“Hinckley is 26.86 miles square but contains 1133 acres more than the conventional 16,000 acres, due to the hills and valleys and generally ‘wrinkled’ surface. It was identified as Township 4N Range 13W.”
“In the distribution of the lands of the Western Reserve among the original land speculators (who bought it from the State of Connecticut), the Hinckley area became available to Judge Samuel Hinckley of Northampton Massachusetts. He was reputed to be one of the shrewdest land proprietors of his time. He predicted that the day would come when his land in Hinckley would sell for as much as $10 per acre but he did not expect to live long enough to realize such profits.”
“As the pioneers from the East began to move westward, the Judge was quick to place his holding in other parts of the Western Reserve for sale. He was in no particular hurry to dispose of his Hinckley holdings because they were of less value and Hinckley remained a wilderness for quite a while after adjoining townships had been settled.”
The Hinckley Historical Society was established as a non-profit organization in 1988. For over thirty (30) years, it has grown into a well-known society. The Hinckley Historical House is located in the Hinckley Town Center. As the Hinckley community continues to grow, Hinckley Historical Society encourages the residents and citizens to reflect on our township’s community past. To help share our colorful heritage with your family and future generations, we hope you will visit and support the Hinckley Historical Society.
The Hinckley Historical Society House is located on the corner of Ridge Road (State Route 3) and Center Road (State Route 303) at the center of Hinckley, Ohio. This quaint historical house is owned by Hinckley Township which the Historical Society leases from. The office and research library are housed in the 1846 small white clapboard Greek revival home at 1634 Center Road. The research library contains Hinckley family records, township history, old map & tax books and many displays showing Hinckley’s past and what life was like in the early days in our community. It is an important feature in order to learn about the history of the township and much more.
The Historical Society was first housed at the “Worden Heritage Homestead“, an 1862 farmhouse, that was located at 895 Ledge Road in the Hinckley Metroparks. The home had the original hardwood floors, wavy glass windows and wood doors. The homestead was furnished with period items belonging to the Worden family. These included the original rope bed belonging to Hiram Worden ca. 1842, a Goodrich Treadle sewing machine and a melodeon (a reed organ). After Hiram passed away, the farm and buildings went to his daughter, Nettie, who lived there until her death in 1945. After she died, her third husband took ownership of the land and farm house.
It was Nettie’s third husband, Noble Stuart that made the greatest contribution to the property. He was a brick layer by trade and came to the Cleveland area to work. He eventually purchased land near the Worden Homestead where he had met Nettie and married her after a short courtship. On the property beyond the fields are sandstone ledges, now called Worden Ledges. This was an area that the family often used for picnics, recreation, and, at times, for quiet reflection. This is where Nobel Stuart started his carving shortly after he married Nettie. The carvings, about 10, are of things that interested Noble. Noble’s carvings include a schooner, the face of George Washington, a cross and bible, and the face of Ty Cobb.
After his death, the land was purchased by the Cleveland Metroparks and is part of the Hinckley Reservation, often known as the jewel of the Emerald Necklace. The Worden Heritage Homestead house no longer stands; however, there is a room on the second floor of the Hinckley Historical Society building that is dedicated to the Worden Heritage Homestead with many of the items, including some of the carvings. The Hinckley Historical Society building has some great pieces of the history of Hinckley.
1795 — Judge Samuel Hinckley purchased Hinckley Township from the Connecticut Land Company for 23 cents an acre. Hinckley has 100 plots at 160 acres each.
1831 — Judge Hinckley came from Massachusetts to collect on the land he had sold. In return for naming the township after him, he had promised to deed 160 acres to the trustees for school purposes or whatever the townspeople wished. When the Judge was reminded of his promise, he “hesitated, ‘hemmed and hawed’ and finally with a long face, sadness and regret spread all over his physiognomy, he begged off.” After much discussion, the Judge finally compromised by donating a much smaller tract two and one-half acres in the center of the township for a Public Square and two burying grounds one and one half acres each. This total donation of five acres was all the township received of the original 160 acres promised. The deed for this land may be found verbatim in the History of Medina County, 1881.
The Connecticut Western Reserve
At present the term Western Reserve has only an historical meaning; but to the Medina pioneers it had immediate significance, because originally Medina was a part of this unique section of Ohio.
