Minutes of the Avon Historical Society, 10-1-14

  • 12--4-7--14: Avon's 2014 Bicentennial Candlelite Walk Schedule

  • 2-4-15: Meeting of the Avon Historical Society and the 2015 SHEFFIELD BICENTENNIAL SCHEDULE


    President Ralph White called the October 1, 2014 meeting of the Avon Historical Society to order at 7:05 p.m. The minutes of the Sept 3, 2014 meeting were approved as read with Jack Smith making the motion and Susie Cory seconding.

    14 members and guests were present.

    Treasurer Christine White reported a balance of $5,846.78 in the checking account. Current membership for the 2014-15 season is up to 91. Theresa Szippl will be emailing a reminder letter to those who have not yet renewed their membership.

    In old business: No old business was discussed.

    In new business:

    Matt Smith spoke of the history walk. The Dr. Norton Townsend plaque is currently at City Hall. Matt has not been able to coordinate with Mayor Jensen to see it yet. No date has been set to install the display or have the dedication ceremony.

    Ralph White spoke of the Landmarks Preservation Commission's September meeting. During the inital listing of historic homes by Steve McQuillan, a house on Hayes Street was overlooked. The owner has approached Ralph about having it listed and an application will be submitted to the Commission at October's meeting.

    Jack Smith spoke of the continuing Bicentennial activities at Avon Isle:

    The Lorain County Preservation Network Expo is on Saturday October 18, 2014, from 11 am to 3 pm. Exhibits are expected from Amherst, Avon, Avon Lake, Elyria, Lorain, Oberlin and Sheffield Village. Some of the communities will have multiple exhibits.

    Lois Shinko is planning an extensive display of Avon memorabilia. Theresa Szippl is bringing her Avon Fire Department Collection. Urban (?) Klingshirn's family recently donated a full fireman's uniform. A mannequin is needed to display it. Jim/Theresa Szippl will check with Lois Shinko to see if she has one to loan. Matt and Jack Smith will be at the Town Hall at 9 am to help pack up the displays as needed. Jack has reserved 3 tables for Lois and and 1 for AHS.

    Sponsored by Catanza's Barber Shop, the winner of Avon's 2014 Bicentennial Crazy Beard and Moustache Contest will be announced at 3:30.

    Avon's 2014 Bicentennial Fashion Show is at 4 pm.

    Sponsored by Avon's Original Country Store and Lois Shinko, there will be a photo op from 2 to 4 pm. Pose with the Skeleton or one of many other props or bring your own.

    The Miller Nature Preserve also has a display dedicated to the Bicentennial that will be up throughout the season.

    The Lorain County Intersociety Meeting will take the place of our November meeting. It is held on Thursday, November 6:

    The Intersociety Committee of LCHS

    Announces its

    Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner Thurs., November 6, 2014, Beginning at 5:30; dinner at 6:00 p.m.

    At the Carlisle Visitors Center (LCMP), Diagonal Road, west of S.R. 301

    Hosted this year by the Brownhelm Historical Association


    "History of Wellington, Ohio" (a pictorial PowerPoint program)

    Presented by Mr. Alan Leiby, author of "Memory Lane, Wellington, Ohio," photographer, drone pilot & retired policeman

    Representatives of ALL Historical or Genealogical Groups throughout Lorain County are Invited to Attend - and Tell What Yo ur Group has been Doing Lately!

    (bring a dish to share, and your own place service - coffee, tea, and pop will be provided)

    The AHS Christmas party will be held Saturday, December 6 at 6:00 pm at Jean Fischer's home on Stoney Ridge. Beverages provided by the Society. Please bring an appetizer to share.

    The meeting was adjourned at 7:25 pm with Jim Szippl making the motion and Carol Smith seconding.

    Ralph introduced the guest speaker Jim Smith from the Lorain County Historical Society with his program of 1864 Civil War.

    The next regular meeting of the Avon Historical Society will be held at 7 pm on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at the Old Town Hall of 1871, southeast corner of Detroit and Stoney Ridge. Presentation yet to be determined.

    Respectfully submitted, Christine White.

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    Avon's 2014 Bicentennial Candlelite Walk Schedule

    December 4 - 7, 2014

    Thursday, December 4 - 5pm to 8pm

    "Girl's Nite Out" Wine Walk 10 Wine Samples, 10 Appetizers, Just $10!

    For more info, call 440-934-1636


    Friday, December 5 - 6pm to 9pm

    "Date Nite" Wine Walk 10 Wine Samples, 10 Appetizers, Just $10!

    For more info, call 440-934-1636


    Saturday, December 6, 2014, the train show at the Avon Isle will start from 2:00pm till about 7:00pm.

    New this Bicentennial year will be ice carving by David Zajac from 3:00pm to 5:00pm at the Gazebo, sponsored by Joyce Buick.

    David Zajac is the owner of Arctic Creations at 33434 Jennie Rd., Avon, OH 44011-2040.

    Phone: (440) 937-9339

    The Gingerbread House competition will be held on 12-6-14 at the Avon Isle 2pm - 7pm -- wood gingerbread boys were fabricated by the Joint Vocational School for $40 and cost of material -- these will be displayed to promote the event and the contest.

    See below for the Gingerbread House entry form

    For more info, call 440-934-4420


    Saturday, December 6 - 6:00pm

    Also new this year will be live reindeer (a photo op) from 6:00pm to 8:00pm at the Avon Isle, sponsored by Avon Oaks - A Caring Community.

    Other Event Sponsors ($250) are:

    Marci Barrett -- State Farm,


    St. Mary of the Woods

    Clint Gault -- Wealth Health

    Brad Snyder -- French Creek Grille & Tavern.

    Sponsors helped purchase the electric cords to light the wreaths; the wreaths will be lit this year for Christmas thanks to the FCDA and Wickens-Herzer-Panza-Cook-Batista, Attorneys at Law.

    Also the 15 planters installed this year by the FCDA will be decorated for the holidays.


    Saturday, December 6 - 5:00pm

    Santa Stroll and Annual Tree Lighting

    Gather at the Olde Avon Village (36840 Detroit Road, Avon, OH 44011) at 4:30 p.m..

    The parade with Santa will originate at Old Avon Village at 5:00pm, to arrive at the Gazebo about 5:30pm for tree lighting. Avon Isle will be open for visits with Santa and crafts.

    Santa, in his amazing horse drawn sleigh, leads the way to the French Creek Gazebo (corner of Stoney Ridge Road and Detroit Road) starting at 5:00 p.m.

    Sing along with carolers, as you make your way through the Olde Avon Village and past the shops along Detroit Road.

    Watch as Santa lights the Christmas Tree and then follow him to Avon Isle, where kids can meet with Santa and enjoy refreshments.

    Take a moment to explore the beautifully restored Avon Isle, a treasured Avon landmark since 1926 and enjoy elaborate model train exhibits and Gingerbread House Exhibits. The "Rail Blazers" model train club will be on display from 2 to 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Avon Isle.



    Gingerbread House Competition Entry Form

    Make it a great family fun project!

    December 6, 2014 at the Avon Isle 2pm - 7pm

    Display Drop off time is 1pm - 2pm December 6th





    Phone #

    Parent Signature

    Divisional Competition

    Ages 3-5 yrs of age __________________________

    Ages 6 -8 yrs of age __________________________

    Ages 9 -12 yrs of age __________________________

    Prizes will be awarded during the visit with Santa at Avon Isle.

    My parent's signature above gives permission for pictures to be taken of my entry and printed in news publication or used for promotion.

    Registration forms need to be in by November 30th, 2013. Please mail to French Creek Development Association, P.O. Box 111, Avon, OH 44011 or email to frenchcreekdev@centurytel.net. Call 440-934-4420 with any questions

    Competition Rules

    This entry form must be completed and submitted by Saturday, November 30 2013. Gingerbread house must be set up at Avon Isle, (across from Buck's Hardware) between 1 and 2pm for judging. All entries must be delivered in their completed form, attached to a base enabling it to be put on a table for display and judging.

    Provide two (2) 3" x 5" cards listing your name, address, phone number, e-mail and category you have entered. Both cards must be handed to the staff upon registration of your gingerbread house.

    Any architectural structure - real or imaginary - is eligible for entry (i.e. farmhouse, train station, bridge, toy shop, mushroom cottage). Gingerbread kits are eligible and all visible parts should be edible.

    Judging for competitive divisions will take place December 6th. Winners will be announced at Avon Isle during the visit with Santa from 6 - 8 pm, December 6th.

    Houses must be picked up after the visit with Santa, no later than 8pm.

    The overall base size for entries in all categories cannot exceed 18" x 20".

    The French Creek Development Association reserves the right to photograph entries for promotional purposes. Photography becomes the property of French Creek Development Association and may be published in the newspapers with write up and winner's names. French Creek Development Association is not responsible for lost or damaged gingerbread houses.

    Criteria for judging the winning Gingerbread Houses:

    Themes: Holiday Originality, includes Gingerbread House and yard

    Neat and clean, includes the Gingerbread House and yard

    Use of color, pattern and detail, includes the Gingerbread House and yard

    All visible parts must be edible

    Avon's Bicentennial of 2014 is also a Sesquicentennial year (1864) of the Civil War.

    Top -- Home

    Meeting of the Avon Historical Society

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Old Town Hall of 1871, southeast corner of Detroit and Stoney Ridge.

    Presentation by Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf

    Professor Emeritus of Geological Sciences,

    The Ohio State University

    New Theories on the Formation of Lake Erie -- Was Lake Erie once a Shallow Salt Lake? Evolution of Lake Erie from water levels 200 feet higher than today to 100 feet lower.


    The presentation reviews and summarizes research on the Pleistocene (glacial) & Holocene (post-glacial) evolutionary history of Lake Erie. New bathymetric data published by the National Geophysical Data Center reveal lake-floor features indicative of former, now inundated, shorelines.

    These data combined with other recent research, permit a detailed reconstruction of Lake Erie's complex history since the Wisconsinan ice sheet retreated some 12,000 years ago, ending a series of glacial lakes and initiating a series of post-glacial lake stages

    The lakes that have occupied the Lake Erie Basin are grouped into three phases:

    1. The oldest phase, 14,400 to 12,000 years ago, had lake stages associated with glaciers in the basin and were higher than present Lake Erie.

