Margaret McNitt (1818-1886) and Lebbeus Cole (1816-1895)

Margaret J. McNitt, the second of Daniel and Jane's children, was born on June 24, 1818, in Brutus, Cayuga County, New York and was 17 years old when the family moved to Ohio. Margaret soon became acquainted with Lebbeus Cole, a son of Cyrus and Hannah Cole who had settled in Reed Township of Seneca County in 1831. On July 28, 1836, Lebbeus purchased 80 acres of land just south of where the town of Genoa, Ohio is now located (about 40 miles northwest of Thompson Township). Lebbeus returned to Seneca County to marry Margaret on March 4, 1838.

The Coles were among the earliest settlers of Clay Township in Ottawa County. A number of Indians still lived there. One source reports that Lebbeus built the first frame building in the township - a barn - and that he paid for his first horse with wolf bounty certificates.

Although the Black Swamp originally covered much of the area, ditching and tiling gradually turned it into good farm land. Lebbeus also became very successful at buying and selling real estate, especially after the town of Genoa was laid out in 1857. By 1870, Lebbeus and Margaret had accumulated $7500 worth of property. Another sign of how successful they were was the fact that Margaret owned one dress valued at $100. Besides his agricultural and real estate interests, Lebbeus particpated involved in Democratic Party politics. He was a justice of the peace for 18 years and held various township offices before serving in the state legislature for two terms from 1873 to 1877.

Soon after leaving his legislative post, Lebbeus retired from active farming. Nine years later, on February 13, 1886, Margaret died at the age of 68. A few years after that, a train on the Lake Shore Railroad struck Lebbeus and severely injured him. He never fully recovered and eventually became paralyzed. His adopted daughter took care of him until his death on July 17, 1895, at the age of 79.

Sources used in writing this chapter

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