A Brief History of North Ridgeville (Founded 1810)

Jeff Sigsworth, President
North Ridgeville Historical Society

The first permanent settlement in North Ridgeville (originally called Ridge-ville Township) took place on May 10, 1810, when 14 men from Waterbury, Conn. (mostly members of the Terrell and Beebe families), together with 3 other men (also relatives) who had come to nearby Columbia Township in 1809, entered Ridgeville on foot from the southeast - stopping at present-day Bainbridge Road, where they soon built the first log building in the township. Three of these original 17 pioneers were Revolutionary War veterans; and one, 80-year-old Oliver Terrell, had been a soldier in the French & Indian War. Several more settlers and family members arrived later in 1810, including Mrs. Electa (Wilmot) Terrell - the first pioneer woman living in this settlement, in the wilderness of Connecticut's Western Reserve.

Ridgeville Township was divided by five geological ridges (hence the name), which in prehistoric times were the shorelines of the receding Lake Erie - created by the slow northward migration of massive Ice Age glaciers. Wild animals (wolves, bears, deer, etc.), migratory native American Indians, and later the New England pioneers, traveled along the higher sandy ridges - looking for food, water, and shelter. Between these ridges were the rich swampy (wetland) areas, where dense forests, wild cranberries and rattle-snakes thrived.

The first log homes in Ridgeville were built along the eastern end of Center Ridge, and along Butternut Ridge (Lorain Road); but, as the wetlands were drained and the trees cleared, farms and cabins or frame homes were estab-lished all over town. In 1813, the settlement's adult male citizens (15 voters) approved the creation of Ridgeville Township, which existed for 145 years. The men of the township joined the Ohio militia, and served at the Columbia Blockhouse (along with others from Columbia, Eaton, and Middleburg Townships) during the War of 1812 - which lasted until 1815. It was said that during the Battle of Lake Erie (September, 1813), the occupants of the block-house could hear distinctly the cannon fire between Perry's victorious fleet and the British forces, near Put-in-Bay.

In 1829, due to frequent mail mix-ups with another Ridgeville (near Dayton, Ohio), the Postmaster General requested that we change the name of our post office to "North Ridgeville." Thereafter, the community around the intersect-ion of Center Ridge Road (now State Route 113 and U.S. Route 20) and Center Road or Station Road (later called Avon-Belden Road, State Route 76, and State Route 83) was known as "Ridgeville Center" (or North Ridgeville P.O.).

Early churches were established in 1822 on Center Ridge (Presbyterian/ Congregational, now the First Congregational U.C.C.); 1825 on Butternut Ridge (Methodist Episcopal, now called Fields United Methodist); and 1875 (St. Peter Roman Catholic). Ten district schools throughout the township were built in the 1850's (replacing the few log buildings constructed earlier). The first businesses in Ridgeville Township (grist mill, saw mill, quarries, cheese factories) were later supplemented by blacksmith shops, general stores and a chair factory. Stagecoach lines followed Center Ridge and Butternut Ridge from the late 1820's until (or after) the opening of the steam railroad through Ridgeville in 1853 (for many years known as the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern R.R., and then the New York Central R.R.). Two stagecoach inns are still standing. Many German and English settlers came to Ridgeville in the 1840's and 1850's.

A small community, "Shawville," complete with general store, post office, and railroad station, grew up at the Station Road (Avon-Belden Road) railroad crossing; another community at Root Road and Butternut Ridge was first called "Briggs' Corners," and after 1881, "Fields Corners." The Cleveland & South-western electric interurban (trolley) tracks were built through Ridgeville Township in 1895 (along the south side of Center Ridge Road), connecting Cleveland and Ridgeville with other towns to the west and south - until the system was finally disbanded in 1931, surpassed by automobiles, trucks, buses and airplanes.

The predominantly farming nature of Ridgeville Township lasted through the post-World War II population boom, and the 1958 creation of the Village of North Ridgeville; and past the 1960 organization of the City of North Ridgeville - extending until the first great "spurt" of the area's growth in the 1960's and 1970's. Now, in the 21st Century, with greatly-increased population (and automobile traffic), modern streets & highway access, bridges, schools, and many more industries, businesses & housing developments, the people of North Ridgeville enjoy benefits (and challenges) never dreamed of by the 1810 pioneers.