    2. The middle phase, 12,000 to 4,700 years ago, had lake stages isolated from Upper Lakes drainage during a dryer climatic period and were well below the present level of Lake Erie. The accumulation of dissolved solids and high evaporation rates during this 7,300-year period with no outlet, may have resulted in saline or brackish water conditions in the basin.

    3. In the last phase, from 4,700 to present, the Lake Erie Basin received Upper Lakes drainage and the water level rose to a slightly higher stage before establishing the present elevation through outlet erosion.



    Sheffield man has a golden link to treasure hunt

    Filed on January 30, 2015 by Steve Fogarty

    Charles Herdendorf, professor emeritus of limnology and oceanography at The Ohio State University and president of the Sheffield Village Historical Society, [shows] a photo ... of a strand of golden coral named in his honor. The coral was discovered during a [gold] recovery operation of the S.S. Central America off the South Carolina coast.

    SHEFFIELD -- Charles Herdendorf hasn't seen or heard from Tommy Thompson in years. But the well-known former Ohio State University oceanography professor wasn't surprised when told Thompson, a one-time treasure hunter ... may fight extradition to Ohio over allegations he cheated investors out of about $50 million in gold Thompson recovered from a famed 1857 sunken ship ...

    The case resurfaced ... with news of Thompson's arrest by U.S. Marshals at a Hilton hotel in Boca Raton, Fla., after more than two years of eluding authorities ...

    Herdendorf, a retired OSU professor emeritus who lived in his family's historic Sheffield home while directing OSU's Lake Erie teaching and research program at Stone Lab on Put-in-Bay, accompanied Thompson, now 61, on his successful 1987-88 quest to find the S.S. Central America.

    The ship, long known as the "Ship of Gold," sank in the Atlantic during a 1857 hurricane with one of the most valuable cargos in U.S. maritime history.

    Thompson is accused of having cheated 150-plus investors out of their expected shares of the $50 million in gold bars and coins, much of which he is alleged to have sold in 2000 to a gold marketing group ...

    Acknowledging the difficulty in knowing someone and what motivates them, Herdendorf is at a loss to figure out what happened to Thompson. "He was more wrapped up in the adventure than the monetary part of it," Herdendorf said. "I don't think he had it in his mind to deceitfully cheat investors." Herdendorf said Thompson's troubles may have been the result of bad business and/or legal advice ...

    Herdendorf signed on at Thompson's request to serve as a scientific consultant for the expedition that found the gold-laden ship in 8,000 feet of water 200 miles off the South Carolina coast. The sinking claimed the lives of 425 people. Thompson was paid $12.7 million by investors to find the sunken vessel.

    The Dispatch Printing Co., which publishes the Columbus Dispatch newspaper, and the late Donald Fanta, who headed a Columbus securities firm, sued Thompson in 2005 to gain access to financial records and other documents pertaining to the shipwreck after Thompson ignored repeated requests for the information.

    Crew members of the Arctic Discoverer, the research vessel that found the gold ship, also filed suit seeking a percentage of the profits from sale of the gold.

    Thompson is not charged with any crimes, but he is expected to be ordered held until he appears before an Ohio judge to answer for his actions and provide details on sale of the recovered gold, according to Brian Babtist of the U.S. Marshal Service in Columbus.

    Thompson had evaded authorities since 2012 when a federal civil arrest warrant was issued after he failed to show up for a court hearing over the disputed treasure.

    Gil Kirk, a Columbus real estate agent and ex-director of one of Thompson's businesses, said in 2014 Thompson never cheated anyone, and that proceeds from the 2000 sale of the ship's gold went to pay bank loans and legal fees.

    Thompson suggested to a West Palm Beach, Fla., judge Thursday during a short hearing that he might resist efforts to have his legal case brought to Ohio where his investors are, claiming he's seriously ill, according to news accounts of the hearing.

    Herdendorf spent several years working with Thompson to locate the S.S. Central America. Paid as a consultant, Herdendorf's scientific efforts led to the discovery of several newspecies of ocean life, three of which were named after Herdendorf by the Smithsonian Institution, including a form of golden coral he found growing on a gold bar at the shipwreck site.

    "That was really an honor," Herderdorf said. "I got a call one morning while having breakfast from the Smithsonian telling me they were naming this coral after me, but I had to be very secretive about it. They didn't want the name to be used until they had it in print."

    In 1995, Herdendorf published "Science on a Deep-Ocean Shipwreck" that chronicled the expedition's scientific findings.

    Three years later, a federal court in Norfolk, Va., awarded Thompson 93 percent of the recovered gold. The remainder went to insurers that claimed rights to part of the treasure based on claims paid by insurance firms in the 1800s following the sinking.

    Herdendorf's work with the S.S. Central America isn't finished. Last year, he helped prepare scientific plans for a new exploration of the ship prompted by investors still looking for gold they didn't receive following the first expedition, according to Herdendorf.

    Asked if he planned to go on this second venture, the 75-year-old Herdendorf said it's unlikely. "I would have gone, but I think they felt I was too long in the tooth. I'd be out there for four months and I don't think my wife would appreciate that," he said.

    The cargo manifest of the S.S. Central America claimed there was roughly three tons of gold aboard the vessel, Herderdorf said. "They've learned recently that something in the range of 2.4 tons was recovered," he said, meaning more than a half-ton of gold remains aboard.

    The new expedition may also search for what Herdendorf described as "huge" quantities of gold carried by passengers [from California?] that were not documented at the time.

    Contact Steve Fogarty at sfogarty@chroniclet.com.




    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. -- Domonkas Library, Sheffield Lake (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield's Heroes and Adventurers -- Part 1: 18th & 19th Centuries Compelling life stories and dramatic experiences of 10 Sheffield personalities..


    Wednesday, February, 18, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. -- Domonkas Library, Sheffield Lake (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield's Heroes and Adventurers -- Part 2: 19th & 20th Centuries Compelling life stories and dramatic experiences of 10 Sheffield personalities.


    Tuesday, March 10, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- History of Lake Erie Navigation -- From Canoe to Sail to Steam to 1,000 Footers Evolution of ships and shipping on Lake Erie.

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Village Municipal Complex (Bruce DiVaccaro)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Adventures in Bird Photography from Coast to Coast Prize-winning Sheffield nature photographer, Bruce DiVaccaro, share his avian images and discuss techniques.


    Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield Before People -- From Volcanoes to Glaciers: 3 Billion Years of Sheffield in the Making Natural history of the landforms that greeted the first inhabitants of what is now Sheffield.

    Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. -- Sandusky Maritime Museum (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- New Theories on the Formation of Lake Erie -- Was Lake Erie once a Shallow Salt Lake? Evolution of Lake Erie from water levels 200 feet higher than today to 100 feet lower.

    Saturday, April 11, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. -- French Creek Nature & arts Center (Thomas K. Hoerrle)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- The Underground Railroad -- Sheffield's Involvement in the Abolitionist Movement Journey of runaway slaves through Lorain County.

    Thursday, April 16, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Village Municipal Complex (Mike & Patti Conrad)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Subsistence Practices by the Pioneers -- Game and Livestock Resources in the 1800s Hunting, fishing, trapping, and animal domestication by Sheffield pioneers.

    Tuesday, April 21, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Township Hall (Thomas K. Hoerrle)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield Through Time -- The Story of Sheffield's First 200 Years Major events in the history of Sheffield from log houses to a modern high school.


    May 2015 -- TBA -- Brookside High & Middle School Dedication (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- History of Sheffield's Schools -- 200 Years of Educational Pursuits Development of education from one-room log cabins to modern high schools.

    Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield's First People -- Native American Cultures and their Settlements Archaeological investigations of ancient Native American occupations in Sheffield and vicinity.

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. -- Garfield Cemetery (Thomas K. Hoerrle)

    Bicentennial Guided Tour -- A Walk through Garfield Cemetery -- Repository of Sheffield's History Vignettes of selected Sheffield personalities buried in Garfield Cemetery.


    Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield's Founding Pioneers -- How Sheffield was Originally Settled Sheffield's founding families and the various ways they made their through the wilderness.


    Wednesday, Sunday, July 8-15, 2015 -- Shoreway Shopping Center (Coordinator: Steve Kovach)

    Sheffield Lake Community Days Bicentennial Celebration -- Carnival, Parade (Thursday) & Fireworks (Friday)

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Village Municipal Complex (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield and the California Gold Rush -- Part 1: The Buckeye Company Heads West Adventures and dangers encountered by Sheffield 49ers as told in their letters and journals.

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Village Municipal Complex (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield and the California Gold Rush -- Part 2: Gold Rush Steamer SS Central America Search for a Gold Rush steamer carrying tons of gold and the dramatic recovery of the surprising treasures onboard.


    Saturday, August 1, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ­, 7:00 p.m. -- Burrell Homestead (Coordinators: Annette Corrao & Aimee Potonic)

    Sheffield Bicentennial Picnic & Reunion -- Celebrate Sheffield's 200th Birthday -- Activities All Day Long Music, performances, tours, archaeology demonstration, pageant, contests, pioneer cooking, old-time games.

    Monday, August 3, 2015 at 11:00 a.m-3:00 p.m. -- South Lorain Branch, Lorain Public Library

    Family History Workshop [registration required] (Coordinator: Marty Miller Leveillee, martycharlie@comcast.net)

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 5:30, 7:00 p.m. -- St. Lads Picnic Grounds (Coordinator: Chad Parsons)

    Sheffield Township's Night Out -- Exhibits -- Police, Fire & EMS, Life Flight Helicopter & Complimentary Refreshments

    Tuesday, August 11, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield's Railroads and Interurban Trolleys -- History of Railways in Sheffield Traces the development of rail transportation and major rail events in the vicinity of Sheffield.

