History of Bristol Township

The following was prepared by Wendell Lauth, president of the Bristol Township Historical Society, trustee and past president of the Trumbull County Historical Society and trustee of the Ohio Historical Society. The article was reprinted from the "Bristolville Homecoming 1997 Commemorative Edition" booklet prepared by the Reverend Shirley Stoops of the Bristolville United Methodist Church.

Bristolville Has Rich Heritage

Links to the Past
Bristol Township was originally surveyed by Alfred Wolcott of Bristol, Connecticut in the early 1800's. He is credited with naming the township, which is listed as Township Six in the Fourth Range of the Western Reserve.

Abraham Baughman was the first white settler in 1804, and with the coming of the William Sager family 1805, permanent settlement of the township began. Other early families from Shenandoah County, Virginia included pioneers with the names of Barbe, Fansler, Hammon, Kagy and Norton. Many of their descendants still populate the area.

Town Square Development
The village settlement at the center of the township is dominated by a town square reminiscent of New England village greens. The "Center" as it is often referred to, is named Bristolville. Several memorials dedicated to township citizens are located in the town park. The Civil War Monument is the centerpiece of the park: it was the first Civil War memorial in the state of Ohio, having been erected in 1863.

Near the site of the early grist mill operations north of the center, a small trading center named North Bristol emerged. When the railroad passed through the township in the 1870's, two railroad stations were established. The North Bristol station was later named Oakfield and the station east of the center became Spokane.

Congregational Church Oldest Meeting House
The oldest meeting house in the township was the Congregational Church. Built in 1845, the church still stands on the northeast corner of the Town Park. Pioneer families organized this church in 1817. Since the demise of the congregation, the building has served various functions, including the housing of special school events, meeting rooms for the Women's Relief Corps and most recently as a township storage area.

Other buildings on the town square include the historic century-old Town Hall and the Methodist Church, which was rebuilt after the original church was destroyed by fire in 1951. The Town Hall has been the scene of many important events, including Bristol High School's first commencement in 1888. The G.A.R. post for the Civil War veterans and several lodges have used the hall. Bristol grange has met in the town hall for a continuous period since 1932.

Roads and Railroads Opened Up Township
As the last decade of the nineteenth century approached, Bristol Township could boast a thriving village at its center. Travel was accomplished on many roadways which crisscrossed the township and on the Pittsburgh, Youngstown and Ashtabula Railroad. A business directory of this period listed graded schools, four churches, five post offices, a flour and feed mill, five general
graded schools, four churches, five post offices, a flour and feed mill, five general stores, a hotel (The Exchange House) and livery stables, three doctors, three dentists, a furniture store, an undertaker, a boot and shoemaker, a photographer, a millinery shop, a meat maker, hardware store, four blacksmiths, a cooper, barbershop, a cheese factory, apiary and more.

Many century homes are located throughout the township. The first frame house was built by Jonathon Walkley at a location about one mile south of the center. One of the surviving structures of the 1820's is the Zachariah Norton home, now owned by descendant Florence MacDonald and located on Hyde Oakfield Rd.