Sufferers’ Land – Post 39 – High Hopes for a Bright Future

Sufferers’ Land

High Hopes for a Bright Future

by Dave Barton

For Henry Buckingham, August 1839 was a time of promise and anticipation. He looked forward to again becoming a grandfather, and to finally achieving success in business.

Since coming to Norwalk almost twenty years before, Henry had become a respected member of the community. For many years, he was Treasurer of Huron County. He was also an active member of the Presbyterian Church and the Masons and a leader of the American Bible Association.

Norwalk Ohio 1846

Henry and Harriet Buckingham lived in a house on East Main Street with their son George and his family. Henry’s brother John Buckingham lived on a farm outside the village. Their daughter Fanny was married to Jonas Benedict, son of the most prominent man in Norwalk, Platt Benedict. She was pregnant and due to deliver any day. This birth, although looked for with hope, was also a cause of concern.

Jonas and Fanny had not always had good fortune when it came to children. Their first child, Platt, named for Jonas’s father, burned to death from an accident at the age of two. Their second son, young Dave Benedict, about to turn six, was a bright and healthy boy. However, their third child, a daughter named Mary Starr Benedict, had been the victim of a terrible accident that crippled her. She was born healthy, but had fallen and broke her back while an infant. Now she walked bent over, supporting her upper body with her hands on her knees.

In late August, Fanny gave birth to a baby girl, which she and Jonas named after her — Fanny Boughton Benedict. [1] The Buckingham’s were happy to see this new arrival, and hoped that the couple’s luck had changed. Henry perhaps saw this birth as a good omen, promising success to a business venture that he expected would make his fortune at last.

Henry had not achieved all he had hoped for when he arrived in the village. Although he had started many ventures, none had been a great success. He had not rebuilt the fortune he had lost in Pennsylvania because of the War of 1812. Now he felt his luck was about to change. His hope for the future rested on the reopening of a company that had so far been a disappointment — The Norwalk Manufacturing Company.

 

 

Footnote:

[1] From the Family History: Wickham, Benedict, Preston & Deaver, (unpublished), by Agnes and Harriott Wickham, edited by Dave Barton, 2006, pp. 17-18.

Image of 1846 Norwalk is from Howe, Henry (1907). Historical Collections of Ohio, The Ohio Centennial Edition. 2. The State of Ohio. , page 229. As treasurer, Henry Buckingham would have worked in the Courthouse and his home would have been down the street to the east (left of the courthouse).

 

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2017 Most Viewed Posts – Top 10 List

Norwalk Hitchhiking Map

2018 has been a good year for the Firelands History Website. Today, we’ll take stock of the year’s most viewed posts. With apologies to David Letterman, here is my top 10 list.

#10 – Sufferers’ Land – Post 10 – Women’s Life on the FrontierFrontier women endured a life of constant work, with no respite from dawn to dusk — and usually continuing after dark.

Cup and Spoon#9 – Battle of Chickamauga III – A Cup and a SpoonSomewhere on the fought-over ground, David found and carried away with him a coin silver spoon and a gracefully shaped pewter cup, lightly engraved with the Masonic emblem. On the back of the spoon is “Dr. Wm. R. Lemon, 82nd Regt., Ind. Vol.”

#8 – Norwalk Basketball Champions 1907: Who Were They? Who were these boys? Was the bespectacled young man sitting center front row a player, or the coach. And what’s with the teddy bear sitting on the basketball in his lap?

#7- A Wasted LifeI confess that my image of reformatory schools in the early 19th century was Dickensian: miserable inmates enduring harsh treatment inflicted by cruel guards and matrons.

#6 – Norwalk, Ohio in the Civil WarDavid Benedict had been with the Union army since the beginning of the war. Captured at Chickamauga, he was held prisoner at Libby Prison for a few months before being exchanged. He returned to his regiment before the Battle of Atlanta, then, after the fall of that city, participated in Sherman’s March to the Sea.

#5 – Temporary DerangementLaura’s mother dangled from the rafter, a noose tight around her neck.

#4 – Battle of Chickamauga I – Muskets and MedicineSuddenly, from beyond the road sounded the blood-curdling Rebel yell, and a group of horsemen burst from the woods. Hyde seized the sheet from the amputating table and waved a bloody flag of truce.

Nathan Bedford Forrest

Nathan Bedford Forrest

#3 – Battle of Chickamauga II – General Nathan Bedford Forrest Comes to BreakfastAt sunrise on Monday, two Confederate generals, Forrest and Cheatham, rode into camp, tied their horses and remarked casually that they had come to breakfast.

