Sufferers’ Land – Post 8 – Making a New Town on the Frontier

Sufferers’ Land

Making a New Town on the Frontier

by Dave Barton

Platt Benedict moved to the frontier to establish a town. But in order to have a town, he needed people, and convincing people to settle on his land proved not to be easy. His best chance for success would be if Norwalk became the County Seat. The traffic created by the business of government would entice people to settle and start businesses in the town. This was the reason he and Elisha Whittlesey had bought land on the sand ridge. However, for their plans to bear fruit, they had to convince the state legislature to move the County Seat from its location at Avery.

A committee appointed to examine the matter considered several locations: Eldridge, Milan, Gibbs and Lockwood’s Corners, Norwalk, Monroe, a location on the west bank of the Huron River, and Sandusky. After several backroom machinations and a good deal of political intrigue, the committee decided in late spring of 1818 that the County Seat would be in Norwalk. With this problem solved, settlers could be persuaded to buy into the new town, and Platt could get down to business. [1]

That summer, Platt had a frame barn built near his cabin, and contracted to have bricks made for a house he planned to build the next year. Amos Abbott bought a lot in Norwalk and started building a house for a tavern. Unfortunately, he died soon afterwards while on his way back to Norwalk from visiting Connecticut.

As preparations started for the convening of the court in Norwalk, a steady stream of people visited the sand ridge. In August, to meet the needs of these visitors and prepare for the arrival of the settlers he knew were coming, Platt obtained a license to operate a tavern, doing business in his home. [2]

The future looked promising for the Benedict family, and, as is the case with most parents, Platt and Sally began to consider the education of their children.

 

Footnotes:
[1] Description of the difficulties in getting people to settle in Norwalk are described in “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, pp. 19-20.
[2] A listing of licenses and permits for taverns and stores, of marriages, of justices sworn and churches incorporated are from “Official Records of the Firelands,” The Firelands Pioneer, March 1860, pp. 21-26.

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This post was first published on this blog in 2009.

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 7 – The First Winter

Sufferers’ Land

The First Winter

by Dave Barton

For a few days, provisions were low. Then Platt bought a deer from an Indian for a dollar. Until then, the family subsisted on green corn and turnips from the garden Lewis Keeler had planted for Platt during the summer and milk from two cows they had purchased in Canfield.

Winter SceneWinter would arrive soon, and they needed to obtain enough food to last until spring. However, that took money, which after the expenses of land and travel was in short supply. To make up the shortfall, Platt took a job with a crew cutting a road between Norwalk and Milan. He earned sixty dollars which he used to buy enough pork for the family to make it through the winter. [1]

So far, no one else had settled in what was to become the village of Norwalk. In early November, a man passed the sand ridge on his way to his new home in Peru Township and wrote that the Benedict cabin was the only building there. [2]

Over the previous year, almost all the townships in Huron County had at least a few New Englanders settle in them, and many of the new settlers were acquaintances of Platt and Sally. On Christmas Day, the Benedicts and other Connecticut settlers gathered at John and Ruth Boalt’s house for a “Yankee” Christmas dinner. Although the feast was spare, the settlers had to be thankful. They had survived a long arduous trip, and had established themselves in their new homes. Over the next few years, they would build on this beginning to establish a life similar to what they had in New England.

After Christmas, five to six inches of snow fell and the weather stayed cold for the next six weeks, making for good sleighing. Platt and Sally took advantage of these conditions to visit friends who had also moved from Connecticut to the Firelands. One day they visited nine different families.

During the winter, Platt took many logs to Major David Underhill’s sawmill in Ridgefield Township, dragging them one at a time behind a team of oxen. Occasionally, Sally accompanied him, riding on a log, in order to visit Mary Underhill. [3]

The first winter in their little cabin was hard, but also had its good times. Years later, Sally wrote, many pleasant evenings we spent beside that fireplace, cracking nuts, and eating — not apples — but turnips. You need not laugh, these raw turnips tasted good, when there was nothing else to eat, and as the flames grew brighter, our merry party would forget they were not in their eastern homes, but far away in the wilds of Ohio. [4]

