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