Berlin Township was originally named Eldridge, from one of its original proprietors, who owned about one half
of it. Mr. Eldridge is described as a "pleasant gentleman," but he fell into disrepute with his neighbors,
probably because of the hatred which the early settler felt for the land speculator. They willingly gave credence
to certain rumors that he had committed forgery in Connecticut to restore his credit, and were unwilling to perpetuate
his name. Mr. Eldridge not only lost the confidence of his neighbors, but was actually ruined by the burden of
taxation on his unimproved lands; improvements at that time being exempt from taxation.
In 1832 the name of the township was changed by the commissioners of Huron County, of which it was then a part.
It was just at the time of the Milan-Berlin treaty, and Noah Hill suggested that as there was a Milan, why not
have a Berlin.
As first surveyed, the township was five miles square, but was afterward enlarged by the addition of part of Vermilion,
giving it a frontage on the lake of about two miles and a half, which in those days of so much dependence upon
water transportation, was a matter of very great importance.
The surface is level (except where small valleys are formed by the streams) from the lake to the ridge, where it
rises from 50 to 100 feet, and then extends southward as level as before. It is believed by geologists that this
ridge represents what was once the shore line of the lake. It extends through the township from northeast to southeast,
and in one place, called the "pinnacle," the base of the bluff is 60 feet above the level of the lake,
and its slope presents three distinct terraces or shore lines, at heights of 100, 150 and 195 feet above the lake,
each indicating a period of subsidence.
Timber was abundant, and consisted of various kinds of oak, chestnut and white wood; of the latter, this township
has supplied more than any other in the firelands. The eastern part of the northern division was most heavily timbered.
The soil is generally sandy, the surface formation being almost exclusively of drift, and in places boulders, often
of large size, are thickly scattered, though the northern part is lower and has a clayey soil. There were four
marshes in the township, but these marsh lands are being reclaimed. Sandstone abounds, and half a dozen quarries
have been opened and worked at different times. From these large quantities have been shipped, and the home market
supplied with grindstones and material for building.
Salt licks extended parallel with the ridge, and were the general resort for deer. They came in large numbers and
wore a path that afterward separated the lands of Nathan Tuttle and Ezekiel Sayles. During the dry season the surface
of the licks is covered with an efflorescence of salt deposit that is very marked. In the early days, when salt
was expensive and difficult to procure, the settlers dug a pit, into which they sank a section of a hollow tree,
and took from this reservoir the water from which they made salt. One of these salt springs was considered so valuable
by its first proprietor, Fosdick, that for many years he refused to sell the adjacent land. Later, Prof. B. L.
Hill and others made explorations for it, but were unable to find it, the floods of spring having swept it away.
They found salt water, however, and proved the truth of the reports they had received from the early settlers.
Traces of the mound builders can be found in various places in the township. Mr. Henry Hoak, while excavating for
a cellar on his farm, in the western part, discovered some fragmentary skeletons. One of these, buried in the clay
sub soil, and therefore better preserved than those found in the sand, had a skull only nineteen inches in circumference,
which would almost indicate idiocy. The under jaw was extremely massive, the arms of unusual length and the height
less than four feet. Yet the individual evidently was not idiotic, as she had attained an extreme old age, which
the idiot savage cannot do. The mound at this place covers an eighth of an acre. The collection of Hudson Tuttle
contains a number of relics of this pre historic people.
In 1852 H. L. Hill plowed up a French hatchet near the roots of a large stump. The tree had been cut down over
twenty years before. It was very large and near the heart of the tree were two or three plain hacks as if made
by a hatchet. Outside of these hacks could be counted 219 rings, indicating the date that had elapsed since the
marks were made, and bringing the date to a time parallel with the coming of the French to settle Canada.
The first settlement was made in 1808 by a party of seven adventurers: John Hoak, John McLaughlin, George Miller,
Nathaniel Burdue, Benjamin Pratt, Richie and Howard. They launched a rude boat at the mouth of Walnut Creek, Pennsylvania,
loaded it with provisions, farming tools and thirty barrels of whiskey, and sailed up the lake in the spring. Meeting
rough weather they threw overboard the whiskey, and when the storm subsided cruised about and gathered it up again.
When they found the mouth of the Huron the sand bar kept them from getting ashore. and they were obliged to dig
a channel for their boat from the lake to the river. They selected a field of eighteen acres of land, afterwards
composing the Kline and Minuse Farm in Milan Township, and put in a corn crop. After planting their corn and hoeing
it they left it and returned for their families, leaving an Indian to guard it. It was not until the autumn that
they appeared again with their boat loaded with their goods, and their women and children on horse back, escorted
by John Hoak's father, Henry Hoak. He was the oldest of the pioneers, having been born in 1745, and remained here
until his death in his eighty eighth year.
The majority of this party deserted Huron on account of its overflows and settled in Berlin. They found here rich
soil and two creeks one called the Chapelle, the other "The Old Woman's Creek," because it was said a
squaw had drowned in it at an early date. It rises in Huron County and passes through the whole length of the central
portion of this township. It has a west branch, and the two branches have had at different times more than half
a dozen sawmills built along their course. The Chapelle empties into the lake in Vermilion. The strangers also
found an abundance of wild game, turkeys, deer and small animals, with a sprinkling of wolves and bears, sufficient
to keep them in a state of anxiety continually. Men who worked by night at that time did so to the music of the
wolves that barked on every side. A Mr. Freeman, who settled in the eastern part of the township, had noticed that
his hogs came to the house badly wounded, and one moonlight night he heard one of them squealing. He seized his
gun and ran to the rescue. A large bear was carrying off a good sized hog. The hog was dead, and in attempting
to carry it over a log the bear had stood upon the log and was there shot. Its meat was divided among all the settlers
and was enjoyed as a rare treat, being the first of the kind they had ever tasted.
