History of Olmsted Township, 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


Number 6 of range 15 was an unbroken forest when the War of 1812 began. The outcome of war is never certain and this one had its effect on the minds of those who were to take part in the creation of a new civilization in New Connecticut. The start was made in this township while the war was raging. It was a timid beginning. It was a try out of the possibilities of the soil and might or might not be permanent. James Geer, while a resident of Columbia, which is now of Lorain County, made the initiative start in this way. Instead of making a clearing in the usual way, cutting and burning the trees and building his log house, he slipped over from Columbia, girdled a tract of timber, cut out the underbrush on land which was afterwards known as the Browning farm, and planted corn, raising what he could among the trees This was in the southwest corner of the township. After peace was declared he came in boldly, put up a small log house and moved his family there, they being the first settlers and first permanent residents. Their son, Calvin Geer, was then a boy of seven. Sixty years later Calvin Geer was the oldest surviving resident of Olmsted.

To the younger generation pioneer history may seem to be made up of trivial incidents. The building of the log cabin, the raising, as the log house gave place to the frame, the families of those who came, the meager details of the household equipment, marriage, birth, death, the gristmill, the sawmill, the blacksmith shop, the store, the postoffice, may not seem to them of historical interest, but they are. The history of nations is so made up. Great successes and failures of great leaders often have hinged upon these so called trivial things. "For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of the rider the battle was lost, for the want of the battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail." We will assume that the scout whom Napoleon sent out before the battle of Waterloo, and who reported a level field between the French and English forces, may have been so annoyed by the presence of bunions that he did not investigate as thoroughly as he would have done otherwise and so failed to discover the sharp ravine before the army of Wellington, into which, as Victor Hugo says, line after line of the French went down in that famous charge, until the ravine was filled and the remnant rode over on the living bridge. The greatest generals of the world have been those who have been the greatest masters of details. Our favorite idea of a general is that of a man on horseback waving a sword. General Grant insisted upon daily reports from his entire army. He must know just how many men were sick, what food they had, what stockings and other clothing and every detail of their equipment. These reports he pored over in his tent while others slept. In the founding of a new community nothing is trivial, and in all history the record of achievement is woven with a warp of small detail. A new settlement was a little world in itself and its happenings that might seem to us now unimportant became the theme of the community. These were discussed with a thoroughness of detail that to us now might seem to indicate that the first settlers were of inferior mentality. They were otherwise. The changes came with the denser population. This is shown in the conduct of the newspapers and their news items. As the community grew, space became important. Reporters were instructed to condense. It has been related that one news writer, who had been reprimanded by the editor for extending his items, turned in the following: "John Smith, of Podunk, blew into his gun to see if it was loaded. It was. Funeral at 4 o'clock at his late residence." In contrast to this condensed item we give one taken from the early annals of Olmsted:

"The Second Death and Serious Accident. In 1819 D. J. Stearns had an Irish boy working for him, whose parents resided in Ridgeville, now Lorain County. One day the boy obtained permission to visit his home, promising to return in time to do the chores at night. The night set in dark and the boy did not return. His wife being away, Mr. Stearns was at home alone Late in the night he heard an agonized voice shrieking 'Oh, dear! Oh, dear!' at some distance from the house. For a moment it ceased and then it was heard again nearer than before. Mr. Stearns stepped out of the door when he was suddenly grasped by a man, who flung his arms around him in a state of frantic excitement, crying out at the same time: 'Oh, my boy is kilt! my boy is kilt! my boy is kilt!' As soon as Mr. Stearns could recover from his astonishment and get the man to the light, he found that the visitor was Mr. Hanley, the father of John, the boy who had worked for him. It was with great difficulty that he could quiet the frantic Irishman so as to obtain even the slightest idea of what was the matter. At length, however, he succeeded in learning from the broken ejaculations of the distracted father, mingled with cries and groans and sobs of anguish, that Hanley and his son had been coon hunting and that a large tree had fallen upon his boy and had probably crushed him to death, a mile or two out in the woods to the Northeast: Knowing that he could do nothing without assistance, Mr. Stearns made Hanley promise to remain at the house until he could obtain aid. His nearest neighbor, Amos Briggs, was absent, and there were no others nearer than a mile and a half. He accordingly went to the Briggs stable and took his horse to go for help. Ere he could mount, however, Hanley came rushing up and again flung his arms about the young man, crying out that 'his boy was kilt,' in all the agony of unreasoning despair. Again Mr. Stearns pacified him and persuaded him to return to the house. The former then rode a mile and a half and obtained the help of three newcomers, Bennett Powell, John Cole and another, whose name is not recollected. The four returned with all speed to Stearns' house, where they found the desolate father, with whom they set out to find the scene of the disaster. Hanley, however, had been so frightened and demoralized by the catastrophe that he could give no clear idea of the direction to be taken. Nevertheless he thought it was somewhere west of north and he knew there was a burning tree where the sad event had occurred. The five men hurried forward in the darkness in the general direction indicated and at length saw a light in advance. Shaping their course toward it they soon arrived at a burning tree; there they soon found that the distracted father's words were but too true: the poor boy was indeed killed. A large tree lay where it had fallen directly across the youth's head, which was crushed out of all semblance of humanity, while his body was raised from the ground by the pressure on his head. It seems as they gathered from Hanley's broken statements and from his subsequent utterances in a quieter state, that he had persuaded his son to remain and hunt coons with him instead of returning to Steams' that night. They had gone east a mile or two along the line between townships 6 and 7, Olmsted and Dover, and had then borne southward in the former township. At length, the night being cold and damp, they built a fire at the foot of a hollow ash tree and determined to wait for the moon. The boy lay down on a grassy knoll a short distance from the fire, while his father sat with his back against a hickory tree in the opposite direction and both soon went to sleep. An hour or so later the old man was awakened by a tremendous crash directly overhead. The hollow ash had burned off and had fallen against the hickory by which he sat. The tough wood of the latter bent before the blow and then recoiled with such force that it threw the ash back in the opposite direction so as to fall directly across the head of the sleeping boy. His father was so frightened and horrified that he ran screaming into the woods entirely at random and by mere accident came out at Mr. Steams' clearing." The description of the releasing of the body, the conduct of the father and the return and burial, occupy nearly as much space as that already given.

This account so minute in detail of a tragedy in the woods reflects in some measure the attitude of mind of those isolated from the larger communities. This accidental death was the topic of conversation in the township for a long time. Calvin Geer related to his descendants as his earliest remembrance the killing of a bear on the bath of Rocky River, shortly after their arrival in the new settlement. His father was the marksman and the animal, which he described as a very large bear, appeared near their cabin on Sunday evening. Three shots were required, as the first two only wounded the animal. This became in the mind of the pioneer boy a lasting memory. Boys of today, who view bears in Brookside Zoo, are not so impressed as were the pioneer boys who saw them, unfettered by iron bars, in the dark woods.

