In the original survey, Independence is described as township 6 in range 12. In the matter of streams, so important
in the early days, it is well provided. The Cuyahoga River divides it into two unequal parts and Tinkers Creek
enters the Cuyahoga within its boundaries. On the north is original Brooklyn and Newburgh, on the east Bedford,
on the west Parma and on the south Brecksville and a portion of Summit County, Northfield. It contains much rich
bottom land and the soil generally is adapted to varied farming. Hemlock Creek flows through it from the west with
falls providing considerable water power. It has quarries of sandstone (Berea grit) and blue stone. An extensive
vein of red clay extends through the township and this in later years has proved to be valuable, being used in
the manufacture of tile and pressed brick. Earlier the output from the quarries was very large. The portion of
Independence east of the Cuyahoga was surveyed in 1808. The first settler, who came in 1811, was a man by the name
of William King. He lived on lot or tract 4 for a number of years and then mysteriously disappeared. George Comstock
and Mary, his wife, came as permanent settlers in 1812 and located on lot 4. Here they lived and died They had
three sons, Peter, George and Fitch, who remained on the old homestead. In this year and the following two other
Comstock families came to Independence. One located on lot 2 and the head of the family died in 1815, leaving two
sons, Fitch and Joseph, and a widow. Daniel Comstock settled on lot 4 and died shortly afterwards, leaving three
sons, Albert, Stephen and Leonard. The old records are silent as to daughters, but they may have existed, unsung
if not unwept. In this neighborhood in 1813 came Samuel Wood. He had two sons, Silas and Harry. In the same year
Lewis Johnson, a blacksmith, located there, and this necessary industrial, social and political headquarters mingled
its sparks of wit and iron and local news. Johnson had a large family, but only one son, Thomas, is remembered
in the annals. Philander Ballou located on the south side of Tinkers Creek, near its mouth, about the same time
as the Johnson family. Along the valley of this creek many settlers located quite early in the history of the township,
among them Daniel Chase and Clark Morton. A daughter of Morton was drowned while crossing the Cuyahoga in a canoe.
Clark Morton had two sons, Daniel and Silas. Thomas, Samuel and William Morton settled in this neighborhood about
After the building of the Ohio Canal this neighborhood was the home and rendezvous of Jim Brown, the famous outlaw.
Joseph M. Poe, who had often seen Brown in the days of his prime, described him to the writer as a man of fine
personal appearance and of most pleasing manner. He was a kind neighbor and many instances are related of his deeds
of charity and neighborly kindness. His operations were confined largely to the counterfeiting of gold coins. He
did not bother with silver of less denomination than one dollar. His exploits continued for a long period of time
and included some of the most daring escapes from the clutches of the law. At one time he passed, in Cleveland,
a large quantity of counterfeit gold coin. Before doing this he had arranged with confederates a relay course from
Cleveland to Buffalo, having fast riding horses stationed at various points along the way for a night ride. He
rode the distance without stopping except to change from one horse to another, a fresh horse replacing a tired
one. He appeared in Buffalo to many as soon as possible after his arrival. He was arrested and brought to Cleveland
for trial. He set up an alibi and brought witnesses from Buffalo to testify as to his presence there These were
the days of slow and laborious transportation, of woods and heavy roads. He was found not guilty, the trial judge
holding that it would have been impossible for him to have been in Cleveland at the time the crime was committed
and in Buffalo at the time proved by creditable witnesses. Brown was arrested in Louisville, Kentucky, at one time.
A citizen there attracted by his good looks and pleasing address consented to give bond for his appearance on the
condition that Brown deposit with him the amount of the bond. This was done and the prisoner released on bail.
He did not appear and the money, deposited to secure the bond proved to be counterfeit. His death occurred on the
Ohio Canal near the scene of many of his most daring escapes. In attempting to elude capture he jumped from the
gate beam of a lock to the deck of a canal boat that had just reached the low level in the lock and died from the
injuries received in the fall.
