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 in the Revolution. 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 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 and Responsibility

#29: Henry Buckingham

#30: Jonas Benedict

#31: A Terrible Tragedy

#32: The Entrepreneurs

#33: The Norwalk Reflector

#34: Cholera Comes to the Firelands

#35: Lily of the Garden

#36: The Wickham Family

#37: Return to Norwalk and a Newlywed’s Life

#38: High Hopes for a Bright Future

#39: Disappointment and Despair

#40: The Benedict Family

#41: Henry Buckingham and the Underground Railroad

#42: An Abolitionist Comes to Norwalk

#43: Runaway Slaves in Norwalk

#44: Life in Norwalk in the 1840’s

#45: Cholera Strikes Again

#46: The Benedicts in the 1850’s

#47: The Wickhams in the 1850s

#48: End of an Era

#49: Norwalk Life in the 1850’s

#50: Railroads and Cholera

#51: Future Warriors of Norwalk

#52: Pioneer Heritage

#53: Last Reunion of the Pioneers


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One Response

  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


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