The Johnsons of Woodbridge, Connecticut

Leverett Johnson was born on 17 July, 1794 in Woodbridge, Connecticut. In 1810, he set out for the Western Reserve with his sisters and brothers-in-law Asahel and Rebecca Porter, and Reuben and Sarah Osborn; as well as the Porter’s two small daughters. Those of you who have knowledge of Dover history will recognize this as the second group of settlers in the township, arriving just hours after a group led by Joseph Cahoon arrived. Both parties settled in a part of Dover near the lake, in what is now Bay Village. In 1811 Leverett Johnson moved to a lot near where the intersection of Columbia and Center Ridge Rd. is today, building a crude shelter. He lived there during the week, returning to the family land on the weekends for visits. This makes him the first settler to live in the part of Dover that is now Westlake. For reasons unknown, after clearing the land on this first lot, Johnson moved to another lot close to where Center Ridge and Porter roads meet where he built a log cabin in 1814. A portion of this land was donated by the Johnson Family to Dover Township for use as a cemetery. Evergreen Cemetery currently sits on this land donation. It was to this newly built cabin that in 1814, Leverett Johnson took his bride Abigail, daughter of Joseph and Lydia Cahoon. This was the first marriage in Dover Township. In “History of the Cahoon Family”, by Ida M. Cahoon, it is said that the marriage took place before either was in the majority. However, if you do the math, Leverett would have been 20 at the time. Abigail, according to the dates in Jeanne Workman’s book, “Pioneers of Westlake” was 17.
Leverett Johnson was a pillar of the community being elected to several township and even state offices. He served as Justice of the Peace for Dover Township from 1822 to 1833 and was a Township Trustee as well. He also served as Cuyahoga County Commissioner, and was elected 5 times to the Ohio State Legislature. He also served as the first director of the Dover Academy.
During this year, I will be writing short profiles on the people and families whose names are currently adorning our city streets. I do this to not only showcase the history, but to showcase the sources of information available to people interested in the history of Westlake. Besides the sources that are available in the library, the City of Westlake has a lot of information on the history of the city and the yearlong bicentennial celebration. Events are listed, as well as Power Point presentations and quick facts about some of the city’s founders. I found some of the information for this article by using this site. To access this information, go to www.cityofwestlake.org and click on the bicentennial link.

Much of the information for this article came from a relatively new source to the library, Jeanne Workman’s book, “Pioneers of Westlake, Ohio”. This book has a lot of anecdotal and genealogical information about the settlers of Dover who arrived here by 1820. It’s an extremely readable book, with lots of useful information.
Information was also gathered from Reign Hadsell and Hazel Rutherford’s book “A History and Civics of Dover Village”, and Reuben Hall’s book “Reminiscences of Dover Pioneer Life”.

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