BOUNDARIES — LOCATION — PHYSICAL FEATURES — POPULATION — FIRST SETTLERS — LANDS — LATER SETTLEMENTS — C0NSCRIPTI0N
— STATE ROAD — LIBRARY ASSOCCIATION — SCHOOLS —GREAT SN0W — MILL — CALVIN'S CORNERS — CHURCHES.
CRAWFORD COUNTY was divided July 9, 1800, into eight townships, one of which was Fairfield. It was established
with the following boundaries: Beginning at the northwest corner of a tract of land surveyed in the name of Matthew
Wilson; thence by the north line of a tract surveyed in the name of Robert Wilson to French Creek; thence down
the different windings of the same to the south boundary of Crawford County; thence by the same westwardly to the
southeast corner of Fallowfleld Township; thence by the same northwardly to the place of beginning. With these
boundaries it embraced the whole of present Fairfield, the two eastern tiers of tracts in Greenwood and most of
Union. In 1829 its lines were entirely changed. It was pushed farther eastward across French Creek and comprised
present Fairfield, East Fairfield and part of Union. The recent organization of the latter two townships reduced
Fairfield to its present bounds. It lies on the southern line of the county and has an irregular outline. French
Creek and Conneaut Outlet restrict it on the north, separating the township from Union and East Fairfield. Greenwood
is on the west and Wayne on the east, and Mercer County on the south. The township is generally level or rolling,
the greatest bluff extending along French Creek on the eastern border.
The soil is a loam in the bottoms and a gravelly loam on the uplands. In the southern part it partakes slightly
of an argillaceous nature. White oak is the principal timber, interspersed with sugar, linn and hickory. Chestnut
and red oak are found in limited quantity, and along the streams small quanti. ties of cherry, pine and hemlock
grew. The township contains an area of 10, 797 acres. Its population in 1850 was 1,224; in 1860, 1,777; in 1870,
871; and in 1880, 929. The reports for 1850 and 1860 included East Fairfield and a part of Union.
Fairfield was one of the earliest settled portions of the county. The records show that the following were here
in 1797: Joseph Dickson, Alexander and Patrick Dunn, James Herrington, James Kendall, David Nelson, Aaron Wright
and Allen Scroggs. Several of these had come in 1795, or earlier, while Indian troubles were still rife, and when
settlements were made at great personal risk. Joseph Dickson was one of the first. He came from Cumberland County,
settled on the tract which bears his name in the eastern part of the township, on the farm now owned by E. P. Slocum,
and remained here through life. His sons, George and Elijah, were life-long residents on the same farm. Aaron Wright
had come in 1795 or earlier from York County, and settled on the tract just west of Calvin’s Corners. He was a
Revolutionary soldier and came out first alone and prepared a habitation for his family, whom he brought soon after.
Mr. Wright’s death occurred about 1816. His children were: Washington, Elizabeth, who married John Brooks; Annie,
wife of Elijah Crookham, and Catherine, wife of James Mumford.
Alexander and Patrick Dunn, brothers, emigrated from the Susquehanna to the northwest part of the township. The
latter was without a family. Alexander was the first Justice of the Peace, and about 1816 removed with his family
to Shakleyville, Mercer County, where he died. James Herrington settled on a tract in the northern part immediately
below the mouth of Conneaut Outlet. He was an early surveyor; was elected County Surveyor and removed to Meadville,
afterward returning to his farm, where he died and was buried. His children were: Jacob, Edward, James, Crawford
and Mary. David Nelson settled in the southern part, on the tract which bears his name. During the war of 1812
he served as Major under Gen. Harrison, and was afterward Colonel of the militia. He was a prominent citizen, a
member of the Seceder Church, and a life-long resident of the township. Allen Soroggs settled in the eastern part,
where he remained until death, engaged in farming and in operating a still. His sons were: James, Robert, William,
John and Allen, all of whom are now dead.
Most of the land in the township was settled and paid for by individuals, without the intervention of land companies.
Much of it in fact was occupied before the land companies were locating tracts. In the southwest part of the township,
however, are eight tracts of a considerable body of land known as Field’s claim. Mr. Field was a wealthy Philadelphian.
The State laws requring both an actual settlement and the payment of 20 cents per acre, and survey fees for each
400 acre tract. Mr. Field surveyed a large number of tracts and made agreements with pioneers who were without
means, to the effect that the settler make the necessary settlement and improvement, that Mr. Field pay the State
and survey fees, and that the tract be then divided between them. This arrangement enabled many to obtain homes
in the wilderness, who otherwise would have been unable to do so. James Kendall in 1797 or earlier settled on Tract
31, of Field’s claim, but about 1816 removed from the township.
