The lives of the pioneer women of Edinburg were for the most part uneventful, yet they were as full of hardships and privations, which it required strength and courage to endure, as those of other women who performed more heroic deeds.
Before mentioning some of those whose life-history is intertwined with the early annals of our little town, let us mention a few facts concerning the town itself. The tract of land included within its limits was originally owned by General William HART, of Saybrook, Conn. Early in this century a part of it was sold to John CAMPBELL and Levins EDDY, and from the latter the township took its name, for Edinburg was formerly Eddysburg.
As early as the spring of 1806 a solitary traveler passing through this section came upon a house, the first one built there. Having no occasion to stop, he did not learn the owner's name, and, strange to say, it has ever since remained unknown. It seems our first inhabitant vanished as completely and mysteriously as did the Mound Builders, leaving not even a relic behind him.
The first settler, therefore, of whom we have any knowledge was this same traveler, Lemuel CHAPMAN, Jr., who returned to his home in the East soon after his reconnoitering tour, but came back in 1811, bringing his family with him and beginning a clearing in the southwestern part of the township.
Mrs. Eber ABBOTT, with her husband and children, was the first brave woman who succeeded in making a permanent home in the Edinburg forest.
Then a bonny English maiden became the bride of Richard M. HART, nephew of the original proprietor, and came here with her young husband to spend the remainder of her life. It was well spent, too, judging from what is said of her by many acquaintances. One remark especially is heard from all, "She was an excellent wife and mother." And though a common remark, yet, after all, what higher praise can be given a woman?
In March, 1815, Mrs. Justin EDDY and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Alanson EDDY arrived from Massachusetts, having traveled the whole distance in sleighs. They soon succeeded in putting up a rude shelter and later log huts. Not long after they had settled the first marriage took place in Mrs. Alanson EDDY's tidy kitchen, the bride being Miss Betsy HITCHCOCK, who had come west with the EDDYs and the bridegroom, Greensbury KEENE. The ceremony was performed by Rev. Caleb PITKIN, of Charleston.
To this same home came Death, also, when it made its first visit to Edinburg, taking from Mr. and Mrs. EDDY their little four-year-old daughter, Mary Janette. And for a year the small, heaped mound which marked her resting place was the only one to be seen in the burying ground.
Misses Sallie and Polly CLARK and Harriet CANFIELD, three of the earliest pioneer maidens, certainly possessed the fortitude which was characteristic of the maidens of that time if we judge from an incident which has been related of them. The three, accompanied by Justin, a brother of the CLARK sisters, once went into the woods to gather hickory nuts. Night came on and they could not find the way home. It was very dark and rainy. There was nothing to do except put up for the night as best they could just where they were. So the nuts were emptied on the ground and the bags made to serve as shawls for the girls. Then each sought a tree, and, clinging to the branches to keep themselves from falling, passed the long, dismal night listening to the lullaby sun by the wild beasts beneath.
But the welcome morning came at last and with it their anxious parents who found the young people in a woeful plight, drenched with rain and chilled through.
In the summer of 1818 Miss Clarissa LOOMIS came from Charleston to be the mistress of the first school in Edinburg. The schoolroom was a small log house, and she had only eight scholars, three of whom were children of the EDDYs and the remaining five of Mr. and Mrs. CANFIELD.
Among the pioneers who came a little later Mrs. Thomas CARR (Orpha SEWARD) was a prominent personage. She came to the village in 1830 with her husband, who was a Methodist minister, and several children, one a babe only four months old.
She was a woman of strong character, and it needed all the resolution and endurance she could command to meet the hardships of her life. School houses often served them as parsonages before they settled here, and often the husband and father would come home after a long period of work among his several congregations with an almost empty pocketbook, owing to circumstances which were beyond his control, and the patient, self-sacrificing, devoted Christian wife would recommence her endeavor to "make something out of nothing."
Miss Nancy CARR, the infant daughter Mrs. CARR brought with her, afterward grew to womanhood and became the wife of George BRIGDEN. Her sweet presence still illumines the old home, although she is now a delicate, white-haired invalid.
Another daughter, Martha, reigns, a beloved wife, in the home of one of Edinburg's prosperous merchants, Alford GOSS, while still another, Mrs. Susan ELDRIDGE, having been left a widow, moved to Alliance, where by her own efforts she has succeeded in educating her four children at Mt. Union College.
Of TRIPLET brothers, James, Andrew, and William Clark, who came here with their wives early in the thirties, a granddaughter of Andrew's tells the story best.
""James CLARK was married in Ireland to Abigail BELL about the year 1825, and he was the first of the brothers to cross the 'waters.'
