« PreviousContinue »
Western Reserve—a day that affords us, as early settlers, an opportunity to exchange congratulations and renew old acquaintances which should never be forgotten and which we never can forget.
The pioneer life of the Western Reserve has a history that approaches the marvelous, and is of such value that no part of it should be lost. The principal object of our Association is to collect, while it can be done, the relies and unrecorded incidents of her past history, and transfer them to the custody of the Western Reserve Historical Society of Cleveland, for preservation and the benefit of the public. This historical society was incorporated many years ago, and has now become of great value as a source of antiquarian information. It is kept open to visitors free of charge, and is the only prominent institution of the kind in Northern Ohio. It is a credit to the State, and reflects honor on its originators and efficient officers.
The Western Reserve, as you all know, was originally and for the most part settled by emigrants from New England, the land of the Puritans. The Reserve has, therefore, good ancestral blood in her veins, and still maintains her Puritanic character, except so far as it has been modified and liberalized by Western influences.
We may rest assured, however, that her pioneer life will never repeat itself. Say what we will, it was an exemplary life, as full of lessons of wisdom as it was of noble aims and heroic struggles—a life that laid its foundations, not in sand, but on a rock-the rock of common schools and churchesma life that has produced many accomplished men, and still more accomplished women.
The Western Reserve, as a civilized land, was born and baptized at Conneaut Creek, on the 4th of July, 1796, and is therefore a child of freedom. There were fifty persons present at her birth, who proceeded at once to commemorate the happy event. They prepared a sumptuous feast of baked pork and beans and corn bread, made patriotic speeches, fired salutes, and drank three buckets of grog by way of crowning the ceremonies of the day.
Our Association has great reason to be gratified with its success. When organized, November 19th, 1879, it consisted of but nineteen members, and now it has an aggregate of over four hundred, and still they come and are received with a cordial welcome. Its published “Annals” are sought and read with much interest and profit, and, if continued, will soon furnish a storehouse of valuable information nowhere else to be found and which coming generations will appreciate. Every member of the Association is expected to contribute what he can in the way of interesting relics and reminiscences to promote its object. It is hoped that other similar associations of the Reserve will aid us in the same way, and thus concentrate the efforts of all for the common benefit of all. Honorary memberships should be conferred on individuals residing in other counties of the Reserve, who may make desirable contributions to our Association.
It must be conceded that the Western Reserve has become a power in the State and in the Nation. Her population in 1800 was but 1,300; it is now at least 550,000. In the meantime the Reserve has produced her thousands of talented men and superior women. They are her jewels. She points to them with pride, and still persists in lavishly increasing her assortment of jewelry. To say nothing of minor officials, she has already furnished the State with five Governors and eleven Supreme Judges, and the United States with three Senators, two District Judges, two Foreign Ministers, and one President, and still has enough good material on hand to furnish as many more officials as may be needed.
But why is it that the names of our great men are emblazoned in history, while the names of so many meritorious women are overlooked ? This seeming neglect is a moral wrong which should be corrected. The women are the mothers and educators of mankind. They give to infancy its traits of character for life, and to manhood its grace and dignity. In all that pertains to social refinement and moral elevation of character, the women excel the men. Excellence can and will take care of itself. If we would have what we wish, we must achieve it. The world has no room for idlers. All should live, while they do live, with a view to useful results. Let us then still pursue the even tenor of our ways as best we can, and while the day lasts-
"Act-act in the living present,
REPORT OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE.
Another year finds the affairs of this Association in most excellent condition, and its objects, end, and aim on the high road to success.
If the Treasurer should report that the funds are reduced to an insignificant sum, or should intimate that there is a claim for a few paltry dollars hanging over the Association, all this would imply a healthy condition of the body corporate: 1st, because it is better that no large sum be collected in the hands of our financial officers to tempt them to do a wrong; 2d, if a debt should appear, even the thought of such an event has created a friendly rivalry to see who should be the first to retire it, and should it be ever so small, it is thought best that no individual be allowed the special pleasure of wiping it out, but let each have a portion of the pleasure of doing so honorable a deed.
Some member may say that the initiation fee was too small to accomplish any object worthy so interesting an organization. If our annual doings become so cheap and uninteresting that one dollar for the remainder of a life will not so much as supply each member at our annual gathering with a hollow sandwich and a cup of cold comfort, it would be as well that we add an annual fee to each membership, that none go away hungry.
Many hours have been consumed by the Board of Managers in laudable endeavors to make the annual meeting as interesting and profitable as could well be out of the means at hand; there is no lack of interest anywhere.
The first public gathering, two years ago, was one of great interest and quite a success; the second, held in this Tabernacle, was more abundantly so, and established the permanency of the Association.
The effort has been, among the members of the Board, to determine upon a proper method of holding and conducting these annual meetings. There has been no marked variation in opinion that we should have something said of interest respecting the early days of our Ohio residence; and in those early days, at the hour of twelve, noon, a horn was blown, or a bell rung, or a red rag hung at the window — we never could pass by the hour of noon and not think of dinner.
In getting men to consent to sav a few words or to make us a set address, it was difficult to limit their time on the platform; if they had anything to say, they wanted to say it. If the Board consent to extremely long set speeches, it would involve, for the comfort of the members, the necessity of upholstering the seats. To avoid this, a general opinion prevailed that we procure one early settler, of ability, to entertain the Association, limiting his own time, after which, a sprinkling of from five to ten minutes speeches, a sort of free-to-all affair, and if any overspoke his time, it would become the society's duty to start in on “Hail Columbia," and choke him off; but no limit should be imposed upon the women.
The prospects of this Association are bright, and becoming more brilliant as each year comes around. One enthusiastic member expresses himself in the emphatic language of Andrew Jackson, that this Association must not fail; (who ever thought it could?) why he should entertain a thought of the possibility of it not being able to succeed, is a mystery. As the older members pass away, new ones fall in to take their places, so that the incoming members will be likely to far outnumber the outgoing ones.
We need more interest to be taken for our annual pamphlet; we want more sketches of persons, places and events. While we have so many who can link the history of their time with the past of the Western Reserve, we cannot afford to lose their assistance in putting on record what everyone would be pleased to peruse, and the more so as time passes away. The year may come, in the future, when the early settlers of the Fire Lands will be held as a remarkable people, if they are not already, and their grandchildren may be better pleased with the record than to trace their descent through doubtful books of heraldry, or the possibility that they were descended from one of the early Irish kings.
GEO. F. MARSHALL, Chairman.
REPORT OF THE TREASURER.
MR. PRESIDENT: Since our organization in the Fall of 1879, we have expended $560.12; our receipts from members to date, $406.00; leaving a debt against us of $154.12; this will be reduced by new members to-day.
At a glance we can see that a life-membership of one dollar will not pay running expenses. We cannot assess you; we cannot run you into debt. What shall we do?
GEO. C. DODGE, Treasurer.
I ELECTION OF OFFICERS.
On motion, the following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
Hon. HARVEY RICE, President.
Hon. John W. ALLEN and Mrs. J. A. HARRIS, Vice Presidents.