Other pioneers, most of whom came about the year 1800. and all of whom had settled here before 1810, were: Joseph
Bersen, Robert Bailey, Aaron Boylen, Joseph Culbertson, Alexander Caldwell, Richard Davison, Thomas Fulton, John
Fulton, Thomas Havlin, Archibald Hill, Conrad and Henry Hart, Nathaniel Marshall, John Marsh, James Mumford, John
May, Joseph McDon. aid, Jacob Moyer, John and James McCormick, Henry Peterman, John Porter, Christopher Wheeling,
Robert Young and William Thompson. These were the men, besides the few previously named, who came into the dense
forests and amidst dangers and difficulties, by enduring privations and hardships, cleared off large patches from
out the unbroken wilderness, and founded the homes which their descendants or aliens now possess.
Joseph Bersen came from Washington County, settled in the east part of Tract 53, Field’s claim, and afterward removed
to Mercer County, where he died. Robert Bailey remained on a tract situated in the southern part until his death,
some time after which event his family removed from the county. Aaron Boylen settled on Field’s Tract 64. Joseph
Culbortson settled on French Creek about a mile south of the mouth of Conneaut Outlet on the farm now owned by
S. McCobb. He was a tanner by trade, and followed that vocation here for years, then moved to Shakleyville, Mercer
County, where he died. Alexander Caldwefl, an Irishman, settled in the southwest corner of Tract 63. He was a weaver,
and during the pioneer period, before carding-mills came into use, found employment in weaving cloths. He died
and was buried on the farm. A public burial-place has since been laid out here by John Peterson, the next proprietor
of this farm. Richard Davison settled on Field Tract 41. He afterward removed to Mercer County, and there died.
Thomas and John Fulton were father and son. They settled on a tract in the southeast part. They were Irish, and
both died on the farm. The latter raised a large family who afterward emigrated to the West. Thomas Havlin, an
Irish weaver, settled and died in the northwest part. Archibald Hill, of Irish descent, settled pridr to 1800 on
a tract a little northeast of the township center where his son now resides. He here erected a stone house in 1816.
Conrad Hart was of Teutonic extraction. He lived until death in the northern part of the township, and was buried
in Conneaut Cemetery. Philip, Conrad and Henry were his sons. Nathaniel Marshall settled in the northwest part,
on Tract 433, where his descendants yet abide. He operated a distillery, and died during the war of 1812. John
Marsh was an early blacksmith. James Mumford, the son of David Mumford, who settled in Union Township, was married
in 1806 to Catherine Wright, and settled immediately thereafter in the northwest part of the township. John May,
a prominent settler, located on a tract in the northern part. He emigrated from Ireland prior to the Revolution,
in which holy cause he took up arms. He died on his farm May 2, 1836. in his seventy-third year. Joseph McDonald
remained a life-long farmer of the township. Jacob Moyer was a German, and likewise remained in the township until
death. John and James McCormick were brothers to Barney, who in 1795 was killed by- Indians in what is now Union
Township. They settled just east of Calvin’s Corners, and James afterward moved West. Henry Peterman settled in
the northern part and remained there until death. John Porter, the son-in-law of John May, was a blacksmith and
a prominent man. He remained in the township until his death in 1824. Christopher Wheeling was of German descent,
and subsequent to his settlement in Fairfield removed to Wayne Township. Robert Young, a bachelor, remained until
his death. William Thompson settled in the southeast corner of the township, but later in life removed with his
family to southern Illinois.
During the war of 1812 all the able bodied citizens in this township as well as elsewhere throughout this region
were pressed into service at Erie. Robert Young, then an old man, was the only resident of Fairfield whom it is
remembered was not enlisted. The women were obliged to look after the farms and taking their infants and young
children with them to the fields they gathered in the crops of wheat which had been left standing,
The old State road extending from Pittsburgh to Erie traversed the township and over it the munitions of war were
transported to Erie, and the soldiery passed over it to and from that place. On this road, in the northern part
of the township, Conrad Hart, as early as 1812, kept a tavern at the sign of the Blue Ball. He maintained the tavern
until about 1820, when the Mercer and Meadville pike was made and became the principal thoroughfare.
To the honor of the pioneers of this township the first library assOciation in the county was formed here some
time prior to 1816, and maintained successfully for a number of years. James Herrington, Alexander Dunn, David
Mumford, John May, John Porter, Thomas Havlin, and others contributed books or means with which to purchase them,
until quite a large library was collected, which was kept at the cabin of a member.
The first school known to have been taught in Fairfield was held in a little cabin which stood at the roadside
opposite the present residence of A. W. Mumford. It was a typical pioneer school-room, a round-log cabin perhaps
16x24 feet, with newspaper windows, the opening made by withdrawing a log from one side of the building and replacing
it with paper. A large fire-place, extending across one end, helped very materially to supply the room with light.
James Douglass taught here in 1810, anci a year or two later Allison Gray. The sec
ond schoolhouse remembered was a frame structure erected at Calvin’s Corners by subscription about 1816. This building
was also used as a place of Methodist worship. Among the earliest teachers here were: Miss Urania Bailey, the daughter
of a pioneer; John Muzzy, a transitory sojourner from New York State; Nathan B. Lard, of this township and Charles
Caldwell of Greenwood William Little taught in the deserted Kendall cabin in the eastern part of Tract 31 during
the winter of 1817-48. Col. A. Power of Meadvi tie was one of his pupils, and remembers the great fall of snow
February 2, 1818. In the morning of that day there was a little snow on the ground, but it snowed furiously all
day and towards the close of the afternoon when school was dismissed it lay on the ground to the depth of three
feet, making the homeward journey of the young children extremely difficult.
