Early Settlers

East Cleveland Township 1796 to 1847

Source: William R. Coates, A History of Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland, The American Historical Society, Chicago and New York, 1924.

Bratenahl, Ohio Map
Map of East Cleveland

Moses Cleaveland, acting as an agent of the Connecticut Land Company, was asked to survey the Western Reserve Land. Seth Pease, who headed the survey, plotted out 19 townships in 1796. What is now Bratenahl, was part of the East Cleveland Township, known originally as Township 8 in Range 12 of the Western Reserve.

The first white resident was Timothy Doan, a Connecticut sea captain, who was forty-three years old when he brought his family to Cleaveland in 1801. He left them there while he built a log cabin and made a small clearing on his farm. In the fall, he moved his family into the new house. His nearest neighbor was brother, Nathaniel, at Doan's Corners.

The second actual settler was Asa Dille. He came in March 1804, put up his log cabin, cleared and planted, and raised a large family.

Scottish immigrants partially founded East Cleveland. Some of the names are still found, such as Shaw, McIlrath, and Eddy.

John Shaw was the third actual settler. He, along with his wife Mary Polly, began work on his property. Shaw was unfamiliar with the pioneer life, but mastered the situation, cleared a farm and made it productive.

Thomas McIlrath brought his family in the fall of 1804 and cleared his land. Soon after, Benjamin Jones, a relative of McIlrath, settled southeast from them near the Asa Dille farm. Then there were five families in the territory,

Caleb and Nancy Eddy settled in the southern part of the township alongside a stream which they named Dugway Brook.

Abraham Norris came and began work on his farm. Their nearest neighbor, David Hendershot, was two miles away. Only Timothy Doan had food sufficient to last through the winter. The others depended principally on hunting, both to obtain meat for the family and skins and furs to barter for articles of household and farm necessities. Raccoon skins were frequently gathered and used as legal tender.

The next year, John Ruple settled on the line between East Cleveland Township and Euclid Township, as these townships were later related. He, too, was a noted hunter and was credited with killing the first panther slain by a white man. He raised a large family and lived out his life, a long one, on the old farm.

In 1806, Samuel Ruple settled in Nine Mile Creek in the eastern part of the territory.

People went to Doan's Corners on Sundays, where Squire Nathaniel Doan would read a sermon. The family would make the trip with oxen because a horse and buggy could not manage the roads. Mr. Norris would walk beside his horse on which his wife was riding with one child riding in front and another behind.

Provisions were challenging to obtain for the early settlers. There were only two or three gristmills within ten miles of the Norris home, and they were inferior flouring establishments, often out of repair. John Shaw, at one time, took his oxen and cart loaded with grist for every family in the township, driving eighty miles to Erie, Pennsylvania, to have grinding done.

In 1809, Caleb Eddy built a gristmill, the first in the township. The first tavern keeper in the area was David Bunnel, who opened his tavern before the war of 1812.

The War of 1812 created a great deal of anxiety among the settlers, but they remained intent on clearing the land. However, all recognized the vital importance of the conflict. With various tales of battles and the murderous exploits of the native population, the residents left their homes but later returned to continue clearing and planting as before.

Later, the pioneers heard dull thunder from the northwest. "That's Perry," went from mouth to mouth, and twenty or thirty men raced to the lake, hoping to catch a view of the conflict. They looked in the direction of the sound, but the fight was seventy-five miles away, and they could only realize that a battle was on. Hour after hour, they listened. After a while, the shots died out, and all was still. The anxious listeners returned to their home to pass a restless, sleepless night. The next morning, a rider brought the news that Perry had won and that invasion need no longer be feared.

After the war, Enoch Murray started a store, and David Crocker a tannery. It became a small trade center and was variously called Collamer, Nine Mile Creek, and Euclid. Settlers arrived in high numbers.

In 1817, the little settlement buit a frame church on the site of an old log one. The members could boast that there was not another one like it in the county.

Taverns appeared along the main roads. Benjamin S. Welch kept one at Nine Mile Creek and Enoch Meeker, one farther west and Seth Doan another.

By 1825 the character of the township was rapidly changing. Frame homes had replaced half of the log houses. In the north part, every lot had a settler. In the south part, there were a few frame houses, somewhat scattered, and quite a widespread wilderness yet remained.

Cleveland began to be a real growing city and spread out over the outlying territory. The June 1847 session of the county commissioners formed the Township of East Cleveland. The first officers of the township were: Theron Woodworth, Ahimaz Sherwin, and Samuel Erwin trustees; Ansel Young clerk; Joel Jones treasurer; and Freeman Whitman assessor. N. Pittsbury was appointed to replace Joel Jones who declined to serve