The Legacy to the Inhabitants of Burton Township

In 1795 a group of land speculators formed the Connecticut Land Company and purchased the Western Reserve from the State of Connecticut. The Land Company then purchased from the Indians their rights to that part of the Wester Reserve east of the Cuyahoga River.  In the summers of 1796-1797 the land was surveyed and divided into townships of about 5 square miles each.  The survey of this wilderness cost the lives of seven men.

Upon completion of the survey the Western Reserve was ready to be divided up by the company’s shareholders. The 7th township in the 7th Range was acquired by 9 of the shareholders for $12,900.  The 41st Parallel formed the southern boundary of the Western Reserve.  Ranges ran north from the 41st parallel starting at the Pennsylvania border at five mile intervals.  Townships were then laid out within each range also at a five mile intervals starting again at the 41st parallel and running north. The Township was named Burton, after the son of the largest shareholder.  The new owners had the Township itself surveyed and divided it into 100 great lots of about 160 acres each (10 lots across and 10 lots down).  This densely forested territory was at that time inhabited by Indians, bears, wolves, panthers, deer, elk and rattlesnakes.  The Indians were friendly at this time but in 1812 went west to join the British and after the war never were to return.

In June of 1798, seven men and one family with five children arrived in the township by way of what is now known as Fairport and pitched their tents on the northern part of Great Lot 11. In the next few days they cut a road and built a cabin on the southeast side of Great Lot 35 for the first family (Umberfields).  Thus was the Township of Burton founded.

Five years later (1803) there were 85 residents (34 men, 16 women, and 35 children) living in 22 log cabins and two frame houses scattered, for the most part, throughout the upper part of the Township. At this time the inhabitants decided the Township should formalize a Center (village) but a little south of the originally proposed site (Great Lots 25, 26, 35, 36).  The eight men and one woman who owned Great Lots 35, 36, 46, and 47 agreed, and donated the necessary land for the Center’s roads and a public square.  These owners were Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Umberfield, Titus Street, Andrew Hull, Simon Rose, Amoriah Bears, William Law, Turhand Kirtland, and Ben Doolittle.  Accordingly, on October 5, 1803 the owners executed a deed, the body of which herein quoted…

The Legacy

“…for a valuable consideration received to full satisfaction of Ephrain Clark and the rest of the inhabitants of said Burton do give, grant, bargain, sell and confirm unto the said Ephrain and the rest of said inhabitant to them and their successor as inhabitants of said Burton forever the following tract or parcels of land situated in Burton beginning on the line that runs north and south through the center of said Burton at the southeast corner of lot No. 25 thence south on said line to the south line of lot 45 and to be four rods wide and also to begin at the southwest corner of lot No. 35 thence east by said south line to the southeast corner of lot No. 36 to be also four rods wide on each side of said line, also from the center of the intersection of these two tracts or roads forty rods north and fifteen rods south and 15 rods east and fifteen rods west of said line make fifty five rods north and south and thirty rods east and west for a public square and also three roads to be laid out east and three west and three north and three south of the center of the intersection of the two first mentioned roads, each road to be four rods wide and to be forth rods asunder from the center of each road and to extend so far as to intersect the outside road on each angle or 120 rods each way from the center line.  To have and to hold the above granted and bargained premises to them the said Grantees and their successors forever to their own proper use for the purpose hereinafter mentioned said lands are conveyed to use and improvement of a public square and public highways only and to be and remain for their use, and in case said proprietors shall cease to improve them for said public or to apply them to any other purpose they shall revert back to the Grantors in the same manner and proportions as each of the Grantors now hold……”


In 1871 the residents of the Township, wishing to build a Township Hall on the north side of the Square, voted to relocate the two main roads running through the Square. The hall soon proved to be too small and was sold and moved to become the livery stable for the old hotel.  The present Hall was then built on Spring Street facing West Park.

In 1895 when the Center (Village) was incorporated, the township residents living within one quarter mile of the village’s out boundaries, joined in asking to be included with the village. The petition was granted and the village became a mile and one half square.  In 1912, by another petition, the outer residents asked to be returned to the township and the village reverted to its original and present size of one square mile.


This story was published in the Geauga Times Leader, 5/8/1975, as a part of their “Pioneer Series.”

Richard V. Slitor was born in Chatham, Columbia Co., New York, on November 24, 1790 and came to Burton in 1826. With an eight horse team, in the year 1817, he moved the engine boilers and anchor from Albany to Buffalo for the first Lake Erie steamer, “Walk in the Water” hauling the whole in loads of four tons each in three loads.  One load by mishap, slipped off with the wagon into a ditch

His fellow teamsters brought their spans to his aid and when all were hitched, he had 21 horses under on rein, which he drove with one line so carefully as to pull the load safely out.

