History of Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, Ohio.
An Address Delivered July 4, 1876, by Rev. T. B. Fairchild, Rector
of St. John's Church,
Published by Request of Citizens: Cleveland Herald Press
| One hundred years
ago, and the American colonies were in their struggle with the
mother country for their freedom; and all the continent, where
now busy multitudes are pursuing their daily avocations, the
native forests lay in all their gloomy grandeur, untouched by
the woodman's axe.
The whole population, when the first census was taken
in 1790, was only 3,929,328, and of these 697,696 were slaves.
Now we have over 40,000,000, and not a slave. This
population was scattered along the eastern part of the
original colonies on the Atlantic coast, while the western
part of them was still the abode of the Indians, whose
incursions made many a settler's heart tremble for fear of
their depredations. Even New England was mostly a
wilderness and central New York was the hunting ground of
savage tribes. Pittsburgh was a military post, and when
the sun shone upon this broad state, which is now the third in
the Union, it lighted only the trackless woods. It
required nearly two months to make the journey from
Connecticut to Ohio; and was a severe trial of the strength of
the hardy veterans who, with their wives, first broke their
way into its solitudes. When they got to their journey's
end, they had first to build a rude cabin to shelter them, and
deadening the timber around it, sow the seed which should
furnish them with bread, when the county supply was gone,
which they had brought from their eastern homes.
Hardships were experienced of which we can form little
conception; and tears must have wet many a pillow, as they
thought of the homes and friends they had left behind them.
When we think that it is but fifty-one years since the
site of this village was an unbroken forest, and but twenty
years before that, not a white man had found his way into this
vicinity, we are amazed at the change. And as we traverse
these peaceful scenes over which the hand of the husbandman
has spread such evidences of prosperity, we can hardly realize
how greatly it has been changed since its first settlement. It
seems impossible that so short a time has elapsed since this
whole region lay in the state of nature, and not a mark of its
present civilization had been made.
There are still living some who were among the first
that came, and what we present of this history, we have had
from their lips; and because the number is so small of those
who participated in these events, we have thought best to
record it now, that we may let our children know something of
the labors and privations of those who prepared the way for
their enjoyment of the advantages which they have inherited.
Though much has been forgotten, what we now record is given as
it was told us by those who knew the facts, and were
participators in much that they related.
When the present century came in, the whole region
known as the Western Reserve was an unbroken wilderness. Its
forests were untouched, and nature had received no
embellishment from the hand of man. Everything was as it came
from the Creator's hand. The aborigines were scattered through
its dense forests; and game of all the kinds common to this
latitude was abundant. Bears, wolves, deer, turkeys, and all
the smaller varieties, were found in great numbers; and the
lakes which beautified this region abounded with water fowl,
and many varieties of excellent fish. The swamps and ledges
furnished cover for deer and turkeys long after they had
disappeared from regions more recently settled.
The timber was heavy, and for variety and excellence
for all economic purposes, was not excelled by any part of the
United States. A soil of great fertility lay under it, and its
latent riches needed but the hand of the tiller to be
developed, to reward the laborer for his toil.
The Western Reserve had been sold by the State of
Connecticut to the Connecticut Land Company, who had it
surveyed in 1797. It was laid off in townships five miles
square, and was designated by ranges and numbers. These lands
were drawn by lot, by the members of the company, valued at
forty cents per acre; the quantity being in proportion to the
amount which each one paid toward the gross amount, as
compared to the whole. Number 3, of range 10, was drawn by
Judge Joshua Stow, of Middletown, Connecticut; and was named
The township of Tallmadge fell to two companies, called
the Brace Company and the Rockwell Company, and was named
after Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, of Litchfield, Connecticut.
Roger Newbury was a member of the Brace Company, as also of
the Connecticut Land Company, and for many years one of the
governor's council of Connecticut. His share was one thousand
acres, which lay in the northwest part of the township, which
now forms the southeast part of the village of Cuyahoga Falls.
This made these two men the owners of what afterward
constituted the eastern half of this township and village.
Northampton was designated as an equalizing township,
to be divided between such townships as were adjudged of
inferior quality on account of swamps; and thus was disposed
of in smaller quantities and fell into the hands of numerous
owners. That part of Portage township which lay next west of
Tallmadge was in the hands of small proprietors, so that the
west half of the new town was under different influences from
the eastern half.
These several townships held jurisdiction over what was
within their own limits; and the people at Cuyahoga Falls,
belonging to four townships, were dependent upon them for the
administration of their affairs. This was a great
inconvenience, as their interests were united here; and the
concert of action necessary to their relation to one another
was impossible. They endured it till 1851, when a township two
and a quarter miles north and south, and one and three quarter
miles east and west, was taken from the four townships, and
incorporated into a separate township, with all the powers
necessary to a complete organization and government. This new
township also became a village, with its rights and
privileges, the same as other villages of its class.
Our name and history, however, goes back to earlier
days. The village was first laid out by Judge Elkanah
Richardson; but afterward resurveyed and plotted by Birdsey
Booth, whose map was recorded in the county records, and
remains in force for all legal purposes to the present day.
