Monday, July 30, 2012

The Press of Early Lake County - Part II

Today we continue our look back at Lake County's earliest newspapers.  Newspapers reported history in the making.  The history of the Western Reserve and the history of Lake County are intertwined in the columns of these papers.

                                                    North Ohio Journal

The Journal began in the summer of 1871 and ran for several years.  This four column newspaper was mainly political in scope.  James A. Garfield and other local politicians of the day were the main topics in this county newspaper.

                                   Madison Star, Independent Press, Dairy Gazette

Ferdinand Lee began the Star in Madison in the year 1871.  For the first year the paper thrived.  However tough times in 1872 forced the paper to change names and scope.  Renamed the Independent Press it was again renamed the Dairy Gazette in short order and continued until 1876.  The newspaper moved that year to Jefferson and remained active for some years to come.  Some eighteen months after its departure a new Madison Gazette reappeared.  Alas its tenure was brief and operations were suspended forever.

                                               Willoughby Gazette

The Willoughby Gazette started in October 1868.  J. B. Brown was the first editor.  The Gazette was a four column semi-monthly edition at first.  Its popularity resulted in a format change as it became a weekly.  The Willoughby Gazette continued through 1870 before it too was discontinued.

                                               Amerikan Sanomat

Three businessmen purchased the rights to this Fairport paper, a weekly published in Ashtabula from 1897-1913. Founded in 1924, it was an independent paper with clerical tones. It was a bi-weekly paper of four pages through 1939.  Gabriel and Alma Lipsanen controlled the paper until its end.

                                              Merchant News & Fairport Beacon

Two native sons of Fairport, Neal and Carl Katila launched the newspaper business in 1929.  Run from their printing business, the brothers printed these two local newspapers until February 1959 when the Painesville Telegraph assumed control of their paper.  The Merchant News was notable for its 8x10" format on orange or green cheap stock.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: More Portals into Fairport's Past

Our look into the many personalities of Fairport's early history continues today with three more sketches.  Matt Killinen Jr., August Wolff, and F. Oscar Hill were three early business pioneers whose contributions to Fairport's business history are still remembered today.

                                                   Matt Killinen Jr.

Matt Killinen resided on Fifth Street.  An early businessman( late 19th-early 20th c.), he operated the Fairport Bottling Works.  working with sons, Killinen's enterprise sold soda to most of northeastern Ohio at that time.  Killinen and his wife were also members of the local Finnish Temperance Society.  Politically he was an advocate of the Republican Party and helped spearhead many efforts toward establishing Fairport as a progressive community.  The Village of Fairport dedicated a monument to Killinen's legacy.  It sits on the lighthouse hill in the village.

                                                  August Wolff

August Wolff, proprietor of Wolff's Ice & Coal Company, was born in Fairport in 1892.  He was the son of the one time Mayor of Fairport.  Known as 'Gus', he was one of the village's most versatile personalities.  Without the benefit of formal lessons, Gus mastered 22 musical instruments and led the community orchestra for over a decade.  His weekly concerts in the Village Park were well attended.

As mentioned earlier, he took over his father's Coal & Ice Company at the age of 16.  He was also part of the family grocery store, Grand River House and local post office which were located on Water Street.  Gus also served 20 years on the village fire department, 16 as chief.  Gus and his horse were well documented in community FD annals.

                                                F. Oscar Hill

F. Oscar Hill was the proprietor of Hill's Hardware Store.  A native son of Fairport, he was engaged early in his career as a building contractor.  His business employed a large group of carpenters, masons, and such.  Together they built many of the early residences in Fairport and Lake County.  Oscar opened his Hardware Store in 1928.  Located on Sixth Street, the hardware and tin shop was a fixture in the community for decades.  His store and many of the residences he built remain today as tribute to his pioneer abilities.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Press of Early Lake County - Part I

Newspapers, magazines, and print media have witnessed a large decline in circulation in recent years.  Facebook, Twitter, QR codes and other forms of social media have enjoyed a 'big bang-like' explosion onto the scene since 2005.  While these new forms of social media are propelling the current generations foward in our information age, we look back today to the early genesis of the information age in Lake County's history - the local newspaper.

                                                  The Painesville Telegraph

The Telegraph was founded on July 16, 1822 by Eber D. Howe.  It was the first newspaper in Painesville and one of the first in the Western Reserve.  Prior to the Telegraph, which ended its run in 1976, three papers existed.  The most well known of the three was the Cleveland Register (1817).  The Tramp of Fame / Western Reserve Chronicle (1812) and Cleveland Herald (1819) were the other area newspapers.  Howe's Telegraph had an initial subscription list of 150 people.  The first issue was a four column paper that contained five ads.  Howe took on James H. Paine as a partner in 1828.  Howe and Paine remained active in the newspaper business for several more years before divesting themselves of the Telegraph to newer editors.

