Thursday, March 31, 2011

1811-2011 Let's Celebrate Madison Township

celebrate v. 1 mark (a significant time or event) with an enjoyable activity.  3 honour or praise publicly.  

Tomorrow the community of Madison Township will mark 200 years with ceremony, celebration.  The original minutes from the township's creation will be read.  The Madison Historical Society will provide pieces of the area's history to view.  Commemorative t-shirts will be on sale.  The Madison High School Jazz Band will perform and former township officials and veterans will be recognized.  The program will be held at Madison High School.  The event is scheduled to begin at 6:15pm.  In case you can not attend tomorrow's bicentennial program, I have highlighted some of the history of village and township of Madison.

From 1795-1797 the Connecticut Land Company surveyed its territory.  Early settlers came to Cunningham Creek (Arcola) and named the area Ellensburg, or Madison Dock.  A settlement on the eastern township line was named Unionville.  The center portion was named Chapintown, later called Centerville, which would become Madison Village.  Established on  March 13, 1811, the town founders held their first meeting on April 1.  Madison joined Lake County in 1840 and was incorporated in the year 1867.  Bog iron was common to the area and led to an early industrial era.  Erie Furnance, Arcole Furnance, Trumbull Mill, ship building, and steamship building were early businesses.

To learn more about the local history that is Madison, several options are recommended.  Founded in 1978, The Madison Historical Societ welcomes new members or visitors.  Their website, offers a virtual museum.  Lastly, one can purchase a Madison book from the Arcadia Publisher series entitled Images of America in local bookstores.

Monday, March 28, 2011

" A Walking Tour in Local History " - Evergreen Cemetery

Evergreen Cemetery is the older of Painesville's two burial grounds.  Dating back to 1859, the cemetery began as 24 acres situated on the corner of Casement and Main.  In 1897, the second cemetery known as The Old Burying Ground was chosen as the site for a school (the former Harvey High School).  The buried were relocated to Evergreen.  An expansion in 1938 allowed the cemetery to grow to 34 acres.  Nine sextons ( superintendents) oversaw the cemetery grounds in its history.  Japanese Maple trees, Hickory trees, and Oaks made the cemetery a focal point of Painesville.  Weekend strolls were popular at the turn of the 19th century.  The cemetery's Monument Row became a local point of interest.  By 1953, space limitations necessitated the opening of a new cemetery on Riverside Drive. As of 2007, 18,740 burials had been duly recorded at Evergreen.  The registry includes Revolutionary War participants, Civil War veterans, a Medal of Honor winner, leading industrialists, and notable State of Ohio officials. Evergreen Cemetery is definitely a walk through American history and another hidden gem in the local lore of Lake County.

Evergreen Cemetery Notables:
Division 4
Abraham Skinner - Revolutionary War hero who marched to Lexington in 1775 and became one of the first to answer the call for patriots.

Division 3
Samuel Huntington - 1804  Chief Justice for the State of Ohio
                                       1808  Second Governor of Ohio

Division 17
Thomas Harvey - noted educator, author, school superintendent, and founder-pioneer of N.E.O.T.A.

Division 18
Charles Eledge - member of the 101st Infantry, one of two black Civil War veterans buried in Evergreen.

Division 18
Gladys Gibson - remained in hospital to assist during 1929 Cleveland Clinic Fire Tragedy.

Division 7
Edward Whiten - served in the 29th US Regiment Coloured Troops, second black Civil War veteran buried in Evergreen.

Monument Row
Pratt Family - dry goods industrialist
Milton Canfield - Judge
Catherine Roddick- newspaper reporter, United Way philanthropist
Joseph Adams Potter - Civil War veteran
Howell Burr Treat - Civil War veteran and Medal of Honor winner

James and Frances Casement -  James was a Civil War veteran and Frances was a Women's Suffrage pioneer.  Their stories are for another day's blog.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Local Lore's Self Guided Tour - The Mentor Cemetery

Since 1854 the familiar street names of Reynolds, Munson, Sawyer, Parker, and Garfield are known to generations of Mentor citizens.  What is often forgotten is the prominent role many of these names played in the development of Mentor.  In 1854, a group of citizens worried about the future resting spot of their families.  Remembering the neglected burial plots of their New England ancestors, and hoping to avoid the possible abandoned burial sites of local farm families, David Hopkins, Robert Murray, Martin Sawyer and others formed a committee to establish a municipal cemetery.  At a cost of $400, ten acres of property deeded to the schools at the intersection of Mentor Avenue and Center Street became the site of the first municipal cemetery in Mentor.  The need to build Mentor's first school forced a cemetery relocation to its final site in 1858.  Today the cemetery sits on 60 acres of property, of which 39 acres are in use.  A self guided walking tour through the cemetery can be the best local history lesson plan for any student, young or old.  Listed below are some of the more notable tombstones with a story to tell.

