Westlake, Bay Village united in shared roots
As the last leaves fall to the ground and the slate of Westlake’s Bicentennial events comes to a close, so ends what can be considered a two-year celebration of the founding of Dover. Two cities that were once one township honored their past in different ways, with Bay Village orchestrating one memorable weekend on Oct. 9-10, 2010, and Westlake filling the 2011 calendar year with enjoyable events across the city.
Although the two have forged different paths since the 1901 split, shared ancestry is a tie that binds. The lineages of pioneer families form a common thread that weaves throughout the record books, cemeteries, streets and historic homes of Bay and Westlake. Names like Cahoon, Johnson, Porter, Crocker, Bassett and Smith are among those often repeated in the histories of our two proud communities.
Joseph Cahoon and his family arrived at Lot 95 on Oct. 10, 1810, establishing themselves as the first residents of Dover Township, in what is now Bay Village. Later that same day, Leverett Johnson arrived at Lot 94, along with Reuben Osborn and the Porter family. Within months, Johnson had begun clearing land of his own a few miles to the south, in now-Westlake. Once neighbors, Johnson and the Cahoons are today considered to be the founding pioneers of two separate cities.
For those first 90 years of shared history, the persevering men and women of a twenty-five-square-mile stretch of land known as Dover Township worked side by side to clear trees, build houses, grow crops, establish churches and schools and develop industry.
Those brave souls who set off from their New England homes and traveled hundreds of miles to an unseen territory left a mark that goes beyond buildings and words printed in history books. It was their love for this place – whether it’s called Dover, Westlake or Bay Village – that is still felt today.
Throughout the years, despite division and name changes, that community spirit and reverence for those who came before us has held true. So no matter if it’s Bay Village’s 1810, the year of the first settlers, or Westlake’s 1811, the year Dover was officially incorporated as a township, the message is the same: Happy birthday to the place we call home.