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History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio
with Illustrations
and Biographical Sketches of its Pioneers Most Prominent Men
Philadelphia - Williams Brothers

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z




Chardon Twp. -
AUSTIN CANFIELD, one of the old settlers and solid conservative citizens of Geauga, was born Mar. 10, 1804, at Litchfield, Herkimer County, New York, and is still living in Chardon at the age of seventy-four years.  His parents, Norman and Susannah Canfield, moved from New York State into Geauga County in 1812, first settling in Hambden, and soon after going to Chardon, where the father opened an inn, which stood upon the exact spot now occupied by the Chardon House.  It was a double log house, and many of the old residents of the county and the country contiguous remember the substantial hospitality, of which they received the benefit, under its roof.  Austin Canfield assisted his father in the tavern and upon his farm, coming up to manhood's estate with no fear of hard work, and with a wholesome respect for the class of people who earned their living.  When his father died, in 1821, the son moved on to the farm where he has resided until the present time, though the land long since was sold off in lots, and only the ground about the site of the old house left remaining.  The regard in which Austin Canfield has been and is held by his townspeople is shown by the fact that for many years of his life he has been in occupancy of public positions of trust and honor.  He was several times elected county assessor and also township assessor, and in the years of the great bank failures was appointed commissioner of insolvents, a place which he filled to the general satisfaction of the people with whom he dealt in his official capacity and to the public.  He was captain of the old Light Infantry, a company said to have been the best in the Reserve and in the State.  As early as 1833 he united with the Presbyterian church, of which denomination, and the Congregational church in later days, he has been an active member, and most of the time deacon.  It was as a nurse, however, that Austin Canfieldhas been most widely known through the later active years of his life.  For a long period he was always called by neighbors and even people at a considerable distance in cases of sickness, and many persons now living bear thankful testimony to the care which he bestowed at the sick-bed through long nightwatches.  He seems to have been peculiarly fitted for this delicate duty, and in its discharge has, though tact and tenderness, done a vast amount of good, and endeared himself to hundreds of his fellow-creatures.
Source: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio - Publ. Philadelphia, Williams Brothers - 1878 - Pg. 122

D. W. Canfield
D. W. CANFIELD was born in Chardon, Geauga Co., Ohio, Sept. 21, 1828.  His father, Platt Canfield, was the oldest of the four sons of Aaron Canfield, who, with his family, removed from Tyringham, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, and settled in Chardon in 1814.  Aaron was a grandson of Colonel Samuel Canfield, of New Milford, Connecticut.  The mother of D. W. Canfield was a daughter of Nathaniel Read, of Berkshire county, Massachusetts.  The subject of this sketch received his education principally in the schools of Professors Alfred Holbrook and T. W. Harvey.  He was engaged in teaching three terms, and in 1849 was married to Sophrona E. Allen, daughter of Ira Allen, Esq., formerly from Danby, Vermont.  He remained for several years after his marriage on the farm originally occupied by his father in Chardon, during which time he prepared himself for the practice of his profession.  In 1858 he graduated at the Union Law College, and was admitted to the bar the some year.  During that year he also formed a co-partnership with John French, which was terminated by the death of Mr. French in October, 1861.  The same fall he was elected prosecuting attorney of Geauga County, and held that office four years.
     In 1861 he formed a co partnership with Hon. H. K. Smith, which terminated in 1866 by the election of H. K. Smith to the office of probate judge of Geauga County.  Upon the retirement of Mr. Smith, another co partnership was formed with Judge M. C. Canfield, which continued for five years, and was dissolved by the election of M. C. Canfield to the office of Common Pleas judge.  During the time he was a partner of Mr. Canfield he served two years as representative of the county in the State Legislature.  Shortly after this he held the office of mayor of the incorporated village of Chardon.