"William came in 1830 and met and married Miss Mary HAWN in New Lisbon. Andrew was also married in the same year to Jane HAMILL, and soon after their marriage they sailed for the United States. James and Andrew, with their wives, came to Edinburg in 1832. At that time there were only two houses in the southeastern quarter of the township. The three brothers located upon adjoining farms.
"My grandmother and Abigail CLARK often walked from their homes to Palmyra Center to do their trading.
"Sometimes they would go on horseback, but one time while riding, my grandmother, 'Aunt Jane,' as she was called by everyone, was thrown from her horse. Her foot caught in the stirrup, and her shoe was entirely torn from it."
"The women of the neighborhood made it a rule to meet at least once a week in some neighbor's house.
"These sisters were hard-working, self-denying women, and all lived to a good old age. Each died in the house which she had so well helped to build. Not one of them ever sewed on a sewing machine, but they knew how to do the necessary spinning to provide the yarn that furnished the stockings for their families."
Mrs. Vespatian CLARK, nee Lucina GILBERT, is one of the few pioneer women now living who were born and have spent all their lives in this township. She has always been a great worker, ever ready to help others, yet unless she feels that she is needed elsewhere, finds her chief comfort in caring for her own house and family. Her daughter says of her:
"I have often heard her remark that she never found a woman that could spin more knots in a day than herself. We had to work hard to persuade her to give up spinning stocking yarn for her family, and she often says now that if she could spin the yard we would have stockings that would wear."
In 1841 Miss Hanna ROLL (Mrs. Nathan CLOVER) came to Edinburg from Penn. In a covered wagon. Three sons and three daughters - Mary, Hadassah, and Susanna. One daughter, Samantha, who came to them after their settlement here, became the wife of William J. WILLSEY, a well respected citizen of the place.
In 1843 Miss Cordelia Caroline DARLING, of Huron county, was made the bride of Almon T. BACON, and her immediate journey to her new home in this place was her bridal tour. In her childhood she lived in Palmyra, and when quite young was the heroine of an adventure which might have resulted seriously had it not been for her thoughtfulness and quiet courage. She and a younger sister were once playing about what is known as Rocky Spring, a very deep place in the stream which ran through her father's farm, when the smaller girl slipped and fell in, Cordelia quickly threw herself down upon the rock jutting out over the spot, and, reaching down, caught her sister by the hair as she came up, and thus saved her life.
Her distinguishing trait is neatness. Everything with which she has to do must be spotless. And like nearly all the pioneer women, she is reserved and quiet.
Mrs. Joseph CALDWELL (Elizabeth YOUNG), a worthy woman and the mother of four sons and an even half-dozen daughters - Elizabeth, Mary, Hannah, Margaret, Murilla, and Adaline - became a resident of Edinburg in 1820. She and her husband braved many dangers during their early married life here. During quite a long period of time the only barrier between them and their little ones and the wild beasts and Indians so plentiful in those days, was a blanket which served as the door to their cabin.
Mrs. Phillip COLLINS (Elizabeth STEVENS), who came to this township in 1840, was a person who will not soon be forgotten. She was a devoted member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and no greater proof of the fact that she lived up to what she professed can be given than that her nine children, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood, became Christians. She thought the best none too good for husband and little ones, and made home to them indeed the dearest spot on earth. She used often to tell her boys and girls of an incident in her childhood when she was sent to a neighbor's upon an errand. While returning home in the dusk of evening she noticed in the woods not far from her path what looked in the dim light like two calves which her father owned, and which were always driven to the barn at night. Accordingly she drove the supposed calves home before her, and upon reaching the house, called to her father to come and put them in the barn. What was his dismay to find that the "calves" were two young bears. "My father told me," she would add, "next time I drove the cattle home to be sure they were not bears."
It was in the year 1816 that Mrs. Emily Ann WILCOX ROGERS, as a child of seven years, reached Middlebury, now East Akron, in company with her parents, three brothers, and two sisters, Julia and Harriet. The journey was made with an ox team in forty days, including a five days' delay at Lima on account of Emily's serious illness. But she still lives, while every other member of the little caravan except one has fallen asleep. From Middlebury the family moved to Deerfield, O., where Emily was married to Jesse ROGERS in 1832, and moved to Edinburg the same year.
She shared the hardships of her husband, and while he was clearing off a farm of one hundred acres, she bore him eight children, four of whom still survive. Her three sons all became ministers of the gospel.
Mrs. ROGERS is as yet neither decrepit nor disables, but is remarkably spry and active, although nearly eighty-seven years old.
