History of Warrensville, Cuyahoga County, 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


This is township 7, range 11, of the original survey of townships of the Western Reserve. It is southeast from Cleveland, north of Bedford, west of Orange, and is bounded on the north by East Cleveland and Euclid, and on the west by Newburgh and East Cleveland. It is level with a soil varying from stiff clay to a light loam. The streams are small and hence the water power that was so much sought by the early settlers is limited. It was heavily timbered like the rest. The first attempt at settlement was made in 1807, by Horace Burroughs, Rudolph Pattern and Jacob Cattern. They came intending to locate near the center. On their way through the woods they came upon a black bear, who took to a tree. Just how they were armed is not recorded, but they decided to cut the tree and get their game when it fell. The three chopped in turn until the tree was about ready to fall, when the others left Jacob Pattern to make the finishing strokes, and went forward to greet bruin as he came to the ground. They killed the bear, but death was with them in an unexpected manner. Going back to the stump they found Jacob dead, killed by a large limb broken from a neighboring tree as this one fell. Their elation at getting the big game was turned to mourning by the discovery of this sad accident, and death of their comrade. They abandoned the enterprise, carried the body of their dead comrade to a burial place and returned to the East.

The first settler of the township was Daniel Warren. He came from New Hampshire to Painesville in the fall of 1808. He was very poor in this world's goods. Had a few household goods but not an elaborate outfit. A barrel set on end, covered with the end board of the wagon had to serve as a table at first. The cooking and baking was done in a five quart iron kettle. The next year he moved to Newburgh. Here the family remained while he built a log cabin on his farm in the new township, walking back and forth to his work, two and a half miles. It was built without the use of a single nail, a commodity quite useful and much used in later years. He moved in January 4, 1810. The moving is thus described by himself: "I procured a horse on which Mrs. Warren and her three weeks' old babe rode, the boy of two years I carried on my back, while neighbor Prentiss, with an ox team, hauled our few household things. This trip was over two and a half miles through the woods, and Mrs. Warren remarked, 'We left New Hampshire to go into the wilderness, and I guess we have made it out'" The "first run of sledding" after the Warrens moved to their log cabin home, a happy party of their friends from Newburgh and Cleveland, to the number of fifty, came out for a "house warming" and crowded the little cabin. They had a jolly time and among other things held a formal meeting and proposed to name the new township. As Mrs. Warren was the first and only woman residing in the township, it was suggested that she select the name. She proposed Warrensville and her choice was adopted by acclamation. Thus township 7 of range 11 was named, and when the civil township was organized the name was retained. Occasionally in the historical annals of Cuyahoga County we have a chance to bring the women into notice and this instance is a break in the usual course of local history, which recites in detail masculine activities in the main. A woman named Warrensville. Of course, womanlike in the selection of the name, she was thinking of honoring the name of her husband, the first settler. The house warming party went home long after midnight and all remembered for long this enjoyable, and, we may say, historic party. Mrs. Warren was a true pioneer woman. Her husband was a bricklayer and followed his trade in addition to clearing the farm. Thus she was of ten left alone with the children. Bears and wolves would come around the cabin at night, rather disquieting callers for a lone woman in a wilderness miles away from any other human habitation. She could not telephone, she could not start the phonograph, nor play the piano for diversion. She could not strike a match to look into a dark corner, or listen to the latest music over the radio. We could continue the list, but sufficient has been included to give us a thought backward to the pioneer woman who helped build this civilization with all its greater advantages. Mrs. Warren once came home from Newburgh and was followed closely, on all sides, by a full pack of wolves for it was getting dark when she reached her door in breathless fear. She lived out her life in Warrensville, surviving her husband, Daniel Warren, who died in 1862, seven years. Of their children, the babe that was with them when they came to the log house as first settlers, only lived a year. This was the first death in the township. In their family also occurred the first birth in the township, that of William H. Warren, who was born December 26, 1812. Other members of the family of children were Hiram V., Moses N., James M., Othello, Paulin, and Julia C To add to the colony of Warrens in the township, Moses Warren, the father of Daniel, came to the township after the War of 1812 and settled on lot 54. His sons, besides Daniel, were William and Moses. To add to the family numbers but not to the name, a father in law of Daniel, James Prentiss, came with his family and settled on lot 54. He was a Revolutionary soldier. He lived only five years after coming to the township but left a family consisting of four sons, Robert, James, Samuel, and Cyrus. The last named, Cyrus Prentiss, moved to Ravenna, and among other business activities, was the first president of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh Railway. Asa Stiles came to the township in 1812 and settled in the Warren. neighborhood. He came from New York state. He had three sons, Amos, Hiram, and Wilbur. In the same year, Jacob Russell came from the same state and located on lot 23. He was an elderly man when he came and died eleven years after at the age of seventy five. His sons were named Ralph, Rodney, Elijah, Elisha, and Return; nearly all of this family joined the Shakers, of whom we will speak after this. Peleg Brown settled on lot 63 shortly after the Russells came, and Fred G. Williams on lot 41. Brown remained until 1837 when he moved to Indiana, and Williams joined the Mormons and drifted to the west with them. Benjamin Thorp came in 1813. His farm was on lot 62. Here he remained for fifteen years, when he moved to Michigan. William Sickel came at the same time and was a near neighbor of Thorp. He was a shoemaker, perhaps the first in the township. He worked at his trade in connection with farming and clearing until his death in 1836. Without a map of Warrensville as subdivided into lots in the survey it will be difficult to gather from the location of the first settlements any accurate idea, but the numbers will give some general idea of the location. We have a number of settlements noted in 1815. Josiah Abbott settled on lot 54 and some years later moved to Missouri. The same year Abraham S. Honey and Chester Risley came. They got interested in the Shakers and joined the North Union Community. Caleb Baldwin settled on lot 48 at the same time, where he remained until led off by the Mormons. After this Enoch Gleason located on lot 67. He came with his family from Berkshire, Massachusetts. Lot 67 was east of the center and this was the only family living in that part of the township before 1820, except the Baldwin. Gleason had seven sons, Milo, Ariel, Ephraim, Almon, Enoch, Perry, and Loren. Jeclediah Hubbell came in 1815, made some improvements and moved away but came back in a few years and was long a resident of the township. He had a large family. A grandson, Charles Harold Hubbell, born in Warrensville, in 1836, had a long service in the Civil war, was a member of Col. Jack Casement's regiment, when first enlisted, and in the closing years of the war was assigned as chief clerk in the quartermaster's department at the headquarters of Gen. John M. Palmer. Quite early Ansel Young settled on lot 42, Gabriel Culver on lot 83, Reuben and Beckwith Cook on lot 74, Aruna R. Baldwin on lot 13, Moses Higby on lot 105, and Nehemiah Hand on lot 25. Most of the families, of whom the head has been named, moved on farther west in a few years.

