[page 18 blank in original]
CLEVELAND'S GOLDEN STORY
TAMING THE WILDERNESS
One memorable evening before the close of the year 1813, the Paul Revere silver, the Sheffield plate brought out the hampers and the linen chests and set glistening and white under the soft light of the candelabra. For the citizens of Cleveland were banqueting Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and General William Henry Harrison.
On September 10,1813, Cleveland folk had heard the cannonading in the battle of Lake Erie. And soon after came Perry's report, the mere repetition of which thrills Americans to today: "We have met the enemy and they are ours."
The village of Cleveland was an active participant in the War of 1812. The American forces were compelled to surrender to the British at
Detroit. Captain Stanton Sholes, who was sent by to Cleveland, built of chestnut logs a star-shaped stockade with the capacity of two hundred armed men. This Stockade, Fort Huntington, was Cleveland's sole defense against the enemy. Strategically located in a dense wood west of Third street and north of Lakeside Avenue, on a bluff overlooking the lake, it was to be the refuge and possibly the last stand of the patriots of Cleveland, should the British make a formidable attack. Its armament consisted of but one small cannon mounted on a pair of wagon wheels. Lorenzo Carter and James Kingsbury helped erect this fort.
The women and children of Cleveland tasted terror when they were hastily removed to Doan's Corners one August day in 1812 because of the reported movement of the British and Indians near Lake Huron in preparation for an attack on Cleveland by boat. It was afterward discovered that a group observed by the scout was a company of sadly wounded American men paroled from Detroit.
The commanders of the British fleet in Erie kept a wary eye on Cleveland, believing it to be a source of American supplies. In June of 1813, the British "fleet"- the good ship "Queen Charlotte"- appeared before Cleveland. A sudden and terrific thunder-storm, coming as if directed by Providence to save the ill-protected village, drove the ship from the Cleveland shores.
The shipwrights of Cleveland had the honor of constructing two noble ships of Perry's fleet. The "Porcupine" and the "Portage" were built on the Cuyahoga River and provisioned and equipped with sails in Cleveland. Before Perry advanced into Put-in-Bay, his fleet presented a never-to-be-forgotten spectacle, for a few hours, off the Cuyahoga.
Well might the villagers toast Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry who gave American fighting men an immortal slogan-whose names is to the youth of America all that Nelson signifies to the boys of Britannia.
The war over, the Cleveland citizens turned toward better organization. The Kelleys have always had a leaning toward the law and political leadership. And a lad by the name of Kelley was in the vanguard of the new moment. Alfred Kelley made the first census of Cleveland, counting one hundred fifty-two heads. On a map of the town, he indicated the locations of all the houses, numbering thirty-four. The town limits then embraced a square west of old Erie Street, now East Ninth Street, and north of Huron Road.
Kelley wrested the village charter from the state legislature in December of 1814, just eleven years after Ohio was admitted to the Union. No election in Cleveland has ever been attended with less friction than the first, which
was held in June, 1815. Out of twelve voters registering, nine were elected to office and of course Kelley became president. Lorenzo Carter was chosen treasurer.
In order to maintain his position properly, Alfred Kelley brought a bride form New York to be first lady of the village. He also purchased a horse and carriage with which to convey his consort to Cleveland. But later the Kelley crest might have suffered humiliation when another citizen bought a Victoria and a span of fine mules to be driven by a colored man in livery.
The first village council consisted of merchants, a tanner and a physician, who made regulations controlling the too promiscuous use of fire-arms, fast driving in the village, and the distribution of merchandise. An election was equivalent to a draft, for failure to hold office was punished by fine.
The fact that two men with Cleveland as their destination passed through the town without recognizing it, may be charged with frequent stops at taverns along the lane, rather than the lack of a city plan. Had the unobserving strangers journeyed hither in 1813, they surely would have been made aware of their arrival by the imposing courthouse, erected by Levi Johnson on the Public Square at the cost of $500.
The first village postmaster was Elisha Norton, who received mail fortnightly from Warren. His
successor, John Walworth, held six offices. But this is not to be counted against him. One year, he received seventy-one cents and the privilege of mailing his letters free as compensation for three months' service as postmaster.
Walworth carried the mail in his pocket and delivered it C.O.D. at his convenience. There was a mail route between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, four days being required for the trip. The mail was so light that it could be buttoned under the carrier's waistcoat, and so saddle bags were not always needed.
Letters were mailed and paid for on a mileage basis. A single sheet cost six and one-fourth cents for any distance under thirty miles. Magazines were mailable at one cent per page. It took several weeks to get news from New York to Cleveland. As an emergency measure, a fast post was established during the War of 1812 from Washington to Cleveland. Important dispatches were carried in one week.
In the conduct of educational affairs, the villagers exercised a rare wisdom. They believed in a scientific distribution of burdens. They compelled the unmarried men of the village to pay the tuition of the poor children.
The first school was established in the front room of Major Carter's cabin. At a later time the post-rider, Asheal Adams, held school in a small cabin on St. Clair street He received ten
dollars a month in money and wheat. The first school of major importance in Ohio was established in an old academy by Harvey Rice in 1822. This famous educator laid down principles which are today recognized as sound.
Those who complain about the accommodation trains for Painesville as being few, far between and sometimes late, should read the Painesville stage announcement which appeared in the "Cleveland Gazette" in 1818. the stage left Painesville every Thursday at four o'clock in the afternoon and arrived in Cleveland at ten o'clock the next morning.
Fare on some of the stage lines out of Cleveland was collected according to the weight and size of the passenger, which, considering the size of the coaches and the condition of the roads, was an equitable system. Anyway, why should the slim debutante be compelled to pay as much as a man of Johnsonian proportions? Springs had not been invented. Leather straps supported the swaying body of the stage-coach. You traveled in rainy weather or sunny, according to your for preference for dust or mud.
The stages left daily in every direction from the old Franklin house, which was near the present Rockefeller building on West Superior.
Spangler's Tavern, west of the Square, was the headquarters of the celebrated Conestoga freight wagons, which for decades were the only
means of securing merchandise from Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. These wagons deserve a chapter in the history of transportation. They were the forerunners of the modern motor trucks. They carried from five to eight tons of goods.
The Conestoga freight wagons were drawn by six or eight draft horses, with bear-skin covered collars. The saddles were embellished with bells. The horses were guided by a single rein from the leader to the teamster, who was seated on the last wheel horse. The great wagons negotiated roads which today would be considered impassable. When night found them out on the prairies, the freight drivers camped till sunrise.
Produce dealers of the time opposed the building of canals, so efficient in their estimation was the freight wagon sys tem. Let us not be too scornful of their judgement, for did not Horace Greeley, the famous editor of the New York Tribune, write a wrathy editorial opposing the use of illuminating gas on the theory that it would burn up New York?
The early fathers of the industrial kingdom of northern Ohio were men of initiative and vision. Cleveland's Golden Story is a saga of the fruits of their labors.