History of Amboy Township, OH
From: The History of Fulton County, Ohio
Thomas Mikesell, Editor
Published by: Norhtwestern Historical Association, 1905


AMBOY was one of the three townships formed in old Lucas county out of the territory known as the “disputed strip.” The date of its organization was June 4, 1837, a few months after that territory passed under the unquestioned control of the Buckeye State. Amboy is the northeastern corner township of Fulton county, and was originally six miles east and west, by seven north and south; but at the formation of Fuiton township, two tiers of sections were taken from the south side, and in 1846, another tier was detached and added to Fulton township, thus reducing the area of Amboy to about twentysix square miles. The surface of the country is somewhat varied, but the major portion of it is generally level, partaking somewhat of the character of the land in Pike and Fulton townships. The soil is referable entirely to the drift deposits, and would be classified as drift clays. The township is traversed from the southwest to the northeast, near the center, with a beach ridge of sand and gravel. This clay, with slight deposits of sand and gravel, covers the major portion of the territory, and is deposited with a flat and often a very level surface. This beach ridge, crossing nearly through the center of the township, has, with its branches, but a small area, yet it crosses many farms that would be otherwise destitute of sand, and it affords to the farms and the township a desirable variety. This beach of sand and gravel abruptly terminates about two miles south of Metamora, a small village near the northeast corner.

Amboy was originally covered with heavy timber, mostly of the hard wood varieties, as walnut, butternut, hickory, the various kinds of oak, beech, maple, yellow poplar, whitewood, white ash, elm, etc. These were abundant, while the buckeye, sycamore, wild cherry, iron wood and dog-wood were less generally distributed. The shrubs were the hazel, blackberry, huckleberry, Juneberrv, hackberry and spice. Most of the varieties of timber and shrubs are. still represented, though the best has long since found its way to the mills and markets, if not the pioneer “log heaps.”

The township was noted in early times for its abundance of wild animals, and was a favorite hunting ground for the Indians for many years after the cession of the land to the whites. By general consent, they were permitted to make annual visits, which they seemed to greatly enjoy. There were bears, panthers, wolves and wild-cats in great numbers, while deer and wild turkeys furnished the principal meat foods to the early settlers. The larger wild animals were of course for many years a source of annoyance and danger.

Amboy township was settled nearly as early as any of the townships in Fulton county. The first settler was undoubtedly Jared Hoadly, who entered his land in the month of July, 1833, and late in the fall of the same year moved to the township. It is found that in the early part of January, 1834, he built a cabin on his purchase, in section seven, and made his home there for many years, until later in life he removed to Michigan. He was a very prominent man with the first pioneers, and was very influential in all the affairs of the township. He was prosperous in all his business ventures and bore well the hardships incident to early life in a new country, his home being an asylum for the distressed and unfortunate. His outlet for trade was at Perrysburg, and occasionally at Adrian. Mr. Hoadly was an active man and performed his full share of labor in the developing of the township in its very primitive days, holding the plow to break the first piece of land, and building the first cabin of which there is any record.

Among the other settlers who came to this township in 1833 were Alvah Steadman, Aaron Steadman and David Steadman (the latter being the father of Alvah and Aaron), Frank O’Neil, Charles Blain, William Blain, John Roop, Joseph Roop and Alfred Gilson. The Blains were originally ‘from Lodi, near Syracuse, Onondaga county, New York, and they first made a halt at Toledo, at a very early day, from whence they came on foot across the country westward, and settled in Amboy, then, however, under the jurisdiction of Blissfield township in Michigan. Coming here in the fall of 1833, each of them raised large families, all of whom grew to man and womanhood and have since been respected citizens of Amboy township. Alvah Steadman is supposed to have been the second settler in the township, but possibly that honor will have to be divided with John and Joseph Roop, yet Oliver B. Verity is authority for the statement that the best informed of the old pioneers accorded that honor to Alvah Steadman. Frank O’Neil settled where Metamora is now located and built the first cabin in that part of the township, enjoying with his family alone the full fruits of a pioneer’s life and the honor of being ahead of the other settlers.

Following the settlements of 1833, there was a large accession to the population. In 1834, David Duncan from Onondaga county, New York; also John Blain and Jerry Duncan from the same place; Lorenzo Abbott, Seneca Corbin from New York; Park White and his son, David White, Jonathan Gilson, Clark Gilson, James Hallett, John Labounty, Samuel Purdy, Joseph Richey, Nathaniel Welch and Harry Welch. Park White was a native of Vermont. In the year 1835 there came Hiram Bartlett, who first emigrated from Cooperstown, Otsego county, New York, in 1826, and settled at Port Lawrence (now Toledo), and resided there nine years before coming to Aniboy township. Calvin Skinner, Cyrus Fisher, Horatio Stevens and Caleb Remilie came from Niagara county, New York. George Barnett, Chapman, Griswold and Koons, whose given names have not been ascertained, were also among the early settlers. Horatio Stevens settled upon section twenty-nine, afterwards owned by Stephen Haughton. Alfred Gilson settled on section nineteen. Samuel Keeler, father of Simon Keeler, who became a banker in Toledo, was among the settlers of 1835. Joseph Richey was also a settler of this period, and Marmaduke Bunting may also be placed as among this class, he being a very early settler. The Blains and Duncans were all from Lodi, first lock on the canal east of Syracuse, Onondaga county, New York. Lorenzo Abbott came through from Maumee with nothing but a pocket compass for his guide, found the land of his choice, entered the same and lived upon it until he sold it to Sullivan Johnson, in 1843.

