Monday, December 21, 2015

C 2015 ...Tis' The Season

Did you know...
  • Aluminum trees were first introduced in 1959.  Well received at first, aluminum trees almost fell out of favor entirely in 1965 when Linus and Charlie Brown chose a real tree during their beloved Christmas Special premiere.
  • Serious tree decorating began in 1846 when Queen Victoria trimmed a royal tree for her palace.
  • Elf on the Shelf, as legend has it is a special scout elf sent from the North Pole to help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists.  Once adopted and given a name, the elf receives its Christmas Magic and can visit Santa nightly at the North Pole to share the day's adventures.
  • A Book on Every Bed is a relatively modern tradition first introduced during an interview with historian David McCullough.  This Pulitzer Prize-winner suggested the giving of a book each year at Christmas- let your child or loved one wake up with a gift that will far outlast any toy.  Just an FYI, my wife got her book early this year - Jane Austen Christmas Letters.
Wishing my readers a...
Buon Natale              Joyeux Noel               
                                                         Merry Christmas             Feliz Navidad               
           Vesel Bozic    Kellemes karacsonyi unnepeket
                                                                         Hyvaa joulua    Vesele Vianoce    
            Frohe Weihnacthen   and to the many county languages and ethnicities I missed...

             'Wishing you a joyous holiday season and hope that 2016 will be your best year ever.'

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Get 'Grinched' Again and more this Yuletide Season

December is a perfect time to start family traditions or continue making memories.  Yes the 'hustle' and 'bustle' of the shopping season is once again upon us.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday have yielded to daily senses of holiday urgencies. Nonetheless there are many local events that can serve to reduce your stress and allow for a few hours of simple, calm holiday nostalgia.  Here is but a sampling of some of my enduring favorites as well as some new possibilities.  Enjoy the season...

December 3 -- 46th Annual Holiday Lighting Celebration in Willoughby
Downtown Willoughby is the site of this annual evening where merchants, citizens and even Santa officially welcome this most special time of the year.

December 3-- Chardon Square Christmas Lighting
Tonight is a special night on the square that once served as our county seat.  Hot Apple Cider, visits by Santa and Mrs. Clau and more await those who attend.

December 4-19-- The Tannenbaum Wine Trail Begins
Grand River Cellars serves as the epicenter for this anticipated trek.  Lunch with Santa is held December 5th.  Crafts, Corks and Christmas is featured on December 6th.  If wineries are your passion, a two week trek across Lake County will allow you to sample some of our areas best!

December 5-- Harbor Holidays and a Grinch visit to the Lighthouse
Two dozen Fairport Harbor businesses participate in a village wide event that offers ethnic foods, arts, crafts, shopping and more.  From 11am-4pm the 'Grinch' is on the loose throughout the village stealing giftsfo r all to witness.  He and his companion dog Max even visit the local library to autograph his classic Dr. Suess book at noon.  That evening the Grinch recites the beloved story from atop the 1825-1925 Lighthouse Tower.  Visits with Santa, trolley rides and snacks follow the reading at the park.

December 6-- Mrs. Claus Returns to Chesterland
From noon to 3pm Mrs. Claus will sit in her rocking chair at the historic 1899 Thayer General Store.  Kids may write their letters to Santa and rest assured they will be delivered back to the North Pole.

December 11-- "Sing Noel" Madison Chorale's Christmas Concert
This event is hosted by the Trinity Luthern Church in Madison and is a well-kept secret worth a visit. 

December 21-- Winter Solstice Candlelight Walk
Celebrate the longest night of the year that features a walk and lesson on the Roman, Viking, Druid and other ancient traditions associated with the day-night.  This event is held through the Geauga Park District (440-286-9516)

Thru January 3-- Historic Kirtland Nativity Exhibit
Over 500 nativity scenes await visitors at this free event in Kirtland.  This not to be missed experiences shares scenes from all over the world and is ranked as one of the U.S.'s best holiday tours.

Thru  December 20 -- Scrooge the Musical
Dickens classic novel A Christmas Carol is the inspiration for this production.  ticket information and performance times are available by contacting the Fine Arts Association located adjacent to Andrews-Osborne Academy in Willoughby.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

USCG 1915-2015 and Station Fairport

As the nation's oldest maritime agency the United States Coast Guard history is one of multiple origins.  While 2015 is the centennial year of the USCG the history of the service is an amalgam of many Federal agencies dating back to 1787.  These agencies, the Revenue Cutter Service, the Lighthouse Service, the Steamboat Inspection Service, the Bureau of Navigation, the Lifesaving Service, and in recent years Homeland Security were independent and overlapping organizations that today fall under the united USCG umbrella.

August 4, 1790 marks the first day of service for 'first' U.S. maritime organization.  President George Washington realizing that income was necessary for our new nation signed a Tariff Act.  This act authorized construction of ten vessels whose primary duty would be to patrol the eastern seaboard and levy trade taxes.  Preventing smuggling and assisting vessels in distress became two additional missions.  Growth continued over the ensuing decades as our nation grew.  In 1876 a bustling Lake Erie shipping industry created a regional need.  Fairport was granted a station.  George Francis Babcock, a local resident assumed charge of Station Fairport on September 26, 1876 and remained at his post till his death in 1898.  Niels Rasmussen another local Fairporter assumed charge of the station on February 17, 1899 and was still there at its end in 1915.  The original station was situated on the east bank of the Grand River just below the hill of the local lighthouse-1825-1925.  It was moved by Babcock to combat shoreline congestion in late 1800s to the west bank of the river.  The station remained intact with some modifications for nearly one hundred years until a completed remodel /  renovation on August 15, 2014 ushered in a new era of local USCG history.

1915 saw an Act of Congress merge the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service.  Remember prior to the establishment of the Navy Department in 1798, this organization was our nation's only armed force afloat.  1939 saw another major change occur as President Franklin Roosevelt transferred the organization to the charge of the USCG.  This change became permanent in 1946 when Congress transferred several offices into this final umbrella.  Homeland Security became the most recent task added to the history of the USLSS-USCG after 9/11.

From the earliest volunteer groups that spearheaded the first maritime organizations to the early professional pioneers such as Fairport's Francis Babcock and Niels Rasmussen these agencies of service have a history and tradition unsurpassed in the annals of our nation.  These stories, artifacts and more may be viewed at the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum - maintained by The Fairport Harbor Historical Society since 1945.

source:  USCG website, USLSS article by Dr. Dennis L. Noble, archives Fairport Harbor Historical Society

Monday, October 19, 2015

Haunted Ohio - Lake County Trivia

             Test your Ghostly I.Q. with these ten Wayward Spirit teasers…

1.  This 1890s site is situated on 525 acres and was known then as the River Farm Estate.  Rumors persist to this day of this haunted lady . Do you know the name of this uncompleted site?

2.  What is the name of the veiled lady of Kirtland’s Historic North Cemetery?

3.  Can you name any of the six haunted buildings on this Lake County college campus?

4.  What is the name of the young boy who haunts Fairport’s sentinel?

5.  Whose name appears on the solitary gravesite located on Hart Road?

6.  In 1943 owner Don Norris fell to his death from a third story floor - Name the haunted hardware store that is listed at #10 in the book Haunted Ohio.

7.  Although not specific to our county or state, what is the common name of this Ohio Cryptid?

8.  Spirits are said to frequent this 1870 Victorian Home in Painesville that once belonged to a Civil War General who married a founding member of the suffrage movement.  Name the home!

