History does not say that the first white settler to inhabit the township started out to begin a new life in the Western Reserve. But it is recorded that George Webster, a young man of fifteen, and his widowed mother were looking for a new and better life when they left their home in Courtright, New York. They set on their daring adventure into the wilderness with one team of horses, one team of oxen and a crude flat wagon on which they rode with their precious few belongings.

They traveled by way of Cooperstown, Utica and Buffalo where they were told there was no settlement west until Cattaraugus, New York. To reach this settlement they were instructed to keep to the beach for about eight miles and then they would find a marked road through the woods.

Proceeding along the shores of Lake Erie, the Websters came upon the spot they were certain was the "marked road" and turned inward. They traveled on until dark but did not find anything but dense forest and wild animals.

At nightfall they camped till dawn and then set out again. Mid-morning they came upon a log cabin and were joyous to find a white settler. Their joy was not long-lasting for they were informed that they had come exactly the right distance in the wrong direction. The settler, a Mr. Cummings, advised them to return to the beach and begin anew. He also agreed to be their guide as far as the shores of the lake. Again the couple set out for the settlement. Three days later they arrived at the Ashtabula Creek, far from Cattaraugus, New York.

Not knowing the depth of the creek, they were considering which course to take when a canoe paddled over to them. The friendly woman explained that she could help them across and they agreed.

Mrs. Webster was settled in the canoe first and paddled to the opposite shore. The woman then rowed back and led the horses across with the team of oxen swimming along. The next task was to fasten bed-cords together and attach them to the wagon tongue and again the woman deftly did this from her canoe. Then she rowed the other ends back across the creek to be hitched to the waiting team of horses. Finally, the wagon was floated across.

The Websters, once settled safely on the other side of Ashtabula Creek, learned that this hard-working woman, was Mrs. George Beckwith, also a widow. She related how her husband had gone to nearby Austinburg for supplies the past January and on his return a freezing snowstorm had taken his life.

Six years later, George Webster purchased land situated on the South Ridge about sixty rods east of the west line of Saybrook Township. Another settler, Joseph Hotchkiss of Harpersfield Township also purchased land just west of Webster's and a race was on to see which one would be the ñrst official white settler.

One story related that Webster hurriedly rolled some logs together, spread a cloth over the top. and took possession. The Hotchkiss family moved into their log cabin the next day. Mrs. Hotchkiss, although not the first white woman settler, was on friendly terms with the Indians. It is recorded that she would often babysit papooses for several days while the Indians went to Pennsylvania for crude oil. The township was still known as Wrightsburg at this time.

Wrightsburg had originally been a part of Austinburg Township and it was not until 1816 that organization made a separate township of its own. It remained Wrightsburg until 1827 when it became Saybrook. Its new name coming from Saybrook, Connecticut.

In the summer of 1828 Hubbard Taylor opened the first store. It was located on the South Ridge Road near a tavern built by William Crowell, in 1813. and operated by Benjamin Sweet.

History does not say that the first white settler to inhabit the township started out to begin a new life in the Western Reserve. But it is recorded that George Webster, a young man of fifteen, and his widowed mother were looking for a new and better life when they left their home in Courtright, New York. They set on their daring adventure into the wilderness with one team of horses, one team of oxen and a crude flat wagon on which they rode with their precious few belongings.

They traveled by way of Cooperstown, Utica and Buffalo where they were told there was no settlement west until Cattaraugus, New York. To reach this settlement they were instructed to keep to the beach for about eight miles and then they would find a marked road through the woods.

Proceeding along the shores of Lake Erie, the Websters came upon the spot they were certain was the "marked road" and turned inward. They traveled on until dark but did not find anything but dense forest and wild animals.

At nightfall they camped till dawn and then set out again. Mid-morning they came upon a log cabin and were joyous to find a white settler. Their joy was not long-lasting for they were informed that they had come exactly the right distance in the wrong direction. The settler, a Mr. Cummings, advised them to return to the beach and begin anew. He also agreed to be their guide as far as the shores of the lake. Again the couple set out for the settlement. Three days later they arrived at the Ashtabula Creek, far from Cattaraugus, New York.

Not knowing the depth of the creek, they were considering which course to take when a canoe paddled over to them. The friendly woman explained that she could help them across and they agreed.

Mrs. Webster was settled in the canoe first and paddled to the opposite shore. The woman then rowed back and led the horses across with the team of oxen swimming along. The next task was to fasten bed-cords together and attach them to the wagon tongue and again the woman deftly did this from her canoe. Then she rowed the other ends back across the creek to be hitched to the waiting team of horses. Finally, the wagon was floated across.

The Websters, once settled safely on the other side of Ashtabula Creek, learned that this hard-working woman, was Mrs. George Beckwith, also a widow. She related how her husband had gone to nearby Austinburg for supplies the past January and on his return a freezing snowstorm had taken his life.

Six years later, George Webster purchased land situated on the South Ridge about sixty rods east of the west line of Saybrook Township. Another settler, Joseph Hotchkiss of Harpersfield Township also purchased land just west of Webster's and a race was on to see which one would be the ñrst official white settler.

One story related that Webster hurriedly rolled some logs together, spread a cloth over the top. and took possession. The Hotchkiss family moved into their log cabin the next day. Mrs. Hotchkiss, although not the first white woman settler, was on friendly terms with the Indians. It is recorded that she would often babysit papooses for several days while the Indians went to Pennsylvania for crude oil. The township was still known as Wrightsburg at this time.

Wrightsburg had originally been a part of Austinburg Township and it was not until 1816 that organization made a separate township of its own. It remained Wrightsburg until 1827 when it became Saybrook. Its new name coming from Saybrook, Connecticut.

In the summer of 1828 Hubbard Taylor opened the first store. It was located on the South Ridge Road near a tavern built by William Crowell, in 1813. and operated by Benjamin Sweet.

First Settlers Were Looking For Better Way of Life

First Settlers Were Looking For Better Way of Life

Followed Lake Erie and Turned Inland

Followed Lake Erie and Turned Inland

by NANCY HORST (1976)

by NANCY HORST (1976)

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