Trumbull County, Ohio
History of Howland Township
(Source: "History of Trumbull & Mahoning Counties, with Illustrations & Biographical Sketches" Vol. 2
by H. Z. Williams & Bro. - 1882)
Transcribed by Jeanne Hall and Linda Dietz for Genealogy Trails
Howland, the fourth township in the third range, lies east of the adjoining township of Warren, between it and Vienna . Bazetta is north and Weathersfield south of it. The city limits of Warren encroach slightly upon its western line.
The Mahoning river cuts across a small corner in the southwest of Howland. Mosquito creek, here a stream of considerable size, flows through the township from north to south, dividing its surface into two very nearly equal portions. The land is rolling. On the east side of the creek a crest of considerable height rises gradually, being two hundred feet above the level of the stream, and on the west side about one hundred and fifty.
East of the creek the soil is somewhat sandy and gravelly; on the west side it contains more or less clay. The improvements in this township are very marked. Good farms, with many costly and beautiful houses, large and convenient barns, well-fenced fields and carefully tilled gardens, show that the residents of this township are possessed of wealth, enterprise and good taste. The towns of Warren and Niles afford convenient and ready markets, and abundant railroad privileges for farmers and shippers of produce. Real estate is constantly appreciating in value. No agricultural community in Trumbull county is more fortunate in its location than Howland township.
Excepting one family, the first settlers of Howland were Pennsylvanians. The honor of making the first settlement in this township belongs to Captain John H. Adgate, who penetrated the wilderness of this section, bringing his family with him in 1799. He owned one thousand six hundred acres of land in the southwest of the township and here he built the first cabin and made the first clearing. Captain Adgate's children were Sally, Belinda, Caroline, John H., Nancy, Charles, Ulysses, and James. Benoni Ockrum, a Stockbridge Indian, also lived with this family. John H., Jr., remained some years on the old homestead, then moved away. Several of his sons reside in Howland. Soon after Captain Adgate came John Earl, Michael Peltz, John Daily, James Ward, John Reeves, Jesse Bowell, John Ewalt, and Joseph Quigley, most of whom made permanent settlement in 1802.
John Earl settled on the farm now owned by C. Milliken. Sixteen strong, active, and healthy boys and girls were his children. The sons were Ebenezer, Edward, Moses, John, George, Washington, William, and Charles. There were eight daughters. Our informant remembers the name of seven of them - Rebecca, Susan, Betsey, Nancy, Mary, Sarah, and Olive. The father moved to Lordstown after several years' residence here.
Michael Peltz, a genuine specimen of the genus homo commonly denominated Dutchmen, moved away about 1814, or soon after. He acted as a drummer on several occasions when there were military parades. It is related that when the first tidings of the opening movements of the War of 1812 reached Howland Michael got hold of the news. Not knowing what was meant by it he determined to consult the 'squire, who he doubtless supposed held the concentrated wisdom of the township, and having found 'Squire Heaton he asked : '"Squire, vat dey means by all dis talk, eh ? Have de Prit-ishers done some dinks pad ? " Like every Heaton the 'squire was fond of a joke, and answered the Dutchman thus: "Yes, bad enough, I think. They have set Lake Erie on fire and burned the whole it." Michael believed the 'squire - who would question a statement from such an authority - and with his eyes distended with astonishment went home to his "frau" and narrated to her the wonderful doings of "de Pritishers." "You old fool," said she, "you tinks the Pritishers can purn up a lake ? A lake is wasser! Go out and feed dem pigs." And crestfallen and humbled he obeyed.
