The chief reason for the appearance of this narrative may be found in the fact that no sustained and adequate history of the city of Cleveland has been attempted in recent years, and that this centennial year seemed to demand something that should clearly set forth the wonderful things that one hundred years have accomplished. Subordinate reasons are found in an unusual opportunity for the collection of material, and a deep interest in all that relates to the creation and development of the great city whose history is here recorded. In this semi-confidential note to the reader a personal reference that elsewhere would be out of place may be permitted.
From 1872 to 1889 the writer was continuously engaged in newspaper and literary labor in Cleveland, the main part of which was connected with local themes and bore relation to the advance of the city along those lines of development that in the last twenty-five years have carried her into the front rank of the great cities of the West. That which was at first a matter of the day’s business became a labor of love, and day by day, and year by year, the accumulation of historical material went on—a task that has by no means ceased, even in these later years of absence.
The foundations for this work were, therefore, laid almost unconsciously, and its appearance may hardly be
looked upon as premeditated. No one is more conscious than the writer of the fact that a better use of this abundant material might have been made, but he will not admit that any one could have carried to the task a deeper personal interest in the theme, or treasured a closer affection for the beautiful Forest City, the city of homes, the city in whose record may be found so much to admire and commend, and so little that needs apology or apologetic explanation.
The most critical reader cannot more deeply deplore than does the writer the limitations of a work of this character. A half dozen volumes, rather than one, would have been required to follow all the enterprises and interests of Cleveland to the complete conclusion of the record, and to give to each actor in these stirring scenes of a hundred years the full meed of recognition or praise. In many cases where only a generalization was possible, notes have been added showing where the complete record could be obtained, thus enabling the student of our home history to follow his investigations with the smallest possible outlay of labor or research. It has also been the aim of the author to give the testimony of the witnesses themselves where possible, and to that end many direct quotations have been made from the original sources. The advantages and justice of this course will be readily recognized.
It would be impossible in the space here permitted to give individual credit to the many friends who have assisted in the collection of material, or furnished valuable suggestions as to sources from which original information might be obtained. Especial mention, however, must be made of the officers of the Western Reserve Historical Society, of the Early Settlers’ Association of Cuyahoga
County, and of the Chamber of Commerce; the librarian of the Public Library, executive officers of the various municipal departments, the newspaper managers and editors whose files have been willingly placed at my service. Acknowledgment of the most ample character must also be made to Col. Charles Whittlesey’s "Early History of Cleveland," the publications of the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the "Annals of the Early Settlers’ Association of Cuyahoga County,." No history of Cleveland can be written, in all times to come, that is not primarily based upon that admirable and authentic collection of original papers, that grew into a volume by the earnest and intelligent labor of Col. Whittlesey. Purporting to be only what they are—disconnected facts collected from original and widely diverse sources—they supply many links of historical connection that would have been blanks without them. It was indeed a fortunate thing for Cleveland and the Western Reserve that this able and careful historian devoted himself to a labor of such importance, at a period sufficiently early for the preservation of much that otherwise would have been a total loss.
The many tracts issued by the Western Reserve Historical Society largely supplement and carry forward the good work in the "Early History of Cleveland." The "Annals" of the Early Settlers came into existence not a moment too soon; had they been commenced a decade later, some of the most important facts in regard to pioneer Cleveland would have been lost forever. The papers, speeches and letters there recorded have proved a veritable gold mine of historical information, and it would be a great loss to Cleveland and all this portion of the Middle West were these publications, or those of the older organizations, from an cause, suspended.
This record has been carried as far as possible into this memorable centennial year. It is placed before the people of Cleveland, and the sons and daughters of the city, wherever found, in the hope that it may be regarded as not altogether least among the tributes paid to that great anniversary of Cleveland’s birth.