A VISION FULFILLED
BY MAUD BUSH ALFRED.
"Where there is no vision, the people perish."
When your committee honored me with a request
for a place on the program of this celebration, which
commemorates the founding of Bucyrus, I was filled
with varying emotions, - pride, reverence, and perhaps,
awe. Pride, that I, the great-granddaughter of Samuel
Norton and Mary Bucklin Norton, could have the privi-
lege of honoring their memory; reverence, that so
hardy, so brave, so God-fearing, so kindly, so benevo-
lent a forbear had been mine - reverence for the loved
ones I have known, who lie in the beautiful silent city
which adjoins you in this, the place which was "the
forest primeval," and now in the evolution and develop-
ment of the years is your own thriving, progressive and
Should we not all indeed feel awe when we regard
the progress of one hundred years? When Great-
grandfather Norton and his wife and six children and
small company of followers blazed the path from their
home in northeastern Pennsylvania and selected this
spot because of its beauty, its richness of soil, and its
promise, they found only the red man and prowling
animals of the forest, and, seemingly, all that lay ahead
was toil and hardship and deprivation. But - they had
a vision. Theirs was the spirit which had won for us
our independence from the yoke of England.
6 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
It was the father of great-grandmother Bucklin
Norton who caught the dying General Warren when
he fell at Bunker Hill, and General Warren, together
with Israel Putnam and Nathaniel Green, belonged to
this family of sturdy manhood.
The first of our forbears in the Norton line came
from Scotland, settling in Connecticut in 1675, so it
would seem that the spirit of conquest and the will to
overcome, had descended in large measure to these, the
first settlers. It is an interesting bit of history that the
battle of Saratoga was fought on and nearby my great-
great-grandfather, James Norton's farm.
And so it was, that undaunted courage and the
I WILL of all, opened the little clearing and made the
first home in what is now Bucyrus.
Over mountain and valley, through tangled forest
and grass-grown plain, over corduroy roads and Indian
trail, fording streams, and through storm and sunshine,
this little caravan came from the comparative security
and comfort of their eastern home, to this, a wilderness
of unknown dangers.
It is related of great-grandfather by one who knew
him, that "he was a large athletic man, six feet tall, of
strong determination, keen intelligence and full of the
true spirit of enterprise."
There are many family traditions that from child-
hood I have heard, but it is not the personal touch upon
which I wish to dwell, but the spirit which has given us
what we have.
Can we appreciate, in even a slight degree, the lives
of our pioneer women? Brave, capable, resourceful,
undaunted by the hardships which they must bear; full
too of the love of the beautiful, prizing knowledge, yet
A Vision Fulfilled 7
cut off from the culture which they craved for them-
selves and their children. Surely -they needs must
have had a vision.
As a little girl it was a great delight to me to hear
my own grandmother and my mother relate stories of
their childhood - grandmother, who was Catharine
Norton, telling of the earlier days when all was new.
She was four years old when the long journey from
Pennsylvania was made. In the company, besides great-
grandfather and great-grandmother, were their children
- Louisa, who became Mrs. Harris Garton, Catharine,
who became Mrs. John Shull, Elizabeth who married
Dr. Alonzo Jones, and three sons, Rensselaer, Warren
and Waldo. Then there were great-grandmother's
brother, Albigence Bucklin and six children and an
adopted daughter. A man by the name of Seth Holmes
came with them, as driver and guide, he having been
through this section in 1812. So, in all, there were
eighteen. The first night was spent in a deserted Indian
Wigwam which stood where the Court House now is.
There they spent three days until a small log house
could be erected. It was located on the west side of the
present Sandusky Avenue bridge. When this home was
completed, one was built for Mr. Bucklin and his family,
which stood about where the old Bucyrus Machine shops
now are. Mr. Holmes, being a bachelor, was left the
Wigwam. In these shelters the first winter was passed
in fair comfort.