The historian, Verity, in his article on the history of Amboy township, relates the following incident in the life of Hiram Bartlett, one of the early settlers there: “It seems that in early life he learned the hatter’s trade, and, on arriving at twenty-one years of age (as it was customary to have birthday parties), he had a party to commemorate the event. Rum was customary at the sideboard, and was drank freely by all members of society in those days. Having seen the iniquity of so free a use of rum and other strong drinks, he was resolved beforehand to total abstinence. On that day, to make strong the vow, he took a bottle, filled it with rum, corked and sealed the same, and then and there declared, before the company present, that he would never taste any alcoholic drinks during his future existence, unless to save his life, and not then until it was decided by a council of five doctors that it was necessary; if so decided that it was necessary, the bottle was to be opened and the prescription to be made therefrom.” Hiram Bartlett died in the fall of 1875, and the bottle remained unopened at his death, and so still remains.

Between 1836 and 1840, Job Duvall came and settled upon section nine, his former residence being in Erie county, New York. He became a highly respected citizen of Amboy township, and died there a number of years ago. Tunis Lewis, John Lewis and Charles Welch are found to be among the settlers of this period. John Richey settled on section seventeen, and William Irwin on section fourteen.

Charles C. Tiney was born in Washington county, New York, April 26, 1809, and settled in Fulton county, in 1838, on section thirty of Amboy township. His father was a sailor, first under John Paul Jones and second under Captain Simpson, serving in both the Revolution and the War of 1812.

Calvin H. Potter settled in Amboy township in 1842, and was one of the pioneers of Fulton county. He cut and bushed six miles of road, four rods wide, through heavy timber, and cleared up his farm of one hundred acres. He was born in Herkimer county, New York, August 2, 1822. Aside from his farming interests he conducted a general store at Metamora and also filled the position of justice of the peace. His father, Morey S. Potter, accompanied Calvin H. to Fulton county and lived here to an advanced age. He was a native of Rhode Island.

In 1843 came Sullivan Johnson, who was twice honored with an election to the office of sheriff of Fulton county. He was a very active man in all matters pertaining to the development of the township’s resources and was a leader in his political party.

Norman N. Tripp first visited Amboy in 1838. He was then a young man and remained but a short time; but nine years later he returned and became a permanent resident of Amboy township. He was a life-long Democrat and a man of much influence in the township and county. Hezekiah Culver, Caleb Satterly, Thomas Cahoe, and possibly others came prior to 1850.

Metamora is the only village in Amboy township. It is located north and east of the center of the township, and of course is in the northeastern part of the county. Jonathan Saunders was one of the original proprietors of the village. The town is pleasantly located on elevated and comparatively level ground. In 1835, there were but one or two small clearings in the forest, but each year thereafter new settlers were attracted to it. While Metamora had no phenomenal growth, its progress was steady and substantial. The population has been nearly stationary for the last twenty years, increase in that direction being retarded to some extent by the advent of railroads in near-by towns.

Culver, Compton & Company built the first grist mill in the township in 1845, and prior to that date the inhabitants of Amboy were compelled to take their grists in some instances to Tecumseh, Michigan, to be ground. Though expensive in construction, this early mill at Metamora relieved the settlers of a vast amount of labor and perplexity. The “pounding stone” and primitive mortar and pestle were relegated to the back yard, while the quality of the prepared material was much improved. That mill is still in existence, and, equipped with modern machinery, turns out an excellent grade of flour. The town boasts of an excellent school, in which the patrons take great interest, taught by excellent instructors.

