GEOGRAPHICAL AND PHYSICAL FEATURES
Gustavus is the
second of the northern tier of townships of Trumbull county, being
the seventh township in the second range. It is north of
Johnston, east of Greene, and west of Kinsman. Wayne township,
Ashtabula county, adjoins it on the north.
The soil is good, and agricultural industry prospers.
No railroad enters this township. Kinsman station on the Lake
Shore branch road, four and a half miles from Gustavus center, is
the nearest railroad point. Farming is the principal business
of the inhabitants of this township. Two small villages,
Hart's corners and the center, a mile apart, each contains a
dozen or more houses, one store and a few shops. The surface
is undulating with no particularly striking features. The soil
is mostly sandy loam, somewhat gravelly in places. Some clayey
spots are found near the streams. The drainage of the township
is received by Pymatuning creek, which crosses the northeastern
corner of the township, thence flows southeasterly through Kinsman
and Vernon. Most of the streams are small, and are confined to the
eastern half of the township. All flow toward the east.
This township was surveyed and the lots
numbered in 1800. Colonel Lemuel Storrs
having purchased a part of lot number two, gave the township the
name of his son, Gustavus.
JOSIAH PELTON, having purchased a
tract of land north of the center of this township, came out in the
year 1800, on horseback, to view his purchase and select a spot for
a home. Having arrived in the unbroken wilderness, he turned
his horse loose to graze along the Pymatuning creek. Mr.
Pelton remained all summer, and during this time his horse
had became so nearly wild that when he was wanted to carry his owner
back to Connecticut in the fall, Mr. Pelton was
obliged to catch him with a lasso, which proved a very difficult
job. But at length having succeeded, Mr. Pelton
made the return trip in company with a missionary who had no horse,
but was allowed the use of this on a part of the way. Arriving
at home in safety Mr. Pelton made an offer of one
hundred acres of his land to the woman who would first engage to
make her home in the wilds of Gustavus.
His son Jesse induced Ruhamah DeWolf,
of Granby, Connecticut, to accept this offer, and she engaged to
undertake with him the hardships of pioneer life. She came
with her father's family to Vernon and there remained until a
clearing had been made and a log cabin built upon the farm.
The raising of this cabin took place the fourth day of June, 1802,
Mr. Pelton being assisted in his labor by men from
Vernon. A heavy fall of rain came on, and all who at tended
the raising were obliged to remain all night at the cabin. The
next day they reached home, but were obliged to bridge some of the
swollen creeks intervening by felling trees across them.
Mrs. Pelton did not take up her abode in
the new cabin until the following December. Her husband
meanwhile boarded himself, carrying his bread from Vernon. One
day as he was going after a supply he saw a panther in a tree on the
bank of the Pymatuning. He tied his hat and coat upon a bush,
ordered his dog to watch them, and then returned to the center after
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gun. The dog kept faithful watch until his master's return, when the
panther was killed and found to measure nearly seven feet.
Elias Pelton, brother of Jesse,
was the second man who settled in Gustavus with his family.
His daughter Barbara, afterwards the wife of Hezekiah
Barnes, was the first white child in the township who
survived. She died in 1881. Her brother Storrs
was the first male child.
Soon after these settlers arrived Josiah
Pelton, the father, came here to reside. His sons were
Jesse, Harvey, Elias, Zenas, Ithemur,
and Julius. All remained a couple of years.
Harvey died in Geauga county; Zenas moved to Michigan
with his sons when an old man, and Jesse died in
Pennsylvania. The others lived and died in Gustavus. All
settled near the center on adjoining farms. Two daughters of
Josiah Pelton, Mrs. John Lane and
Eliphaz Perkins, also resided in this township.
Of his grandchildren, Tenserd D. and Cynthia, children
of Jesse Pelton, and Lysander, son of Julius,
are still living in this township; also Mrs. Annis
Barber, daughter of Julius.
In Jue, 1804,
GILDERSLEEVE and ily came. They journeyed by team in
company with Calvin Cone and others. Mr.
