This township was first named Jessup, from Ebenezer Jessup, one of the original proprietors. It is situated
south of Vermilion and east of Berlin. It was first surveyed in 1807, and afterwards surveyed into lots by Jabez
Wright in 1809.
The surface is rolling, and the soil a sandy loam and clay. Fine timber formerly grew in abundance, and white oak,
ash, walnut, hickory, beech and maple were obtained here in large quantities. Quarries of sandstone have been opened
in various parts of the township, but one after another have been abandoned.
Vermillion River, which has its rise in a little lake of the same name in Ashland County, passes through this township
on its way to the lake. There is but one other water course in the township: Chapelle Creek, that rises in Townsend,
and entering Florence from Wakeman, a mile and a quarter east of the west town line, empties into Lake Erie.
Game abounded for many years after the settlers came, but the larger animals like bears and wolves belonged more
to the marshy districts, and were seldom seen. Deer, wild turkeys and small game were plentiful. The first bear
was killed by two of the best hunters in the country, Richard Brewer and Christopher Schaeffer. The latter was
out with his gun one evening when a bear ran across his path; as he raised his gun some snow fell on it and obscured
the sight, and the bear got away. The next morning he obtained the assistance of Brewer and two good dogs, and
tracked the bear into Berlin. Here the animal ran into a log and was wounded by Brewer's shot, which was the signal
for the dogs to make the attack. They were worsted, however, and Brewer grabbed the bear by the fur and plunged
his hatchet into his head. He was an unusually large one, the flesh on his sides measuring six inches. Schaeffer
was a famous hunter, and killed more bears than anyone in the township. He was noted for his success in deer hunting,
and is said to have killed over a thousand. The last season that he hunted he killed seventy.
Florence was organized as an independent township April 7, 1817. The first election for township officers was held
at the log schoolhouse one mile south of Florence Corners. The number of votes polled was seventeen. The first
settlement was made by Ezra Sprague and family, in May, 1809. They came to the mouth of the Huron River by water,
and then went to Florence through an unbroken wilderness. Mr. Sprague was the first justice of the peace in the
township, and afterwards held the position of associate judge of the Common Pleas Court. He died in 1856, survived
by only two of his seven children.
Although the pioneers never actually starved, yet they were compelled to live in the plainest manner. Hominy, potatoes
and milk were the only articles of food they had for weeks at a time. They gathered wild onions on the river bottoms,
and other hardy and edible vegetables were also to be found. All kinds of provisions were high during the early
years. Pork sold for $20 per barrel, flour for $16, tea $2.50 per pound, and salt $10 per barrel. Joab Squire once
carried 200 pounds of maple sugar to Sandusky, which he exchanged for two barrels of salt; the trip requiring three
days. At another time he went to Huron and bought twenty five pounds of bacon at 25 cents per pound, and lugged
it home on his back.
There was scarcely any money in circulation, and trade was principally by barter. The first specie currency which
circulated in Florence was what was called "cut money." A silver dollar was cut into ten or twelve pieces
that passed for shillings. The first paper money that the settlers were unfortunate enough to possess was the notes
of the Owl Creek Bank, in denominations of 614, 121/2, 371/2, and 50 cents. The bank failed, and those who held
its money recovered nothing.
During the War of 1812 the settlers were in almost constant fear of massacre by the Indians. In 1811 they joined
in the erection of a block house. It was used as a dwelling by Mrs. Clark and her family, but whenever a report
of the approach of Indians reached the settlement the settlers would move their families to the block house, where
they would remain until the alarm subsided. On one occasion, while a man was going with his family to the block
house, a young man was sent some distance ahead to keep a lookout for Indians. When within half a mile of the block
house the report of a gun was heard, and the young man came running back with the intelligence that he had seen
two Indians, one of whom shot at him, at the same time showing a bullet hole in his coat. The alarm spread rapidly,
and all the inhabitants collected at the block house, and made every preparation they could for an attack which,
they expected, would be made that night. The women and children were sent into the room above while the men with
guns, pitchforks and clubs, awaited below the expected assault. During the night the alarm was given by the occupants
of the second story that Indians with fire brands were approaching. No one in the house showed any disposition
to sleep, except the individual whose coat had been pierced by a bullet the evening before. As the morning dawned
it also began to dawn upon their minds that they were the victims of a cruel hoax, and that the said individual
had shot the bullet through his coat himself, to give the appearance of credibility to his story. The "firebrands"
were sparks and cinders carried by the wind from a burning log heap. What they did to the joker is not recorded.
