Shaker History

Use this timeline to take a look at the creation of the area and society we all know today as Shaker Heights.

This timeline consists of events that have shaped the "Shaker story" as well as short biographies of some of the notable people who have made Shaker Heights such a diverse and exciting place to live both in the past and today.;xNLx;;xNLx;If you are interested in learning more about the history of Shaker Heights and the people who have called it home throughout the years, please visit the Shaker Historical Society's Museum and Archives.;xNLx;;xNLx;We, the museum staff, are happy to help provide visitors with resources for National History Day projects, personal investigations, and beyond!;xNLx;

1736-02-29 00:00:00

Ann Lee Born

When Ann was young she worked in a cotton factory, then she worked as a cutter of hatter's fur, and later as a cook in a Manchester infirmary.

1774-01-01 00:00:00

The Shakers Travel to America

Ann Lee and eight other Shakers sail to America. They arrive in New York and separate to pursue livelihoods.

1775-01-01 00:00:00

First Shaker Colony Founded

The Shakers acquire land near Albany, NY and establish the first colony (Niskeyuna, later Watervliet).

1781-01-01 00:00:00

Gaining Converts

Beginning in the spring of 1781 Mother Ann and some of her followers go on an extensive missionary journey to find converts in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

1784-09-08 00:00:00

Ann Lee Dies

1798-01-01 00:00:00

Riley Honey born in Western Reserve

Riley Honey is born in 1798 on the Western Reserve. He is the first child of European descent born in this area. In 1822, he helps create the North Union Shaker community. He becomes the Shakers' Legal Trustee and is passionate about bee-keeping.

1808-01-01 00:00:00

The Warrens Head West

Daniel and Margaret Warren come from New Hampshire to settle in Township 7, Range 11, later named Warrensville Township.

1811-01-01 00:00:00

Jacob Russell Purchases Land

Jacob Russell, Revolutionary War veteran, purchases 475 acres of land from the Connecticut Land Company along what is now Lee Road and Shaker Boulevard.

1811-01-01 00:00:00

Asa Stiles and his Interesting Animals

Mr. Asa Stiles calls Warrensville Township home beginning in 1811. He decides, with a number of other individuals, to make the trek to Ostego Company in New York, where some of his family resides. Stiles is accompanied by a rattlesnake and a bear, his "pet." Stiles stops along his route to display these travel companions.

1812-01-01 00:00:00

The Russell Family Heads West

Twenty members of the Russell family move from Connecticut to Jacob's new land.

1817-01-01 00:00:00

First Sawed-Lumber House

This home belongs to Moses Warren Sr., father of Daniel Warren, and exists at 3535 Ingleside Road, part of the East View neighborhood. That said, today the house looks a bit different from the outside than it did in 1817.

1818-01-01 00:00:00

Ralph Russell Marries

Ralph Russell, son of Jacob, marries Laura Ellsworth.

1821-01-01 00:00:00

Jacob Russell Dies, Ralph Converts to Shakerism

Jacob Russell dies. Ralph journeys to Union Village near Lebanon, Ohio and is converted to the Shaker faith.

1821-01-01 00:00:00

First Burial in Warrensville West Cemetery

Lovisa Warren, child of Daniel and Margaret Warren, is the first burial in Warrensville West Cemetery.

1822-01-01 00:00:00

North Union Community Founded

Ralph Russell returns to Warrensville Township and establishes a Shaker colony on his land. Many in his family convert to the Shaker faith. The first public meeting is held on March 31st.

1823-01-01 00:00:00

North Union Shaker Families Form

The Center, Mill and East Families are formed at the North Union Community of Shakers.

1825-01-01 00:00:00

J.P. Root Joins North Union

John Pomeroy Root joins the North Union Shaker community in 1825. He is best known for his furniture. He became Center Family's First Elder in 1833.

1826-01-01 00:00:00

Kitchell Appointed Head Elder

Ashbel Kitchell is appointed Head Elder, replacing Ralph Russell, who eventually leaves the colony in 1828.

1826-01-01 00:00:00

Prescott Joins North Union

James S. Prescott, a stonemason, joins the North Union Shakers in 1826 and mainly acts as an educator for children in the community. He is also rumored to have given the first nature hike in the now Shaker Heights-area. Additionally, he kept a diary that details his daily life in North Union; it is called the "Prescott Manuscript." Along with his interest in education and work as an educator, he serves as a historian, journalist, and elder.

1827-01-01 00:00:00

First Manx Settlers Arrive

The first Manx settlers from the Isle of Man arrive in Warrensville Township. Many were buried in Warrensville West Cemetery. Two of these settlers, William Watterson and Ann Sayle, gave birth to children once they reached the Manx settlement, including three who were soldiers in the Civil War.

1828-01-01 00:00:00

Ralph Russell Leaves North Union

Ralph Russell leaves the North Union Community of Shakers. He relocated to Solon and is buried alongside his family in Union Cemetery.

1828-01-01 00:00:00

First Covenant at North Union

The covenant was a document used to declare expectations at North Union; members would pledge to follow Shaker customs regarding the use of one's body and family ties.

