When I first heard that North Olmsted was celebrating its bicentennial in 2015, I remembered thinking that was odd. Because before retiring in 2009, I had worked in the City’s law department for nearly 30 years and I was fairly certain that the City was nowhere near 200 years old. Then I learned that the bicentennial celebrates the arrival of the first settler in what one day became North Olmsted. That sent me researching David Johnson Stearns and his brothers, and writing a first article for the bicentennial about how this family contributed to the founding of our community here, early in the nineteenth century.
But I still hadn’t dismissed the uneasiness I felt about North Olmsted itself celebrating that bicentennial. It felt to me a little bit like the teenager who sneaks into a bar with a fake ID so that he can prematurely “celebrate” with his friends. So that set me off in the direction of writing a second article one about the founding of North Olmsted in 1908, if for no other reason than to clear the air and make sure that no one living here in 2015 mistakenly thinks that our city is really THAT old.
As I conducted my research, with help from Dale Thomas, archivist of the Olmsted Historical Society, I learned about the important events of 1908 that led directly to the formation of North Olmsted. Meetings of residents were held in June and July, which led to the filing of a petition for incorporation. Two elections followed. The first, in September, decided the question of whether a village should be formed. The second, in December, was to elect the first officials of the new village government.
While the process of becoming a village moved along very quickly in 1908 just a little more than five months elapsed between the first residents’ meeting and the election of the first village government, I discovered that there was a much longer and just as important history behind the decision of the leaders of the movement to choose the territorial boundaries for the village that they did. And, as I studied that part of the history of our city, in newspaper accounts, in documents at archives, in history collections at local libraries, and in the books of a number of local historians, I learned, surprisingly, that there were two men who more than anyone else contributed to the creation of the boundaries of North Olmsted as we know them today. Even more surprisingly, these two men came from the same family. They were Asher Miller Coe (1789-1867) and his grandson Leon Melville Coe (1845-1931).
When you read their story, I think you’ll agree with me that, in a very true sense, our city was “Coefounded.”
1900 – Interuban tracks – View is west on Lorain Road – near intersection of Porter and Butternut Ridge Roads
1900 circa -Asher Coe House – another view
1910 circa photo of Leon Coe
A resident of North Olmsted since 1983, Jim Dubelko was employed in the City Law Department for three decades, retiring as Director of Law in 2009. Currently a member of the City Landmarks Commission, Jim earned a master’s degree in history in 2012 and is a writer for Cleveland Historical.