                                               Painesville Republican

Horace Steele Sr. founded the 'Republican' on November 21, 1836.  Steele came to Lake County via Vermont and Buffalo.  His six column newspaper was Democratic in sentiment.  Within four years he had a subsription list of over 800 county residents.  J. F. Scofield bought the paper and enjoyed one last year of success before the ' Republican' was discontinued.

                                              Grant River Record

The newspaper opened for business on December 11, 1852.  J. F. Scofield, former owner of the Painesville Republican, was the sole proprietor.  It was a seven column newspaper and enjoyed brief success before it was sold to a Pittsburgh, Pa. group.

                                             Painesville Advertiser

Introduced as a monthly paper in June 1855, the Advertiser became a weekly paper by September of that same year.  In 1859 it consolidated with the Cleveland Press.  A year later this new paper merged with the Telegraph.  1868 saw a brief revival of the Advertiser before it passed into the annals of county history.

* Becky Falin was the author of the 1996 sketch that provided the genealogical research used in this blog.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: Mini Sketches of Early Fairport Business Personalities

                                                   Mrs. Elma Taittonen

Elma was one of the small number of women businesswomen in Fairport's early history.  She left her native Finland and came to America at the age of 10.  Her early fondness for cooking and baking served her well.  In time she became proprietor of Taittonen's Restaurant in Fairport.

                                                  Herman Dilgren

Born in Finland in 1891, he arrived in Fairport just a year later.  This Fairporter's career was varied and community service oriented.  Herman started his working career with Coles Nursery at the age of 16.  While engaged in that trade, he also operated a bicycle repair shop on High Street, repairing motorcycles and bikes.  Later years saw him join the employ of the Diamond Alkali as a steam fitter.  Some years down the road saw Herman become associated with the Harbor Land Company.  His final efforts in the community saw him serve on the local water board and as President of the Board of Public Affairs.

                                                Melvin S. Colgrove

Melvin S. Colgrove was born in Ashtabula, educated in Painesville, and a graduate of the University of Buffalo.  An interest in pharmacy while working for Davet Drug Store in Painesville  in 1905 led him to his future vocation.  Brief pharmacy related stops in NYC, Toronto, Wooster, and Cleveland followed. Colgrove opened his own store in Fairport and it became his final home.  Besides being the area's leading druggist for 18 consecutive years, Melvin found time to serve his adopted community well.

He was a member of the village council during the era of the first street paving. Alongwith other council members ( Rasmussen, Markko, Locotosh, Bailey, Parrish, and Wargo), Melvin oversaw all the streets being paved in just over a year.  His interest in civic affairs led him to sponsor most of the men's and women's basketball teams.  These teams successes are well documented in Lake County and N.E. Ohio basketball history.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

'The Big Party' - Chardon at 200

Bicentennials don't happen very often.  Yet in 2012 two communities are celebrating just such an event.  One in Lake County has been well documented.  The other in Geauga County kicks off a major event in just over a week.  Chardon, Ohio founded in 1812 by early pioneer Capt. Edward Paine Jr will host its 'Big Party' July 27, 28, 29.  The weekend includes an Ecumenical Gathering on Thursday.  Friday the 27th kicks-off the celebration with a band concert in the Park.  Saturday the 28th will feature opening activities, also in the Park, as well as an Ox Roast.  Sunday the 29th will feature Activities on the Square from 1-6pm.  A parade is scheduled for 3pm and Fireworks at Dusk conclude this gala event, 200 years in the making.

                                  Chardon - A Brief History

1795-1848 saw the era of the early pioneers.  Traveling the Western Reserve and part of the Connecticut Land Company sojourns into Ohio, Capt. Edward Paine Jr. built his log cabin and founded what became known as Chardon.  Serving in various governmental capacities, Paine helped establish the initial footprint of the city that is still seen today.  The Girdled Road projects of the later 1800's helped assure Chardon a key role in N.E. Ohio history.  Chardon experienced its most rapid growth from 1808-1848 and modeled itself after the New England town format.  Chardon Square today still maintains this architectural style.  A Great Fire in July 1868 destroyed much of the early footprint but a rebuild from 1868-1870 restored much of the original look and feel to the town.  An emphasis on education and continued growth continued throughout the 20th century and Chardon continues to celebrate its contributions, past and present each day.

Chardon invites you to its 'Big Party' next week.  Remember 200 year old birthday parties don't occur very often.  Come and witness a unique piece of history.  Need more information, e-mail your request to or visit their website

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: Do You Remember These Businesses?

