Sufferers’ Land


These posts tell the story of the Firelands, or “Sufferers’ Land,” a region in Northern Ohio set aside by the state of Connecticut for “Sufferers” who were burned out of their homes by the British during the American Revolutionary War. Part of the Western Reserve, it covers 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.

From this page, visitors to this site can follow links to read the entire history beginning with the Prologue, or select from the links below to visit posts of interest. Thanks for visiting.


#1: Land of Opportunity

#2: Year Without Summer

#3: Return to the Firelands

#4: Sally DeForest Benedict

#5: The Trek West

#6: A Home in the Wilderness

#7: The First Winter

#8: Making a New Town on the Frontier

#9: Education on the Frontier

#10: A Village is Born on the Sand Ridge

#11: Women’s Life on the Frontier

#12: Social Life on the Frontier

#13: Clarissa Benedict

#14: The Gallup Family in Norwalk

#15: The Episcopal Church in Norwalk

#16: Native Americans

#17: Murder on the Portage River

#18: Crime and Capture

#19: A Grim Comedy of Errors

#20: Re-Capture

#21: Trial and Punishment

#22: Lucy Preston

#23: The Preston and Taylor Family

#24: Lucy Preston’s Long Journey West

#25: The Firelands at Last

#26: To Canada and Back Again

#27: School and Tragedy

#28: Death, Education, Responsibility

#29: Henry Buckingham

#30: Jonas Benedict

#31: A Terrible Tragedy

#32: The Entrepreneurs

#33: The Huron Reflector

#34: Cholera Comes to the Firelands

#35: Lily of the Garden

#36: Lucy Visits Her In-laws

#37: The Wickham Family

#38: A Newlywed’s Life

#39: High Hopes for a Bright Future

#40: Disappointment and Despair

#41: The Benedict Family

#42: Henry Buckingham and the Underground Railroad

#43: An Abolitionist Comes to Norwalk

#44: Runaway Slaves in Norwalk

#45: Life in Norwalk, Ohio in the 1840’s

#46: Cholera Strikes Again

#47: The Benedict Family in the 1850’s

#48: The Wickham Family in the 1850’s

#49: End of an Era

#50: Norwalk Life in the 1850’s

#51: Railroads and Cholera

#52: Future Warriors of Norwalk

#53: Pioneer Heritage

#54: Last Reunion of the Pioneers


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12 Responses

  1. Great site. Appears we have some common ancestors. My comment is about the Winthrop Genealogy. I believe John Winthrop Jr. (son of John Winthrop, first governor of the Bay Colony) married his 1st cousin Martha Fones, Feb. 8, 1631. Martha was the d/o of Thomas Fones and Anne Winthrop Fones. Anne Fones was the sister of John Winthrop Sr. Martha’s sister, Elizabeth, also m. a first cousin, Henry Winthrop, s/o John Winthrop Sr. Elizabeth was the subject of the novel “The Winthrop Woman” by Anya Seton.

    Elizabeth Fones Winthrop was also the subject of Missy Wolfe’s “Insubordinate Spirit – A True Story of Life and Loss in Earliest America – 1610-1665” published 2012. This is where I got the above information.

    Thank you.

    Dave Jenkins

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The name was originally spelled Brooke, and the family of that name in America are descended from English ancestry. The historical Say-Brooke fort, built at the mouth of the Connecticut river in 1635, was named after Lords Say and Brooke, who were the proprietors, and, in company
    with others, held the grant of the territory of Connecticut. Lemuel Brooke, youngest Son of William and Esther Brooke, was born at Entield, Conn., February 20, 1748. His father, William Brooke, who owned and controlled the Enfield ferry, was a great-grandson of Lord Brooke, of England. He (William) taught in different schools and colleges thirty-three years; served four years in the war of the Revo- lution, acting in the capacity of quarter- master. He was employed by the United States Government to survey, on the Western Reserve, a tract of land in north- eastern Ohio set apart by the Government for the people whose homes were destroyed in the Revolutionary war. His surveys were made in Lorain and Cuyahoga counties.


  3. Thanks for your comment and this information.


  4. When I have time I will read more. Looks fascinating


  5. Looks fascinating. I will certainly read more when I have time

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thanks for your comment. I hope you enjoy reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Sufferers’ Land […]


  8. Remarkable.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you, Cindy.


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