     In 1871 he formed a co partnership with Hon. I. N. Hathaway, which lasted until the fall of 1875, when he was elected Common Pleas judge, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge M. C. Canfield, and served in that capacity until the expiration of his term, at which time he again resumed the practice of his profession.  The Canfields were among the earliest, as they have always been among the most substantial respected and influential families of Chardon.  The subject of this sketch may be styled emphatically a self-made man, owing more to his fortunate parentage, especially to a most excellent, intelligent, and devoted mother, and to his own native energy and will, then to any outward advantages for his success in life.  He received only a common education.  As a lawyer he early took a prominent position at the bar of his county, which he has ever since maintained, the experience acquired in a long and successful practice having in later years added greatly to his professional resources.  Possessing very considerable natural force and fluency as a speaker, combined with quick discernment, ready tact, and an earnest, pleasing manner, he has the essentials of a good advocate, and, in the presentation to a jury of a case in which his sympathies are enlisted, is not often excelled.  The duties of the several honorable and responsible positions to which he has been called have been discharged with ability and fidelity.  In the House he served with credit on the judiciary and other important committees, and was recognized, even by his political opponents, as a most useful member; and it is believed that no judge with so short a term of service ever left the bench with a better record.  He has always been active and efficient in the promotion of the interests of his town and county, every enterprise having this end in view meeting with this cordial support.  He is also a strong advocate of the temperance and other reform movements.  Though by early education and associations a Democrat, he became identified with the Republican part from its organization, and has long been one of its acknowledged leaders in Geauga County.  A man of clear intellect, ardent temperament, and strong attachments, few have more decided elements of popularity or success.
     Mr. Canfield's life has been blessed with that greatest of benefactions, a wife in whom those qualities that grace and ennoble womanhood are united in a marked degree.  To him she has always proved a real helper and a loving companion.  Active in the affairs of the church and society, and faithful to the duties of the home-life she so fondly loves, she has ever proven herself to be the true woman, wife, and mother.
     He has three children living, - one son, Ira W. Canfield, and two daughters: Eva C. Metcalf, wife of Thomas Metcalf, Jr., of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and Lizzie L. Canfield, of Chardon.  He has lost one daughter, - Della W., who died Aug. 23, 1877, aged eleven years and eleven months, - which bereavement was the greatest of all the sorrows of his life.  In religion he has been a member of the Christian church for more than thirty years.
Source: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio - Publ. Philadelphia, Williams Brothers - 1878 - Pg. 103
     My Chardon days began in the spring of 1841, and I lived for several years at the hotel of the late Judge Avery.  Just west of the hotel, under pleasant trees, amid shrubs and flowers, was the cottage-home of the Converses.  At that day Mrs. Converse and her sister-in-law, Mrs. Hoyt, were very comely young matrons, and quite the leading women of Chardon society,—would have been leaders anywhere.  Famous singers were they of old-time fugue tunes and psalmody.  The Converse mansion was the first house .to which I was invited in the village.  It was my fortune to at once secure the ever-continuing friend ship of the gifted mistress, than which no greater blessing can fall on the giddy days of young manhood,--a wise woman is so much more than a wise man can be.  It was also my luck to early acquire the regard of her husband, which attended me through all his life, and the memory of my Chardon days brings them ever to mind.  I gladly undertake the office of a little sketch of them, too warm perhaps for history.  I could not do a dry, hard outline, our attempt a cold analysis of character.  I approach them with the tender reverence with which we draw near the resting-place of cherished ones, and lay there an offering to their memories.
     It is seen that the form of the woman rises first in my thought.  This is no disparagement to the man.  There were few men of her time who would not have been second to her, and the deference to usage which requires me to draw his outline first on my sheet does violence to my nature and judgment, which places a true, noble woman before any man.

     Mr. Convese, born at Randolph, Orange county, Vermont, July 21, 1806, was the youngest of the twelve children of Joseph and Mary Converse.  Of these but two survive, Governor Julius Converse, of Vermont, an eminent lawyer, and who reached the chief magistracy of his State through several of the most important subordinate stations in the gift of her people; and MRs. Eleanor Hoyt, of Cleveland.  Another sister, Mrs. Mary French, was for many years a highly-esteemed resident of Chardon; was the mother of Mrs. Mary Foote widow of the late Charles H. Foote; John French; Hon. Warren C. French, an able lawyer and leading citizen of Vermont; J. Wales French of Kirkland, Oneida county, New York; Mrs. Calvin Knowles and Henry French, of Cleveland.
