Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gibbons Jewett Ackley and His Family (1789-1851)

Gibbons Jewett Ackley (my 3rd great grandfather) was born in East Haddam, Connecticut.  He was the fifth of five sons born to Ephraim Ackley and Hannah Jewett.  There seems to be some confusion about his birth date.  Records from East Haddam, Connecticut indicate he was born on October 2, 1789 [1]. However, in the 1850 census he is listed as 55 years old, which would put his birth year around 1795 [5].  In his obituary, his age is given as 56 years and 6 months upon his death in 1851, which would also put his birth year around 1795 [6].  Also, records filed with his son Franklin’s Civil War pension application list Gibbons’ birth date as January 7, 1795; these records were supposedly from an Ackley family register, (Possibly a family bible?  Note that on this register, Gibbons’ first name was incorrectly given as Gilbert, but other information in the register is consistent with other records.) [20].   One possible explanation for the discrepancy in birth dates is that Gibbons might not have been the first Gibbons Jewett born to his parents; could he have had a sibling with the same name, whose birth date was October 2, 1789 who died at an early age, and this Gibbons was actually born later as some records suggest?  I have encountered other instances where parents gave a subsequent child the same name as a child that died.  However, I have found no evidence of either the death of a previous child or other records for this Gibbons’ birth.

Gibbons Ackley birth record

Ackley Family Register

In the 1820 Census shown below, Gibbons is found living alone in Versailles, Woodford County, Kentucky (last name misspelled Acley) [2].  

1820 Census

By 1822, it appears he had moved to Ithaca, New York where his brothers Henry and Julius lived, as evidenced by this ad from the Ithaca Republican Chronicle newspaper on January 9, 1822 announcing his participation in the Ithaca Rhetorical Society.

In March of 1822, Gibbons joined in a partnership with his brother Julius in a hat store in Ithaca and Ludlowville, New York, as announced by this ad from the Republican Chronicle.  Their store was advertised in various newspapers in the area.  According to the ads, they preferred cash for their hats, but would also accept other forms of payment, including wheat, rye, oats, corn, beef, pork, butter, cheese, lard, and lumber.

Gibbons’ partnership with Julius was dissolved in August, 1825, as announced in the Ithaca Journal on August 24, 1825.

Gibbons married Amanda Cady of Moravia, New York on April 11, 1822 [8],[9],[20].  Amanda was born March 10, 1803 in Moravia, New York [20], and was the daughter of Zadoc and Lucy (Little) Cady. In 1825 Gibbons and Amanda were living in Lansing Township, Tompkins County, New York, which is near Ithaca [11].  Four of Gibbons and Amanda’s children were born in New York; Lucy Ann (1823), Nancy Jane (1825), Amanda Helen (1827), and Franklin Jewett (1829).  Amanda Helen died in 1828, and Franklin Jewett died in 1832, after the family had moved to Ohio [9], [20]. According to "History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties, New York", Gibbons was a merchant in McLean in 1828 [10]. 

Gibbons owned property in McLean, selling it in June of 1829 [13], [14].  In November of the same year he purchased property in Chardon, Geauga County, Ohio [15], which would naturally lead to the conclusion that the family moved from New York to Ohio sometime between June and November of 1829.  The trip from McLean to Chardon would be an easy 5-hour drive by car today, but in 1829 the journey must have been difficult.   According to an article in Past Pursuits:

“There were essentially two ways to get to northeast Ohio, either through New York State and along Lake Erie and southward, or through the mountains of Pennsylvania and north up the rivers.” [12] 

There were no railroads or automobiles, so travel over land would have been by horse and wagon.  Although not known for sure, it is likely that Gibbons and his family chose the route along Lake Erie.  McLean is at the southern end of Cayuga Lake (circled in blue on the map below), which was connected to Seneca Lake and the Erie Canal in 1828 (shown in red on the map below).  A trip by boat on Cayuga Lake north to the Erie Canal would have been much easier than a trip through the mountains of Pennsylvania.

