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 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!