTS place. Mrs. HATFIELD was a very domestic woman, a great weaver and spinner. Her husband worked in Newton Falls after they were married, and many a night has she lain awake all night from fear, hearing wolves and bears running around the house.
One time Nancy BURNS, a young girl living with them, ran bare-foot out to the wood-pile in the evening after wood, and was bitten on the foot by a snake. They immediately dug a hole in the ground and buried her foot, left it awhile, then dug another hole and buried it again, that the fresh earth might draw out the poison.
Mrs. HICKLEN, daughter of Mrs. HATFIELD, has in her possession a little china pitcher, given to her grandmother in Nantucket when she was two years old and before the Revolutionary way. In those days a girl with a good homemade flannel dress and a pair of calf-skin shoes was thought to be well dressed.
John and Massey HUTTON, with their eleven children, came to Atwater from South Carolina in the year 1818, and located on the east side of Deer Creek, one-half mile north of the south line of the township. Mrs. HUTTON was a pioneer in all good work. Although a zealous Quaker, she was an intimate friend and co-worker with her neighbors of different faith. Always ready to meet any emergency, she did some odd things.
In 1819 they planted potatoes at the proper time, but about the same time their food supply became exhausted, and the husband, a man who was never in haste, started for Georgetown, Pa., the nearest point to obtain supplies. Failing to return in proper time, and starvation seeming inevitable, having only a very small amount of meal on hand, she conceived the idea of taking up the potatoes, paring them thickly, replanting the parings and eating the potatoes, thus satisfying the hungry children and having a crop of potatoes besides.
At another time a fugitive slave was in hiding near them, and came to the house for something to eat. While he was eating she saw a strange man approaching.
Quick as a flash she put her Quaker bonnet and long Quaker cloak on the fugitive, and bade him go out and follow the path towards a neighbor's; but as soon as out of sight, get into the large swamp which was near at hand, with all possible speed.
He had barely left the house when the stranger entered at the front door, demanding to know if Mrs. HUTTON had seen a "runaway nigger" in the neighborhood, as he had been informed there was one around there.
Of course she said none had been seen.
"Then who was the person who left the house as I entered?" Mrs. HUTTON answered, "A neighbor who lives a mile away."
"Do you think they would feed a nigger?" he asked. Mrs. HUTTON thought not. So the master went away, satisfied that his property was not there.
As years went on underground railway business increased; but so skillfully was it carried on that not even the neighbors knew of what was being done.
Verily, Mrs. HUTTON believed emphatically in the motto of not letting the right hand know what the left hand doeth. It was proverbial in Atwater that to go to Mrs. HUTTON's meant an enjoyable time.
Sarah HUTTON came to Atwater with her parents, John and Massey HUTTON, in the year 1818. Was a very zealous Quaker, kind-hearted and friendly. She was always ready to minister to the needs and wants of the sick and afflicted. She was strongly opposed to intemperance and slavery.
In 1824 she married Peter QUIER, with whom she lived until her death in 1866.
Mrs. Josiah MIX, Sally MATTOON, came to Atwater with her parents in 1806, from Wallingford, Conn. Was married to Josiah MIX in 1807, by Esq. DAY of Deerfield. Hers was the first marriage in the township. She was of a very retiring disposition, and very kind-hearted; a great helper at home. Was no visitor; but if a neighbor was sick they always expected to see Mrs. MIX coming, and nothing in her possession was too choice to add to their comfort. She was a good cook and model housekeeper.
She had a family of three boys, and spun and wove all the clothing they wore until they were 21 years of age. And at 60 did her ordinary family work, attending to her dairy, made cheese, and spun the usual day's work of wool.
She lived on the same farm on which they first settled, 53 years. Was a consistent member of the Congregational Church, and died at 79 years, respected by all.
Mrs. Jeremiah JONES (Betsey MATTOON) was married in Durham, Conn., in 1807, and with her husband, started on a wedding journey, with an ox team and covered wagon. The wagon contained their household goods and some provisions. Were six weeks on the road, and, of course, suffered the inconveniences of pioneer travel at that time. She was very energetic, persevering woman; what she undertook to do she expected would be finished.