A thrilling wolf story is told of a boy named Jacob Simpson, who was left alone at the house of Mr. Fitzgerald.
The boy had nothing to read, and no company but a dog, so, as the evening was pleasant he went out of doors and
sat on a log, howling to imitate a wolf. The dog joined in the concert, and his voice was even more shrill than
the boy's. It was but a short time before they heard a reply from a genuine wolf, and as they came near the house
the boy ran in and tried to coax the dog to go with him. It was worse than vain; the dog would not stir, and the
pack of wolves surrounded the house and attacked the dog. This made the dog willing to join his master and came
to the door to be let in, and so closely was he followed by the wolves that as Simpson opened the door to let him
in he nearly caught a wolf at the same time. He fastened the door and piled fire wood against it to keep them out,
and succeeded in doing so. The dog wanted to get out again, but he dared not let him go among them, and they remained
around the house a long time trying to get in.
The first town meeting was held at Thompson's Mill on the 1st of April, 1817. The settlers concluded that the township
needed a government, and they did not wait for the state to supply it, but organized themselves. Thirteen pioneers,
dressed in patched and mended buckskin, with coon skin caps and fawn skin vests, met and elected each other, each
man to an office, and some had two. The following is the list of officers: Trustees, John McLaughlin, Samuel Reed
and John Thompson; clerk, Henry Brady; treasurer, John Hoak; constable, Daniel Butler; lister and appraiser, Lybeus
Storrs; path masters, Christopher Brumbacker and Thomas Starr; fence viewers, John Hoak, Samuel Reed; poor masters,
Heironymus Mingus and Christopher Brumbacker. The first act of authority on the part of the new government was
the ordering of a certain Rachael Taylor to "depart the township of Eldridge." Whether she went or where
in the wilderness she was expected to go is not stated.
One of the first houses was built by John Hoak in 1910, near the western line of the township. There were only
four white men present to lift the heavy logs, but Silas David, an Indian chief, who was a frequent visitor to
the whites, brought his friends to the "raising." He would not allow his followers to taste the liquor
provided until the work was done, when they drank to their heart's content. One of them became so drunk that the
others built a pen of rails around him and covered him up, leaving him till the next day.
The first white settler was either John Dunbar or a man named Tillison, who may have preceded him. Mr. Dunbar came
from New York State in 1809, cleared his land and built a house, and was joined by his brother Isaac who afterwards
built himself a house near the center of the township. In 1810 Perry and Thomas Starr came from Connecticut to
Cleveland in a one horse wagan. Thomas Starr was a blacksmith by trade and used to follow the business of ironing
vessels for the lake. He did the iron work for the first decked vessel built this side of Erie, Pennsylvania. It
was owned by Captain Austin, of Vermilion. On his trips to Cleveland to do the iron work on the vessels Mr. Starr
used to carry torches to light the way and to drive off the wolves that howled about the path. He had eight children,
of whom his eldest son, William Eldridge, is said to have been the first male child born in the township.
The Starr brothers built a mill on land afterward owned by L. H. Hill, and in the fall of the same year, 1810,
built a house on the farm afterward owned by J. S. Lowry. A snow fell the night before the raising and it was feared
the neighbors would not come as they lived for several miles in every direction; but early in the morning "old
Mr. Burdue" was on hand with a jug of whiskey. When the building was up the whiskey was disposed of, as was
customary with the pioneers. In this building the brothers kept bachelor's hall for a time. Thomas served as a
militiaman in the War of 1812, from which he returned, and in February, 1814, married Clementina Clark, of Florence,
and moved to the center of the township.
Soft water was very scarce, and it is told of Nathaniel Burdue, "Old Mr. Burdue," that while living on
the Huron River, he set out one Sunday with a piece of soap in his pocket and said he would travel until he found
a spring of soft water, and there he would locate. In the afternoon he found a beautiful spring and decided to
remain there. His orchard was the first in this section to bear, and a schoolhouse being built near his apple trees
the old man's life was made miserable by 'the depredations of the boys.
The first physician was Dr. George G. Baker, who came from Connecticut in 1822. He did not remain long, but
moved to Florence Township, where he remained for many years, and then moved to Norwalk. His practice was large,
extending far beyond the firelands, because of his unusual success in treating malarial fever, a disease common
in new countries.
In 1811 occurred the first birth and the first death in the township. The birth was that of a daughter of Lazarus
Young who afterwards became Mrs. Millerman. The death was a horrible tragedy. The wife of John Dunbar had been
left insane by a fever, and one day threw herself into the fire. Her screams brought Mr. Dunbar to the house, and
he pulled her from the fire and laid her on the bed. He could not leave her, and all that day he shouted for help;
but not until near night was there a passerby to assist him. She died that evening, and there was no minister within
reach to attend the funeral.
One of the hardships of the pioneers was the lack of mills to grind their corn and wheat. The first mill was built
by the Starr brothers and Mr. Seymour for the proprietors, Eldridge, Fosdick and Miner. Previous to this the nearest
mill was on the River Raisin, and there the settlers had to take their grist by boat, which was exceedingly dangerous.
One of these milling expeditions stopped for the night at one of the Sister Islands. A high wind tore their boat
loose and it drifted out into the lake. It was a terrible prospect, marooned in the middle of the lake and their
grist lost; but the wind changed and their boat drifted back to them again, and they went on their way rejoicing.
This first mill, soon after its completion, was purchased by John Thompson. In those days the forests held the
water, and by means of a dam sufficient flow was secured to run the mill nine months in the year.
The first postmaster was Jeduthan Cobb, in 1820. The mail was then carried on horseback from Cleveland to Lower
Sandusky, now Fremont, by Robert Wolverton. He afterward ran a sort of coach or hack, carrying the mail and passengers.
After the first hotel, or "tavern," was built by Mr. Walker, on his farm, a Mr. Beebe secured the contract
for carrying the mail. He ran a line of stages through on the telegraph road, and the passing of these ponderous
vehicles was quite an event in the monotonous life of those days.
The first school in the township was taught during the winter of 1811-12, in a house on what was then the Fitzgerald
farm. This school was suspended on account of the war, many of the settlers leaving and returning east. The feeling
of insecurity was so great that in 1814 there were only four families left.
The second schoolhouse was built of logs covered with "shake," on the farm of Daniel Butler, in 1815,
and the school was first kept by Sophia Case.
The third schoolhouse was built near "old man Burdue's" spring, in 1818. It was 16 by 20 feet, and the
logs were of all sizes and lengths, some running far beyond the others. The roof was covered with "shake,"
held down by heavy poles. The floor was made of logs split through the middle, with seats to match, without any
backs. Writing desks were of split slabs, supported by pins driven into the log walls. There were three windows
with greased newspapers for glass. One entire end of the building was occupied by the fire place, which could burn
logs of all sizes. There was not a board or nail in the house. The school here was opened by Thomas Stevens, who
received $10 a month, paid in farm produce or work. In 1874 the Central District erected a building at a cost of
$13,000. This is a graded school, and for many years was under the care of Mr. Job Fish, who taught the higher
The first religious organization in Berlin Township was the Methodist class, which met in private residences even
previous to 1812. This denomination, however, did not have a house of worship until 1837, when a chapel was built
in the eastern part of the township. Another chapel was built in the western part in 1850, but was afterward sold
for a schoolhouse. In 1870 a brick church was built at the Heights. The church has grown steadily from those early
class meetings, until it has become a permanent and flourishing institution.
The names of some of the pioneer Methodist preachers who were occasionally heard in Berlin in the early days are,
Nathan Smith, Mr. Westlich, Dennis Goddard, Mr. Walker and William Pattee. At one of the early class meetings the
following resolution was adopted:
"Whereas, our lots, by Divine Providence, are cast in this wilderness land, where we are destitute of the
preached word, destitute of an able shepherd to take us by the hand, and believing it to be our duty, as professed
followers of Christ; and also feeling it to be our desire, and esteeming it to be our highest privilege on earth
to do all we can to the declarative glory of God and the advancement of the Redeemer's cause in the world, and
the good of souls; and believing it will most conduce to this glorious end to form ourselves into a conference
state, in brotherly compact, and thereby mutually strive to maintain the glory of God, keep the Christian Sabbath,
watch over one another in love, and be help to each other in our pilgrimage journey, and finding ourselves to be
in union sentiments, we, therefore, do hereby this day agree to unite in brotherly compact in the best of bonds,
for the purpose above named. March 4, 1818."
Signed by Joshua Phillips, Robert Wolverton, P. G. Smith, Levi Fuller, Fanny Smith, Rebecca Smith, Luther Harris.
The first person who was known to have "experienced" religion was Lazarus Young, whose life has a record
of consistency among trials that would test a man's mettle. The pioneers who came from New York, Pennsylvania and
New England brought with them staunch religious convictions that were in no danger of dying out. In October, 1819,
some of these devout people met in Florence at the residence of P. Starr, and with others of that township were
organized by Elder Warner Goodale, into the Baptist Church of Berlin. They held their meetings at private residences
in Berlin and Florence, with occasional preaching from Elders French, Hartwell, Hanks, Tucker, Abbott, Rigdon and
Elder Call was the first settled minister in the township, and, in fact, between Cleveland and the "Indian
Land." He settled on a farm in 1820, on lot 7, range 5. Here he resided until he died in 1860, at the age
The Baptist Church was really founded and sustained by Elder Joshua Phillips, whose name was first to be signed
to the articles of agreement. He was dismissed at his own request in 1833, and the same year Elder Algood was secured
to preach half the time. In 1837 Elder Wood preached in the same way, and in 1838 Elder P. Latimer was secured.
He became a settled minister in 1839. In 1840 H. C. Sylvester took Latimer's place, and was succeeded in 1842 by
Elder Warren. During his ministry he engaged the services of a celebrated revivalist, Elder Weaver, and the entire
township was stirred as never before. In 1844 Elder Blake was called to be pastor, and that year the first Sunday
school was organized. Blake was succeeded in 1845 by Elders Storrs and Bloomer, and in 1847 by Henderson; he in
turn, in 1848, by Wilder, and he by Willoughby in 1851. During his ministry the slavery question agitated the church,
and by a vote of seventeen to two it declared that no slave holder should receive the hand of fellowship.
