Welcome to the Firelands History Website

“Sufferers’ Land.”

These evocative and descriptive phrases refer to a region in northern Ohio set aside by the state of Connecticut for “Sufferers” burned out of their homes by the British during the American Revolution. Part of the Western Reserve, it covered present-day Huron and Erie counties.

After the War of 1812, a flood of emigration erupted out of crowded New England, the result of a pent up desire for new land that had been held in check by the threat of Native Americans defending their homes, and the spur of economic hardship engendered by the catastrophic “Year without Summer” of 1816. Most of these pioneers were bound for the Firelands.

Thus began one of the great migrations of American history; a flood of humanity that poured out of New England and settled lands stretching along the southern shores of the Great Lakes from upstate New York to Illinois and across the Mississippi River into Iowa.

These settlers greatly impacted the history of the United States. In the 1850’s, some of them entered Kansas and clashed with the leading edge of another great migration that had settled the South — a tragic foreshadowing of the Civil War. The grandchildren of the settlers of the Old Northwest formed the backbone of the Union Army of the West during that war and made possible the Republican majority that ruled the nation the remainder of the century.

This website presents histories of the Firelands and genealogies of families that settled there.

  1. The Sufferers’ Land is a history of the settlement of the Firelands from the founding of the town of Norwalk in 1817 by Platt Benedict to the final Pioneers Reunion and founding of The Firelands Historical Society in 1857. This story may be read by selecting any of the 53 episodes in the Index of Posts.
  2. Genealogical information of families who settled in the Firelands is also included on this website. These include the Benedict, Wickham, Preston, Taylor, BuckinghamDeForest, Deaver, and Lockwood families.
  3. Little Doctor on the Black Horse is a memoir of Doctor David DeForest Benedict of Norwalk, Ohio, a Union Surgeon during the Civil War. It was written by his granddaughter Harriott Benedict Wickham, who included in the story excerpts of letters he wrote to his wife from the field and from Libby Prison, where he was a prisoner of war. See the Index of Posts to read the entire memoir.

I would appreciate comments about this website. Please click on the comments button below, or contact me by email at davidwilliambarton.com. Thank you.

The Firelands History Website had a great 2013. Thanks to all who visited the site this past year. Please see the stats at the 2013 in Review post.

© 2011 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved

Genealogy Wiki and Wikipedia Presentation

Have you ever had had to deal with audio-visual problems when giving a talk to a large audience? If so, you know how I felt on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 when almost from the git-go, technical difficulties plagued my “Genealogy Wiki’s” presentation to the Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. I bumbled on, wondering how I’d get out of this mess, but fortunately, the forbearance of a large and enthusiastic audience saved the day.

Genealogy TreeI showed up early and found a nice librarian who helped me connect a laptop computer I’d borrowed from the library to the projector. The room soon filled to capacity. Our society president was thrilled with the turnout.

I began.

Wiki Logo2Wiki Logo

My overview of Wikis went well. What are Wikis, you ask? Wikis enable communities to write documents collaboratively using a simple markup language and a web browser. The “community” can be the world, as with Wikipedia, or a smaller group, such as a corporation, governmental organization—or the genealogy community.

The audience was with me–my slides were professional–then I started to talk about Wikis used for genealogy and the whole shebang went south. The image on the screen of my last slide would not switch to the internet so I could demonstrate how to use the FamilySearch Wiki . The kind librarian returned to help while I answered questions, desperate to keep people from walking out on me.

 We Relate Logowikitree-logo

Mercifully, the librarian soon fixed the problem and I threw my slides out the window and continued to show, not tell, how three types of Genealogy Wikis work.

 Wikipedia logo 2

Unfortunately, I did not have time to create a Wikipedia article during the presentation, as I planned, but gave the audience a peek “behind the curtain” at the edit page for an article I had created for my ancestor, mathematician Suzan Rose Benedict.

If you’re interested in learning about Wikis used for genealogy, check out my slides on the HRGS Website.

Labor Day in Norwalk, Ohio – 1908

Labor Day in 1908, was on September 7, as it is this year. The holiday in those days was nothing like the family barbecue event it is today. Back then, unions were just gaining strength and Labor Day was a collective holiday that appealed to the general public.

For Harriott Benedict Wickham, great-great-great granddaughter of Norwalk, Ohio founders Platt and Sally Benedict, the holiday was the most exciting day of the year. Here’s what she had to say about the day in her diary:

Labor Day, the most exciting day of the year in Norwalk. The Labor Unions always have lots of doin’s on Labor Day, the town is full of people, and it is just like a carnival.

