QUANTITY OF LAND IN THE RESERVE
A. PORTER'S REPORT TO THE DIRECTORS, HARTFORD, JANUARY 28, 1797, ON THE QUANTITY OF LAND IN THE RESERVE
"I have surveyed the said Reserve, and found it to contain 3,450,753 acres, exclusive of the islands in Lake Erie, and including Sandusky bay, supposed to exceed the islands in quantity about 30,00 acres. (Presents a map.) Fixed the south-east corner at the forty-first parallel by celestial observations, and by measuring from the Pennsylvania monument on Lake Erie, fixed by a surveyor general of that state. Determined the lake shore by a traverse from the Pennsylvania line. Was not able to run the west line, on account of the Indian title not being extinguished. Owing to imperfections of the compass, there may be an error of a few thousand acres."
Mr. Porter's estimate proved to be as near the truth, as his means of computation would allow. The length of the west line, depended upon the accuracy of the meander of the lake shore, along a rugged coast from the Pennsylvania line, until the
sum of the westings, should equal one hundred and twenty miles. Great was the astonishment of the "Excess Company," when his report was published. After 500,000 acres are subtracted from 3,450,753, the Land Company had less than they bargained for, and the "Excess Company" had nothing.
Porter's work was questioned, and a professor of mathematics from Yale College gave it a searching examination. No material error was discovered.
Not many years since, the late Leonard Case had the patience to go through each township, and determine the number of acres by the surveys. His figures are as follows:
The late General Simon Perkins has given the following, as the result of his investigations:
The calculation of Mr. Case being made in great detail, after all the lands had been disposed of, with all the surveys and drafts before him, may be regarded as very near the truth. Deducting the fire lands, 496,590 acres, from the whole Reserve, the Land Company, instead of 3,000,000 acres, only acquired 2,837,109 acres, from which a portion of the Salt Spring tract of about 4,000 acres sold by Parsons should be deducted.
Probably some of the water courses and small interior lakes, were left out of the contents of the townships, as determined by Mr. Case.
The south line of the Reserve is now considered as somewhat above the forty-first parallel, and is not strictly parallel with it. A close measurement, would probably extend the western boundary of the fire lands to the westward, due allowance not having been made, for the slack of the chain through, a tangled undergrowth.
When the valueless swamp land shall be added to the proper deductions, the company's purchase, amounted to little more than two and one-half millions of arable land.
Having determined to go on and complete the surveys of the town lines, and the townships to be allotted, and also to make partition among the owners, an assessment of ten dollars per share was levied, to be paid on the 26th of June, and another of fifteen dollars, payable September 15th, 1797.
At the annual meeting the directors and trustees, were empowered to take such measures, as should be deemed best calculated to procure a legal and practical government, over the territory of the company. As yet, the inhabitants who remained on their lands, were acknowledged or cared for by no legal authority. Most of them were at Cleveland, the extreme north-western point of the old county of Washington, erected in 1788. Their public business, as citizens of that county required them to travel to Marietta, on the Ohio. This they did not consider to be a practical government, and most of them doubted its legality. The seat of justice came a little nearer on the 29th of June, 1797, when Jefferson county was erected, with Steubenville as the county town. No magistrates were appointed for this part of the country, no civil process known, and no mode existed of making a legal conveyance. Citizens of the New England States, who have so much reverence for law, and such a constant use for it in the daily transactions of life, did not relish such a state of things. It was a lower civilization than their Indian neighbors possessed. For although there is no public authority, which the red man respects, he is his own executor of the customs of his tribe, under the simple law of retaliation.
The legislature of Connecticut, did not assume jurisdiction over her people in the western wilds, having already parted, with all shadow of right to the soil.
EXTRACTS FROM THE BARR MANUSCRIPTS.
"The Land Company in the fall of 1796, cleared about six acres of land at Conneaut, east of the creek, and sowed it with wheat, which was brought from the settlement on Genesee river, New York. This was the first crop of grain, produced by civilized men on the Western Reserve.
The sufferings of the families at Conneaut during the winter, were very great. The people at Cleveland were in a state of comfort, when compared with those at Conneaut, who were obliged to kill the cattle left by Mr. Chapman in order to sustain life. The Indians supplied the Cleveland party with game, which was abundant, and they had the company's stock of provision, on which they could draw at any time. The savages were friendly and even kind. They deserved the appellation of friends, instead of savages; except when they were under the influence of intoxication.
Among them were "Ogoncr" or Ogontz, and Ottawa; Sagamaw, a Chippewa, and Seneca, of the Seneca nation; all chiefs of their respective tribes.