Gildersleeve —the name is now abbreviated to Gilder—was
from Hartland, Connecticut. He settled on a farm about
one-half mile east of the center. Eight children were brought
here and another was born after the arrival of the family.
Mr. Gilder died in 1805 aged fifty years, and was among
the first to be buried in the township graveyard north of the
center. Mrs. Gilder lived to be seventy.
The children were Bailey, Obed, Polly, Orril,
Sally, Annis, Phebe, Chloe, and
Betsey. Chloe was drowned in the creek when a
child; Betsey also died young. The others all lived to
mature years, and three, Obed, Orril, and Phebe,
are still living, aged respectively eighty-nine, eighty-seven, and
eighty years. The two former reside in Kinsman, and Phebe
THADDEUS SELBY, from Hartland,
Connecticut, settled in 1804 one and one-half miles east of the
center. One of his daughters, Mrs. M. S. Whittlesey, is
living in Cleveland. The other members of the family were
Jeremiah W., who died at St. Paul; Ephraim C., Laura
E. (Beman), who lived in Gustavus, and Eliza (Ely),
who died in Illinois. Ephraim lived on the old homestead till
1861, and died in Gustavus in September, 1881. He married
Wealthy Bishop, who is still living. Their family
of five children all survive.
CALVIN CONE, also of Hartland,
settled in the eastern part of the township, but moved to Hartford
township after some years. He was a State Senator from
Trumbull county in 1806–9, and a very prominent man in his day.
He was the first justice of the peace in Gustavus township, and was
probably appointed to that office about 1808.
A little later ASA and
DOSEY CASE, brothers, settled in the southwest of the township.
Mrs. Totten and Mrs. St. John, daughters of Dosey
Case, are the only representatives of the original families now
in this township.
JOHN LANE, about 1805, settled one
mile north and a half-mile east of the center, where his son
Cyrus now lives.
Six weeks or
more were required for a journey from Connecticut to this township.
Often the travelers had to build bridges and repair roads in order
to proceed upon their way. The usual custom was to journey, a
large company of emigrants to the West together, with ox teams and
large covered wagons. Gipsy like, they ate and slept in these
settlers continued coming gradually. Jehiel Meacham,
better known as 'Squire Meacham, came at the request of
Calvin Cone, Esq., who thought the settlement
needed a blacksmith. Cone gave him fifty acres of land
as an inducement to settle. Meacham accordingly came
and located in a cabin across the road from Cone's.
Land was then worth $2 per acre and upwards. Of the Meacham
family, Jehiel, Jr., moved West when an old man
and died; Ralph died in Mecca; Horatio is living;
Edmund died in this township; Lydia (Allen) died
in Kinsman; Patty (St. John) resides in Gustavus, Lucia
(Moore) moved West.
HART settled in Gustavus in 1811. His sons Nelson
and Charles are still residents of the township.
RIVERIUS BIDWELL, of Canton,
Connecticut, settled in the southeastern part of Gustavus in 1812.
Other early settlers between the years 1810 and 1820 were Aaron
Lyon, Lemuel Newton, William Linsley,
Rufus Beman, and others,
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mostly from Connecticut. One of the later settlers and a
thrifty farmer of Gustavus is Mr. C. E. Fisher.
He was born in Germany in 1834. In 1847 he emigrated to
America with his parents. He lived in Herkimer county, New
York, about six years, and in California about as long. In
1861 he settled in Gustavus, on the fine farm which he now owns.
Mr. Fisher married Aurelia Hafer, a
native of Germany, in 1861, and has three children—George,
Henry, and Andrew. In politics he is a Republican,
in religion a Methodist.
was detached from Greene in 1821, and organized as a distinct
township. The first officers were elected Sept. 11, 1821, and
were as follows: Ithemur Pelton, Asa Case,
Rufus Beman, trustees; William Roberts,
Abraham Griswold, overseers of the poor; Ithemur
Pelton, Walter W. Thornton, fence viewers; Jehiel
Meacham, Jr., Lester Waters, constables;
Joseph Hart, treasurer; Thaddeus Selby, township
clerk; George Moses, lister; Marcus Andrews,
Zenas Pelton, Thaddeus Selby, Joseph
Hart, Harvey Pelton, Solomon Waters,
Oliver Crosby, supervisors.
