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 Little Home Histories, Part 46 -- Benjamin Hoyle.

by Hoyle, Laura J.

See previous entry: Little Home Histories, Part 45 -- The Thomas Hobson Home.

Benjamin Hoyle was born in Yorkshire, England, 6-11-1797. His father John Hoyle, was a husbandman in the parish of Pontefract, where Benjamin received his education in the Friends School. John Hoyle's first wife and mother of all his children, having died, he married a second time and in 1815 the parents with seven children and two grandchildren, stepped on a sailboat for America.

The voyage was tedious and not without danger. The Captain, unacquainted with the Gulf stream, found himself within its current and helpless. In daytime, the wind blew them westward but at night the current carried them back eastward. Water and food became very scarce. Of the former each person was limited to one gill a day for all purposes and for the latter they were considering killing and eating a dog which was on board with them. In this extremity a waterspout suddenly appeared so near that the Captain feared they would be drawn into it. He fired cannon through the center of it to disperse it. Presently there was a heavy rain with many fish. Evidently dropped from the waterspout.

Hailing a passing boat, he was told to sail across the Gulf stream and presently they reached Philadelphia after a voyage of fourteen weeks and five days.

Our next trace of them is in the records of Plymouth monthly meeting, when the parents and five children, including Benjamin presented a certificate from Pontefract monthly meeting in England, which was accepted at Smithfield, Jefferson County, Ohio. They were apparently considered solid members and their names soon are found on various committees. At twenty, Benjamin was on a committee to prepare monthly meeting minutes for recording and to prepare a certificate for removal.

In 1820, he and Tabitha Grimshaw, also born in England, were married at Smithfield. The next year he was companion to Mildred Ratcliff, on a religious visit to Indiana. The next year, he was assistant clerk to the monthly meeting.

He took out his first papers for citizenship in 1826. He seemed to lose interest and did not get his final papers of naturalization until 1840. In 1827 he moved to Barnesville, Ohio, where he and his brother-in-law, William Green. opened a general store. He was head of Stillwater meeting, a recommended minister in Ohio, and made several trips to the seaboard in which he combined business with meeting interests. He bought stock for the store in town, wrote once that he wanted to "get salt at Pittsburg if it can be accomplished so as to have it waggoned from Wheeling, West. Va. by the bacon wagons." Also he bought Bibles and Testaments in Philadelphia to sell in Barnesville.

Business over, he turned to visitation meetings, where he frequently felt occasion to preach, or even to add his comment at times in the business period. During the turbulent times of the Hicksite separation, he said in one letter the clerk of a certain yearly meeting, had suggested that Benjamin Hoyle might better keep his seat.

On one trip he fell ill and visited a doctor who "gave me 20 grains of [something] mixed with one of Epecacuana, which indeed did rouse my system."

He became a widower in 1828. The next year he bought 45 acres from Jonathan Taylor who had it in a patent deed from Thomas Jefferson, President and James Madison, Sec. of State. He added to it from time to time until he gave up the store to devote all his time to farming. He married Mary Millhouse of Stillwater meeting in 1830. A letter which he wrote to her needs to be labeled to recognize it as a love letter. His penmanship was as precise as his language which is prim and subdued as became an Englishman. His son said many years later, that he was very reticent, never talking about his early days unless directly asked. For that reason, very little can now be told of his life.

Three children were born to the second marriage. Hannah Hoyle Smith born 1834, Benjamin Hoyle Jr. 1837, and William in 1847. Two children had been born to the first wife, Tabitha. They were Sarah, born 1821, and John, born 1827.

On his farm, he made a specialty of sheep and turnips. It was an English habit to have a large flock of sheep and to feed them on turnips. He also raised the best wheat to be found in the neighborhood. Sinclair Smith, who had just bought a marvelous big Kirby reaper, used it first on Benjamin's wheat fields and reported it was extra nice and they had cut the whole fourteen acres in one day. Previously the Hoyle's had used scythe, sickle and cradle, and had a home-made fan mill for separating chaff from the grain and clover seed.

A salesman wanted to sell him such a fan and when he was shown the one in use, tried to collect royalty on it. But the Hoyle machine was older than the life of the patent so the salesman gave up his claim.

The first house which we know is the present two story brick, completed in 1843. An old dutch oven was still standing in the 1880s, but is now gone. One old hoary landmark remains at this writing (1942) -- the old sickle pear tree up in the garden. An elderly man born in 1816, once drove past the garden where a workman was busy and asked for a pear, saying he remembered that the tree was planted when he was s little boy. It is now well over a hundred years old, the most aged fruit tree in this part of the State. The trunk is now an empty shell and cannot last much longer, but it bore fruit in 1941.

The old farm became divided to make homes for Barclay Smith and Benjamin Stanton, and the original boarding school farm was made from this land. The present campus was once a maple grove and the trees were tapped for sugar water.

Benjamin and Mary Hoyle were superintendents at Mt. Pleasant boarding school from 1842 to 1847. He was clerk of the Ohio yearly meeting for twenty consecutive year, 1838 to 1857. This long term was partly caused by the inability of the representatives to agree on any clerk and by the rules of the Yearly meeting, the former clerk held over until there could be unity. During this time the Guerney separation took place.

Benjamin and Mary Hoyle were frequently seen driving on First day (Sunday) after meeting to visit members of the meeting. Starting out for a social call he often found a fitting word of advice or exhortation given him to deliver. He was a real "Pastor to his flock."

When the inability of age came upon them, they went to their daughter, Hannah Hoyle Smith to live out the remainder of their lives. In 1873 he attended his last yearly meeting and following is an account of his farewell, written at the time:

"Benjamin Hoyle now arose and delivered what was probably his farewell communication to the Ohio Yearly meeting, reciting that he had attended it for about fifty year, in which time many valued friends had been members of it who had been gathered to their everlasting rest. He had remembered the words of a worthy friend who had said that there was a danger in those who were promoted from station to station in the church -- feeding upon it and being lifted out of the Lord's hand, and he cautioned his friends against being elated with appointments and thus allowing themselves to be lifted out of the Lord's hand.

"He then dwelt upon the text 'Hear ye me Asa and all Judah and Benjamin the Lord is with ye, be with him, and if ye seek him, he will be found of you, but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you', repeating parts of the text three times and leaving it as his farewell to the meeting.

"He took his seat, much affected and great tenderness spread over the meeting in thus receiving the last weighty and impressive message from their ancient friend now worn and weary and soon to be released from the scene of his earthly trials and tribulations.

"Before the business of the day was entered upon, Benjamin arose and walked feebly down the steps of the gallery where he stood for a few minutes weeping. Then gathering strength from his rest, he left the meeting with many a strong man brushing away the tears from his eyes and probably no one in that room with heart so cold as to be indifferent to the occasion."

He died 2-3-1875 and was laid to rest in Stillwater burying grounds.

Source: Written by: Laura J. Hoyle.

See next entry: Little Home Histories, Part 47 -- Dr. Carolus Judkins.

For the table of contents and first entry in this series, please see: Little Home Histories, Part 01 -- Table of Contents and Introduction.

This entry is adapted from Little Home Histories in Our Early Homes, Belmont County, Ohio, which was published in 1942. Its publication was coordinated by Robert D. and Beulah Patten McDonald. This entry has been reedited for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Website by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Website. It may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Website. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned each chapter for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.

DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 2002 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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