RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide
Ashtabula"--is the northeastern county of Ohio--and we here cross the
line which separates it from Lake. Its name is derived from that of the
river Ashtabula--which signifies in the Indian tongue, Fish River.
This county is the first settled on the Reserve, and the earliest in all Northern Ohio. It was on the 4th of July, 1796 just twenty years after the declaration of independence-that the first surveying party of the Western Reserve, landed at the mouth of Conneaut creek. The party numbered fifty-two persons, of whole two were women--Mrs. Stiles, and Mrs. Greene. In the party, was Moses Cleveland, from whom that city was named. They landed like the Pilgrims at Plymouth, on a new and wild shore, and theirs were the life and toils of the pioneers.
It was the 4th of July, and as it was the nation's birthday, as well as the birth of this settlement, they felt like celebrating this double event as best they could; and so, patriotically, though very simply, did they manifest their rejoicing. "Mustering their numbers," says Mr. Barr, "they sat theirs down on the eastward shore of the stream, now known as Conneaut, and dipping from the Lake the liquor in which they pledged their country-their goblets, some tin cups of no rare workmanship-with the ordnance accompaniment of two or three fowling pieces, discharging the required national salute, the first settlers of the Reserve spent their landing day as became the sons of the Pilgrim Fathers-as the advance pioneers of a population that has since made the then wilderness of Northern Ohio to blossom as the rose, and prove the homes of a people--remarkable for integrity, industry, and love of country."
The next day--5th of July--they erected a large log building, which served as a storehouse and dwelling.
GENEVA STATION, 46 miles from Cleveland. We are now winding through the agricultural townships of Ashtabula. This district is as distinguished, and deservedly so, for those products which are derived from pasturage and cattle, as any other in the United States.
We see but little of it from the cars; but we can readily see from the quality of the land, and the character of the woods, that pasture tillage is the proper culture for this region. The peculiar district for butter, cheese, and wool, is that immediately around us; comprising the counties of Ashtabula, Portage, and Trumbull. The quantities of these articles exported are enormous; exceeding all belief, if the statistics be not examined. From the port of Cincinnati, 270 miles southwest, 140,000 boxes of cheese are exported, most of which comes from these counties. At Cleveland, there arrives annually 2,000,000 pounds of butter; 1,000,000 pounds of cheese, and 1,200,000 pounds of wool-a large portion of which comes from this district. Indeed this whole quarter of the State is chiefly devoted to cattle and sheep; and furnishes a large part of the products of those animals exported.
In this pastoral state, the people, although very intelligent, live simple, quiet, sober lives--not led astray by the pleasures and dissipations of the city. Here, if any where, we may expect to find the country maiden described by Gay:
"What happiness the rural maid attends,
This picture is not a forced or unnatural one. Thousands of our farmers' daughters in these quiet rural districts, are brought up with this simplicity, innocence, and industry. Let us hope that in after times, these scenes and characters may not be despised in the pleasures of fashion and magnificence of wealth.
SAYBROOKE, 50 miles from Cleveland. We are still passing through the "rural districts." Saybrooke is doubtless named from old Saybrook, at the mouth of Connecticut River; and that was named from Lords Say and Brooke-two of the grantees under one of Charles the II's charters. Names are curious things. I could write an interesting chapter on names. There is a whole code of philosophy and morals, and withal, a most singular history connected with names. Some names are plain enough--such as the Smiths, who were undoubtedly named from their trade. Then comes a whole series of colors--such as Brown, White, Black, Blue, Orange, and all other kinds of color. Then there come compounds of these, which are quite curious. There is Mr. Red-ding, Mr. Red-head, Mr. Red-dish, Mr. Red-heifer, Mr. Red-dington, &c. Then there comes the whole list of sons--which are probably most numerous. Such as Mr. John-son, Mr. Robert-son, Mr. William-son, Mr. Smith-son, Mr. Brown-son, &c. But there are others, which defy all derivation, and evidently were given in fancy's freak. There is Mr. Pancake, Mr. Pepper, Mr. Wolfe, &c. These gentlemen have reason to speak ill of ancient dignities, and ancestral honors; for they evidently belong to the class who had no grandfathers. They are very worthy people, as I know; but they do not belong to the descendants of the feudal Barons. Well, it is no matter. Names are not much, any how. Of that truth, we have a signal example in the names of our colored brethren-who flourish as Caesar, Cato, and Pompey. What is fame? a breath in other's mouths. Where is Cato? Where is Pompey? Why, just no where. These colored persons are greater than they; for they have something yet vital about them.
But we must hurry on. We have been through London to-day, and to-morrow we must go through Rome, Palmyra, Venice, and Utica. What a revival of the ancients on these green fields of the moderns! But what of it? These towns will grow just as fast and be just as bright and important to this Republic, as if old Palmyra had never fallen into ruins; nor seven-hilled Rome ever declined. It is the youth of the Republic; and Nature, this green Nature, so rich and beautiful, is ever fair. Thus, when Byron had wandered through the ruins of Greece, he exclaimed:
Still in thy sun, Mendelis' marbles glare;
But what is a name? Let us hurry on, and catch up with Time, which has been flying ahead, while we were talking.