The first wedding was the marriage of Eliphaz
Perkins and Zilpah, daughter of Josiah Pelton,
April 6, 1804. The township had no justice of the peace at
that time, and it is said that this couple waited a year for a
missionary to come and perform the ceremony.
The first few years of the settlement,
Beaver, Pennsylvania, was the most convenient point at which there
was a grist-mill. After a few years milling was done at
Jamestown, Pennsylvania, fifteen miles distant.
Boiled wheat, with maple sugar or syrup, was a
palatable and wholesome article of food much used by the early
settlers on account of the difficulty they experienced in obtaining
flour and meal.
The small amount of store trading done by the settlers
of this township at the newly established store in Kinsman was by
barter. Men were glad to receive pay for labor in provisions.
A man's daily wages were forty cents; with a yoke of oxen,
seventy-five cents. Women worked for seventy-five cents and
one dollar per week, seldom receiving cash. Wheat was thirty
cents per bushel; corn fifteen, and oats eight or ten cents. A
good horse was worth $65. Of articles which had to be procured
at the store the prices were about as follow: tea, $1.25 per pound;
codfish, eighteen cents per pound; the poorest kind of brown sugar,
twelve and a half cents.
school ever taught in this township was held in the house of
Elias Pelton. Roxy Brockway was the teacher.
It was a private school, for the benefit of the Pelton
children. The first public school was kept in John
Lane's log barn about 1809, Sally Wakeman
teacher. Children found their way to this dispensary of
learning by following a path marked by blazed trees.
The first school-house was built upon the farm of
Riverius Bidwell in 1813. Soon after Esther Bidwell
taught school there. As all the children were not provided
with hats and caps some came to school with handkerchiefs tied over
their heads. Miss Bidwell was a very popular
The evils of
intemperance were painfully evident among some of the early
settlers. Rev. Joseph Badger was a rigid
temperance man, and his influence caused some reformations.
Marquis Andrews set on foot a temperance move ment and
called a meeting for the purpose of discussing the evils of
immoderate drinking. He offered a resolution embodying his
views, which the citizens so amended as to almost entirely
obliterate its original meaning. Then a pledge was circulated
so strongly worded that when it came to Andrews he would not
sign it. Like many another temperance lecturer, he was not
willing to practice total abstinence himself.
The call for
troops for the war was received with enthusiasm, and nearly every
able-bodied man in Gustavus volunteered for the service. The
next day after the call was received here Marquis Andrews
led towards Fort Stephenson at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), a
company armed and equipped. Among these volunteers
*For this and many other facts included in this chapter
the writer is indebted to a published article by Miss P. M.,
Barnes, of Gustavus.
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were Joseph, Elias, and Julius Pelton, Lemuel Newton, Aaron Rice,
Joseph Hart, John Lane, Thaddeus Selby, Aaron Lyon, Elam Linsley,
and Lester Cone.
An amusing incident connected with the call was that
when Squire Meacham learned that equipments were
demanded as well as men, he proceeded to bury his two brass kettles
in his corn-field. But his son Jehiel enlisted and the
kettles had to be brought out for immediate use, as each man was
required to furnish his own camp-kettle and blanket.
After the departure of the troops some experienced
great anxiety through fear of an at tack by the Indians, who were
known to be the allies of the British. As the settlement was
left almost wholly without arms and men this fear was not unnatural
to the defenceless women and children left behind.
One day some boys killed a fawn in the western part of
the township, and expressed their delight at their success in
hunting by wild shouts and other boyish actions. Mrs.