The first birth in the township was that of Caroline, daughter of Ezra Sprague, May 13, 1810. She became the wife
of H. F. Merry, of Sandusky.
The first marriage was that of Thomas Starr and Clementina Clark. They were married in the spring of 1814 by Esquire
Abijah Comstock. The ceremony took place at the residence of the bride's mother, in the old block house. It is
said that everybody in the township attended, and the house was not crowded either. The next couple married was
John Brooks, Jr., and Adeline Squire. They were married by Rev. Nathan Smith, the first minister in the place.
The date is lost in obscurity; probably in 1815 or 1816.
The first person that died in the township was the mother of Judge Meeker, the date of which is not known. She
was buried on the bank of Chapelle Creek.
The first burying ground was on Uriah Hawley's place, where he buried his wife, in 1818. Ten or fifteen persons
were subsequently buried there, but as there was no road leading to the ground, another burying place was selected
and the bodies removed to it in 1825.
The first blacksmith shop was started by a man named Wolverton. He fastened his anvil on a stump and rigged his
bellows between two trees. It is claimed that this is the origin of a story that has been told all over the West.
A traveler, riding along the wilderness road, lost a shoe from one of his horse's feet. He inquired of a man he
met for a blacksmith shop. "Stranger," replied the man, "you're in it now; but it is three miles
to the anvil."
The first schoolhouse was built at Sprague's corners, on land owned by John Brooks. The first teacher was Ruth
Squire, and the school was supported by subscription; the parents paying in proportion to the number of children
sent. This schoolhouse was afterward taken down and rebuilt on the south side of the road. The second schoolhouse
was built half a mile west of Birmingham, and the school first taught by Rhoda Root. A certain individual objected
to her custom of opening the school with prayer, so that a school meeting was called to consider the matter. The
teacher was sustained.
As a teacher no man has exercised a larger influence on the life of Erie County than Job Fish, who died in his
ninety fifth year, February 27, 1923. Hundreds of men and women find a special pleasure in referring to that portion
of their school days spent under the instruction of this venerable teacher. In the biographies of Erie County citizens
found in this work, repeated reference is made to Job Fish's school; and the subjects of these biographies have
taken particular pride in referring to that important influence in their early lives.
Job Fish, son of Elias Hicks Fish and Betsey Van Wagner, was born March 17, 1828, in Hartland Township, Niagara
County, New York. He trances his ancestry back through Elias, Job, Joshua, Thomas Preserved and Thomas - all Quakers
- to that Thomas Fish who was living in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 1643.
In 1836 Elias Hicks Fish moved with his family to Auburn Township, Geauga County, Ohio, where Job attended the
district school winters from 1836 to 1844. Good fortune gave him, among his teachers, Joseph W. Gray, later founder
and editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and his older brother, Charles Loundsbury Fish, who became an eminent
admiralty lawyer of Cleveland. In the summer of 1843, at the age of fifteen, he made two round trips on the Erie
Canal between Buffalo and Albany as driver on the towpath. He attended the Western Reserve Seminary at Chester,
Geauga County, in 1845 and in 1846; and Doctor Lord's School, at Kirtland, Lake County, in 1846 and 1847. He studied
law in his brother Charles' office in Cleveland during the summers of 1850 and 1851. From 1848 to 1854 he contributed
numerous articles to newspapers of Cleveland, Buffalo and Columbus. At the age of seventeen he organized a debating
school in his own district and took an active part in its proceedings. Its membership soon included middle aged
men, some of whom, including Oliver Brown, a half brother of John Brown, the martyr, were from outside districts.
