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Prominent Families of Lorain - End of the 19th Century

The end of the 19th Century brought more life and business to Lorain. The population in 1830 was just under 6,000 but only a decade later had tripled to nearly 18,500. By 1890, Lorain had more than 40,000 residents. Some of the most prominent families in the county worked and resided in Lorain. What follows is a summary of some of those individuals/families.

Thomas Gawn who was born on Christmas 1829 in Lorain and worked in agriculture and shipping. In 1854, he married Elmina Moore and settled on a farm on the Black River. He remained a prominent investor and stockholder in businesses of Lorain.

James Gawn was born on the Isle of Man in August 1829 and came with his family to Lorain at the age of 3. He was a farmer and blacksmith in Black River until 1848 when he married Louisa E. Barnes and moved to North Amherst. He purchased a farm in Amherst in 1855 where he died in 1885.

Theodore Frelinghuysen Daniels visited Lorain in 1880, from Oberlin, and immediately opened the Bank of Lorain right in the front room of Ms. Mary Reid's home. By 1882, the city was able to build the First National Bank and Daniels was asked to be president but declined in favor of a more active role as cashier. Mr. Daniels was involved in many aspects of local public affairs and brought his family with him: wife and three children; Irving L., Mabel E., and Ruth R.

Thomas G. Chapman, born in Lorain November 1866, bought out the Lorain Times (probably from Frederick A. Rowley) in 1886 after working there for a year. He served as the editor and proprietor and upgraded the facilities by replacing the hand press with a steam powered press. He also served as Clerk and Treasurer of the township and was married to Millie Bruce in December 1892.


Thomas Gawn

Thomas Gawn

Quartus Gillmore, born in Lorain in 1839 to Quartus and Elizabeth (Reid) Gillmore, spent his early years on the water. He married Mary Fitzgerald in 1859 and gave up the sea faring life in 1866, they had four children: Quartus A., Mary Isabelle, Theodore Leroy, and William. Mr. Gillmore and Mr. Stang partnered from 1882-1888 at Stang & Gillmore, dredgers and pier builders. Following the dissolution of their partnership, Gillmore continued the same business.

His brother, Edmund Gillmore, was born in Black River February 1833 and married Adelaide E. Gillmore in 1858. They had one child, Quincy A. Gillmore (a prominent attorney in Elyria). Edmund spent many years in local public office roles, such as assessor, township clerk, justice of the peace, and notary public.

Uriel M. Bemis, born in 1829 in Massachusetts, at the age of 21 came to Black River township. He had a farm and operated a sawmill. In 1853, he married Mary Standen and had at least six children: Eva M., Ella, Celia, Hattie, Nettie, and Harry L. In 1865 he moved to Sheffield township where he was farming and milling until returning to Lorain in 1886 and was employed as an engineer in the car shops.

Thaddeus W. Fancher, born 1839 in Greenwhich, OH, moved to Lorain from Michigan in 1873 where he worked for five or six years as a contractor before opening a hardware business where he partnered with Mr. Edison. Mr. Fancher served as mayor from 1878-1879. In 1880, Fancher was appointed Postmaster of Lorain. He served in various municipal offices, such as council member and justice of the peace.

In 1877, a graduate of the Eclectic Medical Institute at Cincinnati, George M. Harris, M.D. (born in North Amherst, OH) moved to Lorain to begin his practice. Dr. Harris was married in 1881 to Dorrell M. Leggett and had one child, Florence. Along with being the local doctor, Harris also served as a member of the town council.

George Milton Harris, M.D.

George Milton Harris, M.D.

Honorable W.B. Thompson, attorney, move to Lorain from Elyria in 1888, recognizing Lorain was a fast-growing small town. He quickly became a prominent member of the city and was elected Mayor in 1890, the same year he was married to Lulu Sanford.

Henry Wallace, born in Ireland, came to Black River in 1850 working in the shipyards. In 1856, he married Chloe Case of Avon and had three children: Eva, Elizabeth, and Lilly. After sailing the lakes for 28 years as a captain, he became interested in vessel property and worked in the firm Wallace, Gawn & Co which was very successful.

