The following interesting letter from Dr. Kirtland was published upon the 10th instant in the city papers:
EAST ROCKPORT, Ohio August 29, 1874
To John M. Edwards, Esq.:
My Dear Sir, Your polite invitation to meet with the pioneers of Youngstown, on the 10th of September next, is received. Though never an inhabitant of your city, I shall, if possible, do myself the honor and pleasure to be present on the occasion, yet the pressure of eighty-one years renders it somewhat doubtful. I will, therefore, transmit to you some reminiscences of old times.
On reviewing the diary of the late Turhand Kirtland (my father), who annually visited New Connecticut in the years 1798, 1799, and 1800, I find several items which have a bearing on the early history of Youngstown. He, at that time, was agent of the Connecticut Land Company, and transacted most of the business connected with the purchase of that township from that company by John Young, and after whom it was named.
From that diary we learn that Judge Kirtland, in the fulfillment of his duty as agent, laid out and opened a road through the wilderness, from the Grand River, near Lake Erie, to Youngstown, in 1798. He arrived at the last named place with surveyors, chain men, etc., on the 3d of August, and, with Judge Young, engaged in running out the town. At the same time, he surveyed the township of Burton and of Poland. In the latter he then located the seat of the mill, in the village, during the summer. His stopping place seems to have been, while in Youngstown, at a Mr. Stevens's, while Judge Young had a residence in Warren.
August 30th he sold two lots and a mill seat (near the mouth of Yellow Creek) to Esq. John Struthers, the locality in Poland now known as Struthers.
In 1799, May 18, he again was in Youngstown, stopping with Mr. Robert Stevens. His brother-in-law, Jonathan Fowler, and family, arrived there in a canoe from Pittsburg (by way of the Ohio, Big Beaver, and Mahoning Rivers). At evening, Judge Kirtland carried them to Poland in his wagon, where they all lodged for the night by the side of a fire (with no shelter save a big oak tree and the canopy of heaven. The exact location was on the home lot of the late Dr Truesdale, a few rods west of Yellow Creek.) [Jonathan Fowler was father of Mrs. Thomas Riley, of Poland, and Dr Chauncey Fowler, of Canfield, and grandfather of Dr C. N. Fowler, of Youngstown]
1799, September 01, Sunday, he attended public worship at Youngstown. The Rev. William Wick, from Washington County, Pennsylvania, delivered the first sermon ever preached on the New Connecticut Reserve.October 19th John Struthers and family arrived at Poland.
1800, June 16th, he (T. K.) went from Poland to Youngstown to agree on the place where the County Seat should be located.
June 19th Messrs. Canfield, Young, and King met J. S. Edwards at Fowler's Tavern, in Poland, to advise as to the location of the County Seat.
July 1st John Atkins, an old salt, returned to Poland with a mail from Pittsburg, the then nearest post office. There he obtained two lemons from another sailor who had turned pack-horse man. T. Kirtland and Atkins immediately started, with the lemons in charge, for Burton, and probably the first lemons on the Western Reserve.
July 4th, the good people of Burton and others from Connecticut, assembled on the green, forty-two in number, partook of a good dinner, and drank the usual patriotic toasts. Then the president of the day (T. K.) caused the lemons to be mixed in a milk pan of punch, which he offered and drank as a toast, Here's to our wives and sweethearts at home. The vessel of punch and the toast passed around the table till at length it came to a Mr. B., who, a few weeks before, had fled from a Xanthippe of a wife in New England, to obtain a little respite, and had joined the surveying party; he promptly responded thus to the toast: Here's to our sweethearts at home, but the d--l take the wives.
August 23d, Turhand Kirtland had partially recovered from an attack of fever and ague. He went from Poland to Youngstown to get his horse shod; was required to blow and strike for the smith. This threw him into an aggravated relapse of the disorder, which was at length cured by taking teaspoonful doses of the bark every hour. He adds: I found that Joseph M'Mahon and the people of Warren had killed two Indians at Salt Spring, on Sunday, 20th, in a hasty and inconsiderate manner; and they had sent after a number (of Indians) that had gone off, in order to hold a conference and settle the unhappy and unprovoked breach they had made on the Indians. They had agreed on Wednesday, 30th, to hold a conference at Esq. Young's, and had sent for an interpreter to attend, who arrived this day, in company with an Indian chief and his lady on horseback.