Geauga County, which was part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, was formed in 1806.  The following, from gives a brief description of the early history of the Western Reserve and Geauga County, up to the time Gibbons arrived:

In the years before the American Revolution, the colony of Connecticut claimed all of the land from its western border to the Mississippi River. This included parts of New York and Pennsylvania. After the United States Federal System of Government was established, Connecticut ceded all of its claims to these lands except for a 120 mile strip in the Ohio Country. This land became known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. Funds obtained by the state from the sale of this land were to be used for public schools in Connecticut. The western end of the Reserve (later Huron and Erie Counties) was set aside as the "sufferer" lands. It was to be given to Connecticut residents to compensate them for losses from British military actions during the Revolutionary War. In the Reserve it was called the "Firelands".  The remaining 3,000,000 acres was sold by Connecticut to the Connecticut Land Company. This group of 35 men paid $1,200,000 for the Reserve. This amounted to $.40 an acre. In order to sell the land it had to be surveyed and Moses Cleaveland was hired as the land agent to do the job. Cleaveland settled prior Native American claims by signing a treaty with the Indians in Buffalo, NY on June 22, 1796. The surveying party then continued to the Reserve and arrived at Conneaut, Ohio on July 4, 1796, 20 years after independence from England had been declared.
The surveying party split into town groups. One party surveyed along the north-south Pennsylvania border. General Cleaveland continued along the lakeshore and arrived at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River on July 22nd. This was to be his only visit to the site that would eventually become the city of Cleveland. The surveyors laid out Townships in 5 mile square grids beginning with Township One, Range One in what is now Poland, Ohio, Mahoning County. The surveying work was slow and difficult due to the terrain and the dense forests. The entire area was called Trumbull County and Warren, Ohio was the county seat. Beginning in 1798 a steady stream of settlers began arriving in New Connecticut to begin a new life in a new land. The difficult 600 mile trip transplanted the culture of New England to the northern Ohio frontier. Groups of related people or people from the same town moved together to the wilderness to begin new lives. By 1805 Geauga County was thinly settled but had enough voters to separate from Trumbull County. At that time Geauga County also included all of what later became Lake County. By 1820 the population of Geauga County was 7791 and it had doubled by 1830. The total population of the Western Reserve was 55,000 in 1820. Completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 was a great economic factor in the continued growth of the county. It provided an outlet for agricultural products to be sent east.

Once again Gibbons set himself up as a merchant in Chardon.  As mentioned previously, he bought property in Chardon to be used as his store.  According to the deed to this property, shown below, Gibbons paid $800 for the property he bought from David Bruce.

Gibbons took out an ad in the local newspaper announcing the wide variety of goods he was offering for sale (see below).  According to the ad, he had purchased the “Brick Store” formerly owned by Bruce & Pease (presumably the property described in the deed above), and “intends to make Chardon his permanent place of residence.” [26]  Note that under “GROCERIES” the ad says that the store sells “Nearly every article in the line (Ardent Spirits excepted)”. Ardent spirits is another name for distilled liquor.   Although I have found no other evidence to support this theory, this could indicate that Gibbons was at least sympathetic to the temperance movement that was popular at the time. This ad was dated May 12, 1830, and appeared in the Plainesville Telegraph on October 26, 1830.

Gibbons was on the census in Chardon in 1830 [3].  He purchased an additional parcel of land in Chardon in August of 1831 [16].  Another child, Benjamin Franklin, was born in Chardon in 1832, but sadly he only survived for about two years [9], [20].  The notice of his death appeared in the  Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette on Apr 19, 1834 [30]. Gibbons sold the property in Chardon in September of 1833 [17]  and April of 1834 [18], presumably in anticipation of departing Chardon for Akron. In November, 1833 he ran the notice below in the Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette announcing his intention to discontinue his business and sell off his inventory [31].

Apparently Gibbons was having difficulties collecting the debts owed him by customers at his store in Chardon. Shortly before he left Chardon, he ran the notice below seeking payment before resorting to legal measures to recover his debts [32].

According to his obituary, Gibbons was one of the early settlers in the part of Akron known as North Akron [6].   The town of Akron (later known as South Akron) was laid out in 1825 (see map below).  The Ohio and Erie Canal was completed in 1832.  The Village of Cascade (later known as North Akron) was founded in 1833. The first school was built in 1834.  School records indicate that two of his children were enrolled in Portage Township district 6 schools in 1834. North and South Akron incorporated into Akron in 1836, with a population of 1,343 [21].  He bought property in Akron, with evidence of taxes paid in 1838 [19].  In Akron, four more children were born – Charles Homer (1834), Helen Caroline (1839), Franklin Cady (1841), and Lucy Maria (1843) [9], [20]. 