1908 Labor Day Parade in Cincinnati, Ohio

1908 Labor Day Parade in Cincinnati, Ohio

I didn’t go downtown till about 2:30, just too late to see them climb the greased pole. Eddie and Irene and I were together most of the afternoon, taking in the different races, and watermelon & pie eating contests. The streets were jammed, but everybody was good natured, and so nobody minded the crowding & shouting and showers of confetti. About five o’clock we met Lucy, Ellen, and Gladys, and went with them down to the water fight which the fire department men had in front of the High School. That was lots of fun. We stood on the fence where we had a good view, and just yelled ourselves hoarse.

Fireworks Image

After supper, Lucy, Edna, Ellen and myself took in the band concert, and then went down and watched the fireworks from the roof of Fulstone’s barn. They set off the fireworks from the middle of the high bridge and they were very good, and what a mob there was on the streets. You could scarcely get through. After the fireworks, we went up to the Electric Theatre. My hair is so full of dust and confetti I don’t know as I shall ever make it presentable. Walter Hoffman was in town this afternoon, but I didn’t see him. I’m sorry for I would like to see him again.

Happy Labor Day!

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,300 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

History of the Fire-Lands, by W.W. Williams – 1879






W.W. Williams’ History of the Fire-Lands is the most comprehensive history of this region by far. In his Prefatory Note, Mr. Williams writes that the Firelands is the most documented region in Ohio, and gives the credit for that to the Firelands Historical Society, which has been in existence since 1857. Although Mr. Williams used the journal of that society, The Firelands Pioneer as an important source for History of the Firelands, he also drew from many other  primary sources, to include court records and personal interviews with settlers still surviving in the 1870’s. The resulting book is a treasure trove of histories, biographies, and illustrations for the genealogist and historian interested in this region and the families that settled there.

History of the Fire-Lands is organized into two sections. The first section is a comprehensive history of Huron and Erie Counties that includes a description of the area and traces its social, political, and cultural development. This section is followed by detailed histories of the towns and villages that made up the original Firelands; mainly present day Erie and Huron counties, but also including townships that are now in Ashland and Ottawa Counties.

Interspersed throughout the text are over 130 illustrations that include portraits of early settlers, depictions of their residences and detailed maps. The book also contains the biographies of 110 prominent pioneers and their families. Some of these biographies include family genealogies.

History of the Fire-Landsis available on-line at OpenLibrary.org. The remainder of this post contains the book’s Table of Contents with links to the chapters of the History of Huron and Erie County, the Histories of Towns and Villages of Huron and Erie Counties and the three townships of the original Firelands in Ashland and Ottawa Counties, the Illustrations, and the Biographies. The biographies are not presented on this post in the same order as they are in the book, but are sorted alphabetically by last name to make it easier for readers to search.

This book is an important resource for anyone seeking information about the Firelands and the families that settled there. I hope you find it informative and entertaining.

NOTE: I encourage readers to contact me with any comments, corrections, or criticisms about this post, especially any problems navigating the links to the book or within the book. Thank you. DWB








  1. The Connecticut Western Reserve
  2. The Suffering Towns of Connecticut
  3. The Fire-Lands – A List of the Sufferers and their Losses
  4. Indian Title – Copy of the Original Treaty
  5. The Survey and Partition
  6. Physical Features of Huron County – Geography and Topography
  7. Geology of Erie County – Surface, Features, and Deposit
  8. The Pre-historic Fire-Lands
  9. The Moravian Missions
  10. Early Settlement
  11. Pioneer Times
  12. Civil History
  13. Erie County – Its Erection and Organization
  14. Civil List
  15. Political History
  16. Statistics
  17. The Press
  18. The Fire-lands Historical Society
  19. Military History of the Fire-Lands
  20. Roster of Soldiers













New Haven





New London





Sandusky City










Kelly’s Island



Ruggles, Ashland County

Danbury, Ottawa County

Put-in-Bay, Ottawa County



Outline Maps of Huron and Erie Counties

Bellevue Local News Building


Residence of John Gardiner

Portrait of Ashbel G. Post

Residence of Ashbel G. Post

Portrait of Judge Chas. B. Stickney

Portrait of Col. Franklin Sawyer

Portrait of Hon. John A. Williamson

Portrait of Dr. John Tifft

Portrait of Ansel Baker

Portrait of Eri Mesnard

Portrait of George Butt

Portrait of John Gardiner (steel)

Portrait of Platt Benedict

Portrait of Hon. Timothy Baker (steel)

Residence and Factory of B. Cortrite

Portrait of David Harlow Pease

Portrait of John Laylin

Portrait of Caleb H. Gallup


Portrait of Benjamin F. McCormick


Residence of Richardson Eaton

Portraits of Richardson Eaton and Wife

Portrait of Richard Hindley

Portrait of William N. Mitchell

Portraits of Ransom B. Ellsworth and Wife


Portrait of Samuel McCammon, M.D.

