Mecca township is among the
later settlements of this county, consequently its history is not as
interesting in respect to pioneer life, adventures, and hardships as
that of some of the older communities. A considerable portion
of the township is well improved, and contains some excellent
farming land. Mecca has no important manufacturing interests,
no railroads, and no villages of importance, consequently it
supports but a small population, which is chiefly engaged in
The township is divided by Mosquito creek into two
unequal portions. This stream enters the township from the
north and pursues a course almost directly southward, entering
Bazetta only a few rods east of the north and south center line of
that township. About five-eighths of the land in Mecca lies
west of the creek. Several small brooks from the east and one
from the west join the Mosquito in this township. The
bottom land of the creek is quite extensive. As it is low it
is frequently overflowed. The surface is somewhat variable.
A ridge extends through the township, north and south, on the east
side of the creek; then come the bottom lands, and in the
northwestern quarter of the township highlands more elevated than
those east of the creek. The southwest of the township is like
a level plain. It contains much swampy ground, which has never
yet been improved for farming purposes. The surface is but
little broken, the valleys of the smaller streams being shallow.
The soil is good. In it clayey loam predominates,
though a mixture of sand is usually found in all the uplands.
Grass and almost all other staple farm crops flourish.
The geological features of this township are of
considerable interest. Underlying the surface of the land west
of the creek are found the Mecca oils, to which further allusion
will be made in this chapter. A few discoveries of oil east of
the creek have been made in the northern part of the township, but
these deposits are mostly confined to West Mecca. A natural
carbon gas escapes from the ground in some places. In one or
two instances this gas has been utilized for heating purposes.
The well from which the chief supply is obtained is east of the
creek, and appears to be inexhaustible. Mr. L. Pierson
has been burning gas in his stove for some time.
At East Mecca corners is a village of ten or twelve
houses, one store, three churches, etc. This was the business
place of the township for many years, as settlements were not made
west of the creek until quite extended improvements had taken place
in East Mecca.
West Mecca has a few more houses than East Mecca, but
as it has but one church and one store, the rival villages are of
almost equal unimportance.
Mecca is the sixth township in the third range, and
lies between Bristol on the west and Johnston on the east.
Greene is north and Bazetta south of it.
The land in this township
was purchased from the Connecticut Land company by Turhand
Kirtland, William Ely, Kingsbury, and Cowles. The
Kirtland tract was the most extensive, including nearly all
of the northern half of the township. The other tracts, like
this, extended across the township from east to west, and were thus
located, beginning at the north; Kirtland tract, Cowels
tract, Kingsbury tract, Ely tract.
Judge Kirtland lied in Poland, and being anxious
to have this tract settled, made very easy terms with the
purchasers, leaving the payment of the principal optional with the
contractor so long as the interest was kept up. Such easy
terms no doubt induced many pioneers to come to this township while
it was yet a most uninviting region, remote from the rest of the
world, and only reached by difficult journeys through extensive
The history of the
settlement of Mecca is less interesting than that of many townships
for two reasons: first, it was made quite late; and second, but few
families descended from the first pioneers are now represented here.
From the best sources of information now available we have succeeded
in gathering the following statements:
The first settler was Joseph Dawson, who came
from Poland township, the southeast corner of the Reserve, about the
year 1811. He located about one and three-fourths miles north
of East Mecca on what is known as the Read farm. Here
Dawson built the first cabin in the township, and his family
continued to be the only one in the township for nearly two years.
Later he moved away.
JOHN ROSE, Dawson's father-in-law, came
about 1813, and settled north of Dawson, on the Thompson farm.
This family was also from Poland, and and continued permanent
residents of Mecca, making worthy, straightforward citizens.
Some representatives of the family - the third generation - still
As just what date other early settlers arrived nothing
can now be definitely learned. From the recollection of one of
the old residents it has been ascertained that in 1819 the following
were inhabitants of this township, all living on the east side of
the creek: Lemuel Hickock, Peter Row, Samuel Phillips,
Sylvester Taylor, Martin Daniels, Daniel Tucker, Joseph Phillips,
a Mr. Ballard, Joseph Headly, Joseph Barstow, a Mr.