The Congregational Church was organized in 1823 by Rev. A. H. Betts and S. B. Sullivan, with nine members. Mr.
Betts preached occasionally until 1829. At this time they secured the services of Everton Judson to preach one
third of the time for two years. After that E. Barber preached a year, followed by Joseph Crawford two years, who,
in turn, was succeeded by J. C. Sherwin in 1840, who remained until 1851. He was eminently successful, and very
much beloved by his congregation and the entire community. He was succeeded for a short time by James Scott. G.
C. Judson followed him in 1852 and remained one year. In 1853 John Parlin came, and in 1854 was succeeded by F.
A. Demming, who remained three years. He was followed by E. M. Cravath, who remained until 1863, when he entered
the army as chaplain. In 1864 T. B. Penfield filled the pulpit, followed by George Candee, from 1865 to 1869. Sidney
Bryant remained a few months and was followed by a year's pastorate of J. C. Thompson. He was succeeded by Henry
Brown, whose ministry was very short. In 1871 Levi Loring accepted the call and remained until 1874. A. D. Hall
followed him and left in 1878, to go to Japan as a missionary. N. S. Wright became stated supply at that time,
and was followed by Abner A. Pipes, who became stated supply until 1883. Then William Jones succeeded as a licentiate,
and afterward became settled as pastor and remained until 1886, when J. J. Rice took charge of the church.
Quarrying was begun by Joshua Phillips on land afterward owned by J. M. Stahl. He had sold the land to Eldridge,
but desiring to build himself a house, he reserved the use of the stone for a year. Elder Phillips, with an eye
to business, secured a large number of teams and employed the hours of that year in getting out all the stone that
he possibly could. As a result, he had not only enough for his own use, but was enabled to supply the general demand.
Even then no one knew that the ledge of sandstone, which crops out on the northeast of the Heights, was one of
the most valuable in the state. George A. Baillie was the first to make this known.
It was not an easy thing to do, for more than twenty feet of strip pings had to be cleared away before the desired
quality of stone could be secured. There was a fine gravel bed near by, and because of this the Lake Shore Railroad
was willing to extend a branch road into the heart of the quarry. The stone is of superior quality and seemingly
inexhaustible. The strata lie from six inches to eight feet in thickness. General Gilmore made a test of it and
thought it would bear a crushing force of 14,250 per square inch, and a well known architect, E. E. Myers, says,
"He regards it as one of the best sand stones he has ever seen or used." It is apparently unaffected
by changes of temperature, by acids or age. There were 400 carloads shipped in one year (1878), mostly to New York.
There is also another quarry seemingly as inexhaustible. Grindstones were formerly manufactured, but the business
As soon as their cabins were built and their lands cleared for a crop the early pioneers began to set out orchards,
even while the forest trees were still standing. No apples could be obtained nearer than Canada, which then seemed
much further distant than now. The first fruit trees were brought from there in 1812 by John Hoak and Mr. Fleming,
of Huron, who went across the lake and returned with a boatload of trees. Some of these were still growing as late
as 1889. There were also three pear trees that were immense specimens of their kind, one of them measuring seventy
feet in height and eighty seven inches in circumference. Their average yield was from thirty to fifty bushels each.
This was the beginning of an industry that has since made Berlin famous, and no township can compete with it in
the amount of fruit raised.
Dairying was not profitable in the early years, but after the establishment of a creamery by Melvin Stone in 1877
a new impetus was given to this business. More than 250 cows were soon devoted to its supply. A finer quality of
butter was made at a much lower cost, yet bringing a higher price. The secret of the success of this plant was
a stream of cold water, of even temperature, which furnished cooling facilities. By 1878 the patronage of the creamery
had increased to 340 cows, an increase of 90, marking the permanent success of the business.
The Berlin box factory was started in 1865. At first it was connected with the sorghum business, which began about
the same time. In the year 1864, 10,000 gallons of syrup were made and the business continued until 1866. In addition
to making boxes, barrels for shipping apples were also made, and in one year 6,000 were sent out. Two years later
the box business had so increased that all other interests were closed out. The owners continually added to their
buildings and increased their operations until 100,000 feet of lumber were required annually. This furnishes steady
work to twenty five or thirty employes. Much of the success is due to the mechanical ability and enterprise of
its first manager, Samuel Patterson. As fruit interests increase, this business must continue to grow.
Free Love Community
Berlin Heights became widely known at one time on account of a small free love community planted there. Only
one citizen of the township became identified with this movement, the others coming from remote states. It was
some time after the first gathering before a colony was established. Their peculiar tenets were taught and disseminated
until 1860, when Point Hope Community was established upon a communistic basis, with about twenty members. It lasted
about twelve months. A second organization, called the Industrial Fraternity, commenced in 1860, with twenty members,
lived about six months. The third, the Berlin Community, or Christian Republic, commenced in 1865, had twelve adults
and six children and lived about one year. Mr. Hudson Tuttle, Berlin's well known author, in writing of these people,
"So far as testing communism, the affair was a perfect failure. The drifting to this section of so many individuals,
who, to use their own phrase, were 'intensely individualized,' and who remained after the complete failure of their
schemes, has had an influence on the character of the town. They engaged in fruit growing, have multiplied the
small farms, and added to the prosperity and intellectual life of the people," etc.
