The Clements Library website includes events, exhibits, subject guides, newsletter issues, library staff, and more.

Home » Public Programs » Online Exhibits » “Honest Independence”: The Life of Norton Strange Townshend » Timeline of Norton Strange Townshend’s Life

Timeline of Norton Strange Townshend’s Life

Townshend home in Northamptonshire. Photograph taken by Townshend descendants, c. 1908. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 54, Folder 37.


Norton Strange Townshend, son of Joel and Rebecca Townshend, is born on Christmas day in Clay Coton, Northamptonshire, England.


Begins study at Bitteswell Academy in Leicestershire.


Immigrates with family to Avon, Ohio and settles on a farm.


Joel Townshend helps to fond the First Congregational Church of Avon, which Norton joins.

Norton is employed to teach at the district school.

The family gains United States citizenship.

Admission ticket for lectures at Cincinnati College, 1837. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 21.


Townshend begins the study of medicine with Dr. Richard Howard of Elyria and continues his studies at the Cincinnati Medical College in the fall and winter.

In Cincinnati, Townshend meets and befriends Salmon P. Chase and serves as a “Conductor” on the Underground Railroad.


Enrolls in the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City.


Graduates and travels to Northamptonshire, England to visit family, then to London and Paris to observe surgeries.

In June, attends the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London.

N. S. Townshend’s business card, 1841. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 12, Folder 2.


Studies medicine in Edinburgh, visits Dublin, and sails back to the U.S. from London in April.

Begins practice of medicine in Avon by July.


Organizes Oberlin Peace Society.

Marries Harriet Newell Wood on December 27.


Moves with Harriet to Elyria to take over Dr. Howard’s practice, but keeps farm at Avon.

First child, Arthur Smith Townshend, is born November 11.


Appointed trustee of Oberlin College.


Presents resolution to establish an agricultural college as part of Oberlin at Board of Trustees meeting, which does not pass.

Second child, James Houghton Townshend, is born September 28.


Elected as Free Soil candidate to Ohio General Assembly.


Successfully negotiates for repeal of Ohio Black Laws in exchange for Free Soil coalition with Democrats.

Son, Arthur, dies of illness.

Daughter, Mary Rebecca Townshend, is born December 21.


Elected to the 32nd Congress, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Advertisement for the first courses at Ohio Agricultural College, 1856. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 34.


Serves as delegate to the Ohio Constitutional

Convention, during which he argues for woman and African American suffrage.


Loses congressional seat, but is elected to Ohio State Senate.


Harriet dies of tuberculosis January 24.

Townshend co-founds the Ohio Agricultural College and teaches classes on animal anatomy, veterinary medicine, and feeding and breeding of livestock.

Marries Margaret Bailey, a mathematics teacher October 17.


Arthur Bailey Townshend born July 20.


Terminates service on the Oberlin College Board of Trustees in May.

Children of Norton and Margaret Townshend: (from left) Arthur, Alice and Harriet Townshend.

Daughter, Harriet Norton Townshend, is born September 12.

Townshend appointed trustee of the Ohio State Asylum for Idiotic and Imbecile Youth.


Appointed to the State Board of Agirculture, where he serves until 1863.

Advocates state-support of agricultural institutions.


Daughter, Alice Margaret Townshend, is born 1860.


Appointed by Chase to the U.S. Assay Commission, to analyze the purity of coinage.


Appointed Medical Inspector for the Union Army.


Returns home from military duties in October.


Accepts temporary position as first Professor of Agriculture at Iowa State Agricultural College in Ames, leaving his family behind to look after the farm.


Appointed to the Board of Trustees of the newly-created Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College by Ohio Governor Rutherford B. Hayes.

Aids in selecting the location and defining the curriculum of the new institution.

Flyer for agricultural lecturer given by Townshend, 1879. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 22, Folder 23.


Accepts Chair of Agriculture Department at Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College, which becomes Ohio State University in 1877.

Named Superintendant of the experimental farm at OA&MC.

Moves with family (Margaret and all children except James, who is in Stillwater, Minnesota) to Columbus, Ohio.

Enrolls Harriet, Arthur, and Alice as three of the College’s first students.


Assists in preparing an exhibit on Ohio’s archaeology and gives a speech on agriculture at the U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.


Townshend replaced by Charles Thorne as Superitendant of Ohio State University farm.


Townshend petitions for the establishment of an Ohio Agriculture Experiment Station, affiliated with Ohio State University.


The Townshend Family, c. 1885. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 54, Folder 20.


Bill providing for Experiment Station passes, and Townshend is put in charge of of farm experiments.

Townshend’s brother-in-law, daguerreotypist Thomas Easterly, dies in St. Louis.


Becomes Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station at Ohio State University.


Awarded degree of Doctor of Veterinary Medicine by Ohio State University.


Son James dies of tuberculosis on June 26.

N. S. Townshend’s obituary. Norton Strange Townshend Family Papers, Box 21, Folder 9.


Margaret’s sister, Miriam Easterly, who is living with the Townshends, dies April 18.


Townshend named Ohio State University’s first Professor Emeritus.


Dies July 13 at age 79.


Townshend Hall dedicated in Townshend’s honor at the University.