A Wasted Life

In my last post, “Young in Years – Old in Crime”, I am afraid I may have left you, dear readers, with the impression that J.W. Johnson’s life of crime was the result of an inadequate upbringing and hellish treatment in his teens at the Boys’ Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. I can’t comment on his upbringing, but after researching the school, I no longer lay the fault for his incorrigible behavior on them.

The school began as the Ohio Reform School in 1858 a reformatory for boys between eight and eighteen years old. In 1884, the name was changed to the Boys’ Industrial School.

Administration Building Lancaster Boys Industrial School

Administration Building, 1907

I confess that my image of reformatory schools in the late 19th century was Dickensian: miserable inmates enduring harsh treatment inflicted by cruel guards and matrons. However, according to the sources I cite at the bottom of this post, the Boys’ Industrial School at Lancaster was nothing like that.

The school used an “open system” where the boys lived in cottages and moved freely about the grounds. They spent their mornings in class, and afternoons working on the school’s farm, or learning a trade.

Although it probably was not a bed of roses,

Bob Hope

Bob Hope as a boy in England

the school was not a hell hole, either. Bob Hope spent time there as a boy, and from what I understand, he turned out okay. Later in life, he donated a substantial amount of money to the school, so apparently he had fond memories of the place.

Long story short, in my humble opinion, J.W. Johnson’s life of crime cannot be laid at the door of the Boys’ Industrial School. Whether it was the result of his early upbringing, I cannot say. I have no idea what who his parents were or what kind of life they gave him, no more than I know if he reformed his ways in later years. Perhaps some day, I will look into his heritage, and his life post 1907. If you know anything about him, dear readers, please let us know in the comments below.

That’s it for the saga of J.W. Johnson–for now. Here are links to the previous two posts in this series, if you’d like to catch up.


More Basketball – Class of 1907: Which Side of the Tracks.

Young in Years – Old in Crime.



“Boys’ Industrial School,” Ohio History Connection.

State of Ohio boys industrial school inmate case records, 1858-1918. Family Search

Boys’ Industrial School at Lancaster, Asylum Project:

Please like this post and let me know what you think in the comments. Thank you.

Location of the “Village House” in Norwich Township, 1817

myrtle-woodruffWe continue with the heritage of Myrtle Woodruff, alumnus of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907.

In my last post, I described the arrival on February 10, 1817 of the Woodruff and Laurence families at the “Village House,” a small cabin in the wilderness of Norwich Township. When I read stories like these, I usually have a hard time picturing where events took place. The old records often describe places in relation to landmarks that those living then would relate to, but are a complete mystery to me. [1]

So I decided to investigate

log-cabin-imageAccording to the March 1860 issue of The Firelands Pioneer and WW Williams’ book, the village house was located “on the village plat, where Durwin Boughton’s house now stands.” This didn’t tell me much. I have not found any record (so far) to tell me where Durwin Boughton lived in 1860. Also, the “village plat” refers to a town laid out by surveyors in the spring of 1816, but never developed.

I do, however, have this tidbit, also from the March 1860 issue of The Firelands Pioneer: “They also surveyed and laid out the village plat of Barbadoes, on the west end of lot 38, second section, and the adjoining east end of lot 6, third section, where Durwin Boughton and George H. Woodruff now live.” [2]

norwich-township-1845-plat-map-section-3norwich-township-1845-plat-map-section-2Now I had something to work with. A Google search turned up the 1845 plat maps for Huron County. [3] Above are the plat maps for the second and third sections of Norwich Township.

Lot 6 of Section 3 is third lot down on the far right of the “Sec. 3” plat, and Lot 38, of Section 2 is also third down, but on the far left of the “Sec. 2” plat. Note that G.W. Woodruff is the owner of Lot 6 in Section 3.

Below is a view of approximately where these two lots are in Norwich Township today.