    Saturday, August 22, 2015 at 11:00 a.m., 4:00 p.m. -- French Creek Nature/Arts Center (Coordinator: Paulette Ward)

    Sheffield Village Bicentennial ArtsFest -- Family Fun, 5K Run, Music, Exhibits, Food, Contests, Auction & Brookside Band


    Tuesday, September 1, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. -- St. Teresa Cemetery (Thomas K. Hoerrle)

    Bicentennial Guided Tour -- A Walk through St. Teresa Cemetery -- Repository of Sheffield's History


    Saturday, October 10, 2015 10:00 a.m.­, 5:00 p.m. -- Ackerman Farm (Coordinator: Jean Ackerman) Apple Butter/German Heritage Festival -- Help make Apple Butter & Celebrate Sheffield's German Heritage

    Tuesday, October 13, 2015 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Sheffield Then & Now -- The Changing Scene Historic photographs alongside recent images of the same location.


    Tuesday, November 10, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. -- Sheffield Lake Community Center (Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf)

    Bicentennial Lecture -- Military History of Sheffield -- Sheffield's Contribution to the Nation's Defense Tribute to Sheffield's men and women who have served in our nation's military conflicts.


    Saturday, December 12, 2015 at 12: noon, 3:30 p.m. -- Jabez Burrell Homestead (Coordinator: Aimee Potonic) Christmas at the Burrell Homestead -- Christmas Programs, Homestead Tours, Holiday Goodies

    Event & Presentation Venues

    Ackerman Farm, 1737 Abbe Road, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054

    Brookside High School, Harris Road, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054

    Domonkas Library, 4125 Lake Road, Sheffield Lake, Ohio 44054

    French Creek Nature & Arts Center, 4530 Colorado Avenue, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054

    Garfield Cemetery, 4820 Detroit Road, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44035

    Jabez Burrell Homestead, 2792 East River Road, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054

    Sandusky Maritime Museum, 125 Meigs Street, Sandusky, Ohio 44870

    Sheffield Lake Community Center, 4575 Lake Road, Sheffield Lake, Ohio 4054

    Sheffield Township Hall, 5166 Clinton Avenue, Lorain, Ohio 44055

    Sheffield Village Municipal Complex, 4480 Colorado Avenue, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054

    Shoreway Shopping Center, Lake Road at Lake Breeze Road, Sheffield Lake, OhioSt. Lads Picnic Grounds,

    4221 Clinton Avenue, Lorain, Ohio 44055

    St. Teresa Cemetery, 1878 Abbe Road, Sheffield Village, Ohio 44054



    Sheffield (Ohio) Timeline by Charles E Herdendorf


    Compiled by Charles E. Herdendorf

    Sheffield Village Historical Society


  • Louise Vagard, a French explorer, may be the first European to enter the Black River valley. He carves his name, date, and a sketch of a sailing vessel on several stones. Howe (1907)


  • French explorer and fur trader, Robert Cavelier (Seur de La Salle), is given a charter to build the first vessels on the Great Lakes and Mississippi River and use them for trade with the Indians (1677). During the winter of 1678-1679 he directs the construction of a 70-foot, 60-ton sailing ship (galleot) on the banks of the Niagara River and launches her in the spring.

    On August 7, 1679, the Griffon sets sail across Lake Erie with a 34 men aboard bound for Green Bay on Lake Michigan. LaSalle's party, including a Jesuit Missionary Priest (Father Hennepin), crosses Lake Erie in 3 days, passing by the Sheffield and mouth of the Black River on the second day -- the European voyage on Lake Erie.

    The Griffon arrives at it destination on September 3, where LaSalle finds abundant valuable furs, which are loaded on board for the return voyage to Lake Erie. LaSalle, Father Hennepin, and a party of traders remain ashore to explore the Illinois country and await the return of the Griffon the following spring. The ship's pilot and a crew of 5 men weigh anchor on September 28, 1679 for the down lake journey. The following 4 days a violent storm sweeps the lakes and the Griffon is never seen again. Izant (1953); Bolsenga and Herdendorf (1993); Barry (1996)


  • James Smith, the first person of European ancestry to enter the area that would become Sheffield, is brought to the Black River valley by Delaware Indians who had capture him in Pennsylvania as a boy. Smith keeps a journal during the 5 years he lived with the Indians and publishes an account of the travels and experiences with his captors and their French allies in 1799.

    He describes the journey up the Canesadooharie [Black River] in a 35-foot birch bark canoe from Lake Erie to CascadeFalls. He writes about the chestnut forest near the falls and about returning to the valley the next year to tap maples trees for sugar. His description of the land, types of trees, animals, and rock outcrops is the first written record of the Black River valley. Smith gains his freedom at Crown Point, New York in 1759 as part of a prisoner exchange during the French and Indian War. Elyria Historic Book Committee (1992); Lorain Public Library (1984)


  • US Congress creates the Northwest Territory, which encompasses the region lying west of Pennsylvania, north of the Ohio River, east of the Mississippi River, and south of the Great Lakes. Virginia, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts had claims to this area, which they cede to the central government between 1780 and 1800. Northwest Ordinances of 1784, 1785, and 1787 establish land policy and territorial government.

    Ultimately, five states -- Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin -- organize from the territory, and a portion of Minnesota (land lying between the St. Croix and MississippiRivers). Knepper (2001)

  • American Revolution [Revolutionary War] ends with the Treaty of Paris (1783) and Britain cedes the Northwest Territory, including the Ohio country, to the United States. US Congress begins work on specific measures to guide the settlement and division of the Northwest Territory.

    Thomas Jefferson drafts The Ordinance of 1784, which Congress passes, that divides the territory into several self-governing districts and stipulates that each district could send one representative to Congress upon its attaining a population of 20,000, and it would become eligible for statehood when its population equaled that of the least populous existing state (Ordinance of 1787 supersedes this ordinance). Lindsey (1953); Encyclopædia Britannica (2004)

  • The Ordinance of 1785 provides for the scientific surveying of the territory's lands and for a systematic subdivision of them. The land is to be subdivided according to a rectangular grid system; the basic unit of land grant is establishes as a township -- a square area measuring either 5 or 6 miles on each side. Each township is to be subdivided into a number of rectangular parcels or lots of individually owned land. Sherman (1925)

  • The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the most important of the three acts, lays the basis for the government of the Northwest Territory and for the admission of its constituent parts as states into the Union.

    Under this ordinance, each district is to be governed by a governor and judges appointed by Congress until it attained a population of 5,000 adult free males, at which time it becomes a territory and forms its own representative legislature.

    The Northwest Territory is eventually to comprise a minimum of three and a maximum of five states; an individual territory to be admitted to statehood in the Union after having attained a population of 60,000.

    The Ordinance also

    (1) guarantees protection of civil liberties,

    (2) forbids slavery,

    (3) promises decent treatment of resident Indians,

    (4) grants new states equal status to older ones, and

    (5) urges promotion of education and religion by stating:

    Religion, morality, and education, being necessary to good government and happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." Lindsey (1953); Encyclopædia Britannica (2004)

  • Wyandot, Delaware, Chippewa, and Ottawa Indians surrender claims to all land east of the Cuyahoga River in Treaty of Fort McIntosh (January 1785). Sherman (1925)

  • US Congress allows Connecticut to reserve ownership, but not sovereignty, of a strip of land between the latitudes of 41N and 42N, from the western Pennsylvania border westward for 120 miles (1786). Known as the Connecticut Western Reserve, the community of Sheffield would be founded in the western portion of this reserve. Connecticut bases its claim to this land on charters granted by England's King James to the Plymouth Council (November1630) and later confirmed by King Charles II (April 25, 1662). Sherman (1925)

  • German-speaking Moravian missionaries, under the leadership of David Zeisberger, attempt to establish a settlement at the mouth of the Black River with Christianize Delaware Indians (April 1787). On April 24, Zeisberger writes in his journal:

    We found ourselves on a high hill, from which down the plain we could overlook the whole country -- a beautiful, peaceful garden. We encamped near the creek [Black River], which id deep and thus far no strong stream, for the lake checks it thus far; a little farther up, just above us, the stream begins [near the mouth of French Creek -- Zeisberger is the first to recognized the estuarine effect of Lake Erie on its tributary mouths].

    In the evening, Samuel, an Indian brother went fishing and had in a short time more fish than we could use. They are a sort of pike [Northern Pike], which now at this season go in great numbers from the lake to the creek. The distance from this point to the mouth at the lake is about six miles."

    On May 3, Zeisberger disbands and moves to the Huron River valley after receiving a warning from a Delaware chief. Vietzen (1973); Lorain Public Library (1984)


  • Greenville Treaty with 11 northwestern Indian tribes confirms CuyahogaRiver as eastern boundary of Indian land (August 3). Sherman (1925); Knepper (2001)

  • Eastern part of the Connecticut Western Reserve (3 million acres of land east of the Firelands -- present day Erie and Huron Counties) is sold by the State of Connecticut to the Connecticut Land Company (composed of 47 stockholders) for $1,200,000 with the proceeds to serve as a perpetual fund for the support of Connecticut's schools (September 2). Lindsey (1953); Knepper (2001)


  • The Connecticut Land Company orders the first survey of the Western Reserve, led by General Moses Cleaveland who gains the permission of the Western Indians to settle Reserve territory as far west as the Cuyahoga River. Cleaveland selects the site for the city that now bears his name on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River mouth (July 22).

    However, the Connecticut Land Company needs to have information on how much of the Reserve is water and how much is land -- thus Cleaveland sends one surveyor, Augustus Porter, along the Lake Erie shore to the 120-mile limit of the Reserve in order to have an accurate contour of the coast. This survey is the first to define the shoreline of would become Sheffield Township. Hatcher (1949)


  • Land area which later becomes Sheffield Township lies within Wayne County of Northwest Territory with Detroit [Michigan] as its County Seat. From 1800 to 1808 the future Sheffield Township lies within Trumbull County with Warren [Ohio] as its County Seat. From 1808 to 1822 the future Sheffield Township land east of the Black River lies within Cuyahoga County with Cleveland as its County Seat and from 1809 to 1822 the future Sheffield Township land west of the Black River lies within Huron County with Norwalk as its County Seat.


  • US Congress admits Ohio to the Union; Ohio organizes as a state with the land that would become Sheffield Township situated within Trumbull County. This county encompasses all of the original Connecticut Western Reserve land. Sherman (1925); Knepper (2001)


  • Treaty of Fort Industry extinguishes Indian claims to lands of the Western Reserve west of the Cuyahoga River (2,750,000 acres) by payment of $18,911.67 (July 4). Sherman (1925); Hatcher (1949)


  • Survey of lands west of the CuyahogaRiver begins -- Seth Pease directs the survey. Abraham Tappen runs the township lines between the Cuyahoga River and the Firelands and Almon Ruggles finishes the laying of tracts in the Firelands in 1807.

