As early as 1749 the Cuyahoga was regarded by geographers a point destined to be of commercial importance. [Douglass’s summary.] Franklin pointed to its future value in 1765, recommending that it be occupied for military purposes. Washington foresaw its consequence, while discussing a project for water communications between the lakes and Chesapeake Bay.
Pownall and Evans only knew of five rivers on the south shore of lake Erie, but they had the sagacity to discuss the project of a canal, allowing batteaux to pass into the waters of the Shenango and Mahoning form “Cherage,” (Conneaut) and from the Cuyahoga river. -[Pownall’s account, 1756.]
It was this idea which Franklin and Washington enlarged upon, as the mode, and the route, of the future inland commerce of the west. Batteaux once transferred, from the waters of lake Erie to those of the Ohio, were to be forced up its upper branches as far as possible into the mountains, and property thus transferred to the Atlantic rivers.
When the State of New York, began to agitate the plan of a rival route by way of Oswego river and the Mohawk, in 1793-4, the discussions of Pownall, Franklin, and Washington were renewed.
But we know of no permanent occupation for the usual purposes of trade, prior to 1786; when the British, although in a state of quasi war, drew their supplies from the United States. Their posts held on our own soil, in violation of the treaty of 1783, obtained provisions from Pennsylvania through this place. -[Hillman’s letter.]
From 1760 to this time, the French and British traders in furs were probably here, as there was no part of the country they did not penetrate. From 1786 to 1795, flour and beef were furnished to the military posts on the lakes, British and American, by way of Erie and Cleveland. Duncan & Wilson of Pittsburg, were the first forwarders who did business here, packing flour in bags upon horses, along the time-worn trails of the Indians.
When Gen. Wayne overcame the north-western tribes at the Maumee rapids, in 1794, the enterprising merchants of Pittsburg and Beaver, contracted to furnish supplies on the Maumee, by way of the Cuyahoga. The old Indian highway from Beaver to this place, became a notable thoroughfare along which ninety horses and thirty men, were continually passing. From this place goods and provisions were taken, sometimes in vessels or in batteaux, to the Maumee or Detroit, and sometimes through by land on horses.
The commercial importance of the mouth of the Cuyahoga was thus foreshadowed from the earliest days. It was on a nearer route from the valley of the Monongahela and the Potomac to the head of lake Erie, than the one by the Allegheny river and Presque Isle or Erie. The Muskingum and the Cuyahoga came so near together at Akron, that a portage of only seven miles was to be made with a light canoe, and then an almost interminable navigation might be pursued in all directions. These great natural routes being known to the early geographers and statesmen, led them to think of improvements here, and to predict great things for the future.
When the city was laid out, its future business was provided for by the landings intended for batteaux, by which it was expected the principal transportation would be effected. The “upper landing”, at the foot of Vineyard lane, was for the up river business, and the “lower landing”, where Mandrake and Union streets came to the river, now St. Clair street, was for the lake trade. General Cleaveland and the surveyors well knew that large vessels could not enter the river. Until 1827, when a harbor was constructed by the General Government, lake craft all sizes worthy the name of a vessel, came to anchor outside and were unloaded by lighters. Lorenzo Carter engrossed most of this business in the early days of the settlement. In 1805 the mouth of the Cuyahoga was made a port of entry. Most of the traffic, prior to this time, was made in open boats, coasting along the shore. The surveyors’ old cabin, Carter’s log shanty, and Campbell’s store, afforded more than warehouse room enough for the business. Those staunch, well-built batteaux, appear to have been capable of weathering the terrific gales of the lakes as bravely, as the sloops, schooners and steamers of later times. Accidents were no more common than they are now. The scheme for improving the Cuyahoga by means of a lottery, got up in 1807 has already been noticed. With all its disadvantages, this route crossing by land to the Tuscarawas and to the Mahoning, down those rivers, up the Ohio and its branches to the Potomac, and down it to the ocean, was thought to be a competitor with the one by way of Niagara, Oswego, Fort Stanwix and the Mohawk.
