Sufferers’ Land – Post 49 – End of an Era

Sufferers’ Land

End of an Era

by Dave Barton

From the time he established The Huron Reflector in 1830, Lucy Wickham’s father Samuel Preston had been senior proprietor and publisher of the paper. Possessing a vigorous constitution, he continued to work at the printing trade daily.

firelands-historical-society-museum

The Preston-Wickham home is now the Firelands Historical Museum. On a visit to the museum several years ago, I noted that the staircase where Samuel Preston had his fatal fall is steep and narrow, with a tight turn at the landing. My late father, in his youth, was pallbearer for the last Wickham resident of the home. He once told me that they almost dropped the casket while navigating it down those stairs.

On Wednesday, March 3, 1852, he was setting type in the pressroom on the second floor of the Wickham home. Finished with his work, he headed downstairs and suddenly fainted and fell, striking his head violently on the floor. He fractured his skull and died soon afterwards. It is probable that his fainting spell was the result of alcohol. Samuel was a heavy drinker, and it is likely he had a bottle for company that day. [1]

The death of another early pioneer came several months later. Sally DeForest Benedict died on Thursday, June 24, 1852 in her home. She had come to Norwalk in 1817 with her husband Platt Benedict, and with him had been a leader in the community. Platt grieved at her passing, and so did the rest of the village. Everyone remembered her as a good, religious woman.

Mrs. Gardiner, a friend of Sally, said of her, she was one of the first settlers in Norwalk and one of the sound women who came here at that early day. She was a very domestic woman; attended well to her household; a good wife and mother; a true friend; a help to all in time of need, a lover of her home and her church. When her strength would not permit her to walk to the two services (Episcopal), one in the forenoon, and the other, after a short intermission, she would take her lunch and remain in the church. She said to me, ‘I love to be here; there is no place that suits me as well.’ [2]

Sally joined a long line of original settlers of the Firelands who had passed on. The mantle of responsibility had already passed to their children. Now their grandchildren were growing up in the village.

The lives of these grandchildren were much different from the rough frontier lives of their parents and grandparents. Some of the old settlers considered them soft. However, they were growing into men and women who would soon face a terrible challenge, a challenge they would meet with the same courage their parents and grandparents had shown in conquering the frontier.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] From the obituary of Samuel Preston, The Firelands Pioneer,  New Series, Volume XX; The Firelands Historical Society; December 1918; pp. 2187-8.

[2] “Ancient Dames of Norwalk,” by Charlotte Wooster Boalt, The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XX; The Firelands Historical Society; December 1918, p. 1998.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: The Wickham Family in the 1850’s

Next Post: Norwalk, Ohio Life in the 1850’s

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Advertisements

Sufferers’ Land – Post 47 – The Benedict Family in the 1850’s

Sufferers’ Land

The Benedict Family in the 1850’s

by Dave Barton

The Benedict, Wickham, Preston, Buckingham and Gallup families had not lost anyone to the cholera in 1849. Samuel Preston had contracted it, but survived. They counted their blessings and returned to living their lives.

Business and marriage connected these families. They lived close together along the sandy road on the ridge and often visited each other’s homes.

The Benedicts lived in two households. Platt, seventy-eight years old and Sally, seventy-five, still lived in the brick house they built two years after they arrived in Norwalk. Platt’s occupation is recorded in the Census of 1850 as farmer, although he was involved in much more than farming. [1]

Platt and Sally Benedict

Down the street was the Gallup home, where Hallet lived with three of the Gallup children. He and Clarissa, who now lived with her parents and the other two children, had had a stormy marriage and lived apart off and on for years. In 1836, she moved to her parents’ home with her younger children. In 1843, she received land in her own name from her brother David Mead Benedict at his death, making her financially independent. In 1846, Hallet persuaded Clarissa to return home, but two years later she moved back to Platt and Sally’s house. Although they did not divorce, Hallet and Clarissa would never again live together.

On Seminary Street was the home of Jonas and Caroline Benedict. The census identified Jonas as a farmer with a net worth of $7,000. Fanny, now ten years old, was living at home and attending school, as was a five-year-old girl, Caroline Chapman, probably a niece of Fanny’s stepmother, Caroline Chapman Benedict.

Two other young women were members of the household. Jane Brown was a twenty-three year old schoolteacher boarding with the Benedicts. She probably taught Fanny and Caroline in one of the private schools for females in Norwalk. A young woman from Germany named Catharine Simmons also lived in the Benedict home and helped Caroline with the household chores. [3]

Dave Benedict was not living at home in 1850. Although only seventeen, he had left Norwalk and was living in Sandusky. In April of 1851, he wrote a letter to his friend and cousin, Caley Gallup.