What are its unique characteristics? First, that the State of Connecticut was permitted to retain this part of her western lands in 1787 when the other states ceded theirs to the federal government; and secondly, the way in which Connecticut disposed of this huge piece of land which extended westward 120 miles from the Pennsylvania-Ohio boundary and southward from Lake Erie to the forty-first parallel, comprising an area of over 3,000,000 acres. The Western Reserve may also be described as a somewhat irregular quadrilateral in northeastern Ohio, with Conneaut, Youngstown, Willard, and Port Clinton at its corners. A glance at the map will show that the forty-first parallel is the southern boundary of both Connecticut and of the Western Reserve.
Several of the original colonies held grants of land which extended as far west as the Pacific Ocean because of the royal ignorance of or disdain for North American geography. Shortly after the beginning of the development of the Connecticut Colony, this small area became so overcrowded that groups of its citizens migrated to the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. There they established settlements, as this land was also included in Connecticut’s original grant from Charles II of England. These claims caused a series of bloody struggles between the Connecticut settlers and the Pennsylvanians, because the Connecticut claims conflicted with the claims of the proprietors of Pennsylvania. These struggles are referred to in history as the Pennamite Wars.
After the Revolution the other states ceded their western lands to the federal government, but Connecticut was permitted to retain or reserve a section in Ohio approximately equal to what she had lost in the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. This land was given the name the Connecticut Western Reserve or New Connecticut.
The Connecticut Legislature sold this entire parcel to a group of land speculators for the sum of $1,200,000, with the proceeds of this sale going to the Connecticut school fund. Originally a group of thirty-five men, including Elijah Boardman, who subsequently owned most of Medina Township, negotiated the purchase and formed themselves into the Connecticut Land Company. Each of the purchasers was granted a deed for his proportionate share of the still un-surveyed and undivided Reserve. The corporation eventually included other interested men who had been represented by the original thirty-five, bringing the total number of members of the Land Company to fifty-seven.
The seven directors of the Company had the property surveyed into townships five miles square and also carefully had the Indian tides extinguished, for the eastern part of the Reserve in 1796, and for the part west of the Cuyahoga River and the Portage Path, in which Medina is situated, in 1806. Also in the spring of 1806 the survey of this western part got under way.
In order to divide the land holdings of the Company as equitably as possible, the Connecticut Land Company held drawings for the shareholders in Hartford, in which each investor or group of investors drew his proportionate share of land. These investors then re-sold their holdings in the Reserve either to prospective settlers or to other land speculators who in turn ultimately sold to settlers. Often a piece of land would be re-sold many times before a real settler would take possession.
The Connecticut Land Company was dissolved as a corporation in 1809, five years before Zenas Hamilton, the first permanent settler, arrived in Medina Township. In 1816 Rufus Ferris established himself within the future limits of Medina Village to represent Elijah Boardman as his land agent.
The Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818
Almost one decade before Hinckley Township was organized, a great hunt took place in the Hinckley hills and valleys on December 24, 1818, nearly 200 years ago.
It was claimed that several of the participating hunters were veterans of the American Revolution and of the war of 1812 which will account for the near military plans made and followed throughout the adventure.
Judges Samuel Hinckley of Massachusetts, who owned the land now comprising the township named after him, had made little or no effort to dispose of his acreage, because it wasn’t considered suitable for agricultural purposes and was over-run with wild animals.
In the meantime, or by around 1818, townships adjoining Hinckley had gained a considerable number of settlers who cleared numerous tracts of land of large trees and prepared the land for cultivation to provide food and fodder for their oxen and horses, and herds of sheep and cattle.
Hinckley, in 1818, was still an unbroken forest of big trees and, in addition, was a haven for wolves and bears and smaller game which continuously raided and devastated surrounding settlements. It was not usual for a settler (outside of Hinckley) to lose his entire flock of sheep in a single night – even when penned up within sight of his farm buildings.
Late in the Fall of 1818, a number of meetings were held by settlers surrounding the Hinckley Forests, to arrange for a “war of extermination” upon wolves and bears, to take place not later than December 24.
Four captains were appointed – one of them to have supreme command of the battalion. Surveyors blazed a line of trees upon a circle a half-mile around the center of what is now Hinckley Township.
Arrangements were made for able-bodied men and large boys to assemble– those from Cleveland, Newburgh, Royalton, etc., on the north line of Hinckley; those from Brecksville, Richfield, etc., on the east line; those from bath, Granger, etc., on the south line; and those from Medina, Brunswick, Liverpool, etc., on the west line.
