ROOTSTOWN 1800 - 1850

Rootstown derives its name from one of the two original proprietors, Ephraim ROOT, from Coventry, Conn., who came in the spring of 1800 to survey his Western purchase.

In the early part of 1801 Mrs. David ROOT came with her husband and the brothers put up a log cabin of two stories at the northeast corner of the town, later known as Cambellsport.

Nathan MUZZY came with them to do carpenter work. He was a graduate of Yale College, but meeting with disappointment in a love affair, he wandered to the West. He always carved the name of Emma HALE on the buildings and gates he constructed. His name is give to one of the beautiful lakes in Rootstown.

In 1802 Mrs. Samuel McCOY came from Ireland and settled by the well-known McCoy spring.

Ephraim ROOT promised fifty acres to the first white child born in the township. Little McCOY won the prize.

May 2, 1803, Lydia LYMAN, who lived in David ROOT's family, was married to Asher ELY, of Deerfield, by Esquire HUDSON, of Hudson. This was the first marriage in the township.

In 1804 a large number of settlers came from Connecticut and Massachusetts, "the land of steady habits," and gave character to the township. Their descendants are now some of our best citizens. Among them were the REEDS, CHAPMANS, ANDREWS, BOSWICKS, BISSELLS, and ELLSWORTHS.

These pioneer women were homemakers. The spinning wheel for linen and woolen and the loom formed part of each housekeeping outfit, for home-grown, home-spun, and home-dyed fabrics were worn exclusively, for the daughters were taught to spin at a very early age. The children were taught to love and cherish their country, and this bore fruit in the late war, when fifty-seven went to her defense, eleven of whom laid down their lives in her service.

Mother WARD, who left her husband in Ireland, came to Rootstown in 1806. She still lives in name through "Mother Ward's Pond," while better women have been forgotten.

Miss Polly HARMON was the first lady to teach in the public school.

Fannie CLARK (Mrs. Ephriam CHAPMAN) had taught in her own home for three or four years previously.

Laura SEYMOUR (Mrs. S.B. SPELMAN) came from Massachusetts in 1811. Mr. SPELMAN held the office of justice of the peace for many years. He was a man of good judgment, but slow in comprehending law. Happily for him, his better half had a judicial mind and could more readily catch the meaning of legal phraseology, so when a new or difficult case came before him he would read to her, and she, while about her household duties, would give him her understanding of the points in the case, thus aiding him materially.

Mrs. SPELMAN was the mother of the late H.B. SPELMAN of Cleveland, and the grandmother of Mrs. John D. ROCKEFELLER.

The saddest occurrence of those early days was the burning of the house of Hawkins CLARK, containing his two daughters.

The pioneer women were full of courage in defense of their children and their possessions when occasion required. As an instance, Asher GURLEY, who, with his wife Laura, came in 1811, bought two pigs and enclosed them with a picket fence. One evening, in the absence of her husband, she knew there was something wrong with the pigs. She seized an ax and as she neared the pen an animal met her at the fence, and when he reared upon his hind feet she smote him such a blow that he fell back a dead bear.

Mercy HAZEN SHEWELL, a native of New Jersey, came to the Western Reserve in 1802 with her husband and four young children. The journey from the Ohio River was made on horseback, the children on improvised pack-saddles of bedding. The last forty miles of the journey were through an unbroken wilderness. Their first home was in Deerfield. Her husband, Rev. Henry SHEWELL, was a local preacher of the Methodist Episcopal Church. A pioneer of the Reserve, he was also a pioneer in carrying the gospel to every new settlement.

His work took him often from home, and the care of the family devolved mainly on the mother. Although retiring and domestic in disposition, she had plenty of pluck. One day a full grown deer bounded into the clearing around their cabin. As it paused for an instant she seized the rifle and killed it. With the help of her small sons she was skinning it when a party of hunters came up and claimed the deer. Although she had been the only one to wound the animal, the hunters took it from her. When she protested they gave her a haunch of the venison.

In 1814 they moved to Rootstown where they spent the remainder of their lives. Their cabin was the "meeting house" for several years. The forests were dense and people often became lost.

Not long after they moved to Rootstown, when alone with her children one evening she heard the faint cry of a woman's voice. Thinking someone was lost, she answered, and the calls were sent back and forth in the gathering darkness. She heard the last answering call end in a growl, and she realized she had been answering the cry of a treacherous panther. Hastily barring the door, she with her children climbed into the loft, where they listened with anxious hearts to the tread of the beast round the cabin. At last, with a frightful scream, it bounded off into the woods.

She was a devoted Christian, teaching both by precept and by example. Three sons and three daughters were hers, all of whom lived past the age of three score years and ten.

Born in 1770, she lived till past eighty-five, ten years after the death of her husband.

One of the first women to brave the trials of a new world was Sarah WHITNEY (Mrs. Beman CHAPMAN), who came as a bride from Tolland, Conn. Her first home was a log cabin in Campbellsport. She lived to see her youngest child, Ira O., almost ready to enter upon his life work as a teacher in Mt. Union College. Her eldest daughter, Marilla (Mrs. Willis JEROME), went as a pioneer to Missouri. Six sons and four daughters were her contribution to the community. She was a loving mother, kind neighbor, and notable nurse.

