King Charles 2nd of England granted to the Colony of Connecticut in 1662 a charter right to all lands contained between the 41st and 42nd parallels of north latitude and from Providence Plantations (Rhode Island) on the east, to the Pacific Ocean on the west with the exception of New York and Pennsylvania colonies.
Medina County was formed from a part of this grant February 18, 1812. The first settlers of the county were principally from Connecticut.
The Torringford Company, a subsidiary of the Connecticut Land Company, handled the division of real estate west of the Cuyahoga River. Joseph Harris acted as their sales agent.
Harrisville was the first township in Medina County. Much of our early heritage of good citizenry was due to Judge Harris and his good wife Rachel, after whom the township was named.
In 1810 the township was surveyed into lots of one hundred acres each. The price was established at $2 per acre. Mr. Harris had the privilege of selecting two hundred acres as pioneer settlement, and it was this year (1810) he built his first house. February 14, 1811 he moved his family here from Randolph, Ohio. James Redfield, a lad about eleven years old, came with them.
The life of the settler in this new clearing, miles away from human habitation, was full of hardships and privations. The first days were spent in cutting down trees and making new openings in the woods and laying out roads. With the opening of spring new life sprang up, new work began; the ground the cleared tract was made ready and seeding commenced.
Their nearest neighbors were at Wooster, seventeen miles south on the Killbuck River. The location selected had been the favorite hunting grounds of the Wyandot and Ottawa Indians and many of their wigwams were standing near the spot Harris selected for his residence. Although friendly, the Indians preferred retirement and abandoned their lodges and built new ones a few miles distant.
In the summer of 1811 George and Russel Burr and their families from Massachusetts joined the Harrises. It was under 1814 before the next settlers came to the township. Under the land company’s survey, Harrisville was set apart as Township number one. The families coming to Harrisville in the Spring were Timothy Munson of Vermont and Loammi Holcomb from New York. With their families they settled on the west bank of Black River. Later, came the families of Timothy Burr, Alvin Loomis, Collins Young, Joe Davis, Carolus Tuttle, Isaac Catlin, Nathan Marsh, Elisha Bishop, Perez and Nathaniel Rogers, James Rogers, Chas. Lewis, Davide Birge, Josiah Perkins and William Welch.
In 1817 came Noah Kellogg, Jason Spencer, Noah Holcomb, Thomos Russel, Isaac Rogers, Orange Stoddart, Daniel Delvin, Henry K. Joline, Cyrus and Arvis Chapman, Jonathan Fetts, David Rogers, Cyrus Curtis, George hanna, Doctor William Barnes served as preacher, doctor and miller in the colony.
There were now thirty five families in the settlement. Clearings were made on every side and the settlers were rewarded with crops of grain. Joy also came to the pioneers. One of these was a marriage feast. Levi Holcomb and Miss Laura Marsh were married November, 1816. There being no Justice of Peace in the township at that time, Mr. James Rogers volunteered his services to procure the needed official. He walked to Wadsworth to secure Esquire Warner, who consented to come the next day. Mr. Rogers stayed all night to come with the official the next day, but Mr. Warner was taken seriously ill during the night and he could not fulfill his engagement.
Mr. Rogers went on to Norton to get Esquire Van Heinous, but he was away on a deer hunt. Mr. Rogers heard there was a Justice of Peace in Coventry. He went there, engaged the services and together they arrived at Harrisville the day after the wedding was scheduled but they had it that night. This was the first wedding in Medina County.
In the spring of 1818 nine more families came, among them Lomar Griffin, wife and seven children. He was destined to become one of the most remarkable and most widely known men in Harrisville Township and Medina County, for he lived to be the oldest man in the United States.
The first symptom of political organization came with the appointment of Alvin Loomis as “Ear-Mark” and Estray Recorder. It was a necessity at that time, since there were no fences and cattle ran at large. To distinguish the ownership of the cattle, sheep and hogs, a distinct and separate earmark by every owner of stock was required and this mark was recorded.
The wolves had caused so much trouble the settlers decided to stage a grand wolf hunt. Seven of the surrounding townships joined forces for the purpose of destroying these troublesome beasts. No wolves were captured, but many deer were, and these fully imbrued the settlers for their exertions.
An active part was played by several of the Harrisville, people in anti-slavery movements in the North during the two decades preceding the War of the Rebellion. Timothy Burr who lived in the large brick building now occupied by Mr G. P. Mong, was in accord with the sentiments of the Abolition Party. The Burr house became a famous station on the underground railroad. The fugitive slaves who had escaped their masters in the south were transported during the night to places of safety in the Northern States. Numbers of colored people came to the Burr House, found shelter, protection and food, often as many as ten to fifteen Negroes being sheltered for days at a time.