The Firelands History Website
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.
“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 in 1857.
Little Doctor on the Black Horse is a memoir of Doctor David DeForest Benedict of Norwalk, Ohio, a Union Surgeon during the Civil War.
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.
Dave Barton is passionate about history and genealogy. As a child, he listened for hours at a time, spellbound, as his grandmother Harriott Wickham Barton spun tales of the Firelands, where his ancestors settled 200 years ago. The result of this obsession: The Firelands History Website. Dave is past President and current Vice President for Programs of the Highlands Ranch Genealogical Society in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and editor of the society’s newsletter. He has published a novella, Sin of the Rich Man, available on Amazon, and is currently working on a historical novel, Year Without Summer, based on his Firelands research.