English - New England Settlers

Neighborhoods They Settled In:  Ohio City, Tremont, Downtown, Glenville, Union

Most of the early English who came to Cleveland came from the New England states, however, there were those who came directly from England as well.  A few of the notable settlers in Cleveland from New England were:



James Kingsbury was born in 1757 and was the first settler in the Western Reserve when he arrived in Conneaut, Ohio at the age of 29.  He was born in 1857, the son of Absalom and Martha Kingsbury.  He came from Alsted, New Hampshire with his wife Eunice and three children.  In 1797, he and his family came with the surveyors from the Connecticut Land Company and moved to Cleveland, living in a log cabin near the Cuyahoga River.  He began the Newburgh settlement when he later moved to higher ground to a high area southeast of Cleveland  to avoid the swamps.  James and Eunice Kingsbury were the parents of the first white child born in the Connecticut Western Reserve.  This child didn't survive for long, because James Kingsbury had left his wife to obtain supplies.  Eunice Kingsbury became ill, their cow died, and the child had no milk to drink.  In 1803, James Kingsbury was elected to serve as township trustee, overseer of the poor and supervisor of the highways.  He was elected as a member of the legislature for the State of Ohio in 1805.  In all, James and Eunice Kingsbury had 12 children.  James Kingsbury died in Newburgh just five days after his wife passed away and they are buried in Erie Street Cemetery.



When Connecticut created the Western Reserve, they did so in order to obtain money for a school investment fund for the schools in Connecticut.  James Hillshouse was the man that Connecticut sent to start collecting the money from the settlers to be used for Connecticut's school investment fund.  By 1820 the population in Cleveland had grown to over 600 people.  Times were har because little money was coming in to Cleveland.  But, Connecticut wanted to start collecting the money for its school investment fund.  Hillshouse arrived and found the people living in cabins with little food and in worn out clothing, in a state of poverty.  The roads were horrible and many of the cabins had no fireplaces.  Hillshouse realized that he couldn't collect money from these people.  He studied the cause of the problem and learned that the original settlers had not viewed the land that they purchased before purchasing it.  The winter of 1816-1817 was brutal and food prices rose due to crop failures.  The settlers who came to Cleveland were not trained for life in this wilderness.  Hillshouse decided that he would work with the people individually and showed them how they could make their land pay.  He suggested businesses that they could start.  He also shuffled people around to land that was suitable for what they knew how to do.  For instances, there were businessmen who were living on farmland and farmers who were living on land that was not suitable to farming.  Hillshouse did this work for 15 years until he collected all of the money due to Connecticut for the school investment fund and therefore was the man who helped Cleveland run in a more efficient manner and grow.  Some of the leaders realized that things would not continue to improve unless there was a way to get the settlers' good to market in the East and South.  This is when Alfred Kelley stepped in in order to fight to have the canal come through Cleveland.  (Early Settlers of Cleveland by William Ellis.)



Alfred Kelley arrived from New York in 1810.  He became the first attorney in Cleveland.  When Lorenzo Carter died in 1814, Kelley took his place as the important man in Cleveland.   Kelley was instrumental in having the Ohio Legislature charter the settlement as the incorporated village of Cleveland on December 23, 1814.  Alfred Kelley was elected president.  In the incorporation, Cleveland extended from Erie Street (E. 9th) to the River and from Huron Street to the Lake.  Kelley was important to the growth of Cleveland later when he was instrumental in having Cleveland designated as the northern terminus of the Ohio and Erie Canal.  New wharves were built, buildings and inns were filled, and there were housing shortages.  Kelley was also instrumental in getting the railroads going.  He was the president of the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad.  He built the railroads and they went into operation in 1851.  ("Early Settlers of Cleveland" by William Donohue Ellis, 1976).  Datus Kelley arrived in 1811 and had a farm a mile west of the Rocky River on the lake.  He was the westernmost settler with no neighbors.  On the east side, Nathan Chapman (at present E. 55th) had no neighbors between himself and Public Square.  ("Cleveland:  The Best Kept Secret" by G.E. Condon, 1967).

In 1824, Public Square held a log court house and the square was filled with tree stumps.  The original purpose of Public Square was for grazing cattle.  The eastern border of the public square was a native forest.  At this time, everyone knew that they had to find a way to get the settlers' surplus to a market.  It was at this time that Alfred Kelley fought to have the canal come to Cleveland.  Ground was broken on July 4, 1825 in Newark, Ohio, and the digging moved northward.  Kelley had digging start at Cleveland, moving towards Akron so that people could not protest the Cleveland terminus location.  On July 4, 1827, canal boats floated into Cleveland from Akron and Bath.  This was truly the turning point for Cleveland.  ("Early Settlers of Cleveland" by William Ellis).  

