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The History of Bay View - Written by: Rosan Allen
The Beginning - Indians and Settlers
After the Revolutionary War the State of Connecticut donated a 500,000 acre tract of land, to be taken from the western end of what was known as the "Reserve," to those who lost land at the hands of the British. Since the losses were caused by fires, the land given was justly named The Firelands. The present counties of Erie, Huron, the township of Ruggles in Ashland County, and Danbury in Ottawa County comprised this area.
The land, however, was not truly Connecticut's to give. Indians lived on these lands. It is not clear when Indians first inhabited this area, but it is widely felt that Mound Builders lived here in pre-historic times. As long ago as the middle of the 17th century the Erie Tribe occupied northern Ohio. After the destruction of the Erie Nation, no one Indian tribe was more prevalent than another. Many tribes such as the Iroquois, Miami's, Delawares, Ottawa, Chippewas, Senecas, and the Wyandots hunted these grounds.
In January of 1785 a treaty was concluded with four of the tribes the Wyandots, Delawares, Chippewas, and Ottawas. There was much dissatisfaction and uprisings were common. The Indians and settlers were at war for years until the treaty of 1805 when the Indian title to the remaining portion of lands of the Reserve was obtained by purchase.
As it took some thirty years to make treaties, settle claims, allot the lands, and draw up deeds, many of the original claimants were dead or too old to travel so the land was deeded to their descendants. Gradually the Firelands was settled and the names for the settlements reflected the towns from where they originally had come - Greenwich, New London, Ridgefield, Groton, Norwalk and Danbury.
The first pioneer known to settle in Margaretta Township came from Vermont in the Spring of 1810. His name was Docartus Snow and he built a grist-mill and log house at the head of Cold Creek.
The early name for this township had been Patterson. It was named for Hugh Patterson, a British Indian Trader, who did not get along with the Wyandot Tribe during his stay here. Local settlers and the Indian chief petitioned the Govemor in Detroit for his removal. Those living here did not want to retain the name of the man they despised so they asked a Major Frederick Falley, who owned options on much of the land to suggest a new name. He suggested that the township be named after his mother, sister, and several nieces. Thus, it was named Margaretta in the summer of 1812.
For nearly thirty years the settlers struggled to make a living. They built cabins, raised and hunted their own food, made utensils, furniture, and clothing. In making the wilderness their homes, the pioneers had no precedent to follow except that left by the Indians. They used the Indian trails to lay out roads which often led to springs and former Indian villages.
Agriculture was thriving but the settlers could not get their produce to market. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 allowed area farmers to ship their wares East as well as obtain manufactured goods and supplies on return trips. The opening of this canal system had great impact on the growth of the area.
At the time of the early land dealings, Margaretta Township was a part of Huron County and all land deeds were filed there. It was not until 1834 that steps were taken to separate and form a new county. This was accomplished in 1838 and Erie County was established.
Richard Martin migrated to this area in the early 1800s from New York when there were only a few log cabins. He owned and farmed the land of Margaretta Township now known as Bay View. In fact, Bay View was formerly named Martin's Point after this early settler. Richard Martin was the grandfather of Christopher Quick Martin who was bom in a log cabin in Bay View (Martin's Point) in 1859 and lived all of his years here. His son Edward was one of the Erie County Commissioners who supported the first steps for a bridge to cross Sandusky Bay. In a newspaper article in the Sandusky Star Journal, Christopher Martin reminisced of his childhood days. "I've often heard my grandfather say that he remembered well when Sandusky was a community of seven log huts, in one of which there was a sort of a trading station. And I recall my father's having told me of how about 500 Indians used to live on the banks of Mills Creek and of how he used to play with the Indian children. I remember, too, of hearing Father tell how, "one moming he went out and shot and dressed 3 deer while his wife - my mother - was getting breakfast." Descendants of the Martin family still reside in the Venice area, between Bay View and Sandusky.
As reported in the History of the Firelands, Huron and Erie Counties, the section of Margaretta Township, part of which was later to become Bay View, was described as "Mostly prairie, with some strips of timber. It used to be called a marsh, but by making a channel for Cold Creek, building the railroad, and making several large ditches through it, has made it good farming and grazing land."
Margaretta Township is basically level land, though there are some rolling hills, The timbered land is abundant with oak trees. The soil is rich with a clay sub soil. The section of the township located near Bay View is primarily marshland. The village of Bay View could be considered somewhat of a peninsula as it is surrounded on three sides by the waters of the Sandusky Bay.
