Aurora is the northwest corner township of Portage County, and was one of the first in the county to be settled. It was named in honor of the only daughter of Major SPAFFORD, chief surveyor of the Connecticut Land Co.
The first white family to enter for permanent settlement was Ebenezer SHELDON, his second wife Lovey DAVIS, five stalwart sons, and one daughter, Huldah, from Suffield, Conn., who arrived in June, 1800. They came all the way with an ox team, a span of horses and a small, rude wagon. Their eldest daughter, Mary, was married just before they started and remained in Suffield. Mr. SHELDON had been on the ground the year previous, selected his land, erected a log cabin, and, with the assistance of Elias HARMON and wife, a young couple also from the East, had kept house for the summer, cleared enough land for a small patch of wheat, and returned to Connecticut in the fall. Mr. and Mrs. HARMON went at the same time to Mantua, which they made their future home.
This first home in Aurora was on lot 40, two and a half miles east of the Center, and still owned and occupied by a descendant of the family - A.G. SHELDON. This pioneer mother, "Aunt Lovey," as she came to be called, was of commanding size, great strength of character and more than ordinarily handsome. She was resolute and brave enough to deal with the Indians. She was of a lively, buoyant, and social disposition, and kept up the spirits and courage of her husband and sons through the toils and discouragement's incident to the hard pioneer days. She stuck the willow ox gad they brought from the East into the ground, and, like Mr. Phinney's turnip, it grew and grew, and became a famous great tree, and the mother of many of the willows in this section. It remained standing until a few years ago. For three years she was, as she said, the "smartest and best looking woman in the town." And it was many a long day, even after the township was well settled, that she had an equal, much less a superior.
In November, 1801, their daughter, Huldah, was married to Amzi ATWATER, of Mantua. There being no clergyman near, or authorized person to perform the marriage ceremony, the father took that responsibility upon himself, joined their hands, and, by the great law of the Territory of Ohio, pronounced them man and wife. They went on their wedding tour on foot to their future home five miles away. A year later, Governor TIFFIN, as the first governor of Ohio as a state, sent Mr. SHELDON a commission as justice of the peace, dating it prior to the wedding, for fear of legal difficulties.
In 1802, a Methodist itinerant preacher called, and after dinner preached a sermon to the gathered family, which, no doubt, was greatly enjoyed in their isolated position and dearth of religious privileges. Their house became headquarters for newcomers to the settlement and their hospitality was proverbial. Mrs. SHELDON became a ready and practical nurse in times of sickness far and near. They outgrew the old log structure and erected the first frame house built in the town. She lived to see and enjoy many of the comforts of life. She died in 1846, aged eighty-six years.
Her son, Gershom, married Roxana RUSSELL, also from Connecticut. Her husband inherited the old homestead, and it was there she raised her family of four children. She was said to be the first woman who refused to set out the decanter on the arrival of a guest, as was at that time the universal custom.
Her son, Albert, in turn inherited the farm, and took to wife Cornelia DOW, a woman of queenly looks and bearing, handsome in face and figure, who became the worthy mother of four promising children, and was soon after left a widow. She exhibited superior tact and management and lived to see all come to maturity and take worthy positions in the world. She died in the old home, beloved by all who knew her.
Another son of the first family was Festus SHELDON, whose wife was Sally ____. They settled on the place now owned by their son, Charles, whose wife, Jane EGGLESTON, was a descendant of another pioneer family, a name still numerous and familiar in all this region.
"Aunt Patty" COCHRAN SHELDON, wife of Ebenezer SHELDON, second, raised a family of seven children, two of whom were girls. She was of industrious but quiet habits, became an invalid in middle life from the effects of rheumatism, and sat helpless in her chair or bed for twenty years. During a religious revival she desired to be baptized and was taken to the river and immersed in her chair.
Sarah SIZER was the wife of Ebenezer SHELDON, third, an exemplary woman of Christian faith and works, a faithful mother to her family of seven children, all but one of whom are now living.
The FORWARDs came in 1803 from Granby, Conn., and were an unusually intelligent and scholarly family, and an important factor in the early development of the town. The first Mrs. FORWARD died in 1832. There were three generations - Samuel Forward, Sr., his wife, Susannah HOLCOMB, their sons and daughters, some married and with families of their own. Mrs. FORWARD, Sr., came nearly all the way on horseback. They took up a tract of land at the Center, while a son, Samuel, Jr., and his wife, Abigail HIGLEY, moved into a vacant cabin, where Mr. FORWARD opened the first school of the township.
The only girl of the number was his sister, Julia, a girl of thirteen, who started one night to go through the woods to her father's at the Center. A snowstorm setting in, she became lost, and, long after dark, came out at Wyatt's Mill on Tinker Creek, in the northwest corner of Streetsboro. There was high water, and the rattle of machinery to drown her repeated cries for help, for the mill was on the opposite side. She made a last despairing effort, as she saw the men leave the place with a lantern, but all in vain. With resolute purpose she turned in the direction she thought home lay, and, finding the trail, finally reached home by morning.
Mrs. Oliver FORWARD was the mother of the first white child born in the township. This child was named Oliver Cromwell. A few days later the mother's mind became clouded, and, slipping out of the house, she became lost in the woods, and, in spite of the most vigilant pursuit, she eluded them for three days. On the third day marks of her naked feet were discovered in the light covering of snow which had fallen. She was presently found near the Mantua line. She was taken back to Connecticut for a year, where she fully recovered her health.
