Gorham Township

Written by David Green.

from "The History of Fulton County, Ohio"
Thomas Mikesell, Editor
Published by: Northwestern Historical Association, 1905

 

The territory embraced within this township is peculiar for having been in four township organizations. to-wit: Logan, Medina and Chesterfield, of the east part, and Millcreek, of the western part, and fifthly, and lastly, Gorham. As origin.aliy organized the township included all the land now within its limits, excepting three tiers of sections on the west, as well as onehalf of the township of Franklin, which lies north of the Fulton line. The organization of Gorham dates from 1838, and its original territory has since contributed to the formation of Franklin township. Upon the organization of Fulton county, in 1850, three tiers of sections were taken from the east side of Millcreek township, in Williams county, and attached to Gorham; and again, at some period of time since the organization of the township, and by the commissioners of Fulton county, the west half of sections seven and eighteen was detached from Chesterfield township and attached to Gorham, so that at present the township contains nearly forty-four full sections of land. Gorham is not only one of the most fertile and naturally wealthy townships of the county, but it is also one of the most prosperous in its material development. The course of the streams through the township is generally southeast towards Bean creek, which runs upon its eastern boundary, crossing the southeast corner, and thence southwest across Franklin on its southern boundary. The water power afforded by Bean creek was utilized in a very early day, when the primitive mills were hailed with delight by the industrious pioneers.

The first permanent improvement which was made in Gorham township is credited to Hiram Farwell, who came early in the fall of 1834 and settled on the east side of section ten, town nine south, range one east, now called Ritter's Station, on the Canada Southern railroad. He came from the State of New York with his wife, and raised a family of three girls and one boy. He was a man much esteemed by the early settlers for his candor and peace-making peculiarities in the whole range of his social circle. He sometimes preached and was often called to minister comfort and consolation to mourners at funerals and helped to lay at rest their dead. He has long since passed to that bourne from whence no traveler returns.

On December 31, 1834, in the evening, David Severance and his wife, Esther, arrived in the township of Millcreek (that portion of it which is now in Gorham) and located for themselves a farm on the north side of section thirty-six, town nine south, range one west of the meridian, which placed them among the early settlers of the original township of Millcreek, Williams county, and the second family in the present limits of Gorham township. David Severance was born in the State of Vermont, and his wife, Esther (Knapp) Severance, was born in Jefferson county, New York, July 3, 1797. She died February 17, 1887, and David Severance in 1844. Both died upon the farm on which they first settled. They came to Ohio in 1819, soon after marriage. At the death of Esther Severance she left six living children (having buried four), fifty-one grandchildren, eighty-two great grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren, and many of this lineage are now living in the township of Gorham.

Among the settlers of 1834 that can be remembered were Abijah Coleman, town nine south, range one west, with a wife and family.

Waidron and Alfred Severance came at the same time, with their father and mother, David and Esther, and soon became the main support of a large and growing family.

Among those that came in 1835, that can now be called to mind, were William Lee and his wife, who settled in Gorham in March, 1835, upon section thirteen, town nine south, range one east of the meridian. William Lee was born at West Bloomfield, New York, in June, 1797, and died in Chesterfield township in 1854. He settled in Michigan about 1823, came to Gorham township in 1835, and lived there until 1845. when he removed to Chesterfield. Mr. Lee was a tanner and currier by trade and upon settling in Gorham township became engaged in that business. He was justice of the peace and clerk of Chesterfield township at the time of his death. The very earliest of the settlements of Gorh.am township commenced just south of the Harris line, and north of this line many settlers had located at an earlier date. Very soon settlements commenced in the southwest corner and center of the township. They were John Gillett, Gorham Cottrell, Sr., September, 1835; Freeman Coffin in June; Clement Coffin in June, and in September, 1835, Sardis, Joseph and Erastus Cottrell. Gorham Cottrell, Sr., was born in Worthington, Hampshire county, Massachusetts, and died in Gorham township, which had been named for him, in 1852. He entered several hundred acres of land, and, with the assistance of his sons, cleared and improved the same. He was a very influential man. Just north of and contiguous to the Harris line were Henry Meach, Justice Cootey, James McCrillis, Sr., Orville Woodworth, Abel Perry, John Gould and Henry Teneyke, whose lands lay principally in Ohio. In the spring of 1835, came James Baker and wife, who settled on section fourteen, town nine south, range one east. They came from Pittstown, Rensselaer county. New York. He died many years ago, his wife preceding him. In 1852 he built a saw-mill in Royalton township, just west of the present village of Lyons, and sawed the planks for that and the adjoining townships, for the plank road built in the season of 1853, and which road was laid out upon what is known in history as the Vistula road, leading from Toledo to Morenci, Michigan. James Baker was followed the same season by Martin Lloyd, Stephen Chaffee, William Sutton and Asa Butler. William Griffin was born in Westchester county, New York, and settled in Gorham township on August 8, 1837, with a wife and four children. He was a cooper and carpenter, but in early life began larming and followed that occupation until his death in 1843.