Lois ELY came with her husband, Nathan CHAPMAN, Sr., in 1804. He bought a tract of several hundred acres of land for their seven sons. He died suddenly five years later, leaving his wife an invalid. If she had done nothing more, it is worth recording that she gave seven stalwart settlers to Rootstown. Her daughter Abigail (Mrs. John O'NEAL) was also a pioneer settler.

Mary WHITNEY came west from Connecticut in November of 1806 with her uncles, Samuel and Thaddeus ANDREWS, and their families. They came with ox teams, and were six weeks on the road. A slender, active girl of nineteen, Mary, with her cousins, Lorin and Loomis ANDREWS, walked most of the way. One evening the three cousins found themselves far in advance of the teams, tired and hungry. While waiting for the rest of the party a woman with true pioneer hospitality asked them to eat supper with her. The cabin was of the most primitive style, the table was of puncheons laid on wooden pins driven into the log walls, and Mary's seat was a pumpkin. The supper which she always spoke of as "The best I ever eat" was pumpkin johnny-cake and fresh woods pork - hogs fattened on mast, which gave the meat a flavor of wild game.

Soon after her arrival in Rootstown she was married at the home of her sister, Mrs. Beman CHAPMAN, to Nathan CHAPMAN, Jr. A wedding at that time was a matter of much importance. Hers was celebrated at Campbellsport, and the inhabitants of four townships were invited. Some came in ox sleds the distance of eight miles. While they were inside enjoying the festivities of the occasion, which lasted until the morning cock crowing, a warm wind had so disposed of the snow that the next day, if there had been any to behold, they might have seen the wives on the sleds and the husbands taking the long walk home.

For a time she lived in the first log cabin built in the town. As soon as a clearing could be made, they moved onto the west end of the tract of land bought by his father, and there she lived until her death, in her ninety-ninth year.

One daughter, Harriet, still lives at the homestead aged eighty-seven. Another, Irena (Mrs. Henry SHEWELL, Jr.), lives near by, aged eighty-five. Her first child was a daughter, and once when little Mary (Mrs, James SHEWELL) cried, a doe looked in at the door, and answered the cry with a bleat, apparently thinking it the cry of her fawn.

In those days it was thought no heavy work could be done without the aid of whiskey. Having seen the disastrous results from its use, Mr. and Mrs. CHAPMAN decided against its use in the raising of their framed house. The master workman expressed doubts of the possibility of getting the frame up without its use, and a jug of whiskey was brought. Aunt Polly hid the jug, and the house was successfully raised, the first one in the township on a strictly temperance foundation.

Five daughters grew to womanhood, the youngest, Fannie (Mrs. Loren DOOLITTLE), was a successful teacher in the fifties, and a charming singer.

Aunt Polly was a charter member of the Congregational Church, and her home was always a home for ministers of all denominations. The needy never left her door unaided.

Granny McKNIGHT was a Methodist, converted in Ireland under John Wesley. She was very devout, and lived to be over one hundred years of age.

Her son married Mary HENNING - was killed by a falling tree in 1815, and his widow became Mrs. Chester CHAPMAN.

Lucy CLARK (Mrs. Dr. BASSETT) came early in the century to share the trials and the successes of a beloved and trusted country doctor.

Aunt Sallie TUPPER (Mrs. Ezekiel TUPPER) was an active worker and leader in church circles at a little later date.

Lorin ANDREWS, mentioned above, eventually became a missionary to the Sandwich Islands, the second sent out by the Presbyterian Board of Missions.

Caroline CAMPBELL (Mrs. George BENTON) is remembered as an ardent Methodist, and a leader in congregational singing.

Clarissa CHAPMAN (Mrs. Erastus SEYMOUR) had two daughters, the younger of whom, Mrs. Celestia LEWIS, is a noted singer, and a successful teacher of music.

Mary WILLIAMS (Mrs. G.H.R. PRINDLE) was a leader among women, and though she had no daughter, she was a real mother to at least three young girls.

Memory brings back many familiar names that were once like household words, but the deed that enshrined them in the hearts of those who knew and loved them best are dimly seen in the vista of the receding years. What has been written of a few might have been chronicled of many mothers and spinsters.

It has been tersely said that every orthodox family of New England had six sons and seven daughters. The sons and six daughters in time were married and went to homes of their own. The seventh and best one of all stayed to be the support of the old people and lend a helping hand to her brothers and sisters.

Rootstown held a number of proofs of the statement, and of any one of them it might have been said she was

"A perfect woman, nobly plann'd To warm, to comfort, and command."

Chairman and Historian
Rootstown Committee - Mrs. Martha CHAPMAN, Mrs. William CAMP, Mrs. Jared
SHEWELL, Mrs. Clara BARLOW, Mrs. Maria BOWE



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