Thursday, January 13, 2011

LeRoy Township: Lake County's Roadway to History

Established in 1820, LeRoy Township may be Lake County's best kept secret when one considers the local color of American History.  Named for LeRoy, New York, the town from which its settlers had emigrated, this twenty-five square mile tract of land was surveyed in 1797 as part of the Connecticut Western Reserve.  At first, Chesterfield ( original name ) was to be an agrarian based community of Geauga County.  However , Girdled Road became the first road cut through this Reserve in 1797 and the settlers who followed became a Who's Who in Lake County History.

The first settlement was made by Paul and Elijah Clapp.  Settlers named Vrooman, Paine, Seeley, Kniffen, Sumner , Chadwick, Balch, Taylor, Trask, Valentine and others followed.  Johnny Appleseed was believed to have traveled through LeRoy Township.  LeRoy's industrial center began with the building of Hendrick Paine's Sawmill and Forge.  A tannery, wagon shop, lathe and cobbler store followed.  Paine's Hollow merged the abundance of bog iron with the foundry he started.  As many readers know, Hendrick Paine was from the family for which Painesville was named. In 1840, LeRoy Township became part of the newly formed Lake County.

Two other interesting facts about LeRoy are worth mentioning.  LeRoy was home to the last covered bridge in Lake County.  Unfortunately it was torn down in 1952.  The other important fact to note on the eve of Ohio's 150th anniversary of its participation in the Civil War is that,  LeRoy sent 40 men to serve in war under General George McClellan.

As you drive the roadways of Lake County and enter LeRoy remember two things.  Many historic homes, schools, churches, and township buildings still stand as tribute to the pioneering spirit of the township.  Finally as you past each road sign, note the name on it and the story it may tell.

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