Jesse Bowell moved from Green county, Pennsylvania, to Howland in 1801 or 1802. He married Rebecca Hank, and they had the following children: Calvin, David, John, Bazil, Hannah, Rebecca, and Jesse. Mr. Bowell went to the War of 1812, and returned home to die soon after. Mrs. Bowell afterwards married John Cherry, from Washington county, Pennsylvania, a Howland settler of 1807, and had by him two children, Daniel and Margaret. Three members of this family are now living, John Bowell, in Washington county, Pennsylvania ; Daniel Cherry, in Howland, and Mrs. Margaret Mason, Weathersfield. David died young; the others all reached years of maturity. Bazil,. Jesse, and Hannah (Luse) died in Niles ; Rebecca (Luse) died in Illinois ; Calvin died in Mahoning county. Mr. Cherry died in 1846, aged sixty-three; Mrs. Cherry in 1864 at the age of eighty-seven.
John Daily settled on the Kinsman farm, but moved away early. James Ward did not remain later than 1814.
John Reeves, Sr., was a permanent settler, having located on lot twelve in 1803. His son John still lives upon the old farm. Other sons were Jesse, Abner, Ephraim, and Samuel Q. There were three daughters, Sarah, Eugenia, and Nancy.
John Ewalt settled on the farm which is now
the property of his son Harris. He reared a good sized family. Harris, and Z. T., of Howland; Jacob, of Bazetta, and John, who resides near Pittsburg, are his sons. One of the daughters, Mrs. Abigail Wainright, is also living in Pittsburg .
Joseph Quigley settled on the Deacon Smith farm, now the Ratliff farm, but moved away early.
William Kennedy in 1805 settled on the farm now belonging to Ebenezer Brown. He was a miller, and worked in Warren, Liberty, and other parts of the county. His son Samuel M. lived and died in Howland. Another son, William A., is still living in the township.
Dr. John W. Seely in 1806 settled where Milo McCombs now lives. This farm was first improved by Jesse Bowell about 1802. Among Dr. Seely's sons were Richard L., Dr. Sylvanus, and William.
Isaac Heaton and James, his brother, settled in the southeastern part of Howland in 1805. James sold out to Abraham Drake and went to Weathersfield. Isaac, universally known to the settlers as 'Squire Heaton, lived and died in Howland. He had but two children:a daughter, Maria, and a son, Dr. Heaton, who practiced in Warren with distinguished success. 'Squire Heaton, being the magistrate of the township, of course had many disputes to settle. But he always strove to adjust matters and have the disputants settle their difficulty, if possible, without resorting to legal proceedings. Once a young lawyer from Warren took exception to one of the 'squire's rulings and said to him, " Why, 'squire, that isn't law !" " Law, law ? what do I care about law? All the law I want is here," returned the 'squire laying his hand upon his old leather-covered Bible. He was a man of good judgment and sound common sense, though of limited education.
Abraham Drake settled in 1805. His sons were Abraham, Jacob, Aaron, and George, all of whom are dead. Jacob lived on the old homestead. Abraham and Aaron also resided in the township. George moved to Wooster .
Barber King settled in 1806. He was from Massachusetts and was the only Yankee of the settlement. He had five sons: Jonathan, James, Samuel, William, and David B., and two daughters, Anna and Sarah. The sons all settled, lived, and died in this vicinity. Sarah is still living. William lived on the old homestead, where his son James F. now resides.
William Wilson in 1806 settled on land now owned by James F. Kennedy. He moved away about 1812.
Thomas Crooks, another settler of 1806, died early. His widow brought up the family, which was a large one. Thomas, Robert, and John, her sons, remained in Howland, and died here. William died in Bazetta. Henry and Samuel moved away. There were also two daughters.
William Medley, an early settler in the northeast of the township, had a family of sixteen children. One of his sons still resides in Bazetta, and one in Vienna . Other members of this family are scattered widely.
John and Uriah Williams were settlers of 1803. Uriah lived in the southeast of the township, near the springs. His son John, still living, is one of the oldest residents of Howland. One daughter, Mrs. Drake, is still living in Warren .
John Williams lived on the Perkins farm, west of the creek. His sons were Joseph and Benjamin.
