Hosbrooks settled Madeira area 200 years ago

By Regina Villiers. Originally published July 12, 1995 in The Suburban Life, added September 12, 2014

The grave site in Laurel Cemetery in Madisonville of John L. Hosbrook, the grandson of the original John Hosbrook who settled in Madeira in 1794, many grave sites of the Hosbrook family through the generations can be found in Laurel Cemetery.

The grave site in Laurel Cemetery in Madisonville of John L. Hosbrook, the grandson of the original John Hosbrook who settled in Madeira in 1794, many grave sites of the Hosbrook family through the generations can be found in Laurel Cemetery.



The Hosbrook family name and Madeira are synonymous, and it would have made more sense to name the town Hosbrook, Ohio.

Instead, it was named for John Madeira, a man who never lived here and had no ties to the area other than that he was the treasurer for a railroad that built a station here.

But the Hosbrook family has been an active part of Madeira history since 1794 up to the death of Cleo Hosbrook, Jan. 6, 1995.  The Hosbrook settled the area.  They farmed its land.  They laid out its roadways and its streets.  They helped shape its businesses.  They taught its children and established its library.

Though John Jones is usually credited with being Madeira’s first settler in 1795, John Hosbrook was already here, having come in 1794.  Since then there have always been Hosbrooks in Madeira.

Since few records were kept in those days, John Hosbrook’s story has come down mostly through family accounts, military records and census reports.

Early on, an inaccurate report was published, confusing him with his son, Daniel.  Since then, that error has been perpetuated, being told and retold and republished, confusing the Hosbrook family history, as most people know it.

But using family history passed down through the generations and all the public records available, this is the story of John Hosbrook, as accurately as can be determined.

John Hosbrook was born sometime around 1755-60, though no exact date is known.  Warren Joy, a Madeira historian who has done extensive research on the Hosbrook family, believes that John was born in New Jersey or in southern New York.

It’s known that he was living in New Jersey at the time of the War of the American Revolution.

John Hosbrook’s Revolutionary War records are on file at the National Archives, showing that he served with the First New Jersey Regiment, Continental Line, 1777-79, at many locations including Valley Forge and the Battle of Monmouth.

John Hosbrook was one of four veterans of the Revolutionary War to settle in Madeira.

He married Lydia Kitchell in Hanover Town, N.J., sometime before 1780.  They had four children born in New Jersey in the years 1780 to 1791.

There is no definitive knowledge about his trade or occupation, but it’s believed that he was a surveyor or worked for a surveyor.

According to family history and accounts, in the early 1790s John Hosbrook and his family traveled through western Virginia, now West Virginia, to a place on the Ohio River where they lived for a time.

In 1793-94 they left there and came down the Ohio in a dugout canoe to a place in the Northwest Territory now known as Hamilton County, Ohio.  After a few weeks there the family went on to Cincinnati and stayed there for a few months.

One day in 1794 John Hosbrook was riding horseback outside of Cincinnati with his son, Daniel, then about 9 years old.  They discovered a large spring on the side of a hill.  John Hosbrook decided this would be a good place to settle and farm the land, close to a good water source.

The spring was somewhere between what is now the Hillman house at the corner of Euclid and Summit roads and the area west of the Nelle Hosbrook house by the fire station at Miami and Euclid.  The location of the spring was probably on the hill to west of Miss Nelle’s house, before reaching Hosbrook Road.

John Hosbrook built a log hut close to the spring and brought his family out from Cincinnati to live there.  And the rest is history.

Though John Hosbrook may well have been the first settler in Madeira and his descendants have shaped its history and culture, he himself did not live too many years after coming here.

He died in the winter of 1798, and this is the inaccurate story that has been told and retold, both orally and in print, crediting the story of his death to that of his son, Daniel.

John went to Columbia, a town in Hamilton County at that time, to buy a sack of salt.  The weather was quite cold.  On the way home he got caught in a snowstorm.  The area was all heavy forest.  Apparently he lost his way in the woods and the heavy snow and froze to death.  His frozen body was found not far from his home.

He was buried on the side of a hill on his farm.  The exact location of his grave is not known.

DAR sources indicate that a long-ago road-building project uncovered a walled rectangle thought to be a grave and the grave of John Hosbrook.

Though the exact site of his final resting place is unknown it is known that he lived and died here.

And his family lived on here and shaped this town for over 200 years.