Mrs. Samuel FORWARD was Abigail HIGLEY, a woman of resolution and of resources, so essential in the rude, scant time of the early settlers. Her daughter Orsie married Harry BALDWIN, and lived half a mile east of town, and was noted for the whiteness of her floors and thorough housekeeping. She was of a cheerful, hopeful, and energetic disposition, and became a devoted member of the Church of Christ, which was organized in 1830. She had but one child, a girl also named Orsey, who married Staughton BENTLEY, of Chagrin Falls. She was early left a widow by the scourge of cholera, which swept through the county in 1852, with a family of six dependent children. Her hopeful, buoyant disposition never deserted her. She was a woman of wonderful resources and management; earned much with her needle, besides keeping her own little ones in neat and tidy appearance. She gave her eldest son to the army in '61. The rest live to call her blessed and to appreciate something of the sacrifices and struggles she went through in those earlier times. Later years have added a sweet gentleness to other worthy qualities, but her decision and executive ability remain active to the present day. Her home has been in Bryan, O., for a score of years.
The name FORWARD became extinct many years ago, but there are numerous descendants of the family living here - the oldest of whom is Samuel HICKOX, whose mother was a strong woman intellectually and physically, of noble presence, living to the great age of ninety-seven. Her maiden name was Betsey FORWARD, and her life spanned nearly the whole history of the town. She died in 1884.
Minerva HICKOX, her daughter, was a gifted and promising woman, with a graceful pen, either for prose or poetry. Her ambition and development were checked by the burdens of married life when she became the wife of Marcus TAYLOR, although some articles from her pen appeared occasionally after that. She died in 1885.
In 1805, quite a colony arrived in the Aurora woods, from Blandford, Mass., among them a family of CANNONs, who have been prominently identified with the history of the town ever since. Mary BUTLER CANNON, a widow with four grown sons and two daughters, was the pioneer mother of all. The boys, John, George, Stephen and Eli, grew to be among the most substantial and public-spirited men of the place. High in moral and strong in religious convictions, they gave an impress to the little settlement, which made for righteousness and order.
Among the number in this colony was the family of John COCHRAN, who had purchased sixteen hundred acres of land in Aurora. Mr. COCHRAN was taken sick on the way, and the teams were hurried forward to Buffalo, where help and medicine might be obtained. Mrs. COCHRAN, with one daughter, remained with him, while the two other girls were sent with the company. Rhoda, being helpless from rheumatism, was brought all the way on a bed, her sister, Laura, a girl of thirteen, serving as nurse and companion.
Their trials and hardships on the way form a sad chapter of the pioneer days, and space does not admit to the recital here. It was written up and published some years ago. A man by the name of MILLS was hired to bring the girls to Aurora, but Laura was compelled to walk a good part of the way. She followed the wagon day after day, sometimes with sore and blistered feet, hungry and weary, but with a pluck and perseverance which characterized her whole after-life. One night the man unhitched the team, and with his wife, departed and left the girls in the deep, dense woods, four miles north of Burton, alone all night. They were hungry, defenseless and forsaken, and Laura was taken ill, but, fortunately, was better by morning. The next day he appeared and brought them near a settler's cabin, where he wholly deserted them twenty-five miles from their destination. When Lura comprehended the situation she gave way to bitter tears, but rallied from her despondency, made known their forlorn condition to the sympathetic people of the cabin, asking for food and shelter for herself and sister until she could communicate with friends, for which she offered to work, resolutely determining to earn their support until their future was revealed. The generous captain of a boat, which plied between Mantua and Burton on the Cuyahoga, with grain to the mill there, offered to bring them to Mantua. There they learned of the death of their father at Buffalo, and that their brother had gone to meet the desolate mother. He was the first white man buried at Buffalo, which then consisted of but a few rude cabins. Rhoda COCHRAN, the crippled girl, died in 1806, aged twenty-four, and was the first person buried in Aurora. The mother lived to experience nineteen years of pioneer life.
The brave girl, Laura, married Stephen CANNON, and her subsequent history and long, useful life make an interesting chapter in the developing history of the little town. She was a famous horsewoman, braving the terrors of the woods to visit the sick at night when necessity called, being skillful in the use of herbs and roots and home remedies. Many of the babies of that day were arrayed in their first suit by her motherly hands. One day she mounted her horse and rode to Randolph for certain medicines needed for a sick patient, and arrived at home at ten o'clock at night, after a ride of fifty-two miles. The streams had no bridges, and Streetsboro, still an unbroken wilderness, was traversed after dark. The wolves followed the horse on every side, with snapping teeth and gleaming eyes. She was a weaver of yarn carpets, those marvelous and enduring productions of our foremothers' days, as well as full cloth and "kersey" blankets. In her fifty-fifth year, besides her housework, she wove six hundred yards of woolen cloth, five blankets, one hundred yards yarn carpet, five plaid fancy shawls and some other odd jobs, and did her own coloring, in seven months' time. We stagger at the account of such wonderful industry in this age of light and frivolous "fancy" work.
She died in 1880, at the age of eighty-eight.
Her sister, Fanny, married Eli CANNON, a brother of Stephen, and was a woman of solid sense and many virtues. Always helpful and sympathetic toward the needy and unfortunate, she was Aunt Fanny to the next generation in all that section, and mother of a family of worthy sons and daughters, all of whom lived to attend her funeral and cherish her lovely character and motherly advice. She died in 1877, at the age of eighty-four. She was cared for in the declivity of life at the old homestead by her son, Frederick, and his estimable wife, Sarah HAYMAKER, a mile and over south of town. Mrs. Martha HURD, of Cleveland, is one of her daughters, and Mrs. Cecelia GILLETT of Colorado Springs, both now living. Another daughter, Mrs. Melissa Bishop, a worthy wife, mother and friend, died in Solon a few years since.
