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History of Ashtabula County, Ohio

with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of its
Pioneers and Most Prominent Men.
by Publ. Philadelphia - Williams Brothers -
(Transcribed by Sharon Wick)



Res. of the Late
Rev. G. H. Cowles
(built by him in 1815)
Austinburg Centre,
Ashtabula Co., O
Rev. Dr. Giles Hooker Cowles, the first settled minister of Austinburg and Morgan, and in fact of Ashtabula County, emigrated to the former town from Bristol, Connecticut, with his family, consisting of a wife, eight children, and a hired man, in the year of 1811.  He was a son of Ezekiel and Martha Hooker Cowles, of Farmington, Connecticut, and was born in that place, Aug. 26, 1766.  He was descended from John Cowles, who settled in Farmington in the year of 1652, and who was one of three brothers who emigrated from England in 1635.  His mother was a daughter of Major Giles Hooker, of Farmington, and a lineal descendant of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, the first clergyman who settled in Connecticut.  After having prepared himself for college under the tuition of Rev. William Robinson, of Southington, Dr. Cowles entered Yale college, and graduated there with honor in the year 1789.  During his studies he became hopefully pious. He pursued his theological studies with Dr. Jonathan Edwards, the younger, then of New Haven.  In 1791 he was licensed to preach, and in 1792 he received a call from the Congregational church of Bristol, and was ordained and installed over that church the 17th of October of that year, Rev. Dr. Edwards preaching the ordination sermon, and the Rev. Timothy Pitkins, of Farmington, Rev. John Smalley, of New Britain, Rev. Rufus Hawley, of Avon, Rev. William Robinson, of Southington, Rev. Simon Waterman, of Plymouth, Rev. Benoni Upton, of Kensington, Rev. Jonathan Miller, of Burlington, and Rev. Israel B. Woodward, of Walcott, with their delegates, constituting the ordaining council.  In February, 1793, he was married to Miss Sallie, daughter of Lebbeus White, of Stamford, Connecticut, a direct descendant of Peregrine White, the first white child born in New England, and also a descendant, on his mother’s side, from a Huguenot family by the name of De Grasse, which name was subsequently changed to Weed.  Mrs. Cowles was a woman of extraordinary beauty and great culture for the time she lived, of remarkable force of character, of intellectual power, and a model Christian minister’s wife and mother.  Although at the time of her marriage she was not a member of the church, she became one in 1795. 
     Dr. Cowles preached in Bristol for nearly eighteen years, when he was dismissed by mutual consent, May 10, 1810.  The record of the church contained this entry:
     “ Mr. Cowles, at the close of seventeen years’ and seven months’ ministry in this place, on the 27th of May, 1810, preached his farewell sermon, from Hebrews xiii. 17:
     "For they watch for your souls as they that must give an account, that they may do it with joy and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you,’ to a crowded assembly, who were very much affected, and appeared to regret the unhappy circumstances which rendered the trying parting scene necessary.  ‘Perhaps the instance was never known that a minister and people ever parted with so much harmony, but for wise purposes Providence has ordered it so.’
     “There were four seasons of awakening during Mr. Cowles’ ministry. Two hundred and eighteen members were added to the church,—one hundred and eighty-one from the world entered upon their profession, and thirty-seven by letters from other churches.  Sixty-seven, received in 1799, marked ‘a year never to be forgotten.’  Of the two hundred and eighteen, seventy-four were gone by deaths, removals, and excommunications.  The number remaining at his dismission, one hundred and sixty-two; of these, but seventeen were members when he settled with them.  The church parted with a truly faithful minister, whose choice was to live and die with them; but he has gone, and the church and society’s duty is plain,—to endeavor to choose another who will be as faithful to the souls committed to his charge, to support him and assist him to fulfill the arduous task imposed on him.”
     Hon. Tracy Peck, in a historical address he delivered on the occasion of the celebration, in the year 1859, of the fiftieth anniversary of the appointment of Charles G. Ives as deacon of the church in Bristol, made the following reference to Dr. Cowles:
     “Mr. Cowles entered upon and pursued his work here as a learned, pious, and faithful minister of the gospel.  He was never a healthy, robust man, being always afflicted with an infirmity in one leg, which caused him to halt in his walk, and frequently suffered much from salt-rheum.  He was agreeable and exceedingly interesting in all his intercourse with the people, and was accustomed to visit often in the families and the schools. He often examined the children and scholars in the shorter catechism, he talked and prayed with them, regarding all this as a part of his pastoral duties, a duty which he much loved, and his love was fully reciprocated, and was one of the links which bound him to this people, to those children and pupils, in so strong, endearing, and lasting bonds of love and affection.
     “Those of us here who were then children in those families or in those schools, cannot well forget those days and scenes, the remembrance of which is so sweet, so refining and elevating, nor forget the name of the Rev. Giles Hooker Cowles, so interestingly connected with them.  And I have yet to learn that there has been improvement in these particulars.