In 1808, Mr. Carter, built the “Zephyr,” of 30 tons, intended particularly for the trade of this place. Salt, iron, leather, groceries and dry goods were the principal needs of the settlers, in return for which they collected furs and made grindstones, to be sent east in payment. Murray & Bixby built the Ohio, of 60 tons, in 1810, which was launched near the warehouse of Petit & Holland. About this time Carter built a log warehouse on the bank of the lake between Meadow and Spring streets, where he received and discharged property until after the war of 1812, when it was undermined by a rise in the waters of the lake. The brothers Elias and Harvey Murray erected another in 1811, which stood within the point on the river bank, where the new channel or harbor is now. Not far from this time, some person not yet identified, built a small log house for storage on the east bank, a short distance south of Superior street. Levi Johnson built the Pilot in 1813. About the year 1816 the first frame warehouse was built by Leonard Case and Capt. William Gaylord. It stood a little north of St. Clair street, on the river. In 1817 or 1818 Levi Johnson and Dr. David Long put up another, a short distance lower on this shore, northward of Case & Gaylord, and soon after a third was erected near them by John Blair. Of these early and enterprising forwarders, Johnson and Blair still survive. From Blair’s warehouse down the river, to the point of ground on which the Murray’s built, was then an impassable marsh. Alonzo Carter purchased land on the West Side, soon after the township of Brooklyn came into market. He built a tavern and a small warehouse on that side, opposite Superior street. The ferry crossed at this street which was kept by Christopher Gun.
In 1816 an attempt was made to build a pier on the open lake. For this purpose an act of incorporation was procured and an association formed under the name and style of the “Cleveland Pier Company”, as follows:
We, the undersigned, hereby covenant and agree to associate and form ourselves into a company; to be known and distinguished by the name and title of the “Cleveland Pier Company,” for the purpose of erecting a pier at, or near the village of Cleveland, for the accommodation of vessels navigating lake Erie. Agreeable to an act of the Legislature of the State of Ohio, passed at their session in 1815-16, authorizing the incorporating of a company for the aforesaid purposes.
Alonzo Carter George Wallace
A.W. Walworth Darius E. Henderson
David Long Sam’l Williamson, Sen.
Alfred Kelley Irad Kelley
Datus Kelley James Kingsbury
Eben Hosmer Horace Perry
Daniel Kelley Levi Johnson
Something was done towards this pier, principally by Mr. Kelley. These slight works, based upon quicksand, and constructed without the aid of pike drivers, withstood the fury of the lake storms but a short time. About this time the late Chas. M. Giddings became an importer of salt, from his home at Onondaga to the western lakes. After a few years he became a citizen of Cleveland, where he pursued a business career of surprising activity, so long as his health allowed him to participate in business.
In February, 1816, Noble H. Merwin, with his family, arrived at Cleveland, direct from Connecticut He purchased the tavern stand of George Wallace, on the corner of Superior Street and Vineyard lane, and a tract between Superior and Vineyard lanes, extending to Division Street, now Center street. He occupied his hotel, afterwards known as the “Mansion House,” but became extensively interested in vessel stock, transportation, army contracts, and commercial business generally. A log warehouse had been erected on his property, near the foot of Superior street, which he continued to occupy for the purpose of storage and forwarding. When the Ohio canal was made navigable to Akron, the two lower locks were incomplete. Mr. Merwin had the canal pocket “Pioneer,” brought from Buffalo, and taking her up the river, near where the stone mills are now, hauled her up the bank into the canal. On this boat the Cleveland party went to meet Gov. Trimble, and the party from Akron, consisting of the Canal Commissioners and other celebrities on the boat ” Allen Trimble.” Mr. Merwin died at St. Thomas, West Indies, in October, 1829, leaving his first purchase unimpaired to his heirs.
The site of the old log warehouse has became traditional in the commerce of Cleveland. Gidings & Merwin, Gidings & Baldwin, Gidings, Baldwin & Pease, and Griffith, Pease & Co., were firms whose names appeared successively upon the sides of the warehouses located there. A fire which occurred about 1854 destroyed the entire row of buildings from Superior street to the canal.
In 1819, John Blair became a river man, competing with Gidings & Merwin, in the purchase of wheat.
In those days wheat, pork, flour, potash, and in fact, all the merchantable produce of the country was brought in by four or six horse teams, laboring slowly onward, through roads that would now be regarded impassible, the owners encamping by the road side, wherever night found them. When the Ohio Canal was projected our citizens, and particularly the produce dealers, indulged in the gloomiest anticipations. No more Pennsylvania teams with their sturdy horses, and covered wagons, would enliven the streets of Cleveland. If Painesville, Black River or Sandusky wanted a canal, they were welcome to it.
Mr. Blair and Levi Johnson are the only survivors of those early forwarders, who viewed the approach of a Conestoga wagon with so much interest. When experience had shown that the canal did not prove to be the ruin of the place, they turned their enterprise into new channels. The General Government constructed a harbor while the State was excavating the canal. Sail vessels, steamboats and canal boats, became more plenty than the wagons had ever been. A race of active young men succeeded the pioneers on the dock. Such of the original members of the Land Company as survived, at last witnessed in the decline of life, the success of the projects of their youth.
PRESIDENTS OF THE VILLAGE OF CLEVELAND.
Under the charter incorporating the village of Cleveland, dated December 23d, 1814, the first election took place on the first Monday in June, 1815. There were twelve votes cast at this election, which were given unanimously for the following officers:
Marshal-John A. Ackley.