In the valley of the river Asa and Horace Hungerford were located as early as 1813 and in the southeast part of
the township Stephen Frazer and Horace Dickson located soon after. North on the old state road which leads through
the Center, Zephaniah Hathaway, a Vermonter, settled in 1816 where he resided until death at the age of more than
ninety years. He had two sons, Alden and Zephaniah 2nd. The sons of Alden were William, Rodney and Edwin and of
Zephaniah 2nd were James and Milo. Jonathan Fisher, another Vermonter, came in 1816 and located on the farm later
owned and operated by a descendant, Lloyd Fisher, who was prominent in township affairs and served as county commissioner
of Cuyahoga County. North of the Fisher farm Elisha Brower located in 1817 and soon after died, leaving four sons,
John David, Pinckney, Demiel and William. Still north a settler by the name of Ives took up a farm in 1819. He
had a son named Erastus. David Skinner was an early arrival, settling on a farm west of the present Willow station
of the Baltimore Railroad, formerly the Valley Road. A group of families came in 1813 to the northern part near
the River settlement, the Cochran, Miner and Paine families. William 'Green came from Brecksville in 1817 and settled
on what was known later as the Fosdick place. He had five sons, Harvey, Elijah, Jeremiah, Herod and Frederick.
There were several daughters. Emily married a Fosdick and remained on the old place. In the same year, up the river,
came John Westphal and the community was augmented in its industrial life by a shoemaker. In 1823 he sold out to
Smith Towner and his son, D. D. Towner. Clark Towner later occupied the place. John I. Archibald and William Harper,
sons of Col. John Harper, a Revolutionary soldier, came from Delaware County, New York, in 1816. They had started
westward in 1810, stopping first in Ashtabula County and then John I. moving to Independence. He had two sons,
Erastus R. and DeWitt C. and three daughters, whom the early chroniclers do not name except to state that one of
the daughters married H. C. Edwards of Newburgh. The family was increased by a boy by the name of John Maxwell,
who was bound out to Mr. Harper after the custom of the times. This boy, after his apprenticeship with the Harpers,
moved farther on and became sheriff of a county in the far west and was killed while making the arrest of a desperate
character on the border. In 1814 a man by the name of Case came with his family and a few years later was killed
at a raising at Peter Comstock's. Four sons survived him, Chauncey, Asahel, Harrison and one other. Nathaniel P.
Fletcher came this year and supplanted a "squatter," whose loose property he bought. Thins man's name
was Samuel Roberts. Mr. Fletcher in 1833 moved to Oberlin, where it is said, he helped to found the college. In
1816 Ephraim S. Bailey and John Rorabeck located in the south part of the township. The latter was a soldier in
the War of 1812.
Col. Rial McArthur, who surveyed the east part of the township in 1808, and later served as a colonel in the War
of 1812, came as a resident of the township in 1833 but remained only a short time. John Wightman was an early
settler, coming in 1812. He resided in the township until his death in 1837. His daughter, Deborah L., became the
wife of William H. Knapp, who came to the township in 1833. West of the Cuyahoga there were very few settlers until
1825. Ichabod Skinner settled there in 1818. He had three sons, Gates, Prentice and David P. On the road south
of the Skinner farm Abram Garfield, father of the President, lived for a few years prior to 1820, when he moved
with his family to Orange Township. Caleb Boynton, an early arrival, died there in 1820 leaving four sons, Amos,
Nathan, William and Jeremiah. Other families who early settled on the west side of the river were those of William
Currier, John Darrow and Jaud Fuller. Among residents of the west side prior to 1843 may be named: John Needham,
Moses Usher, William Bushnell, William Buskirk, Nathaniel Wyatt, Amos Newland, Jacob Froelich, John Wolf, William
Van Noate and Jeremiah Goudy, and east of the river, Moses Gleason, Allen Robinett, Roger Comstock and Col. Rial
McArthur, whom we have mentioned.