For the first few years she suffered much from fear of Indians, who were numerous at that time, but was never seriously molested. If their demands for food were gratified they made no trouble.
She had a family of five sons and three daughters, and like other pioneer mothers, spun and wove to clothe her family, both winter and summer. She was always ready to assist the needy, and was ever a welcome guest in the sick room being of a very cheerful disposition and an excellent nurse.
The last sixteen years of her life were years of extreme suffering, which she endured with much Christian fortitude and thoughtfulness of those who cared for her. She lived with her husband 54 years, longer than any other couple ever lived together in the township.
What is remarkable, she being the oldest of a family of eight - out-lived them all, and four of her own children. She remained on the same farm they first settled, 71 years; and although she lived to the ripe old age of 97, she retained her mental faculties to an unusual degree, keeping well posted on the current events of the day. She was a member of the Congregational church many years, and was the oldest person in the township at the time of her death.
Miss Susan JONES, her only surviving child, who is living at Atwater Station, has in her possession some very valuable heirlooms. Specimens of her mother's fine spinning, fine home-made linen, most beautiful hand embroidery and needle work, rare old china, and quaint silver spoons. In fact, such a collection as would grace any historical rooms.
Mr. and Mrs. Arad UPSON (Lydia BALDWIN) came from Connecticut to Ohio in 1802, with their two boys in a two-horse covered wagon; six weeks on the way, sleeping in the wagon at night. Their first stop was at Atwater, where Mrs. UPSON's three brothers and one sister all purchased farms a few years later.
Their meals consisted of deer, coons, rabbits and squirrels. For lard they used bear grease for pie-crust and fried cakes. Their sweetening was wild bees' honey, found in trees. They would hollow out a log for a trough to keep it in, and hew out a slab for the lid.
Coats, pants and shoes were made out of tanned deer skin.
At one time starvation seemed to stare them in the face - nothing to eat, until some wild animal could be killed. Mr. UPSON started out early in the morning with his gun; and in the evening, just as the sun was disappearing in the west, he returned home with a deer strapped on his back. So emaciated had he become for the want of food that when he reached the cabin door he fell prostrate upon the floor.
One morning an Indian came to Mrs. UPSON and wanted her little boy to go with him hunting that day. She, being alone, did not dare refuse for fear of her life. So he took the child and started through the woods. She watched him as long as she could see him, fearing she would never see her boy again. But in the evening the Indian returned, set the boy on the door-step and left for his wigwam. This was truly pioneer life! Yet, will all their hardships, the men and women of those days lived to a good old age.
Mrs. UPSON spent the last fifteen years of her life in Atwater with her daughter, Mrs. Orrin BLAKESLEE, and died at the great age of 96 years, a Christian woman.
Mrs. Orrin BLAKESLEE, Marietta UPSON, came from Suffield to Atwater in the spring of 1830. In 1831, moved into a log house without doors or windows, on the farm where she is now living, in the southeast corner of the township.
On three sides of the house was dense forest, and she could see deer and foxes running in the daytime. Her household goods were few; her first bedstead being made of poles cut in the woods, holes bored for legs, and elm bark for rope.
Six wooden chairs, a few dishes, and immense fireplace, with trammel and hook to hang kettles on, and an iron bake-over, completed the outfit.
One morning, upon getting up, she found a skunk in the house, who walked out like a gentleman; and when a proper distance from the house, Mrs. B. waylaid and killed him.
They soon had part of the farm under cultivation, raising considerable flax for seed and cloth. Mrs. BLAKESLEE was a great spinner. She learned to spin when too small to reach a wheel, so had a low bench made to stand on. In one spring she spun flax for 75 yards of linen. At that time cotton goods were very high. Mrs. B. drove to Cleveland in a one-horse wagon to exchange her home-made cloth for black summer silk and calico for dresses, both one price, 37 cents a yard; such silk as we have to pay 75 cents and $1.00 a yard for now. They made a great deal of maple sugar and many a time their friends came miles through the woods in ox-carts, mud up to the hub, to enjoy an old-time sugar party.
