Ornamental Beadwork

Ornamental Beadwork

by Barbara Comienski, Collections Volunteer/ Docent, Bay Village Historical Society

The Rose Hill Museum is excited to be premiering our special exhibition for the year on ornamental beadwork in costumes and accessories Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things. Every room features an aspect of beadwork, in addition to the museum’s permanent displays.

Beads have been in existence between 70,000-100,00 years. Originally beads were fashioned totally of natural materials such as bone, shell, or wood. Metal and glass beads followed. Often these beads were strung as jewelry and were a visible sign of prosperity. For centuries few people could afford to embellish clothing with beadwork. One needed the wealth to buy beads and then to have the workforce to apply these to clothing and accessories.

Blue satin beaded bodice, 1860s, 1996.C.132

Eyeglasses with beaded case, owned by Ida Cahoon, circa 1910s,1996.C.624AB

Embellishment followed trends with beads losing popularity, then resurging. Lush fabrics and pearl and gemstone jewelry were popular in the 1700s, but simpler styles in the early 1800s resulted in less use of beadwork. The mid-nineteenth century invention of the sewing machine focused attention on fabric embellishment; however, jet beads resurged in the 1880s.  Decorative accents were achieved in the nineteen teens with metallic thread and sequins until glass beads returned to popularity in the 1920s.

Vase dripping with beads. Blue beaded necklace circa 1910s on left, 2005.C.08

The special exhibit includes jewelry and actual embellished garments. Early twentieth century Campfire Girls’ Indian dresses on display in the basement area replicate the wooden bead patterns used by Native American artisans. The Cahoon Library displays include wooden beads from Africa, and silver and stone ones from Mexico; other mediums include bones, polished stones, pearls, and even paper beads!

The historical society’s beaded purses, also on display in the library, show the intricacies of design possible in beadwork, as do design school sample strips from the newly accessioned collection of items from the Darvas School of Fashion Arts in Cleveland from which several Bay Village residents graduated. The school, established in 1910, operated into the 1950s. Students would use these design samples to learn beading skills.

Blue-green and peach chiffon gown with beaded overlay, circa 1910s, 1996.C.121. At bottom is an evening bag of white seed beeds with a pink flower motif, 2004.C.03.

Rose Hill is fortunate to have some beautifully preserved late nineteenth century berthas, bodices, and dresses ornamented in beads, a variety of 1920s beaded flapper dresses, and a stunning mid-twentieth century pink dress with silver beading upstairs. Even children’s clothing in the Nursery has beaded embellishment.

Detail of heavily beaded pink chiffon dress, 2023.C.04.01

Future articles will highlight specific aspects of the exhibition. The Historical Society hopes you can view these outstanding displays soon!


Come view these beautiful examples of bead art during our temporary exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things at the Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday, April through December. Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you.

If objects 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 info@bayhistorical.com.

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 info@bayhistorical.com.

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!

Margaret Cahoon circa 1831, 1996.A.058

Letter from President Harrison to Margaret Cahoon, March 6, 1889

by Michele Yamamoto

We continue to discover new surprises in the collections at the Bay Village Historical Society. One such discovery happened last year when two of our archival volunteers, Jack Hanley and Bill O’Brien, came across a letter from a newly inaugurated President Benjamin Harrison. It is dated March 6, 1889, only two days after he was sworn in as the 23rd President of the United States. The typed letter is an acknowledgement of the receipt of what must have been a letter of congratulations by Rose Hill’s own Margaret Cahoon.

Letter letter signed by Benjamin Harrison, 2000.FIC.02.262EnvThumbnail

Letter from Benjamin Harrison, 2000.FIC.02.262

Margaret A. (Dickson) Van Allen Cahoon (b. 1810, d. 1894) came to live in the area we now know as Bay Village in 1842. She was the wife of Joel Butler Cahoon (b. 1793, d. 1882) who, along with his parents and siblings, was the first to settle in what was then known as Dover Township on October 10, 1810. The family built a framed house in 1818. Margaret later named it Rose Hill because of the abundance of rose bushes that had been planted by her mother-in-law, Lydia.

Margaret was born and raised in Washington D.C. and through her short autobiography written near the end of her life in 1890, we know something about her time growing up there. You may read her transcribed memories on our website under The Autobiography of Margaret Dickson Van Allen Cahoon. Margaret was there as a young child during the War of 1812 and remembered seeing the Capitol building blackened with smoke, the eagle over the Speaker’s chair broken and graffiti on the walls and columns. She was present at the inauguration of President Monroe in 1817 and remembered First Lady Dolly. Margaret wrote that she became friends with one of their grandchildren. Her father, John Dickson, took her to sessions of the Supreme Court where she visited with the judges who took an interest in her education. She would walk by the Capitol on her way home from school and stop in, at times, to hear debates from the likes of John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, among others. The family was friendly with many congressmen and judges.