     Jude was reared in New England, where his ancestors were early planted, grew up amid its green hills, cold blue steams, and snowy winters.  The youngest of a large family, one can easily understand he was the half-spoiled pet of older
sisters, imbibed the ideas, inherited the traits of character, had the usual educa
tion and habits of thought of a genuine New England boy. His brother-in-law,
Hoyt, was for many years one of the most prominent men of Geauga when its
northern boundary was Lake Erie. In 1828 young Converse followed his sister
to Chardon, where, with the exception of two years at Cleveland, he resided the
rest of his life. Soon after ‘his arrival he engaged in mercantile enterprises, which
he pursued with varying success for many years. The final failure in business,
that severest test of integrity and reputation, involved no loss of character and
no diminution of esteem and confidence. During most of the administrations of
Presidents Lincoln and Johnson he had the management of the Chardon post
office, which he was compelled to relinquish, on the invasion of disease, to the
general regret of the people. On the 8th of November, 1832, he was joined in
marriage to Mrs. Sidney Denton, widow of the late Dr. E. Denton, of Chardon.
Of this union and its fruits I am to speak elsewhere. His death occurred at
Chardon, on the 4th day of February, 1874, and there his remains repose.
     The Converses were a well-looking race, a good share of which fell to J ude.
Slenderly made, standing five feet eight, blondc, blue-eyed, with fair hair, pleasing
manners, and one of the frankest of manly faces, in which the guilelessness of the
heart and soul were written in the clearest characters. His was a joyous, loyal
nature, rich in all the social qualities, tender, simple, pure, generous, just, sus
ceptible of enduring attachments, and endowed with the qualities which win
much love. He received a fair intellect, which saw clearly, formed earnest con
victions, upon which he unhesitatingly acted. Not self-assertive, unambitious,
modest, his name was rarely heard out of his village. No one perhaps ever lived
in it more loved and esteemed, or died more regretted.

When one stands in the shadow of this woman, estimates her possibilities, and turns to the calm tame serenity of her way in life, which any woman could have trod, he feels as if there had been a misapplication, a misappropriation of faculties.  Of the usual height, commanding presence, full-corsaged, a massive head, broad be imperious, and an air and look that might become regal, one is prepared for the unusual, the striking in her career, and half-regrets her sex or curses its narrow limits.  Her life presents a fine subject for a study.  A memoir would bring out her traits with breadth and fullness; a sketch in some sort will be as failure.
     Sidney Metcalf was born in Enfield, Connecticut, Mar. 16, 1804.  She also was one of twelve children.  Her father's name was Thomas, and her mother's SybilThomas and Eben Metcalf, of Chardon, and Orrin Metcalf, of Natchez, Mississippi, are brothers.  Mrs. Elizabeth Chandler, of Seneca county, Ohio, is a sister, as was Mrs. Samuel Smith, of Chardon, also Mrs. Doctor Ludlow, of
Auburn.  One would like to know more of the Metcalfs.  They were a strong fibered race, coming from New Hampshire granite.  Governor Metcalf of New Hampshire (and probably Governor Metcalf, of Kentucky, also, as the Metcalfs are supposed to have had a common origin), was of that blood, and so is Honorable Charles E. Glidden, of Warren.  Thomas Metcalf was a strong, positive-minded man, of exceptional force of character and intelligence, as is Thomas, Jr. of Chardon.  Orrin, a younger son, is a leading man in his region, and for many years sheriff of Adams, his county of residence, in Mississippi.  Another son, Doctor Asa B., early became a resident also of that State, and after many years of successful practice there, removed to California, where he died, and where his widow and two accomplished daughters, Mrs. Ellen J. McHenry and Mrs. Emma M. Hay still reside.  The mother, Sybil was said to be one of the most amiable of women, which I can believe.
