In 1816, when the actual settlement of Town 2, Range 9, began in the Western Reserve, the township’s proprietors were Massachusetts, residents, Israel Thorndike of Beverly and John Wyles, Jr. of Brimfield. Thorndike, a well-to-do Federalist, sent his nephew, Henry, of Jaffrey, New Hampshire, a Dartmouth man and a lawyer, here in the fall of 1816 to settle and to sell the northern half of the 25 square mile township. With Henry came his brother, Israel, a master mariner. The brothers found John Boosinger, a native of Eastern Virginia, already clearing a 200-acre farm when they arrived.
By late 1820, their sister, Mary Thorndike Lincoln and her husband Luke, the town’s first physician, and their cousin, Edward, had also settled near Plum Creek. Sawyers, Twitchells, and Lanphares were among the New Hamphshiremen and Vermonters encouraged to come here by the Thorndikes. They organized the township and gave it their name in 1817.
In 1830 the several hundred residents petitioned that the town be renamed in honor of John Wyles, Jr. of Brimfield, Massachusetts, whose agent, Abel Burt, had charge of land sales in the southern half of the township. Moultons, Shermans, Needhams, and Underwoods from Hampden County, Massachusetts, were among those persuaded to come to Ohio by Wyles and Burt.
By the 1840s, Brimfield’s farms were well established. Besides good crops of corn, oats, wheat, and hay, they produced large quantities of wool, butter, and cheese. Blacksmiths, harness makers, coopers, sawyers, and wagon makers persisted here until the automobile and tractor became popular. Aaron Ferry’s brickyard in Northeast Brimfield supplied most of the bricks used in Franklin Mills, and Jacob Roth’s quarry, south of the Center, furnished the area with sandstone for fences and foundations. From a population of less than 1,000 in 1860, 90 men volunteered for service in the Civil War. But it was after World War I that the great changes began to draw people from the farms to jobs in Akron and Kent, and made the township largely residential.
From the beginning, Brimfield has been interested in its public institutions. The Methodists organized in 1823, the Baptists (who had their church by the town green) in 1834, and the Universalists (whose church still stands) in 1839. The district school system, began in the 1820s, and lasted until 1921 when the centralized school was built.
William R. Kelso opened his stage tavern in 1837. That business also served many years as the town’s post office. T.E. Synder, a Kelso son-in-law, was postmaster in 1907 when RFD service closed the local office. The town hall, constructed in 1871, served the community well until it was taken down in 1951. The Akron-Youngstown Road was paved in the early 1920s, a decade after the road to Kent.
Among the monuments of the early days that still remain in the township are Western Reserve farmhouses, splendid barns, the Kelso House, and several of the district school houses, now converted into homes.
Edgar L. McCormick
(Reprinted from The Brimfield Bicentennial Cookbook, 1976)
For More Information About the History of Brimfield, Ohio see, Brimfield and Its People: Life in a Western Reserve Township 1816-1941 by Edgar L. McCormick, available at the Museum Gift Shop.