Martin Tidd, James Hill, and Their Families

While searching for the burial place of my ancestor Martin Tidd, which I think is the Old Kinsman Cemetery, I happened upon a new book, at least new to me, with more details on the Tidd and Hill origins and their coming to the Northwest Territory, as it was called then. They settled in the region known as the Western Reserve. The book is Historical Collections of the Mahoning Valley.

In the Fall of 1801 Mr. [John] Kinsman had made a partial contract with David Randall, Martin Tidd, and his son-in-law, James Hill, to remove with their families to Kinsman in the spring of 1802. Afterward they concluded to accept the offer of Mr. Kinsman to give them land in Kinsman in exchange for theirs in Youngstown; and in April the three families started at the same time from Youngstown. Randall and Tidd each had a wagon and team. At Vernon, then Smithfield, Randall broke the axle of his wagon, which detained him one night. Tidd and family, with Hill and wife, continued on to Kinsman, so that they were the first persons that entered the township with the view of permanent settlement.

At this time Mr. Kinsman commenced the rebuilding of the mill, employing King as mill-wright. In the course of the year it was finished and put in operation. He also, at this early period, had provided himself with a small stock of goods, with which to supply the needs of his workmen and the first settlers.

Two sites mention Tidd and Hill, and their moves to Youngstown and then Kinsman.

Youngstown was named for John Young, who first surveyed the area in 1796 and settled there soon after. On April 9, 1800, Young purchased the whole township, 15,560 acres (63 km²), from the Western Reserve Land Company for $16,084. He plotted the town in August 19, 1802 with the date and name of “Youngstown, 1797″. Among the first settlers were the families of Martin Tidd and his son-in-law James Hill, who arrived in 1797. In the spring of 1802 they left Youngstown, bound for Kinsman to the north with two teams and wagons.

The following indicates where Martin Tidd lived, while in Ohio, and died.

Tidd, in exchange for sixty acres of land in Youngstown, took one hundred acres on the hill north of the Seth Perkins Farm, where he lived and died.

A book by the Kinsman Historical Society, simply titled Kinsman, has even more colorful stories. It’s part of the Images of America series. (My mother is featured in a photograph published in the one for Salem, Oregon.)

The first permanent settlers were both men who had been impoverished by the Revolutionary War. Martin Tidd and his extended family were the first to arrive in the spring of 1802. Tidd was a Yankee who had developed lands in the Wyoming Valley only to have his ownership nullified when Connecticut gave up its claims there. He exemplified the frontiersman of his time—a fine marksman used to hardships, whose experiences were in sharp contrast to the ordered civility of his home state. Understandably distrustful of government, his legacy is the path of the Kinsman-Nickerson Road. It was supposed to run east as it starts to do and then go south on the diagonal through his land. He put a stop to that by cutting the surveyor’s chain in two with his axe, so the road takes an abrupt turn south following what was the boundary of his land instead.

Tidd and Hill likely met for the first time in the settlements of the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania. A Martin Tidd, and his brothers John and William, are listed on the 1790 Federal Census for Northumberland County, as is a James Hill, married at that time to Mary Jordan, daughter of William Jordan and Jean Spray. If this is the same James Hill, Mary likely died sometime around 1795, leaving at least four daughters. James then remarried, Sarah Tidd, daughter of Martin, apparently on March 25, 1796.

Tidd and Randall deserve more than a passing notice as being among the best specimens of those once called “the frontier settlers.” They were from the Wyoming Valley, Pennsylvania, were possessed of strong and hardy constitutions, muscular powers, inventive and active minds, but without cultivation. Reared as they had been amid the soul-stirring events of border warfare in that far famed valley of Wyoming, they were well calculated to encounter the dangers, endure the hardships, and engage in the enterprises of a frontier settlement. Danger was the element in which they had grown up and lived; so that, with rifle in hand, true to its mark, neither the whoop of the Indian nor the howl of the wild beast had any terror for them.

Tidd, at the time of the Wyoming massacre, lived a little below the settlement of Wyoming. His house stood on a high bluff, immediately on the bank of the Susquehanna, eight miles below Jackson’s Ford, and two miles below Wyoming. Some of the family are reported to have seen the dead bodies as they floated down the river after the fatal massacre by the Indians. His house was at one time used as a block house, and, at the time of the massacre, was a refuge to which the surrounding inhabitants fled for safety.

After leaving Wyoming, Tidd removed to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania., thence to the banks of the Ohio below Pittsburg, and, in 1798, came to Youngstown. He, with his family and his nephew, Captain Hillman, are reported to have found their way to Youngstown in the first covered wagon that ever entered the place. His daughter, Betsey (afterward Mrs. Robert Henry), nine years of age, was for a time employed as help in the family of Judge Young.

Tidd was honest and honorable in his deal and intercourse with neighbors, but did not like restraint in matters where he deemed his rights infringed upon, however the law might be against him. In locating the Mercer road by his place, in Kinsman, he violently opposed it. When the surveyor was running the line for its location across his premises, as the chain was drawn across a log, he seized his hatchet and cut it in two, and thus defied their farther action, and is said to have succeeded in turning the line of the road so that it avoided his farm.

