From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part I, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [published under the auspices of the Women’s Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission]:
PIONEER WOMEN OF WINDSOR, 1799-1850
Windsor, the southwest township of Ashtabula Co., and forty miles east of Cleveland, was named after Windsor, Conn. The nearest practicable railroad is the P. Y. & A. which passes through Orwell, the adjacent town east. Three little hamlets each containing a P. O. are situated east, west and north of the center and known respectively as Windsor Corners, Windsor Mills and Stoneville, the latter the result of the recent development of the extensive stone deposits which underlie a large portion of the well cultivated farms of the township.
The first white woman who lived in Windsor was Eliza Griswold, the wife of George Phelps who, with their two small children, migrated from Tolland, Conn. in 1799. They located their rude cabin in the south-east part of the township on the bank of the creek that bears their name, the deep and romantic gorge through which it passes being known as Warner’s Hollow.
Mrs. Phelps only lived here four years, moving to Warren, where she shortly after died, but she is distinguished as being the mother of the first white child born in the township, Eliza Griswold Phelps who, upon her mother’s death was adopted and educated by Colonel Humphrey in Connecticut. For fourteen years she was preceptress of a female seminary in that state where she fondly dreamed of returning to the place of her nativity and establishing a similar institution.
Accordingly in 1839, immediately after her marriage to George March, she located on land inherited from her father south of Windsor Mills and hopefully commenced the accomplishment of her plans in erecting a school for the higher education of women. But it was otherwise determined, for the following year her death occurred. Windsor women are proud of this first and the noble type of womanhood into which she developed.
When the Phelps family left Connecticut for Ohio they were accompanied as far as Albany by a brother of Mrs. Phelps, Solomon Griswold who, with his family of six motherless daughters took the route through Canada, where they were delayed crossing Lake Erie on the ice and not reaching Windsor until 1800.
The small, floorless, doorless and windowless log cabin, with its bark roof which they quickly erected one mile north of Windsor Corners, on their large tract of land, soon gave way for a more comfortable one, which also was abandoned in 1819, for the pretentious, two story frame building now standing with its great fire places and large hall noted for its many patriotic, social and festal gatherings.
The unbounded hospitality of the home made it eagerly sought by the weary traveler. Each of these houses was historical, in fact the home of the Griswolds was the center of events, the place of beginnings, for it was under its friendly roof that the organization of the township was effected in 1811. The first death took place in 1801, the first sermon preached in 1802, the first P. O. established in 1808, the first marriage solemnized in 1806, the bride being Keziah Griswold, who became the wife of Jonathan Higley, Jr., and founded a home one mile west of her father’s, where she died ten years later.
She was the first school teacher in the township, acting in the capacity in 1804, using a blacksmith shop for her schoolroom. She also was the first woman to preside over a frame house.
Her twin sister Ursula was never married; she was sent east to be educated and returning taught school in the pioneer church. Being an excellent nurse she was often called by her neighbors in sickness.
This family were adherents to the Episcopal faith, and Bishop Chase was their guest when he visited Windsor. On these occasions, the highly prized pink and white decorated china brought with them from Connecticut was used, and one time by accident the cups were nearly all broken. Ursula overcome with grief sought retirement, finally inquiring how many were left and being informed there were three she replied, "Oh that is not so bad there is ONE FOR THE BISHOP, one for the parson and one for me."
Fanny the fourth daughter developed into a unique character, very intelligent, rather masculine in her tastes and attire, and popularly known as "Esquire Fanny." She was a fine shot, and a small shot gun belonging to her is still in the old homestead, the same which she took into the forest, when she was preparing to go east for schooling, and brought down deer, using the skins to make shoes for herself and to cover her trunk which is still in the home.
One day she came home triumphantly bearing seven wild turkeys, the result of one shot. For sometime she carried the mail between Windsor and Austinburg, going by blazed trees on horseback.
In 1801 Hannah Saxton and her husband, S. D. Sackett located here. She was a good housekeeper, and her pioneer home witnessed many scenes of innocent merriment.