Wednesday, July 30, went to Youngstown (from Poland) to attend the conference with the Indians on account of the murder of two of their principal men at Salt Spring, on Sunday, 20th, by Joseph M' Mahon and Storer. We assembled about three hundred (whites) and ten Indians, had a very friendly talk, and agreed to make peace and live as friends.
Monday, August 25th, went to Warren, met the judges and justices of the county, when they all took the oaths of office, and proceeded to open the Courts of Quarter Session and Common Pleas; appointed constables, and summoned eighteen grand jurors. Bills of indictment found against Joseph M' Mahon and Richard Storer for murder.
Sunday, September 14th, Sample, the counsel for M'Mahon, went on to Youngstown. The prisoner is on the way from M'Intosh (Beaver) with the sheriff, and an escort of twenty-five troops from the garrison at Pittsburg, to guard him to Warren, where a court is to be held on Thursday, for his trial for the murder of Captain George and George Tuscarava (Indians) at Salt Spring.
Wednesday, September 17th, went to the court at Warren, Meigs and Gilman the judges. Messrs. Edwards, Pease, Tod, Tappan, and Abbott admitted as counselors-at-law by this court.
Thursday, September 18th, prisoner (M'Mahon) brought in; a traverse jury summoned.
Friday, September 19th, witnesses examined.
Saturday, September 20th, case argued; verdict, acquittal.
The above items are collected from Turhand Kirtland's diary, a transcript of which is deposited with the Historical Society, of Cleveland. It abounds with many facts relating to the early settlement of the Connecticut Reserve, especially of the townships of Poland, Burton, and Youngstown.
Allow me here to add a fact of general interest, but not specially connected with Youngstown. The company of surveyors, who run out the Western Reserve in 1796, placed the southeast corner stake at the southeast corner of Poland, one-half mile south of the forty-first degree of north latitude, there drove a stake, built a stone cairn, and from thence ran a line one hundred and twenty miles west to the southwest corner of the Fire Lands, which was on the exact line of the forty-first degree, on which line, at Poland, the cairns should have been established. This error caused much trouble between the Connecticut Land Company and the United States, till, after some years of delay, Congress sanctioned and established that line. These facts seem not to be known by Ohio historians and map makers.
I would further add a few early experiences of my own respecting Youngstown:
June 10, 1810, on the way from Wallingford, Connecticut, to Poland, Ohio, I spent the night at Adams's Tavern, in the town of Liberty. At noon of the following day I dined with Dr Charles Dutton in Youngstown, a sparsely settled village of one street, the houses mostly log structures, a few humble frame buildings excepted; of the latter character was the dwelling house and store of the late Col, Rayen.
Dr Dutton was the leading physician and surgeon of the vicinity, and sustained a favorable reputation in that capacity for energy and good judgment. He, at the close of the last century, was a student of medicine under my grandfather, Jared Potter, M.D., of Wallingford, Connecticut, while I was a school boy; I had many a playful romp with him. In April, 1801, he prepared to emigrate to New Connecticut, then a long and tedious journey of several weeks, now of twenty-four hours. My father had provided three four horse covered wagons, filled with emigrants and goods ready for starting. The doctor, somewhat eccentric and peculiar in his ways of thinking and acting, sprang upon the driver's seat of one of these wagons, and, at that moment, his aged and widowed mother, with eyes suffused with tears, and other relatives and friends, gathered around to bid him farewell. He, without noticing them, gathered up the reins, cracked his whip, and started off his team, at the same time singing in an elevated strain the chorus of Jefferson and Liberty, the political song of that day:
Rejoice, Columbia's sons, rejoice!