The experiences of the early settlers were similar, regardless of locality, and, to some extent, without regard to wealth. Necessaries of life, as we of later generations class them, were not to be procured, by reason of the great distance to be traveled, and hazards encountered in reaching the older settlements. The forest supplied the meats, for the most part, as it did, also, the fruits and sugar. Coffee and tea were luxuries seldom used. This is mentioned to show the simple fare that satisfied the demands of the times. A dinner of corn bread alone, or of meat without bread, was a common repast. Often the corn was pounded on a stone, or in a mortar, and thus prepared for the cooking before the open fire-place, and no doubt there are those living today who remembered the relish with which they devoured grandmother’s “pone.” Potatoes were early raised, but had not become a household necessity as now. Maple sugar and syrup were among the oldtim.e luxuries easily obtained. The cabins usually had a “shake” roof, fastened on by weight poles, with a clay or puncheon floor and a door made of boards split from native timber, and fastened together with wooden pins, or, in the absence of this, a blanket hung in the opening; if a window was provided, the aperture was covered with greased paper instead of glass. The dimensions of the cabin were usually limited to the smallest size which would accommodate the family, the walls of rough logs, cracks “chinked” with split sticks or stones, and plastered with clay, with sometimes a little cut straw mixed in the “mortar” to prevent its falling out. The chimney was usually the most liberal arrangement on the premises, and often filled nearly the entire end of the cabin. It was generally built of split sticks liberally plastered with mud to prevent their taking fire from the heat of the tremendous “log-heap” beneath. In those days, there was no scarcity of fuel, as the timber had to be removed before the land could be cultivated, and the logs which could not be utilized in making rails, or constructing buildings, were rolled together in great heaps and consumed on the ground. With the advent of the saw mills and various other appliances for manufacturing lumber, as devised by the ingenious pioneers, the best of the timber was usually worked into lumber.

A “full-dress” suit in those days consisted of buckskins, over a flax shirt, and moccasins for the feet, the latter sometimes “reinforced” by a sole of stiff leather fastened on with buckskin thongs. These were all the product of home industry, even to the raising, heckling, scutching. spinning, weaving and making, of the flaxen garments.

The pioneer shoemaker, gunsmith and blacksmith were welcome adjuncts to the early settlements, as were, also, the back-woods school masters and preachers. The first schools were conducted on the subscription plan, and usually embraced only the rudiments of the "three R’s.” The “master” taught twenty-two days for a month, at a salary of about eight dollars per month, and “boarded around.” He was oftener selected because of his muscular development than on account of his scholastic attainments, though both were considered essential to complete success. The unruly boys of pioneer days were prone to mischief, and happy, indeed, was the schoolmaster who escaped “barring out,” for a treat, on holidays. Should the master arrive in the morning before a sufficient number of the belligerents reached the scene of hostilities, they would smoke him. out by placing boards over the chimney. The school “furniture” was in keeping with that which adorned the homes of the pupils, entirely home made, and of the variety created for utility rather than beauty. The desks were puncheons, or at best planks, resting on wooden pins driven into auger holes in the logs of the wall. These were bored at an angle of about thirty degrees. Fronting the desks were stationary seats made of slabs of puncheons, with flaring legs of wooden pins, and these were made high enough to accommodate the largest pupils, while the smaller ones sat with their feet dangling in mid-air. Usually there was no floor in the schoolhouse, and globes and outline maps were unknown to the pupils, and a mystery to the masters.

The “text books” comprised Dabol’s arithmetic and Webster’s elementary spelling book. These covered the curriculum of reading and spelling, mathematics, language and literature, history and science. The ancient “pot hooks,” more difficult to form than any letter in the alphabet, comprised the first lessons in writing, but were never heard of afterward. There was no system by which these characters were made, hence each “master” had a "systems" of his own. Sundry boxing of ears and other barbarous punishments often followed the pupil’s futile efforts at imitating these .useless hieroglyphics. And yet we must credit the pioneer schools with producing a class of plain and neat writers, a feature very noticeable, and often commented upon, in the reading of ancient documents. It is equally true that most of the students of those early days were excellent spellers, according to the rules then in vogue. But the primitive schools of pioneer days have long since been succeeded by the excellent school system so nicely provided for, in part at least, by the reservation of a portion of the public domain for that purpose.

For many years after the settlement of the township, religious exercises were conducted by the traveling ministers of various denominations, usually at private houses or in the schoolhouses of the township. There is one Methodist Episcopal church which was built in 1870, and the class there contains a large membership. There is also one United Brethren church which has a fair list of members. It was built in 1874. Amboy township, aside from these two church organizations in the village of Metamora, has one Catholic church, called St. Mary’s, built in 1864, upon section twenty-six, and connected therewith is a cemetery especially dedicated for Catholic burials. The Methodist Episcopal church, upon the town line between Amboy and Royalton, was built in 1867. It has a small number of worshipers, and has sustained itself under adverse circumstances. The Reformed Church of Zion was built by the German residents about 1870. This society and the church edifice is due to the labors of Peter Kohl, who for years was their resident minister. The church building was located on section nine.

Amboy is one of the most wealthy and prosperous townships in Fulton county. Agriculture being the principal industry, and in fact almost the exclusive occupation of the people, it has received careful and thoughtful attention, and the farmers are equipped for the varied branches of agricultural pursuits, including extensive stock raising and fruit growing. Early attention was given to the introduction of improved strains of domestic animals, and this has proved a scmrce of pleasure and profit. The well tilled farms, with their substantial residences of modern design, or the old and well built mansions of more ancient days, together with an occasional log house or unpretentious cabin, all evince the varying degrees of prosperity attained by their owners, and emphasize the fact that “there is no place like home.” The inhabitants are a class of intelligent, public-spirited people, who, in several instances, trace their lineage, with just pride, to the sounders of the great republic whose perpetuity they are ever ready to defend.

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