The name first given to the village was Manchester; but
as there were many towns of that name in differ-ent states,
and the falls of the Cuyahoga were seen to be of great value
and importance, it was changed to the name it now bears.
The falls extend for about two miles, making a descent
of two hundred and twenty feet. There are three several falls
of considerable height; but the descent for the whole distance
is so rapid that it forms continuous water power, being
unequaled in the state. The river has made for itself a deep
channel with precipitous banks of great height, which are
clothed with evergreen and other trees, presenting the most
picturesque scenery to be seen in the western states. The
effect of these natural embellishments in beautifying the
landscape, has been to cause it to be a favorite resort for
parties of pleasure from all the surrounding country. This
scenery extends through the town from north to south; and the
power is available for its whole extent, for manufacturing
purposes, at a comparatively small expense; and offers to
capitalists the highest inducements for investment, since the
height of its banks precludes all danger from floods, and the
solid rocks form an immovable foundation upon which to build.
The village is over four hundred feet above Lake Erie,
and is underlaid by sand rock, in which is an abundant supply
of pure water. The slope of the land is such as to render
perfect drainage an easy matter, furnishing special reasons
for its healthiness in a sanitary point of view.
Coal of the best quality was discovered upon Mr.
Newbury' s land at an early day, and has been ever since mined
with profit. The first coal carried to Cleveland was from
All these advantages, concentrated upon this vicinity,
have made it a desirable place of residence from the first;
and the townships of Stow and Tallmadge have been among the
most thrifty and prosperous of rural towns.
An Indian trail from Fort Mclntosh upon the Ohio river,
near Beaver, to Sandusky, passed through Stow. Near Fish
creek, in the east part of the township of Stow, it parted;
one trail going west through Northampton, and the other
passing down through what is now the village upon the east
bank of the river to the Great Falls, and thence to Old
Portage, where it intersected the portage between the Cuyahoga
and Muskingum rivers, at the junction of the Great and Little
The portage was an important point even after the
country was occupied by the whites. Here there was a military
post, and what was called a "Navy Yard," and supplies were
gathered from the interior of the state for their maintenance.
These were drawn from as far south as Chillicothe, being
brought up to the head waters of the Muskingum, and conveyed
overland to the Cuyahoga. William Wetmore was appointed
commissary for this post, and all the lumber necessary to
supply the wants of the government at the station, was
supplied by the saw mill at the "old village." Old Portage did
not lose its importance till the opening of the Ohio & Erie
Canal, at a later date.
In the spring of 1804, a company of emigrants started
from Middletown, Connecticut, for Ohio, having made
arrangements with Judge Stow for settlement upon his land.
They took their course through northern Pennsylvania till they
reached the Alleghany river, which they followed down to
Pittsburgh ; and thence west to Warren; and in fifty days
arrived in Stow. Their names were William Wetmore, Capt.
Gregory Powers, Josiah Starr, Capt. Rice, Titus Wetmore and
John Campbell. William Wetmore immediately put up a log cabin
half a mile north of "Stow Corners," and the others settled in
different parts of the township. Previous to and during the
war of 1812, several other families followed them ; but as we
do not propose to give more than the history of Cuyahoga
Falls, we shall mention only such things and persons as were
connected with its settlement, as were some of those whom I
It may be interesting to the present inhabitants to know that
when the whites first came to Stow, the rattlesnakes were so
numerous that it was seriously questioned whether the settlers
would be able to remain But they finally determined upon a war
of extermination, and after five or six years of vigorous
effort they had so far reduced these enemies as to feel safe
in going about their work. There was a den in the ravine below
Gen. Gross' tavern, from which the snakes issued in great
numbers every spring. Here the men laid in wait for them, and
slew them by hundreds. On one Sunday while the people were all
at meeting, it was announced by the blacksmith's son that his
father had killed a great pile of them and all went to see the
sight and count the game, when it was found that he had slain
sixty-five large snakes.
In 1812 Messrs. Kelsey & Wilcox built a dam upon the
river at the place where the railroad bridge now crosses it.
Upon this they erected a flour mill, an oil mill and a saw
mill, which was the first in this vicinity. This led to the
erection of a number of houses at what we call the old
village. But it was found that the power was. much better at a
point lower down, and in 1825 Stow & Wetmore bought out the
mills and proceeded to make improvements at the new point.
In 1814 Henry Newbury, the son of Roger Newbury, came
to Ohio to see the lands which had been given him by his
father, who died the year before. He was so well pleased with
them that he resolved to make this his future home; but did
not remove here till 1824. He lived for two years upon the
farm at Silver Lake, known as the Thorndike farm, now owned by
Hiram Gaylord. During this time he was making improvements
upon his property here. He erected a log house for his workmen
upon the spot where Geo. Dyre's house stands, and cleared
about an acre between that and the river. This was the first
structure upon his part of the town. His own house was begun
for a store, and is the one now owned by Mrs. Clarkson; but he
bought the building, and finished it for a house. He removed
into it in 1826, and occupied it till the completion of the
stone house, which is now the residence of Mr. Jas. H. Cooke.
This was in 1840, and he made this his residence till his
death in 1854. Mrs. Newbury outlived him till November, 1858.
In 1822 Judge Richardson came from Stow and built the
house long known as the "Red House," which stands a little
north of the "Big Spring," on the west side of Main street.