     “Dr. Cowles was a sound and successful minister, and during the seventeen years and eight months of his stay here there were additions to this church each year, save 1804 and 1808.  The whole number was two hundred and eighteen, leaving in membership at his dismission one hundred and sixty-two.  At the head of the admissions I see the name of my venerated and beloved mother, to whom, for a long while, I have felt myself indebted for several of the leading features in my life and character.  Yet the great and never-to-be-forgotten year in the ministry of Mr. Cowles is that of 1799, when there was a general outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon this church, a large proportion of the community, and the hearts of the people in many places of our State and county.
     “How appropriate the entry made by Dr. Cowles upon the records, where he says, ‘A YEAR NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN' ”
     “Then it was that the Bible was so generally read by the old and the young.  Then it was that so many humble and penitent prayers were offered upon the bended knees, from hearts having great and alarming views of their sin and guilt, and pleading for mercy in and through a Redeemer’s blood.  Oh, how few are here to-day who were here in 1799, and experienced for the first time the sweets of redeeming grace!  The refreshing influences of the Holy Spirit were so pure, and the scenes so awful, yet so rich, that I cannot, in this review, pass over them in silence.  Dr. Cowles has placed upon the records, 'That the year of 1798 was one of great opposition to divine truth, and a neglect of religious and public worship seemed to increase, and but one made a public profession of religion.’  Much trouble and altercation about school districts, etc.  But God was pleased, in 1799, to pour out his Spirit upon the people in a remarkable manner, and produced a revival of religion which ought to be recorded for the information of posterity and to the glory of his glorious grace.  The first appearance of this work was at a lecture about the middle of February.  The Rev. Messrs. Joshua Williams, of Harwinton, and Joseph Washburn, of Farmington, were present, and gave some account of the revivals in some neighboring towns.  Two sermons were delivered in the afternoon, and divine truth appeared to be attended with divine power.  An unusual attention and seriousness were apparent in the congregation, and numbers seemed greatly affected and in tears.  In the evening a meeting was held at a large school-house, which was thronged, and divine influence seemed more powerful than in the afternoon.  Within a week nearly fifty were under conviction, and ten or twelve entertained a hope; and from the 31st of March, 1799, to May 1, 1800, one hundred were added to the church, sixty-one females and thirty-nine males. 
     “I suppose that there are two or three persons now here who were present at these two meetings mentioned by Dr. Cowles.
     “The years 1798, 1799, and 1800 were years of excitement in this church and in the political movements of this State and nation.
     “In December, 1798, the Baptist society was organized. Early in 1799, Elder Daniel Wildman, of the Baptist church, moved into town and commenced religious services, which were mostly held in his own house.  His labors seemed to have a favorable effect upon his hearers, and during that year several were baptized by immersion and added to his church, two of whom were members of this church.
     “The question of baptism was discussed with interest and produced great excitement.  Mr. Cowles delivered two sermons in proof of the duty of infant baptism, which were enlarged and published in three sermons, together with an appendix, by Rev. Jonathan Miller, then pastor of the church in Burlington, which were circulated and read, and had a soothing and quieting influence over one of the existing elements of that day. . . .
     “The council met here May 24, 1810, and, agreeably to mutual consent, dismissed Mr. Cowles, and in their result they say, ‘that they find that this church style him their beloved pastor,’ and to whom the church return their thanks for the faithfulness, ability, prudence, and zeal with which he served them in the duties of the Christian ministry for seventeen years and eight months. 
     “ I was present on that occasion, and a society meeting was holden, of which that worthy and much-respected man, Deacon Bryan Hooker, was moderator and, while standing in the old deacon's seat, and stating to the meeting the important transactions of the day, he became so much affected and overcome that he seemed to lose the power of speech.  He stood silent for a while.  The tears then flowed free and abundant.
     “I was then at the age of twenty-five years, and I have often thought that I never attended a meeting so deep, so solemn, and so impressive as was that.  I do believe that during the remaining sixteen years of the life of Deacon Bryan Hooker, I looked upon his person and upon his private and public character and acts with more respect than I could otherwise have done; and that his whole life and character, while he lived and since his death, have appeared to me more grand and more lovely, and have had a greater effect on me, than has almost any other transaction of his life.
     “Mr. Cowles and his family left this place for Austinburg, Ohio, May 21, 1811, where he was settled in the ministry, and remained until his death.  His daughter, Miss Martha Hooker Cowles, of Austinburg, having heard of this movement by this church, wrote to me, and says, ‘We, the younger members of the family, cannot from recollection give much information.  We, of course, were always interested in Bristol as the place of our birth and associations of childhood, and the names of Lewis and Ives were household words to us.’  She gives the names and ages of the children of her parents when they left Bristol.  She also says ‘that her parents and two of her brothers have passed away.’
