HIRAM 1800 - 1850

On the Erie Railroad, midway between Cleveland and Youngstown, lies the town of Hiram. As the stranger steps from the train, he is surprised to see only a little wooden station with a circle of maple-crowned hills rising rapidly to the north. Two hundred feet above the station, out of view from the railroad, save at a single point, nestles the pretty village whose thriving college and martyr President have given it a name that is more than national. There was little in the pioneer history of Hiram prophetic of its later importance as an educational and religious center.

The original proprietors were all Freemasons, and on the suggestion of Colonel Daniel TILDEN, named the town that was to be Hiram in honor of the King of Tyre. The original Hiram included six other townships successively cut off, viz., Mantua 1810, Shalersveill 1812, Windham 1813, Nelson 1816, Freedom 1825, and Garretsville 1864.

There is some doubt concerning the first settlers. It is thought that Abraham S. HONEY made a small clearing and built a cabin and went away in the fall. This is said to be the first sign of civilization in the town.

In 1802 Elijah MASON, Mason TILDON, from Connecticut, and Elieha HUTCHINSON, from New York, came to the township and located lands, leaving their families in the East, then returned home.

John FLEMING came the same year, cleared the timber from sixteen acres of land, built a cabin, and planted the first crop of corn and potatoes in the town. MASON returned and put in the first crop of wheat in the town, which he harvested in 1804.

In 1803 Richard REDDIN and his wife, Nancy JACOBS, with REDDIN's father and family, were the first white families to winter in the town.

In 1807 Miss Sarah REDDIN was married to Gershom JUDSON, of Mantua, this being the first marriage in the town. In 1817 Parthenia MASON, daughter of Elijah MASON, was married to Charles W. PAINE. This was the second marriage in town. Zeb RUDOLPH, originally from Virginia, came from Nelson to Hiram in 1835. He married Arabel MASON, another daughter of Elijah MASON. Mr. RUDOLPH, at the age of ninety-three, is still living in Mentor with his daughter, Mrs. President GARFIELD.

This was the third township settled in the county. It was more the hunting grounds than the home of the Indians. They had a little village of twelve or fifteen huts just above Hiram Rapids, where they spent part of each year hunting. Aunt Asenath YOUNG, a sprightly little old woman, tells us of seeing young Indians racing by her present home on their ponies, and of seeing bears trotting across the stumpy fields near the house. The Indians frequenting this town were mostly Wyandots. The relations between them and the whites were friendly until after the war of 1812; then the few remaining were forced to leave.

>From what our oldest people say, the snakes, especially rattlesnakes, were the greatest dread of anything. Richard REDDIN was bitten by one while harvesting wheat, where Tillie ELLIS now lives. He was taken to the Indians for a remedy. A squaw gathered indigo weed and applied it and cured him. We have received numerous incidents of the women going out of their way to kill the venomous reptiles. Aunt Betsy YOUNG HARRIS got off her horse to kill a large one, then mounted and went her way.

Henry DYSON, a fine-looking old pioneer still living, tells us that his mother, Polly DYSON, kept a hoe hanging on the outside of her cabin with which to kill snakes, and many were the rattlers she dispatched. The famous rattlesnake den is south of "Big Hollow," a rocky ravine on the west side of the road near the watering trough. There they wintered by the hundreds. One fall John DYSON and Luther COLE fastened them in and kept them there several years till their rattling ceased.

Polly TILDEN was born in Connecticut in 1779. She enjoyed more than the ordinary advantage of girls at that time, and her vivacious manner and her brilliant conversation made her the belle of the town. She became the wife of Elisha HUTCHINSON in 1796. He was one of the first to locate land here in 1802. In 1814 Mrs. HUTCHINSON came to Hiram with her family from York State, making the journey in a three-horse covered wagon. Buffalo had just been burned by the British, and the ruins were still smoking when they passed along.

The home of this pioneer woman was a log house west of Hiram, where E.A. CROSSE now lives. There is an old pear tree still standing opposite this place. Mrs. HUTCHINSON had something of a poetic turn, often writing her letters to her Eastern friends in rhyme. To this tree she once addressed a poem now before me. After saying she would soon be gone, she added:

"You'll live and bear, for some distant heir That perhaps is still unborn."

That pear tree is perhaps over eighty years old, and will now almost furnish the town with fruit.

One of the grandchildren of this nice old lady, Mrs. Mary STEVEN, the mother of one of our committee, lives in the beautiful old home from which Joe SMITH was taken to be treated to tar and feathers.