In 1812 the commissioners of Trumbull county organized township four, range three, into a separate township and election district. Who the first township officers were cannot be learned, as the early records have been lost. Howland was named from the purchaser, James Howland, who paid $24,000 for Howland and Greene town ships.
FOOD AND CLOTHING OF PIONEERS.
Fortunate indeed was it for the pioneers that they possessed the rare quality, contentment, which the luxurious tastes of modern times have in no small measure destroyed. They were enabled to live up to that sound precept of Horatian philosophy which advises men to "preserve an equal mind in adversity," and blessed with such a mind, they were thankful in prosperity and patient under afflictions. At their rude firesides they ate the bread which their toil had earned, and though it was coarse, it was wholesome, and far ahead of many articles of modern cookery in nutritious qualities. Plenty of exercise rendered digestion healthy, and good appetites made every article of food relish.
Cornbread was a staple article of foodwould that it still were. Johnny-cake, as it was called, was usually baked in this wise: the dough having been spread on a smooth board, kept especially for this purpose, was placed before the hot, roaring fire, and some young member of the family directed to watch it. The side next the fire would quickly bake, then the board was turned around and the other side received the heat in turn. Careful tending and a good fire soon finished the job, and the johnny cake, beautifully browned and steaming hot, was placed upon the table with good fresh milk in bowls, and big spoons. There was a supper fit for a king. Potatoes, buckwheat cakes, or biscuits, often venison and sometimes bear-steak, were about the only kinds of food, always excepting the johnny cake. Dutch ovens were perhaps the most useful kitchen utensilsexcepting the johnny-cake board. The Dutch oven was an iron kettle which was provided with a cover capable of holding a heap of fire coals. The oven was placed upon the coals, and the heat thus applied to both top and bottom usually resulted in what housekeepers called a good bake, while none of the savory odors of the cooking food could escape. Stoves, ranges, and all other modern improvements in kitchen utensils are good and useful enough, yet probably as well-tasting dishes were prepared in Dutch ovens as any now produced by masters of the culinary art. In the matter of clothing, too, eighty years have wrought wonderful changes. During the first years of this settlement every article of clothing worn by men, women, and children was manufactured in the homes of the wearers. Mr. John Ratliff, son of a Howland pioneer, says that until he was sixteen years of age he never saw a dress-coat of broadcloth or similar material upon any man.
Every farmer kept a few sheep, the wool of which was carded, spun, and woven by the hands of the female members of the family. Cotton was bought just as it was taken from the bale, carded with hand cards, and spun into warp. Wool, after undergoing similar processes, made the filling, and the cloth made from these two materials in old-fashioned looms was cut and made into garments for winter wear. Long frocks reaching below the knee were made for men and boys. Butternut bark or the bark of some other tree furnished the dye-stuff which was used in coloring the cloth.
Summer clothing was usually made from cloth of tow and linen warp and cotton filling. Why did not women buy calico for dresses? Perhaps it is sufficient answer to this question to state that calico was fifty cents per yard and butter only six cents a pound. These home-made garments were worn to church and all other gatherings. Could a lady in a fashionable suit such as are now worn have been seen among the country maids and matrons of those days, she would have seemed like a creature from another land if not from another world.
Buckskin was considerably worn by men; but as it was usually but imperfectly tanned, after a short season of use and a few wettings it became stiff and hard and had to be laid aside.
The first school-house was built on the 4th of July near where Ward lived, on lot eighteen. A term of school was taught in it the same year by Ruth Alford. This old building was a simple structure of logs. Its benches were rude and primitive, formed from slabs without backs or other appliances for the rest of the arms and body. Boards upon wooden pins driven into the wall formed the pupil's writing desk. In those days a boy or girl, after a hearty breakfast of johnny-cake and bacon, required no support for an aching backa thing to them unknown. And as for comfortable heating furnaces, to dry wet clothing or warm cold fingers and cold feet, these were provided in the shape of a huge fire-place which extended entirely across one side of the house. This was kept in full blast by long, heavy logs, which were rolled into it from time to time. The simplicity of this style of heating apparatus, however, yielded after a while to the aristocratic notions of Mr. Heaton, who supplied the building with a rudely formed cast-iron stove, manufactured at Heaton's furnace.