Fairport's Bicentennial Year has passed the midway point.  Community programs have featured the village's early history, schools & athletes, and the annual 'Mardi Gras' celebration.  To date a Party in the Park, Lighthouse Lantern Launch, Ecumenical Concert, and Boat Parade have added to this historical celebration.  As the second half of 2012 unfolds three programs will inform the community about other signature moments in their history.  Today we ask the question " Do You Remember These Fairport Businesses?"  August's program will recall many of these merchants.  Until then do you recall -

The North Star Dairy Co.
E.E.Lawrence & Co.
A&P Store - John Lintala, Prop.
Rogat Hardware Company
Guraly's Restaurant Inc.
Lyric Lake & Park Theaters

Isalay's Dairy Store - Roy Hersman, Mgr.
Bread & Butter Food Shop - John Laitenen, Prop.
Ray's Paint & Wallpaper Store - M/M Ray Toivonen
Ameen's Confectionary - George Ameen, Prop.
Suomi Beverage Co. - John Juhola

Colgrove's Drug Store - M.S. Colgrove, Prop.
Paul's Barber Shop - George Paul, Prop.
The Fashion Shop - Mary Turbok
J.V. Sirola Tailor
Kamenar MobilGas Station
Potti Bros. Funeral Home
Oscar Ruusten Jewelers
Parkway Service Station - M/M Nyle Schuster

Ben Franklin Store
Beacon Market
Kitty & Jigg's Cafe
Kanyuh's Tavern
Ann's Food Store - Ann Goblowsky, Prop.

Buckeye Dairy Co. - M.E. Liimakka Family
Fairport Beacon Neal Printing
Blue Room Beauty Salon - Helen and Betty Sabo
Gottwig's Restaurant - M/M Ed Gottwig

Redz' Barber Shop
Coleman Photo Service
Stropkey Stores - Mrs. Steve Stropkey, Sr., Prop.
Newcomb's Service Station
Tschuor Electric and Hardware
Gulfair Service Center - Thomas Millonzi, Prop.

Toubmans The Big Store
Michael Paul's Barber Shop
A.J. Simon Store
Mulqueeny Bros. Funeral Home
Kapel Winery
Hill's Hardware - F. Oscar Hill, Prop.

Mackey's Self Service - M/M Ben Mackey
J.A. Kortesmaki
Fairport Furniture Company
John G. Resetar
Johnny & Myrt's Sweet Shop - M/M John Kolesar

Hilberg's Market - John Hilberg, Prop.
Ed's Bakery
Bell's Restaurant
Rasmussen Deli
A.J. McCrone Co.

M. Kangas
Vendeley's Restaurant
Michael's Restaurant - Michael Wayner, Prop.
Butterfield's Billiards
Fairport Restaurant

Thall's Shoe Store
Mack's Cafe
Lunka's Cafe - M/M Tony Lunka
Allan R. Pohto, D.D.S.
Lake Barber Shop - R.A. Lake, Prop.

This is a thoroughly incomplete list of businesses.  Those mentioned reflect only a small portion gleaned from photo compilations and local history books about Fairport Harbor.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Aviation History Continues At Lost Nation Airport This Weekend

Mention Hopkins Airport or Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland and most county residents will recognize their names.  Mention Casement Airport in Painesville, Concord Airpark , and Lost Nation Airport in Willoughby and county residents may not have heard of these names. Yet all three sites in Lake County are part of our aviation history.  In fact, Lost Nation Airport, founded in December, 1937 sits just three miles from downtown Willoughby and only 16 miles from downtown Cleveland.  Situated on 420 acres, Lost Nation Airport has two runways and averages 123 flights daily, 55% of which are local.  Over 73 planes are housed at the airport.  This weekend another 25 plus aircraft will call the Willoughby Airport home as the 'Gathering of Eagles XVI' visit.  The public is invited to attend this event from 10am-4pm each day.

The Gathering of Eagles XVI has its origins in the early 1980's.  Brig. General Paul Tibbets accepted an invitation in 1982 to share his experiences at the Maxwell AFB in Alabama.  From these humble beginnings this gathering grew and spread across our country.  Celebrating the Golden Age of Flying, the public can inspect historic aircraft, witness flight demonstrations, and arrange a flight on a B-25 or T-6 Trainer plane.  Aircraft scheduled to appear include the B-25, T-28, CJ6-A, T-51,C-47, WACO, Fouge Jet, OV-10, and Stearman.  Proceeds from the Gathering of Eagles XVI will be used to restore the Superfortress 'Doc' Boeing B-29 Project.  A complete schedule of weekend aviation events is available in many Willoughby venues or at the Downtown Welcome Center.

