Palmyra, in Portage county, received its first settlers in
June, 1799. It was originally part of Deerfield, was separated
from it in 1810 and named Palmyra. The original proprietors of
the township offered David DANIELS 100
acres of land if he would settle there and make improvements.
His courageous wife, Lucinda MEIGS (cousin
of Governor MEIGS of Ohio) with her two little children left
Grafton, Conn., with all its endearing associations, to go to a
place uninhabited save by Indians and wild animals, with no
house nor school house nor church, only the trees pointing up to
God and reaching out their protecting branches.
It is said the Indians helped to select their farm, one and
one-half miles south of center, and by fall they had one and
one-half acres of wheat sowed. After being harvested and
threshed with a flail, Mrs. DANIELS kept house in the wilderness
while Mr. DANIELS shouldered a bushel of wheat, went thirty
miles to a mill, had it ground, and returned.
Roller process flour never made a more tempting loaf than
this when baked in front of a fire in a bake kettle. Their
children were Electa, Frederick, Horace, Orville, Harvey, and
Elmira. Mr. DANIELS died in 1813 and Mrs. DANIELS in 1849, at
the age of eighty-three.
In 1800 Mrs. William BACON (Polly
THURBUR) remained in Connecticut with three
children while her husband walked to Palmyra, settled one and
one-quarters south of the center, made improvements, walked back
to Connecticut, and brought his family in an ox wagon in 1802.
Mrs. BACON used to exchange bread for venison with the Indians.
At the same time came Mr. CUTLER and
wife Josepha, daughter of Nehemiah BACON. Their daughter Emeline
was the first white child born in the township.
In 1804 Mrs. David CALVIN (Catherine
McDANIELS) settled in the southern part of the township. The
first evening they were greeted by their nearest neighbors, the
wolves of the forest.
James McKELVEY and wife, Sarah STEVANS,
came from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, in 1804, bought 200
acres of land and raised a family of ten children.
Also the same year came Widow PRESTON
and son Amasa and settled north of the center on the ledge. One
fine day as they were boiling sap in iron kettles, blacksnakes
began crawling out of the rocks and they killed over fifty.
In 1804 the first school was taught by Betsy
DIVER, of Deerfield.
The first marriage was that of Benjamin McDANIELS and Betsy
STEVENS, in 1805. Betsyís sister Polly
married Gapson McDANIELS. They lived together in the same humble
cabin and began their pioneer life in early spring, the boys
doing the chopping, logging, etc., the girls gathering and
One of the boys walked seventeen miles and carried home a
bushel of potatoes, which were forbidden for food until after
the patch had been planted. While one of the wives went up in
the loft to take a nap the sister roasted twelve potatoes in the
ashes, ate ten with a relish, then went to the foot of the
ladder and called: "Sister, come down, I have roasted each of us
a potato. Come quick or the boys may come in." So each ate a
potato and no one was the wiser until the crop was harvested.
Such the enjoyments of pioneer life.
If health and contentment be there,
If faith and hope crown the brow of the wife,
It will lighten the burden and care.
Mrs. Catherine McARTHUR BALDWIN, her
husband and three sons, came from Connecticut in 1805. Their
wagon was the second that came through on the "Old Palmyra road"
with not a house between Canfield and Campbellsport, 25 miles.
They came to a cleared spot with the word "center" on a post and
a scythe hung on the limb of a tree. There they camped and
settled near. Mrs. BALDWIN was a lover of flowers. A rosebush
which she planted in 1805 still blooms in the old homestead
John TUTTLE, with his third wife (Polly
PARKER WRIGHT) and eight children, one
having died, came from Sunderland, Mass., in 1805 in an ox cart,
it taking seven weeks to perform the journey. They afterward had
nine children, making eighteen children belonging to one father.
Isaac (eighty years old) is the last of this large family. The
first death in the township was John TUTTLE, son of the first
wife, aged twenty-one. He had gone down in a well for a cup
which had been dropped in, and was suffocated by gas.
In 1806 Mrs. Truman GILBERT arrived
with her family. They lived in their traveling wagon, till with
the help of Indians and a few white neighbors, they got their
house put up. Mr. Gilbert had to go twenty miles to mill,
cutting his way through most of the distance. Once the barrel of
meal failed, and they lived on turnips till he returned. They
had eight sons and one daughter, Rebecca. Their eldest son,
Charles, and wife Amelia also had eight sons and one daughter,
Laura. Forty-five years elapsed before a death occurred in their
In 1807, Mrs. Betsy GANO and her
husband David walked from Virginia and drove two cows with their
personal effects strapped on the cowsí backs. There were no
roads but bridle paths. Mrs. GANOís first experience with
company is as follows:
A gentleman rode up to the door and wished to spend the
night, and of course wanted supper. I felt streaked and he
noticed it. It was Elijah BOARDMAN, land
agent from Connecticut. He said he would like bread and milk for
supper. If I chose, I might skim it. If I did, he would like the
skimmings. He praised his supper, and I felt relieved.