Other log-houses were built early, among them one in the northwest of the township, and another in the King neighborhood John Ewalt taught in the former about 1812. About 1814 Montgomery Anderson taught in the King district. One after another, as they were needed, buildings for school purposes were erected until ten had been built in the township.Not many years ago the township was redistricted, and now there are in all but six school-houses, three on each side of Mosquito creek.
The first religious meeting in this township, or the first in which a sermon was preached, was held at the house of John Reeves in 1803. A Baptist minister conducted the services.
Rev. Joseph Curtis, pastor of the Warren church, organized a Presbyterian church about 1815, with thirteen members. In 1820 a log building was erected in the northeast of the township, which served both as church and school-house. In this building a Methodist church of about ten members was organized in 1821. After Rev. Curtis left Warren, the Presbyterian organization ceased to exist. We cannot learn that the Methodists ever had regular preaching here. The Disciples' church of Howland was organized in 1828. The Drake family, Jacob, Simeon, Aaron, and George, were its mainstay and support. They were devout and sincere Christians of noble character. In 1830 this denomination built a church edifice near the forks of the road on Simeon Drake's farm, at a cost of about $3,000. The only church building in the township at present was erected by the Disciples in 1862, at the center, and cost about $1,700. Among the early and faithful laborers in the Disciples' church were the preachers Campbell, father and son, Scott, Bentley, Hayden, Bent-ley, Henry, Bosworth, Hartzell, and others. The proximity of Howland to Warren accounts for the fewness of churches.
About the year 1806 Dr. John W. Seely settled in this township and began the practice of medicine. He was a competent physician, and skilled, especially in surgery. Genial and affable toward every one, he sustained an honorable reputation and lived a useful life. For many years he had a large practice throughout this part of the county, and his memory is still revered by those who knew him. Soon after the opening of the canal he was seized with an apoplectic fit, and died at Akron while on a journey. His son, Dr. Sylvanus Seely, continued the practice of his, father, residing in Howland, and afterwards in Warren . His death was from the same disease which carried off his father.
The first child born in this township was Samuel Q. Reeves, March 10, 1804.
The first marriage was in 1803, when Jack Legg and Conny Ward embarked upon the sea of matrimony. 'Squire Loveless performed the ceremony.
It is not remembered who built the first frame house. The first frame barn was erected by Barber King in 1822 on the farm now owned by his son Franklin. The second frame barn was built in 1826 by John Ratliff. Both are still standing. Dr. Seely built a stone dwelling house in the southeast of the township at an early date.
The first store was opened about 1831 by John Collins, at the corners. Isaac Heaton was the first justice of the peace in this township.
In its early history, this part of Trumbull county was represented in the State Legislature by Dr. John W. Seely. Howland has also furnished the following county officers: John Ratliff, associate judge ; John Reeves, treasurer; Z. T. Ewalt, treasurer; and Harris Ewalt, infirmary director.
THE BIG STORM.
Here, as in other portions of the county, the great snow storm of February, 1818, occasioned great inconvenience and some hardships. Houses were rendered almost invisible; traveling was almost impossible; and even for the farmer to get from his cabin to his barn became an undertaking involving no small amount of labor. Fortunately wood was plenty and good fires cost nothing. If people had depended upon stores for their supplies of food in those days, what suffering and famine this storm would have caused. Perhaps the wild animals suffered more than the inhabitants. Deer could scarcely move through the snow-drifts to their usual haunts, and the prowling wolf became nearly famished while engaged in a fruitless search for prey.
WILD ANIMALS AND HUNTS.