After marrying Joel Cahoon in 1831, Margaret left Washington, later making the effort to visit three times. One of these journeys was made to see the inauguration of 14th President, Franklin Pierce, during which she rode a train for the first time. Her parents were buried in the Congressional Cemetery and it’s not a stretch to think she had many old friends to visit in the city as well.

The Harrison family could also be one of those visited considering that Benjamin’s grandfather, William Henry Harrison, had been President and his father, John Scott Harrison, served two terms as a U.S. congressman from Ohio. Margaret writes that Joel attended the burial of the first President Harrison in 1841 in North Bend, Ohio, near where her young family was living at the time.

If you are interested in finding your own “treasures” of history in our collections, please think about donating your time as a volunteer to the Bay Village Historical Society. You may find out more about ways you can help us on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

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

Bay Village Library, part 1 Dover-by-the-Lake

As Bay Village prepares for the opening of its much-anticipated new library, we at the Bay Village Historical Society would like to share with you some library history from our collections.

The following early history of the library in Bay Village is from an article written by Bay Village Historical Society board member, Cynthia Eakin. It is part 1 of a three-part history that we will be sharing with you for the next few installments of Glimpse of the Past.

If you would like to find out even more about the library or Bay Village history in general, contact us at (440) 871-7338 or email us: info@bayhistorical.com.

We hope to see you at the Bay Village Branch of Cuyahoga County Public Library during their Grand Opening, Saturday, April 30 from 2-5pm in the new location at 27400 Wolf Road.

History of the Bay Village Library—Part 1, by Cynthia Eakin

Cahoon Will established the first library in Bay Village

The first settler in Bay Village was Joseph Cahoon, whose youngest granddaughter, Ida Maria Cahoon, left the family estate to the city for a library.

The Cahoon family settled along the Indian trail, now Lake Road, in 1810. In 1818, their permanent home, called Rose Hill, was built where it now stands. The third son of Joseph Cahoon married Margaret Van Allen, and their 11 children were all successful, prominent citizens. Three of their daughters, Lydia, Laura and Margaret were teachers in the Cleveland school system, and a fourth daughter, Ida, was a writer of prominence in the field of poetry. So, it was natural for a family interested in education to foster learning by establishing a library.

The library was made possible through the will of Ida Maria Cahoon. In her will, she asked that the name be, “Dover-by-the-Lake Library,” should another library ever by organized in what was then Dover Township.

The Cahoon estate consisted of 114 acres, the ancestral home of Rose Hill and the barn, left in trust to Mayor Walter Wright, city council, and their successors. The will stipulated that Rose Hill was to be used for a library and museum, and the surrounding land was to be used as a park. Item 25 of the will states, “I hereby direct and request that steps be taken by said Mayor and Council of the Village of Bay to enlist the attention of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, and solicit his help and assistance in establishing and maintaining said library. I hereby give and bequeath to the Library of Dover-by-the-Lake herein intended to be created, all of my books, pictures and I request that the family portraits and best pictures be placed on the walls of the Cahoon homestead, and be forever maintained therein.”

2022.P.08.11.07 Dover-by-the-Lake Library located at Rose Hill, May 25, 1959

A committee of 12 members was appointed on Feb. 2, 1920 to organize and develop a program for a public library. This committee met formally on Dec. 10, 1920 with their recommendations. On Mar. 18, 1921, Mrs. Emma Paul Pope and Miss Olive P. Bailey were appointed associate librarians. They planned and organized the library and opened it to the public on May 24, 1921. There were 80 people present, which was a sizable crowd in a village of 750 people.

Ida Cahoon’s will established two trust funds known as the “Library of Dover-by-the-Lake Fund,” to buy books, maintain, support and care for the library. This fund, plus fines and a small sum from the village general fund, financed the library from its beginning until 1935, when it became eligible for funds from intangible taxes.

R2021.01.10 Julia Osborn Scott

Mrs. Julia Osborn Scott was appointed resident librarian on Oct. 1,1922, and continued until 1946. Scott was the great granddaughter of Reuben Osborn, one of the first settlers of Bay Village. She not only knew her library collection, but she knew the village and all of its inhabitants, and many of their ancestors, if not by personal relationship, then by stories, folk lore and traditions passed down from one generation to the next. From her own family, she learned of the trials and hardships the pioneers endured as they traveled west into Ohio. Since Scott was steeped in the folk lore, manners and customs of the pioneers, she gave this information as freely as she lent a book.

Every newcomer to the village knew the library and Mrs. Scott before knowing anyone else, except perhaps their minister. The library was the center of interest, and there was a personal relationship between the librarian and her patrons that would not exist in larger communities. Scott lived in the upstairs of the library building from her appointment in 1924 until her retirement in 1946. Her quarters were described as being homey and interesting, as there were books everywhere.

