Thursday, May 3, 2012

Little Known Bicentennial Moments in Fairport History

In the history of any village, town or municipality certain facts are common knowledge.   Certain persons, events, or stories have been remembered and become a thread of fabric in their civic quilt.  Other little tid-bits of history become footnotes and lie dormant until some moment of opportunity revives them.  Today's blog gleans from two historical periodicals of long ago, Hometown Sketches- 1936 and The Story of Fairport -1946 for little known gems in the village history.

                                          Twelve Gems from Fairport's Past
  • Stadium Lights - the first game of football to be played at night took place on October 8, 1936.  Fairport's gridders played Ashtabula to a scoreless tie.
  • Old Ordinances on the Village Books in 1936 included Section 89 - unlawful kite flying and ball playing on village streets or public grounds, Section 167 - village convicts must wear a ball and chain when performing labor or out in public, and finally Section 91A - it is unlawful to drive any horse or animal in excess of 8 mph on village streets.
  • The first paper to be published in the village was the Harbor Gazette.  The year was 1921 and the editor was Saul Olila.  The Ammerikan Sanomat (1923) and Fairport Beacon soon followed.
  • Walnut Hill where the former Village Hall once existed was named for the large number of trees which grew there.
  • Fairport has been in three counties over its history.  Fairport was first in Trumball County (1800), then Geauga (1805), and finally Lake (1840)
  • Stigwanish lived in the vicinity of Fairport circa 1796-1810.  This friendly Indian was called 'Seneca' by the locals.  Chief Wanbermong and his clan were also frequent visitors to Fairport.
  • Grand River's early names included 'Sheauga sepe' and 'Kichisibi.'  Both were Indian words and meant raccoon river and big river respectively.  Geauga County came to be from the 'Sheauga' derivative.
  • Exports in 1822 were sent mostly to Detroit and Mackinac.  Fairport's leading export that year was whiskey distilled in the county.
  • In 1849 an all plank road was built from Fairport to Painesville.  The route is now named Richmond Street.
  • Hon. John Walworth, Fairport's first settler, called his place 'Blooming Grove.'
  •  James Fenimore Cooper, the famous Leatherstocking Tales author visited Fairport in 1820.
  • Election Winners in 1901 were pulled from a hat.  Jack Mitchell became the Mayor-elect in this most unusual bit of election history.
The Village of Fairport Harbor will be celebrating their 200th Anniversary next Saturday with a day of special events. Additional unique bicentennial programs will be held through late October. For more information on all planned events, visit or  Without computer access, just visit the Fairport Public Library.  A year-long program guide is available at the front desk for the asking.

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