Early History of the City of Cleveland, OH

From: A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
Publishers: The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924


THE CITY OF CLEVELAND
EARLY HISTORY
MUNICIPAL GOVERNMENT

As a municipality, prior to the organization as a city, Cleveland had nine chief magistrates. They were called presidents and had the powers afterwards conferred upon mayors. They were Alfred Kelley, Daniel Kelley, Horace Perry, Leonard Case, E. Waterman, Samuel Cowles; D. Long, Richard Hilliard, and J. W. Allen. These were the village heads. The police department at first consisted of John A. Ackley, who was the first marshal. Later on some deputy marshals were appointed to assist in preserving order, but the township government was efficient, and its part in the peace programme was quite general. The population of the municipality was a little over 1,000, being on a par with Columbus and Dayton. Each of these cities in 1830 had about the same number of inhabitants. Cleveland had the advantage of being a lake port, and the populace, as Dooley would put it, were progressive. The tax duplicate was small and there was little to do with, but the New England thrift was much in evidence. Connecticut led in the very early residents of the town, but Massachusetts and New York, were a good second. We can mention a few of the Connecticut men connected with this first attempt at municipal government, J. W. Allen, Sherlock J. Andrews, E. I. Baldwin, Alva Bradley, Francis Branch, Caius Burk, Ahira Cobb, Edwin Cowles, John Crowell, John H. Devereaux, Seneca O. Griswold, and Benjamin Harrington. This first form of government continued until 1836. The lake traffic received the first attention. The sandbar at the mouth of the river was a serious hindrance to lake traffic. The Hamlet of Brooklyn, across the river, was, although smaller, actively interested, but with an intense spirit of rivalry. Although small, it was full of enterprise. It is related that when H. Pelton opened a store over there in competition with that of J. Barber, the townspeople were so interested that it became an important event of the town. This spirit of rivalry, especially with the larger town across the river, continued for long and down to a time much later than the union of Ohio City and Cleveland.

In 1825 Congress, being importuned by citizens from both sides of the Cuyahoga, the east side and the west side, appropriated $5,000 for harbor improvements. The money was given to the collector of the port, Ashbel Walworth, without any survey being made and without any instructions as to how it should be used. Mr. Walworth was not an engineer and had no practical knowledge along those lines. He had some theory in his mind and was free to carry it out. He noticed that the sand piled up when the wind blew from the east, and concluded to build a pier out into the lake from the east side of the mouth of the river. This, he assumed, would remedy the trouble, as the sand would then be carried out into the lake by the force of the water of the river, and the channel be kept dear. He built a pier in accordance with this theory 600 feet out into the lake. He was not an expert, thus it was suggested that he was using common sense methods. The pier when constructed produced no satisfactory results. The sand piled up at the mouth of the river as before, and there was no increase in the depth of the water in the channel. In the fall of 1825 a mass meeting of citizens was held and the matter discussed. The town meeting was brought to the West from New England and often called into action. At this meeting $150 was raised to defray expenses, and Mr. Walworth was authorized to go to Washington to secure, if possible, another appropriation. Congress was not favorably inclined towards the proposition. They did not consider the location of sufficient importance to warrant the expenditure. Only thirty or forty vessels came to this port in the course of a year. Hon. Elisha Whittlesey was then a member of Congress from the district of which Cuyahoga County was a part. He immediately began working, in season and out, to secure the appropriation asked for. After a long struggle he got through a measure carrying an appropriation of $10,000, but too late for active work that year. The Government now decided to take charge of the work In 1827 Maj. T. W. Morris, at the head of the United States Engineering Corps, came to Cleveland and made a survey and reported a plan which was adopted by the Government. His plan provided for changing the course of the river, for building a pier east of the pier built by Mr. Walworth and thus compelling the river to flow between these piers out into the lake. He built a dam across the river opposite the south end of the Walworth pier. This dam was not closed until fall, but for the time being, it interfered with the passage of boats up the river. The lake captains were very angry. They thought the plan absurd, and abused all connected with it in regulation lake captain language. Their epithets were applied to the workmen and the works in equal volume. The schooner Lake Serpent entered the river and when ready for a voyage out, found itself shut in between the dam and a sandbar at the river mouth. The captain hired men to dig through the bar before he made the voyage. More profanity! When the fall rains came the river rose, the dam was closed, and teams of oxen with scrapers, and men with pick and shovel assisted it in clearing the new channel. When a small opening was made the river broke through and the rest was easy. When the Lake Serpent came back it entered the river by the new route and the channel was constantly deepening and enlarging. By this feat of engineering several acres of the Township of Cleveland were left on the west side of the river. The corporate limits of the city, however, only extended to the river. Major Maurice's plan was a success. The next year he began the eastern pier. Both piers were carried back through the sandy shore to the river and out into the lake, but not for $10,000. Successive appropriations were made until by 1840, $70,000 had been expended. The opening of the canal in 1827, the throwing up of so much malarial soil in its construction, caused an epidemic of bilious fever and an increase of fever and ague. Thus the progress of civilization often carries with it elements of disaster. The lake traffic, so very essential to this struggling settlement, took many lives before the construction of harbors and the later safeguard of the weather bureau; the canals, another great advance, brought disease and death in another way. The toll of the single track railroads as at first constructed was very great, and the advent of the motor vehicle, in its death dealing capacity, has led all the rest.

In 1828, before Cleveland was a city, a commodity now known as a necessity was first introduced, and its advent in town, as we look back to it now, and the attitude of the people in regard to it, is interesting history. The New Englanders, who dominated to quite an extent this new community, were also "from Missouri," they had to be shown. In this year mentioned, Henry Newberry, father of J. S. Newberry of geological fame, shipped to Cleveland a few tons of coal by canal. He attempted to introduce it as a fuel. A clever agent loaded a wagon with the product and drove about town. He was unable, after a day of hard work and much argument in which he expatiated upon its good qualities, to sell a single pound. No one wanted it. Wood was cheap and plenty, and housewives objected to the smoke and the dirt creating qualities of the new fuel. He would occasionally induce some man to take a little as a gift. At nightfall he drove up to the Franklin House, kept by Philo Scovill, and persuaded him to buy a portion of his load. He demonstrated its heating capacity by putting some grates in the barroom stove. This was the beginning of the coal business in Cleveland. Soon manufacturers were convinced of its good qualities, and large shipments were made, but it was a long time before it was used in the homes.