By comparing this satellite image with the 1845 Plat map, and the facts I gleaned from the historical accounts,  I feel I can make an educated guess of where the “Village House” was located

Let’s assume that Road 195 in the satellite image follows the route of Buell’s Road [4] (zooming in on the satellite image, I found that this road is is labeled “Old Military Road”), and that Section Line Road 30 S is the division between Sections 2 and 3. If we accept those assumptions, we may conclude that the proposed village of Barbadoes was laid out just south of Mud Run (which will be discussed in a later post) on both sides of the section line and bisected by the “Old Military Road.” This leads me to believe that the Village House, which the Woodruff and Laurence families occupied on February 10, 1817, was located somewhere near the farm buildings located southeast of the intersection of Section Line Road 30S and Road 195.

Does this make sense? Post a comment and let me know what you think.

Next up: what transpired with the Woodruff and Laurence families in the days following their arrival at Village House.


[1] My father was a land surveyor in Lorain County, Ohio, which is next to Huron County. He once told me he found a description in the old records that began “in the middle of the snowbank.” As he explained it to me, in those days, it must have been common knowledge that every winter a large snowdrift would form at the same location. Great for the people living at that time, not so good for my dad.

[2] John Niles, “Memoirs of Norwich Township,” The Firelands  Pioneer; Volume II, number 2; The Firelands Historical Society; March, 1860, pages 32-46, and W.W. Williams, “Norwich Township,” History of the Fire-Lands Comprising Huron and Erie Counties, Ohio, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of the Prominent Men and Pioneers, Press of Leader Printing Company, Cleveland Ohio, 1897, pages 417-425.

[3] Online Index to the Plat Book of ca 1845, Huron County, Ohio, The US Gen Web Project for Huron County, Ohio.

[4] Beall Trail was cut through the wilderness by General Reasin Beall and his army in 1812 from Wooster to Fremont, Ohio. It passed through what would become New Haven and Norwich Townships. The Woodruff and Laurence party followed this trail from New Haven to their new home in 1817.


Norwalk, Ohio High School, 1906-1907

Do you have old photos knocking around of your ancestors–and you have no idea who they are–or even if they are your ancestors?

Well I thought I had both problems when I found the photo below at my mother’s house a decade ago. I knew that one of the students was my grandmother. But which one? Then I turned the photo over and found what every genealogist and historian dreams of–my grandmother, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton (descendant of Firelands Pioneers Platt Benedict and Frederick Wickham) had identified not just herself, but every one of her classmates.

Norwalk High School - Junior, Senior Study Hall

Junior, Senior Study Hall, Norwalk High School, 1906.

I was thrilled, of course, to identify my grandmother (tenth back in the far right column). But then I began to wonder: who are the rest of these people? Where did they live? What were their families like and when did they come to the Firelands?

So I began to research them,focusing on the Class of 1907: on Ancestry, in back issues of the  Firelands Pioneer, and any other source I could find. This was a homogeneous group, compared to schools today, but had their distinctions. And they grew up to have varied careers: some successful, some not–and some just seemed to disappear. Some of the men went off to war, others did not. Most of the women married and had families, others had careers. One of the men became a soldier-statesman: becoming a U.S. Senator, and not only serving in both world wars, but also on General Pershing’s expedition against Pancho Villa.

I’ve only scratched the surface in my research of the Class of 1907. But on this, the 110th anniversary of their senior year, I have decided to share what I’ve learned so far with you, visitors to this blog, and solicit you help in filling in blanks where you can.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.



History of the Fire-Lands, by W.W. Williams – 1879






W.W. Williams’ History of the Fire-Lands is the most comprehensive history of this region by far. In his Prefatory Note, Mr. Williams writes that the Firelands is the most documented region in Ohio, and gives the credit for that to the Firelands Historical Society, which has been in existence since 1857. Although Mr. Williams used the journal of that society, The Firelands Pioneer as an important source for History of the Firelands, he also drew from many other  primary sources, to include court records and personal interviews with settlers still surviving in the 1870’s. The resulting book is a treasure trove of histories, biographies, and illustrations for the genealogist and historian interested in this region and the families that settled there.