Seneca was the most friendly, and is spoken of as a noble specimen of Indian character. In the fall, the Senecas, Ottawas, Delawares and Chippewas resorted here ; and having procured what articles the traders had for them, dispersed to hunt through the winter, on the Cuyahoga, the Grand river, Mahoning,
Tuscarawas, Kilbuck, Black rivers. In the spring they returned with their furs and game, and after trafficking away their stock, launched their bark canoes to repair to Sandusky plains and the Miami prairies, for the summer. Here they planted corn, beans and potatoes, around their villages.
While here the Senecas encamped at the foot of the bluff, between Vineyard and Superior lanes. On the west side were the Ottawas, Delawares and Chippewas. From the manner they had been hunted down by the Pennsylvania, they called them Long Knives (swords), but the new corners, they called by the more complimentary term of "Sagmosh" or white men, and sometimes Bostonians.
Seneca was seen here in 1809, which is the last known of him. Ogantz was at Sandusky in the year 1811."
James Kingsbury was the first adventurer on his own account, who arrived on the Company's purchase. He came from Alsted, New Hampshire, with his wife, Eunice,(ne Waldo,) arriving at Conneaut soon after the surveyors. There were also three children, whose fortunes were cast among the pioneers: Abagail, who were afterwards Mrs. Sherman, of Cleveland, then at the age of three years, Amos Shepherd Kingsbury, about a year younger, and Almon Kingsbury, an infant.
Eunice Waldo was also from Alsted. In November, after the surveyors had left, he found it necessary to return to New Hampshire. The journey was made by way of Erie, Buffalo, Canadaigua, and Albany, on horse back. He expected it would occupy four, perhaps six weeks. Reaching New Hampshire with no unusual delay or hardships, he was immediately attacked with fever, which run the usual course. From Buffalo one of his party returned to Conneaut, bringing the last news, the wife expected to receive until his return. Until winter, the Indians occasionally furnished her with meat. A nephew of the Judge, about thirteen years of age, was left at Conneaut, with a cow and a yoke of oxen. The expected husband did not return; no news arrived, and, in the height of her perplexity, a son was added to the household.
Mrs. Gun was at Conneaut at the birth of this child, the first white native of the Reserve. As soon as the Judge could safely ride a horse, he started for the shore of Lake Erie. He reached Buffalo nearly exhausted, on the 3d of December. The next day he set forward, although the winter snow covered the ground.
It was unusually deep, and fell without intermission every day for three weeks. In places it was up to the chin of a man, standing erect. Weak and distressed in mind, he moved forward every day, having only a Indian for a guide, companion and purveyor,
sometimes making only a few miles. It was the 24th December when he reached the cabin. Mrs. Kingsbury had finally recovered strength enough to move about, and had concluded to start with her family for Erie, the next day. Towards evening a gleam of sunshine, broke through the long clouded heavens, and lighted up the surrounding forest. Looking out, she beheld the figure of her husband approaching the door.
He was nearly exhausted, his horse having died of exposure. Mrs. Kingsbury relapsed into a fever, which deprived her young child of its natural food. The provisions left by the surveyors, were nearly gone. Before Mr. K. had recovered from the effects of the journey, he was forced to return to Erie; and procure sustenance for his family. As there was no beaten track, it was impossible for the oxen to travel in so deep snow. He obliged to drag a hand sled to Erie, and obtaining a bushel of wheat, to draw it himself to Conneauat. This they cracked and boiled. Soon after the cow died. The cattle had not other food, that the browse or small twigs of trees, which were cut for them to feed upon. The young lad did not know the difference, in different kinds of timber for this purpose. It was supposed the cow died, from eating the browse of oak tree. On the twigs of the elm, beech and linn which are tender and nutritious, cattle may live through the winter, as well as the deer and the elk.
While the cow lived, there was a chance for the life of the infant, who was then less than two months old.
The child who had been named Albert, grew weaker from mere starvation, every day; its moans incessantly piercing the ears, and distressing the hearts of the parents, both of whom were sick. In about a month, after Mr. Kingsbury reached home from the east; the child died. There was only Mr. K. and his young nephew at the place at the time.
They found a pine box which the surveyors had left, of which a rude coffin was made. As they carried the remains from the house, the sick mother raised herself in bed; following with her eyes the lonely party; to a rise of ground where they had dug a grave. She fell backward and for two weeks, was scarcely conscious of what was passing, or of what had passed. Late in February or early in March, Mr. Kingsbury who still feeble, made and effort to obtain something which his wife could eat, for it was evident that nutriment was her principal necessity. The severest rigors of winter began to relax. Instead of fierce northern blasts, sweeping over the frozen surface of the lake; there were southern breezes, which softened the snow and moderated the atmosphere.