Residence of Hiram Smith


Portraits of A.J. Thomas and Wife

Residence of A.J. Thomas

Portrait of Thomas Lawrence

Portrait of Alvin Brightman

Residence of Lesiter Smith (with portraits)

Residence of N.S. Hakes

Portraits of N.S. Hakes and Wife

Portraits of Samuel S. Newcomb and Wife

Residence of Edward Conger (with portraits)

Portraits of Timothy Lawrence and Wife

Residence of W.G. Mead

Portrait of W.G. Mead

Portrait of George Lawrence


Portraits of Martin Denman and Wife

Portrait of Dudley S. Humphrey

Portrait of William Humphrey

Portrait of Dr. Edgar Martin


Portrait of Isaac Underhill

Portrait of Orrin W. Head

Portrait of John S. Davis (steel)

Portraits of William A. Bishop and Wife

Portrait of Henry P. Stentz (steel)

Portrait of Robert G. Martin (steel)

Portrait of Thomas Dickey

Portraits Salmon Drake and Wife


Portraits of Sherman Smith and Wife

Residence of Andrew J. Blackman

Portraits of Andrew J. Blackman and Wife

Portrait of Edwin W. Cunningham


Portrait of Lucien Jones

Residence of William S. Purdy

Portraits of William S. Purdy and Wife

Portraits of Ransom Purdy and Wife

Portraits of Major Purdy and Wife

Residence of Major Purdy


Portrait of Dr. William Robinson

Portraits of Huriah Robinson and Wife

Residence of Huriah Robinson

Residence of Daniel Sweetland


Residence of William Motson

Portraits of Thomas T. Mulford and Wife

Residence of Thomas T. Mulford

Portraits of R.G. Richards and Wife

Residence of R.G. Richards

Residence of John Loveland (with portraits)

Residence of John Skinner (with portraits)


Residence of A.D. Stotts (with portraits)

Residence of F.C. Paine (with portraits)


Portraits of Philip Hawxhurst and Wife

Residence of Philip Hawxhurst


Residence of Henry G. Washburn (with portraits)

Residence of Chas. A. Sutton (with portraits)

Residence of William Sutton

Portraits of John M. Carl and Wife

Residence of John M. Carl

Portraits of David Sutliff and Wife

Residence of David Sutliff

Residence of John Ellis (with portraits)

Residence of William B. Ellis (with portraits)

Portraits of Joseph Sutton and Wife


Residence of Clinton McKellogg

Residence of Isaac DeWitt (with portraits)

Portraits of William Baker and Wife


Portrait of Holsy Hubbard

Portraits of Zelotus Barrett and Wife

Residence of the late Zelotus Barrett

Residence of Jesse Perkins (with portraits)

Portrait of Dr. A.D. Skellenger

Portrait of Lyman Dunks

Portrait of Tracy Case

Portrait of E.H. Curtiss


Residence of E.L. Dole (with portraits)

Portrait of David Williams

Portrait of Thomas G. Amsden

Portrait of Frederick A. Chapman (steel)

Portrait of Gurdon Woodward (steel)

Portrait of Mary S. Woodward (steel)

Portrait of Bourdett Wood (steel)

Portrait of Mrs. Bourdett Wood (steel)

Portrait of Dr. L.G. Harkness

Portrait of Mrs. L.G. Harkness

Portrait of D.M. Harkness


Residence of W. Robinson (with portraits)

Portraits of John H. Niles and Wife

Residence of Harvey J. Doolittle

Portraits of Harvey J. Doolittle and Wife

Portraits of John S. Hester and Wife

Residence of John S. Hester

Portrait of Charles T. Hester

Residence of Ebenezer Lawrence (with portraits)

Portraits of James H. Dailey and Wife

Residence of James H. Dailey

Portraits of John Bowen and Wife

Residence of John Bowen

Residence of A.B. Gilson (with portraits)


Portrait of F.D. Parish


Residence of R.G. Richards (with portraits)