     I knew nothing of the girlhood of Sidney.  I thought the name a funny one for a girl; somehow it always seemed appropriate for Mrs. Converse.  She accompanied the Smiths to Chardon in 1817, when she was thirteen, and grew and ripened in the richness and freedom of those years.  Such a nature and mind as hers will educate themselves, and secure all there is of the best within their reach.  At the age of twenty she formed her first marriage, becoming the second wife of Dr. Evert Denton, of Chardon, and assumed the care of his four children. Dr. Denton was one of the most famous physicians of his day, in a very wide circuit; a man not of striking personal appearance, but of great learning and brilliant parts; a sayer of things to be repeated, many of which remain.  After a happy union of six years, Sidney became a widow.  This was in 1830.  She now went through one of the sorest tests of a woman's life, - twenty-six, very attractive, a widow. In 1832 she formed what one might fancy her more real marriage, with Jude Converse.  Quite certain I am that the conditions favorable to a happy union quite abundantly attended this last.  The first husband was a man to be admired, honored, revered, and doubtless loved.  The second was a man more to be loved.  The gifted never seek the same gifts.  The beautiful wed the plain, and genius mates with the moderately endowed, and is proud of the acquisition.  The heart does not always find its own, but seldom fails to recognize it when it does.  The dark, cynical, witty, original man of genius, inferior presence, and forty years, might not successfully rival the handsome, gay-hearted, high-spirited youth of twenty-six.  Sidney had intellect and courage enough for half a dozen.  However it may have been, the marriage was one of rare unity and happiness. The home realized the ideal conception of that word.  The bright days of prosperity without found answering light within.  When the outside world darkened it was illuminated by the radiance from the hearthstone.  There heart, soul, love, tenderness, warmth, courage, and hope never diminished; surrounding darkness only made them appear more conspicuous, steady, and enduring.  With children and grandchildren idolizing and clinging to her, the woman, when she reached her second and real widowhood, pined.  On the first anniversary of her husband's death she was smitten with illness, and five days after, Feb. 9, 1875, she followed him.
     It has been said that no woman attains all her best until motherhood.  Mrs. Converse was the mother of six children.  Of the four by her first husband, Richard E. and Sybil reached maturity.  Richard is a man of singular and fine acquirements, which for some inscrutable reason have never been utilized, and, though possessing many excellences, many men with none of his genius make a larger figure in the world.  Sybil also had rare intellectual qualities, marked with a dreaminess that rendered her peculiar,—a beautiful, gentle girl, of brilliant intellect.  She died when twenty-five, at her uncle's, in Natchez, of yellow fever.  Of the two of the last marriage, Julius O. will be the subject of the following sketch.  The others died in childhood; the last, Mary Ellen, at the age of two and one-half years.  A rare, precocious child, her gifts provoked the fatal favor
of the gods, as in classic ages.
     The mental qualities of Mrs. Converse were practical, of the cast we call masculine, because of their rarity among women.  Her mind was enriched by wide and varied reading, her perceptions quick, and her judgment of men and things of singular accuracy.  Few detected the tendency of the times with greater sagacity, or were more fertile in suggesting expedients.  Force and strength were the leading features of her character.  The religious element was large and well developed in her nature; her views of the order called advanced.  Self-poised, clear-seeing, strong, and masterful, though always womanly, she was necessarily a centre.  Tender woman, wife, and mother, the law of her household was love.  Generous and sympathetic, her heart was a refuge to the stricken, and her hand a ready helper to the needy.  In her neighborhood she was a resource of strength, wise counsel and charity; in her circle she led without seeming to, and ruled by appearing to serve.  When one contemplates her completed life, he may perhaps cease to regret that no broader and higher career was opened to her.