On February 11th, my great aunt, Sophronia Nor-
ton, was born - the first white child born in Crawford
Among the necessary possessions brought from the
east was a spinning wheel with which both wool and
8 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
flax was spun, and a loom upon which was woven bed
linen and counterpanes, and the cloth with which the
family clothing was made. I have now, pieces of linen
bleached beautifully white which Great-grandmother
spun and wove and made into sheets, and also a blue and
white counterpane is still doing duty as a cover on an
old-fashioned settee in my country home - a prized
The bleaching was accomplished by laying the newly
woven linen on the grass in the strong sunlight, and it
was the duty of some one of the little girls to keep it con-
stantly wet by dipping water and sprinkling over the
The sampler, which my grandmother worked with
her childish fingers, was a work of art to me, and my
interest in the days when she was a little girl and must
do her "stint" before she could go out to play, held a
fascination for me which the years have not dulled.
The family also brought with them from their
eastern home, several horses, some cattle, and a few pigs
and chickens, - also such farming implements as were
used in those days. Their supply of household articles
was fairly complete and with the flax which they grew
and the wool which they purchased from settlers some
forty miles away, and the deer which great-grandfather
killed, they were supplied with material abundant for
The men's outer garments were made from deer
skins and mother and daughters were the tailors and
Great-grandfather started a little tannery for his
own use with which to tan enough leather for the family
A Vision Fulfilled 9
shoes. A shoe-maker came twice yearly and made two
pairs for each member of the family.
Great-grandfather was always most generous and
kindly indulgent with his family, and whenever a load
of grain was taken to the frontier towns, he returned
with something pretty in the way of apparel for each
The small first tannery of great-grandfather's was
later converted into a real tannery by Lewis Cary, who
conducted the business for many years after. It
was his brother Abel, who, coming in 1821, built a
small dam on the south bank of the Sandusky and
erected a grist mill. This was a boon to the little settle-
ment for it meant that the long journey to Fredericks-
burg, which many times had to be taken with one horse,
and even on foot, was a thing of the past, and the grain
could be ground at home.
The Cary tannery was the first business enterprise in
Bucyrus - the Cary mill, the second.
Great-grandfather was an unerring shot and it is
related that back in Pennsylvania he one time shot a
panther measuring more than eleven feet. Wolves filled
the woods and often their howling made night hideous
around the little cabins. It was long before any settler
could raise sheep because of these cowardly beasts,
which always came in packs. At one time great-grand-
father purchased forty head of sheep but in spite of
vigilance, they were soon all devoured.
A deer lick was quite near his first cabin home on
the Sandusky and sometimes he could stand in his door
and bring down his game without the trouble of hunting
for it. In one day, near Mr. Bucklin's cabin, he killed
five deer - so it will be seen that, with venison, wild
10 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
turkeys, squirrels and rabbits, and fish in the streams,
honey which was gathered from the wild bee-hives in
the trees of the forest, maple sugar, and potatoes grown
in the little clearing, cranberries from the marsh not far
distant, our first families could scarcely go hungry.
Bread, however, became a luxury sometimes when the
meal gave out and the Indian trail to Fredericksburg
was impassable for man or beast; then it was that a hand
mill, brought with them from the east, was used, -a
crude sort of coffee mill, which held no more than a half
pint of grain.
Frequently when the household meal was low, the
winter evening was spent in grinding, and grating on
an improvised grater, or pounding in a mortar, the sup-
ply of meal for the next day's use.
Corn, prepared in various ways, was the staple grain,
while wheat bread was a luxury indeed.
Hominy, corn pone, Johnny cake, corn dodgers, and
boiled mush gave a good variety, even though the orig-
inal ingredient was the same. Corn pone was made in
a covered pan or oven, Johnny cake was baked on a
board in front of the fire, and corn dodgers made into
balls and cooked.