History of the Fire-Lands is organized into two sections. The first section is a comprehensive history of Huron and Erie Counties that includes a description of the area and traces its social, political, and cultural development. This section is followed by detailed histories of the towns and villages that made up the original Firelands; mainly present day Erie and Huron counties, but also including townships that are now in Ashland and Ottawa Counties.

Interspersed throughout the text are over 130 illustrations that include portraits of early settlers, depictions of their residences and detailed maps. The book also contains the biographies of 110 prominent pioneers and their families. Some of these biographies include family genealogies.

History of the Fire-Landsis available on-line at OpenLibrary.org. The remainder of this post contains the book’s Table of Contents with links to the chapters of the History of Huron and Erie County, the Histories of Towns and Villages of Huron and Erie Counties and the three townships of the original Firelands in Ashland and Ottawa Counties, the Illustrations, and the Biographies. The biographies are not presented on this post in the same order as they are in the book, but are sorted alphabetically by last name to make it easier for readers to search.

This book is an important resource for anyone seeking information about the Firelands and the families that settled there. I hope you find it informative and entertaining.

NOTE: I encourage readers to contact me with any comments, corrections, or criticisms about this post, especially any problems navigating the links to the book or within the book. Thank you. DWB








  1. The Connecticut Western Reserve
  2. The Suffering Towns of Connecticut
  3. The Fire-Lands – A List of the Sufferers and their Losses
  4. Indian Title – Copy of the Original Treaty
  5. The Survey and Partition
  6. Physical Features of Huron County – Geography and Topography
  7. Geology of Erie County – Surface, Features, and Deposit
  8. The Pre-historic Fire-Lands
  9. The Moravian Missions
  10. Early Settlement
  11. Pioneer Times
  12. Civil History
  13. Erie County – Its Erection and Organization
  14. Civil List
  15. Political History
  16. Statistics
  17. The Press
  18. The Fire-lands Historical Society
  19. Military History of the Fire-Lands
  20. Roster of Soldiers













New Haven





New London





Sandusky City










Kelly’s Island



Ruggles, Ashland County

Danbury, Ottawa County

Put-in-Bay, Ottawa County



Outline Maps of Huron and Erie Counties

Bellevue Local News Building


Residence of John Gardiner

Portrait of Ashbel G. Post

Residence of Ashbel G. Post

Portrait of Judge Chas. B. Stickney

Portrait of Col. Franklin Sawyer

Portrait of Hon. John A. Williamson

Portrait of Dr. John Tifft

Portrait of Ansel Baker

Portrait of Eri Mesnard

Portrait of George Butt

Portrait of John Gardiner (steel)

Portrait of Platt Benedict

Portrait of Hon. Timothy Baker (steel)

Residence and Factory of B. Cortrite

Portrait of David Harlow Pease

Portrait of John Laylin

Portrait of Caleb H. Gallup


Portrait of Benjamin F. McCormick


Residence of Richardson Eaton

Portraits of Richardson Eaton and Wife

Portrait of Richard Hindley

Portrait of William N. Mitchell

Portraits of Ransom B. Ellsworth and Wife


Portrait of Samuel McCammon, M.D.

Residence of Hiram Smith


Portraits of A.J. Thomas and Wife

Residence of A.J. Thomas

Portrait of Thomas Lawrence

Portrait of Alvin Brightman

Residence of Lesiter Smith (with portraits)

Residence of N.S. Hakes

Portraits of N.S. Hakes and Wife

Portraits of Samuel S. Newcomb and Wife

Residence of Edward Conger (with portraits)

Portraits of Timothy Lawrence and Wife

Residence of W.G. Mead

Portrait of W.G. Mead

Portrait of George Lawrence


Portraits of Martin Denman and Wife

Portrait of Dudley S. Humphrey

Portrait of William Humphrey

Portrait of Dr. Edgar Martin


Portrait of Isaac Underhill

Portrait of Orrin W. Head

Portrait of John S. Davis (steel)

Portraits of William A. Bishop and Wife

Portrait of Henry P. Stentz (steel)

Portrait of Robert G. Martin (steel)