Some CROWs came in 1810. Polly CROW
married Isaac HAWK, and they had four
HAWKs, Ruth, John, Sally, and Samuel. At the same time was Agnes
PANCAKE and later Miss
CIDER married a BEAN. Circuit
preachers occasionally coming through gathered the neighbors
together in some house, barn or out of doors. Women wore
homespun dresses, aprons, a kerchief over their heads, and used
thorns for pins.
In 1816 Mrs. Luman WESTOVER (Sabre
SMEDLEY) with her husband, five sons, and
five daughters came from Litchfield, Conn. On the way little
Harry impatiently climbed out of the wagon and was badly hurt,
but in his fear of being left, cried out: "Donít leave me, donít
He didnít "get left." They settled in a small log house, and
had one shilling (12 Ĺ cents) left, with which they bought salt
to eat with their potatoes. Corn was such a common meal, that
one of the boys, tiring of it, wished he had the last grain so
he could put it where it would never grow.
They were an enterprising family, and were soon possessors of
a good farm and pleasant home. Their daughter Phebe married Osro
BALDWIN, and again began pioneer life in Iowa, living for a
while in a dug-out.
Nelson WESTOVER and wife, Ruth CORBET,
had four daughters. Like their predecessors they were
industrious, spinning, weaving, and making their own garments.
They made bonnets for the belles of the town from palm leaf
brought from Boston by Ruthís mother.
The following from the diary of H. GIDDINGS
in 1821 shows great improvements:
"Palmyra, in Portage county, is a township of pretty good and
more settlers than any other town on the Reserve, except
Cleveland and Warren. The people, mostly from Connecticut, are
distributed all over the town. The land is nearly all taken up.
Large farms improved; large bearing orchards; peaches in
abundance, and many other kinds of domestic and wild fruits;
wheat 25 cents cash, $1 in trade. Cattle 50 per cent lower than
in New England."
Cornelia RUGGLES was the first person
buried in the West Cemetery - 1824.
In 1827 Mrs. Henry KIBLER (Barbara
FRONK) with her husband and large family
and twin sister Sally, came from Virginia. They moved into a
small cabin, made a bedstead by boring two holes in the wall and
putting one end of a pole in each hole, the other ends being
supported by forked sticks, and hickory withes for a bed cord.
Barbara helped her husband saw the logs for their house.
In the year 1827, Mrs. John KERNS, Mrs.
Jacob BEAN, Mrs. Jacob NIPPLE, Mrs.
William ERNEST, with their families,
thirty-two persons, came from Miffin, Pa., in two wagons. They
stopped in Pittsburg for a soup kettle.
Mrs. Alex SCOTT (Christena BEAN), with
her husband and five children, came from Pennsylvania in 1830.
Mr. SCOTT purchased 200 acres of land at $5 per acre, with two
log houses and sixty or seventy acres cleared. Mrs. SCOTT was
the mother of twelve children. Three of them died of dysentery
on three successive days in August, 1841.
The DARLING family, the mother of which
was Margaret PENNOCK, came in a covered
sled from Cataraugus, N.Y., in 1830. Fidelia married Henry
GILBERT, and her twin sister married Almon
BACON. The latter have three children, and not a death in
the family for fifty-three years. They reside in Edinburg.
Mrs. John E. DAVIS (Catherine DAVIS)
came from South Wales in 1830, stopped in Pennsylvania while Mr.
DAVIS came and settled northeast of the center, made
improvements, and moved in 1831. They were the first Welsh
settlers and wrote back such glowing accounts that in 1832
several families joined them. Among the number was Mrs. William
WILLIAMS (Martha ROBERTS)
and family, who moved into a little house with a thatched roof.
She was very helpful in time of sickness.
