The materials for this work have been accumulating many years, but were far from complete, when Judge Barr turned over to me, his historical collections without reservation. He has been engaged with much assiduity more than a quarter of a century, in reclaiming the personal history of the pioneers; a labor which I trust their descendants will appreciate. The extent of the obligations I am under to him will appear frequently in this volume.
I am also indebted to a number of other gentlemen, particularly to General L.V. Bierce and the Hon. F. Wadsworth, of Akron, to Messrs. H.A. Smith, Prof. J. P. Kirtland, Jacob Perkins, Samuel Williamson, and the late James S. Clarke, Mrs. Ashbel W. Walworth, and Mrs. Dr. Long, all of Cleveland. The heirs of General Moses Cleaveland, and John Milton Holley, of Connecticut; the surviving sons of Governor Huntington, of Painesville, and Judge Witherell, of Detroit, have done me essential service.
Many documents relating to later periods, and to other parts of the Reserve have been procured; which will at some future period be required for historical purposes. I am more ambitious to preserve history, than to write it, and have therefore freely transcribed from papers, letters, verbal statements, and casual publications, relating to the early times. The originals are certainly more authentic, and more entertaining, than a reproduction would be, in the language of another. This plan necessarily involves some repetition, and defies strict chronological arrangement, but possesses more life, freshness and variety.
My prospectus included only the “Early History of Cleveland,” but with a mental reservation, had the subscription warranted me in the undertaking, to enlarge the work, and include what relates to the more recent progress of the city. This I have not been enabled to do. What concerns commercial matters, in later times; to railways, local improvements, institutions, general improvements, and general statistics, could not have been inserted, and do justice to those heroic pioneers, who laid the foundation of our prosperity. What refers to banks, churches, newspapers, trade, benevolent societies, manufactories, and the city authorities, is on record, and therefore not in danger of being lost.
In 1810, the county was organized, since when all judicial matters are to be found in the recorded proceedings of the various courts. The “Village of Cleaveland,” was incorporated in 1814, and its municipal record is in existence. A weekly newspaper called the Cleaveland Gazette and Commercial Advertiser, was issued in August, 1818. Since that time there are unbroken files, of weekly or daily papers for reference.
But for the more remote periods, it has been more difficult to obtain reliable information. Works relating to the early French and English occupation on Lake Erie, and especially the southern shore, are rare, and in respect to this region, their contents are very meagre. The papers of the Connecticut Land Company and their surveyors, have been only partially transferred to Ohio. Perhaps many of them are no longer to be found in Connecticut, and such as exist are so much scattered as to be in practice inaccessible.
The personal history of the first settlers and surveyors, has been partially procured. My principal object has been to secure from oblivion, what relates to them. Since they are no longer with us, to speak of themselves; what they accomplished, and what they suffered, was to be sought for in traditions, private letters, and transient publications. In carrying out this design, it was necessary to insert much that occurred outside of the city limits, in other parts of the Reserve. The history of the city and country, previous to the war of 1812 is so intimately connected, that is should be written as one.