He then alludes to a sketch of this community in Johnson's Encyclopedia, in which it is spoken of as a society
of Spiritualists, which Mr. Tuttle says is false, because many of the bitterest opponents the community had were
Spiritualists. A part of the number were Atheists, some were believers in different creeds, and some were Spiritualists.
There was little toleration shown the newcomers, and at one time, when Francis Barry attempted to mail an issue
of the Age of Freedom, twenty Berlin women seized the mail sack in which he had brought it on his shoulder to the
office and burned it in the street.
Several papers were started by the communists and had a brief career. The Social Revolutionist, in 1857, by
J. S. Patterson; Age of Freedom, 1858; Good Time Coming, 1859; the New Republic, 1862; the Optimist and Kingdom
of Heaven, 1869; the Principia or Personality, 1868; the New Campaign, 1871; the Toledo Sun, moved from Toledo
to Berlin Heights in 1875, by John A. Laut.
Besides these, two local newspapers were started, but were unsuccessful: The Bulletin, by W. B. Harrison, commenced
in 1870; and the Index, by F. J. Miles, commenced in 1875.
The Register of March 14, 1870, quotes the following description of the Free Love Community which existed in Berlin
Township in 1858.
"The first attempt at founding a colony was made in 1864, but it was not altogether successful. The fact that
some of the experimenters were not prepared for the free love theories urged by Frank Barry, and his immediate
circle of friends was considered a sufficient reason for not entering upon anything of a practical sort till further
agitation should develop all parties concerned to the proper point. The staid substantial orthodox citizens of
Berlin Heights and surrounding country regarded with considerable alarm the advent in their midst of a class of
people so shameless as to oppose the sacred institution of marriage and carry into practical operation the doctrine
of Free Love. While the Free Lovers were intent on carrying out their principles, holding meetings and conventions,
receiving and entertaining large numbers of visitors from all parts of the country, dancing on Sunday in the ball
room of the hotel within hearing of the most popular church, walking out together and making other manifestations
without asking leave of the priest or the county clerk while these irregularities and immoralities were being practiced,
and most worst was surmised, the leading citizens were organizing an opposition. As the Free Lovers could not get
into the papers as advocates of their doctrine they seemed to conclude that it was better to be kicked than not
noticed at all; so they and their friends in other places wrote sensational articles for publication in ridicule
and denunciation of themselves, evidently delighted to be able to get so much gratuitous advertising. A single
confederate who belonged to the reportorial staff of the New York Tribune succeeded in getting column after column
into that journal and the Herald, in which he shrewdly mingled some of the most ably expressed sentiments of Free
Love with ostensibly adverse criticisms. In the meantime an indignation meting was called at the Presbyterian Church
in Berlin Heights which was largely attended by the morality loving people of that section of the country. But
Satan came also in the shape of a score of Free Lovers, some of whom were better speakers than any in the ranks
of the opposition and the indignation meeting amounted to little more than a three hours' discussion of Free Love.
This result rather delighted the Free Lovers, as they had everything to gain and nothing to lose. The friends of
good order then resorted to the law. A car load of Free Lovers of both sexes and every variety of temperament were
captured and taken to Sandusky and arraigned before the Mayor on the charge of having violated certain statutes
for the protection of good morals. Frank Barry was relied on as the most important witness, for he was believed
to be fanatically honest, and he was supposed to be perfectly familiar with all the inside manifestations of the
movement. It was discovered, however, that the offenders had a way of not knowing any• thing about each other's
doings, and the whole week was spent trying to convict some of them of overt acts committed contrary to law. At
length the prosecution was abandoned, the Free Lovers coming off first best, having had a week's board and comfortable
lodging at a good hotel without expense to themselves. One day as Frank Barry was driving toward the Post Office
with several bushels of Free Love documents for the mail, dreaming of no harm, but rather of the good time coming,
when Free Love should be the universal inheritance of the children of the earth, he was assailed by a score of
men and women with straw shavings and matches at hand who made short work of subduing the apostle of the New Faith.
The Free Love question was made an issue at the next township election. The opponents controlled the regular caucus,
and nominated for office, men in favor of expelling the Free Lovers. The friends of toleration bolted the regular
ticket and nominated a new one pledged to protect the Free Lovers so long as they could not be proved guilty of
violating any law. The Free Love ticket as it was called was elected by a considerable majority.
