The Chidsey Story
Few families are as well documented as the Chidsey family. For this story, we were afforded the opportunity of reading The Chidsey Story. a bound volume of over 600 pages chronicling the story which has deep roots in Brunswick history.
John Chedsey was born in London, England in 1621. He came to America in 1642 on the ship Hector with many others of the area who felt the constraints of religious persecution.
He settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where he became a respected member of the community, landowner and church deacon.
Both John and his wife, Elizabeth, died in 1688. They had 10 children. Caleb , fourth son and seventh child is a direct ancestor of our local families. He was twice married - to Anne Thompson and then to Hannah Dickerman. There were three children. Abraham, born in 1699, married three times and had 10 children. Joseph, a fifth son, married Sarah Goodrich in 1769 and had 13 children.
Isaac (by now spelled Chidsey) lived from 1775-1834. He married Lydia Van Nearing in Simsbury, Connecticut, and came to Pompey, New York, in 1803. Eleven children were born of this couple, and Norman, the ninth child, was the first to venture into Ohio. After his father's death, Norman brought mother Lydia to live in Ohio. She is buried on the town line between Brunswick and Hinckley.
Norman Chidsey walked to Ohio in 1833 where he purchased a large tract of land on the town line. He bought from speculators who swindled him out of his purchase, leaving him broke. The 29 year-old walked back to New York, re-earned the price of the land, walked back and re-bought his land.
He married Jane Wilson Eaton in 1826. She had two sisters, Sally and Eliza. Eliza later married John Peebles and also lived on the town line.
James Fennimore Cooper as a schoolmate of Jane. She came to Ohio with Norman after the land purchase. Her small son Horatio recalled scaring wolves from the door by shaking his mother's dish towel at them.
These pioneers from "York State" lived in log cabins sharing their stores and skills with others less fortunate than themselves.
Doctors were almost non-existent. Sickness and the fear of it hung heavy over the new country. Jane possessed a green thumb for the illnesses and accidents that go with pioneering.
The following account of life in early Brunswick is written in a history of the Western Reserve.
There were midnight knocks on Jane's door: a frightened lad sent to "fetch help" for his mother who had blacked out; a frantic husband whose gently bred wife was sick unto death in a dimly lighted rough cabin. There was membranous croup and 20 other diseases to plague the always over-tired settlers.
Jane Chidsey never refused a call for help - all she asked was two minutes in which to dress and collect her herb remedies. Once she took no time for shoes and stockings and ran a half mile saying, "good hagers, how these stones hurt my feet!" but she didn't lose stride. She outran the lad who was Lucien N. Chidsey, and had been sent because his mother Janetta Ruth Chidsey had fainted.
The area was still heavily forested. One dark night she lost her way and wandered about until daybreak to find she had been almost home when she first lost the trail.
Norman and Jane lived on the South Town Line on what came to be called the Kennedy Farm. One night a message came to the effect that a man living in Hinckley Center was ill and had been told he could not recover. As soon as she could lope off the miles, she was there and after a bit, decided she could save the man if she could get the help of the sort she wished. The men and boys of the settlement were called together. Arms a-kimbo, she said, "If I can have all the fresh killed cat skins I want, I believe we can save this man."
The men went out in pairs carrying gunny sacks. One man stood outside the open window to kill the cats while another passed in fresh skins and took out the used ones. After a time, the skins removed from the sick man were black and absorbed poison. By morning, the patient was pain free and shortly was up and about to live a long life. "Wonder drugs?" At any rate, the recover of the man was acid proof of the value of cat skins.
At age 72, Jane fell off the platform of a Medina photographer's studio breaking her hip. She insisted on having her picture taken. The photograph is still around and the clenched hands indicate the agony she was suffering. The hip was never set and she spent the remaining 22 years of her life in a wheelchair which she could push about the main floor of the house like lightening. The day before she died at 94 years of age, she hemmed a towel - without glasses.
Other children included Charlotte, Truman, Minnie and Eliza. Charlotte married four times and had three children: Sylvester Faulkner, Bud and Georgie Mellinger. Charlotte died in 1886 and her name was Charlotte Chidsey Crum Faulkner Mellinger Fish!
Horatio married Janetta Ruth Greenwood, in 1857 and they had two children, Mary (Benjamin) and Lucien.
Truman married the sister of Janetta Betsy Ann Greenwood, in 1858, They had nine children: Perry, Elliot, Frank, Loretta (Chappell), Grant, Lyman, Jessie (Peebles), Ida Ruth (Kraver) and Bernice (Tibbitts).
Truman's children who all grew to maturity, were well known, active members of our communities. It was Grant who left a deep impression in Brunswick, a man who at age 18 earned enough money to purchase 50 acres of land through hard work. It was the nucleus of the 233 acres that came to be known as Shady Nook Farm. He married Bertha Sprague of Brunswick on June 19, 1901.
Grant worked at sugar-making for 80 years, first for his grandfather Norman C., and then for his uncle Phil Kennedy, and then for himself from 1874-1939. The first sap buckets were made of staves and bound together with hickory saplings. Many of them had the letters "E.N." and these initials stood for Ezra Van Nearing, a relative of his grandfather and told that the buckets were made in "York State." Chidsey syrup indicated an honest measure and good quality for many, many years.
