History of Rockport Township, Cuyahogo County, OH (Part 3)

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


East Rockport came into existence in its first designation as a post office. The little settlement in the township in about the center of the eastern part, or that between Rocky River and Brooklyn Township, was granted a postoffice by the postmaster general and it was opened in the store of Lucius Dean, which was near the present location of Belle Avenue. Presumably Lucius was postmaster. The store was for some time the only general store in the settlement and was later known as the Johnson store, the postoffice was named East Rockport. Later when the hamlet was formed the name was changed. It may be that the residents had witndssed the difficulties arising in some New England towns from holding to one name and attaching designations of direction. It is related that in Connecticut an old gentleman visited Haddam. He found East Haddam, West Haddam, North Haddam, South Haddam, and Haddam Haddam, and had so much difficulty in locating the home of some friend that he said he wished the devil had 'em. When the hamlet was organized August 31, 1889, the selection of a name was discussed with a great deal of interest. The name "Arlington" was first adopted and application sent to the postmaster general for a postoffice in that name. The postmaster general replied that there was another postoffice in the state so named and to avoid confusion suggested that some other name be chosen. Thereupon a committee was appointed to consider the question of a name and report. Ezra Nicholson and A. B. Allen were the committee and they made a canvass of the residents before reporting. The name Lakewood was chosen as appropriate and euphonious. The hamlet of Lakewood was organized, having a population of some 400 souls. The first trustees were I. E. Canfield, William Maile and Noble Hotchkiss. They were chosen at a special election held July 11, 1889. They were sworn in by Gen. J. J. Elwell and met at the home of Noble Hotchkiss for the first meeting. Ezra Nicholson was chosen clerk and treasurer and his bond was fixed at $5,000. Charles Townsend was chosen marshal and chief of police and his bond fixed at $50. Noble Hotchkiss, Jr., was selected road supervisor. The board got right down to business. At this first meeting four ordinances were passed. One to regulate the speed of horses or vehicles to eight miles an hour, one forbidding any person to overload, overdrive, torture or torment, or deprive of water any domestic animal, one regulating saloons or drinking places, and another fixing the amount to be assessed for taxes at $1,000. The second meeting was characterized by business activity. The president was authorized to swear in eleven special policemen, giving each one a badge for which he was to pay 50 cents. At the April meeting in 1890, Francis M. Wagar was appointed marshal and road supervisor in place of Charles Townsend and Noble Hotchkiss, Jr., who resigned. At this meeting also a lockup or jail was authorized to be built under the supervision of President Canfield. This action was taken because of the fact that the good fishing in Rocky River and its recreational advantages called a great many sports to its banks, who were often guilty of petty offenses as a part of "having a good time." In August, 1890, an ordinance was passed providing a penalty of from $5 to $100 for betting, gambling, or other retractions of the state law, with a proviso that the informer should receive 50 per cent of the fines. This ordinance was never signed by the president. For several years the officers of the hamlet received no compensation. In April, 1892, the trustees voted the clerk $35 for his services for the past years. Thus Ezra Nicholson became the first salaried or paid official of Lakewood. At the second election of the hamlet in 1893, C. L. Tyler was chosen president to succeed I. E. Canfield, who had served three years. A resolution of thanks was given the retiring president for his fidelity and conscientious service, unanimously. The topic of interest in the hamlet in the early days of its corporate existence was the building of a plank road from Rocky River to West Twenty fifth Street, Cleveland, and the building of the Rocky River Railroad from the river to the city limits of Cleveland at Bridge Street. Another project was the building of the Woodland Avenue and West Side Street Railway from the city limits of Cleveland at Highland Avenue through the hamlet to Rocky River. A franchise was asked in the spring of 1893 on the promise that cars should run through from the public square to the river, that the line should be completed in one year and that one fare should he charged to Belle Avenue and an additional fare beyond that point. A twenty five year franchise was granted after a great deal of discussion. The officers of the hamlet after the election in 1895 were: Trustees, C. L. Tyler, president, N. Hotchkiss and C A Willard; clerk, William F. Closse; treasurer, L. Johnson; marshal, John Billington; road supervisor, C. Worthington, and engineer, N. B. Dare. William Prutton was afterwards selected on the board to fill the vacancy caused by the death of C. A. Willard. The hamlet was functioning efficiently when agitation for electric lighting for the corporation and the residences was agitated by the citizens. The Illuminating Company was at that time unwilling to enter the field and there was a general demand for the establislunent of an electric lighting plant. C. L. Tyler at once took steps to comply. He explained the needs of such action before the trustees and John French was appointed to act with him as a committee to study the situation. Their report was made in favor of the project and an engineer was employed and the plant established. This did good service for several years and was finally taken over by the Illuminating Company. In 1898 free mail delivery was established within the corporate limits of the hamlet. In that year the officers of the hamlet were: Trustees, C. L Tyler, president, Noble Hotchkiss, and J. Tegarden; clerk, N. W. Hird; assessor, Samuel McGee; treasurer, J. Johnson; marshal, Henry D. Howe, and road supervisor, Clark Worthington. February 14th, action was taken by the trustees looking to the building of Clifton Boulevard. The necessary legislation was passed the same year and the improvement made certain. In the work of securing this as well as the electric lighting plant, President C. L. Tyler is by general consent given praise for having done a large share. Lakewood's sewer system was founded under his administration. There was opposition and the progress of Lakewood as a hamlet may not have been as rapid as in later years under other forms of government but the corporate existence contributed. Much stress is often placed upon political forms by those who are instrumental in the adoption of something new. "For forms of government let fools contest, whate'er is best administered is best." In 1899 the officers of Lakewood were: Trustee, Otto C. Berehtold; president, W. A. Wilbur and J. E. Tegarden; clerk, John French; treasurer, C. R. Maile; assessor, E. T. Schupp; marshal, Lewis R. Smith; road supervisor, Alexander McAuley. In that year N. C. Cotabish, Alexander Horn and Harry Culp were appointed a commission to assess the damages and appraise the benefits in connection with the building of Clifton Boulevard.