From his youth to the present day Mr. Fish has been a diligent student and a great reader. For example, he learned
to read French, German, Spanish and Dutch after his fiftieth year the last after his eightieth, and he is almost
as familiar with the best literature of France and Germany as with that of his mother tongue.
Job Fish's Schools
Years Schools and Locations
1845-48. Auburn Township, Geauga County, Ohio.
1849-51. Select School, Auburn Center.
1851-52. Geauga High School, Chardon.
1852-53. Select School, Auburn Corners.
1853-54. Geauga High School, Chardon.
1854-65. Potato Hill, Berlin Township, Erie County.
1855-59. Berlin Academy. Berlin Heights.
1859-61. Berlin Heights High School.
1861-62. Select School, Birmingham, Erie County.
1863-64. Select School, Berlin Heights.
1866-80. Berlin Heights High School.
1880-81. Select School, Florence Township, Erie County.
1881-83. Berlin Heights High School.
1883-98. Florence High School.
In 1848-49 Mr. Fish gave lectures and addresses in various places in Northern Ohio. In 1852 his parents moved from
Auburn to Florence Township, and this led him to come, in 1854, to Erie County, where all his subsequent teaching
was done. In 1862-63 ill health prevented his teaching, and in 1864-65 he was on a farm in Burr Oak, Michigan,
whither his parents had moved in 1864.
Mr. Fish also conducted a "Teachers' Class" for the training of teachers. Each session of the Teachers'
Class continued for two weeks. The years and places of holding the sessions are given below:
Job Fish's "Teachers' Classes"
1859. Spring. Berlin Heights.
1859. Fall. Berlin Heights.
1860. Spring and fall. Huron.
1861. Spring. Huron.
1861. Fall. Huron.
1862. Spring. Birmingham.
1862. Fall. Berlin Heights.
1863. Fall. Berlin Height.
1864. Spring. Berlin Heights.
1866-80. Berlin Heights.
Mr. Fish was engaged as instructor in several county teachers' institutes, as follows: One held at Chardon in 1851,
two at Berlin Heights, one at Sandusky, one at Vermilion and four at Milan. He also served as county examiner of
teachers in Geauga County in 1851-54, and in Erie County in 1857-64 and 1881-91.
Mr. Fish's pupils came not only from every township in the county but also from adjoining and distant counties.
It was frequently the case that his pupils from a distance outnumbered the resident pupils.
Two of Mr. Fish's pupils have written some impressions of Mr. Fish and his teaching which are given below:
"His aim from the beginning of his teaching to the end was to develop his pupils' minds. He forced nothing,
but only furnished exercise for the pupils' mental faculties; from the first he saw that the brain like the body
loves and demands exercise, and it is a fact that his students were as intent on the inspiring exercises in the
school room as they were on the games out of doors. In his youth he was an athlete; he joined his scholars outdoors
and in, and a winter in his school was one continuous merry making. It is no wonder that the children in the lower
schools looked forward to the great day when they could attend his school, nor that youths from a distance were
happy and content with any plan which would place them among his pupils. And the best part of it was that what
they found in the school was better and more wonderful than their anticipations.
"Certainly he had every qualification for a teacher. He was a natural born mathematician, and if he had had
no other gifts, he would by devoting himself to mathematics, have risen to a high place. He had a still greater
gift in language, not in mere words of which he had all, but in the language that is true and fitting; and he had
a still greater gift in philosophy, and not in that visionary philosophy of which there are as many kinds as there
are visionary philosophers, but in the philosophy of reality of which there is but one kind in the universe. But
beyond these gifts, he was a lover of everything beautiful in nature, art, literature. He was deeply moved by music,
and if he has admired and studied men who were great in other things he has gone through life as if hand in hand
with the great poets.