Two years after this the United States Government built a lighthouse on the bluff at the north end of Water (East Ninth) Street. It was 135 feet above the lake level and cost $8,000. The serious epidemic of sickness abated after a couple of years, and not till then did Cleveland take on real growth. In 1830, under the administration of Richard Hilliard, the common council ordered the grading of Superior and Ontario streets, Superior out to the present East Ninth Street, which was the eastern limit of the corporation, and Ontario as far as Central Market.

With a lighthouse and a river harbor, with a canal now opened to the Ohio River, with health returning, with money in abundance although paper, with new manufacturing establishments, among them an iron foundry built and operated by John Ballard and Company, with the Buffalo Purchase on the west side, a company aiming to lay out a city over there, Cleveland and Brooklyn began to put on city airs. There were still the swinging signs before the taverns. A guide board at the corner of Ontario and the Public Square indicated the distance to Painesville and Erie on the east, and Buffalo, Portsmouth on the south, and Detroit northward. A census of the town taken in 1835 indicated a population of 5,080, showing that it had doubled and more in two years.

A little chagrined that Brooklyn, across the river, had beaten them and established Ohio City a few days ahead, thus becoming the first city in the county, the Cleveland of their dreams was brought into being by the citizens. The first mayor was John W. Willey, who was elected in 1836. The city as first established had three wards. Richard Hilliard, Joshua Mills, and Nicholas Dockstader were aldermen; Sherlock J. Andrews was president of the council; Henry B. Payne was the attorney and clerk; Daniel Worley, treasurer; John Shier, civil engineer; Benjamin Rouse, street commissioner; George Kirk, marshal, and Samuel Cook, chief of the fire department. In the first forty years of its corporate life Cleveland had twenty one mayors, John W. Willey, Joshua Mills, Nicholas Dockstader, John W. Allen, Nelson Hayward, Samuel Starkweather, George Hoadley, Josiah A. Harris, Lorenzo A. Kelsey, Flavel W. Bingham, William Case, Abner C. Brownell, William B. Castle, George B. Senter, Edward S. Flint, Irvine U. Masters, Herman H. Chapin, Stephen Buhrer, Frederick W. Pelton, Charles A. Otis, and Nathan B. Payne. As president of the city council under Mayor Payne was John H. Farley, afterwards mayor of the city. Covering this period we note some items of interest. In the administration of the first mayor the American House was opened, and the Government bought land for the Marine Hospital, which was built later. In that of J. W. Allen, the first copy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer appeared with J. W. Gray as editor, and Superior Street was paved with plank. While George Hoadley was in office the Weddell House was opened, to be for a long time the finest hotel in the city. When Lorenzo A. Kelsey was mayor in 1842 the Board of Trade was established, which developed into the Chamber of Commerce. In Flavel W. Bingham's administration the first gas was furnished to the city. Mayor Case was in office when, on February 22d, the celebration of the opening of the railroad to Cincinnati was held. When Mayor Abner C. Brownell was on his first term, the Homeopathic College, located in a block at the southeast corner of Ontario and Prospect streets, was destroyed by a mob, and the Academy of Music on Bank (West Third) Street was built. During his service also Cleveland was given a new charter, and the first police court was established. The Cleveland Library was then established, but there was no tax levy made for its support until 1867. Another public enterprise of vital importance was the starting of a waterworks, and commissioners were appointed by Mayor Brownell. We now come to Greater Cleveland. The city on the east side of the river was outstripping the one on the west side. Ohio City was full of pep. It had fathered the building of the canal extension referred to in a previous chapter, but the population of Cleveland was much ahead. Land speculation was rampant. City lots in Cleveland were going up in price, and agitation for annexation or a union of the two cities came to the front. Both cities had passed through the period of inflation and the collapse following in which the Bank of Lake Erie stood the storm, though many of its customers failed. This bath foreclosed either by legal process or agreement and became the largest land owner in the city. When its charter expired in 1842, it wound up its business. From 1836 to 1840 there was little increase in the population of either city. Manufacturing was coming, as W. A. Otis had established an iron works, and several thousand tons of coal were received over the canal annually. Superior Street and some others had been paved with plank but it was not a very satisfactory roadway. The planks became warped and worn, and down on River Street the high water often washed them away. They next tried limestone, and that crumbled, and the first successful paving was that of Medina sandstone. The population of Cleveland in 1845 was 9,073. The steamer trade made the hotels prosperous. Churches sprang up and education was not neglected. The Cleveland Free High School was the first institution of the kind in the state. Ohio City was spreading west and north, and Cleveland east and south. The lots in Ohio City were large, usually containing two acres, and Cleveland lots were smaller. The population of Cleveland in 1850 was over 17,000, while that of Ohio City was less than 4,000. Cleveland was at that time a commercial city primarily. The chief business of the town was to receive produce from Northern Ohio and ship to the East and get manufactured articles in return. There was an attempt to bring copper from Lake Superior and smelt it here, but it did not continue. Before 1850 there were over 900 ships arriving with cargoes at the port of Cleveland and a still larger number of steamboats with passengers, and this only sixteen years after the first steamer, the Walk in the Water, made its trial voyage.