Business and Industry
The simple, rather unhurried life of the early settlers did not last long. After the opening of the Canal and the Railroad they found they could transport their farm produce cheaply and exchange for East coast and European manufactured goods. Commercial fever hit. Log homes were replaced with homes, churches, and schools, patterned after those in New England. Towns were planned and governments organized. According to census figures found in the Statistica-Abstract-Of-Ohio, the population of Erie County was 12,599 in 1840; 24,474 in 1860; and 32,640 in 1880. The major population areas Were Sandusky, Castalia, Venice, and Huron. It is presumed the rural area realized comparable growth as well.
The early 1880's saw the establishment of the Ice Industry. Ice from Sandusky Bay was gathered and shipped via the railroad to towns not located on waterways. At no other port on the entire chain of lakes could ice be so easily taken up, stored, or shipped by rail as on the waters of the Sandusky Bay. The cities of Pittsburgh, Wheeling, Cincinnati, Louisville, and points between were almost solely dependent upon Sandusky Bay for their supply of ice.
Early industrial history of this area is also closely related to the natural resources of the area. Abundant forests located to easy transportation made lumbering and wood products a thriving industry.
In 1892 the Sandusky Cement Company built a plant on Sandusky Bay in Margaretta Township because of a site of a large deposit of marl found near what is now known as Deer Park on Route 269. Marl is an earthy mixture of fine-grained minerals and is required in the production of portland cement. Another ingredient necessary in the manufacture of cement is yellow clay which was also abundant here. This clay and marl were loaded onto trains with steam shovels and shipped to the cement company.
The Company workmen and their families moved here and development of the area began to flourish. Many of the early workers were immigrants from Hungary, Poland, and Yugoslavia. Cement block homes were built near the plant for the workers and their families to rent. A two-story building was built to accommodate a general store and post office. This little community came to be known as Bay Bridge.
Medusa Cement bought Sandusky Cement in 1915 and this industry continued to be the primary catalyst for growth here.
In 1924 Albert Meyers founded the Russell Trucking Company (named for son Russell) to haul cement for Medusa and gypsum products from the mines near Port Clinton. This business grew immensely, and it is said "employed everybody who didn't work for Medusa." The terminal for Russell Trucking was located on grounds next to Medusa.
Residential and Local Business Development
Cleveland area businessmen recognized this area as a prime target for recreational development. In the early 1920's they formed a corporation, financed by the Midland Bank, known as The Bay View Company and purchased approximately 500 acres of the farm land west of Bay Bridge from area farmers. They commissioned a Civil Engineer from Cleveland, C.W. Courtney, to survey and plot the land as a resort development. The plan called for beaches, boating, and other recreational facilities. It is interesting to note as well that nearly all streets were named after the Indian tribes and Indian Chiefs who originally lived here. The Company built three model cottages, published a brochure, and advertised it. However, their plans as described in their brochure never materialized.
The Bay View Company went bankrupt and The Midland Bank assumed ownership of all unsold lots. It is rumored that a couple of the partners stole the money and "went south". The lot owners remaining were summer residents only.
From the mid-1920s to 1934 much of the land of Bay View was transferred back and forth between the Liquidating Midland Bank and the Midland Bank several times. One may presume that these companies may have been owned by the same men and the transfers were made for tax purposes. Unfortunately, Deed Records do not give reasons for transfer of property. The plats were ultimately auctioned to area investors and the way was paved for residential development.
The first family to become year-round residents of the new Bay View was the Albert Meyers family, owner-operators of The Russell Trucking Company at Bay Bridge. They built a house in 1931 and moved with their four children here in 1932. As there was no electricity or water in Bay View, the Meyers family installed a generator in their home. Electricity came to Bay View in the 1940s and more and more families purchased land and built homes. A good many of these early residents had previously lived in rented homes in Bay Bridge and worked for Medusa.
A few small businesses were established to accommodate the seasonal and ever-growing permanent residents as well as travelers and tourists. A small grocery and gas station was opened known as Ford's. The Log Cabin, a one-room "beer joint" was built in the early 1930s by Sanduskian Art Pietschmann. In years to come this business would grow into one of the finest restaurants in Northem Ohio. People would come from miles around to dine here. It was not unusual on a Sunday to see folks standing in line outside and down the walk-way waiting for a table - particularly on Mothers' Day.
Other businesses which were very popular were the Four Winds Restaurant (presently the Moose Club), Andy's Tavern (now Terry's Tavern) and Yost's Cabins for the traveler or those who wished to stay and enjoy the area described in the brochure of The Bay View Company.