On May 4, 1893, Lakewood was organized into a village and the first officers were: Mayor, J. J. Rowe; solicitor, G. N. Shaver; clerk, Harry J. Sensel; councilmen, Jay C. Andrews, R. F. Edwards, C. E Newell, W. D. Pudney, C. C. Southern and Daniel Webb. Of these first officers of the village three, Mr. Pudney, Mr. Rowe and Mr. Edwards, have served in the Legislature, Mr. Rowe is the present senator and Mr. Edwards the present representative, resident in Lakewood. The mayor following J. J. Rowe was Bernard Miller, then came N. C. Cotabish, who was the last mayor under the village government. The growth of the village was so rapid that in 1912 after nine years as a village Lakewood became a city. The first officers were: Mayor. J. B. Coffinhury; council, Clayton W. Tyler; president, W. A. Bennett, M. J. Earle, James Gormsen, L. E. Kerber, B. F. Mills, Frank V. Reid and Frank L. Thurber. Two years later the city passed under a new charter and the officers were: Mayor, Clayton W. Tyler; director of public works, N. C. Cotabish; of law, Dobert G. Curren; of finance, B. B. Cook; council, W. A. Bennett, John H. Brown, William F. Closse, James Gormsen and H. E. Gresham, James Gormsen being chosen president; chief of police, Henry C. O'Dell; fire chief, Joseph H. Speddy. The following year Councilman John H. Brown resigned to take his place as a member of the Legislature, and James J. Hinslea was chosen to fill his place. It should be noted that while Lakewood became a city by proclamation of the secretary of state on February 17, 1911, it continued under the village government until January 1, 1912. Its growth since that time has been very rapid. Perhaps no better illustration of its material growth can be shown than by showing the growth of expenditures of the city as given in the report of the city auditor. The first year under the city government, under Mayor Coffinburv, the city expended $534,258. This does not include school expenditures. The last year under Clayton W. Tyler, the successor of Mayor Coffinhury, the city expended $1,136,832, the last year under Mayor B. M. Cook, the third mayor of the city, the expenditures were $1,475,291, and the expenditures under his successor, the present mayor, L. E. Hill, for the year 1922 were $2,355,412. The school expenditures are not included in any instance. The annual report of the building inspector for this year shows that building permits were issued for 1,074 dwellings with a total valuation of $6,526,725, nineteen apartments with a total value of $1,029,000, fifty commercial buildings with a total value of $1,058,000, one theater, four churches, ninety three alterations, 745 minor buildings, one market house, three public garages, two ice stations, six gasoline stations and three shops. The total valuation of the building permits issued this year of 1922 was $9,503,285 or an increase over the year 1921 of $4,315,093. There are seventy four miles of paved streets in Lakewood and the repairs for 1922 cost $43,266.63, and the cleaning $9,154. Nearly $10,000 was expended in sidewalk repairs and as much more in garbage disposal and rubbish collection. There are ninety one miles of sewer pipe laid in the city streets. The Lakewood police recovered stolen property, including automobiles, to the value of $51,805.78, and the mileage of the motorcycles used by the police was 44,659 miles, showing that motorcycle men traveled a distance equal to one and four fifths times around the earth in the year 1922. The fires of the city involving property valued at $16,513,720 have called out the fire department 335 times, and the total losses by fires has been $30,702, covered by insurance to the amount of $28,312. The total bonded indebtedness of the city on December 31, 1922, was $4,463,540.70, and the balance in the sinking fund at that date was $439,299.85. The care of parks involves something less than $10,000 in expenditures. There is Lakewood, Wagar, Madison and Rocky River parks, owned by and assets of the city. The present officials of the city are: Mayor, L. E. Hill, who is also director of public safety and director of public works; director of law, R. G. Curren; director of finance, A. O. Guild; council, James Gormsen, H. S. Hart, L. A. Hilde, Olive B. Kirk and Maude C. Waitt; city engineer, E. A. Fisher; building inspector, George A. Durant, sewer, sidewalk and street superintendent, George Cavell; superintendent of the water department, J. G. Peitz; chief of fire, J. H. Speddy; chief of police, L. B. Miller; health officer, Dr. W. J. Benner; sanitary officer, A. J. Phelps; milk inspector, R. S. Cooley; trustees of sinking fund, R. E. Bartholomew, P. T. Harrold and George N. Shaver; civil service commission, C. C. Buitman, J. C. Hoffman, T. M. McNiece and F. W. Maerkle. The secretary of the commission is F. R. Thrall. Elsie M. Hutchins is deputy director of finance.

