Job Chamberlin’s Reminiscences of Early Hancock County

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is another article on Findlay area history adapted from a series written from 1959 to 1974 by the late R.L. Heminger, publisher and editor of The Courier.

 

By R.L. HEMINGER

 

An individual who arrived on the scene as a lad in Findlay and Hancock County at a very early date set down on paper his interesting and informative experiences here.

He was Job Chamberlain. It was for his family that “Chamberlin Hill” in south Findlay was named. This is one of two “hills” within the community. The other is “Bigelow Hill” on the north end. Both geographic areas within the city were named for the first settlers on those extreme ends of Findlay’s long Main Street.

In 1822 (was) the year after Wilson Vance arrived to lay out the town for which his brother, Joseph Vance, of Urbana, had bought land from the federal government a few years before the Chamberlins came to Hancock County. They had been living in Urbana, which was the county seat of Champaign County, located farther south in western Ohio. At one time Champaign County extended all the way north to the Michigan state line and the area that is now Hancock County was a part of Champaign.

Job Chamberlin’s parents — his father also was named Job — had come originally from Connecticut. They later moved to New York state and in 1819 came down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers to Indiana where they lived for two years and then moved to Ohio, settling in Urbana for a year before starting north to what is now Findlay. The Vances evidently had told them of the new town and county they were opening up, and they were persuaded to become early settlers in the virgin land to the north.

When the father and mother moved here, they had a family consisting of five daughters and two sons. The sons were Norman and Job Jr. It was the latter who later on in his life wrote what he termed his “reminiscences” of his early days in Findlay and Hancock County. These have come down to later generations as an authentic and first-hand account of conditions as they existed in the local community from the very beginning of the settlement, which began to take form in the 1820s.

The full text of the Chamberlin “reminiscences” appeared in the local newspapers. Late in the 1890s abstracts of them were published as a series running for a half-dozen weeks or more in the historical column of Miss Florence Blackford, which appeared for two years or so in the old Morning Republican in the late 1890s.

For the next few weeks we will be devoting space to a resume of the Chamberlin articles, which tell an interesting story of pioneer Findlay and Hancock County. The father, Job, Sr., obtained title to an 80-acre tract of virgin land on what was to become Chamberlin Hill by going to the federal land office at Delaware from his home in Urbana and signing the necessary papers. At Delaware he met a John Simpson, who, it happened, was also going to make application for land here. Mr. Chamberlin really wanted two 80-acre tracts, one on each side of the line that was to become South Main Street in Findlay later on. But Mr. Simpson wanted the same tracts and they finally compromised. Mr. Chamberlin took the east 80 and Mr. Simpson the west 80, according to the “reminiscences.” They thus became neighbors in the new territory which neither had ever actually seen.

On Feb. 15, 1822, the Chamberlins moved to what was to become Hancock County. Mr. Simpson had arrived about the same time.

“Father unloaded his goods having the canopy of heaven for a covering and terra firma, ‘the ground,’ for a floor,” said the son’s reminiscences. “The citizens of Findlay, numbering four families, helped him to cut logs and build a cabin and we moved in on the third day after our arrival.”

“After getting things into shape about the house, father cleared a piece of land and got a crop, raising enough to winter his stock. There was meat in abundance and his hogs required but little grain. They were so easily raised that in five years father bought John Simpson’s land and paid for it in hogs.”

It should be remembered that in these early days of the 1820s Hancock County as a political entity was not yet in existence. It was not until 1828 that the county was organized, having belonged to Wood County until then.

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