Sandusky City Apr/51

Friend C.

I received your letter and now take the opportunity to answer it. You spoke about selling the lead for a set of Lathe irons. You may do as you please about it, anything that you do will suite (sic) me.

I have not much time to write.

Tell Joe & Hank & Fred that I should like to hear from them.

Write as often as possible.

Give my best respects to all the Boys & Girls, especially the Girls.

Excuse my poor writing, and I will remain your sincere

Friend,

D.D. Benedict

Sandusky [4]

Four months later, Dave received bad news about his father. Jonas died on Tuesday, July 29, 1851 and left his estate to Dave. Now the young man had a chance to further himself.

The following year, Dave used his inheritance to go to Kenyon College. Located near Mount Vernon, Ohio, northeast of Columbus, Kenyon was less than thirty years old when he matriculated. Founded in 1824 by an Episcopal bishop with the help of American and British benefactors, it was the first college established in Ohio. [5]

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] Information about Platt & Sally’s household is from The 1850 Huron County Census, page number 6b

[2] Information about the Gallup household is from The 1850 Huron County Census, page numbers 6b & 10a. Difficulties with their marital relationship are described in a petition to the Huron County Court of Common Pleas: “Clarissa Gallup vs Hallett Gallup, Divorce,” dated September 1, 1847.

[3] Information about Jonas & Caroline’s household is from Huron, Ohio, 1850 U.S. Census Population Schedule, Norwalk, Ohio; Roll M432, 697; Page 14A; Image: 234.

[4] The original of this letter is in possession of the writer, along with a note of explanation by Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton.

[5] Information about Kenyon College is from the Kenyon College Website, accessed on November 28, 2017.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: Cholera Strikes Again

Next Post: The Wickham Family in the 1850’s

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sufferers’ Land – Post 38 – A Newlywed’s Life

Sufferers’ Land

A Newlywed’s Life

by Dave Barton

Lucy Wickham returned to Norwalk in October 1835, and she and Frederick set up housekeeping at 61 West Main Street, owned by the firm Wickham, Ailing and Christian. Her father and brother moved in with them. The following year, her father, Samuel Preston, built a house at 38 West Main Street, and presented it to Frederick and Lucy as a wedding present. This house is now located on Case Street, and is occupied by the Firelands Museum. [1]

Jerome Buckinngham

Firelands Museum – Built in 1836 by Samuel Preston as a wedding present for his daughter and son-in-law.

Frederick wanted to continue his life as a sailor, but Lucy, perhaps emboldened by her mother-in-law’s story of how she had convinced Frederick’s father to give up the sea, disagreed strongly. Frederick agreed to leave the maritime trade, but the question then became what he should do instead. His family had a store in Norwalk, and his brother John had a thriving business as a shipbuilder and merchant in Huron. However, neither of these careers appealed to Frederick. Instead, he decided to go into the newspaper business with his father-in-law and brother-in-law Charles Preston at the Huron Reflector.

Frederick was an unlikely candidate to be a newspaperman. Raised in the wilderness of upstate New York, from an early age he spent much of his time on the Great Lakes, as a fisherman and later as a merchant seaman. His experience was in the rough and tumble world of seamen and ships, not in a newspaper office.

Frederick Wickham, Publisher

Frederick Wickham setting type in the offices of the Huron Reflector in the 1880s.

However, he was diligent, and threw himself into the task of learning the skills needed to get out a newspaper in a rural Ohio town. He often worked late into the night to meet deadlines, and developed the ability to compose articles and editorials at the case, composing in his head as he set the type. He rarely wrote out his copy. [2] About this time, the Reflector started to have competition. Samuel Hatch and Joseph Farr began publication of the Norwalk Experiment in August of 1835. Their paper was the exact opposite in philosophy and political leanings of the conservative Reflector. [3]

Lucy’s family, and her responsibilities running the Wickham household, increased quickly. Already her father and brother lived with her and Frederick. On Thursday, September 15, 1836, she had her first child, Charles Preston Wickham, named for her brother. A girl, Catherine Wickham, followed two years later.

In addition to the children, more relatives arrived in her home. In July 1839, her brother Charles married and brought his bride to live in Lucy’s house. In the summer of 1841, Lucy’s grandparents moved in with her as well. With cousins and other relatives, there were always a dozen or so people living under Lucy’s roof. [4] Space was scarce, especially since the offices of the Huron Reflector were on the second floor of the house. [5]

Lucy and Frederick had successfully established themselves in Norwalk. In addition to the paper, Lucy’s husband and her brother started a general store. The Wickham family became prominent in the community, working in close partnership with the Buckingham, Gallup and Benedict families.

