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


THE organization of this township occurred on the 4th day of June, 1837, by taking all of town nine south, ranges one and two east, and all of town ten south; ranges one and two east, excepting a strip one mile wide from the west side of towns nine and ten south, range one east, and embracing all the territory described from the “Harris line” on the north, to the”Fulton line” on the south. The house of Chesterfield Clemons was designated as the polling place of the township.

The boundaries established by this action of the commissioners remained undisturbed until March 6, 1838, when the whole of towns nine and ten south, range one east, was set off and erected into the township of Gorham. Then Chesterfield relinquished her jurisdistion to the territory so set off. Again, at a commissioners’ session held at the city of Maumee, June 5, 1843, the whole of town ten south, range two east, was taken from Chesterfield, and with other territory south, was organized into the township of Dover. The township of Chesterfield for several years thereafter exercised municipal control over the balance of the territory. But at some unknown date since the organization of Fulton county, the commissioners thereof struck off and set to Gorham the west half of fractional section 7, and the west half of section i8, lying west of Bean creek, leaving the present township of Chesterfield as it exists today. It is very nearly in the form of a square, bounded by straight lines, about six miles in length, east and west, and about five miles, north and south. The portion near the Tiffin river is exceedingly rich, and! is not surpassed in fertility by any land in the county. The soil of the township is largely “sand openings,” excepting a strip along the State line which seems to be of quite stiff clay of the lacustrine order. The Bean creek valley is chiefly “made” land and contains large deposits of soil left by the overflow which has continued for a long period of years. When drained, the land is exceedingly productive. In many places sand spurs from the openings reach down to a beach formation, leaving the creek upon its east side as a general rule. The sand lands of the township are as productive as the more level clays, and much easier to work. In the western part of the township it is, if anything, better than in the eastern part, where the surface is not as often filled with the low depression common to the openings, and called “prairie lands.”

The main water course for the streams of this township is upon its extreme western boundary, and is called Bean creek, to which the streamlets of the greater part of the township lead in a westerly direction and empty therein. The waters of the eastern part are discharged mainly into Ten Mile creek, which is formed in part from the waters of the township of Royalton and Amboy, and tend generally east. In the township of Chesterfield the streams are principally ditches or drains through the prairies so prominent in the openings of the township, and wherever there is any large area of sand deposits. All the waters of this township find their way to the Maumee Bay by two widely different outlets: Ten Mile creek, runfling directly east near the state line to the Maumee Bay, and the western waters through Bean creek, running in a southwesterly course to Defiance, into the Maumee river, and thence to the Maumee Bay, where they discharge into Lake Erie. The waters of the eastern part of the township flow over a very gentle slope in their long run for an outlet, as the eastern portion has but a slight inclination eastward toward Lake Erie, while the western part of the township has quite a marked inclination westward towards Bean creek, with a general, but a very slight dip southward. Chesterfield has an altitude of about two hundred and thirty-five feet above the water level of Lake Erie. There is no outcropping of rock, but a few glacial boulders in the township. The drift overlying the rock is from one hundred and sixty to one hundred and eighty feet in depth, the largest share of which is the Erie or blue clay.

The Detroit Southern railroad traverses about five miles of the central portion of the township, with a station known as Oak Shade. The Toledo & Western electric railway is also a “common carrier,” traversing the northeastern part of the township.

The township is fairly well supplied with well kept roads. In the early days, the territory of Chesterfield was a popular hunting ground, the heavy timber in portions of it affording excellent cover and favorite resorts for all the larger game found in the country. Even after the general settlement had progressed for some years, large game was plentiful and hunters were well rewarded for the time spent in their favorite sport. Heavy timber of the usual varieties found in. the county covered a good portion of the township, this being relieved only by small patches of prairie in the “openings.”

It is known that Chesterfield Clemons and his family were the first white settlers within the limits of Chesterfield township. They selected their home here, October 6, 1834. Mr. Clemons was a native of New York. being born in Ontario county, that State, in 1797, and in 1821 emigrated to Painesville, Ohio, from: whence he came to this county as stated. Animated by the true pioneer spirit, as he must have been, Chesterfield Clemons and family bravely penetrated into an almost undisturbed wilderness of what was then southern Lenawee county, and commenced to make a home for himself and family. His faithful and untiring industry, privations and hardships, were largely instrumental in converting a howling wilderness into a flourishing and enlightened community. Mr. Gemons came in the morning of life with his children and wife, possessed of little else than willing hands, stout hearts, and sincere and honest desires. This family endured trials and dangers, sorrows and tribulations, unknown to the later settlers, because they were alone in the wilderness with no thought save to grapple with their dangers and adversities. Chesterfield Clemons lived but a short time to see the fruits of his labor, or the wilderness blossom as a rose. He died at his home in Chesterfield township in the year 1842. The first election held in the township was ordered at the house of Chesterfield Clemons, and he was accorded the honor, which now stands as a monument to his memory, of having the new township’ named for him—Chesterfield.