For more information visit - or  Volunteer opportunities are possible by calling 440-290-8364 or 440-944-3518.  YouTube has 'Gathering' videos posted. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Bicentennial Moment: Meet the Parades - Mardi Gras Celebrations Continue in Fairport Harbore

Each year the town of Fairport Harbor and guests from around the region gather in the small village    (approx. 3000 residents)  for the annual tradition of Mardi Gras.  The first Mardi Gras was held July 4, 1939 and was an outgrowth of the Street Carnivals that began in 1925 and the Water Carnivals that followed begining in 1934.  A 1938 Street Party to celebrate the paving of Chestnut Street alluded to the Mardi Gras.  A community movement convinced Mayor John O. Rendrick to make this intitial celebration into an annual event.  On April 22, 1941 the Mardi Gras was formally incorporated and charged with promoting the welfare of the villagers. Proceeds from the event were to be used to award local scholarships and help underwrite civic causes.  The Mardi Gras became an overnight sensation as over 10,000 visitors came to this July 4th weekend event. Seventy-one years later the tradition continues.  This year's Mardi Gras kicked off on the Fourth and will culminate with a Fireworks extravaganza at dusk on July 8th.  Carnival rides, musical performances, parades, food and fun for all  highlight each of the five days.  Unique to the 2012 Mardi Gras and in association with the Village Bicentennial is the return of the Fairport Harbor Boat Parade.

July 5th - Mardi Gras Parade -  The parade starts at 7pm and will follow its traditional course throughout the village.  Grab your blanket and/or lawn chair and find your spot early as the parade attracts an average of 15,000 visitors in some years.  Local and County Fire Department Trucks muster for the event.  The Fairport Harbor Historical Society will trailer and demonstrate its restored foghorn on the 5th.  Lake Metroparks will enter their horse drawn wagon once again.  Floats from all over the community and county will be on the streets for what promises to be a two hour 'Slice of Americana.'

July 7th - Boat Parade -  The Boat Parade returns after a long absence in this Fairport's Bicentennnial Year.  An early staple of the Mardi Gras event, the parade will begin at 6pm from a staging area on the east end of Fairport's Huntington Beach.  The boat parade already in excess of 20 vessels will head west along the beach and enter the Grand River channel and head down to Pickle Bill's in Grand River.  The boat parade will be led by the USCG and ODNR vessels.  The FHYC, GRSC, WRYC, LCMP, and other boating organizations will be entered into the parade too.  Boaters desiring to join in this Mardi Gras revivial may do so by contacting boat parade co-chair John Ollila at 4400-346-5613.

The 2012 Mardi Gras - Fun for All!  Also worth noting for this coming weekend are the 5K run being held at 9am on July 7th and a party in the park from noon-5pm.  Don't forget...join us for the parades July 5th at 7pm and July 7th at 6pm!

Monday, July 2, 2012

20th Century Presidential Home To Host Unique July Programs

Eight of our Fourty-Four Presidents hail from Ohio.  Five were Officers/Generals in the Civil War.  One was the last to be born in a log cabin.  He hailed from Moreland Hills and served as college president at what is today known as Hiram College.  In 1876 this Congressman purchased a small farm in Mentor.  Too small to house his five kids, wife and mother he had additions built from the onset.  His home 'Lawnfield' was ready by 1880.  In a twist of fate, he attended the Chicago National Convention to nominate fellow Ohioan John Sherman for President.  Thirty-six ballots later he was the Presidential Candidate.  This Presidential Candidate's 'front porch' became famous as he campaigned on it to thousands of visitors.  This U.S. President, from Mentor was assasinated only months after his election.  James A. Garfield is this 20th U.S. President.  His home is a National Historic Site. Located on Mentor Avenue it is open to the public.  In addition to viewing Garfield's home and trappings, 'Lawnfield' hosts several unique events each year.  Two are coming up in the next weeks. Both will be held at Garfield's last private residence.

July 7th -  A Naturalization Ceremony will be held at 10am.  This uniquely American Ceremony will be hosted by the League of Women Voters, Citizenship & Immigration Services (Homeland Security), and the U.S. District Court of Northern, Ohio.  A Behind the Scenes Private Tour of the Garfield Farm will follow at 11am.  The public is invited to both events.

July 14th - A Civil War Encampment will be on the grounds from 11am-4pm.  Displays, demonstrations, re-enactors, and vendors will be on hand.  A Mini-Militia Drill for children will be offered at 1pm.  Both programs are part of Civil War Ohio's 150th Anniversary.