Monday, May 23, 2016

Johnnycake Ridge Road and Concord Twp - the real story?

On the north end of Concord Township runs a road that motorists drive daily.  It runs from the Painesville to the Mentor lines except for a brief stretch known as Button Road - Elijah Button was an early farmer.  An 1820 Concord Township map mentions a Johnnycake Road.  In 1857 an unnamed lane is identified on the same stretch on a county map.  The 1898 Atlas of Lake County notes this same unnamed lane.  It is not until 1915 that Johnnycake Ridge Road is officially listed on county maps.  The origins of the name of this stretch of road may date back to a a note found in an old chest in the Old Cunningham Second Hand Store in Painesville.  Local Lore revolves around a tavern circa 1818.  Three versions permeate most historical accounts.  Which is true? You can decide.

One version has New England roots.  Benaiah Jones was a veteran of the Revolutionary War.  He came to Ohio and settled here.  He hailed from Johnnycake Hill near his hometown of Middlefield, Massachusetts.  Another slightly different version involved his N.E. accent.  It seemed 'journey cakes' became johnnycakes in translation.

A second version involves a tavern that never materialized, a drunken visitor and a Johnnycake food item prank. The last and most plausible version as well as most humorous involve the pioneer tale of Tobias Williams and this local 1818 tavern.  Seems Tobias stopped at the area tavern and was served johnnycakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  He left a review of his dining experiences via a sign.  In time and perhaps as a joke saw a large Johnnycake added to the sign.  Stagecoaches came and pulled up to the tavern on Johnnycake Ridge.

Each story has some elements of truth but one fact remains - Johnnycakes were a food staple of the era.  The recipe is provided below.

1/2 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1-2 tablespoons salt
1 egg
1 cup hot milk

Mix dry ingredients, stir in remaining ingredients, drop on hot griddle and brown on both sides.  Serve with butter and syrup.

source:  Concord Township Historical Society at the Old Stone Schoolhouse, blog cleveland.com 2007



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