Was born in Hartford County, Connecticut, in 1770, and emigrated to Trumbull County, Ohio, in 1806. He left Connecticut in December 1805, and journeyed on sleds with his wife and five children. On the route he was joined by a number of other families. The most of the route was through the forests of eastern and northern New York, He passed directly to Albany, and thence to near Buffalo, on the lake. He and his traveling companions generally camped by the wayside at night, scraping the snow aside and erecting s sort of tent or screen of bed quilts to protect their families against the storms and cold, The forests were infested by large numbers of ferocious wolves, To protect himself against these animals, he generally encamped near a dead tree, which he set on fire, When they reached the Hudson, the ice was somewhat weakened by a thaw, Fearing to cross it with his teams, he took the sled and children and hauled it by hand to the western side, leaving his wife and horse to follow. After he had landed, she mounted and followed, and when about midway of the stream, the ice broke with a tremendous roar. He stood appalled at the sight, expecting to see his wife and horse disappear beneath the floating ice. Fortunately, she floated on a large piece of ice, which drifted to the western shore, some distance below him. Watching its approach to land, when it touched the bank, she applied her whip vigorously to the sides of the horse upon which she was seated, and aided by this stimulus, it gave a great leap, fastened upon and ascended the bank in safety. Great was his joy over the providential escape. From near the city of Buffalo the whole party kept up the lakeshore. By examination they found the ice was sufficiently strong to bear their teams, and hence, followed it until they reached the northwest corner of Pennsylvania, when they learned from an old Indian chief of the Seneca's where they were, and the proper route from there to Trumbull county, Ohio. When he arrived at the residence of his brother, William Bushnell, who had preceded him one year, his wife gave birth to a child about two hours after his arrival, Jonathan Bushnell. Mr. Bushnell resided in Trumbull County about fifteen years. His occupations were various. Part of the time he taught school, acted as justice of the peace and county surveyor, In his late residence, he engaged in the mercantile business and carried on a tannery and a farm. He also made two trips to New Orleans, with flatboats, loaded with the productions of Trumbull County, principally butter and cheese. He launched his boat on a small stream emptying into Big Beaver, and passed down it to the Ohio, and thence down the Mississippi, where he sold his commodities at good prices, and returned on horse-back, passing through the Indian nations, Choctaws, Cherokees and Chickasaws, carrying his money in a port-manteau. While crossing a stream, he got his money, bank bills, wet, and stopped with a chief of the Chickasaws, who entertained him kindly and helped dry his bank bills, and directed him on his way. This venture proved very profitable, and upon returning home, he resolved to make a second trip loaded as before, In passing down the Ohio, he became ice-bound until the opening of the spring thaw, and when he arrived at New Orleans, his goods were greatly damaged from the climate, his butter melted and cheese spoiled. The trip proved a failure, and he was ruined financially. He was gone about six months, returning by the Gulf and Atlantic to New York City, and thence by private conveyance home.
During the war of 1812 a regiment was raised in Trumbull County, Richard Hayes being colonel, Sterling G. Bushnell adjutant, and an eminent pioneer preacher, Father Badger, chaplain. This regiment made a forced march up the lakeshore to Sandusky, where Sandusky City now stands. The regiment was, for some time, at Fort Avery, and near Fort Meigs. While near the mouth of Huron, Adjutant Bushnell assisted in the exchange of prisoners between Malden and Huron. While stationed here he became possessed with the malaria of that region, and was discharged on account of disability, and his widow, forty years afterward, was awarded a pension, which was continued until her decease.
In May 1821, he emigrated to near the present site of the town of Hayesville, in Vermillion Township. When he arrived he was fifty-one years old. The township was sparsely settled, and he entered upon pioneer life in earnest, purchasing eighty acres of land, upon which his son, Thomas Bushnell, now resides, of Joseph Lake, of Wooster, for forty dollars. It proved to be a fine bargain. He commenced improvements upon it by the erection of a comfortable log cabin, in which he resided for many years.
Being a good mathematician, and a practical surveyor, he soon began to retrieve his southern losses. His experience as a businessman gave him an opportunity to acquire a knowledge of legal proceedings in justices' courts, and he soon became expert as a country attorney. Many anecdotes are related of him in his capacity as a lawyer, some of which evince a good deal of shrewdness. On one occasion, three young men, of Vermillion Township, went on a little frolic to cut a bee tree on the premises of a watchful farmer. After securing the honey, the secret was divulged to a comrade, who told the farmer of his loss. A suit was brought to secure the value of the tree, before a justice of the peace. The young men consulted Mr. Bushnell as to the best method of escape. They related the circumstances, said the tree was on a ridge, which fact they had stated. Bushnell desired to learn whether the precise locality had been stated. They said it had not. Mr. Bushnell told them to return with part of the honey and comb, and cut another hollow tree on the same ridge in the adjoining township, and fill the crevices of a large limb with the comb, and smear it over with honey, and leave the balance to him. The young men agreed to pay him fifteen dollars, five each, if he would clear them. The trial came, and it was shown that a tree had been cut on the ridge, but the exact point was in uncertainty. After examining the witnesses, Mr. Bushnell stated that his clients did not deny cutting a tree on the ridge, but the tree was in the adjoining township, and the present court had no jurisdiction. Witnesses for the defense had testified that they had seen the tree, and it was as stated. The plaintiff had, therefore, failed to fix the cutting of the tree upon the young men, as charged in his affidavit. Mr. Bushnell, therefore, demanded the discharge of his clients, which the justice granted without further delay. For fees he received thirty silver half-dollars, and returned triumphantly to his own cabin.
Mr. Bushnell died at his homestead in Vermillion Township, August 16, 1846, aged seventy-four years. He was the father of eleven children, five sons and six daughters, Betsy, wife of Sylvester Bucher; Laura, wife of Tully Crosby; William, an eminent surveyor of Mansfield, Ohio; Collins, who built the first hotel in Hayesville, and died in Louisiana in 1832 leaving three sons, Judge Tully C., Sterling G. (a justice of the peace), and Collins W. (probate judge); Sedelia, wife of James Connolly, of Iowa; Jothan, deceased; Huldah, wife of Stephen Tanner, of Illinois; Rosella, wife of Jonathan W. Sloan, of Mansfield; Homer, of Mercer county, Ohio, deceased; Olive, wife of Dr. David Snively, of Xenia, Ohio; and Thomas, of Hayesville, who resides on the old homestead, and is noted for his zeal and success in agriculture and horticulture.