In the season of 1836 came Levi Crawford, Philip Clapper, John Whaley, John C. Whaley, Aaron Price, Nelson Fellows, John Danielson, his wife, Catherine, and son, Daniel Danielson.

Calvin Ackley came in 1840. He was born in Winfield, Herkimer county, New York, in 1815, settled in Fairfield county, Ohio. in 1836, and in 1837 purchased a farm of one hundred acres, for which he paid two and one-half dollars per acre. In 1840 he settled with his family in Millcreek township, or rather on that strip which was then in Williams county but is now a part of Gorham township, and he resided in Gorham the remainder of his earthly career. He purchased one hundred and fifty acres for three hundred dollars, in 1842, which he cleared and placed under cultivation. He was the first postmaster at Fayette and held that office for several years. He was also a justice of the peace and a member of the school board for many years.

Of the later settlers for 1837, 1838, 1839 and 1840, it is found from the best information on the subject, that they were George McFarland, John Jacoby, Elisha A. Baker, Simeon Baker, Lucius Ford, Nathan Shaw, Hosea Ford, Elijah Snow, wife and family, three boys and three girls; Wendal A. Mace and wife, one boy and two girls; George W. Sayles and family, Alfred Whitman 'and wife, Abel Paul and family, Nathan Saisbury and Nathan Salsbury, 'Sr., Joseph Sebring, Josiah Colvin, Milo Rice, John Kendall, M. D.. James L. Griffin, Amos Kendall, M. D., Hiram Hadley, Alanson Pike, Rensselaer S. Humphrey and James P. Emerick. Of these we find that John Jacoby a native of Pennsylvania, came into what is now Fulton county, in 1835, and died here in 1842.

Nathan Shaw was a pioneer settler of Gorham township, coming here in 1838, and was born in Hampshire county, Massachusetts, in 1820. He removed to Michigan in 1833, and after coming west taught school for several terms. He became one of the representative men of Fayette; was justice of the peace, township treasurer, town clerk and a member of the school board for over thirty years. He purchased his farm, consisting of eighty acres, in 1844, but afterwards traded it for another, on which he spent the remainder of his life. He lived to see the wilderness cleared and the land blossoming as the rose, a country inhabited by the red men when he came settled by civilized people, and dotted over with school houses and churches.

Elijah Snow settled in Fulton county in 1839. George W. Sayles was born in Oneida county, New York, in 1807, and settled in Gorham township in 1838, when he purchased his homestead, consisting of 120 acres, for $250. Justus L. Hale was born in New York, May 3, 1815, and settled in Fulton county in 1842. Willard E. Gay was born in Herkimer county, New York, March 29, 1815, and settled in Fulton county in 1841, his father, William Gay, having removed thither the previous year. Willard E. Gay filled the office of infirmary director of Fuiton county.

Benjamin F. Russell was one of the early settlers of Gorham township, coming here in 1844, and was born in Rochester, Monroe county, New York, in i8i8. He became engaged in the grocery and provision business at Maumee City, in 1841, but sold out and became a salesman at Seneca, Michigan, in 1842. Two years later, he came to Gorham township and purchased a farm of thirty acres for which he paid $120. To this he added until he owned at one time nearly five hundred acres of land. He was a very active and successful man.

Aimon J. Rice was born in Oneida county, New York, May 29, 1812, and settled in Gorham township in 1844. James L. Griffin came in 1837, when a mere boy, with his parents, William Griffin and wife, and consequently became well versed in the many trials of the early settlers and changes in the township and county. He was horn in Delaware county, New York-. in 1826. Amos Kendall, M. D., was born in Monroe county, New York, September 28, 1820, the son of Dr. John Kendall, who is spoken of on another page. Amos Kendall filled the position of postmaster at Fayette, and was justice of the peace sixteen years.