Phebe MATTOON came to Atwater from Wallingford, Conn., in the spring of 1806. Jared SCRANTON came in the fall of the same year, from Durham, Conn., and they were married in the spring of 1807, Squire DAY of Deerfield officiating.
The roads were almost impassable, and the creek west of Atwater Center was so high that the squire had to swim his horse across it in order to keep his appointment with the bride and groom, and, having officiated at the wedding, was compelled to wait a day or two for the water to subside before going home. Mr. and Mrs. SCRANTON took up a piece of land and located permanently, three-quarters of a mile south of the Center.
The first thing to be done was to build a log cabin and fit it up for a residence. When they got their palace ready for occupancy Mrs. SCRANTON went to Canton on horseback, 22 miles, to get things necessary for housekeeping, consisting of a tea-kettle, bake-kettle, skillet and a few other things in the hardware line, besides crockery for table use - not much glassware.
These articles she brought home in a bag, the hardware in one hand and the crockery in the other, thrown across the saddle and Mrs. SCRANTON on top, to make it balance. All arrived home in good order.
While the bride was away purchasing her outfit, the groom was busy at home putting the finishing touches to their future home, and manufacturing a table which was done by splitting open a good-sized log, taking out a thick slab or puncheon, smoothing it as best he could with an ax; boring two holes in each end to put legs in, to keep it in an upright position.
And now they were ready to take up the duties and assume the responsibility of married life. There were born to them five daughters and one son; and baptized in the same church and spent their happy childhood days together in the old log cabin.
One of the first weddings which took place in the early settlement of the town was Moses BALDWIN and Nancy BURNS. They lived about two and a half miles south of Atwater Center. Of course, everybody in the township was invited.. Someone on the west road hitched up a big ox-cart, put some straw in the bottom, and went from house to house gathering up old and young, big and little, depositing them as best they could in the bottom of the cart. And so the big teams of oxen brought in their cart-loads, and the wedding was provided with guests.
At another time there was a social gathering at the home of Jeremiah JONES in the west part of the town. It was in the evening and included most, if not all, of the families in the town. Among the rest the babies, which were duly deposited on the bed, while their mothers enjoyed themselves in visiting.
At a late hour the company broke up, and they donned their wraps and started for home. In the confusion one of the mothers forgot her babe. She had not gone far, however, before one of the other women had observed the fact, and told her she had left her child behind! Of course, she returned at once for the missing member, and went on her way rejoicing.
Children were much the same in the days of our grandmothers as now, and were just as fond of the motion of the cradle or crib.
Many were the devices resorted to in order to furnish that necessary article, among which the sap trough was brought into frequent use. When that could not be procured, the bark peeled from a tree and cut the right length was sometimes made to do duty.
It was easy enough to get a child into such a cradle, but sometime when placed too near the fireplace the bark would close up, then woe to the luckless infant who was imprisoned in its folds! No other way of exit could be found than to turn the rude cradle on end and shake the frightened baby out head first.
Among other things scarce and hard to get in those early days were garden seeds. A neighbor of Mrs. SCRANTON's had secured, through a friend, a few peas to plant in her garden. She prepared a small patch of ground with great care, and planted her seed' but, upon looking out an hour or two later, saw a hen busily engaged in scratching where she had so carefully planted. She went out to investigate, and lo and behold! Mrs. Hen had eaten every pea! But that hen's days were numbered! Her head was immediately taken off, her craw removed, the peas secured and replanted! No worse for their former experience, for they produced a good crop. She had more hens, but no more peas.
It was necessary to be very particular about covering the fire at night in those days, in order to have it keep over night; for if it chanced to go out they were obliged to go to the nearest neighbor, and neighbors were not very near at that time, before they could cook any breakfast, matches being unknown then.
Among the first settlers of this township was Grandmother MATTOON, who deserves more than a passing notice. She with her husband, Caleb, MATTOON, and seven of her eight children, came here in the spring of 1806, and located on the site of the present residence of James MATTOON, at Atwater Station.