Also from Pennsylvania came Mrs. William
RANNELS (Elizabeth CARNES), with her
husband and five children. They settled in the woods, built a
log house and barn, working hard to clear away and burn the
timber, making some into charcoal. They killed a bear one
morning, then had meat. They raised, spun, and wove their own
flax. The women folks had calico dresses for "nice." They lived
on corn and buckwheat and sold their wheat for fifty cents a
bushel until they got their farm of 160 acres at $3 per acre
paid for; then sold their produce for "boughten things." Their
nearest market was Akron, twenty-eight miles. They were a kind
family, often furnishing meals for neighbors who were putting up
Mrs. Andrew STURDEVANTís husband made
spinning wheels and baskets. Their family consisted of Mahala,
Laura, Julia, and Grandma JUDSON. Children
living one and one-half miles from school often stopped to warm
at their house. Grandma usually had her Bible or knitting, and
Mrs. STURDEVANTís wheel either kept busily buzzing or quietly
standing one side of the fireplace. A pan of apples for the
children and a kind word from the dear old people made it a
Mrs. George KEAN (Agnes
FRAM)and her husband, from Scotland,
settled between two roads in Palmyra forest, in 1834. They named
their farm "Black Meadows," from the soil. There is now a coal
bank on the place. Their house consisted of one room with a
loft, two windows, and a door, over which grew a dipper gourd
vine. The chimney was made of sticks on a stone foundation. Mr.
K. used to roll backlogs in with a handspike. Inside were two
beds with plaid curtains, two chests, a long pendulum clock, a
three-cornered cupboard, homemade table, a stand with well-worn
Bible and psalm book, a few splint-bottom chairs, a bench, and
spinning wheel. They had a few nice dishes, some pewter and
wooden plates, wooden and horn spoons. Their dinners were often
Scotch kale (soup), their supper mush and milk. For company fare
shortcake and honey. A few old-time posies and such as pinks,
old man, and old woman, grew near the door. The large eggs and
best roll of butter to sell illustrates her character. The good
old people lived to be quite aged. Their descendants are now
energetic and prosperous citizens.
Mrs. Ebenezer FORSYTH (Hannah
TONKIN), from England, settled in Palmyra
in 1836 and had five children living at the time of her
husbandís death, in 1846. She died the week following her
younger son Eben in 1855. Three children still live, James in
Deerfield, Mrs. H.G. SPOONER at Palmyra
Center, and Mrs. S.F. LUDWICK at
Campbellsport. The latter was wide awake in temperance work.
Elizabeth (Mrs. William TUFFING) passed
from gay, lively girlhood into earnest Christian womanhood,
following the pathway of her parents. Her life was crowded with
good deeds until she lay down the cross to take up the crown in
The following is from a slip of paper found in a journal:
"Rhoda WHITNEY emigrated from
Washington, Conn., to Boardman, O., in 1820. Passing through New
Jersey and Pennsylvania over the Alleghenies she walked nearly
all the way from Connecticut to Ohio. She joined the Methodist
Episcopal Church fifty years ago; kept house twenty-three years
for Hiram GIDDINS, Palmyra, O., at whose
house she died aged eighty years."
Mrs. Elizabeth STITSEL BYERS was born
in Franklin county, Pa., in 1793. Her mother died when she was
seven years old. She was then bound out till she was eighteen,
was married at twenty-two, boarded the first men that worked on
the old Sandy and Beaver Canal, and raised a family of nine
children, her husband being blind for eight years before he
died. She lived in Palmyra six years and has lived in several
other places, and now at nearly one hundred and three years of
age is living with her son William, in Edinburg township. She
has a remarkably preserved mind, can converse on present topics
of the day as well as the past, is interested in the farm work,
and keeps posted on prices of grain, stock, etc.
Mrs. John CROUSE (Martha Jacobs
WOODARD) had four children born in
Palmyra, Rachel, Hannah, Lovina, and Leonard. Hanna was born in
1834, weighed less than nine pounds, at six months weighed forty
pounds, at ten years 280, when she was exhibited as "the Ohio
fat girl." At twelve she weighed 360 pounds, and later was
advertised at over 600 pounds. She had an unusually bright
intellect, committing chapter after chapter from the Bible. One
Sabbath she recited 600 verses. She once came near being drowned
in the Mississippi River. The boat sank, but she was floated
ashore on an inverted table. She died suddenly at Philadelphia,
about twenty-one years of age.
Mrs. William SPOONER (S.M. GIDDINGS)
and family came from Kent, Conn., their house being the first
erected in that place without intoxicating drinks. They settled,
1838, on a farm just south of the center, where their son Hiram
and family still reside. Their home has always been a welcome
stopping place for preachers and speakers. An old pastor called
the spare bed room the prophetís chamber. Father and mother
SPOONER both died at the age of eighty-two.
Catherine JONES, wife of Rev. H.
POWELL, came from Wales in 1838. After his
death, though quite old, she frequently walked one and one-half
miles to church. One Sunday, the road being icy, she crawled on
hands and knees some distance rather than miss the meeting.
In other days as now sad accidents occurred. In 1839 two
little children of Mr. and Mrs. David S. DAVIS
were playing in the house alone. One fell in the fire and was
burned and soon died.
Two small children of Mr. and Mrs. John
PHILLIPS were playing when their parents were at work. The
limb of a tree fell, killing the son, but the daughter Susan had
her skull patched with a piece of silver and still lives.