     “She sent me the following, being copies of the inscriptions on the tombstones of her parents and brother Edward, viz.
     “ ‘Edward died in 1823, aged twenty-one years.  A very dutiful, affectionate son to his parents. Thou destroyest the hope of man.
     “ ‘This was engraven on his tombstone, as expressive of my father’s feelings at the time.’

“ In Memory of
wife of
Rev. Giles II. Cowles, D.D.,
Died July 23d, 1S30.
Aged 56 years.
• The righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance.’
“ In Memory of
Died July 5th, 1835,
Aged 69 years, and the 42d year
of his Ministry.

     ‘Yea, saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labor, and their works do follow them.’
     “I remember the wife of Dr. Cowles.  She was a woman of beauty, of superior education, and all her intercourse with others was of a high, interesting, and finished character.  For a number of years I have seldom opened the present first volume of our church records but I have seen and readily recognized her handwriting, as she recorded and wrote much for her husband.”
     The foregoing extracts show the estimation in which Dr. Cowles stood with his people in Bristol.  He was indeed a most pious and devoted minister of religion, whose sole ambition was to serve only Him who suffered to save sinners.  His piety, his conscientiousness in the performance of his duty as a minister of Christ, and amiability of character were household words among the members of the church in Bristol, which lias been handed down traditionally in that place.  When a son of Dr. Cowles, Mr. William E. Cowles, visited Bristol, in 1875, for the first time since he left there a boy, he found not one living who remembered hearing or seeing his father, but he found many who knew of his father by reputation, and for the sake of the memory of that good pastor they, the descendants of those who sat under his preaching, tendered him a most hearty welcome.
     It will be seen by the records we have quoted from that Dr. Cowles preached in Bristol for nearly eighteen years, ending in 1810, when he dissolved his connection with the church.  At this time Ashtabula County had been settled ten years.  Owing to the scantiness of the population, no minister had yet settled in that county.  What little there was of the gospel that had been expounded during that time was done by that good old pioneer-missionary, Father Badger, who was wont to make his semi-occasional visit in the various parts of the county, preaching in the log meeting-houses, barns, cabins, and frequently in God’s temple, under His mighty blue dome, amidst the primeval forest grove.  The good accomplished by this faithful servant of Christ can only be known by searching the records on high, but a truer, more self-denying, more earnest, more conscientious, and more effective worker in the cause of religion than was Father Joseph Badger never lived.  He has gone to that blessed land where live the just and the righteous, to meet those whom he has brought unto the Lord, and there he will reside forever.  As the sequel will prove, Dr. Cowles became a most worthy co-laborer in the vineyard of the Lord with this estimable pioneer missionary.  During the spring of this year (1810), Mrs. Austin, the wife of Judge Eliphalet Austin, of Austinburg, a woman of great piety, innate strength of mind, and energy, came to the conclusion that they ought to have a settled minister; that the field was ripe for a bountiful spiritual harvest, and she notified her husband that she would go back to old Connecticut on horseback and hunt up a minister!  And sure enough that brave woman, with all her change of clothing in a traveling portmanteau, started alone on horseback on that long journey to Connecticut, six hundred miles away, through an unsettled country, and almost unbroken forests most of the way.  She arrived safely at her destination after a ride of over thirty days.  We have in our mind’s eye some of her great-granddaughters who, when they made a journey taking about one-half of that time, were constrained to take along several enormous Saratoga trunks.  What would they have thought of traveling on a thirty days’ journey with their wardrobes concentrated into a portmanteau?  We cannot help drawing a contrast.  In spite of their thorough modern education, their culture and accomplishments, and the advantages they had of living in the midst of a higher grade of civilization, they can never excel their good old grandmother in her piety, in all that made the true woman, in the amount of the sound sense she possessed, of the strength of character she had, the remarkable energy she showed, and the heart she had overflowing with kindness.
     Mrs. Austin went to Bristol, and was closeted with Mrs. Cowles, and there she brought up the subject of the need of a minister to preach the gospel in New Connecticut.  Mrs. Cowles fell in with the idea of having her husband accept the call thus tendered by the intrepid woman who had come so far for that purpose.  She saw in the then far distant Western Reserve rich and cheap land, and a chance for her boys to fight successfully their way through life.  The matter was broached to her husband, and he was easily persuaded to take a trip to New Connecticut, and make a prospective examination of the field which he had been invited to cultivate.  Accordingly he started on horseback, and reached Austinburg, and the result of his examination was that he concluded to move his family there.  He returned to Bristol, and in the following year, 1811, he took an affectionate leave of his old parishioners, with whom he had been associated so long.  We of this fast age are in the habit of accomplishing that same journey, with the comfort and adjunct of the sleeping-car, in from twenty-four to twenty-eight hours, and can communicate with absent friends (literally in no time at all) by telegraph.  The leave-taking of the pastor and his family from those whom they loved so well—the numerous and affectionate relatives, the loving parishioners, the pious and warm-hearted deacons, and the playmates of the children—was unusually sad and solemn.  This can be appreciated when it is considered that the country they were emigrating to at that time was thirty to forty days’ journey off, over horrible mud and corduroy roads, up and down steep ungraded hills, with scarcely any hotels on the wayside, with the consciousness that the probability was very remote indeed of any ever returning again to the scenes of their childhood, and this too at a time wheu it took over two months for a letter to be sent and delivered and au answer received, at an expense of fifty cents' postage both ways.