Superiority of strength, agility, and an unerring aim in the use of the rifle, were considered no mean accomplishments in a frontiersman. Matches for shooting, ball playing, wrestling, and boxing, were frequent pastimes with them. Generally a small amount was staked on the issue, at least enough to pay for the whisky drank, and perhaps a supper. The successful individual not only gloried in the title of “Bully” which he received, but the community around were in full sympathy with him. Many anecdotes are related of a class of fearless “first settlers,” some authentic and some doubtless apocryphal.

The following of Tidd is vouched for by those who knew him well. While living in the Wyoming Valley he was arrested and confined for some offense committed during the violent and angry disputes which arose between the Pennsylvanians and the Connecticut “Yankees.” Before this he had had some bantering with a big, burly Irishman. One morning this “Bully,” as he was called, came into the village where Tidd was confined, daring the best man in the town to combat. No one coming forward to accept the challenge, and not liking to own beat, they had recourse to the prowess of Tidd. The Irishman, remembering the former banter that had passed between them, demanded a chance to give him a “clip.” The “Bully,” settlers, and all, rushed to the place of Tidd’s confinement, and demanded his release. Never was champion, flushed with success, more eager for the encounter than was this Irishman. Tidd was invited to come out and take a round, then urged, then offered his liberty. He, however, remonstrated; when his antagonist dared him, called him a coward and the like. Even his friends began to doubt his courage and ability successfully to contend with the boasting bully. He was released, however, and brought into the ring. At the first onset he was knocked to the ground. But Tidd at length rallied in very self defense, and with one blow on the head of his antagonist put an end to his life. Tidd was justified in the judgment of his townsmen; no arrest was made, nor was he again returned to confinement. He commonly avoided all reference to the deed. Once, when at a “wake”*  at Wesby’s, being under the influence of  “liquor,”  he admitted it,  and discussed the affair freely.

After the settlement began to put on more of the appearance of civilization, Tidd is said to have declared frequently that he would leave Kinsman if he could; but that he had become old, and his children was unwilling to go with him. “For,”  said he  “I have always thought it time for me to be off when law and Gospel came into the place.”  Tidd’s life and character were generally those of a sober, kind hearted, and loyal man. He was not quarrelsome, nor was it his habit to controvert the opinion of his neighbors, whether in religion or otherwise, as the above expression might seem to indicate. He died in a good old age, kindly cared for by his family and neighbors.

More on Martin Tidd, James Hill, and their families has been published in a few county histories, including volume two of the History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties,

While the settlement of the township will date from the improvements made by Messrs. Kinsman and Reeve, above mentioned, Martin Tidd and his son-in-law, James Hill, and David Randall are regarded as the first permanent settlers, since they were the first to take up their abode with their families, which they did in the spring of 1802, Mr. Kinsman having made a contract with them to this effect the previous fall.

In April the three families left Youngstown together, with two teams and wagons. There was probably a good natured strife between the Tidd party, who occupied one wagon, and Randall, as to who should first arrive upon the ground, but an accident happening to Randall, his wagon breaking down at Smithfield (now Vernon), he was detained there over night Tidd and family, with Hill and wife, proceeded to Kinsman, and thus bore off the honors of being the first permanent settlers. Tidd settled on the hill north of the Seth Perkins farm, getting one hundred acres in exchange for sixty acres in Kinsman. Randall located on the Seth Perkins farm. Tidd and Randall were originally from the Wyoming valley, Pennsylvania. The former lived a short distance below the settlement of Wyoming at the time of the massacre, his house occupying a high bluff on the banks of the Susquehanna river. His house is said tc have been used as a blockhouse, and during the massacre afforded a place of safety for many of the inhabitants in the vicinity. Alter removing from Wyoming he went to Westmoreland county. In 1798 he came to Youngstown with his family and nephew, Captain Hillman, where he lived until his removal to Kinsman. Tidd possessed the true spirit of the pioneer, though he continued to live in Kinsman until his death, yet he was restless during the progress of settlement and improvement of the country, and was only prevented from “moving on” by reason of his advanced age and out of deference to the wishes of his children, who did not inherit his pioneer spirit. He died at air advanced age.

Many of the Hills and Tidds were among the ‘firsts’ in the Kinsman area.

The same year [1802] occurred also the first marriage. Mr. Kinsman, as justice of the peace, united in marriage Robert Henry and Betsey Tidd.

The first death was that of John Tidd, who died in April, 1804, at the age of thirty-two. He was buried in the lot which afterwards became the old cemetery, on the corner near the church. The first death of an adult female was that of Mrs. Walter Davis, October 28, 1805. A child of Samuel Tidd died of a burn in September, 1805.

Terminology and occupations have certainly changed since this time. James Hill is referred to as a mechanic and, more specifically, a shoemaker.

The first mechanics among the early settlers were James Hill and Walter Davis, shoemakers; Captain David Randall, cooper; David and Elam Lindsley, Joseph Murray, John L. Cook, Jahazael Lathrop, carpenters.

There’s a lot more material, some from the county histories of Logan and Hardin in Ohio, the Susquehanna Company Papers, and other sources, which I’ll be writing about at some point later. The Connecticut State Library has a page on Connecticut’s ‘Susquehannah Settlers’ and WorldCat, an online database of libraries worldwide, has listings for genealogical materials related to the Wyoming Valley.


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