Biography of Nathan Hoak
Erie County, OH Biographies





NATHAN HOAK. There are probably not half a dozen farms in all Erie County which have had a continuous ownership by one family through a hundred years. This is one of the distinctions that belong to the home of Nathan Hoak in Berlin Township on Rural Route No. 1 out of Milan. The Hoak family was established in this part of the western wilderness prior to the second war with Great Britain and Nathan Hoak represents the third successive generation to live and make a home in Berlin Township.

The Hoak family came originally from Holland. Nathan's great grandfather, Henry Hoak, was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, May 22, 1745, and spent many years there as a farmer. He was about thirty years old when the War of the Revolution broke out, and enlisted with a Pennsylvania regiment for service in that struggle, and in the course of his service was, taken prisoner and died while on a British prison ship. He probably married a Pennsylvania girl, and both were known to have been members of the Methodist Church.

John Hoak, a son of this Revolutionary soldier, and grandfather of Nathan, was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. He grew up as a farmer in his native county, and married a kinswoman, Rebecca Hoak, who was born in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, April 26, 1786. After their marriage, about 1811 or 1812, they journeyed west by canal and lake to the mouth of the Huron River, came up that stream to what was known as the Wagoner Flats, and after living there one year and raising one crop which was destroyed by a flood, came on to what is now the western line of Berlin Township and secured direct from the Government a tract of land covered by a heavy growth of fine timber. Here in the midst of the woods they made their home and constructed for their habitation a block house, designed as much for protection against wolves and human enemies as shelter from the weather or domestic comfort. This block house stood not far from the site occupied by the comfortable dwelling of Nathan Hoak. At the time John Hoak and wife settled in this section it was said there were only three other white men in that part of Erie County. In order to raise the timbers of the house they had to secure Indians to assist. John Hoak was a fine type of the early settler, but was too generous to be successful in a material sense. He frequently put his name to the notes of his friends, and for that reason finally lost his farm as a result of security debt. His wife was one of the pioneer noble women, and in the early days of Erie County was noted for her physical endurance and her ability as a horsewoman. Several times she rode all alone to Perrysburg, Ohio, seventy five miles away through the wild country, making the trip in a day and returning on the following day. On the uplands around her home during the season she picked large quantities of huckleberries, and would take a load of these to Sandusky sixteen miles away, sell them and do her marketing, and return in the same day. Having lost his farm John Hoak and wife went out to Indiana during the '50s and settled in LaGrange County. He found employment with a man who was taken down with the smallpox and while performing his offices as a nurse likewise contracted the disease and died prior to the Civil war. His wife died there several years later. Both were members of the Methodist Church.

Soon after coming to Erie County John Hoak made the trip up Lake Erie to Windsor, Canada, and bought a number of fruit trees, which he planted on his pioneer farm. This was one of the first orchards in Erie County, and his grandson Nathan has carefully preserved the few remaining specimens of this orchard, and still has one pear tree and one apple tree on the farm. These are so far as known the oldest fruit trees in Erie County, and more than a century has passed since they were set out. They bore fruit for fully two generations. The Hoak family were living in this section of Erie County at the time of the great victory won by Perry on Lake Erie at Put-in-Bay, and the sound of the guns could be plainly heard. At that time the young wife and her two children remained in hiding in the woods near her home, since she could see the light of a campfire not far away, and feared it might mark the camp of a party of hostile Indians. On the following day it turned out that a band of Kentucky riflemen, a detachment of General Harrison's Army, was in that region.

The children of John Hoak and wife were: Sarah, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1807; Elizabeth, born in the same state in 1810; Ruth, born in Erie County in 1812; Rebecca, born in 1814; Henry; Nancy, born in 1821; Mary, born in 1824; Jerusha, born in 1826; and George, born in 1829. All these children married, all had children of their own except Mary, and one of them, Jerusha, is still living in LaGrange County, Indiana, nearly ninety years of age.