"It is to be understood that the Berlin socialists are of the independent sort, never having patterned after
any of the great lights such as Fourier, Owen, Noyes, or Ann Lee, and live not on the communistic plan but each
on his own hook. They are scattered over a territory a mile or so in extent, including one side of the village
of Berlin Heights and thence extending out on small fruit farms. At the period referred to the summer of 1858,
a small group of the faithful occupied a place nearly a mile away from most of their brethren. Whether they were
to conceal their real mode of life or were really more gross or sensual the writer cannot determine from the data
furnished him, but it is certainly true that they had a secluded and lovely bathing place on their small domain
where members of the group of opposite sex and compensative temperaments were accustomed to retire in the heat
of the day to give practical demonstration that Eden innocence had come to earth again. All that sort of thing
might have continued at least through the summer months up to this date, had not one of the neighbors chanced to
go that way one day looking for his lost cow. This disturber of Eden No. 2 instead of following in the footsteps
of his illustrious predecessor and trying his arts upon the Eves of the locality, whispered abroad an account of
what he had seen. So wild and secluded was the spot that those who in bliss and beauty disported in the water were
all unconscious of the approach of any serpents to mar their peace. It was generally thought that those took especial
pains to see what they regarded as impure were more reprehensible than the actors themselves; still the performance
of the fathers was regarded with unmitigated disgust. Many of the Free Lovers themselves were indignant on account
of the disgraceful proceedings. Since that time they have encountered very little opposition. They are remarkably
frugal and industrious, having developed the fruit growing qualities of the ground occupied by them to a marvellous
extent. A disposition to deal fairly in matters of business is one of their principal characteristics. Their characters
are unimpeachable except in so far as they are given to Free Love and they don't force that on anybody. Those of
them who yet remain in Berlin (about 50 men and as many women) seem more devoted to secular pursuits than to a
dissemination of their peculiar doctrine."
Artemus Ward thus described his visit to the community:
"Some years ago I pitched my tent and enfurled my banner to the breeze, in Berlin Hites, Ohio. I had heard
that Berlin Hites was ockepied by a extensive seek called Free Lovers, who beleeved in affinertys and sich, goin
back on their domestic ties without no hesitation whatsomever. They was likewise spirit rappers and high presher
reformers on gineral principles. If I can improve these ere misguided peple by showin them my onparraled show at
the usual low price of admitants, methunk, I shell not have lived in vane. But bitterly did I cuss the day I ever
sot foot in the retchid place. I sot up my tent in a field near the Love Cure, as the called it, and bimeby the
free lovers begun to congregate around the door. A ornerer set I have never sawn. The men's faces was all covered
with haire and they lookt half starved to deth. They didn't wear no weskuts for the purpose (as they sed) of allowin
the free air of hevun to blow onto their boozums. Their pockets was filled with tracks and pamplits and they was
barefooted. They seid the Postles didn't wear boots & why should they? That was their stile of argyment. The
wimmen was wuss than the men. They wore trowsis, short gownds, straw hats with green ribbins, and all carried blue
"Presently a perfeckly orful lookin female presented herself at the door. Her gowned was skanderlusly short
and her trowsis was shameful to behold. She eyed me over very sharp, and then startin back she sed, in a wild voice:
" 'Oh, can it be ?'
" `Which?' sed I.
" 'Yes, 'tis troo, O 'tis troo!'
" '15 cents, marm,' I ansered.
" She bust out a cryin and sed;
" 'And so I have found you at larst-at larst, O at larst!'
" 'Yes' I ansered, 'you have found me at larst, and you would hay found me at fust, if you had cum sooner.'
"She grabed me vilently by the coat collar, and brandishin her embreller wildly round, exclaimed:
" 'Air you a man ?'
"Sez I, 'I think I air, but if you doubt it, you can address Mrs. A Ward, Baldinsville, Injinanny, postage
pade, & she will probly giv you the desired informashun.'
" 'Then thou ist what the cold world calls marrid ?'
" 'Madam, I istest.'
" The exsentric female then clutched me franticly by the arm and hollered:
" 'You air mine, 0 you air mine!'
" 'Scacely' I sed, endeverin to git loose from her. But she clung to me and sed:
" 'You air my affinerty!'
" 'What upon arth is that ?' I shouted."
" 'Dost thou not know ?'
" 'No, I dostent!'
" 'Listing man & I'll tell ye!' sed the strange female; 'for years I hay yearned for thee. I knowed thou
wast in the world, sumwhares, tho I didn't know whare. My hart sed he would cum and I took courage. He has cum
- he's here - you air him - you air my Affinerty! 0 'tis too mutch! too mutch! and she sobbed agin.
" 'Yes,' I ansered, 'I think it is a darn site too mutch!'
" 'Hest thou not yearned for me ?' she yelled, ringin her hands like a female play actor.
" 'Not a yearn!' I bellerd at the top of my voice, throwin her away from me.
"The free lovers who was standin round absarvin the scene commenst for to holler 'shame' beast' etsettery,
"I was very much riled, and fortifyin myself with a spare tent stake, I addrest them as follers; 'You pussylanermus
critters, go way from me and take this retchid woman with you. I'm a lawabidin man, and beleeve in good, old fashioned
institutions. I am marrid & my orfsprings resemble me if I am a showman! I think your Affinerty bizniss is
cussed noncents, besides bein outrajusly wisked. Why don't you behave desunt like other folks ? Go to work and
earn a honist livin and not stay round here in this lazy, shiftless way, pizenin the moral atmosphere with your
pestifrous ideas! You wimin folks go back to your lawful husbands if you've got any, and take orf them skanderlous
gownds and trowsis, and dress respectful like other wimin. You men folks, cut orf them pirattercal whiskers, burn
up them infurnel pamplits, put sum weskuts on, go to work choppin wood, splittin fence rales, or tillin the sile.'
I pored 4th my indignashun in this way til I got out of breth, when I stopt. I shant go to Berlin Hites again,
not if I live to be as old as Methooseler."