Newton, who lived two miles west of the center, was alone in
her house with two small children. She heard the outcry and
supposed that a band of Indians were raising the war-cry.
Hastily taking up her children she left the house as secretly as
possible and went to the center where her nearest neighbors lived.
She and all others rejoiced when the true cause of her alarm became
A NiGHT WITH WOLVES.
almost unnecessary to state that the dense forests of this
neighborhood were the lurking places of wolves and other wild
animals in great numbers.
As a missionary Rev. Joseph Badger labored
in Gustavus as early as 1804; but it was several years later that he
entered the pulpit one Sunday morning and related the experiences of
the previous night. Said he:
I had started to come through from Ashtabula, but
there being no path I got ahead but slowly, and I cannot say how far
I had come when darkness came upon me. As I could make no
headway through a pathless wood, I tied my horse so that it could
feed about some and then lay down on the ground to rest. Ere
long I was aroused by the cry of a wolf. This cry was answered
and soon it seemed that a hundred ravenous wolves were howling for
their prey. I quickly arose, tied my horse more firmly, and,
feeling about in the darkness, found a stout limb, which I cut for a
cudgel, and prepared for an encounter with the enemy.
The wolves formed a circle about me. I drew
near to my horse and walked around him constantly. The wolves
came so near that I could hear the snapping of their jaws. All
night long I kept up this walk, beating the trees with my stick and
shouting to keep the hungry animals at bay. My horse trembled,
but trusting in my protection did not try to get away.
In the first gray light of morning the wolves began to
creep slowly away. Their cries grew fainter and fainter in the
distance, and I found that they had left me. Blessing God for
the countless manifestations of His goodness in preserving me
through this and similar perils, I was again proceeding on my way
when once more the barking of wolves resounded through the forest.
There was little opportunity for me to hasten, as fallen trees,
brush, and bushes were in the way. The pursuers were coming
quite near, and their howling rent the air, when suddenly there was
a crashing near me, and like a flash of light, a fine, full grown
deer leaped out, bubbles of white foam falling from his mouth, and
panting for breath. He thrust his head alongside my faithful horse
and so came beside me until we reached a clearing probably four
miles from the place where I had spent the night. The hungry
wolves were again baffled, and retired to await the coming of
another night in which to continue their search for food.
A BEAR STORY.
ICHABOD MERRITT was quite a
noted hunter. He was out one day with an old man known as “Old”
Wheeler, and tracked a bear to a large, hollow whitewood
stump. The stump was too large and smooth for a man to climb,
so a tree was cut and made to fall so as to lean against it.
Merritt was then able to climb to the top of the stump, and,
having reached this point, he pointed his rifle down the hollow
trunk and discharged it. Before he could load again the old
bear came rushing out of the top of the stump to avenge her own
injuries and protect her young, which were in the hollow
hiding-place. Merritt knew that to jump would be as
certain death as to remain within reach of the bear. He crept
out on a limb of the tree which he had cut, and so managed to keep
out of her clutches. “Old” Wheeler, on the
ground, nearly bereft of his wits, was shouting: “Oh dear!
You'll be killed ! you'll be killed !” in a voice loud enough to
frighten anything except a maddened bear, and had not the presence
of mind to use the gun he held in his hand. Ike
Mowry happened to be not far away, and having heard Merritt's
gun and the shouts of Wheeler, came to the rescue. With
one shot he brought down the bear and released the hunter from his
peril. A hole was then chopped into the stump and two little
cubs were taken out.
was established in this township
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a few years prior to 1830, and Riverius Bidwell, who
lived in the southern part of the township, was appointed
postmaster. The inhabitants of the center were not satisfied
with the location of the office, and Rev. Joseph
Badger sought to change it. He drew a map of the township
showing the location of each house, thus proving that the center was
the most convenient point for all to reach, and sent it to the
department at Washington. Shortly after he was commissioned
postmaster, and the office was moved to his house near the center.