Sturgis, and Seymour Hunt. With the two families
previously mentioned, these made a total of fourteen families in the
township at the date given.
JOSEPH PHILLIPS was the first blacksmith in the
township. He resided on the farm where his grandson
Christopher now lives.
LEMUEL HICKOCK lived at the corners. Of
his family, Oscar spent his days in Mecca, John
settled in Greene, and his daughter died quite young.
PETER ROW first settled one mile south of East
Mecca, where Herman Lake now lies.
JOY SPERRY, previous to 1824, settled on a farm
one mile and a half south of the corners. He sold to a man
named Craft and moved to the Herman Lake farm.
In 1820 the first settlement in that part of the
township lying west of the creek was made by Joseph Buttles,
who remained the only resident of West Mecca for about eight years.
His farm was about a mile north of West Mecca, on Powers'
corners, and is now owned by O. M. Benton. Two of his
sons, Edmond and Justin, were married and had
families. Another son lived here unmarried. All moved
away quite early.
In December, 1824,
JOSEPH CHAFEE settled
one-fourth of a mile north of East Mecca. He came hither from
Bristol township, to which he had moved from Massachusetts in 1813.
Mr. Chafee died in Bristol in 1869, having removed there
about two years before. He brought up five daughters and one
son. Two of the daughters are now living. The son, J.
G. Chaffee, resides in Mecca.
IRA KNAPP was born in Vermont in 1800. He
married on New York State, and in 1825 came to Mecca and settled in
the eastern part of the township. He reared a family of nine
children, all of whom were born in this township. Five
are still living. Mr. Knapp is now the only living
pioneer who was the head of a family at the time of coming here,
with perhaps one or two exceptions.
Of the township at the time of his coming Mr. Knapp
BUTTLES FAMILY were the only
inhabitants of the west side of the creek. The only roads were
paths marked by blazed trees. The road to the Johnston line
had not even been bushed out. Some of the brooks had pole
bridges across them. There were o frame buildings in the
township except a few small shanties. A log school-house was
partly built at East Mecca when I came, and I helped to finish it.
Mr. Bartlett, of Greene, was among the first teachers there.
He received about $10 per month, but not in money. The
settlers paid him for teaching by helping him clear his farm in
A few years after settling here Mr. Knapp bought
ten sheep of Judge Kirtland, of Poland. The wolves
caught all of them except two, in several instances coming into the
yard near the cabin to seize their prey.
MARTIN DANIELS lived where William Love
now resides. His son Stephen married a daughter of
Steven Pettis and moved to the northeast of the township.
Pettis was an early settler east of the creek.
JOHN COOK, from Cayuga county, New York, settled
south of the east corners in 1831. His family consisted of
nine children; five are still living: James, Zachariah, Aaron,
Polly, and Wealthy. Nathan Cook, brother of John,
came to the township the next year. He is still living on the
farm where he first settled, at the center of Mecca. He reared
three sons and four daughters.
ABNER MASON, born in Cheshire, Massachusetts, in
1766, died in Mecca in 1841. Priscilla, his wife, born
in Dalton, Massachusetts, in 1771, died here in 1847. Noble
Mason their son, long known as Squire Mason, died in
1880. He was born in Cazenovia, New York, in 1810. In
1817 the family moved to Boardman township, and in 1828 to Mecca.
They settled west of the creek and were the second family in West
Mecca. Noble Mason taught the first school west of the
creek, when he was eighteen years old. He married Lora P.
Brown, who was born in Connecticut in 1813 and still survives.
To them were born two sons and two daughters. The sons and one
daughter are still living. Squire Mason was an elder
and a prominent member of his church. Besides being justice of
the peace several years he held about every township office.