In my own grandmother's last illness, her mind often
went back to the early days, and she lived over again
the times when youth was a tonic and gave zest to all
things. I well remember her saying, with longing in
her voice, "Oh! how I would love to have some Johnny
cake baked on a board before the fire in the old fire-
But the old fireplace was gone, and onward progress
had given us stoves and furnaces and gas, and many
A Vision Fulfilled 11
comforts she had not known, yet the memory was
Were there not many things to compensate for those
deprivations of the early times? The family life knit
together, not only by love, but by a common interest, the
closeness of the friendships, the simplicity, the kindli-
ness, engendered because of their dependence upon one
another, the necessity which was the mother of inven-
tion, the nearness to nature, all, - all have left their
imprint, and are we not, who are here tonight, the better
Theirs was a vision!
The winter of 1819-20 was a mild one, which enabled
the two families to progress with their clearing and get
the ground in readiness for the first planting. Great-
grandfather had said that he never raised a better crop
than that grown the first year in the rich virgin soil.
The first little cabin ere long gave way to a larger
and better constructed home - still a cabin, made of
logs. A "raising," which was a social, as well as a utility
function - now with many hands to help - soon
brought the new home to completion.
It was the most palatial home in all the country, with
two rooms down stairs, two windows instead of one, and
covered with cloth instead of oil paper, for glass could
not be had. A spacious loft overhead was reachd by a
ladder on the wall. Here the older children slept, while
the little ones down stairs were tucked away in the trun-
dle bed, which, at night, was pulled out from under the
great "four poster".
Years after, my great aunt, Louisa Norton Garton,
still had one of these beds, all curtained about and re-
12 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
quiring steps to climb up into its billowy depth of feath-
ers -how well I remember the novelty of this experi-
ence when my mother and I, a little child, visited her.
In all cabins, herbs were hung from the rafters to
dry, and were used for tea and concocting various reme-
dies - for the new settler must be his own doctor.
In 1822, great-grandfather went back to New York
State and brought home with him, great-grandmother's
mother, Elizabeth Bucklin. She had a scientific knowl-
edge of medicine, which she had practiced in Rhode Is-
land, so she was of great help and comfort to the little
community and many were her errands of mercy! She
died here in 1824.
"Chills and fever" was the scourge of the pioneers,
and seemed to be a necessary evil, and was suffered by
even the third and fourth generation.
The early cabin homes were, of necessity, very crude
in construction. What was true of one was true of all.
The expression, which is very familiar, "The latch string
is always out", had its origin in the fastenings of the
doors of these first homes. A wooden bolt inside the
cabin fitted into a groove, this bolt could be raised from
the outside by means of a latch string of deer hide,
which ran through a little hole above the bolt and hung
outside. When one wished to lock the door from within,
all that was necessary was to pull the string through.
The cabins were completed without nails or screws
or metal of any kind; leather from the skins of wild
animals was used for hinges, and the chimneys made
of stones, plastered with mud, which had to be renewed
from time to time as it dried out and became dislodged,
and the logs themselves were the only building ma-
A Vision Fulfilled 13
The floors were made of split logs and smoothed as
well as possible with an axe. They were kept clean by
scouring with sand and rushes, until finally they became
quite smooth and white.
In picturing these early days, that which always fas-
cinates me is the fireplace, around which so much of the
family life was lived. In the preparation of the meals
and in the family pleasures, this was the gathering place
-the abiding place of the household gods.
The singing kettle, hanging from the crane, the wild
turkey hanging from the spit, filling the room with its
savory odors, the potatoes roasting in the ashes, and
the corn pone baking in the covered bake pan (which
must always be kept covered with the hot ashes!) the
apples placed in a row and sputtering and popping as
their juices burst their rosy skins in the heat, -and
then again, on long winter evenings, while the mother
and older daughters plied their needles by candle-light,
or knit, or spun, or wove, or pieced patches together for
quilts, which later would be quilted at another social
function, the "quilting bee", the younger ones made
merry with popping corn, cracking nuts, melting the
maple sugar, and running with it to the snow outside, re-
turning with strings of waxy sweetness; all this, grand-
mother and my own mother have made vivid in my
mind. Sometimes there were no candles and then the
hearth fire was the only light.
