Tom L. Johnson was mayor of Cleveland from 1901-1909. He is one of many people discussed in “Cleveland Stories: An Informal Look at Cleveland’s Past” taught by Cleveland Heights resident Marian Morton using materials provided by teachingcleveland.org.
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio – Moses Cleaveland is credited with founding Cleveland in 1796, but he never actually settled here.
It was Lorenzo Carter, who arrived in 1797 almost a year after Cleaveland and built a log cabin on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River.
He is also credited with owning acres of land on both the east and west sides of the river, he built the first log warehouse, his family owned the first frame house in Cleveland, and he served as a major in the Ohio Militia.
Carter’s story marks the beginning of Cleveland history, in a Case Western Reserve University adult education class taught by Marian Morton, which starts Thursday, Sept. 26, in Cleveland Heights.
“I think you should know something about the place that you live,” said Morton, a Cleveland Heights resident.
One of the biggest proponents of adult education in Cleveland was the city’s 37thmayor and former U.S. Secretary of War, Newton D. Baker. After returning to Cleveland from his service to the nation, Baker took up the mantle for advancing adult education.
Mike Baron, of Beachwood, a co-founder of teachingcleveland.org, says that Baker’s work in adult education is an appropriate segue into why Case Western is offering “Cleveland Stories: An Informal Look at Cleveland’s Past.”
“Baker was the father of adult education in Northeast Ohio,” Baron said.
According to the article, “Newton D. Baker and the Adult Education Movement” by Rae Wahl Rohfeld from the Ohio Historical Journal, available at ohiohistory.org and also found on teachingcleveland.org, Baker helped create the Cleveland College an affiliation of Western Reserve University, the YMCA and the Case Institute of Technology.
Baron says based on that alone, it’s fitting that this course is offered as an Off-Campus Studies course in The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program.
The program, taught by Morton, starts at 7 p.m. and continues Thursdays through Nov. 14 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 2747 Fairmount Blvd. Cleveland Heights.
“The history of Cleveland is seldom taught in colleges and universities,” said Morton, professor emeritus of history at John Carroll University. “It’s never taught in an adult education class.”
She spent almost 40 years teaching at John Carroll. Among those courses was one about Cleveland history. This is the first time she is teaching a Cleveland history class for adults.
The class, she says will be mostly discussion, like a book club, based on a series of essays compiled by Baron from the teachingcleveland.org website. A book of the compiled essays is available at the class and is included in the $75 registration fee.
“We (Teaching Cleveland) would like to see a little bit of scholarship about Cleveland,” Baron said.
He went on to say that the now three-year-old website has numbers to prove that people are interested in history of the region. The site gets an estimated 40,000 page reads a month.
Baron approached Morton about teaching the program and she is looking forward to class.
“It’s fun to have a classroom full of grown-ups. People who were born before Bill Clinton was president,” Morton said.
The bulk of the course is about important people in Cleveland history from Carter, to at least the 1980s, Baron says.
“Everyone will find what they are looking for,” he said.
When pressed, to select his favorite time period in Cleveland history, Baron pointed to the period from 1870 to the Depression. Baron referred to the Cleveland in the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era as “mind blowing.”
“Cleveland was an amazing dynamic,” he said. “The talent that was in Northeast Ohio was just terrific.”
That included the likes of Mark Hanna, John D. Rockefeller, Amasa Stone and Baker.
Also included in the course are essays about several civic issues in Cleveland history including, “How Cleveland Women Got the Vote – and What They Did with It” about women’s suffrage, which is written by Morton.
A good sample of what the class will cover can be found under the Cleveland Stories tab at teachingcleveland.org. Registration is still open and can be made by visiting siegallifelonglearning.org and clicking on the Off Campus Studies link or by calling 216-216-368-5145.
As for Carter, it’s worth noting, his other accomplishments include building a 30-ton schooner named Zephyr, which helped expand regular trade to the east and he is credited with opening the first tavern in the city.