9.  This First Lady is said to haunt the upstairs of their NHS home.  Can you name her?

10.  The haunting tale led to the demise of this Medical College in Willoughby in the mid-1840s.  What future Ohio medical institutions rose from this tragic tale?

Bonus:  This 1847 Ohio Cottage is said to be haunted.  Name the community or street location of this multi-use historic facility?

answers-  1.  Squires Castle  2.  Hattie Martindale  3.  Morley, Kilcawley, Andrews, College Hall, Fine Arts, Fowler  4.  Robbie Babcock  5.  Levi Smith  6.  Willoughby Coal   7.  Melonheads  8.  Casement Home  9.  Lucretia Garfield  10.  WRU and OSU    bonus - Madison / Middle Ridge

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Fairport Harbor to host Remembrance for the 40th Anniversary of Edmund Fitzgerald Disaster

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes 'workhorse' freighter that sank in a Lake Superior on November 10, 1975.  Lost that fateful night were Captain Ernest McSorley and his crew of 29.  Launched in June of '58, the Fitzgerald spent her seventeen years carrying taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota to iron works in Detroit, Toledo and other nearby ports.  'Workhorse' was a term often used to describe the Fitz as she set seasonal haul records six times in her storied career.

Captain McSorley and his crew, including Fairport Harbor's Ed Binden left one last time on the afternoon of November 9th.  En route to Detroit the freighter and a second freighter the SS Arthur M. Anderson were caught in a sudden and severe winter storm on Lake Superior.  Hurricane force winds and waves up to 35 feet high caused its sudden sinking at 7:10pm in Canadian waters on November 10th.  They were less than two hours from a safe harbor.  At no time was a report of distress or imminent danger reported.  This maritime disaster led to major regulatory changes and practices that included survival suits, depth finders, positioning systems, freeboard increases and more.

Fairport Harbor, Ohio was and remains home to two crew members of the Fitzgerald.  Ed Binden died that fateful eve.  J. William Simko a member on the first crew lives today and recounts the service he and others performed on the mighty Edmund Fitzgerald.

A Tribute and Remembrance Ceremony will be hosted by the Fairport Harbor Historical Society on Monday, November 9, 2015 at 7pm.  The program will be held at the VFW Post 7754 site at 540 New Street in Fairport Harbor.  All are welcome.
Evening's Schedule:
7pm -  "Pride of the American Side: Edmund Fitzgerald Before the Loss" - Chris Gillchrist, The Great Lakes Historical Society will be presenting.
7:45pm - Bill Simko, a member of the first Fitzgerald crew will offer his personal accounts of life aboard the mighty Great Lakes freighter.
8:15pm - Remembrance Ceremony for the '29' -  USCG-Station Fairport

Visit -

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Casement House Highlights Remarkable Lake County Tour Part II

The arrival of Charles Clement Jennings in 1840 began a long and storied history in Lake County.  Arriving the same year as the formation of our county, Jennings purchased 300 acres of timeberland from Colonel Storres of the Connecticut Land Company.  From this modest start the Jennings Farm would become one of the county's most unique histories.

As the years progressed his family grew.  Jennings decided to build a home as a gift for his daughter Frances' wedding in 1868.  Three years and $75,000 later the Casement House was dedicated in 1870 to Frances and her husband Civil War General Jack S. Casement.  It was a Victorian styled home with a unique partitioned floor plan that made all three floors identical in size and structure.  Murals, ornate ceilings as well as heat and light systems were installed.  Even a air conditioning system was made possible.  The work of many skilled men of the day made this a truly impressive estate.  Peter Shelby and Charles W. Heard were the two leading builders / designers.  The home remained in the family thru 1953.  Robert W. Sidley became only the fourth owner of the home and it remains today in his family and is used as a corporate headquarters for his business.  The 300 acres have been repurposed and the history of the property remains intact.  Visitors are welcomed at the Casement House and once there can learn the story of General Jack, Francis a foundling member of the suffrage movement and their famous guest Susan B. Anthony.

The story of the Casement House and a look at important heritage homes in Fairport Harbor, Madison and Unionville are part of a Lake Metroparks Bus Tour on October 13th.  Included on the tour are Ladd's Tavern, The Arcola House, The Huntington site and more.  Visit for tour information about many of the upcoming history events.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Aviatrix Margaret 'Marge' Hurlburt of Painesville

Last weekend's Cleveland Air Show garnered thousands upon thousands of visitors.  I'd bet only a handful at best wandered over to the aerospace museum on the airport property and took in a part of American history seldom told.  It is the history of women's aviation.  It is a history rich in Lake County roots.  Margaret Hurlburt was a graduate of Harvey High School (1942) and local educator at Champion JHS.  Her gold medal approved by Congress in 2009 can be viewed at the Women's Air & Space Museum at Cleveland's Burke Airport.  She is one of nearly 1074 Women's AirForce Service Pilots from WWII and her story is shared today.

'Marge' Hurlburt was recruited in 1942 by famed aviatrix Jackie Cochran to become a member of a pioneering core of women aviators serving the Air Force and General Hap Arnold.  As production of aircraft increased throughout WWII, the lack of male pilots stateside was an issue.  Cochran and Arnold aligned needs and the 'WASP' was formed.  These selected woman pilots would be trained and used to ferry completed aircraft to the military bases assigned.  Hurlburt whose training and licensing occurred at the Willoughby Air Field (current North High School) was now part of a 1074 member women's society who would affect history.  Hurlburt ferried planes, tested new models and towed targets during gunner training sessions throughout the war.  She flew B-24s, B-17s and logged more than 300 hours before the war's end.  In 1946 the WASP was disbanded but Margaret was only one of two females asked to stay on.  She became a valued instructor and key aviator guru.

The year 1946 saw her career take on a new phase as her skills with an AT 6 and the new Piper aircraft were in demand.  She became a fixture on the air circuit and participated in the 1946 Cleveland Air Races.  In 1947 she set a new flight speed record of 292.2 MPH besting her mentor Cochran for the title.  'Marge' was now a reknown barnstormer.  Tragically her career ended July 4 that same year at the Iowa Air Show as she crashed using a borrowed plane.  Her plane had been damaged earlier that week while teaching student pilots.  She was flown home to Painesville and was interned at Evergreen Cemetery.  The woman aviators achieved veteran's status in 1977 and living female aviators were honored with gold medals at a 2010 Congressional program.  Margaret 'Marge' Hurlburt is another member of America's greatest generation and WWII veteran who hailed from Ohio's smallest county but one with the most history!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Nostalgia: How long's that been around?

Never has that quote by Bill Bailey proved so true as in Lake County.  It is a common theme in all sorts of print media and life experienced by ‘boomers’ like myself.  The landscape of America has been steamrollered over by time.  Seven day a week newspapers, hard bound books, LP records, typewriters and more lost to the passing of time.  Despite the new ‘age’ and way of the world, much remains from our past and is visible to us if we only look.  One can simply drive the roadways and follow the Historic Markers in the county and learn / view so much.  Here are just a few of my favorite sites – ones that have been around for how long?

  • Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad Depot – First established in 1848, this depot saw three U.S. Presidents stop here before its closing in the 1970s.  Stop by and visit this museum in progress on Railroad Street in Painesville.
  • Pheasant Run Airport – Now a part of Lake Erie College, this airport located in Leroy Township is home to aviation history.  Over 33 vintage planes may be viewed at this operational airport.
  • Indian Port Fort – Remnants of this Native America fort date back to 1650 and are still visible in this Lake Metropark property located in Painesville.
  • Pleasant Valley Road Bridge – Dating back to 1881 this Whipple Truss structure found in Willoughby Hills was a main thoroughfare until 1952 and was know as the GAR – Grand Army of the Republic Roadway.
  • Rabbit Run Theater – One of the last remaining barn theaters in the U.S., its history began in 1946.  The theater is located in Madison.
  • Grand River Lighthouse in Fairport – From 1825-1925 this lighthouse was at the center of our county’s history.  One of the few lighthouses still open regularly to visitors with tower access welcomed.
  • An 1834 Medical College history, dental history collection and more await visitors to the Willoughby Welcome Center on Spaulding Street.
  • Lake County History Center- The current historical home of all things Lake County, this county poor house was built in 1876 replacing an earlier structure dating back to 1852.
  • Downtown Painesville – A walk on State Street will reveal a hardware and bakery business with histories dating back to the 1800s.
  • Coulby Mansion – Home to one of Cleveland’s famous millionaires from 1900, this Wickliffe site is often missed by the public.  Just walk inside City Hall and relive the Gilded Era of Cleveland.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Beginning this weekend and continuing into early October a Historic Lake County Treasures Tour is available to all.  This family friendly educational tour challenges participants to visit over 14 historic county markers and learn some important history of the area.  Participants who complete the tour are eligible for several grand prizes.  Tour maps may be obtained (two dollars) at the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse, Lake County History Center,  Downtown Willoughby Welcome Center or Outdoor Market during open hours.   More questions - call Barb at 440-639-2945 between 10am-2pm Tuesdays thru Saturdays at the LCHS.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Abridged History of Finn Hollow

As time marches on and cityscapes redefine former properties, it is important to record and remember the past.  Finn Hollow is one such example.  Located in Fairport Harbor, it is but one of many county properties with a story to share.  Today's blog comes from a 2002 book published by Elaine Lillback and an oral history as told by Lempi Johanna Sironen Juuti Tikka - born in 1889 and the oldest survivor of the original families from Finn Hollow.

The Finnish population moved west around the time of 1871 following the railroad constructions of the era.  Moving from Titusville, Pennsylvania they settled in Fairport around 1871 and in Chardon around 1872.  Pockets of Finnish immigrants also called Ashtabula Harbor, Girad and Burton home.  Fairport became an epicenter for the Finns as the village's location connected both the railroad and shipping industries.

Finn Hollow was a tract of land facing east and west on Third and High Streets in Fairport.  Examination of the original 1812 Grandon charter map (found in the Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum) indicates the lots occupied tracts 128-130 and 139-145.  Homes were constructed on these sites owned by the village ore industries and 50 workers called this area 'home'  Most were located adjacent to the ore dock superintendent's office.  The Lawrence store was one of the earliest businesses there.  The Tuuri Bakery and Hart Pinens-fish dealer also were located on that site.  The Somppi Boarding House was nearby and other businesses of note were Wolf Tobacco & Ice and Newman's Store.

The year 1896 changed much in Fairport as expansion needs of the shipping iron ore industry mandated that these original homes be moved.  Moved they were and spread throughout the village.  Many of the homes have been identified with marker status and continue today to recall an important past commercial history in Fairport Harbor as well as allow for preservation of local history for past, current and future generations.

A partial listing of the former original Finn Hollow family homes and their current village locations.
Cooper (Kupari) House is now at 211 Fifth St.
Hietamaki House is now at 344 Eagle St.
Lempi Home is now at 530 High Street
Nieminen House is now at 525 High St.
Walli Home is now at 616 Marine St.
Humppi House is now at 404 New 4th St.
Renttila's House is now at 425 Eagle St.

For a more detailed look at Finn Hollow, its history and the homes visitors should stop by the Finnish Heritage Museum on High Street.  The volunteer staff can share this story and many other significant stories on your visit.

Monday, July 27, 2015

History Hall Part V...John Henry Mathews

Our final installment of highlights from the Anthology on History Hall  (published July 2014) and Lake County, Ohio will examine a very prominent figure from our past.  John Henry Mathews may have been born in Hoosac, New York in 1785 but his arrival in Painesville, Ohio in 1808 and marriage to Martha Huntington, daughter of Governor Samuel Huntington and Grandon- Fairport landholder in 1813 were initial footnotes in county history.

Mathews was a physician by trade, having studied in New York.  His practice in Northern Ohio began around 1808 in Painesville.  His legacy was this.  He was believed to be the first physician to ever perform trephination, the making of a burr hole into the skull to relieve intracranial diseases.  This surgery on a ten year old boy led to a complete recovery and gained him world-wide acclaim internationally.

A less important decision made in 1829 cemented his legacy in our county history to this day.  He commissioned Jonathan Goldsmith, mentioned in an earlier part of this series to build him a home at 71 North State Street.  The Mathews home is generally acknowledged as one of Goldsmith's finest architectural builds.  This famous house was moved in the '50s to the campus of Lake Erie College.  John died in 1862 and his wife in 1866.  Both are buried at Painesville's Evergreen Cemetery. Their original home is now a campus office and listed on the national register as a NHS.  Both sites merit visits by any early American history lover.

This story and more than 100 others may be found in the book on History Hall.  Many of the notable Lake County pioneer families mentioned in the book have sites still in existence and accessible for viewing- a mere one tank trip!

source - article by Jan Bathhurst in the book History Hall...released July 2014

Monday, July 20, 2015

History Hall...Part IV - Jacob & Edward Prouty

" Mommy, why is our street named Prouty?"  Ever wonder how streets get their name?  The anthology of History Hall released last July can answer the question posed above.  For those living in Concord here is the history in a nutshell.

Jacob and Selima Prouty moved from their home in Spencer, Massachusetts or Simsbury, Connecticut in the early 1820's to Concord.  Genealogy records indicate the original spelling might have been Proutey, Proutee, Prout, le Proute or Prowty among others.  The Prouty name has roots back to Plymouth Colony circa 1670.  Jacob purchased parcels of land totaling in excess of 275 acres between 1824-1837.  Tax records in 1845 indicate the majority of acreage was land in the same area as the current roadway.  Edward Prouty was their son and his marriage to Betsey Woodruff ( of Lula Sawyer fame) alongwith tax records of 1870 indicate the family had attained prominent county status.  Jacob was a Trustee of Concord and an election judge.  Paul Bosley Sr., another prominent name in county history related stories of the Inter-urban Stop 68 being near the Sawyer House being within walking distance of their home and a gasoline station.

Jacob's son Edward was a farmer and public officer in his years.  His children were also prominent in their day.  Son Harry was a noted lawyer and other son Willis was a school director, trustee and supervisor in Concord.

The Prouty family plot is located in division 13 of Evergreen Cemetery in Painesville.  An obelisk marks the spot.  In Button Farm Cemetery at 10100 Hoose Road a family burial plot for their sons was still there in 1999.

source - History Hall...article by Marianne T. Wiley

Thursday, July 16, 2015

History Hall...Part III The Pioneer Master Builder

The anthology book 'History Hall of Lake County, Ohio Fairgrounds' was released last July.  Over 180 portraits, photos and illustrations trace an important era in our county's beginnings.  In Part III of this series, a brief retrospect of noted Western Reserve architect / builder Jonathan Goldsmith is highlighted.  Goldsmith was born in 1783 in Connecticut and began his career as an apprentice in the shoe and carpenter trades.  A marriage in 1808 tied to Abraham Skinner of New Market- Fairport-Painesville fame brought Goldsmith to Ohio.  His career was soon to take off.

