Lorain a history mystery- Deja Vu again?

May 25, 2012 at 1:03 pm 8 comments

I have decided to reprise at least “part four” of Do You Deja Vu written 6 years ago 2006 on the old WoM Blog ( now a history mystery of its own- gone and partially forgotten with records of those times on WoM deleted…. well it seems to be a Lorain thing. The reason I am reprising this piece we have Lorain History Mystery to try and solve next week. I thought this might help segue and get the little grey cells working!

Do You Deja Vu – Four

Was this old town “born under an unlucky star” as stated by Mr. Meyer or was she just unlucky with the motives of men?

Lorain over the years has tried to bury its past; they certainly haven’t celebrated their historical heritage. Infact they have always, it seems to me at least, looked for the next “grass is greener” project.

ED NOTE: Remember readers this was 6 years ago hmmmmmm around the block again 🙂

I have never been able to understand the fact , for the most part, the wonderful stories (and there are some believe me) were not celebrated.
Lorain’s citizens should pay homage to the small intrepid band “The Black River Historical Society“. The BRHS celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2006. The resources they offer to this city are invaluable and more importantly they have kept a part of her alive.
public square
We know that in what Mr. Meyer stated in his speech before the Lorain Real Estate Board in 1926 the
“plat of a village at the mouth of the Black River… containing 263 standard 1/4 acre lots, proportioned 66×165 wherever practicable. With it went The Public Square, (now known as Washington Park).
The one-acre cemetery plot between the present 6th and 7th streets west of Washinton-av, with the following restrictions: To remain forever a public burying ground and to be under the control of the Town Council of the Town of Charleston”

I found it incredulous in 2006 ,just a year ago ,the little park mentioned in his speech and on Lorain’s birth certificate was deemed by an editor{John Cole- Morning Journal }, developer(John Veard}, head of Community Development {Sandy Prudoff} and a Mayoral administration {Mayor Craig Foltin} as being worthless and only good for a condo complex. As I fought the fight to keep the 200-year-old green space from becoming just another housing site my little voice kept saying
“Why are you bothering this isn’t even YOUR history?
But the response kept coming back
No, but it is YOUR HOME !!!
This city started with a man (Nathan Perry) setting up a trading post and cabin. Why was the little cemetery on 6th and 7th allowed to deteriorate when it was deemed so important to the “birthing” of a village? Why were not the souls that were a part of that history, who gave to this settlement, who died -not given the respect due to them in death?

What happened to those that grieved the loss of their child, husband, wife or mother- why did they not rant and rail against the slow destruction of sacred ground? Did they move on to better climes? The population numbers certainly tell a woeful tale. 1840-668- four years later a mere 250 remained- 1850-659, 1870-858 but a year later 1871 -400 (stats History of Lorain, Ohio Chronology)

The answer may lay in man’s greed.

Part three of this series covered the Ohio Railroad Scheme which brought disaster to Charleston, Village/town – so much so those involved and effected by the scheme wished to wipe the place off the map and lose her name forever.

The cemetery deemed to
“remain forever a burying ground and under the control of town council”
seemingly suffered the neglect due to that ill-fated scheme of men.
“Inasmuch as Charleston “died aborning” and no such council ever existed, by whom were the affairs of the cemetery administered in the following 36 years, until the Village of Lorain was incorporated
. – J.J. Meyer

ED NOTE: The following is from Part three of the series and the failed railroad scheme

In 1815 you could buy an acre (including lake front) for $3.25 per acre but just 20 years later due to land speculation regarding the coming railroad, was going for $1,000.00 an acre.The Elyria Republican (N.B. Gates) states that in 1836 State Engineer Dodge came in from Coshocton “As the engineers came down real estate went up …. All the Black River clerical force was again employed writing land contracts…. We all dabbled in city lots more or less, and nearly everybody in Black River and a good many in Elyria got rich – on paper- in a very short time. H.C Stevens claimed to be worth half a million- in fact we were all rich”
and then the bottom fell out
The Ohio Railroad scheme resulted in total failure for this community. Such was the shame attached to such speculation that the people wished to revert back to the name of Black River and to thereby blot from record and memory the event.
Major Hammond wrote in the Black River Commercial “It (Charleston) died without a struggle. It’s hotels were practically closed, it’s merchants departed, it’s warehouse were almost given away to farmers for barns and fences, and even it’s corporate organization was abandoned; it’s name blotted out by common consent, and it’s memory placed in the category of western paper city failures

END OF NOTE- back to the cemetery:

Apparently, the Village (what was left of it) entered into an agreement with North Amherst which permitted the joint use of their cemetery. That probably explains why Conrad Reid and his wife Elizabeth and Quartus and Abigail Gilmore of the recording fame of the village plat (1834-37), among other Village notables are interred in Amherst.

It didn’t take too long for folk to forget this little area of eternal rest.
In the Lorain Daily News of 1900 “Want Crossing Through Cemetery”

The acceptance of the new Krantz allotment was refused for the second time by the Board of Public Service…
the privilege to Krantz to cross the corner of the cemetery was denied because the property was given for a cemetery purpose only.

Once again “development” must have won out because a mere 10 years later ”Unearth Coffin while digging a water main -Strange find made by workmen excavating on 7th Street”
“the discovery of a coffin at this point is easily explained. Prior to the 60’s the city cemetery was located in what is now known as the Krantz addition to the city”…. The bones were placed in a box and will be transferred to Elmwood cemetery.

And so Lorain lost for many years the stories of those folk who were once loved and a part of the community. Were they buried deep so possibly they did not remind people of the shame that was the greed of the community and the Ohio Railroad Scheme?

Could the actions of those involved in the scheme of a century and a half before be revisited in the 21st century – the little park deemed worthless by the “power of four” and a little cemetery almost lost forever? Men, who once again determined that a ”short term profit” better served a community and was worth more than the 200-year-old green space that had been the birthplace, gathering place and served it’s citizens well.

Could it be they too had “no ownership” in history of this area and followed through with the thinking of ”gone AND forgotten”? After all precedent had been set by elders of a community just a few generations previously.

Thankfully, this time around The Black River Historical Society, Lorain City Council and citizens did not want history buried and found to be “not worth remembering”; they rallied around the little park and gave her her due.

Diane Wargo Medina has wrenched from oblivion a little cemetery on 6th and 7th and those, who hopefully lay at rest, have found a friend who recognized and fought for their worth.

You can find photos of the 2007 celebration here

Celebration of the ” green space” 2007


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Charleston Village, city of lorain, history, Lorain's Magical History Tour. Tags: , , , .

Lest We Forget- Christian Temple Disciples of Christ 5th Street Remembers Memorial Day USA- 2012

8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Renee Dore  |  May 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    I think the Park and the Cemetery are both deserving of an Ohio Historcial Marker-both places are significant historical places from the early 1800’s. There are many reason why-too many to list today.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 25, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I agree Renee and all we can keep doing is reminding TPTB there is a history worth noting ……….

  • 3. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 25, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    Renting out an historic home etc


  • 4. Carolyn Sipkovsky  |  May 26, 2012 at 2:29 am

    A happy note is that last week, Frank took a class of 10 Adm King students on a downtown walking tour & then they tour the museum. Today he had 52 Adm. King students on a walking tour. Both of these classes visited the cemetery among other places and
    “learned a lot” to quote one student. One of the upsetting things is that both of the teachers on the walk didn’t now where Adm. King’s home is located. I don’t know how to get the City interested in their history.

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 26, 2012 at 10:29 am

    That is great Carolyn, starting with those students is one way to get the interest back – Once again BRHS comes through 🙂

    I don’t know maybe let us take city council and the administraton on a “walk about” 🙂

  • 7. Carolyn Sipkovsky  |  May 27, 2012 at 3:29 am

    I invited the mayor & his administration to tour the Moore House Museum on the evening of the first open house. I think the out of towners could learn a lot about the City where they work. As of yet no one has taken my offer.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  May 27, 2012 at 10:45 am

    Well maybe we can send a formal invitation.for a walking tour…… including the morre House and the old neghborhood……….I have an idea will get in touch after the weekend

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