     The farewell sermon preached by Mr. Cowles on the Sunday previous to his departure was very impressive, and the congregation presented a mournful appearance; but the doctor showed a spirit of cheerful resignation to the force of circumstances.  For days previous to the departure the old parsonage was thronged with callers from Bristol, Farmington, and the surrounding towns, to bid the pastor and his family tearful farewells.
     Dr. Cowlesfamily at that time consisted of himself, wife, eight children, and a hired man.  His furniture was loaded on to two wagons, and he himself, wife, and the smaller children rode in a carriage.  His children were Edwin, aged  seventeen years; Sally, fifteen years; William Elbert, thirteen years; Edward, ten years; Martha, seven years; Cornelia and Lysander (twins), four years; Betsey, then an infant, aged one year.  It was in this manner that the caravan of the pastor traveled on its long journey through forest and unsettled region, for the far-distant Western Reserve.
     After passing through the ordeals incident to such a journey, Dr. Cowles reached Austinburg in the summer of 1811.  There being no “hotels” in that newly-settled region, and the houses of the settlers small, and mostly of logs, for the first few days he and his family took possession of the log church or “meeting-house,” as the New Englanders called their places of worship, which was then located at the Centre, about in front of the present town-house.  Soon the neighbors gathered from all around, and, wielding the axe only as pioneer axemen can, in an incredible short period of time they erected a commodious log dwelling, near the site of the present homestead, for the pastor and his family to occupy.  He was installed pastor over the united church of Austinburg and Morgan in the following September, and the entire ministry of the Western Reserve assisted on that occasion.  They were Rev. Joseph Badger, of Ashtabula; Rev. J. Leslie, of Harpersfield ; Rev. Thomas Barr, of Euclid ; Rev. J. Beers, of Springfield; Rev. N. B. Darrow, of Vieuna; and Rev. Mr. Spencer, of Fredonia, New York.
     The members of the Austinburg church at that time, as furnished from memory by Mr. William Elbert Cowles, were as follows: Captain Stephen Brown and wife, Joab Austin and wife, Deacon Moses Wilcox and wife, Benjamin Sweet and wife, Mrs. Joseph B. Cowles, Samuel Ryder and wife, Colonel Roswell Austin and wife, Deacon Joseph M. Case and wife, Mrs. Lydia Case, Deacon Sterling Mills and wife, Moses Wright and wife, Judge Eliphalet Austin and wife, John Videto and wife, Thomas Dunbar and wife, Noah Smith, Erastus Austin, Zeri Cowles, Calvin Stone, and Abigail Case. As a missionary, receiving a portion of his salary from the Connecticut missionary society, Dr. Cowles visited various portions of the Western Reserve, preaching the gospel.
     In 1812, the year after his arrival in Austinburg, Dr. Cowles started a movement among his people to build a frame church edifice in place of their humble log meeting-house.  Judge Austin, Joab Austin, Dr. O. K. Hawley, and Doctor Cowles led with liberal subscriptions, and the means were raised sufficient to erect and inclose the first church ornamented with a steeple on the Western Reserve, if not in Ohio.  The new church was occupied in 1815, when it was in an unfinished condition, and it was not till 1820 that it was entirely completed.  Until that time it was probably the finest church edifice in Ohio out of Cincinnati.  The writer well remembers, when a child, traveling with his parents to visit "grandpa and grandma,” in 1830, the impression the appearance of that church made on his childish mind when he saw it for the first time.   He had never before seen a steeple, and he gazed at the building with a feeling of admiration akin to awe.  Although only four years old, the first impression on his mind of that to him magnificent church was never effaced.  On the following Sunday, when he heard the church-bell,—that beautiful-toned bell, the first he had ever heard,— on that lovely June morning, standing by the side of his invalid grandmother, a few weeks before she was taken away, his feeling of astonishment was greater than he can describe, and his admiration was intense for the church with that wonderful machine with a revolving wheel in the steeple for producing that marvelous sound.
     When the church building was planned it was decided at first not to have a steeple on account of the expense.  The women came forward and offered to assume that expense themselves, and their proposition was accepted.
