RailsandTrails.com - Texts - 1854 Ohio Railroad Guide

  Lake County  
  LAKE COUNTY was formed in 1840, from Geauga and Cuyahoga counties, and then contained 13,717 inhabitants. In 1850, it contained 14,654. Having no considerable town, except Painesville, and the lands being already occupied, its growth is slow. Yet its density of population--70 to a square mile is greater than that of the State generally.

The village of Willoughby, (originally called Chagrin) is called from Professor Willoughby, of Herkimer county, New York. It is on Chagrin River, 2 1/2 miles from its mouth. It is a neat and pleasant village-with several public buildings, built in the rural style.

Some 15 miles south of this town, is the flourishing and pretty village of CHAGRIN FALLS. In this township, there is a fall of 225 feet, in Chagrin River, which furnishes power for extensive machinery. It has a population of 1,250-with churches, schools, stores and factories.

Here, again, we are reminded how much of what was has disappeared to make room for what is. On the site of Chagrin was once an Indian town, and here were traces of their mounds and forts. Nor was this all. Here were large numbers of the elk, along this Lake. I do not know whether the buffalo were here-probably not, for they are accustomed to the prairies; but they were abundant in Ohio. So the red Indian, the elk, the buffalo, the bear, the wolf, all of human or animal, which once inhabited this beautiful country, have disappeared. They are no more dwellers here, and their name, and character, and history, will be mysteries and antiquities to coming generations.

But a stranger people yet, one of whom you have heard, and will hear much, were here. At Willoughby we are about four miles from Kirtland city, and the Mormon Temple, which was the first establishment of the Mormons in the west. Who are the Mormons? The Mormons, you are aware, now inhabit Utah Territory, mostly dwelling near the Great Salt Lake. There they were driven by persecutions in Illinois and Missouri; persecutions, however, which were solely occasioned by their opposition to the accustomed laws, usages and religion of the country. They now have a territory to themselves, and have adopted and practiced the Asiatic custom of polygamy, contrary alike to the laws of God and to the laws of the United States. At present they dominate, unopposed, in the great waste territory of Utah; but how long they will be allowed to do so, is problematical.

The origin and progress of the Mormons make one of the most curious chapters in the whole history of delusion. The following facts seem to be authentically proved: The Mormons derive their name from the Book of Mormon, which they say was translated from gold plates, found in a hill near Palmyra, New York. But when and how written was this book of Mormon? About 1809-10. Solomon Spalding, then about 48 years of age, and who was born in Connecticut, removed to what is now Lake county, and amazed himself with writing a romance, called the "Manuscript Found." This undertook to show that the American Indians were descendants of the Jews--the lost tribes--and gave an historical account of them. This " Manuscript Found" was, after Spalding's death, traced to a printing office in Pittsburgh, but not printed. About 1823-4, Sidney Rigdon, one of the earliest preachers of Mormonism, came to Pittsburgh, ostensibly to study the Bible. Soon after, Rigdon commenced preaching some new doctrines, which were afterwards found to be in the book of Mormon. He was then acquainted with Jo. Smith, who was hunting gold mines in northern Pennsylvania. The Smith family then announced that a book had been discovered, which would give an account of the origin of the Indians. Rigdon had already prepared the minds of many persons for the reception of a new and miraculous book. When printed, the book was immediately carried to Rigdon, who pretended to disbelieve it-was then converted -repaired to Jo. Smith, and was appointed elder, priest, scribe and prophet. But what was this new book? Nothing else than Spalding's "Manuscript Found"! John Spalding, Henry Lake, and six other witnesses, testify that the book of Mormon is the same, or nearly the same, with the "Manuscript Found," as read to them by Spalding. There is no doubt upon that subject. This manuscript, so innocently written, was thus fraudulently put forth to ignorant and credulous people, as a new revelation, and has ever since, and quite successfully, been preached as such. Its disciples call themselves the "Latter day Saints," and, with the exception of a few artful leaders, are probably as sincere as the believers in other doctrines. Most of them are a very ignorant people, and many come from Europe--from Manchester and Wales. We can readily see how such might easily be imposed upon; but the most remarkable thing about this imposture is, that some of its disciples are from the most intelligent parts of New England, and have received some education!

I recently saw in a newspaper the letter of a New England woman, who claims to be the wife of one Elder Pratt in Utah, to her sister in New Hampshire. She declines visiting her relatives, because there is such a difference in their usages and customs; for example, she is one of the seven wives of this Orson Pratt, who delights in haven't children, and is yet in middle life. She thinks it is a capital mode of life-the wives dwelling in sisterly love, and contributing to the comfort and happiness of this excellent man, who is improving on American manners and morals, by imitating the old patriarchs of Canaan and Chaldea.

In this state of things there arises a curious question. Are we to admit Utah as a State of the Union, in this heathenish condition? Or, when, as must be the case, other kinds of people come to settle in Utah, are they likely to suffer these abominations any more than they did in Missouri or Illinois? Very doubtful. Let time determine.

PAINESVILLE, 29 miles from Cleveland, is one of the principal towns of northern Ohio. It has several churches, stores, schools, printing office, bank, and near 2000 inhabitants. It was named from General EDWARD PAINE, an officer of the Revolution.

Painesville is the county seat of Lake county, and is one of the most beautiful villages of this part of Ohio. It lies on Grand River, which skirts the village on the east, in a deep and picturesque valley. The village is scattered, with cultivated gardens, ornamental trees and shrubbery. A public square, adorned with trees, contains the public buildings.

One of the early settlers of Painesville was SAMUEL HUNTINGTON, second Governor of the State, and a native of Connecticut. He was a man of high character, and one of the early pioneers of the Reserve. He originally settled at Cleveland, where he met with a singular adventure. This part of the country was then full of wild beasts. I have mentioned the bear and the elk; but the most common of the really savage was the wolf. One night, in returning home, Huntington was attacked by a ferocious pack, on which he broke his umbrella to pieces, and only escaped by the fleetness of his horse. The only animal now to attack the traveler, is some old ram, who might possibly assault the locomotive, in the simplicity of his ignorance! Sheep have supplanted wolves, and cattle the bears.

We are now three miles from the Lake, and will seldom come in sight of it. At the mouth of Grand River is FAIRPORT, a Lake harbor of considerable importance. It has a number of warehouses and stores. The harbor is an excellent one, and vessels can make Fairport when they can hardly reach any- other port.


PERRY STATION is 35 miles from Cleveland.

The Railway is very seldom in sight of the Lake, and generally passes through woods. As we go through this portion of the road, into Ashtabula county, and Pennsylvania, we shall often meet with pine trees, whose straight trunks and deep green contrast strongly with the common forest trees of Ohio. We are approaching now the borders of a very large district, in which the pine predominates. From the shores of Lake Erie, in eastern Ohio, and in Pennsylvania and New York, far into the interior, on the head waters of the Allegheny, the Genesee, the Chemung, and the Susquehanna, the pine tree is everywhere the principal object in the forest. The New York and Erie Railroad passes 200 miles through this pine region, and every year immense quantities of this lumber are shipped from various points on the Allegheny, the Genesee and the Susquehanna, This region has been almost the only source of supply for pine lumber for the upper Ohio. In past years, Cincinnati has been supplied with boards and shingles from the Allegheny. They were floated down in rafts in the spring, when the waters were high. In the month of April, the shores of the Ohio at Cincinnati, have sometimes been lined for miles with rafts of pine lumber. How long the Allegheny and Genesee country may be able to continue this supply, is doubtful. Already a great deal of lumber is brought to Cincinnati by canal, from Michigan; and I have no doubt the time will come when nearly all the pine lumber required for Cincinnati, will be brought from Michigan and Wisconsin by railway. Many persons have doubted whether even coal could be carried by rail; but that doubt is gone --so it soon will be about lumber. Railways are gradually working out a great social revolution; and they will accomplish more than is now dreamed of.

MADISON STATION is 40 miles from Cleveland. We are about 4 miles from the Lake, and 2 miles from Grand River, which for many miles is nearly parallel to the Lake. We are still in Lake county, which is properly named from the Lake, whose shores it hugs for nearly forty miles.

I omitted to mention, that in this county, and several miles south of Painesville, is "LITTLE MOUNTAIN" --one of those natural anomalies, which sometimes occur, to relieve and refresh what might otherwise be a monotonous surface. It is a small, abrupt eminence-about 200 feet in height--from whose summit is a beautiful prospect of the surrounding country, and of Lake Erie in the distance. There is a hotel on the summit--which is a favorite resort in the summer. A cool breeze blows from the Lake, while the earth below is clothed in verdure and beauty. Such a place would make a fine resting spot for a wearied traveler, and be a novelty in the journey of life. How curious it is, that, we are all rushing on to get by everything--however desirable or beautiful--as fast as possible, when, by resting a few hours here and there, we might enjoy all the loveliness of Nature, and refresh our wearied spirits, and visit new scenes. Alas! it is the toil, and not the beauty of life, we seek. It is well to make a pleasure of business; but not so well to make a toil of pleasure. Come, let us hasten on. You will not thank me for my sermon, and I will, perhaps, be as little profited myself. We shall rattle on to the end.

UNIONVILLE, 42 miles from Cleveland, is on the line of Lake and Ashtabula counties. It is a small village, with two churches, and about 500 inhabitants.