In 1806, the married daughter, Mary SHELDON HARMON, whom the first family left behind in Suffield, Conn., came with her husband, Col. Ebenezer HARMON, and three children, Huldah, Sheldon and Calvin, to find a home in New Connecticut. Arrangements for the home had been made a year or two before, when Mr. HARMON visited the place, purchased land west of the Harmon pond, and erected a cabin, returning east for his family. In coming through Chester the wagon broke down, and it being the day of the great eclipse, and so dark that he could not see to make repairs, he mounted his wife and children on the horses and started for Aurora, returning later for his wagon and goods.
Mr. HARMON was a man of indomitable will and energy, and Mrs. HARMON a woman of perseverance and tact in coping with the conditions of the early settlement in the wilderness. Three children were added to the number here - Israel, Charles and Eliza. Charles R. HARMON is the only one now living, and still owns the old homestead, but does not occupy it. He, with all the rest of the children inherited the pluck and wonderful powers of work and endurance of the father, who was taken off by a fever in 1826. The cares of the farm devolved upon the younger son, and the mother found a home with him until her death in 1852, at the age of seventy-three.
Huldah HARMON became the helpmeet of Jeremiah ROOT, and
settled on the tract now occupied by their son Henry at the edge
of Mantua. They frequently attended church at Aurora Center,
coming on foot and carrying a child or two in arms. She
experienced many sharp trials her family of five children, with
spinning, sewing, knitting needed for all, and the close times
often encountered. She died in Cleveland at an advanced age, and
is remembered by the sturdy qualities of her character and
refinement of manner and speech. Her daughter, Arvilla, became
the consort of N.P. BOWLER, a well-known
business man of Cleveland. She became interested more and more
in sweet words of charity as life sped on. She loved the memory
of early friends and friendships, and the meeting of old
companions was always a source of satisfaction and delight. She
had a decided love for flowers, and their cultivation was a
source of pleasure and delight, and when the sad hour came for
the friends to gather at her bier in the summer of '95, they
brought in rich and wondrous profusion offerings of the flowers
she had loved so well. The other daughters are
Another of the original HARMON family was Mrs. Eliza HARMON DOW, a woman of fine disposition and excellent qualities of mind and heart. She died a few years since in Chicago, her home for a score of years, leaving a family of grown sons and daughters, two of whom are Mrs. Dr. KEELEY, of Dwight, Ill., and Mrs. Stella JUDD, of Chicago, both exceptional in the gifts and graces of refined and worthy womanhood.
Mrs. Robert BISSELL spent her first night in the Aurora wilds in a log structure, with four walls but no roof. For some reason, Mr. B. had to go back some distance, which obliged him to be away for the night. She barricaded the opening for a door as best she could, disposed of her tired children, and, with a faithful dog for guard and company, kept vigil through the night. The wolves howled and bears prowled around, rubbing against the logs, but did not climb up, as must have been her terrible fear.
Judge FORWARD's family had kept a sort of tavern at the center for a time, and in 1811 the BISSELs rented the place and kept hotel there for many years. The first fire in the town was on this place, a son of the family, little Sammy, starting the blaze by igniting the stray straws of flax that hung from the scaffold with his lantern. This boy Samuel became a noted scholar and teacher, graduating at Yale, and teaching nearly all the years of his long and useful life.
Major BLACKMAN, a soldier of the Revolution, and wife, Elizabeth HALL, came from Chester, Mass., in 1808, with their married sons and daughters, making quite an addition to the growing population. Their possessions were a mile nearly south of the center, and the BLACKMAN place was a landmark until recent years, when it was moved off the premises, the land passing into other hands. Mrs. Elijah BLACKMAN, on arriving at the desolate cabin (erected the previous day by her husband, who had returned for the family), with provision exhausted and children crying with hunger, sat down and wept bitter tears, the first during the long and tedious journey of many weeks. She exclaimed: "Elijah, if I had seen this wild and desolate country as you did, I never should have brought my family here!" But friends who were expecting them soon came in with ample supplies of ready food, and her tears were speedily dried. Harriet, now Mrs. BARTHOLOMEW, of Ravenna, was born two years later. Her cradle was a sap-trough, the common rock-a-by of pioneer babies. She is by a few days the oldest person now living who was born in Aurora.
Mrs. BARTHOLOMEW still has the little rocking chair her mother rode in all the way from Massachusetts.
Mrs. Elizabeth BLACKMAN was a woman of the old-time industry and the spinning of tow and wool went on day and evening, and with the other work her time was completely consumed. Her daughters were early taught to be useful and industrious, and began spinning when so short that a little platform had to be made for a track to walk back and forth on. While her husband was in the army, she helped to burn the logs on three acres and clear it off ready for a crop. In later years, the little mother was tenderly cared for by her children, and knew a time of rest before being summoned to the sweet home on high, for which she was fitted by a life of consistency and good service.
Mrs. Nancy STRONG HICKOX came with her husband and children from Hopewell, N.Y., in 1831. Their goods were sent by the Erie canal, and the family with a strong team and covered wagon came through in six days.
She was a kind and excellent mother. She survived her husband for 30 years, and died in Cleveland in 1874, but lies side by side with her husband, Larman HICKOX, in the Aurora cemetery.
Her daughter, Jane, married Austin BLACKMAN and is of rare intelligence; has a gifted mind and poetic pen, and an occasional publication of her lines has shown merit and beauty and been read by the public and friends with appreciation and pleasure.
Having no children of their own, Mr. and Mrs. Austin BLACKMAN have opened their hearts and home to the orphaned children of others. Now, in advancing years, with the unchanging affection and loving confidence of youthful ardor for each other, which has marked their whole journey together, their faces grow luminous with the beautiful years as they await the final summons.