Goldsmith was well-known in local architectural circles for his craftsmanship as a builder with an affinity for Greek revival homes and public buildings.  From 1819-1843 he built more than 59 homes and public edifices, many for prominent citizens of Painesville, Mentor, Willoughby and Cleveland. In Painesville, he is credited for the Dr. John Mathews' home now located on the Lake Erie College campus, The Morley House at 231 N. State Street, Eber Howe home at 205 Mentor Avenue. Uri Seeley House at 969 Riverside Drive, Fifield Tavern at 571 East Erie Street plus four others.  

Other Lake County builds include The Sawyer House on Mentor Avenue, The Corning-White House at 8353 Mentor Avenue and one Willoughby Home-The William P. Robinson residence now located at Hale Farm in Bath, Ohio.  Twelve other promiunent Painesville homes have been demolished over time.  These include the original 1825 Fairport Lighthouse (rebuilt in 1871), Painesville Academy, Bank of Geauga, The Mountain House and Painesville-Fairport RR.

Notable Cleveland builds included the Millionaire Row homes on Euclid Avenue of Judge Shelock Andrews, Williams Brothers, Peter Weddell's Cottage, Judge Samuel Cowles Mansion, Ashbel Walworth House and a half dozen more.  Sadly these estates have been demolished.

Goldsmith passed at age 64 in his home 'Ingleside' in Painesville.  Ingleside stood where the Painesville Fairgrounds now stands.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

'Deja Vu All Over Again' highlights Harbor Fest Weekend

Since 1825 and the opening of the Erie Canal, Lake Erie has become a significant part of maritime and early American history.  In fact both Madison and Fairport Harbor share common histories.  Both were leading ports in the 19th c.  Early pioneer families made their homes there, early industry had shoreline origins and over 52 sailing vessels were built in this eastern portion of Lake County.  The Madeline is a 92-foot tall ship that was built in Fairport in 1845.  Nearly her entire 30 year career was spent in Upper Michigan in a variety of commercially based transportation needs.  She may now call Traverse City, Michigan her home port as she travels the Great Lakes but this weekend she once again arrives in her port of origin as part of Harbor Fest 2015.  In fact if you have been monitoring her arrival 'live' on the Fairport Harbor Historical Society website she is nearly at her intended destination right now.  Make your destination this weekend - Fairport Harbor - N.E. Ohio's Best Kept Secret!

Here is the 'Rest of the Story'
When: Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12
Where: Osborne Dock, Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park

Saturday & Sunday, 10am to 4pm
  • Madeline Deck Tours - tickets available thru FHHS/Lighthouse Museum.
  • Maritime Singers & Storytellers - Hourly shows daily by Tom Kastle as well as The Hardtackers.
  • Refreshments by local vendors.
Saturday & Sunday, 10am to 6pm
  • Fairport Harbor Lighthouse & Marine Museum Tours - tickets available at museum
  • Sunday Art Show & Chinese Auction - noon to 7pm featuring noted N.E. Ohio maritime artist Bill Csatary and new for 2015 the matted county photos of local photographers Brian Fowler & Roxana Rojos
  • Free Concert on Sunday by the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight @ 5pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10am to 6pm
  • Sand Sculptor Carl Jara
  • Windsurf Simulator Demo by Wind Surf Ohio
  • Jasmine Dragons Acrobatic Demostration
  • Sand Castle Lessons with Doug Smith
  • Face Painting by Rocket Dust Design
  • Lake Metroparks Guarded Beach, Kayak and SUP demo & rentals

Monday, July 6, 2015

A History of History Hall Part II - The 'Rest of the Story'

1876 marked the United States centennial and celebrations were underway in all corners of the country.  Philadelphia held a world's exhibition and local communities held activities looking back at their own histories.  The early settlers of Lake County were no different.  Some had fought in the Revolution, others helped in the founding of the country, some settled the west and some were now the children and second generation residents of Lake County.

On September 20, 1876 a Pioneer Picnic was held at Alfred Morley's grove in Kirtland.  Well attended and offering recollections of the past, both oral and artifact curiosities - the picnic would become an annual event.  The picnic sites rotated to Perkins Camp in Concord and Capt. Burridge's grove in Mentor.  Attendance swelled to nearly five thousand.  In 1887 the picnic moved to the newly formed Lake County Fairgrounds on Bank Street in Painesville.  As mentioned in part I, an economic panic took place in 1893 and an ensuing depression a year later ended the era of the fair.  Pioneer Picnics continued but struggled as a central location failed to materialize and attendance bottomed out.  Also of note- the original pioneers were aging and by 1910 a final picnic was held in the park in Fairport.

While the Log Cabin was the main topic in part I of this series, it is interesting to mention that around 1910 the arrival of the summer estates and Cleveland Industrialists led to the rebirth of the Fairgrounds and all its history.  Some of the prominent names of this era of rebirth included William P. Murray of Murray Stock Farm, Henry A. Everett of Leo Doro Farm, Liberty Holden of Gold Horn Farm, Samuel Runner of Cherry Farm and James Corrigan of Nagirroc Farm.  These gentleman farmers desired a place to showcase their livestock and products.  Within a year or so and at a cost of $40,000 the 65 acres of land once belonging to Benaiah Jones and his son-in-law Jonathan Goldsmith became the new and current site of Lake County's Fairgrounds.

Part I highlights the building of the Log Cabin and its history.  Both part I and II are short synopses.  One may read the entire story of History Hall and the early pioneer families in the anthology that was released in July 2014.

source - article - A History of History Hall by Carl Thomas Engel

Monday, June 29, 2015

History Hall...A Biographical Anthology -- Part I

A paperback book was released on July 23, 2014.  Titled 'History Hall of Lake County, Ohio Fairgrounds A Biographical Anthology', it contains 180 portraits, photos and illustrations recounting an important era in our county's early history.  The Lake County Fair and Fairgrounds had its genesis in 1840, the same year as our county's formation.  Located on Bank Street it was an early epicenter for the area until 1894.  Hard times resulted in an eighteen year window of inactivity before a new site was chosen.  From 1912 until an opening witnessed by more than 28,000 visitors in 1915, the current 65 acres that comprise the Lake County Fairgrounds remains to this day a vital link to our past.  From Cleveland's Industrialist 'Gentlemen Farmers' who made Lake County their summer estates to the early pioneers who settled our region, the one constant is a log cabin, often overlooked - that is located on the fairgrounds property.

In 1913 the Pioneer Monumental Association was organized and charged with erecting a log cabin monument on the Fairgrounds property.  This cabin would be named History Hall and would pay tribute to the pioneers of Lake County and the Western Reserve.  On February 9, 1914 a site was chosen just west and south of the Goldsmith cottage on Mentor Avenue.  Logs were soon delivered from the lands and estates of our early pioneers.  The first log to arrive was drawn from the early pioneer Benjamin Blish Farm, then a part of the Old Orchard Farm.  Additional logs arrived from the Samuel Huntington lands in Fairport and Painesville Township. Other logs followed.  Isaac Annala was the master builder of the cabin.  He and his 11 Finnish house carpenters used over 200 logs to complete the project at a cost of about $3000.