     This gentleman bears the names of his two uncles, the governor of Vermont, and Metcalf, of Natchez.  The only son and surviving child of the subjects of the two preceding sketches, he was born at Chardon, May 1, 1834, and is now forty-four years of age.  He is what the English call “personable,” stands six feet high, with more the complexion and look of the Converses than of the Metcalfs.  With the kindly amiability of his father he unites the fine sense, good judgment, and many of the mental characteristics of the mother.  The born pet of his parents through infancy and early childhood, he came as near being spoiled by over-tenderness as falls to the lot of the children of the most devoted.  From the
day that he was able to walk he was the perpetual companion of his father, who never relinquished his hand unless engaged in some act requiring both of his own.  In his walks to and from the “Red Brick Store" to the post-office, to make calls or for recreation, Jude was invariably attended by Julius.  What the result of continued prosperity in business would have been to the junior may not be known.  The child, so tenderly cherished by he father, had early to learn the bitter-sweet lesson of persistent, fruitful labor.  He was not placed early at school, nor did he ever at any time enjoy any but the commonest advantages.  It is believed that after his thirteenth year his attendance at school was of the scantiest.  A child of Sidney Converse would hardly be entirely dependent upon outside facilities for education.  Julius could at no time, in the constant presence of his father, have been a harum-scarum, rollicking boy.
     At sixteen he entered upon his novitiate in a life-long service of the press.  It was in the office of a village newspaper that he grew, developed, and ripened, as strong-minded men do.  It was there that he received his real outside education.  He is a favorable specimen of what it may do for a boy of pure New England descent.  I cannot imagine the faintest touch of the Bohemian type, which is found distributed in all printing establishments, on the character or habits of Julius.  A boy might run away from such a father as Jude Converse; a tramping jour. printer never had a mother who greatly resembled Sidney.  Her providence must have been too wise, wide, and warm to permit the birth of a wish to wander out of its circle.  His first work, beginning in 1850, was under the young Bruces, William W. and Eli, on the Geauga Republic.  He then served under the late Hon. J. F. Asper, afterward member of Congress from Missouri, who conducted the Free Democrat.  He was succeeded by the late J. S. Wright in
1852, who subsequently changed the name of the paper to Jeffersonian Democrat.  Young Converse followed the press in this change of owners, and continued in a subordinate position until he became the proprietor and editor, in January, 1859.  These useful, fruitful years were mostly spent in the same office, when, at the early age of twenty-five, he assumed the responsibilities of the head and owner of the establishment.  The Converses were without exception pronounced Whigs.  Julius had breathed no other air; indeed, there was scarcely enough of any other for a single breath. This came to them early impregnated with decided anti slavery sentiment, and ere young Converse graduated to full citizenship the Whig party had disappeared.  During this period he studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1858. He has a good mind for the law, where, in the long run, the solid wins against the brilliant.  He took the paper, then free from local rivalries, with all the patronage of the county, and at once met the requisitions of his position.  His predecessor was a cautious, prudent manager of the journal.  From the young editor it at once took a sharper and more advanced position upon the one topic of slavery.
     The next year saw the election of Mr. Lincoln and the secession of the States, followed by the awful war, which fought itself, dictated its own policy, fashioned all policy, and formed all individual opinion.  The whole nation was at war, and all men, women, and children were more or less warriors, soldiers, auxiliaries, victims, sufferers, and mourners.  During all those years, the young editor, ever stanch, contributed his full quota to the one cause.  The Jeffersonian Democrat was finally changed to the more significant Republican.  The paper has steadily grown, broadened. and deepened, keeping fully abreast of the intelligent community who sustain and are in some sort sustained by it.  Reared and living nearly all his days in the village of Chardon, the centre of a purely agricultural community, whose character and habits of thought are his, trained to the constant calling of understanding and supplying their intellectual needs, when the narrow limits of the means at his command are remembered, contrasted with the expensive pages of the city dailies and weeklies with which it competes, the Geauga Republican must be esteemed quite the model country newspaper.  With its staff of good writers in each township, it. certainly meets one of the demands of the city editor: it furnishes to his scissors all the happenings within the limits of its circulation.  Mr. Converse is a good writer.  He occasionally grapples with a point or problem, and, in a half-dozen clear, well-considered, compact, vigorous paragraphs, disposes of it.  The fault I find with him is, he writes too little.  Then, when I estimate the space at his command, and mark the disposition he makes of it, and see that quite the whole of it is filled with original matter, in
short, pithy articles and paragraphs, I excuse his forbearance.  Really, the amount of skill and ability expended by one man on a successful country paper would quite well furnish forth a lawyer, a doctor, two or three preachers, and half a dozen lecturers.