From the district schools to the present efficient and comprehensive system of schools in so short a period is one of the marvels of Lakewood's development. Even up to the time when the hamlet was formed as the first breakaway from the primitive township organization, the schools were of the ordinary country type with little or no attempt at grading and instruction confined to narrow limits. It was the one room school, having its merits in that the individual pupil had no restraint upon his advancement and no restrictions as to his choice of studies, provided he found in the teacher one capable of meeting his requirements. From the first school started in Mars Wagar's log house by Jonathan Parshall, a shiftless professor of the magic of avoiding labor, to the present high schools of Lakewood, there is an advancement so wonderful as to seem like the stories of the transforming wand. The schools of Lakewood employ 300 teachers and have an enrollment of 8,000 pupils. The high school, Senior High, alone, has an enrollment of 1,900 and employs eighty teachers. There are two Junior high school buildings and ten grade buildings. C. P. Briggs is principal of the high school, John C. Mitchell assistant principal, and Jane M Penally, dean of girls. A handbook of Lakewood High School just published says: "The first graduating class in 1885 required one diploma, but classes grew little by little and the high school moved into a new building, now called the Grant School, just south of the old Rockport Building, where Lakewood High made its beginning. In 1893 a high school building was erected just across from the present site of the Board of Education Building. In 1917-18 the present high school building was erected at a cost of over $1,000,000, to accommodate 2,000. It is now filled and overflowing into the new junior high schools as they are erected." The curriculum includes English, public speaking, journalism, short story writing, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, science, biology, plant production, chemistry, physics, agronomy, history, economics, French, Spanish, Latin, penmanship, spelling, business arithmetic, bookkeeping, which includes accountancy, shorthand, typewriting, commercial geography, business law, cabinet making, foundry work, pattern making, sheet metal work, printing, electrical construction, mechanical drawing, cooking, household chemistry, home nursing, sewing, millinery, art, designing, commercial art, costume illustration, music, and physical education. The school has three publications, a monthly magazine, an annual, and a bi weekly newspaper. They are called The Arrow, The Cinema and The High Times. The library has a collection of over 5,000 books. One of the school yells is called Alma Mater. It is this:

ALMA MATER
Lakewood High we're proud of thee.
All allied in loyalty,
May thy counsel ever be Within our memory.

Chorus
Hail to thee,
0, Lakewood High, Thy dear name uphold.
We shall ne'er forget The purple and gold.
Honors then to Lakewood High,
May her fame reach to the sky,
May we always heed her cry,
To bravely do or die.

Superintendent Charles P. Lynch was principal of Warren High School for five years, was a teacher in Central High School of Cleveland in 1902, principal of West High School, Cleveland, and has been super¬intendent of the Lakewood schools for a number of years.

Lakewood is called the City of Homes and it might with equal truthfulness be called the city of churches, as is Brooklyn, New York. Some, that have their roots in the soil of pioneer days have already been mentioned. Among the churches of the city are the New Jerusalem Church, the Lakewood Methodist Church, Church of the Ascension, Saint Tames Roman Catholic Church, Lakewood Congregational Church, Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, Lakewood Christian Church, Lakewood Presbyterian Church, the English Evangelical Lutheran Church, Saint Paul's Lutheran Church, the Lakewood Baptist Church, Calvary United Brethren Church, the Detroit Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, Lakewood United Presbyterian Church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Lakewood, and Rocky River Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Lakewood Chamber of Commerce was organized in 1911 with the following officers. President, F. L. Thurber; vice presidents, J. B. Coffuthury and J. C. Lowrie; secretary, W. C. Kenaga; treasurer, J. R. Cotabish; directors, J. H. Ruck, A. E. Kellogg, F. S. Winch, George D. Koch, P. A. McCaskey, B. S. Blossom, G. A. Hanson, and F. V. Reid. The purpose of this organization reads on its minutes as follows: "The purpose of forming this organization is to promote and protect the moral, social, business and civic interests of the City of Lakewood, Ohio; to acquire, hold and diffuse such information as will best serve such purposes, and to provide entertainment for its members." Judge Willis Vickery succeeded as president of the Chamber in 1915. Other associations are the Lakewood Merchants' Credit Association, organized to establish a uniform system of credits and collections, and the Retail Merchants Board, organized "to further and protect the interests of the retail dealers of Lakewood; to make it hard to defraud the retailer without imposing hardship on the honest debtor; to make it easier to collect just debts without distressing those worthy of and needing careful consideration at the hands of credit men."