Gibbons was apparently a forward-thinking man, as evidenced by the fact that he sent his oldest daughter, Lucy Ann, to Oberlin College in 1838.  Oberlin was one of the first colleges in the U.S. to admit women, with the first four enrolling in 1837, and was also the first in the U.S. to regularly admit black students beginning in 1835.  Concerned about word of some of the activities at Oberlin, Gibbons wrote a letter to the college in November of 1839.  A transcription of the letter follows.

Akron Nov 29/39
Dear Sir,

My desire to arrive at the truth in relation to some of the charges against Oberlin must be my apology for addressing you, as I have not had the pleasure of making your personal acquaintance.  Some two years since my attention was first called to & my feelings first enlisted in the affairs of Oberlin since which time my mind has been alternately agitated by hope & fear in relation to the first results of your course of providence.  I have however had such confidence in the wisdom & prudence as well as piety of the managers of the institution that I placed a daughter under their guidance at a very early age (16 years old).  She is at home during vacation with the expectation of returning at the commencement of the next term.

Among the charges against Oberlin, is this, that that portion of them who believe with the President & Prof. Phiney on the subject of Perfection are becoming “Ranters” notes an article in the New York Evangelist Nov 23 under the head of “News from Oberlin”.  You will probably see the article before this reaches you.  I have enquired of my daughter whether she has any knowledge of such meetings as the one spoken of in that article.  She informs me that in the summer of 1838 there was one or two at the Fletchers of like character but that she understood that Pres. Mahan used his authority in putting a stop to them.  As she has no knowledge of the one alluded to it has probably happened (if at all) since the close of the term.  I read the article alluded to with feelings of mingled grief & alarm.  Grieved at the occurrence & alarmed in view of the consequences if persisted in.

If it is not too great a demand upon your time will you do me the favor to answer the following interrogations

1.  When did the meeting alluded to take place

2.  Has there been more than one of this character this season

3.  Are such proceedings encouraged or countenanced by the faculty or any portion of them

4.  Are the circumstances true as related in the NY Evangelist

5.  Who was the professor alluded to

6.  From what source did the NY Congregationalist & Observer obtain their information on the subject

If Sir you will make it convenient to spend a few moments in answering these questions with such suggestions as you think proper to make on the subject you will very much oblige.

Yours very Respectfully,

G. J. Ackley
Gibbons was listed as a resident of North Akron in the 1840 Census [4], and was in the 1850 Census for Akron [5].  Gibbons was active in the local affairs of Akron.  In 1834, he joined other citizens of Akron in forming the Akron Lyceum and Library Association.  This group established “quite a respectable library of books, by purchase and donation…” [22].  The association held weekly meetings “for the purpose of listening to addresses from the members and others, and of discussing the ‘burning’ questions of the day…” [22].  When a new select school was set to open in Akron in 1837, Gibbons threw his support behind it, serving as a trustee.  In 1838 Gibbons was part of a group that established the first Akron High School [27].  In 1839 he was one of the original stockholders in an organization that was formed to establish a rural cemetery in Akron.  This group went on to establish Akron Rural Cemetery, now known as Glendale Cemetery [23].  Gibbons and many of his family members are buried in Glendale.

Gibbons was appointed town treasurer of Akron by the town council in 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, and 1845 [24].  In 1849 he was elected by the people to serve a three-year term as a director of the Summit County Poor House. While on this board, he served as clerk until his death in 1851 [25].  An article that appeared in The Summit County Beacon after his election discussed his politics, identifying him as “a whig in sentiment” and that he “desires the perpetuation of Whig policy” [28].  The Whig Party was established in the early 1830s and dissolved in the late 1850s.  The party was established as a response to the authoritarian policies of President Andrew Jackson.  Henry Clay was their leader, and according to Wikipedia: 

The Whigs celebrated Clay's vision of the "American System" that promoted rapid economic and industrial growth in the United States. Whigs demanded government support for a more modern, market-oriented economy, in which skill, expertise and bank credit would count for more than physical strength or land ownership. Whigs sought to promote faster industrialization through high tariffs, a business-oriented money supply based on a national bank and a vigorous program of government funded "internal improvements" (what we now call infrastructure projects), especially expansion of the road and canal systems. To modernize the inner America, the Whigs helped create public schools, private colleges, charities, and cultural institutions. Many were pietistic Protestant reformers who called for public schools to teach moral values and proposed prohibition to end the liquor problem. 

These ideas perhaps explain Gibbons’ active participation in many of the activities discussed previously.

