I was reading in an old “Firelands Pioneer” magazine from July 1878 about early settlers on the Marblehead Peninsula in the Northwest corner of Ohio. Life, death, typhoid, starvation all these and many more terrors awaited these pioneers. One wonders what kind of seven versions of hell they must have left behind to be willing to face Indians and all these other terrors on the frontier. These amazing tough souls withstood it all, In this particular issue (Firelands Pioneer magazine July 1878) there’s an article called “Early Settlers on the Peninsula”, it states that a Mr. S. M. Lockwood came to the Peninsula in the early summer of 1816 from Albany, New York. Now, mind you the year of 1816 was HORRIBLE weather wise. There was a killer frost every month and it became known as the year without a summer.
Lockwood came to Danbury Township and carved a home out of the wilderness for his family near Hartshorn Rd. I’ve looked at the old maps and Hartshorn Rd. is perhaps one of the oldest roads on the Peninsula. It at one time, lead from one side of the Peninsula to the other side. Hartshorn was the only one that led to a Dock on each end…at one end to the Lake Erie Islands dock and the other end to a dock on Sandusky Bay (what is now part of the intersecting Quarry Rd.) It was the center cross through road on the Peninsula. So anybody wanting to get themselves or stock off the Peninsula by boat after 1816 was liable to be passing the Lockwood Home. I like to think that it’s that big old white clapboard(with a tower) farmhouse that sits back from the road on a rise and looks like it has a little church next to it. Or at least that the original site of their cabin.
But what perseverance to come here first of all. It just amazes me. I have read repeatedly that years ago when the “Western Reserve”, was first settled people coming from the East ( largely Connecticut or Massachusetts) would end up waiting in Buffalo for the Lake to freeze (imagine waiting in Buffalo for winter, that’s the equivalent to waiting in hell for the flames to ignite!) and they would then proceed from Buffalo west over the frozen Lake in a sleigh. Kids, household goods, babies and all. Just streaming across that blizzard blown lake. Talk about guts. We come from some stubborn, strong and really crazy people. Anyway both the Lockwood and a number of other emigrant came to the wilds of the Marblehead Peninsula in Ohio this way. After all, the Indian Lands legally started at Lightner Rd., so as to avoid both the dangerous Lake Indian Trail, and physical difficulties of traveling overland, most that could opted for the water route. The early pioneers faced a land with no roads, and immense terrible solid Forests. At that time, nature was not their friend, those wilds held wild things, like panthers and bears and the Spector of being and remaining lost forever. If you want a sense of how Ohio really was in the old days read Conrad Richter’s “The Trees”, it puts you right there, it is fabulous.
So at the western edge of the Peninsula you had the Indian lands and the “Great Black Swamp”. While the other (eastern end) you had whatever horrors they had left that had driven them make this trip and left them here on the Peninsula fighting for their life both the ground and the seasons and the Indians and English with their back to the forest and the wildlife and insect populations. Life was pretty simple and damnably hard then. The standard diet was hardly little debbies and pepsi but daily meat (bear, hog, wild animal) and wild rice and corn if it could be had. The occasional seasonal fruits were however abundant here. So when the season hit there were three old growth orchards of Apples and peaches on the Peninsula, founded by the Natives, taken over by the French and finally the English and then the Americans, like everything else.
When we first moved out here in 1999, I was amazed at the insect and arachnoid life. Bugs and Spiders everywhere. Then I read how the Sandusky Bay area had been known even in Indian times for great fishing, hunting ectera…I should have realized, it’s a food chain. And where you have great wildlife amounts, you have great bug amounts. But I can not even ever imagine what the Pioneers must have faced when it came to bugs. Cripes, I can hardly bear it in the springtime now with all my sprays and bug guys coming and walking into webs. If that sleigh from Buffalo wasn’t enough, being wrapped into huge spider webs should have done it. God love those Pioneers, what strength.
For the Early settlers here from Connecticut or Massachusetts, the trip usually took about 40 days not unlike Christ in the desert, a pretty rough time. Nightly temptations from the devil to just turn around, our ancestors probably did nothing but kick themselves each night on the way out here. I’m sure the wives were pretty vocal about just how this had better be the last trip.