N. W. PALMER, ESQ., an
old resident and respected citizen of Mecca, was born in Stonington,
New London county, Connecticut, Mar. 13, 1811. After a few
years' residence in New York State, he settled in Mecca in 1833,
where he has since resided. Sept. 22, 1837, he married
Lucretia M. Abell. The result of this union has been two
sons and two daughters. Mr. Palmer has been justice of
the peace many years. He is one of our most substantial
HERMAN BENTON, who bought out the Buttles
farm, lived and died in this township. His son,
Orris M., now lives on a part of the old place, and William
S. Benton, Esq., near East Mecca.
JOSEPH WING was an early settler in West Mecca
corners. He sold out to Jacob Powers, of Youngstown,
who resided here several years. The place is still called
JOSEPH W. SMITH and his father, William Smith,
were early settlers in the northwest of the township. S. F.
Smith, only son of Joseph, is one of the worthy farmers
and esteemed citizens of this township.
The township of
Greene as organized in 1806 embraced the territory of the present
townships of Greene and Mecca, with other adjoining townships.
By 1821 number six of the third range had sufficient population to
form a distinct township, and was therefore organized under the name
of Mecca. All the early records have been lost, therefore no
list of early township officers can be given.
A DENSE WILDERNESS.
THE FIRST HOUSES.
of this township are held alternately at East and
West Mecca. This arrangement was made in very early times, and
has always been observed. The offices are equitably divided
between the representatives of the two communities, and thus a
harmonious relation is perpetuated.
THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH.
THE FREE-WILL BAPTIST CHURCH.
THE BAPTIST CHURCH.
METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH.
THE DISCIPLES' CHURCH.
The first store was kept at
East Mecca by Babcock & Bradley. It was not a
successful enterprise, and continued but a short time.
Wing, Dodd, and Roberts were the names of other early
merchants. James Hezlep had a store here for a time; he
sold to Daniel Shehy, who continued in business about fifteen
years, and gained considerable money. He sold and removed to
Youngstown. Jonathan Fowler built the first frame store
in the township, on the west side of the public square, at East
Mecca. It is still standing.
The first postmaster was Lemuel Hickok.
Until an office was established, Warren and Bristol were the nearest
post-offices. The first mail route through this township was
from Warren to Ashtabula. Afterwards an east and west route
was established, from Mercer, Pennsylvania, to Parkman. Ira
Knapp was the contractor. This route was soon
discontinued. During its existence mail-bags often went
through with nothing in them. On the Warren and Ashtabula
route a stage was run for a time. The two post offices of this
township now get a daily mail from Cortland station.
The first tavern was probably kept by Powers, Coats
and St. John were early hotel keepers. Thomas Abell
built and kept a public house south of the public square.
There was no great amount of travel through Mecca in early times.
Joy Sperry, Samuel Jackson, Williams, Case, Benton,
and others built saw-mills quite early; only a small amount of work
was done by any of them. There were no early grist-mills in
The oldest graveyard in the township is situated south
of East Mecca. It bears the marks of neglect and dilapidation.
The earliest deaths recorded on the gravestones in it are the
following: Enos Clark Pettis, died in 1828, aged
twenty-one years; Olive, wife of Stephen Pettis, died
in 1829, aged thirty.
The first school-house was built of logs, and stood
near the corners of East Mecca. Salome Fuller was the
first teacher. The house was also used for religious meetings.
The first white child born was Nancy
Dawson. Martin Row is said to have been the first male
child. The first death is supposed to have been that of the
great grandfather of C. J. Hickok, Esq.
The first practicing physician was Ariel Bradley.
The first permanent resident physician was Dr. Isaac D. Powers.
The first store at
this place was started by T. M. Abell about 1860. A
number of stores, groceries, hotels, etc., sprang up almost
simultaneously, as the oil excitement was then at its height.
Numerous houses and shanties were put up, and "Powers' corners"
became for a time a very lively place. The less said of its
morals and behavior during those days the better. When oil
stock went down, the village relapsed into quiet somnolence, many of
the mushroom structures are removed, and West Mecca was freed of its
bad habits and bad characters.
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