The township records prior to 1834 have been destroyed and hence we have no record of the organization of the township,
the selection of the name, etc. The first officers as shown by the remaining records, being for the year 1834,
are: Trustees, John I. Harper, J. L. M. Brown and Marvin Cochran. Clerk, William H. Knapp. Treasurer, Jonathan
Fisher. Constables, Orange McArthur and Jonathan Frazer. Overseers of the Poor, Enoch Scovill, Enoch Green, Fence
Viewers, Alvah Darrow and Nathan Wyatt. Justice of the Peace, David D. Towner. Enoch Jewett, Stephen Frazer and
S. A. Hathaway were judges of election and George Comstock and Alva Darrow clerks, and there were seventy one votes
polled. The Cleveland leader dated April 13, 1874, has an Independence item as follows: "The election passed
off with the usual amount of scratching. The following ticket was elected: Justice of the Peace, O. P. McMillan;
trustees, George Sommer, George W. Green and D. L. Phillips; clerk, C. H. Bushnell; treasurer, C. Hannum; assessor,
Joel Foote; constables, W. Towner and C. Adams. Henry Doubler was quite seriously injured last week by his horse
running away. A large gang of men are at work upon the Valley Railroad near the slip." Work on the Valley
Road, now the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, was started in 1873. The Ohio Canal was located through the township
in 1825 and opened for traffic in 1827, having four locks in the township. Thus it was nearly fifty years before
the township emerged from the slow traffic of the canal to the swifter traffic of the railroad. The canal, however,
as late as 1890, was in operation carrying heavy freight and, in its northern division, grindstones from the quarries
of Independence were a prominent factor. These were drawn by teams to the canal except in the case of a quarry
operated by Erastus Eldridge, M. Shirman and others, who built a horse railroad to the canal for the transportation
of their products. Independence stone became well known also as a building product. Aside from the one mentioned
there were the Kinzer, the Hurst and the Clough quarries. The pillars of the Weddell House, once the finest hostelry
in Cleveland, were taken from the Independence quarries. There were no early gristmills in the township. In 1825
sawmills were built on Hemlock Creek by Ring and McArthur and Clark and Land. In 1835 Finney and Farnsworth built
a darn across the Cuyahoga River and operated a sawmill by its water power and below this a Mr. Sherman operated
a mill for turning and polishing grindstones. This was later operated by John Geisendorfer, who served as county
commissioner of Cuyahoga County. When the canal was built its excellent water power was utilized by A. Alexander,
who built a gristmill on its banks in the township and ground grain for a large area, his customers coming from
his own and surrounding towns. This was later operated by Clark Alexander, his son, who like Mr. Geisendorfer served
as county commissioner. Cabinet organs were made in the northern part of the township by Palmer Brothers for some
years. In this section extensive acid works were operated at one time. Crossing the Cuyahoga from the south by
the state road you came to Acid Hill as it was termed. These works were engaged in restoring to available form
refuse matter from the oil refineries, and employed a large force of men. Spent acid was shipped to the works by
canal when navigation was open. Refuse from these works was conducted into a large lake on the lower level and
there burned. Practical chemists have now learned the secret of making use of practically all of the by product
of the refineries and the acid works have long since passed away, but the memory of those blighting fires remains.
The great columns of smoke ascending by night and by day, the wield fires, typical of those once described as awaiting
for the unbeliever, the blackened grass and trees are the setting, in memory, of Acid Hill.
The use of concrete, the larger development of the Berea quarries, nearby, and the larger capitalization of the
stone business has operated to practically dose up the quarries in Independence and the output at present is small.
The great vein of red clay that extends westward from the Cuyahoga River to the western boundary of the township
has taken the place of stone in the industrial activities of the township. The Hydraulic Pressed Brick Company
on the Baltimore & Ohio Railway, by the river, and extensive brick and tile works in the western part of the
township, connected with Cleveland by rail, have an annual output of great value.
