Early History of Lorain

On July 4, 1876, W.W. Boynton presented an “historical address” in Elyria, OH. He titled his presentation, THE EARLY HISTORY OF LORAIN COUNTY. This is an excerpt from his address about “Black River” (the early name for the area we now call the city of Lorain):

Black River.

The earliest attempted permanent settlement was at the mouth of Black River. In 1787, a few Moravian ministers, missionaries among the Delawares and other tribes, with a band of Christian Indians, undertook to make a permanent settlement at that point. In the spring of that year they removed from Pilgrim's Rest, on the Cuyahoga, to the place contemplated as their new abode. Here they hoped to establish a centre, and plant the seeds, of the Christian civilization of the Indians. Their hopes, however, were not to be realized. They had remained but a few days upon the spot selected, when a message from the chief of the Delawares, commanding them to depart from the Black River, was received, and at once obeyed.

This was the first settlement in what is now the County ; for although temporary anil of but short duration, it was a settlement in fact, coupled with an intent to remain. No further attempt was made to settle at the mouth of the river until 1807. In the survey of the previous year, Black River had been divided into three parts — Gore No. 1, Tract No. 2 and Gore No. 3. It was not drawn as a township, but, as before stated, was used for purposes of equalization. Gore 1 was annexed to Olmsted, Tract '2 to Amherst, and Gore 3 to the township of Medina. The persons who drew the three last named townships became respectively the owners of Black River. The first family that settled in Black River was that of Azariah Beebe, consisting of himself and wife. This was in 1807.

Nathan Perry, Jr., son of Nathan Terry, of Cleveland, both from Vermont, opened a store at Black River in the same year for trade with the Indians. Beebe and wife were in his employment, and he boarded in their family. They took up their residence east of the river, remained a few years, and left. No addition was made to the settlement until 1810. In the spring of that year, Daniel Perry, an uncle of Nathan jr., settled with his family near the mouth of the river. He, also, was from Vermont. His stay, however, was not permanent, as he remained bat a few years, then moved to Sheffield, whence, after a short residence there, he removed to Brownhelm, where he spent the remainder of a very useful life.

During the same year, 1810, additions were made to the town by the arrival of Jacob Shupe, Joseph Quigley, George Kelso, Andrew Kelso, Ralph Lyon, and a Mr. Seely. Some of these soon took up their abode in No. Amherst.

In the following year, 1811, there came John S. Reid, Quartis Gilmore, Aretus Gilmore, and William Martin. The first named of this company, John S. Reid, was a man of great energy of character, and soon became prominent, as the leading citizen of the town. He was one of the first three Commissioners upon the organization of the county, in 1824; and before then, and while Black River was a part of Huron county, he was, in 1819, a Commissioner of that county. Pie was one of the Commissioners of Huron county that directed the joint organization of Elyria and Carlisle. He died in 1831. His son, Conrad, has lived in Black River for sixty-five consecutive years, he and Mrs. Slater, daughter of William Martin, are the only surviving residents of 1811.

Quartus and Aretus Gilmore were sons of Edmund, who removed to Black River with his family in 1812. He was the owner of a large tract of land in Black River and Amherst. He built, in that year, the first framed barn ever built in the county.

On the 14th of November, 1811, the township of Dover was organized by the Commissioners of Cuyahoga county. It included within its defined limits the present townships of Dover, Avon, Sheffield, and that part of Black River east of the river; and on the 12th of March, 1812, the territory now comprising the townships of Elyria, Amherst, all of Black River west of the river, and Brownhelm, were attached to Dover, for township purposes. They remained so attached until Vermillion was organized, when the towns now known as Amherst, Brownhelm, and Black River west of the river, were annexed to that township.

On the 27th of October, 1818, the township of Troy was organized into a separate township, and included the present towns of Avon, and all of Sheffield and Black River lying east of the river. It will be remembered that Huron county was organized in 1815, and was extended east to Black River, and for a distance, beyond it. At the February session, in 1817, of the commissioners of Huron county, it was ordered that township No. 6 (Amherst), and that part of No. 7 (Black River), in the 18th Range, which lay in the county of Huron, with all the lands thereto attached in said Huron county, be set off from the township of Vermillion, and organized into a separate township, by the name of Black River. Thus Amherst, Black River, and Brownhelm, were first organized, as Black River.

In June, 1S24, the corner of the town lying east of the river was annexed to Black River township for judicial purposes. The first election for township officers, for Black River township, was held in April, 1817. The names of all the officers elected are not known.

There were two post offices in the town. The Black River post office was located on the South Ridge, now South Amherst, and the other was named "The Mouth of Black River Post Office," and was kept at the mouth of the river. Eliphalet Redington was the first postmaster of the office at Black River, and John S. Reid of the Mouth of Black River post office.