The future in Norwalk looked bright for these families. But that would soon change. The last years of the 1830’s and the beginning of the following decade would bring tragedy and disappointment to all.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] The story of Lucy’s return to Norwalk and housekeeping arrangements is from “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society; January 1920, p. 2400.

[2] The story of how Frederick Wickham came to work at the Norwalk Reflector is from his obituary in The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XX; The Firelands Historical Society; December 1918; p. 2202.

[3] The story of the Norwalk Experiment is from “Experiment’s 100th Anniversary,” The Firelands Pioneer, 1937 New Series, Volume XXIV; The Firelands Historical Society; pp. 205-6.

[4] Account of Lucy Wickham’s household is from “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society; January 1920, p. 2400.

[5] From “Norwalk, Its Men, Women and Girls,” by William Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society;  December 1918, p. 2135.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: The Wickham Family

Next Post: High Hopes for a Bright Future

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sufferers’ Land – Post 36 – Lucy Visits Her In-laws

Sufferers’ Land

Lucy Visits Her In-laws

by Dave Barton

Frederick Wickham and Lucy Preston married in January 1835. That summer, Frederick went back to the lake and the schooner DeWitt Clinton. With her husband away, Lucy decided to visit his family in Sodus Point, New York.

The voyage was long and arduous, although not anything like her journeys to the Firelands as a child. She went by boat from Huron to Cleveland, where she met her husband and his ship. They traveled together from there on the DeWitt Clinton to Buffalo, New York. Being in that town brought back memories for Lucy of her voyages as a child to the Ohio wilderness. No doubt, she noted many changes, both in the town and in the means of transportation.

From Buffalo, she continued alone by canal boat along the Erie Canal to Lyons, New York, where she met the wife of her husband’s cousin Mrs. Rachel Christian, and her son Thomas. Together, they traveled overland north to Lucy’s in-law’s house on Sodus Bay.

Canal Boat

William Wickham, then 57 years old, and his wife Catherine Christian Wickham greeted their daughter-in-law and welcomed her into their home. Lucy stayed with them until October, and during this time learned much about her husband’s family and their heritage. [1]

 

 

Footnote:

[1] The story of Lucy’s trip to Sodus, New York is from “Memoir of Lucy Preston Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society, January 1920; pp. 2399-2400, and the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, pp. 32-33.

Image of Canal Boat is from Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 332.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: Lily of the Garden

Next Post: The Wickham Family

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sufferers’ Land – Post 35 – Lily of the Garden

Sufferers’ Land

Lily of the Garden

by Dave Barton

Lucy Preston loved flowers and often worked in the garden in front of her home. One day in the mid-eighteen-thirties, her love of gardening changed her life.

LiliesShe was cutting flowers when two men walked by, one of whom she knew. Her acquaintance introduced her to his companion, Captain Frederick Wickham, the skipper of a lake schooner. The rugged young man impressed her so much that she impulsively gave him a lily.

So began a romance that would span fifty years. Frederick and Lucy were in their early twenties, and both were responsible for their age. Lucy had been in charge of her family’s household ever since the death of her mother almost ten years before. Frederick had been a sailor since he was a boy, and commanded a ship while still in his teens. He was a strong-willed man, and soon won Lucy’s heart.

At the time he and Lucy met, Frederick was skipper of the schooner DeWitt Clinton, owned by him and his brother John, who had warehouses and a shipyard in Huron, Ohio. After he met her, Frederick spent winters in Norwalk, working in the family store, Wickham, Ailing & Christian.

The couple’s romance blossomed, and in January 1835, they married at her home on 50 West Main Street. That summer, Frederick went back to the lake and the schooner DeWitt Clinton. With her husband away, Lucy decided to visit his family in Sodus Point, New York. [1]

 

 

Footnote:

[1] The story of Frederick’s courtship of Lucy and their marriage are from “Memoir of Lucy Preston Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI; The Firelands Historical Society, January 1920; pp. 2399-2400, and the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, pp. 32-33.

Image of flowers is from Jane Louden, The Ladies’ Flower-garden of Ornamental Perennials, Volume 1, W Smith, 1843.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: Cholera Comes to the Firelands

Next Post: Lucy Visits Her In-laws

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sufferers’ Land – Post 33 – The Huron Reflector

Sufferers’ Land

The Huron Reflector

by Dave Barton

At the end of the 1820s, Samuel Preston and George Buckingham, son of Henry Buckingham, decided to start a newspaper in Norwalk. Samuel worked in the printing business for many years before coming to the Firelands, and George had learned the newspaper business at the Norwalk Reporter from his father’s partner John McArdle. That paper was failing and soon would cease publication.