In early times bears and wolves were very plenty, and stock had to be carefully watched to save it from destruction. Sheep had to be kept closely penned at night, for they might as well have been slaughtered by their owners as to be left in a place where it was possible for bears or wolves to reach them. Mr. Ratliff one morning turned out his sheep, and before they had gone more than a few rods from his house a wolf was among the flock and soon had a sheep down. At night-the howling was sometimes frightful. In one part of the forest a wolf would raise a cry, those near him would repeat it at intervals, others farther away would answer, and soon the sounds became so loud, so terribly dismal, that to the mind of a superstitious person who had never before heard them, they would have suggested that pandemonium must be close at hand. With so many fierce wild animals in the forest one would almost think it strange that men were not oftener attacked by them; but the reason for the comparative good behavior of the bears and wolves is to be found in the abundance of wild game which then inhabited the woods. Wild turkeys, partridges, and other of the feathered tribe, as well as rabbits and other small animals were frequently captured by their stealthy enemies; and only a desire to regale their palate with a taste of pork or mutton enticed the beasts of prey from their haunts toward the settler's clearing. They came to know that the white man's rifle was a deadly weapon, and doubtless he was more feared on this account; for whether beasts reason or not, it is certain that they observe and remember. Next to wolves and bears the settlers were annoyed by a wild hogonce domesticated but now a savagewhich made sad havoc in the corn-fields along the creek bottom. He had long been at large, and the amount of mischief he caused assumed such magnitude that it was determined that he ought to be exterminated. To effect this a grand hunt was undertaken by men and boys with dogs. The hog was routed without difficulty, and then began an exciting chase. At length he was run into a swamp, and then ensued a desperate encounter with the dogs, in which he succeeded in killing three or four of them. At last he was captured, and, after the tusks had been knocked out, allowed to escape. A few days thereafter it appears that he was attacked by a bear, and from the appearance of the ground upon which they had fought, the conflict must have been a terrible one. Both were victors ; hog and bear were found dead a short distance from each other on the scene of conflict. Bearishness and hoggishness, obstinacy and fortitude had met; the result satisfied man, their enemy. Hogs and cattle were allowed the freedom of the woods. One night in the spring of 1812 as John Ratliff was driving his hogs into the pen he discovered that one was missing. Suspecting that it had gone to satisfy the hunger of a bear he sent for his neighbor, Noah Bowen, quite a noted bear hunter, and the next morning Bowen? Ratliff, and his son John started into the woods, following the tracks made by the hogs, to discover and punish the cause of the mischief. Bowen's best dog soon got on track of the bear and began to bark. " The dog is pretty near him," said Bowen, as the barking increased. The three hastened after the dog, and having followed about a mile discovered the bear high up in a tree, sixty or sixty-five feet from the the ground, resting upon a limb. Bowen brought his rifle to bear, putting a bullet through the animal's eye. From his lofty perch the bear fell tumbling to the earth, dead. He was a huge, heavy fellow, over three hundred and fifty pounds in weight.
Doubtless the pioneers of Howland thought that they had enough disadvantages to contend with, even when in the full enjoyment of health and strength. But in the winter of 1811-12 many were attacked by a raging epidemic fever. Among those who fell victims to this scourge and died were Mrs. William Anderson, Mrs. John Cherry, and three sons of the Norris family.
Much suffering and anxious watching was endured in many a household, even where the disease did not result fatally.