In the year 1815 Elijah Steams and his son David Johnson Steams came to the township. It was then called Kingston, and that name adhered for several years before it was changed to Olmsted. David had a large family of boys and wanted land enough to keep them employed, so he bought 1,002 acres of land on Butternut Ridge, in the northwest part of the township. For this he paid $2 per acre. D. J. Stearns, his son, was then twenty one, strong and active, and remarkably well fitted for pioneer labor. He was allotted 150 acres of land by his father, but it became necessary to make a trip to Vermont to get a perfected title. This he did after awaiting for some time for the original purchasers to send a surveyor. In the meantime he had cleared quite a tract on the allotment, which to identify was, in after years, the residence of Buel Stearns. In 1816 he came back, having straightened out the title, and brought with him Alva and Asa Knapp, brothers, who only stayed long enough to assist in the building of a log house and do some clearing. The first purchaser from the Connecticut Land Co. was Aaron Olmsted and Mr. Steams had to get his title from the trustees of his estate, he having died after his purchase was made. This was not a cash sale, as four notes were given, one of which after its cancellation was retained as a souvenir of the purchase. Young Stearns also took the agency from the trustees for the sale of their land. He only sold two lots when the sale was stopped for some unexplained reason. As an instance of the intensity with which the settlers worked, it is recorded that David Stearns and James Geer celebrated the Fourth of July, 1816, in clearing a roadway from Rocky River and along Butternut Ridge toward the home of Mr. Stearns. They worked from sunrise to sunset cutting out brush and saplings and opened a roadway for a distance of two miles. During this year Daniel Bunnell moved from Columbia to the northeast corner of Kingston, as it was then called, and put up a rough plank house, this being the third settlement made in the township. Owing to the stopping of sales by the proprietors, Bunnell remained alone in that part of the township until 1819, keeping bachelor's hall the whole time. Except in the matter of bread, he got along nicely, but in 1817 he paid $3 a bushel for wheat and had to haul it from Black River, then, being otherwise employed, he sent another man to mill. This man started with an ox team and drove to the Chagrin River before he found a mill that was open for business. The whole journey occupied just a week. Another drawback was the scarcity of salt, to one who depended to an extent upon wild game. Salt at that time was $20 a barrel. This year Amos Briggs settled on the west side of Butternut Ridge on a tract that became known as the Robb farm. In 1818 Isaac Scales built a house at the east end of the ridge and moved his family in. They had no neighbors for a year and Mr. Scales worked in Columbia, leaving his wife alone. She had many experiences. Said she often got up in the night to drive wild cats out of the loft with a broom. One day a bear came to the house and got into a controversy with the dog, which wound up by the dog getting hugged by the bear in the front yard. Mrs. Scales made what noise and demonstration she could from the house, and finally the bear ambled off into the woods. The dog survived but led an invalid life from that time on. She was frequently visited by wandering Indians, but they were no more annoying than the tramps that infested the township in later years, but it was trying to the nerves in view of her knowledge of Indian treachery and Indian barbarity. The first wedding in the township was that of Harry Hartson and Eunice Parker Geer. This took place at the home of James Geer in the spring of 1817. Hartson and wife located near the Geer home. In the same spring there was a birth at the Geer cabin, a daughter Julia. She died two years later. Thus at the home of the first settler occurred the first wedding, the first birth and the first death in the township. In 1819 Stearns married Polly Barnum, this being the second marriage. This year Maj. Samuel Hoadley and family settled near the Scales farm at the east end of Butternut Ridge. The major was quite an interesting and cultivated man, but he took his family into a log house. He immediately began building a better one. The frame of the new house was about ready to raise and one day late in the summer, the major and his wife left home for the day leaving their two daughters, Marie and Eunice, in charge of the household. The carpenter, James Miles, and his helper, Elliott Smith, were working on the frame for the new house. During the day Mrs. Scales came over for a neighborly call. Now these girls of the major's were wide awake, vivacious and withal athletic and they planned a surprise for the major and his wife and decided to have a raising without the usual large crowd of neighbors to help. All agreed including Mrs. Scales, the caller. Under the direction of the carpenter they carried the timbers in place for the matching and pinning and then when the bents were ready, all together, with hands and pike poles and to the resonant "he o he," the bents went up to place and the raising was accomplished. When the major and his wife returned and in astonishment asked about the raising, the girls said in a casual way, Oh! we did it, indicating that it was nothing out of the ordinary for them. The next spring, one of the heroines of the raising married John Adams. This was Marie. Soon the other, Eunice, married John Barnum. They needed no matrimonial agency to advertise their qualifications to become the wives of pioneers.