Portrait of Thomas Dickey

Portraits Salmon Drake and Wife


Portraits of Sherman Smith and Wife

Residence of Andrew J. Blackman

Portraits of Andrew J. Blackman and Wife

Portrait of Edwin W. Cunningham


Portrait of Lucien Jones

Residence of William S. Purdy

Portraits of William S. Purdy and Wife

Portraits of Ransom Purdy and Wife

Portraits of Major Purdy and Wife

Residence of Major Purdy


Portrait of Dr. William Robinson

Portraits of Huriah Robinson and Wife

Residence of Huriah Robinson

Residence of Daniel Sweetland


Residence of William Motson

Portraits of Thomas T. Mulford and Wife

Residence of Thomas T. Mulford

Portraits of R.G. Richards and Wife

Residence of R.G. Richards

Residence of John Loveland (with portraits)

Residence of John Skinner (with portraits)


Residence of A.D. Stotts (with portraits)

Residence of F.C. Paine (with portraits)


Portraits of Philip Hawxhurst and Wife

Residence of Philip Hawxhurst


Residence of Henry G. Washburn (with portraits)

Residence of Chas. A. Sutton (with portraits)

Residence of William Sutton

Portraits of John M. Carl and Wife

Residence of John M. Carl

Portraits of David Sutliff and Wife

Residence of David Sutliff

Residence of John Ellis (with portraits)

Residence of William B. Ellis (with portraits)

Portraits of Joseph Sutton and Wife


Residence of Clinton McKellogg

Residence of Isaac DeWitt (with portraits)

Portraits of William Baker and Wife


Portrait of Holsy Hubbard

Portraits of Zelotus Barrett and Wife

Residence of the late Zelotus Barrett

Residence of Jesse Perkins (with portraits)

Portrait of Dr. A.D. Skellenger

Portrait of Lyman Dunks

Portrait of Tracy Case

Portrait of E.H. Curtiss


Residence of E.L. Dole (with portraits)

Portrait of David Williams

Portrait of Thomas G. Amsden

Portrait of Frederick A. Chapman (steel)

Portrait of Gurdon Woodward (steel)

Portrait of Mary S. Woodward (steel)

Portrait of Bourdett Wood (steel)

Portrait of Mrs. Bourdett Wood (steel)

Portrait of Dr. L.G. Harkness

Portrait of Mrs. L.G. Harkness

Portrait of D.M. Harkness


Residence of W. Robinson (with portraits)

Portraits of John H. Niles and Wife

Residence of Harvey J. Doolittle

Portraits of Harvey J. Doolittle and Wife

Portraits of John S. Hester and Wife

Residence of John S. Hester

Portrait of Charles T. Hester

Residence of Ebenezer Lawrence (with portraits)

Portraits of James H. Dailey and Wife

Residence of James H. Dailey

Portraits of John Bowen and Wife

Residence of John Bowen

Residence of A.B. Gilson (with portraits)


Portrait of F.D. Parish


Residence of R.G. Richards (with portraits)