Clarence Hugh Slater, born in Lorain in 1850, worked as a sailor, then fisherman, then at the shipyards, and farming before running the first milk wagon in Lorain for Ayrshire Milk Dairy. He owned a fruit farm on the lake, two miles west of Lorain, and ran a bus and dray service from Lorain to Oak Point. Mr. Slater had one child, Maud, with his first wife C.N. Wallace in 1887, and one child, Goldie, with his second wife Ida Gleeson in 1889. He owned four residences in Lorain.

Edward Hildebrand, born on his family farm in 1856, ran an 88 acre stock farm. Married Mary Wernert in 1878 and had several children: Lizzie, Montana, Phillip, Henry, Paulina, Willie and Esther.

H. L. Hecock, born in Sheffield Township in 1869, and began to study law under Mayor Thompson in Lorain in 1890. In 1893, he was elected justice of the peace and continued to practice law. That same year he married Annabelle Burrell.


Harry L. Hecock, attorney

Harry L. Hecock, attorney

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C. A. Sturtevant (Stuyvesant), born in Connecticut in 1852, moved west with his family at age 7. Working in real estate, he moved to Lorain in May 1881. Married in 1876, they had five children : Ida, Ava, Ira, Eva, and Ora.

F.W. Pierce, born in 1855 and lost his father at the age of 7. After spending a couple of years in school in Michigan, he returned to Lorain in 1872. He began as a carriage builder and then turned to general building and contracting. Among some of the buildings Mr. Pierce is responsible for building are the school building in South Lorain and the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1892. He was married to Addie Bayless in 1877 and had five children: Pearl, Ray, Frank, Clara, and Blanche.

Adam Kolbe was born in 1848 and was a prominent farmer. He was married to Caroline Faber in 1873 (passed in 1891) and had one child, Lawrence A. He worked in fishery for a few years in the Kolbe Bros & Co firm before withdrawing in 1889 back to the farm.

Captain Thomas Wilford, a well-known lake captain, was born in England in 1841 and a resident of Lorain since 1861. He was married in 1870 to Fannie Gillmore and had two children: Cora E. and F. Adelaide (died of typhoid fever in 1893).

G.J. Braman, born in Lorain County in 1839, moved to Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota before returning to Lorain County. He enlisted in 1861 and served during the war before being honorably discharged in 1864. That year he married Belle M. Crittendon and they had one daughter, Rena Belle. He spent time living in Michigan and Texas before returning to live in Lorain in 1882, serving on the Lorain Police Force beginning in 1889 and as constable in 1890.


Gilbert Jarvis Braman

Gilbert Jarvis Braman

John Stang, born in Germany in 1836, immigrated to Lorain at the age of 19 and worked at the shipyards. He was a contractor and bridge builder for the county and the railroads and primarily worked government contracts. He was married in 1863 to Mary Brown (died 1875) and had four children: Christina M., W.F., John J., and Lizzie. In 1876, he married Catherine Brown.

Charles S. Ferguson, born in Erie County in 1863, moved to Lorain in 1888 and in 1889 established the only Democratic newspaper in Lorain, The News. He served as both proprietor and editor.

Captain Alexander McPhail, a well-known captain on the great lakes, born in Scotland in 1831. He began his seafaring life at the age of 14 and came to the great lakes in 1851. He has been a resident of Lorain since 1852 and married Annie Ludlum (died 1891) in 1858, having six children: (living) Frances, Charles, Henry, and Elizabeth.

J. M. Vantilburg, M.D., physician and surgeon, was born in 1849 in Ashland County. He enlisted in 1864 and served during the war and was honorably discharged in 1865. He came to Lorain in 1888 upon completion of medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. He was also a First Lieutenant in the Ohio National Guard and served on the town council.

M. H. Lampman, born in 1844 in Avon, married Julia A. Miller in 1867. He worked as a store clerk, butcher, and carpenter before opening a General Store in town.