From 1819 the population increased rapidly and in the five years following came Isaac Frost, Zenas Barnum, Harry Benjamin, Crosby Baker, Horace F. Adams, Amos Wolf, Truman Wolf, Christian Wolf, Charles Usher, Hezeldah Usher, Ransom J. Adams, Hosea Bradford, H. G. Seekins, Watrous Usher, Noble Hotchkiss, Thomas Briggs, Otis Briggs, Lyman Frost, Lucius Adams, and Alva, Elijah, Jr., Vespasian, Elliott, and A. G. and R. Steams. Besides these six Stearns brothers, a seventh, Sidney Stearns, came to the settlement and began clearing but died shortly afterwards. During this period after 1819, Lemuel Hoadley and Crosby Baker built the first gristmill and sawmill on the west branch of Rocky River, just above the east branch or the junction with it. There was a sufficient population to begin to crystallize into an organized community. A small Methodist society was organized and had occasional meetings. Clearings were made in all parts of the township except the southeast, which was the last to be occupied. And yet old Indian wigwams were still standing, and Indians came from time to time trapping for fur animals. D. J. Steams found an old Indian sugar bush on the tract that in later years was known as the Taylor farm. Previous to the advent of the white man into this township the Indians were wont to come annually to this place to make sugar. The squaws made the sugar, as they did all of the labor, other than hunting, fishing, and fighting, which was reserved for the males, the warriors. They made sap troughs of birch bark. These they brought with them from Sandusky, as there is, and was, no birch in this township. Kettles in which to boil the sap they got from the white settlers on their way to the camp. After they had sugared off, the sugar was stored in a great trough made of elm bark, which would hold twelve or fifteen barrels. Here it was kept for common use while the tribe was in this locality. The residue was carried back with them to Sandusky, when the stay was over. In 1823 the township number 6 range 15 was organized under the new name of Lennox. Just why this name was selected is not known for it had previously been called Kingston and was so called when the first Stearns came as a permanent settler. The first election was held on April 14th and the following officers elected: Trustees, Amos Briggs, Hosea Bradford, and Watrous Usher; clerk, D. J. Stearns; treasurer, Isaac Frost. Two years later the township was dismembered and made as naught. The east part, or half, was annexed to Middleburg and the west half to Ridgeville, and two years after this the township was again erected and the broken halves united into one township. The election was held in June, 1827. The name was still Lennox and the officers chosen were: Trustees, Truman Wolf, Alva Stearns, and Elias C. Frost; clerk, D. J. Stearns; treasurer, Isaac C. Frost; justice of the peace, Watrous Usher, and constables, Joel B. Lawrence and Elliott Smith. The first tax levy made was one half of a mill on the dollar of the property of the township. The township was immediately divided into three school districts and schoolhouses built. Watrous Usher built a sawmill at Olmsted Falls about this time. This township, was quite well watered, to use the expression found in the old geographies. The west branch of the Rocky River traverses the township and meets with the east branch some distance from its border and Plum Creek, a considerable stream, adds to the water privileges. About these streams clustered quite early embryo villages, while the territory away from them was composed of much primeval forest. It has been said that bears at this period of our history were quite numerous and grew to great size fattening on the pigs of the early settlers, who often let these animals run wild in the woods. The rifles of the men thinned the bears to some extent but the busy pioneers had little time for hunting. Steams said a good hunter did not make a good farmer. He kept a rifle just the same for emergencies.

We trust the boys and girls as well as the grown ups will read our history and we must tell a bear story occasionally because these are true bear stories drawn from the experiences of the early settlers and boys and girls like true stories, even if in the telling, they do not point to a moral as do the fables. Mr. Stearns hired a boy to work for him, who was new to the great woods. He had hunted squirrels at home in the grove by his house and he was anxious to do the same in the great woods where he thought these animals must be larger and more interesting game. One day he borrowed Mr Stearns' rifle and went out hunting. After hunting for some time he saw what he thought was a big black squirrel in a hollow tree. He put the gun up to a hole and fired. The black squirrel came out wounded and growling and pitched upon his dog. Astonished at such conduct on the part of a squirrel the boy hurried home as fast as he could run. Arriving almost out of breath he said: "Oh Johnson!" calling Mr. Stearns by his first name, "I seen the monstrousest, biggest black squirrel out in the woods that ever I seen in all my born days." He told such a vivid story that the next morning the men went with him to the tree which they found marked high with blood where the bear, for it was a bear, had rubbed his wounded head. Some thought the squirrel was too large even for a bear. They followed the trail by the blood, overtook and shot the bear. It was the largest one any of the pioneers had ever seen. The bullet of the young squirrel hunter had passed through his nose and broken his jaw. After 1830 bears disappeared entirely from the township but deer remained much longer as well as wild turkeys. Hundreds of wild turkeys were shot and they often had turkey dinners in the log cabins.

This township, as we have said, was first organized under the name of Lennox, having been called before that time Kingston. Two years after it was divided and had no name. Two years after that it was organized again with the same territory and the old name Lennox. And two years after the second organization the name was changed to Olmstead. The only change in name since has been the spelling, as it is now written Olmsted. As related, Aaron Olmstead was the first owner. In 1829 Charles H. Ohnstead, a descendant, who inherited the unsold land, which was mostly in the north part, offered to make the township a present of a library if they would change the name from Lennox to Olmstead. The offer was accepted and the name was changed and the first election under the name Olmstead was held in 1830. In 1831 seven brothers by the name of Fitch settled in the central part of the township, at least three came that year and the rest shortly after. They were Chester, Eli, Horace, Chauncey, Elisha, Daniel and Sanford Fitch. Their families made a large increase in the population and the town shortly became a town of Fitches and Stearnses, to almost as marked a degree as did Brooklyn in the early days become a town of Fishes and Brainards. One year before the Fitches came, Major Hoadley and his son in law, John Barnum, built a sawmill on Plum Creek at Olmsted Falls. Business started up at once, and, as there was no house near, and Barnum wanted to be near his work, and having as we have related a real pioneer wife, he moved at once and improvised a home until, from the product of the mill, he could get one more convenient. He cut down a whitewood tree near the bank of the creek and this formed one end of the house. Then with a few smaller logs and with saplings for a roof, he moved in. This was only temporary as he began at once the building of a convenient house. Luther Barnum, who in later years was a prominent citizen of the township, was then only one year old.