The first church, Presbyterian, was organized the last day of the year 1809, by Nathan DARROW, a missionary sent from Connecticut. The charter members were Ebenezer and Laura SHELDON, James M. and Sarah HENRY, Anna WITTER and husband, Mary EGGLETON, Thankful ROOT, Mary CANNON, Jeremiah ROOT and Brainerd SPENCER.
The family lunch basket was an institution in those days of two long sermons with a Sunday school between. The EGGLETONs and LITTLEs were all musicians, and this gift has descended through all the generations to the present time. They were prominent in church affairs, and the music in the Presbyterian choir depended chiefly upon them for many years. Instruments used were the bass viol., bassoon, clarinet and violins. The use of the organ came later. Singing schools in the winter for education in music were a strong feature of those times. From forty to sixty was the usual attendance. Young ladies from the outskirts of the township came on horseback behind their brothers or escorts. For years there was no heating apparatus in the church, and the little tin foot-warmer, with its basin of coals brought from home, was an institution of comfort and necessity. The choir were perched in the gallery and at certain stages in the service, when the cornet and all kinds of music set up, the congregation were wont to right about face, and see as well as hear the great choir render the sacred psalms.
Mrs. Anna FISK ELDRIDGE, whose husband, Sylvenus, died on the way from "York State," came on with her children in 1814. The eldest daughter, Betsey, married Apolios WHITE. Anna became the wife of Chester CARVER, a descendant of Governor CARVER, and the mother of two children. Her daughter Emily is the wife of Harvey BALDWIN. On the death of Mr. CARVER she married Deacon Oliver SPENCER, and became the mother of three more children. "Aunt Anna" was a thorough-going business woman of thrift and remarkable energy, yet thoughtful of the poor, the sick and needy. Knowing no discouragement herself, she brought cheer and brightness to other homes and hearts. She died in 1892, widely known and esteemed by all. Her daughter Matilda, who married C.J. PAINE, was of a lovely disposition, very devout and spiritual. Through long years of declining health her patience and resignation were remarkable. Deacon Brainerd SPENCER and his wife, Amy, were widely known as fervent religious people in their time. Two of their boys graduated at Hudson. Their daughter Susan married a HIGLEY and Sally was wife of ____ PARKER. All were devout Presbyterians.
In 1810, the widow, Anna REMINGTON KENT, came from Suffield, Conn., with her three sons and three daughters. From this pioneer woman have descended the numerous families of the KENTs, who have always proved substantial and intelligent citizens, marrying and inter-marrying into Aurora families until half the population are in some way connected with the blood. Eunice KENT married into the EGGLESTON family and is elsewhere mentioned. Harriet became the wife of Worthy TAYLOR, and her daughters, Mrs. Harriet BULL of Solon, Mrs. Wealthy EGLESTON, and Mrs. Arbell BURROUGHS, and Mrs. Eliza PARKER, of Ravenna, inherited their mother's genius and cunning workmanship with the needle. The two daughters of Achsah EGGLESTON and Zardis KENT, Cordelia and Emily, married brothers, Dr. Mendal JEWETT and A.V. JEWETT. They were active women in church and town, and but recently passed to their reward.
Emily GRANGER, daughter of Julius GRANGER, became the wife of Zeno KENT, Sr., and raised a family of seven children, one of whom, Arabella, also marred a JEWETT and moved to Wisconsin. Elizabeth KENT married Horace RUSSELL.
The first roses were introduced by Mrs. Samuel BALDWIN, nee Hannah NORTHUP, from a sprout handed her for a whip, in Cleveland, as she mounted her horse for home, after a visit there with friends. Sticking it into the earth, it grew and bore the finest of double pink roses, rich and fragrant. She died in 1822. Samuel BALDWIN built a log house where the old brick now stands, which was built later by his son Alanson and wife, Ruth WALLACE, who was remarkable for her devout, religious nature and constant study of the Scriptures. The old Bible, worn and soiled, is a precious relic in the possession of her only child now living, Mrs. Betsey CANNON, who resides a mile south of town, and whose house has ever been open with generous hospitality to friends and travelers from far and near, her husband, Squire R.P. CANNON, being noted for his genial social qualities, high degree of public spirit, and wide information on general subjects. They have both rendered valuable aid in the necessary data for this sketch.
Miss Lucy BALDWIN, daughter of Ruth BALDWIN, as a young lady was of a lively social nature, popular with the young people and exceptionally entertaining. The old brick house was the center of the social life of the time. Uncle "Lanson" was proverbial for generous hospitality, and their house was headquarters also for the Disciple people, sometimes over forty lodging there at the time of the "yearly meetings," which lasted several days and were attended by hundreds from the surrounding towns. Lucy BALDWIN married Oliver KENT, lived for a time in Chester, but spent her last years in Cleveland where she died a few years since, lamented by all who knew her. She had a charming grace of manner, and attained to a marked degree of spiritual excellence, and the memory of her beautiful life and triumphant death is like a sweet benediction.
Hannah BALDWIN married C.R. HARMON. She possessed a keen wit and was quick at repartee, a fine entertainer and a worthy and excellent woman. She died in 1864. Rachel BALDWIN was the first wife of Reuben AVERY, Sr. She came with her family from New York city in 1816. Of the four children of the marriage, the oldest is now living, Mrs. Malvina HARMON. She was wholly deprived of sight more than twenty years ago, but still enjoys a good degree of health. Her memory of early people and times has materially assisted in gathering the facts for this history.
The second wife of Reuben AVERY, Sr., was the widow of Isaac FAXON, formerly a Miss LEWIS, a teacher, and a woman of ability and unusual intelligence, and noticeable for her neat attire. She assumed a great responsibility in taking the place of stepmother to these four motherless children, for she had four boys of her own already and six more children came into the family to claim her care and love. She died at an advanced age in 188_.