Mr. Slitor married Amada A. Dayton in 1819, and the children who came with them to Ohio, were Jerome, Caroline, Moses, and Enoch.

Mrs. Slitor was born in Yates Co., New York, in 1800, daughter of Friend and Fanny Dayton who died in Ohio in 1829 and 1827 respectively. The trip from the east was made by wagon, Mrs. Slitor carrying the youngest of four children, only six weeks old, in her arms.

They first moved into a house in Troy, called the “Pilgrim House,” near or on the land then owned by John Dayton, brother to Amanda, while Richards was building a cabin on his own acres, a wild tract of land on the center road leading from Burton to Troy, in the former township.

They moved into their cabin before there were windows or doors, and many a time while she was alone with her children, was she startled by their faithful dog in the darkness rushing unceremoniously against the blanket that served as a door, followed by wolves, when he would stand on the defensive assisted by his brave mistress.

Through their zeal and influence there was a class of Methodists formed at the school-house near them, which at one time was numerically stronger than at Burton or Troy. The children could never remember when family worship was not observed.

The Slitors had nine children, six sons and three daughters, all at one time living around the family board unmarried. Two of the sons and one daughter passed away before the mother.  Enoch, the child she carried in her arms into the wilds of Ohio, enlisted in the 41st O.V.I. contracted disease and was sent home to die.  Richard Jr., also died in Burton.

Amanda Ann, wife of James Brown, died at the ancestral home before the mother; Jerome D., died of pneumonia March 9, 1897 in Burton, aged 76 years, 7 months, and 18 days; Caroline Helen, born Nov. 15, 1822 at Gorham, Ontario County, New York married first, Oct 1, 1847, Chester Hoard, born in 1823 in Yates County, New York. He enlisted in the Civil War at Summerset, Kentucky, in 1862.  Caroline married second, Zeba Harrington.  He died January 10, 1895.

Caroline and Chester had at least one child, Cora Dell Hoard, born in 1859, in Ohio and died in 1942 in California, wife of Dr. H.M. Fenton: and James George Slitor, who also served in the 41st O.V.I. during the Civil War, married Alma Strickland.

James and Alma had four children: Fred, Flora Belle, Louie and an infant daughter who died in infancy.  Flora Bell married Harry Lamb, son of Chester and Melvina (Nash) Lamb.  Harry and Flora had two children:  Josie Marguerite, born September 8, 1898; married W.H. Barber.  She taught school and was one of the first Campfire Girls.  George Chester born October 20, 1906, died March 9, 1939.  George fell and broke his back when he was just out of high school and lived only 14 years after this.  George wrote a Cryptography column, Secret Corner, for the Geauga County Leader.  Its popularity led to the founding of the magazine, “The Cryptogram” an official publication of the American Cryptology Association.

Richard Slitor served in the War of 1812 for three and a half years. He and his wife came to this country with empty hands, though strong and willing, and came down to the old age enjoying many fruits of their labors.  Amanda died March 1, 1877 of consumption, aged 76 years, 4 months, and 27 days, and Richard died October 19, 1880 aged 89.  They were both buried in Slitor cemetery, the land having been donated for the cemetery by the Slitors earlier.

Burton Township No. 7 – 7th Range

The following facts were compiled by the staff at the Burton Public Library

Indians: They trailed along the river, and had stopping places or camps-one near the lower burial ground, by the Cuyahoga, and on the sand knoll across the river, south, a place for their dead.  The tribe names remembered were the Delawares, Tomawandas, & Massasaugas.

June 15, 1798 – Survey party arrived:  William Law, Turhand Kirltand, David Beard, and Levi Tominson.

The company had selected standard townships, and all townships below the standard were equalized in the division by adding to each a certain number of acres from some other town.  Burton was below, and had an annex.  The deed conveyed:

No. 7 in 7th range (Burton) 15,274 acres
Annex No. 1, in No. 9, 9th range (Kirtland) 5,467 acres
Annex No. 1, in 1st range 16,140 acres
36,881 acres
For the sum of $25,806.06

The deed was witnessed by George Pierce and Epm Root, March 13, 1799.  It conveyed interest in Burton and its annex to:

Turhand Kirtland & Seth Hart $               500.00
Benjamin Doolittle $               796.00
Samuel Doolittle $                 40.00
Titus Street $            3,471.50
William Law $            3,461.50
Turhand Kirtland $            1,875.00
Andrew Hull $            1,134.23
Danie Holbrook $            1,000.00
Levi Tomlinson $               625.00
$          12,903.23

For 20,741 acres of land, a fraction over .62 cents per acre, the purchasing cost of Burton Township (Taken from Pioneer and General History of Geauga County 1880 edition).

