Teaching Cleveland

Lesson 4

Handout 1 - Statement of Alonzo Carter

Charles Whittlesey wrote a book commemorating the founding of Cleveland. He sent out letters to early settlers and their descendants requesting that they submit their recollections of Cleveland's early years. Alonzo Carter, the son of Lorenzo Carter, sent Whittlesey the following statement.


Newburg, June 14, 1858

My father came here on 2nd of May, 1797. He was from Rutland, Vermont, but stayed the winter previous in Canada. I was seven years old then, going on eight. We built a log cabin under the hill, five or six rods from the river, about twenty rods north of St. Clair street. There was an old trading house on the west side of the river, which stood not far from the corner of Main and Center streets.

It was a double log house, quite old and rotten, which the traders used only during the trading season. JAMES KINGSBURY and his family came here one or two weeks after we did, and stayed a while in that house.

In July 1797, our hired girl was married to a Mr. CLEMENT, from Canada. They were married by Mr. SETH HART, who was a minister, and the agent of the company.

I remember seeing the cabin where the crew of the British vessel wintered, after it was wrecked. It was about two miles down the river, on the bank of the lake. The vessel had two brass guns on board, which were buried on shore. My father used to go to the wreck, and get bolts, spikes, and other pieces of iron. Some of this iron is in the gate at my house now.

In the year 1798, my father brought some goods to trade with the Indians. I remember when MENOMPSY, the Chippewa medicine man was killed; it was towards evening. MENOMPSY had doctored BIG SON'S wife, who he said he had killed with his medicine. They were in CAMPBELL'S store, under the hill, which stood between the surveyor's cabin and storehouse. BIG SON threatened to kill the doctor in the store, but MENOMPSY said, "me no 'fraid" They went out and walked along the road up Union lane. It was getting pretty dark. BIG SON pretended to make friends, and put out one hand, as though he would shake hands. With the other hand he drew his knife and stabbed MENOMPSY who fell down and died. The Chippewas were encamped on the west side of the river, and the Senecas and Ottawas on the east side. Every body expected there would be an Indian fight. The west side Indians painted themselves black, and threatened the Senecas very severely. My father did not sleep for two days and nights.

My father built a new frame house in 1803, near the junction of Superior lane and Union lane. Just as it was finished the shavings took fire, and it was burnt. He then built a block house on the same spot in the same year.

I knew AMOS SPAFFORD for ten years; he was a surveyor and came here to live in 1799. He and my father set the big posts at the corners of the streets in 1801, or 1802. I and my brother were boys with his boys, and in 1799 we went about the streets a good deal, and sawed the corner stakes. SPAFFORD took up the stakes, and put down the posts which he cut in the woods nearby. The stakes had been there three or four years. Superior lane was a sharp ridge where we could not get up or down. Traveled up and down the river, on Union lane. In 1800, or 1801, a vessel landed one hundred barrels of salt on the beach, which was carried off on horses, or carried up the beach. My father built his warehouse there in 1809 and '10. General TUPPER, an army contractor, used it in 1812 to store provisions, and also MURRAY'S warehouse. In 1813 they moved everything two miles up the river, to Walworth's Point, to keep the stores from the British.

My father's warehouse was washed down in 1816 or '17. The remains were there in 1823 and '24. It was a double log house, and was undermined by the lake.

Persons were buried in the old burying ground in 1797. A Mr. ELDRIDGE was drowned

at Grand river, and his body was brought here. We got some boards and made a strong box for a coffin. We put him in, and strung it on a pole with cords, to carry him up to the burying ground. Built a fence around the grave.

The water rose in 1813--overflowed all the low ground. Bank began to slide in 1818. Ontario street was cut out at the time of the war.

The Connecticut Land Company built two buildings between Superior and Union lanes.

The general landing was near foot of Superior lane. Vessels could seldom get into the river. They anchored off and had lighters. When they came in the landed at the foot of Superior lane.

My father died in 1814. They began to work Superior lane very early--soon after I came here.

The Indians had been camping on the beach at the Point, and left a cat there which my mother wanted. It was in 1798, I went with her to catch the cat, who ran under the logs back of the beach, and as I jumped over after her I went plump in the water, on this side where the swamp was.

In 1806, the channel was three rods wide, and ten inches deep. My brother went in there to bathe, and got on the bar. I was across the river in the field topping corn. I saw his hands out of the water and ran there as fast as I could. He was never seen any more. The river has never been so far east as it was then.

In 1803 and '04, the hill road was traveled to Painesville. It crossed the Cuyahoga at the foot of Union and Mandrake lanes where the Indians used to cross. They swam their horses.

In 1802, a man killed a bear with his hoe on Water Street, near the light house.

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