Among those who have served as trustees of the township are Alva Darrow, Jr., Zephaniah Hathaway, Jasper Fuller,
Enos Hawkins, Elihu Hollister, John L. Harper, John Rowan, Alfred Fisher, William Buskirk, William H. Knapp, Daniel
E. Williams, Elias M. Gleason, Harry McArthur, Finlay Strong, William Van Noate, William F. Bushnell, D. D. Towner,
John Scofield, James Miller, Watson E. Thompson, William H. Perry, William Green 2nd, Milo N. Hathaway, George
W. Green, George Sommers and D. Fullerton. Among the clerks are Alfred Fisher, William H. Knapp, Harry McArthur,
B. H. Fisher, I. L. Gleason, J. D. Hathaway, Benjamin Wood, J. K. Brainard, G. B. Pierce, William B. Munson, O.
P. McMillan, C. H. Bushnell, D. S. Green, Frank Brown, I. B. Waltz and D. Gindlesperger. Among the treasurers have
been Jonathan Fisher, D. D. Towner, E. R. Harper, John Scofield, I. L. Gleason, George W. Green, John Bender and
Carl Brown. The present officers of the township are: Trustees, Carl Kuenzer, John Fuerstein and Edward Lingler;
clerk, A. B. Waltz; treasurer, John Lingler; assessor, Henry Froelich; constable, William Apel; justice of the
peace, C. Peters. Mr. Apel succeeded Henry Froelich as clerk.
We have referred to Ichabod Skinner, a settler, coming in 1818, and his three sons, Gates, Prentice and David
P. David P. Skinner while living in a brick house on the Skinner Hill, west of the present Willow station in the
valley, was murdered in his home in the year 1868. He was a milk dealer, was reputed to be a man of means and had
a safe in his house for the care of money and valuables, a piece of furniture somewhat rare in a country home in
those days. Three men entered the house at night, were discovered by Mrs. Johns, a sister of Mrs. Skinner, who
engaged them in close combat. She had one of the burglars by the hair in a desperate grasp, her husband, Mr. Johns,
was battling a second with a chair, when Mr. Skinner, awakened by the noise, was shot by the third bandit as he
rose from his bed. Two of the bandits were captured. Davis was tried and on the testimony of a second prisoner,
"Hutch" Butterfield, and others who turned state's evidence, convicted and hung. Some time afterward
a change was made, and executions since that time were conducted at the penitentiary at Columbus. Butterfield was
given a prison sentence but rumor has it that he was released later, or that a man called "Hutch" Butterfield
lived for some years a quiet life in a small town in Northern Ohio, not very far from Cleveland, that it was common
gossip that he had served a prison sentence, but that neither he nor his wife ever referred to the fact. The disclosures
of Butterfield in the trial also inplicated an officer of the police force of the City of Cleveland who was not
tried in court but was forced to resign his position. Butterfield testified that he had only a knife on his person
when he entered the house, adding that a knife was better than a gun in close quarters. It seems the assault of
Mrs. Johns, who was the first of the household to attack, was so unexpected and violent that neither knife nor
gun would have been available. A little woman but the descendant of a hardy pioneer, she showed the mettle of the
race. Mr. Johns was in charge of the round house (at Cleveland) of the Valley Railway for many years.
Before 1830 a tavern was kept on the canal by one Kleckner, in a house built by Philemon Baldwin, and farther south
on the river was "Mother Parker's" tavern, referred to in the chapter on Bedford, which had a farflung
reputation. In 1836 Peter Crumb opened a public house north of the center. Subsequent landlords were Mr. Hartmiller
and George Sommers. This was often called the "Yellow Grocery." The color was yellow during some if not
all of its most active work in providing for the wants of travelers but the groceries retailed were mostly wet.