This house was the first frame house erected south of the old
Judge Stow had reserved in the southwest corner of his
township two hundred and ten acres, which embraces the
northeast quarter of the village. Of this he sold an undivided
half to Wm. Wetmore, and they together began their improvement
of it in 1825. A cabin was put up upon the ground where the
brown house stands, north of the livery stable, directly west
of the dam. In April, 1825, William Wetmore, Jr., had gathered
thirty men from the surrounding country, who were set to work
to construct a dam where the upper dam now stands. This was
finished in June following. Here they erected a flour mill, a
saw mill and an oil mill. As this flooded the dam at the old
village, the mills there were taken down, and the glory of
that infant town departed; its interests being all removed to
the new locality. Mr. Wetmore, the father of Henry, Ogden,
William, Jr., and Edwin, who had to do with the subsequent
history of the town, died, after a long sickness, in 1827, and
was buried at Stow Corners.
In 1830 Stow & Wetmore built a paper mill upon the east
side of the river, where the remains of its foundations may be
seen from the stone bridge. This was called Stow & Wetmore's
mill. The first sheet of paper was run off on the 8th of
December of that year, which is also memorable as being the
day when our esteemed Mends, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Wetmore, were
married in Franklin, now Kent. This paper was the first which
was made by the process now in use in Ohio. There were several
small mills in other parts of the state, but they continued to
use the old method of making it by hand.
The first frame building put up on Stow & Wetmore' s
land was intended for a dwelling house and store. It was built
by William Wetmore, Jr., in 1826, and is now known as the
In 1828 the store now occupied by Giles L'Hommedieu was
built, and the goods removed into it, leaving the first to be
used for a dwelling only. It was not long before it became a
place of entertainment for strangers, and finally a regular
hotel. It was first kept by Benjamin F. Hopkins. He was
succeeded by E. B. Morgan, and he by Ira Loomis. It was known
as the American House. It has passed through several hands
since then, but has been little changed.
The same year Jabez Hamlin came, and built the house
next south of the big spring, and soon after the tannery now
owned by Mr. Kittleberger.
In 1829 Judge Richardson built a log house in the southeast
corner of what is now George Sackett's yard, and afterward the
third house south of Falls street, on Front street, in which
he spent the rest of his life, dying in 1836.
Not long after Jabez Hamlin, John Wells came, and built
the house now owned by the widow of the late John Tift. In
1829 John Rumrill came, as the foreman of Stow & Wetmore's
paper mill, and built the house near the depot, known as the
Rowland Clapp came from Vermont, and took up his
residence here in 1828, and has made it his home ever since.
Mr. E. N. Sill came in 1829, and in 1834 and 1835 built
the center part of his house, the wings having been added at a
later date. The builder was Mr. Lodge, who is still among us.
Mr. Grant B. Turner came with his father in 1828, soon
went to Ravenna, but returned in 1835, and has resided here
since that time.
Major C. W. and Mr. S. D. Wetmore came in 1832, and
built their houses soon after; John Eadie, George Daily and
Israel James, in 1830; and O. B. Beebe, in 1831.
During the time that these improvements were made by
Stow & Wetmore, Mr. Newbury was pushing his work in the lower
part of the town. What is now Turner, Parks & Co.'s dam was
built by him in 1825, and the next year he erected upon the
west side a saw mill, and on the east side an oil mill. The
oil mill was carried away by a flood in 1832, but a new mill
was immediately put up, and was used by E. N. Sill and Ogden
Wetmore as an oil mill. It was afterward sold to John Rumrill.
who resold it to Prentiss Dow, who converted it into a paper
mill, and ran it in company with Rumrill, under the firm of
Dow, Rumrill & Co. This partnership was closed after a time,
and the mill was run by P. & G. Dow. It was afterward closed
and the mill removed.
The first shop, upon the place where Turner,
Parks & Co.'s shops stand, was used by a man by the name of
Kelley, as a chair factory. Mr. Lawson also used it for the
same purpose for some time afterward. This was replaced by one
built by Vaughn, Hunt & Co., which was removed when the
present buildings were put up. When it came into the hands of
the present firm they made important changes, extending it
toward the river and building the foundry; and lately have
greatly enlarged it by the addition of the north part.
There was also a small woolen factory between the saw mill and
Turner, Parks & Co.'s shops, which was burned by spontaneous
combustion. A temporary building was afterward built upon the
same ground, for sawing stone, and all the facing stones in
Mr. ^"ewbury's house were sawed in it.
There was an oil mill which was run by Penfield & Starr,
adjoining the woolen factory at the time it was burned, which
was saved, but has not been replaced by any other, and has
gone to decay.
In 1834 a foundry and trip-hammer shop was built
by Mr. Yaughn on the south side of the stone bridge, where the
saw mill stands, but this was burned and never rebuilt.
Just south of this was a carriage shop, which was carried on
by Mr. Isaac Lewis. The building was afterward changed to a
paper mill, which was run by George E. Clarke, in company with
his nephew, Seymour, but like many others it has passed away.