John and Luther Prentiss, probably without families, came from New Hampshire, in 1819. They drove a one horse team and the trip occupied twenty eight days. John took up a farm on lot 38, and Luther on lot 13. John was a resident of the township fifteen years and Luther during his lifetime. As an evidence that he was single when he came, his sole possessions consisted of one suit of clothes, an extra pair of shoes, and a razor. As an evidence that he was a thrifty pioneer, he had after some years as a pioneer resident of Warrensville, 70 acres of land, paid for, and had raised a family of six children. Three years before this the civil township of Warrensville had been formed. The voters met at the house of Josiah Abbott, November 7, 1816, and Daniel Warren was the chairman of the meeting. James Prentiss, Peleg Brown, and William Sickel were the judges of election, one of the three acting as clerk. The officers elected were James Prentiss, Peleg Brown, and William Sickel, trustees; F. G. William, clerk; Josiah Abbott, treasurer; Daniel Warren, justice of the peace; Robert Prentiss, constable; Moses Warren and Robert Prentiss, poor masters; Benjamin Thorp and Abraham Honey, fence viewers. The commission of Daniel Warren as justice of the peace was dated January 6, 1817, and was signed by Gov. Thomas Worthington. At this first election James Johnson and Humphrey Nichols were the only voters who were not elected to office.

Col. John E. Adams came to the township in 1826 and located on lot 51. Here he built the first and only pioneer stone house in the township. A list of the heads of families or householders in the township by 1829 will give a practical illustration of the progress of the settlement of the township following the housewarming at the log cabin of Daniel Warren, and will include many names that are familiar to the people of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County: Col. John E. Adams, William Addison, Peleg Brown, Gabriel Culver, Sylvester Carber, David Benjamin, Jedediah Hubbell, Appleton Collister, James Johnson, Orrin J. Hubbell, Thomas Kneale, Asa Stiles, Abel Shepard, Daniel S. Tyler, Benjamin Thorp, Daniel Warren, Moses Warren, Moses Warren, Jr., William Kelly, Isaac Cooper, Return Russell, Salmon Buell, Benjamin Sawyer, Elisha Russell, Andrew Barber, John Woodruff, Ralph Russell, Moor Bell, Enoch Gleason, Ebenezer Russell, Beckwith Cook, Ephraim Gleason, N. C. Hains, Nehemiah Hand, James Lee, Daniel Pillsbury, Job Hand, Thomas Radcliff, Lyman Wight, Oliver Ransom, Caleb Baldwin, F. L. Burnett, Joseph Clyne, Nathan Goodspeed, Ansel Jenny, William Fairchild, Dayton Thorp, Isaac Lassler, Jefferson Wallace, Bazaleel Thorp, Andrew Wilson, William Watterson, Warner Thorp, Thomas Collister, John Kelly, William Cain, Thomas Cain, George Kent, and William Kerruish.