In 1804 Rachel Negus, wife of Jonathan Higley, with the dignity and experience which fifty years brings to woman, came from Granby, Conn., with their three stalwart sons, who made merry over the little bag of apple seeds she providently brought and the following spring planted in the virgin soil of their adopted country.
One tree bearing fruit in seven years proved its marvelous fertility. This was a wonderful tree with its short trunk and trio of branches, each large enough for a single tree, the whole bearing a yearly burden of sixty to seventy bushels of large, rosy, tart apples; the "Jonathan" apple may still be found in many of the old orchards. The tree finally blew over, and was converted into stove wood by her grandson, Jonathan, it making four cords.
Arriving in October, there was little to winter on, and the precious cow that had followed them like a dog all the way from Connecticut was taken into the floorless cabin during a severe storm and was fed the contents of Mrs. Higley’s straw bed to prevent starvation. Later it might have been said to her:
"Woman! The daughter of thy daughter’s daughter hath a daughter." This event occurring in the Knapp family, who by the precocious marriage of two of their female ancestors are a generation in advance of the other branches of the family. The Higley’s were cousins of Jonathan Trumbull, George Washington’s advisor, of whom he used to say, "I will consult Brother Jonathan."
Tabithy Phelps, wife of Timothy Alderman, came from Connecticut in 1804. She was of a robust constitution, full of life and daring, excelling in out door labor, and surpassing many of the men who prided themselves on their skill in chopping wood. She challenged her full grown son that she could chop off a tree quicker than he could and was victorious.
Mercy Holcomb Moore, who came from Connecticut in 1805, married Timothy Alderman, Jr. for her second husband, and although brave enough when she heard a bear molesting their pigs in the night to snatch a fire-brand from the great fireplace and pursued the marauder, yet when Old Omeek, the notorious Indian, with his two sons came to her house and demanded something to eat, she dared do no other way then to take the boiled dinner she had prepared for her family upon the pewter platter [still in the possession of her daughter, Mrs. Gilbert Grover], and place it on the table for him. Old Omeek sat alone at table, not allowing the boys to eat; and when he was satisfied, taking a sack from his pocket, he slipped the remaining portion of the dinner into it and departed, leaving Mrs. Alderman much frightened, and the FAMILY DINNERLESS.
Her daughter, Laura Moore, was eight years old when her parents came here. She rode on the same horse with Timothy Alderman, much of the way being nothing but a winding path. She married Hezekiah Skinner, Jr.
In latter years the terrors of the nights of camping would come to her in dreams, and she would again hear the savage wolves snap their teeth and see their eyes glow like balls of fire.
She was the first in town to possess a cook stove. One of the hardworking, hospitable, patriotic, wide awake women of her day. Despite her limited education, she kept pace and was deeply interested in all that concerned her country’s welfare.
Urbana Holcomb found employment in Mesopotamia, walking from home in the morning, spinning her days’ work, and returning at night, often encountering wild beasts on the way. She became Mrs. Elizer Loomis.
In 1806, Ziporah Alderman, wife of Elijah Hill, with their two daughters and son’s family, arrived from Granby, Conn., in forty-two days with an ox team, the entire company walking, while Betsey Sawyer, wife of Elijah Hill, Jr., carried her two- year-old daughter Betsey most of the way. Another daughter, Marila, wife of Sabina Alderman, relates in an interesting manner her vivid recollections of the early days.
Mary Ritter, the young wife of John Gladding, from Hartford, Conn., with two horses and a wagon, came in 1806. She was congenial, possessing the rare power of making herself agreeable to old and young and of that urbanity of manner which is born of a kind heart.
Leaving her two boys and going in search of some cows, one evening during her husband’s absence, she was unable to find her way home that night. On her return the children told her of the big black dog that came to the door and looked in. Then she knew that her prayer for the safety of her unprotected boys had been answered. The Gladdings come from an old and numerous family in Rhode Island, whose records have been accurately kept, Hezekiah Butterworth being a cousin.
