Garrettsville – The James A. Garfield Historical Society met in the Community House in Nelson on Thursday, June 13 to hear from Joe Stamm, whose roots in Nelson Township, and his exploration of them, were the topic of a very interesting evening for the community members gathered there. 

The three families that were the core of his research were the Fullers, the Bierces, and the Chapmans…and, of course, a few sidelights on the Stamms from Mantua/Freedom.

His investigations took him from the Connecticut Western Reserve through Trumbull County and Hiram Township to the formation of Nelson Twp in 1817.  They included the first family in Nelson, the Mills Brothers (not the singing group, the pioneers from Massachusetts),  through other familiar names still on the landscape–Bancroft Colton, Pritchard, Garrett (John Garrett built his mill in the southwest corner of Nelson Twp.), etc.–across personal memories of the family farm visits in childhood as well as playing basketball in the old gymnasium.

Pictures of family members and local buildings and landmarks,  probate court filings of wills, census records, indenture papers, maps of the county and the township all   helped to flesh out the picture of the families and the township at different stages.  The 1874 History of Portage County, the 1885 History of Portage County, and      Portage Heritage :  History of an Ohio County(1957)  provided a framework but once the search is on, curiosity and fascination kick in and the trails lead back into tales of the Mayflower, the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Lake Erie, illness and perseverance, school groups and cemeteries.

It was an interesting evening, made more so by the postscript provided by Jeff James and his illustration of a helpful–to genealogy researchers–website designated  which was about ‘way more than burial plots.

The next meeting of the James A. Garfield Historical Society will be on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 7:00 with a presentation by recent Hiram College graduate, Julie Thompson, of her history department capstone project concerning the LAST GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY, which took place in Garrettsville in 1935.  The public is cordially invited to attend.