The proposition of annexation was taken up by the appointment of W. A. Otis, H. V. Wilson, and E. T. Backus, commissioners for Cleveland, and W. B. Castle, N. M. Standart, and C. S. Rhodes, commissioners for Ohio City. These commissioners arranged terms of annexation as follows: The four wards of Ohio City to be the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh wards of Cleveland, and the west side to have at all times as large a proportionate number of wards as it had of population. The property of both cities was to belong to the joint corporation, which was to assume the debts of both. The question was submitted to the voters on the first Monday of April, 1854. The vote in Cleveland stood 892 for and 400 against the proposition, and in Ohio City or the City of Ohio, as it was officially known, 618 for and 258 against. Thus it carried by a larger majority in Ohio City. The formal ordinances were passed by the councils of the two corporations, in Cleveland June 5, 1854, and in Ohio City the next day. This added quite a population to the city, but there were no further annexations of territory until after the Civil war. In 1861 petroleum was discovered in Western Pennsylvania, and soon after the Standard Oil Company began operations in Cleveland. This, however, will be discussed later. In the election following the annexation of Ohio City, W. B. Castle, the last mayor of Ohio City, was elected mayor of Cleveland. In his administration the City Infirmary was completed and the New England Society organized. In 1857, under the second administration of Samuel Starkweather, occurred the burning of the Old Stone Church on the Public Square. This year also land was bought by the city for the Central Market. These are merely running notes reviving memories of the period. In 1860 the Fast Cleveland Street Railway Company was organized, and two years later the volunteer fire companies disbanded, their place being taken by the more efficient department of paid firemen. In 1865 Charity Hospital was opened, and two years later the Western Reserve Historical Society was founded. In this year, under the administration of Mayor Stephen Buhrer, a new addition to Greater Cleveland was made. A thriving village had grown up between Willson Avenue (Fifty fifth Street) and Doan's Corners. It was called East Cleveland. Annexation was agitated and commissioners appointed. The commissioners for Cleveland were H. B. Payne, J. P. Robinson, and John Huntington, and for Fast Cleveland, John E. Hurlbut, John W. Heisley, afterwards Common Pleas judge, and William A. Neff. It was agreed that East Cleveland was to become the sixteenth and seventeenth wards of Cleveland, and that the East Cleveland High School should remain as before until changed by a vote of three fourths of the common council. This provision had to do with the retention of Elroy M. Avery as principal of the East Cleveland High School, who was an educator of high standing. The ordinance of annexation was passed by the Cleveland council October 24, 1867, and by the council of East Cleveland five days later. During Mayor Buhrer's term the Bethel Mission, located at the foot of Superior Street and devoted largely to the relief of needy sailors, was incorporated. From about this period or a little later, the iron and oil industries had developed to such an extent that Cleveland began to be considered a manufacturing city. The Civil war, as has been said, found Cleveland a commercial city and left it a manufacturing city.

Among the disadvantages coming with the advent of large manufacturing establishments and the increase of population was the contamination of the water supply. It was proposed to go out farther into the lake, and the first waterworks tunnel was begun. This was completed in 1874. In 1869 Lake View Cemetery was laid out, and in 1871 the workhouse on Woodland Avenue was opened to receive offenders and, as another item of historical interest, the Early Settlers' Association was organized with Harvey Rice as its president In the following year occurred the epidemic among the horses, called the epizootic, when, not having learned to harness electricity and gasoline to labor, the cars stopped running in the streets, and business was at a standstill. In this horseless age we can look back upon this episode with a new interest. Perhaps the realization brought so forcibly before the people at that time, of their dependence upon that faithful servant, the horse, had its effect, for the next year the Cleveland Humane Society was organized. In 1873 the Cleveland Bar Association was organized. This organization in the present year held a banquet celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its formation. In 1873 also another boost was given to Greater Cleveland by the annexation of its early rival, Newburgh, on the south, which became the eighteenth ward of the city, and about this time the city limits were extended to include a large belt of territory from the townships of East Cleveland and Brooklyn. The population of the city had now reached 100,000.

We have omitted to mention as one of the first acts of the city government under its first mayor, John W. Willey, the grading of the Public Square. This was a notable change made in the transition from a village to a city government. The gift of Boston Common to the City of Boston, Massachusetts, provided that it should remain in its natural state, and the City of Boston has no right to grade or put streets through its territory, but there was no such restriction attached to the Cleveland public square. W. A. Wing, afterwards a resident of Strongsville, was given the contract of grading. The square was quite uneven, a cow pasture, and the improvement was very marked. Where the Society for Savings Building stands, on the north side, there was a low marsh providing a convenient place for depositing the surplus earth When the great building was constructed in later years there was difficulty in getting a suitable foundation and this was provided by laying an immense bodyof concrete reinforced by railroad iron of track length and this crossed tier upon tier.

Since the annexation of Ohio City in 1855 there have been twenty three mayors of the city, ten of those first elected serving only their one term of two years. W. G. Rose, R. R. Herrick, John H. Farley, George W. Gardner, Robert E. McKisson, Tom L. Johnson, Newton D. Baker, and Harry L. Davis, among the later mayors, serving for longer periods. The water supply came from wells, springs and cisterns until, under the administration of W. B. Castle, the Kentucky Street reservoir was built and the water pumped in from the lake to be distributed in pipes throughout the city. Thus the modern mound builders came into existence, their earth works constructed for a different purpose than those built in prehistoric times.

Up to the administration of Mayor Castle, also, the marketing was done on the streets. In 1857 action was taken by the city council, and the Central Market established. After sixty six years of existence it is now in active operation, and its history, if told in full, would fill a volume. Like the old French Market of New Orleans, it could be made the central theme of many an interesting storey. A part of a cosmopolitan city, it speaks in many languages, but all closely interwoven with the official language of the United States.

The mayors of Cleveland during the Civil war were Edwin S. Flint, Irvine U. Masters, and Herman H. Chapin. The activities of that period were many, but the great problem of saving the Union was foremost in. every mind, and local problems to a large extent were crowded to the rear. Stephen Buhrer, whose term began in 1867, served for four years. He was followed by Frederick S. Pelton, and he by Charles A. Otis. It may be said of the three mentioned that they were men of high character and prominent in the business world. Their service to the city was marked by high ideals. Each looked upon his service as a public duty to be performed for the interests of the city they were called upon to serve. Nathan B. Payne, who followed Mayor Otis, was fortunate in having as president of his city council, John H. Farley, and here Mr. Farley studied the problems of the growing city which he was later to come in contact with in the mayor's chair. George W. Gardner, Commodore Gardner, was president of the city council during the administration of Mayor it R. Herrick, and later became mayor of the city. Others who have served as Cleveland's mayor have first had experience in another capacity in the city government. Thus the city has not been in the hands of inexperienced men, but its affairs administered by men of high standing who have studied the problems of city government. To the municipal government then we must give due credit for that wonderful transformation that has brought forth from a little settlement on both sides of a sand choked river a modern industrial city of 1,000,000 inhabitants, with a land value alone of $1,250,000,000, and producing manufactured products valued at $400,000,000 annually.