In 1834 Ogden Wetmore and B. R. Manchester built a
foundry and machine shop near where the brick paper mill
stands. They ran the foundry for about two years, when
Manchester removed, and L. W. Butler took his place as partner
of Ogden Wet-more. In 1835 the machine shop was leased by
Messrs. Bill; who afterward purchased the property, and used
it till 1843, when it was consumed by fire.
In 1845 Messrs. Bill put up a brick building for a
foundry and machine ship, but in order to rent it to J. M.
Smith & Co. for a paper mill, they built a small shop on the
other side of the street for their own use. J. M. Smith &
Co.'s lease was for ten years, but before its expiration they
were succeeded by Harrison & Hanford, who purchased the
property, and added to it till it became what was known as the
Empire mill. This came into the hands of Hanford Bros., who
ran it until 1872, when it was destroyed by fire.
The Messrs. Bill took into co-partnership James
Chamberlain, and the shops were run for several years under
the firm name of Bill & Chamberlain. To accommodate their
increasing business they removed the shops first built, and
put up the large buildings which stood opposite to the Empire
mill. There were some changes in the proprietors from time to
time, but the shops were kept running till the fire of 1872,
when they were consumed with all their contents. Snyder &
Blood's planing mill now occupies its place; and the machine
shop, which had sent out so much good machinery, passed out of
Turner, Parks & Co.'s flour mill was first built for a
planing mill by Mr. Newbury, and was run by him in company
with Henry A. Sill, for which Messrs. Bill made the machinery.
It was soon after leased by Penfield & Starr, who changed it
into a paper mill; but getting involved in debt, it passed
into the hands of Henry Wetmore, who in company with a man
named Wright, ran it for a time. But it passed again into Mr.
Newbury's hands, who removed the paper machinery, and changed
it into a flour mill, for which purpose it is still occupied,
being the oldest mill upon the river.
Another paper mill was built and run by T. L. Miller on
the east side of the canal, not far from the large warehouse
east of the north pottery. This mill was run by steam. After
Miller's failure it was occupied by Caleb Howard, but fell
into decay, and was finally taken down.
A distillery is also among the unpleasant remembrances
of that vicinity. A part of the buildings connected with it
now furnishes shelter for the Taylor Wire Weaving Company,
which is among the most successful of our recent undertakings.
Yockey, Van Tine & Co. built a flour mill on the site
of the paper mill of the Cuyahoga Paper Company. It was run
as a flour mill for some years, but was purchased by J. M.
Smith & Co., and changed into a paper mill. Soon after the
change it was consumed by fire. Another mill was immediately
erected in its place, which was run by Harrison & Hanford
until it was again burned. Again it was rebuilt, and passed
into the hands of Hanford Bros. and used by them till 1875,
when it was bought by the present proprietors, and is now the
only establishment for the manufacture of paper in the town.
Among the old institutions of the town was the Cuyahoga
Falls Band, organized in 1834, and was the first of the kind
in northern Ohio. It was established upon temperance
principles, no one joining it who did not pledge himself to
refrain from the use of intoxicating liquors. Its leader was
Henry W. Bill, and it was composed of about a dozen members.
In 1835 they went to Cleveland to celebrate the 4th of July.
The Cleveland committee sent a packet boat to Old Portage to
convey them to the city, where they met the boat in wagons,
and returned in the same manner. They also played at the
celebration of the opening of the Ohio & Erie Canal. They also
made an excursion to Massillon, where they gave a concert to
the edification of that infant town, beside participating in
other patriotic and festive scenes. The band consisted of the
following members, viz: H. W. Bill, leader; E. N. Sill, C. W.
Wetmore, T. K,. Butler, C. Bronson, C. Wilcox, L. Wilcox, J.
H. Brainard, Mr. Sperry, R. Upson, H. Y. Beebe, C. Thornburg,
After the completion of the Ohio & Erie Canal, it was
thought indispensable to the prosperity of the country between
Lake Erie and Pittsburgh that there should be water
communication through the Western Reserve between Lake Erie
and the Ohio river. After much exertion it was carried
through. Leaving the Ohio & Erie Canal at Akron, it passed
through Cuyahoga Falls and entered the Cuyahoga river at
Franklin Mills. But its necessity had been greatly
over-estimated, and its tolls were never sufficient to pay
expenses and keep it in repair. It was found, also, that as
the country was cleared up, the volume of water in the river
was greatly reduced, so that in summer it was necessary to
suspend some of the works at Cuyahoga Falls for want of power,
on account of its being diverted from the river by the canal
at Franklin. At a later period the railroads which were laid
through the region, being more direct and expeditious,
rendered the canal unnessary, and measures were taken
to return the stream to its ancient bed. After much contention
with the mill owners at Akron, who were alone interested in
keeping it open, it was finally vacated, and the water
allowed to resume its old channel.
In 1852 the Cleveland & Pittsburgh railroad was
completed. Upon this event steps were taken to build a
railroad which should leave the Cleveland & Pittsburgh at
Hudson, and go south through Cuya-hoga Falls. It resulted in
what is now the Cleveland, Mount Vernon & Columbus railroad.