With sight and hearing a little less keen, she is still able to converse with much satisfaction. She even attends church occasionally, riding two and one-half miles to do so. Her son. Rev. Henry ROGERS, of Akron writes: "In the autumn of '95 she kept house for three days at a time, preparing the meals, sweeping the house, etc., besides taking part of the care of her daughter who was dangerously ill. She takes a deep interest in the affairs of the world generally, and especially in things moral and religious." She command the respect and affection of all who know her for her high character, her meek yet forceful ways, and her kindly, generous, and faithful life, which, though silent, has been salient.
Mrs. Lydia GATES ENO came from New York State some time in the twenties, and settled in Edinburg. After the death of her husband, Roger ENO, in 1834, she supported herself by weaving. In those days all wore linen in summer and flannel and fulled cloth in winter, much of it the fruit of her loom. After a long, useful life of seventy years, she passed away in the house in which she had spent all her married life.
Every town, every village, every neighborhood has its "ministering spirit," usually some gentle, sweet-faced matron, who, when sickness comes upon a friend or neighbor, young or old, is ever ready, ever present, soothing and healing the sufferer with her magic touch. Such a one was Mrs. Jabez GILBERT (in her girlhood Love HULL), whom everyone new as "Aunt Love." Yet she did not neglect home duties for works of charity, but was ever a cheerful, loving wife and mother. She was much respected by those who knew her. One other whom we must not pass by although not a pioneer of Edinburg, is Mrs. Elizabeth BYERS. Her life has been an exceptionally hard one. For thirty-three years she maintained the family by her own efforts, her husband being blind. During that time she was robbed of a home twice or thrice by dishonest persons, who took advantage of her inability to defend her rights. Yet, in spite of her numerous misfortunes, the wrongs which she has endured, and the privations she has experienced, she is a hale, merry, active centenarian. In May, 1896, if still living, she will celebrate her one hundred and third birthday.
Mrs. Lafayette TUTTLE (Rebecca WHITE) was born in New Brighton, Pa., March, 1798. She was the second daughter of John and Mary WHITE. She had two brothers, John and Jacob, and two sisters, Eleanor and Polly. She was left motherless at the age of thirteen, and three years later the father died also, and the family was scattered.
In 1819 she married Lafayette TUTTLE, who was in the habit of going to the mill in that locality on horseback. Rebecca owned a side-saddle, and together the young husband and wife rode back to Ohio on their wedding trip. Soon after her marriage Mrs. TUTTLE traded her saddle for a heifer, and twenty-one years after traded it for another saddle, which was used by herself, her daughters, and granddaughters, and is still in existence.
They settled in Palmyra, but two years later removed to Edinburg, where they raised a family of nine children, Alva, Melinda, Betsey, Royal Jackson and Riley Jefferson (twins), Philena, Hiram, Marcus, and Elijah.
They were charter members of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Edinburg, and faithful workers till death claimed them.
Melinda, the second daughter, born in Edinburg in 1823, married at the age of twenty Samuel M. GILBERT, says:
"I remember when I was quite young that my father built a house in the woods a mile from where we were then living.
"One afternoon father and mother and we children went to see the new house, father carrying the twins on his shoulder in a two-bushel basket. The next week they moved into the house which had then neither doors nor windows.
"I shall never forget the howling of the wolves that night, and the efforts made to keep them off. The next day the doors and windows were added, and there was no further trouble."
This daughter and her husband spent most of their married life in Edinburg. She was, like her mother, a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Four children came to bless their home - Lafayette, Emma (Mrs. Frank M. HALL), Jennie, wife of Rev. J. GRABLE, and Amelia (Mrs. Edward R. PHILLIPS).
Mrs. Riley GILBERT (Sarah P. TROWBRIDGE)
came to E---
This daughter had become the wife of Edward R. PHILLIPS, at the age of seventeen.
During a conversation recently with an old gentleman who still retains the courtly manners of "ye olden time," he paid this tribute to our pioneer women: "They were not demonstrative. They were, instead, almost invariably quiet and reserved and of a domestic turn of mind. But they were, as a rule, pious women, diffusing about them an atmosphere of religious devotion and spirituality. Humility in dress and demeanor was another characteristic, and one which has left its impress on their daughters and granddaughters. Such was their moral influence, not only on society then, but on later generations that Edinburg can say what few other townships can, that it has never furnished a criminal to the penitentiary."
Miss Lettie M. TURNBULL Chairman and Historian Edinburg committee - Rhoda CHAPMAN, Frances M. HIBLEY