Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring / Summer of History-Civil War 150- Lake County, Ohio - John ( General Jack) Casement

John (Jack) Casement was born in New York in 1829. At the time of his death in 1909, his accomplishments rivaled other better known American figures.  An airport, Casement in Painesville, a WWII Liberty Ship, and an Ohio Historical Marker (#12-43) now bear his name.  Hailing from New York and arriving in Ohio in 1850 by way of Michigan, John Casement aged 21 had spent a large part of his youth working for the railroads.  Newly employed by the Lake Shore Railroad Company to lay track, it took him only three years to secure his first railroad construction job on his own.  While laying track on Jennings Road in Lake County, he met his future wife Francis ( soon to become a noted women's rights and suffrage pioneer as well as an 18th and 19th Amendment contributor).  They married in 1857 and moved to Painesville.

The Civil War interrupted his railroad career and led him down the road to another avenue of historical prominence.  Joining the local Seventh Regiment, he served as a major under General George McClellan.  As an infantry soldier, his unit gave General Stonewall Jackson his only defeat.  By 1863, he was fighting for the 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and in 1865 he attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Union Army.  Commands held included the Second Brigade, Third Division, and XXIII Corps.  Casement participated in the Carolinas Campaign.  Major battles fought included Nashville, Franklin and Wilmington.

1869 saw former General Jack return to the business of laying track.  He and his brother Daniel took positions with the Union Pacific Railroad.  Union Pacific lore claims he laid eight miles of track in a single day.  At the time of his death, he had laid over 1044 miles of track in the United States.  During this period of railroad greatness, John never failed to call Painesville home.  He befriended Buffalo Bill Cody and brought Bill and Annie Oakley to Painesville in 1901.  His family home was designed by Charles W. Heard and Jonathan Goldsmith.   Built in 1870 for wife Frances by the Jennings, it remained in the family until 1953. Their house on Casement Drive remains a residence today.  Both John and Francis Casement are buried in Painesville's Evergreen Cemetery, #14- Division 10 -West side.  The Casement Home and cemetery marker are two spots worth viewing during this spring / summer of history as Ohio remembers the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring / Summer of History-Civil War 150- Lake County, Ohio - Howell Burr Treat, MOH

Medal of Honor - A Brief Retrospect

In 1782, General George Washington established a purple cloth badge of 'Merit.'  It was created to recognize any "any singularly meritorious action."  This cloth badge, later to become the Medal of Honor had a brief history.  The Merit Badge fell into disuse as the years passed.  In December 1861, Public Resolution 82 marked the official beginning of the Medal of Honor history.  What began as a Navy award for valor, added the Army branch to its rolls by July 1862.  Listed below is a brief synopsis of the MOH.

MOH Summary:
  • 3471 Medals Awarded
  • 19 Double Recipients
  • One President and Two Father/Son Recipients  (Roosevelt and MacArthur)
  • 85 MOH are still living
  • First MOH winner was Ohioian Jacob Perrot, 25 March 1863
  • 2403 Army Recipients
  • Three Eras in MOH annals    (1861-1917, 1918-1962, 1962-present)
  • 2500 Civil War MOH, 910 were later revoked
Recipients by Conflict:
  • Civil War  1522
  • WWI          124
  • WWII        464
  • Korea        133
  • Vietnam    246
  • Others       979

Lake County Profiles:  Howell Burr Treat, MOH

#16-Division 10-North Side is the location of a single grave marker at Evergreen Cemetery in Painesville.  The name on the marker is Howell Burr Treat.  Born March 31, 1833, he died on July 21, 1912 aged 79.  Also on that marker are the three words 'Medal of Honor.'  Treat is one of 330 Civil War and 13 Revolutionary War Veterans buried at Evergreen.  All the veterans were important to our American history and all have a story to tell.  Howell Burr Treat is the only Medal of Honor recipient to be buried in Lake County.  His story, though brief, is a hidden gem and small bit of local lore in the annals of Lake County's Civil War history.