The book - History Hall...recounts the stories of the names found in a small booklet published for the dedication of the memorial log cabin in 1914.  More than a century has passed and the cabin still stands as a tribute to the pioneers who founded our 43rd county.  The book is a must read and another hidden gem in our genealogical history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Small, but Not Insignificant

A visit to a museum or exhibit usually means viewing a targeted artifact or meaningful display.  Visitors may examine this piece of interest quite intently and may even read in detail any document or text associated with it.  Singular archival documents are often not as fortunate.  A singular or random archival document on display usually will illicit nothing more than a cursory glance or a big yawn from many visitors. These items are often overlooked in favor of the 'wow' item.  The museums and collections in Lake County are no exception.  Today we examine a sampling of significant archival items often overlooked or perhaps not known to most visitors at that site.

The Kirtland Temple -  An 1835 edition of the First Church Hymnal is on display.  Emma Hale Smith chose the hymns.  The original Finial was replaced in 1993.  Today the first vane and temple finial is on exhibit in the main visitor center.

Indian Museum - Petroglyphs highlight this downtown Willoughby museum.  A museum library includes over 1000 books and periodicals about Native America culture and its impact on our county.

Wickliffe Historical Society -  Housed in a room in the former Coulby Mansion and current City Hall, this collection includes attire, photos and more from Cleveland's Guilded Age.  Other featured displays are a replica painting of The Spirit of '76, Mayor Coulby's ship and artifacts from the First Fire Station.  Hours are limited but contact for public hours or tours by appointment of the Czar of the Great Lakes former mansion.

Eastlake Historical Society -  Also housed in City Hall, this society collection includes the Evans map, the story of Lost Nation Road, the story of David Abbot and a Schooner Cuyahoga Packet.

Willoughby Welcome Center -  Two items of interest stand out in this Public Square house.  First is a Medical History Display that spans our county's earliest years.  Secondly, one can view the Willoughby Viaduct plaque that dates back to 1920.  Photos and books also recall Willoughby's vibrant past.

Lake County History Center - Located in Painesville Township the former county poorhouse has two significant collections worth knowing about.  First is the 1907 Lake County Courthouse Time Capsule.  Second and perhaps more important is a 3000 family database or Genealogy Surname file.

Fairport Harbor Lighthouse and Marine Museum -  Celebrating over 100 years of lighthouse history, this museum now in its 70th season features a Francis Life Car dating back to 1876, a Third Order fixed white Fresnel Lens in its entirety, an 1843 Mast-the first of its kind and much more.  Visit for more information.  July 11-12, 2015 will see the return of a Tall Ship - the Madeline which was originally built in Fairport in 1845.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Step Back in Time this Weekend at 475 Railroad Street in Painesville

Whether you know it as the current  Painesville Railroad Museum, the Painesville Depot or by its earlier station names C.P.A., Lake Shore & Michigan Southern or N.Y. Central, attendees this weekend can tour the full-size replica of the Lincoln Funeral Train.  This steam engine and tender transported  Abraham Lincoln from D.C. to Springfield, Illinois to his final resting site.  Attendees will be able to actually tour the car as well as visit the depot that has a history dating back to 1851.

1851 saw the incorporation of the Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula Railroad Companies and the first C.P.A. depot in Painesville.  Another consolidation and new name occurred in 1869 with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern lines.  The current depot had its groundbreaking in July 1892 and by February 1893 the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Station opened.  Its final name change came on April 29, 1914 when the N.Y. Central formed as part of a 10 railroad line consolidation.  The Painesville Depot served as the departure site for WWI draftees and as a canteen stop for those serving in WWII.  Passenger service ended in May 1971.  From '71-88 the site served as a Greyhound Bus stop.  Nearly a decade passed before the depot was saved by the newly formed Western Reserve Railroad Association in 1997.  A non-profit group, they have been working to restore and preserve the railway history that ran thru Lake County.  The Painesville Depot features Richardson Romanesque Style architecture with sandstone walls and a slate roof on the exterior.  The inside features red oak and marble alongwith hanging chandeliers.  A caboose was donated by Lubrizol in 2000 (suffered damage in a 2006 fire).  In 2002 a historical marker #18-43 was dedicated by the State of Ohio.    The depot was granted 'Historic District' status in 2005 by the City of Painesville.

As mentioned earlier the Lincoln Funeral Train will be making a stop on June 6 and 7.  Hours will be 10.m. to 6 p.m. both days.  A fee is charged allowing attendees access to the Smithsonian blueprint verified and exact replica of the death car.  As President-Elect, Lincoln visited this depot on February 16, 1861 on his William Case locomotive and tender.  The Lincoln train next passed thru Painesville that fateful morning of Friday, April 28, 1865.  This weekend on the 150th year anniversary of this tragic moment in history you can step back in time and witness history again.  As a bonus it is rumored Abraham Lincoln a.k.a. John King and even Mary Todd will be on site sharing their life stories.

For more information- visit

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Upcoming June 5th Tour features the History of Two Lake County Lighthouses only .8 miles apart

In 1807 a proposal for a canal system was made.  Ten years later construction officially began.  On October 26, 1825 a 363 mile-36 lock Erie Canal opened connecting New York-the Atlantic Ocean-and the Great Lakes.  New York eclipsed Philadelphia as the largest seaport on the east coast.  The Erie Canal is said to be the most extraordinary feat of engineering of the 19th century.  The impact of the canal had an even greater footprint in what was soon to be Lake County.  The opening of the canal now allowed commercial shipping into the Great Lakes and made Lake Erie an important hub in history.  The ports of Madison and Fairport became key sites in early shipping history.  The removal of the need to portage allowed both communities to rise up during the mid-to-late 1800's.

The Grand River Lighthouse at Fairport (Harbor was added in 1959) was commissioned in 1825.  Under the auspices of the United States Lifesaving Service its light shone for nearly a hundred years.  Reknowed Western Reserve architect Jonathon Goldsmith was charged with its build.  Samuel Butler was its first keeper.  Its history included fourteen keepers,  participating in the UGRR and the Mormon Migration, being rebuilt in 1871 as well as witnessing maritime events on the Great Lakes.  A third order Fresnel Lens, 1876 Life Car, famous ship's mast from 1843 and 1904 Oil House are just some of the many stories that will be shared on a tour Friday night June 5th.

The Fairport Westbreakwater Lighthouse's story dates back to approximately 1907.  A wall was under construction on the west side of the Grand River.  The original 1825 lighthouse was nearing its end as a navigational aid and Cleveland was now the hub of Lake Erie shipping commerce.  Prefabricated steel shell lighthouses were soon to be in place in Ashtabula (1904) and Lorain (1916) replacing older original generation versions.  On June 21, 1921 the steamer Wotan delivered the shell of a new lighthouse to Fairport.  Four years later it was commissioned and to this day remains an active aid to navigation.  Tended by the USCG its last live-in-crew was around 1948.  In 2012 the keeper's dwelling was sold to a private owner who is currently renovating and preserving the 42' structure.  2015 marks the Westbreakwater Lighthouse's 90th anniversary.  The owner will be on hand on June 5th to share her summer residence and lighthouse's history.

Sign-up for the tour at or call 440-354-4825 for more information.  The deadline is June 1st.