The last named came from the Isle of Man, one of a large number of Manxmen who settled in Warrensville in this early period of the township, William Kerruish. He was the father of W. S. Kerruish of the Cleveland bar, of whom we will speak more particularly in a later chapter. W. S. Kerruish was born in Warrensville in 1831 and is now ninety two years of age. He goes to his law office almost daily, but contents himself largely with reading from the literature of all time and does not practice law in the courts. His loss of memory of names and faces is quite general. In an address before the Early Settlers' Association of Cleveland delivered forty years ago, he speaks of his early life and of the pioneer Manxmen. He says: "Not long ago I happened upon one of Judge Tilden's speeches in which he gave a mirth provoking account of the terror caused him on his advent into Ohio by the long howling of the wolves, as they surrounded his first night's lodging in the Buckeye State, and how gladly he would have deeded away, had he possessed it. the fee simple title to the whole Western Reserve for a foothold once more on the soil of old Connecticut. My earliest recollections are of a much later period of an age of bottomless mud, and of new fields covered with stumps, the mud and stump period. I well recollect coming into the city from Warrensville by the present Woodland Avenue road - how we first came to the two principal landmarks - the Cutter mansion and Doctor Long's house, and what a weary quagmire there was yet to pass, what a stretch of quagmire and country before we reached the 'city,' and how we passed the tempting apple orchard which then covered the now thickly populated space extending eastward from the present junction of Woodland and Broadway. Many reminiscences of Warrensville life might be recalled. You ate most of you aware that emigration from the Isle of Man to this locality commenced comparatively early and has been very large, large considering its source, for the island is but thirty miles long by thirteen wide, and half of it mountains at that. As indicative of the number of this class of our population and the readiness with which they, as a general thing, identified themselves with the interests and advancement of their new home, I may say that upon an estimate made some time since, the survivors of that emigration, with their descendants, together with later arrivals, number in this county alone between 3,000 and 4,000. As an instance of the way they rooted themselves in the land, it is, or was a fact, a short time ago, that if you took a southeasterly course from a point in Newburgh Township, you might pass for five or six miles along the road with Manx landholders continuously on either side. The tradition of the origin of this immigration is as follows: A native of the island, who was something of a traveler, who had been on the medical staff of the British army abroad, and who among his wanderings came to America, visited the falls of Niagara, passed along the southern shores of Lake Erie, going through this place and returned to his island home. He was a man of superior judgment and education; and though this must have been anterior to 1820, as I have heard it related, he foresaw and predicted that this region between the waters of 'the beautiful river' and the southern shores of Lake Erie was destined to be the seat of a mighty people. In the year 1824, or thereabouts, one Manx family came and settled near Painesville, mistaking it for the town founded by Moses Cleveland. Various letters written home by this single settler and passed from hand to hand produced great excitement in that small and far off community. It was afterwards said that the marvelous accounts of deer and turkeys running at large, and forest trees distilling sugar, and land to be got for the asking, were not sufficiently explained, and that the more sober colors of the picture were left out"

Mr. Kerruish referred to William Kelly and wife, who settled in Newburgh, Rev. Thomas Corlett, Thomas Quayle, Patrick Cannell, and Deacon Benjamin Rouse.