According to “Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County”, Gibbons was in business in Akron in a concern called “Ackley & Austin”; his son-in-law Allen Hibbard is known to have clerked for this business during his early years in Akron [22]. It is not known for sure when this business was established or when it was dissolved, but an article in the Akron Beacon informs that property belonging to Ackley & Austin was taken in 1843 and offered at a sheriff’s sale as result of a suit against the two men [33].

At some time after he was in business with Alvin Austin, Gibbons partnered with Allen Hibbard in a business under the name A. Hiibbard & Co. In March of 1849, they announced the addition of a third partner, Joseph Wesener, to the business. Below is the announcement, as well as an advertisement detailing the types of goods they had for sale at the “Old Green Store” [34]. Below that is another ad announcing the various items available at their store in February 1851 [35].

Just one week after the previous ad appeared in the Akron Beacon, the article below reported the sad news that the “Old Green Store” of A. Hibbard & Co. as well as several other businesses had been severely damaged or destroyed by a fire in downtown Akron. Fortunately, the structure and inventory were covered by insurance [36].

Gibbons died just five months after the fire, on July 9, 1851 [6].   Following is his obituary from The Summit Beacon, July 16, 1851 [6].

As mentioned previously, Gibbons was buried in Akron Rural Cemetery. Below is a picture of his headstone next to his mother Hannah’s headstone in Section 2, lot 107, taken many years ago by Paul Hibbard, a 3rd great grandson of Gibbons. These headstones are no longer standing.

A transcription of Gibbons’ will follows [7].  Question marks represent unreadable portions of the hand-written will.

Be it Remembered that at a Special Session of the Court of Common [Pleas] begun and held at the Court House in the town of Akron County of Summit and State of Ohio on the fifteenth day of August in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and fifty one by and before Sylvester H. Thompson, John Hoy and Peter Voris ? Associate Judges of the Court of Common Pleas within and for the County and State aforesaid, the last Will and Testament of Gibbons J. Ackley late of Portage in said County deceased is this day produced in Court for probate and William J.C. Otis and Alexander Fisher the subscribing witnesses to said will appear and in open Court on oath depose ? ? that they saw the the said Gibbons J. Ackley the Testator subscribe said instrument and heard him publish and declare the same to be his last will and testament and that the said Testator was at the time of executing the same of full age of sound mind and memory and not under any restraint and that they subscribed said will as witnesses in the presence of the Testator and in the presence of each other whereupon the Court considering said will as duly proved do approve the same and order that said Will and Probate be recorded.  Which said Will and Probate follows ????? 
In the name of the Benevolent Father of all, I Gibbons J. Ackley of Akron in the County of Summit and State of Ohio do make and publish this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former wills made by me. 
I give and bequeath to my brother Julius Ackley of Ithaca in the State of New York the sum of two hundred dollars to be paid by my executrix herein after name out of my estate in discharge of a moral obligation which I am under to my said brother. 
I give ? and bequeath all my estate of whatever ? real personal and mixed to my dear wife Amanda Ackley subject to the payment of the legacy above mentioned and all just debts and charges to be by her controlled appropriated and expended in the maintenance of herself and in the maintenance and education of our children as she shall see fit without being accountable therefore to any ? ?.  And I also wish my dear wife to extend the benefit of this pension to Dwight Hibbard the son of my deceased daughter to such extent as she may at any time see fit. 
I appoint my dear wife Amanda Ackley to be the Executrix of this my last will and testament and also to be the Guardian of our children.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 4th day of July 1851.  Signed and acknowledged by the said Gibbons J Ackley as his last will and testament in our presence and signed by us in his presence. 
W.J.C. Otis, Alexander Fisher 
We William J.C. Otis and Alexander Fisher the subscribing witnesses to the last Will and Testament of Gibbons J. Ackley late of Akron Summit County deceased being duly sworn depose and say that we saw the testator sign said Will and Testament that we attested and subscribed the same as witnesses in his presence, that the testator when he signed said Will and Testament was of a sound mind and memory of full age and not under any restraint. 
Sworn and subscribed in open Court August 15th AD 1851

Attest W.B. Stone Dept Clerk

Link of the Day

Much of the information in this post came from the Summit County Public Library. The physical library has a large genealogy section, and has much information online. Below is a link to their website:

Quote of the Day

"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."