The road was opened to Akron before the close of the year, and
in two years was completed as far as Millersburgh. This gave
to Cuyahoga Falls a new means of transit, and has done much to
increase the prosperity and comfort of the people. The track
runs near the bank of the river through the whole town, from
north to south; and from its conspicuous position gives the
passengers an excellent view of the scenery, and of our
natural and artificial advantages. It is convenient to all the
shops, giving them access to to the road without expense for
numerous side tracks; and offers superior inducements to
manufacturers to invest their money where they have so many
advantages at so little expense for cartage, or individual
outlay, to accommodate their business.
The first mills erected by Stow & Wetmore upon the
upper dam have long since been replaced by others on the west
side by James' forge and rolling mill, saw mill, machine shop,
and flour mill, and on the east side by the rivet factory and
clay mill. The rivet factory was first used for a flouring
mill, sash, door and blind factory, but was changed to its
present use during the year 1875, and is continuing to
increase its capacity to meet its increasing business.
On the site of Camp, Cooke & Co.'s sewer pipe factory
Cyrus Prentiss, the brother-in-law of Henry Wetmore, built an
oil mill, which was used by Mr. Wetmore for making linseed oil
till 1863, when it gave place to the extensive works of the
present owners, and turns out a very large amount of
excellent pipe. They have also introduced the manufacture of
hollow brick and tile, of the same quality, which appears to
be excellent building material, and at an expense not greater
than those of more perishable materials and more uncomely
form. To show the extent to which this business has grown, the
fact may be mentioned that they are shipping at the rate of
two hundred and fifty car loads of pipe of the first class to
distant points annually, beside all that is sold at the yard,
and pipe of inferior quality.
Buildings were first erected upon the dam of what is
known as the Chuckery Company, in the south part of the town,
for making shovels, forks, etc., but the men undertaking it,
having little or no capital, soon came to grief. The buildings
were slight, and soon went to decay. They came at length into
the hands of John Hinde, who rebuilt them and employed them in
making rope and twine; but finally changed them into a mill
for making coarse bagging, and is carrying it on with great
enterprise and success.
On the east side of the river a tavern was built, in
1835, by C. Reid. It was called the Traveller's inn. It is now
kept by George Buoys.
A lard oil and candle factory was started, in 1842, by
George A. Stanley and Henry Holbrook, in the first building
north of the covered bridge on the west side; but they soon
went to Cleveland, where Mr. Stanley has since been engaged in
the same or kindred business.
Among the early enterprises undertaken which were
of short continuance, were a starch factory, by Birdsey Booth,
at the spring in the bank of the river below Mr. Hinde's mill.
Another, by G. & I. L'Hommedieu, near the depot, a sandpaper
and glue factory, east of the stone bridge, under the
management of a Mr. Smith; and a pump factory on the east
side, carried on by R. S. Williams.
The wire mill was put in operation in 1874, and bids
fair to be a permanent and successful enterprise. This led to
the Taylor Wire Weaving Co., which makes all kinds of wire
cloth and screens, and is working up to its full capacity, and
is considered an eminent success, which is shown by the
erection of their new building.
The manufacture of paper has always been one of the
leading industries of the town since the building of the first
mill by Stow & Wetmore in 1830, and is now pursued by the
Cuyahoga Paper Company, in two mills which are run night and
The growth and prosperity of the town has suffered very
seriously from a plan which was undertaken in early times to
divert the water power and use it elsewhere. Persons came and
bought separate portions of it, under profession of desiring
to use it on the spot; but when they had possessed themselves
of the whole of that which was in the lower part of the town,
they organized a company called the Portage Canal &
Manufacturing Company, popularly known as the ''Chuckery
Company." In 1843 they built a dam at the upper end of their
purchase, with a race beginning opposite to Hinde's mill,
which they carried at great expense to what is known as "Chuckery
Plains," where they planned for a city of immense proportions,
which they called Summit City. This was to have been one of
the largest manufacturing cities in the world. They succeeded
in getting the water through, but they got into quarrels among
themselves and the work was stopped. Lawsuits followed, and
after years of litigation the company broke up, and the scheme
was abandoned. Their dam and race went to decay, and now
nothing remains of their magnificent scheme but the ruins of
the race and the gloomy remembrances of its surviving
During these long years of litigation their water power
remained nearly useless; but about two years ago the courts
decided the questions at issue and closed up all their
affairs, and now the whole of this power is offered for sale,
presenting excellent opportunities for manufacturing upon a
This scheme, which was gotten up under false pretences,
has been a great injury to the town. When money was plenty,
and men were seeking opportunity for investment, the water
power was in a condition not to be disposed of or used ; and
since it has been in market the times have been adverse to any
such undertaking. But it is hoped that the financial condition
of the country will soon allow the occupation of the whole
power, and that this magnificent stream will be vocal with
the hum of busy wheels, where for many ages have been heard
only the song of the waters as they make their way down the
declivity, without usefulness except by the refining
influence of the beautiful scenery.