"It seems sometimes a pity that his work could not have had a wider field, that he could not have directed
an educational system to cover a great territory, but Antonius Stradivari was not at the head of a factory, but
made his violins with his own hands. There are two other gifts that he has always had in the highest degree: one
of them is memory, such a memory as people had when there was no printing and they had to remember. To this day
he will easily tell you the names, the surnames, the given names and the nicknames of nearly every one of his scholars
from 1845 to 1898. He will tell you as if the school they attended were only out for evening yes, as if it were
only out for noon. The other gift was humor and love of wit and humor, and with this went and still goes the grandest,
biggest, most contagious laugh that ever made a merry world. No wonder that so complete a human being took the
fullest in all other human beings."
"His aim, from his first school to his last, was to develop his pupils' capacities for thinking, rather than
to burden their minds with mere information. Owing to his wide and thorough knowledge of the subjects which he
taught, and a facility of diction which enabled him to choose his words with precision, his exposition to his pupils
were both clear and luminous. His extensive reading and the habit of thinking on what he read, coupled with an
exceptionally retentive memory, enabled him to enliven and enrich his teaching with a wealth of allusion and illustration.
All his life his greatest interest has been in human beings. His heart went out to each and every one of his pupils;
and so manifestly genuine was his desire to help them make the most of themselves that all their natural timidity
and reserve vanished before him, and they freely and unconsciously unfolded to him their better natures which were
thus in the most favorable condition for development. By his comments on the lives of great men whose characters
he opportunely portrayed, and by his uniform impartiality, straightforwardness and friendliness toward his pupils,
without regard to their characters or aptitudes, he gave to high principles of conduct in life such alluring aspect
that every pupil felt impelled to adopt them. Without punishment, threat, preaching, or exhortation, Mr. Fish made
his school room the scene of diligence in study and alertness in recitation. Great numbers of his pupils gave him
their affection; and many then and in after life opened their minds to him more fully than to their parents, making
him their confidant and counselor."
Although Mr. Fish retired from teaching in 1899, tokens of reverent regard and affection continue to pour in upon
him in an undiminished stream from old pupils near and far, and from the friends, relatives and descendants of
On May 2, 1853, in Auburn, Job Fish was married to Anne Elizabeth Peabody. She was the eldest child of George Alvin
Peabody and Ann Spencer. Her ancestry is given in the Bowler Genealogy and in the Peabody Genealogy. She was born
in Newport, Rhode Island, August 8, 1834. She came with her parents in the fall of 1847 to Auburn, Geauga County,
Ohio, where they settled. She was sent to the Geauga High School at Chardon. Among her teachers there, were Alfred
Holbrook and Thomas W. Harvey.
In 1851 she returned to Newport, Rhode Island, where she remained until her marriage, the greater part of the time
with her grandparents.
Nature endowed Mr. Fish with talents of high order, and he never showed these more clearly than in choosing Anne
Elizabeth Peabody for his life companion. She was distinguished for good cheer, amiability and gentleness; for
kindness, unselfishness and generosity; for industry, painstaking and deftness; for calmness, self possession and
force of character; for intelligence, nice discernment and sound judgment; and for high ideals of justice, truth
and beauty. It was, therefore, only natural that she should be idolized by her family, to whom she was wholly devoted.
She continued to share fully their interests after they had left home for college, and after they had entered upon
their chosen vocations. She died April 5, 1904, at their home in Florence, where they had lived since 1873. She
is buried at Auburn Center, in Geauga County.
The Children of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish Fletcher, eldest child of Job and Anne Elizabeth, was born February
15, 1854; died August 29, 1854.
Florence, second child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born July 12, 1855, in Florence Township. She taught
for several years; later spent three years at Oberlin College; and after some further time spent in teaching in
a small college at Galesville, Wisconsin, attended the University of Wisconsin, from which she was graduated in
1897. Since that time she has been professor of English in the Western College for Women at Oxford, Ohio.
Williston, third child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born at Berlin Heights, January 15, 1858. In 1877 he
was appointed to a cadetship in the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he was graduated in 1881.
