Ponder this question for a few moments with me my fellow residents of Northeastern Ohio…then have a little fun and say “from the Western Reserve of Ohio.” I can slap guarantee the questioner will do a little head twist similar to a Beagle when you hold the dog biscuit just out of reach and begin to speak with a little more clarity and volume. I mean really, if you’re from the Western Reserve of Ohio, the assumption is that your forefathers were Native Americans who now reside on a parcel of land the United States Government doled to them during the Andrew Jackson Administration; a little strip of land somewhere below Toledo and to the east of the Indiana border.
The reality is that the Western Reserve of Ohio was once merely a section of land in a strip that was granted by King Charles ll of England to the colonized territory they called Connecticut. That would have been in 1662, a full hundred and fourteen years before the Republic known as the United States of America began cutting her teeth.
It was after the brave lads in Lexington and Concord fired their shots heard round the world that the Western Reserve came to a bit more prominence in the eyes of the landholders in Connecticut. The war had cost the now state of Connecticut a fair amount of money, and to finance their statehood they sold off most of the land tracts they had to the west, excluding the Western Reserve. This land they held on to, transferring the rights to an organization known as the Connecticut Land Company. In fact, the lands of Northeastern Ohio were thought most desirable for settlers who’d hopefully be heading west from the somewhat war ravaged east.
General Moses Cleaveland was a shareholder in the Connecticut Land Company as well as a surveyor for said company. Shortly after the company took control of the Western Reserve (1796), Moses lead a party to establish a township along Lake Erie, and to that end he found a nice little spot where the Cuyahoga River flows to put down roots. The map makers of the day made a mistake in the spelling of his self-named township and to this day, outsiders will be marginally correct in dubbing Cleveland the ‘mistake by the lake.’
By 1810 Ohio had become a state, but aside from the townships along Lake Erie’s shore, the Western Reserve of the Connecticut Land Company had yet to prosper with settlers.
It was on September 11, 1810, that sixteen men changed forever the quiet little nook of land we now know as Windham. These sixteen men bought the unnamed township after attending a meeting held in the town of Becket, Massachusetts, and upon arriving home , told their families of their impending move from the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts to the wilderness of the Western Reserve of Ohio.
Arriving around the middle of June in the following year (and can’t you just imagine the children asking from the backseat of the Conestoga wagon if they were there yet…), these settlers set about creating the township now known as Windham, a township that has the distinction of being an original township of the Connecticut Western Reserve.
An interesting sidebar to the story of Windham is its name. Originally it was known as Strongsburg, being named after the gentlemen the original settlers bought the land from. Then the name was changed to Sharon for a short time, though the reason for the change is lost to history. Eventually, the name was changed again, this time to Windham; and this time the name stuck as Windham was the town in Connecticut where some the original families had departed from. Now to really have a little fun with this…Wyndham is the name of the town in Great Britain where the original settlers of Windham, Connecticut came from.
So…if you’re from the fine township of Windham, Ohio, you can tell folks you’re from the Western Reserve of Ohio and watch for the head twitch if it suits your fancy. Or you can tell folks you’re originally from Connecticut and drive a ca to the ba. Now, if you’re a little more devious, you can say you originated in Great Britain, matey, and you better bloody well like it. (Think of the Gieco gecko when doing this, and speak a little quicker than usual.)
As for me…I’ll be saying I come from the place that’s 1 and 0 versus Michigan in the last year and loving every minute of it.