There are now in operation within the corporation one
foundry and rolling mill for railroad axles and hollow bolts,
two flour mills, two saw mills, a rivet factory and clay mill,
a wire factory, wire weaving works, a large foundry and
machine shop, a small machine shop and town clock factory, two
paper mills and another partly built, an extensive sewer pipe
factory, two potteries, a planing mill, tannery, and several
wagon, tin and other shops, besides the tow bagging mill of
John Hinde & Son, which latter employs about one hundred and
fifty hands. There is also a factory for making roofing tile
by improved machinery, which has been in operation a short
time by Camp & Babb, which turns out about three thousand per
day. They are admirable in all respects, and promise to be a
very great improvement upon previous methods of making, and it
is thought will supersede them. The machinery was invented by
Horace Camp, and is very simple and easy of management.
The depression of the iron trade which has been so
severe throughout the country, has seriously affected all
these industries; but while struggling under great
embarrassment, from the scarcity of money and the failure of
establishments at other points, nearly all have escaped the
fate of many of their contemporaries, and have avoided
suspension of business.
The services which led to the establishment of St.
John's church were began in a log cabin at Stow corners, in
1818, by Mrs. Josiah Wetmore, she reading the service, and her
husband the sermon. Her house was crowded with interested
worshippers, but after three years the family returned to the
east. The interest was continued and maintained by lay
reading, with an occasional visit from a clergyman, till 1830,
when the parish was organized. They met in school houses and
private houses till 1835, when the edifice was erected which
they now occupy. It was consecrated to the worship of God in
1836, by Bishop Mcllvaine, and remains as originally built,
except the change in the chancel made two years ago. It is the
oldest church in this part of the country, except the church
in Tallmadge, and has been changed much less than that.
The first rector of the church was the Rev. Wm. H.
Newman, who was succeeded respectively by Revs. Messrs.
Cushman, Blodsoe, Bonnar, Fairchild, Guion, Burger, Holden,
Bosley and Fairchild, the latter returning in 1872, and is the
The Methodist Episcopal church was
organized in 1829. Their church edifice was completed in 1840,
and was dedicated on the 31st of December of that year. It was
enlarged in 1864, and the church has prospered up to the
present time. It was embraced in what was called Twinsburgh
circuit. The first preacher who officiated here was Rev.
The Congregational church was organized in 1834. For
some time they met in school houses, but finally united with
the school district and a literary society, in the building
what was called "The Lyceum," which stood east of the
ground occupied by their present church edifice. It had an
audience room upon the upper floor, and school rooms in the
basement. This building was used by them till 1845, when steps
were taken to build the present edifice. This was finished the
following year, but has been enlarged and improved since, by
the addition of Sunday school room, study and parlor, after
the building of the church.
The lyceum was removed to the lot now owned by Austin
Babcock, and put upon the spot where his house now stands, but
was finally purchased by Mr. Hinde, and forms the south part
of his mill.
The pastors of the Congregational church have been
Revs. Messrs. Baldwin, Buyington, W. C. Clarke, Foster, Leeds,
Tomlinson, Rankin, Dr. T. S. Clarke, and Danner, the present
The school building which stands north of St. John's
church, was built by persons who seceded from the Methodist
Episcopal church, and organized under the name of "Wesleyans."
But they soon disbanded, and the building was sold to the
school directors for a high school. In 1872 the new high
school was ready for use, to which that school was
transferred, since which time this building has been used for
schools of lower grade.
The subject of education has always held a high place
in the estimation of the people. After the building of St.
John's church, a female seminary was kept in the school room
adjoining, by Miss Sarah Carpenter. She was succeded by
Miss Frances C. Barron, and she by Miss Eliza Deaver. The
public schools have been well sustained, and are now the pride
of the village.
One of the first efforts in the promotion of
education, was the organization and charter of an institution
called the Cuyahoga Falls institute, under the management of
Rev. Mr. Brooks and Charles Clark. The school was started and
kept in operation some time, but the hard times which came on
in 1837 made it necessary to abandon the project.
The people of Cuyahoga Falls were long remarkable for
their social qualities. They were from very different places,
and reared under different influences before emigration, and
being brought into contact upon settlement, there was a toning
down of many of the asperities which were peculiar to New
England manners and habits of thought, and the consequence
was that there was a friendliness which has never wholly
disappeared; and perhaps no town upon the Western Reserve was
more remarkable for its sociability and good fellowship than
this. Later years, and the coming in of new residents, have
changed this somewhat; but not to the gain of happiness, or
the pleasures of social life. The recollections of the older
inhabitants are always pleasant, as they go back over those
early days and the regret which they often express for the
change, shows how superior was the enjoyment of those early
associations, to the more restrained, though perhaps, politer
habits of the present. But it is not wholly the fault of the
present. In early times they were wholly dependant one on
another for their pleasures, and their cares were confined to
narrower bounds, and they were driven to find amusement in
each others company, for the want of any other resource, while
now the daily papers and pressure of business occupies the
It would be a very ungrateful return to those who gave
their lives to save their country in her hour of need if we
should omit to mention the readiness with which the young men
of the town enlisted in her army. A large number of men were
enlisted in several regiments and batteries, how many I have
not been able to ascertain; of these, twenty-nine now fill
soldiers' graves. The names of those who fell are as follows:
Captain D. N. Lowrey, Thomas Evans, J. D. Cooke, J. I.
Patterson, William Lyons, George L. Holden, David McArthur,
First Lieutenant John Eadie, Jr., Second Lieutenant J. C.