Perhaps the most unique among the pioneers of Warrensville were the Shakers. Their community, occupying the territory which is now Shaker Heights village, was early established but has passed into history. The foundress of this religious denomination was Ann Lee, who was born in Toad Lane, Manchester, England, in 1742. Her father was a blacksmith and she was employed at one time as cook in the infirmary of her native town. It is recorded that she was a quiet child of a visionary temperament. She joined a small religious body called the French Prophets. The leader of this organization was one Jane Wardly, who was considered by her followers as "the spirit of John the Baptist operating in the female line." These people were called Shakers because like the early Quakers they were seized with violent shakings and tremblings when under the influence of strong religious emotions. Ann Lee married a blacksmith, whose character was very bad and their four children died in infancy. She took the lead in the Shaker society and promulgated the doctrine of celibacy. She preached that the second coming of Christ would be in the form of a woman. They argued that as Eve was the mother of all living, they could recognize in the new leader of their sect the spiritual mother. They were very zealous, preaching in season and out, and suffered from opposition by the constituted authorities and from mob violence. In 1774 Ann and eight of her disciples immigrated to America. One break in their ranks occurred after their arrival in New York. Abraham Stanley, displeased with his wife's celibate creed, abandoned her for another woman. Ann and her followers settled at Watervliet, a small place up the Hudson, but were imprisoned on refusal to take the oath, being thought unfavorable to the Revolutionary cause. On being released they began preaching and made many converts. Ann Lee died in 1780 and the head of the church has been vested since in a man. Being to some extent apart from all regular society, many charges were made against them of a scandalous nature, but these were outlived and they soon came to be highly respected. The official name of the general organization is "The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing." In 1870 there were eighteen Shaker communities in the United States. The one at Warrensville was known as the North Union Community. The origin of this community is attributed to Ralph Russell, who was one of the early trustees of Warrensville township. He owned a farm on section 22, or lot 22, of the township. He became interested in the new creed, perhaps through the labors of some missionary, visited a neighboring community at Union Village and joined the Shakers. He came home a missionary and proselyted quite actively. Then Richard W. Pelham and James Hodge, elders of the Union Village Community, came in 1822 and they with Russell made many converts. It was announced that Russell had had a vision, that a strong ray of light came from Union Village in a straight horizontal line and touched a point in Warrensville near Russell's home. The two elders stayed six months and superintended the founding of the community. All Shaker communities were socialistic in their temporal arrangements and the new converts began at once building log cabins and clearing land. In the spring of 1823 the trustees of Union Village bought a large tract of land in Warrensville They got donations of land and bought still more and in four years Ashbel Kitchell was appointed presiding elder and the Warrensville community was launched as a separate entity. The equality of the sexes was brought into exercise, two of each sex governing its own side of the house. The Covenant, which was the pledge of organization, was signed September 8, 1828. In the signing the sexes were separated as at their meetings: Elijah Russell, James S. Prescott, Samuel Russell, Chester Risley, Return Russell, Elisha Russell, John P. Root, William Andrews, Edward Russell, William Johnson, Daniel N. Bird, Ambrose Bragg, Benjamin Hughey, Barney Cosset, Riley Honey, Ebenezer Russell, and then Mary E. Russell, Prudence Sawyer, Emma H. Russell, Lydia Russell I, Lydia Russell II, Jerusha Russell I, Jerusha Russell II, Clarissa Risley, Clarinda Baird, Melinda Russell, Hanna Addison, Caroline Bears, Candace P. Russell, Mercy Sawyer, Esther Russell, Abigail Russell, Phebe Russell, Phebe Andrews, Ahneda Cosset, Adaline Russell, and Diana Carpenter. In the fall sixteen more brethren and twenty seven more sisters signed the Covenant and became members of the community.

We quote from reminiscences of Melinda Russell, one of the signers of the Covenant, which were written forty years ago. "In 1811 my grandfather, Jacob Russell, sold his farm and gristmill on the Connecticut River and took a contract for land in Newburgh (now Warrensville), Ohio. His oldest son Elijah, my father, shouldered his knapsack and came to Ohio to get the lot surveyed, he made some improvements, selected a place for building, and returned, coming back the next year with my brother Ralph. They cleared a piece of land, planted corn, built a log house, and then went back to Connecticut to assist in moving the family. They formed an odd procession, father's brother Elisha, and brother in law, Hart Risley, accompanied them with their families. The wagons were drawn with oxen, my father walking all the way so as to drive, while grandmother rode on horseback. Then father returned for his family. We embarked at Sackett's Harbor, August 1st and arrived in Cleveland, August 31. There being no harbor at that time the landing was effected by means of rowboats. We then pulled ourselves up the bank by the scrub oaks that lined it, and walked to the hotel kept by Major Carter. This hotel was then the only frame house in Cleveland. Father was taken sick with ague the next day after we arrived, so our house was built slowly. We moved in the last of November, without door or window, using blankets for night protection. At that time two of the children were sick with the ague. Father, when the chills and fever left him for the day, worked, putting poles together in the form of bedsteads, a table upon which to put what little we could get to eat, and benches to sit upon."

[ Continued in part 2 of Warrensville, Ohio History ]

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