Grandmother MATTOON was quite a noted character in the early days of the town, being doctor and nurse combined, many times going great distances on horseback to minister to the wants and relieve the suffering of the afflicted; and all this without money and without price. The poor as well as the rich shared alike in her ministrations. If there came a new family into town among the first to call and bid the strangers welcome was Grandmother MATTOON. With all classes she was a welcome visitor, carrying sunshine wherever she went. For a number of years before her death she was very hard of hearing.
Of her eight children all married and settled in this town, and are all, with one exception, buried in the Atwater cemetery. The first marriage in town was that of her daughter Sally to Josiah MIX, Judge DAY of Deerfield officiating. Mrs. MATTOON lived to the good old age of 92, retaining most of her faculties to a remarkable degree. At the time of her death there occurred another, that of Mrs. TALCOTT, a resident of this town, with whom she made her home, but was in Cleveland at the time of her death. She was also 92 years old. Her body was brought to the home of Grandmother MATTOON, and their coffins placed side by side in the same room.
They were taken to the Congregational Church together, and funeral services performed for both at the same time, the relatives of both taking the middle slips - the friends of one on the north side and of the other on the south.
Mrs. TALCOTT was grandmother to Deacon George TALCOTT and grandmother MATOON the grandmother of his wife, whose maiden name was Vincey MATTOON. After the services they were taken to the cemetery and placed in their respective graves, mourned by many loving friends.
Sally LYMAN was born in Durham, Conn., February, 1793. Was married to a Mr. SPENCER, who died within a year. In 1815, she married Samuel BALDWIN and moved to Atwater in 1818. She was a devoted mother, an earnest worker in the church, and spared no time nor pains to give her children a thorough religious education.
She was well versed in the Bible, and organizer of the Maternal Association, which was kept alive and in successful operation as long as she lived. She was well skilled in fitting clothes of any kind - dresses, coats or trousers; not extra stylish, perhaps, but good enough to satisfy the wants of those days.
At one time she was wanted at the home of Jeremiah JONES to assist in cutting and making clothes for the family. Now, as Mrs. JONES lived a mile and a quarter west of the Center, and the BALDWIN home was a mile and a half south, Mrs. BALDWIN thought to save time and travel by going in a diagonal direction through the woods.
When she was a little more than half way through she came to a large, fallen tree, and lying on the far side of it was quite a number of hogs, as she thought; but after she had passed a short distance they roused up and began to howl and follow her!
Perhaps her feelings can be imagined when she discovered that they were wolves. She had a baby in her arms, but, notwithstanding that, she ran at the top of her speed, the wolves leaving her when she reached the clearing.
Mrs. BALDWIN died during the winter of 1844 of typhus fever, loved and mourned by all who knew her. Mrs. SHARP, wife of the Congregational minister, Mrs. Dr. COOK and several others died of typhus fever during the same winter.
Joseph and Lucy TALCOTT, with one daughter, Maria, and one son, George, started from Southwick, Mass., in the spring of 1820, in wagons loaded with household goods. Many times in coming over the mountains they had to hold ropes on both sides of the wagons to keep them from tipping over.
They also led a cow, which furnished milk and butter for the entire journey. They brought a yoke of cattle with them to help in clearing and working the new land.
For many years they lived in a small log house, Mrs. TALCOTT spinning flax and wool for all their clothing.
David BUTLER and wife (Betsey FOOT) left Branford, Conn., in June, 1829 with thirteen children and two grandchildren, landing at the home of Mr. MONROE. Mr. BUTLER soon put up a log house about a mile and a half southwest of Atwater Station, in the midst of the woods. The house had two rooms with a big chimney in the middle, and two fireplaces. The furniture consisted of a few chairs and a home made bench for a table.
In 1839 David BUTLER gave to his son Rufus ten acres of land, and he built him a log house and moved into it with his wife, Mary, and family. The place is a mile and a quarter north of Atwater Station. The old house he built still stands and is occupied by the oldest daughter, Eliza M. BUTLER, who has always lived there.
This house was built in the woods, there being no roads, only paths. The family lived in this house all one winter without a fireplace, as they could not get brick to build one. Their cooking was done out of doors under some boards leaned up over a pole; and all their baking done in a bake-kettle. They kept a few sheep, and this pioneer mother carded, spun, and colored yarn to weave cloth for all their clothing.