Sec. 15  Garfield
James A. Garfield became a Mentor resident in 1876.  Although President Garfield was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, his family and son are buried in Mentor.

Sec. 1  Munson
Ashbel Munson arrived in Mentor around 1820.  Horatio Munson, Harry Munson and other family members resided in Mentor from 1844-1963.  Their 1865 home (7050 Jackson Street) still stands.

Sec. 2  Colonel Warren Corning
The Corning family came to Mentor in 1810.  Their family sold the Dickey Farm property to James A. Garfield.  That property is now known as Lawnfield.

Sec. 14  Wyant
Melvin E. Wyant was a noted nurseryman and judge.  A rose specialist, Melvin secured over 30 patents in his lifetime.  His purchase of 10 acres west of King Memorial Road became known as Johnnycake Ridge Road.  His home was surrounded by over 2000 rose plants.

Sec. 14  Yaxley
In 1926 Deputy Marshall Lawrence R. Yaxley became the first law enforcement officer in Mentor.  His death from an accidental shooting occurred in 1927.  Yaxley is listed on the Washington DC Law Enforcement Memorial.

Sec. 1-9  Parker

Charles Parker was the first settler in Mentor.  His brother Clark joined Charles as a surveyor of the Western Reserve.  Clark remained in Mentor and became the first postmaster in Mentor.  A grandson named Colonel helped establish Lake County's Fairgrounds.

Sec. 4  Sawyer
Joseph Sawyer opened the first grist mill in Mentor circa 1810.  Sawyer then became a prominent nurseryman.  His home is still located on Mentor Avenue.  It is known as the Sawyer House Restaurant and Tavern.

Monday, March 21, 2011

" Remember When " Lost Stories Yesterday and Today

An article in today's News-Herald looked back at the Great Lakes Mall as it celebrates 50 years of history.  The mall of my youth had yet to be enclosed.  Fazios stood alone across from Ridge JHS.  Mentor Recreation Park was a private pool and sports complex.  Bargain Fair offered a treasure trove for 'pickers' of any age.  As I thought back to the Mentor of my early years, I recall a Horton's Nursery sitting where Erie Commons now stands.  An underpass on Rt. 306 hadn't yet been built.  An overpass on Rt. 615 near Mentor Lumber was still a concept.  A classmate of mine was from the Wyant Family Nursery.  The Civic Center Complex was still massive fields of flowers.  Nurseries dotted Mentor Avenue east and west. From Willoughby to Madison, the names of the nurserymen were a veritable "who's who?" Sunday, March 20th was the first day of Spring.  Today, Monday, March 21st is a good day to remember the "Rose Capital of the Nation."  A little marker #19-43 is situated in a commemorative garden across from St. Mary's Church and adjacent to PNC Bank on Mentor, Avenue.  This marker retells the story of a city and county whose reputation in agricultural circles was legendary.

From 1920 through 1970, Mentor was recognized as the "Rose Capital of the Nation."  Dozens of growers combined to produce over five million plants annually.  Lake effect climate, excellent soil composition, and abundant water provided a growing corridor unrivaled in the U.S.  Gerald K. Klyn became the midwest's largest grower.  Joseph Kallay secured the country's first Rose patent in 1932 for #10 Blaze.  Melvin E. Wyant was a noted grower, lecturer and judge.  Joseph J. Kern was a noted expert on old fashioned roses.  Paul R. Bosley was an expert on hybrid tea roses.  Time brought change and some of our stories became lost as land became a commercial commodity.