Mrs. Caroline BALDWIN CANNON, daughter of Samuel BALDWIN of Newburg, came to Aurora when six years of age, living with an aunt until her marriage in 1827, to Victor CANNON. She had been noted for her thorough housekeeping, wise family management and industrious life. Now, near the close of a long and exemplary life, an accident compels her to keep her bed and she is tenderly cared for in the old home by her son and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Artemus CANNON. Her mental faculties are keen as ever, and her vivid memory of early incidents has been helpful in the preparation of this paper. Mrs. Hannah HERRICK and Mrs. Cornelia STANLEY, of Akron, are worthy daughters of this worthy mother. Her sister, Lucretia, born in Connecticut in 1805, lived for some years with her uncle, Harry BALDWIN, before her marriage to Reuben I. HENRY. She thought much of the good and pleasure of others and self-denial for their sakes was a part of her generous and kindly nature. Even in those times of heroic women she was no ordinary person.
Mrs. Julius GRANGER, whose maiden name was also GRANGER, was born in Suffield, Conn., in 1768 and died in Aurora in 1835. She married Major Julius GRANGER in 1785. He was a brother of Gideon GRANGER, who was postmaster general from 1810 to 1814, a member of the Connecticut Land Company, and owned thousands of acres. A rare old portrait of Gideon GRANGER has been in possession of the GRANGER family for nearly a century. Soon after the death of his father, Julius decided to move to Aurora, a point where Gideon had bought largely, and they arrived in 1811. Their nine children were all born at Suffield, Conn. Their daughter Emily had married Zeno KENT the preceding year and came in 1810. The genealogy of the GRANGER family in America extends back over two hundred and fifty years to Launcelot GRANGER, of old Crusader stock, who came to America prior to 1640.
When the BLACKMANs came in 1808, little Sallie, the child of Samuel, was but a few months old, but she survived the long journey and flourished in the Ohio woods, growing into a tall and comely maiden and was married to Samuel GRANGER in 1829. She was a woman of quiet demeanor and staunch Christian faith, finishing her mission in 1873. Her sister, Almira, was married to Calvin HARMON. She became dejected and broken in spirit ere half her life was done.
Hopson HURD, the progenitor of all the family in this vicinity, came to Aurora as a young man with a stock of goods, and set up trade in 1815. His natural thrift, economy and knack to accumulate have descended as strongly marked characteristics of the race through the succeeding generations. He married Betsey LACEY, who came from Boston with her mother, whose name was BERKLEY. Of their family of seven children two remained in Aurora, the others settling in Cleveland. Mary Louisa WILLIAMS, of Tioga, N.Y., a thorough-going, energetic and handsome young lady, became the wife of Elisha HURD and the worthy mother of four children. She was left a widow and brought up her boys to be successful business men. Her daughter, Mrs. ALDRICH, of Cleveland, is a refined, generous and lovely woman.
Mrs. Rebecca TAYLOR BLAIR brought up a large family. She was considered rather odd in her ways but keen for business, and shrewd in money matters. They made frequent neighborly visits of an evening on a stoneboat drawn by oxen, a common custom in early times, when people were more sociable and took a hearty interest in each other.
Mrs. Emily WOODRUFF was a LACEY girl, and a sister of Mrs. Hopson HURD, Sr. She was the landlady for a time at the old stand now known as the Aurora House. She married for her second husband Mr. STARK. She lived in total blindness the last years of her life. Her death occurred in 1878 at her brother's George LACEY's.
The widow Anne COE PARSONS, who had one daughter who was given her mother's name, lived at Granville, Mass., and married Captain John SEWARD. Their two children were Rev. John SEWARD and Persis. They came in the early years to Aurora. John SEWARD took a tract of land where Otis CASE, his grandson now lives. Persis, the daughter, married Dr. Gideon CASE and had seven children, all born at Granby, Conn., except one. They all came in 1816. One of the sons, Otis, married Melissa Jane HOPKINS, of Crown Point, N.Y., and both are still living. Their six children married and all settled within a radius of a few miles. Mrs. CASE has many grandchildren and some great-grandchildren. Her work as one of the committee has been of much value. She is of a social and lively turn, always cheerful and entertaining, and of cultured religious faith and practice.
Charlotte SNOW, wife of Jacob BLAIR, from Becket, Mass., carried her step-son, the late Benjamin BLAIR, of Mantua, in her arms and walked a good share of the way. Becoming a widow, she married Horace GRANGER.
Mrs. Chester CARVER is thought to be the first woman to use a cook stove. It simulated a fireplace in one respect. As the two large doors in front could be opened, it had but two griddles on top.
The primitive bedstead was superseded by the aristocratic high-posted affairs, with their long slim turned posts reaching to the ceiling, canopied with white linen, which hung down a foot or more all around for a lambrequin, bordered with the fine knotted fringe for which our grandmothers were so famous, and looped at the corners. To be possessed of one of these stately bedsteads was many a woman's ambition. The children found delight in "shinning up" the posts when mother was not in sight.
Mrs. Emily CARVER BALDWIN still has in possession some of this finger wide curtain fringe made by Mrs. LOW, of "York State," in the pioneer days. Beneath this, lambrequin curtains of white or colored stuff often hung to the floor, completely enclosing the bed. They were looped back during the day, and dropped at night for the guest who desired to retire early, as this often stood in the family sitting-room, and the disrobing was done on the bed.
