I’m sure my readers have used county histories. However, have you ever found a comprehensive history of a township and its early settlers in a newspaper? That’s exactly what I found when looking for articles about Jason Hammond in the newspapers. Not only is this an extensive history of Hammondsburgh or Bath, Ohio but also gives quite a bit of background information about Jason Hammond and his family.
The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
May 8, 1897
An Interesting Review of Its Organization
It was one of the First Colonies on the
Western Reserve and was Known as
Hammondsburg — Bits of History in
Connection with Its Growth and
To the Editor
Not long since I read in an Akron paper, a complimentary notice of Hon. Charles O. Hale, that, so far as he is concerned I am pleased with it, but there are some statements in it in regard to the early settlement of Bath which I will beg leave to rise to explain.
As the early history of the Western Reserve is being investigated, it may be proper for one born in Bath, in 1819, and seeing and hearing and being a part of tis history up to 1852, to speak a little from the lips of he departed, and from his own observation or experiences, of those early days. The early history of any part of the Western Reserve is of interest to many, so with the charity of all, I will give a little sketch of the first bona fida settlement in Bath an the causes that led to it.
Many years ago some sketches were made by Gen. Bierce, that from some cause, contained mistakes or fictions that seem to have grown to facts before the public. Perhaps from want of due notice from the most interested parties who had then passed to other scenes, but now no apology is needed and I will give some of the leading ones so far as I know or understand them. Jason Hammond, of Bolton, Conn., was the founder of Bath colony. His oldest son, Theodore, was the agent in starting the enterprise and the first settler in the colony. Owen Brown, of Hudson, gave Bath its present name. But permit a little of the first history of the Hammond family in America. In 1836 [NOTE THIS DATE IS AFTER THE FAMILY MIGRATED TO OHIO] Thomas Hammond came from England and settled finally in Newton Mass. From this family have descended many good and worthy sons and daughters of this republic; no son perhaps more worthy than Jason the founder of the Bath colony. He was the eldest son of Nathaniel Hammond whose father was the first settler and the proprietor of said Bolton township in common. Nathaniel inherited his estate and was able to give to each of 11 sons a good farm and to each of five daughters a handsome dowery.
Jason, born in 1762, was very enterprising and extended his business to milling, to merchandising in east Hartford and to shipping to the West Indies. Fortune seemed to favor him and he obtained a partner to share in his growing business.
After Some Prosperous Years
He suffered a protracted sickness, and his partner took advantage of this evil time and sold out the store and assets and decamped to parts unknown. This was indeed a severe blow, and besides his loss, involved him in a debt of $75,000. That misfortunes never come single was proven again. But he was a man of resolution and resources. After a time he was able to meet all his obligations, and have a modest fortune left.
He had now a family of three sons, Theodore, Lewis, Horatio, and two daughters, Rachel and Mary, to provide for. Theodore thought, with the changed circumstances, the loss of schooling, in helping in his father’s trials, the prospect uninviting to him, in common and as speculators in the Western Reserve lands were inviting settlement he concluded he would try his fortune in the far west, and so told his father. Then it was the custom to have the children reside as near home as possible, and his parents did not want him to go. It was so far away, he must go quite empty handed, on account of the changed conditions of the family. All their other children growing around them, at the poor prospects for all income they, themselves, then being towards 50 years of age, concluded that it would be better for all to go and the family would be kept together. Several commission speculators had invested in Western lands among them were Messrs. Williams, Lloyd, Ellsworth, Battle, and Bull, and with the last named a change of property was made. Mr. Bull’s tract was in what is now known as Bath township, and commencing at the northeast corner of the township, extending seven (7) tiers of lots west, and three (3) tiers south, containing twenty-one (21) lots of 150 acres each, more or less. A bargain was made for about 1,200 acres of this land, and to be completed on sight of the land, Mr. Hammond having the first choice. NO definite writings could be made, until the land was selected and described.
In the mean time other questions were being considered. For a family to go alone so far away into the great wilderness of the “wild west” was thought a too daring and dangerous an undertaking. So other parties were solicited to join with it and make a little colony for society’s mutual protection. This was the start of the Bath colony. Among those solicited was Jonathan Hale, whose older sister was the wife of Jason Hammond, also Elijah Hale, whose wife was a younger sister. So it was thought to be better for themselves and the future of their families to meet with the Hammonds and “go west,” too. Jonathan found that he could bargain for 150 acres of the Bull tract and have the second choice and to be selected, too, in sight of the land and before completion of the bargain. TO make the different selections and prepare homes for the families, Theodore and Jonathan were to go before the others. So Theodore with a wagon and yoke of oxen, with a horse in the lead started on the eighth day of June, 1810, for the west and just three days before his majority Jonathan Hale followed on the 12th day after with a wagon and span of horses. He expected to overtake Theodore and both came together. They took different routes, however, and each cam through alone. Mr. Hale traveled faster with his horse and arrived on the Bull tract on the 14th of July, following. But as he could do nothing, until after Theodore came, and hearing that he was delayed by injury to his oxen, Mr. Hale returned to meet him, and both came out to the promised land together July 25, 1810.