Henry Hoak, father of Nathan, was born in Erie County June 23, 1817. He grew up on the old homestead where his parents had located and which they had partly improved, and after the property was foreclosed by Judge Baker, the son Henry entered into an agreement to buy it, back for the amount then due and the additional court costs, and thus save for this brief interval, the farm has been in one family ownership for more than a century. Henry Hoak was a man of great industry, an able farmer, and became one of the most masterful agriculturists in the entire section. At one time his farm was given the first prize in a county contest of farms. A short time before the Civil war he built a substantial brick house, bringing the brick from Milan Township, while the doors and all the wooden framework was made by hand from logs taken from the farm. He also put up generous barns and for years his place was noted for its product of fields and its fine stock. Henry Hoak died on the old homestead June 26, 1886. He was reared as a Jackson democrat in politics but afterwards during the war became a republican, and was always a conservative in his political and social ideas. Henry Hoak was married in Berlin Township to Lucy Tuttle, a sister of the well known author, Hudson Tuttle. She was born in New York State March 10, 1813, and died on the old homestead at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Charles Sipp, on February 23, 1909, only a few years less than a hundred years of age. She was reared and educated in Berlin Township, was a devoted wife and mother, and kept the powers of her intellect and body fresh and vigorous until a short time before her death. Her family were among the early settlers of Erie County, and her parents were Nathan and Maria (Monroe) Tuttle, who secured a tract of new land on coming to Berlin Township and eventually developed a good farm out of it. Her father died when past ninety and her mother was also quite old.

Nathan Hoak was one of five children. His sister Maria, now living in Milan Township, is the widow of John Millman, and she has two sons and one daughter, all of whom are married. Ruth died at the age of nineteen. John is now a retired farmer at Norwalk, Ohio, and has one son and three daughters living, all of them married except the youngest daughter. The next in age is Nathan, Caroline is the wife of Charles Sipp, a farmer who occupies part of the old Hoak homestead.

On the old Hoak farm, most of which he now owns and occupies, Nathan Hoak was born December 26, 1848. He was given a substantial education, and at the age of twenty started out in life as a teacher and was highly successful in that profession which he followed in his home township and county for several years. Later he bought and still owns fifty two acres east of the old home, lived there two years, but then returned to the home farm to take care of his mother during her declining years. He now owns a hundred acres of this farm and has continued its development according to the high standards set by his able father. As a stock man he gives his attention primarily to Durham cattle and Chester White hogs. His fields show little falling off in the productiveness for which they were noted in earlier years, and he grows large crops of grain and potatoes. Mr. Hoak has been one of the prominent farmers in Berlin Township for the past forty years. He has held nearly every office in the County Fair Association and is now superintendent of track. His father was a vice president and a director of the association many years, and the products of the Hoak homestead have probably won as many blue ribbone at the local fair as have been awarded to any one farm in the county. Mr. Hoak's father was the first man to be honored with the office of master of the Berlin Heights Grange No. 345, Patrons of Husbandry, and at the present time Nathan Hoak holds the same office, and has been prominent since the beginning of the organization. His wife is likewise active in the Grange. He is a member of the blue lodge of Masons at Milan and a charter member of and active in the Knights of Pythias Lodge at Berlin Heights since it was organized twenty eight years ago. Mr. Hoak has served as trustee of the township and is the type of substantial citizen who well merits the honors and rewards of civic position. For a number of years in addition to his farming activities he has been a stock buyer and shipper.

In Huron Township in 1874 Mr. Hoak married Miss Della Hughes, who was born in Huron Township June 26, 1857, and was reared in the country and in the Village of Huron. She is a daughter of George and Margaret (Everett) Hughes, both of whom were natives of Erie County and spent most of their lives on a good farm in Huron Township. Her father died there about forty years ago, and her mother passed away at the age of seventy five. They were members of the Universalist Church. Mr. and Mrs. Hoak are likewise of the same faith.

From:
A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio
By: Hewson L. Peeke
Assisted by a Board of Advisory Editors
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1916


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