Founding of Perrysburg
Amos Spafford puts Perrysburg on the Map
Supporting the preservation and appreciation of Perrysburg's historic architectural heritage
The Founding of Perrysburg:
Amos Spafford helped survey the Connecticut Western Reserve in the late 1790s and was one of the first settlers in the Perrysburg area, arriving here in 1810.
He was born on 11 April 1753 in Sharon, Connecticut. In 1796, the Connecticut Land Company sent Amos, along with several other men, under the expedition’s leader, Major Moses Cleaveland, to survey the Connecticut Western Reserve. Amos and others surveyed and platted a town at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River at Lake Erie naming it Cleveland in honor of their expedition leader. It was at this time that Amos drew the first map of Cleveland. In 1797, he returned to the Connecticut Western Reserve, where he surveyed several communities east of the Cuyahoga River.
In 1800 he and his wife Olive and family moved to Cleveland, where the Connecticut Land Company employed him as a surveyor.
Amos Spafford's Land Grant
He also assisted the company in land sales. Amos soon emerged as a prominent resident in the community, serving as township trustee in 1802.
In 1803, Amos became the township chairman. Six years later, he won election to the Ohio General Assembly as a representative from Geauga County. Besides his political career, Amos also began operating a tavern in Cleveland in 1802.
In 1810, the United States government offered Amos an appointment as the “Collector of the Port of Miami” located on the Miami of the Lake, today known as the Maumee River.
Aurora Spafford's Home ca. 1940
He accepted the offer and moved with his family (wife Olive and children Samuel, Aurora, Chloe and Anna) from Cleveland to the Foot of the Rapids, where Fort Meigs would later be built on the bluff above in February 1813.
Amos was granted a 160 acre land patent on River Tracts 64 and 65 in Waynesfield Township, signed by President James Monroe and was able to purchase it following the 1817 Treaty of the Rapids that extinguished Native Americans’ claim. Two years later, 67 families lived in the area, but most fled at the outbreak of the War of 1812.
Following the war, settlers returned and reconstructed their homes in the town of
Perrysburg Area Historic Museum
"Orleans of the North" located on the “flats” just below Fort Meigs The town was wiped out twice by spring ice floes, finally being abandoned for higher ground in 1832.
In 1815 Amos concluded that a town should be located on higher ground and in 1816 the U.S. Congress authorized a survey, the plat of which appears on the cover of this brochure. About the same time U.S. Land Commissioner Josiah Meigs asked Amos to select a name, suggesting that it would be appropriate to honor Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who defeated a superior British naval fleet at Put-in-Bay on Lake Erie in the War of 1812. Amos named it Perrysburgh (the “h” was later dropped), in honor of the young Commodore Perry.
The main street was named Louisiana Avenue, thus making a connection with the short-lived town “Orleans of the North”. Wood County was formed in 1820 and included Maumee, which separated in 1835 when Lucas County was formed. Perrysburg became the county seat in 1823; however, it was moved to Bowling Green in the early 1870s. Amos died in 1817 and was buried in the family cemetery immediately west of Fort Meigs.
Olive Barlow, Amos’s wife, was born 26 August 1756 in Granville, MA and died 18 January 1823 in Perrysburg. It is assumed that she was also buried in the family cemetery. She married Amos 03 July 1773 and to this union seven children were born:
- Samuel, born 13 July 1775
- Anna, born 24 December 1780
- Chloe, born 26 January 1785
- Guy, born 26 November 1786
- Adolphus, born 16 January 1792
- Aurora, born 29 January 1794
- Jarvis, born February 1796
Two of Amos's sons stand out in Perrysburg's history. Samuel inherited the land from his father on which one of the abandoned Fort Meigs blockhouses still stood. Samuel's family lived in the blockhouse for a time and his daughter Mary was born in it in 1819. Samuel was innkeeper of the Exchange Hotel from 1823 to 1831. It became a famous hostelry for travelers between Buffalo and St. Louis and later Chicago, and a community social center. The structure exists today as the skeleton of the building at 140 West Front Street. From 1831 until his death, Amos’ son, Jarvis, operated the Exchange Hotel, He served as a village councilman and died in the 1854 cholera epidemic.
Another son of Samuel, Amos II, took leave of the area, going to California in 1849 to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush; he was never heard from again and his fate is unknown.
In 1817 Aurora married Mary Rolph Jones, a widow, who had the distinction of being the first white woman married in the entire Maumee Valley between Toledo and Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1823 he built the home still standing at 27340 West River Road on part of his father's land grant. The house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is home to the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum.
Aurora was a leader in the Methodist congregation and early services were conducted in his house. He served as Wood County treasurer, township trustee and judge of common pleas court. He died in 1849.
During the construction of the Fort Meigs Visitor Center, the old Spafford Family Burial Ground was unearthed. In 2003, the recovered remains were gathered and interred in Fort Meigs Union Cemetery in a ceremony organized by the Perrysburg Chapter of the Ohio Bicentennial Committee and attended by Spafford family descendants.