Even with these good times, winter must have seemed long and depressing to Sally. Finally, spring arrived, bringing the promise of better times. Flowers carpeted the ground beneath the bare branches of the surrounding forest. [5]

So far, the results of their move had not been encouraging. No one else had settled on the sand ridge. Without a town, the venture Sally and Platt dreamed of would come to nothing. But with spring, news came that changed their prospects for the better, giving them hope that the future would be as bright as those spring flowers on the floor of the deep woods.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 18.
[2] Mr. Pearley Sanders account of passing through what is now Norwalk in November 1817 is in The Firelands Pioneer, June, 1858, p. 42.
[3] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 18.
[4] Sarah Benedict’s description of early life in Norwalk is from Family, by Ian Frazier, pp.57-58
[5] “Historical Sketches – Townsend,” by Benjamin Benson, The Firelands Pioneer, March, 1860, p. 4.

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 6 – A Home in the Wilderness

Sufferers’ Land

A Home in the Wilderness

by Dave Barton

 

A day or so from their destination, Platt and Sally received bad news. Their cabin had burned down.

Mr. Stewart, whom Platt had hired to clear and fence four acres of land on the flats south of the sand ridge, had gone out of the cabin one morning, leaving a fire to dry his clothes. When he returned at noon for dinner, he found the cabin ablaze. He immediately left the area, not forgetting to take the provisions Platt had bought for him. [1]

The news devastated Platt and Sally. Footsore and weary, soaked and depressed by constant rain, they knew that they would have to get their family under shelter quickly before winter set in. They decided to stop at the home of the Gibbs and Lockwood families, located a mile and a half northeast of their land on the sand ridge; at the corner of what are now East Main Street and Old State Road. At four o’clock, Tuesday afternoon, the ninth of September, they came upon a cleared area in the forest where they found the Gibbs and Lockwood’s cabin and ramshackle barn. [2]

Lockwood Gibbs Cabin

“David Gibbs,” Obituaries: The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume IX, The Firelands Historical Society, 1896, pp. 544

The two families lived in two one-room structures with a common roof and separated by a breezeway, one family in each cabin. David and Elizabeth Gibbs and their family had arrived in Ohio the previous year, accompanied by Elizabeth’s brother Henry Lockwood and his wife Amelia.* The two families had a harder trip than the Benedicts and Keelers and each lost a child on the road. Looking at her own children, Sally must have been thankful that they had all made the trip safely.

John and Ruth Boalt and their eleven children had arrived several weeks previously. Ruth Boalt was the sister of Henry Lockwood and Elizabeth Gibbs. The Boalts were sick with malaria, or ague as the settlers called it. They lay in the Lockwood cabin, burning with fever, Fanny nursing them as best she could. [3]

The travelers crowded into the Gibbs cabin for supper. After eating, the unmarried men went to the barn to sleep and the families settled down in the cabin as best they could. As she lay in a makeshift bed on the floor of the crowded little cabin, Sally must have thought of her home in Connecticut and wished she were back there, safe and warm. During the night, a big storm blew through the clearing, rain and wind rattling the “shakes” that covered the roof of the cabin.

Dawn finally came, and the single men dragged into the cabin, exhausted. The barn had provided scant protection against the storm. Rain came through the roof as if it was a sieve, soaking their beds and making for a miserable and sleepless night.

After breakfast, the men shouldered axes and saws and trudged down the trail along the sand ridge to where the Benedict cabin had burned down. Sally helped Elizabeth take care of the children and prepare dinner for the men. Around noon, the women followed the men’s tracks along the sand ridge with their dinner. They found the work progressing well. Men had come in from the surrounding farms to help. Sally could see that by the end of the day they would finish erecting her new home.

Our Cabin - Historical Collections of Ohio I p 316

Henry Howe, History of Ohio, Vol I; Laning Publishing, Norwalk, OH, 1898; p 316

The log house was only twenty feet square, with no doors, windows or fireplace, but it was good enough to provide shelter. The next day, Platt moved in and Sally cooked breakfast for the men by a log next to the cabin. [4]

Over the next few days, the men continued to improve the cabin, building a fireplace and chimney with clay and sticks, chinking and mudding the cracks and cutting holes in the walls for two doors and two windows. They accomplished all this without a single nail or other ironwork. Platt had brought two sashes for the windows from Connecticut, but had no glass, so they used greased paper instead. They finished five days later, and Sally and the children moved in. Conditions were primitive. There was no furniture and no floor.

