MapOur beginnings—

    Soon after the hostilities of the War of 1812 ended in northern Ohio, settlers from New England and New York began to take up farmland in what would become Sheffield Township. Originally known simply as Township 7 of Range 17 of the Western Reserve, in 1815 Militia Captains Jabez Burrell and John Day from Sheffield, Massachusetts, purchased the township, encouraged friends to join them, and began to clear land for their farms. 

    Harrowing stories of the pioneer families as they trekked through the wilderness to create our communities are filled with determination, perseverance, and a willingness to overcome natures many obstacles. By 1824, when Lorain County was formed and the township was officially recognized as Sheffield, 44 families occupied farms on the land bordering the Black River and French Creek valleys. 

    Eager settlers were attracted to the fertile land, as Sheffield’s first century moved on. The dense forests were cleared and swamps were drained, fields of wheat, rows of corn, and lush pastures replaced them. Sawmills, gristmills, churches, and schools were built and lake schooners were launched along the river. Men like Robbins Burrell and Captain Aaron Root joined the abolitionist movement, hiding runaway slaves at their homesteads and carrying them to freedom in Canada. Others, like Henry Garfield, sought adventure in the gold and silver fields of the West, some returning with fantastic tales of their exploits. 

    Fleeing instability in Europe brought a new wave of settlers to Sheffield in the mid-1800s. Bavarian families purchased tracts of land here and established orchards and vineyards. They created St. Teresa church and parish, which continues to flourish today. As the nation divided over the issue of slavery, men from Sheffield, like George Smith who served in both the Army and Navy, fought in the Civil War—26 of their graves are in Sheffield Village. Our women maintained the homesteads while their men served and some, like Maria Root, devoted a year at the Confederate’s Andersonville Prison rehabilitating imprisoned Union soldiers that were too weak to return home.

One Sheffield became three—
    From the beginning, the Black River was an important transportation corridor and source of waterpower for early mills, but it also formed a natural barrier that separated Sheffield into east and west halves. A ford across the river near present day 31st Street was the only way to cross until the 1880s when narrow, steel-frame bridges were built there and at North Ridge [now Rt 254]—both necessitating steep climbs up the 100-foot high shale bluffs. 

    In 1894, Tom Johnson purchased a large land holding—about 25% of Sheffield Township—on the west side of the river to construct his state-of-the-art steel mill and housing for mill workers. Part of the arrangement to build the plant on the Black River included annexation of the mill property by the City of Lorain. At about the same time, the lakeshore east of the river was becoming a popular summer cottage community, many of which were later converted to year-round dwellings as economic conditions took a downturn in the 1920s. 

    Eventually these factors resulted in the Township being divided at the river. The residents on the east side formed the Village of Sheffield Lake in 1920 and those on the west side remained in the Township. Likewise, in 1934 the farmers in the southern part of the new Village recognized they had little in common with the lakeshore cottage community and a second split took place as they formed the Village of Sheffield. By 1960 the population of Sheffield Lake exceeded 5,000, establishing it as a City. 

Sheffield Bicentennial Commission—
    Later, as decades passed, the three Sheffields evolved into residential/commercial communities comprised of numerous subdivisions—thus, many of the past differences have diminished. Now, all three—Sheffield Township, Sheffield Lake, and Sheffield Village—are coming together to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of our founding.
    During the spring and summer of 2013, each of the three communities passed ordinances and a resolution establishing the Sheffield Bicentennial Commission and appointed representative commissioners to lead the celebration of our founding throughout the year of 2015. The charge to the Commission is to memorialize the common founding of our three communities and the accomplishments of those who have resided here and endeavored to make our communities a enjoyable place to live. Thus, the goal of the Bicentennial Commission is to promote and preserve our shared cultural heritage and to build upon this bond as we move forward to a prosperous future.