The Founding of Strongsville
In the early 1800's, lands in northeastern Ohio belonging to the state of Connecticut and called the "Western Reserve" began to attract emigration from Connecticut, Vermont and other parts of New England. These lands were sold by the state to the Connecticut Land Company and parceled out among the members of the organization. Township No. 5, in the 14th range fell to the ownership of Oliver Ellsworth of Hartford. The land was inherited by his sons, William W. and Henry L. of Windsor & Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1815, the Ellsworths began a correspondence with John Stoughton Strong of Marlboro, Vermont regarding sale of a considerable portion of their Ohio township. Agreements were made to purchase some of the Ellsworth land and to act as an agent for the sale of the balance of the land.
In February 1816, John led a party through New York with a stop in Cleveland. They followed a trail south along the Rocky River to Columbia. From Columbia they traveled to Township No. 5. They cleared about an acre and built log cabins for shelter. The party included John's oldest son Emory, his brother-in-law, Elijah Lyman, Sr., and Guilford Whitney, a relative of John's wife. Guilford's 21 year old daughter Bernicey served as cook and cabin keeper for the men. With her one year old daughter Eliza, they constituted the entire female society of the settlement. Also part of the group were William Fuller Jr., Obadiah Church, Zachariah Goodale and George Gilbert. Their relationship to the others in the party is not known.
Following the building of shelters, the major task was surveying the land. The township was surveyed into 100 lots of 160 acres each. Of the land in No. 5, the larger part was either bought by Strong or sold by him for the Ellsworths. Sales to him and others were mostly made on a money basis at a price of $2.50 per acre. Under contract with the Ellsworths, Strong was to purchase 7 lots of 160 acres each in No. 5 at $1.50 per acre in consideration of his selling 21 other lots within a year at $2.50 per acre. He collected his commissions in advance and applied that to the purchase of his lots. The contract also provided that Mr. Strong cut a "good and sufficient road" through the center of the township. The Ellsworths were to pay for surveying the town into lots.
Immigration into the township blossomed with the arrival of many new families. In 1818, Strong moved his family to Ohio and occupied a log house prepared for them just north of the center of No.5.
The area became an official township on February 25, 1818 and was named Strongsville. In 1819, a log cabin was built on the southeast corner of the commons. It served as a schoolhouse, church, and town hall. In 1822, the township was divided into five school districts, and later into ten districts. By 1826, the township had increased to 89 households. Strongsville became a village in 1923 and became a city in 1961.
Mr. Strong was a leading entrepreneur of the settlement. He sought to bring people with skills into the area, such as a town doctor following the death of the original town's doctor, Strong's son-in-law. He built the area's first gristmill and sawmill. Strong died in 1863 at 92 years of age. He will be remembered as one of the pioneers of the Western Reserve, particularly of the township that bears and perpetuates his name.