Ohio History Journal






"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

growing city.

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.


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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

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

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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

entire surface.

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

their clothing.

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

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

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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

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

for it?

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-

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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

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

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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

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

their home.

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-

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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

Jones Lemert.

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

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

Vol. XXXI-2.

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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

was marked.

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

of today.

A Vision Fulfilled 19

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

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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

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