     The late Miss Betsey M. Cowles, in her speech delivered at the three-quarter centennial celebration of the settlement of the township of Austinburg, June 5, 1875, gave a vivid account, in her pathetic style, of how the good and pious pioneer women of Austinburg went to work to raise the means with which to pay for that steeple, which we will copy:
     “Seventy-five years ago to-morrow night the first woman who came to this town was the wife of Sterling Mills.  She and her husband and Mr. Joseph Case were making their way to the ‘Austins’ camp.’ But darkness overtook them amidst a rain-storm, and compelled them to stop in the wood, and all that long and gloomy night that brave pioneer woman sat upon her saddle on the ground, with her infant in her arms.  That kind-hearted and gallant man, Deacon Joseph M. Case, the father of the orator of the day, stood through all that night by the side of that helpless mother and held an umbrella to protect her from the rain.  This was but one of the many incidents of the early settlement of this region that ought to be told.  We should remember the hardships and sufferings endured by the settlers in those early days, and keep alive in our hearts the memory of those brave pioneer men and women.
     “There was a meeting-house commenced here in 1812 and finished a few years later, and the old subscription paper is still in existence.  The men had decided to build the church without a steeple, but the women said no, they would build a steeple themselves.  I will illustrate how our venerated mothers and grandmothers worked when they undertook anything.  One of them, Mrs. Rebecca Whiting, subscribed ten dollars, and took in weaving to earn money to pay it.  Another, Mrs. Naomi Ryder, who had a large family of children, whom she took care of well, put down her name for five dollars, which she paid by taking in sewing, making pants for about thirty-seven cents a pair, and coats for about seventy-five cents, and so on.  We think her granddaughter, Mrs. Pierce, who is present, does exceedingly well for a modern woman, but she is not quite as smart as her good old grandmother was.
     To illustrate the spirit of religion that prevailed among the early settlers of Austinburg, we will allude to the prayer that was made by Dr. Cowles at the raising of the frame of the church.  The foundation timber, in a square form, had already been laid on the brick-work.  On this the men all stood, facing inward, forming a hollow square, and with bowed uncovered heads listened to the fervent prayer offered by the pastor, asking the blessing of God on the enterprise, on the erection and eventual dedication of the house of worship to the glory of Himself.
     The architectural design of this church was copied from a church in Norwalk, Connecticut.  It had a steeple about one hundred and twenty feet in height.  Its spire was surmounted by a vane in the shape of an arrow with a spear-head.  The rear end of the vane spread out quarter fan-shaped into seven branches.  On the end of each branch was a gilt star, and in the centre of the branches was a gilt quarter-moon, which, in addition to its ornamental use, acted as a brace for the branches.  This vane was a most conspicuous object on the steeple, and many of the readers will recognize it from the description we have given.  The inside of the church presented a considerable amount of architectural effect.  The centre of the ceiling was arched, the arch being supported by large, finely turned wooden columns resting on the gallery, which was on three sides, and directly under these columns was another set supporting the gallery from the floor.  The pulpit was a high, old-fashioned, unique affair.  It was large enough to seat two beside the speaker.  A portion of it was supported on two very finely-finished, fluted wooden columns. To the right of these columns was a fluted pillar-stand,
three and a half feet in height, on which was placed the baptismal bowl.  In front of the two columns was the communion-table.  From this "tall citadel," as it was sometimes called by the irreverent, many doctrinal points have been made clear to the average mind by the great reasoning power of Dr. Cowles.  From that old pulpit the infernal system of slavery has frequently been denounced in scathing language by some of the early eloquent anti-slavery orators.  Some of the first sermons ever given against intemperance were preached from that pulpit, and frequently has it been graced with the venerable form of good old Father Badger.
    From this crude description some idea may be formed of the architectural appearance of this pioneer church,—the first ever erected on the Reserve, if not in Ohio, with a steeple.  The bell was placed in the tower somewhere about 1825.  It weighed about five hundred pounds.  It is said that the sound of this bell drove away the wolves and other wild animals, for none had ever been seen in the township since the bell commenced ringing out its calls to attend public worship.
     This old church—historic church it may be called—was ruthlessly torn down about the year 1857, simply because there was no further use for it, the majority of the congregation preferring to attend worship, as a matter of convenience, at the “North End,” and nearly all the rest went to the Eagleville church, for the same reason.  The church stood unoccupied and for a period neglected by the ungrateful community for which it had done so much towards its moral well-being.  From this old church had evolved directly and indirectly those grand, high moral principles, which have spread over Ashtabula County and made it what it is.  That landmark, with its spire towering against the sky and its conspicuous vane, which always excited the admiration of the writer during his childhood days the church his honored grandfather helped to erect, and in which he officiated so faithfully for nearly twenty years; the church in which his beloved parents were married, in which he and his brothers and sister were baptized, and in which the funeral services were held over the remains of both his grandparents, has disappeared forever.  Nothing remains to show the former glory of that fine specimen of a pioneer church, unless it may be the bell, which had been transferred to a cheaply-built and common-looking unorthodox house of worship at the “North End.”  Even the bell, apparently indignant at its being used against the cause oforthodoxy, and at the treatment the old orthodox church had received, became cracked, and refused to give out its former sweet tones.  Can it be wondered that the writer should have some feelings of resentment at the want of appreciation of that old pioneer church by those for whom it has done so much?