Mrs. Clara STUART SQUIRE came with her husband, Dr. Ezekiel SQUIRE, and two children, Lucy and Sylvester, from Becket, Mass., in 1810. They lived east of the station and he was the first physician to settle in the town. Mrs. SQUIRE was a woman of great sympathy and kindness of heart, and was a sister of Mrs. Amy STUART PARSONS, who was an important factor in the history of the town, widely known for her kindly ministry to the sick, and her love for flowers and success with them. Her long life closed at the age of ninety-three, in 1882. Two of her daughters, Mrs. Abigail BIRDSALL, of Aurora, and Mrs. Elizabeth ROOT, of St. Louis, are still living. The latter is widely known for her generosity and practical interest for everyone in need.
At Chester CARVER's funeral in 1827 two strangers were observed. They were found to be newcomers from the East, Samuel and Jonathan WAITE, who with their families, had just arrived. They settled on farms south of the Center; one on the well-known WAITE place, now owned by Horace ELDRIDGE, and the other on the JUDSON farm, where Albert MILLS now lives.
Prudence SAWYER was from Painesville. After her marriage to Isaac LACEY and the birth of three children, a change in her religious convictions led her to abandon her family and take up her residence at the Shaker settlement in Warrensville, where she remained until her death in 18__. One of the girls thus deserted was Caroline, who married Gen. Nelson EGGLESTON. Time developed a dissimilarity of tastes, and each found their own ways of enjoyment. She was a woman of low and gentle voice, whose quiet services were very acceptable to the sick, and whose ministrations were sought to enshroud the dead and prepare them for their narrow bed. Her own sweet flowers were freely culled on every occasion. The flowering trees she planted and the fragrant blossoms in the old home yard still remind us of the gentle hand, and cultivated taste of "Aunt Carrie," who, from the old historic home was borne to the sepulcher of the dead in 1884.
John Ingals ELDRIDGE moved to Aurora in 1814, accompanied by his mother and three sisters and a brother. Their names were Caroline, Anna, Betsy, Daniel. Marietta COOK, of Burton, became the consort of John I. ELDRIDGE. They settled on a farm on the Hudson road, which is now owned by the son, W.J. ELDRIDGE. Their daughters were Mrs. Caroline BRUCE, Mrs. Eliza OSBORN, of Kansas, and Mrs. Harriet KENNEDY. All were members of the Baptist church and interested in every good work. Alice ELDRIDGE, the mother of John I., died in 1850 at the age of eighty-seven.
Betsy HATHAWAY, a bright and interesting young lady, taught school at the Center in 1820, one of her scholars being Samuel HICKOX, and the only one now living. She was married the year following to Justin KENNEDY, a family who came from Blandford, Mass., in 1804, and whose descendants are still numerous here. They settled on land west and north of the Center. She died in 18__.
Attaline COLLINS, who was brought by her parents from Granville, Mass., when six months old, to Charlestown, this county, married Henry, another of the KENNEDY boys. Much of her married life has been spent in Bainbridge, but she now lives here, almost the only representative of the old-time women. She has been of material assistance in data for this article. Sarah GROW, of Granville, O., became the first wife of Perry KENNEDY, who was a minister of the Baptist faith, and served that church as pastor in Aurora for some years. Catherine KENNEDY TINKER was the mother of a large family, but afterwards moved to Michigan and is still living at an advanced age.
Sarah COCHRAN HENRY of Harpersfield, N.Y., with her husband and three little children, came in 1804. She was a woman of heroic courage when occasion demanded, but gentle, religious, and faithful to every obligation. A fine Bible scholar herself, she taught her children to search the Scriptures and to accept and live by its precepts. She was a devout member of the first church organized in 1809, and at her death in 18__, was the last but one of the charter members. Mrs. HENRY was a lineal descendant of the sister of Oliver Cromwell, and the HENRYs still have in possession a Bible presented by the great Protector to his sister, Margaret. The HENRYs were the third family to settle here.
Dr. W.S. STREATOR, of Cleveland, practiced as a physician in Aurora for some time after his marriage to Sarah STERLING. His mother's name was Clarina PLUM. She was born in Connecticut. There was a large family of girls, Susan and Charity married brothers, Alonzo and Obadiah ROOT. Artimisia was the wife of Zenas KENT.
The EGGLESTONs have been identified with Aurora history from very early times. Moses and Joseph, his brother, came from Middlefield, Mass., in 1806, young men without families.
Joseph went back on horseback and in the spring returned with the EGGLESTON, ROOT and TAYLOR families, thirty-six in number. He had married while East, Miss Perlea LEONARD, who was a woman of sturdy good sense and excellent qualities. She brought up a family of six children. Emily, her daughter, married James CONVERSE. They had a store here for a while. Her last residence was at Maumee. Harmony was the first wife of Chase DOW, and died quite young, leaving three children. Jane married Charles SHELDON and had two daughters.
Milton EGGLESTON was the husband of Emerancy LOVELAND, and after her death married Mrs. Sarah COLLINS PARKER, whose death occurred in 1894. Sidney married Wealthy TAYLOR. In 1810 Moses EGGLESTON married Sally TAYLOR, and the names of her children were Nelson and Wealthy (Mrs. KELLY, of Tuscola, Ill.)
Eunice KENT, from Becket, Mass., at the age of sixteen, came with her father's family, and a year later married Chauncey EGGLESTON. She was the mother of ten children, of whom but two are now living. She was a remarkable woman for business, and often came on foot to church from their home in the northeast part of town. She was herself a sweet singer, and all her children assisted in the church music. Eliza married Wm. HURD, Minerva married Lathrop SMITH, Emily married Lyman KENT, and Eunice married Erastus JACKSON. Mr. EGGLESTON bought a calico dress for his wife, when the goods were first introduced her, at a dollar a yard.