-- Wernher Von Braun


1.  East Haddam (Connecticut). Registrar of Vital Statistics, Records of births, marriages, and deaths, 1687-1915, Volume 2,  (Births, marriages, deaths v. 2; Family History Library Microfilm 1398798), page 227.
2.  1820 U.S. Census, Versailles, Woodford County, KY; page 136; NARA Microfilm M33, Roll 29.
3.  1830 U.S. Census, Chardon, Geauga County, OH; page 251; NARA Microfilm M19.
4.  1840 U.S. Census, North Akron, Summit County, OH; page 379; NARA Microfilm M704, Roll 428.
5.  1850 U.S. Census, Portage Township, Summit County, OH; page 426, lines 15-20; NARA Microfilm M432, Roll 732.
6.  Obituary for Gibbons J. Ackley, The Summit Beacon, July 16, 1851, p. 3, col. 4.
7.  Will and Probate of Gibbons J. Ackley.
8.  LDS IGI Record
9.  George Thomas Little, The Descendants of George Little, Who Came to Newbury Mass in 1640,  (Auburn, ME.  1882), p. 57.
10.  History of Tioga, Chemung, Tompkins, and Schuyler Counties, New York,  (Philadelphia: Everts & Ensign, 1879).
11.  Tompkins County Genealogical Society, 1825 New York State Census,  ([Ithaca, New York : The Society], 1991 ), 117.
12.  Jane Gramlich, “Connecticut Yankees in Summit County”, Past Pursuits, Volume 6, Number 3, Akron-Summit County Public Library, p. 3-5.
13.  Tompkins County NY County Clerk, Deed records, 1817-1906; index, 1817-1967,  (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by Reproduction Systems for the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971 ), Volume O, p. 344-345.
14.  Tompkins County NY County Clerk, Deed records, 1817-1906; index, 1817-1967,  (Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by Reproduction Systems for the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1971 ), Volume Q, p. 47-49.
15.  Geauga County (Ohio). County Recorder (Main Author), Deed records, 1795-1921,  (Cleveland, Ohio : Micro-Photo Service Bureau, 1947, 1971, 1980; Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah ), Vol. 13, p. 228-229.
16.  Geauga County (Ohio). County Recorder (Main Author), Deed records, 1795-1921,  (Cleveland, Ohio : Micro-Photo Service Bureau, 1947, 1971, 1980; Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah ), Vo. 14, p. 453-454.
17.  Geauga County (Ohio). County Recorder (Main Author), Deed records, 1795-1921,  (Cleveland, Ohio : Micro-Photo Service Bureau, 1947, 1971, 1980; Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah ), Vol. 18, p. 402-403.
18.  Geauga County (Ohio). County Recorder (Main Author), Deed records, 1795-1921,  (Cleveland, Ohio : Micro-Photo Service Bureau, 1947, 1971, 1980; Salt Lake City, Utah : Filmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah ), Vol. 18, p. 218-219.
19.  Duplicate tax records : 1816-1838, Portage County, OH , p. 241.
20.  Franklin C. Ackley, Ackley Family Register, Filed with Civil War Pension Application, 30 Oct 1906.
21.  City of Akron website,
22.  Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County, Samuel A. Lane, (Akron, 1881), p. 169.
23.  Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County, Samuel A. Lane, (Akron, 1881), p. 237.
24.  Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County, Samuel A. Lane, (Akron, 1881), p. 267.
25.  Fifty Years and Over of Akron and Summit County, Samuel A. Lane, (Akron, 1881), p. 303.
26.  “New Goods”, Painesville Telegraph, October 26, 1830, p. 4.
27.  “Acts of a Local Nature, Passed at the First Session of the Thirty-Sixth General Assembly of the State of Ohio, Begun and Held in the City of Columbus, December 4, 1837, and in the Thirty-Sixth Year of Said State”, Vol XXXVI, Columbus, OH, Samuel, Medary, Printer to the State, 1838.
28. “Poor House Directors”, Summit County Beacon, October 31, 1849, p. 3.
29.  “Whig Party (United States)”, Wikipedia,
30. “Died”, Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, April 19, 1834.
31. “Selling Off at Cost!”, Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, April 12, 1834.
32. “The Last Call”, Chardon Spectator and Geauga Gazette, April 12, 1834.
33. “Sherrif’s Sale”, Akron Beacon, January 3, 1844.
34. “Copartnership Notice”, Akron Beason, March 7, 1849.
35. “The Cry Is Still They Come”, Akron Beacon, February 12, 1851.
36. “Another Conflagaration”, Akron Beacon, February 19, 1851.

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