One of the earliest settlers of Chesterfield township was Garner Willett, who is spoken of more at length in another chapter. His father-in-law, or rather the man who was destined to become such, Daniel Parsons, came to the township in 1834, and lived to prosper and spend his last days in ease. Definite information as to the date of settlement of many of the early pioneers is not obtainable, since early records of the township seem to have been imperfectly kept. The first school teacher in the township was Flavel Butler; Lyman L. Beebe built and operated the first mill. Mr. Beebe was born in West Bloomfield, Ontario county, New York, July 7, 1808, and was one of the pioneers of Fulton county, where he settled in 1840, and purchased six acres of wild land in section 27, Chesterfield township, at three dollars per acre. He built the first steam saw mill in the township, in 1844, and twelve years after built one in section thirteen. His first mill was located on what is known as the Crittenden farm, on the south side, and the second he conducted for a number of years and then abandoned it.

George P. Clark was born in Rhode Island, and settled in Chesterfield township in 1834. He located upon section twenty-three, but some years later he sold out and went to Michigan, where he died in 1872.

Alanson Briggs came to this township in 1834, and settled upon section five. He came from the State of New York, city of Utica. He kept a hotel for several years to accommodate the immigrants who were rapidly filling up the country, the building being located on the premises afterward owned by Elizur Clark. Mr. Briggs was a colonel of the State militia of Ohio, which at a later period held general muster at Aetna, in Pike township. Alanson Briggs died in 1879.

In the fall of 1836 a mail route was established and run from Toledo to Lima, Indiana, over the old territorial road, sometimes called the Vistula road, being the first mail service in the township. The distance was one hundred and ten miles and the mail was carried twice a week. There was but one postoffice between the terminal points, and after passing four miles west of Morenci, Michigan, the road laid through a continuous stretch of unbroken forest for thirty-three miles. John S. Butler, who is spoken of in the chapter on Early Settlements, was then a boy of about eleven years and carried the mail on horseback twice each week for a number of years.

The Butler family was quite prominent among the early settlers. Harlow Butler was born in West Bloomfield, Ontario county, New York, January 4, 1798. He was seized with the western fever in 1835, and on his way to Ohio in the time of the Toledo war, was taken prisoner, but was retained only a short time. He settled with his family in Chesterfield township in 1836, and planted a nursery with apple seeds, which his son, Derwin E., had washed out in Thoomfield, before leaving the old home. For sixty years the orchard thus started has been one of the best bearing ones in the township. The members of the Butler family were pioneers in the truest sense, as they were the fourth to settle in Chesterfield township. For a long time the family was dependent upon the rifle of the father and the eldest son, Derwin H. Harlow Butler was the first justice of the peace in the township, and the first and only school examiner under the old regime. In the latter capacity he issued the first forty-seven certificates to teachers, and as justice of the peace he held the first law-suit, which was Simmons vs. The State of Ohio, for settling on school land. The oldest son, Derwin H. Butler, was born in Cataraugus county, New York, May 28, 1822, and came with his parents to Chesterfield township in 1836. He was a machinist and music teacher and was a very useful man to the community. He died at his home in the township in the spring of 1886.

John B. Roos was born in Duchess county, New York, in 1791, and came to this township in 1836, settling upon section twenty-four, where Mr. Roos died in 1859. A son, John P. Roos, came with his parents to the township.

William Onweller was born in Maryland, May 29, 1811, and came to Fulton county in 1835, settling upon section twenty-three of Chesterfield township. He was a very industrious citizen and accumulated considerable property. He died March 20, 1864.

Samuel Stutesman came to the township in 1837 and settled upon section fourteen. Heman A. Canfleld came in 1838 and settled upon the farm afterwards owned by John S. Butler, on sections thirty-two and thirty-three. Jacob Boynton came in 1835 and bought of Chesterfield Clemons some thirty acres of land, which was afterwards owned and possessed by Elizur Clark. He afterward sold out and moved from the county.

Alfred C. Hough was born in Onondaga county, New York, and came to Chesterfield township in 1836, where he settled on section twenty-one. He held the office of auditor of Fulton county, serving with satisfaction to the people and credit to himself, and was the first school examiner, while the territory belonged to Lucas county. He was several times honored by the people of the township in an election to important positions.

James M. Hough was born in Onondaga county, New York, June 10, 1819, and came to the territory when a young man, settling upon section twenty-one, where he raised a fine family. He filled for a time the position of postmaster at Oak Shade and also township treasurer.

George W. Patterson was born in New Hampshire, and came with his family to this county in September, 1838, settling in Chesterfield township upon section thirty-one, where he lived many years. In 1849 he sold out and settled in Dover township, where he died in 1869.

Jeremiah Sheffield and his wife, Sarah, were married in Newburg, Orange county, New York, on October TO, 1838, and started the same month for Ohio, landing in Chesterfield, November 11, 1838, where, with the aid of John P. Roos and Charles Smith, they selected the land upon which they lived the remainder of their lives.

