Monday, December 30, 2013

And in Closing...

Happy New Year, dear followers and first time readers.  Can you believe this is my last blog of 2013?  Where has the year gone?  No one cares about great beginnings.  No cliche exists that says " famous first words."  Some fifty topics ago, the year was just in its infancy.  Mentor was beginning a year long anniversary trek.  Perry was looking towards its milestone dates.  Lake County added another year to its history with unique events in Willoughby, Fairport, and Madison.  Later seemed far off.  Yet later is a sneaky little devil.  It just slipped in and stole all the I was, you were - gonna dos in 2013.  A few days remain to see the nativtity scenes in Historic Kirtland.  Holiday displays still welcome visitors at Lake Metroparks PG and Farmpark sites.  However, if you are not careful 2014 will be in the words of lovable baseball philosopher Yogi Berra 'deja vu all over again.'

All of us have free time during the course of the year.  Some have extra free time over the holidays.  Some have  free time in the spring, summer, or fall months- if not, pencil some in your monthly planner for 2014.  In Lake County, we are surrounded by outstanding parks, museums, and historic dwellings.  Our museums are outstanding venues for generational visits.  Where else can you climb 69 steps in a lighthouse tower and view sunsets, freighters, eagles, and more of Lake Erie's treasures?  Where else can you step back into time and walk the same halls as our one time Lake County resident and US President- James A. Garfield?  Remnants of Millionaires Row await you as you drive thru Wickliffe.  Downtown Willoughby offers so many tid-bits of history that each needs its own section.  From its Indian Museum to its famous ghost stories, Willoughby is well worth the visit.  Many museums offer tours, private and school.  All host unique programming throughout the year.  Hours vary as many are non-profits and manned entirely by volunteers.  Yet many are open late during the year.  Many have weekend hours, and all can accomodate your specific needs and wishes.

Visit Lake County institutions with family, friends in 2014.  Plan a day at a Historic Lake County Alliance site.  Take a winter hike with a camera in our parks.  More importantly consider volunteering at a venue of your choosing.  As another year ends, remember the lessons of the past.  We don't really see the end coming, even though we know it's looming, a great gateway to another year is at hand.  So as 2014 arrives, like the end of another blog, we all have places to be.  May 2014 be your best year yet and hopefully I will see you at all our I -was -gonnas for 2014.

For more information on Lake County's Historic Venues visit-

Monday, December 23, 2013

Holiday Traditions, Mirth and some

                              "...What if Christmas...doesn't come from a store.
                              What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
                                                         --Dr. Seuss, How The Grinch Stole Christmas!

With Christmas a mere two days away, it is easy to fall prey to the commercial trappings of the season.  What once began the day after Thanksgiving has now morphed into a holiday season that rears its head well before Halloween.  Who can forget these classic holiday moments? The Peanuts Gang celebrating Christmas by caroling and exploring a true meaning of the day.  The animated tale of Rudolph remains an annual favorite on TV.  Scrooge's story resonated in the classrooms of my students for over two decades. I am sure many other students read the same Dickens classic in their schools too.   Nativity Scenes in Historic Kirtland have garnered country-wide attention.  With over 20 years history behind it -Santa, an elf toyshop, and Country Lights have sold out in mere days for Lake Metroparks.  Even the Grinch makes an annual visit to a lighthouse in Fairport Harbor.  Today let's examine some different traditions from around the world.

Some Holidays Traditions From Around The Globe-
  • Austria celebrates the Feast of Saint Nicholas with traditional baked carp.
  • In Denmark, Christmas is a time when Nisse, a mischievous elf heads out and enjoys playing jokes.  Families leave a bowl of porridge to avoid his worst pranks.
  • Flaming plum puddings, and one with a favor baked in it await those seeking good luck in Australia.
  • St. Nicholas travels by boat with his little helper Black Peter in Holland.
  • Mattack, whale skin with blubber interiors are eaten at Christmastime in Greenland.
  • In Sweden a little brownie, or ultomen helps Santa deliver gifts.
  • In Bulgaria, Christmas Eve is the most important holiday and 12 dish meals are a tradition, all without meat.
  • Taffy making and esiteddfodde (carols) are part of Wales festive customs.
  • In Spain tiny oil lamps are lit in homes.  'Jota' - dancing in the streets is also part of the midnight celebrations.
  • LaPosada, a reenactment of that first night is a main tradition in Mexico.
  • In Canada Santa has his own zip code- ho,ho,ho.
 Some Holiday Mirth or corny Elf on the Shelf Jokes

What's another name for Santa's helpers?                (subordinate clauses)
What do you call a stingy elf?                                  (elf-ish)
How do you describe a wealthy elf?                        ( Welfy)
If athletes get athlete's foot, what do elves get?       (Mistle- Toes)
What do you call a wound that is caused by being hammered by an elf?  (It's Elf-inflicted)

What do you call a Santa Claus that does not move?   (Santa Pause)
What goes "oh,oh,oh?"                                             (Santa walking backwards)

And to all...
Merry Christmas          Joyeux Noel           Frohe Weihnachten       Feliz Navidad

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Birthday Times - Mentor Celebrates 50th Birthday on December 18

The city of Mentor was officially born on December 18, 1963.  As its 50th Anniversary Year comes to and end, let's look back at the year 1963 and some historic facts from Mentor's beginnings.  

News from 1963
  • The nation mourns the loss of President Kennedy.  Lyndon B. Johnson assumes the presidency - no vice president
  • LBJ spoke at the Lincoln Memorial ending a month of mourning for JFK.
  • The Beverly Hillbillies and Hazel were the top rated TV shows.
  • The L.A. Dodgers led by Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale defeat the NY Yankees in the World Series.
  • Cape Canaveral changed its name to Cape Kennedy.
  • The Beatles score a #1 hit with I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND.
  • Bobby Fischer became a 5x chess champion.
  • USC defeats Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl
  • Jean Nidetch founded Weight Watchers
  • Cassettes for tape recorders and Kodak Instamatic Cameras were introduced
  • Polaroid introduced color film.  Color TV relayed by satellite for the first time
  • Jackie Meyer from Sandusky, Ohio is Miss America
  • MLK speech I HAVE A DREAM is shared for the first time.
  • Bell Telephone introduced touch tone phones.
  • Zip Codes become the norm.
  • Gasoline cost a quarter per gallon.
People sharing Mentor's Birthday or age
  • Betty Grable, 1916
  • Ty Cobb, 1886
  • Steven Spielberg, 1947 
  • Robert Moses, 1888
  • Fischer Quintuplets
  • Tatum O'Neal
  • Spudd Webb
Ohio in 1963
  • James Rhodes is Governor
  • Pro Football HOF becomes a reality and destined for Canton, Ohio
  • Cleveland Public Schools desegregation crisis draws national attention.
Mentor in 1963
  • Robert Brewer becomes the first mayor
  • Robert Moon serves as first city manager
  • Mentor Council members were Alfred G. Howells, Joseph A. Atzberger, Robert P. Brewer, Ken B. Freeman, Edwin Harriger, Richard Kostic, Leonard Shrewsbury, Francis M. Osborne, Donald E. Krueger.
Happy Birthday Mentor and many more!

Monday, December 9, 2013

My Christmas Gift to You -- The Ideal Bookshelf

 In 1843 Dickens wrote a little story in but six weeks time about a man named Scrooge.  A few years later in Victorian England, "Holiday Card' traditions began in earnest.  The legend of St. Nick continued to spread from its humble beginnings in the third century to various European countries with newer twists and names.  Trees and decorating took on new patterns by the early 1600's.  Years later, post WWI veterans brought many of these traditions to America upon their return.  As the 2013 Holiday Season ramps up and Santa's list records all the usual gift requests, let us consider the following books for our home library.  Here are my thoughts on the gift of print.

The books that we choose to keep and display-let alone read- can say a lot about who we are and how we are remembered.  These books define our dreams and ambitions and in many cases retrace our steps along the way.  Our personal libraries reveal our true nature.  Much has been made as of late about the demise of print.  Sadly, it is true.  Large box stores like Borders are gone.  Daily newspapers are nearly extinct, some appearing but two to three times a week.  Social media, not even a decade old has trumped the printed word for all future generations.  Old photos and print will become phantoms on the shelves.  Luckily for us, the local historical societies in Lake County remain the lifelong accumulators of books both past and modern, live in houses large enough to accommodate hundreds of books and documents, as well as take in any overspill from the former libraries of friends and donors.  As the holiday season approaches, here is a list of my ideal bookshelf.  Each book serves as part cataloging manual, part homage to community history, adventure story and autography of our hometowns then and now.  With special thanks to the authors and historical societies whose efforts preserved our past- here is a totally incomplete list.  Happy collecting – let the biblio-lunacy continue.

Images of America – Madison, 2010 - Denise Michaud
Images of America- Willoughby, 2012 - Christina Wilkinson
Here is Lake County, 1964 – Janice and Barbara Cooper, Jack Daniels, et al.
Lake County 1871-1960, 2009 – Lake County Historical Society
History of Kirtland, 1982 – Anne B. Prusha
Mentor, The First 200 years, 1997
History of Mentor Headlands and Vicinity, 1957
By the Buckeye, 1984
Fairport Harbor, 1976 – Fairport Harbor Historical Society
Images of America-Fairport Harbor, 2003 – Fairport Harbor Historical Society
Roses to Retail (Mentor), 2011 – Barbara Snell Davis
Mentor-A Retrospective, 1988

Monday, December 2, 2013

Merry Grinchmas...Yule Love This Week

                     "...What if Christmas...doesn't come from a store.
                     What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more."

This classic quote the 1966 animated story by Ted Geisel, aka. Dr. Suess never resonates more than this week in Lake County.  Here are three more family activities to highlight your holiday season, plus a bonus for the children.  All can be free events for the entire family.

Harbor Holidays & The Grinch  December 7 - Fairport Harbor
For over a decade now this event has been another best kept secret in Lake County.  Harbor Holidays was an event conceived by the local merchants association to offer a unique day of shopping and eating to the community.  The school, local churches, both museums, and all businesses open their doors to share the season.  Arts, crafts, and local cultural foods are available for sampling and purchase.  The Grinch steals his way into Fairport from 10-4pm appearing at each venue in search of presents and some Suessian mayhem.  His appearance at the Fairport Harbor Public Library at mid-day is an annual family favorite.  At 6pm the Grinch may be seen atop the iconic 1871 lighthouse tower where he recites the classic tale of 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas.'  Photos with Santa follows and the stolen gifts are donated to the local FHPD and VFW sponsored 'Fill the Cruiser' for Toys for Tots campaign.

'Unto Us A Son is Given'  November 29-January 5 - Historic Kirtland
A not to be missed event featuring over 600 nativity scenes and thousands of sparkling holiday lights adorns the campus of Historic Kirtland and its Mormon Migration site.  From 'family treasure' type nativities to some truly special creations, these nativities are well worth the drive.  Highlights in 2013 include the nativity by Norbert Kohen of South Euclid and the Croation Nativity made by a WWII refugee.

Miracle on Erie Street, Stroll & Festival  December 5-8  - Downtown Willoughby
Longing for a more simpler time?  Remembering downtown Cleveland and Halle's window displays?  Well this annual event in downtown Willoughby will kindle old memories or create new ones.  A lighthing ceremony, auctions, and small merchant storefront shopping experiences are just steps away as you travel the main streets on your stop in Willoughby.

Bonus for Children:
            Recycle, Reuse, Rejoice - Holiday Stories and Fun   

The Fairport Harbor Public Library will feature its annual daily reading garden and craft events on the following dates.  No registration is required, all are welcome. Multiple time slots are offered- call 354-8191 for details.
Let There Be Peace on Earth - December 3-5
Trees and Candlelight - December 10-12
Happy Holidays to All - December 17-19

Monday, November 25, 2013

Yule Love These...The Tannenbaum Trail and more

Tempus fugit...Time flies.  The holiday season is upon us and I don't mean Black Thursday/Friday.  Here are four events that capture the 'spirit of the season' in Lake County.  Each is definitely unique and each may make a memory or start a tradition that is sure to endure.

Tannenbaum Trail     December 6 and 7
A self driving tour that visits 18 wineries.  Each participant will pick up a small Christmas Tree at the first stop you visit.  From then on, a ceramic ornament with the winery's name on it will decorate your tree as you continue along this holiday vine times trail.  Details:

Spirit of the Season     December 7
Painesville invites you to capture the 'Spirit of the Season' from noon to 3:30pm.  A carnival, crafts fair, holiday activities and a parade featuring the jolly red man himself are on tap for the day.  A mailbox in Veteran's Park for children is now in place.  Those children submitting letters will receive a response if a return label is affixed.  Details: please call 440-392-5912

A Christmas Tea with President James A. and Lucretia Garfield     December 8
Ed Haney and Debbie Weinkamer will portray the presidential pair on December 8th at Sisters Tea Room from 1-3pm.  You are invited for cranberry scones, broccoli soup, chicken croquette and corn pudding.  Sisters Tea Room is located on Mentor Avenue.  Details:  sisters or 440-290-6556

Home for the Holidays     December 5-7
A Victorian Display of Christmas throughout Lake County highlights the Lake County Historical Center's annual exhibits.  Every room of the center will be adorned.  Artisians, food, music boxes, and miniature dollhouses await visitors of all ages.  The Center located at 415 Riverside Drive in Painesville is open from 11-4pm daily. 

Part II of this holiday events calendar will appear on December 2nd.  For a listing of all holiday events visit

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bookish Trivia for the Old Fashioned and Analogue -- In Celebration of our County Libraries,

A lot has changed in the last ten years.  More than half of the books purchased today are not actually books.  They are e-books.  Newspapers once the staple of every household on a daily basis have been reduced to twice or thrice weekly deliveries.  Where once seven locals were in existence, now only one is daily in our county.  Remember when Waldenbooks, B. Dalton and Borders were found in neighborhood shopping venues.  Remember when dust jackets seduced you into a sensory experience.  There was even a time not so long ago when public libraries were found in our  public schools.  Books and their repositories, the public library were a great asset and great resource for our community.  Today we celebrate the community library, the one place helping us save our endangered species.

Mentor Public Library Facts
  • The Mentor Library Company was founded in 1819.  Six shareholders paid $2.50 per share to have access to the 79 volumes in the collection.  In a short time the collection grew to 194 and were housed in private homes.  A single book was loaned out for three months.
  • In 1875 the Mentor Library Association was founded.  Membership fees were $1.50 annually and books were on loan for two week increments.
  • James R. Garfield took over the library system in 1890 and served thru 1927.  Village Hall served as the first official library building and had a collection in excess of 767 books.
  • Mentor Public Library became the new official name  in 1895.
  • Abram Garfield helped design the first public library in Mentor.  Over 2,400 books were now housed under a single roof. The building is still standing on the corner of Nowlen and Center Street.
  • Miss Frances Cleveland was the pioneering librarian serving from 1906-1944.
  • The Mentor Headlands Branch Library founded by the Fairport Library became its own entity in 1959.
Wickliffe Public Library Facts
  • Wicliffe's first library was once located inside a pharmacy.  The store's owner loaned out 280 books from the Willoughby Public Library collection.  The year was 1929. It remained a viable book lending institution thru 1942.
  •  1936 saw the creation of the Wickliffe Public Library.  It was housed in what today is the current middle school.
  • The current library located on Lincoln Road is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013.
Painesville / Morley Public Library Facts
  • The first library was begun in 1878 and was part of the Temperance Society Reading Room.
  • Jesse H. Morley donated the funds to establish the first public library in Painesville in 1899.  Named after his parents, Julia Erwin was its first librarian.
  • 1957 saw the first county bookmobile service get underway.  Morley Public Library continued this service until recent years.
Fairport Harbor Public Library Facts
  • The first library appeared in 1895 as part of the Kasvi Temperance Hall site on Eagle Street.  Over 138 pieces of literature were in the collection including the Anne of Green Gables series and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm novels.
  • The first school library was in 1904 at the Plum St. School and later McKinley School site. A library was also created in second floor classrooms at the high school.
  • 1922 saw the first truly public library established, funded in part by the Public Works Programs of the era.  The building is located on the Harding High School property.
  • A library station was opened at Sunset Point in Painesville Twp in 1955.
  • A library station was opened in 1957 in the Headlands.
Space limits the length of this journey thru the annals of real paper and the analogue era.  I love real books, and I love real bookstores.  I don't want them to go the way of the LP, typewriter, Pontiac, and Life Magazine.  But if they do, go shopping the old fashioned way - at your local community library.

Sources-  FHHS, Fairport Book    News-Herald, Andrew Case article, websites Mentor & Morley Public Libraries

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Gales of November and the Great Lakes Storm of 1913

'The Gales of November' or 'Witch of November' are but two terms used to report the peak of the Great Lakes storm season.  Mariners have long known and feared these terms used to describe the rapidly changing and often brutal weather conditions affecting the lakes.  The Lake Erie Gale of 1811 was the earliest record of a ship bound from Buffalo to Sandusky meeting its demise to this storied storm.  In 1835 the Comet and Godolphin were lost near Fairport, Ohio due to a similar weather uprising.  Black Friday took place on October 20, 1916 and the fates of four vessels were lost to time.  Of course the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in 1975 was immortalized in song by Canadian songwriter Gordon Lightfoot.  Today's blog examines the 'Big Blow', 'Freshwater Fury', 'White Hurricane' that occurred from November 7 thru November 10, 1913.  Reaching its peak on November 9th, the storm overturned ships on four of the five lakes, left 250 lives lost, destroyed 19 ships, and stranded 19 others.

The Prelude:
On November 6th, The Detroit News called for a storm of moderate strength to begin shortly.  The combination of warm lake waters and Canadian cold fronts heading southbound would be like none before.
The Storm:
November 7-  Hurricane winds develop and blizzard-like conditions arise on Lake Huron.
November 8-  The storm was upgraded to severe.  A brief false lull tempted many captains on the St. Marys River, Lake Erie, Detroit, and St. Clair River to disregard the warning.
November 9- This 24 hour period marked the peak of the storm's fury.  Rotating winds from Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo combine with the exisiting conditions to magnify the forces exponentially.
November 10/11th-  The Storm reached London, Ontario.  Day two saw the storm lose power to the warm waters of the Great Lakes.  Cleveland, Ohio suffered a 17 inch snowfall to record 6 foot accumulations in the downtown area.  Power was lost and destruction rampant.  Cleveland's fate was repeated in many other ports along the lakes.
The Aftermath:
This 'Witch of November' lasted over 16 hours at its peak, nearly 11 hours longer than average.  Thirty-eight ships suffered the wrath of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913 and over 5 million dollars of losses were reported.  The bell tolled 250 for the lives lost.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles -- Frank N. Shankland the ' Outdoors Diary '

Born in 1880, Frank N. Shankland of Willoughby was a noted ornithologist and naturalist.  His parents were early pioneers and his father a veteran of the Civil War.  The Shanklands came to Cleveland from their home in Kentucky.  A move to Madison was followed by another move to Willoughby which became the home to Frank and his two siblings.  Frank graduated Magna Cum Laude from Willoughby High in 1898 and Western Reserve University in 1902.  From earliest boyhood, his keen interest in nature and the outdoors was noticed.  His study of the American Eagle at Vermilion garnered citations in many leading ornithologist articles of the era.  He became known throughout Ohio as an 'Outdoors Diary.'  Shankland recorded the first occurance for Lake County of the Yellow Tail, Western Meadowlark, Lapland Longspur, and Barrow's Goldeneye.  He also documented the first nesting records for the Sharp Shinned Hawk, Purple Finch, and Piping Plover.

Shankland was a member of the Cleveland Bird Club.  Frank had a series of juvenile bird books published that sold over four million copies and found their way to London, China and such.  He even found time to publish a series of books on the topics of 'famous romances' and 'teen-age romances.'  He became a sought after dinner speaker and even became a first person speaker in the role of Abraham Lincoln.  Other  local history topics he addressed included the Indians and Mound Builders, the first county settlements by whites, the tavern days, and the county's first medical college.  Frank Shankland served locally for many years as a trustee, secretary, and benefactor to Andrews School for Girls.

Shankland even found time to be more civic-minded.  He served at the County Court House for years and achieved perfect attendance.  He was treasurer of Lake County, served 35 years on the Willoughby Public Library Board, and was treasurer / trustee for the Willoughby Methodist Church for fifty years.  Mr. Shankland passed away in 1955 leaving behind a resume that may never be equaled in the modern era.  Frank's legacy may also be one of Lake County's least told stories.

Source -The Historical Society Quarterly, November, 1967  article by Marion Walker Fickes

Monday, October 28, 2013

Mentor @ 50 -- Anniversary Lecture Series Culminates with Hometown Heroes

Hometown Hero  -  Coach Coogan Reese,  1916-2004

A ten part free lecture series celebrating the City of Mentor’s 50th Anniversary culminates with a program on October 29th honoring ‘Hometown Heroes, Past and Present.’   As a former MHS student, class of ‘75 and retired educator, I can think of no one other than Coach Reese more deserving of being recognized.  It was not until I spoke at his funeral and served as pall bearer in 2004 that I came to realize how giving a man he truly was.  I had only known Coach Reese as a guidance counselor and my cross country – track coach before that moment.  Here is his story and my recollections of a hometown hero to many of us former Mentor Cardinal student-athletes.

Coach Reese had a military career few even knew of.  He enlisted in the US Army in 1933 and served thru 1937 attaining a rank of PFC.  He reenlisted in 1940 and served as an intelligence officer with the 475th Infantry thru 1945.  1944-45 saw him experience some of the War’s most iconic moments in India, Burma, and China.  It was not until giving his eulogy that I learned of Combat Awards, Purple Hearts, China and US awarded  ‘Stars’.

Coach’s next phase of life was known to me.  He attended Hiram College, starred in athletics while there and graduated in 1949.  This I know because Coach Reese always pitched his alma matter to us on the track team each year.  He even took us to the campus for a day and introduced us to his classmate, friend, and another war decorated veteran – track coach Bill Hollinger.  That visit sealed my college choice.

Upon earning his degree in education, Coach Reese located to Lordstown,Ohio for two years, residing in a boarding house with his young family.  He taught history, physical education, and drivers education at the high school.  He also founded the football program at the school.  In 1951, Coach Reese joined Lee Tressel and Arden ‘Stretch’ Robertson at Mentor High.  Coach Reese was the QB coach, asst. basketball and track coach.  In time he became the head boys basketball coach.  In 1956 he left basketball and football to assume the head track coach duties.  In ’57 he added head cross country coach to that list.  Coach Reese remained in both those positions for more than three decades.  His last year was ’79-80 and a young coach at Euclid had the opportunity to share a moment with his former coach and mentor at the Euclid and Mentor Relays.  That coach was me.

Coach retired and moved to Punta Gorda, Florida but his influence never waned.  His Christmas card arrived a day after Thanksgiving every year until his passing.  Pictures of his wife Mary’s exploits as senior citizen community baker or Senior Olympics medalist followed.  Stories about golf rounds and memories from our shared past never faded.  Coach Reese touched the lives of probably in excess of 3000 athletes in his time at Mentor.  My story is not unlike any other person who met Coach Reese – our lives were intertwined and made all the better because of his generosity and commitment to our total lives.  Hometown Hero is a title that is synonomous with Clarence Richard Reese – Coach Reese.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Myths, Legends & Hauntings in Lake County continued...Robbie Babcock and Sentinel et al.

It's that spooky time of the year, when 'Jack Tales' and other phantoms go bump in the night.  Lantern Tours, ghost walks, and paranormal tales only serve to magnify the sounds of rustling leaves, the rasping sounds among the branches and the lurking shadows among the darkening nights under an October harvest moon.  Even before Lake County was founded in 1840, stories of hauntings and bizarre activities were whispered by locals and recorded in print.  Some like the 'Girl in Blue', 'Willoughby Medical College', or the 'Melonheads' have been shared in 2012 and earlier.  The 'Monster of Little Mountain' kept scores of families in their homes at night in the early 1800's.  These loud, eerie noises resonating off the rocks and nearby caves proved to be a prank by local lads who created these menacing sounds with a wooden barrel and rawhide ropes.  Jilted by a lover, Hattie Martindale travels from her Historic North Cemetery home to haunt homes including the one on the hill at the intersection of 615 and Baldwin Road.

Fairport Harbor's Lighthouse Keeper Joseph Babcock is at the heart of two such haunting tales.  Babcok and his family resided over the lighthouse from 1871-1925.  Babcock's tenure though was not a happy one.  Babcock escaped death several times over during the Civil War, in Indian uprisings in Sandusky, and at the lighthouse, but fate was not as kind to his family.  The first story involves his son Robbie.

The Babcocks had two children during his tenure at Fairport's lighthouse.  Robbie died at age 5 of smallpox.  It has been said in journal entries and reported by villagers that Robbie continues to haunt the museum.  Staff at the all-volunteer museum have claimed to feel the chill of the cold air and the smell of decay in the basement.  Some have even mentioned an eerie sense of dread hovering while they work there.  Paranormals have even recorded images and voices from the tower telling them to 'go-away'.

However it is the the cat Sentinel that has made the museum even more special since 2001.  While cats have long been prized household pets, for millenia they have been shrouded in mystique.  Hapless felines were mummified and entombed by the pharohs of ancient Egypt.  Cats were persecuted in Europe for being in cahoots with witches.  In fact, cats have become woven into the fabric of the season.  Here once again, Mr. Babcock's family becomes involved.

Mrs. Babcock fell ill and spend a long period of time in her remaining years bedridden in the lighthouse dwelling's second floor quarters.  Her days were brightened by a grey puff cat and numerous other cats, nearly 21 in all.  At the time of her death, the cats disappeared.  What happened to her favorite grey cat?  Tales persisted of his reappearances.  Even the last curator to live in the house, 1988-91 encountered the ghost cat within a year of her arrival.  Reality set in in 2001 when a repairmen uncoverecd the cat.  The legendary cat was examined by museum staff from all-around Cleveland.  The cat named Sentinel still resides in the museum dwellings and may or may not be Mrs. Babcock's grey cat.  Photos, some tales, and several newspaper accounts do though lend credence to this tale.  Logic suggests the cat was accidently trapped beneath the dwelling or in the basement, starved to death and naturally mummified due to its dark, cool final resting spot.

Other possibilities suggest or support the UK lore of mummified cats being found inside of walls, crawl spaces and above rafters.  This practice was thought to ward off evil magic.  A second more graphic theory is the one of foundation sacrifices practiced by the Celtics.  Humans were preferred but a cat would suffice.

The keeper's cottage has been empty since 1991 but the rumored presence of Robbie and the actual remains of a ghost cat (2001) keep the legends alive.  Visitors and museum volunteers still report the eerie chill or skittering sounds of a feline to this day.

Strange happenings continue to be reported in Lake County to this day.  The renovated Steele Mansion in Painesville, a 'Not Guilty' grave in Evergreen Cemetery, dorms at Lake Erie College, Willoughby Coal, and even the witch's grave on Hart Road in Kirtland are but a few legendary tales still alive today.  Their existence lie in the eye of the beholder.

Sources- Mike Nolan, Cat Fancy 2003   Plain Dealer, 2001, Haunted Lighthouses, FHHS archives

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles -- Dwight Boyer, Reporter & Marine Historian

Born in 1912 in Elyria on the far west side of Cleveland, Dwight Boyer resided in Lake County in Willoughby for more than three decades.  Boyer began his notable journalism career as a reporter for the Toledo Blade from 1944-54.  From '54 thru the time of his death in '78, he was a featured reporter and editor for The Plain Dealer.  Boyer's passion for marine history elevated his journalistic accomplishments.  This is his story.

Boyer's love of freighters and the Great Lakes led him to write numerous articles and five narrative books of life aboard Great Lakes freighters.  Combining his connections with primary sources in the maritime industry and the events from the great storms of the lakes past, he specialized in constructing conjectural tales for vessels whose disappearance garnered the imaginations of the public eye.  Three stories that merit mention are the 1927 disappearance of the SS Kamloops, the 1929 foundering of the SS Milwaukee, and the infamous story of the 1975 loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald.  These stories and others comprise the five books he published from 1966-1977.  Their names and year of publication  appear below.

Dwight Boyer was also a member of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society, whose mission is to preserve Fairport history and the maritime sentiment of the Great Lakes area.  He was able to add to the museum's legacy when in late '67 he helped arrange for the acquisition of the pilothouse from the freighter Frontenac.  The Frontenac was a Great Lakes freighter built in 1923 and 600' in length.  She had a storied career on the Great Lakes until 1979 for Cleveland Cliffs.  At the time of her acquisition, she was the last wooden pilothouse on the Lakes.  The pilothouse sits attached to the 1825-1925 lighthouse in Fairport Harbor and is a part of this unique museum collection.  The pilothouse is appointed in true fashion to its 1967 setting.  The Frontenac and marine museum offer lighthouse visitors and lovers of maritime history a detailed insight in the history of the Great Lakes, freighters, and Lake Erie commerce itself.  The lighthouse and museum are open May-October and by appointment.

Dwight Boyer's books about the Great Lakes:
Ghost Stories of the Great Lakes, 1966
Ghost Ships of the Great Lakes, 1968
True Tales of the Great Lakes, 1971
Strange Adventures of the Great Lakes, 1974
Ships and Men of the Great Lakes, 1977

Monday, October 7, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles - The Story of Walter Wellman

Walter Wellman was one of Lake County's most accomplished and interesting native sons.  His accomplishments in journalism, exploration, and aeronautics gained world-wide recognition.  Yet to many of us in Lake County his name is unknown and his accomplishments largely forgotten.

Walter Wellman was born in 1858 in Concord.  His family roots were quite distinguished, having dated back to New England as early as 1640.  Their pedigree included inventors, lawyers, clergymen, scholars, and early pioneers of the Western Reserve.  Wellman's grandparents came to Madison and prospered as farmers.  Three of Walter's uncles became captains and important Lake Erie vessel masters.  Walter's father served in the Civil War and settled in our county for a short period of time before succumbing to his pioneer yearning and heading west.

Walter's career began with some writing endeavors for the Cincinnati Daily Gazette in the 1870's.  Walter and his brother Frank started a newspaper in 1880-81- The Cincinnati Post.  Another daily newpaper soon followed.  Known as the Penny Paper, it was the only penny daily between Lake Erie and the Gulf of Mexico.  Their target audience was the industrial working class.  Wellman sold controlling interest in the paper to the Scripp's family.  This association with the Scripp's group led to the Post, Cleveland Press, Times-Star and some other 17 locals being launched.

After a brief span of years under the radar, Wellman re-emerged with the Chicago Herald and Record-Herald.  In 1891 it was reported that Wellman found the exact landing spot of Christopher Columbus.  In 1894 and again in 1898 a trek to the North Pole by dirigible ensued.  He attempted the treks again in 1909 and 1910 before losing the moment to Perry.  A cross Atlantic trip by airship garnered headlines in 1910.  Wellman's explorations set records and even recorded a first- wireless messages sent from land to air.  However these flights took their toll.  Wellman was a hero but dropped from public view and lived out his years quietly in NYC.

Wellman passed in 1934 at the age of 75.  Fame came once again as a 10,500 ton liberty ship was named after him.  Launched in 1944 in Houston, Texas the vessel's back story may never be fully appreciated in 20th century annals.  Wellman lived but a short time in our county but like most pioneers his innovations left a lasting legacy on the American Experience.

Sources:  Newsweek,  Feb. 10, 1934   Scientific America, April 1934  George Stevens article, August 1969

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tempus Fugit --- Local Lore Hits 250

It all began in 2010 when a former student and athlete, now managing editor of this newspaper asked me to write a weekly blog.  At that time only one other blogger - Joe the Coupon Guy was a regular.  Being newly retired I agreed and figured it would last a year or so.  Here it is approaching 2014 and I am still learning about our county.  I recently returned from a trip to Italy and was most impressed at the the co-mingling of past and present.  It was all around and quite obvious to decipher.  Lake County offers quite the same experiences if you just look around you.  Some historic sites are quite obvious.  Other local histories are recalled at the historical societies in Fairport Harbor, Willoughby, Perry, Eastlake, Wickliffe, Madison and such.  Some require deeper layers of exploration.  Here are just a few of our county's hidden gems -- the names and places from our past.  Do you remember these stories?

August 22, 2013 - featured Painesville's Bobby Manchester
From hillside fireworks to burlesque, Bobby brought major league entertainment to Lake County in the early 1900's.  His Utopia Theater in the heart of downtown Painesville was a key part of the city's history.

September 5, 2013 - introduced the 'Painesville Hoods'
When the Civil War finally reached into our county, twenty two women answered the call.  Their contributions are part of a little known moment in history

August 26, 2013 - chronicled the short history of 'The Shore Club'
Located on Fairport-Nursery Road, this development examined the lifestyles of some of our counties leading citizens.

December 10, 2012 - recalled the story of Kirtland Hills' Leonard C. Hanna
His story dates back to 1492 and his estate remains a notable landmark in the county streetscape.

March 25, 2013 - tells the story of a solitary tombstone on Hart Road
Levi Smith's life spans the beginnings of the Mormon Migration and is part of a witch's grave legend from long ago.

June 20, 2013 - biographied Dr. Storm Rosa
His contributions to the county and the medical field stand alone in the annals of time.

January 28, February 7, June 24, 2013  examined three separate parts of County Aviation History
Willoughby's Cook Cleland Airport, Painesville's Casement airport, and Pheasant run Airport in Leroy Twp. are but three lost airfields from our past.  These urban ghosts are examined as well as several other local airports.

Like a good book, these histories are worth a second reading.  As I continue my journey into the history of Ohio's smallest county, I will share more of the little known tid-bits and hidden gems that are all around us.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mentor @ 50 ---- Free Lecture Series Continues...

As Mentor winds its way to its fiftieth anniversary in December, the celebration continues with another round of free lectures.  The success of the spring series at Wildwood Cultural Center on Little Mountain Road has spurred on another six lectures for the fall.  These are free events that link the legacy of Mentor's past to visions of its future.  The first program begins tomorrow evening at 7pm.  Programs are free, but seating is limited so registration is required.  Here is a list of the entire fall series.  Each is held on a Tuesday evening.

September 17 -- History as We Lived It and Mentor at Leisure

September 24 -- Mentor's Great Estates, Historic Buildings and Hotels of Little Mountain

October 1 -- Mentor:  Planning for the Future and What's Trending Now

October 15 -- Hometown Memories

October 22 -- Where's Main Street Around Here?

October 29 -- Hometown Heroes, Past and Present

Each program features first hand accounts, panel discussions, Mentor Memories & Trivia Contests as well as a chance to sign a 'memories board' for the time capsule.  Frank Krupa will return as host of the events while Barbara Davis, Joannie Huebner and special guests will add to the presentations.

For more information or to register - call 440-974-5720

Friday, September 13, 2013

' Letters from our Past '

Nearly twenty-five hundred years ago, the Greek historian Herodotus wrote of mail carriers.  Some two hundred years ago,  early American history icon and inventor Benjamin Franklin founded a postal service in the newly established colonies.  In 1896-97, Mitchell Kendal while redesigning the NYC General Post Office, borrowed the Greek quote of ‘Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Gloom…’ for the upper fa├žade of the remodel.  From this early postal trivia, let us celebrate the legacy of the mail service history in Lake County and Mentor, Ohio.

U.S. Postmaster General Gideon Granger  established regular mail service in our area in 1801.  The first mail arrived from Pittsburgh, Pa. on October 30, 1801.  Warren was the terminus for mail in the Western Reserve.  Four years later, mail service was extended to Cleveland.  Eleazar Gilson was the first mail carrier and he made his rounds every two weeks.  The first stage line traveled through our region in 1803.  It covered some 150 miles and its route included Erie, Pa., Champion (Painesville), Chagrin (Willoughby), and Cleveland.  In 1813, one letter cost the sender $.25.  Letters and mail service were in its infancy.

Mail and Stage Coach Service came to the future Lake County (1840) and Mentor on a regular basis in 1823.  By 1878, the West Mentor Post Office Branch was established at the DG Branch Tavern site.  The Tavern was built in 1814 by Warren Corning and sat on the NE corner of Center Street and Mentor Avenue.  The year 1888 marked the next signature moment in Mentor’s mail history.  Postal Services were now expanded and located inside the newly dedicated Mentor Village Hall.  The Village of Mentor was still quite rural at this point and just beginning its rise as part of the nursery / rose capitol of the day.

The corner of Hart Street and Mentor Avenue became the next location of the Post Office in Mentor.  From 1921-1962, it was a focal point of Mentor’s commercial sector.  The original building still remains today.  A new Mentor Post Office opened in ’62 on Center Street on the site that many remember as Mentor Office Supply.  It had just over a twenty- year history as the current Tyler Blvd. Branch was dedicated on January 1, 1983.  The former site was demolished in 2009.

Joe Baca once wrote, “ The Postal Service’s unmatched ability to reach every household and business in America six days a week is a vital part of the nation’s infrastructure…the Postal Service delivers to over 140 million addresses daily and every year that number increases by over two million.”  As the City of Mentor celebrates its 50th Anniversary in 2013, let us not forget the men and women of the USPS who were at the forefront and took every step of our journey in history.  While recent years have not always spun a positive light on the USPS, today as you read this, remember to thank those who delivered the letters from your past.


(Originally established in GEAUGA COUNTY)

Name                           Title                           Date Appointed

Daniel Kerr                           Postmaster                  02/16/1819

Washington Parker         Postmaster                  09/05/1832
Daniel Kerr                           Postmaster                  03/24/1834

Heman Brown                  Postmaster                  09/26/1836

Sumner Taylor                  Postmaster                  04/08/1839

Changed to LAKE COUNTY in 1840

Clark Parker                  Postmaster                  07/01/1841

Amos Birchard                  Postmaster                  09/23/1845

Erastus Briggs                  Postmaster                  03/08/1847

William S. Kerr                  Postmaster                  06/01/1849

Eleazer Burridge                  Postmaster                  06/07/1853

Daniel Holmes                  Postmaster                  01/22/1855

Duthan Northrup                  Postmaster                  05/27/1861

Franklin Parker                  Postmaster                  03/02/1871

Lester H. Luse                  Postmaster                  07/26/1877

Robert Radcliffe                  Postmaster                  09/14/1877

Martin V. Hopkins         Postmaster                  12/11/1885

Thomas C. Radcliffe         Postmaster                  09/04/1889

Martin V. Hopkins         Postmaster                  07/31/1893

Franklin M. Smith         Postmaster                  07/19/1897

Thomas H. Code                  Postmaster                  01/31/1914

William F. Lyons                  Postmaster                  12/04/1922

Glen F. Carver                  Postmaster                  04/25/1936

William A. Collins         Acting Postmaster 12/30/1964

Roger A. Kraft                  Acting Postmaster 05/07/1965

Roger A. Kraft                  Postmaster                  08/18/1966

William A. Collins         Acting Postmaster 04/28/1972

William A. Collins         Postmaster                  09/02/1972

Richard Baldwin                  Officer-In-Charge 12/31/1977

Perry S. Metcalf                  Postmaster                  06/03/1978

Kim E. Dellinger                  Officer-In-Charge 03/19/1992

JoAnn Greene                  Officer-In-Charge 06/15/1992

JoAnn Greene                  Postmaster                  01/23/1993

Leon Grigsby                  Officer-In-Charge 09/08/1999

John Vorbel                  Officer-In-Charge 12/01/1999

Julie A. Goins-Gray         Officer-In-Charge 07/02/2001

Julie A. Goins-Gray         Postmaster                  05/03/2003

Michael Bachinger         Officer-In-Charge 02/13/2006

Joseph A. Brambrick         Officer-In-Charge 11/06/2006

Joseph A. Brambrick         Postmaster                  06/23/2007

Phillip R. Sindelar Jr.         Postmaster                  04/07/2012

Sources:  Fairport Harbor, Ohio 1976
                  David G. Van Allen – USPS Community Relations Director
                  City of Mentor website

Thursday, September 5, 2013

'The Painesville Hoods'

Social clubs and service organizations have a storied place in history.  Some like the Men's Civic Clubs, VFW or Junior Women's League are steeped in traditions and part of local mindsets.  Others like the Masons or Daughters of the American Revolution share long histories but are often not fully understood by all.  Today we look at a local Lake County society that had its origins early in the fall of 1862.  This is their story.

In the fall of 1862 the Civil War was underway and its impact had reached into Lake County.  It was at this juncture of history that twenty five young ladies of Painesville formed their society which was dubbed the 'Sisterhood' - afterwards shortened to the 'Hoods'.  Officers were elected, offices created for all and a mission formulated.  Miss Eliza Wilcox became the first chief executive.  The group convened once a week in the members homes and their object was to carry on correspondence with the absent soldiers as well as knit socks.  Their social setting ensured that no item of news escaped the pen and paper.  No mention was made that the soldiers found the letters unacceptable.

Copies of their letters appear in The Historical Society Quarterly Vol. 3 July 1961 No.3  Their story also appears in the 1976 Bicentennial Lake County History Book and The Painesville Telegraph, December 28, 1898.  For now, here is a list of married names of the twenty-two charter members.

                              Eliza Wilcox                             Libbie Lines Lockwood
                             Sarah Wilcox Hitchcock           Hetty Sanford Ganter
                             Mary Lockwood Casement       Juliet Marshall Smith
                            Leora Brown Sears                    Sarah Doolittle Wilkerson
                            Jennie Potter King                     Mary Perkins Morley
                            Gussie Avery Stockwell             Lucy Perkins
                            Mary Everett Post                     Emma Morley
                            Mary Sterling Steele                 Mary Tinan Osborne
                            Carrie Mathews Reynolds        Anna Tracy
                            Mary Rockwell Pike                 Cornelia Gray
                            Lizzie Hitchcock Morley          Kate Chesney Hover

Monday, August 26, 2013

Brief Portals in Time -- The Shore Club

Purchased in 1897 a property lying centrally east and west about 300 feet back of the lake bank began its brief history.  Known as 'The Shore Club', it comprised 150 acres and was formerly the L.L. Lanthrop and Charles Smart Family Farms.  The Club was located at the intersection of the former Huntington Road and Fairport-Nursery Roads.  The idea was to develop an area of summer homes on the bluffs.  Thus the Lake Erie Land Company was formed in 1898 and  an arched stone pillar with ironworks sign 'Shorelands' affixed, signaled the start of the dream.

It was a dream meant not to be.  Rock, salt water, ice hummock and other issues plagued its progress.  Insufficient  financial backing and lack of individual club memberships hampered its growth.  Construction did start in 1899 and by 1900 two cottages were in place, the Scott and Harper lots.  In year three, some other families joined the club.  They were the Merrills, Grants, Averys, Harrisons, Barnes, and Mrs. Winsor.  Membership did not grow much after this but the 'core' remained active in ensuing summers.

1910 signaled the beginning of the end as the Diamond Alkali Company bought the large tract of land about a mile west of their club.  Controversy arose right from the start.  While no one was disagreeable at first to the company's arrival, its rapid growth, odors, and vegetation effects soon were felt.  Cleveland's rise to industrial center and the nostalgic idealism of the Lake County cottage communities were at the crossroads.  The early New England Village flavor was waning.  Industrialization, immigration, and the mechanized future guaranteed 'The Shore Club' would soon become a footnote in history.  Friday's Lady Day, Thimble Parties, Saturday Night Dances, tennis, croquet, and stables faded from memory and 'The Shore Club' footprint disappeared in the ensuing two decades.

Source -  Percy Kendall Smith article, August 1967, FHHS archives

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles - Painesville's Robert Manchester and the Utopia Theater

As personalities and institutions go, Robert Manchester (Bobby) was as pronounced as they could come.  In Lake County and Painesville specifically the name resonates today.  Aaron Mills was born in New York in 1853.  His widowed mom moved the family to Painesville to open a glove store.  Aaron may have initially been best remembered for his Fourth of July fireworks spectaculars, just east of his Cemetery Hill home.  The valley along State and Bank Street would be lined with residents awaiting his efforts.  However, it was his gift of music that consumed his entire lifetime. 