In 1852 a very fine tavern was built at the Center by Job Pratt. This was a fine hostelry for the time with a balcony
extending along the entire front of the building and conveniences up to date. A picture preserved by its last proprietor,
with the balcony and lower front filled with people, presents a most attractive appearance. Mr. Pratt was succeeded
as landlord by Jake Fultz and he by George Hollis. Mr. Hollis had a fine trotter and Mr. Fultz not succeeding very
well in the tavern business sold him the tavern for the horse. Later Mr. Hollis sold the tavern to the proprietor,
before him, and removed to Brecksville to engage in the same business there. It is not recorded whether these men
simply traded back house for horse and horse for house or some other deal was consummated. In the years that followed
many changes occurred. Fultz was succeeded by Gunn, Eaton, Alger and Brobeck in the order named. It was last purchased
by Levi Wolff, the present owner. Mr. Wolff kept tavern for many years and still lives alone in the once attractive
building. His father, John Wolff, came to Independence in 1840 from Pennsylvania. He lived for a time in Wayne
County before coming to Cuyahoga. His wife Catherine and the children, then born, were with him. He purchased fifty
acres of land on the cross roads for $11 an acre, showing that land had increased in value since the first pioneers
came. They had seven children, Henry, Jake, Dave, Elizabeth, John, Dan and Levi.
Levi is the only one living. He married Elizabeth Gindlesperger, by whom he had five children, Charles Eugene,
Benjamin Franklyn, Jesse Lee, Clark and Ida. Franklyn, Jesse and Ida are living. The mother, Elizabeth, who was
born in 1841, died in 1909, since which time, the children being married and away, Levi has lived alone in the
old hotel building, its outer covering the worse for the storms of the seasons and the corroding hand of time,
its interior lacking the care of the housewife. He is ninety four years of age, the oldest person in Independence.
There is not a person living in the township today who was there when he came with his father as a boy.
Next to the tavern and the blacksmith shop as a gathering place in the early days was the postoffice. The first
postoffice opened in Independence was at the home of Nathan P. Fletcher on the east side of the river. Mr. Fletcher
was the first postmaster. For some years the postoffice was at the residence of the postmaster, wherever that chanced
to be. The daily mail and the cheap letter and paper postage made the central location of more importance in later
years. About 1845 the postoffice was permanently located at the Center and in 1875 another one was established
at Willow. Following Mr. Fletcher, who was the first postmaster, came in their order William H. Knapp, Nathaniel
Stafford. John Needham, B. F. Sharp, J. K. Brainard, George Green, Calvin Hannah, C. H. Bushnell, George Usher,
D. Gindlesperger, Leonard Merkle and C. W. Ferguson. The present postmaster is John Wisnieski, who was preceded
by R. S. Mitchell. John Kingsbury, one time amateur baseball hero on the Brecksville nine, was the first postmaster
of Willow, which position he held until his death. John Needham, referred to as one of the postmasters of Independence,
who, as we have said in another chapter, carried a daily mail on horseback from Cleveland to Brecksville during
the four years of the Civil war, was the grandfather of May (Needham) Schmitt of Lakewood who has been prominent
in the organization of the Daughters of Veterans. Mr. Needham was an interesting and useful factor in the anxious
days for those at home during the great struggle. He had sons in the war and could mingle his personal and general
news as he would call out in passing a dooryard: "Good news for you but bad news for me. We've won the battle
but my son's wounded," and similar news from day to day.
There were no stores worthy of notice in the township until the opening of the Ohio Canal The traffic in passengers
as well as freight was considerable and trade sought the tow path. I. L and Edward M. Gleason opened a store at
the twelve mile lock, among the first in the township. Travelers on the canal could buy while boats were sinking
in the lock to a lower level or rising to a higher level as the case might be. This added to the trade from the
surrounding farmers made business rather brisk. Others, including Merrill, Rutter, Oyler and Bender, engaged in
trade, operating department stores on a small scale. Soon after the Crumb tavern was opened north of the Center,
Benjamin Wood opened a store there. The first regular store at the Center was kept by Horace Bell. He was succeeded
in the same locality by J. K. Brainard, George Green, Josephus Brown, Charles Green and Charles Memple in their
order. Competition becoming necessary to healthy trade, as the population increased, other and rival stores were
opened. Epaphroditus Wells began trade opposite the tavern and nearby Jacob and Samuel Foltz and 1. L. Gleason
opened another store. Currier and Watkins opened a shoe store and their succedent was Calvin Hannum. In 1867 the
mercantile business of the town was augmented by the opening of a store by P. Kingsley and his succedent was C.