June 21, 1798 First Family Arrived – Thomas Unberville (Umberfield)
June 25, 1798 First Road Cut from Lot 11 to 35 – 2 miles NW out of Burton
July 6, 1798 First House Built on Lot 35 for Umberville at the end of Spring St.
July 12, 1798 First Bridge over the Cuyahoga south of Burton begun
Dec. 31, 1798 First While Child Born in Burton – Riley Honey
June 1800 First Sawmill – 2-1/2 miles down west branch of Cuyahoga Beards Mill
1800 First grist mill built next to the saw mill.
1801 First tannery – Jonathon Brooks
1802 First store kept by J.S. Cleveland
1803 Township named for Burton Street, son of Titus Street, who put the largest amount of money into the land purchase.
1803 First log school house build
1803 First militia organized – J.S. Cleveland – Captain
1804 The academy building was started – log building 25’x50’, sealed with pine, birch chimneys and fireplaces.  The Erie Literary Society – on the west side of the square.
1804 First physician arrived – Dr. Joseph Clark
1806 First wedding took place – Robert Wallace to Rebecca Menough
1806 Peter Hitchkock born 1801 moved to Burton later Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court and a member of the 1850 State Constitution Committee.
1806 Merimon Cook – Oldest frame house in Geauga County – Now on Museum Grounds
1807 Seabury Ford born 1801 moved to Burton.  He was governor 1849-1850.
1807 John Cook house – Oldest frame house in village on the west side of North Cheshire Street opposite Cook Street.
1812 War – About 60 men from this area went.
1823 The first County Fair was held in Burton’s fenced in park.
1824 First Cemetery – 1-1/2 acres deeded to Burton by Simeon Rose – south of town by the river on Memorial Road.
1836 Frist frame church built on the square – Originally a New England meeting house type of building since moved to the present location and remodeled.
1845 Exchange Hotel built on the corner of West Park and West Center.
1861 Civil War – 223 men left for war
1866 First frame high school built on the West Side of the Square – later moved and used by I.O.O.F. Lodge.
1871 First Town Hall built on east corner of the park.  It proved too small – in 1881 a larger hall was build.
1872 Boughton-Ford Bank organized.  The building was located on Hotchkiss Street now called Baird Street.
1873 Geauga County Historical Society organized in Burton
1873 Present brick stores built on East Main
1874 Geauga Leader – First newspaper published – JB Coffin, editor
1875 B&O Railroad Station built on Burton Station Road
1877 First telephone in Ohio set in Burton between B&O station to the Boughton-Ford Bank.
1877 Cannon on square purchased – was used on Lookout Mountain during the Civil War
1879 Bandstand erected in center of park.
Handle factory began business at the lower end of Sprint Street
1881 Town Hall – (Opera House) built on site of present fire hall
1884 Brick High School build on East Park Street
1887 Cornerstone laid for present bank building
1895 Burton Village incorporated- first mayor elected (George H Ford)
1896 First electric light plant built by Earl Bliss
1897 First street lights in Burton
1899 First Rural Free Mail Delivery Route established
Feb. 21, 1900 The C&E Interurban Railway carried its first passengers on the Burton-Middlefield line.
1901 Belle Vernon Creamery started at foot of Spring Street
1905 BVC built new building where County Garage now stands.
1909 First water tower built of wood in the park replaced by the metal tower in 1926.  This was replaced by the present tower.
1910 First water mains laid in the village
1910 Burton Public Library started in a room on Kirtland Street in 1926.  It moved to the basement of the Olds Block and then in 1937 to the present location in the old school building.
1913 First paved road – North Cheshire – Spring Street
1913 The first traffic laws become necessary.  Signs posted; No speeding over 10 mph.
1917 World War I – 31 Burton men went to war
1922 State & County Highway garages opened.
1925 C&E Interurban Railway stopped operating
1925 State Route 87 paved from Burton to Cleveland.
1926 Burton Volunteer Fire Department organized.
1927 First sewer system is installed.
1931 Log cabin built in the park – world’s only municipal sugar camp.
1936 Present High School built on North Cheshire Street.
1940 WW II – 209 men went to war
1941 Honorable Frances P. Bolton, Congresswoman from Ohio’s 22 District purchased and deed the Hickox brick and 6 ½ acres of land to the Geauga County Historical Society.
1948 Burton celebrated its sesquicentenial
1953 Christian Science Church built on West Center Street
1959 Burton Elementary School built on Carlton Street
1961 New Post Office built on Main Street
1967 Contract signed to bring East Ohio Gas lines into village
1968 Methodist Church built north of town
1970 The Merriman Cook Farm, north of Burton, owned by BJ Shanower was deeded to Kent State University to build an extension campus.
1973 Burton, Ohio, Geauga County, Township 7, 7th range is 175 years old.