Following the first administration of John H. Farley, from '83 to '85, came the first administration of George W. Gardner. He was followed by Brenton D. Babcock. Mr. Babcock was a successful business man, but not ambitious for public office. He was drafted into the race for mayor against William M. Bayne, who was charged with being a politician, as noted served efficiently as the head of the city council and was active in politics. The slogan of a business man for mayor proved effective, and Mr. Babcock was elected. The friction attending the duties devolving upon the office of mayor were not attractive to the new mayor. It is related of him that on the first week of his term he kicked several applicants for position out of his office, and said if the Lord would let him live to the end of his term he would never hold public office again, and he lived through and kept his word. This incident is not given here to disparage Mr. Babcock, who was a most excellent man and a good mayor, but to show the trying duties attending the office. In Mr. Babcock's term the Central Viaduct at the foot of Superior Street was completed and dedicated, the first great structure crossing the Cuyahoga, and at that time of world wide interest. It was the first great physical tie uniting the east and west sides in one, as they had previously been united politically.

In 1882, during the administration of Mayor R. R. Herrick, Wade Park was accepted by the city, having been given to it by J. H. Wade, but with certain conditions that must be complied with on the part of the city. The next year, under the second administration of Mayor William G. Rose, the title to Gordon Park was given to the city, another large acquisition to the park system. Under the administration of Mayor Robert Blee, West Cleveland and Brooklyn were annexed to the city, and another large increase of territory and population acquired.

In 1860 the East Cleveland Street Railway was organized with J. H. Hardy as its president. This was the first street railway in the city. Like similar enterprises in growing cities it was a private enterprise operating under a franchise from the municipality. As the city grew, the value of the franchise increased in a corresponding ratio, and the terms of renewals and of additional franchises became important, and so the street railways got into politics. From the building of the East Cleveland Street Railway other franchises were given and more and more invested. Aside from getting good service the people of the city were interested in getting the lowest possible rate of fare. Robert E. McKisson, who succeeded Mayor Blee, began an assault upon the street railways in his campaign for mayor and advocated lower fare. He has been credited with being the first advocate of 3 cent fare. This naturally was a taking proposition with the people not interested otherwise in the roads. Mr. McKisson was a young man, born on the Western Reserve. Coming to Cleveland he practiced law and in a few years was elected to the city council. He immediately became prominent in that body. He advocated with great spirit the collection and disposition of garbage, which up to that time had been thrown into back yards, buried, burned or otherwise disposed of in a manner that became a menace to the health of the citizens. Other measures of public import which he championed brought him into prominence. He made a vigorous campaign for mayor, and was opposed for the nomination by the adherents of M. A. Hanna, who was a large owner in many enterprises in the city, including the street railways. The republican party was then the dominant party in the city, and it was soon divided into the Hanna and McKisson factions. This condition existed during the four years of Mr. McKisson's administration and for some time afterwards. The contest between these two factions became so bitter that when Mr. Hanna became a candidate before the Legislature to succeed himself as United States Senator, Mr. McKisson became a candidate against him. Mr. Hanna was just coming into prominence as a great national leader, and the members of the Legislature from this county who entered into the plan to defeat him were sharply criticised in the public prints, and the breach of the factions became wider.

Mr. McKisson, as mayor, inaugurated many public improvements of great value to the city. The intercepting sewer, the widening of the river, the reclaiming of the lake front, the garbage disposal plant, the new waterworks tunnel, Edgewater Park, the Rockefeller Boulevard, and the Group Plan are some of the most important ones. During his administration the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the city occurred. The first steps in the project were taken by the Early Settlers' Association at their annual meeting in 1893. A committee was appointed to confer with the city council, the Chamber of Commerce and other local bodies urging some action in regard to celebrating the day. The president, Hon. Richard C. Parsons, appointed a committee consisting of Hon. John C. Covert, Gen. James Barnett and others, and much enthusiasm was aroused. The Chamber of Commerce, the same year, passed a resolution favoring the celebration, and Pres. H. R. Goff appointed Wilson M. Day, H. A. Garfield, S. F. Haserot, V. C. Taylor, and L. F. Loree as a committee to further the project. A centennial commission was selected in 1895. It consisted of Governor William McKinley, Secretary of State Samuel M. Taylor, Auditor of State E. W. Poe, President of the Senate A. L. Harris, Speaker of the House Alexander Boxwell, Mayor Robert E. McKisson, Directors Miner G. Norton, Darwin E. Wright, President of the City Council Dan F. Reynolds, Jr., and Director of Schools H. Q. Sargeant. The Early Settlers' Association was represented on the commission by R. C. Parsons, George F. Marshall, A. J. Williams, H. M. Addison, and Bolivar Butts. Other members of the commission were W. J. Akers, Henry S. Brooks, Charles W. Chase, Wilson M. Day, M. A. Foran, L. E. Holden, Moritz Joseph, George W. Kinney, Jacob B. Perkins, and Augustus Zehring.