As second lieutenant in the artillery he served with the army in the East and in the West. He resigned his commission
in 1887 and went into business. He was admitted to the bar in 1897. His home was for many years in Chicago, where
he is best known for his important connections with the city traction interests. He was assistant to the president
and attorney for the South Chicago City Railway Company from 1892 to 1899, and with the Chicago Union Traction
Company from 1899 to 1908. From 1908 to 1912 he was assistant to the president, and in 1912 became vice president
and general manager of the Chicago Railways Company. He became vice president of the West Penn Traction Company,
with offices in Pittsburgh, in 1914, and so continues. Outside of Chicago and Pittsburgh his name is most familiarly
associated with literary authorship. Had he never written anything but "A Last Will," which has been
published and republished in many forms and editions, his fame as an author would probably still be recognized
as long as the English language is read; but he has also contributed a large amount of prose and verse to magazines,
and is author of a book called "Short Rations," a collection of short stories of army life, published
in 1900. He was married September 22, 1881, to Mary Gertrude, daughter of Dwight Foster and Frances Norris Cameron
of Chicago. They had five children: Cameron (born July 31, 1884), who is a graduate of the law department of Northwestern
University, and a lawyer in Chicago; Alexander Hamilton, born September 17, 1885, died July 25, 1886; Gertrude
Cameron (born August 30, 1888), a graduate of the University of Chicago; Josephine (born June 26, 1890), who is
a student in music and a talented violinist; and Margaret, born January 15, 1892, died May 7, 1892.
Josephine L., the fourth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born in Berlin Heights, January 15, 1858. She
graduated at Oberlin College with high honors, and for several years taught Greek and Latin in the high school
at Greenville, Michigan, and later gave private instruction in the classics. She is now and has been for some years
connected with the public charities in Cleveland.
Nicholas, fifth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born March 1, 1861; died March 23, 1861.
Matilda, sixth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born March 1, 1861; died March 29, 1861.
Mary Sophia, seventh child of Job and Elizabeth Fish was born April 21, 1863, in Berlin Heights. She was graduated
from Oberlin College in 1886; taught one year in Kinsman, Ohio; two years in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, in a
private school, and in 1892 she went to the Walnut Lane Preparatory School for Girls in Germantown, Pennsylvania,
whehe she taught mathematics and science until 1907. She then became connected with the Stevens' School at the
same place. In 1909 she left educational work to be with her father.
Job, Jr. eighth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born in Colon, St. Joseph County, Michigan, May 2, 1867.
On graduating at Oberlin College in 1888, where he distinguished himself in the classics and in athletics, he at
once took a position with the Crane Elevator Company of Chicago; and when that concern was consolidated with the
Otis Elevator Company he was made superintendent of the larger concern. For a number of years he has been manager
of the company's works at different places, and is now located at Buffalo. He married, September 18, 1890, Ruth
B. Hall, daughter of Judge Theodore and Lucy M. Pierce Hall of Ashtabula, Ohio. Their only child, Julian Lounsbury
(born January 13, 1893, in Ashtabula), was graduated in 1915 from the University of Illinois, among the first in
John Charles Lounsbury, ninth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born June 3, 1870, in Townsend Township,
Huron County, Ohio. He attended the Oberlin Preparatory School in the winter and spring of 1886; was assistant
to the city civil engineer of Sandusky, 1886-88, and assistant engineer on location and construction of the railroad
from Sandusky to Bellevue (now of the Pennsylvania Railroad system) in 1891. He was graduated from the department
of civil engineering of Cornell University in 1892, and served as instructor in the department 1892-93. At Stanford
University, in California, he was assistant professor, 1893-98; associate professor, 1898-1909, and has been professor
of railroad engineering since 1909. He was resident engineer, 1905-07, and division engineer, 1907-09, on the Lake
Shore and Michigan Southern Railway (now New York Central Railroad-line west of Buffalo) on construction of the
railroad from Franklin to Brookville, Pennsylvania. He is author of "Earthwork Haul and Overhaul," "Engineering
Economics," and a number of other books and of papers and articles on professional subjects. He is a member
of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the American Railway Engineering Association. He has been president
of the board of health or health commissioner of Palo Alto, California, since 1901. He was married at Laporte,
Indiana, July 31, 1894, to Ethelwyn R. Slaght, daughter of Nathaniel and Frances Wallace Slaght of Greenville,
Michigan. Their children are: Job (born at Palo Alto, October 9, 1895,) died at Corsica, Pennsylvania, November
6, 1907; Lounsbury Slaght (born Anne Elizabeth, tenth child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish, was born October 2,
1872, in Townsend Township, Huron County, Ohio. She graduated at Oberlin College in 1895, and taught in a private
school in Lakewood, New Jersey. She was married June 22, 1899, to Dr. Charles Francis McClure, who was born April
29, 1872. Their children are: Albert Nathaniel, born at LaGrange, Illinois, June 17, 1901; Mary Sophia, born December
23, 1903. They have resided in LaGrange since 1900.