In the year 1811 Elizabeth YOUNG, wife of George YOUNG, and Hannah, wife of James YOUNG, with their families, made the journey from Connecticut with ox teams and carts. In the year 1821, Sallie, daughter of Elizabeth YOUNG, was given in marriage to John DYSON, for which occasion the pretty changeable red and black silk wedding dress of the mother was used by the daughter. A few years later she exchanged the same for a cow, thus showing the good sense and self-denial which characterized our grandmothers. This same young girl, when the joys and cares of motherhood came upon her, used to sit and sew by the light of the chimney fire, while her eldest boy, Henry, fed the blaze by throwing on hickory bark, which leaping into flame, would make better light than gas or electricity.

Ann TILDEN ABBOT cooked the first tomatoes about 1838. They were thought to be poisonous. After this they came into general use. Amanda BARNES made herself useful by spinning wool for the farmers' families, forty knows or a run being a day's work. For this she received seventy-five cents per week.

One mother, whose son was about to leave home, decided a new suit must be prepared. In a very short time (I think three weeks) the wool, just as it came from the sheep, was converted into a nice brown full cloth suit, all the process of carding, spinning, weaving, coloring, pulling, cutting, and making having been carried through by that devoted mother with her own hands.

Lydia TILDEN, daughter of Colonel Daniel (who was an officer under General Washington and personally acquainted with him) with her husband, Thomas YOUNG, came to Hiram from Connecticut in 1812.

In 1816 the first postoffice was opened. Thomas YOUNG was postmaster and continued to be thirty-six years until his death.

Mrs. Jude STEVENS, Mrs. Pelatiah ALLYN, and Mrs. Fanny RYDER (the husband of the latter is Jason RYDER, now living at the age of ninety-seven years) were the proud possessors of the first stoves used in the township - 1837. Mrs. Silas RAYMOND owned the first buggy used in town, to the envy of some of her neighbors, one of whom declared that he would have a buggy with epileptic springs. Training days were big days. Some of the women took time to go and watch the drilling, though I imagine they took their knitting with them. The ground on which the company drilled was about five acres of the present college campus. It was the only open space, and they had to dodge the stumps then.

The father-in-law of Emma DYSON, one of our committee, tells her of the first and best meal he ate in Hiram. It was at the home of Richard REDDIN, cooked by Nellie, his daughter, who was noted for her talent in this direction. She swung the griddle over the coals in the fireplace, greased it with a bit of pork, which was suspended by a string to her apron, then let it hang by her side till wanted for the next griddle pull. From a large crock, standing in the corner the batter was dipped on to it. A large pile of these cakes were baked. When the pork was fried large hunting knives were taken from the pouches to cut the meat in mouthfuls. Sharpened sticks were used as forks. The invitation was given, "Stand by and take a bite."

In the earliest days most of the cooking was done in one bake kettle. Tea water was first boiled, potatoes cooked, then cake, next meat. Visitors kindly contributed tea.

Uncle Henry DYSON says the linen dress the girls wore to meeting - some of them one stripe copper color and one stripe the natural color of the linen, when ironed nicely shone like silk. "I tell you they looked nice." He has in his possession linen sheets, also a bed quilt, made before the Revolutionary war. They were formerly owned by Rhoda GOODRICH STANLY. The sheets are fine and hemstitched as they do them at the present time. The quilt is bonbazine, wool and linen. All was done by hand.

Aunt Abbie HUTCHINSON, a nice, motherly old lady, has in her possession a very pretty, fine, home-made linen tablecloth woven by the mother of one of Cleveland's prosperous men, William BOWLER. His mother was one of the best weavers if not the best in the county.

Andrew YOUNG used to boast of what his little three-year-old Nell did one day. When digging potatoes he placed a basket conveniently near and the little one picked up the large potatoes one at a time and dropped them into the basket, he emptying it when full. She picked up twenty baskets. Little Nell (now Mrs. Ellen PATTON) is a cultivated woman of sixty-three years of age and her poetic contributions to religious papers have been read in many States. Her father, when driving his ox card load of neighbors and friends home from church, met with an amusing accident.

He was riding on the tongue of the cart, when the pin that held the bow down came out and dumped the whole load in the road. A rocking chair was in the load. No one was hurt, but it caused a great deal of merriment. This occurred on Buckingham hill.

Emily HILL has in her possession part of a set of pewter dishes brought from England by her grandmother during the eighteenth century.