Although there was always work to be done, Scott took the time to relate experiences that had no relation to the borrowing of books or reference readings, such as the time a Gypsy family took refuge in the library, since it was the nearest house when their baby became sick. They remained two weeks, but with all of the care they could give, the child died and was given a decent burial in the cemetery by the lake. Then, there was the incident when two men who had imbibed too much, broke into the library on a very cold night and slept on the couches downstairs. Still slightly tipsy in the morning, they proceeded upstairs to wake the librarian to ask her to intercede with the police on their behalf.

During the Depression years and until after WWII, the library hours were irregular and long for one person supervising alone. Because Scott lived in the building, many people would drop in at their convenience. The average number of hours from 1923 to 1934 were not recorded, but from 1934 to 1937, 34 hours a week were scheduled. Between 1937 and 1948, the number increased to 48 hours. There was no regular assistant, yet the services and circulation continued to increase. The library was known first as a Private Trust Library, then it became a municipal library and finally a branch of the Cuyahoga County Library System.

The Mayor and city council leased the dwelling house to the Board of Library trustees, furnished custodial services, water, gas and electricity, and paid the sum of $1,000 a year out of the Dover-by-the-Lake Library fund for use in operation and maintenance of the library. This agreement lasted from 1943 to 1952.

The information in this segment of the series on the history of the Bay Village Library was gathered from, “History of the Dover-by-the-Lake Library of Bay Village, Ohio” by Ruth R. Lephart, submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Library Science, School of Library Science, Western Reserve University, June, 1954.

2022.P.FIC.05.2 Lake Erie Junior Museum event (now Lake Erie Nature & Science Center) inside the library at Rose Hill, circa the late 1940s.

Smoke House and Jail

A. Horace Wolf, who became the second mayor of Bay Village, serving from 1910 to 1915, lived on a property given to him by his father, Alfred, at 492 Bradley Road. (Horace had an airport in the 1920s located on the land behind St. Barnabas Church.) The old stone smoke house that stood behind the homestead house was used as a jail prior to Horace’s becoming mayor. It was used to lock up prisoners until the Marshall could take them to the county jail.

The large homestead was purchased by the city and the house, about 101 years old in August 1973, was torn down to make way for the new Jaycee Community House, now the Bay Lodge. The smokehouse was moved near the herb garden just south of Rose Hill Museum, where it stands today.

Cahoon Cabin

Joseph Cahoon and his family drove into the valley in Dover Township, now Bay Village, on Oct. 10, 1810. Since winter was approaching, it was imperative to create shelter. They built a cabin on the east side of a creek near the lakeshore in four days. In 1818, construction of their permanent home was completed at the top of the path along the lake and it now houses Rose Hill Museum. In 1976, Bay Village Mayor Henry Reese established a commission to plan historical events for the American Bicentennial. Boy Scout leaders John Brant and Donald Harris, along with members of the Bay Village Girl and Boy Scouts, their parents and friends, worked 3,900 hours to reconstruct the Cahoon cabin. A ribbon cutting was celebrated on Oct. 10, 1981, 171 years after the arrival of the Cahoons in Bay Village.

Community House

In 1936, as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, men from Bay Village and the WPA worked on Lake Road and also remodeled the Cahoon family barn to serve as a community house for the growing city. The new building replaced the old red schoolhouse at Bassett and Lake roads as the center of community activities. The lower portion housed the city’s fire department for many years. The Bay Village Community House currently is home to the city’s recreation department and the Village Bicycle Cooperative. Plans for the future will make it a modern up-to-date community center to serve us even better.

Osborn Learning Center

The Reuben Osborn house, the oldest frame dwelling between Cleveland and Lorain dating to 1814, was slated for demolition in the early 1990s and was moved from its lakeside lot to a spot near the Cahoon family home in Cahoon Memorial Park. It now serves as the Osborn Learning Center, and houses much of the Bay Village Historical Society’s papers, books and materials on the Sam Sheppard case, and a rotating variety of displays. Located in the historical district of Bay Village, the Osborn Learning Center is open on Sundays from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Rose Hill Museum

The structure that houses the Rose Hill Museum was built in 1818 on the hill south of Lake Road by Joseph Cahoon and his family as their home. When the Cahoon family’s last area survivor, Ida Maria Cahoon, died in 1917, her will bequeathed the entire family property to the Village of Bay as a trust.
The mayor and city council are ex-officio trustees. Rose Hill, as Ida Cahoon wished, became the city’s library from 1919 to 1960. Her will also stipulated that if Rose Hill ceased to function as a library, it should become a museum. It opened as Rose Hill Museum in 1960 and the contents of the Cahoon home became the base of the museum’s collection.