The canal terminated at the Cuyahoga River a half mile south of the mouth of the river. Ships could not enter the mouth of the river because the sandbar clogged the mouth of the river.  A new straight mouth to the river was necessary.  A Federal grant was obtained to straighten the mouth of the river.  During the dry season, the river was dammed at the last bend.  The straight mouth was outlined and when the rains came, the flow slammed against the dam and the water tore into the land and created a channel to the lake.  From that point on, ships from Buffalo and Detroit could dock and take on cargo from the canal boats.  A row of warehouses grew at this point and money started flowing into Cleveland.  The frontier period was over, and Lorenzo Carter's lands became located on the west side of the river.  ("Cleveland:  The Best Kept Secret" by G.E. Condon, 1967).

Alfred Kelley died December 2, 1859.   By that time, few of the cabins that were originally in the flats still existed.  The city moved up and out of the valley and Cleveland was beginning to live on the high bluff, abandoning the valley to commerce and industry.   The flats had begun with the Connecticut settlers, later added to by the Irish during the canal era.  The Irish lived on what was called Irishtown Bend along Franklin Avenue.  It snaked down into the valley right down to the river, intersecting with Columbus Road.  Various pictures exist showing the Irish shanties on the steep embankment below Franklin Avenue.  The exodus of people living in houses in the valley actually began as early as 1833.  In the Early History of Cleveland, Ohio, by Charles Whittlesey, there are pictures showing many houses up on Public Square, thus indicating that the hearty souls stayed in the valley, replaced by the Irish later, and that the more refined New Englanders settled up near Public Square early on. By the time Alfred Kelley died in 1859, the flats were more industrial based.  The Irish began moving up and out of the valley in the 1830's, onto Detroit, and finally in the 1850's, they were doing very well and moving up and onward.



Joel Scranton was born April 5, 1793 in Belchertown, Massachusetts, the second child of Stephen and Asenath Wright-Scranton. Steven Scranton was a steel and iron worker and built works in Otsego County, New York, for the manufacture of cut nails.  His businesses were destroyed by fire time and again.  The last fire caused him to give up and he moved his family west, settling in Brighton, Lorain County.  Because of his father's misfortunes, Joel Scranton realized that he had to strike out on his own.  He arrived in Cleveland at the age of 26, in 1819 with a boatload of leather.  At the time of his arrival, there were about 150 people living in Cleveland.  He was primarily a leather merchant in the early 1820's, but opened a store in 1827 selling leather, dry goods, groceries, and crockery.  By 1833 he had sold this store and used the profits to purchase a farm of many acres on the west side of the river, known as Scranton Flats (Scranton Road).   He built a large brick building there and this is where he lived and died. In the 1840s and 1850s this area became a business and sporting center.  Located there were railroads, circuses, and shooting contests.   

Here is a description of him from Robison's history:

“On the sloping and thickly wooded banks of the river were scattered the cabins of the villagers.  But, the fields were green, the sheep and cattle which grazed on the banks and drank from the clear waters of the Cuyahoga were sleek and fat, and young Scranton, with no less than a prophetic vision caught a glimpse of the possibilities.  He purchased a farm on the river bluffs and enjoyed the rural pursuits of his fields.  It was a quiet scene then, with waving verdure on the hillsides and an occasional farmhouse in the midst of the woods – and grazing sheep and lowing cattle.  Mr. Scranton lived to see all of this give way to the greatness of the present.  He planned for the future and lived to share in the rewards of his own discernment.  He took a leading place among the people of the village.  He had a rich and plentiful fund of humor, and yet was independent in thought and action.  His opinions were his convictions.  He was cool, even calculating and shrewd, yet his heart was kindly and his deeds generous.  He judged the future of the village and judged wisely.  He knew how, when and where to buy, when to sell and when to hold.  He became a wealthy man.  On June 27, 1828, he was married to Miss Irene P. Hickox, the former preceptress of a ladies’ seminary, and a lady of unusual cultivation, refinement, and Christian piety. Joel Scranton died on the ninth day of April, 1858, at the age of 65.  He had become one of the venerated citizens of the then great city.  Heavily built, a noble head, keen eye, a face suggestive of great reserve force, he was stricken down in his health by apoplexy and died in the midst of life’s prosperity.”