     After having accomplished the work of erecting and inclosing the church edifice, Dr. Cowles set about making preparation to erect for himself, at his own expense, a parsonage,—the present homestead now occupied by his daughter, Miss Martha H. Cowles.  As the first settled minister of the town, he received from the Connecticut land company eighty acres of land, and had the use of eighty acres more given by that company for a parsonage lot.  He purchased in addition one hundred and sixty acres, making his farm, including the parsonage lot, three hundred and twenty acres.  He located his mansion on his own lot, nearly opposite where the new church stood.  In the winter of 1813—14 his hired man, Mr. Shepard, whom he brought with him from Connecticut, and his brother-in-law, Mr. Frederick Weed, got out a quantity of saw-logs, which were formed into a raft, on Grand river, and floated down to the “Austin Mills,” now known as Mechanicsville, for the purpose of being sawed into lumber for the contemplated new house. The river being high and the current above the dam very rapid, the navigation of the raft got beyond the control of Messrs. Weed and Shepard, and it went over the dam, and Mr. Shepard was drowned.  Mr. Weed succeeded in escaping.  This sad accident and the loss of the logs delayed the building of the mansion till the following year, 1815, when it was erected.  The plan of that house was drawn in a scientific and architectural manner by Mrs. Cowles, and the convenience of that plan excited the admiration of all who saw the inside of the house.  General Simon Perkins, of Warren, copied the plan for his own house, which he built.  It was considered to be a wonderfully aristocratic dwelling by the younger portion of the community, who had never been to Connecticut and seen the “big” houses there.  It is still, in this age of houses with modern improvements,” a most commodious and convenient residence.  That old parsonage has witnessed many cultured gatherings under its roof.  Hundreds of ministers of the gospel, including Bishop Chase and others of equal prominence, lecturers, anti-slavery speakers, professors, and students, have enjoyed its hospitalities.  Can it be wondered that the association with the educated and refined that were wont to assemble there should have had a beneficial effect in moulding the character of the children of Dr. Cowles?
     Dr. Cowles was naturally of a grave temperament and never was inclined to mirth, but his wife and children could appreciate the humors of life just as well as the rest of the world, and the big kitchen of the old homestead has witnessed many scenes of innocent jollity.  As an illustration, we will copy from a letter written by the late Miss Betsey M. Cowles and published in the Ashtabula News, describing the “singing meetings” that were frequently held in Austinburg, and often in the kitchen of the homestead:
     “ One amusement was considered safe and legitimate, to which no barrier was interposed, and that was ‘singing meetings.’  These were held first in private houses,—one week at Deacon Mills', at the South End, next week at Judge Austin's, at the North End, and the next at the parsonage, at the Centre.  Neither floods nor flames, hail, rain, nor snow, light nor darkness, could keep the young folks from these meetings.  Benches on which to sit were improvised, huge fires  were built on the hearth, with plenty of tallow-candles to hold in the hand, which constituted the preparation for these meetings.  To these they came on horseback, on sleds, on foot, a distance of one, two, three, four, and five miles.  The hour arrived for the ‘opening up,’ the chorister would give the order,  'Take your places.  Strike your lights.  Open to Majesty.’  A toot from the 'pitch-pipe,’ with the order, ‘Strike the pitch,’ and off the tune goes, the leader in the mean time pacing the floor, with violent gesticulations, swinging both arms at full length, beating time, singing first one part as it falters and then another, like a skillful general skirmishing along the lines, strengthening the weak points.  So he runs from one part of the room to another wherever help is needed, and as a result the music fills the high domes of the room.  On the different parts of the ‘fuguing tunes' was full scope for the exercise of his generalship, as each part was led off by him, he rapidly swinging himself to each as it strikes in; in short, bearing the entire burden of carrying the whole; and when the tune is sung, commends the performance by saying, ‘You have done well; but we’ll try it once more, just to let your voices out a little louder.’  Each one had exerted his vocal organs to the utmost, yet cheerfully they try again.  An hour or more thus spent, then comes intermission, or ‘visiting times,’ then another hour of singing, mingled with laughs at the mistakes or witticisms of the leader; after which all arise and sing 'Pilgrim's Farewell,’ and then they are dismissed and homeward bound.