Portraits of Benjamin Summers and Wife

Portraits of Milton Laughlin and Wife

Portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Hudson Tuttle

Portrait of Hon. Almon Ruggles

Portraits of P.B Barber and Wife


Portrait of Philetus Ferris


Portraits of Datus Kelley and Wife

Portraits of Charles Carpenter and Wife

Portrait of George W. Wires


Portrait of Lorenz Műller

Portrait of Simon Fox

Portraits of Charles DeKay Townsend and Wife



Thomas G. Amsden

Ansel Baker

Hon. Timothy Baker

William Baker

Rev. Phinaes B. Barber

Roxana S. Barber

Zelotus Barrett

Platt Benedict

William A. Bishop

Andrew J. Blackman

John Bowen

Alvin Brightman

John Buffington

George Butt

Charles Carpenter

Isaac P. and Tracy Case

Frederick A. Chapman

Dean Clapp

David Conger

Barnard Cortrite

Edwin W. Cunningham

E.H. Curtiss

James H. Dailey

John S. Davis

Martin Denman

Isaac De Witt

Thomas Dickey

Orrin Dole

Harvey J. Doolittle

Salmon Drake

John Ellis

William Benson Ellis

Ransom B. Ellsworth

Simon Fox

Caleb H. Gallup

John Gardiner

A.B. Gilson

Norman S. Hakes

The Rev. Moses Hamilton

D.M. Harkness

Dr. L.G. Harkness

Samson and Philip Hawxhurst

Orrin W. Head

Charles T. Hester

John S. Hester

Richard Hindley

Dudley S. Humphrey

William Humphrey

Lucien Jones

Datus Kelley

Clinton M. Kellogg

Milton Laughlin

John Laylin

Ebenezer Lawrence

George Lawrence

Thomas Lawrence

Timothy Lawrence

John Loveland

Samuel McCammon, M.D.

Benjamin F. McCormick

Richard Lord McCurdy

W.G. Mead

Eri Mesnard

William N. Mitchell

Thomas T. Mulford

William Motson

The Newcombs of Bronson

John H. Niles

F.C. Paine

F.D. Parish

Reuben Parker

David Harlow Pease

Jesse Perkins

Ashbel G. Post

The Purdy Family

Major Purdy

Dr. Edgar Martin

Robert G. Martin

Lorenz Műller

Roswell Nichols

Richard G. Richards

Huriah Robinson

Wesley Robinson

Hon. Almon Ruggles

Percival B. Salisbury

Col. Franklin Sawyer

Dr. A.D. Skellenger

John Skinner

Erastus Smith

Hiram Smith

Leister Smith

Sherman Smith and Wife

Henry P. Stentz

Gideon T. Stewart

Judge Chas. B. Stickney

A.D. Stotts

Benjamin Summers

Joseph Sutton

A.J. Thomas

Doctor John Tifft

Chas. DeKay Townsend

Hudson Tuttle

Isaac Underhill

Henry G. Washburn

David Williams

Hon. John A. Williamson

George W. Wires

Bourdett Wood

Amos Woodward

Gurdon Woodward


© 2011 by David Barton. All rights reserved

Taylor Family Genealogy


FIRELANDS CONNECTION: Read the genealogy of Timothy Taylor, Revolutionary War soldier, and ancestor of Lucy Preston, wife of Frederick Wickham. This is an excerpt from the transcription of a handwritten notebook found in the papers of Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton. The family history in this notebook was the work of Harriott and her mother Agnes Caroline Wickham, who separately researched and made entries in it over a period of seventy years.  Agnes Wickham wrote roughly half of the entries in the notebook from 1909 to 1915.  In 1915, she gave handwritten copies of her work to each of her five children: Eleanor, William, Lucy, David and Harriott.  Harriott continued her mother’s work off and on for the next sixty years, adding entries as late as 1977.


Rootsweb Taylor Surname Message Board

Genforum Taylor Surname Forum

Taylor Genealogy and Family History on DistantCousin.com

Ancestors of the Taylor Family of Merrimack NH, History and Genealogy of Merrimack, Hillsborough County, NH

Lockwood Family Genealogy


The genealogy of Robert Lockwood, who came to America in 1630, is presented with the kind permission of Tom Ayres. Descendants of Robert Lockwood included Henry Lockwood and his sister Elizabeth (Gibbs) Lockwood who settled in Norwalk Township of the Firelands in 1816. An exhaustive Bibliography for this genealogy is also included.


Rootsweb Lockwood Surname Message Board

Genforum Lockwood  Surname Forum

Lockwood Genealogy and Family History on DistantCousin.com

Susan’s Family Genealogy Lockwood Family

Benedict Family Genealogy


FIRELANDS CONNECTION: Read the genealogy of Platt Benedict, founder of Norwalk, Ohio. This is an excerpt from the transcription of a handwritten notebook I discovered in my grandmother’s papers. The family history in this notebook was the work of two women, Agnes Caroline Wickham and her daughter, Harriott Benedict Wickham Barton, who separately researched and made entries in it over a period of seventy years.  Agnes Wickham wrote roughly half of the entries in the notebook from 1909 to 1915.  In 1915, she gave handwritten copies of her work to each of her five children: Eleanor, William, Lucy, David and Harriott.  Harriott continued her mother’s work off and on for the next sixty years, adding entries as late as 1977.

