Early History of Vienna Township

Vienna Center, facing west, circa 1908-1915.*
Postcard from the Vienna Historical Society's collection
Donated by Dave Cover

"Early Times in Ohio," Western Reserve Chronicle, April 10, 1867, page 2 (digital image of original page available here): Early Times in Vienna.

EDITOR CHRONICLE:--A few items of the first settlement of Vienna, as I get them from some of the oldest settlers here. One says, Uriel Holmes came from Litchfield, Connecticut, in the spring of 1798, having in his employ Samuel Hutchins, Edward Scofield, Titus Hays, David Clark, Robert Edmond, and Raphael Cook, a surveyor. Arriving in June, they traveled all the way on foot, and leading a horse that carried their cooking utensils, and built a cabin near the present residence of Homer Leet, Esq; they surveyed the Township, cleared a piece of ground and sowed to wheat, and then they oiled their cooking utensils, covered them with leaves and built a large brush-heap over them, and a number of brush-heaps around near them—and then they set out, on foot, for their homes in Connecticut, to winter. And in the spring of 1799, Uriel Holmes, Samuel Hutchins, Edward Scofield, Raphael Cook, and Hoodly, set out for Vienna with an Ox team, two cows and a wagon. When they came to the Mahoning River, a short distance below Youngstown, they came up with Col. Hilman, who could not get across the river. All hands went to work, cut the bank and got their teams over and started on their journey, Holmes taking the lead and Samuel Hutchins driving the team with the first wagon that ever passed through Youngstown, stopping for the night with Capt. Young. Early the next morning Raphael Cook set his compass and leading the way, the party started for Vienna, marking and cutting their road as they went along. (hence the name of the Holmes road) and succeeded in reaching Vienna the second night, and stopped on what has since been known as Merils Hill, near the present residence of Homer Leet, Esq. In the fall of 1799, Isaac Flower moved his family on, accompanied by Dennis Palmer; they were the first white family in Vienna, and settled about one mile southwest of the center—there Lavina Flower was born, the first white child born in Vienna. On that farm was the first school, kept by Ira Bartholomew’s wife, Boadicia, in the winter of 1804-‘5.

In the spring of 1802, Seth Bartholomew, Abiel Bartholomew, Wm. Clinton, and Jerry Hill, came on in one party. Another party came the same years, among them were Joel Humason, Isaac Humason, Simeon Wheeler, Wm. Laferty, Mr. _ Scott, and Isaac Woodford, and settled at or near Paynes Corners. Samuel Lowry came and settled one-half mile west of the center. In the fall, Abiel Bartholomew, and Wm. Clinton, went back to Connecticut—and in the fall of 1804, Abiel Bartholomew, Samuel Clinton, Wm. Clinton, Calvin Munson, Jesse Munson, Joseph Bartholomew and Ira Bartholomew came on, with their families and six teams and wagons, arriving on the 7th day of October; having been forty-one days on their journey. Less than three months after their arrival, and on the first day of January, Abiel Bartholomew and his son William, went to cut some timber for bed-steads, and in falling a black walnut tree near where Adam McClurg’s barn now stands, a limb broke off, flew back hitting Abiel on the forehead, causing his death. Dr. Leavitt of Leavittsburg was called to attend him; they had to go around by Niles to get across Musquito (sic) Creek; a doctor from Vernon was also called. Abial died on the second day after he was hurt, and was the first person buried in Vienna.

In the winter of 1799 and 1800, Bathsheba, wife of Isaac Flower, set a steel trap under where her chickens roosted, and shut the dogs in the cabin, and in the night she heard the trap spring, she got up (Mr. Flower being sick with a fever) and let the dogs out, and followed them about twenty rods from the house, where the dogs were in a fight with a large wolf; she got a hand-spike, when her daughter brought a torch so that she could see; she pounded the wolf on the head with hand-spike until she thought it was dead, and dragged it to the house, just as she was going to take the trap off its leg, Mr. Flower looked out and told her she had better kill the wolf before she took the trap off, and she got an ax and struck the wolf on the head when it jumped upon on its feat [sic] again, but a few more well directed blows with the ax made it tame enough to skin. This was the first wolf killed by a woman that I have heard of in Vienna.


