This township was settled mainly by people from Connecticut and Pennsylvania . The immigration commenced in 1804. Among the first comers was Captain Joseph Coit, who began making improvements in that year. The family of James Reed, it is said, was the first in the township. His daughter Polly, who married a Mr. Bowman and settled in Goshen township, where she was living in 1882, being then over ninety years of age, said that her father came to Ellsworth from Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 1803, and remained during the summer. He made a clearing and raised a crop of corn that year, occupying a camp on the bank of Meander Creek. He had previously made several trips from his home in Pennsylvania to Canfield carrying supplies to the settlers on pack horses. In 1804 he brought his family, and erected a rude log structure for shelter, one side of which was open and used for an entrance. This was occupied until a more substantial house could be erected. Bears and deer were numerous, and the children sometimes found young fawns lying in the bushes near the house.
Mr. Reed resided in Ellsworth not much over a year, selling his farm and removing to Canfield township, where he died in 1813.
Several other settlements were made about the same time by men who remained but temporarily, soon removing to other localities. The second family to arrive in the township was I. that of Thomas Jones, of Maryland . He became a permanent settler, dying in Ellsworth in 1852, at the advanced age of ninety-two. His wife, whose maiden name was Sarah Wilson, survived her husband in longevity, dying in 1865 at the age of about ninety. They were the parents of fifteen children. Philip Arner, from Pennsylvania , purchased land in Ellsworth in 1803 and built a cabin in 1803. In the following year he brought out his family and settled on land east of the Meander. Hugh Smith, of Maryland , who had made a previous visit, settled on the main branch of the Meander in 1806. He had a family of five sons and three daughters. He died suddenly about 1821. In 1805 Elisha Palmer and William and Hervey Ripley, with several others, came from Windham County , Connecticut , and began improving land west of the center. William Ripley served as justice of the peace for many years, was a member of the legislature in 1826 or 1827, and was afterwards state senator. Richard Fitch was another early settler near the center. So was Andrew Fitch, who married Lucy Manning, and who when quite old returned to Connecticut. John Leonard and family settled near the Meander about 1806, but died at an early date; he left several children. James Parshall was an early settler in section twenty-four. James McGill and family in section twelve. David and Philo Spaulding came about 1813, David settling about a quarter of a mile west of the center, and Philo in the southwestern part of the township. The latter died in 1876 in his ninetieth year. Other early settlers were, John and Robert McCreary, who settled on section nineteen; Michael Crumrine; William Logan, the first cooper in the township, who died during the war of 1812; John Bingham, from New London County, Connecticut, who married a daughter of Richard Fitch; Asa W. Allen, of Windham, Connecticut , who came to Ellsworth in a one-horse buggy in 1817, and who married Sophia Hopkins. Mr. and Mrs. Allen reared a family of five or more children. In 1864 he removed to Columbiana County .
The first child born in Ellsworth was Thomas Jones, Jr., son of the Thomas Jones already mentioned, who came from Maryland in 1806, the child being born in that year. In the same year two other births occurred those of Jeanette, daughter of Hugh Smith, and Mary L., daughter of Richard Fitch.
The first death was that of a child of Mr. Bell, a miller, who remained in the township but a short time. The second death is thought to have been that of William Logan, which occurred in 1812.
The first marriage was that of Hezekiah Chidester and Lydia Buell, the latter a sister of the wife of Richard Fitch. Mr. Chidester was a resident of Canfield. Richard Fitch was the first captain of a company of cavalry that was organized in 1810 in Boardman, Poland, Canfield and Ellsworth townships.
SOME HISTORICAL FACTS.
March 22, 1810, or eight years after the first white man settled here, the Board of Commissioners of Trumbull County set off a tract of land from the townships of Newton and Canfield, and called it Ellsworth, after a prominent citizen of Connecticut. The land thus set off was five miles wide, north and south, and ten miles from east to west; but eighteen years later the County Commissioners set off the western half and formed Berlin township. April 2, 1810, eleven days after Ellsworth was established, the first township election was held. Just how the voting was done we are not certain, but the electors were all present at 10 A. M. and as soon as the election was over the officers qualified and took the oath of office. The records do not state where this election was held, but it is presumed that it was held at the residence of Richard
Fitch, as the succeeding elections were held there for many years. The judges of this election were Harvey Ripley, Andrew Fitch and Daniel Fitch. The township officers elected were: Joseph Coit, clerk; Andrew Fitch, Daniel Fitch and Hugh Smith, trustees; William Ripley and James Porshall, overseers of the poor; John Leonard and Robert McKean were fence viewers; Daniel Fitch and William Fitch, appraisers; Jesse Buel, constable; Harvey Ripley, treasurer; Daniel Fitch, lister, which corresponds to the present office of assessor. It is worthy of note that a good citizen was allowed to hold three offices, besides acting as judge of the election of the offices to which he was elected. Corruption was evidently not the political bugbear that it is nowadays. The newly elected trustees levied a road tax for the township equal to that prescribed by law for county purposes. This tax for the first year was $27.60 for the township. Five years later the taxes were $39.80, and ten years after the organization of the township they had doubled being $56.80. While we often feel like complaining we are thankful that this increase did not continue, though the taxes of the township run from $600 to $700 at the present time.