Scarcely able to walk, he loaded an old "Queen's Arm," which his uncle had carried in the war of the revolution; and which is still in the keeping of the family. He succeeded in reaching the woods, and
sat down upon a log. A solitary pigeon came, and perched upon the highest branches of a tree. It was not only high, but distant. The chances of hitting the bird were few indeed, but a human life seemed to depend upon those chances. A single shot found its way to the mark, and he bird fell. It was well cooked and the broth given to his wife, who was immediately revived. For the first time in two weeks she spoke in a natural and rational way, saying, "James, where did you get this?"
When the surveyors under Mr. Pease returned to their work in the spring, the family came with them to Cleveland, as their permanent home. On the west side of the river, at a point which cannot now be fixed with certainly, but probably near where Centre and Main streets cross, there was a dilapidated house.
The old settlers think it was erected by the French, but it was more probably done by the English, who were here soon after the peace of 1763. It was a better building than the French were in the habit of putting up in such remote places. It had been a comfortable and capacious log store-house. Very likely the French had built a cabin near the mouth of the river, which had disappeared.
Indians are universally destructive. Property, and especially houses that are not protected, remain but a short time after they are abandoned.
Probably this house was built about 1786, and used for storage. Mr. Kingsbury occupied it while he put up a cabin east of the Public Square, near where the Case block stands. He determined, however, to locate on the bluff, south-east of Cleveland, which extends south from Doan's Corners to Newburg. His first trail was marked on the trees, near the line of Kinsman street. Finding a good spring near where he afterwards lived and died, another cabin was erected, and on the 11th of December, 1797, the family were fixed in their new home.
There were three children, Abagail, (Mrs. Sherman,) aged four years, Amos S., and Almon. He was the first to locate on the hill. The year 1797 was so sickly about the mouth of the Cuyahoga, that the settlers sought the highlands to escape remittent fevers. During the next year there was a thriving settlement on the ridge, by which the city was materially diminished in population.
Rodolphus Edwards, Nathaniel Doan, Elijah Gun, Ezekiel Hawley, and James Hamilton soon fixed their cabins along the bluff road, neighbors of the original pioneer.
Judge Kingsbury now concluded to have a frame house, by way of aristocratic eminence. The logs were hauled to Williams' saw mill at Newburg, in the winter of 1799-1800. A freshet in the spring carried away the dam, and no sawing was done that season.
His frame stood one year without covering, when he concluded to have a mill of his own, and erected one on Kingsbury brook near the road, the remains of which may yet be seen. During the first winter on the ridge, they were obliged to pack their wheat from the city, pounding it by hand, and boiling it to a pudding.
The first crop raised by him was at his city cabin, east of the square.
In 1806 they had apples from their own trees, in the venerable orchard which still graces the old homestead.
On the 10th of December, 1843, Mrs., Kingsbury departed this life at the age of seventy-three years, and on the 12th of December, 1847, the old pioneer followed her, being nearly 80 years of age.
In the Cleveland Plain Dealer of December 15, 1847, there was published the following
Hon. James Kingsbury, who died at his residence in Newburg, on the 12th inst. In the eightieth year of his age, if not the last, was among the last of the few remaining pioneers, who bore a prominent part in the settlement of the lake shore. Like most of early settlers, he encountered hardships and trials which few of the present day can appreciate. Many of the incidents of his life are not only interesting in themselves,
but intimately connected with the history of the Western Reserve; which, it is hoped, will yet be more fully written.
The subject of this notice, "the Judge," as he was usually denominated, was born in Norwich, Connecticut, December 29, 1767. He was the fifth son of Absalom Kingsbury,. Who then resided in Connecticut, but soon after removed with his family to Alsted, New Hampshire. Several of the Judge's older brothers served under General Washington in the army of the Revolution. Ebenezer, the eldest brother, distinguished himself at the battle of Bennington, as one of the brave fellows who first scaled the breastworks of the enemy. The same old musket, or Queen's arm, with which he did such good execution, still remains in possession of the family at Newburg as a kind of heirloom.
