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Sandy Mitchell

Who Was Moses Cleaveland?

By January 24, 2014

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Who was Moses Cleaveland? (and what happened to that extra "A"?) Moses Cleaveland was the first non-Native American to survey and navigate Northeast Ohio. The Connecticut surveyor was born on January 29th in 1754 and worked for the Connecticut Land Company. At that time, most of Northern Ohio was included in the "Western Reserve" territories of the state of Connecticut and Mr. Cleaveland traveled to the new territory, arriving at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River in 1796.

The story goes that he was entranced by the lovely confluence of Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga and the green valley beyond and founded the capital city of the Western Reserve here, which his workmen named "Cleaveland." He paced out the 10-acre Public Square, which is modeled after traditional New England town squares before returning to Connecticut. Cleaveland never returned to the city he founded or to the Western Reserve. He continued his law practice in the east and died in 1806.

Cleaveland grew slowly with just 20 residents its first year and only 150 permanent residents by 1820. It was not until the opening of the Ohio-Erie Canal and the industrialization following the Civil War that the city's population really began to grow.

Cleaveland is commemorated by a statue on the southwest quadrant of Public Square (pictured above). (Oh, and that "A," it was discarded by Cleveland's first newspaper, the Cleveland Advertiser, which in 1831 shortened the name so that it would fit on the paper's masthead.)

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, David Van Tassel and John J. Grabowski, Indiana University Press, 1987
"Ohio Historical Central" Web site
Cuyahoga County Board of County Commissioners official Web site

(Photo © 2006 S. Mitchell; licensed to About, Inc.)

December 15, 2009 at 4:00 pm
(1) Michael says:

There’s actually a band named after him too – http://www.mosescleveland.com

At least I assume it’s named after him

November 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm
(2) ARGYLE says:

There are many websites that provide info about Moses Cleaveland. However, I havn’t found any that describe his ethnic background. Was he Irish, English, German or maybe a combination of something else? Would very much like to know because I’m a history buff and wanted it for conversational/trivia purposes with friends.

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