The earliest grist-mill was built at the mouth of Conneaut Outlet by James llerrington as early as 1803, and soon
after sold to John May who operated it until his death, soon after which event the mill was abandoned. The stream
was sluggish and the dam which afforded a water-fall of about five feet kept the waters back a distance of several
miles. A turbine wheel was used and with the two run of stone in use an extensive milling business was done. Mr.
May also kept a ferry here. James Mumford erected the first saw-mill, and David Nelson also operated an early one
on the same stream, Wright’s Run. John May, David Nelson, John Porter. James Herrington. Jacob Moyer, and Allen
Scroggs operated stills. Alexander Dunn kept the first tavern and Conrad Hart the second.
The only postoffice in the township is at Calvin’s Corners. Here may also be found a store and a blacksmith shop.
In the northern part of the township, about a half mile south of the mouth of Conneaut Outlet, stands Sugar Creek
or Conneaut United Presbyterian Church. A Presbyterian Congregation was organized here as early as 1810, Rev. Robert
Johnson, of Meadville, preaching at this point. Peter Shaw, Thomas Cochran and James Birchfield were early Elders.
Other prominent early members were Robert Power, John Porter, John Greer, kndrew Gibson, John May, Samuel Power,
Robert Harvey, John Fulton, Archibald Hill and Allen Scroggs. A hewed log-church was erected about 1811 on an acre
of land situated a short distance south of the mouth of Conneaut Outlet. The lot was donated by James Herrington
for a church and graveyard. In the latter many old settlers have been interred. The lot has recently been enlarged,
and is now known as Couneaut Cemetery. The- primitive church here was built of pine logs, was floored and coiled,
and had large pine benches for seats. It was large and well furnished for pioneer times. Meetings were held here
until the erection of the present building in 1851, nearly a half mile south of the old structure. The means for
its construction were bequeathed by Miss Maria Power, who died in April, 1850. It is a commodious frame, and built
when labor and materials were cheap, cost about $800. The income derived from the residue of her property, about
$2,000. Miss Power willed to the support of a pastor. Under the ministrations of Rev. Campbell this congregation
had been received into the Associate Reformed Church, later merged into the United Presbyterian. After the close
of his labors a vacancy existed for a time, then about 1828 Rev. Samuel F. Smith became pastor, continuing until
his death in 1846. Rev. H. H. Thompson then served from 1848 to 1865, and Rev. David Donnan, the present pastor,
succeeded in December, 1865. The membership is about seventy.
A Seceder Congregation was orgunized about 1834. and a year later a church was erected in the northern part on
the opposite side of the road from Mumford’s Chapel, a present Methodist Episcopal structure. Col. David Nelson,
James Mumford, David Nelson, Jr. and William McKisick were early members. Rev. Matthew Snodgrass was the only pastor.
The congregation disbanded about 1860.
Mumford’s Chapel, alluded to above, was erected in 1861, at a cost of $1,200. The class was organized with twenty-five
members two years previous by Rev. John Abbott, of Cochranton Circuit, to which this appointment has since been
attached. Methodist services had been held in this locality as early as 1830, and among the early Methodists were
Newell Bligh, William Hart, Perry Jewell, Irwin May and William Armour. The society now numbers about thirty members.
Trinity German Reformed Church was organized by Rev. L. D. Leberman with five members, January 1, 1805, and the
church edifice, a neat frame structure, located on Tract 41 in the western part of the township was built at a
cost of $1,250. George Hanes, Henry Nodler and John Nodler were early members. Rev. J. Kretzing was the first pastor.
Revs. Josiah May and J. W. Pontius, the latter now in charge, have been his successors. Services are conducted
in the German language. The membership is now twenty-eight.
Near the west line of the township, in the western part of Tract 30, stands a frame United Brethren Church, erected
in 1873, at a cost of $1, 200. The class that worships here was organized with fourteen members in the winter of
1855, by Rev. J. L.Weavor. Z. B. Powell was chosen class-leader and L. Smock, Steward. Other early members were
J. L. Chapin and Hiram Powell. The class numbers about twenty-five members, and is attached to Geneva Mission.
It was formerly a part of New Lebanon Circuit. The ministers who have traveled this field of labor as nearly as
can be ascertained were Revs. T. Foster, J. L. Chapin, B. Haak, P. W. Ish, Bradick, S. Hubler, C. Wheeler, A. Orowell,
B. Smith, S. Casterline, F. Reynolds, D. B. Hodgkiss, C. Everetts, G. W. Franklin, S. Evans, H. Bedow, A. Meeker,
N. C. Foulk, D. C. Starkey and T. J. Butterfield.