The next time you drive past the Civic Center Complex imagine a massive field of roses.  The next time you drive past streets named Tea Rose, Wyant, or Rosebud imagine Mentor as an agricultural mecca of the Midwest.  And finally, as you drive Rt. 20 from Willoughby to Madison imagine a nursery in place of every shopping strip you pass.  Spring 2011 is a perfect time to take a moment and smell the roses at a little garden next to marker #19-43.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Ohio Historical Marker #43-15 " Uncle Dan "

Located in Painesville, this 2001 marker #43-15 tells the brief story of an illustrator, author, youth leader, social reformer, and founder of an iconic American organization.  Daniel Carter Beard was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in the year 1850.  By the time of his death in 1941, " Uncle Dan's "contributions to American Society included 22 major works, nine of which are still in print today, illustrations to several famous Mark Twain classics, and being a foundling father to two national youth organizations.  The one constant in each of these storylines were the summers he spent as a youth in Lake County, Ohio.

Daniel Carter Beard studied art in NYC.  A career as an illustrator followed.  A position as illustrator to Mark Twain's novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court cemented his future fame.  His original 1882 work An American Boy's Handy Book served as a guide to outdoor living, camping, and educational experiences.  A freemason, Daniel founded the Sons of Daniel Boone in 1905.  A 1908 meeting with English Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell led to a 1910 merger and establishment of The Boy Scouts of America.  Beard's efforts and partnership with Ernest Thompson Seton led to what is today the traditional scouting movement.  Beard became the first national BSA chairman.  Beard parlayed his early youth summer experiences in Lake County into a series of field books.  He even helped his sister organize the Camp Fire Girls as a sister organization.  His design of the BSA logo and patch stand as a tribute to his pioneering spirit and love of the outdoors. 

Today, tributes from his adult home state of New York include school and bridge namings, department of transportation placards, as well as other accolades.  However, one small marker in downtown Painesville serves to remind visitors from far and near alike of "Remarkable Ohio" and  another hidden tid-bit of local lore from Lake County, Ohio.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The 'Castle' in Lake County's Emerald Necklace

When traveling the roads of Willoughby Hills, Ohio, a shell of a building in the North Chagrin Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks is a bit of local lore worth visiting.  Void of its original Tiffany windows and only a shell of its former self, one can still roam the interior structure, surrounding grounds, and ponder the urban legend often associated with Squire's Castle.

Feargus B. Squire was born in Exeter, England in 1850.  Arriving in the U. S. at the age of ten, Feargus joined Standard Oil in 1885 as a co-manager with Frank Rockefeller.  His design of a tank wagon for overland oil shipment proved successful and his star was on the rise.  In  the 1890's, he began work on a gatekeeper's house for his future country estate.  This gatekeeper's house was to be complete with a living room, several bedrooms, a library and hunting lodge great room.  Situated on 525 acres, the country estate was never built.  The gatehouse was the only structure completed in its time.  Built by locally famous William Squire, a benefactor of Western Reserve University, including his country estate Squire Valleevue Farm, Feargus did spend some nights at the Castle.  His wife was not a fan of the future summer retreat and hunting grounds lodge.  Squire retired from active life in 1909 and toured Europe.  Upon his return his family resided in a newly built home on Wickliffe's Millionaire's Row.  Its name was Cobblestone Garth.  Feargus' last public act was to serve one term as Mayor of Wickliffe.   Squire's Castle was sold in 1922 and acquired by the Cleveland Metroparks three years later.  Squire's wife became part of an urban legend that became affixed to the former gatehouse, when it was rumored that her accidental broken neck and resulting death in 1929 led to her nightly appearance at the Castle window.  In reality, Rebecca's death occurred in Wickliffe and was just another event that solidified the local lore of Squire's Castle and the abandoned structure.  Renovations in 1995 and 2008 have preserved some of the remaining structure.  Visitors to the park can roam the interior and some signage is posted to share the Castle's history.

Visit and witness another link to Lake County's Gilded Age.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lake County Profiles: Fairport Harbor's Dr. Amy Kaukonen

Historically, Dr. Amy Kaukonen was the first woman mayor elected in Ohio, probably, the second in the country.  Dr. Kaukonen was also the first Finnish woman doctor in the U. S.  Born in Elyria, Ohio in the year 1891, the Kaukonens moved to Conneaut, Ohio, where Amy finished number one in her Conneaut High School class.  She also finished number one in her class at the Women's Medical College of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  She started a practice in Fairport Harbor in 1920.  Witnessing the many medical maladies associated with the whiskey runners, moonshiners, and rowdy public at large, it was no surprise that Dr. Amy Kaukonen became a staunch opponent against the alcohol, dance halls, and corrupt government mores of the Fairport community.  Her public views attracted the attention of Fairport's Kasvi Temperance Hall.  She was approached by the People's Reform Party and benefiting from the recently passed 19th Amendment, Dr. Kaukonen became a candidate for public office.  In 1921, she beat her mayoral opponent William Stange by 75 votes.  History was made.