The Disciple Church was organized in 1830. Among the seventeen charter members appear the following names: Mrs. Isaac STREATOR and daughter Charity, Mrs. Alonzo ROOT, Mrs. Simon NORTON, Mrs. Gamaliel KENT, Polly RUGGLES and Sophronia STANTON.
Four years later, in 1834, a third church was organized with twelve members, seven of them women. Alice ELDRIDGE, the mother, and Marietta, the wife of John I. ELDRIDGE, Sally WELLS, Catherine WILLARD, Hepsibah McCLINTOCK, Lydia McCLINTOCK and Clarissa JACKSON. In two years there were fifty members, and some of the prominent women connected with the work were Mrs. Wait FRANKLIN, Mrs. John E. JACKSON, Mrs. WELLS and Mrs. BRADLEY.
Rebecca P____ GOULD was the first of the name and mother of seven children, from whom all that branch of the GOULD family sprung. They came from Vermont in 1835. Elmira married Zeno KENT, dying in 1867, leaving a family of six children. She was a timid, quiet person, devoted to her family and had many virtues.
Eliza WYTHE was the wife of John JUDSON, a remarkably conscientious and charitable woman. She had very decided religious views and studied the Scriptures with great diligence for the comfort and support of her faith. She was very thoughtful for the needy and suffering, and dispensed from her limited means with generosity, but without ostentation. Of her family of three daughters, one, Eliza, became a skilled physician; another, Amanda the matron of a children's hospital in New York, and the youngest, Mary, is the only one now living and is national treasurer of the Christian Woman's Missionary society, and stationed in Indianapolis.
The RISLEYs came about 1811 from Hartford, Conn. Mrs. RISLEY was Content RUSSELL, and her husband, Nathaniel RISLEY, died while in his prime, leaving her with many cares, some debts and twelve children - eight girls and four boys. Through many hardships, she cleared the farm of encumbrance and lived to see all her children grown men and women, and to bury four before she died in 1866, at the age of eighty years.
Amos Hall TREAT and wife Jane STEWART, from Glossonbury, Conn., came to Aurora in 1818, from Hudson, where they had lived for two years on the land since occupied by Hudson College. Mr. TREAT's mother, Jane, spent the last years of her life with him on the farm which has been the home of the family for four generations. They have been an industrious and well-to-do people, without show or extravagance, straight-forward in business and valuable citizens of the town. Two sons, Levi and Amos Mortimer, descended from this first pioneer. The first wife of Levi TREAT was Nancy HICKOX, of Aurora, who left two daughters - Mrs. Carrie MESSO, of Chicago, and Cornelia, who was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Austin BLACKMAN, and died in the bloom of youth. Eleanor NORTON married Mr. TREAT and is still living.
Amos Mortimer TREAT took to wife Harriet HATCH, and after a few years left the old place and went to Bainbridge, where she died a few years ago. The old homestead has descended to their son, John Mortimer TREAT, whose wife was Eunice RUDOLPH of Bainbridge, and it may be recorded in passing that two generations more have been born in the same house since they came into possession.
Sarah GORDON was born in Sidney, N.Y., and there married Dr. John HATCH and emigrated to Aurora in 1824. She was very energetic and could turn her hand to sewing, painting and drawing and was lively, social and neighborly. She died after four years of life here, leaving three girls, and the request that her sister Harriet be sent for to care for her orphaned children. Two years later she married Dr. HATCH. She was an intelligent and well-read woman, and a good mother to the little ones entrusted to her care. She was eighty-four at the time of her death in 1890. Of these three girls, the eldest, Susan, married Alvin SMITH and died in Bryan, O. Louise became Mrs. Norman SMITH, who was a clerk in Scram's store where Harmon's now is. The second Mrs. HATCH had four children of her own. Two are now living - Mrs. Frank AVERY, of Aurora, and Mrs. Augusta MARSHALL, of Cleveland.
Harriet WRIGHT of Tallmadge, was the wife of Rev. John SEWARD, whose pastorate extended through so many important years of the early history. They had no children, but adopted Amanda PEASE, now the widow of Charles RHODES, of Cleveland, and at present in California.
Eliza ANSON was born in Dutchess County, New York, in 1805, and died in Iowa in 1893. She became the wife of Moses GRAY, when about seventeen, and their married life covered fifty-five years. She bore six children, four of them girls. The sons died young. For many, many years Mrs. GRAY was the famed landlady of the only hotel at the Center, known far and wide for her excellent cooking and well-managed house. Travelers went out of their way to take a meal at her table. Her life was full of work and worry. She had many excellent and generous traits of character. She was a good woman at heart, and esteemed by everyone. Some of the last years were spent with her daughter, Mrs. Frida MACOMBER, who was a practicing physician at Atlantic City Iowa, and while driving to see a patient, was thrown out and died soon after. Her mother survived her for several years, being tenderly cared for there in the Iowa home by kindly hands.
The JEWETTs came from Colebrook, New Hampshire, in 1835. The mother of all was Susan WEEKS JEWETT. Of her family of ten only two or three settled here, and but one family of that name lives in this vicinity now. The families were identified with the Church of Christ, and were earnest, religious people. Two sisters, Mary Ann and Caroline Sill, married two of the boys, A.V. (second wife), and James R. JEWETT. Caroline and husband took up pioneer life in the West for a time, but loneliness and homesickness affected her mind and they returned; but she was never restored to reason. She lived for many years.
Leonora BROCKETT, of Colebrook, N.H., married Columbus JEWETT, one of the twin boys of the family, and with one child, Cordelia, came here ten years later than his father and mother. Avis was born here, and is Mrs. ALGER, of Corral, Mexico. She is an intelligent and excellent woman, with quiet ways like her mother. Cordelia was of a livelier disposition, and made a noble and charming woman, adding many of the Christian graces with accumulating years. She is Mrs. Dr. MACOMBER, of Atlantic City, Iowa. Mrs. Columbus JEWETT died in 1876.