These little communities that sprang up in the various townships of the county bred up many individual and eccentric characters. Every township had its peculiar character unlike any other. They were absolutely original and individual. Today in the large centers of population men become types of a class. Each city to some extent is peopled with those who derive their habits of thought and expression from each other. The individual characteristics are ground off by contact with others. This was not true of many of the pioneers and a man of peculiar and unusual personality was found in every settlement and often there were several. They were the court jesters, the entertainers, the necessary relief from the hard toil of the workers in subduing the forest and at the same time procuring subsistence for the home. Olmsted had a man by the name of Powell, who some claimed was not mentally balanced, but he was not a fool. It seems Uriel Kilpatrick had built a little "packet" gristmill on Plum Creek for custom work. He was as slow as "molasses in January" and the mill partook of the characteristics of its owner. The patience of his customers was tried to the utmost in the long wait for their grists and the many promises and postponements. Powell, among his other eccentricities, wrote poetry. He had some grievance against the miller, Kilpatrick, and went to Mr. Barnum, a justice of the peace for a warrant. The justice refused the request and in a joking way suggested that he write a poem about Kilpatrick, which would be just as effective as a warrant. Powell at once got off the following and included a rap at the justice. Basswood mauls or beetles were those most used by the settlers:

"Iron beetles are seldom found
But basswood justices here abound.
On the banks of the Rocky River,
Tall Kilpatrick's nose doth quiver;
There he sits in his slow mill,
Which most folks think is standing still."

The poetry did not destroy the mill, for it continued in operation for ten or twelve years. Hoadley and Barker's gristmill at the river junction was sold to Loyal Peck, who continued the business for some time. It has long since been forgotten. After Kilpatrick's slow motion had ceased altogether, Peter Kidney built a gristmill on the river below the mouth of Plum Creek. N. P. Loomis, who came to Olmsted in 1834, found no road through the village and only a path along the bank of the river. The main road had been slashed out, that is, the underbrush and saplings cut, but it was not ready for use. Where the Union school building was later erected there was a frog pond and only six houses stood on the present site of the village. Up to this time householders had kept travelers, but there was no regular hotel until this year, when William Romp built a large frame hotel and store near the river below Butternut Ridge. This was the first store, as well as hotel, for previously only householders had kept a few goods to accommodate their neighbors. In this year also the first church was built. It was a union church, built by the Presbyterians, Methodists and Universalists, each denomination raising what money they could. It was an equitable arrangement, for each denomination was to have the use of the building in proportion to the amount contributed. This building was afterwards used as a town hall. It was located at Town House Corners, two miles north of Olmsted Falls. This was used as a town hall until 1849, when the town business and official capital was moved to the Falls. The first Sunday school was organized on Butternut Ridge in 1834. This section was settled with an unusually intellectual class of people, who went in for intellectual and moral improvement more than the average of the pioneers. In 1837 a lyceum or debating school was formed in district No. 1, which was located near the east end of the ridge. Here future lawyers, politicians and statesmen clashed in intellectual encounter. From 1834 the township emerged rapidly from the pioneer stage. The clearings were extended, stumps began to disappear, frame houses replaced the log ones, and pumps took the place of the picturesque well sweeps that were, earlier, in almost every door yard. The town was changing by the sturdy strokes of the pioneers to the uneventful life of a farming community, but like Middleburg, other interests came to the front. The younger members of the community proved to be expert with the rifle and venison was still a large factor in the food supply. This continued until the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad was built through the township, when soon after, as in Middleburg, the last of the wild animals disappeared. In 1853 the Toledo, Norwalk & Cleveland Railway, which became in after years a part of the Lake Shore Railroad, was opened. This passes through the township running east and west, in about the center of the territory. About these two stations clustered a small village, in embryo. The station of the Cleveland, Columbus & Cincinnati road was at once named West View and the village the same. This village never was incorporated and never got a place on the map, other than as a railway station. Olmsted Falls, a station on the other railway, had a steady and healthy growth. It was incorporated as a village in 1857, but at the first election there were only twenty six votes cast. The next year the settlement at Plum Creek was added to Olmsted Falls, and in addition to that, following the pioneer era, it was discovered that the stone that cropped out in Rocky River had the qualities of the Berea sandstone and quarries were opened, but some time afterwards. In 1870 a quarry was opened at West View, and there were employed twenty five men in the building stone industry. A short line railroad was built for shipping the stone to the station. At one time there were two quarries in the township employing fifty men each. The growth of the village continued. In the '80s there were at Olmsted Falls four general stores, four drug stores, two tailor shops, three shoe shops, a blacksmith shop, a tin shop, a gristmill, a broom factory, a f elloe shop and a lumber yard, and the population of the village was about 700.