Among the financial institutions of the city are the Lakewood State Bank, corner of Detroit and Belle avenues, the Lakewood branch of the Cleveland Trust Company, of Cleveland, corner of Detroit and Highland avenues, the Colonial Savings and Loan Company, corner of Detroit and Belle avenues, and the Rocky River Savings and Banking Company, on Blount Street, Rocky River.

The dubs and fraternal orders include the Lakewood Tennis Club, the Lakewood Young Men's Business Club, the Cleveland Yacht Club, which owns the island at the mouth of the Rocky River, and has large clubhouses, docks, tennis and croquet grounds, gymnasium, swimming pools and sun parlors, its property valued at more than $50,000. The Lakewood Boat Club, the Lakewood Thimble Club, "to promote intellectual growth and social fellowship, and to aid philanthropic institutions," Current Events dub, "an organization for the social enlightenment of its members and to provide literary and social recreation of a high order," the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, Lakewood Division of the Woman's Suffrage Party, now out of a job, the Lakewood branch of the Associated Charities of Cleveland, on Detroit Avenue near Fry, established to take over the charity work of the City of Lakewood. Of the secret and benevolent orders there is a lodge of the Knights of Pythias, and of the Pythian Sisters, three blue lodges of the Masonic Order, an Eastern Star Lodge, Lincoln No. 309, two Forester lodges, Lakewood and Companion, Independent Order of Foresters, Clifton Lodge, Knights of the Maccabees, Lakewood No. 490, and Ladies of the Maccabees, Lakewood No. 437, the Royal Protective League, and Catholic Order of Foresters.

Lakewood Hospital, established by the Lakewood Hospital Company, is located on Detroit Avenue, with a dispensary on Madison, and its history is interesting. It was built by a company but not for profit and its maintenance has been at times difficult. The Lakewood Hospital Charitable Association, composed of ladies, has greatly aided in the maintenance. Among the trustees of the institution may be mentioned W. J. Hunkin, E. W. Fisher, Oscar Kroehle, Miss Alice M. Brooks, and Judge Willis Vickery. The Lakewood Sanatorium, founded by Dr. A. S. McClain, for the treatment of those afflicted with rheumatism and nervous diseases, is located at 18411 Detroit Avenue. This is classed as a public institution and its aim is to give treatment under home surroundings. Mention should be made of the parochial school in connection with Saint James Church. This was established in 1912 under the auspices of the Sisters of Humility and Mercy. The school structure, Saint Tames' Hall, has sixteen class rooms and is provided with a fine auditorium. Rev. Michael D. Leahy is at the head of the work. Saint Augustine Convent, located on Lake Avenue, is the only one in the city. It has an attractive home building and pretty surroundings. Among the structures that attract attention is the Rocky River bridge, built by the county. When it was built it contained the largest concrete arch in the United States. Since that time it has been exceeded by others. This affords a fine view of the river valley. It is built entirely of reinforced concrete, which "moth and rust doth not corrupt." The Masonic Temple, located on Detroit Avenue, is one of the fine structures of the city.

In 1915 the authorities published an illustrated pamphlet, a chronological statement of facts concerning the City of Lakewood, which was sold for the benefit of the fire and police pension fund. In this are many pictures of residences and public buildings of the city, which are exceedingly attractive.

Lakewood has no industrial life to record. Like the original township, which was number 7 of range 14 in the original survey, afterwards Rockport, it has never "been contaminated with the vices of manufacture." The nearest approach to industrial activity was in 1914 when the gas well boom was on. Some 200 wells were sunk and oil derricks loomed in the sky, but the boom was short lived and only a limited number were paying propositions.

"The City of Homes" is in every respect a residence section of Greater Cleveland. The only distinction is that it has its own municipal and school government. The question of annexation to Cleveland has been agitated from time to time. At a recent election the question was submitted to the voters and the proposition to annex voted down. At this election referred to, or rather at the general election held at this time, West Park voted otherwise and its territory is now a part of Cleveland. Just how the sentiment on this question will develop remains for the future historian to record. At present it is a beautiful city of 55,000 inhabitants, characterized by high ideals, intelligence, and progressive, vigorous life.

Rockport History Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.


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