Portraits of Benjamin Summers and Wife

Portraits of Milton Laughlin and Wife

Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Tuttle

Portrait of Hon. Almon Ruggles

Portraits of P.B Barber and Wife


Portrait of Philetus Ferris


Portraits of Datus Kelley and Wife

Portraits of Charles Carpenter and Wife

Portrait of George W. Wires


Portrait of Lorenz Műller

Portrait of Simon Fox

Portraits of Charles DeKay Townsend and Wife



Thomas G. Amsden

Ansel Baker

Hon. Timothy Baker

William Baker

Rev. Phinaes B. Barber

Roxana S. Barber

Zelotus Barrett

Platt Benedict

William A. Bishop

Andrew J. Blackman

John Bowen

Alvin Brightman

John Buffington

George Butt

Charles Carpenter

Isaac P. and Tracy Case

Frederick A. Chapman

Dean Clapp

David Conger

Barnard Cortrite

Edwin W. Cunningham

E.H. Curtiss

James H. Dailey

John S. Davis

Martin Denman

Isaac De Witt

Thomas Dickey

Orrin Dole

Harvey J. Doolittle

Salmon Drake

John Ellis

William Benson Ellis

Ransom B. Ellsworth

Simon Fox

Caleb H. Gallup

John Gardiner

A.B. Gilson

Norman S. Hakes

The Rev. Moses Hamilton

D.M. Harkness

Dr. L.G. Harkness

Samson and Philip Hawxhurst

Orrin W. Head

Charles T. Hester

John S. Hester

Richard Hindley

Dudley S. Humphrey

William Humphrey

Lucien Jones

Datus Kelley

Clinton M. Kellogg

Milton Laughlin

John Laylin

Ebenezer Lawrence

George Lawrence

Thomas Lawrence

Timothy Lawrence

John Loveland

Samuel McCammon, M.D.

Benjamin F. McCormick

Richard Lord McCurdy

W.G. Mead

Eri Mesnard

William N. Mitchell

Thomas T. Mulford

William Motson

The Newcombs of Bronson

John H. Niles

F.C. Paine

F.D. Parish

Reuben Parker

David Harlow Pease

Jesse Perkins

Ashbel G. Post

The Purdy Family

Major Purdy

Dr. Edgar Martin

Robert G. Martin

Lorenz Műller

Roswell Nichols

Richard G. Richards

Huriah Robinson

Wesley Robinson

Hon. Almon Ruggles

Percival B. Salisbury

Col. Franklin Sawyer

Dr. A.D. Skellenger

John Skinner

Erastus Smith

Hiram Smith

Leister Smith

Sherman Smith and Wife

Henry P. Stentz

Gideon T. Stewart

Judge Chas. B. Stickney

A.D. Stotts

Benjamin Summers

Joseph Sutton

A.J. Thomas

Doctor John Tifft

Chas. DeKay Townsend

Hudson Tuttle

Isaac Underhill

Henry G. Washburn

David Williams

Hon. John A. Williamson

George W. Wires

Bourdett Wood

Amos Woodward

Gurdon Woodward


© 2011 by David Barton. All rights reserved

Wickham Family Cemetery – Sodus Point NY

The Wickham Family Burial Plot in Sodus Point, New York contains the graves of almost a dozen Wickhams to include those of William and Catherine Wickham, parents of Frederick Wickham, early settler of Norwalk, Ohio and longtime owner and editor of the Norwalk Reflector whose story is told on this website. Below is a letter from the Sodus Point Historical Society describing an initiative to place a plaque at the cemetery memorializing William Wickham. I  encourage all who are able to help with this project. Thank you.



Preston Family Genealogy


FIRELANDS CONNECTION: Read the genealogy of Lucy Preston, wife of Frederick Wickham, who came to the Firelands in 1819 with her parents Samuel and Esther Preston and her brother Charles. This is an excerpt from the transcription of a handwritten notebook found in the papers of Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. The family history in this notebook was the work of Harriott and her mother Agnes Caroline Wickham, who separately researched and made entries in it over a period of seventy years.  Agnes Wickham wrote roughly half of the entries in the notebook from 1909 to 1915.  In 1915, she gave handwritten copies of her work to each of her five children: Eleanor, William, Lucy, David and Harriott.  Harriott continued her mother’s work off and on for the next sixty years, adding entries as late as 1977.


Rootsweb Preston Surname Message Board

Genforum Preston Surname Forum

Preston Genealogy and Family History on DistantCousin.com

DeForest Genealogy


FIRELANDS CONNECTION: Read a genealogy of Sally DeForest Benedict, who with her husband Platt Benedict, founded the town of Norwalk, Ohio in 1817. Sally is the namesake of the Sally DeForest Chapter of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution (DAR) in Norwalk, Ohio. This genealogy is an excerpt from the transcription of a handwritten notebook I discovered in my grandmother’s papers. The family history in this notebook was the work of two descendants of Sally DeForest Benedict, Agnes Caroline Wickham and her daughter, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton, who separately researched and made entries in it over a period of seventy years.  Agnes Wickham wrote roughly half of the entries in the notebook from 1909 to 1915.  In 1915, she gave handwritten copies of her work to each of her five children: Eleanor, William, Lucy, David and Harriott.  Harriott continued her mother’s work off and on for the next sixty years, adding entries as late as 1977.



Rootsweb DeForest Surname Message Board

Genforum DeForest Family Forum

Christian Genealogy and Family History on DistantCousin.com




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