    Each township is 5 miles square (except along the coast of Lake Erie were the northern boundary is the lakeshore). The ranges -- or north to south rows of townships -- are numbered from the Pennsylvania line, and the townships -- or east to west rows -- are from the bottom (south) end of the Reserve up to the lakeshore. Thus Sheffield is located in Township 7 of Range 17 [and what becomes Avon is Township 7 of Range 16]. Sherman (1925); Hatcher (1949)


  • Azariah Beebe and his wife, are sent by Nathan Perry, Jr. to build a cabin at the mouth of the Black River. Nathan Perry soon joins then and establishes a trading post. Theirs is the first permanent settlement of Black River. Hatcher (1949); Wickens (1981)

  • Almon Ruggles, a native of Brookfield, Connecticut and the surveyor of the Firelands, settles on the lakeshore between the Vermilion and Huron Rivers at what came to be known as Ruggles Grove. For many years he acts as land agent for the Firelands Society. In taking compensation for services rendered partly in land, he own a one full section, where he builds the Ruggles Farmhouse (1825).

    He is chosen as the first recorder when Huron County is organized (1809), where he also serves as associate judge (1815). Later he is elected State Senator (1816 and 1818) and State Representative (1824). The first VermilionTownship meeting is held at his residence (April 6, 1818). Later, his extended family is important to the history of Sheffield. Judge Ruggles has an important connection to the settlement at Sheffield by virtue of his stepdaughters Esther Buck and Sara Eliza Case. Peeke (1925)

    Esther Buck's mother, Rhoda (Sprague Buck) was first married to Alexander Case (1779-1808) and she bore three children: Harlow (1804), Lyman (1806), and Sara Eliza (1808). When he dies, Rhoda marries Captain Andrew Buck (1776-1815) and from that union Esther is born (1811). When Esther is four years old, her father dies. Her mother then married Judge Almon Ruggles in 1816 and they live on the lakeshore at Ruggles Grove between Vermilion and Huron.

    In 1808, Judge Ruggles had married Annie Dibble (daughter of Ezra Dibble of Brookfield) and they have two daughters (Rebecca and Betsy), but Annie died in 1815. Almon Ruggles and Rhoda Buck had two sons, Charles (1818) and Richard (1827). Thus, by the 1820s the Ruggles family consisted of Almon, his wife Rhoda, with four different sets of children. They apparently all lived quite happily together, as evidenced by the fact that Lyman Case married Rebecca Ruggles. The two stepdaughters married brothers from Sheffield. Esther Buck marries Captain Aaron Root (1801-1865) and Sara Eliza Case married William H. Root (1803-1889) in 1828. Peeke (1925); Bins et al (1930)


  • Ferry service commences at the mouth of the Black River; hog and sheep 2 each, man on foot 6, man on horse 18, loader wagon and team 60, and all other carriages 37. Lorain Public Library (1984)


  • The John S. Reid, Daniel Perry, William Martin, Shupe, Quigley, Lyon, Kelso, Seeley, and Gilmore families settle in or near the Black River settlement. Lorain Public Library (1984)


  • News of British victories in the War of 1812 fans rumors of an invasion of Ohio. A military post is established at Black River to ensure the citizenry that they are safe in their cabins. John Lyon is born, the first child in the Black River community. Lorain Public Library (1984)

  • The region between the CuyahogaRiver and the Firelands draws almost no settlers until after the close of the War of 1812. Hatcher (1949)

  • Connecticut Land Company holds a draft [for] select shareholders; General William Hart of Saybrook, Connecticut draws Township 7 of Range 17, which would become SheffieldTownship. Tract 14 in HenriettaTownship is annexed to Sheffield to equalize it because the southwestward trend of the Lake Erie shoreline reduced the land area. The Township is territorially a part of Huron County, but attached to Cuyahoga County for judicial and other purposes until 1815 when Huron County is fully organized.

    Originally, Dover Township embraces all of Avon Township as well as Sheffield and Black RiverTownships east of the Black River; the name of this territory is later changed to Troy Township, Cuyahoga County (1818). Day (1876); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 10, 1931)

  • General Hart makes arrangements with Timothy Wallace to commence settlement in Township 7 (Sheffield). Wallace selects Lot 65, improves a few acres, and builds a small house [Robbins Burrell owns Lot 65 in 1865]. He soon abandons property for fear of Indians. Day (1876)


  • Guns from the Battle of Lake Erie are heard along the Black River. Observers note that the sound of British cannons dominate the early part of the battle, but as the engagement continues the American guns prevail.

    Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry defeats the British fleet and captures all of their vessels near Put-in-Bay, Ohio (September 10). This victory gives the United States control of Lake Erie and makes possible the successful invasion of Canada by General William Henry Harrison and defeat of British and Indian forces at the Battle of the Thames, in Ontario, which hastens the end of the War of 1812.

    The British forces are under the command of Brigadier General Henry Proctor and the Indians are lead by the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who is mortally wounded in battle (October 5). Henry Garfield Root (personal communication, June 1968); Lorain Public Library (1984); Encyclopædia Britannica (2004)


  • Captains Jabez Burrell and John Day of Sheffield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts purchase Township 7 from General William Hart (January). Day (1876); Williams Brothers (1879)

  • After Purchase, Capt. Jabez Burrell, Capt. John Day, and Obadiah Deland of Sheffield; Capt. Joshua Smith, Col. Joseph Fitch, and Solomon Fitch of New Marlborough, Berkshire County, Massachusetts; Isaac Burrell of Salisbury, Herkimer County, New York; and Henry Austin of Owasco, Cayuga County, New York become Township partners. Day (1876)

  • Capt. Jabez and Isaac Burrell, Capt. John Day, and Capt. Joshua Smith explore Township and select lots for themselves and friends and return to Massachusetts (June). Day (1876)

  • Milton Garfield of Tyringham, Massachusetts, accompanied by his brother, walk to the Township, select Lot 73 on North Ridge, and construct a log cabin (summer). They return to Massachusetts in the fall. Doris Burrell (personal communication, August 1974)

  • Capt. Smith and his oldest son Douglas, age 17, leave Massachusetts with yoke of oxen. horse, and tools for clearing and cultivating a new farm (October 1). En route, Capt. Smith leaves Douglas to pursue the journey alone while he goes north to Sackett's Harbor to visit friends at the site of the War of 1812 battleground (October); he rejoins Douglas before they reach Ohio.

    Capt. Smith and Douglas arrive at Wilbur Cahoon's cabin in Avon (Saturday, November 11); rest on Sunday, and on Monday follow down French Creek without a trail to Lot 64 and commence the first permanent settlement in the Township (November 13) [Frederick Kreible owns Lot 64 in 1865].

    Capt. Smith's nearest neighbors are John S. Reid and Daniel Perry at the mouth of the Black River (4 miles), Wilbur Cahoon in Avon (5 miles), and Moses Eldred in Ridgeville (7 miles). Day (1876), Day (1974); Williams Brothers (1879)

  • Samuel B. Fitch and Asher Chapman arrive from New Marlborough, Massachusetts (~November 15) and together with the Smiths build a rude shanty for the winter. Day (1876)

  • Travel time from Western Massachusetts to Cleveland, Ohio is 15 to 18 days on horseback or a-foot and 6 to 8 weeks for families with ox-teams; Cleveland's population is about 200. Day (1876)


  • Samuel B. Fitch settles on lot 62. Asher Chapman settles in Avon [residence of Dr. Townshend in 1865], later moves to Amherst, then Wisconsin, and dies in Michigan (1865). Day (1876)

  • Freeman Richmond and his wife [first female settler] arrive in Township and settle on Lot 2 (February) [Joseph Townshend owns Lot 2 in 1865]. Day (1876)

  • Henry Root, his wife [Mary Day Root], and 6 children [Aaron J., William Henry, Julia Ann, Jane, Frances, and Mary] arrive from Sheffield, Massachusetts and settle on Lot 17 (April 3) [near where German Church stands in 1865. Root family live for 3 weeks in the shanty with Capt. Smith while they prepare a habitation for themselves. Day (1876)

    Henry Root is the son of Colonel Aaron Root and Jerusha (Steele) Root. Aaron Root settles in Sheffield, Massachusetts in 1743, some 10 years after the community is founded, and dies there in 1809 at age 88. A man of many accomplishments, Aaron manages his beef farm, operates a tannery, and holds offices on the Congregational Society ordination committee, the school committee, and the Board of Selectmen -- by turns serves as treasurer, moderator, fence viewer, overseer of roads, and scaler of leather.

    He builds a large frame Colonial-style home, known as the 1750 House, opposite The Big Elm -- this magnificent tree is made famous in the writings of Oliver Wendell Holmes (The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table 1858). The Big Elm grows to a height of 82 feet, a limb spread of 108 feet, and a circumference of 20 feet -- it eventually yields to the ravages of time and is cut down in 1926 at an estimated age of 400 years.

    The Big Elm, also known as The Great Elm, is immortalized by its representation on the Sheffield town seal with the inscription, He who plants a tree plants hope. Holmes (1858); Preiss (1976); Miller (2002)

    As a Major in the Massachusetts Militia Aaron Root drills recruits in a parkway between the Main Street and the gristmill and sawmill of Sheffield. He is a signatory to a letter of grievances to King George III of England (known as the Sheffield Declaration) along with Colonel John Ashley, Captain Nathanial Austin, Captain William Day, and seven other Sheffield dignitaries.

    During the Revolutionary War he attains the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (October 1776) of the 1st Berkshire County Regiment. In Sheffield, he heads the committee to provide for the soldiers' families. After the War, as a member of the smallpox vaccination committee, Colonel Root bravely volunteers to be among the first to receive inoculations. Colonel Aaron Root's grandson, Dr. George Frederick Root [born in Sheffield, Massachusetts in 1820], an eminent Chicago musician, composes stirring Civil War anthems, including: Battle Cry of Freedom and Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!