Treat was a Sergeant Company 1,  52nd Ohio Infantry during the Civil War.  On 11 May 1864 at the battle of Buzzard's Roost, Georgia, he brought water to wounded soldiers very close to enemy territory under heavy fire.  Also,  he managed to carry a wounded man to safety.  Nearly thirty years later, issued to Howell B. Treat on 14 August 1894 was a Medal of Honor, an award recognizing "any singularly meritorious action."  Much time has passed since Treat's heroic actions of May 1864 and other more famous Civil War stories have been recorded. However, one can walk through Evergreen Cemetery on any given day during this 150th anniversary of Civil War Ohio and pay tribute to one veteran's story from long ago.

Part of the information used was gleaned from a J. Tirpak, NEOCWRT presentation on 4/21/11.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring / Summer of History - Civil War -150 Lake County, Ohio - The Incident of Lewis and Milton Clarke

As early as 1812 an abolition society had been formed in Ohio.  Several Underground Railroad routes from the South converged at Concord.  One came from Akron, Hudson and Chagrin Falls.  Another came from Ravenna through Warren.  From Warren a "road" ran through Parkman and Chardon.  A line of stations also ran from Warren into Madison Township.  In Concord Eber Howe kept wayfarers safe.  Phineas Root and Samuel Butler harbored runaways in Fairport.  Abolitionists like C.C. Jennings, Uri Seeley, Kimball, Merriman, and Winchester were also prominent names in the cause.  By 1838 the Reserve had an anti-slavery character more pronounced than any other territory  of similar size in the United States.  As mentioned earlier, The Rider Inn ( Painesville) and The Old Tavern (Unionville) were major safe havens for runaway slaves.  Here is the story of a local incident in Madison.

In August 1843, two Kentucky slaves, Milton and Lewis Clarke, spoke to an audience in what is now the Madison Post Office.  Lewis and Milton were born of a free black man but had spent twenty years in captivity as slaves.  The following day after their anti-slavery speeches, Milton was captured and beaten by four slave catchers.  Before he could be taken away, men from Madison, Painesville, and Unionville intervened.  Charging the slave catchers with assault, this delay allowed the Lake Countians time to arrange Clarke's escape before the case could go to trial.  A brief stay at the Unionville Tavern led to Clarke's escape and return to freedom.  Lewis and Milton Clarke continued lecturing in the North against slavery, and Lewis, who met Harriet Beecher Stowe, was later the real life inspiration for her character George Harris in Uncle Tom's Cabin.  The Clarke's did leave a book / journal of their experiences as a primary source of life in the American South.

The incident of Lewis and Milton Clarke reaffirmed the ardent local abolitionists vow that "no slaves shall be captured in Lake County."  Runaway slave Harvey Johnson (Rider's Inn in Painesville) remembered that incident and his Lake County experience and after the War returned to become the first black immigrant in the county.  He remained in Painesville until he died aged 102 .

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring / Summer of History - Civil War 150 - Lake County, Ohio- The Old Tavern at Unionville

The Unionville Community is rich in history.  Its unique position on the border of both Lake and Ashtabula County has allowed the community to be an eyewitness to much of the first century of U.S. history.  At one time, Unionville had a population twice that of Cleveland.  Many homes originally built in the 1800's are still occupied.  The Old Tavern at Unionville is one bit of local lore that has a story to tell.

It is the oldest surviving tavern in Ohio.  It was built in 1798 as a log cabin along the Indian trail that was part of the Western Reserve.  In the early 1800's, some expansion occurred as it became a stagecoach stop for those traveling between Buffalo and Cleveland.  As the abolition movement evolved from its inception in the late 1700's, Unionville's location was near the developing hotbed of abolition in Ashtabula County.  Ashtabula County was a place that produced 13 of John Brown's 21 anarchist raiders.  The tavern owners of the 1840's and 1850's decided to provide a safe haven for runaway slaves for the developing Underground Railroad.  By some estimates nearly 40% of all fugitives traveled through Ohio / NE Ohio on their journey to Canada and freedom.  Runaway slaves would enter tunnel's in the area of the cemetery, and travel to the large cellar tunnel under the Old Tavern.  Here slaves were fed and allowed to rest.  In time, a wagon would come and take the slaves to the Madison docks to board boats bound for Canada and freedom.

