Then and Now in Dover, Part 6

This Leiter postcard shows an early view of the Old Red Brick School on Dover Center Road, which was constructed 10 years before the 1918 flu pandemic. The school was closed for two to three months during the pandemic. The building was torn down in 2010. Photo courtesy of Paula Shorf.

Part six in a series on the "real photo postcards" (RPPCs) of early 20th century Dover, now Westlake and Bay Village.

Previous Pandemics in Dover

According to the CDC, in February 1957 a new influenza A (H2N2) virus emerged in East Asia, triggering a pandemic (“Asian Flu”). It was reported in the coastal areas of the U.S. in the summer of 1957.

It was during the election of November 1957 that 5,000 residents registered to vote in the Village of Westlake. Having 5,000 voters was one way to achieve city status in Ohio and Westlake was declared a city in December of that year.

How many residents in Westlake and Bay Village were sickened or died from this flu is unknown to the writer but the CDC states that the pandemic continued into 1958, therefore this pandemic and the creation of Westlake as a city were simultaneous (but not “hand-in-hand,” if social distancing was in place).

The more well-known pandemic occurred in 1918 and 1919. It was another deadly influenza, called the “Spanish Flu.” According to Bill Robishaw, the author of “You’ve Come a Long Way, Westlake” published in 1993: “The Board of Education voted in October of that year [1918] to close the schools indefinitely. The schools were re-opened in December [1918] but only after all rooms were thoroughly cleaned and fumigated.” Sound familiar?

According to, the city of Cleveland had nearly 800,000 residents in 1918. Between September and December of that year nearly 23,600 were sickened and 3,600 people died from the pandemic. By the time it was over in 1919, more than 4,400 Cleveland residents died of the flu.

The combined population of Bay Village and Westlake was about 2,500 persons in 1918. If they were sickened and died at the same rate as Cleveland residents this translates into 74 sick with the flu and 14 people dead. To put that in perspective based on today's populace, based on the 2018 population of the combined cities this rate would result in 1,402 sickened residents and 261 fatalities in 2020.

Bay Village and Westlake were settled by Yankees from New England just two centuries ago. Native Americans entered Ohio approximately 14,000 years ago (140 centuries)! Based on artifacts found here, they probably occupied Dover as much as 100 centuries ago; that is 50 times longer than “us.” Stone tools found in Dover date to the Archaic period which lasted from 2,000 to 10,000 years ago. Even if they are only 2,000 years old, Native Americans lived here 20 centuries, which is 10 times longer than “us.”

Archaeological sites in Bay Village represent the western extent of the Whittlesey culture of Native Americans who occupied the northeastern part of Ohio along Lake Erie and nearby stream valleys from about 10 centuries ago until 1640 A.D. No-one knows exactly what happened to them after 1640, but they disappeared.

According to archaeologists they were not the Erie Indians who were wiped out by the Iroquois because the Erie Indians only lived along the Lake Erie shoreline as far west as Erie, Pennsylvania. Based on their artifacts, the Whittlesey culture did not have contact with Europeans. Disease played a factor in their demise and it may have been a virus passed from those Native Americans who did have contact with Europeans, who unwittingly passed viruses to which the Whittlesey culture and other Native Americans had no immunity. Similar to our lack of immunity to COVID-19.

William Krause

William R. Krause, AICP I am the Assistant Planning Director for the City of Westlake. I have worked for Westlake for 30 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 was a Board Member and Historian for the Westlake Historical Society and am a Trustee of the Western Reserve Architectural Historians. I have been married to Debra for 38 years and am the father of three grown children, grandfather of four and owner of a Shih Tzu.

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Volume 12, Issue 7, Posted 9:44 AM, 04.07.2020