James, being at this time too young to engage in the public service, was employed at home in agricultural pursuits. In October, 1788, he was married to Miss Eunice Waldo, a lady of New Hampshire, much esteemed for the amiableness of her disposition and moral excellence of her character. She lived to share with him his joys and sorrows as an affectionate wife, for more than half a century. In 1793 he received a military commission, with the rank of Colonel, from the Governor of New Hampshire-a mark of public confidence, as well as a distinction of some consequence in those days. But finding no
occasion for the exercise of his military talents, and being stimulated with a love of adventure, he gathered his little family about him, consisting of his wife and three young children, and in June, 1796, with a few articles of households effects, a yoke of oxen, a horse and one cow, commenced a long and weary pilgrimage into the western wilderness. After some weeks of toil and hardship, he reached the shore of lake Ontario, near the site of the present town of Oswego. The facilities of navigation on the lakes at that early period, were comparatively unknown, and nothing better than a flat-bottomed open boat could be procured. In this he embarked with his family and household effects, while the oxen, horse and cow, were driven along the shore. He could only sail in calm weather, following the windings of the coast. When the emigrants reached the head of navigation on lake Ontario, the horse and oxen were very serviceable in transporting the boat across the portage to Buffalo creek, a distance of about thirty miles, where the gallant little craft was launched with due ceremony upon the blue waters of lake Erie. Here the family were so fortunate as to meet with Moses Cleaveland, Esq., agent of the Directors of the Connecticut Land Company, then on his way to join the surveying party who had preceded him.
The territory, within a few years after the Judge had made his location, became settled by the whites
to a considerable extent, and his fellow citizens selected him to fill several important offices of trust. In 1800, the Governor appointed him a Judge in the Court of Common Pleas and Quarter Sessions of the Peace, for the county of Trumbull, which comprehended within its limits, at that time, nearly the whole of the Western Reserve. The seat of justice was at Warren, and the first session of the Court for the want of a more convenient hall, was held with becoming dignity between two corn cribs, and the prisoners of the term, it is said, were placed within the cribs for safe keeping. At a subsequent period, the Judge held the office of Justice of the Peace and collector of taxes, under the district system. In 1805 he was elected a member of the Legislature, and having served one term was re-elected, and proved himself in all respects worthy of the trust.
In his politics, the Judge was always democratic. He supported the administration of Jefferson, Madison, Jackson and Van Buren, and gave his last vote in favor of President Polk. In 1812, he was engaged in forwarding supplies to the American forces, and in the communication of intelligence. Being on familiar terms with Commodore Perry and General Harrison, he was frequently admitted into their councils, and his opinions were treated with respect. On the day preceding the battle of Lake Erie, while Commodore Perry was cruising in quest of the enemy, the Judge went on board the
flag ship to pay his compliments to the Commodore, who in the course of conversation, asked him what he would do, if they should chance to fall in with the British fleet while he was on board? " What would I do," replied the Judge, "Why sir, I would fight."
Of the Judge, it may be said with propriety, that he was the patriarch of the land-among the last of the brave pioneers on the lake shore. He possessed a noble heart-a heart that overflowed with kindness like the gush of a fountain. His generosities were never stinted in a good cause, nor his charities bestowed ostentatiously to be blazoned abroad among men. He regarded all mankind as his brethren and kinsmen, belonging to the same common household."
In commenting upon this obituary notice, J.W. Bidle, a pioneer of Pittsburgh, made the following observations in his paper, the Pittsburgh American:
"We knew three well, good old Patriarch, when we were five and thirty years younger, and the hospitality of thy mansion extended to us then, is still fresh on our memory.
In 1812 Judge Kingsbury lived a little beyond the Mills, six miles from "the city" and the youngest city and smallest even its age, we had at that day seen. Kingsbury had been one of the earliest settlers-Major Carter was another, and occupied a red frame
house on the top of the high plain which overlooked the Cuyahoga. A fine sample of pioneerism was this Major Carter. He was a noble fellow-a fit contemporary of Kingsbury, but he was suffering at the time we knew him with a cancer on his lip, which we fear brought him to a premature grave. George Wallace and he, kept the only taverns then in Cleveland.
Dr. Long was the only practicing physician and a thorough bred one. There was no meeting house or established clergyman and but two stores, Perry's and Hiram Hanchetts. The road to Sandusky crossed the Cuyahoga a quarter, or may be half a mile from the lake, opposite Carter's house-the wild grass on the river bottom, below that road to the lake, being then undisturbed even by a scythe.
Our thoughts have often been recalled to the pleasant hours we have passed at Cleveland and at the farm and mansion, a good stout frame house, of our friend Kingsbury-then with a family of adult sons and daughters, but whom until this notice struck us, we had supposed long since been gathered to his fathers."
For further reading: Encyclopedia of Cleveland History