Ohio City History

A Brief History of Ohio City

The State of Connecticut elected to hold their granted lands to be later sold in order to establish a support fund for the public school system in the state. A group of 49 Connecticut citizens, who represented almost 500 total investors, formed the Connecticut Land Company and purchased the Western Reserve for $1,250,000. In 1796 a surveying party lead by General Moses Cleaveland was sent to the Reserve to measure, map and subdivide the property and to determine a location to found a city, however, due to treaties with the native Americans that lived in the area, the surveys could only be performed up to the east bank of the Cuyahoga River.

In 1805, negotiations with the native Americans led to a further relinquishment of land title claims by them and the remaining portion of the Western Reserve was then available for sale. George Condon, in his book West of the Cuyahoga, has written, "With clear title to the Western Reserve at last in hand, the land company next had to decide the order in which principal investors would be allowed to purchase specific areas. Diplomacy and tact were needed to determine the list of priority. There was a strong possibility of conflict among the investors, especially when it came to the attractive tract of land on the Cuyahoga River's west bank, Township No. 7 in Range 13. It was excellent territory, made even more attractive by being directly opposite the settlement called Cleaveland.

"Wisely skirting any internal dispute over its choice of investor to be awarded that prize township site, the land company created Ohio's first lottery. A private drawing was held in Hartford on April 2, 1807, to determine the winner of the west bank tract. The winner was Samuel P. Lord of Hebron, Connecticut, member of a well-known family. His total investment in the land company had been $14,092.00, a sum that entitled him to 35,230 acres in the Western Reserve."

With the completion of the Ohio Canal in 1832 the land on the east and west sides of the Cuyahoga River developed quickly and the population increased significantly. The notion that the two communities should become a single entity became a subject of much discussion but resulted in animosity between the two groups. The west siders, still angry at the decision to locate the canal along the east side of the river, elected to become an independent city and on March 3, 1836, received their incorporation, three days prior to the City of Cleveland. Josiah Barber was elected the first Mayor of Ohio City and a council was established. Richard Lord served in a variety of governmental capacities and later, in 1843, also served as mayor of the community. The boundaries of this new city were set so that the cemetery property purchased by Brooklyn Township just a few months prior fell within the city limits, though at the extreme edge of the city which was a common practice in city planning at the time. The Ohio City council legislated rules and regulations, appointed a sexton, and arranged for systematic platting, as well as for the purchase and storage of a hearse so that the entire Ohio City and Brooklyn Township community had a place for their loved ones at rest.

By 1854 serious discussions concerning the annexation of Ohio City into the City of Cleveland had once again started. Two men from Ohio City who were instrumental in accomplishing the annexation were William Bainbridge Castle and Needham Standart. Castle was an executive with the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Company and Standart was a shipbuilder. Both men had served as Mayors of Ohio City and, in fact, Castle was the last Mayor before the annexation. In 1855 after the two cities had become one, Castle was elected as the first Mayor of the combined communities. While Mayor of Cleveland, Castle directed cutting a shorter channel between Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga, opening the river to larger ships; and building a suitable harbor on the lakefront. He promoted and became a trustee of the city's waterworks, which began in 1856. Both Castle and Standart selected the "Ohio City Cemetery" as their final resting place.