Henry and Polly Gamber came from Seneca County, N.Y., in 1852. He had earlier purchased “80 acres being on each side of town with Main Street as the southern boundary. He paid $750 for the eastern half (80 acres) and $800 for the land he purchased and which he cleared and improved.”
Renesselaer S. Humphrey was the first man to clear up the land upon which a part of Fayette is located. He built the first log cabin within the present limits of the village. Renesselaer S. Humphrey was sometimes called the “Father of Fayette.”
The first mill, the only one Fayette ever had, was constructed in 1850 in partnership with Dr. Joseph O. Allen. It was a steam grist mill, the only one in the township. Dr. Allen was the first Postmaster; his successors were E.B. Wightman, Charles Allen and W.P. Goodsel.
Renesselaer (probably named for Renesslaer Co., New York) Samuel Humphrey was born in Lysander, New York, July 29, 1821. He was the youngest son of Josiah C. and Esther Daball Humphrey.
Renesselaer Humphrey married Cornelia Emerick Jan. 28, 1845. In the spring of 1845, he started to Ohio with his wife and her sister, Maria Emerick, to make a new home. This was the time of emigration toward the west. Hannah Humphrey Shipman, daughter of Renesselaer and Cornelia Emerick Humphrey, writes of this move as follows:
“...in the spring of 1845, Renesselaer Humphrey with his wife and her oldest sister, Maria, started for Ohio; coming most of the way by stage and canal boats. The journey took many days. The country to which they came was then a dense forest filled with Indians, wolves and deer. The white settlers were few.”
Renesselaer Samuel is known as the “Father of Fayette.” He cleared away a part of the forest, he built the first log cabin on the present site of the town, made the first road, and cleared the first farm land. He later built the first store in Fayette, which was then Gorham Center, on the site where Farmer’s State Bank later stood.
In 1851, Renesselaer Humphrey owned and operated the first saw mill, which was built in that part of the country. The mill was built on the Humphrey land. In 1856 he tore down this mill, and in company with Dr. J.O. Allen, built a better one with a grist mill. This mill still stands in Fayette, and some of the first machinery installed is still being used today in the mill.
Charley L. Allen, brother of Dr. Allen, is living in Fayette today, although he is a man of 84 years of age. He writes of Renesselaer Samuel Humphrey:
“I came from Monroe County, New York in November 1859 and stopped at Fayette, which was then a village, to visit my brother, Dr. Allen. There were 40 people living in Fayette then.
The first man with whom I became acquainted was R.S. Humphrey, who in company with my brother, had built and was operating a flour mill with a saw mill attachment; and doing a thriving business, as the nearest mill was eight miles away and the land all about Fayette held a growth of wonderful timber—walnut, oak and ash—of superior quality.”
Autobiography of Ellery Abraham Humphrey
“Life began for me at Fayette, Ohio, May 26th. Renesselaer and Cornelia Humphrey, my father and mother, cleared away the forest trees and began a home there in 1845. It was a far from lonely or quiet home when I arrived; for there were nine children already there.
My thoughts go back to a Christmas morning when I was four years old. I hurried downstairs with my brother so early in the morning. There in my high chair were Red Topped Boots. Red Topped Boots were all that I could see. They fit perfectly. Charley and Elmer found new boots on that tree also. Away went the boys to Dr. Allen’s! It was merry there. Don, Earl, Lillian and Viola, all around the lighted Christmas tree.
Our first home was a log house and was so small that we boys slept in the attic. I remember the attic, for I was afraid of rats and the boys kept me awake nights be telling me the noises I heard were rats. I was glad when the new house was built and I could escape that attic, in which I never saw a rat, but because of fear, suffered the tortures of the damned...
Because of the school we moved back into town and I recited my first lessons in the “Old School House.” Professor Barber was the schoolmaster and Will Lewis, Earl Allen and I made up the ABC class. Have any of the boys of that ABC class forgotten the old hickory stick, which Professor Barber kept hanging over his desk? Never! But the hickory stick helped to build strong, moral men, and we took our medicine.”
The youngest daughter of Ellery Abraham and Maud Donaldson Humphrey was Carol Emerick Humphrey. “Emerick” was a given name, which had long been saved for the son who never came.
Mary Humphrey married James Emerick, brother of Cornelia Emerick Humphrey.
(Humphrey—Published 1923 by Oak Leaf Press, Clinton, Okla. Michael to son Samuel, to Samuel, to Isaac, to Isaac. d 1732.)
Letter written by Mary Humphrey Emerick to her sister, Mrs. Daniel G. Smith (Norcissa) Humphrey Smith:
Dear Sister: Gorham, June 30th, 1851
It is a long time since we have heard from you. I do not recall that we have heard anything from you since Daniel wrote to Mr. Spencer soon after his mother died. I do not recall when we have had a letter from you last, but I think that it was some time last year.
Our family is enjoying good health as usual. Josiah D. has had the Ague and Fever this spring, but he is smart now and I have had a few fits of it and Lame also. Mother is at Renesslaer’s now. They are well as usual. Mr. Spencer has had the Ague this Spring pretty hard and he got better of it so that he has been to work for a number of days, but today he is sick again with it. The rest of your acquaintances in this part of the country are well.
Mr. Ware has gone to housekeeping about four miles from here. We hear a great deal about the sickness and death in Lysander. We heard week before last of Mother E’s death and also of Mr. Shanck and a number of others, but we hear no particulars from you.
