Boston Township
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Our Town: a brief history

Alfred Wolcott of Connecticut came to Boston Township in 1805 with a surveying party to locate the lands that belonged to Simon Perkins. Among the members of the surveying party was James Stanford. After returning home for the winter, Wolcott, Stanford and a few other men arrived back in Boston Township in 1806 and erected a cabin at the site of the present day Boston Cemetery. That same year, Wolcott traded his lands along the Cuyahoga River for Stanford's lands on the eastern rim of the valley. More settlers followed, resulting in the official organization of the township on January 15, 1811. At that time what had been known only as Range 11, Town 4 of the Connecticut Western Reserve became known as Boston Township.

1874 map of Boston Township

1874 map of Boston Township (Peninsula Library & Historical Society)

Like most of the Western Reserve, the first settlers were New Englanders, who brought with them their religion and architecture. James Stanford's son, George, was instrumental in 1833 in organizing the Boston Moral Society, the forerunner to the Peninsula United Methodist Church. Hermon Bronson settled on his land in 1824 and capitalized on the soon-to-be-built Ohio and Erie Canal. Bronson also organized the Bethel Episcopal Church in 1835 and oversaw the construction of a church building (now Bronson Memorial) four years later.

Between 1825 and 1827, up to two thousand men worked on the Ohio and Erie Canal. Many of these men were Irish Catholics from New York and Canada. After the completion of the canal, some of these men settled in the area bringing with them some of the earliest recorded Catholic Church activity in Summit County. In the years around 1900, churches would also be organized in Everett and Boston.

The Ohio and Erie Canal provided an outlet for the area's manufacturing and agricultural products. Lumber, flour, quarried stone, bricks, and agricultural products all found their way to Cleveland and Akron via the canal. In 1837, Hermon Bronson platted a village near a large bend in the Cuyahoga River that nearly doubled back on itself. "Peninsula" was incorporated in 1859 and became the largest village in the township. In addition to five boat yards and two dry docks involved in the manufacturing and repairing of canal boats, as many as five hotels and fourteen saloons served boisterous canal crowds.

Ohio & Erie Canal in Peninsula, circa 1905

Ohio & Erie Canal in Peninsula, circa 1905 (Peninsula Library & Historical Society)

The Valley Railway opened through Boston Township in 1880, dealing a major blow to the canal. The railroad brought new industries to the community and produced an easier and cheaper way for local products to reach their markets. Some farmers began to specialize in dairy and cheese production which became a significant part of the area's economy.

The area had four major stone quarries that would all eventually be owned by the Cleveland Stone Company. At one time the quarry now known as Deep Lock Quarry was owned by Ferdinand Schumacher and produced millstones for his Quaker Oats Company. Stone traveled to Akron to build St. Bernard's Church and to Cleveland to build lakefront retaining walls. An influx of Polish, Slovenian, and Italian immigrants provided labor for the area's industries. By 1928, two-thirds the congregation at Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church were Polish.

European immigrants also found employment at the Cleveland-Akron Bag Company which was built in Boston in 1899. The company built six houses, two duplexes and a company store to serve the melting pot of new residents. Another paper factory and company town would be built by Charles Jaite in 1905 just across the township line in Brecksville and Northfield.

Boston from the west, circa 1910

Boston from the west, circa 1910. (Peninsula Library & Historical Society).

The Flood of 1913 put the Ohio and Erie Canal out of its lingering misery, taking with it bridges in Peninsula and four bag company houses in Boston. Area quarries ceased to operate by 1920, due to the ready availability of concrete. The bag factory in Boston closed in 1923 because of a lack of water. The area now known as the Village of Boston Heights separated from the township and was incorporated in 1924. Many area residents began to ride the train outside of the community for work, leaving less time to also maintain a farm.

With the advent of the automobile, the area began to slowly shift away from agriculture. Many of the former farms in the community ended up being owned by artists, writers, and business executives who commuted to work or were purchased by youth organizations and turned into camps. Other farms were broken up into smaller parcels of land and turned into housing allotments. Morris Acres, State Road Farms, and Stine Road are prime examples of areas that went from agricultural to residential during the mid part of the 1900s.

Everett in 1955

Everett in 1955 (Peninsula Library & Historical Society).

By the 1970s, Boston Township was a comprehensive mixture of agricultural, residential, industrial, recreational and commercial uses. Concerns associated with development surrounding the valley area resulted in the creation of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area in 1975 which resulted in major impacts on Boston Township. Instead of purchasing scenic easements on properties in Boston Township, the National Park Service bought most properties outright resulting in a 30% decrease in population in the township. By the year 2000 when the area was redesignated as the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the federal government owned over 80% of Boston Township.

In an effort to stabilize Boston Township's finances, the trustees entered into a Joint Economic Development District with the City of Cuyahoga Falls in 2005. Over time, sewer and water will be extended to the business corridor district which will allow the township to redevelop the area and also collect a portion of income taxes generated.

Randy Bergdorf
Boston Township Trustee

Boston Township Hall

see also: The story of Boston Township Hall, Our Local Cemeteries