All were instructed to assemble at sunrise, armed with whatever weapons they possessed. As the supply of suitable weapons was inadequate, many of the hunters were armed with bayonets mounted on poles, and axes, hatchets and butcher knives!
About 600 men and boys were on the north, east, south and west lines at sunrise, December 24, and were eager to “get going” after the bears and wolves.
Soon after sunrise the commanding officer gave the “all ready” signal, which was repeated around the lines to the right and around to the starting point in just 40 seconds!
The captains kept their lines properly spaced, like skirmishers. Soon deer began to show themselves; many escaped, but about 100 were killed before the one-half mile limit was reached; also a few wild turkeys.
The men were continually cautioned to fire only toward the half-mile circle, and as they approached the circular line of blazed trees a halt was made.
Finally, the previously selected and most experience hunters advanced towards the center with orders to kill the bears and wolves if they could without endangering each other or those on the lines. Only two hunters suffered minor flesh wounds from buckshot.
The game collected or killed within the circle totaled 17 wolves, 21 bears, and 300 hundred deer. However, this count did not include several turkeys and deer that had been taken home by those hunters who had been delegated to do the “chores;” neither were a few foxes and coons included.
The hunting party (now reduced to about 400, because 200 had to return home to do the “chores”) proceeded to scalp the dead wolves for bounty and a large bear was barbecued. A messenger was dispatched to Richfield for sundry supplies. His horse-drawn sled was loaded with refreshments – including “honest” whiskey. The fortunate “400” feasted on Christmas Eve on bear, deer meat and savory wild turkey, liberally bolstered with cake and bread – and whiskey. But nary a nimrod became intoxicated (it was claimed), even though the jamboree continued until early Christmas Morn.
On Christmas Day, 1818, the Hunters’ Camp was visited by numerous and miscellaneous parties from the surrounding townships and from adjacent territories as far away as twenty miles. ‘T’was a Happy and Merry Christmas for all.
All narrators of this famous hunt agree that the “final kill” was on land in the center of the township. Today this spot may be roughly located somewhere north and south of Route 303, and west of the East Branch of Rocky River, and, probably, several rods west of Alva G. Donkin’s home on Route 303.
Readers should bear in mind that the old so-called “center” of Hinckley, that is, the land donated to the township by Judge Samuel Hinckley, was in the exact center of the township, whereas today’s Hinckley Center is a fraction of a mile west of the geographic center.
Other Bibliographical Resources
More information regarding the history of Hinckley Township can be found at the Hinckley Historical Society under these titles.
Indian Arrow Heads
Document, Purchase of Hinckley Township
Great Hinckley Hunt
150th & 175th Anniversary
Boy & Girl Scouts
Hinckley Civil War History
Ohio Western Reserve National Memorial Trail
Hinckley One Room Schools
Hinckley High School Pictures 1909–1953
Hinckley High School Alumni
Genealogical Research, Families
Hinckley Reporter & Hinckley Records (all)
Judge Samuel Hinckley
Van Dusen Family
Folders on 40 more Families
Y.M.C.A. Camp Craig
Hinckley Hunt 1818
Hinckley Town Halls
Hinckley Civil War Veterans
Hinckley Grange Store
Hinckley Hill, West
Bronger’s Store & Park
Life on Hinckley Ridge by Ruth Porter Jackman
History of Hinckley by Judge Webber
Medina County Atlas 1874 & 1897
Hinckley Treasurer’s Taxes 1913–1974
Old Telephone Books
Medina County Women of the Military (Vol. I)
Ohio Soldiers 1861–1866
Howes History of Ohio Vol. 1 & 2
Historical Highlights of Medina
Hinckley History 1825–1975 1825–2000
Images of America, Brunswick
Medina County Women of the Military (Vol. II)
Ohio Cemeteries & Local Cemeteries (Maple Hill, Beach & Ridge)
Life in Hinckley By Rex Barlett
Hinckley Fire Dept.
Hinckley Chamber of Commerce
Old Hinckley Library
Volunteer Action Committee of Hinckley Township
Hinckley Welcome Club
Hinckley Garden Club
Hinckley Township Government
Historical Society President
Forms, Permits & Policies
Meeting Info & YouTube