People often wonder was is the history of the famous row of maples on Ryder street. Various things have been published. Some have ascribed them to the Mormons. The following is the truth:

In 1808 a daughter was born to Benjamin HINKLEY and wife in Connecticut. The child was christened Susan Harriet. In 1814 Susan started with her parents for the West with a yoke of oxen and span of horses with a large wagon. Buffalo was burned and the chimneys were still standing. The British soldiers, with their plumes and gaudy uniforms, made a lasting impression upon the young girl's mind. At Burton they loaded into a boat and "poled" on the Cuyahoga River to Rapids. On Mr. HINKLEY's land was living, in a log cabin, Polly DYSON and her husband, Abraham DYSON (the first blacksmith in the town, also a gunsmith). Mr. HINKLEY built another cabin for his family and in the spring of 1819 a boy named John F. TAYLOR, Susan, then twelve years of age, and her father planted the trees. The part that Susan took in this work was to pour water in the hole dug by the boy, while her father put the trees in.

Susan HINKLEY PROCTOR, known as Grandma PROCTOR, died in 1891 at Hiram Rapids at the age of eight-four. She was an unusually bright and intelligent old lady to the last. Rachel KENT, wife of Henry CANFIELD, with family, came to Rapids from Auburn, formerly from New York in 1834. They endured many hardships. Mrs. CANFIELD's uncle married the mother of Stephen A. Douglas.

Martha CANFIELD, M.D., of Cleveland, is granddaughter of these CANFIELDs by marriage. Benjamin HINKLEY taught the first school in town. The following are some of the old girls who were his pupils: Betsy YOUNG, Fanny and Marinda JOHNSON, Elenor REDDIN, Susan and Ann HINKLEY. The old log school house was down by "Big Hollow."

Harriet Rebecca HARRINGTON, wife of Thuel NORTON, came to Hiram in 1832, formerly from Connecticut. Her life was one of great activity. She was a charter member of the church here. There is a record of the NORTON family back nineteen generations. They came from France to England in 1066; to America in 1635.

In 1818, early in January, a company of about forty men, women, and children started from Vermont with ox and horse teams and sleds. The snow was deep. The horse teams would go ahead about as far as the slow oxen could travel, then locate for the night in cabins by the way, tumble the bedding from the sleds on to the floor, and sleep almost any way. In the morning the ox teamsters had their breakfast first and were started on their way. Those remaining did up the work and perhaps some baking, then followed on with the horses, pass the oxen, and find a place again for the night. There were many young people among them and they had a jovial journey. They reached Hiram in March. The snow began to thaw the day after they reached their destination. The following are some of the women:

Mrs. Anna BRUCE UDELL, Olive LOOMIS, Mehitabel LOOMIS, Elsie JOHNSON, Misses Nancy, Polly, Lucinda, and Sarah UDELL, Miss Fanny JOHNSON, Chloe LOOMIS, etc., etc. Mehitabel LOOMIS became Mrs. Symonds RYDER. The RYDERs were descendants of a RYDER who came over in the Mayflower.

Hiram's pioneer population was not remarkably religious. One of the earliest public religious services was conducted at the old south school house in 1818 by three Methodist women, Mrs. Marilla RYDER, Mrs. HERRICK, and Mrs. Susannah HINKLEY. The pioneer church of Portage county was the ""Bethesda" Baptist, organized July 30, 1808, in what is now Nelson township. The only religious people who seem to have become deeply rooted in Hiram were the Disciples, an offshoot from the "Bethesda" Baptist Church in 1824. The Hiram church was organized March 1, 1835, with thirteen members, as follows: Symonds RYDER, Arrunah TILDEN, Pelatiah ALLYN, Jason RYDER (still living in his ninety-eighth year), Thuel NORTON, Mehitabel RYDER, Amelia ALLYN, Lucretia MASON (grandmother of Lucretia GARFIELD), Emeline RAYMOND, Amelia ALLYN, Jr., Harriet NORTON, and Betsy SPERRY.