The fireplaces were always large, sometimes burning
logs six and seven feet long, which had to be pulled into
the cabins by a horse. The great back log would some-
times keep fire for a week. It was something of an an-
noyance to have the fire go out for then flint and tinder
must be resorted to, to re-kindle the blaze. Sometimes
14 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
coals were carried from a neighbors to coax back the
reluctant fire, for matches were unknown. Wonderful
hardwood logs were burned in a seemingly reckless way,
but this meant that the little clearing was extending and
that progress was ever onward.
Aunt Elizabeth Norton Jones has told how mince
pies were baked literally by the wholesale, each being
wrapped in muslin and packed down in barrels, to keep
through the winter. They were allowed to freeze and
were thought to be improved by this process. The bak-
ing at this time had advanced to an oven built of stones
just outside the cabin door and, later still, a step in ad-
vance, was an oven built at the side of the fireplace
The water from the well was lifted in "the old oaken
bucket" of song and story, and brought to the surface by
a well sweep. The well sometimes served as a refrigera-
tor also, as butter and milk were frequently lowered to
its cooling depts until required by the family.
In 1831, great-grandfather built the brick building
which is now the Zeigler Mills, the outer walls are as
they were originally, which certainly testifies to the du-
rability of construction, when we consider that the ma-
chinery of the mills have vibrated within its walls for
so many years.
Here he spent the remainder of his life - living for
twenty-five years in the comfort and security of this
new home, so near the site of the first crude cabin, amid
the surroundings he loved so well.
Here, for some time, he kept what was then called a
"tavern", but as great-grandfather did not enjoy this
new venture, it was discontinued after a few years.
Col. James Kilbourne, who made the survey of Bu-
A Vision Fulfilled 15
cyrus, was a warm personal friend of great-grand-
father's and was a frequent guest in his home, where
with poetry, of which he was very fond, and story and
song, he enlivened many a long winter evening.
General Harrison stopped with great-grandfather in
1840 and was given a large reception. It was doubtless
on such an important occasion that great-grandmother's
housewifely skill was brought into play and being her
own cateress, she constructed a wonderful pound cake,
for which she was noted, building it in layers, tier on
tier to the pyramid top, which was baked in a tea cup,
and all was iced over into a thing of beauty.
Then to add variety and spice, when the candles
were made a very small amount of powder was placed
in the lower end of the wick so that as the candle burned
down, there was a startling little flash, which amused the
It is recorded that in 1838, Nicholas Longworth, the
wealthy merchant from Cincinnati, and grandfather of
Congressman Longworth, stopped with great-grand-
father. He remarked upon the beauty of the river and
the surroundings and said, "What a pretty site for a
town". "Yes" said great-grandfather slowly, and with
a sigh, "yes, but it spoiled a good farm".
Many a weary traveler of high and low estate, could
testify to the warm-hearted hospitality of that home,
where in those days, neighborhoods meant counties.
Great-grandfather and great-grandmother were Bap-
tists and as there was no church, preaching was held in
In the later days when the more rigorous times were
passed and my great-grandparents were living in the
new brick home, my mother was born - Letta Merri-
16 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
man Shull -the eldest daughter of Catherine Norton
Shull and John Shull. This was the year 1834.
She has told me of the happy days when she and the
numerous cousins, grandchildren all, of Samuel and
Mary Norton, would visit them in their, - what seemed
to the children - palatial home. Hide and seek through
the rooms of the big house, and frolic and pranks were
the order, and this, at a time when children were sup-
posed to be seen, not heard. One time a fine hiding
place was found for my small mother inside the big
"grandfather's clock". It is not recorded whether the
clock ticked on, but the memory of these days was a joy
even to the end, when "she wrapped about her the
drapery of her couch and lay down to pleasant dreams."