Once in office, Mayor Kaukonen waged an ongoing battle with a reelected marshal, J.H. Werbeach, who ignored Fairport's bootlegging activities.  Threats were made against her.  Two tumultuous years followed.  Werbeach's sudden death in 1923 allowed her to appoint Leander Congos as the new marshal.  A newly motivated and willing council led to other positive changes.  Amy's Mayors Court revoked alcohol permits, jailed bootleggers, and promoted bootleg eradication plans in the village.  In 1922, she used the Homeland Security provisions of the era to issue Mayor's warrants to search homes for those in violation of the Volstead Act.  Her star presence garnered accolades in New York, Cleveland, Columbus, and Boston.  President Warren G. Harding lauded her efforts.  Fairport Harbor was changing.  After decades of corruption and illegal dock activities, her civic policies led to paved streets, a water service, fire service, police service, and new and improved public schools being established.  Dr. Kaukonen continued to deliver babies and maintain her private practice throughout this transformation.

Abruptly, Mayor Kaukonen resigned in 1923 and left for Seattle.  Records indicate she married in 1928.  No children were ever mentioned.  Dr. Kaukonen continued to defend women's rights issues, i.e., bobbed hair, short skirts, dancing and singing in her remaining years.  She never regained her star presence, but her mayoral reign (1921-1923) made a lasting impact in Ohio, U. S., and Lake County history.  Fairport's renaissance from a rowdy port to a leading industrial power of the 20th c. chemical corridor spanning Toledo to upstate New York has Mayor Kaukonen as its early agent of change.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Mansions of Lake County - " Coulallenby "

Mention opulent mansions of The Gilded Age and many familiar names come to mind.  There is The Biltmore in North Carolina.  Another mansion of note is Fair Lane, the Michigan home of Henry Ford.  Still another that is often remembered is the Newport, RI Vanderbilt mansion simply called The Breakers.  A look back into earlier history might place Civil War General Robert E. Lee's mansion in Arlington, Virginia or Foundling Father and President Thomas Jefferson's Monticello in the top ten.  Mention Lake County, Ohio and Wickliffe can not be denied.  Wickliffe was home to many many millionaire businessmen, including Harry C. Coulby, Fergus B. Squire, and Frank Rockefeller. The mansion built in 1913 and completed in 1915 by Harry C. Coulby is situated on a 54 acre estate. Formal gardens, a pond, cow barn, gatehouse, nature trail and public park surrounded his estate.   Over 8000 square feet and built at a cost of $1million dollars, it is a mansion open to the public daily.  It is now the home of Wickliffe City Hall and the grounds are used by the recreation department.

Harry C. Coulby was born in 1865 in England.  He immigrated to Cleveland and dreamed of sailing on The Great Lakes.  Employed by Picklands Mather in 1886, it took Harry less than 20 years to become known as the Czar of The Great Lakes.  He became manager to 100 ships.  Changes in the early part of the twentieth century affected Pickands Mather and its company fleets of various names.  By 1913, Harry C. Coulby had launched his own company.  Known as the Interlake Steamship Company, Harry took over and merged the entire Pickands Mather's and Company fleets.  In the year 1916, he even found time to become the first mayor of Wickliffe.

A 631', 16,000 ton freighter the Str. Harry Coulby was commissioned in 1927 to honor the man at Interlake's helm.  After his death, "Coulallenby", the mansion's original name had several private owners and even a Catholic girls' school there until 1954, when Wickliffe purchased the property for municipal offices.  Take a walk inside city hall and you can still experience the mansion's splendor and view the original fixtures, woodwork, and hardware.  The exterior is white glazed terra cotta.  Council Chambers, the Coulby living room feature Palladian windows and carved cabinets.  Tiffany chandeliers are original to the house as are the hand carved ceiling mouldings.  The Mayor's office was formerly used as Harry's library.  A fireplace, bookshelves, Bohemian carved wood panels and hidden wall safe are still intact.  Mrs. Coulby's "boudoir" is a highlight of the second floor.  The nearby servant's quarters still feature the bell chime system, used to summon the butler or maid.  A Tiffany skylight and Lake Erie views are also noteworthy.  This mansion of Lake County is just another hidden gem and millionaire story waiting to be experienced by you as you travel the roadways of our county.