TIMELINE, 1800-1900

(Notes from OBERLIN COMMUNITY HISTORY [1981] and O.H.IO. Historical Files compiled by Mary Anne Cunningham for O.H.I.O docent training)

1803 Ohio becomes a state.

l805 The land west of the Cuyahoga River is opened for settlement when Indians turn over title to all remaining Ohio land to the government .

1821 James Monroe is born in Plainfield, Connecticut.

1824 Lorain County is organized with 21 townships within its boundaries.

1825-42 An influx of settlers accompanies the construction and completion of the Erie Canal, the Ohio Canal (Cleveland to Portsmouth) and the Miami-Erie Canal (Toledo to Cincinnati).

1830 John Jay Shiperd arrives in Elyria from the East to serve as pastor of the Elyria First Presbyterian Church.

1833 Shiperd and Philo Penfield Stewart (a student minister) establish Oberlin (one of the last settlements established in Lorain County).

1833 The first home (a log cabin) is built by Peter Pindar Pease (just north of the historic elm). The Pease family are the first Oberlin colonists.

1833 The first business, a sawmill, is established at what is now the southeast corner of Vine and Main Streets. It is owned and operated by the College. (At first, the College owned and operated all businesses to prevent any type of greed or cheating that might come from the profit drive. However, the mill became a financial burden to the College, and it was sold to a private individual to run, thus setting the precedent for private ownership of businesses in town.)

1833 The first college building is constructed. (At that time Oberlin College is called the Oberlin Collegiate Institute.) "Oberlin Hall" is located approximately where Ben Franklin store stands today. It is a boarding house where forty students can live, and includes classrooms for study-- and use as a church on Sunday--with quarters in the basement for the professors. (Oberlin Hall is used by the college from 1833-54, when it is sold as a business store. It burns down in 1886.)

1833 The first Oberlin College classes are held on December 3, 1833.

1833 By the end of this first year, there are 11 families in residence in Oberlin and 44 students in the college (15 of them women).

1834 "Lane Rebels" relocate from Cincinnati's Lane Seminary to Oberlin, bringing new students, faculty and the first college president, Asa Mahan (1835-l850).

1834 The Oberlin School District is organized for public education.

1834 Oberlin's population grows to include 200 colonists and 100 students.

1835 Oberlin College Trustees vote to admit blacks to the institution. (Although Oberlin is not the first college to admit blacks, it is the first to admit students without respect to race as a matter of regular policy.)

1835 Rev. Charles Finney, a well-known revival preacher from New York, arrives in Oberlin in the spring. (The Tappan brothers, Arthur and Lewis, strong supporters of the Lane Seminarians and later Oberlin College, were members of Finney's New York congregation.)

1835 Oberlin immediately becomes involved in the anti-slavery movement, and during the next 25 years the colony and institution function as a unit in the underground railroad.

1835 By the end of the year, 300 students are in attendance at Oberlin.

1836 Tappan Hall is built in the middle of what is today Tappan Square. The 4-story building has 94 rooms. (It is torn down in 1885.)

1836 The first one room ungraded school building is built for a cost of $215. (It still stands today, owned and operated by O.H.I.O. and known as known as The Little Red Schoolhouse.)

1836 Shiperd leaves Oberlin to create similar colonies in Indiana and Michigan. Philo Stewart also leaves Oberlin, unhappy at the events of 1835, but he continues to support Oberlin through financial contributions. (He went on to be an inventor, patenting and selling three versions of an iron stove. He gave money to the college from the sale of these stoves.)

1836 The community's fire protection consists of four ladders, two hooks and two axes placed at accessible locations.

1837 Oberlin establishes two volunteer fire companies.

1837 Julia Finney (Monroe) is born.

1841 Four women are the first to receive the Bachelor of Arts Degree in the U.S.

1844 First Church of Oberlin is completed, with Rev. Charles Finney as its pastor. For a time it is the largest building west of the Appalachian Mountains, holding close to 2000 people.

1844 John Mercer Langston (1829-1897) attends Oberlin College (graduating with a BA degree in 1849, and graduating from Oberlin Seminary in 1853).

1844 John Jay Shiperd dies at the age of 42.

1844 Frank Fanning Jewett is born in Newton Corner, Massachusetts.

1846 Oberlin is incorporated as a village, with townspeople electing a city council and a mayor to conduct all civic matters.

1847 James Monroe marries Elizabeth Maxwell.

1848 A block of buildings bounded by East College and Main Streets burns down (only to be rebuilt and burn again in 1882).

Check out Russia Township's 1850 Census data!

1851 The First Union School House, a two-story, graded school, is built on Professor Street (The original schoolhouse is purchased by Elizure Leonard who moves it south to 73 S. Main Street).