To tyrants never bend your knee,
But join with heart and soul and voice
For Jefferson and liberty.
After dining with the doctor and enjoying a pleasant interview, he mounted his horse and rode with me to join my father's family at Poland, from whom I had been separated since the year 1803.
No bridges then spanned the Mahoning. We passed over at Powers's ford, the water high and muddy from recent rains; but the doctor pointed out a rock in the river, with its top barely above the water, which, he said, was an index that when the top appeared it was safe to ford the stream.
A small framed-house, one story high, and painted with indigenous red ochre, stood near the present residence, on the Isaac Powers farm. It was then occupied by him. Since, it has been moved down to the creek, and still serves as a dwelling-place.
On the Stambaugh farm, in Boardman, at the Four Corners, a small clearing, a fine young orchard and a log house were observed. A view over the Mahoning Valley, taken at that point, embraced, at that day, an unbroken wilderness. The public highway to the village of Poland had been already effectually cleared, and parts thrown up as a turnpike, but was an universal bed of muck and mud.
In the following week I took charge of the district-school in the village of Poland, consisting of sixty scholars, which I taught till late in September, in a log-house on the public square. I soon learned that Joseph Noyes, a former schoolmate of mine, had charge of a school of similar size in Youngstown. It occupied a log building on Main Street, next adjoining Mr. Bryson's log store, near where Col. Caleb Wick formerly resided. Mr. Noyes and myself soon established the rule to visit each other's school on every alternate Saturday and counsel each other on school teaching. Reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, and geography, were the branches required to be taught. I have the vanity to believe that, in the three first named, the progress of our classes was as satisfactory as in the classes of the present day. Those three branches were rather specialties with both of us. Neither found use for the rod.
Those bi-weekly visits to that school established an acquaintance with nearly every individual, old or young, in the village. I now know not a surviving one of that number.
Mary Tod (the late Mrs. Evans) was a member of Mr. Noyes's school. She then was just entering her teens, and a more lovely face than hers I have never seen. But, what do our fashionable and ambitious mothers of the present day imagine were the texture and style of the dress of that beautiful girl? Her external costume a homemade mixture of linen and cotton, cut after the fashion of the female disciples of Mother Ann Lee, with no plaits and few gores, unmodified by either corset or bustle. The lower margin was adorned with a two inch stripe of madder red, followed next by one of indigo blue, and a third one of hickory bark yellow, very much like the balmorals, which, a few years since, our fashionable city ladies were sure to exhibit (accidentally, of course,) at every street-crossing, much to the admiration of the crowds of idle loafers.
Early in September, 1810, I attended a regimental muster in Youngstown. A war with Great Britain was anticipated, and the Indians on the frontiers were committing depredations. A thorough military spirit pervaded the country, and a full turnout of every able bodied man was evident on the occasion. It was a matter of surprise to see an apparent wilderness furnish some six or seven hundred soldiers. The regiment formed with its right near Col. Rayen's residence, and marched to a vacant lot between Main Street and the Mahoning River, near the mouth of Mill Creek, and was there reviewed. Simon Perkins was Brigadier general; John Stark Edwards, Brigadier major and Inspector; William Rayen, Colonel; George Tod, Adjutant, and John Shannon and __ M'Connel were Majors. A heavy fall of rain after midday seriously interrupted the exercises. No one, at that period, was disposed to evade his duties, and, two years afterward, the efficiency and patriotism of that body of men were thoroughly and favorably tested.
The Spring and Summer, till late in July 1810, and of two following seasons, were remarkable for the amount of rainfall. Heavy thunder showers or continued rains were almost of daily occurrence. As a consequence, the streams frequently overflowed their banks, cornfields were not worked, and the heavy crop of wheat was generally grown or sprouted, much to the displeasure of the housewife and joy of the whisky distiller. The latter found his grains half malted by nature, while the former could hardly restrain her loaves from running.
Every public road was almost impassable, and some of the recent emigrants left the West, discouraged and disgusted.
With great respect, your fellow citizen,
Jared Potter Kirtland