Vienna Center, facing east, circa 1908-1915.*
Postcard from the Vienna Historical Society's collection
Donated by Dave Cover

Vienna Settled by Surveyors

For four years the only residents of what is now Vienna Township were the households of two surveyors by the names of Dennis Palmer and Isaac Flower who brought their families while surveying for proprietors in 1798 and 1799. They were completely alone except for occasional surveyors or passers-by.

Life was hard for these early pioneers. One day in 1800 Mrs. Flower and her children were home alone when a company of Indians filed out of a thicket into the clearing. They came one after the other until they numbered about a half dozen and were followed by a few squaws with papooses on their backs.

Needless to say, Mrs. Flower felt none too comfortable when they walked right up in front of the cabin. With great presence of mind, however, she went out, shook hands with them all and invited them in. She treated them to the best she had, and they seemed pleased. They soon began asking for whiskey, however.

Mrs. Flower told them there was none, but one of them spied a barrel in a corner and said, "Whiskey there." She shook her head, but the Indian went over and smelled the barrel and said, "Whiskey is there." She shook it for him and showed that it was empty. He was finally satisfied, and the Indians left.

The same Mrs. Flower was bothered by wolves as much as Indians. After one such beast had been killing her chickens, she threw uneaten parts of animals into a fence corner behind a stump where there was only one way to get in. She then set a steel trap with a log chain fastened to it.

The wolf soon came and, as planned, got caught in the trap. The dogs began to bark, arousing Mrs. Flower who beat the wolf with a hand spike until she thought him dead. After dragging him to the house, however, she found him very much alive and then set at the unfortunate thief with an ax. When he was finally dead, she sent his ears to Warren and collected a bounty.

More settlers came to Vienna in 1802. As Vienna, Hartford, and Brookfield had not yet been separated, the influx of settlers made their homes randomly in the various areas. Isaac Woodford and Isaac Humason were among the early Vienna settlers.

Also arriving to settle in the wilderness that year were Simeon Wheeler, Seth Bartholomew, Sylvester Woodford, and Samuel Lowrey. Darius Woodford made Vienna his new home in 1804 as did Joseph and Abiel Bartholomew. The Mackeys, Clarks, Scovills, and Truesdells came in 1806.

These early settlers had no way of grinding their corn sufficiently to use it for food. The Bartholomews fixed up a grinder which rubbed the grain between stones. Others took a mortar and pounded their corn fine enough to use in some ways.

For a long time the settlers went to Weathersfield to what is now Salt Spring, got salt water and boiled it down to make their own salt.

The first event of importance was the burning of Dennis Palmer's cabin. The second was the birth of a baby girl, Lavinia, at the home of Isaac Flower. The first marriage was that of Samuel Hutchins, a member of a surveying party, and Freelove Flower, daughter of Isaac Flower, in 1803.

The first death in the township was that of Abiel Bartholomew, son of Seth. Abiel and his son, William, were chopping wood when a falling limb struck Abiel and left him unconscious. He was carried home and Dr. Leavitt of Leavittsburg was sent for. It was late the next night when the doctor arrived, however, and Abiel was already dead. He was buried in what became the Vienna Cemetery.

The obvious need for a schoolhouse got the settlers looking in the spring of 1805 for such a building. They found an unoccupied hog pen about a mile south of the center which they swept and scrubbed and made into the first Vienna schoolhouse. Greased paper was put up at the windows and plenty of pegs were put on the walls to hold the whips.

The next winter she taught in an old log cabin on the Clinton farm, and the next summer, 1806, the school academy was built at the center (Vienna School Number 1) and used as a schoolhouse until the Vienna Academy, later the town hall, was built.

Andrew Bushnell of Hartford, Connecticut, was the first teacher of Vienna School Number 1. He was strict and at one time whipped twelve boys for snowballing. On another occasion, he was going to whip a fourteen year old boy and told him to take off his coat. The boy refused and received a double whipping - one from the teacher and one from his father for disobeying the teacher's orders.

The Presbyterian Church was organized on September 22, 1805, in the home of Samuel Clinton by Reverend Thomas Robbins of Connecticut. In 1843 Reverend Betts was called to the pastorate where he stayed for 28 years.

