Welcome to the Firelands History Website


About 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. “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 Sufferers’ Land 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 Little Doctor on the Black Horse Index of Posts to read the entire memoir.
  4. The Norwalk High School Class of 1907: Ninety years after Platt Benedict founded Norwalk, Ohio, his descendant Harriott Benedict Wickham, graduated from Norwalk High School. Now, one hundred ten years after the latter event, we follow the Class of 1907 through their senior year.

Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

© 2011 by David W. Barton. All rights reserved


3 Responses

  1. David: Love your website about the Firelands. I am doing a presentation in Florida in February about the Western Reserve to the OGS Florida chapter. Was wondering if it would be all right to do a couple of screen shots from your site and tell people about it. Thanks.

    Brent Morgan


  2. i David,

    My 3rd great-grandfather, William Lowther, was a resident of Huron County for a short period of time before making his way on to Illinois, where he remained the rest of his life. His brother, Edward Hamilton Lowther, arrived first in Ohio from Tompkins, NY in 1817 or 1818 and remained there the rest of his life. One of his daughters married into the Congers family. Henry Lowther and his second wife Margaret Calderhead came to the Firelands around the 1840s and is buried in Edward’s family plot.

    I am looking for some good resources to use in researching the Lowthers in Ohio. What would you suggest?

    Oh, and I found your e-mail on your Firelands website.

    Thanks so much!

    Stacey Siepmann


  3. You are so right about photographs. I know I never write the names on the back of the pictures, because I just don’t have time and energy 🙂 How can I blame my ancestors? 🙂 But my mother always wrote the names and a short description, bless her.


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