     Early in Mr. Lincoln's administration he appointed Mr. Converse postmaster at Chardon, and renewed it.  This is the only office Mr. Converse has ever held.  I have never heard that he sought any office.  He has most of the time, for years, been chairman of the Republican central committee of his county, and serves constantly on the district committees, judicial, senatorial, and congressional, giving the best of a ripened experience and rare judgment to the Republican cause, with out other reward than the unstinted confidence and esteem which have always
attended him.  Singularly unambitious and modest, always underestimating himself, and never claiming anything, frank-natured, generous, of integrity undoubted, the blue-eyed, slender, silent boy who, a few years since, was the docile companion of his father's footsteps, has silently and unconsciously matured into one of the first men of a community of unusual intelligence, critical, and exacting in the qualities of its trusted men.  Certainly, this is much.
     On the 24th of December,1862, he was united in marriage with Julia P. Wright, daughter of Daniel H. and Susan P. Wright, of Freedom, Portage county.  The Wrights were of vigorous Massachusetts stock, coming from the neighborhood of Northampton, inheriting and transmitting to their children the virtues and characteristics of the New England race.  They were the parents of five children, one dying in infancy.  Of the two sons, Daniel fell in the murderous battle of Cedar Mountain.  He carried the colors of his regiment, the gallant Seventh Ohio, and met the usual fate of the standard-bearer.  Our army suffered a severe repulse there, and the hands which slew buried him.
     Arthur, less fortunate, contracted disease of the camp, march, and exposure, and died in hospital.  Less favored in death, parents and sisters had the solace of seeing his grave made by kindred hands near his home.  The parents survive in honored age.
     Mrs. Converse, a niece of the former proprietor of the Republican, was born in Huntsburg, Mar. 5, 1836, was carried to Freedom at seven, and grew to womanhood with the intelligence and culture which came almost naturally to the children of the favored Reserve.  A brunette, with a good face and fine eyes, accomplished, with womanly ways and manners, winning the love and confidence of Sidney Converse,—a sure test of many excellences,—she succeeds her in the love, confidence, and respect of family, friends, and neighbors. She, too, graduated early in the school of adverse fortune, was herself a teacher of children, and derived the strength of character, independence, and completeness of development which the women of her race receive from such training.  Of this marriage a daughter, Mary, fourteen years of age, is the offspring, - Converse, as one sees, in face and form, in disposition and ways also, I may imagine her going around much with her father, watching his eyes, and hearing his words.  Later, the mother traits will appear.  Daughters inherit from fathers and sons from mothers.  The German common folk have a pleasant superstition that to be born in the month of May, a “ May child,” is to secure happy fortunes.  Mary Converse shares with her father this pleasant omen.  The children of such parents as they were born of are surrounded by more fortunate influences and providences. The family circle is complete with the presence of Sarah N. Wright, the attractive younger sister of Mrs. Converse.
     When last in dear old Geauga (summer of 1878), I was several times in the present Converse mansion,—-the new and beautiful residence.  It seemed pervaded with the warmth and spirit of the old life, whose memories were to be perpetual, and whose legends and traditions would live in perennial freshness.
Source: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio - Publ. Philadelphia, Williams Brothers - 1878 - Pg. 124

  JOHN PHELPS CONVERSE was the seventh son and eleventh child of Israel Converse, and was born in Randolph, Orange County, Vermont, Jan. 27, 1792.  His father was a native of Stafford, Connecticut.
     The Converse family had its origin in the province of Navarre, France, where it was known under the name of De CoignieresRobert and Robert de Coignieres settled in Durham, England, in the latter part of the reign of William the Conquerer.  When the Reformation spread in France, the De Coignieres became Huguenots, and many of the family fell in the massacre of St. Bartholomew.  Shortly after that event, Pierre de Coignieres, with his wife and two children, escaped to England, and settled in the county of Essex.  In process of time the name, following the English pronunciation, became Conyers, and has been so called in England ever since.