Assessors-George Wallace and John Riddle.
Trustees-Sam’l Williamson, David Long and Nathan Perry, Junior.
On the 19th of March, 1816, Alfred Kelley resigned his position as President of the corporation, and his father, Daniel Kelley, was appointed in his place. At the annual election, on the first Monday in June, 1816, Daniel Kelley was elected President by the unanimous voice of twelve voters, and was continued in the office through the years 1817, 1818, and 1819.
The names of those who participated in this election were as follows:
470 VILLAGE ADMINISTRATION.
A.W. Walworth Irad Kelley
Thomas Rummage George Wallace
Alonzo Carter Samuel Williamson
Levi Johnson D.C. Henderson
S.A. Ackley Amasa A. Bailey
George Pease Daniel Kelley
The total assessed value of real estate within the city in 1816, which includes the entire plat surveyed 1796, was $21,065. At the election in the year 1820 Horace Perry was made President, and Reuben Wood, Recorder, who rose to the Presidency in the following year.
From the year 1821 to 1825, Leonard Case was regularly elected President of the corporation, but neglecting to qualify in the latter year, the Recorder, E. Waterman, became President, ex-officio. Here the records are defective until the year 1828, when it appears Mr. Waterman received the double office of President and Recorder. On account of ill health he resigned, and on the 30th day of May the trustees appointed Oirson Cathan, President, and D.H. Beardsley, Recorder. At the annual election, June, 1829, Dr. David Long was elected President, and a fire engine was purchased. For the year 1830 and 1831, President, Richard Hilliard. For the years 1832, 1833, 1834 and 1835, John W. Allen; at this last election there were one hundred and six votes cast.
POSTMASTERS AT CLEVELAND.
Elisha Norton, October 2d, 1805
John Walworth, May, 1806 Died in office, September 10th, 1812
Ashbel W. Walworth, 1812 Resigned, 1816
Daniel Kelley, 1816 Resigned same year
Irad Kelley, 1816 Removed, 1830
Daniel Worley, 1830 Resigned, May, 1840
Aaron Barker, May, 1840, to October 1841
Benjamin Andrews, October, 1841, to April, 1845
Timothy P. Spencer, April, 1845, to 1849
Dan. M. Haskell, 1849
J.W. Gray, 1853
Benjamin Harrington, 1857
- Cowles, 1861
Geo. A. Benedict, 1865
LOCATION OF POST OFFICE.
Judge Walworth at first occupied the upper part of a frame building on the north side of Superior street, near Water street. When his family moved from this building, to their house on the Walworth farm, Pittsburg street; a small frame office was erected south of Superior street, where the American house now stands. During Judge Walworth’s life, this office contained the combined authority of the, city, the county, and the federal governments.
Mr. Kelley states that in 1810, Mr. Walworth was Recorder, Clerk of the Common Pleas and Supreme Court; Postmaster and Collector of the Cuyahoga district. The same office accommodated Mr. Kelley, the only attorney in the place, and Dr. Long, the only physician. During the first quarter of 1806 the receipts at the post office amounted to two dollars and eighty-three cents.
Probably the post office remained at the same place while Ashbel W. Walworth was Postmaster. When Irad Kelley succeeded to that place it was removed to his brick store, on the south side of Superior street, opposite Bank street. The receipts for a year were about five hundred dollars, of which one-fourth belonged to the Postmaster, as compensation, which included rent, fuel and clerk hire. All letters written by the Postmaster could be franked by him, which, to a man of business was of more value than his per centage on receipts. The postage in those days was never less than five cents, and for a distance exceeding three hundred miles, it was twenty cents.
Under Postmaster Worley, the delivery office was removed to the north side of Superior street, at Millers block, between Seneca and Bank streets, and afterwards to a store where the Johnson House is now, the rear of which was occupied as the Custom House. Mr. Haskell removed it to the Herald building, on Bank street. When Mr. Gray received the appointment, the office was transferred to his building on Waters street, west side, near St. Clair.
While Mr. Harrington was postmaster the government building on the Public Square was completed, and thus the place of delivery became fixed.
THE FIRST COURTHOUSE
While O’Mic was dangling upon the gallows on the north west quarter of the Public Square, the assembled multitude sat upon the timbers, which Levi Johnson had collected for the erection of a Court House. It was of the composite order. The lower story was divided in two parts, one of which was the jail, and the other the residence of the jailer. The apartment designed for criminals, was constructed of blocks of square timber three feet long, placed endwise and bolted together. Over all, in the second story, was a Court room, equal in size to the ground plan of the building, the position of which is given on the map of 1814. Mr. E. Waterman officiated as jailer, President of the village corporation, and Recorder.
In 1828 the citizens became able, and spirited enough to have a new Court House, and a separate jail.
