Early History of Saybrook Township
Even though Saybrook Township was not a part of the original
Ashtabula Township, my book will also be on Saybrook Township
as all the surrounding townships are linked one way or the other.
Parts of Saybrook are now a part of Ashtabula City. All the sur-
rounding township also share the same school system and the same
municipal court system.
On January 31, 1798, a drawing was held in Hartford, Connecticut.
Each township was given a number which was then put into a box.
The investors' names were then arranged alphabetically and a clerk
drew one number for every name. Samuel Mather Jr. was awarded
Township 12, Range 4. Thus, Mathertown (Saybrook was born.
Actually Mathertown (Saybrook) was called West Mathertown as
Samuel Mather Jr. also purchased another township in Ashtabula
County in which he named East Mathertown. However, Mather died
and his Saybrook land was turned over to another Connecticut
Land Co. investor, William Hart. Hart then sold the entire township,
with the exception of one lot, to Josiah and Samuel Wright. By the
year 1809, (West) Mathertown became Wrightsburg. East Mather-town later on became known as Sheffield.
Josiah Wright also died before he could make good on his title. Due
to legal complications, the Wrights, although were the first to actu-ally purchase land in Saybrook and had given the township the name Wrightsburg, were not to become the first settlers.
The first settler to settle in Saybrook was by accident. George
Webster, a young man of fifteen and his widowed mother were look-
ing for a new home and a better life when they left their home in Courtwright, New York.
They traveled by the way of Cooperstown, Utica and Buffalo where
they were told there was no settlement west until they reached
Cattaraugus, New York. To reach the settlement, they were instruct-
ed to kept to the beach for about eight miles and then they would
find a marked road through the woods.
Proceeding along the shores of Lake Erie, the Websters came
upon a spot that they were certain was the "marked road" and turn-
ed inward. They traveled on until dark but did not find anything
but dense forest and wild animals.
At nightfall, they camped until dawn and then set out again. With-
in a few hours, they came upon a log cabin and were joyous to find a
white settler. Their joy was not long lived as they were informed that
they had come exactly the right distance in the wrong direction. The
settler, a Mr. Cummings, advised them to return to the beach and
start over. He also agreed to be their guide as far as the shores of
Lake Erie. Three days later, they arrived at the Ashtabula River, far
from Cattaraugus, New York.
Not knowing the depth of the creek (Ashtabula River), they were
considering which course to take when a canoe paddled over to
them. A friendly woman advised them that she could help them
across in exchange for a small amount of supplies or money. They
happily agreed to the terms.
When the Websters, their wagon and their team were safely across
the river, they learned the hard working woman was Mrs. George
Beckwith, the mother and wife of the first family to settle Ashtabula.
She related to Mrs. Webster, also a widow, how she lost her husband
in a snow storm returning from Austinburg for supplies.
The Websters then went on to become the first settlers in Saybrook
Township but not by much. Another settler, Joseph Hotchkiss of
Harpersfield had purchased land just west of the Webster's cabin.
The Hotchkiss family built their log cabin and moved in the day
after the Websters moved into their log cabin.
Wrightsburg had originally been a part of Austinburg Township.
It was not until 1816 that organization made it a separate township
of its own. It remained Wrightsburg until 1827 when it became Say-
brook. Its new name coming from Saybrook, Connecticut.