    The clock tower of the Old Parish Church in Sheffield's town center is constructed as a memorial to the composer and contains a bronze plaque detailing the history of the clock (1896). When Colonel Aaron Root dies in 1809, the Wilcox family purchases the Root Homestead to raise dairy cattle and sheep. The 1750 House still stands in Sheffield on South Main Street, serving in recent years as a fine antique shop and family residence (1980). Preiss (1976); Charles E. Herdendorf (personal observations, September 1971, September1982, May 2002 and October 2004)

    Mary (Day) Root is the daughter of Captain William Day (1717-1797). Captain Day, who spends much of his life at sea. While holding a naval commission in the service of King George II during the French and Indian War, he captures 4 French frigates and bringing them into PlymouthHarbor. For this action he is decorated by the King; the Admiralty further honors him by having his portrait painted by the court painter (Copley) for his bravery.

    This episode in the Day family annals, as well as the founding of Sheffield, Ohio branch of the family by Captain John Day and his wife Lydia Austin, are described by the English novelist Ann Bridge in A Woman of Two Worlds, a biography of her mother. Genealogical History of the Family of Robert Day (1849, pp. 16-18); Doris Burrell (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram: Pathways of the Pioneers)

  • An account of Mary (Day) Root's experiences in early Sheffield is published in a Memorial to Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve and give insight to the lives of the first settlers; written by her niece, Eleanor Day Austin, in 1896:

    On April 3, 1816, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Root with their six children arrived from Sheffield, Mass. They lived three weeks in the shanty with Captain Joshua Smith, while they built one for themselves. On the 27th of July Mrs. Root had the pleasure of welcoming to her rude home her brother, Captain John Day, wife, and nine children, eleven in all, to her limited quarters.

    Just think of it, ye women who are so disturbed over an extra lodger! One room, and already occupied by a family of eight, then put eleven more in it! You can't see how they managed it, did you say: No, of course you can't. Mind you, both of these women came from large and commodious homes.

    Thus the early women began their pioneer lessons. These crowded cabins were the primary schools of a good-natured, getting-along-some-how that fused them at once into a common family, as it were, with a community of interests and labors, which begot in them a mutual regard, friendliness, and hospitality that ever remained a pleasant characteristic of the society of olden days. From time to time the Sisterhood of Pioneers was enlarged by fresh arrivals. Thus by 1818 about ten families with the ten young men that came, who all married and settled in town, strictly speaking, constituted the pioneers of Sheffield.

    They were all, or nearly all New England women of the better class, and of strong Puritan principles, well fitted by their firm adherence to principle and upright lives, to leave an impress in the right direction on the new community. One of their sons says of them: 'Whatever of moral and religious principles hangs about the native population of Sheffield, is due to the influence of pious pioneer mothers. They were truly a noble band of self-sacrificing, duty-doing, God-fearing women, whom we, their descendants, delight to honor and call blessed.

    Mrs. Henry Root, one day, while busily engaged in household duties, heard a great outcry from the pig yard. A pig was squealing most pitifully. She dropped everything, and seizing the broom, a woman's weapon, she rushed out to find a bear carrying off a pig. He had got it to the fence and was trying to get it over, when lo! a woman appeared on the scene furiously brandishing her broom and shouting at the top of her voice. Such surprising attentions from a woman so disconcerted Bruin that he left at once and Mrs. Root saved her pig.

    But she was not so fortunate when a pack of wolves went for the calf; for, although she made noise enough to raise the 'Seven Sleepers,' she could not get her broom work, as it was in the night and the poor calf had to go.

    The story of Peter Miller and the bear, which is found in McGuffey's reader, I think, transpired in this town. This event has always been the bear story (par excellence) of Sheffield. Then there were the rattlesnakes, another deadly foe, to contend with. If one of these crossed their pathway the pioneer women did not scream and runaway, but killed it. One woman, on her way visiting, killed one, then took her scissors and cut off its head and buried it to prevent some barefooted boy from stepping one it and getting poisoned.

    Mrs. Henry Root [Mary Day] was a woman of strong character and marked ability, a teacher in her younger days, possessed of a rare fund of incidents and anecdotes of travel in foreign countries, being a daughter of a sea captain of world-wide experiences. She was of a very social nature, and old and young alike always enjoyed her company. She lived to be eighty-seven years old. Austin (1896)

  • William H. Root, son of Henry and Mary (Day) Root, is 12 and his brother Aaron is 14 when the family leaves Sheffield, Massachusetts to find a new home on French Creek, a branch of the Black River, in Sheffield, Ohio. He later records this account of the journey:

    On the 15th day of February 1816, a canvas-covered wagon was started to the land of promise to all New Englanders, the Connecticut Western Reserve. Inside that wagon were the father and mother [Henry and Mary Root]; aged between forty-five and fifty, and their six children aged between four and fifteen. It was a sad parting from a pleasant home and from kindred and friends, to enter upon a difficult journey and the privations and hardships of pioneer life.

    The travelers reached Albany, New York, on the third day, thence up the beautiful Mohawk Valley to Utica, thence by slow stages to Buffalo. West of Buffalo they found no bridges and forded the streams swollen by spring freshets or were ferried over in scows. The mother fed her family from the 'provision chest' carried in the wagon and made their beds at night with the bedding they brought with them.

    In due time they reach a small village called Cleveland, 'six miles north of the village of Newburg.' At Dover they found a few families, among whom was the first settler of that town, Joseph Cahoon, who came there October 10th, 1810. It was a journey of peril and hardship, the last nine miles the hardest of all. On the 1st of April 1816, after six weeks' travel, they reached Black River.

    To the boy who had not yet seen his thirteenth year [William H. Root], the broad blue lake, the majestic forests, the wild, strange scenes were like a story of romance. He helped clear the forests and make the home and grew strong and stalwart. For seventy-three years from that April morning when he first saw the sunrise over Lake Erie he had an active part in the changes, which transformed the forest into fruitful fields and happy homes.

    The story of those seventy-three years is too long and too full of incidents to be told in this brief sketch. It must suffice to say that Mr. Root was a courteous, Christian gentleman. The home, which he made for himself and family by Sheffield Lake embowered in trees of his own planting, was the abode of a generous hospitality. It will ever awaken pleasant memories in many minds. Root (1930)

  • Oliver Moon from Avon, Livingston County, New York settles on Lot 11 (April). Day (1876)

  • Milton Garfield (1792-1862) and his cousin John B. Garfield (1794-1869) from Tyringham, Massachusetts settle on Lots 73 and 74, respectively (April). Their grandfather, Isaac Garfield (1717-1792) -- a Lieutenant in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, is among the first settlers in Tyringham in 1739. Milton's father, Lieutenant Solomon Garfield (1753-1821), also serves in the Revolutionary War. Day (1876): Gilder (1989); Myers (1989)

  • A. R. Dimmick settles on Lots 75 and 76 (April). Day (1876)

  • William Richmond settles on Lot 2 with his brother Freeman (April). Day (1876)

  • Willis Porter settles on Lot I (April). Day (1876)

  • Capt. John Day, his wife [Lydia], and 9 children [William, Rhoda Maria, John, Norman, Fanny, James, Lydia, Kellogg, and Frederic] arrive in Sheffield, Ohio (July 27). Edmond A. [b. February 24, 1818] and Eleanor [b. July 13, 1820] are born after the family settles in Sheffield. The Black River floodplain upstream of the French Creek mouth, known as the flats or Big Bottom, are covered with large trees, but an open field shows signs of corn planted years earlier by Moravian Indians. Day (1876); Day (1980)

  • Capt. Jabez Burrell, his wife Mary Robbins Burrell, 8 children [Julia, Sarah M., Robbins, Lyman J., Soloma, Jabez L., Eliza, and Mary Ann], and Solomon Weeks [young man, apprentice to Capt. Burrell who later moves to Allen Township, Allen County, Indiana] arrive by way of Lake Erie on schooner Black Snake, and come up the Black River to French Creek on John Reid's ferry scow (August 11). Day (1876)

  • Captains Burrell and Day ship their heavy household goods and farming utensils at Schenectady, New York on a small, half-decked, 15-ton schooner, Fire Fly, built there by Capt. Anon Harmon of New Marlborough, Massachusetts. Capt. Harmon sails up the Mohawk River, locks by Little Falls, thence by Rome Canal into Wood Creek and down to Lake Oneida, across the lake and to the outlet at the head of the Oswego River, and down the river to Lake Ontario.

    At Queenston, Ontario on the lower Niagara River, Capt. Harmon unloads the Fire Fly, pulls the vessel ashore and loads her on cart wheels for transport around Niagara Falls to Chippewa, Ontario. Here he launches the Fire Fly, reloads her cargo, and proceeds through Lake Erie and up the Black River to the mouth of French Creek where he lands her cargo of salt and goods on the Big Bottom. Day (1876)

  • The settlers in Township 7 adopt the name 'Sheffield' for their community. Day (1876)

  • Capt. Joshua Smith returns to Massachusetts for his family (fall). Day (1876)

  • Religious meetings commence at the house of Capt. Jabez Burrell, which consist of reading a sermon, singing, and a prayer by Mr. Hanchett of Ridgeville who works for Capt. Burrell, as there is no male professor in the settlement (winter). Day (1876)

  • By 1816 a road runs through the township on the lakeshore from Cleveland to Huron and a wagon track leads from Ridgeville to Big Bottom near the mouth of French Creek at Black River (1816). Each spring men and boys from Ridgeville and Columbia come to Big Bottom to catch fish; they are taken at night in great abundance while running over the riffles with a torch made of hickory bark and a spear. Sheffield settlers soon join in this rare sport, which also furnishes them with one of the necessities of life. Day (1876 ); Root (1875, 1971, 1974)

  • Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New England suffer "The Year Without a Summer" during which snow falls and freezing temperatures occur every month of the year. Crops are ruined, replanted, and ruined again. over and over. Climatological records for Ohio indicate the year 1816 is the coldest year ever experienced by any person then living. Settlers survive on the abundant fish and woodland game of the Black River valley. Alexander (1923)


  • Township Proprietors, Henry Austin and his wife of Owasco New York arrive and settle on Lot 81 (February) and Isaac Burrell and his wife [Hulda] and 6 children [Eunice, Hiram, Jane, Augusta, Mary, and Charlotte] of Salisbury, New York arrive and settle (February 28). The Austin family traces its ancestry to Richard Austin who migrates from England to Massachusetts in 1636. Richard's son Anthony marries Esther Huggins (1664), which starts the branch of the family that settles in Sheffield, Ohio. Day (1876); Bins et al. (1930)