Mrs. Job THOMAS (Martha PHILLIPS) came
from South Wales to Palmyra with her family in 1840. Her mother
lived to be one hundred and ten years old and her father one
hundred and six. When her husband died she supported and raised
their family of five children. After the death of a sonís wife,
she kept house for him and two of his children until she was
ninety years old. She died at the home of her daughter, Rachel
JONES, in 1890, aged ninety-three years, being vigorous in her
mind and body until the day of her death.
Mrs. Adeline WALES, from Windham,
taught the first select and boarding school in 1842, teaching in
all eight years. She was loved and esteemed by all who knew her.
Rebecca GIDDINGS married Hiram GIDDINGS in 1842 and came from
Connecticut to Palmyra, where she soon won many friends by her
pleasant disposition. After one short year of married life she
died. Her affectionate husband not wanting her taken to the
cemetery in a wagon, the usual way, had a bier made on which she
was carried half a mile.
Taken from an inventory of goods belonging to the estate of
Widow JONES GARDNER, who came from
Connecticut in 1846, and died in 1861, aged eight years, the
woolen and linen having been manufactured by her own hands; 20
pieces linen sheets, five linen table cloths, six towels, eight
pairs linen pillow cases, five linen aprons, two woolen aprons,
six pairs woolen and four pairs woolen stocking, linen curtains
and valance, eleven woolen blankets, two coverlets, fourteen
linen and two cotton undergarments, one large brass kettle, one
small one, two pewter basins, one pewter platter.
Mrs. Harriet EARL came with her family
in 1848. Their daughters were Maria (Mrs. James
WILCOX) and Mary, who died of consumption.
Mr. and Mrs. EARL were good Christian workers. Two grandchildren
in Michigan are the only survivors of the family.
Two early settlers, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas D. JONES, lived
affectionately together and died in close succession at the ages
of eighty-five and eighty years. Both were buried in the same
grave in February, 1895.
Also early residents, Mr. Edwin A. HALL
and his wife (Emeline RUGGLES) died and
were buried January, 1896, in the same grave, aged eighty-four
and seventy-four years.
The earliest pioneer women born and still living in the
township are Mrs. Clinton SCOTT (Mary A.
GILBERT), born in 1818; Mrs. Lorin
BIGELOW (Rhoda CALVIN),
born in 1821; Mrs. James CHURCH (Phebe
OLMSTED), came from Connecticut in 1826
and has been a resident ever since. Her good memory is valuable
in recalling names and incidents of earlier times. Mrs. Royal
MERWIN (Jane HITCHCOCK),
the only surviving member of the class of 1839 in the M.E.
Church, is still faithful, occasionally walking half a mile to
Sunday school and church, aged eighty-four years.
Mrs. Sarah CLAY COLLINS, whose father
was a nephew of Henry CLAY, and whose first husband was the late
Robert JOHNSON, is in comfortable health
in her eightieth year.
Mrs. J.J. SPOONER Historian Palmyra committee - Mrs. Jane
MERWIN, Mrs. Phebe CHURCH, Mrs. Martha TUTTLE,
Mrs. Elizabeth BEAN, Mrs. Maria
WILLIAMS, Miss Mary
Among the earliest settlers of Palmyra township was Esther
CLINTON, her husband Artemus RUGGLES and
their two children. They came from New Milford, Conn., in 1807,
and settled about a mile from Palmyra Center.
Their daughter Mercy married Dr. Alvah
BOSTWICK of Edinburg. Cornelia became the bride of Dr. Ezra
GILBERT and died early (1824). Her grave was the first one made
in the cemetery which her father had donated to the town. There
was another daughters, Caroline RUB\GGLES,
and three sons, William, Gary and Noble RUGGLES. Artemus was a
veteran of the War of 1812.
Stephen TROWBRIDGE and his wife (Sarah
CASTLE) and their two children, Carlos and
Elvie, came from Litchfield Co., Conn, in 1808. They settled
about two miles and a half west of the Center.
Carlos married Mary STRONG and remained
on the farm. Elvie became the wife of Gary RUGGLES in 1818.
Together they cleared land of their own in the township. She was
an expert in all women's industries of that day, carding,
spinning, weaving; she also did beautiful embroidery all her
life, keeping it up until but a few years before her death. The
last use she made of her needle was to piece a wonderful bed
quilt containing 1200 pieces, and then quilted it in beautiful
She lived her entire life after coming to Palmyra upon the
farm she helped to clear, dying at the age of ninety-three years
and leaving this world much better off because of her industry,
her helpfulness and neighborly kindness.
Mrs. W.L. DAVIS, Historian