The broom factory was operated for many years by John and Joseph Lay. In addition to manufacturing a marketable product that was needed in every home, this industry also provided a new farming product market, for the broom corn must be raised for the brooms. The Lays also operated a bending factory in connection with their broom factory. Frank R. Lay of a younger generation was for some time active in the factory. He is now a resident of Indianapolis, Indiana. This industry has gone the way of many of the earlier ones that made for prosperity in the new communities, which have drifted in natural evolution to the larger manufacturing centers. The gristmill of Edward Damp on Rocky River had a good reputation and customers came from the surrounding towns as well as Olmsted.

The Universalist Church was organized by Rev. Harlow P. Sage in 1834. This was the first church of that denomination in this part of the county. Rev. Stephen Hull, the first minister, remained for fifteen years. This church joined with others, as we have stated, in building the first church. In 1847 the congregation built a church of their own on Butternut Ridge. In 1868 the church was incorporated under the laws of Ohio. The second pastor was Rev. Isaac Henry, who stayed ten years. After Reverend Henry came Reverends Tillotson, French, Shipman, Sykes, Rice and Canfield, in their order. In 1878 came an innovation, when Rev. Mrs. Danforth was called to the pastorate. It may not be historically correct to say that she was the first lady preacher called to a regular pastorate in the county, but she was one of the few. The trustees of this church under her pastorate, or at least at its beginning, were Buel Stearns, Jonathan Carpenter and John Foster. The Wesleyan Methodist Church was organized at West View in 1843. The first members were: Ransom Bronson and Harriet, his wife, John Adams and Maria, his wife, Lucius Adams and Electa, his wife, Mary and Sarah Banarce. As in other townships in the early days, this church was served by circuit preachers. The first were Revs. James Pearson and William Beehan. When first organized, this church was called Hoadley's Mills Church or the Station Church. In 1861 the name settled down to the West View Methodist Church. The circuit riders were called preachers rather than pastors. In 1863 Revs. A. W. Sanderson, W. B. Moody and G. C. Hicks came. In 1864-5 Rev. E. A. Fink, in 1866-7 Rev. Thomas F. Hicks, in 1868-9-10 Rev. J. Nettleton, in 1871-2-3 Rev. J. E. Carroll. Revs. Nettleton and Moody preached again in the '70s and Rev. William Snell. The stewards in this period were H. Walk-den, Joseph Reed, J. Case, and the clerk was O. P. Smith. The trustees were R. Bronson, T. Price, J. Adams, A. J. Rickard and B. Ruple. There was a church in North Dover, the building located in the northeast part of the township, drawing its congregation largely from Rockport and Dover townships, of the same denomination and served by the West View minister. There was a Methodist Episcopal Society at Olmsted Falls as early as 1843. In 1851 a church building was erected there under the official supervision of Lestor Bradford, Charles Monks, Chauncey Fitch, William Butlin and Asahel Osborne, trustees. The stewards at that time being composed of these men and David Wright, and Stephen Bradford in addition. Nearly a hundred years ago a church was built by the Methodists out on Butternut Ridge. This building was in later years transferred to the Congregationalists. The first pastor was Rev. H. C. Johnson, and he was followed by Revs. Clisbee, Westervelt, Bosworth, Grosvenor and Patchin. The deacons in the '80s were Richard Carpenter, James Garrison, Mr. Young and Benjamin Salisbury.