Albert Elias, eleventh and youngest child of Job and Anne Elizabeth Fish was born in Townsend Township, Huron
County, Ohio, October 2, 1872. He pursued his later studies in Oberlin and in the University of Wisconsin, and
for a number of years taught school in Florence and Berlin townships. He was married April 12, 1910, to Anna Sophia,
daughter of Boardman Henry Packer and Mary Anne Hanson Packer of Greenville, Michigan, and later of Chicago. Their
only child, John Boardman, was born December 29, 1910, in Chicago. They live on their fine farm on the bluffs overlooking
the beautiful valley of the Vermilion River, about one mill south of Birmingham, Erie County, where they are enthusiastically
engaged in agriculture and horticulture.
These children, eight of them, are college bred. But now mature men and women all of them, they know that at the
old home, under the careful training of their mother when they were children, and later in their father's school
of all schools, they received all the vital part of their training.
The Fish home is of some historic interest. It is situated in Florence Township near the western line thereof,
and on the old State Road which for a century has been a thoroughfare in the earliest days carrying a procession
of settlers' moving wagons, many of which were drawn by oxen; later the regular stage coach shuttling travelers
to and fro, and now an automobile route between Cleveland and Toledo. The land upon which it is situated was bought
in 1824 by James Clark Judson of Connecticut, a mechanic and land surveyor, noted for sound sense, good heart,
industry and rectitude; an excellent companion, a first rate teller of stories, interspersed always with flashes
of his own humor, who in 1828 erected on the place the substantial house greatly in advance of the times for that
locality in its character and furnishings, and set out an apple orchard which flourished for more than fifty years
and disappeared only with a fall of the last tree in a summer storm of 1915.
Churches of various denominations have been founded at different times. The first religious meetings were held
at the house of Eli S. Barnum, at Florence Corners, at which itinerant preachers officiated.
The first church organization was the Congregational. The meeting was held at the Barnum house by a missionary
named Yoomis. This society included members from Vermilion, Wakeman and Clarksfield. The present Congregational
Church was organized January 7, 1832, by a committec of the Presbytery of Huron, consisting of J. B. Bradstreet,
Xenophon Betts and Samuel Duntor. It had at that time seventeen members, and Uriah Hawley was chosen clerk. A church
building, costing $2,012, was completed in 1842. The lot was donated by Jessup Wakeman. For several years this
church had to depend upon preachers from neighboring towns. In 1842 Rev. Eldad Barber was called as its first regular
pastor. He remained until 1871, and was followed by Hubbard Lawrence, who remained until 1878. Rev. Mr. Hale served
from April until August of that year, being succeeded by Mr. Wright.
The First Congregational Church of Birmingham was originally Presbyterian. It was organized in 1838 by a committee
consisting of Philo Wells and Xenophon Betts of Vermilion, and Joseph Swift, of Henrietta. In 1845 the church adopted
the Congregational form, but continued under the care of the presbytery until 1874, when it withdrew. Eldad Barber
was the first preacher. Reverend Messrs. Goodell and Carlisle followed him, and he in turn succeeded them. The
next preacher was C. C. Creegan, of Wakeman; after a time services were abandoned, and the building taken over
by the Methodist Episcopal Society.