In 1914, he became interested in pure blood Jersey cattle. As time went on, he developed a herd which attracted the attention of Ohio State University, the American Jersey Cattle Club and journals such as the National Stockman and Farmer, the Jersey Bulletin and Dairy World, the Ohio Farmer and other publications.
When Grant was running for county commissioner in 1938, the Medina County Gazette presumed his platform to be: "Jersey cows on every farm and creamlike milk on every table." There was truth in this by line since by long-continued work he had raised the standard of Ohio's Jersey cattle.
Individuals of the Shady Nook herd won gold and silver medals and citations at the national level as they were to do again before and after 1939 when Grant's second son, Myron, took over the farm and dairy.
A republican in politics, Grant served Brunswick Township as trustee and school board member. He served with distinction two terms as County Comissioner; his unswerving honesty and devotion to duty as he saw it made a deep imprint on Medina County affairs. For a quarter of a century, he was a trustee of the United Brethren Church at Mount Pleasant.
Along with a deep sense of personal responsibility, Grant had a built-in sense of humor and fondness for music and dancing. He was a devoted family man and a staunch friend.
In a series called, "Medina County and Its People," William N. Osbun wrote: "Throughout the centuries in England and America, the Chidseys were and are noted for outstanding industry and thrift and for their devotion to country and church."
Grant's children were Elbert, Alda (Donahue), Bertha, Viola (Blakeslee), Myron, Amber (Bryenton who died in 1964) and Harold.
Grant lived until 1961, the age of 95. At age 80 he was still making maple sytrup and painting his house.
The Chidsey tradition was in good hands, however, as Myron took the reins.
* * *
Myron was born in 1911 and spent his whole life in Brunswick. He graduated from Brunswick High School in 1929 and in the early 1930s took over the operation of Shady Nook Jersey Farm. By the mid-1930s he had completely purchased the 250-acre farm between Laurel and Center Roads on Carpenter Road. In 1932, Chidsey put Brunswick on the map as his champion Jersey, Torono's Fern Lass won a national gold medal.
During his long career in Brunswick, Myron saw his farm cut in half by I-71. He went into the building business for about five years, building homes on the old farm. Then he was offered the job of managing BHL Supply, which he did for four years. He later established two corporations, Shadynook, Inc., and I-71, Inc. with attorney (later municipal court judge) Kermit Neely. The latter owns the property at I-71 and Route 303 on which a restaurant and motel are built. Myron joined Lance and Company in 1968 and he and his wife, Helen, drove school buses for over 10 years.
Myron met Helen Fauble, daughter of another family steeped in history in the West Richfield area, at a dance at the Weymouth Dance Hall. They were married by Rev. Sellers at the Methodist Parsonage in 1937. Helen's grandfather helped settle Akron and her mother was born in a home in Hinckley which is registered in the national archives. The stone was laid by her Grandpa Gargett as he laid stones for the Akron Perkins Mansion.
Myron and Helen are still dancing, by the way. They are on the dance floor several times a week and cut a pretty rug both in square and round dancing.
The couple has six children: Nancy, Sally, David, Carol, Anna and Lori.
Myron, following in his father's civic footsteps, was elected trustee in 1937 and re-elected to serve 16 years. He was a trustee when the fire department was organized and served as chief for two years, "Because they couldn't find anyone else to take it," he quipped.
Myron recalled attending grade school at the corner of Laurel Road in the days of local schools. One year there weren't enough children at this school and he had to walk to Sherman's Corners to attend school. He served on the Brunswick Board of Education for eight year and was president the year his daughter, Nancy, was a senior. He got to present her diploma just as his father had done for him. He is a charter member of the Brunswick Lions Club and Brunswick Chamber of Commerce. He has been on the advisory board of Old Phoenix National Bank, was co-chairman with Al Shirere, of the Brunswick Sesquicentennial Celebration in 1965, was a scoutmaster of Troop 503 in 1933 and served nearly 20 years on the Medina County Fair Board, serving as its chairman in 1970-71. He is a comedian of some note, having performed with the Brunswick Minstrel Company. He served on the Medina County Citizen's Advisory Board on Facilities and on the board of the Medina County Red Cross.
Myron remembers that Maude Evans was the teacher at the Pearl Road schoolhouse and if your teacher got angry with you, she threatened to send you to Miss Evans' School. Miss Evans had a reputation for strictness that was unparalleled in the system, it seems.
"I think everyone's memory of Brunswick is the same," said Chidsey. "We were a one horse town with nothing but farms and everyone knew everyone else. I think we've lived through a fantastic time of change and I'm happy to have had as much to do with that change as anyone living in Brunswick. It's been interesting and fun - and caused a little grief, too. It was interesting to be on the school board during the big expansion. I saw five elementary schools built and two additions. We used state funds and even federal aid on one building which was unusual...and not easy to get.
"Because I-71 split our farm down the middle, it put me in line for progress quickly. When sewer and water came through, we were one of the first to be affected and involved - to say the least."
What about the future?
Well, in 1976 Chidsey said this: "I think it will be 15 or 20 years of uphill work and don't think we can see what Brunswick is going to look like until then. It's going to be one of the nicest and newer cities in the area because of progress - progress that many other areas have not had. I think we all have to accept progress. We've dragged our feet on almost everything and I've dragged as much as anyone. But we have to look at what's best for the future. There's no way to say we want just a certain amount of progress and then stop."
Since retiring he and Helen have done a lot of traveling, seeing virtually all the states, but always coming back to their hometown, Brunswick.