  • Nathan Stevens and his wife, of New Marlborough, Massachusetts, arrive and settle on Lot 84 (February). They later move to Michigan and die there. Day (1876)

  • Capt. Smith returns to Township with his wife [Martha] and 8 children [Douglas, Isaac, Rachel, Eleazer, Harvey, Warren, Caleb, and Reuel] (March). Day (1876)

  • Ariel Moore, his wife, and 3 children [Lorinda, Lovina, and Abigail] from New Marlborough, Massachusetts accompany Capt. Smith and settle on Lot 56 (March). Day (1876)

  • Daniel Perry, Esq., who came from Vermont to the mouth of the Black River in 1810, sells his farm there and moves to Sheffield with his wife and 9 children [Polly, Harvey, Sophia, Alexander Hamilton, Royal, Julius, Lester, Bushrod, and William] and locates on Lot 22 (spring). Family later moves to Brownhelm where Mr. and Mrs. Perry die; 6 of their children live near the center of Brownhelm in 1865; one in Berlin Township, Erie County, Ohio, one in Michigan and another in Wisconsin. Day (1876)

  • Alvan Coe preaches the first sermon at the Burrell Homestead (spring). Day (1876)

  • Rev. Jesse Hartwell, a Baptist Elder from New Marlborough, on a missionary tour to the western part of the Reserve, holds meeting in Sheffield (June 1). Day (1876)

  • Davis Hecock and Erastus Hecock arrive and select Lots 85 and 86 where they begin to improve the land, keeping 'bachelor's hall' (June). They later leave their river farms and settle in the southwestern part of the Township. Day (1876)

  • Samuel Munson arrives and commences to improve Lot 72 (June). Day (1876)

  • James Burrell, his wife [Roxanne], and 4 children [Harriet, Cyla, Almoran, and Alva J.] from BloomfieldNew York arrive and settle on Lot 69 (July 5). Harriet later marries John B. Garfield and lives on North Ridge. Day (1876)

  • Arnold Burrell and his wife arrive from Binghampton, New York and settle on Lot 68 (July). Day (1876)

  • Mr. Treat of Windham and Mr. Seward of Aurora, PortageCounty, visit Sheffield as missionaries (July). Day (1876)

  • Mary Ann Austin [daughter of Henry Austin] born -- first child to be born to a Sheffield family (August 20). Day (1876)

  • Capt. Joshua Smith falls victim to the ague and bilious fever, and dies suddenly -- the first settler and the first to die (September 29). Deacon James of Brownhelm officiates at the funeral. Burial takes place on the bluff near French Creek bridge. Burial ground is afterwards abandoned and Capt. Smith's bones are disinterred in 1848 and deposited in the Ridge Cemetery [Garfield Cemetery (Grave B/12/2)]. Day (1876); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Alvan Hyde, son of Rev. Dr. Hyde of Lee, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, commissioned by the Berkshire Missionary Association to preach in the new settlements on the Reserve; he chooses the communities of Dover, Sheffield, and Ridgeville (fall). Day (1876)

  • Captains Burrell and Day erect the township's first mills in the Black River valley about one-half-mile upstream of the French Creek mouth. The project consists of a dam across the river and a water tunnel to carry the water to the waterwheels for the gristmill and sawmill. Settlers bring logs to be sawed, grain to be ground -- seldom is the pay cash, the miller taking a portion of the lumber or corn for his services. Later, another gristmill is built on the Black River by Charles Chaney. Day (1980); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931); St. Teresa Sesquicentennial Committee (1995)

  • Herman Ely establishes a settlement [Elyria] at the confluence of the East and West Branches of the Black River. McQuillin (1977)

  • The early settlement pattern across the Western Reserve consists of

    (1) large stretches of wilderness with short rivers running down to Lake Erie as the chief highways into the land,

    (2) Indian trails and some rude roads crossing the land, and

    (3) a few hundred families set down miles apart in little oases hacked out of the woods in scattered townships, such as Sheffield, isolated, lonely, trying in many instances desperately to keep alive and advance the station of their families. Hatcher (1949)


  • Sheffield citizens construct a log building at the top of the south hill of French Creek valley to serve as both a church and schoolhouse. Root (1875 and 1971); Burrell (1971c)

  • Sheffield's first post offices is established at the home of Jabez Burrell and he serves as the first postmaster, remaining such for many years. Later, a second post office -- called Crandall -- is established with Nicholas Kelling as postmaster. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Reverend William Williams, a missionary from the Connecticut Missionary Society, assisted by Alvan Hyde, forms a Congregational Church in Sheffield (May 1). Charter members (13) include Nathan Stevens and wife, Mary Burrell [wife of Captain Jabez Burrell] and her daughters Julia and Sarah, Martha Smith [widow of Capt. Joshua Smith] and her son Douglas, Henry Root, Preston Pool, William Day, William Smith, Samuel B. Fitch, and Daniel Perry. Day (1876)

  • Sheffield establishes first school on crest of hill near French Creek; Dr. Preston Pool from Keene, New Hampshire teaches the first classes (1817-1818). The next winter Daniel T. Baldwin teaches classes. Day (1876); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Originally, Dover Township includes Avon and Sheffield to the Black River; the river forms the dividing line between Cuyahoga and Huron Counties. Avon organizes with the name of Troy Township and includes the eastern part of Sheffield (1818). Day (1876)

  • Samuel B. Fitch marries Dolly Smith, from his native town of New Marlborough (1818). She dies May 4, 1845 and Mr. Fitch later marries Nancy Willard of Pawlett, Vermont, who dies November 4, 1860. Samuel B. Fitch dies (September 15, 1861). Day (1876)

  • Samuel Munson marries Phila Tyler -- first couple to be married in Sheffield; wedding ceremony performed by Ebenezer Whiton, Esq. (December 17). Day (1876)

  • James Day builds the General Huntington, the 1st boat constructed along the Black River -- a 51-foot sloop. Weisman (2004)


  • Cyla Burrell, daughter of James and Roxanne [Roxey] Burrell, dies at age 17 years (March 20) -- burial in Ridge Cemetery [Garfield Cemetery (Grave A/7/4)]. Kellogg (1980); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Jabez Burrell elected Justice of the Peace (June 22) for the Sheffield portion of TroyTownship; he is re-elected in 1822. Day (1876)

  • Mrs. Freeman Richmond, first female settler in Sheffield, dies (summer). Day (1876)

  • Men of Black River and SheffieldTownships hold the Great Deer Hunt of 1819; between 75 to 100 deer are killed and numberless more are driven into the lake to their deaths. Wickens (1927); Lorain Public Library (1984)


  • Milton Garfield marries Tempe Williams, daughter of John and Clarissa (Hamlin) Williams, of Avon, Ohio (May). They will rear 6 children on their North Ridge homestead [Henry W., Halsey, Eliza Pauline, Fannie M., Daniel W., and Julia C.]. Williams Brother (1879)

  • Capt. Jabez Burrell begins construction of red brick, Federal-style homestead south of French Creek. Construction from bricks burned on the homestead. Elaborate Federal fireplaces grace the interior. (McQuillin (1977); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Samuel Munson dies (August 6). His widow, Phila (Tyler) Munson, later marries Mr. Rooks; she dies at Niles, Cayuga County, New York (July 3, 1862). Day (1876)

  • In the early years, wolves take a toll on the settler's sheep herds. One large wolf is captured, stuffed, and placed on display at the Lorain County Natural History Society museum in Elyria until the room burns on February 10, 1852 and all the relics are lost. Day (1980)


  • Peter Miller, a lad of 17 from Avon, encounters a black bear and 2 cubs in the swampy wilderness while returning home to the lakeshore after laboring near the center of Sheffield. He attempts to escape by climbing an smooth elm tree, but the bear follows. By kicking, he repulses the bear twice and on the bear's third attempt, both boy and bear tumble to the ground and Peter runs barefooted to safety in Sheffield.

    Norman Day and several other settlers rally with guns and dogs to seek revenge on the aggressor, but the bear and her cubs escape by the time they find the elm tree. When night comes and Peter does not return home an anxious father and friends, fearing some evil must have befallen him, set out through the wilderness with lighted torches. They find him in Sheffield, well cared for and snugly in bed, having narrowly escaped a horrible death (summer). Day (1876)

  • James Day builds the Ann, the 2nd boat constructed along the Black River -- a 53-foot schooner. Weisman (2004)


  • Jabez Burrell is re-elected Justice of the Peace (August 13). Day (1876)

  • Chester Wright builds and operates the township's first distillery. St. Teresa Sesquicentennial Committee (1995)

  • Reverend William Reynolds organizes a Methodist Episcopal church class at the Titus school in Avon Township, but a large portion of the members are from Sheffield Township. Class members include: Adam and Anna Miller, Alexas and Caroline Miller, Susanah Parshall, Delia Ann Case [later widow of Theron Moore], Norman Moore, and Anson Titus and his daughter Susan, This church is removed to Sheffield in 1843 where meetings take place in the District No. 3 school house [lakeshore at northeast corner of Township]. Williams Brothers (1879)


  • Robbins Burrell teaches in the only public school in the City of Cleveland (winter). Cuddeback (1915)


  • Ariel Moore dies (February 10); Mrs. Moore moves to Fredonia, New York. Their children leave Sheffield -- Lorinda (Mrs. Norman Bedortha) and her sister Lovina move to Saratoga and are alive there in 1865; Abigail (Mrs. Burgess) goes on a mission to India and dies there. Day (1876)

  • Douglas Smith marries Sarah Burrell, daughter of Capt. Jabez and Mary Burrell -- first wedding to take place at the Burrell Homestead. Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Charles Chaney constructs one of the township's first gristmills. St. Teresa Sesquicentennial Committee (1995); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • First session of Lorain County Commissioners held for newly formed Lorain County, Ohio -- first act establishes Sheffield Township (1st Monday of June). The Commissioners receive a petition from the residents of the Sheffield praying for a township which would embrace its present area -- all of Black River Township, east of the stream by that name and so much of Elyria as was off to Enoch Perkins in the petition of that township. Day (1876); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Sheffield holds first town meeting and chooses first officers -- Nathan Stevens, Clerk; John Day, Isaac Burrell and A. R. Dimmick, Trustees; Milton Garfield, Treasurer; and Jabez Burrell and Henry Root, Poor-masters (July 10). Nathan Stevens also serves as first Magistrate of the town. Day (1876); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)


  • General Quincy Adams Gillmore is born in Black River (February 25) and grows up on the family. In 1849 he graduates head of his class at West PointMilitaryAcademy. He distinguishes himself during the Civil War as commander of Union forces at the siege and capture of Fort Pulaski, Georgia (February 19 to April 11, 1862). His cannonade tactics and ultimate capture of Fort Pulaski revolutionized the naval gunnery of the world, and extended his fame throughout Europe as well as America.