Theodore, forthwith examined the Bull tract and made choice of the third tier of lots from the north line, or the south tier of the Bull tract and enough from another to make his compliment of about 1[?]00 acres. On the east lot of his choice he found a log house built by a squatter named Gates, who afterward settled on what is now the Howe farm, just east of this lot, in another township. Theodore was given immediate possession for his father’s family and himself. He being of age and single, he became the first bona fide settler
on lands first bought for settlement in what is now known as Bath township in Summit county, O.
Jonathan Hale having the second choice selected the east lot in the second tier from the north to the Bull tract, or just north of the Hammond east lot and where the venerable brick house now stands. As the east lots on both the second and third tiers had some rich bottom lands, some squatters had
Made a Little Settlement
on them and the only thing of th kind on the BUll tract, and without much regard to lines. The best house in it was claimed by one Miller, so it is not strange that when Mr. Hale and he saw each other on the road that Mr. Miller should expect Mr. Hale to go right to his house, when he (Hale) came to the settlement. In this house Jonathan Hale wrote his first letter home to his wife, then in Connecticut, and dated it “Hammondsburgh, July 30, 1810, just after he had made his fifth choice. In this letter he says “the land here is much better than I expected. The farm that I shal have of 150 acres is full equal to our garden, and Mr. Hammond’s is still better, if possible. There are five or six parties and I have
made considerable improvements, I now live with Capt. Abraham Miller in the best house in Hammondsburgh, etc. Mr. Hale himself gave the settlement this name, and in honor of his brother-in-law who was the leading man and founder of the new colony. It was kindly meant no doubt as the names of men are often given to places or institutions they seek to aid though not expected here. The country generally around had been known as “Wheatfield,” but after this the settlement was now both east and west as Hammondsburgh. About 1815 the name of Bath was given tot he new township.
Before closing his bargain for the 150 acres, Uncle Jonathan found he could make an exchange for more lots on the uplands west of him. He took them, and they, with the first 150 acres, were all put together in the same deed. This deed was dated Sept. 8, 1810. This date, together with his remark in the letter to his wife about the land that I shall have show, clearly , that no completed sale and choice of lands was made before going to Ohio, as had been claimed.
In September, later than the date of this deed, all the Hammond and Hale families started in horse wagons from Connecticut and came on together, arriving in the first part of November following, and living 49 days on the road. Theodore was 48 days coming, but Jonathan came in 32 days.
Jonathan now, for the first time, became a settled man in the colony. Young Hammed had been settled more than three months before. ‘Tis true, no doubt that Uncle Jonathan
Was First on the Ground
But he could not settle, or “light,” for he had no place to settle on and could not have, until the first choice had been made. Then he could e no better off, as a “setter” so long as his family and home were in Connecticut and as all the families came together, they were equally first settlers with Jonathan.
Theodore had added a new log house to the old one, and the family found at once, a home. They were log houses, but they were homes. the long weary journey, from bright homes, ended in a new world, to them. They found great forests standing where the harvests were to grow, and at once commenced to make improvements. Dangers from wild beasts and wilder men and insidious diseases met them on every side. What a change from the safety and comforts and society of a good New England home! Little does the present generation know or think or perhaps care about the dangers, labors and sacrifices of the pioneer settlers, to prepare the way for the bright homes of the Reserve to-day,
and the blessings about them. Yet these pilgrims did not hang their harps upon the willows, but made the wilderness cheerful with their songs, and with a trust in a Divinity, that wisely shapes our course even in darkness, they made conquests over nature and themselves. They turned the forests into blooming fields and their hearts to ne praises to Him who can save and bless in all lands. The heads of these families were strict Presbyterians and their faith as firm as the hills from which they came. But here they had no house in which to worship God only one of his own building under the stars. Neither had these sheep any shepherd. Yet they could mingle their songs and prayers in the several homes, on the Sabbath; could read from volumes of sermons truly orthodox, which they were sure to bring with them. Books were few and papers, blanks. The Bible and hymn book, some church history, lives of the martyrs and the Spectator, with the sermon volumes made a precious library, on which the dust never settled.