They walked two and a half miles through the woods to attend the log church, near where the present Congregational Church now stands. The first time Mary BUTLER visited her home in Connecticut she earned the money by washing and ironing for a family named ATWATER. This family was going back on a visit, and she went with them, seventeen years after she came here. The writing facilities in those days were not what they are now. They had no free delivery. It cost 25 cents to send a letter any distance, and it took several weeks for one to go from Atwater to Connecticut.
Aunt Mary, as she was called, was a wonderful nurse, and went far and near in case of sickness. Many was the pioneer baby she helped receive into this world. She was the mother of eleven children; of her seven sons six served in the civil war, and all lived to be mustered out of service but two. Rufus A. died of fever, and Edward H. died in Anderson prison.
Eliza M. BUTLER has in her possession the old family Bible that was Rufus BUTLER's grandfather's, published in 1776; also many other relics of great value.
Fannie BUTLER came to Atwater with her parents in 1829. Soon afterwards she married James CUNNINE. They built a log house, two and a half miles northwest of the Center, in an unbroken forest. They were not troubled much by wild animals, but one evening they heard a hog squeal, and running out to see what was the matter, they found a bear had killed it.
They often saw deer running in the woods, and large flocks of wild turkeys.
Mrs. CUNNINE is a fine spinner and weaver, and, like all pioneer women, spun and wove material to clothe her family. She has been for years a member of the Congregational Church and is a highly interesting and pleasant old lady to visit with. She is fond of company and can relate stories of her pioneer life in a very interesting way.
Her home at present is with Mrs. STRATTON, two miles west of Atwater Station.
Letitia BAYED was born in Antrim County, Ireland, in 1779. Was married to Douglas LYNN in 1804. In 1817 she, with her husband and five children started for America; but before the ship that was to convey them to their new home set sail, her babe, an infant a few months old, died, and the lifeless little form was taken back to shore and buried, the poor mother starting on her journey with a heavy heart.
The first landing was made in Nova Scotia. They soon came on to Walingford, Conn. Here Mr. LYNN hired to Mr. ATWATER, then owner of the township of Atwater, and remained with him several years. Mrs. LYNN was not idle meanwhile. In addition to taking care of her family, she went out to work, until, by the combined efforts of husband and wife, enough money was saved to pay for 50 acres of land in Atwater township, to which place they moved in 1824, and commenced erecting their log cabin in the woods, for no part of the 50 acres was cleared. In May 1833, death entered the family and took the husband and father, leaving a widow and five children. The latter helped their mother on the farm and eventually all married. John married Amanda REED, of Deerfield. Sometime after his father's death he moved onto the old homestead. At his death the farm was left to his widow, who died, 1863. The old home is now occupied by Mrs. LYNN;s only living son.
One brave pioneer mother came to Atwater from South Carolina early in 1800, on horseback, bringing her twin babies in her arms with her the entire distance. Her son, Mrs. Samuel CAMPBELL, is now living in Atwater Center.
Mrs. WHITTLESEY, mother of Mr. John WHITTLESEY, now living with his daughter in Bedford, understanding the necessity of an education for her children, sent her ten-year-old son east to attend school. She tied up his little bundle of clothes for him to carry on his arm; helped him up on the horse behind a friend who was returning to the eastern states, and saw him started on his perilous journey, to see him no more for five long years.
There are many more names just as worthy of mention, and events of just as great interest that might be written.
Of the hardships, trials and suffering of out mothers in the first settlement of this county, we, their descendants, can know but little, their struggles to care for their large families, and gain for their children a bare subsistence. Oh, those blessed pioneer mothers! What do we not owe to them?
May these little sketches, written by their descendants all over the Western Reserve, help to keep their memory green; and may we join in saying: "All honor to the brave pioneer mothers who bore the heat and burden of the early days!"
Great credit is due the committee for their kind, helpful work. Most especially am I indebted to Miss Susan JONES, who ha been of great assistance both in procuring names and history.