Owen BROWN, father of the immortal John, married one of his wives in this place - Sally ROOT, but she was not the mother of the martyr John. Victoria and Tennie C. CLAFLIN began their notorious career in this town. Their subsequent history is well known to the reading public.
Clara MORRIS' grandmother resided here for years, and Clara played when a little barefoot maiden with the girls of the neighborhood.
The JACKSONs came about 1813. They were great readers, with a decided choice for substantial, improving literature, and this trait is characteristic of their descendants still. The wife of John E. JACKSON was Clarissa TINKER, of Nelson, a woman of unusual affection for her family and kindred. She often went with her husband on his long preaching tours and was a help to him in many ways. Their house was a station on the underground railroad in slavery times, and many a poor escaping slave received help and comfort at her hands. She had a thorough knowledge of domestic medicines, and ministered to the sick with hearty interest and skill. Mrs. JACKSON was actively industrious up to the time of her death in 1879. She was born in 1800. Her sons, Levi, John and Erastus, have been prominent in Aurora history, both religious and secular. Levi married Corintha PARKER, who was killed by the cars as they were crossing the track on their way home from church, in 1891. John married Roby BREWSTER, of Auburn, and Erastus married Eunice EGGLESTON, of Aurora.
Mrs. Alvin SEWARD was a bright woman, plain and outspoken, her quaint way of putting things was often pat and amusing, and her sayings repeated by the neighboring women as just to the point, terse and applicable.
Mrs. MIXTER was a dear motherly woman of devout spirit and of prominence in Baptist history. She was of sweet disposition, but very firm for the right. She was over eighty at her death, but her hair was as black, wavy and glossy as in the fair days of youth.
Time and space would fail me to speak at length of the LORDs, several families of whom lived in the southeast part of the township. And the FOOTs of the same neighborhood. There have been many families of BISSELs of little or no relation to each other. Mrs. Sylvester BISSEL was a HINSDALE. She was an interesting and charming woman to the day of her death. The PLUMs were also a numerous family, steady-going, orderly, reliable people. There were families of CROOKs before 1850, and some substantial, excellent women among them.
Abel and Ezra PARKER were the ancestors of that family and from these have descended a host of that name. The two branches of the PARKERs intermarried numerously. Sally and Chloe married Washington and Emerson PARKER, Melissa, Solon ELDER, and Clarissa, Chas. TAYLOR. Persis was the faithful wife of Chauncey WINCHELL, Lucy BLACK was the wife of Alanson PARKER, and brought up a large family. She was a good neighbor, very practical in her religious activity, quiet in her demeanor and faithful as a mother. She is still living at nearly ninety years of age.
Capt. Abner PEASE, wife and nine children, came from York State in 1808 with an ox team.
Their eldest daughter, Betsey, was a very beautiful girl. She married a Mr. DARRAUGH, and after some years they joined the Shakers at Warrensville. One of their daughters, Mrs. BUTTERFIELD, still lives in Cincinnati.
The second daughter became Mrs. Simon NORTON, who lived to the ripe old age of ninety-four. She was a keen, bright woman, social, lively, and always interesting.
Polly, the third daughter, married for her second husband Dr. Henry LACEY from Connecticut, and outlived him by three years, dying in 1855.
Mrs. Seth GILLETT was the youngest of the family and well known in Aurora.
Mrs. Helen LACEY SEARL, now of Ravenna, is a daughter of Dr. LACEY, and was born, brought up, and married in Aurora.
Mrs. Ruby BURR BENJAMIN was born in Connecticut, left an orphan, married Zenas BENJAMIN, and lived in Cayuga County, New York. They came to Aurora about 1826 when it was a wilderness of wood. With no means to speak of, they went to work; lived in a log house for years in the west part of Aurora, later known as the Oviatt farm. Mrs. B. was the mother of six children that lived to man and womanhood. She was of an ambitious spirit, but in later years was a cripple and an invalid for many years.
But two of her daughters settled in Aurora. Maria married Israel HARMON and their home was in the southeast part of town, one mile south of the old homestead, now owned by C.R. HARMON. Mrs. HARMON was of strong nerve and will, a hard working woman for many years. But was stricken with paralysis at the age of 62, and died nine years later. She was the mother of four daughters and one son, three of whom are living in surrounding towns. The son, who lives on the farm of his parents, married Elizabeth HOPE, who was born in England and came to Ohio with her parents when two years of age.
Harriet BENJAMIN married C.R. HOWARD and settled near Aurora Station. Mrs. HOWARD was of a frail constitution, her health breaking at an early age, and was an invalid for many years. She died, leaving three daughters that are living within a few miles of the home where their parents built, lived and died. The youngest, Mrs. RUSSELL, now occupies this home.
We are especially indebted for material for this sketch to the researches of Mr. John GOULD, made some twenty years ago.
In contrast to this picture of the rude beginnings of the occupation and settlement here, let me present the Aurora of today, with its cindered roads, well-kept lawns, lovely flowers and general progressiveness in educational and musical matters. A branch of the Erie Railroad crosses it from east to west, so that our distance from Cleveland is but an hour's ride. We have telegraphic and telephonic communication with all the world, and private telephone lines are numerous. There is a refined taste for the beautiful in home surroundings and in public improvement.
Mrs. C.R. HARMON Historian Aurora Committee - Mrs. Harvey BALDWIN, Mrs. Otis CASE, Mrs. R.P. CANNON, Miss Helen KENT