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

Monday, July 22, 2013

LCHS -- Seventy-five and Counting

The year was 1938.  The man was Laurence H. Norton.  Norton's idea was to create a Lake County chapter of the Western Reserve Historical Society in order to preserve the James A. Garfield presidential homestead.  Joined by a group of Lake County citizens, Norton founded the Lake County Historical Society that same year.  The Garfield home, donated in 1936 to the Western Reserve Historical Society had been in state of disrepair and lacking in local management.  Both concerns were now remedied.  The home had a caretaker, public viewing was now a reality, and a future vision was taking shape.  Dr. Eric Cardinal assumed the leadership mantel in the early years.  An 1813 pioneer cabin was moved onto the property and the collection of important county papers and archives was undertaken.  1953 saw the LCHS become autonomous and the society remained on the Garfield estate until 1983 when the National Park Service assumed operations of the presidential property.

From 1983-2008 Shadybrook became the home of the LCHS.  Shadybrook is located in Kirtland Hills on the Mentor border and was the name of the summer century home of Arthur D. Baldwin.  The property is owned by the Holden Arboretum.  The log cabin was relocated.  Native American exhibits and Pioneer School became signature programs for the society.  The Little Mountain Folk Festival had a long run on the site.  Historical research and archival collecting remained a key mission.

A final move became necessary by late 2007 as the space at Shadybrook proved to be insufficient for the ever expanding collection.  Coupled with only well water and fire prevention strains, a move to the former County Home was arranged.  The County Home, built in 1876, was being used by Painesville Township and the  Riverside Local School District.  A sale was arranged and the 30,000 sq. foot home became the new LCHS home in January 2008.  Interior improvements have been made, new exhibits created, old exhibits moved and reassembled and a new legacy is unfolding.  The research library continues to gather and share history with the public.  With public assistance, the LCHS has attained sustainability.  Lake County's past history is being preserved for future generations.

The Lake County Historical Society is located at 415 Riverside Drive in Painesville Township.  Open to the public, they are a member of the Historic Lake County Alliance.  For information - call 440-639-2945 or visit

Monday, July 15, 2013

Perry Village Celebrating 100 Years

Perry Village's Lee Lydic Park will be the site of a 100th birthday celebration on July 21, 2013.  While family activities, fun and food for all are on the schedule, Perry's place in Lake County is also of note.  Perry Village is part of the three Perry's; Perry Village, Perry Township and North Perry Village.  A two mile square portion of the village in close proximity to the railroads of the day allowed a business and trade area to develop.  The year was 1913 and this downtown area became known officially as the "Village of Perry".  "Preserving the Sands of Time" since 1992 is the Perry Historical Society.  The Perry Historical Museum occupies the former Old Town Hall located on the corner of Center and Main Street.  The Historical Society workroom is at 4261 Manchester Street at the village school.  While Sunday's activities begin at 2pm, one can visit the historical society museum on weekends and experience the still evolving history of this community.  A visit to the society website or a call (440-259-4541) is all it takes.

Some Perry Trivia-
  • An Ohio Historical Marker honors Hugh Mosher.  Born in Perry, Mosher was the fifer portrayed in the famous painting of the "Spirit of '76".
  • Perry took its name from Commodore O.H. Perry after his famous naval victory in September 1813 on Lake Erie.
  • Perry had its own inter-urban stop in the 20th century.
  • Watchmen stopped vehicle traffic at the Main Street Railroad Crossing.
  • An early school - Schoolhouse # 9 was located on Lane Road.
  • The Perry Consolidated Schools was located on Narrows Road.
  • Paul and Dick Thompson were part of the Champion Nursery Horse Team.
  • Martin's Nursery has been in Perry since 1934.  It is still family owned and operated.
  • Perry's location along the shorelines of Lake Erie has made it an ideal location for vineyards and the nursery business over the past two centuries (see nursery blog featured previously).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Short Story of Wickliffe

Wickliffe remains unique among most suburban cities in that it still lives up to the old and original definition of a city -- an incorporation that can house its residents, provide employment opportunities, and fulfill the needs of its citizens.  Wickliffe, like  many older communities of Lake County has a history dating back to Native American Indian Tribes, early pioneers, and notable industrialists.  Here is an abridged story of the history and people who built the city of Wickliffe.