     “In the progress of human affairs a ‘singing master’ is hired; he boarding around with the people, they stipulating to give him a certain sum for his services, and then open the school to all.  Among the early masters was, first, Amasa Loomis, a man who sang loud and long.  Following him was Deacon Grey, a quaint, gray-haired, little old man, with a nice cultivated ear for music, who greatly improved church music in this and neighboring towns.  He introduced the Handel and Haydn collection of music in place of ‘fuguing tunes,’ and round notes in place of ‘patent’ or 'buckwheat’ notes.  On each evening he would announce that a new tune would be 'put out’ next week; hence expectations were on the alert.  His schools were closed by a grand ‘singing lecture’ in the meeting-house, at which time all the new tunes were sung to a large and delighted audience, which had assembled at the usual hour for meeting, or at one o’clock p.m.  As time advanced the name ‘singing lecture’ was changed to 'concert.’ ”
    The magnificent voices of four of Dr. Cowles’ children must have added greatly to the power of these “ singing lectures.”  The children, who inherited their musical gift from their mother, were Cornelia, soprano; Betsey, alto; Lewis, tenor; and Martha, soprano.  Lysander was a singer, but he did not rank with the sisters and brother I have named.  Martha had a marvelously sweet voice, but it was never cultivated like her sisters and brother Lewis.  In later years — in 1840—the choir of the church in Austinburg was probably equal to any in the State.  It was under the leadership of Squire Lucretius Bissell, a half-brother  of Joab Austin.  He was a very capable leader indeed, he having studied music as a science. The principal singers of the choir, at the date I have named, were Squire Bissell and his wife, Misses Cornelia and Betsey Cowles, and Lewis Cowles.  It can be imagined how Dr. Cowles must have enjoyed listening to the music of his children, especially so after the death of his wife, when he reflected that they inherited their voices from their sainted mother.
     Dr. Cowles was a most substantial speaker, never flowery, but solid and reasoning in his efforts.  His theological knowledge was of the highest order, and he was a most profound student.  When he settled in Austinburg he brought with him from Connecticut his entire library, which at that time, and for many years afterwards, was the largest in the county.  When not engaged with his professional duties he invariably retired to his study for the purpose of reading or writing, or delving into theological or religious lore. His three sermons defending infant baptism, delivered in Bristol in 1802, to which Hon. Tracy Peck referred in his address, were considered masterly efforts, and are the best monuments of his talent that remain, and could never have been produced save by a richly-endowed and disciplined mind.  His power over the minds of his people can best be shown by the results of the great revivals of religion that occurred at different periods of his ministry, especially the one in 1799, in Bristol, when over one hundred joined his church,—“a year,' " which he entered on the church records, “never to be forgotten.”  The revivals of 1816, in Austinburg, showed the influence of his power as a preacher.  His piety was earnest and very deep, which has been fully set forth by Mr. Tracy in his remarks. The Hon. Charles Case, in his oration delivered at the three-quarter centennial celebration of the settlement of Austinburg, speaking of Dr. Cowles, said,—
     “Then again, there was the Rev. Giles H. Cowles.  They used to think I was very bad when I was a boy.  I know what was said then, and I have never forgotten it.  But I knew that venerable man, and knew how consistent and faithful he was in all the long years when he was the settled pastor of the church in Austinburg.”
     Dr. Cowles was a great friend of the cause of education.  Having received a thorough education himself, he appreciated it.  In 1825 he, with others, first moved in the matter of establishing the Western Reserve college.  The three presbyteries of the Reserve met at Warren to decide upon the location of the proposed college.  The members were as follows: from Grand River presbytery, Rev. Dr. Giles H. Cowles, Harvey Coe, A. Griswold, and Rev. Eliphalet Austin; presbytery of Portage, Rev. Joseph Treat, John Steward, J. H. Whittlesey, and Lemuel Porter; Huron presbytery, A. H. Betts, L. B. Sullivan, Hon. Samuel Cowles, and D. Betts.  It was found difficult at so early a period to fix upon the most eligible spot.  At a second meeting of the board, Hudson, Portage (but now of Summit county) was decided upon as the most favorable locality.  Burton, Euclid, Aurora, and Cleveland were among the most prominent competitors for the location of this college.  The decision being made, the board proceeded to Hudson, selected the site, and drove a stake on College Hill. The trustees were chosen by the presbyteries, and a charter was obtained in 1826.
     He assisted in the first work of founding Grand River Institute, and it was at his house where the first meeting of the projectors of that institution of learning was held, and where it received its charter from the State of Ohio.  His name appeared as one of the original incorporators.
     He was a congenial gentleman with all with whom he came in contact, although, as we said before, he was a grave man, and never dealt in trifling remarks.  He was charitable to others in regard to their faults.  On one occasion he was about starting on a journey for the purpose of assisting in the ordination of a new candidate for the ministry.  It happened that this candidate wore a ruffled shirt bosom, and was otherwise quite vain and worldly in his ideas, and withal, conceited; so much so, that the good wife of the pastor was somewhat prejudiced against him, and she spoke to her husband, saying, “Mr. Cowles, you are not going to ordain that man, are you?”  He replied, “My dear, the man must be pretty far gone if it won’t do to pray for him!”
