Chapter six in this series is a continuation of some of the more interesting parts of the county’s earliest history. Christian Cackler, one of the very first settlers, wrote a book titled Recollections of an Old Settler in 1874 from which this series is taken from. The chapters are my divisions, and most of what I include is taken word for word and remains in first person. You will find the previous chapter links below.
The first bridge across the Cuyahoga River was built in 1803 by the people of Ravenna and Hudson. I crossed it the 10th day of May, 1804. It was the first east and west road traveled in this section of the country. Where the road crossed the river, it was a dismal looking place indeed. The distance across the points of shelving rocks was twenty-one feet and the tops of the hemlocks reached across from either side and mingled together. It was about ten feet below where it is said Captain Brady made his famous leap when pursued by the Indians in 1780. There was a dish in the rock on the east side so that the place where he alighted was about three feet lower than the side from which he leaped.
The oldest log house now in the township was built in 1815 by Christian Cackler Sr. Numerous businesses began to spring up at that time. A woolen factory dye-house, turning lathes, cabinet shop, and private dwellings rose including a hotel where Dr. Dewey now lives. In 1822 a glass factory came into being, more private dwellings, and the old tannery on the east side of the river. A grist mill, saw mill, forge and trip hammer, hemp factory, and dry goods store were built between 1821 and 1831. George P. DePeyster was the first postmaster in the place. He used to keep the letters in a cigar box.
The first brick house was built in 1822 by J.C. Fairchilds who bought out the tannery. It was a small building on the west side of the river from where he carried on the operations of the tannery for a number of years.
About that time, another pious streak came over our people. A new minister by the name of Sheldon located in town. He built the large, two-story house now occupied by Luther H. Parmelee. He had great influence over some of the people. J. C. Fairchilds became a deacon, and a man by the name of William Russell studied with Sheldon for the ministry. He poured in the oil and wine so plentifully that they became nearly intoxicated with it.
One Saturday, some teams went through this place on their way to Old Portage after goods for Zenas Kent of Ravenna and did not get back until Sunday. As they came through, they were closely watched. The next day, on complaint of Fairchilds and Russell, they were summoned to appear before a justice of the peace and answer for their Sabbath breaking by paying one dollar and court costs. The violators were Jacob Stough and Sylvester Babcock, well known citizens of Ravenna. It created so much of a sensation that the people told Stough that if he would cowhide Russell, they would foot the bill. Some time after, Russell went to Ravenna and had some business in the court house. Stough saw him, got a cowhide, and stationed himself where he could see Russell when he came out. He did not make his appearance until about dark when Stough stepped up behind him and began to apply the cowhide and kept it up briskly, clear across the street. Russell attempted to escape by running into the tavern kept by Papa Carter, but the door would not open readily and Stough belabored him thoroughly. When they came out to find the perpetrator, he was not to be found. I think it was not positively known who did it, except by a few. It was said that Russell had on Priest Shelden’s cloak which was cut up considerably by the cowhide.
The same fall the same parties made complaint against two men for driving cattle on Sunday. They were fined but in return sued Russell and Fairchild for damages sustained by their delay and obtained a judgment against them.
Mr. Nathaniel Packard of Brimfield was bitten by a mad dog in the spring of 1837. In six weeks he was attacked with hydrophobia and for about three days suffered the most excruciating agony. His spasms came every half hour and lasted fifteen or twenty minutes. Mr. Sylvester Huggins was with him when he died.
Next week’s chapter: Lost in the Night Wilderness and a Questionable Revival in 1840.