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

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

“Lincoln has got to Washington…”

In recognition of Presidents’ Day, the Bay Village Historical Society would like to share the following letter from our collections, with spelling, capitalization and grammar recorded as originally written.

The two-paged letter transcribed below was written to Henry Winsor Aldrich (b. 12 Sep 1822 Hartwick, NY – d. 10 Oct 1892, Dover Township, OH), husband of Mary Ann Steven (b. 9 Apr 1822, Lee, Berkshire, MA – d. 16 Feb 1916, Bay Village, OH) by Ransom Foote Stevens (b. 20 May 1820, Lee, Berkshire, MA – d. 8 Sep 1890, Byron, MI), brother of Mary Ann. Ransom and Mary Ann were the children of Benjamin Stevens and Lovica Foote.

On page one of the letter, Stevens mentions that “Lincoln has got to Washington…” (Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States in Washington, DC only days before). He blames the “political excitement” for business being “dead” over the winter and wonders if this new President will bring change for the better or worse. It seems as Americans have before and since, Mr. Stevens must have felt anxious about the uncertainties of a new administration and how it would affect the fortunes of his family.

A portrait of Abraham Lincoln and family can be viewed on display in the Victorian Hallway at the Rose Hill Museum. To see more letters from the Aldrich Collection, visit the Early Papers page on our website:

Wilkesville March 6th 1861

Brother Henry Sir

I received your letter last saturday with its contents for which I am verry thankful I should have written immediately upon the receit of it but the mail does not leave Wilkesville only once a week and that friday morning and comes in friday night so you see that I answer you by the first mail your letter contained $26 whitch is a little more than was due me from Mr Bates but we can make it right when I see you whitch I think will be next fall   I shall not attempt to write mutch this evening for I have been ploughing hard to day and am somewhat tierd myself and Family are enjoying comfortable health at present eccept Finell   She was taken with the lung fever   The 2nd of february was confined to hear bed 10 days has recovered so as to be about the house is still verry weak and troubled with cough the Doctor visited her 7 times there has been several casees of that complaint in this vicinity but none have proved fatal that I know of  we have had rather an unpleasant winter no sleighing and plenty of mud and such nasty yaller mud I never saw but it has assuaged and is quite pleasant now  In consequence of the political eccitement business has been perfectly dead here the past winter but Lincoln has got to Washington and we expect there will be a change either for better or worse we hope not worse for its wus en oats now    Constitution Un

Maryann how do your pigs get along  I bought three pigs last fall and had killed two of them and the other one is a dam good barrow [castrated pig] I shall keep it a spell  I calkulate to plant 7 or 8 acres of corn and sow 4 or 5 acres of oats  we have not settled here only for one year  what we shall do then is for the future to determine  the society is verry good in this neighbourhood as far as morality is concerned we attend meeting at Wilkesville  there is a Presbyterian and Methodist Church there preaching jenorally at each house every alternate sabbath but as I said before I could not write mutch  I shall be under necessity of drawing to a close tell Mother I was verry glad to receive a letter from her  I will answer it as soon as I can think what to write  I should write more frequently than I do but you get letters from here often so it is not necessary for me to write mutch  I should like verry mutch to be there and attend your lyceums [an association providing public lectures, concerts, and entertainments] but as it is not convenient for me to do so I will try to be content other ways  tell our Folks I should be glad to hear from all of them give my respects to all enquiring Friends and neighbours  Write soon and be verry particular

R Stevens

H Aldrich

2000.FIC.072 Letter (page 1), Aldrich Family Collection

2000.FIC.072 Letter (page 2), Aldrich Family Collection

1996.A.034 Framed Lincoln Family Portrait