SAMUEL BUTLER                  1825-1833

ELIJAH DIXON                        1833-1839

JEREMIAH O. BALCH             1839

NEHEMIA MERRITT              1839-1841

THOMAS GREER                    1845-1846

ISAAC SPEAR                           1846-1849

HENDRICK E. PAINE              1849-1853

OLMSTED BAKER                  1853-1856

HALSEY H. BAKER                1856-1861

JAMES McADAMS                 1861-1865

GEORGE F. RODGERS          1865-1871

JOSEPH C. BABCOCK          1871-1881

GEORGE L. RIKER                 1881-1900

DANIEL BABCOCK                 1919-1925


Thursday, May 14, 2015

UGRR Bus Tour Highlights County's Role in important era of American History

The UGRR is one of the best known chapters in American history yet in many ways it is the least examined.  The facts and documents/primary sources often do not match. This is true in Lake County.  Some known facts are 40% of all slaves passed thru Ohio.  Another is The Fugitive Slave Law, enacted in 1850 was already a hotbed issue some 40 years earlier in Ohio.  Another includes locals Samuel Butler, Phineas Root, Seth Marshall, Eber Howe and Uri Seeley who were active abolitionists of the day.  All resided in what was to become Lake County.  Four principal UGRR routes led to Fairport and Madison.  Research also reveals that Harvey Johnson was not the first slave to pass thru and return to settle in the county.  Over 40 blacks were living in Lake County before the Civil War though their stories remain relatively obscure.  These are just a few of the UGRR stories to be examined later this month.

The upcoming bus tour sponsored by Lake Metroparks on May 28th will look at our rich past and the history of runaway slaves and their journey thru portions of Lake County.  Many crossed over and arrived in Canada either by way of Lake Erie or by crossing over the Detroit River.  In our county many attained freedom via the commercial docks of Fairport or Madison.  One final destination was Chatham, Ontario - a mecca for black society. Other Canadian communities included Dresden, Port Stanley, Port Burwell and Port Royal

A Local Self Driving Tour -
Start at Big Creek at Liberty Hollow ( A Lake Metroparks property and one home of Eber Howe)
Uri Seeley House - 969 Riverside Road
Moodey House - 208 S. State St.
Judge Hitchcock site - 254 S. State St.
House Home-311 S. South St.
Seth Marshall site - 375 Bank St.
Mathews House - moved to Lake Erie Campus since 1949
Eber Howe's other home - corner of N. State & Jackson St.
Morley House - 231 N. State St.
Sidley House - 463 Casement Rd.
First Congregational Church - 22 Liberty St.
Grand River Lighthouse at Fairport Harbor -129 Second St.
Dock Rd & Arcola Creek - Madison
Unionville Tavern - 7935 S. Ridge Rd.

 Need more tour information - contact Lake Metroparks @ 440-639-7275 or visit

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Lake County, Ohio - Iron Industry Began Here

Lake County does not come immediately to mind when one mentions 'iron'.  The names Youngstown, Cleveland and Warren would be the better guess.  However long before these cities came into play, it was Lake County that had a thriving iron industry, specifically the Madison area.  The era was the early to mid-1800's.

Bog iron was discovered by surveyors attempting to lay the course for a 70' wide road from Cleveland to Erie, Pa. The year was 1812.  The ore was scattered throughout the Madison area from Middle Ridge to Lake Erie over acres of land.  Early furnaces appeared in Mentor as cast iron plows and iron bells were cast.  In 1824 an iron works was established on the banks of the Grand River for the production of cooking and potash kettles.  The first furnace to refine iron was built in 1826 by Erie Furnace Company.  Samuel Wheller and Cyrus Cunningham bought 52 acres that had bog ore on it.  Soon an industry developed extending from Hubbard Road to County Line Road as well as from Middle Ridge to the Lake.

By 1825 three additional furnaces were built.  Another four were added in 1833.  Natural resources made the area well suited for manufacturing.  Resources and a Lake for transportation were ideal for the early businessmen.  A small furnace was renamed Arcole in 1831 and sold to Samuel Wilkerson and Uri Seeley.  Today this area is Arcola Road.  Their furnace was in its day the largest industry in Ohio.  Production totals hit 1500 tons annually.  Twenty years of prosperity resulted and Madison was second to Painesville in population- both larger than nearby Cleveland. Ore production and agriculture were the leading exports in the late '40s.  A port located on Dock Road became the shipping hub of the era alongwith the neighboring Grand River-Fairport location.

The mid-1800's saw the demise of the iron industry in the county.  Bog iron was running out and newly found sites elsewhere yielded a better quality ore.  Charcoal necessary for the furnaces were harder and more expensive to obtain. Arcole Iron Co. was sold and other furnaces simply abandoned.  The Dock Road / Madison Port was a ghost town by 1850.  Hundreds of settlers and homesteads transitioned to farming.  Remnants of the industrial era of Madison are few.  Cunningham's 1825 home is still in use and the one furnace building remains as a moment frozen in time.  The blue rocks or slag still can be found in the gardens of the locals.

source - articles from the Western Reserve and Lake County Historical Societies

Monday, April 27, 2015

Dock Road & Arcola Creek - The Western Reserve Years of Madison Twp.

Lake County's roadways bear the names of many early county pioneers and businessmen.  The names Kniffen, Seeley, Vrooman, Garfield, Morley, Rockefeller, Casement are but a few examples.  Looking at the eastern half of the county one name stands out and bears mentioning today - the road is named Dock and the Arcola Creek area dates back in Western Reserve history to 1796.  The first permanent settlers who came to Cunningham Creek, Ellensburg or Madison Dock arrived around 1798 from New York.  Their names were Colonel Alex Harper, William McFarland and Ezra Gregory.  By 1803 Joel Russell and his family arrive to the area via a sailing vessel.  Known as expert shipbuilders they worked at Bailey's dock near a makeshift lighthouse.  Captain Cunningham arrived in 1811.  The discovery of iron ore in 1812 and bog iron found in the future Lake County led to early industrialization of the Middle Ridge area. The Old Tavern in Unionville was not only a stage stop but gained importance as part of the UGRR era in history.  Madison Dock became an important leg in a slave's journey to freedom - Canada or otherwise.  The year 1825 saw this area firmly entrenched in shipbuilding.  Neighboring Richmond and Grandon (Fairport) also had shipbuilding.  Over 52 vessels, mostly schooners were built in the county. The Bailey, Helena, Flying Dutchman and Madeline were just the names of a few vessels of importance in this era.  1831 saw another early settler Uri Seeley establish Arcole Furnance from the former Erie Furnace Company site.

Cunningham Creek was now known in the record books as Ellensburg and by 1835 a long dock built out into the lake was used by ships traveling the lake from Kelley's Island (limestone) to Buffalo (commerce).  Joel Norton became an important sail maker of the area.  The era of prosperity lasted into the next decade but by 1850 the bust period was at hand.  Depleted resources, a weathered dock and deserted homesteads left by transient workers shifted the industrial age to one of farming.  A name change to Chapintown or Centerville soon faded into what today is known as Madison Village.  Only a few of the original landmarks permeate the countryside.  The Arcola Creek Estuary remains as a connector to Lake Erie and a period in Western Reserve history not to be forgotten.

information gleaned from 1980 article by Sue Orris, Madison Historical Society

Monday, April 20, 2015

Willoughby's Chandler-Tucker Estate

As one drives the roadways of Lake County it is quite easy to miss county history as present day cityscapes hide or minimize signature structures from our past.  Fitting the bill is the story of the former Chandler-Tucker Estate located on Rt. 84 in Willoughby, Ohio.  In 1911 a property located on Ridge Road overlooking the Chagrin Valley to the south and Lake Erie to the north known as Elgercon is passed down to Gertrude Chandler Tucker.  The Chandler Family fortune was made by her parents who made a printing press (part of the Mayfield Historical Society collection).  In 1900 seventy-one acres of land are bought by Harrison T- Chandler.  This is the land that by 1913 becomes a prominent estate of the day.  Gertrude and her husband Stanley Tucker build a mansion, barns, out buildings and acquire more acreage (Burroughs Nature Club) in the valley that now is known as Gully Brook.  Their stone mansion faced Ridge Road and was built from materials from Cleveland's West Side.  Local railroads as well as horse and wagon transport aided in the construction project which now included stables, carriage houses, gardens, a greenhouse and garages.  Some pre-exisitng structures were relocated in the build.  In 1923 the one room school house was acquired on the site of today's YMCA.  The Chandler-Tucker estate remained a local fixture in Willoughby until Gertrude's passing in 1953.