H. Bushnell. I. L. Gleason finally adopted the profession of law and practiced in the courts of the county and
in the justice courts of first resort. His tact and eloquence in the latter made his name a household word in a
large area of the county.
The first schools in Independence were established east of the river. In 1830 there were four school districts.
In 1850 there were 611 youths of school age in the township and in 1879 there were 696 males and females of school
age, a rather small increase in twenty years. In 1870 a two story building was built at the Center, called the
high school, having two school rooms, the present building occupies the site of the old, which was torn down. The
district schools have been abandoned following the plan adopted by county and state. Work has commenced on a high
school building at the Center to cost $60,000 or $75,000. A bond issue has been voted for $100,000 for the building
but the whole amount authorized will not be used. On account of the brick and tile manufactured in the township
so near the building place, time, labor and expense is saved. Reminiscent of the "Little Red School House,"
two schoolhouses are still the property of the township, one on Rockside and one in the Lembacher district. These
are not used, as busses bring all pupils from a distance to the grade and high schools at the Center. The present
school board includes A. H. Webber, clerk, A. E. Sabin, president, and William Sitzler, Frank Sawyer and Richard
Dr. William Munson was the first regular, physician in the township. Several doctors came for short stays before
his time. A brick house and attractive grounds overlooking Hemlock Creek was the home of Doctor Munson, who practiced
in the town during a long period and until his death. Following him were Dr. S. O. Morgan (Sid), son of Doctor
Morgan of early pioneer fame, Dr. Charles Hollis, son of George Hollis, tavern keeper in Independence and Brecksville,
E. M. Gleason, son of the early pioneer mentioned, Dr. W. A. Knowlton. Sr., whose career we have mentioned, Dr.
W. A. Knowlton, Jr., son of Dr. Augustus Knowlton, of local fame, Dr. I. N. Nolan, Dr. C. W. Dean, Doctor Lane
and Dr. J. G. Layton, and Dr. Henry Morgan.
The Congregationalists were the first religious people to found a permanent church in the township. The first religious
meeting was held October 1, 1836, addressed by Rev. Mr. Freeman, a Baptist from Cleveland. In February of the following
year a Baptist congregation was organized but it only existed for a short time and then dissolved. Shortly after
a Methodist class was formed, which dissolved after a few years of activity. Its meetings were held at various
homes in the township but there was no settled minister and circuit preachers officiated from time to time. The
organizers of the Congregational Church, now Presbyterian, were Reverends Chester Chapin and Israel Shaller of
the Missionary Association of Connecticut. On the 24th day of June, 1837, the church was formed with the following
members: William F. Bushnell and wife, James and Mary Miller, Betsy Brewster, Jane and Elizabeth Bushnell. William
Bushnell was elected deacon and James Miller clerk. The meetings were first held in a log schoolhouse at Miller's
Corners and then in the town hall. On the 17th day of October a society of the church met to attend to its temporal
affairs. Through the activity of this society the present meeting house was built in 1854. In 1862 the church became
Presbyterian, uniting with the Cleveland Presbytery. Rev. B. F. Sharp was active in the building of the new church.
Unlike most other religious denominations the Evangelical Association of Independence first built their church
and then organized. This attractive brick structure was built at the Center about 1860, largely through the efforts
of Rev. T. G. Clewell. January 7, 1873, the first Board of Trustees was organized as follows, George W. Green,
George Merkle, Francis Pilliatt, Henry Wentz and Mathew Brantley. Services have been conducted in both the English
and German languages. The present minister is Rev. J. R. Niergarth. St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church was
organized by residents in the northeastern part of the township in 1850, or rather at that time the agitation began
with the idea of having a place of worship nearer home. On the 14th day of October, 1854, a frame meeting house
was dedicated for worship by Rev. Mr. Schwan of Cleveland. Here the meetings were held until the erection of a
fine church on a site opposite in 1879.
