Meet the Clagues, Part I

A commemorative Isle of Man stamp issued in 1975 honors 150 years of Manx settlement in America with a picture of the Clague Museum and Robert and Margaret Clague.

As mentioned in a previous article, the Clagues of Westlake may have been inspired by the Cahoons of Bay Village to donate their land and home for use as a public park and library. It seems to me that Ida Cahoon and her sisters may be better known to the residents of Bay than the Clagues are to Westlake residents. Hopefully this continuing series of articles will rectify that.

The Clagues were from the Isle of Man. Readers may be familiar with the Manx cat, a tailless breed which harkens from the same island. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, The Isle of Man is one of the British Isles, located in the Irish Sea, situated off the northwest coast of England. The island is only approximately 300 square miles in size (Cuyahoga County is larger, at approximately 450 square miles).

The island lies roughly equidistant between England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The Isle of Man is not part of the United Kingdom but rather, since 1828, is a crown possession that is self-governing in its internal affairs. During the 18th century, the island became a major center for the contraband trade, thus depriving the British government of valuable customs revenues. In response, the British Parliament purchased sovereignty over the island in 1765 and obtained exclusive rights over the island by 1828.  

It is interesting to note that some of the published research on the family, has Robert Clague, the patriarch of the Westlake Clague family, first arriving in Dover Township, Ohio, one year later, in 1829. Robert was 27 years old in 1829, specifically why he emigrated is unknown, but evidence later in his life suggests that he did not take kindly to control.

Seven months of research done by local genealogists Carol Coe Green and Mary M. Coe in 1968 yielded many nuggets of information presented to the Westlake Antique Club that same year. According to their research both Warrensville and Newburgh, Ohio, were Manx settlements. The way was opened by a Mr. William Kelly who emigrated from Man in 1826. He wrote letters home, which were published in the Manx local papers. By 1890 the Manx population in Cuyahoga County numbered 2,000. In 1968, the genealogists identified five distinct families in the Cleveland area descended from five different early male Cuyahoga County settlers named Clague, all from the Isle of Man.

According to the researchers, “Clague” is the earliest known surname on the Isle of Man. It has been found in the form of “Magleog” (Macleog) on a sixth-century Ogham stone. Ogham is the earliest form of writing in the Irish Sea area. The name is of Celtic origin, meaning  “Leech's son.” This goes back to Pagan times when the Liag (Leech) belonged to the Druids “whose charms and incantations formed part of the means of the cure.” In other words, a physician or healer. The position assigned to the Leech by laws in the Middle Ages was a very high one, he ranked with the goldsmith and silversmith.

Robert Clague’s name first appears in the Cuyahoga County deed records in 1834 when he purchased 65 acres of land from John Hall for $162.50 ($2.50 per acre). This 65-acre purchase most likely includes the 12 acres of Clague Park land currently on the east side of Clague Road, where the Clague Museum is located. It has been recounted elsewhere that he cleared a mile-long swath of the heavily timbered land himself and petitioned Cuyahoga County to accept it as right-of-way, creating what is now Clague Road.

Robert Clague was baptized in Lonan Parish, Isle of Man, on May 22, 1802. He was the son of Robert Sr. and Ann Quayle of Ballacregga, Agneash, Lonan Parish. Ballacregga is the name of an estate. He returned there from Dover after 1834, and married Margaret Cowles on April 8, 1836. Family history states that he was the son of a wealthy landowner and she was the gate keeper’s daughter. Margaret was the daughter of John and Jane Quayle Cowell. She was born July 30, 1810, and baptized Aug. 5, 1810. The depiction of the family tree recently produced for the Clague Museum may indicate that Robert and Margaret were cousins.

Their first child, Ruth Ann, was born in Lonan Parish on April 27, 1837. Their second child, Victoria Eliza, was born March 10, 1839, in Dover. Family legend has it that they came to Dover when Ruth Ann was six weeks old; if so, that would place it about the middle of June 1837. According to the 1968 researchers they were 10 weeks in coming by sailboat and came down the Erie Canal to Buffalo, then by lake steamboat or 40 hours of stagecoach travel to Cleveland, then by boat to Rocky River. Alternatively it is said that Margaret walked from Cleveland to Dover carrying her daughter in her arms in 1837.

The family stories also say that Robert Clague stayed several weeks at the Sperry Inn, which was located where Pebblebrook intersects Center Ridge Road, while he erected a log cabin in which the other eight Clague children were born. It is possible that the log cabin was constructed during his first trip to Dover after he purchased the land in 1834 and that Margaret Clague actually stepped off a stagecoach at the Sperry Inn to begin her new life in America.

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 28 years. I served on the Bay Village Planning Commission for 5 years. I was a member of the Reuben Osborn Learning Center Steering Committee. I am a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 36 years and am the father of three grown children, grandfather of two and owner of two Shih Tzu's.

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Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:33 AM, 12.05.2017