Now another difficulty began to trouble him. The weekly mail arrived
on Sunday, and Rev. Badger had conscientious scruples
against secular labor on that day. He, therefore, sent another
remonstrance to Washington threatening to resign unless this
arrangement was changed. His letter had the desired result,
and the mall-carrier thereafter arrived in Gustavus on a week day.
Mr. Badger resigned in 1830. While postmaster he
kept the mail in a small hand-basket. Marvin was
mail-carrier. This place now has a daily mail to and from Burg
Hill, on the New York, Pennsylvania & Ohio railroad.
The first store
in this township was opened on the northeast corner at the center by
George Hezlep, about 1828. He had been clerk for
John Kinsman some years. Mr. Hezlep remained
many years and was a successful merchant. Soon after he began
business here Stoddard Stevens and Alvin
Hayes opened a store in the eastern part of the township.
Allen, of Kinsman, was the first who practiced in this township.
Not only the white people but Indians as well were his patients.
Some of the latter who were living on the Pymatuning had the
small-pox in early times. Dr. Allen attended
them and controlled the disease so effectually that it never spread
The first doctor who settled in this township was
Naphtali Streeter, who came previous to 1812.
Although his qualifications he nevertheless had some practice. were
limited, he neveretheless had some practice.
The only physician in the township at present is Dr.
Isaac Barclay, who, during his residence here, has gained hosts
of friends and an extensive practice. Dr. Barclay
was born in old Trumbull county, in Poland, May 29, 1822. He
is the son of Francis and Elizabeth Barclay, his father being
a native of Pennsylvania and his mother of Virginia. Dr.
Barclay is the youngest of twelve brothers. The whole
family consisted of seventeen children, of whom eight are living,
six sons and two daughters.
He studied medicine in Youngstown with Dr. Timothy
Woodbridge, and graduated from the medical department of the
Western Reserve college, Cleveland, in 1847. He was engaged in
practicing in Youngstown nine years, in Girard five, and at Mineral
Ridge four. In 1865 he came to Gustavus. Dr.
Barclay was married in 1856 to Melvina Silliman,
of Fowler township. She died in September following their
marriage. He married his second wife, Mary Jane
Holcomb, of Gustavus, in 1863. No children by either
The FIRST SAW-MILL
in this township was built by Josiah
Pelton on his own farm in early times. No water
grist-mill was ever built in the township.
A good school
exerts a powerful influence in any community. Its fruits are
apparent even to the most careless observer, and we believe that it
is a standard truth that in a rural town where a flourishing academy
is located, the general morals, to say nothing of intelligence, are
better than in places where no such schools are. Gustavus has
shown commendable enterprise in educational mattters. The
project of building an academy was started by Rev. Benjamin Fenn,
Buell Barnes, S. C. Stevens, Stephen Linsley, E. H.
Bishop, George W. Cowden, and other prominent citizens. In
1841 the matter took definite shape, and a subscription paper was
circulated which received the signatures of a large number.
Each subscriber agreed to take a certain number of shares of the
stock, each share being $10. Some of the largest
subscribers were Ebenezer H. Bishop, ten shares; S. C.
Stevens, fifteen; Buell Barnes, twelve; Philo
Gates, twelve; George Hezlep, twenty; James
Q. Horner, fifteen.
Buell Barnes, then a member of the Legislature,
succeeded in getting an act of incorporation passed. In
1843–44, a substantial two story brick building was erected, and in
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of 1844 the institution was opened with Franklin B. Hough
principal. The school has been fairly successful considering
the small population of the community on which it depends for
support. The number of teachers has been large. James
H. Brainard, John B. Beach, and E. P. Clisbee,
each taught several terms. The present principal, Mr. L. P.
Hodgman, has been at the head of the school two years. The usual
number of pupils is from fifty to seventy-five.
In 1881 a building to be used as a boarding hall was
erected. It cost, including furnishing, about $2,300.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH.
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THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.
WILLIAM B. KENNEDY
JAMES HERVEY POST
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