     The mission service required men of great hardihood, firmness of principle, pure love for the cause of their Maker, and willingness to suffer privations for the sake of Him who suffered for us sinners.  Such a man was Dr. Cowles.  What he did in the cause of religion was not done merely because he thought it was his duty to do so, but he did it because of his deep love for that cause.  Such was the man who was selected by the providence of God to help give direction to the religious thoughts of the early settlers of Ashtabula County.
     Dr. Cowles remained in charge of the church as its pastor till the year of 1830, when he resigned.  The following was the text from which he preached his farewell sermon at the close of his ministry: “God forbid that I should cease to pray for you!” He continued to preach occasionally, however, in neighboring churches.  Rev. Henry Cowles, formerly of Colebrook, Connecticut, a graduate of Yale, succeeded Dr. Cowles as the pastor of the church, and remained in charge of it till the winter of 1835-36, when he was dismissed at his own request for the purpose of occupying a professor’s chair in Oberlin college, which he filled for many years.
     In 1823, Dr. Cowles met with his first affliction by death in his family in the loss of his beloved son, Edward Giles Hooker, who was taken away at the age of twenty-one.  He was a young man of more than ordinary business ability; so much so, that he relieved his father of most of the care of the farm and his business matters for several years.
     In 1830 the doctor met with his greatest loss,—that of his beloved helpmeet, his beautiful Christian wife, the devoted mother of his nine children; she who did so much to smooth the path over which he journeyed through life.  She died at a comparatively young age—fifty-six years.  The death of this model wife and mother caused a sad vacancy in the household as well as in the social circle of Ashtabula County.  She was buried by the side of her mother, Mrs. Abigail White, who had preceded her the year before.  Dr. Cowles submitted to the loss of his wife with Christian resignation,—felt that the separation was only temporary, that what was his loss was her gain.  For five years after her death, he lived at the homestead with five of his children,—Lysander, Lewis, Martha, Cornelia, and Betsey.  In addition it was the privilege of two others of his children to live near by,—William Elbert, who lived on his farm just a mile from the Centre, and Sally, who was married to Rev. Eliphalet Austin, a son of Judge Austin, and who lived at the North End.  The eldest son, Dr. Edwin W. Cowles, was practicing his profession, that of medicine, in Detroit.  The affectionate children vied with each other in ministering to the comfort of their venerable father, Cornelia especially taking it upon herself to watch over his health and guard him against exposure; but in spite of her affectionate care, he was taken ill in the year of 1835, and after suffering from his disease for four months, which he endured with Christian fortitude, he passed away on a beautiful Sunday evening, July 5, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, and the forty-second year of his ministry.  His funeral took place the following Tuesday, in the church he helped to build, and which was crowded to overflowing by a sorrowing people who felt that they had indeed lost a father in the death of their former pastor.  The following clergymen assisted in the exercises: Rev. Henry Cowles, the pastor, Rev. Joseph Badger, Rev. Caleb Burbank, Dr. Perry Pratt, Rev. Lucius Foot, the evangelist, and Rev. Mr. Danforth.  Rev. Mr. Badger read the introductory hymn.  It was intended that he, as a brother pioneer clergyman and co-worker of Dr. Cowles, should have delivered the funeral sermon, but his voice had become too weak, and he was obliged to decline the invitation.  Rev. Mr. Henry Cowles delivered the sermon, which was very impressive.  The remains were interred by the side of his devoted wife and his affectionate son, in the cemetery of the church.
     Since the departure of Dr. Cowles to the “other side of the river” he has been joined by nearly all his children,—Lysander, in 1857; Edwin, in 1861; Lewis, in 1861; Cornelia, in 1869; Sally, in 1872; and Betsey, in 1876.  Now only two of that remarkable group of children are left to tell the good deeds of the pioneer pastor,—Martha and William Elbert. They are waiting patiently and willingly to join their father and mother, brothers and sisters.
     Mrs. Helen C. Wheeler, of Butler, Missouri, Judge Samuel Cowles, of San Francisco, Mr. Edwin Cowles, of Cleveland, and Mr. Alfred Cowles, of Chicago, children of Dr. E. W. Cowles; Mrs. Charlotte Austin Seeley, of Austinburg, only living child of Mrs. Sally B. Austin; Mrs. Cornelia C. Fuller, only living child of Mr. William Elbert Cowles; Messrs. Edward and Lysander and Miss Julia, children of Mr. Lewis D. Cowles, are the grandchildren of Dr. Cowles now living.   
     * By his grandson, Edwin Cowles, Esq.
Source: 1798 History of Ashtabula County, Ohio with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers and Most Prominent Men by Publ. Philadelphia - Williams Brothers - 1878 - Page 93






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