St. Mary's Catholic Church was organized in 1855 by Father Louis Filiere. In the same year the congregation built a church at Olmsted Falls. Father Filiere remained until 1874, when he was succeeded by Father Edward J. Murphy, and his successor was Father James M. Cullen. The church was built in the north part of the village and was then moved to the south part. Here was erected in addition a stone parsonage and a schoolhouse. John Dalton, Patrick McCarty and Joseph Ward were councilmen in the '70s. The first Congregational Church, and the first in the township, was organized at Olmsted Falls in 1835. It started with quite a membership. Like many in the county it was closely allied with the Presbyterian Church, and changed about. At one time it was allied with the Cleveland Presbytery and afterwards changed back to the Congregational system. The first members were Mary Ann Fitch. Jerusha Loomis, Cynthia House, Catherine Nelson, Abner, Sylvester, and Summer W. Nelson, William Wood and Mary Ann Wood, Rachel Wait, Emeline Spencer, Lydia Cune, Gotham and Anna S. Howe, Harriett Dryden, Ester E. Kennedy. The first regular pastor was Rev. Israel Mattison. Other early pastors have been Revs. James Steel, O. W. White, Z. P. Disbro, R. M. Bosworth, Richard Grogan, John Patchin. A church was built at the Falls in 1848. Hugh Kyle, O. W. Kendall and N. P. Loomis were trustees in the '70s. It was always an event of special interest when Dan Bradley, then a student at Oberlin, came to this church to preach of a Sunday. Many remember the stirring addresses he gave. The present pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church of Cleveland gave promise at that early stage of his pulpit experience of a career of great usefulness.

Quite early in the history of Olmsted a Union school was established at Olmsted Falls. This was an indication of the progressive character of the people. We have referred to the Lyceum organized on the Ridge in 1837. This was the first departure from the one room schools of the pioneers. The consolidation of these district schools under one head was not then thought of. The first agitation for this plan began, so far as this county was concerned, in the '80s in the county teachers' institutes. The condition of the roads at that time did not make the idea so attractive and the gasoline motor was not in existence. At present the schools of Olmsted are consolidated under the township plan. North Olmsted has its separate school district and Olmsted Falls Village and Olmsted Township are united in school management. At present North Olmsted has two school buildings, with an enrollment of 335 pupils, and ten teachers are employed. The superintendent is Ralph Myers. Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township are accommodated by one large building at the Falls There are enrolled 369 pupils and there are thirteen teachers. The superintendent is G. C. Imhoff. Among the teachers of an earlier period may be mentioned O. W. Kendall and Charles R. Harding. "Charley" Harding taught for some time in the Union School and was active in the County Teachers' Institute. O. W. Kendall was for many years county school examiner and had probably during his active school life the largest acquaintance among teachers of any one in the county. His home was near Turkey Foot Grove on the banks of Rocky River, and he lies in a cemetery near that beautiful grove, remembered by a host of warm friends who knew him in his lifetime. We have not the names of many who taught in the district schools of Olmsted. Miss Emma Pillars, now Mrs. Charles S. Whittern of Cleveland, was a teacher in Olmsted just over the line in Lorain County for about ten years, and her teaching experience is typical of that of many teachers in the "Little Red Schoolhouse." She taught in several districts, on Butternut Ridge and on the Dutch Road, so called. For several of her first terms she "boarded around." Thus to the salary which the school authorities were able to pay was added her board furnished by the various families in turn. Often the boarding place was a mile or two from the schoolhouse and there were no sidewalks nor paved roads. It should be remembered that in those days the snows in winter were just as deep and continuous as now and the mud in spring and fall just as deep and tenacious. The snows were welcome, for with them came the sleigh rides and the jolly parties, long to be remembered. In the one room school Miss Pillars taught classes in their A B C lessons and on up to algebra and geography, to which was added in the text books of that time a few pages of astronomy. When asked how she got along boarding around she said: "Oh, when I got to a particularly good place, and was asked to stay longer, which was often the case, I stayed on." In these schools there was no need of a "parent teachers' meeting," which is held to be so beneficial by school superintendents of today.