George Wickens, born in England 1852, came to America in 1871 and finally to Lorain in 1873. He married Celia E. Chapman (died 1876) in 1875 and had one child, George B. He married again in England in 1877, Mary A. Colly, and had three children: William A., Elizabeth M., and Edward M. He worked in the furniture business and became a funeral director in 1886. In 1891 he erected a three-story building (two additional storied were added in 1904) on Broadway where he ran his business. He served as Mayor of Lorain from 1894-1896.

Mayor George Wickens

Mayor George Wickens

Henry Bickel, born on his family farm in 1844, his parents were early settlers of Black River township originally from Germany. He was drafted for the War but was able to find a substitute to take his place and return home without fighting. In 1866, he married Sophia C. Hildebrand (parents also from Germany) and had six children: Frances E., Emma E., Charley F., George M., Reuben E., and Arthur H. Mr. Bickel was a township trustee and school director while taking care of his 123-acre farm.

Thomas C. Burlingame was born in 1846 and came to Lorain in 1873 under the employment of the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad Company. In 1871, he married Celia Bemis and they had one child, Gertie. Mr. Burlingame worked at the car shops of Lorain for more than 20 years, eventually becoming the foreman.

W. A. Wire was born in 1831 in New York. At the age of 21 he commenced his railroading career, working for Cleveland & Columbus RR, Cleveland & Erie RR, and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern RR before spending two years working in a Pennsylvania oil field. In 1853 he was married to Caroline Rosette Powers and had two children: Samuel and Laura. He then came to Lorain upon being appointed yardmaster at then Cleveland, Tuscarawas Valley & Wheeling RR. When he retired as yardmaster in 1884, he continued to Cleveland as dockmaster until 1888 when he returned to Lorain as assistant superintendent. After a year, Mr. Wire became superintendent of the C, L&W RR docks. He retired in 1893 and moved to Glenville, OH.

H. E. Parker, M.D. was born in 1851 and raised in Berea, OH. He attended Baldwin University, Hudson School Medical Department, in Cleveland, and Bennett Medical College in Chicago where he graduated in 1878. The same year he was married to Cora I. McConnell and had one child, Lulu V. He practiced medicine for three years in Berea with his father before moving to Lorain's South End where he built the first home in the area. He continued to practice in Lorain until his death.

L. A. Barnes, M.D. was born in 1853 in Columbus, OH. He attended college at Delaware (OH), Columbus Medical College (1878), and Cleveland Medical Institute where he graduated in 1880. He practiced for two years with his father in Delaware, OH then on his own in Mechanicsburg and Kipton before relocating to Lorain in 1888. In 1882 Dr. Barnes married Emma Davis and had three daughters: Clara, Ida, and Lucille.

Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad Map 1900

Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad Map 1900

Elias Baumhart, born in 1845 in Erie County, came to Black River in 1846. He attended school and raised in agriculture. After reaching the age of majority he bought 56 acres that he cleared himself. He later rented a farm of 240 acres with all the necessary buildings. Mr. Baumhart married Amelia Lutz (died 1873) in 1869 and had two children: Charles and Thomas (died age 8 mo). He married again in 1874 to Margaret Jacobs and had six children: Della, Benwill, Nelson, Armina, Robert, and Edward (died age 7 mo).

Alexander Porter, born in Lorain in 1843, attended local schools and Oberlin College. Captain Porter began sailing the lakes at the age of 14 and spent every summer from that age until his retirement in around 1901. He was married in 1871 to Deliska Freeman and had no children. He owned several sailing vessels and also a number of village lots in Lorain. Porter was a member of the Free and Accepted Masons, Knights of the Maccabees, and the Royal Arcanum.

