Earliest History of  Ashtabula
by
Darrell E. Hamilton
 
          In May 1795, the legislature of Connecticut appointed a committee to receive and sell to individuals the land
of the Connecticut Western  Reserve. In  September  1795, the  lands  were sold and deeded. Even though the lands
of the Western Reserve in reality still belonged to the Indians that lived in the Western Reserve in reality still
belonged to the Indians that lived in the Western Reserve, the lands  were  sold  to  individuals  whom  had never
had sat foot on "their" land and some never would.
       The  Connecticut  Land  Company in 1796, hired General Moses Cleavland to make treaties with the  Indians,
survey the Reserve into five mile townships townships and establish a city. Moses Cleaveland  was  not  your
typical  Daniel Boone. Mr. Cleaveland was a  Yale Graduate, appointed a  Captain  in  the Army by Congress
served in the Connecticut  legislature and was a Brigadier General in Connecticut's militia.
       On June 21, 1796, Moses Cleaveland met with six  Indian Chiefs around a council fire in Buffalo, New York.
Cleaveland was to settle with the Indians in the quickest, easiest and cheapest way he could. Cleaveland  provided  
great  feasts and dancing  for the Indians not to mention the never ending supply of  whiskey for four days to soften
their thinking. Originally Moses Cleaveland had offered the Indians $1,000  for giving  up title to the land of the
Reserve. The Chiefs turned Cleaveland down but the whiskey flowed and the Chiefs softened. In the end the 
Indians were paid $500, provisions to see them home, two beef  cattle and of course a hundred gallons of  whiskey.
This settlement would enable Cleaveand to begin surveying so settlers could move into the Connecticut Western Reserve.

                 Moses Cleaveland
       Moses Cleaveland then set out for the Connecticut Western Reserve just west of the Pennsylvania  line. Most  
of the party  of  52 traveled in boats but a few traveled by land to  reach  the  Reserve. Among  the party of 52 were
at least two men who brought their wives and children.
       On July 4, 1796, Cleaveland and his surveying party would land at  Conneaut  Creek  in which  the surveying
party would christen "Fort Independence".  After settling and much celebrating, on July  7, the men organized into four field parties to begin surveying.
       After  completing  the surveying of the eastern most part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, the party con-
tinued on  to the mouth of the  Ashtabula River. The Ashtabula River was named by the Indians of  this area  trans-
lating into "river of many fish"  or sometimes  different  variations  of  the same  meaning. Moses Cleaveland was
so entranced over  the  beauty of the surroundings that he proposed to  those  accompanying  him that  the name of  
the stream be changed to Mary  Esther, in honor of his daughter.
     The men were not overly enthused over the  proposition  until  he brought up two gallons of wine from the hold
of their  craft.  The  men  were  then all  in  favor  of  renaming  the Ashtabula  River,  "Mary Esther". But unlike
the Indians, when the wine ran out, the name was forgotten and the Ashtabula name would live on.