A Roman Catholic church was built northwest of the center of the township in 1852, which was used for services
until the larger congregation demanded more commodious quarters. The present church building in that locality was
planned and its construction started in 1870 but progressed slowly. The building committee were George Gable, Joseph
Unnetz, Peter Wild, Albert Doubler, Anton Eckenfelt and Joseph Effinger. This committee had its troubles. Not yet
completed, in 1873 the walls were blown down by a severe storm. The following year the walls were again built up
and the building completed for use in 1875. It was consecrated in December of that year by the Right Reverend Father
Gregory and Bishop Fitzgerald. A school has also been maintained by this church. Anton Eckenfelt, mentioned as
one of the building committee, operated the Spring Mill in Brecksville for many years and was well known to all
The latest church building to be erected in the township was that built by the Evangelical Lutheran congregation
about 1912 at the Center. It is a neat building quite modern in structure and was consecrated by Reverend Bay.
As in the case of Parma, these religious organizations reflect the character of the inhabitants and it is probable
that a census of Independence would show about the same percentage of German and foreign born people as did Parma.
In politics the town has generally been democratic, at times close, and once at least it went republican. In the
presidential campaign of James G. Blaine against Grover Cleveland, Blaine carried the town by two majority. The
republicans were so rejoiced over the night returns that their enthusiasm found its vent in Hallowe'en stunts.
One man who had been active for Cleveland found his heavy two horse wagon the next morning on the top of his barn.
It was all in complete running condition, the heavy box in place and a short board placed under the pole as he
had left it in his yard. The later returns, which gave the election to Cleveland, dampened the enthusiasm of the
young republicans and they came down to earth, and we will assume that the wagon came down also.
A well known landmark on the State Road south from the Center is a stone house on the Brantley farm built by the
grandfather of M. F. Bramley of Cleveland, of whom we will speak in another chapter. Here Fred, as he is called,
spent his youth and indulged in the pranks common to active youngsters in the country The old Bradley homestead
still stands and passers of a former time remember the stout presence of the original Bramley as it often appeared
in the field or doorway of the old home farm. When this house was built stone was the wealth of Independence, aside
from agriculture, and the house was a sort of emblematic structure. It is occupied at present by George Bramley
We have referred to several of the Independence settlers, who served in the War of 1812. At the breaking out of
the Mexican war or the year previous (in 1845), a muster roll of the township was taken by Albert Fisher, showing
seventy three men liable to military duty. This would indicate that the Government was preparing for the conflict
and finding out in advance just what its strength was in man power. In the Civil war, the Spanish-American and
the World war, Independence furnished its full quota of soldiers. In 1863 the township was formed into two military
districts. Number 1 was east of the Cuyahoga and number 2 west of the Cuyahoga.
The only indication of the temperance sentiment in the township in the first four decades of its existence was
when a vote to regulate the liquor traffic was taken in 1851. The vote stood thirty four for and sixty eight against.
The State Road through the Center and the River Road were the first to be used and improved. Citizens worked out
their poll tax and mended the dirt track often to its disadvantage. The Pratt Road from the river to the Center
was laid out in April, 1852. Other roads of intersecting character were soon after laid out. The first genuine
road improvement came when the paved road through to Brecksville was built by the county. This was about 1890.
Now the throngs of automobiles, busses and trucks that traverse the brick pavement through the township testify
to its value. Says one: "This is the biggest and most important improvement that has ever been inaugurated
in the township."