Frank E. Bonsor, born in 1860 in Iowa, came to Oberlin, OH at the age of three. Learning the trade of brick mason, he began working at the age of 11. He became involved in building and contracting with his father in Oberlin and, in 1880, came to Lorain to continue that career. In 1886 Mr. Bonsor was married to Flora B. Mapes and had two children: Frank and Cleora. Bonsor built many fine buildings in many places, including the Opera House, or State Theater, in Lorain in 1892 (that would later be razed after the 1927 tornado) and the Bonsor Block, a three-story business block.

Charles S. Aiken was work in 1819 in Cuyahoga County and relocated to Black River in 1835. He commenced farming in Black River until 1861 when he relocated again to North Amherst. He was married in 1846 to Lucy R. Holmes and they had two adopted children. Mr. Aiken passed away in 1893.

Captain Alexander Porter

Captain Alexander Porter

J. B. Chapman was born in Lorain in 1859 and from age nine to fourteen worked as a cook on his father's boat on the lake. Since leaving the water he has worked at F.W. Edison's hardware store. Mr. Chapman was married to Carrie R. Bemis.

C.B. Chapman was born in Sheffield township in 1845 and came to Lorain at the age of five. He began his sailing career at the age of 11 and continued to sail the lakes on his tugboat. Mr. Chapman also had dealings in real estate and owned multiple homes in Lorain. In 1866, Captain Chapman was married to Elizabeth Snider.

Thomas H. Jones was born in Wales in 1843 and came to Cleveland as a boy. In 1862 he enlisted and served in the 124th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and participated in several bloody battles, including Gettysburg. He was honorably discharged in 1865 and returned to Cleveland. Mr. Jones married Augusta M. Lampman in 1868 and had two children: Mark and Gussie. He relocated to Lorain in 1870 where he lived until his death in 1891.

Mark Jones, son of Thomas H. Jones, was born in Lorain in 1869. He worked at the Cleveland Paper Company and studied stenography in Chicago before taking his position as bookkeeper at the C, L & W RR foundry in Lorain. In 1891 he married Rowena Moore.

Clarence G. Washburn was born in Huron County in 1867 and upon completing literary training in Greenwich, OH, he began travelling the country. He visited 17 states, Canada, and the Indian Territory before giving up travel in 1887 to serve as postmaster in Kansas. He returned to Ohio and worked at a boot and shoe store before begin training in law. He studied in Greenwich and took a course in Ann Arbor, MI, which he completed in 1892, before commencing his chosen profession in Lorain where he was also a member of the real estate firm, Buell, Washburn & Co. In 1884 he married Maude Marsh and they had at least four children.

Lorain Lighthouse

Lorain Lighthouse

James Connolly, born in Quebec, Canada in 1828, came to Black River with his family in 1836 from Buffalo, NY. He learned the trade of ship carpenter and spent 30 years sailing the lake. Mr. Connolly was married to Alice L. Gillmore (died in 1893) in 1853 and had six children: Alice, James Q. (killed by lightning age 10), Eugene (died age 16). Frank Lyons (died age 5), and twins Clara and Carrie (died at 7 weeks). In 1871, during the Grant administration, he was appointed by Secretary Boutwell as Keeper of the Lighthouse. He remained in this position and later took charge of the second lighthouse and tower building as well, holding the title of the longest-serving lighthouse keeper. Mr. Connolly was a charter member of the Free and Accepted Masons.

George Gillmore was born on his family farm in Black River, 1837. He was raised and educated toward agricultural pursuits and took over his father's farm on the outskirts of town. Mr. Gillmore never married but cared for his mother in her declining years.

Johnson Olgilvie, born in Coshocton County, OH in 1813, where he had a grain and stock farm. He was married to Margaret Norman (died 1857) in Coshocton and had several children: William, John (died age 14 months), Melond, James (Los Angelos, CA), Benjamin Harrison (died age 30 in California), Anna (Los Angelos, CA), and Albert (Alhambra, CA). He was married again in 1860 and had one child, Oscar. He retired and moved to Lorain in 1884.