Betsey Barber, wife of Oliver Loomis, delicate and sensitive, endured the hardships of those days with remarkable fortitude. The wolves, entering through the blanket-hung door of her home while alone with her three children, she took them to the loft, and drawing up the ladder on which they ascended, remained all night.
In 1812 Ruth Ladd, her husband, Rev. John Norris, and eight children, came from Tolland, Conn., to Windsor, which event was celebrated by the company halting, devoutly kneeling and thanking God for their safe arrival. The winter was passed in a small log house, which they shared with Cornelius Norris and family, making a home for twenty-two persons. Ruth Norris was homesick for many years and said she would rather have her well in Connecticut than all they had here.
Jemima, her second daughter, married Moses Barnard, Jr. Her quaint and witty sayings are quoted by many for she was for years a popular landlady at the "tavern." When the road from Windsor to Orwell was laid out the men could not pay the surveyor, but this woman came to the rescue and donated seven yards of cloth of her own handiwork to complete the payment.
Asenath, who married Horace Adams, was a sweet, patient woman, beloved by all.
A few weeks after the arrival of the Norris family a Methodist class was formed, being the first religious organization in Windsor and the nucleus of the present prosperous church of that faith. They worshipped in dwellings and schoolhouses, the people gathering on horseback in sleds, carts, wagons, or on foot, sometimes a distance of several miles. Fifteen years later they had built a church at the center of the town.
The settlers were chiefly Episcopalians, but were unorganized until 1817. The year previous, however, a house of worship was built just across the road from the residence of the late Hiram Griswold. It was Gothic style, simply enclosed with puncheon floor and benches, serviceable only in warm weather, but for the double purpose of sacred and secular instructions, and humorously known as SOLOMON’S TEMPLE, after Judge Solomon Griswold.
Ruth Steel, wife of Daniel Morgan, a woman of personal beauty and an Episcopalian, opened her home for the organization of the first Sunday school, her husband being chairman and her son secretary.
The year 1813 brought a large addition to the settlement.
Patty Coombs, wife of Shubel Adams, had very poor health, yet was the mother of thirteen children. Her daughter, Clarissa Adams Loomis, was of a reverential, serene temperament, and, although a thorough Methodist, when the Episcopal church was built at Windsor Mills she boarded two of the workmen six weeks gratuitously.
Salvina Rider, wife of Gaal Grover, made a very hospitable home, the place of many social gatherings, the popular paring-bee among them. The log house was soon replaced by the frame one with its rich, walnut carvings.
This year brought the Rawdons and Winslows, who came together from Tolland, Conn. Elizabeth West, wife of Stephen Winslow, was advanced in life and only lived a short time; her daughter, Abigail, wife of Samuel Rawdon, was a very worthy lady and held in high esteem by her neighbors. There were fourteen children with this company, and before passing through a town they were counted and placed in the wagons.
At one enumeration a little tot was missing, the father, Samuel, quickly unhitched a horse and galloped rapidly back to the spring where they had a short time before refreshed themselves. There, with a delighted childless couple he found little Maria, who afterward married Adrastus Clemons, and upon his death became the wife of Ezra Olin.
Lois Nye, wife of West Winslow, was full of courage and bravery. At dusk, as she was returning home from Samuel Rawdon’s, she saw a bear cross the path before her, and climbing a tree and keeping her eye on the bear, she called to the Rawdon’s, who were perfect shots, and Bruin soon lay dead. The ancestors of the Winslows came over in the Mayflower.
Mary Toby, the second wife of Erastus Rawdon, was the foster mother of his eight children, who all held her memory in sacred reverence for her devotion to them. She was a very intimate friend of the children’s mother, at whose death, which occurred at the birth of her youngest child, Lucy, she promised the dying mother that she would enter this relation to her family. After a time, her own children dying, her reason fled, and the girl, Lucy, although a mere child, cared for the family and the only mother she ever known with beautiful filial affection.
Lucy married Ranny Godard, her sister, Saphrona marrying Whitney Smith, and two of her brothers becoming eminent in New York as bankers and engravers, while her brother Lathrop was judge in this country and took for his wife Catherine Cook.