Here is another description of his land:  "The old home and orchard at the foot of the hill, the boat swinging by a chain to a ring in its nose at the shore, the horses and kine pasturing upon the green meadows of the Cuyahoga, the woods that crowned the heights, the humble dwellings struggling up the bluffs as if trying to scale them."  "The flocks of sheep grazing in the pasture have been succeeded by the white fleeces of the busy steam, and the rasp of scythes by the roar of a thousand wheels."  Mr. Scranton sometimes complained whimsically that his big farm and other extensive holdings kept him "land poor." Taxes and improvements yearly growing heavier and currency scarcer.  A Mr. Averill living in the east was his partner in real-estate holdings. "Scranton & Averill," as the firm was known, ceased at Mr. Scranton's death. Mr. Averill came on to Cleveland occasionally, but took no active part in the business. A son and three daughters inherited the latter's interest in the firm, and until very recently, if not yet, the heirs have drawn yearly upon the Cleveland estate.

His obituary dated April 10, 1858 reads:  Scranton- Last evening, April 9th, of Apoplexy Joel Scranton, aged 63 years. The funeral will be attended from the 2d Pres. Church, tomorrow afternoon at 4. p. m.

Information from:  ("Pioneer Families of Cleveland 1796-1840" by Gertrude van Renssaelaer Wickham, 1896 and "History of the City of Cleveland:  Its Settlement, Rise and Progress" by W. Scott Robison, 1887)



Amzi Atwater was born May 23, 1776 in New Haven, Connecticut.  He attended school for a short time and worked as a hired hand to help his family.  He was living with his uncle, the Rev. Noah Atwater, in Westfield, Massachusetts, and it is here that he learned surveying.  He became part of the General Moses Cleaveland surveying party in June of 1796 and came west to survey the Western Reserve.  Atwater and others demanded higher wages from Moses Cleaveland, but Cleaveland instead offered them a township of land in the Western Reserve.  As the men began their surveying, they found that the land was very suitable for farming.  The original surveying party left the Western Reserve in October of 1796.  Atwater returned with another group in the spring of 1797.  Atwater's original land was located in Euclid, but he found it to be poor land and in 1800 he purchased land in Mantua, (Portage County), Ohio where he remained until he died.



Job Phelps Stiles was born ca. 1769 in Granville, Massachusetts.  He and his wife, Tabitha, were also part of the group that came with the Moses Cleaveland surveying party in 1796.  The surveying party built a cabin in the fall of 1796 for Stiles at the corner of what is today Superior and W. 3rd St.  When the surveying party left, Job and Tabitha remained in Cleveland in charge of the supplies.  Thus, they became the first settlers of Cleveland.  They were the parents of the first white child born in Cleveland and remained in the cabin until 1798 when they moved to Newburgh to escape the mosquito infested swamps of Cleveland.  They eventually returned to Vermont where they died.



Richard Lord was born August 13, 1780 in Connecticut.  He was one of the earliest property owners in the Western Reserve.  Along with his brother-in-law, Josiah Barber, Lord developed land on the western border of the Cuyahoga River in Brooklyn Township.  Richard Lord and his brother, Samuel Lord, settled permanently in the area in 1818.  He had a huge farm which included much of the lakeshore to what is now W. 117th Street.  In 1834 he became one of the three main stockholders in the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Co.  In 1840 he and Josiah Barber donated land for a public squire at the corner of Pearl and Lorain Streets.  This is the site of the West Side Market today.  Later, Richard Lord became Mayor of Ohio City in 1843.



Josiah Barber was born in 1771.  As mentioned above, he, along with his brother-in-law, Richard Lord, became developers on the west side of Cleveland.  They received their land in 1809 in the last division of the Western Reserve and began the surveying process and selling of land to settlers in Brooklyn through the Lord & Barber Realty Co.  Barber’s log house was located at Pearl Road and Franklin Blvd.  Barber also operated a store at Pearl and Lorain Avenue.  Like Richard Lord, Josiah Barber was also a main stockholder in the Cuyahoga Steam Furnace Co.  Barber became a circuit judge in 1834 and then became the first elected Mayor of Ohio City.  He helped incorporate Trinity Church in downtown Cleveland and St. John’s Church at W. 26th and Church St.