As the expense of the celebration had to be met by private subscriptions many meetings were held in 1905 and much oratory indulged in. Among those who addressed Cleveland audiences on the subject were Governor McKinley, James H. Hoyt, L. E. Holden, H. R. Hatch, and John C. Covert. These were but a handful to the number who spoke during the celebration, which was one of the most eventful occasions in the history of the city. An illustrated volume of the centennial was compiled by Edward A. Roberts, historian of the occasion, who was secretary of the commission during its active life, as many changes were made before the final celebration occurred. In this may be found the addresses delivered by many, including Mrs. Elroy M. Avery, Adj. Gen. H. A. iodine, Mrs. Sarah K. Bolton, Governor Asa S. Bushnell, W. F. Carr, Gen. James R. Carnahan, J. G. W. Cowles, Mrs. T. K. Dissette, Gen. J. J. Elwell, Mrs. Lydia Hoyt Farmer, Dr. Levi Gilbert, Rabbi Moses J. Gries, Senator Joseph R. Hawley of Connecticut, B. A. Hinsdale, Mrs. W. A. Ingham, Asa W. Jones, W. S. Kerruish, Governor Charles Warren Lippitt of Rhode Island, John T. Mack, editor and president of the Ohio associated dailies; Judge U. L. Marvin, William McKinley, introduced as Major McKinley, H. C. Ranney, John D. Rockefeller, Senator Jobs Sherman, Mrs. N. Coe Stewart, Mrs. B. F. Taylor, Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, author of the History of the Western Reserve; L. H. Jones, superintendent of the Cleveland Public Schools; Mgr. T. P. Thorp, President Thwing, of Western Reserve University; Prof. Jeremiah Smith, of Harvard; Rev. H. J. Ruetenik, of Calvin College, and poems by Col. J. J. Piatt, Miss Hannah Alice Foster, and Frederick Boyd Stevenson. A log cabin was built on the Public Square and a centennial arch, 70 feet high, 106 feet wide, and 20 feet thick. A centennial medal was struck and placed in circulation.

The celebration lasted from July 19th to September 10th, and included the following events: Special services in the churches and mass meetings in Central Armory and Music Hall, opening of Ohio National Guard and United States Regulars' Encampment, opening of the log cabin. Founder's Day, New England Day, Wheelmen's Day, Bicycle Races, Women's Day, Early Settlers' Day, Western Reserve Day, Yacht Regatta, Floral Festival, Knights of Pythias Encampment opening, Historical Conference, and Perry's Victory Day. Multitudes of committees were appointed and serving, a grand ball, banquets, parades, athletics, and spectacular entertainments requiring in their successful accomplishment a great amount of labor. The historical conference lasted three days. The total expenses of the celebration was nearly $75,000. At its close the Women's Department prepared a box or casket, which was lined with asbestos paper and filled with newspapers, mementos, and historical matter pertainrng to the celebration and the city. This was hermetically sealed and deposited with the Western Reserve Historical Society, not to be opened until 1996 and then by a lineal descendant of their executive board. During the filling of the casket this sentiment was expressed: "May these annals of Cleveland's first one hundred years be an inspiration to the generations of 1996 for continuity of worthy effort." Western Reserve Day was participated in by the entire reserve, committees being appointed from every county. At this time, as featured by the addresses, Cleveland had a population of 330,000, with 2,065 manufacturing establishments, employrng 53,349 hands, and paying a total annual wage of $30,500,000.

Mayor McKisson was succeeded in office by John H. Farley, who was for a second time elected as the city's chief magistrate. Mr. Farley's administration was not spectacular but characterized by economy and steady attention to needed public improvements. He was partisan in his appointments, believing that this was the best method to secure harmony in the official fold. The story was often related of him that when asked to retain in some minor position a man of the former administration, who was of the opposite political party but had had the misfortune to lose a leg, the mayor replied that if he could not find a good one legged democrat to fill the place he would cut off a leg. This administration was sandwiched in between the aggressive one that preceded him and the still more aggressive and brilliant one that was to follow.

The administration of Tom L. Johnson, which followed that of Mr. Farley and continued for ten years, was one, like that of Mayor Pingree, of Detroit, that kept before the people actively the municipal government and its relation to the people's interests. Mr. Johnson was born in Kentucky and had risen from a newsboy to a man of wealth. When he came to Cleveland to become its candidate for mayor he came from New York, but he had previously been a resident here, and been a successful street railway owner and operator in Cleveland, had served in Congress from this district, and was known as a man of wealth and remarkable ability. He had been popular as a street railway operator, his property had been accumulated in the street railway business, but he immediately, as a candidate, began an assault upon special privilege and specifically advocated 3 cent fare. This change from a franchise getter to a people's advocate was heralded and his meetings were crowded. The feeling prevailed that in his advocacy of 3 cent fare so specifically put forth he must know from his experience as a railroad man that it was possible and due the people. He held large meetings and continued them, usually in tents, in all his campaigns. He delighted in a fight and was at his best when engaged in argument and often invited his political enemies to speak at his meetings. As illustrating the character of this remarkable man it is related that when engaged with a Mr. Moxham in negotiations involving a large deal with the Cambria Iron Company of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and when the matter was reaching its climax he was discovered playing checkers with the bootblack at the dub where the officials were in conference. He was berated and charged with having disgraced his associates when he came forward with this defense: "But, Arthur, you don't know what a hell of a good game of checkers this boy plays!"

Elected and reelected he became the political leader of his party and soon there was hardly an officer in the city or county government that was not selected by him. The story of his street railway activities, the building and operating of a 3 cent fare line in Cleveland, and, as the franchises were expiring, the final operation under the Taylor grant, is too long to be told in this chapter. His administration as mayor was characterized by great ability on his part and while serving in that capacity he made a campaign for governor of Ohio but was defeated, due largely to his advocacy of "single tax," to which doctrine he was converted by Henry George. He was defeated in his sixth campaign for mayor by Herman Baehr. The establishing of the Warrensville farm for a workhouse and city infirmary where hundreds of acres are cultivated, providing outdoor labor for the inmates, stands as one of the achievements of his administration. Newton D. Baker was his director of law during the whole of his time as mayor and was later an occupant of the mayor's chair. To show the prominence given Cleveland by the Johnson administration it may be said that at one time he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for President of the United States. Shortly after his death a monument was erected to his memory on the Public Square.