Ely, J. W. Eddy, Robert Gaylord. I. J. Wood, C. Neeley, A. K.
Goodrich, F. B. Purine, Robt. Green, Edward Green, John
Patterson, J. B. Lyon, Seneca Blood, John Congden, John
Shellhorn, Chas. E. Moon, G. G. Crane, J. Murphy, John C.
Schneible, H. F. Eddy, H. J. Ingalls and J. Hogle.
These names we cherish as a precious treasure, which we
will hand down to posterity, that they may give them the honor
they so justly deserve. To them and their associates we owe
the preservation of our country in its integrity, and we hold
ourselves responsible to their memories for its continuance to
The houses upon Front street, from the Perry House
north, on the west side, were nearly all built between 1825
and 1830; of those below that point, Henry Wetmore's was built
in 1835; Ogden Wetmore's, which came next, and now stands back
on Second street, in 1830; E. N. Sill's center part of house
in 1834-5 ; the wings were added many years afterward. Dr.
Rice's house in 1832; Mr. Holloway's in 1831, and Israel
James' about the same time.
It may also be proper to say that Mr. Holloway was the
first resident preacher of the gospel in the town, and still
remains to enjoy the respect of his townsmen for a well spent
and useful life.
The first store of goods ever opened here was by Stow &
Wetmore, in 1825; and in 1829 a small store was brought by
Co^. Stanley, and opened on the corner of Water and Broad
streets, north of the covered bridge.
The first birth in the town was Edward, son of William
Wetmore, Jr., who now resides in Northampton ; this was in
The first death was a son of the same family, in 1826.
The first adult who died here was the first wife of Mr. E. N.
Sill, and daughter of Henry Newberry.
The first marriage is believed to have been the
daughter of Deacon Hamlin to Washington Butler.
The first Post Master was Henry Newberry, who held the
office till he was led to resign it through the pressure of
his other business.
The first Trustees of the village were Henry Newberry,
Horace A. Miller, and P. G. Somers. The first Clerk Grant B.
Turner. The first Justices of the Peace C. W. Wetmore, and
The first Bank in the County was the Summit County
Bank, organized under the State Banking law, and was in
It was customary in early times, in this as well as
other places to make free use of whisky on all occasions. It
was thought to be almost as necessary as bread for all
laborers. Stow and Wetmore furnished a barrel a week to their
workmen as their stated supply; and kept it upon their counter
at the store for the use of all who chose it, and few refused
it. But they were convinced that it was unnecessary and
hurtful, and after mature deliberation they resolved to banish
its use and sale from their establishment. In May 1828, they
put their resolution into practice, by refusing to furnish it
to their workmen. Upon this the men withdrew in a body to
consult upon the course they should pursue. They soon returned
and demanded their accustomed supply. Upon the repetition of
the refusal, they left the work and demanded their pay.
About one third of the men came back on the new terms; but the
rest held out, and it was about two months before their places
were filled by new men, and they could go on with their work;
but the firm adhered to their purpose, and never returned to
the use or sale of it again.
A temperance society was organized at the time, which
is believed to be the first in Ohio. It numbered at first but
nine members; but Judge Stow offered a lot in his township to
the town authorities for public benefit, if a majority of the
people would join the society, whereupon sixty-five persons in
Stow township became members.
There were at this time four distilleries in the township, but
in less than two years they were all closed.
After the great revulsion in money matters, in 1837,
there was great embarrassment for want of a currency, which
led to the adoption of a plan for issuing notes, upon the
basis of real estate for security. But it was soon abandoned
as a failure, causing loss to some, but without very serious
injury to many persons. Some of these notes are preserved by a
few persons as curiosities and mementoes of the past.
In 1832 a Mutual Insurance Company was organized, under the
name of the "Portage Mutual," and did business for over twenty
years. This was undoubtedly a very useful institution in its
day; but stock companies became popular, and this company
withdrew and closed up its affairs.
The town has been visited by several distructive
fires. In 1833 a warehouse of Stow & Wetmore's, filled with
paper stock, was burned; and 1851 the flour mill on the east
side of their dam was burned by an incendiary. In 1866 the
stone building known as the Bank building, which stood upon
the site of James' block, and occupied by H. C. Lockwood, with
several adjoining buildings were consumed. At this fire John
Marsh Hinde lost his life.
The woolen mill on the west side of the river, as we
have before noticed, was burned ; also the paper mill on the
same side twice.
Messrs. Bill's machine shop and foundry, and the Empire
Paper Mill, belonging to Hanford Brothers, were consumed in
Several residences have been burned at different times,
but they were not of great value. From the earliest times the
town has been exceedingly fortunate as to its dwellings in
regard to fires, and have enjoyed singular exemption from loss
by that means.
Thus I have given you a brief account of the different
steps in our progress to our present state of prosperity. It
has furnished us with churches which are every way suitable to
the wants of a community, and school houses which are second
to none in comfort and convenience; and manufactures which are
the life and source of our prosperity.
There is still room for others to come in and use the
means which nature has furnished ; and no doubt there would be
an increase of manufactures if proper means were used to bring
these advantages to the knowledge of men of capital, who
have-money to invest and are seeking for profitable employment
It is desirable that the water power should be all
employed, and there would be a large increase of manufactures
of every kind, if it was known what advantages in that
direction are here unemployed, and it would bring a large
addition to our population, and cause a great increase in the
value of our real estate.
