The Early History of Eastlake, Ohio

In early times, all of northern Ohio belonged to the Erie Indians. The Eries are probably related to the Iroquois. It is not known whether they are descended from, or ancestor of, that nation. Erie territory extended from New York’s Genesee River across northern Ohio to the Miami River.

The Eries named out river “Sha-ga-rin” or “Shaguin,” meaning “clear water.” Their game, the elk, were good engineers and made our first roads. Their trails followed the easiest grade.

The Evans map of 1755 (pdf) shows the predominance of elk in our region, calling the Chagrin river “Biche,” which is the French word for “elk.” To the French, the Erie were the “Nation du Chat” or the “Cat Nation.” They revered the lynx, or the eastern wild cat.

The Reeve village site of the Eries, located on a bluff 1/4 mile south of the mouth of the Chagrin, was first visited by Charles Whittlesey in 1877. It originally consisted of two walls of earth. The bluff was about 35 feet high, and on the east side of the river, Reeve village was dug and mapped by the Ohio State Archeological and Historical Society in 1929.

A reminder of our Indian ancestry is the name of “Lost Nation Road.” There are many stories of the origin of this name, so this will be multiple choice: (1) Indians escaping from a battle that took place at the intersection of the “Salt Trail” (River Road) and the “Flint Trail” (Euclid Avenue) in downtown Willoughby skipped town in canoes they had anchored in the river, and became the Lost Nation. (2) The folks living here were isolated by weather conditions, therefore, cut off from civilization, they become a lost nation. (3) Early settlers, having lost their own stills, were rowdy and boisterous, but preferred to be a lost nation.

Early Settlers

In 1797 David Abbot, the first permanent white settler in this township, received a grant from the Connecticut Land Company. It included land adjacent to the east and west sides of the river. For the site of Abbot’s first grist mill there are as many locations as there are authors. The best evidence places it in 1798 at the intersection of the northeastern channel (known then as the Elk River) with the west branch of the Chagrin. High water here forced Abbot, in 1803, to rebuild about two miles up the river near the ford at Erie and Pelton.

Early history of Eastlake, OhioAnother enterprise of Mr. Abbot was the building of the schooner “Cuyahoga Packet” on the Chagrin in 1805. David Abbot had sold his mills and property and moved with his family to Milan in 1810.

John and Catharine Miller were among the first settlers, coming here in 1801. Samual Miller, their son, was the first white child born in the settlement, and his pale face stood out among the papooses along the southern shore of Lake Erie.

Eastlake Celebrates Its Seniors
Martha Anderson

Experiencing discrimination in both nursing and teaching did not keep Martha Anderson from pursuing a career that she loved and would keep her entire working life.

She was born Martha J. Montgomery on Feb 13, 1928, in Terre Haute, Indiana, to Milton and Meta (Mayfield) Montgomery. She had two brothers and four sisters. The family relocated to the west Cleveland area in 1939. After graduating from John Marshall High School in 1946, she attended St. Alexis School of Nursing, graduating in 1949. The nursing school was very strict. The girls could not be married. One girl married just before graduation and they expelled her from the school with no diploma. Although the student nurses were in their twenties they had a 9:50 curfew. The school was a very affordable way for a young lady to have a career. As an RN the nurses were taught to stand if a doctor was about and to treat them in a respectful manner. Their hair could not rest on their shoulders and for this reason many had short hair cuts. Receiving a nurse’s cap was part of the graduation process. They had to be kept clean. They were starched cleaned at the Chinese laundry. (Nurses have since forgone the wearing of the cap.) The nurses wore white nylon stockings with white starched uniforms and white oxford shoes with a little heel.

From 1950 to 1953 Martha worked as a public health nurse for the city hospital. There were many communicable diseases during this period. She would notify the public and quarantine those who had mumps, measles, TB, whooping cough and scarlet fever. She also worked at a well baby clinic helping to vaccinate infants.

Martha met and fell in love with a friend of her brother named Raymond Matheke. He went into the Army. All young men during that time seemed to enter the service. In June of 1951 they were married at Christ Methodist on the West Side of Cleveland.

In 1952, the couple moved to 332nd St. in Eastlake. The street was off Willowick Drive and 331st Street and had the name of Rob Roy. This home was an affordable pre-built cottage.

From 1953 to 1955, Martha worked as a visiting nurse in Cleveland, giving home health care as needed. She would ride the county line bus to work. It would take her down Lakeshore Boulevard to the Glenville and Bratenahl area. This would be similar to what one would experience on a Laketran route.

When Martha was 25 years old her husband taught her to drive a stick shift car. From 1955 to 1957, she was a school nurse working for various schools in the Willoughby-Eastlake school district. After Mrs. Matheke became pregnant she was forced to leave her job for the school district as they had a policy that did not allow pregnant woman to work.

She had two children who both graduated from North High School: Linda, who now resides in Seattle, and Dan, who has served as an Eastlake Councilman-at-large.

During 1959-1960, Martha worked part time evenings at the Painesville Hospital as a staff nurse. In 1961, she transferred to the West End Hospital where she became the shift supervisor for the hospital.

In 1965, Martha became the first chemical instructor for the Willoughby-Eastlake School District’s nursing program. No males were admitted into the program. The class was taught out of the big mansion on Shankland Boulevard. It was around this time that her husband Raymond passed away. Martha went back to being a school nurse. She checked that students had been vaccinated. She gave them eye tests. She was instrumental in starting the testing for scoliosis in our school system. She also taught fifth and sixth grade girls about menstruation, which by the way required a permission slip signed by their parents.

Cornelius “Neil” Anderson was a neighbor whose wife had passed away about the same time as Martha’s husband. He was a salesman and supervisor for Colgate and Palmolive. The two married and moved to Eastlake Drive. At one time they also lived on Oriole Drive. Mrs. Anderson commented about how the street had been planted with Bradford Pear trees that had a beautiful bloom in the springtime. These trees had been planted by Harold Pacholke.The couple currently resides on Sunset Cove Circle. They have lived here for about 13 years.

Martha Anderson is legally blind. She lost her sight in one eye from being severely long-sighted. Laser surgery helped to stop the bleeding but she still lost her sight.
This article is written courtesy of the Eastlake Historical Society. If you know of someone 80 years old or older who has lived in Eastlake for 50 years or more please contact The Eastlake Historical Society through City Hall. We would love to include them in our article series.

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