From the want of newspapers they were mainly shut out of the world. Yet the mail gave them a little view of a narrow world. There were no telegraph nor telephone wires to give quick intelligence. No photograph albums were displayed on their center tables, nor diamonds in their hair, but an abundance of roses on their cheeks.
From their labors and the lands they had an abundance, bu the markets were distant and the prices generally low, so but little was realized for cash expenses and for the taxes, the latter the burden of the year.
I should have observed before some of the people just found there, and others coming to that region, often joined in the religious exercises of the first settlers.
In a few years Calvin Hammond, brother of Jason, came from Vermont with his family, and joined the colony. He brought a wife and mother, three vigorous young sons, Emis, Ward and Royal, and a noble daughter, Lucinda. Calvin bought lands of Jason and settled near what is now called “Hammond’s Corners,” which in many years after, was sold to George Kirk.
Uncle Hale was a good musician. He taught at times, singing schools in someof the towns about. While he was making hte country glad in song and enjoying the considerable improvements around the best house in Hammondsburgh, the other sturdy men were making the wilderness blossom by opening their famrs and making the roads and bridges, as they had greater
Need of Public Improvements
Their wives and daughters not only did the daily duties of the household (thus solving the hired girl question) but also, spun wool and flax, and wove the cloth, and then made the garments for both the men and themselves. There was no shoddy then. The garments were always in style. Later a calico dress at 50 cents a yard was more prized and better preserved than the silk of to-day.
When the maple trees yielded their sweets the mothers, generally, finished the production for the coming year.
As the harvests increased, barns were erected to store the crops, and protect their growing stock, through the winter. The weather was mild on the bottom lands, the stock often survived the winters with little care.
As the years went by their hearts were made glad in the widening circle of new faces and friends that came to share in the labors and hopes of the new promised land.
In about 1818 a new township was organized and Owen Brown of Hudson, the father of the immortal John Brown, had been appointed commissioner to look after new townships and give them names. He came to consult the people, hoping they might unite on the selection of a name. Some thought the name of the colony a good one for the new touwnship and a just compliment to Mr. Hammond and family, as the founder of the colony, which promoted the settlement of the township. Others objected to it simply form its length and wanted a shorter one, but Uncle Jonathan was a little out of sorts at that time, is reported to have said in derision about his favorite sneer that “he did not care what they called it. they might call it
Jerusalem or Jerico or Bath
anything but Hammondburgh,” not his being or expecting it to be called by either of these names.
Mr. Brown finding they could not agree, concluded tht if they wanted a short name Bath would suit as well as any and having the authority to do so, gave the township its present name of Bath. This writer not only heard the matter talked over in the early families, but in one vacation, while a student in college at Hudson, he lived in Mr. Brown’s family and assisted him in his harvests, thus having an opportunity to learn from Mr. Brown, himself something of the facts in this case. The facts and not mistakes and ficitons. I suppose, are wanted in history, though they don’t always get there.
To encourage a growing religious society and settlement of the township, Ezekial Williams, a Connecticut land speculator, owning lands t the center of the township, gave several acres there, on which to erect a meeting house, also for a cemetery.
On this land a log meeting house was built by the church people. I would like to speak of many good men and women, in early Bath, and of interesting and amusing events of the times, but now I must confine this article mainly to Jason Hammond and his family, who, thus far, seem to have escaped a biographer, but now something may be permitted for his-
torian. In fact to leave out this family in the early history of Bath would be like playing “Hamlet” without “Hamlet,” or giving the history of the European settlement in America, to leave out Columbus, and make a world’s fair celebration in honor of the sailor, who first saw the land from the lookout of the ship.
From the first, Jason and his family were leading spirits in all good and important enterprises in that section. Their home soon became a center of influence, and as time passed an extended acquaintance on the Reserve enjoyed their hospitality and friendship. A benevolent and enterprising spirit made them seek the public good, and as they held the larger landed interests, they thus advanced their own good, and in a laudable way, too. The church and schools they helped organize, and with their faithful care they sought to make and enlarge both, and promote peace, education and righteousness. They looked beyond their town and aided the early college enterprise at Hudson. They also helped to educate a bright western young man in Yale college, who, in after years, became an honored president of Illinois college. in this benevolence want went smiling from their door, and as they had learned the diseases of the country and the remedies, they were welcomed to the bedside of the sick and the suffering, and they wept with the mourners for the loved and lost.
When his sons left home he divided his lands between them. To Theodore he gave the western part, to Lewis the eastern, or homestead and to Horatio the middle portion. He also gave ample gifts to his daughters, besides doing well for Josiah Fowler, a young man brought up in the family. He lived to a good old age. And now the good founder of the Bath settlement sleeps in peace and in honor, not with his fathers, but under the Ohio sky.