Within the first ten years a very large immigration set towards this township, mostly from central New York, and as Hiram Farwell first opened the forest to the sunlight, it was left for these to put the finishing touch to all that was primeval. They were Michael Martzolf, Ansel Ford, Sr.. Asa Cottrelh, Daniel Hoffman, Benedict Zimmerman, Cornelius Jones. Henry Emerick, John Saltzgaher. Oliver B. Verity. Day Otis Verity, James Henry Verity, Jacob Wodward, Abraham Van Valkenburg, Ephraim Sergent, Truman L. Scofield, Jacob Cox, Martin Beilhartz, William H Conrad, Amos Ford, Philander Crane, Israel Mattern, Jacob Mattern, A. P. Boyd, Joseph 0. Allen, Jacob Demerrit, John Gamber, Henry Gamber, George Acker, Sr., George Acker, Jr., Charles Hoffman. Samuel Hoffman, Isaac Hoffman, Daniel Hoffman, John Paul, Obediah Griffin. John Woodward, Stilly Huffman, William Davis, Daniel Bear, William C. Ely, Joseph Ely, Benjamin Dee, Stephen Hicker, Franklin Ford, Amos Belden, Bainbridge Belden, John Mallory, Peter Holben, George W. Kellogg, Truman Whitman, John B. Kimmel, John D. Brink, Jared Parker, Peter F. Chambarci, William F. Ward, Junius Chase, J. P. Ritter, Jacob Hipput, Thomas C. Lester, J.L. Wise, George Lewis, Ebenezer' Lloyd, Lyman Ellsworth, George F. Dubois, George Graves, David F. Spencer, Edward Gamble, A. Amsbaugh, Rial Sweatland, Henry T. aulkins, Daniel Rhodes, Oliver Town, Uriah S. Town, Hosea Harmdon, Isaac Town, John W. Lilley, George Gamber, Henry Punches, Samuel Farst, Hon. A. W. Flickinger, William Plopper, W. P. Garrison, William Thompson, John Wiley and Josiah Woodworth, the latter being killed by lightning about 1846. He was hiving, when killed, in the part taken from Millcreek township.

Daniel Hoffman settled in Gorham township from Seneca county, New York, in 1844, although he was a native of Pennsylvania. He died in Gorham township in 1873. Henry Emerick, an early and influential settler, who came here in 1849, was born in Seneca county, New York, January 18, 1826. He purchased his homestead of eighty acres in 1851, the land adjoining the corporation of Fayette. He served as trustee of the township, and was an active member of the Agricultural Society. Abraham Van Valkenburg was born in Kinderhook, New York, in 1820, and settled in Gorham township in 1847, where he purchased eighty acres of land. Ephraim Sergent was born in Rutland county, Vermont, in i8o8, and settled in what is now Gorham township, but what was then Lucas county, in 1835. He purchased his homestead farm of eighty acres, in 1836, and cleared and improved it, besides liberally educating his fourteen children. Truman L. Scofield was born in Onondaga county, New York, July 5, 1820, and settled in Fulton county in 1844. He was a stock raiser and farmer. Martin Beilhartz was born in Wurtemburg, Germany, December 15, 1803, and emigrated to America in 1833, settling in what is now Fulton county. He was a shoemaker by trade, but becanie a successful farmer and stock raiser. William H. Conrad was born in Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, in 1818, and settled in Fulton county, Ohio, in 1845, with a cash capital of sixteen dollars. But before his death he owned 490 acres of the best land in the county. Philander Crane settled here in 1837. Israel Mattern was born in Columbia county, Pennsylvania, April 15, 1818, and came into Fulton county, in 1846. He served as justice of the peace for twenty-five years in Gorham township, and also filled the offices of township trustee and school director. Jacob Mattern, also a native of Pennsylvania, settled in Gorham in 1846, where he engaged in the manufacture of wagons and carriages, was deputy sheriff of the county and active in other public affairs. He enlisted in Company K of the Thirty-eighth Ohio regiment, in August, 1861, under Colonel Bradley, was discharged on account of disability and died at his home in May, 1862. John Gamber was born in Seneca county, New York, in 1819. In early life he learned the carpenter trade, which he followed until he purchased his farm of 160 acres, in 1845, in Gorham, and for which he paid $460; He settled on the farm in1846, cleared it, and in 1863 sold it and purchased a half interest in the steam flouring mill of Humphrey & Allen. In 1869 he sold his interest in the mill and purchased the Fayette hotel, and in 1872 sold the hotel and became engaged in the real estate business. He was street commissioner at the time of the incorporation of the village of Fayette, and he also served as treasurer of the village. He was one of the most active business men of the town, but in 1880, he retired from business life.

Samuel Hoffman, a pioneer farmer of Gorham township, but who later engaged in the mercantile business, was born in Schuylkill county, Pennsylvania, June 11, 1824, and was a son of Daniel Hoffman, who came to Gorham township from Seneca county, New York, in 1844. Daniel Hoffman was born in 1798, and died in Gorham township in 1873. Samuel Hoffman commenced business life as a poor man in 1845, when with his brother he purchased a farm of one hundred and sixty acres, for which they paid $555. He became engaged in the mercantile business in 1875, and in 1880 he erected two brick store buildings in Fayette.

William C. Ely settled in Fulton county in 1848. He was born in Knox county, Ohio, April 1, 1831. William Ely, father of William C., was a native of Pennsylvania and settled in Fulton county in 1848, and lived here the remainder of his life.