The Register of Sunday, November 20th, 1921 contained the following article, by Job Fish, the only man now alive
familiar with the Free Love community when in operation and now ninety five years old:
Artemus Ward, noted traveler, author, lecturer and humorist of more than half a century ago, was responsible to
a great extent, for the bad name that the so called "Free Love Colony" for which the village of Berlin
Heights, twenty two miles east of Sandusky, bore in its day, according to Job Fish, pioneer teacher, whose paper,
"The Free Love Community," was one of the features of the quarterly meeting of the Firelands Historical
Society here yesterday.
"And yet," said Fish, who has been a resident of the rural regions outlying Berlin Heights during all
of his years, "Artemus Ward was never in Berlin Heights."
"He sent word to the writer of this article that he was coming, but he never came," he continues.
Fish regarded the community idea rather approvingly.
"In the Fifties," he said, "Berlin Heights counted among its citizens a man of marked individuality;
by nature a non conformist, and a reformer along many lines. He wrote for various reform papers and magazines.
One of the progressive ideas advocated by him was that neither church nor state increases the sacredness of the
marriage tie, and that society would advance a step if such ceremony should fall into disuse.
"As a result, probably, of these writings, a number of persons - perhaps a dozen all told who were, like
the reformer, thinkers and dreamers, came to Berlin Heights about 1857. Some of them were single; some married.
They came from various parts of the country. They settled in Berlin Heights and became what was popularly known
for a few years, as 'The Free Love Community.'
"Some of the women of the community wore what we now term bloomers, but this custom was not, of course, peculiar
to the community.
"The ideas of the community were, from the start, misunderstood by many outsiders, and members became the
objects of and persecution. As a result of this a certain Cleveland paper printed slanderous exaggerations regarding
the principles and practice of the members. These exaggerations were widely quoted by other papers, and furnished
the basis of Artemus Ward's sarcastic sketch: 'The Free Lovers of Berlin Heights,' which appears in his book. "The
notoriety thus given to the town further incensed its citizens against the community. An indignation meeting was
held in one of the churches, at which several irate speakers advocated driving the 'Free Lovers' out of town.
"But a disinterested spectator at the meeting suggested that, as advocates of law and order, they make legal
complaint if there were in the community, any practices which overstepped the law; and that they recognize that
such practices of the community as were not against the law, were none of the business of the citizens at large.
This little speech put an end to all agitation against the community.
As a matter of fact the members of the community, though dreamers, were conspicuous for intelligence, industry
and good citizenship. They were men who read and thought and gave consideration to the possible improvement of
the present state of society. In their hands the waste places of the town became its garden spots. They were the
pioneers in various industrial enterprises. They were quiet and law abiding, and not least among their virtues
was their capacity for thinking well of others and minding their own business. Gradually Gained Respect
"As might have been expected the resentment against the community generally changed into respect for the members
of it, and, in a short time some of the private libraries of the community members were obligingly supplying the
writings of Herbert Spencer and other philosophers, to outsiders who, at first, were most offended.
"The peculiar ideas which at first bound the community together, were gradually forsaken, and such peculiar
customs as they had were abandoned.
"Thus, in a few years, there was nothing to distinguish the former members of the community, except the fast
fading fact that once they had been called free lovers."
The habits and circumstances of the pioneers were not conducive to temperance, yet before the middle of the nineteenth
century the Sons of Temperance were organized, and failed, it is said, because they excluded women from membership.
Mr. S. 0. Kellogg then conceived the idea of a temperance society in which the sexes should be equal. As the result
of his thinking the Ark of Temperance was founded, and was successful for many years. The parent organization numbered
at one time 108, and from its influence several other arks formed, so that the order came to number at one time
more than 800. This society was a great help to the moral, intellectual and social life of the township.
Berlin is proud of her military record. The following is the list of her soldiers who served in the various wars
of our country:
Revolution - Orley Benschoter, Hieronomus Mingus, Aaron Van Benschoter.
War of 1812 - Russell Rasom, Nathaniel Griffin, Ephraim Hardy, Prosper Carey, George Whitney, Joshua Phillips,
P. T. Barber, Jacob Mingus, Nathaniel Burdue, H. Dunbar, T. Miller, Thomas Starr.
War of the Rebellion - William Lowry, Samuel McGurkin, Richard Mulleneaux, Myron Rice, George Burgess, L. L. Hardy,
D. D. Stage, W. A. Keith, Spafford Penny, J. Woodward, Osro J. Lowell, J. Hall, 1 Daniels, Elisha Jenkins, W. Swartz,
Diodot Ransom, George Johnson, S. Seeley, C. A. Graves, E. Huffman, E. Hardy, Fred Huntley, James Smith, P. K.
Loomis, George L. Fowler, Horace Hill, John Laughlin, J. Smith, H. Smith, Darius Smith, Charles Elwood, Henry Elwood,
Aaron Hall, Lucius Smith, Daniel Weatherslow, Oliver Benschoter, Frank Bemis, William Bellamy.
Berlin Township has three villages within its boundaries. Berlinville, on the state road, was at one time a busy
little place, but when stage coaches were superseded by railroads it fell into the background and remained the
same little village, without the life and bustle of the early days. Population, 100.
Berlin Heights has had a wide reputation, but its growth has been hampered by not having railroad facilities. It
has several stores, several factories, a sawmill, a grist mill, a fine school building with graded school, three
churches and a hotel. Population, 514.
