Biography of Elijah Wadsworth

Elijah Wadsworth (1747-1817) was born in Hartford, Connecticut. At the time of the Revolutionary War he assisted in raising Sheldon's regiment of Dragoons in which he was commissioned Lieutenant; he was later made Captain. He married in 1780 and settled in Litchfield, Connecticut.

According to The Wadsworth Family in America (page 176), "In 1799, having become associated with the company who purchased the Connecticut Western Reserve from the State of Connecticut, he first went to the North Western Territory, and in the fall of 1802, he removed his family from Litchfield, Connecticut, to Canfield, Trumbull County, North Western Territory. On the organization of the state government of Ohio, he was elected Sheriff of the County of Trumbull, at the first general election in January, 1803, and when the Militia of the state was organized by the Legislature in the winter of 1803-1804, he was elected Major General of the 4th Division of the Ohio Militia which embraced more than one-third of the northern part of the state."

General Wadsworth retained command of the Militia during the War of 1812. He assumed the responsibility of paying and supplying his men which put him into debt personally to the amount of $26,551.02.

Elijah Wadsworth was born in November 1747 in Hartford, Connecticut. Prior to 1770, he moved to Litchfield, Connecticut, and was a resident at the time of the Revolution. Wadsworth was at West Point in 1780 when Major Andre, the British spy involved in the Benedict Arnold treason episode, was taken prisoner. Andre was placed in Wadsworth's custody. Wadsworth married Rhoda Hopkins in 1780, and they had five children.

At the time of the Revolution, Wadsworth helped to raise Sheldon's regiment of light dragoons. He became a lieutenant in this regiment which was placed under the immediate command of General George Washington and saw much action against the British. Wadsworth served honorably until the end of the war and was promoted to Captain.

In 1795, he was one of the earliest members of the land company which purchased the Western Reserve from the State of Connecticut. In 1799 he succeeded Nathaniel Church as the agent of the Proprietors of Canfield Township, Ohio. He spent the summers of 1799-1801 in the Western Reserve surveying, but returned to Connecticut each fall. In addition to his work as a civil engineer, Wadsworth accepted the postmastership of Canfield, Ohio, in 1801. He was instrumental in establishing the first mail route to the Western Reserve in 1803. He served as postmaster again in 1813. He spent the spring and summer of 1802 in the Western Reserve, and settled in Canfield, then in Trumbull County, Ohio, where he was a landowner.

Wadsworth was elected by the Ohio legislature in 1804 to be major general of the 4th Division, embracing the northeast section of Ohio which included Trumbull, Columbiana, and Jefferson counties. He had been elected sheriff of Trumbull County the previous year. As a major general, Wadsworth had the responsibility of organizing a militia for this area. Elisha Whittlesey was one of his aides.

After the surrender of the American General Hull's forces to the British at Detroit in August 1812, the entire northwestern frontier was exposed to enemy operations. Wadsworth's responsibilities were greatly enlarged as a result. In November of 1812, he reached the age of 65, retired from the service, and returned home. His last activity for the army was to organize a 1,500-man militia to join the northwestern army of William Henry Harrison.

Wadsworth died on December 30, 1817 in Canfield, Ohio. During the War of 1812, he had been an able commander, but in the securing of supplies for the subsistence of his troops, he incurred heavy personal debts. He died under a judgement in connection with these sums. Congress, however, discharged the judgement in 1825.