Herman Baehr, who defeated Mr. Johnson for mayor after five others had failed, entered upon his duties January 1, 1910. He was not a good press agent. He had served as county recorder and was known as a faithful and efficient official. His defeat of the man, who had been thought invincible, brought upon him the enmity of that portion of the press that had been particularly favorable to Mr. Johnson in all of his campaigns. The representatives of one paper were forbidden to enter his office. Thus the acts of his administration were not heralded to the public, particularly the accomplishments that deserved favorable notice, as were those of his predecessor. He offended his political friends considerably by taking some of the appointments out of the expected channel. Believing that the health department, so important to the well being of the city, should not be used in any sense to reward political friends, he turned the matter of appointments in that department over to the Cleveland Academy of Medicine. He saw that the expenditures of the city were kept within its income. During his administration for the first time in the city car riders had actual 3 cent fare. Previous to that time 1 cent had been charged for transfers, making the fare 4 cents in many instances. The free transfer system was adopted under his administration with his commissioner of the street railways installed in the department. During his administration the largest paving and street repair programme was carried out that had been accomplished in any of the ten years preceding. He laid the cornerstone of the tuberculosis hospital at Warrensville, and the cornerstone of the present city hall. He championed the elimination of grade crossings in the city and a proposed bond issue for that purpose was voted up. He built a new branch waterworks tunnel supplying the west side, and agitated the project of a filtration plant. He transformed the Central Viaduct from a drawbridge into a high level bridge after a loaded car had fallen through the draw killing seventeen people. This accident occurred in 1895, five years before he was installed in office. He enlarged and paved University Circle and established additional playgrounds for the children. He might have been dubbed the father of the little park system. When he went out of office (he was not a candidate for a second term) he left money in the city treasury for the Kingsbury Run Improvement and a new bath house at Edgewater Park. He originated the municipal park concerts and with them, Rose Day and Spring Day. He renewed the franchise with the East Ohio Gas Company at the same rate established in the original franchise secured by Mayor Johnson, but at a time when by reason of advanced wages it was extremely favorable to the gas users of the city. These are some of the accomplishments of the two years of Mayor Baehr. He took office when Cleveland had a population, according to the official census of that year, of 560,663. In Mr. Baehr's administration occurred the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the organization of the county, at Cleveland.

The Cuyahoga County centennial celebration was an event of great interest. In the week's programme there occurred the dedication of the Denison-Harvard and the Rocky River bridges and the new courthouse. The newspapers of the city gave much space, printed and pictorial, to the programme of the week. On Monday morning of October 10th there appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer a cartoon by Donahey, "The Fruitage of a Century," which for suggestive beauty has rarely been equalled. The celebration was held under the direction of a commission of which William H. Hunt was president; J. Arthur House, treasurer, and R. H. McLaughlan, secretary. It included a military and historic pageant, a night carnival, display of historic exhibits, various dedications mentioned, and an elaborate industrial parade, all showing the growth and present greatness of Cuyahoga County. Harry L. Vail was chairman of the entertainment committee; Charles E. Adams, of the finance; Wallace H. Cathgart, publicity, and Vincent A. Sincere, decorations. 1810 and 1910 occurred in every unit of the decorations. The Sunday before gala week was devoted to special services in the churches. Monday, Early Settlers' Day, was ushered in with a salute of a hundred guns, one for each year, fired from the United States steamer Dorothea. The exercises were presided over by O. J. Hodge, president of the Early Settlers' Association. The meeting was held on the Public Square and Hon. Paul Howland, Samuel D. Dodge, and Hon. William Gordon delivered addresses. At the dedication of the Denison-Harvard bridge, John G. Fischer presided and Capt. C. E. Benham, W. F. Eirich, Rev. Arthur C. Ludlow, and Dr. Dan F. Bradley spoke. In the evening a second mass. meeting was held in the Chamber of Commerce auditorium, presided over by William J. Hunt, at which Charles E. Adams, George W. Kinney, Rabbi Moses J. Gries, Dr. Paul F. Sutpen, and Prof. Mattoon M. Curtis were the speakers.

Tuesday was West Side Day. Its leading features were an immense automobile parade and the dedication of the Rocky River bridge. At the dedication Hon. Thomas P. Schmidt, Harry L. Vail, and E. J. Hobday were the speakers. Wednesday was Columbus Day and the parade of the Italian societies, a meeting at which Mayor Herman C. Baehr, Dr. S. Barricella, and S Tamburella spoke and an evening devoted to fireworks provided by the Italian societies and to music provided by Robertson's band were the principal features.

Thursday was Cleveland Day and a great meeting presided over by R. W. Taylor was the principal event. Gen. James Barnett was designated as honorary chairman. Mayor Baehr spoke on "Our City." Mrs. Sarah E. Hyre on "Woman's Part in the Development of Cleveland"; John Carrere, of the Group Plan Commission, on "The City Beautiful"; Newton D. Baker, law director, on "Citizen Ideals," and James F. Jackson, superintendent of charities, on "The Humanitarian Phase of the City Government" Friday was County Day when came the dedication of the new courthouse at which judge F. A. Henry, Judge Harvey Keeler, and United States Attorney William L. Day were the speakers.

It will be remembered that at the celebration in 18% of the anniversary of the settlement of Cleveland, a great feature was the bicycle parade, and at this one came the automobile parade, but the historic sequence was carried still further, for, during the week, Glenn Curtiss with his airplane made frequent flights out over the lake as far as the waterworks crib to the astonishment of the spectators. To make the setting more realistic a company of Indians camped on the Public Square during the week, among them a Chippewa and a Shawnee chief.

Mayor Baehr was succeeded in office by Newton D. Baker, who came to Cleveland from West Virginia in 1899 and engaged in the practice of law. In the language of Carl Lorenz, a biographer of Mayor Johnson, "he was a polite and thorough gentleman and ever considerate. There was something soothing in the tone of his voice, which praised him. Even the coarse and illiterate were charmed by his language." He espoused the cause of Mr. Johnson and was law director during the whole time of Mr. Johnson's administration. His admiration for the mayor was undimmed. He took no stock in the charge that his chief was violating business ethics in assaulting those to whom he had sold his railroad properties, or in the suggestion that he was denouncing special privilege after he had acquired a competence as its beneficiary. He was fighting for the people's interest and that was enough. Probably no mayor since the city was organized has performed the official and semi official duties of the office with so little personal friction as did Mr. Baker. Although firm in his views and relentless in carrying out his policies he was not of a type to beget personal antagonisms. A history of his four years as mayor, the activities and achievements of that period would cover, if recited in full, much space. Taking office January 1, 1912, he called about him a cabinet consisting of John N. Stockwell, director of law; Thomas L. Sidlo, public service; Harris R. Cooley, welfare; Alfred A. Benesch, safety; Thomas Coughlin, finance; Charles W. Stage, public utilities, and Peter Witt, street railway commissioner. His secretary was Milton L. Young.