#2 – A Home in the Wilderness RevisitedTwo hundred years ago today, September 9, 1817, Platt and Sally Benedict and their family arrived in the Sufferers’ Land of northern Ohio, ending a two month trek from their home in Connecticut.

#1 – One Night in Norwalk, Ohio – A Hitchhiker’s TaleTo 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? I’ll tell you. 

 

That’s it. Thanks to everyone who visited this past year. Please return often in 2018 to learn more about the Firelands of northern Ohio.

 

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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.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 25 – The Firelands at Last

Sufferers’ Land

The Firelands at Last

by Dave Barton

While they arranged to continue west by land, the stranded families stayed in a rented house in Erie. Lucy found a large stray dog near the home and adopted it to be company for little Nero. By this time, the passengers of the schooner had become close, but now they would part, each family going its separate way.

By the end of the week, the Prestons were ready and they headed west along the lakeshore, traveling in another rented wagon. They struggled over muddy roads and corduroy bridges. From time to time, they changed horses at an inn. On one occasion, Lucy watched men hitch to the wagon a team of white horses that were exceptionally hard to handle. A popular saying of the time was that someone who was particularly difficult to deal with was “Full of White Horse” and from the way these particular white horses behaved, Lucy thought she understood where this saying came from.

In December, they reached Cleveland, a small town of less than a hundred and fifty people, not much bigger than it had been when the Benedicts passed through two years earlier. There was no bridge across the Cuyahoga River, so they arranged to cross by ferry. The ferrymen drove the wagon with all its occupants onto the boat. However, they would not allow the Prestons to bring their two dogs with them. Lucy and Charles were fond of these canines — Nero had been their companion back in New Hampshire, the other dog had been with them since Erie. As the ferry pushed off from the bank, the children cried to see their pets running up and down the eastern bank of the river.

After unloading the wagon on the western bank, Samuel paid the fare to take the ferry back to the eastern side of the river. An hour or so later, Lucy and Charles spotted a canoe push off from the opposite bank. As it drew near, they saw their father in the bow, the two dogs sitting in his lap. Soon the children and their beloved pets were reunited.

The family pushed on westward through the wilderness. On Saturday, December 17, they stopped in the town of Eldridge, now Berlin, where they stayed at a tavern owned by David Walker. Lucy’s mother noticed that the Walker’s infant boy’s feet were “reeled”. She told Mrs. Walker, “Why, you ought to have them straightened.” Apparently, the woman did not take her advice. Years later, Lucy saw the boy at school in Norwalk, and his feet were still “reeled.”

The next morning, Sunday, December 18, the family traveled the short distance to Norwalk and stopped in the tavern owned by the Abbott family. Mrs. Abbott gave Lucy and her brother each a biscuit spread with butter and honey, a treat they had not enjoyed for many weeks.

Samuel learned that his brother-in-law Benjamin Taylor was living on a farm in the “Dutch Settlement” in Bronson Township. He led his family on, eager to end their long journey. A mile and a half from Benjamin’s farmhouse, they saw Lucy’s Aunt Juliet Taylor, riding on a horse with her three-month-old daughter in her arms. “Grandsire” Taylor walked beside his daughter-in-law and granddaughter, leading them to services at the Baptist Church near Baker’s Mill Pond.

Lucy and her family were overjoyed to see their relatives after a long separation, and soon they came to Uncle Benjamin’s farm. The trip had been long and arduous, but they had finally arrived. Time would tell how they would adapt to life on the frontier. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The Story of the Preston family’s journey to the Firelands are from the “Memoir of Mrs. Lucy Preston Wickham,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXI, The Firelands Historical Society; January 1920, pp. 2394-2399.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 17 – Murder on the Portage River

Sufferers’ Land

Murder on the Portage River

by Dave Barton

In late April 1819, disturbing news reached the village of Norwalk. Indians on the Portage River northwest of town had murdered two men. Sally Benedict, along with all the settlers, was alarmed and anxious to know more. As the days went by, more news came in. The victims were two trappers, John Wood and George Bishop. John was a married man, a tavern-keeper in Venice, Ohio, and George was single, a sailor on the Great Lakes who lived in Danbury Township.

One room school houseAt that time, much of the Firelands was still wilderness and game was plentiful enough to make trapping and hunting a profitable enterprise. In early April, a company of men, including John Wood and George Bishop, had gone on a trapping expedition up the Portage River on the peninsula, in what is now Ottawa County. The others in the party soon went home, but John and George stayed on. They were relatively successful, and by late April had settled into a cabin on the Portage River where they continued to work their trap lines. It was in that cabin that their bodies were discovered.