Mud spoiled the mattresses Sally had brought from Connecticut, so Platt made two bedsteads, one for him and Sally and the other for their daughters. They were primitive — frames attached to the walls of the cabin and webbed with basswood bark instead of cords. However, according to Platt, they were very comfortable, and after almost two months on the road, Sally probably agreed that they were a welcome relief from sleeping on the ground. [5]

With the Benedict cabin finished, the men moved on to the land John Boalt had purchased from Platt on Old State Highway, south-east of the Benedict’s cabin. They built a double cabin there and the Boalts moved down from the Gibbs and Lockwood homestead as soon as they recovered their health. [6]

Sally and Platt had established a new home on the frontier. Now they had to make it through their first winter.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk,” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, pp. 17-18.
[2] The description of the arrival at the Gibbs and Lockwood cabin is from “Personal Memoirs” by Seth Jennings, The Firelands Pioneer, March 1860, p. 16.
[3] “Incidents in the Life of Mrs. Elizabeth L. Gibbs,” The Firelands Pioneer, October 1874, pp. 83-84.
[4] The description of the first night at the Gibbs and Lockwood cabin and the raising of the Benedict cabin is from “Personal Memoirs” by Seth Jennings, The Firelands Pioneer, March 1860, p. 16.
[5] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk” by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 18.
[6] “Personal Memoirs” by Seth Jennings, The Firelands Pioneer, p. 17.

* CORRECTION: The original post of this blog in 2009 identified Henry Gibbs wife as Fanny. When checking sources for this post, I found that her name was instead Amelia. Source: “Henry Lockwood,” Obituaries, The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Vol VII, June 1866, page 812

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 1 – Land of Opportunity

Sufferers’ Land

Land of Opportunity

by David Barton

In his fortieth year, Platt Benedict left his home in Danbury, Connecticut, and traveled to the Ohio wilderness in search of a new home for his family. It was September 1815. The war with the British had ended a few months earlier, re-opening the frontier for settlement. [1]

1023264188268om802_0021An energetic man, Platt had a stern and businesslike visage, and, to judge from his writing, he spoke in a businesslike manner as well. Born in March 1775, only a month before the battles of Lexington and Concord ignited the Revolutionary War, his early experiences were of that war — he was eight years old when it ended.

He came from a distinguished family, a descendant of Thomas Benedict, who had settled in New England in 1638 and established a clan of American Benedicts that number in the tens of thousands today. A respected member of the Danbury community, Platt’s father Jonas Benedict served as the town’s representative to the General Assembly of Connecticut in 1809. Platt was also active in the town. From 1812 to 1817, he was collector of the port of Danbury. [2] He was active in the Masons, becoming associated with that fraternity in 1811. [3]

Platt was not what we typically think of as a pioneer, nothing like Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. He did not own a rifle or any other weapon. Like many New Englanders of the time, he was a man of business and a farmer. His weapons against the wilds of the frontier were the axe and saw, the hoe and plow. With these, he and his fellow Yankees would clear the forests and till the fields, changing the landscape of northern Ohio from wilderness to productive farmland.

Although he had been a successful man in Danbury, Platt wanted more than what was available to him in New England. In the west lay the opportunity to begin a new life — and establish a new town. No doubt, he had considered the possibility for years, but the War of 1812 put a hiatus on westward emigration, stymieing his plans. At the war’s end, he took decisive action.

western-reserveHe was bound for the “Firelands” or “Sufferer’s Land,” a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve that had been set aside for nineteen-hundred residents of coastal Connecticut towns that lost their homes and property because of British raids during the Revolution. The settlers would use the names of those Connecticut towns — Greenwich, Norwalk, Fairfield, Danbury, New Haven, East Haven, New London, Ridgefield and Groton — to name the townships and villages of the Firelands. [4]

The Firelands was not large, only five-hundred-thousand acres, roughly consisting of what are now Erie and Huron Counties. The frontier was ending in Ohio, and, except for the swamps of the northwest corner, the Firelands would be the last area settled in the state.