It is not known just when the Methodists came, but T. B. Clark, Ira Bartholomew, Elisha Booth, Andrew Mackey, Maria Beech Fuller, and others started a small church at the corners just a half mile west of the block schoolhouse on what later became the Booth farm.

Vienna and Brookfield were separated from Hartford and Vernon and organized into an election district called Vienna in 1806 but were not made separate townships until 1810.

The early men of Vienna were good men, but they were also great lovers of whiskey. In the year of 1826, Deacon Sidney Woodford came from Connecticut to visit his brother. Going into Isaac's harvest field one day he was surprised to find a whiskey bottle and exclaimed, to the chagrin of that worthy man, "Why Isaac, you will all become drunkards."

This set the Deacon to thinking, and he banished whiskey from his home forever. His wife and he went about the neighborhood canvasing the matter. They met with the plea everywhere, however, that whiskey served as a substitute for milk. One good widow with three sons exclaimed, "Why Deacon, what's a gallon of whiskey a day in a family like mine where there is no milk."

A series of temperance meetings were started, a temperance society organized and a pledge prepared.

Map of Vienna Center, 1874

Vienna Township Firsts

The first baby to be born in Vienna was Lavinia Flower, daughter of Isaac and Bathsheba Flower in 1799.

The first marriage was between Samuel Hutchins and Freelove Flower in 1803. Hutchins had earlier been given the right to choose any 100 acres of the township for services rendered to the surveyors of the area. He selected land on the east and west center road, three fourths of a mile west of Payne's Corners. His was probably the first farm owned by any inhabitant of the township.

The first frame home was said to be built by Isaac Humason around 1804.

The first death occurring in Vienna was that of Abiel Bartholomew who was killed by a falling tree in 1805.

The first saw mill was built by Samuel Lowrey near Squaw Creek, but the date is not known.

Isaac Powers opened the first store at the center in 1820.

Vienna's first lawsuit was tried before Squire Clinton in 1806. A wife had entered a complaint against her husband for maltreatment. Whiskey was the cause of the trouble.

Simeon Wheeler set out the first orchard on the I. B. Payne farm.

The first frame building was a barn erected by Joel Humason. The second was a barn built by Simeon Wheeler on the I. B. Payne farm. The latter is still standing and in use by Robert and Genie Ulp. Mrs. Ulp is a great-great grandaughter of Solomon Payne.

The first school was in an old hog pen.

The first regular physician was Dr. Nathaniel Hayes.

The first school built in the township (Vienna School Number 1) was a frame building 20 feet by 26 feet erected in the center in 1806. In 1882 the number of schools totaled 11, and all were filled.

The first members of the Presbyterian Church which was founded September 22, 1805 were: Isaac Flower, Rosanna Williams, Samuel Clinton, Ann Wheeler, Joseph and Sylvia Bartholomew, John and Lois Clark, Robert and Margaret Hughes, James and Jane Montgomery, and Isaac Woodford.

The early members of the Methodist Church were: Ira Bartholomew, Elisha Booth, Maria Fuller, and Andrew Mackey. The Vienna Methodist Church became a circuit and was regularly supplied with a minister in about 1820.

The first coal mine was opened in 1866, the Shoo Fly, on a corner of Hampton Kerr's farm, a site now behind the Mathews High School building. I. B. Mackey was the contractor and sank the shaft.

The first rakes were manufactured at the center in 1872 by Woodford, Humason, and Company. From $8,000 to $12,000 worth of horse rakes and harrows were made and sold yearly. About 12 men were employed.

Updated 2/21/2023
"Vienna Settled by Surveyors" entry is adapted from Booth, Esther, "Vienna settled by surveyors," Niles Publishing Company, Bicentennial Edition, July 1976, page 36. Amended and corrected by Christine Novicky.
"Vienna Township Firsts" entry is adapted from Ulp, Genie, "Lists of first for Vienna Twp.," Niles Publishing Company, Bicentennial Edition, July 1976, page 36. Amended and corrected by Christine Novicky.
* We may date the postcard images to this time period because the Art Manufacturing Company of Amelia, Ohio created the cards. The company was in business from 1908 to 1915.
Note: In 2022 Squaw Creek was renamed Girard Creek.