     In 1630, Edward Conyers, with Sarah, his wife, and his two sons, Josiah and James (with the addition of a third son, Samuel, born on the passage), sailed form England in the fleet with Winthrop, and settled in Charlestown, Massachusetts.  During the passage across the ocean the name "suffered a sea-change" by dropping a part of the y, and became Convers, and so remained for several generations.  Just at what time the e  was added to the name does not appear.  Some branches of the family have not yet adopted it.
     Some time between 1735 and 1737, Josiah, the fifth in descent from Edward Convers, settled in Stafford, Connecticut, in which town was born, Aug. 7, 1743, Israel, the father of John Phelps.
At the beginning of the War of the Revolution, Israel Converse entered the army as second lieutenant in one of the regiments of Connecticut troops, and the same year was raised to the rank of captain.  He remained in the army till the close of the war, and was discharged with the rank of colonel.  In 1787 he removed with his family to Randolph, Vermont, and was one of the pioneer settlers of that place, in which town his son, John Phelps, was born, as above stated.
     By the death of his father, which occurred in his fifteenth year, the subject of our sketch was thrown upon his own resources.  While quite young he served some time with his brother-in-law, a merchant in Montreal.  He afterwards returned to Vermont, and was engaged in a store with his elder brother and in attending school.
     His health at that time not being good, he left Vermont in 1812, and remained some time in the vicinity of Utica, New York.  During the first year he engaged in teaching, and was afterwards for some time the superintendent in a glass-factory.  In 1816 he married Miss Betsey Collins, daughter of General Alexander Collins, of Whitestown, New York, who survived her marriage but one year.  She died in February, 1817, leaving an infant son.  A few months after this event Mrs. Converse made his first visit to Ohio, taking the journey partly on account of his health, which was not good, and in part to ascertain its business prospects, with a view to future settlement.  The Western Reserve was then the centre of attraction to all whose faces were turned towards Ohio, and in the course of his journeyings he reached Parkman, where he remained a few weeks.  At this time also he went to Detroit, and soon after returned to Oneida county.
     In July, 1818, he was married, at Westmoreland, Oneida county, to Miss Hannah B. Parkman, the youngest sister of R. B. Parkman, whose acquaintance he had made when in Ohio, she being then on a visit to her brother.
     Immediately after this event he removed to Parkman and permanently settled there.  In October of that year he purchased a place in the village containing several acres, on the southwest corner of which stood an unfinished house, into which, after putting it in order, he removed with his family, and in which he resided fourteen years.
     There being then no house of entertainment in the town, and the location being favorable for that purpose, he opened a hotel, which he kept, with some intermissions, as long as he remained in the place.
     For the purpose of creating a home market for the grain raised in the town and vicinity, Mr. Parkman and himself, in 1820, built, and for some years owned, a distillery near the river, and at that time it was looked upon as an important addition to the business facilities of the town; but as the owners were in their own habits temperance men, it needed only the rise of the temperance reformation to cause the building to be converted to other uses.
     In 1821 they built, on the left bank of the river, below the village, a mill for the manufacture of linseed oil, which continued in successful operation till 1835.  In 1833 they began the erection of a paper-mill, some rods higher up the river, on the opposite side of the stream.  At this point the banks of the river are so high that, although the building was one of the three stories, the roof only remained above the bank.  After the foundations were laid, and the frame put up and inclosed, the original plan was changed, and it was finished as a flour-mill.  This mill was burned in 1838.
     In the autumn of 1824 he opened a store in the village.  The next year he entered into partnership with his elder brother, Porter Converse, which continued till 1828, when it was dissolved and the business closed.
     Shortly after this, Porter Converse removed to Unionville, entered into business as a merchant, and resided there till his death, which took place in 1870, in the ninety-third year of his age.
     Prior to 1824 the mail through Parkman was carried on horseback once in the week.
     Not far from this time Mr. Converse, with others contracted with the postoffice department to carry the mail from Fairport of Poland, Trumbull county, in a conveyance suitable for the accommodation of the traveling public, which was soon enlarged into a daily four-house post-coach.