BENEDICT PORTRAITS: View portraits of Platt and Sally Benedict and their children Jonas and Clarissa.


Rootsweb Benedict Surname Message Board

Genforum Benedict Surname Forum

Benedict Genealogy and Family History on DistantCousin.com

* * * * * * * * * ****************************************************

Benedict Generations, a Geneolowiki website of the descendants of Thomas Benedict, who immigrated to America in 1637. The Geneolowiki website includes biographical pages for Platt Benedict and his descendants, to include:

Clarissa Benedict:1796-1878, eldest daughter of Platt and Sally Benedict; born 4 Sept 1796 in North Salem, NY; married Hallet Gallup 9 April 1820 in Norwalk, OH; died 11 Jan 1878, in Norwalk, OH.

David Mead Benedict: 1801-1843, eldest son of Platt and Sally Benedict; born 17 Aug 1801 in Danbury, CT; married Mary Booth Starr 24 Sept 1832 in Danbury CT; died 16 Jun 1843 in Danbury, CT.

Daniel Benedict: 1803-1827, son of Platt and Sally Benedict; born 1 June 1803 in Danbury, CT. Joined the circus and traveled with it to New Orleans where he died on 9 September 1827.

Jonas Benedict: 1806-1851, youngest son of Platt and Sally Benedict; born 23 Mar 1806 in Harlem, NY; married (1) on 8 Oct 1829 in Norwalk, OH Fanny Buckingham, a descendant of William Bradford who came to America on the Mayflower,  (2) Caroline Chapman, 26 May 1842 in Norwalk, OH; died 29 Jul 1851 in Norwalk, OH.

Dr. David DeForest Benedict:1833-1901, Son of Jonas and Fanny Benedict, married Harriott Deaver in 1856. Union Surgeon with the 17th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the American Civil War, captured at Chickamauga, exchanged and rejoined his regiment in time for the Battle of Atlanta and Sherman’s March to the Sea.

Children of David and Harriott Benedict:

Mary Deaver Benedict: born 26 Jul 1857 in Norwalk, OH; died 12 Dec 1931 in Norwalk, OH.

Harriott Melvina Benedict: born 6 Jan 1859; married (1) Henry W. Owen, 14 Oct 1881 in Norwalk, OH, (2) William B. Benhaue, 28 Sept 1897 in Norwalk, OH; died 6 June 1952 in Norwalk, OH.

Agnes Caroline Benedict: born 11 Feb 1861 in Norwalk, OH; married Frank E. Wickham, 14 October 1886 in Norwalk, OH; died 8 Mar 1934 in Norwalk, OH.

Fanny Buckingham Benedict: born 14 Jan 1863 in Norwalk, OH; married Andrew J. Hottel, 14 Oct 1889; died 4 Oct 1940 in Norwalk, OH.

Frederick Platt Benedict: born 7 Apr 1866 in Norwalk, OH; died 11 March 1885 at Kenyon College, OH.

Ellen Eliza Benedict: born 21 Jun 1868 in Norwalk, OH; married Louis Wildman Wickham, nephew of Frank Wickham, 9 Aug 1892 in Norwalk, OH; died 1 Jun 1942 in Mitiwanga, OH.

Suzan Rose Benedict, PhD: born 29 Nov 1873 in Norwalk, OH; died 8 Mar 1942 at Smith College, MA.

Fanny B Benedict; born 14 Aug 1840; daughter of Jonas and Fanny Benedict. Married Louis H. Severance, 13 Aug 1862 in Norwalk, OH; died 1 Aug 1874 in Cleveland, OH.

Eliza Ann Benedict: youngest daughter of Platt and Sally Benedict; born 27 Oct 1812 in Danbury, CT: married William Brewster, 1 May 1832; died 17 Aug 1840 in Norwalk, OH

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