Platt did not go directly to the Firelands. He stopped first in Canfield, Ohio, a town founded by Connecticut Yankees years before. His cousin Eli Boughton introduced him to a leader of the Canfield community named Elisha Whittlesey, who had moved to Canfield from Danbury, Connecticut in 1806. [5]

elisha-whittlesey

Elisha Whittlesey

A leader in state politics, Elisha served as Prosecuting Attorney for the Court of Common Pleas in Warren. [6] He also saw opportunity in the Firelands, and had organized an expedition to investigate the possibilities. Recognizing Platt’s potential and desire, he invited him along.

The expedition traveled to Avery, Ohio, two miles north of where the town of Milan is today. The earliest settlers to the region had recently chosen Avery, one of the few settlements in the Firelands, as the county seat of newly founded Huron County, which included present day Erie County. [7] Platt and Elisha stayed at the home of David Abbott, who had first come to the Firelands before the War of 1812 from Chagrin, Ohio, where he had settled in 1802. He was of an older generation of settlers of the Firelands, a generation that had experienced war, famine and hardship. [8]

The first County Court convened in David Abbott’s home soon after Platt and Elisha arrived, with about forty men attending. David Abbott served County Clerk, and one of the Associate Judges of the court was another early settler named Almon Ruggles. Almon owned land along the lake, and had surveyed the Firelands several years earlier.

Many of the men attending voiced their dissatisfaction with Avery as County Seat. They favored a sand ridge south of town, but were concerned that water might be lacking. After the Court adjourned, Platt and Elisha went to the home of Abijah Comstock in Norwalk Township, and asked him to guide them to the sand ridge. [9]

Abijah was from New Canaan, Connecticut. His father had received a claim from some of the original “Sufferers” of Norwalk, Connecticut who had been burned out of their homes during the Revolution. Abijah’s brother settled in Norwalk Township in 1809, but returned to Connecticut because of bad health. He turned his homestead over to Abijah, who came to the township in the summer of 1810. [10]

He guided Platt and Elisha to the sand ridge. They were pleased to find sufficient water, and a large meadow where nearby residents grazed their cattle. An Indian trail and several wagon tracks crossed the ridge. [11] It was covered with a few oaks, being what was then termed an oak opening — a sand ridge, with an undergrowth of whortleberry bushes. [12]

Elisha knew that the owners of the land — a man named Colonel Taylor and a woman named Polly Bull, both living in Connecticut — were willing to sell. The men agreed that Platt should start immediately for Connecticut to make them an offer. Time was short. The opportunity was now, and the men were determined not to lose it.

Platt traveled by horse, spending many hours each day in the saddle. He reached Danbury in eleven days, an amazing feat for that time, and went immediately to Colonel Taylor’s home in New Milford, sixteen miles away. Colonel Taylor owned five hundred and sixty acres on the sand ridge and he agreed to sell it to Platt for $2.25 an acre.

Platt next visited Polly Bull, a widow who owned eight hundred and sixty acres near the ridge. She and her late husband had settled in the Firelands in 1811, but they fled to Cleveland at the beginning of the War of 1812. After her husband’s death in October 1812, Polly had returned with her children to their home in New Milford, Connecticut. She did not intend to return to the Firelands, and agreed to sell her land to Platt for $2.00 per acre.

The following spring, Platt paid Colonel Taylor and Polly for their lands and sent the deeds to Elisha in Canfield. Elisha returned to the Firelands and contracted Judge Almon Ruggles to survey a town plat with forty-eight lots. They named the town Norwalk. [13]
Platt prepared to move to the Firelands, arranging for the sale of his house and belongings and divesting himself of his businesses. However, something was about to happen in New England that would delay his plans, and change the lives of many in the region.