    For this service he receives the rank of Brigadier-General (April 28, 1862). He next success of the War is in the siege of Charleston, South Carolina where he stations a huge gun, known as the Swamp Angel, at the edge of the sea in a shallow marsh that effectively fires 100-pound shells into Charleston.

    After the battle he is promoted to Major General, a rank he holds until the end of the Civil War when he resigns his commission (December 1865). After the war he engages in important engineering works, which include improvements to the harbors at Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia.

    He later serves as president of the Mississippi River Commission and oversees rectifications projects on the critical waterway. He engineering reputation gains increased status by his benchmark publications on cements, mortars, building stones, and road-making and paving. General Gilmore dies in Brooklyn, New York (April 11, 1888). Howe (1907)

  • Rhoda Maria Day, daughter of Captain John and Lydia Day, dies at age 27 years (October 20); Day-Root Family establishes a cemetery on East River Road 0.4 mile south of French Creek bridge, with Rhoda Maria the first burial [SheffieldPioneerCemetery]. Day (1876); Kellogg (1980)

  • James Day, with Fairbanks Church, builds the Young Amaranth, the third boat along the Black River -- a 67-foot schooner. Captain Aaron Root of Sheffield later owns and serves as master of this vessel (1829-1831). Weisman (2004); US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • S. B. Fitch establishes the first distillery in Sheffield (1825). Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)


  • Mrs. Martha Smith, widow of Capt. Joshua Smith, marries General Isaac Hall of Pompey [later La Fayette], Onondaga County, New York (January 16) and moves to New York. She dies there 33 years later (October 18, 1859).

    Concerning her children -- Douglas remains in Sheffield and dies there on March 16, 1862; Isaac moves to Hopkinsville, Iowa [alive in 1865]; Rachel marries George W. Cotton of Elyria and dies there on September 21, 1859; Eleazer moves to La Fayette, New York and dies there on January 23, 1849; Harvey moves to Newton, Calhoun County, Michigan and dies there October 5, 1852; Warren moves to Michigan [alive in 1865]; Caleb moves to Delhi, Delaware County, Iowa and dies there March 14, 1861; Reuel moves to Logansport, Indiana [alive in 1865]. Day (1876)


  • Capt. John Day dies (October 8) -- 2nd burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Day (1876); Kellogg (1980)

  • Erastus Hecock marries Hannah J. Burrell, daughter of Isaac and Hulda Burrell (December 6, 1827). The marriage produces 7 children: Pamelia. Isaac B., Hannah, Celia, Hiram, and Silas. Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • William Day becomes Sheffield's first pioneer merchant (1827). Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Sheffield Township's population consists of 44 adult males: Theodore Bedortha, Alva Burrell, Isaac Burrell, Jabez Burrell, James Burrell, Lyman Burrell, Robbins Burrell, George Cotton, William Cummins, Edward Day, John Day, John Day, Jr., Norman Day, William Day, A. R. Dimmick, Samuel Fitch, Abraham Flemming, James Flemming, James Flemming, Jr., John Garfield, Milton Garfield, William Gead, Bela Gilbert, Wilks Gillet, Joab Goodenough, Moses Greenslit, Davis Hecocks, Erastus Hecocks, Harry Hecocks, Jacob Houseworth, Arden Kent, Oliver Moon, Eber Nuton, David Potter, Luther Owen, Henry Root, William Root, Ebenezer Sage, Douglas Smith, Isaac Smith, Nathan Stephens, Deola Wells, Simon Wicks, Chester Wright. Black River's male population (including Amherst) is 114, Elyria is 80, and Brownhelm is 64. Elyria Independent Democrat (1873)


  • Captain Aaron Root owns and serves as master of schooner Beaver (July 1828, May 1829 and June 1930). US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • Captain Aaron Root marries Esther Buck and his brother, William H. Root, marries Esther's half sister, Sara Eliza Case of the Ruggles household near Huron, Ohio. Both families make their homes in SheffieldLake. Esther and Sara Eliza are stepdaughters of Judge Almon Ruggles of HuronCounty. Peeke (1925); Bin et al. (1930)


  • Henry Root dies at age 62 years (April 6) -- third burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Day (1876); Kellogg (1980)

  • The county's first newspaper, The Lorain Gazette, publishes its first issue (April 24). This weekly newspaper is printed on Broad Street in the Village of Elyria with a subscription rate of $2.00 a year. Archibald S. Park is publisher, Frederick Whittlesey serves as editor, and Abraham Burrell is the compositor.

    Abraham Burrell becomes a partner in 1930 and the name is changed to the Elyria Times in 1832 when James F. Manter is brought into the business. The paper is later renamed The Ohio Atlas and Elyria Advertiser, again renamed The Buckeye Sentinel (1844), and finally The Elyria Courier, a "Free Soil" anti-slavery newspaper in November 1846. Cuddeback (1915); Elyria Historic Book Committee (1992)

  • Mrs. A. R. Dimmick dies (May). Later Mr. Dimmick remarries and moves to Amherst, Ohio, then to Illinois and Oregon, where he dies in 1854. Day (1876)


  • Captain Aaron Root, and associates, build the Sheldon Thompson, the 1st steamer constructed in Huron, Ohio -- the port that is the most prolific builder of Great Lakes steamboats in the decade of the 1830s. This 123-foot, 241-ton, schooner-rigged vessel is built at a cost of $16,000. In 1837 she carries 220 US troops from Buffalo to Detroit then on to Chicago to put down the Black Hawk uprising in Illinois.

    Cholera from Europe strikes during the voyage and 88 soldiers die by the end of the journey. Sandusky establishes a cholera cemetery on the edge of town for scores of nameless victims of the epidemic that had spread onboard ships docking there from the eastern ports. Hatcher (1945); Mackiewicz (1959); Mitchell (1975); Herdendorf and Schuessler (1993)

  • Census of 1830 shows Lorain County's population at 5,696. Howe (1907)


  • Mrs. Jabez Burrell [Mary] dies at age 60 years (August 26) -- burial at RidgeCemetery [Garfield Cemetery A/8/3]. Day (1876); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Mary Ann Austin, first child born in Sheffield, dies in Skaneateles, Onondoga County, New York (November 15). Day (1876)

  • Augustus Jones builds the General Gratiot, the 1st steamboat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood steamer of 84 feet in length, 45 gross tons, and with a draft of 4 feet. Herdendorf and Schuessler (1993); Weisman (2004)

  • Stagecoaches first appear in Elyria -- mail stages leave at 8:00 am every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for Cleveland, and at 4:00 pm every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for Milan, Ohio. The travel time in the 1830s between Elyria and Milan was 7 hours and 20 minutes. Headquarters for the stage is the Beebe House [built in 1820], a store and tavern owned by Artemas Beebe and Horatio Gates. Rennie (1974).


  • Augusta Burrell, a daughter of Isaac Burrell. marries William Day, son of pioneer Captain John Day. They live in the Day house built at Sheffield Center. Among the children of this union is Hulda Maria Day, who marries Professor George Frederick Wright of Oberlin Collage. Doris Burrell (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram: Pathways of the Pioneers)

  • Chester Wright establishes and operates a distillery in Sheffield (1832). Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Herman Ely starts an iron furnace in the Black River valley at Cascade Falls [near present day Furnace Street in Elyria], utilizing bog iron ore from Birmingham and Florence. Vietzen (1973)


  • Sarah Eliza (Case) Root, wife of William H. Root, dies at age 25 years (April 29) -- 4th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Kellogg (1980)

  • Alva J. Burrell, son of James and Roxanne Burrell, dies at age 25 years and 11 months at Green Springs, Sandusky County, Ohio (June 20) -- burial in Ridge Cemetery [Garfield Cemetery (Grave A/7/5)]. Kellogg (1980); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Captain Jabez Burrell, Esq., a widower, remarries (June) and dies (September 25) -- burial in RidgeCemetery [GarfieldCemetery (Grave A/8/2)]. Day (1876); Herdendorf and Herdendorf (2006)

  • Captain Aaron Root serves as master of schooner N. Hubbard (July 1833). US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • A Baptist church forms in Sheffield Township; meetings take place in the District No. 3 schoolhouse [lakeshore at northeast corner of Township]. This church operates for a few years and then disbands with a portions of the membership uniting with the Methodist Episcopal church and the remainder joining the Baptist church in Avon. Williams Brothers (1879)

  • Douglas Smith (1799-1862), son of Joshua Smith, builds a Greek Revival-style farmhouse for himself on North Ridge. The excellent proportions of the heavy entablature over the main section is an outstanding feature of this structure. Douglas becomes an accomplished carpenter and builds several other homes in the Township. McQuillin (1977); Herdendorf et al. (2005)

  • The settlement at the mouth of the Black River changes its name to Charleston; a planked road with toll booth is built between Charleston and Elyria through the western part of Sheffield Township. Lorain Public Library (1984)

  • Oberlin College is founded on Plumb Creek, a tributary to the West Branch of the Black River in southern Russia.Township and the next year (1884) the State Legislature issues a charter for the college. The Oberlin Covenant (1832) establishes 12 principles to govern the new educational and religious community, including a firm abolitionist policy, which permits the admission off the first black students in 1835.

    The racially integrated Sheffield Manual Labor Institute, a branch of OberlinCollege, is established at the Burrell Homestead in Sheffield in 1836 to advance the applications of enlightened agricultural practices. In 1837, Oberlin becomes the first college in the nation to admit women along with men into its programs.

