Monday, August 31, 2015

New England Influence on the Firelands

The area of land in Ohio known as the Firelands is the far western portion of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The Western Reserve was over three million acres of land in northeastern Ohio which was given to Connecticut residents whose lands were burned by the British during the American Revolution. Because so many of the early settlers to the Firelands were originally from New England, the architecture and mindset of those early residents reflected the architecture and attitudes of New England. The Ohio educator and historian B.A. Hinsdale said about the Western Reserve, “No other five thousand square miles of territory in the United States, lying in a body outside of New England, ever had, to begin with, so pure a New England population.”  Several Huron County townships and towns have names that were duplicates of places in Connecticut, including Norwalk, Fairfield, New London, and Litchfield. When Oran Follett had his lovely home built in the 1830s, it was constructed in the Greek Revival style which was popular in New England.

The layout of the town of Milan reflects the style of the typical New England town square.

Many of the early settlers to the Firelands brought with them the antislavery sentiment that was common in New England. Dozens of fugitive slaves were aided in their journey to freedom by citizens of Huron and Erie County. This monument in downtown Sandusky honors those who assisted fleeing slaves on their way to Canada.

Yankee ingenuity and thriftiness is shown by the fact that so many early homes in Sandusky were built from native limestone, such as the former home of William Townsend.

Ellie Damm wrote in Treasure by the Bay that the stone for many of the early homes had been quarried near the building site.  

Visit the Sandusky Library to read more about the history of the Firelands. The Firelands Pioneer is a multi-volume set of periodicals featuring articles about the earliest settlers to Huron and Erie Counties.

1 comment:

Rob't said...

Indeed. My Cherry and Ketchum ancestors came from New England (by way of upstate New York) to Erie County in the early 1800s. One of them, Samuel Alonzo Cherry, was later involved in the Underground Railroad. You can read about him here in my genealogy blog, Uncontained Multitudes: