Monday, February 25, 2013

Lake County before Lake County - Part II A Brief Chronology since 1840

Lake County has a remarkable history.  As mentioned previously, it is Ohio's smallest county yet it witnessed the most history.  From early Native American tribes to the first settlers of the Western Reserve, our county has been at the forefront of early American history.  While the last blog examined Lake County before it became Lake County, this entry will highlight some of our county's history since its formation in 1840.

  • 1840-  Formation of Lake County, construction of Court House by public subscription.
  • 1841-  Death of General Edward Paine.
  • 1842-  Establishment of Genung Foundry in Madison.
  • 1845-  Madison Academy formed at Genung Corners, Madison. Fairport, Warren and Wellsville Stage Route instituted.
  • 1847-  Willoughby Female Seminary founded.
  • 1850-  Griffith Disaster off Willobeach Park.
  • 1852-  Coe&Wilkes founded in Painesville.
  • 1853-  Hadfield-Penfield Co. founded in Willoughby.
  • 1854-  Storrs & Harrison Nursery established in Painesville.
  • 1855-  Mentor incorporated.
  • 1857-  Painesville Fire destroys south side business blocks.
  • 1859-  Willoughby Collegiate Institute formed.
  • 1861-  Abraham Lincoln delivers speeches at depots in Willoughby, Mentor and Painesville.
  • 1865-  Painesville Library Association formed.
  • 1867-  Madison incorporated.  Cole Nursery founded.
  • 1870-  Madison Star published.
  • 1871-  Willoughby Library Society formed.
  • 1877-  Call Nursery established in Perry.
  • 1879-  Willoughby Independent begins dailies.
  • 1880-  James A. Garfield elected President.
  • 1881-  Garfield assassinated.
  • 1885-  Painesville Water Works installed.
  • 1888-  Richmond incorporated.
  • 1898-  Lake Erie Female Seminary chartered as a college.
  • 1902-  Painesville achieves city designation.
  • 1907-  New Court House built in downtown Painesville.
  • 1909-  Andrews School is formed.
  • 1912-  Diamond Alkali opens in Fairport.
  • 1912-  Mentor Fairgrounds opens.
  • 1913-  Incorporation of Perry.
  • 1914-  Incorporation of Wickliffe.
  • 1922-  Willoughby incorporated.
  • 1924-  North Perry incorporated.  
  • 1925-  Chagrin Reservation of Metropolitan Park system of Cleveland established.
  • 1926-  Incorporation of Kirtland Hills.
  • 1928-  Incorporation of Waite Hill Village.
  • 1929-  Lakeline Village incorporated.
The chronological listings above are very incomplete and serve as only a partial listing of some of the significant events in our county history.  Previous blogs have delved into the histories of the Halle Farm, Rockefeller and Coulby Estates in Wickliffe, Willoughby Medical College, UGRR sites, and the Mormon sites in Kirtland et al.  Individual detailed histories of county figures such as Thomas Harvey, Jonathon Goldsmith, 'Gramma G', Eber Howe, Dr. Amy Kaukonen, General Jack and Mrs. Frances Casement have been shared.  Sources for this topic and many others are gleaned from the archival libraries of the Fairport Harbor Historical Society and local history books.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lake County before Lake County - A Brief Chronology of Dates 1750-1840

Lake County is Ohio's smallest county with the most history.  Here are some notable dates from the early years.

  • 1750-  Charlton, French Trading Post, built at mouth of Chagrin River.
  • 1760-  Major Robert Rogers driven by storm enters mouth of Grand River.
  • 1796-  Moses Cleaveland surveys Western Reserve.
  • 1797-  Marsh settlement established by Charles Parker
  • 1798-  Settlement of Unionville by Col. Alexander Harper.  Settlement on Chagrin River by David Abbott.
  • 1800-  Settlement by J. Walworth and E. Paine on Grand River. First Grist Mill built by Abbott on Chagrin River.
  • 1801-  Blooming Grove (Walworth), Marsh Settlement, and Paine Settlement celebrate first Independents Day.
  • 1802- LeRoy settled by Col. Amassa Clapp.
  • 1803-  Town of New Market laid out by Capt. Abraham Skinner and Col. Eleazer Paine.  First mail route through county established.  Grist Mill built by Paine at Tiber Creek.
  • 1804-  First school, Abraham Tappen teacher
  • 1805-  Old Tavern built at Unionville by Spencer Shears.  Samuel Huntington purchases Blooming Grove from Walworth.
  • 1806-  First Tannery built in Champion.  first bridge built over Grand River at New Market.
  • 1807-  First wool mill established in Champion.
  • 1808-  First mill built in Champion.  Dr. John Mathews is the first physician in the county.  Settlement of Perry by Ezra Beebe.
  • 1809-  Chapintown (Madison) settled.
  • 1810-  Congregational Church in Painesville is organized.
  • 1811-  County seat is moved from Painesville to Chardon.
  • 1812-  Grandon (Fairport) is laid out at the mouth of the Grand River.  Log Cabin built by Joseph Rider.
  • 1815-  Formation of Mentor, Perry and Chagrin Townships.
  • 1817-  Settlement of Wickliffe.
  • 1818-  Rider Tavern erected on primary stagecoach path of the Reserve.
  • 1819-  Mentor Library Association formed.  Avery Place built by J. Goldsmith and L. Storrs.
  • 1821-  The Marshall and Seeley homes were built in Painesville by J. Goldsmith.
  • 1823-  Eber Howe establishes The Painesville Telegraph.
  • 1825-  Fairport Lighthouse is built by J. Goldsmith.  Arcola, Geauga and Railroad Furnances founded.
  • 1828-  First steamboat built at Madison Dock.
  • 1829-  Doctor Mathews home built by J. Goldsmith.
  • 1832-  Settlement of Richmond (Grand River) by Thomas Richmond of NY. Arrival of Mormons in Kirtland.  Painesville incorporated as a town.
  • 1834-  Willoughby Medical College founded.  Mormon Temple in Kirtland completed.
  • 1835-  Painesville-Fairport Railroad built by Goldsmith.
  • 1836-  Grandon is incorporated and is named Fairport.
  • 1837-  Mormons depart from Kirtland.
  • 1839-  Western Reserve Teachers Seminary established at site of Kirtland Temple.