Sandusky Bay Bridge
For nearly a half century there was "talk" of constructing a bridge across Sandusky Bay connecting Erie County to Ottawa County. After the automobile came into general use, the idea of building a trafic bridge across the bay was seriously considered. The Erie County Automobile Club was a pioneer in the movement. At one time the Star-Joumal, a Sandusky newspaper, published a map showing the possibility and proposed route. The project first included a railroad line across the bridge to connect with a belt line. The map is interesting as showing the first conception of the project and the fact that the route then proposed was practically identical with the route finally chosen.
The project was financed through a grant from the state legislature, underwritten by bankers from New York, and land was acquired. Martin's Point was selected for the Erie County, or southern terminal, and Danbury for the Northern terminal. Actual construction was started on August 5, 1927.
Meanwhile, it was necessary to arrange for the approaches. Erie County commissioners, supported by a group of citizens, went to the highways department and worked out a plan for state and county action in the paving of both the Martin and Barrett roads, leading to the Martin's Point terminal at Bay View. The route of Barrett Road was changed somewhat at both Venice and Bay Bridge to eliminate sharp curves, and a fine concrete highway was constructed. This highway was to become State Routes 2 and 6. It also was the main artery between Cleveland and Toledo. This highway would eventually bring thousands of visitors through Bay View, and the little town would see substantial growth.
Built at a cost of $700,000.00, the Sandusky Bay Bridge was the longest span in Ohio. The bridge was dedicated on February 2, 1929 with dignitaries from Ohio, Michigan, and Washington D.C. participating. There were Chippewa Indian ceremonies as well. At the conclusion of the festivities, all crossed the bridge to Danbury and on to Port Clinton. Previous to the bridge being built, the mileage from Sandusky to Port Clinton was thirty-five (35) miles by way of Fremont. The span shortened the trip by 10 miles and opened the area on both sides to increased industry, building of homes, hotels, restaurants, and tourist camps flourished. Funds for the repayment and maintenance of the bridge were raised by charging a toll of 50 cents per vehicle to cross. This was lowered to 25 cents and eventually lifted entirely.
Organized in 1815, Margaretta Township has been governed by trustees ever since. The three (3) trustees are elected to serve four (4) year terms. They are responsible for petitioning the County Commissioners to levy necessary taxes for operation of the township. Once the taxes are collected they are obligated to budget them for the maintenance of township roads, fire department, and other required services. They are also the main body for hearing complaints from township residents. Often they are unable to resolve these issues because of laws of county, state or nation, but they are a good sounding board.
When the Midland Bank began selling plats of land in the early 1930s, the new owners formed an organization known as the Bay View Property Owners' Association. They were chartered, adopted a constitution, and more or less "governed" Bay View for nearly twenty (20) years. They accepted the same covenants the Bay View Company had in their original deed agreements.
In 1934 The Midland Bank sold the Property Owners' Association, for the sum of $10.00, the park land on the perimeter of the peninsula and the interior parks (Erie County Deed Record; Vol. 149; 495-496). Consequently, this Association was responsible for their maintenance and pledged that these grounds would remain for the private use of property owners.
In 1951 the township trustees, Mr. Perry, Mr. Elmer Borchardt, and Mr. Willard Hoffman, were petitioned by citizens of Bay View to become its own govemmental entity. Bay View citizens felt they would be able to get better services such as water, fire and police protection, decent streets, and snow-free streets if they governed themselves. There was some dissatisfaction with how long it took to get action on serious needs.
A resolution was passed unanimously by the trustees on June 23, 1951 to allow Bay View to incorporate. A notice was sent by Township Clerk Eloise Rohrbacher to the Board of Elections of Erie County and was posted in Bay View. On July 11, 1951 the resolution declaring the incorporation of Bay View as a Village was signed.
Upon its incorporation resident Robert Kohl, a supervisor at New Departure in Sandusky, was appointed to serve as its first mayor. The village government consisted of a mayor and six council members elected by the villagers. The village became responsible for maintaining its eleven (11) miles of streets, and its own police department, and fire department. Revenues for operation of the village were obtained through property tax millage, building permits, mayor's court, leasing of village property, and state aid.
The number of full-time residents at the time of incorporation was only a few hundred. The 1960 census was the first to provide figures for Bay View and lists the population at 802 (Ohio Population Report). However, the summer seasonal population increased greatly as city folks flocked to the area to enjoy the recreation activities so abundant on the North coast of Ohio.
The businessmen and officials of Bay View began to dream of the future and plan for their growth as Erie County's youngest, but certainly her most enthusiastic little town.