Images of America - Madison
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When this map of the Connecticut Western Reserve was drawn in 1826, Madison was still a part of Geauga County.
Between 1795 and 1797, the Connecticut Land Company surveyed its territory and plotted out what would become Madison Township. Early settlers arrived right behind them and established several villages. The settlement at the mouth of Cunningham Creek (now called Arcola) on Lake Erie was named Ellensburg, or Madison Dock. The settlement at the eastern township line was Unionville. At the center of the township was Chapintown, later called Centerville, which would become Madison Village. In 1803 Ohio became the first state created from the Northwest Territory. Madison Township was formally established in 1811. Madison Township became a part of Lake County in 1840 when Lake County was carved from Geauga County. Madison Village was incorporated in 1867.
Two of Madison’s early, large and influential industries were iron ore production and ship building. Bog iron was discovered in 1812, and in 1825 the Erie Furnace Company built a blast furnace at the corner of Dock Road and North Ridge Road. The business was purchased by the Arcole Furnace Company who expanded the operation in 1831, making it the largest industry in Ohio at the time. When the iron was exhausted in 1850, the furnaces were closed.
The ship A.P. Nichols was built at Madison Dock in 1861. On this vessel Madison’s Capt. Carlton Graves made the fastest trip a sailing ship had ever made from Chicago to Buffalo – 3 days and eleven hours.
Ship building occurred at Madison Dock from 1825 to 1863. Ship builders with the names Edmund and Erastus Lockwood, Harlow and Alanson Bailey, and Joel Norton built wind-powered vessels. About 1825, Joseph Fuller built a steamboat at the dock entirely by hand, engine and all. It is reported to be the first steamboat built west of Buffalo, New York.
The Grand River
The Grand River flows through a deep gorge that cuts Madison Township roughly in half from east to west. The river was sometimes an obstacle when traveling across the township, but it also provided early settlers with a valuable source of clean water and power. The Trumbull Mill was built about 1830 by Col. Luther Trumbull, and rebuilt in 1843 as it looks here. The mill is gone today, but visitors can access the site in beautiful Hidden Valley Park.
Frederick Burr Opper and Happy Hooligan
Frederick Burr Opper was born in Madison Village in 1857. He grew up to be a respected illustrator and cartoonist. He was known as the” Dean of American Cartoonists”. His character, Happy Hooligan, and a host of his friends, were familiar to comics readers in the early twentieth century. Read more about Opper, reprinted from the MHS TIMES.