The famous Mormon episode in Hiram occurred in 1831-32. At this distance it looks like a comedy; to the Mormon leaders and the Hiram church it was more of a tragedy. The new ark of Mormonism had recently been set up at Kirtland. There was a serious attempt to transfer it to Hiram. The Mormonism of 1831 was not that of Brigham Young, with its "revelation" of polygamy. John JOHNSON had built a fine large frame house on Ryder street. The JOHNSONs visited Joseph SMITH at Kirtland and Mrs. JOHNSON was miraculously (?) healed of a rheumatic arm by the Mormon prophet. They became confirmed converts to the delusion. For a time their home was both palace and temple to SMITH. Sidney RIGDEN, who furnished the brains for the Mormon movement in its infancy, took up his abode in a log house across the street from the JOHNSONs. Ezra BOOTH, a Methodist minister of some culture, from Mantua and Symonds RYDER, the leading Hiram Disciple, fell temporary victims. For a few months it seemed as though the whole Hiram church would be swept into the Mormon fold. But the real drift of Mormonism was soon apparent, and the end came suddenly, when on a March night in 1832 Joseph SMITH and Sidney RIGDEN were treated to a coat of tar and feathers. SMITH was taken from the JOHNSON house, RIGDEN from his own log cabin across the road. In the confusion Miss Vashti HIGLEY was dragged from her bed. The mistake was soon discovered. Miss HIGLEY afterward married Peter WHITMER, one of the original witnesses to the "golden plates" on which the Mormon bible was based. She left with the Mormons, but returned on the death of her husband. The JOHNSON family went out with the Mormon exodus.

Mrs. Susannah HINCKLEY, wife of Benjamin HINCKLEY, remained in Hiram, a Mormon to the day of her death, in 1873, at the age of ninety-one years. She kept her ascension robe for forty years in daily anticipation of the advent of Christ.

In 1849 steps were taken by the Disciples of the Western Reserve to found a school. The result was the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute at Hiram (now Hiram College), which opened its doors in November, 1850. It was the school that drew Zeb RUDOLPH from his farm home in the eastern edge of the township, and the boy GARFIELD from obscurity of his Cuyahoga county home to become Hiram's illustrious student, teacher, and citizen. And so it came to pass that Hiram has the happy memory of having been the home, during the mature girlhood and golden days of womanhood of Mrs. Lucretia RUDOLPH GARFIELD. Here was the well ordered home of her father and sweet-faced, modest mother. And here, while her honored husband was bearing a leading part in that trying campaign which culminated in the battle of Chickamauga. She remodeled and rebuilt the modest cottage which was for many years her own home.

Modest and retiring always, she has filled every place to which duty has called her with a singular fidelity and grace. As student and teacher, as daughter and wife and mother, her life has held a charm for its devotion and its silent well doing. More than this she would not wish us to say. Less than this we cannot say.

GARFIELD once said:

"The pioneers who first broke ground her accomplished a work unlike that which will fall to the lot of any succeeding generation. The hardships they endured, the obstacles they encountered, the life they led, the peculiar qualities they needed in their undertaking, and the traits of character developed by their work, stand alone in our history."

Mrs. Emma. J. DEAN Chairman and Historian Hiram committee - Mrs. Emma Y. DYSON, Mrs. Emily M. RYDER, Mrs. Hattie V. ALLYN, Mrs. Chestina A. YOUNG, Mrs. Belle R. YOUNG, Miss M. Ella STEVENS



The principal original proprietor of this Township was Colonel Daniel TILDEN, and it was after several unsuccessful attempts in the that direction, on the part of the proprietors and others, that a settlement was effected. The proprietors were all Freemasons, and while at a lode, one evening, Colonel Tilden proposed to call the Township Hiram, in commemoration of the King of Tyre, which was unanimously agreed to.

Among the attempts at settlement may be mentioned that of Joseph METCALF, -one of the proprietors, -who died in New York in 1803 on his way to the Township. Also, in the same year, Levi CASE, another proprietor, set out from Connecticut to visit his new Township, but got no farther than the lake-shore in the State of New York, where he was found standing against a tree, frozen to death.

In 1802 or 1803 a man by the name of WILLIAMS went into Hiram and made a small improvement west of the Center, but soon left. About the same time, Abraham HONEY, from Mantua, went in and put up a hut on the farm subsequently owned by Miss T. NORTON. But he also soon left.

The first permanent settler was Christopher REDDING, who with his sons, John, Richard, and George G., and daughter Eleanor, came in about the year 1804, and located one mile south of the Center. Ezra WYATT was in town about the same time.

In 1805, Cornellius BARKER, Wm. FENTON, and Jacob and Samuel WIRT arrived, Baker settling on what was known as the "Hinckley Farm;" Fenton and the Wirts, one mile south of the Center, carrying on the Redding farm.

The first couple married in the Township was Gersham JUDSON of Mantua, to Peggy REDDING, in 1804, by Judge ATWATER.

The first birth was that of Edwin BABCOCK, March 2, 1811. His mother was Sabrina, daughter of Colonel TILDEN.

The first death was that of Mrs.. William FENTON, who died in March 1811, leaving an infant son, John.

