Badger, Joseph

Missionary, American Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Veteran

Birth: February 28, 1757, Wilbraham, Hampden County, Massachusetts
Death: April 5, 1846, Perrysburg, Wood County, Ohio
Burial: Fort Meigs Cemetery, Perrysburg, Wood County, Ohio
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Reverend Joseph Badger is considered the first missionary in the Connecticut Western Reserve. His Memoir, published in 1854, describes briefly persons, incidents, and the built environment in the very earliest years of Vienna Township.

Badger served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. He graduated Yale University in 1785 and began to teach school and study theology. After being licensed to preach and serving several in several church pulpits, in 1800 Badger became a missionary under the direction of the Connecticut Missionary Society. He moved with his family to Austinburg, Ashtabula County, Ohio, in 1802. Like fellow missionary Thomas Robbins, Badger served under the cooperative "Plan of Union" created by Congregationalists and Presbyterians to bring religion to the Western Reserve.

Reverend Badger in Vienna

Badger describes in his Memoir his visits to Vienna. In December 1800, Badger wrote: “On Monday I rode to Vienna, where was one family; thence to Hartford, in which were three families. Here I rested a day or two, and road to Vernon.”

He also recalled in the same volume his attendance to Dennis Clark Palmer in the winter of 1801.

January, 1801. The frequent snows and rains rendered it difficult passing from one settlement to another. This was the last opening toward the lake. Here I tarried two weeks; in which time Mr. Palmer of Vienna, was taken sick. I was requested to go and see him. There was no doctor in the country. I found him very sick, and stayed and nursed him about eight days, when he got better.

In Vienna there was one family. The man, some time in February, 1801, was taken sick with a fever: no physician in the country. I was informed of his situation, and requested to visit him. I found the family, consisting of the sick man, his wife, and one child, in a pitiable condition, situated six or seven miles from any other family, in a cold log cabin, wood enough, when cut, for the fire; but with a scanty supply of bread. Here I tarried, as nurse and doctor, nearly two weeks, when he began to convalesce, and I returned to Vernon, where I had left my horse.

On Saturday, June 11, 1803, Badger “rode to Vienna. Preached on the Sabbath to about sixty. I proposed to them to meet on the Sabbath in future, for religious worship; to which they agreed by a vote on the subject. This settlement is flourishing.” [1]

Later Life

Badger traveled widely in the Western Reserve and in the west. He served as a brigade chaplain during the War of 1812, returning to missionary work in the Western Reserve after the war. Badger organized a number of churches and schools in the region. He married his second wife, Abigail Ely, in 1819 (his first wife, Lois Noble, whom he married in 1784, died in 1818).

Updated 8/13/2020
Badger, Joseph. A Memoir of Rev. Joseph Badger Containing an Autobiography, and Selections from his Private Journal and Correspondence. Hudson, O.: Sawyer, Ingersoll and Co., 1851."Joseph Badger." Ohio History Central, July 1, 2005,
[1] A Memoir of Rev. Joseph Badger; Containing an Autobiography and Selections from his Private Journal and Correspondence (Hudson, Ohio: Sawyer, Ingersoll and Company, 1851), pp. 25, 132, 48.