DescriptionIf there were huge, disease-carrying mosquitoes flying around your house, or if you were told that the Cuyahoga River -- steps from your front door -- was haunted by Indian spirits, would you stick it out in Cleveland? One man did, becoming Cleveland's first permanent settler. His name was Lorenzo Carter. Not destined to face the wilderness alone, the daring Mr. Carter was later joined by his wife Rebecca and their 9 children, as well as by other pioneers who, following Carter's valiant example, decided that they could make a life for themselves in the new settlement.
Lorenzo Carter (1767-1814) left his home of Vermont and arrived in Cleveland on May 2, 1797, a little less than a year after Moses Cleaveland's surveying party had laid out the town and promptly headed back to Connecticut. This hardworking man decided to make Cleveland his home and built a small log cabin on the east bank of the Cuyahoga River. Despite the hardships the swampy, malarial Cuyahoga brought to his family, Carter made a living in Cleveland by trading furs with local Indians, farming, and running the Carter Tavern, which served as an inn and tavern as well as an informal town hall and community meeting place. The busy Carter also ran a ferry service across the river and was Cleveland's first constable, or police officer. Had Lorenzo Carter and his family decided not to stick it out in Cleveland, the city may not have developed as quickly as it did. He died in 1814 and is buried alongside Rebecca in Erie Steet Cemetery.
As time went on, the story of Carter and his family started to fade from the city's memory. Unlike Moses Cleaveland, no statue was ever erected to honor him. In 1976, however, members of the Cleveland Women's City Club commissioned the building of this replica of Carter's cabin. Its interior is open to the public and contains items that would have been found in the original cabin. Take a look inside to peek into the past and get a glimpse of what life was like for the first permanent settlers of Cleveland.