The children born to Samuel and Mary Norton, after
their arrival in Bucyrus, were - Sophronia, Harris Put-
nam, Charles, Jefferson, and William. They were the
parents of twelve children, and their descendants are
scattered far and wide. The only members of the
second generation of this large family, now calling Bu-
cyrus home, are Mr. Fernando Norton and Mrs. Mary
There are several of the streets of Bucyrus named
for the children of great-grandfather, - Rensselaer,
Warren and Charles St., Perry St. for the first grand-
son (Aunt Louisa Garton's oldest son) and Mary St. for
great-grandmother. Great-grandfather's modesty did
not permit his own name to be so used.
Receiving mail was an event of great importance in
the little community, and whether a long looked for let-
ter was brought, or only news from the outside world,
the advent of the messenger with mail was a stirring
event. Letter postage was twenty-five cents. In 1822,
A Vision Fulfilled 17
anyone who would travel to Delaware was the official
postman. He could go by Indian trail, on horse-back in
the summer, but in winter the journey could only be
made on foot.
Right here I must tell you that the fame of Bucyrus
rests not alone on its beauty of situation. Its fame has
gone abroad! Some years ago while living in Mon-
treal, I was talking with a friend, a Virginian. In some
way conversation drifted to our ancestral homes. I
spoke of Bucyrus, Ohio, upon which he immediately re-
joined, "Oh, I know Bucyrus - I never in all my travels
saw such mud".
In 1824 the first official postoffice was established
with Lewis Cary as postmaster, in which capacity he
served for five years. During this period the office ap-
peared on the official records at Washington as "Bucy-
rus, alias Busiris". The name "Bucyrus", as doubtless
many of you know, was given by Col. Kilbourne, but the
origin of the name is a disputed point; our family, who
knew Col. Kilbourne well, being very sure that the first
syllable of "beautiful" and the name "Cyrus" were com-
bined; Col. Kilbourne being a great admirer of the his-
toric Persian General Cyrus; Mr. Franklin Adams, also
a personal friend of Col. Kilbourne, being equally sure
that the name was taken from Busiris, a city of ancient
Egypt and also a name given the old Egyptian Kings.
Great-grandfather did not at first favor the idea sug-
gested by Col. Kilbourne for laying out his farm into
lots, but later, when persuaded to do so, he entered into
a partnership with Col. Kilbourne and together they
platted and planned the town.
In 1830, when Bucyrus became the county seat of
Crawford County, Col. Kilbourne donated the lot for
18 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
the court house, which is the present site. Lots for a
school house and jail were donated by great-grandfather,
and in addition, he agreed to give one-third of the pro-
ceeds of all lots sold by him, toward the erection of public
In 1821, Zalman Rowse came from Massachussetts
and at once entered prominently into the active life of
the village, occupying many important offices, and was
identified with every enterprise for the forward move-
ment of Bucyrus.
Of his children, William Rowse married Catharine
Finn, whom he had met when she came from Pennsyl-
vania to visit her mother's brother, Samuel Norton.
The first pipe organ brought to Bucyrus was made
by Erasmus West of Lakeville, N. Y., who had married
great-grandmother's sister. He traded the organ for
land, great-grandfather purchasing it for his children.
Many years after, Jefferson Norton sold it to the Bu-
cyrus Catholic Church.
The family all enjoyed music, and several were
thought to be good singers. Jefferson played the organ
and Charles the violin.
The older children of the family had little opportu-
nity for educational instruction outside the home, where
father and mother were the teachers, yet their knowledge
of history and geography would equal that of the fortu-
nate youth of today, while their ability in mathematics
Learning to read from the stilted matter in the read-
ers of those times could scarcely be the pleasure that
the modern student finds in the choice selections from
the classics and poets which are embodied in the readers
A Vision Fulfilled 19
The spelling bee was an exciting amusement and an-
other popular form of entertainment was for the young
people to sit in a circle around the fireplace with a spokes-
man in the center, who would call without warning upon
first one and then another for a story. This would often
result in very bright, witty and interesting entertain-
My grandmother kept a diary from her young girl-
hood until the last years of her life. How I have wished
that I might have access to its pages at this time. So,
while educational advantages were lacking, knowledge
was prized, and sought, and - won.