After the Civil War, The Old Tavern remained a viable restaurant and inn.  Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were notable guests to visit the tavern in the early 1900's.  Some years ago when I was guest at the restaurant we were allowed to view the grave marker that was the entrance for runaway slaves.  The innkeeper was also kind enough to show the interior cellar door that was used as part of the Underground Railroad Station.  Recent years have been hard on the inn and it has been closed at times as of late.  However, a visit to the tavern is a one tank trip that everyone can make in 2011's Spring/ Summer of History.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring / Summer of History - Civil War 150 - Lake County, Ohio The Rider Inn

US Route 20 is one of the longest roads in the United States.  A stop at 792 Mentor Avenue in Painesville, Ohio will find you directly in front of The Rider Inn, an inn with nearly two centuries of local history and lore.  In its earliest days, it served as a restaurant and inn along the busy Oregon Trail.  Some decades later it served as a hospitality stop along the rough stagecoach road between Buffalo and Cleveland.  During the mid- 1800's it was a secret stop along the way to freedom for thousands of slaves.  A light in the uppermost southern part of the building served as a sign to slaves that refuge in the basement was possible.  Additionally, returning Union Soldiers used the Inn as a retreat during the 1860's. Designated as an official Underground Railroad stop, the Rider Inn history also features a bit of local lore.  Ghosts from the Civil War have been rumored to haunt the premises at night.  Suzanne, a former innkeeper's wife has also been reported by guests as a nighttime visitor. A brief history of Rider's Inn follows.

Moses Cleaveland (1796) and Charles Parker were the earliest reported visitors to NE Ohio and the Lake County area.  Parker, a surveyor was the first known local settler .  In 1805, a mail stagecoach service was established in the region.  A log cabin was built in Unionville (Madison).  In 1818 the cabin was replaced by The Old Tavern and is still standing today.  Joseph Rider came to Ohio in 1803.  Rider's Inn was established in 1812.  Over the years, the tavern expanded, providing accommodations and food for travelers. From 1812-1832,  Rider ran his business from the single floor dwelling.  1832 saw reknown and local architect Jonathan Goldsmith erect a second floor to the structure.  In 1865 the building was converted into a private residence.  The Rider Family ( 19 children) operated the hostelry until 1902 when it fell on hard times.  New owner George Randall bought the Inn. This New Yorker used the Inn for dining and a speakeasy. A remodeling took place in 1913 and again in 1922 when a dining room was added. The enlarged dining room made traditional Sunday Stagecoach Breakfasts popular.   Elaine Crane and Elizabeth Roemisch took ownership of the Rider Inn in 1988.  The tunnels used by escaping slaves are unsafe to use today but are still there.  The second floor ballroom (circa 1832) is a distant memory.  The local ghost stories persist.  The history of the country inn, its local lore and its  tavern dining experiences (weekday or Sunday Stagecoach) await your visit.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring / Summer of History - Civil War Ohio - A Sesquicentennial

Ohio entered the Civil War in April 1861 as the third most populous state in the Union.  On April 15, 1861, nearly 320, 000 Ohioans answered the call from President Abraham Lincoln.  Ten percent of those who answered that call never returned home.  Despite only two minor conflicts on Ohio's soil, the State of Ohio played a key role in providing troops, officers, and supplies to the Union Army.  Nineteen Civil War generals hailed from Ohio including Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Philip H. Sheridan, and George A. Custer for the Union Army.  Confederate generals from the 'Buckeye' state included Robert H. Hatton, Charles Clark, and William Quantrill.  Civil War veterans from Ohio who became U.S. Presidents included Grant, James A. Garfield, William McKinley, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Benjamin Harrison.

The week of April 11th begins the 150th anniversary of Ohio's participation in the Civil War.  Many events will be held throughout Lake County to celebrate our contributions to the war.  Follow this blog throughout the month of April as we look for the hidden gems and historical tid-bits in the annals of Lake County's Civil War history.