The Methodists first held their meetings in the old log schoolhouse one mile south of Florence Corners as early
as 1816 or 1817, at which Rev. Nathan Smith usually officiated. This denomination has grown in the township, and
another of their churches has been organized.
A Baptist Church was organized in 1818 by Rev. John Rigdon from Richland County. At the same time another Baptist
Church was organized in Lorain County, and meetings were held in the schoolhouse about a mile east of Birmingham.
The Baptists from Florence finally united with these, and in July, 1837, by resolution of the church of Henrieta,
a branch was organized at Birmingham consisting of nine members. The society was called the Henrietta and Birmingham
Baptist Church, In May, 1840, this branch organized into an independent church.
For many years a Second Adventist Church existed at Birmingham but no services of that denomination have been held
for many years.
The Church of the Disciples was organized at Birmingham with forty members in 1845. It prospered and increased
its membership to about seventy when one of its preachers became a convert to Mormonism, and drew away with him
about half of the number. The same year in which the society was organized a building was erected costing $1200.
For many years services have been discontinued.
The Evangelical Church was organized about 1849, with a membership of about twenty. In 1866 a house of worship
costing $900 was built.
In the summer of 1809 the Ruggles brothers, in fulfillment of a contract with the proprietors of the township,
erected a grist mill on the Vermillion River, near the south township line. The mill was no sooner put in operation
than a sudden freshet swept mill, dam and everything away. In 1811 the brothers erected another mill on Chapelle
Creek, near the north line, which was completed the next year. They subsequently added a sawmill. A number of years
after. ward the mills were bought by Harley Mason, who also built another sawmill on the same stream, a short distance
above. The first sawmill in the township was built by Eli S. Barnum, on Chapelle Creek, in the summer of 1810.
Another sawmill was built on this creek at an early date by Job Smith.
The first postmaster was Eli S. Barnum, with the postoffice in his residence at Florence Corners. Cyrus Butler
was the first postmaster at Birmingham. The first store was opened at Birmingham by Erastus Butler, and in 1826
he was the only trader mentioned in the tax reports. His capital at that time was $1,800. Two years later he was
joined by Cyrus Butler, with a capital of $500. Cyrus Butler, also, while owner of the old mills at Birmingham,
manufactured bar iron for several years. The ore was obtained from Vermilion. The Mills were carried away by a
freshet. In 1829 Ferris & Wood, of Florence Corners, were assessed on $750, J. V. Vredenburg in 1830 on $600,
J. L. Wood on $600, and Charles P. Judson on $700. An axe factory was also located at Birmingham a short time.
So far as can be determined from existing records the only property in the Firelands that is now owned and occupied
by a descendant of the original proprietor to whom the grant was made is that owned in Birmingham by Mrs. W. H.
Truscott, wife of Squire William H. Truscott.
The land on which the Truscotts now live was granted to Mrs. Truscott's grandfather, Perez Hiram Starr, in 1808.
Unlike many proprietors who sold their grants in the Firelands, Mr. Starr settled on his property and it has been
handed down in lineal descent.
The little settlement was located on the stage road from Buffalo to Chicago and was named Birmingham because the
pioneer thought it was to be a great manufacturing center. For some years there were woolen mills and a furniture
factory in the town.
The first millstones were brought to the Western Reserve by Perez Starr and one of these is now to be seen in the
public square at Cleveland.
Birmingham has had its celebrities, for from this village came the Beeman whose face is known the world over as
it appears on the packages of the chewing gum which bears his name. Mr. Beeman experimented with a cure for liver
complaint and for dyspepsia while he was still in Birmingham before he began the manufacture of his pepsin gum.
The township contains two villages, Birmingham, with a population of three hundred and Florence, with a population
of seventy five.