At the raising of a log barn on the Perkins farm, in 1811, for a man named Bentley, Lawyer Webb, of Warren, was the victim of a severe and most painful accident. He was a young man and had just come to Warren from the East, and in company with others attended the raising to see the fun. The walls of the barn were up and material was being raised for the roof by means of long poles or " skids," upon which the timbers were slid upward; each end of the log being in a forked stick was raised simultaneously by the builders. The skids had been peeled in order to facilitate the work of getting the weight-poles to the top. A log which was being raised thus suddenly slipped out of the fork, which held one end and came down rapidly. Webb was beneath and saw it falling. He ran backward to get out of the danger, but fell over a log lying upon the ground and the descending weight struck one of his legs, breaking it in a frightful manner, so that the bone protruded from the flesh. Dr. Seely was summoned, and found it necessary to amputate the limb above the knee. Another accident, which came near being a fatal one, occurred about 1835. One Sunday in that year Archibald Reeves went into the woods hunting. In the course of his rambles he discovered a spot where, evidently, a bear had been at work, tearing a rotten log and scratching the earth. While examining these traces he heard a sudden noise like the cracking of. a twig or the shell of a nut, and, peering through the bushes discovered a small patch of long black hair, moving about slightly among the twigs. Supposing of course that the hairy object was a part of the body of a bear, he took aim and discharged his rifle. The dimly outlined form fell, and much to Reeves' surprise, cries of a human being in distress reached his ears. He hastened to the spot, and discovered that, instead of a bear, he had shot his neighbor, John Rutledge, who, unbeknown to Reeves, was likewise engaged in a Sunday bear-hunt. Rutledge was helpless, and to all appearance mortally wounded. Aid was summoned and he was borne to the nearest house. Dr. John B. Harmon, of Warren, was sent for to attend to the sufferer. When he arrived, he ordered Rutledge's frock and shirt to be removed, and this being done, the bullet dropped out of the clothing upon the floor. It was found upon examination that the ball had struck the shoulder-blade, then glancing had passed around to the front of the body and passed out through the flesh of the upper arm. Dr. Harmon said that if the bullet had struck a very little lower a fatal wound must have been the consequence. He dressed the shoulder and, in due time, the wounded man recovered.
The first mill, a rude affair, of very limited capacity, was built about 1815, by Septimus Cadwalader, on a small branch of Mosquito creek in the northern part of the township. No one would now judge that the water-power was ever sufficient to run a mill. The mill was of logs, small, and provided with but one run of stones. Though it could do but little work and that little very imperfectly, yet this mill was a great convenience to the settlers for some ten or fifteen years, until the establishment of other and better mills in this vicinity caused it to be deserted by customers. The first saw-mill was built in 1814 by Samuel Kennedy, and was located on the same stream. It was remodeled several times, and is now owned by James Kennedy. It has not done any work for several years.
West of Mosquito creek in the northwest of the township, and underlying the surface is an extensive bed of flag-stone of the best quality. This stone bed runs nearly the whole length of the township, from north to south, beginning with the Austin quarry and extending through the Ewalt and Davis quarries south of it. This stone is most valuable, being among the best to be found anywhere in the country. The strongest acid will not affect it, and its hardness is so great that it wears but slowly. The rock is found at depths ranging from eight to twelve feet below the surface in the Austin quarry, but in other portions of the bed it comes much nearer the top of the ground. Generally there are three layers of the stone with shale rock or soap-stone between. The hardest of the stone lies deepest. After being exposed to the atmosphere the rock hardens very rapidly. Warren is especially fortunate in having this valuable natural deposit of flagstone so near. The sidewalks of this beautiful little city are mostly laid with this material. The stone splits or shales into thicknesses of three to five inches, and can readily be broken into pieces of such length and width as are desired. Its surface is usually quite smooth. Of the quarries operated that of Messrs. Austin & Co. is the most extensive, and affords employment to several men throughout the year. The stone from this quarry is much used in this part of the State, and makes sidewalks of unsurpassed excellence and durability. Besides the large flagstones material is here found for paving, gutter, and cross-walk stones. The supply is great, and it will take many years to exhaust it. The Howland springs are located on a tract of land originally owned by John Hank, a settler who came from Pennsylvania in 1802. He bought the ground, made some improvements, and afterwards sold to Dr. John W. Seely. The property has since changed owners several times, and is now owned by Shedd Brothers, of Youngstown, who have improved and beautified the grounds, making the place quite a noted summer resort. Good buildings and accommodations for pleasure-seekers attract many visitors each summer. The water of the springs is believed to possess medicinal and health-giving properties.