My great aunt, Elizabeth Norton Jones - Mrs.
Lemert's mother - attended school at Granville when a
girl, and here, doubtless, away from the family roof-
tree, got a taste for secular literature, which was not al-
lowed at home. She has told how lying on the floor in
front of the fire-place and reading by its light, she read
such books as Thaddeus of Warsaw, Children of the
Abbey, Scottish Chiefs, etc. This was literature far too
exciting for a well-bred young woman to indulge in, and
so it was done by stealth - but it was done!
The candles which supplied the light, were made by
dipping wicks in tallow and hanging up to dry -later
a form was used and I remember seeing one of these
when quite a little girl and exclaiming to my mother,
"Oh what a cute little radiator."
The Indians at this time were all friendly, though
they took keen delight in frightening the children when
they came upon them in their play in the woods about
the cabins. They were not always welcome guests but
had to be endured and many times were permitted to
sleep on the floor in front of the fire, wrapped up in their
20 Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications
blankets. They would frequently come in unannounced
and would leave as quietly. They brought maple sugar
and cranberries and traded them for calico and tobacco,
or anything the settler had that took their fancy. There
was little currency among the settlers and a system of
barter was more often used than money.
When my great-aunt Sophronia Norton was born,
the event was of much interest to the Indians, who
evinced a great deal of curiosity about the little pale
They came many times later on and tried to prevail
upon great-grandmother to sell her.
I can imagine that this could scarcely have caused a
feeling of security with great-grandmother, for it was
not infrequent that children were stolen by the Indians,
and many times were never heard of again.
One of the very interesting characters who pre-
ceeded the pioneer, was "Johnny Appleseed", about
whom much has been written. He had planted an or-
chard not far from great-grandfather's first cabin and
it bore fruit in the early years after their arrival. Great-
grandfather had brought his own seeds when he came
and had planted his own orchard; but many of Johnnie's
trees were standing after great-grandfather's were all
dead. All of my mother's family were fond of Johnnie,
who was gentleness, uprightness, and honor itself,
though very uncouth in appearance, caring not at all
about his clothes. Often his feet were bare, even in
winter, and his clothes ragged and pieced together, but
he was always shaven and clean.
I would that the spirit of construction which Johnny
possessed could be abroad in the rural districts today,
and that our present day farmers would plant more
A Vision Fulfilled 21
trees, - trees to shade the highways and beautify the
In the district with which I am familiar, this kind
of construction is sadly lacking, and the tendency seems
to be to tear down, rather than to build up, and every-
thing possible is commercialized and apparently no
thought is given to those who will come after to reap the
benefit of that sown today.
Among my mother's papers, I found a clipping cut
from the Bucyrus Journal, which I will read in part, as
a tribute paid to great-grandfather, by those who knew
"Died-On the 18th of April, 1856, at his residence, Mr.
Samuel Norton, aged 76 years.
The death of Mr. Norton has left a vacancy among our
citizens, as well as in his family, which cannot be filled.
Being the first settler, he was justly entitled to the name
of the "Father of Bucyrus".
For fifty years he has been an exemplary member of the
Baptist Church and through all the vicissitudes of his pioneer
life, his spirits were kept buoyant by the hope of a future reward
in the mansions of eternal glory.
A large concourse of our citizens attended his funeral and
all express their respect for this much esteemed citizen and
sympathy for his afflicted relatives."
Great-grandmother survived him but three years,
dying in April 1859, and was laid to rest beside her com-
panion of fifty-two years of married life.
Theirs was a vision fulfilled.
"May we join the choir invisible of those immortal
dead who live again in minds made better by their