John D. Brink was born in Ulster county, New York, September 19, 1807, and settled in Gorha.m township in 1844. Jared Parker was born in Rhode Island, in 1819, and settled in Fulton county in 1848, the county being thinly settled at that time. He commenced teaching school in Gorham township, however, in 1840, and taught seven years, summer and winter. After taking up his residence in the township he filled the office of justice of the peace nine years, township clerk fourteen years, notary public six years and postmaster at Fayette six years.

Peter F. Chambard was born in France October 12, 1822, camewith his parents to America in 1836, and settled with them in Wayne county, Ohio. In 1851, he came to Gorham township, where he' followed successfully the business of farming and stock raising.

Jacob P. Ritter, who was a leading and influential man of Gorham township, was born in Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, in 1824. He apprenticed himself to the carpenters' trade and became a master builder and jobber. After locating in Fulton county, he at once evinced a great interest in everything pertaining to the welfare of the community. He became interested in the building of the Chicago and Canada Southern railroad and assisted in procuring the right of way. He held the position of tie inspector and was in the employ of the railroad for a number of years. He was the first ticket agent at Ritter's Station, established the postoffice and was appointed postmaster at that place. He served as justice of the peace for two terms, town clerk, assessor, trustee, and in 1874 became engaged in the grocery business at Ritter's Station.

Thomas C. Lester was born in Cayuga county, New York, February 22, 1819, and settled in Fulton county in 1848. John L. Wise was born in Cumberland county, Pennsylvania, in 1829, and settled in Fulton county with his parents, Hon. J. Wise and wife, in 1848. He was a member of the One Hundred and Eighty-ninth regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry in the war of 1861-5. (;eorge F. DuBois settled in Fulton county in 1847, having been born in New York, April 28, 1814. George P. Graves was born in' Massachusetts, June 23, 1841, and as a child came with his father, Perry Graves, to Fulton county, in 1852.

Edward Gamble was born in Leicestershire, England, and with a family of three sons migrated to America and settled in Richiand county, Ohio, in 1841, coming to Gorham township in 1845, where he died in 1882, at the age of eighty-eight years. At the time of his death he owned 235 acres of land and had proved himself a successful farmer.

Henry T. Caulkins was born in Otsego county, New York, April 15, 1830, and with his father, Charles Caulkins, settled in Fulton county in 1845. He became quite prominent as a stock raiser and farmer, and filled the office of township trustee and school director.

George Gamber was an early settler of Gorham township, and was born in Seneca county, New York, April 22, 1821. He settled in Fulton county in 1854 and purchased a farm of 185 acres. He served as trustee of the township for twenty years and held other local offices.

Henry Punches was one of the early settlers of Fulton county, and was born in Seneca county, New York, in 1821. He settled in Gorham in 1850, and purchased a homestead of eighty acres, which under his management was finely improved. He served as township treasurer for nine years.

William P. Garrison was born in Richland county, Ohio, March 12, 1847, and settled in Fulton county, in i868.

As before stated, Hiram Farwell was the first settler, and it 'is supposed that he erected the first cabin in which white people dwelt. The first saw mill was erected near the western limits of Fayette, by Rensselaer S. Humphrey. Henry Boyd of Maumee City, was the first merchant in the township and opened his store at Fayette, in 1852.

The first election of which we have any record occurred at the house of Erastus Cottrell, on the first Monday in April, 1838, but the names of the fortunate ones-who were called from obscurity and compelled to withstand the trying ordeal of having political honors thrust upon them-have not been preserved to posterity.

The town of Fayette, which had a precarious existence for the first years of its life, gradually assumed the proportions of a thrifty town. Prior to the construction of the Canada Southern railroad, it was scarcely a business center, and had a small population, though there were successful business enterprises located in the village. But with the building of the railroad, and the establishment of a station there, the town began to take on life, and soon thereafter was incorporated. It is supported by a rich agricultural district, remote from formidable towns, and is an extensive shipping point on that branch of the Lake Shore railroad. Its business men are a class of progressive and enterprising people, who command ample capital and first-class facilities for the transaction of the large volume of business. Though it has not made rapid strides in growth, its population is mainly of that solid, permanent character which adds financial strength and stability. According to the census of 1900, the population is eight hundred and eighty-six. The town has wellbuilt residences and business blocks and good educational advantages and church facilities.

Gorham is well supplied with district schools now, in striking con- trast with the log houses and antiquated instruction of former days. Among the early teachers in the township were Oliver B. Verity, Lucinda Rogers, Elizabeth Freeman and Minerva Cottrell-all "sturdy knights of the birch," if it be proper so to designate the ladies.

The soil of Gorham township is generally fertile and well adapted to the raising of all kinds of grain, grasses and fruits. The valleys of the small streams are rich and productive, and as a whole the soil of the township is of excellent quality. It was originally covered with a fine growth of timber, in which the hardwood varieties predominated.

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