The William Jones family left Haddam, Connecticut in 1817 in two covered wagons.  Their destination was the Cleveland Public Square area.  The land proved not suitable to their needs and they relocated to land located on a knoll just west of the current Lloyd Road and Euclid Avenue.  The Jones family was accompanied by the Tarbells and built a log cabin near the old village hall (Saylor's Bicycle Shop).  By 1820, a second home was built on what is now Euclid Avenue.  In a short time other notable community names arrived - the Whites, Merrills, Arnolds, Moshers, Taylors, Eddys, Lloyds, and Fullers.  Lloyd's Tavern built in 1820 sat just across from Wickliffe JHS/MS until 1949.  Taylor's house, 'Redwood' was built in 1844 and survived until the Euclid Avenue Drive-In Theater was built.  The city name is open to some debate.  Some claim the Wick House, others credit the name to Charles A. Wickliffe, Postmaster during President Tyler's years.  Mr. Walker opened the first grocery store on Depot Street (E. 289th) and Euclid Avenue.  Mr. Rush soon bought the store and it was associated with the interurban era.

The 1890's saw Wickliffe become summer homes to Cleveland's Gilded Age Families.  Frank Rockefeller had his estate on the site of the current high school.  Price McKinney claimed the current Borromeo Seminary site.  James Corrigan built his home on Ridge Road (Pine Ridge CC).  'Nutwood' was owned by N.K. Devereux (near Telshe Yeshiva site).  Perhaps the most lasting and iconic estate belonged to the Czar of the Great Lakes - Harry Coulby.  His estate now serves as the city hall complex.  Built in 1913 at a cost of over one million dollars, it is a site worth visiting.  Next to Coulby's mansion was the Frank L. White Farm (E.290th).  F.B. Squire called Wickliffe home.

A look back at Wickliffe reveals a New England atmosphere early on.  Around 1893, Germans moved to the Worden Road area.  1895 saw Italians move into the community and vineyards dotted Lloyd Road and Grand Blvd.  The 'Kansas' Crowd arrived and worked at Cleveland Crane and Engineering(circa 1901).  Wickliffe was incorporated in April,1916.  By the 1920's African-Americans settled in the community.  Wickliffe had become an amalgam of America.

Wickliffe today remains much the same as it was a century ago.  A fine industrial belt is located between Euclid Avenue and the Lakeland Freeway.  The large farms and country farms have passed into history, replaced by the community residences originally envisioned by the Western Reserve and Connecticut Land Company settlers from the early 19th century.

Source:  Historical Society Quarterly, November 1966

Monday, July 1, 2013

'Chautauqua' -- When Ohio was the Western Frontier

'Chautauqua' had its origins in 1874 and was a popular education movement that garnered steam by the 1920s'.  Founded on Chautauqua Lake in New York, it was designed for entire families and featured speakers, music, and other unique programming.  Its popularity soon spread and has remained to this day.  Experience history at its finest July 2-6, 2013 when Ohio Chautauqua settles at Stanton Park in Madison Twp.  For five days family activities will fill the day and it is all free for the taking.  The theme is 'When Ohio was the Western Frontier'.  Daytime workshops will be followed by music at 6:30pm and evening performances starting at 7:30pm

As you take a step back in time, you will come face to face with Ohio history.  A scholar in costume and character will recreate the unmatched history that wandered our county roads and by-ways.  Naturalist and folk hero Johnny Appleseed, Iroquois leader Chief John Logan,  and Lewis and Clark member York are featured this week.  Frontier Aristocrat Margaret Blennerhasset will be on hand to share her most interesting story.  Her journey from England to America was noteworthy alone.  Seems her alliance with Aaron Burr caused another ripple in time.  The last first person performer is especially important in 2013 as it is the 200th anniversary of his signature event on Lake Erie.  History knows him as Oliver Hazard Perry.  Lake County recalls him well as Perry and Fairport Harbor's Historical societies can attest.

For more information, call  -  800-293-9774   or visit -