For a few more days the suspense continued, then came the welcome news that authorities had captured the murderers. Three Indians had confessed to the crime and were on the way to Norwalk to stand trial.

When the Indians arrived in the village, authorities confined them in a log cabin belonging to Daniel Raitt, located just north of Main Street on what is now Hester Street. Mr. Raitt and another man named Charles Soules guarded them twenty-four hours a day.

With the Indians safely confined to the jail, Sally and the other inhabitants gathered around the men who brought them in anxious to learn the full story of the murder. [1]

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] The account of the murders of John Wood and George Bishop and the capture, trial and execution of their killers is from an article by W.C. Allen in The Firelands Pioneer, June 1865, pp. 43-52, and from Baughman, A.J., History of Huron County Ohio: Its Progress and Development, Volume I, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, Chicago, IL, 1909; pp. 144-145.

 

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Sufferers’ Land – Post 14 – The Gallup Family in Norwalk

Sufferers’ Land

The Gallup Family in Norwalk

by Dave Barton

In 1818, the Gallup brothers, William and Hallet, came from Avery to Norwalk when the County Seat moved there. They were cabinetmakers, originally from Pennsylvania. The brothers lost their father in 1807 when Hallet was only ten years old. He lived with an uncle in Philadelphia for six years and then joined the army during the War of 1812,

Battle of Put in Bay

Perry transferring from the Lawrence to the Niagara. In the Public Domain. From Wikipedia Commons

serving under Harrison in the artillery on an expedition through Northern Ohio. From shore, he heard the sound of guns during Perry’s victory over the British in the Battle of Put-in-Bay and afterwards saw wrecks of British vessels along the shore.

Hallet liked what he saw in Northern Ohio. After the war, he moved with his brother to Avery, determined to make his fortune.
After moving to Norwalk from Avery in 1818, Hallet quickly became involved in the life of the village and the county. In 1819, he became County Collector of Taxes, a thankless and dangerous job, especially in the northwest part of the county.

Because of his involvement in the political and social life of the village of Norwalk, he became acquainted with the Benedict family. He took a fancy to Clarissa, and in the end won her heart. In 1820, they married and built a house on the corner of Foster and East Main where they raised eight children. [1]

Hallet used his experience as a carpenter to go into the construction business, erecting many of the public buildings in Norwalk. He was an inventive man, constructing many useful machines and becoming involved in various manufacturing ventures, to include one producing chairs in a barn on Foster Avenue. [2]

Clarissa remained devoted to her parents. She spent much of her time in their home, and her children were born there. Clarissa became a pillar of the community, especially in her support of the Episcopal Church, which her parents founded soon after arriving in Norwalk.

 

 

Footnotes:
[1] Descriptions of the birth, early life and marriage of Hallet & Clarissa Gallup are from their obituaries in The Firelands Pioneer, July 1878, pp. 103-4. Other details are from “Norwalk, Its Men and Women, and Some of the Girls I have Met,” by William Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, December 1918, pp. 2110-11.
[2] From “Did You Know,” by James H. Williams, The Firelands Pioneer, June 1937, p. 172.

 

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Transcribing: A Close Connection to the Past

In One Night in Norwalk – A Hitchhiker’s Tale, I told how I found entries in my grandmother’s diary of the night I arrived at her door after a failed attempt to hitchhike home from school.

I am lucky to have Grandma’s diaries, and other writings of hers. They have provided me an intimate window into her life – and told me what she thought of me. While transcribing them, I felt I became closer to her than I ever did while she was alive. And, while transcribing her words, I adopted a process that made her seem even closer; a process that is the subject of this post.

 

Harriott Wickham Memories

Photos: Harriott Wickham self-portrait, 1914; Commencement photo of the Class of 1907. Harriott Wickham earliest diaries: 1908-1909 (open); 1910 Tour of Europe (black cover); 1910-1914, Wooster College Years (red cover).

Early on, I formed the habit of transcribing Grandma’s letters, diaries, stories and other documents before I read them. Seeing the words for the first time as I typed them made it seem I was experiencing her thoughts as they had formed in her mind. Sitting at my desk late at night, or in the morning before dawn – my usual time for research and writing – I often felt as though Grandma was with me, directing my fingers as they moved across the keyboard of my computer.

Have you ever tried this technique? If you have not, I suggest you give it a try.

 

 

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