 

 

Footnotes
[1] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 16. & The Firelands Pioneer, October 1896, p. 108.
[2] Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, by Agnes & Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, pp. 4-6.
[3] The Genealogy of the Benedicts in America, by Henry Marvin Benedict, 1870, p. 381.
[4] From the speech of the Honorable John Sherman, printed in The Firelands Pioneer, November 1858, p. 11.
[5] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, pp. 16-17
[6] Elisha Whittlesey’s story is from “Elisha Whittlesey,” by A. Newton, The Firelands Pioneer, June 1864, pp. 10-18.
[7] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk” by Samuel B. Lewis, The Firelands Pioneer, June 1858, p. 33
[8] Story of David Abbott is in “Scattered Sheaves – No. 1 – By Ruth, The Firelands Pioneer, November 1859, pp. 21-26.
[9] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 17.
[10] The story of the settlement of Norwalk Township by the Comstock family is from “Early Settlers of Norwalk,” by Philo Comstock, The Firelands Pioneer, June 1868, pp. 105-108.
[11] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 17.
[12] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Henry Lockwood, Esq., The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, pp. 27-28.
[13] “Memoirs of Townships – Norwalk”, by Platt Benedict, The Firelands Pioneer, May 1859, p. 17

 

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Sufferers’ Land Reboot

Because of the positive response to my recent post, A Home in the Wilderness Revisited, I have decided to repost the entire Sufferers’ Land series from 2008 and 2009. I begin with the inaugural post of the Firelands History Website, first published on December 14, 2008.

 

Sufferers’ Land

Prologue

by David Barton

 

“Sufferers’ Land.”

The “Firelands.”

These evocative and descriptive phrases refer to 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 American Revolution. Part of the Western Reserve, it covers present-day Huron and Erie counties.

 

Emigrating to New Connecticut

Emigrating to New Connecticut 1817-1818 [1]

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 for most of the remainder of the century.

I intend to tell the stories of those who settled in the Firelands: people like Platt and Sally Benedict, who founded Norwalk, Ohio; Samuel Preston, who founded the Huron Reflector, which became Norwalk’s present-day newspaper; Samuel’s daughter Lucy, who persuaded a ship captain named Frederick Wickham to marry her, leave the sea and become a newspaperman with her father; Henry Buckingham, a failed businessman who was a conductor on the Underground Railroad; and many more.

These men and women left their comfortable New England homes and traveled to the wilds of the Ohio frontier. They were ordinary people who persevered in an extraordinary endeavor. The fruits of their labor are on display throughout the Firelands today.

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you enjoy my story.

Dave Barton
Littleton, Colorado

 

Footnote:

[1] From Henry Howes’ book, Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes, Volume II, 1900, page 668.

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One Night in Norwalk, Ohio – A Hitchhiker’s Tale

With all I have written about the history of Norwalk, Ohio, you might think that I grew up in that city and the Firelands. But I did not. I was born in Amherst, Ohio, and raised in Lorain and Avon Lake, all in the county east of the Firelands. In fact, to my knowledge I have spent only one night in Norwalk, Ohio: Thursday, September 27, 1973, forty-four years ago today. How do I know that, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

I had just begun my Junior year at Bowling Green State University, south of Toledo, and after two years in the dorms, had moved to an apartment on Napoleon Road, across the railroad tracks from a hog slaughter house.

I needed a car. A neighbor of my parents back in Avon Lake had a car for sale. I decided to hitchhike home and buy it. After all, it was only a hundred miles or so. No problem. So I walked to Wooster Street, hung out my thumb, and headed east. [1]Norwalk Hitchhiking Map

Rides were scarce that day, and those who picked me up did not take me very far. As dusk settled in, I found myself standing at the U.S. Route 250 exit of the U.S. 20 Norwalk Bypass. Continuing to hitchhike in the dark did not appeal to me (wisely, I think).

But, Grandma Barton lived in Norwalk. [2] She’d take me in. I abandoned my plans of getting home that night, and hiked north along Benedict Avenue toward town.

I arrived at Grandma’s home on Hester Street after dark. The lights were on. I knocked. She opened the door and stared at me with surprise.

What did she think of me showing up at her door after dark? I’ll let her tell you.

 

Thursday, September 27, 1973

Another warm day, but not as hot as yesterday. Late in the p.m. a knock at the door and there stood David. He had hitch-hiked this far on his way home, but did not want to try his luck farther, as it would soon be getting dark. I did not think he should either, so he called home to tell them he was staying here over night. Nice to have him for a little visit.