As building up the civic spirit of the city, celebrations came to be much in vogue and in Mayor Baker's administration occurred the celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Lake Erie, or Perry's victory, as it is more commonly styled. This began September 14th. The old Niagara was tied to the dock and thousands visited this relic of a hundred years before. Each child was given an American flag as a souvenir of his visit There was Niagara Day, Perry Day, Children's and Women's Day, and the last day included a motor boat race and a grand parade in the streets. The street parade was under the direction of Maj. Charles R. Miller, marshal, with Felix Rosenberg as his chief of staff. Like other celebrations it closed with fireworks on the lake front. The completion and occupancy of the new city hall, the building and opening of the new art gallery in Wade Park, and the completion of the Superior Street high level bridge were interesting events in this administration. The most important, however, was the change in the city government by the adoption of a new city charter. A home rule charter, strongly advocated by Mr. Baker, was approved by the voters of the city in July, 1913. The provisions of this are set forth in a history of the city by Mr. Avery, published shortly after its adoption. Mayor Baker declined a nomination as mayor for a third term and entered the cabinet of President Wilson as Secretary of War, which trying post he filled during the World war, when, at the dose of President Wilson's administration, he resumed the practice of law in Cleveland. On his return to private life he was elected president of the Chamber of Commerce of Cleveland and distinguished himself in that capacity in a series of published letters debating with President Gompers, of the labor world, phases of that important subject, the relationship between capital and labor.

At the close of Mr. Baker's administration the city founded by Moses Cleveland and battled for in its primal infancy by Lorenzo Carter, was the sixth city in population in the United States, the fifth in manufactures, and, some historian has said, the first in civic attainment. It had nearly 1,000,000 population and land in its corporate limits that sold in Lorenzo Carter's time for a dollar an acre had multiplied in value two million times.

The administration of Mayor Harry L. Davis, which followed that of Mr. Baker, began in 1916. The city had gone through several changes in form of government and another was to follow. The first change was to the Federal plan, so called. because adopted from its similarity to the Federal Government. John M. Wilcox, Judge E. J. Blandin and others had been advocating a change in the form of the city government and while this was under consideration, a daughter of Mr. Wilcox suggested the Federal plan to her father. This plan in brief embraced the appointment of a cabinet by the mayor each member to have charge of a department of the city government as the cabinet of the President of the republic operates at Washington. This plan was presented to a group of citizens by Mr. Wilcox and adopted and the necessary legislation secured. Miss Winnie Wilcox, now Mrs. Seymour Paine, and for years on the staff of the Cleveland Press, writing under the pseudonym of Mrs. Maxwell, was the originator of the Federal plan of city government, which in its general form has not been changed. In 1912 a new state constitution was adopted providing for home rule for cities and following this the new city charter came into being, as previously stated, making the second change in the city government. Mr. Davis assumed the duties of mayor during the stress of the World war and was reelected by a large majority. Of Welsh descent he began life in the old eighteenth, the Newburgh ward of Cleveland. He had worked in the rolling mills there, and, inclined to political life, had risen to be city treasurer, when that office was elective. This gave him a large acquaintance. He ran for mayor against Mr. Baker and was defeated, but again a candidate with a less formidable opponent he won.

His chief adviser in the cabinet, or board of control, was the law director, William S. FitzGerald. When President Wilson came to Cleveland to speak there was no hall suitable for the meeting and public interest was aroused looking to the erection of a public auditorium. Mayor Davis immediately began an active campaign for the building. He was supported by the newspapers of the city and a bond issue was voted by the people. Then began the acquiring of a suitable site. In this work Mr. FitzGerald as law director was quite successful. The site selected was held by over fifty different owners and the land was secured by the city for less than the appraised value. When the proposition for a railroad depot on the lake front was under consideration, Mr. FitzGerald went to Washington and secured the necessary legislation for the sale of the Marine Hospital, which became necessary in connection with the proposed depot. The change to a subway depot at the Public Square made the acquiring of the Marine Hospital site unnecessary but the work of getting the legislation through Congress had been accomplished. Among other things Mr. FitzGerald, in the Davis administration, drafted and secured the passage of a bill in the Legislature declaring the "made land" on the lake front vested in the city. This had long been in controversy. The building of the breakwater had brought new problems to the city and the question of the ownership of land created by the extension of the shore northward from land owned by the railroads and individuals, was prominent in many administrations. Under the McKisson administration director of law, Miner G. Norton, battled for the lake front and the city increased by many acres the "made land," which was designated unofficially as "McKisson Park" The activities of the Davis administration during the World war were in keeping with those everywhere over the land. Mayor Davis appointed a war board, whose duties were many and who were in active service until the armistice was signed. Probably in no other period of the history of the city were so many public demonstrations of such magnitude held as in the administration of Mayor Davis. It is a part of the history of our country in the war. Mr. Davis began the new auditorium, spoke in public gatherings for the bond issue, which carried, and had the building under way, when, after being reelected, he resigned as mayor to make a successful campaign for governor of the state. Thus in quite recent years two of Cleveland's mayors have been advanced to higher positions, Mr. Baker to serve as Secretary of War in the cabinet of President Wilson, and Mr. Davis to serve as governor of Ohio.

May 1, 1920, by the resignation of Mayor Davis, William S. FitzGerald became mayor of the city by virtue of his position as law director. The council and city government were as follows: Councilmen, Alva R. Dittrick, John A. Braschwitz, Samuel B. Michell, Frank J. Faulhaber, John P. Becker, Clayton C. Townes, Jerry R. Zmunt, Michael J. Gallagher, James J McGinty, John W. Reynolds, Thomas W. Fleming, Herman H Fickle, Charles H. Kadlacek, Bernard E. Orlikowski, W. E. McNaughton, John F. Curry, Jacob Stacel, L. R. Canfield, Perry D. Caldwell, S. D. Noragon, John M. Sulzmann, Harry L. Bronstrup, A. J. Damm, Walter E. Cook, J. R. Hinchliffe, and William Potter, Mayor William S. FitzGerald, president of the council; Clayton C. Townes, director of law; William B. Woods, director of public service; Alexander Bernstein, director of public welfare; Dudley S. Blossom, director of public safety; Anton B. Sprosty, director of finance; Clarence S. Metcalf, public utilities; Thomas S. Farrell, parks and public property; Fred W. Thomas, street railroad commissioner; Fielder Sanders, clerk of the city council; C. J. Benkoski, assistants, Herbert C. Wood, Charles E. Cowell, and Charles V. Dickerson; sergeant at arms of the council, Herman H. Hamlin, and page, E. F. Manning.

