James Kingsbury was the first permanent white settler of the Connecticut Western Reserve.
Kingsbury was born on December 29, 1767. In 1796, he left his home in Alsted, New Hampshire and moved his family, including his wife, three children, and a thirteen-year-old nephew, to the Connecticut Western Reserve. To help him in the wilderness, Kingsbury also brought with him one horse, one cow, and one pair of oxen.
Upon arrival in the Western Reserve, the Kingsbury party encountered a group of surveyors under Moses Cleaveland. The surveyors soon left, leaving the Kingsburys alone in the wilderness. Needing supplies, James Kingsbury soon returned to New Hampshire, leaving his family behind in the Connecticut Western Reserve. When Kingsbury returned two months later, his infant son, the first white child born in the Connecticut Western Reserve, was dying, and his wife also was near death. While the son perished, Kingsbury's wife, Eunice, recovered. In 1797, another party of surveyors arrived. The Kingsburys abandoned their home and relocated to Newburgh, near Cleveland, Ohio.
Despite his early struggles on the frontier, James Kingsbury's life quickly improved. In 1800, Arthur St. Clair, governor of the Northwest Territory, appointed Kingsbury to the Court of Common Pleas of Trumbull County. Kingsbury remained in this position until 1803, when he won election to the first of several township positions. In 1805, he won election to the Ohio legislature.
Kingsbury died on December 12, 1847, five days after his wife passed away.
- Butler, Margaret Manor. A Pictorial History of the Western Reserve: 1796-1860. Cleveland, OH: The Early Settlers Association of the Western Reserve and The Western Reserve Historical Society, 1963.
- Van Tassel, David D., and John J. Grabowski, eds. The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996.