Friday, September 28, 1973

Just after we had eaten breakfast this a.m. Carrie [my mom] arrived to take Dave on to Avon Lake, where he is to finish his deal to buy a car there. Somehow it did not occur to me to lend him my car to go on to A.L.! But perhaps that would have been just as much trouble, as they would have felt it should be brought back.

Harriott Barton Christmas 1973 - Avon Lake Ohio (2)

Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton, Christmas 1973

That’s it, my one night in Norwalk, Ohio. And breakfast, too!

I had wondered over the years what Grandma thought about my little adventure. (I had learned my mom’s opinion of my “antics” on the ride from Norwalk to Avon Lake that morning). Finding these entries in Grandma’s diaries a decade ago was a blessing. I’m glad she was not upset with me. But what else could I expect from someone who had homesteaded in Wyoming as single young woman, married a rancher, and raised a family on the edge of the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression.

Grandma was not the timid sort.

 

Diaries from our ancestors are such a treasure. In my next post, I’ll tell you how I make the transcription of these gems into a deeply personal experience.

 

Footnotes

[1] To any children (in the unlikely event any children actually read this post), do as I say, not as I did: don’t hitchhike!

[2] Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton, Norwalk High School Class of 1907, whose stories of her life, our family’s heritage, and of the Firelands inspired me to publish the Firelands History Website. After my grandfather’s death, she had sold their farm south of Norwalk and moved into town.

 

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Researching the Norwalk High School Class of 1907: Newspapers

Huron Reflector 1st Issue

February 2, 1830 issue of the Huron Reflector, the forefather of the present day Norwalk Reflector.

In my last post, I discussed the sources I’ve drawn on to write about the history of the Sufferers’ Land and the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. One source I did not discuss was newspaper archives. There are many free sites out there: my current home state of Colorado has a wonderful collection at the Colorado Historical Newspaper Collection. But not all states and localities have these online archives. Which brings us to the two big pay websites: Newspapers.com and NewspaperArchive.com.

Now, I do not want to get into a debate of which of these are better. They appear similar in ease of use, and subscription price. What makes the difference, to me, is coverage. I subscribe to NewspaperArchive.com simply because its archives cover Norwalk, Ohio history – where I focus my research – for 149 years, starting on February 2, 1830 with the first issue of the Huron Reflector. I describe the founding of this newspaper (by my ancestors) in my Sufferers’ Land post, The Norwalk Reflector.

Here’s a list of what newspapers are available on NewspaperArchive.com:

 

Huron Reflector: 1830-1862

Norwalk Daily Reflector: 1882-1913

Norwalk Evening Herald: 1902-1913

Norwalk Experiment: 1841-1844

Huron County Democrat: 1913 (May 22)

Norwalk Huron Reflector: 1830-1853 (same as Huron Reflector).

Norwalk Reflector: 1862-1863; 1964-1979

Norwalk Reflector Herald: 1913-1964

Norwalk Reporter & Huron Advertiser: 1827-1830.

How do I use newspapers? After exhausting all other resources available to me (including the gems in my grandmother’s papers), I search in NewspaperArchive.com by surname to fill in the blanks, and browse issues on, before and after important dates in my ancestors’ lives (birth, marriage, death, etc.). This latter tactic has been especially helpful in finding obituaries.

Newspaper archives are a great, and relatively new, resource. If you are not using them in your research, you are really missing out.

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With all my writing about the Firelands and Norwalk, Ohio. You might think that I was born and grew up there. But you’d be wrong. My birthplace is Amherst, Ohio, and I grew up in Lorain and Avon Lake; all in three are Lorain County, to the east of the Firelands. Although I spent many Sunday afternoons with my family visiting my great-aunt Eleanor Wickham at the old Benedict mansion on Seminary Street in Norwalk, I never lived there.

In fact, to my knowledge, I have only slept one night in the city: Thursday, September 27, 1973. How do I know that exact date, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you that story in my next post: One Night in Norwalk – A Hitchhiker’s Tale.

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