Cuyahoga West Chapter
of The Ohio Genealogical Society
Serving Western Cuyahoga County and the Cleveland, Ohio area
Crisfield Johnson, Published by D. W. Ensign & Co., © 1879.
Included are Cleveland and the West Side Townships.
The townships highlighted in yellow represent the areas specialized by the Cuyahoga West Chapter: Dover (1811), Rockport (1814), Olmsted (1827) and Middleburg (1818).
The area now comprising Cuyahoga County went through several jurisdictions before becoming the Ohio county of today. Part of "the West" claimed at times by several countries and states, in 1786 Connecticut was the last state to cede her claims in Ohio to the U.S. Government, "reserving" however, a strip of land extending westward from the Pennsylvania boundary along Lake Erie. The area became known as the Connecticut Western Reserve and comprised the area as shown on the accompanying map of Ohio Land grants. In 1795 the State of Connecticut sold the fee title to its Western Reserve, except for the Fire Lands, to the Connecticut Land Company, which bought the Indian titles in 1796 and 1805. The surveying of the Western Reserve was done under the supervision of Moses Cleaveland in 1796 and the land was sold to individual purchasers. Although Cleveland Township, later to be the City of Cleveland, was named for him, you will note that an "a" has been dropped from the spelling.
From 1800, until officially organized on June 1, 1810, the area of Cuyahoga County was part of Trumbull County, and some early records may be found in the office of the Trumbull County Recorder in "Western Reserve Draft Book", pages 5-73. The Litchfield (Connecticut) Historical Society has the original Connecticut Land Company proceedings. The Connecticut State Library in Hartford, has photostatic copies of Western Reserve deeds 1800-1807 and the proceedings of the Connecticut Land Company. Western Reserve Historical Society also has a fairly complete collection of these early records (see Ohio Land Grants, Thomas E. Ferguson, Auditor of State, Columbus, Ohio: State Land Office).
After 1843 there was little change in the county boundaries. The county is bounded on the east by Lake and Geauga counties, on the south by Summit and Medina counties, and on the west by Lorain County. Cleveland's location at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River made it a natural focal point of the county, but it was not the most prominent settlement in early days. Because the swampy conditions at the mouth of the river were conducive to malaria, early settlers preferred the higher ground in the community of Newburgh, which contested the selection of Cleveland as the county seat until settled in 1826.
In the early 1800's, Cuyahoga County and those around it were New England satellites, populated largely by Yankee settlers. After Perry's victory on Lake Erie in the War of 1812, migrations to the area increased. Brooklyn, the township to the west of the Cuyahoga River, began to grow rapidly with settlers of more diverse orgins. Intense rivalry developed between the east and west, remnants of which remain today. Park of Brooklyn Township was incorporated as the "City of Ohio" on 3 May 1836, the first city in the county, stealing the march on Cleveland, which came in second on the 8 May 1836. Actual armed combat over a bridge occurred in 1837, but in 1854 "City of Ohio" was annexed and became part of the growing city of Cleveland.
The expansion and prosperity brought by the construction of the Ohio canal in 1826 brought the first wave of immigrants, whose assimilation into a Yankee stronghold was not easy. The construction of the railroads, completed in the early 1850's, brought a new wave of Irish, German and Bohemian immigrants, and each successive growth spurt brought a new group of foreign workers. Large settlements of Hungarians, Germans, Slovenians, Serbs, Croats, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Greeks, Italians, Irish, Lithuanians, Ukranians, Romanians and others had neighborhoods in Cleveland, some of which are being slowly assimilated as younger generations move into newer areas of the county. The international influence is apparent throughout the city, however, and nationality churches, fraternal lodges and societies help to keep the colorful heritages alive. There have been a number of foreign language newspapers in Cleveland, many of which have ceased publication, but some can be found in area libraries and historical societies. An early African-American community existed in the mid-1800s and more came to the city after World War II. Today a large African-American population contributes to the city's diversity. More recently, those of Spanish, Asian, Indian, Arab and other origins have added flavor to the mixture.
Although the choice of Cleveland as the northern terminus of the Ohio Canal was the first impetus, other factors were also important to the growth of the area. The discovery of iron ore in northern Michigan and the development of the fields in the 1850's by the Cleveland Iron Mining Company (predecessor of Cleveland Cliffs, Inc.) began the lake shipping of iron ore, making Cleveland harbor the most important on the Great Lakes. It also spawned the ship-building industry, which at one time was the country's largest, and established Cleveland as a leading steel production center. The development of the oil refinery and distribution industry in the 1860's by John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company, insured Cleveland's growth into an industrial giant. Later, establishment of automobile and machine tool factories became major factors in the area's economy.
Today Cuyahoga County is a metropolitan area with a rich and varied heritage of many nationalities, but the influence of its New England origins is still apparent in its conservative character, architecture, village squares and beautiful residential areas.
Taken from Cuyahoga West's sold out publication, "Cuyahoga County, Ohio - Genealogical Research Guide, 2nd Edition"
Copyright ©2011, Cuyahoga West Chapter, OGS - Page last updated 2/21/2011