Upcoming Civil War Programs:
April 12th     How Ohio Won the Civil War      3pm   Fairport Senior Center
April 21st     Medals of Honor                            7pm   FHHS program at Fairport Library
May 12th     Civil War Causes and Effects        7pm   FHHS program at Fairport Library
June 18-19   Civil War Reenactment                 Lake County History Center in Painesville
June 22        Civil War - Fairport Harbor          11:30am  Fairport Harbor Lighthouse

check the following websites for more detailed information-

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Random Acts of Kindness: LyondellBassell Global Day of Caring touches Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum

A December 29, 2010 blog I wrote was titled ' A New Year's Resolution You Can Keep .'  The main theme of that blog was quite simply, resolve to volunteer your time in 2011 to a non profit historical organization.  At the end of the blog I listed members of the Historic Lake County Alliance who would welcome volunteer contributions big or small.  Many of the alliance historical societies are quite small in volunteer numbers and have limited funds to maintain their community collections.  Below you will find the story of one local company who stepped foward  and will make a difference in the community where they live and work.  Lyondellbassell of Fairport Harbor has chosen to commit 21 workers and donated materials on April 9th to help restore, renovate, and preserve the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum, a living piece of history since 1825.

Say the word "volunteers needed" and people often turn the other way.  Not Lyondellbassell, they contacted the lighthouse volunteers and asked if they could volunteer and make a difference.  James Hillier, Patti Kowardy, and Danniger Smith visited the lighthouse, committed to the project, shopped for the project supplies and will spearhead a company wide effort to make April 9th a memorable moment in the history of the lighthouse.

Some may donate money but 'time' is the commodity any historical society cherishes.  Lyondellbassell donated over 130 hours in 2010 to the lighthouse.  Their sweat 'equity' saved the lighthouse over $3000, which is 20% of the lighthouse's annual budget.  On April 9th, Lyondellbassell will return to paint the tower steps (69), refurbish a garage, paint the last of the interior museum rooms, assist with seasonal landscaping, tackle brick paver needs, and address outdoor structures exterior painting needs.  Again, their employees sense of 'volunteerism' will allow the lighthouse to be completely refreshed for the first time since 1991. 

Lyondellbassell Global Care Day is April 9th and continues an annual tradition of volunteering.  Lyondellbassell has companies located in Asia (11), Europe (10), North America ( nine U.S. states and Mexico), and South America.  As their employees gather worldwide on the same day, they perform a variety of community projects to show the community that they are important to the company.  The employees and family members at the Fairport Harbor site will work with the local historical society for Global Care Day 2011.  Since 1945, The Fairport Harbor Historical Society has preserved this landmark, provided education on  local marine history and instilled pride in the small village of Fairport Harbor.  On Saturday, Lyondellbassell of Fairport and its employees will help make a difference in the community where they live and work.  Their volunteer hours will be a lasting gift to the FHHS/ lighthouse museum's present and to its future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Lake County Profiles: Samuel Huntington - Early Fairporter

The Hon. Samuel Huntington, co- founder of Fairport, was a prominent attorney and a leading Federalist, known throughout colonial America as a supporter of the "Western Movement."  Born in Coventry, Connecticut in 1765, he was adopted by his uncle and namesake.  Huntington studied law at Yale, graduating in 1785.  He practiced law in his home state until he moved his family to a fledgling community known as Cleveland in 1801.

He was a the leading supporter of statehood in Ohio, while a member of the First State Constitutional Convention, which met in Cincinnati in 1802.  Huntington was also the First State Senator from the Western Reserve; Speaker of the House; Judge of the Supreme Court; and third Governor of Ohio, 1808-1810.  As Governor, his administration was a stormy one.  A looming issue with Great Britain and a move of the capital to Zanesville led to discord.  Removal of state judges also hampered his tenure politically.  Huntington served one term, lost another election attempt for Senator, and left the political arena for good.

In the year 1807 Samuel Huntington traded his 300 acres of land in Cleveland for a large tract of acreage in Grand River and Painesville Township.  With two others he founded Fairport (Grandon) in 1812.  Huntington's foremost interest became the development of Fairport and the harbor.  He accepted a commission from General William Henry Harrison to be the U.S. Army Paymaster in 1813 but remained a Fairporter till the end.  An injury suffered in 1815 while repairing a road from his estate to Fairport's harbor led to his death just two years later.  He was buried at his Fairport Road estate.

Huntington Park on Fairport's spacious beach ( Lake County Metroparks) was dedicated  and named in honor of this Lake County icon.  The beachfront land has been in the Huntington family since the infancy of Fairport and the land was donated to Fairport Village by the eight living heirs.  This summer when you come down to the beach and enjoy the inviting waters of Lake Erie, take a moment to recall the story of an early Fairporter and the local lore that is Lake County.