At the age of nine he joined a theatrical company.  Billed as 'Little Bobby Manchester' Aaron performed song and dance.  By the age of 19 he was touring the country.  In time he bought into the Columbus Amusement Company, a company whose holdings numbered 36 theaters throughout the U.S.  Bobby owned and managed three shows, Masqueraders, Vanity Fair and The Crackerjacks.  His main and for  most of the time his only business was 'The Crackerjacks.'  The show was a traveling burlesque troupe which performed in downtown Cleveland at the Star Theater on Euclid Avenue and Ninth.  His annual visit to Cleveland was widely anticipated by his Painesville neighbors.  Bobby obliged and left seats on a block basis for them.  He even secured special cars on the C.P. & E. to transport his friends downtown.

Bobby's affinity for his hometown reached its zenith when he constructed the Utopia Theater in Painesville.  Its scale and scope were unsurpassed in the county.  Opened in 1914, it cost nearly $75, 000.  Bobby Manchester  appeared regularly and his theater thrived and survived until the Lake Theater replaced it decades later.

Source: The Historical Society Quarterly, May 1969 & LCHS newsletter 2013.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Lake County Mini-Profiles : Charles Wallace Heard -L.C.'s other famous Architect

Charles Wallace Heard (1806-1876) arrived in Painesville as a youngster from Onondaga, New York.  Apprenticed at age sixteen to architect Jonathan Goldsmith, he resided with the Goldsmith family in the 'Old Homestead' on Mentor Avenue.  The Goldsmith residence was an old Greek Revival style dwelling and stood on the current Lake County Fair site until it burned down in 1875.  Charles wed in 1830 to Goldsmith's daughter Caroline.  A brick home in the Federal style was built by Goldsmith for the couple and still stands at 9647 Mentor Avenue.

Opportunity presented itself in 1833 in Cleveland.  Heard became a journeymen for Sherlock J. Anderson and in time a father of eight.  Heard was commissioned to build the Giddings House on Public Square at Ontario Street.  The home was in the Greek Revival style.  1849 saw Heard build a Gothic style home for Henry B. Payne on Euclid Avenue.  Heard partnered with Simeon C. Porter and their firm built the three downtown churches that once stood on Public Square. Two were Gothic in design, the other Romanesque.  St. Paul's, Second Presbyterian and the Old Stone Church were their names.  One remains today- the Old Stone Church.  The Hinman Barrett Hurlbut estate was another Euclid Avenue mansion designed by Heard.

Heard assisted in the construction of the Lake Erie Female Seminary in Painesville (Lake Erie College) and laid the cornerstone in 1857.  Heard and new partner Walter Blythe completed Lake County's St. James Episcopal Church in 1866.  The St. Clair Street School followed. Next came the Eagle Street School and the Jennings Place on Casement Avenue in Painesville.

Now at the age of 66, Heard concluded his storied career with three final efforts.  They were the Euclid Avenue Opera House (1875), Ohio Building (1875), and Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, completed just before his passing in 1876.

Source- Elizabeth G. Hitchcock 1967 article for the Historical Society Quarterly

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Western Reserve and Mentor Township

September 14, 1786 was the date that brought about an end to a land claim debate that had begun as early as 1776 and festered into 1781.  At the heart of the dispute lay Connecticut's claim to a tract of land that became known as the Western Reserve.  The Western Reserve now awaited the emigration of New Englanders.  Early Lake County history was in the making.  Moses Cleaveland came west by 1796.  Long established Indian lands were purchased at little cost and by 1805 their territories lost to the annals of history.  The Indian stories are left for another day.  Mentor Township's early pioneers were soon to arrive.

1796 marked the arrival of John Milton Holley who surveyed what in time would become the Mentor Township.  In 1797 Charles Parker settled near Lake Shore and Hopkins Road in what was known as the Marsh Settlement.  Ebenezer Merry arrived that same year and located nearby in the Headlands area..  Tract 14 near Corduroy Road was given to Caleb Atwater, Oliver Phelps and Gideon Granger in 1803.  Other families to arrive in that same era were  Jesse Phelps, Jared Ward and Moses Park.  By 1810 the Mentor Marsh settlement was growing.  Other early settlers to arrive were John Miller, Jonathan Russell, Clark Parker, Joseph Sawyer, Warren Corning and the Hopkins Brothers.  Ben and Daniel Hopkins bought nearly 500 acres and their lake shore acreage was known as Hopkins Point.  J. Rider's Tavern became a stagecoach stop, soon thereafter making the area a viable hub of the time.  Pioneer John Walworth of Painesville had Mentor Township claims.

Mentor Township was organized in 1815.  Grandison Newell arrived in the township in 1819.  Newell and Chester Hart purchased the 'Farm' and began manufacturing plows.  A saw mill and chair factory followed.  Capitalism was underway in earnest.  Newell achieved even more notariety for his battles with the Mormons and for 'blacklisting' Joseph Smith.  The Munson Family arrived in 1820 via covered wagons.

Munson and Hopkins are two street names known by any Mentor motorist.  Parker is another name steeped in Mentor history.  The Corning House still stands.  Newell, the 'Mormon Persecutor' is also well known in county history.  It seems that Mentor Township, 1815 is a county shoreline that runs through time and history.

Source-  June 4, 1975 bicentennial speech by Harry F. Lupold.

Monday, July 29, 2013

New Market, Ohio 1806-1809

Located at the corner of what is now known as Skinner Avenue and North State Street, on the east side of the Grand River was our first settlement.  It was known as Tract 4 of the Western Reserve and soon became  New Market.  Purchased by Revolutionary Soldiers, Capt. Abraham Skinner and Col. Eleazer Paine, the 3200 plus acres embraced the current villages of Fairport Harbor, Grand River and NW Painesville.  Laid out in 1803 on the former site of an old Indian Village formerly referred to as NEMAW WETAW.

Paine died just months after arriving.  Capt. Skinner and John Walworth, whose cabin was to the northeast of New Market were the earliest residents in our future county.  New Market was part of Trumball County  until March 1806 when Geauga County became the seat of government and New Market its epicenter.  Court sessions were held in Skinner's barn.  Deliberations were held in the nearby woods.  A jail was soon constructed and court moved into the log structure's second story.  Growth was inevitable.  Three warehouses, two stores, a tavern, distillery, and residences marked New Market's zenith.  A hollow tree even served as the official mailstop for postman McIllvaine.  By 1804 a school was formed at the Walworth homestead and Abram Tappan served as schoolmaster.

Gen. Edward Paine's home to the North became a key to the future.  In 1807 a bridge spanned the Grand River and settlement migrated to Oak Openings (Painesville).  New Market declined in importance and in time served as a footnote in history but for three years the initial pioneers efforts encouraged future land purchasers to consider this hub of the Western Reserve.

Source- The Historical Society Quarterly, Fall 1959