From "Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve," Part II, Mrs. Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, Editor [published under the auspices of the Women’s Department of the Cleveland Centennial Commission, September, 1896], p. p. 218-220:
PIONEER WOMEN OF ROME, 1806-1835
Rome township lies forty miles east and five miles north of Cleveland, on the P. Y. & A. Railroad, and together with Austinburg, Morgan, Jefferson and Lenox, formed what was originally called Richfield. In 1827 the name was changed to Rome. The township was purchased of the Connecticut Land Company at 40 cents per acre by Henry Champion, in 1798, and in 1805 he employed Timothy R. Hanley to survey it into lots, containing 320 acres each. It was then an unbroken forest, with no marks to guide one but the water courses, unless it may have been an Indian trail. To the white man it was far west, and very few had seen it.
Mr. Elijah Crosby, of East Haddam, Conn., was given the agency for the sale of the township, and his wife, Mrs. Phoebe [Church] Crosby, was the first white woman to plan for a home in Rome. In the vicinity where they lived, it was common for young men to choose a sea-faring life, and wishing to remove their sons from this temptation, they decided to emigrate to New Connecticut. In accordance with this plan, Mr. Crosby, accompanied by a young man named Daniel Hall, came on horseback to Rome in 1805, selected a lot of 550 acres, and then returned to Connecticut.
Mrs. Crosby had for some time been preparing for the journey, and among other things, baked the brick oven many times full of bread, which was sliced, dried and pounded in an iron mortar. She filled a large bag with this for their journey. Every one of the family had plans for Ohio. Even the three-year-old boy, Levi, had a quantity of apple seeds in his pocket, and said he was going to Ohio to plant an orchard.
The family consisted of father, mother, and eight children, the youngest a son aged sixteen months.
When within three miles of their destination, they learned to their sorrow that there was no house built for them, as Mr. Crosby had contracted for. Consequently they had to seek shelter elsewhere, and found a home in Morgan, which they occupied as a temporary one, while building on their own land. Mrs. Crosby was so glad to find a home once more that she sat down on a block of wood and WEPT FOR JOY.
While living there a daughter was added to the family, and the next child, the first white boy born in Rome, in accordance with a promise of Mr. Champion, was presented with fifty acres of land. Mrs. Crosby lived long enough to see her eleven children grown to maturity. Six of them married and settled in Rome. She was a woman of rare excellence of character, and by energy and ability to make the most of everything, was well fitted for pioneer life.
The second party of settlers in the township left East Haddam, Conn., 1806, and consisted of Mr. and Mrs. William Crowell, their family of eight children, John Crowell, David Walkley, and their wives. They came the entire distance by team over the mountains to Pittsburg, then to Beaver, and by way of Warren to Rome. While driving through Warren the axle of their wagon broke, and Mr. Crowell cut a stick to mend it, where the Court House now stands.
Mrs. Crowell was a woman of perseverance and energy, and bore the trails of pioneer life bravely. She was the mother of the first white child born in the township, a daughter, who remained with her father and mother on the old home as long as they lived. The marriage of her eldest daughter to Erastus Flower, of Lenox, was the first in town, and was said to have been a joyous occasion.
Mrs. John Crowell, nee Lucy Lord, found the hardships and privations of pioneer life more than she could endure. Her health failed, and she died of consumption at the age of seventeen, the first death in the township.
Mrs. Prudence Walkley was a general favorite with old and young. During an epidemic of typhus fever she labored much among the sick. Once, having spent the night in watching with a young woman, she returned to her home much fatigued. A messenger soon came, saying the young woman was dead and they wished her assistance. Her husband objected, fearing she was not able to go. She replied, "I must. There is no one else to go." In a short time she started on horseback, which was the last time she left her home. In a few days she died of the same disease, and it was said by one present that at her funeral all seemed to be mourners, who cherished the memory of her UNSELFISH LIFE.