Richard Fitch, the first justice of the township, qualified for office June 19, 1810, and was sworn in by Wm. Chidester, Justice of the Peace of Canfield. It seems that the citizens did not intend to be burdened with paupers for the first fourteen months at least after its first settlement. The township records contain the information that someone notified the overseers of the poor that one Polly Reeves was likely to become a charge of the township. Whereupon said overseers at once ordered the constable to notify her to leave forthwith. This was an old Yankee custom that our forefathers brought with them, and occasionally resorted to, though not justified by statute; but there was a statute enacted twenty years later, taking effect June, 1831.
In 1817 the trustees decided that they would allow for each day's work on the public highway, for a yoke of oxen or a team of
horses 50 cents; for a wagon, 37 cents; plow, 25 cents. In the spring of 1819 there was an enumeration of the white male inhabitants above the age of twenty-one years. We have no record of the result of that enumeration. It is interesting for the younger generation to note the earmarks in use for branding cattle at that early day. We can give but a few examples: Joseph Coits' mark, a crop off the right ear and a slit in the left ear. Richard Fitch's mark, a square crop off the right ear and a half-penny on the side of same. Thomas McKean's mark, square crop off the right ear and swallow tail in end of left ear; and so on, each man having different marks. The same custom is in use today on some of the Western ranches. March 26, 1826, the trustees ordered the balance of the money after the annual statement, (this being $6.62), to be invested in a plow for the township, this being the first tool or implement that the township owned, April 12, 1826, the second justice of the peace was allowed by the common pleas court. The assessors' report, dated February, 1845, showed there to be fifty-four able-bodied white male citizens, between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five years, in the township. Two years later the report shows forty-nine white male citizens of the age from twenty-one years to forty-five years, able-bodied. Two years later the number had increased to sixty-six. The original deed of the first land sale made in Ellsworth township is still in existence, in the possession of Mr. Eli Arner, son of the man who made the first purchase from the Connecticut Land Company.
1804-1854 Ellsworth's semi-centennial celebration.
Early in June, 1854, it was decided to hold on July 4th a Semi-Centennial Celebration in commemoration of the settlement of Ellsworth township in 1804. A committee was appointed and full arrangements made. Judge Eben Newton of Canfield, and Rev. L. Chandler, pastor of the Congregational church in Ellsworth, were the principal speakers. Stirring toasts elicited tremendous applause. Poems were read by Dr. James Hughes and P. A. Spicer, both of Berlin township. Mr. Spicer also read a short history of part of the earliest events occurring in the township of Ellsworth .
The stand for speakers, band stand, and seats were placed in Uncle Andrew Fitch's fine old orchard, not far from the township centre. An old cannon of the kind used in the Revolutionary war was placed in position on the public square. A signal man was located in the road, opposite the speaker's stand and at appropriate times the roar of this cannon emphasized applause.
Publication of suitable memorials of this celebration for some unexplained cause was not accomplished. Mr. Spicer, so far as known,. is the only one now living who took active part on the platform that day. Earnest solicitation. induced him to furnish for publication such parts of the early history not lost in the shuffle. of more than fifty years.
Just when the government made survey of this part of Ohio was not definitely known to my informant. The work was evidently completed some time previous to the year 1804.
Captain Joseph Coit, a resident of Connecticut, left his home that year, and about July 4th, the same year, located land at Ellsworth Center, which at the time was an unbroken wilderness, although Canfield township next east had been settled five or six years. Captain Coit did not personally clear his land; however, he cut the first tree which was felled for the purpose of clearing land in Ellsworth township.
The names of men coming here at the same time with Capt. Coit or near this time, were: General W. Ripley, Messrs. Fitch, Ware, Borts, McCain, McGill, Broadsword, Logan, Steele, Porter, Moore, Smith, Jones, Leonard, and Arner. There may have been one or two others.
Among his varied accomplishments, Capt. Coit was a land surveyor. Assisted by Mr. Moore, also a surveyor, the work required in this line was readily done. Capt. Coit was the first postmaster at Ellsworth Centre, and, in fact held the office continuously for years.
His store for the sale of dry goods and groceries was the first established in the township.