Polly Cook married Eliakim, another brother, and when he tried to increase the family income by shoemaking, Aunt Polly bound the shoes. A pair were being made for Windsor’s prominent townsman, Judge Griswold. Aunt Poly had worked diligently for some time, and being weary with the task, declared:
"I would rather bind around Lake Erie than bind around Judge Griswold’s shoes!"
Percepta Root McIntosh was a thrifty housewife, very skilful with the wheel, loom and needle, her chests and drawers being filled with linen of beautiful texture and wrought by her own hands. She possessed executive ability and the power of accumulation. Her daughter, Hannah, wife of Ichabod Clapp, was a woman of refinement, as her home surrounded by choice flowers showed. Her three sons-Milo, Hon. E. J. and Carrol F.-inherit from her the qualities which make them successful leaders.
Mary Gray, daughter of Cyrus Grey, was born in 1803 near Winchester, Va., and came to Windsor in 1817. In 1820 she was married to Walter Luce, living in the southwest corner of the township. Her illustrious son, EX-GOV. CYRUS G. LUCE, of Michigan, who was born here, writes the following of her: "my mother was devoted to her family and from their infancy determined that they should enjoy the benefit of all the education that she could secure for them. She was a woman of wonderful industry, and the three, living children today hold in grateful remembrance the efforts she made in their behalf."
In 1818 Martha Griggs, from the distinguished Griggs family of Connecticut, whose first husband’s name was Holbrook, came from Tolland, Conn., to Windsor and there met and married Ebenezer K. Lampson, a soldier of the Revolutionary war, for which service Mrs. Lampson drew a pension. Intelligent and energetic, she lived, to the advanced age of 81 years.
Emmerette Griswold, a woman of great ability and strength of character, married Chester Lampson and lived on the Lampson homestead, where to them were born seven children, Hon. E. L. Lampson one of them. To this family belongs the distinction of furnishing a granddaughter of a Revolutionary soldier, who is only twenty-three years of age-Edith Lampson, now Mrs. Walter Norris, of Cleveland.
Mabel Hurlbut, with her husband, Wiram Grant, and their eight children, came from East Windsor, Conn., to Canada, where they embarked in a rude canoe, freighted also with their few household goods, and coasted around by Buffalo to Conneaut, where they landed. During this journey they camped on shore nights, securing the boat. One morning they were dismayed to find that it had broken its moorings and drifted far into the lake, but a friendly wind returned it to them. After Mr. Grant’s death, Mrs. Grant married John White, of Windsor, whose first wife was Mary Higley. Mabel Hurlbut had two sisters, one Mrs. Rider of Austinburg, at whose home her sister Betsey was married to Thompson Higley, in April 1821, the day following taking her wedding tour, after a very heavy fall of snow, on the same horse with her husband to their home in Windsor. She was a very capable woman, a school teacher, and also a tailoress.
Mary Loomis, wife of Stephen Clapp, who came in 1820, was very proud, and the possessor of more silk dresses than any other woman in town. Her comfortable home being nearest the church, was always the home of Methodist ministers. Her daughter, Caroline, was very fond of books and taught school, taking for her pay, among other things, a washboard from Chauncey Sackett, of his own manufacture. She married David Humphrey.
Betsey Ward, wife of Arial Brown, came to Windsor in 1823; was converted at a Methodist camp meeting in Burton in 1824, and died at the home of her son, Rev. N. C. Brown, in Jefferson, in 1882.
Zurvia Fitch, wife of N. P. Griswold, came from New Hampshire in 1830. She was the mother of seven daughters and three sons, an earnest trustful Christian. A favorite saying of hers was "Don’t worry, it will all come out for the best." She taught her children the strictest temperance principles.
MRS. M. CAMPBELL GLADDING, Chairman and Historian. Windsor Committee -- Mrs. Emma Sackett Knapp, Mrs. Salvina Grover McIntosh, Mrs. Harriet Godard Barnard, Mrs. Kate Hall Stoughten, Mrs. Florence Turner Alderman, Mrs. Abbie Bacon, Mrs. Homer Kinney.