The history of Bath, for nearly 50 years, would mainly be the history, or biography, of the Hammonds residing there, and Theodore and Lewis became leading men among them. When there was an increasing demand for lands in the west settlement, Theodore became the agent of several eastern land men, for the sale of these lands in Bath. He labored with efficiency to bring settlers and capital into the township. he was one of the three commissioners of Medina county for several years, when Bath was in that county. He was also one of the agents of the government in loading to the people the surplus revenue, in President Jackson’s time, although he was a Whig, as, in fact, most residents in the township then were. At different times he held the different office of the township for many years.
This is a case where all the positions he held in church or township or county or under the government, sought the man, for he never sought the office.
Integrity and efficiency characterized all his acts in public trusts as well as in his private business. To promote settlement at Hammond’s corners he offered an acre out of his orchard to any party that would erect a building for a store on it. Two young carpenters, by the name of Nathan Jones and Painter Wilson, accepted the offer and put up the building that, I suppose, stands there today. Afterwards, Horatio and Royal Hammond filled the store with a stock of goods and went into business there. He also gave the land for a new school house and helped build the house. Before this there was a split white wood log school house standing on the corner north from the store lot. It made, within, a fine white clean appearance and was a nice place for the early times in which it was built. I must speak of some of the teachers there. Mrs. Fanny Carter, Roxana Jones, Royal Hammond, Morris Brown and others taught there. In the new house Selma Jones and Miss stone and Miss Abbott, the latter an Oberlin student and Misses Branch, Clark an Hammond the last two from Richfield and later Peter Voris and others. All taught there. Mr. Hammond was all the time on the board of directors while he lived there and his aim was always to have a high grade of teachers.
When some of the children needed still more advanced teachers, he thought it much better for the place, and economy, too, to bring the teachers there than to send the children abroad, so he started
The first Select School
there and employed a Mr. Smith, a theological student from Oberlin to teach it. It proved to be one of the best schools, perhaps, that Bath ever had. In a later time, Rev. Lewis F. Lane, pastor of the center church, was induced to open a select school, at the corners which was a success and a blessing, long to be remembered by his pupils. And new churches, Sunday nd singing schools and books and papers were brought to Bath until the wilderness of 30 years before had become a blazing human growth of beauty, harmony and intelligence.
The growth of the church warranted an effort for a new and bettr house, than the old log structure. Mr. Hammond was appointed to see to its construction. This he undertook with his usual vigor, and in a reasonable time, saw its completion.
As the country became more settled there was greater need to utilize the water power in the township. On this stream, further down over the township were better mill sites and more power, and these Hammonds encouraged certain parties to improve them and backed the enterprise, hoping to increase business and capital make nearer and better markets for abundant cops and greater prosperity to all the country around, as well as better prices for lands and brighter hopes to an industrious people. A large flouring mill was erected and other mills built that did much and promised more for the country around. This was along in 180. For several years all seemed to be going well, but, by and by, a crash came, from some unfortunate management and before the backers could well realize it, they found themselves heavily involved. They bravely and honorably met it. Theodore sold his old farm, on which he had spent the best of his life improving and turned the funds over and met all obligations. In his older age, with a large family and limited means he moved to Illinois in 1847, and on the wide prairie started anew.
His brother Lewis, five years his junior, and young Fowler, soon became famous, as athletes in all the field sports of the times. His brother Lewis took the responsibility of settling up the entire failure out of the wrecked mill property and otherwise and made ample return for what Theodore had advanced above his part. In his great labors exposures to meet all obligation save a competence for his family, he sank down in the prime of his usefulness and passed away.
Thus, one of the bravest and noblest spirits of Bath went to a higher reward and night and darkness was left to unnumbered friends, who wept for theirs and hte world’s loss.
Thus passed two of the best and most useful men that Bath has seen.
“Let honors be given to him honors are due,
And justice and peace will smile on the true.”
I cannot close this article without a kind notice of Uncle Jonathan Hale and his heirs. In the home in which he first settled eh was long faithful. When his sons had grown to manly years, the new mansion was erected, which good and noble mothers honored, and ot whom the credit is mainly due for the good and honorable standing their sons and daughters are enjoying now. May their usefulness and honors increase as the yers of our good cousings go by.
Aug. Hammond“Bath Township,” The Akron Beacon Jounal (Akron, Ohio), 8 May 1897, page 6; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 26 July 2023).
Hot Springs, Ark, April 26, 1897