Information gleaned from library files of the  Fairport Harbor Historical Society and Lake County Historical Society (Garfield Home).

Monday, February 11, 2013

MHYC - A Retrospect

Organized in July 1928 the evolution of one of Lake Erie's premier yacht clubs is just another hidden gem in the history of Lake County.  Nestled in on Coronada Drive in Mentor-on-the-Lake, the history of the Mentor Harbor Yacht Club is long and detailed.  From its inception in 1928 the MHYC survived the Crash of 29, another eight Depression Era years, then the lean war years and finally like the phoenix morphed into its current form.

 The Early Years -  The Marsh and natural harbor areas were home to Native American tribes in the early part of history.  The discovery of bog iron in the late eighteenth century led to a timbered road and vision of commercialization.  This Headlands West road to the Herrick Farm even included an incomplete highway bridge, whose remnants are still known to area residents.  By the early 19th century the marsh and harbor began to assume some of its current appearance.  An ill-fated attempt to establish a railroad line and marsh based harbor link fell victim to legal wrangling.  This period of history of Richmond and Grand River has been documented in Local Lore previously.

The 1920s -  While the harbor area failed to achieve any profitable business gains, a new vision was ushered in.  The 1920s had offered a glimpse of a Venice-like harbor community in Florida.  This idea was promoted locally and a movement was undertaken.  S. Livingston Mather, James Murphy, Donald McBride, E. Nash Matthews and Roy S. Dunham were the early visionaries.  In time Chester A. Bolton, Edward B. Greene, Louise S. Ingalls, H.H. Timken, E.J.Johnson, Samuel Mather and F.A. Pease came on board. While location is everything, their timing was another thing.  Events in history and economic uncertainities caused their project to stall out.  By 1934 liens against the development and properties were in effect.  In 1935 the harbor and boating club had only 200 members and 90 boats on record.  The year 1936 proved to be a turning point and a phoenix-like effect blew over the shores.  The MHYC swelled to 140 boats.  Within eight years harbor improvements were made.  A crane was added and survived until 2001.  The MHYC was viable and growth inevitable.

An Era of Growth -  The post war years saw continued growth in both club membership and harbor improvements.  The decades from 1960-80 saw much expansion.  A clubhouse, pool, porch, additional out buildings, and t-docks were added.  The 1990s saw bulkhead improvements, lighting, and a gas dock building come to be.  A picnic pavilion and east beach improvements followed.  Today the MHYC not only celebrates its past history but invites county residents to join and participate in a family oriented boating community.  Eighty-five years may have passed since  S. Livingston Mather envisioned a harbor community development, but it has like the phoenix survived the ravages of its early history to be firmly in place in 2013.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Urban Ghosts - The Lost Airfields of NE Ohio

Our last blog examined the history of aviator Cook Cleland and the Willoughby Airport.  Three other airports have been lost to time and their story is presented today.  They are Martin Factory Airfield, Casement Airport, and Chardon Airfield.

            Martin Factory Airfield / Great Lakes Aircraft Company Airfield

Originally situated in the Nottingham Road corridor of Euclid and Collinwood, the airfield first appears in 1918.  Glenn L. Martin was the founder.  The earliest known photo dates back to 1921.  Martin sold his manufacturing based airfield to Detroit Aircraft in 1928.  Now known as The Great Lakes Aircraft Company Airfield, production of TG1 naval torpedo bombers and Sport Trainers (1929) became the staple of its early years.  The Great Depression affected sales and the airfield fell victim to permanent closure by 1936.

                                           Casement Airport - Painesville, Ohio

As of 2010 a road intersects near Mantle Road and Rt. 2 on the site where t-hangers once stood marking this urban ghost.  Casement Airport began circa 1960-62 under the ownership of R.W. Sidley.  Mention of flight lessons on the Sidley Farm were recorded as early as 1963.  The Readers Digest published an article about Larry Wilson and his Cessna 172 ferrying passengers from Casement Airport to Cleveland Hopkins.  Its early hey-day gave way to some lost history as the era of 1968-70 and beyond offer sketchy mention of the site.  A 1972 flight guide did show various states of its 2 runways and hangers.  Casement airport was mentioned again in 1982 in local aviation records but it appears the airfield diminished in use and importance in the ensuing years.  Casement officially closed in 2000.

                                                          Chardon Airfield

Today Chardon Airfield is still visible on the northwest corner of Rt. 322 & Rt. 44.  Closed somewhere between 1987-94, its history is sketchy at best in many ways.  The Chardon Airfield's birth is uncertain.  History suggests 1943 but 1949 is also bantered about.  What is known is that its original site was not the current field which became operational in 1952.  The current field had three grass runways and four buildings.  In the 1950s and 60s the Ohio National Guard based their L-19s there.  Walter Best, who quarried land nearby was the private owner.  In time Bill Meyer took over and Richard Gilmore, flight instructor/mechanic was the last known owner operator.  In 1982 Geauga Air Service ran glider operations from the site.  Chardon Airfield closed its doors sometime after 1987.

information gleaned from