It was a fine building for those times, of which a faithful sketch by Professor Brainerd is given on the next page.
It stood upon the south-west quarter of the Square, facing towards the lake. Here justice was administered thirty years, until it became wholly insufficient for want to room, and unsafe for the public records. The present edifice for the Courts, and other public offices, was erected in 1858. H.L. Noble, one of our early and honest mechanics, had the contract for
building the brick Court Hose represented above. When it was taken down it was found to be sound and good as new, and except in the exposed woodwork, was capable of enduring at least another century. The old stone jail, oftener called the “Blue Jug,” stood opposite the Court House, on the south, fronting the Square. Of these twin institutions, where an entire generation received the administration of justice, where so many judges sat, and lawyers labored; where sheriff’s and bailiff’s executed the decisions of the courts, or the findings of juries, upon troops of unlucky culprits, not a relic now remains. In Whelplys views of Cleveland, the old Court House is a conspicuous object. But for these pictorial representations, the next generation would have lost all traces, what constituted the public buildings of the county, during the active life of the present.
On the west side to the river, opposite St. Clair street, where the Indians had a ferry, a trail led out across the marshy ground, up the hill past the old log trading house, where there were springs of water, to an opening in the forest, near the crossing of Pearl and Detroit streets. In this pleasant space the savages practised their games, held their pow wows, and when whisky could be procured, enjoyed themselves while it lasted. The trail continued thence westerly to Rocky River and Sandusky. Another one, less frequented, led off southerly up the river to the old French trading post, where Magenis was found in 1786, near Brighton; and thence near the river bank, to Tinkers creek, and probably to the old Portage path. A less frequented trail, existed from the Indian villages of Tawas or Ottawas and Mingoes, at Tinkers creek, by a shorter route, direct to the crossing of the Cuyahoga at the “Standing Stone,” near Kent. The packhorsemen, who transported goods and flour to the northwest from 1786 to 1795, followed this trail, crossing the Cuyahoga at Tinkers creek.
Samuel P. Lord drew a considerable part of the township of Brooklyn, whose son, the late Richard Lord, and the late Josiah Barber, became very early, if not the earliest settlers. The Carters, father and son, purchased the land at the mouth of the river, on the west side soon after the survey. Alonzo occupied this tract, living and keeping tavern in the “Red House,” opposite Superior Lane. In 1831 the spirit of speculation crossed the river. Lots on the west side began to command high prices. The Buffalo Company purchased the Carter farm, where a rival city was expected to arise, covering the low ground with warehouses, and the bluffs with stores and residences. In 1834-35, water lots on the old river bed, commanded higher prices than they do now. In the flush times of 1836-37, land contracts on long time, became a kind of circulating medium, on both sides of the river, daily passing from hand to hand, by indorsement; the speculation accruing to each successive holder, being realized in cash; or in promise to pay. The company excavated a short ship canal from the Cuyahoga to the old river bed, at the east end, and the waters being high, a steamboat passed into the lake, through a natural channel at the west end. On the 3d of March, 1836, the village of Brooklyn became an incorporated city. Soon after, the city made a canal, from the Cuyahoga river opposite the extremity of the Ohio canal, through the marsh, into the old river bed, above the ship channel. The bridge, represented among the lithographs at the beginning of this book, which stood at the foot of Columbus street, was built by the late James S. Clark, and an excavation made through the bluff, on the south side, at great expense.
City rivalry ran so high, that a regular battle occurred on this bridge in 1837, between the citizens and the city authorities on the west side, and those on the east. A field piece was posted on the low ground, on the Cleveland side, to rake the bridge, very much as the Austrians did at Lodi, and crowbars, clubs, stones, pistols, and guns were freely used on both sides.
Men were wounded of both parties, three of them seriously. The draw was cut away, the middle pier, and the western abutment partially blown down, and the field piece spiked, by the west siders. But the sheriff, and the city marshal of Cleveland, soon obtained possession of the dilapidated bridge, which had been donated to the city. Some of the actors were confined in the county jail. The bridge question thus got into court, and was finally settled by the civil tribunals. In 1855, (June 6th,) all jealousies and all rivalry between interests, that had never been in reality opposite, were happily terminated, by an union which did away with the arbitrary and unreal line of separation.
The following list of gentlemen filled the office of Mayor, during the existence of the Ohio City charter.
1836 Josiah Barber
1837 Francis A. Burrows
1838-9 Norman M. Baldwin
1840-41 Needham M. Standart
1842 Francis A. Burrows
1843 Richard Lord
1844-45-46 D.H. Lamb
1847 David Griffith
1848 John Beverlin
1849 Thomas Burnham
1850-51-52 Benjamin Sheldon
1853 Wm. B. Castle