Ezra Straw was born in New York in 1831 and moved to Erie County with his family in 1833. He was raised in Vermillion and Amherst and learned the trade of blacksmith, working in a stone quarry before buying his farm in Black River. He married Mary M. Foster in 1855 and had two sons, Edwin and Parks.

A. H. Babcock, born in Dundee, MI in 1843, enlisted in 1861 in the First Regiment Engineers and Mechanics Corps. He was honorably discharged in 1863 and returned to Michigan. In 1868 he married Mary S. Hill and had two children, Sadie and A.H. He took a business course at Oberlin College and commenced his general merchandise business in MI before relocating to Lorain in 1873, opening a grocery. Mr. Babcock was elected Mayor of Lorain in 1889.

C.H. Fredrick, M.D., born in Amherst 1868, attended Western Reserve University from 1888 to 1891. He served as house physician and surgeon at Lakeside Hospital in Cleveland for two years until November, 1892, when he relocated to Lorain.

Peter Jacobs, born in Germany in 1822, immigrated to Black River, OH in 1845. Upon securing the friendship of Herman Ely Sr., he was given 20 acres of wild land which he cleared and built a log cabin and farm. Not long after he bought 100 additional acres. Mr. Jacobs married Dora Smith in 1842 and had six children (5 listed): William, Maggie, Rosa, Emma, and Hattie (killed by lightning 1887). Mr. Jacobs passed away in October,1893.

William Honecker was born in Columbus in 1862 and graduated from Cincinnati College of Pharmacy in 1887. After working in a drug store with his twin brother, he sold his shares of the store to his brother and moved to Lorain in 1888 opening his own store. He was married to Mary Stone.

William Kress was born in Germany in 1826. In 1855 he set sail for America and came to Black River, OH and commenced farming. He married Catherin Voegler in 1855 and she later died in 1889 when he remarried and had one stepdaughter. He bought his farm in Amherst in 1873.

Lorain Mayors 1874-1900

Start TermEnd TermName

April 6, 1874

October 7, 1875

Conrad Reid

October 7, 1875

October 29, 1875

Thomas Gawn

October 29, 1875

July 24, 1876

Henry S. Rockwood

July 24, 1876

August 15, 1876

F.W. Edison

August 15, 1876

August 27, 1877

Gustavus Vasa Bayley

August 27, 1877

October 16, 1877

F.W. Edison

October 16, 1887

April 1878

Frank B. Vernam

April 1878

April 1879

Thaddeus W. Fancher

April 1879

September 7, 1880

Frank Hogan

September 7, 1880

April 1881

A.R. Fitzgerald

April 5, 1881

April 1884

G.J. Clark

April 1884

April 1886

F.W. Edison

April 1886

April 1888

Otto Braun

April 1888

April 1890

Allison H. Babcock

April 1890

April 1894

W.B. Thompson

April 1894

January 15, 1896

George Wickins

January 15, 1896

April 1896

Charles N. Snyder

April 1896

April 1898

John B. Coffinberry

April 1898

April 1900

Allison H. Babcock

Interesting WebSites on Historic Lorain

References

J.H. Beers & Co., 1894. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Huron and Lorain, Ohio, (pgs. 519-1212). Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/commemorativebio00jhbeer

George Milton Harris. FindAGrave.com. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/30691176/george-milton-harris

Harry Hecock. FindAGrave.com. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/56828028/harry-l-hecock

Gilbert Jarvis Braman. FindAGrave.com. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55550802/gilbert-jarvis-braman

George Wickens. FindAGrave.com Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55226184/george-wickens

Clarence Griffin Washburn. Brief Life History. Retrieved from https://ancestors.familysearch.org/en/L2GR-YDN/clarence-griffin-washburn-1867-1956

Alexander Porter. FindAGrave.com. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/55326863/alexander-porter

Cinema Treasures. State Theatre in Lorain, OH (F.B. Wagner Opera House). Retrieved from http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/54685

Smith, Valerie (2017). The History of the Lorain Lighthouse 1917-2017. Retrieved from https://lorainlighthouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lorain-Lighthouse-History-1917-2017.pdf

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