Samuel and George incorporated as Preston & Buckingham, and invested in a new press, which they brought to Norwalk from Cincinnati in a two-horse wagon. They decided on the name Huron Reflector for the publication. Lucy’s father came up with the name when he noticed bright rays of light from a reflector behind an oil lamp at the village tavern.

Huron Reflector 1st Issue

First Issue of the Huron Reflector, which is today the Norwalk Reflector.

They published the first issue of the Huron Reflector on Tuesday, February 2, 1830. From the beginning, the paper was a strong promoter of the town. In the first issue, an article argued that a railroad be brought to Norwalk, in spite of the fact that no railroads yet existed west of the Appalachians. [1]

In addition to the ReflectorPreston & Buckingham also published commercial forms, bills, fliers and anything else needed by businesses and government offices in Huron County. In 1830, they printed a handbill for Hallet Gallup announcing that he had completed construction of a public building in the village.

The bill listed the public officers at different levels of government. Henry Buckingham was treasurer and Luke Keeler was Coroner of Huron County. Platt Benedict was a Justice of the Peace for Norwalk Township as was Lucy’s father Samuel Preston, who was also Township Clerk and the Recorder of Norwalk Village. Hallet Gallup was a Trustee of Norwalk Township. [2]

In 1831, George Buckingham retired from the newspaper business. Samuel continued to publish the paper by himself until 1834, when Lucy’s brother Charles joined their father in the business. [3]

* * *

Early in the 1830s, land speculators dropped the price of land around Norwalk, attracting a second flood of immigrants. Within a few years, the last of the forests were cleared and turned into productive farms. [4]

Because of this renewed growth in Huron County, a few villages, especially Sandusky and Milan, grew into good-sized towns. The inhabitants of the county welcomed the economic opportunities this growth brought to the area. However, this growth also spawned overcrowding in the larger towns. Aggravated by poor sanitation, this created conditions ripe for the spread of a horrible disease — Cholera.

 

 

Footnotes:

[1] The story of the establishment of the Huron Reflector which is still published today as the Norwalk Reflector, is from “The History of the Fire Lands Press,” by C.P. Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume II, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society, Sept. 1861, pp. 9-11; “Norwalk, Its Men, Women, and Girls,” by William Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer,  New Series, Volume XX; The Firelands Historical Society; December 1918, p. 2135; “The Reflector-Herald Centenary,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXV; The Firelands Historical Society; June 1937, p. 203.

[2] “An Old Handbill,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXV; The Firelands Historical Society; June 1937; p. 15.

[3] “The History of the Fire Lands Press,” by C.P. Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume II, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society; Sept. 1861; pp. 9-11.

[4] “Memoirs of Townships – Fitchville,” by J.C. Curtis, Esq., The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume I, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society; May 1859; p. 33.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: The Entrepreneurs

Next Post: Cholera Comes to the Firelands

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Sufferers’ Land – Post 31 – A Terrible Tragedy

Sufferers’ Land

A Terrible Tragedy

by Dave Barton

On Wednesday, August 28, 1833, less than a month after the birth of David Benedict, Lucy Preston learned that there had been a horrible accident at the Benedict home on Seminary Street. Little Platt Benedict had been badly burned. Lucy hurried to the house to see if she could help. Now nineteen years old, she had the reputation of being a capable nurse.

Pioneer FireplaceWhen she arrived at her friend Fanny Benedict’s house, she learned that young Platt had come downstairs early in the morning and stood by the fireplace to get warm. An ember landed on the boy’s nightgown, catching it on fire and burning him badly. Fanny and Jonas were in terrible shock from the sight of their son running through the house engulfed in flames.

Lucy went in the bedroom where the boy lay to see if she could help. He was delirious and begged for water. The doctor refused to allow him any, a practice of that time. The boy’s plight moved Lucy, and later, when she was alone with him, she gave him all the water he wanted. Throughout the night, she and other women of the village kept watch over the boy, but they were not able to save him. He died the next day.

The loss of a young child is a terrible thing. Even in those days of high infant mortality, it caused immense grief in the family and the village. Jonas and Fanny would have two more children, both girls. However, their lives, scarred by the death of their firstborn son, were doomed to pass from tragedy to tragedy — disappointment to disappointment. [1]

 

 

Footnote:

[1] The story of the death of young Platt Benedict is from the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver (Unpublished), by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, p. 17.

The image of the frontier fireplace is from Rusler, William, A Standard History of Allen County, Volume I; The American Historical Society, Chicago, IL and New York, NY; 1921; page 240.

 

#

This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

 #

Previous Post: Jonas Benedict

Next Post: The Entrepreneurs

#

Thanks for visiting! Share and like this post below, and on Facebook. Let me know what you think in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

%d bloggers like this: