Smith descendants near and far visit Westlake City Hall
Last year, as Westlake celebrated their pioneers in bicentennial events, Westlake residents Craig and Kelly Smith had no idea that Craig’s ancestors were part of the larger Smith family that came from Massachusetts in 1811, to help found old Dover Township and Westlake. Craig’s father, Merle, knew little of his Smith heritage.
This year, as Kelly began some basic internet genealogical research, she came across some information that pointed to the recent bicentennial book, "Pioneers of Westlake, Ohio," by Jeanne B. Workman. A quick trip to Westlake Porter Public Library to take a look at it made her heart race, as she soon realized that Craig was the great-great-great-great-grandson of Dover Township pioneers Abner and Rebecca Gibbs Smith. According to Workman, Abner Smith was born in 1754 in Chatham, Conn., but moved to Massachusetts before coming to Ohio. Abner died in Dover Township in 1821.
Additionally, Kelly learned that Abner Smith’s son, Hiram, is Craig’s great-great-great-grandfather. Hiram Smith was first married to Emeline Porter, daughter of Asahel Porter, who arrived in Dover in 1810, just hours after the township’s first settlers, Joseph Cahoon and family. Emeline was the mother of Asahel P. Smith, Craig’s great-great-grandfather. Suddenly, Craig and his young family acquired a documented lineage to the “Westlake Smiths.” It was not previously known that any descendants of Abner Smith resided in Westlake or the surrounding area, although other distantly related Smiths may be in Lorain County.
Serendipity then stepped in, as Jeanne Workman was awaiting a visit, on Sept. 10, from another descendant of the Abner and Hiram Smith line, namely Marilyn Hall Hicks of Daingerfield, Texas. Jeanne has been corresponding with Marilyn for about a decade. Marilyn is related through Mary Amanda Smith, a daughter of Hiram Smith and his third wife, Mary Rice. Mary Amanda married Chauncey D. Hall, a grandson of Barnabas Hall, also an early settler from Massachusetts. Many of these Halls are buried at Maple Ridge Cemetery on Columbia Road, formerly named Hall Road.
Mrs. Hicks was born in Seattle, Wash., lives in Texas and was visiting Westlake and the northeast Ohio area for the first time. Accompanying Marilyn was her sister, Tamra Hall Baker, of Port Angeles, Wash.
On Sept. 10, the Smith descendants (third step-cousins) Marilyn Hicks, Tamra Baker, Craig Smith and his aunt, Joan Smith Sloan of Bay Village, came together and met at Westlake City Hall, where they were welcomed by Mayor Dennis Clough, near the Bicentennial Officials plaque in the rotunda. Clerk of Council Denise Rosenbaum presented them with her bicentennial booklet “Government Officials of Dover-Westlake, Ohio 1811-2011,” which was printed last year for the unveiling of the plaque ceremony. Several Smith family members once served as township officials.
"Pioneers of Westlake, Ohio," as well as Workman's earlier book "Maple Ridge Cemetery, Westlake, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: A History of Its People and Families," co-written with Jayne Broestl, are available for purchase through the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society's website at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohcwogs. A searchable online index and order form for each book is available on the site, under the Publications tab. Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publicity Chair for the Cuyahoga West Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society that meets at Westlake Porter Public Library.