1832-01-01 00:00:00

Clymena Miner is Born

Clymena Miner is a notable figure within the North Union Shaker community, eventually earning the most revered title at North Union, eldress of the Center Family. She is educated from age 6 in the East Family of North Union and goes on to form the settlement's silk industry. As a part of her silk business, mulbury trees were grown along the Shaker Cemetary's east and south sides. An interesting fact about Miner was that she rebelled against the Shaker custom of wearing a hairnet as a female. She refused to wear one not only in public, but also in photographs. Fun Fact: During the "Shaker Eats" exhibit at the Shaker Historical Society in 2018, Miner's recipe for chicken pie was on display.

1837-01-01 00:00:00

Doan Brook Dammed

Doan Brook is dammed to form the Lower Lakes. The dam provides water power for the saw mill and the Great Stone Gristmill.

1840-01-01 00:00:00

Samuel Russell, North Union Leader

Elder Samuel Russell serves as leader of North Union through period of greatest prosperity and spiritual fulfillment.

1842-01-01 00:00:00

Emily Jefferson, Shaker Member

A member of the Mill Family, Emily Jefferson, a black Shaker woman, resides in the North Union community. She most likely arrived in the area via the Underground Railroad.

1843-01-01 00:00:00

Gristmill Constructed

The five-story stone gristmill is constructed. It is the largest in Northeast Ohio.

1848-01-01 00:00:00

New Meeting House Built

A new meeting house is built on the northeast corner of what is now Lee Road and Shaker Boulevard.

1850-01-01 00:00:00

Peak Year of North Union Membership

North Union has between 350 and 400 members.

1854-01-01 00:00:00

Doan Brook Dammed Again

Doan Brook dammed to form the Upper Lakes. The dam forms Horseshoe Lake and provides water power for a woolen mill.

1854-01-01 00:00:00

The Tree of Life is Created

Hannah Cohoon, a Hancock, Massachusetts Shaker sister, creates the spirit drawing, "The Tree of Life."

1870-01-01 00:00:00

Colony Begins to Decline

Families consolidate as the North Union Colony falls into decline.

1880-01-01 00:00:00

Toll Gate Trouble-makers

There is a toll gate at the intersection of Union Avenue and Kinsman Road. In anecdotes shared by the daughter (Mrs. Howard W. Wrentmore) of a Shaker resident, it becomes clear that two young girls at the time had fun wreaking havoc for the man responsible for the toll. She explains, "My mother told me about the tollgate... She and her sister, Dixie Palmer Murfitt, had a pony and cart that could go under the tollgate, which they delighted in doing especially when the toll master came out waving his arms and yelling about those Palmer girls."

1886-01-05 00:00:00

Gristmill Blown Up

Charles Reader purchases the North Union Grist Mill and blows it up to sell the sandstone to developers.

1888-01-01 00:00:00

James Prescott Dies

1889-01-24 00:00:00

North Union Dissolves

The North Union Community of Shakers is dissolved. The remaining Shakers move to southern Ohio colonies. Shaker artifacts are preserved from an auction held October 24th.

1890-01-01 00:00:00

Mill Family Dwelling Destroyed

The Mill Family dwelling and its contents are destroyed in a fire.

1892-01-01 00:00:00

Shaker Land Sold

1,393 acres were sold to a syndicate of Southerners, then sold to Buffalo syndicate in 1894. 1906, Vans purchased 300 more acres to eventually own the entire former Shaker land.

1895-01-01 00:00:00

Shaker Lakes Donated

Gratwick and Albright donate Shaker Lakes parklands to the City of Cleveland "for park purposes only."

1898-01-01 00:00:00

The "Garden Cities" Idea Created

A revolutionary British-born plan proposes the creation of communities of limited population density with open spaces and aesthetic home and garden designs.

1901-01-01 00:00:00

An Infamous Resident

Leon Czolgosz of Warrensville Township assassinates Ohio Governor William McKinley, who had been an officer in the Civil War.

1905-01-01 00:00:00

Van Sweringens' Options

O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen receive an option from Gratwick and Albright to sell plots of land belonging to the Shaker Heights Land Company.

1906-01-01 00:00:00

Shaker Heights Village Formed

O.P. and M.J. Van Sweringen organize a business syndicate in Cleveland in order to purchase land owned by the Shaker Heights Land Company.

1909-01-01 00:00:00

North Union Shaker Bodies Moved

The Van Sweringens receive permission from Cleveland Heights Council to relocate bodies of North Union Shakers from the Shaker Cemetery on South Park Boulevard to the Warrensville West Cemetery on Lee Road near Chagrin Boulevard.

1911-01-27 00:00:00

Village of Shaker Heights Established

The original area of the Village encompassed what is now North Park, Coventry, South Woodland, and Warrensville Center Road.

1912-01-01 00:00:00

Van Sweringen Mansion Built

The Vans have their mansion built at 17400 South Park Boulevard. It is later renovated.

1912-01-01 00:00:00

John Mitchell, Mayor 1912 - 1913

1913-01-01 00:00:00

Van Sweringen Company established

The Van Sweringens establish the Van Sweringen Company.

1913-12-17 00:00:00

First Rapid Transit in Shaker Heights

The first Rapid car travels along Shaker Boulevard to Fontenay Road.

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Boulevard School Opens

Shaker History

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