Ceylon, on the Lake Shore Railroad, is directly north of Berlin Heights, and grew to be a considerable village
in a very short time.
There are six cemeteries in the township, one of which is being washed away by the united force of Chapelle Creek
and the lake. The others are at Berlinville, Berlin Heights and Harpen's Corners.
Many interesting stories of the pioneer days might be told in connection with the history of this township, but
perhaps nothing is more typical of the conditions of those early days than the hardships which the family of the
Baptist elder, Joshua Phillips had to overcome. Mr. Phillips added preaching to his other labors of clearing, farming
and mason work. He came, bringing his family, from New York in 1818, and built a log house 10 by 12 feet in the
woods on Chapelle Creek. When they moved into the house it was not yet finished. There was a door, but no windows;
and it did not yet need any as the roof was not on. It was the 1st of January and a warm, sunny day; but that night
a sleet storm came up and Mr. Phillips had to break up his wagon box to make a slight shelter in one corner of
the cabin, where his family huddled together until the storm had passed. He brought three horses and a cow with
him, and the first winter two horses died from exposure and poor food; their only fodder being marsh grass, which
kept green all winter. One of Mr. Phillips' sons practiced medicine for many years and attained to quite a reputation
for his success in treating climatic diseases. Later he gave up his practice. He became a disciple of Emerson and
Parker, reading constantly, and collecting interesting historical facts connected with the township.
Hudson Tuttle, another son of one of the early settlers, also deserves mention. He became widely known as an author
and exponent of Spiritualism, in spite of the handicap of a very meager schooling. He devoted much time to writing
up the history of this portion of the firelands.
HARRY R. HEBBLETHWAITE, BERLIN HEIGHTS, OHIO
Harry Rhoads Hebblethwaite was born at Berlinville, Ohio, October 19th, 1899. His parents are Francis William
Hebblethwaite and Sarah Hebblethwaite. He is fond of all athletic sports especially baseball. During vacations
and before and after school he worked at the Berlin Fruit Box Company. He was educated in the Berlin Heights public
schools and the High School. After leaving the High School where he graduated in May, 1918, he graduated from the
Oberlin Business College in 1920. He then worked several months in the office of The Youghiogheny & Ohio Coal
Company, at Cleveland, Ohio, when he again began work with The Berlin Fruit Box Company where he remained till
1923. He then entered the employment of The Paterson Construction Company of Lorain, Ohio. He remained there till
October, 1923. The following Spring he became Postmaster at Berlin Heights, which position he still holds. In October,
1918 he enlisted at Oberlin, Ohio in The S. A. T. Corp, and was mustered out in December, 1918. He is a Republican
politically, a member of The Knights of Pythias, and of the Berlin Civic Community Club. He is an attendant of
the Methodist Church. On June first, 1921, at Ceylon, Ohio, he was married to Kathryn Elizabeth Haynes, daughter
of Fred and Anna Wetzel Haynes. Her grandfather, August Wetzel, was one of the early settlers of Erie county. Upon
the death of her mother in 1907 at Hudson, Michigan, she came to Ceylon and made her home with William H. Harp
till her marriage. They have one child, Helen Kathryn Hebblethwaite, three years of age. Mr. Hebblethwaite comes
of a patriotic family, his paternal grandfather, Mark Hebblethwaite and E. G. Rhoads his maternal grandfather,
were both Civil War veterans. He himself appears to be serving the public well.
EDWIN D. BELLAMY
Edwin D. Bellamy has furnished one of the most complete and satisfactory statements that have been given for
this history. He was born at Berlin Heights, Ohio, April 5th, 1878. His parents were Thomas Bellamy and Emma Allen
Bellamy. His father was born in England May 6th, 1842, and came to Erie County at the age of twenty years, remaining
until his death, August 25th, 1923. His mother is still living on the farm where she was born April 9th, 1842.
She was married April 11th, 1870, and is the mother of two sons: Edwin and Thomas A. Bellamy. Mr. Bellamy states
that in school he was always fond of athletics, music and his studies in general. He attended school at Berlin
Heights High School and later at Ada, Ohio and evidently would have preferred some other occupation to farming,
which he says he undertook to care for his parents. He is the owner of seventy acres in Berlin Township which have
been well cared for. He is independent in politics. He joined the Knights of Pythias in 1899 and has since held
several offices in the lodge, but no political office. lie has certainly showed musical talent, since he has played
in the Berlin Heights Band nearly every horn and also the violin in the orchestra. He is not a church member. lie
was married January thirtieth, 1902, to Nina Eliza Williamsby, with whom he had two sons: Milton Oliver Bellamy,
born April 3, 1902; and Harold Emerson Bellamy, born March 23, 1905. He was divorced January 24th, 1910, and later
married his present wife, Lula Agnes Higgins on February 24th, 1913. He states she has helped him raise his sons
and care for his parents. His present wife is the daughter of Patrick and Fannie West Higgins. His paternal grandparents
were Samuel Bellamy and Susan Bellamy who had a family of ten children. His mother is the daughter of Solomon and
Isabella Disbrow, who moved from Connecticut to this farm in 1839 when bear and deer were common. Later the old
stage coaches went by her door and she describes later seeing the circuses go by the door and the elephants go
around the bridges. His father, Thomas Bellamy, was also a member of the Knights of Pythias, a trustee of Berlin
Township and for many years a member of the Erie County Fair Board.