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, July, 1896], p. p. 169-171:
PIONEER WOMEN OF HARTSGROVE, 1822-1850
In the southwestern part of Ashtabula county, just north of historic Windsor, with Geauga’s cliffs to the northwest, and overlooking the romantic valley of Grand River in the east, lies the obscure township of Hartsgrove, so named in honor of its former land owner, Richard W. Hart, of Saybrook, Conn.
Rescued from the wilderness at a later date than any of the surrounding towns, the early settlers were spared many of the hardships and dangers of pioneer life, but that they endured many privations and were strangers to the comforts and luxuries of a later day, none can doubt, and that the brave and heroic struggle for homes and sustenance developed noble characters and generous natures we are well assured. Traditions tell us that long after the towns around were peopled with inhabitants, Hartsgrove was a heavily wooded tract of country, furnishing a capital hunting ground for the mighty nimrods, of which there were not a few, especially in the township of Windsor, and as we find that very many of the early settlers came to Hartsgrove from that town, we infer that farms were located, and in imagination leased and tilled while roaming through the dense forests in search of game.
We find that the first settlement in the township was in the eastern part upon what is called the "slate road," which was made as early as 1800, it being a pioneer mail route from Warren to Painesville.
To Mrs. George Alderman is accorded the honor of being the first white woman to live in the township; to Mrs. Fred Alderman, nee Annie Burgess, the first bride, and to Miss Aurella Allen that of being the first baby girl born in Hartsgrove, while the first school was taught by Miss Parmelia Frazier in 1829, seven years after the first family came into town. Seventeen pupils were enrolled.
In 1830 the first Methodist Episcopal church was organized and the names of Martha and Eliza Grover are given as the only female members at that time.
Eliza Grover’s maiden name was Dewey. She was born in Cooperstown, Otsego county, N. Y., in 1800; married to Elisha Grover in 1820, was brought to Christ at the age of twelve years, and lived an earnest Christian life eighty-four years, dying at the advanced age of ninety-three. She was known as a great reader of religious literature.
In 1844 came Dr. Hiram Morgan and family from Windsor, he being the first physician to settle in the place. Mrs. Morgan was Miss Rosemond Tynan, of Rome, but a native of Maine. It is worthy of note that the whole township was at one time owned by the daughters of Mr. Hart, mentioned before, being presented to them by their father, Richard Hart. The north half was the property of Mrs. Jarvis, wife of Rev. William Jarvis, of Chatham, Conn. The others owned by her and her sister, Miss Hetty Hart, of Connecticut.
Of the pioneer women we can gather but a few incidents individually. What the lives of other women in other townships were at that time, so were theirs. They had their joys and sorrows, their trials and hardships. They brought to their forest homes brave hearts, high hopes, and noble purposes, and in the lives of their children and children’s children will be traced the teachings instilled by the rude fireplace in the log cabin home for many years to come.
But few of those early pioneers are now living. In the cemeteries we find many names of those living long ago, names now unknown by later residents. In the center cemetery are the Harts, the Norrises, the Grovers, and many others. Here also sleep the young wife and child of the late Colonel William Jarvis, once a prominent citizen in the township. Although dying at the age of twenty-three she is spoken of by one who knew her well as a SPLENDID WOMAN. She was a Miss Mary Webb, of Jefferson township.
Later on Colonel Jarvis wooed and won Miss Lucy Rodgers, of Rome, who has proved a valuable helpmeet, and who is still living at the Jarvis homestead. A lover of flowers, she has always taken great pleasure in her floral pets and has furnished many lovely tributes for the bride and the burial as well as for festive occasions. For thirty-five years her husband was the postmaster of the place, and much of the time through those long years it has been through Mrs. J.’s careful hands that the people of Hartsgrove have held communication with the outside world.
One whom we yet remember and whose memory is revered is "Aunt Nabby" Holcomb, as she was familiarly called. Her maiden name was Abigail Norris. She came from Tolland, Conn., traveling all the way in an ox cart with her parents, in early life. Kind-hearted, generous, and uncomplaining, she will long be remembered by all who knew her. She was married to Caleb Holcomb at the age of seventeen, and was the mother of ten children. She died at the age of eighty-nine.
Another whose name will long be treasured in loving memory by posterity is that of Mrs. Philo Phinney, nee Delia Griswold. Married at the age of sixteen, she came to Ohio from Connecticut six years later with her husband and family, and in 1840 they founded a home in Hartsgrove, and, as one who knew her best says: "Poor, but with an energy that never flagged." She was the mother of nine children, and though meeting with many discouragements and suffering from ill health, she succeeded in rearing her large family to mature years, giving that training that only a Christian mother can. She taught them to be self-reliant, encouraging them to excel in whatever work was theirs, and to be honest, GOD-FEARING men and women. She is said to have been possessed of a high intellect, and that it has been transmitted to her descendants we have sufficient evidence.
Another family coming from Vermont about this time was the Hathaways. There was a large family of girls, one brother, and an aged father and mother. The daughters had been mill operatives in Lowell, Mass., but, tiring of that and possessed of a spirit of adventure, sought homes in the West. One became the wife of Jonathan Winslow, the others married and lived in this county for many years.
A story is related of Miss Amy Bugbee which is worth repeating. Left motherless when a child with a large family depending on her and her older sister for care, it is said that when seventeen years old, besides doing the work for the family, she carded, spun and wove from wool which her sister had earned by working out, cloth for suits for four brothers, and that she afterwards cut and made them with her own hands. We have no perilous adventures or hairbreadth escapes to relate. If there were such they are lost to the world. It is told of a Mrs. and Miss Bill that while searching for whortleberries they became bewildered as to the direction of their home, and, night coming on, they calmly waited the rising of the sun to determine their location, meeting a large party hunting for them as they returned homeward.
Sometime in the fifties the northwest part of the town, till then a dense forest, was settled by a company of emigrants from across the waters. With their quaint dialect and their "Irish wit" they brought firm principles, strong convictions, and iron constitutions -- a strength and will to found homes of their own, and they have by frugality and perseverance attained their object. Well-tilled farms and commodious dwellings are the reward of their labors, and out from those homes have gone many young men and women well fitted to occupy responsible positions in the world. Thus we have briefly sketched Hartsgrove. Others might have done it better. We are well aware of the crudeness of the work and ask charity for the imperfections.
To those who have aided in obtaining data, I would tender sincere thanks.
MRS. HELEN AYERS, Chairman and Historian. Hartsgrove committee -- Mrs. Skinner, Miss Mary Black, and Miss Rosa Lee.