Mayor FitzGerald was succeeded in office by Fred Kohler, who stepped from a county office, that of county commissioner, to a successful candidacy for mayor. Mr. Kohler was opposed in the race by Mr. FitzGerald, who had the support of the republican organization, Councilman James R. Hinctdiffe, who had strong newspaper support, of the same party, and was himself a republican. He made a personal campaign and won with no political debts to pay and no political strings to tie him down to any course of action. Elected at the same time was a larger council than had ever before assembled in the city. The growth of the city involving a new division of its territory into wards had added seven more councilmen to that body. The council elected with Mr. Kohler included seventeen of the former councilmen and Liston G. Schooley, Michael L. Sammon, P. F. Rieder, John J. Moore, A. J. Mitchel, Thomas E. Walsh, William F. Thompson, John D. Marshall, Wellington J. Smith, James R. Oswald, R. C. Wheeler, Albert H. Roberts, Louis Petrash, Edward J. Sklenicka, R. S. Force, and Charles C. Hahn, a total of thirty three. Clayton C. Townes was reelected president of the council and the executive department of the city was as follows: Mayor, Fred Kohler; director of law, J. Paul Lamb; public service, J. F. Maline; public welfare, Ralph Perkins; public safety, T. C. Martinec; finance, G. A. Gesell; public utilities, E. L. Myers; parks and public property, G. A. Reutenik; street railroad commissioner, James W. Holcomb. The clerk of the council was Fred W. Thomas, and his assistants the same as in the former council, including Charles E. Cowell, who has served in that capacity for seventeen years.

Mr. Kohler began his administration by a reduction of salaries and a reduction of the force employed in many departments. He clashed with the council on many important matters, clashed with his official family on many occasions, but throughout his two years as mayor held to his original programme of retrenchment and according to his report filed at the close of his term had saved to the city $2,800,000 and had left in the city treasury a cash balance of $1,800,000. His report for 1923 indicates in some measure the magnitude of the city's business. Forty three miles of new pavement were laid, 20,000 street opening permits were issued, nearly 23,000,000 pounds of garbage were collected, about 200,000 yards of mud were dredged out of the river channel, and nearly 200,000,000 gallons of water pumped into the mains to supply the city. In Mayor Kohler's administration the new auditorium was finished and opened to the public and the new city hospital. A report by the Builders' Exchange recites that in the year of 1923 more than $100,000,000 had been put into new construction.

A new departure in city government came into being following the administration of Mr. Kohler. At a previous election the city manager plan was adopted by the voters. This plan had been in operation in various cities of the land but Cleveland is the first large city to adopt it. The new council chosen under the new provisions were elected from districts and not from wards and consists of twenty five members. There are four councilman districts. The council consists of Peter Witt, Clayton C. Townes, Michael H. Gallagher, William G. Schooley, Sam B. Michell. Peter F. Rieder, from the first district; Emil Robechek, Bernard B. Orlikowski, William J. Kennedy, Louis Petrash and A. H. Roberts, from the second district; Herman H. Finkle, Thomas W. Fleming, James J. McGinty, Marie R. Wing, Thomas E. Walsh and Henry L. Bronstrup, from the third district; and John M. Sulzmann, A. R. Hatton, Walter E. Cook, John D. Marshall, Fielder Sanders, Helen H. Green and William E. Potter, from the fourth district. From the first district William G. Gibbons was also chosen in addition to those already mentioned.

The council at its first meeting January 7, 1924, elected William R. Hopkins city manager and fixed his salary at $25,000 per annum. They chose William S. FitzGerald, the former mayor, as a member of the civil service commission, elected Clayton C. Townes as president and by reason of his position mayor of the city, and Fred W. Thomas, derk. City Manager Hopkins appointed immediately his cabinet as follows: Director of public safety, Edwin D. Barry; finance, William J. Semple; utilities, Howell Wright; public service, William S. Ferguson; law, Carl F. Schuler; welfare, Dudley Blossom; parks, Frank S. Harmon; secretary, William J. Murphy; secretary to director of parks, Miss Ruth Stone. Thus for the first time the city government was organized on a bi partisan basis, the two parties that had controlled the city government each at various periods being represented in the cabinet of the new city manager.

We are dosing the chapter on the municipal government of Cleveland at an interesting period. William R. Hopkins in his message to the council outlined a programme of constructive improvements in every department of the city government, and we can not dose this chapter more fittingly than by using the dosing words of his message:

"I trust that we shall all be able to strengthen the bonds of mutual confidence and good will, forget small things in great things, and remember that the City of Cleveland expects and deserves the very best that is in every one of us."


Prior Village of Cleveland

Next Churches of Cleveland


Return to [ Ohio History ] [ History at Rays Place ] [ Rays Place ] [ Ohio Biographies ]


Ohio Counties at this web site - Ashland - Auglaize - Champaign - Columbiana - Cuyahoga - Darke - Erie - Franklin - Fulton - Madison - Mercer - Ross - Seneca - Shelby

Also see the local histories for [ CA ] [ CT ] [ IA ] [ IL ] [ IN ] [ KS ] [ MA ] [ ME ] [ MO ] [ MI ] [ MN ] [ NE ] [ NJ ] [ NY ] [ PA ] [ OH ] [ PA ] [ WI ]

[ Much more Ohio History may be found at Linkpendium ]


All pages copyright 2003-2013. All items on this site are copyrighted by their author(s). These pages may be linked to but not used on another web site. Anyone may copy and use the information provided here freely for personal use only. Privacy Policy