At the time of her death the estate was left to Western Reserve University but a title transfer in June 1954 allowed the Willoughby-Eastlake School System to acquire the stone mansion and much of the property.  Twenty rooms in the mansion now were home to 200 elementary students.  A caretaker's home was used as the Sunnty Lane School for retarded children.  Another tenant house was used by the Community Fund and Red Cross organizations.  The barns were repurposed as industrial arts classes for the school system by 1955. Music, wood and metal shop out buildings came into play. As Willoughby's schools grew and moved out of the main mansion structures a Nursing School used the site.

Fast foward to the 60's and beyond.  Chandler Road was renamed Shankland Road in 1958 and in '63 the YMCA found its home on their property.  A public swimming pool opened in 1965.  1959 saw a high school built on the Chandler-Tucker estate and a middle school followed in 1972.  The Little Red Schoolhouse was moved and situated on the property in 1977.  1981 saw a police station dedicated on their former estate.  The Gully Brook property was targeted in 2004 to become part of Lake Metroparks- an event that officially came to be just a few years ago.

The Chandlers and Tuckers are laid to rest in a mausoleum in Cleveland's Lakeview Cemetery.  Their mansion and property located on Rt. 84 and Shankland Road are there to view on your next trip thru Willoughby, Ohio - another hidden gem in our county's history.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Bus Tour to Highlight Our Remarkable Lake County

Founded in 1840, Lake County is Ohio's smallest county but when it comes to history it may stand atop the list. Seventy-nine properties in the county have been designated National Historic Sites.  Another twenty-seven sites have garnered historical markers from the Ohio Historical Society.   Lake Metroparks is offering a bus tour this month on Wednesday April 29.  A  brief lecture precedes a driving tour of some of our county's hidden architectural and historical gems.  Revisit a cityscape when mansions dotted the Wickliffe and Kirtland communities.  See some of the early homes in downtown Willoughby dating back to 1810.  Travel the roads of Mentor, Painesville and other local townships for often missed gems dating back to the Western Reserve Era and early American history.

Tour Highlights include-
‘Couallenby’ – Harry Coulby’s humble beginnings belie his importance in county history.  He became Czar of the Lakes as a shipping magnate and Wickliffe’s first mayor in 1916.
Mooreland Mansion-  The Grand Summer Home of Edward Moore encompassed 1300 acres in its day.  Built in 1898, it entrance was located where the Olive Garden currently occupies at the Great Lakes Mall.  This interurban railroad baron’s family lived at Mooreland until 1981 on what is now Lakeland Community College.
Lantern Court – Warren and Maud Corning married in 1928 and within a year began construction of their Georgian-style home.  An investment banker by trade this summer home became their full-time residence after WWII.
Other sites include Frank Rockefeller’s site, Mentor Knitting Works, Havel’s Florist and much more.

For tour information visit

Monday, April 6, 2015

Interurban Railway Changes Lake County Forever

The year was 1896 and from Detroit to Buffalo and as far south as Wheeling a new system of transportation was impacting the communities far and wide.  In Northern Ohio and specifically in Lake County these changes would influence our county footprint forever.  The first electric railway system developed in 1896 ran from Cleveland to Painesville.  Shortly thereafter it stretched into Ashtabula and in 1910 beyond Buffalo.  The C.P.&E. (Cleveland,Painesville and Eastern RR) and the C.P.&A. (Cleveland, Painesville and Ashtabula RR) were their official names.  Their hub was located in a depot in downtown Willoughby.  Also located at the depot/barn hub was an electric generating plant.  This railway syndicate was conceived, developed and operated by two local gentlemen Edward Moore and Henry Everett.  In time this partnership added the LSE line (Lake Shore Electric) to their venture.  The year was 1901 and the routes now covered Cleveland to Toledo and spanned passenger lines to Willoughbeach, Fairport and Painesville.  The main line ran from Public Square to Painesville.  Stops 40-49-55-89 traversed Lake County.

The impact of Moore and Everett's syndicate of electric railways was far reaching in many ways.  First farmers from Lake and Ashtabula counties now had a means to move their produce more economically to Cleveland. Conversely, consumers now had access to downtown Cleveland and the shops located in the heart of the city.  Secondly, the C.P.&E. line allowed the beginnings of the 'country estates' era in Lake County.  The Halle Farm, Couallenby, Rockefeller Estate, Hanna Estate and Mooreland Mansion are just a few famous names from our past.  Third electricity came to Lake County due to the interurban.  Homes in Willoughby, Mentor, Madison and such now had low cost power as a reality. 

Some Interurban Trivia -
Willoughbeach (Lakeshore in Willowick) and Euclid Beach Park tourism and amusement seekers used the interurban daily.
The last numbered stop was Park Place in Painesville - number 89.
Rockefeller and Moore both had private interurban lines on their properties.
Gavi's catering in Willoughby now occupies the old electric plant.
The old barn and hub depot is now occupied by Willoughby Brewing Co.-stop #40.
The James A. Garfield residence had a stop - number 55.
The interurban railway line changed an 8-hour carriage trip to an hour.
The Little Mountain Estates of the 1800's gave way to summer farms for the wealthy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Lake County Mini-Profile -- The Mentor Miscellany Club

Lucretia R. Garfield (1832-1918), Virginia Small (1921-2013), Mabel Miller (1921-2014) and Marthajoy Waite (1937-2015) all share one thing in common.  They were past-presidents of the Mentor Miscellany Club.  Here is the story of the first woman's literary club in Lake County, a club that remains active to this date.

The story of Lucretia R. Garfield is fairly well-known.  Born in Garrettsville, Ohio in 1832, she met her future husband while he served as professor and president of The Western Reserve Eclectic College (Hiram College).  James A. Garfield left Hiram College to serve in the Civil War before embarking on a meteoric rise in political circles that led to his Presidency and tragic assasination in 1881.  Lucretia was a well educated woman and noted player in all circles of the day including her brief time in Washington D.C.  It was their time there that they attended literary socials together and discussed topics of the day among the Washington power players.

Upon her husband's death, the shy and reserved nature that Lucretia once possessed resumed upon her return to their beloved Lawnfield in Mentor,Ohio.  For the next 36 years she was a formidable women in history.  In 1898 she co-founded the Mentor Miscellany Club - a women's book club fashioned on her experiences in Washington socialite circles.  It was the first of its kind in the county and perhaps Ohio.  They met at members homes and discussed books or topics related to a yearlong theme, i.e., American History.

Lucretia moved to Pasadena, California in 1901 to avoid the winters of Ohio.  Her commitment to these book clubs continued through the remaining years of her life.  Lawnfield remained in the family possession into the 1930's.  Lucretia continued to be a juggernaut with the Parade of Roses, Democratic Party and other intellectual passions but the book club in Mentor always remained foremost in her legacy.  She visited the club as time allowed upon return visits to see her children and grandchildren - still prominent names in Mentor History.  More importantly her club has remained vibrant for 117 years now - a link to our past.