Mrs. Jerusha Gillet Hall, wife of Dean Hall, was a beautiful singer, charming her neighbors in the wild woods with the sweet melody of her voice. But while young, her health failed, and she died leaving four children. Mr. Hall soon went back to Millington and married Miss Julia Rogers, whom he brought to his forest home. They came in what purported to be a carriage, though at the present day it would pass as a market wagon of antiquated pattern. But it was a vehicle of greater style than had ever been seen in Rome, and was supposed to have caused some sinful envy. As a neighbor, friend and exemplary Christian, Mrs. Hall deserved to be held in loving remembrance.
Mrs. Daniel Hall was one of the elder daughters of Elijah Crosby, and having no children of her own, adopted five needy children, only one of whom was related to her.
Mrs. Sylvester Rogers came with her family in 1809. Her husband erected a hotel on the turnpike a few years later, and the large four-horse stage coaches which passed over the road daily made this hotel a regular stopping place. Mrs. Rogers, with the aid of her daughters, performed the duties of a landlady admirably, and it was said by a veteran stage driver that there was not another such tavern between Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
There were two other pioneer families living west of Grand River, which flows through the township one miles west of the center. Mrs. Simon Maltby lived in the extreme northern part of the town. There was no way of crossing the river except in a rude canoe. But Mrs. Maltby had a peculiar faculty of seeing anyone who came to the opposite bank and they were soon ferried over.
Mrs. James Allyn, living west of the river, quite a distance from neighbors, was a consistent Christian, both in precept and example, and lived to see two of her sons ministers.
Miss Sophia Ladd, of East Haddam, Conn., married Henry Brown in 1809, coming to Rome on her wedding trip. It was not a very pleasant one, for their wagon broke and delayed them on their journey; and, finding this new country so different from the Connecticut home, she was inclined to be sad. "Uncle Henry," as he was always called, was rather jolly and often told how nice Sophia looked when they were married. He had told her as an inducement to come to Ohio that she need never wash her hands IN COLD WATER! After enduring many privations she reminded him of what he had said. He replied: "Mrs. Brown, you may warm the water." Many of his eccentric speeches are remembered in the town. They had three daughters, the youngest of whom, Mrs. Helen A. Rains, is an authoress of recognized ability. Her poetry has been published in different periodicals for the past thirty years.
One of the many women of Rome deserving notice was Mrs. Henry Miller Lee. She was a regular attendant at the church and for many years leader of the treble [as it was then called] in the choir, which occupied a gallery opposite the minister and sang without an instrument. Mrs. Lee’s place was never vacant except, as the catechism has it, "for causes of necessity and mercy," and in her everyday life hospitality and kindness were prominent traits.
Among the many other women deserving mention are Mrs. Sylvester Cone, Mrs. Edmond Richmond, and Mrs. Erastus Chester, each of whom had sons who were ministers.
The first school was held in the log cabin of John Crowell in the summer of 1809. The teacher was Miss Lucinda Crosby, afterwards the second wife of John Crowell. The first school house was built in the fall of 1810, and was also used for religious meetings.
In the establishment and continuance of the Presbyterian church the women of the settlement exerted a strong influence, and by their presence and encouragement aided greatly in sowing good seed on good ground, which was to bear abundant fruit in future years. The regular visits and sermons of Bishop McIlvaine were a rich blessing to all, and the spirit of Christian union and brotherly fellowship which he invariably manifested seemed like a benediction. Especially are thanks and grateful remembrances due the women of the church and congregation for their untiring labor in ministering to the comfort of those who came from a distance to attend church services.
In the year 1835, when the Baptist house of worship was commenced, Mrs. Lucy Tinan cooked all the meals for the workmen who built it, and through her whole life she was characterized by the same generous, hospitable spirit, and "Aunt Lucy," as she was familiarly called, will be kindly remembered by many. In this society also the zealous efforts of other women aided much in the completion of the church edifice. The work is of Rome’s pioneer mothers, but their memory still lives to strengthen and encourage others to bear the burdens of life bravely and render, as they did, cheerful service to the cause of Christianity.
MRS. G. H. CROSBY, Chairman and Historian; Rome Committee -- Mrs. Selden Arnold, Mrs. H. G. Chester, Mrs. Hiram Evans and Mrs. Jeremiah Dodge.