The original territory of the township has changed with the march of events and at the present time the Township
of Independence includes a strip of land along the west side of the original survey. In March, 1839, a portion
of the northwest corner was annexed to Brooklyn Township. In the last two decades the territory east of the Cuyahoga
has been annexed to Newburgh and incorporated into two villages, South Newburgh and Newburgh Heights, and, most
drastic of all the changes, on June 1, 1914, the Village of Independence was created. This includes the Center
or the tract originally set aside by L. Strong for a public square and village. Strong, a first purchaser and promoter,
had this tract surveyed into five acre lots, which he sold at auction and the sales were made at from $9 to $10
per acre. The Village of Independence as incorporated includes much more territory than that of the Strong survey,
but the public square as planned by him is as he intended it to be. The first officers of the village were: Mayor,
Frank Wisnieski; clerk, Ed Tryon; treasurer, George Rose; councilmen, Charles Sizler, Grant Cash, Joseph Blessing,
Frank R. Castle, Edward Lembecker and Herman Vunderink. At this first election Mr. Tryon was elected clerk but
soon after resigned and Arthur J. Goudy was chosen. On Mr. Gaudy was devolved the task of getting up the original
records and establishing a system of accounts. How well he performed his task may be shown by the report of the
state examiner, who pronounced his books the best he had examined. Mr. Goudy served nearly four years, completing
the first term and being elected for two years more. He is now a deputy in the office of the Probate Court of the
county. The first mayor was succeeded by William Cash and he by Alvin A. Smith, the present mayor. The other, officers
of the village are: Clerk, E. F. Keller; treasurer, George Rose; marshal, Jacob Lambacher; assessor, H. J. Faudel;
councilmen, Joe Blessing, Peter Selig, Grant Cash, H. Vunderink and William Vunderink. F. X Esculine was elected
and served until his death a short time ago. H. J. Faudel, whom we have mentioned as assessor, entered the district
school with a very slight command of the English language and we believe his schooling was confined largely to
the "Little Red School House." He has lived in Independence from a boy. In 1893 he published a book entitled
"Horse Sense," which has gone through several editions. Although Mr. Faudel makes no claim to professional
knowledge, his book has been favorably commented upon by men of the medical profession in high standing. He calls
his book "A school of practical science upon the perplexing problems of today, pertaining to life and health."
The writer remembers Faudel as a pupil in his first school, in which he was endeavoring to teach "the young
idea how to shoot." He could hardly make himself understood in English, but was keen for knowledge and industrious
to a most astonishing degree. We quote a few passages from his book: "The term 'expert' is too easily won
and too lightly worn to be regarded with respect." "You can remove a mountain if you take a little at
a time, but you cannot remove it by hitching to it to remove it all at once." "Money serves but to bring
the things we need. It is supposed to buy health, but only serves as the agent. But a life devoted to the teachings
of Nature will buy more than all the coins of the realm."
Of the fraternal organizations of Independence the Grand Army Post should be mentioned first. Formed about 1870,
it continued in existence for many years as a part of that great but now greatly diminished organization. Unlike
many, its ranks cannot be replenished, as Time thins out its numbers. Only those who served in the army of the
Union during the Civil war are eligible to membership. Among those active in Independence Post have been Thomas
Goudy, C. H. Bushnell, George Lambacher, Ed Patton, C. J. Green, Francis Bramley and Hugh Goudy. There was the
Good Templars Lodge, whose activities continued nearly as long. The lodge of Foresters, the Maccabees, the Ladies
of the Maccabees and the Catholic Beneficial Association are still actively operating as factors in the township
and village life.
An incident of historic interest which belongs to the chapter on Independence and has to do with the progress of
events and particularly to a step forward in the practice of medicine in the county, is worthy of note here. William
Goudy, a Scotch-Irish immigrant, one of the early arrivals in the township, who came from the north of Ireland,
father of Thomas and Hugh Goudy and grandfather of Arthur J. Goudy, brought with him from the old country a stomach
pump, which he sold to Doctor Streator, then the leading practitioner in Cleveland. This was the first one sold
in Cleveland and the first one to be used in medical practice in the county.