As we stand at this point and look back upon the
privations and labors which our predecessors have gone
through, and see how many comforts and advantages we have
inherited, we can hardly realize how short the time is since
the work was first begun. Those early laborers, so far
as we know, have all passed away but one. Henry Wetmore we
believe to be the only man who was here at the beginning. He
has seen every step of the progress, from the first emigration
to the present time, and has been an active participant in all
these changes, since the day he broke through the thickets and
marked the place where the first work should be done. But he
can look back upon it all with honest pride and feel that he
has left a record without a blot; and that however things have
resulted from subsequent action, those early steps were all
honorably taken, and that none of those nefarious schemes for
individual wealth, which have been so often seen in early
settlements, were undertaken here.
Instead of the comfortable and commodious churches
which we occupy, those who came first were obliged to meet in
school houses and other inconvenient places, and the services
in which they joined were irregular and unfrequent,
The school houses were of the humblest kind, with slabs
for seats and puncheons for floors; and the hill of science
which was set before them to climb was not by any means
elevated. But now we see the noblest building in every town to
be the school house, and the best salaries paid for any
service, those of the teachers in our public schools. The
course of instruction adopted in them is so elevated, that it
is but a step from the high school to the college classes.
Libraries and apparatus are furnished, and all cheerfully paid
for by a tax upon the people.
That there has been a great gain in these respects,
there can be no dispute; and we trust that those to whom they
have been committed will be faithful to the duty which their
possession imposes, and that no influence will be allowed to
detract from their efficient use, or the power they ought to
have in maintaining our institutions.
To these boys and girls who will soon take our places
in the responsibilities of the nation, we commit these sacred
treasures which have been purchased at such a cost of labor
and money; and we cannot doubt that if they are faithful to
the principles which animated our fathers, that these
institutions will be perpetuated to the end of time. It is
only in subordination to the principles which God has made
known to us that we can hope to see them preserved; and it is
the influence which they have maintained that has kept the
nation these hundred years, and brought us such prosperity;
and in them is our hope for the future.
It was not the number of our soldiers, nor the wealth
of the people that carried us through the struggle, and
enabled our forefathers to resist successfully the oppressions
of the mother country, and established themselves as a free
government; but it was the righteousness of their cause, and
the soundness of the principles for which they contended. It
must be the same influences and causes which will prevent such
disorganization as shall be fatal to our national existence.
There must be elected to our offices men of
incorruptible integrity, who will be seduced by no personal
considerations, from the faithful administration of justice;
and to have such rulers we must have a people who are too
firmly grounded in the principles of morality and religion to
allow themselves to be induced to put any man into power who
is not of tried integrity.
Here then is our country's hope, in the youth which are
being trained in moral and religious principles, and taught
the obligations which lie upon us, to do to all men as we
would have them do to us. To do this we must know our duty and
be ready to make the sacrifices which are necessary to carry
them into practice; and it is only in the inculcation of the
principles of the Christian religion that these can be made to
have their influence upon the mass of the people, and guide
them into such paths as shall make this nation the model for
the world's imitation, and a refuge for the oppressed of every
One hundred years ago and our ancesters were
battling with a powerful nation against the wrongs which were
heaped upon them in the weak condition of colonists, and whose
strength was all needed to wring a subsistence from a soil
burdened with gigantic forests; but their characters had been
formed under the hardships they had endured, and the broad
land where they had sought refuge had inspired them with
feelings which could not brook the imposition of burdens by
those who were living in luxury upon the money they extorted
from them by unjust taxes upon the necessaries of life. They
were few in number, but they were strong in their sense of
justice; and after repeated protests against the oppression,
they rose to resist it. Feeble as they were, the good hand of
God was with them, and after much privation and suffering they
attained their purpose, and were acknowledged by the whole
world as an independent nation.
The principles which led to this result have led to all
we see at the close of one hundred years; and we have the
assurance from this experience, that the way to perpetuate
these blessings, is to continue to practice the same virtues
which made our fathers what they were. This will make us a
strong, united and happy people. But if selfishness,
dishonesty and political corruption too often affect the
counsels of our rulers, and we introduce an element into our
body politic, which will result in our destruction, and we
shall be numbered among those who have abused their
privileges, and so have gone down to dishonor and political
It ought to be the wish and effort of every patriot,
who inherits the results of all these struggles and hardships,
to make the beginning of a new century the time for a new
dedication of himself to the promotion of such principles as
shall make them the means of still greater benefits. He should
rid himself of all connection with those who seek political
power for party ends, and deter mice that he will be
accessary to the elevation of no man to power, who seeks
it for other than patriotic ends. Recent events have given us
warning of the existence of such men in many departments of
government, as make their place a means of dishonest gain; and
it is our duty to see to it that their example shall not be
followed in time to come; but put at the head of this
government a man who shall be above the suspicion of
dishonesty, and whose record in the past is without a blot.
Such a man will not put any man into a place of
responsibility, whose character for honesty is not known, and
he will be as blind to all personal considerations as Justice