The Cahoon sisters, Lydia, Laura and Ida 1996.P.027

Women in Early Dover History

March is Women’s History Month in America. It is a time to commemorate and encourage the study, observance, and celebration of the vital role of women in American history. The Bay Village Historical Society has been reflecting on this and our own history of women who have contributed to the success of the Bay Village community through the memories they have left behind. We are lucky that many took the time to write these recollections down. They have informed much of what we know of about the history of women in Dover and the town in general.

Margaret Cahoon in later years, 2000.P.FIC.007

Margaret Cahoon in later years, 2000.P.FIC.007

Margaret Dickson Van Allen Cahoon (b. 1810, d. 1894) wrote down her memories in 1890, near the end of her life. In it, she tells her children about her early life growing up in Washington D.C. where she lived through the taking of the Capitol in 1812 and how she conversed with many well-known statesmen and women who were important in the early years of America. She writes of her married life with one of Dover’s earliest settlers, Joel Cahoon, including their travels through Ohio. She recounts meeting Joel’s parents, Lydia and Joseph, and later settling into their home at Rose Hill with her growing family in 1842. Many details we know about the life of the first generations of Cahoons to settle in Dover (now Bay Village) come from her writings. You may read her memoir on our website under The Autobiography of Margaret Dickson Van Allen Cahoon.

Ida Cahoon, 1996.P.012

Ida Cahoon, 1996.P.012

Margaret’s youngest child, Ida Cahoon (b. 1852, d. 1917), was proud of her family’s pioneer roots in Bay Village and wrote the history down many times. She was a teacher who worked in Cleveland. Her History of the Cahoon Family was used to help write Bay Village: A Way of Life. In 1896, she contributed to a publication about the pioneer women of Ohio, writing a chapter about Dover. Ida not only wrote about her own family, but also mentioned various notable women in the history of our town, retelling the history she was taught by her elders. She writes about the sad story of Sarah Osborn’s (b. 1779, d. 1856) sister, Rebecca Porter (b. 1777) who, along with her infant son, were drowned at Rocky River, coming back in a row boat from a trip to Cleveland in April, 1814. Ida names them the first to be buried in the Lakeside Cemetery. Another story was of the recently settled Stocking family from Massachusetts. Jane Fisher Stocking, who shared five children with her husband, Joseph, began a farm near Dover Center. Ida writes “Their early housekeeping was somewhat primitive and amusing. The dining table was the family chest, around which pumpkins were placed for chairs.” She spoke of women traveling to Dover writing “After a journey of ten weeks from the Isle of Man, Mrs. Margaret Clague and daughter Ruth walked from Cleveland, in 1837, to the farm now occupied by her children, which was ever afterward her happy home.” There is a link to an electronic copy of Ida’s article under our Useful Links Page on our website, titled Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve/Cuyahoga County (after clicking on the title choose “View All,” then start at page 58, Pioneer Women of Dover).

In 1965, Hazel Cousins Dorsey (b. 1907, d. 1998) wrote her memoirs as a descendent of early Dover settlers Elizabeth and Aaron Aldrich and Martha and Nathan Bassett. Her family history was typed and arranged in two parts, written and dedicated to her grandsons Donnie and Michael Yeargan, for their twelfth and thirteenth birthdays, teaching them about the origins of their family. This Topsy-Turvy Family tells about Hazel’s ancestors settling in Dover and later moving to California. Her second piece, Pioneering in Ohio, contains passages which were quoted in Bay Village: A Way of Life and are listed as a resource. There is a section about the American Indians who also used the lands in Dover for activities such as hunting and collecting maple syrup. Native women are mentioned, but only as far as their interactions with white settlers. Hazel tells of the daily life and hardships endured by some of these early settlers of Dover and the surrounding communities. Food and drink, clothing, work, illness, schooling, churches and the Civil War are given sections in the piece. There are stories of women getting lost in the woods, chasing off bears and living in the wagons that brought them to Dover until a cabin could be built. Woven in, occasionally, are her own family’s stories. We are currently working on transcribing a copy of Hazel’s work about the pioneers which will be added to the Bay Village Historical Society’s webpage in the near future. Look for it as it is a fascinating read.