    John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), son of a Virginia planter and a slave mother, is emancipated at the age of five and graduates from Oberlin College in 1849. He is believed to be the first black ever elected to public office in the United States -- Brownhelm Township [west of Black River] voters elect Langston as Township Clerk in 1854. He later serves as in the US House of Representatives from Virginia (1890-1891). McQuillin (1977); Encyclopædia Britannica (2004)


  • William H. Root, a widower, marries Fanny Day, daughter of Capt. John and Lydia Day (April 15). Bins et al. (1930)

  • George Washington Jones builds the Florida, the 12th boat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood schooner. Captain Aaron Root of Sheffield owns and serves as master of this vessel (1834). Weisman (2004); US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • Militia Captain James Austin, younger bother of Henry Austin and Lydia (Austin) Day. Joins the Sheffield colony. He buys two farms, one on the lakeshore and the other the west back of the Black River opposite the PioneerCemetery (spring). On the later farm, the 10 children of James and Tamar Chapin Austin grow up.

    [Matilda (1812-1897; married Mason Whittlesey Cogswell in 1833), Ann Eliza (1815-1873; marries James Day in 1835), James, Jr. (1817-1908; marries Eleanor Day 1840), Lydia (1819-1902; marries John Daley), Robert (1821-1883; marries Fanny Lewis in 1842), Camila (1823-1892; marries Dr. Edmund Day in 1846), Earl Church (1825-1900; marries Mary Randall in 1854), Tryphena (1828-1919; marries Luther Griffith in 1849), Edmund Day (1831-1901), and Henry (1835-1908; marries Betsy Nesbitt in 1856)].

    The James Austin house survives 73 years and burns in November 1907. In 1888, Eleanor Day Austin writes the following description of the river farm house:

    The home first consisted of a log house with one room, a fire place without jambs and a stick chimney occupied one end, affording ample hearth room for even so large a family as theirs. There were two one-sash windows and the other things to correspond. There was a loft for general sleeping room, the beauty of which was its beautiful supply of fresh air. At times the sleepers would awake to find the snow sifting through the shakes that formed the roof, into their faces. But we doubt if the children ever slept sounder or enjoyed themselves better than they did those days.

    The following year they put on a frame addition, consisting of one good sized room, a bed room and pantry, with two sleeping rooms above, which made them very comfortable for room. Afterwards they built on more to this. It was a long. low, rambling kind of house, but just the coziest kind of home, breathing rich promise of cordial welcome and good cheer to those who came under its friendly roof. That low apple kitchen, all its appointments so cheerful and inviting, with the genial presence of our dear parents like sunshine brightening and crowing all; such is the pleasant picture of that dear old kitchen hung in memories hall,

    Austin (1930); Bins et al (1930); Doris Burrell (Elyria Chronicle-Telegram: Pathways of the Pioneers)


  • Joseph J. Hamblin builds the North Carolina, the 18th boat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood, 85-foot schooner or hermaphrodite brig (a two-masted sailing ship with a square-rigged foremast and, on the mainmast, a square topsail above a fore-and-aft gaff mainsail). Captain Aaron Root of Sheffield owns and serves as master of this vessel (1835-1838). Weisman (2004); US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • Captain Aaron Root owns and serves as master of hermaphrodite brig North America (May 1835). US Vessel Enrollment Records


  • The Black River Steamboat Association is formed by a group of local ship builders. Lorain Public Library (1984)

  • The racially integrated Sheffield Manual Labor Institute, a branch of OberlinCollege, is established at the Burrell Homestead in Sheffield under the leadership of Robbins Burrell. The Institute closes in 1837 when the Ohio Legislature refused to grant its charter unless it excluded black students. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8. 1931); Herdendorf et al. (2005)


  • Charles E. Day, son of James and Anne Day dies at age 3 months and 29 days (April 14) -- 5th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Kellogg (1980)

  • F. N. Jones builds the Bunker Hill, the 2nd steamboat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood sidewheel steamer of 154 feet in length, 457 gross tons, 24-foot diameter sidewheels, and with a Warden and Denney (Pittsburgh) cross-head engine. Captain Aaron Root of Sheffield serves as the first master of this vessel, which operates a passenger and cargo service from Cleveland to Buffalo (April/May 1837).

    As the final segment of the Underground Railroad, Captain Root transports runaway slaves to freedom in Canada aboard this vessel. Charles Dickens books passage aboard the Bunker Hill from Cleveland to Buffalo during his 1842 visit to Ohio; others accounts states he sails on the Constitution from Sandusky or possibly aboard the Constellation in 1842. Cleveland Herald and Gazette (April 28 & May 8, 1837); Cleveland Plain Dealer (April 27, 1842); Steamboat Bill (December 1944, p. 278); Heyl (1956); Herdendorf and Schuessler (1993); Weisman (2004); Lorain Public Library (1984)

  • Alanson and Hansing Gillmore build the Constellation, the 3rd steamboat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood sidewheel steamer of 150 feet length, draft of 12 feet, and 484 gross tons. One account claims Charles Dickens sails Lake Erie as a passenger aboard the Constellation during his 1842 visit to Ohio. Weisman (2004); Lorain Public Library (1984)

  • George Washington Jones builds the Constitution, the 4th steamboat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood sidewheel steamer of 149 feet length, draft of 12 feet, and 444 gross tons. Accounts indicate Charles Dickens sails as a passenger aboard the Constitution from Sandusky to Cleveland and east during his 1842 visit to Ohio. Weisman (2004); Cleveland Plain Dealer (April 27, 1842); Mansfield (1899, Vol. I, p. 638)

  • Orville Root, son of William Root and grandson of Capt. Aaron Root, is born in Sheffield. He marries Sarah Ann Howes at Sheffield on April 3, 1878. From 1878 to 1888 he serves as auditor of Lorain County.

  • Mary (Abbot) Betts, wife of Lawrence Betts, dies at age 24 years (June 27) -- 6th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Kellogg (1980)

  • Mary Ann (Burrell) Gillett, wife of Robert E. Gellett and daughter of Jabez and Mary Burrell, dies (July 31). Day (1876)

  • Harriet C. Day, daughter of John and Cornelia A. Day, dies at age 17 months (October 26) -- 7th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Kellogg (1980)

  • A railroad is planned from Sandusky to Cleveland by way of Black River and Sheffield Townships in the 1830s an d results in land speculation along the mouth of the Black River. Because of the financial panic of 1837 the project never materializes. McQuillin (1977)


  • John Ingersol Day, son of ?, dies at age 60 (October 15) and Sophia Ann Day, daughter of ?, dies at age ? (October) -- 8th and 9th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Kellogg (1980)

  • F. N. Jones builds the Lexington, the 5th steamboat to be constructed along the Black River -- a wood sidewheel steamer of 152 feet in length, 353 gross tons, and with a draft of 11 feet Captain Aaron Root of Sheffield owns and serves as master of this vessel (May-November 1838). Herdendorf and Schuessler (1993); Weisman (2004); US Vessel Enrollment Records

  • One of the greatest droughts in the history of northern Ohio occurs in the summer of 1838; no rain falls from May to mid-October. Howe (1907)


  • Milton Garfield constructs a fine Greek Revival-style house on his 200-acre farm on North Ridge; Ezra Jackson of Avon is the builder. This house is featured in a number of essays on the early architecture of Ohio. O'Donnell 1924); Frary (1936); Campen (1971); McQuillin (1977); Herdendorf et al (2005)

  • Captain Aaron Root, master of the Steamboat Lexington, arrives with his vessel at the wharf of Richard Winslow and Co. in Cleveland, Ohio to take on passengers for a pleasure excursion to Mackinac Island and Sault Ste. Marie. A band is onboard to provide music for the excursion. Fare for the entire trip is $10 (July 17). Cleveland Herald and Gazette (July 1839)


  • Eleanor Day, son of Captain John and Lydia Day, marries James Austin, Jr. of Sheffield, Ohio (April 30). Rev. D. W. Lathrop of Elyria performs the wedding ceremony. Vira Root, their niece and wife of Walter Root, writes of the couple's early life (August 12, 1897):

    Life's journey was begun in the springtime when orchards were crowned with buds and blossom, woods and fields were in their rarest beauty. The wedding trip was no marvel to a tourist. It was a journey across the fields and over the river with their household goods to the log house which was to be their future home. It was furnished inside in a very neat way. The logs were hewn and the sanded floor was a white as marble. From the west window could be seen the dense woods where deer and other game roam at their own free will.

    No formal calls were received in this cozy home. Loving friends came to stay to tea. They did not sit and fold their hands and converse about the theater, operas, base ball matches and bicycle races, but brought their knitting and dainty bits of patch-work, while the old New England home was tenderly brought to mind and many ingenious ways of getting around Sheffield were earnestly discussed.

    Stiff formality did not chill their meetings, but friends were real and genial and full of mirth. But the best of all was the old fireplace. How the teakettle bubbled and sang upon the crane. What savory dinners have been produced with its aid; and the old bake oven; how those magic biscuit and Johnny-cakes baked in it haunt my dreams. The sun never shone brighter, the birds never sang sweeter, nor did life ever seem pleasanter than in this their first home. During these early years a son came to bless their declining years [Arthur Quinn Austin, born August 22, 1844].

    Genealogical History of the Family of Robert Day (1849); Bins et al. (1930)

  • Frederic Day, son of Captain John and Lydia Day, dies at age 25 years (August 11) -- 10th burial at Day-Root Family Cemetery [Sheffield Pioneer Cemetery]. Day (1876); Kellogg (1980)

  • A. P. Alexander marries Mrs. Jane Heacock (announcement in newspaper September 9). Dillman (1973).

  • German migration into Sheffield begins. John Forster of Bayern [Bavaria], Germany arrives and purchases 50 acres of land from Captain Aaron Root, on which he builds a log cabin. Other Germans immigrants soon arrive, including the Ferner and Burkett families. Halusek (1971)

  • At third post office is established in Sheffield with Bernard Swan as postmaster. Located on Lake Road, it is later known as the Lake Breeze post office. Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8, 1931)

  • Census of 1840 shows Lorain County's population at 18,451; Sheffield's population reaches 512. Howe (1907)

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