Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: A Fairport Hometown Sketch - Captain Abraham Skinner

Captain Abraham Skinner - 1755-1826

Abraham Skinner was born in Glastonbury, Connecticut.  One of ten children, his early family history laid claim to being a descendant of the Skinners from the Salem Witchcraft Craze period.  Abraham also saw action in various campaigns during the American Revolution.  A noted seaman of the era, it is his arrival in 1798 that interests us today.

Capt. Abraham Skinner arrived with General Edward Paine to the Western Reserve in 1798.  A land agent for Henry Champion, he purchased land in the Painesville and elsewhere (Summit and Cuyahoga Counties).  Between 1799-1805, he made five trips to the Lake shore region, eventually bringing his family here to settle.  By May, 1803 he had acquired over 300 acres.  By November of the same year his holdings increased by another 380 acres.  In time, Skinner and Eleazor Paine accumulated over 3240 acres in holdings.  1803 saw Skinner begin to lay out a town known as 'New Market'.  The landing at 'New Market' was approximately two miles from the river mouth  ( present Skinner Avenue and N. State Street).  His residence and warehouses at this Lake shore location became a major commercial hub.  His newly built road and government funded harbor access linked business trade from Beaver, Pennsylvania to Akron, Ohio.  Commissioners contracted with Capt. Skinner in 1807 to build a log cabin that would serve as a residence, jail, and courthouse for Geauga County.  'New Market' continued to thrive.  Skinner, Samuel Huntington, and John Walworth became the early pioneers of Fairport.

Finally on May 16, 1812 the town of Grandon was born.  Skinner had laid out 125 lots and the town was recorded and officially entered into the Geauga County files on June 8, 1812.  Twenty-four years later, on March 14, 1836 an enactment from the General Assembly of Ohio recognized Fairport as the new name of Grandon.  Although Capt. Skinner had passed away in 1826, his pioneer efforts and vision continue to permeate and impact the continuing history of Fairport Harbor today.

Sources provided by the Fairport Harbor Historical Society Library -
Fairport Harbor 1976 edition
Hometown Sketches 1796-1936
The Story of Fairport, Ohio ( Sesqui-Centennial July 1946)
Fairport Harbor  2003 edition -Arcadia Press

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