If historical documents such as these are important to you, please consider a donation to the Bay Village Historical Society. Find out more on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email

Rose Hill and the Osborn Learning Center are closed to the general public until Sunday, April 16, 2023. Please come and visit us this spring!

Singing Christmas Tree

Singing Christmas Tree

by Michele Yamamoto

As the Bay High School Choirs prepare for another performance of holiday music this December, we at the Bay Village Historical Society decided to take a look into our archives for some history about the much-loved “Singing Christmas Tree.” Housed in our archives are programs from the first years of the tree and information on how the structure came to be.

Curt Crews, 1968 (Bay Bluebook)

Bay High Choir Director and Vocal Music Teacher Curt Crews (Walter Curtis Crews) was quoted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in December of 1960 that he got the idea for the tree from a news article about a similar structure in Denver, Colorado. The school in Denver that owned the structure sent Crews their own blueprints, but after calculating the costs, it seemed the price was too prohibitive for Bay High School to build one of its own. Earl Danielson, president of the Danco Metal Company, had children at Bay High School and he and his associates agreed to build and donate a tree to Bay High School which would otherwise have cost $5,000.

The Bay High Choir on the Singing Christmas Tree, 1960 Bay Bluebook

The tree took eight men four hours to assemble for its seasonal appearance. Because of the tree’s size, the annual Christmas performance had to be moved to the gym for its first appearance in 1959. This meant the lighting installation had to be adapted for the new space, which presented a challenge. The structure was built at 21 feet high and 14 feet at the base. Risers were built every two feet and safety bars were placed in front of the singers to prevent accidents. All of the singers could take their places on the tree in less than five minutes. Crews noted, “We don’t have much of a problem deciding who will be at the top of the tree. Many of the singers don’t want to go up that high. I find it a little dizzying myself.”

The “Singing Christmas Tree,” as it was called, was used for its first performance by the Bay High School Chorus on December 16, 1959. 86 Bay High Choir members are listed in the program. They were dressed in green robes with aluminum collars, holding red, white or green electric candles. A two-foot white star graced the top of the tree. The choir sang a number of traditional Christmas songs, the first listed being Adeste Fideles.

Page 1 of the 1959 Bay High Christmas Concert program, 2021.BVS.10d

The 1959 program closes with notes in appreciation, including: “The structural tree that enhances our program tonight was fabricated and erected by Danco Metal Products Company of Westlake. Messers Earl Danielson and Mauri Halstrom with a Denver news clipping to guide them have all but invented the structure which weighs over one ton and can be disassembled and used year after year. This is one of the most considerable gifts ever presented to our school. Very few audiences in the world are hearing choral voices placed as these singers are tonight as high as twenty-two feet in the air.”

The next performance of the Bay High School Choir on the “Singing Christmas Tree” will be happening 63 years after the first, on December 18 and 19, 2022. Visit the Bay High School website for more information and how to buy tickets: 2022 Holiday Choral Concert Tickets

The holidays are here at Rose Hill – December 4, 11, and 18, 2022!

You may hear the Bay High Choraleers sing Christmas carols at the Rose Hill Museum on December 11 from 2:30-3:30pm in the Victorian parlor room. The performance is part of holiday celebrations happening December 4, 11, and 18th at the museum. Also making an appearance on the 11th is Santa Claus, who will be available that afternoon for photographs in our newly reconditioned 1800s sleigh. The cost for the photo is $20 and reservations are available on our website. Throughout Sundays in December, you will be greeted by volunteers in period costumes, taking you through our festively decorated home. Our newly restored upstairs portrait gallery, early 1800s rug with pastoral scene and Aldrich family hair wreath are on display. There will be spinning wheel, loom and rug hooking demonstrations and Preston Postle will be reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Visit the Bay Historical Society’s website for all of the details, how to reserve a time with Santa and the route he’ll be taking through Bay Village on December 4th:

Aaron Aldrich House

30663 Lake Road – 1829. Aaron Aldrich and his wife Betsy, both of English families, moved to Dover from Rhode Island in 1816. Their home still stands today, occupied, with the outside, rooms, floors, doors and windows still as they were originally built. Besides farming, Aldrich made furniture and had a tannery for making leather goods. He was a community leader and a judge elected by the townspeople.