This section provides practical resources for long time residents of Hartville as well as interesting and helpful information for those who have recently moved to the Hartville area.

Building a bright future on our historic foundation

“The Hartville Hotel located on the north side of the square, now known as the Pantry, is the oldest standing structure in the village. It was built in 1829 (other accounts state 1838) as a hotel and tavern by John Morehart, an early pioneer, constructed primarily of logs hewn from the surrounding forests, the building remains intact, but has been covered over and remodeled so that the log construction no longer shows.

George Austin began carrying the mail in December, 1829 at the age of 21 at $20 per month for two deliveries per week. His route took him from Ravenna through Randolph, Hartville, Wise’s Mill (south of Hartville), and finally to Canton by way of horseback. The area was overrun by animals which often scampered off the road at the approach of the mail carrier. Those that did not scamper away (bears, protecting their cubs) had to be watched-carefully. After he stopped carrying the mail, due to the emergence of the railroad in the 1880’s Austin moved to Rootstown for a brief spell.

Grist mills, designed to turn grains into flour, were numerous in the early days of Lake Township history. They were built on small streams in the township. Examples of early area grist mills include one opened by Simon Harsh in 1825, one located by Middlebranch Avenue, and one operated by Elias Shriver in the northern part of the township which ran night and day, operated by steam, had five sets of stones capable of turning out 350 bushels a day, and which shipped considerable amounts of flour to distant points from Uniontown.

Sawmills came into being because lumber was in demand for building barns and houses before and after 1830. George Creighbaum opened a saw mill in 1830 south of Hartville by Nimishillen Creek. Samuel Brumbaugh later operated one in the late 1800’s south of Congress Lake. Also, there was once a sawmill near the Schumacher property which sawed logs and also had enough steam power to run pressure cookers for cider. The building however, burned down around 1915.

Distilleries were an institution in the early days of Lake Township. Why? Because (1) alcohol was labeled a “necessity of life” to the early settler (2) grain in that condition was easier to ship and more marketable, and (3) many settlers were of German origin-people experienced in the brewing business. Alcohol was consumed greatly by these early settlers. Each household kept a stocked supply and when visitors came, it was deemed a gross breach of hospitality not to serve it. Even the men in the fields kept a flask handy. One unfortunate side effect was that there existed a great number of drunks in the Lake township throughout the early 1800”s.

Hardships prevailed for the early settlers, among them included the problems of wild animals, sickness, road conditions, and finances. Also, early settlers found little time for formal culture. Conquering the wilderness by creating new land for cultivation and constructing a new home seemed more important than painting pictures, for example. Women, meanwhile, found their time occupied with child-bearing and caring for the family.

Lake Township was teeming with wildlife, both harmless and dangerous, in the early 1800’s. Animals such as the bear, panther, wolf, deer, muskrat, beaver, opossum, otter, skunk, fox, woodchuck, mink, and squirrel roamed the area making retreats in the swamps. Fowls such as the carrier pigeon, good, wild turkey, partridge, duck, quail, hawk, owl, and eagle also habituated in the region. When the early settlers first moved here, they hunted for most of their food since the croplands had yet to be developed. Most of them were good shots, as well as trappers, and they got their practice in since a bounty was offered for the scalps of the animals (taxes on the settlers farms had to be paid in cash and this money was often raised by the sale of furs). Dangerous animals were hunted in the winter when the streams and swamps were frozen so that the prey could be followed to their lairs and shot. Other creatures were mischievous and many times a great bother. Foxes attacked poultry and squirrels munched on the corn crop.

The diseases most prevalent in the early days were fever, ague, bilious fever, and dysentery in the summer months and pneumonia and pleurisy in the winter. Treatment for the summer sickness consisted of bleeding, emeto-cathartics, and Peruvian bark: main domestic remedies ere the use of boneset, dogwood and snakeroot. The winter diseases were treated by bleeding, blistering, opium, and tarter emetic. The practice of giving cold water for fever and excluding fresh air from the sickroom was observed.

Travel was hampered by the condition of the area’s roadways. At first only Indian trails were present, but later on settlers blazed their own and these were later made into roads. (This is the probably explanation for the many present roads that wind, not following section lines). There were, apparently bottomless, and the sticking qualities of the mud were demonstrated to the settlers….The continued impassable condition of the roads…led to a demand for mills, stores, etc. near home and let to their speedy erection.

The first settlers were often very well off financially, but coming to this new region soon drained them of the monetary resources. After that occurred they had to do without money as a medium of exchange while substituting what they wanted for what they needed. A system of exchange was the method by which settlers got their individual supplies. This system gave rise to what is known as the “cash price” and the “trade price.” Those who were lucky enough to have considerable means and who wisely invested it, over time heaped a tidy sum. But men without money or property, and with large families dependent upon them for support, suffer great hardships and were often compelled to leave their new homes and return to the eastern states. Most of the settlers, however, made up their minds that they were going to stick it out whatever the cost.

Although early life was difficult it did not stop the pioneers from enjoying life the best they could. As more and more settlers migrated to the area, the beginnings of village and small town groups appeared-usually at the crossroads of travel. Men made contacts with other settlers at the local tavern, the Hartville Hotel. The women, however, had to wait on callers. But with more and more intermingling of village folk, the regular course of life in family and community made for social contacts; church revivals, Christmas, courtships, harvest, funerals, weddings, and hunting.”

(The above is taken from the book entitled A History of Hartville Ohio, written by James W. McPherson III, pgs13-15, (The Knowles Press, 1976))