Monday, February 23, 2015

"Crunching the Numbers" -- Our County Numbers in the early years

Indeed numbers are important.  Ask any financial planner, certified public accountant or just remember the IRS tax day of April 15th each year.  Numbers are even more important to the preservation of county history and especially community history.  A connection with numbers can go far deeper than one ever imagined.  Let's crunch the numbers today in County #43 - Ohio's smallest county but perhaps largest when it comes to Ohio history.

1600's - Local Indian tribes populate the future Lake County in Eastlake, Grandon and other shoreline communities.
1750 - Charlton, French Trading Post is built on the mouth of the Chagrin River
1797 - Marsh Settlement established by Charles Parker in Mentor area.
1801 - Blooming Grove (Walworth) and Oak Openings (Paine) settlements appear.
1802 -  Settlements in Concord (Jordan) and Leroy(Clapp) follow.
1803 - New Market is laid out by A. Skinner and E. Paine
1803 - First Postal Service in county begins.
1804 - First school appears - A. Tappan is schoolmaster.
1808 - First settlement in Perry (Beebe)
1809 - Chapintown (Madison) settled.
1810 - Painesville Congregational Church -first ever in county
1812 - Grandon laid out (Fairport-1836, Fairport Harbor-1959)
1817 - A. Tarbelle settlement in Wickliffe.
1825 -  The opening of the Erie Canal allows for the establishment of the Grand River Lighthouse at Grandon (Fairport Harbor)
1828 - First boat building occurs on Dock Road
1829 - Mathews home is built by J. Goldsmith
1833 - Joseph Smith decrees a Mormon structure be built.  This building is the Kirtland Temple.
1834 - Willoughby Medical College established.
1840 -  Lake County is officially recognized by the State of Ohio and becomes county #43.
1841 - Vineyard House is constructed
1847 - Willoughby Female Seminary established - becomes Lake Erie College
1850 - Griffith disaster off Willobeach Park.
1852-  Coe &Wilkes in Painesville opens
1876 - James A. Garfield acquires the Dickey Farm on Mentor Avenue.
1890's - Gilded Age of Cleveland brings Storied Families and Millionaires Row to Wickliffe
1902 - Painesville becomes a city.
1906 - Mooreland Mansion
1909 - Andrews School is founded.
1912 - Fairgrounds on Mentor Avenue replaces original one on Bank Street in Painesville from 1800's.
1912 - Halle Summer Estate at Penitentiary Gulch begun.
1912 - Diamond Alkali begins its history
1913 - Holden Arboretum history unfolds.
1920's - Estates of Kirtland Hills arrives - Hanna and others
1924 - Mentor-on-the-Lake incorporated.
1926 - US Route 20 - 3365 miles of E-W coast-to-coast roadways established
1928 - Waite Hill Village incorporated.

We yearn in our real lives not to be considered "just a number." This is just the tip of the county iceberg when you begin to crunch numbers.  In time more posts will continue to crunch the numbers in Ohio's smallest county!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Reminisce" Part II

reminisce - verb
                definition - to indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events

Part II continues my journey along the roadways that dot our Lake County landscape.  I hope you will indulge me as I reflect back on some additional people and places from our past. Famous 'places' is the lead today.

June 24, 2013 entry -  Pheasant Run Airport in Leroy Township
A 2011 gift to past,present and future generations was shared on this date.  The vintage era airplane collection is open to the public and is home to many one of a kind aviation artifacts from the early 20th c.

January 24, 2011 entry  - Vineyard House
This 1841 stone home located at 9019 Kirtland-Chardon Road is the oldest on record.  Its history and current day use worhty of reading and visiting.

October 22, 2012 entry  - Girl in Blue / Eli Tarbell and the Medical College
The Twilight Zone dedicated an episode titled 'Last Stop Willoughby' to this county city.  The two stories featured here are part of the unique fabric that is Willoughby, Ohio -  haunted tales to this day.

January 9, 2012 entry  - Gildersleeve Mountain
Settled in 1808, this location is 18 miles from downtown.  If you are not interested in its history, the view alone is worthwhile.

February 3, 2014 entry  -  Wickliffe's Gilded Age Storied Families
Rockefeller, Coulby, Corrigan, Price, McKinney and other emerging industrialists had their estates along Euclid Avenue and Ridge Road in the 19-20th c.

June 2, 2012 entry  - Jonathon Goldsmith
His arrival in the early 1800's from the east was a pivotal moment in both county and Cleveland architectural history. The Grandon Lighthouse in Fairport Harbor, government buildings in Painesville and Geauga County as well as many homesteads including a few on Millionaire's Row are attributed to him.

December 10,2012 entry  -  Leonard C. Hanna Jr.
Travel along the back roads of Kirtland Hills and you will see the grounds of a genuine country village that arrived piece by piece from oversees and became the signature residence of a family and municipality.

Honorable Mention
February 24, 2014 entry - US. Route 20
July 28, 2011 entry  -  Havel's since 1936
August 25, 2011 entry  - The Original Face of Vine Street
February 17, 2011 entry  -  When It Rains It Pours

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Reminisce - Part 1

Local Lore has just recently passed three hundred entries.  When I started back in 2010 I thought this writing effort would be brief and allow me to explore some local history in our county.  When Local Lore hit 100 I realized unless you were counting pennies, one hundred of anything can be a significant accomplishment.  Now that 300 history stories have been told I would like to 'reminisce' - that is indulge in an enjoyable collection of past events.  These stories from our county's past are in no special order and span over five years at this point in time.  They are simply some of my favorite entries to date and interesting facts I learned along the roadways of our county.

October 13, 2011 entry   Ann C. Whitman - Confidential Secretary
Ann hailed from Perry,Ohio and served David Levy, founder of Sears-Roebuck, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and NY Governor Nelson Rockefeller before her passing in 1977.  Her life was the subject of a popular book in our time.

March 3, 2011 entry   'Coulallenby'
The story of Harry S. Coulby is directly linked to our Great Lakes shipping heritage and to the early beginnings of Wickliffe history.  His estate now serves as Wickliffe City Hall and is a tribute to our county's importance in 19th c. America.

August 22, 2013 entry    Robert 'Bobby' Manchester
Bobby Manchester and 19th c. Painesville history are intertwined.  His fourth of July fireworks shows and theatrical productions at the Utopia rivaled downtown Cleveland and Playhouse Square in its heyday.

November 5, 2012 entry   Prop Girl - Patricia J. Hange
Her story as a pioneering woman aviator is not to be forgotten and her place in history and museum Hall of Fame's worth viewing.

March 3, 2013 entry   Laura Mae Corrigan
In Cleveland's Gilded Age this tale from Millionnaire's Row, Lake County History and WWII intrigue is a must read.  Downton Abbey fans will see many parallels in her life story.

November 18, 2010 entry  Lot #32
The story of Brennan's Fish House and early Grand River are most interesting.

February 28, 2011 entry  Penny Players and the Rabbit Run Theater
Founded in 1946 as a barn theater, notable film stars Jessica Tandy, Jim Backus and Marge Redmond  performed there.  It still is a viable performing arts center to this day.

November 14,2011, October 15, 2012, November 3 and 13, 2014 entries   Lake Erie College
The college and campus serve as a blueprint for county history.

Honorable Mentions...
November 11, 2010 entry    Old Ohio Schools - Willoughby Union High School
March 28, 2011 entry          Evergreen Cemetery - A Walk thru Time
September 27, 2012 entry   Donald Blakeslee - Naval Aviator Legend
January 10, 2011 entry        Willowick - Eyewitness to History