First Settlers Come to Dover

“On October 10, 1810, Joseph Cahoon with his wife Lydia Kenyon Cahoon and their sons Joel, Daniel, and Benjamin and daughters Abigail and Rebecca came with a covered wagon drawn by four horses, to settle upon Lot 95, Dover Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.” – History of the Cahoon Family, by Ida Cahoon
The Cahoon party left from Vergennes, Vermont in August of 1810, two months before their arrival in what would become Dover Township (and still later, Bay Village). Along with the group mentioned in the above quote, another daughter by the name of Mary left with the party on that day. She and her husband, George Sexton left the company east of Cleveland at the home of Judge Kingsbury. There they stayed for a time before removing to Ridgeville of Lorain County. Another son was also present. His name was Amos, and he left at Newburgh in the company of a Mr. W W Williams, a miller whose daughter he married.
It took all of four days to erect the family’s cabin in the woods. It was built on land which is now the Bay Boat Club and only lasted 8 years before a proper frame house was constructed. A replica was built by the Boy Scouts using only hand tools in 1976 in the valley of Cahoon Memorial Park. Joseph Cahoon was a miller, and having chosen his land carefully to include a stream, was able to construct the first grist mill west of the Cuyahoga River in 1813.
The Cahoons were not the only people to arrive in Dover that day (actually at that time it was still known as Township 7, Range 15.). Another group arrived from Connecticut including Asahel and Rebecca Porter and their family along with Leverette Johnson and Rueben Osborn. They were a few hours later than the Cahoon party getting in around around dusk, while the Cahoons had been there since noon. The Porters took up residence on lot 94.
Rueben Osborn, after arriving in Dover, left and returned to New York to gather supplies and family for the new settlement. He made it back in time to build the first frame house in the township in 1814. Originally located on Lake Road it has since been moved to Rose Hill. Leverette Johnson, who was the nephew of Asahel Porter, was one of the two participants in the first marriage in Dover when he wed Abigail Cahoon in the Cahoon cabin in 1814. He then removed south, and would become the first inhabitant of what would become Westlake. The Porter clan could claim the miracle of the first white child born in the area when Angelina Porter was born in 1813. But they were also saddled with the tragedy of the first burial in Dover, when Rebecca and son Dennis along with one George Smith were killed when a storm capsized their boat crossing the Rocky River in 1814.
Soon afterwards, the area began to fill with familiar names. Moses Hall’s descendants arrived later in 1811 as did Noah Crocker; and the Cooleys came in 1815. And then in quick succession came John Smith, Asa Blood, a couple more Porters, Jesse Lilly, Amos Sperry, Jason Bradley, John Wolf, Asher Coe and many more. Many of these folks would eventually leave their names to the roads and streets and landmarks that still exist in Westlake today.
In the book “A History of Westlake, Ohio”, William D. Ellis remarks how the land agents back in Connecticut didn’t mention “the oak timber that was five feet thick at the stump level and racked an axeman’s shoulder muscle loose from the bone. And barely mentioning the fact that a tall angry “red man”, name of Tecumseh was very unhappy with the new neighbors and was explaining his own ideas on zoning laws to tribes up and down the Ohio border.” I suppose we should be thankful they didn’t. I would think that hostile natives and thick unyielding woods would have been quite the deterrent to settled and civilized middle class inhabitants of the metropolitan east. I really don’t know how they did it.
Information for this article was taken from: “A History of the Cahoon Family” by Ida Cahoon, “A History of Westlake, Ohio” by William D. Ellis et al, “You’ve Come a Long Way Westlake…” by William Robishaw, “A History and Civics of Dover Village” by Hazel Rutherford and Reign Hadsell, and the Bay Village Bicentennial Timeline section of the Westlake/Bay Village Observer, “Bay Village Bicentennial Issue”.

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