Joshua Stow was born April 22, 1762, in Middlefield, Connecticut. The family originated in England in the 1600’s. He married Ruth Coe in 1786, and they had at least three children. His title was "Honorable Joshua Stow and he had contributed to Connecticut’s Constitution. The main histories of our area tell of his journey here in 1796-97 as part of Moses Cleveland’s team, helping to survey the Western Reserve around the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, and Lake Erie. He was the company’s commissary manager (in charge of distributing food and drink). When he saw the forested future town he said it was “one of the prettiest and most romantic spots in the Western Reserve.: He purchased the whole five-mile square Stow Township as an investment, for $14,154.
When he returned to Connecticut, he hired his cousin, Judge William Wetmore, to travel to Stow and settle there. Wetmore would handle further sales of land in Stow. Wetmore, with his family and several men to Stow, Ohio in the summer of 1804.
Although the township is named for him, Joshua Stow never lived in Stow. He continued to reside in Connecticut. He made 13 trips here and travel in those days was always arduous and frequently dangerous. The route to Ohio was by horseback through dense forest over the Appalachian Mountains, following Indian trails, or by the waters of Lake Erie in small boats and barges full of supplies. Either route would take them more than a month each way. Some of Stow’s relatives did settle here, and a few of their descendants still live in Stow.
In Middletown, Connecticut, (next to Middlefield) Joshua Stow was appointed postmaster and tax collector. He was also an associate judge. He was "at the center of the political troubles" there, according to Pictorial History of Middleton. He favored Thomas Jefferson in the presidential race of 1800, and thus became an enemy of the local Federalists, who wanted the social order to remain as it was: dominated by the Congregational Church. For over a century, one had to be a member of that church in order to hold public office in Connecticut.
Stow’s convictions that the church should not be the center of the government led him to take an active role in
Connecticut’s Constitution Convention in 1818. He wrote Article Seven of the state constitution making it a matter
of personal choice as to which church a person joined. When he was branded an "infidel" by a newspaper editor, Stow filed a
libel suit against the paper. He did win his suit, but continued to be criticized for such things as bringing
ministers of other denominations to preach at Middlefield’s Congregational Church.
Honorable Joshua Stow died October 10, 1842, and was interned in the "Old Cemetery" in Middlefield, Connecticut.
The full text of the libel action may be read in the Local History room at the library under "Stow Family Genealogy" and is also available in printed format and as a "Treemaker" file.