Unlike Dover, the township of Olmsted is still in existence. The first break in its political entity was in 1856. Then the Village of Olmsted Falls was formed, but it did not incorporate in its boundaries a very large portion of the territory of the original township. The first officers of the village were: Mayor, Thomas Brown; recorder, William S. Carpenter; councilmen, H. S. Howe, N. P. Loomis, William W. Smith, Thomas Broadwell and George C. Knight. Among the mayors who served in the early days are William S. Carpenter, William Giddings, O. W. Kendall, N. P. Loomis, Elisha Fitch, A. H. Cottrell, H. K. Miner, L. B. Adams and Luther Barnum. The present officers of the village are: Mayor, Edgar R. Bayes; clerk, A. L. Hindall; treasurer, G. H. Spaulding; assessor, James McGill; marshal, A. Brause; councilmen, J. E. Anton, E. Braisch, A. T. Burt, G. M. Hecker, Robert McKay and R. E. Stinchcomb; board of public affairs, D. E. Bones, W. G. Locke and P. Simtnerer. North Olmsted, a newer incorporation, embraces the territory of the northern part of the township, and has a much larger area than the Falls. It has, as we have said, a separate school district. The present officers of the village are: Mayor, L. M. Coe; clerk, A. C. Reed; treasurer, C. A. Beebe; assessor, Frank Bliss; councilmen, A. Biddulph, H. K. Bidwell, H. Christenau, A. G. Douglass, A. L. Romp and R. G. Yesberger. Among those that have served as trustees of the original township are Amos Briggs, Watrous Usher, Hosea Bradford, D. Ross, Truman Wolf, A. Stearns, Alva Stearns, Noble Hotchkiss, Lucius Adams, Vespasian Stearns, Elias Frost, Jonas Clisbee, J. Barnum, John Kennedy, J. Carpenter, William Wood, Hiram Frisbee, Hiram B. Gleason, Peter Kidney, Sanford Fitch, Chauncey Fitch, Joseph S. Allen, Oliver Welden, E. Fitch, Caleb Cook, George M. Kellip, H. K. Miner, Norman Dutcher, Alanson Tilly, Samuel Daniels, John Ames, Thomas Brown, Eastman Bradford, James P. Rice, C. R. Vaughn, Lewis Short, Calvin Geer, Luther Barnum, Benoni Bartlett, William J. Camp, D. H. Brainard, James Hickey, William Busby, Clayton Sharp, L. C. Tanney, John Hull and William T. Williams; clerks, D. J. Stearns, Jonas Clisbee, Orson Spencer, Hiram B. Gleason, Gotham Howe, A. W. Ingalls, Chester Phillips, J. B. Henry, Elliott Stearns, Caleb Cook, G. W. Thompson, A. G. Hollister, N. P. Loomis, James H. Strong, Richard Pollard, O. W. Kendall, J. G. Fitch, Asahel Osborn, R. Pollard and Henry Northrup; treasurers, Isaac Frost, Thomas Briggs, Buel Peck, A. Stearns, John Adams, Nahum Rice, Hiram B. Gleason, Jotham Howe, A. W. Ingalls, Elisha Fitch, William Romp, N. P. Loomis, James H. Strong, Eastman Bradford, C. P. Druden, W. W. Mead and George B. Dryden. W. W. Dryden served in the office of treasurer for a long period. D. J. Stearns, the first clerk of Olmsted, was born in Dover, Vermont, and came to Olmsted in 1815. His grandfather, Eliphalet Stearns, of English birth, was a captain in the Revolutionary war, and his father, Elijah, was a lieutenant in that war. F. J. Bartlett, who was justice of the peace in Olmsted, was a captain in the Civil war. His father and mother were born in England. Mr. Bartlett served as justice of the peace in Strongsville Township twelve years before coming to Olmsted, where he was elected to the same office. For years he was proprietor of Cedar Mills at Cedar Point, the junction of the east and west branches of Rocky River. He served as commander of Olmsted Falls Post No. 634 of the Grand Army of the Republic and was a member of fraternal organizations in other towns. T. E. Miller, a later trustee of the township, was also a member of the school board for sixteen years. Charles F. Stearns, another trustee of later years, lost a son, Louis, in the Civil war. He was the son of Elijah Stearns and one of a family of eleven children. The present officers of the township are: Trustees, R. T. Hall, S. W. Jennings and H. K. Otterson; clerk, L. L. Parch; treasurer, W. G. Locke; assessor, E. R. Lower; justice of the peace, J. H. Scroggie; constable, E. N. Taylor.

Olmsted furnished a large quota of soldiers in the Civil war and has kept alive a Grand Army Post until a few years ago, when from the limited number left it was disbanded. We have not given in these chapters much in regard to the service in the Spanish-American and World wars, as that will be given in a general chapter in, connection with the military history of the City of Cleveland and the county entire.

One of the beauty spots of Olmsted is Turkey Foot Grove on the banks of Rocky River. This has never been made a public park and is owned by the heirs of Davis Lewis. The Metropolitan Park Board, which has been acquiring property under a most comprehensive plan, which embraces a county boulevard system touching the finest natural scenery acquired for public parks, may some day include this in its holdings.


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