     The route lay through Painesville, Chardon, Burton, Parkman, and Warren, and prior to the construction of railroads it continued to be the main line of travel for the section of country through which it passed.
     His contracts were renewed and extended till the route reached Sandusky, Monroe and Detroit.  The prosecution of the business involved many journeys to Washington and a residence there of weeks, and sometimes months, during which time he became acquainted with Henry Clay and other leaders of the opposition in the time of the Jackson administration.
     In 1832, the year of the first visitation of the cholera in the United States, he was dangerously ill with it at Monroe, Mich., but, not being acquainted with the forms of the disease, he was unaware of his danger, and thus recovered.  In 1833, the first mail ever carried across the territory of Michigan was carried by him to Chicago, then only a trading-post, with three or four houses, in the vicinity of Fort Dearborn, thus becoming a second time a pioneer.
     He was present when the land upon which the city of Chicago is built was purchased of the Indians and their title extinguished, and, forseeing the results which the advantages of the location would ultimately produce, he determined to transfer to it his interests and his residence, but a serious illness deterred him at the time, and the fear of sickness for his family, which was then the invariable attendant of western emigration, caused its ultimate relinquishment.
     He closed his connection with the post-office department in 1836, after twelve years of service, in which time he had overcome all the difficulties of the route and literally made straight paths for the feet of those who should succeed him.
     In 1825 he, with Eleazar Hickox, of Burton, and Isaac Mills, of Portage county, was appointed "to lay out, improve, and keep in repair a road leading from Chardon, in Geauga County, through Burton and Parkman village, in a direction towards Warren."  The :working" of this road through Parkman devolved upon him, and was performed soon after the date of his commission.  He also, not far from this time, superintended the putting in good traveling order several other roads in the township.
     Mr. Converse was a member of the State Legislature during the sessions of 1842-43.  In the winter of 1846 he was appointed one of the associate judges of Geauga County, and held the office till it was abolished under the new State constitution of 1851.
     In 1863 he was appointed assistant assessor under the internal revenue law, but resigned the place on account of failing heath in 1864.
     Mrs. Converse died in 1859.  She was the youngest daughter of Alexander  Parkman, and was born in Westmoreland, Oneida county, New York, Sept. 25, 1793.  She was twenty-two years younger than her brother Robert Breck.  She had been a longer resident in Parkman than her husband; her first visit was made in 1814, at which time, in company with her brother, she made the whole journey from Oneida county on horseback.  They passed through Buffalo while it was still smoking from its burning by the British troops and Indians.
     She was a woman of intelligence and energy of character, and in her own sphere met and discharged the arduous duties which devolved upon her in the various relations of life in which she was placed.
     In 1862, Mr. Converse married Mrs. Rebecca Hahns, of Cleveland, who survived him.  She died instantly of apoplexy in September, 1877.
     Mr. Converse always took a deep interest in all matters pertaining to the public welfare, both as regarded in his own neighborhood and that of the country at large, and was ever ready to give to such his hearty support. 
     He gave an ardent adherence to the government during the war of the rebellion, and rejoiced with all good patriots in the overthrow of slavery.
     When he met with reverses of fortune - and he had his full share of them - he did not give way to despondency or inaction.  His usual phrase at such times was, "We will pick the flint and try again."  In politics he was a Whig of the Giddings and Wade school.  He was one of the delegates to the Buffalo convention of 1848, at the time of the organization of the Free Soil movement, which culminated in the Republican party, to the principles of which he gave an unwavering support.
     He was kind and affectionate in his domestic relations, and for the last twenty-five years he was a member of the Congregational church.  His death took place Feb. 21, 1865, at the age of seventy-three.
     His family consisted of four children; the eldest, Oliver Collins, the son of his first wife, who was born at Cayuga, New York, Jan. 18, 1817, died at Parkman in 1839.
     His three daughters, the children of his second wife, are still living.
Source: History of Geauga and Lake Counties, Ohio, Publ. Philadelphia by Williams Brothers - 1878 - Page 87





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