Josiah, we have not heard from you since last fall. Only D. said in his letter to Mr. Spencer that his health was better. We feel very anxious to hear from all of you. R. wrote to Josiah last winter, but he never received an answer. We received a visit from Cousin Sylvester Humphrey a few weeks past. He said that Uncle Wm. Diseson died this spring and W. D. B. Diseson’s wife, and that Tidelia was almost gone with consumption, and Wm. H’s wife’s health was very poor.
Silvester married his stepmother’s daughter and they have one child. Asenath’s married to Charlotte’s husband. Brother Wm. has bought out the heirs and lives on the home farm. We have a new school house about 180 rods from our house built last fall so that our children have a good opportunity of going to school.
I want you to answer this letter as soon as you receive it. We want to know how you get along, all of you folks, and particularly about Josiah, where he and his family are and what they are doing. I want you to write about Father E., how his health is and where he is. Daniel said his health was quite poor, but he was some better.
I wish you would come and make us a good visit this summer. We would be very glad to see you all. It seems as tho’ there was nothing to hinder you from coming. Mary can keep house and Daniel can hire hands enough to do his work. Just think so and start, for, O how glad we would be to see you. Do not forget to write all about our friends and acquaintances in those parts.
I remain your sister, Mary A. Emerick
[Renesslaer is Renesslaer Samuel Humphrey.
Josiah is Josiah W. Humphrey, brother of Renesslaer.
The schoolhouse built 180 rods from the home of Mary Humphrey Emerick is the schoolhouse where Ellery Abraham Humphrey first went to school in Fayette, Ohio.
Gorham is the name given to Fayette, Ohio.
Elijah Snow built and ran an ashery located on the east side section 17, town nine south, range 1 east. His son Gabriel ran this successfully until about 1860. He had a store in connection with the ashery and this was the first store in Gorham Township.
Philander Crane built and operated an ashery south of Handy, as early as 1841, and worked it for two or three years and stopped.
The first cemetery in the township was located on the northeast corner of section 17, town nine south, range 1 east, at what is called the “Snow Schoolhouse,” in the year 1848. The next cemetery on land owned by George W. Coffin was built. After the Fayette cemetery was laid out, these graves on Section 21 were moved to Fayette.
The first organized school district in the township was in the Cottrell settlement, in 1836, and a log schoolhouse was built upon the southwest corner of the northwest quarter of Section 21, town 9 south, range 1 east. Lucinda Rogers taught the school. She began under the jurisdiction of the territory of Michigan, and ended it under the jurisdiction of Ohio.
In 1842 another district was organized in the Snow Settlement, and a frame schoolhouse was built by R.S. Humphrey. It was the first frame schoolhouse in the township. At about this period, another school district was organized in the east part, and a log schoolhouse was built. Oliver B. Verity taught the winter school of 1844 and 1845 at $14 per month and board around which all teachers of that age did. The practice went out of date with the adoption of the free school system in 1854.
The first school in the southwest part of the township was a log building (Severance schoolhouse) situated in the southeast corner of Section 26, town 9 south, range 1 west. In 1845 a frame schoolhouse was built on the northwest corner of section 35, town 9 south, range 1 west and was painted red. Miss Minerva Cottrell, the daughter of Asa Cottrell and wife of George Acker was the first teacher.
In 1888 the Gorham Township had eight school districts and one joint sub-school district, besides a special district for Fayette.
The first union school building was erected in 1862 on the north side of Main Street. The school was moved east of the hotel, and burned in the hotel fire of 1880.
From the old “Fayette Record:” “In the spring of 1836 the first schoolhouse in the township was completed. It was built of hewn logs, and located on the northeast corner one mile east of Fayette. In 1839 the post office was situated a few rods south of the schoolhouse. The mail route extended from Defiance to Medina, Adrian and the mail was brought every Thursday by a man on horseback. Young John Butler of Chesterfield, a boy of 13, was the mail carrier over the route, and for many years after, who blew a horn as he came near the post office, greatly to the delight of the little people in the schoolhouse. There were no postage stamps in those days and everyone who received a letter must pay 25 cents postage before he could get it from the post office.”
In 1888 the Fayette public school building was a large and convenient brick structure with four rooms for first through eighth grades, and had an average attendance of 130 pupils. (Note: This building was located on the northeast corner of the present cemetery, now Maple Street.) Burd Gamble remembers the Bennington bucket and dipper which everyone drank from.
The Fayette Normal Music and Business College was established in 1881. It was an institution of which the Village was proud. Students came from all over the area to Fayette. It had ample buildings and grounds through an able and efficient faculty had become a prominent institution.
The school district was overcrowded. Mr. E.P. Ewers came here and with Mr. Jodgen began the work of soliciting funds for a college building with boarding house attachments. The Fayette Normal Music and Business College continued for several years with a fair degree of prosperity when the management, for a season never ascertained, transferred their interests to Wauseon. The Normal College first opened in 1881 and was closed in 1888.
Mike Sell writes, “Appreciating the value of such an educational institution, the people of Fayette set about securing another school. In Sept. 1888, the Fayette Normal University was opened to students. The school flourished a number of years, but finally the citizens become convinced that the University militated against the success of its graded schools. They withdrew their necessary support. In 1905 the Fayette Normal University closed its doors. A high school maintained by public funds, took its place and building. The first Superintendent was C.D. Perry. (He later was County Superintendent; then registrar at B.G.S.U.)”
In 1905 there were 10 rural schools in Gorham Township. (The author graduated in the Opera House and taught in 1930 at the newly consolidated Gorham-Fayette School.)
When one had completed the eighth grade, he took the Patterson-Boxwell examinations at Wauseon. If these were passed, one was eligible to attend any high school in Ohio tuition free. These tests were rugged. Out of 50 some taking the test, only two passed from our village one year.