1852 A railroad is constructed through Oberlin from Toledo to Grafton (from Grafton, rail transportation continues to Cleveland or Cincinnati).

1854 John Mercer Langston becomes the first black lawyer in the United States (having studied law under an anti-slavery judge in Elyria). After leaving Oberlin and going to Virginia in 1871, he became the first black admitted to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court.

1854 Frances Gulick (Jewett) is born to missionary parents in Micronesia.

1855 John Mercer Langston becomes the first black elected to public office as clerk of Brownhelm Township. (Later, he also is elected to the Oberlin City Council and the Oberlin Board of Education.)

1858 Oberlin-Wellington Rescue (September 13). Hundreds of Oberlin and Wellington residents rescue l8-year-old fugitive slave, John Price from U.S. marshals. He is returned to Oberlin and sent on to Canada three days later. Twenty-one Oberlinians are jailed in Cleveland their part in the Rescue; eventually all are released (spending up to 10 months in jail).

1858 Gas street lights are provided by a private gas factory run by Samuel Plum (located on present-day Vine Street).

1859 John Brown attempts (unsuccessfully) to storm an arsenal in Harper's Ferry, Virginia on October 20. Three free black Oberlin men take part in the raid: John Copeland, Lewis S. Leary and Shields Green. Leary is killed during the raid, and Copeland and Green are hanged in December. An 8-foot marble monument is erected by the citizens of Oberlin for the three men (it was moved to Vine Street Park in 1971.)

1860 Oberlin's population is 2115 (including 422 Blacks -20 percent).

1861 When the Civil War begins, a company of 100 college students is formed, called the "Monroe Rifles" after Professor James Monroe. They are led by Captain Giles Shurtleff, a theology student and tutor in Latin at the College. They become Company C of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

1861 John Langston helps form Ohio's first Black regiment, the 127th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, led by Giles Shurtleff, then a colonel. (Blacks were not allowed to be officers). Four Oberlin Blacks are in the regiment.

l86l-65 In all, close to a thousand Oberlin men (50 blacks) joined voluntarily to serve in the Civil War.

1862 Mary Jane Patterson graduates with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College, the first black woman to receive a BA degree in the United States. (She became the "principal of the first preparatory high school for colored youth" in Washington, DC.)

1862 Elizabeth Maxwell Monroe dies.

1863 Charles Martin Hall is born.

1863 Westwood Cemetery, one of the integrated cemeteries in the United States, is established on 47 acres at the west end of Morgan Street. (Many graves from an earlier cemetery located on a hill overlooking the Plum Creek between Professor and South Man Streets were relocated to Westwood.)

1865 The Oberlin fire department resigns because of inadequate equipment.

1865 James Monroe marries Julia Finney.

1866 A steam fire engine is purchased for the community.

1866 The red-brick Italianate house, later known as the Monroe House, is built. The original owner is Giles Shurtleff.

1870 James Monroe purchases the "Monroe House" from General Shurtleff.

1872 Rust United Methodist Church is established (together with the Mount Zion Baptist Church, founded in 1884, these two churhes provide much of the Black leadership in the community). The location of these churches also helps to establish the housing pattern for the town.

1874 Union High School is built on South Main Street (now known as Westervelt Hall).

1875 Charles Finney dies.

1880 Frank and Frances Jewett arrive in Oberlin.

1884 The Jewett House, located on Professor Street, is built and purchased-unfinished-from Rev. Reuben Hatch for $6,000.

1886 Charles Martin Hall discovers the process for extracting aluminum from ore.

1886 A block bounded by West College and South Main Streets burns, taking with it Oberlin's oldest building--Oberlin Hall.

1888 Oberlin constructs a water works plant with fire hydrants placed at various locations.

1890 John Mercer Langston is elected Congressman from the 4th district of Virginia.

1893 The Oberlin Gas and Electric Company, a private concern located on the south side of the railroad tracks crossing South Main Street, begins supplying gas to Oberlin customers. The company provides 39 electric arc lights for major streets. That same year, electricity is first used in private homes. (Initially, electric light fixtures are located only in the middle of the ceilings of rooms; there are no additional outlets because there are no appliances!)

1893 Oberlin contracts to have sanitation and storm sewers put in.

1894 All major streets are made of brick, replacing mud, wood and sandstone. (Today, all streets are blacktopped; the last brick street, Morgan, was blacktopped in 1975.)

1895 Alice Swing is elected the first woman on the Oberlin School Board and is among the first women to be on any Ohio school board.

1895 The Oberlin Telephone Company is incorporated. The first telephones come to Oberlin the following year. (By some account, private telephone lines are used among a very few Oberlinians as early as 1877.)

1897 John Mercer Langston dies.

1897 A traction line (street railway) is opened between Elyria and Oberlin-a round-trip ticket cost 25 cents.