Nathaniel Parsons and family came to Chesterfield in February, 1835. At one time Mr. Parsons went to mill at Tecumseh, thirty miles away, and the mother divided what bread they had in the house among the children, and the family lived on fractional rations while he was gone.

James S. Dean, Sr., came to this township in October, 1838, from Chumung county, New York, and settled upon sections twenty-four and twenty-five. Nehemiah Cone came in 1835 and settled on section twenty-four. Gersham Livesay came in 1836 from Elmira, Chemung county, New York. David Lee came in 1837. He was the father of Peleg S. Lee, who became noted as a cheese manufacturer of Fulton county. David Lee lived upon his farm in Chesterfield township until his death in 1850.

In 1834, 1835, 1836 and up to 1840, many came to the township of Chesterfield that have not been heretofore named, who had much to do with improving the cotintry. Mention of some of these will be made, who have been particularly identified with the township. They were: Nathaniel Butler, Hiram Butler, Manley Hawley, Flavel Butler, Daniel Fausey, James Aldrich, Hyson Aldrich, Cicero H. Shaw, James M. Bates, George W. Roos, Thomas Welch, Isaac Stites, Benjamin Stites, William Stites, William Richards, Lothrop Briggs, who first settled what was afterward known as the Dean farm; James Livesay, Joel Briggs, son of Lothrop Briggs; Warren Beebe, George W. Kellogg, Azariah Shapley, Daniel F. Turner, Amaziah Turner, Philip Whitehead, Joseph Thorpe, father of Washington, Lewis and Jesse Thorpe, who became prominent farmers of the township; Samuel Ranger, who came in 1835; Elizur B. Clark, Mrs. Ama Welch, Gideon Clark, Marietta Turner, and Adaline Whaley. All of the last five named were children of George P. Clark and his wife, Elizabeth. Amaziah Turner came in 1835, settled on section sixteen, and died many years ago. George W. Bates was born in Livingston county, New York, April 4, 1825, and settled in Chesterfield township in 1842. He became quite prominent as a farmer and dairyman, and filled the position of township trustee for five years.

Elizur B. Clark was born in Orleans county, New York, January 16, 1826, and although young at the time of settlement, he was an early pioneer of Chesterfield township. The family settled in Fulton county in 1834, but afterward moved to Michigan, where the father, George P. Clark, died on September 13, 1872. Returning to Fulton county, H. B. Clark became a man of character and influence and filled several offices of trust in the township, being highly respected by his neighbors.

From 1840 until 1850 there came to this country and settled in Chesterfield, David Marks, who came from Ashland county, Ohio; William H. Pennington, from Somerset county, New Jersey, in 1847; Ephraim Pennington came with his son William. The father was a soldier of the Revolution, and died at his son’s residence, aged ninety years; Josiah Lee, in 1845, settled on section twenty-two; Peter Powers, and his wife, Julia A. (Kennedy) Powers, in 1849, on section nineteen; Harry L. Smith and his wife, Eunice; Charles Bowen in 1843; he came from Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and married in this county to Miss Julia A. Baldwin; William Lee and family, in 1846; they came from Gorham; William A. Williams/and his brother, Edward, in 1845; Ezra Mead and William E. Parmalee, in 1840; Thomas Cuff and Asahel Kennedy in 1840; John W. Bradley, James H. Turner, Jesse Thorpe, Washington Thorpe, Chauncey Bulkley, Asahel Scofield, John Moffett, Fletcher Bishop, Lewis A. Lee, Almon M. Lee, Charles McKenzie, Clarkson Warne, Lafayette Sherman, Peter Romans, Oliver Todd, Oliver Griffith, John H. Martin, Moses LaRue, Daniel Clock, Samuel Stout, William Holben, William Lee, James Martin, John Smith,’Isaac Jones, Peter Jones, Jackson Jones, I. Schoonover, Holloway H. Beatty, and his sons, Sidney S. Beatty and Whitfield Beatty, who came from Sussex county, New Jersey, in 1845. Eustice Leggett, John Stites, Samuel Gillis, who under the present constitution was honored as the first probate judge of the county. He died many years ago.

David Marks was born in Ashland county, Ohio, August 28, 1837, and came with his parents to Fulton county, eight years later. He belonged to Company H of the Third Ohio Cavalry, during the war of 1861-65, and served as General Wood’s body guard, dispatch carrier, etc., until discharged on account of illness in 1862. Afterwards he re-enlisted in the one hundred days’ service.

Josiah Lee, a pioneer farmer of Chesterfield. township, was born in Holmes county, Ohio, October i6, 1823. He moved to what was then Lucas county, in 1845, where he remained for over three years, when sickness in his family compelled him to return to Holmes county. In 1855 he moved to Fulton county and settled in Chesterfield township on section twenty-two, at which time he purchased 120 acres of land, a farm that he afterwards increased to 157 acres. He held different offices of trust in the township during a period of twenty years, among them being the office of assessor for three years.

Few postoffices, possibly not more than one or two, have ever been established in Chesterfield township. But the “star route” system of distribution has been superseded in recent years by the admirable system of rural free deliveries, and the need of country offices is no longer felt.

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