Ellsworth was on the direct stage and freight route from Pittsburg to Cleveland, and before the construction of the railroad connecting these cities immense amounts of freight and quite heavy passenger travel passed through Ellsworth daily. From one Concord coach drawn with four horses which passed both ways daily, soon after the opening of the route, in time there was from two to four coaches each way as often. The freight was mostly transported in very large covered wagons drawn by from four to six horses bell teams.
Rev. John Bruce was the first minister who preached regularly at Ellsworth Centre. His house was a somewhat capacious log dwelling, said to have had five front doors. Miss Clara Landon taught the first district school in the township. 'Squire Fitch, as he was familiarly called, was the proprietor of the first hotel, an exceedingly popular hostelry.
Some of the first business done by the village in council was to secure suitable burial grounds, or cemetery. The plot of ground for this purpose was a gift to the village; but if the name of the donor was ever made known, it does not appear. The first interment was one William Logan.
At this time there were no temperance societies. Not infrequently some who followed the rush of emigration westward would take a stop off, and spend some time resting up at Ellsworth. It was not an uncommon occurrence for some of these persons to get beastly drunk. In fact, some few of the regular residents (accidentally of course) occasionally became a trifle hilarious. To suppress this in a measure, the village council passed an ordinance to this effect: "Any one found drunk, shall be compelled to dig out a tree stump from the highway, or pay a fine of five dollars, and the cost of prosecution. Tradition records that the desired reform was brought about, but not before numerous stumps in and near the highway had been removed.
Thus far there had been no weddings in Ellsworth. It is not to be supposed that this was on account of any backwardness on the part of any one, but for reasons not unusual in newly settled territory. One day, among passengers on the stage coach who took dinner at the hotel, there was a fine looking young lady. Her name was on the coach way bill showed her destination to be Cleveland. The roads at that time were very rough; nearly all low ground. On account of the heavy travel, would have been impassable during certain parts of the year, without the pole, or corduroy road.
The surroundings in Ellsworth, as well as the hotel must have appeared pleasant; at any rate this young lady seemed to feel the need of rest for a few days. She procured a stop off check. Among those who managed in some way to secure an early introduction, was the stalwart, good-looking Robert McGill. It is reported on good authority that Miss Polly did not resume her journey quite as soon as expected, and further that, go ahead Bob. McGill was responsible for the delay. When she resumed her journey, accompanied by the said McGill, her full name was somewhat different from that on the stop off check. This couple was the first married in Ellsworth.
The first school was taught in a log house east of the center, Miss Clara Landon of Canfield being the first teacher. She was followed consecutively by Miss Matilda Sackett, Jesse Buell, Hiram B. Hubbard and Asa W. Allen. During the winter of 1817-18, when Mr. Allen taught, there were not over twenty scholars in the township. There are now six schools, with as many teachers, the whole being maintained at a cost of about $3,400 per year. The total number of scholars is 134.
District No. 1 has two school houses. The original building not being large enough, the board purchased a school building from the Berlin Board of Education for the primary scholars. Bertha Bonsall is the teacher of the primary department, and J. L. Gray of the higher grade.
No. 2, or Ellsworth Station School, is located near the railroad station; John Boyer is teacher.
No. 3, or Geeburg School, is situated in the northeast corner of the township; Goldie Swartz, teacher.
No. 4, or Germany School, situated in the southeast corner of the township, has Grace Johnson as teacher.
No. 5, or Prospect School, one and one-half mile south of the center, is taught by Emma Lovelocks. All the school buildings in Ellsworth at present are wooden structures of one room each.
The Presbyterians were the first in the Ellsworth field, the Rev. John Bruce being the first preacher. The first meeting house was situated just north of the center, and was a rude structure, built of hewn logs and without any floor. Other log buildings were subsequently used, and services were frequently held in the open air, in barns, school-houses, and private dwellings. In 1818 the Presbyterian and Congregational denominations united and organized a union church, under Revs. William Hansford and Joseph Treat, missionaries, the town hall being used as a place of worship until 1833, when the Presbyterian church was built. This church has had but few regular pastors, missionaries, or "stated supplies" usually conducting the services. It has no pastor at the present time. The Methodist, it is thought, organized a society in Ellsworth about 1824, the Rev. Nicholas Gee, a native of New York, having settled in the township the year previous. He was licensed to preach in 1824, and acted as local preacher here for same years. Meetings were first held in private residences, and then in the school-house in district three. About 1835 the church in that district was completed and dedicated. The organization, however, became disrupted in 1856.
In 1839 a society was formed at the center, and through the efforts of Mr. Gee, Mr. Bunts, Dr. Hughes, John Smith, and others a building was commenced, which was completed in 1840. The congregation worshipped here until the present church edifice was erected in 1880 dedicated February 17, 1881. The society is in a prosperous condition. The present pastor is L. D. Spaugy.