The first grist-mill in Hiram was built by Lemur PUNDERSON, at the Cayahoga rapids, in 1807, for a Mr. LORD, of Connecticut. It was carried off in the fall by a flood. In 1808 the dam was rebuilt, and a saw-mill put in operation.

At the organization of the County in 1808, Hiram included Mantua and Nelson partially settled, Windham, and Freedom unsettled, and Shalersville, which had but one family, that of Joel BAKER.

In June, 1813, Benjamin HINCLKEY arrived from Connecticut and settled on Lot 39, known as the Hinckley Farm. He came with a yoke of oxen and a span of horses, and was forty days on the road. He taught the first school in town, commencing December 13, 1813, and closing February 22, 1814. The school-house stood half a mile south of the Center, on the west half of Lot 33. The school comprised nineteen scholars. Mr. Hinckley also set out a row of maple-trees, half a mile in length, but he side of the road next to his farm, which work will be a lasting monument to his good taste and beneficence.

No Document history of the Township prior to 1820 can be found.

In April, 1820, Thomas f. YOUNG was elected Clerk; previous to this Geo. C. REDDING was Clerk.

In 1831 the Mormons, under Joe SMITH, made as unsuccessful attempt to effect a permanent settlement in the Township, as account of which will be found in the Country history proper.

In 1850 an Eclectic Institute, under control of the Disciples, was established in this town. This was the foundation of the interest which, in 1867, took the name of HIRAM COLLEGE, a history of which appears in the Country history.

In 1873 Hiram Township stood fifth in the Country in the manufacture of cheese, producing three hundred and ninety-one thousand eight hundred and fifty pounds.

BENJAMIN HINCKLEY, Hiram township,

A native of Connecticut, was born November 22, 1781; his wife Suannah DAVIS, was born in Connecticut, January 2, 1782. In the year 1813 they came to Ohio; at this time they had three children: the settled on the farm now owned by his son E.D. HINCKLEY. Mr. Hinckley was one of the most prominent men in his town; besides having held various offices, he taught the first school ever organized in this town, and did so for many years, giving unqualified satisfaction to the inhabitants; it can thus be said of him that he first unfurled the standard of civilization and education the Township of Hiram. "Tis education forms this common mind; Just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined."

This good and useful man died May 8, 1835, in his fifty-fifth year. His wife died January 8, 1878 at the extraordinary age of ninety-one.

E.D. Hinckley, son of Benjamin and Suannah was born July 10 1812, in Tolland Country Connecticut; came here with his father when but one year old; his advantages for an education were fair; he was bred a farmer; when a young man, from thirty-six to forty-two, he taught school. In 1848 he noticed a gradual failure of health consequently he gave up farming and engaged as insurance agent for the Ohio Farmers’ Insurance Company; commenced November 10, 1848, and has continued at it ever since. His business qualities render him an expert agent; during his term of office he has insured some seven million dollars; worth of property; every loss has been paid and not one dollar paid out for litigation; it is about twenty-six years since he began. March 15, 1888 he was united in the holy bonds of matrimony to Miss Nancy JOSLIN, of Ohio. As a result of this union nine children have been born whose names are here given, viz; John B, Harriet S., Bester R., Ann L, Ann, Nancy E., Eber P., Mary A., and Henry. Ann L. Died October 20, 1845 aged thirteen months; Harriet died; Bester R died in service; he belonged to the 42d Regiment, Ohio Volunteers. Although it is hard for a father to part with a son in the prime of life, - to have our flesh and blood stricken from its accustomed place in the society of home, - yet when they die so nobly, and for such a glorious cause as did young Bester R., we should entertain the sorrowful, yet uncomplaining, feelings of Cato (so admirably expressed by Addison) when speaking over the dead body of his son, who had perished on the ensanguined field for Rome and the Romans:

"Thanks to the gods, my boy has done his duty.

Welcome, my son! Here set him down, my friends,

Full in my sight, that I may view at leisure

The bloody corse, and count those glorious wounds.

How beautiful is death when earned by virtue;

Who would not be that youth? What pity is it

That we can die but once to serve our country!’ etc.


Copy of Combination Atlas Map of Portage County, Ohio by L.H. Everts Chicago, ILL. 1874; from Western Reserve historical Society Library, 10825 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio. 44106.

Includes the preceding Biographies of Hiram Township, map of Hiram Township showing Benjamin and Suannah Hinckely’s 444 acre farm, that was passed on to Eber D. Hinckley; biography of Benjamin Hinckley (1781-1878), and son Eber D. Hinckley (1812-1886).


© 1996-2005 The OHGenWeb Project
All Rights Reserved