December 12, 1975
In answer to your letter of December 8th I will try to set down from memory a number of things you asked about, and several others that you might make use of.
Your barn was used as a horse barn, and hay barn in its present location. It was moved from the area between the two Meadowhill Rds. about the spring of 1946. It is well over a hundred years old, but when it actually was built I don’t know.
The hill on which your house stands is one of the highest points in Cuyahoga County. As I recall it is approximately 1220 ft. above sea level.
When my father, Robert L. Stern, moved to Jackson Rd. from Cleveland, O. in 1918 all of the roads were dirt; there were no electric lines, but telephone had made its appearance. No high school was available, and after circulating in the one-room schools of the area, one had to walk to Chagrin Falls to High School, or, up to 1923 take the Interurban street car that ran from Cleveland to Chagrin Falls.
The Garfield and Boynton families were the first settlers on Jackson Road and the Mapes family the first in Moreland Hills, or then known as Orange Township.
The first Church services were held at the Pulpit Rock at the Stone Natural Bridge on what is now the Chagrin Valley Country Club. This site can still be visited and one can see the carvings of the Beatitudes on a large rock close to the Pulpit Rock east of the fourteenth fairway. It was here the James A. Garfield, as a boy, heard Preachers and traveling speakers. At this place he cultivated a strong speaking voice, a voice which stood him well in Politics in future years. At the northwest corner of the fourteenth fairway there stood a bear tree that has a story. One night James Garfield’s father heard a bear in his pig sty. He hurried with his gun to protect the, but the bear escaped to a large tree about a half mile west of the Garfield cabin. Garfield trailed the bear in the snow and shot him up in the tree where he had climbed. As the bear fell he lodged in a forked branch. It was necessary to return to the cabin to get an ax to cut down the tree and retrieve the bear. Of course, bear meat was sought after in those days, and I’m sure that the trade of a pig for a bear was not an entire loss.
In 1924 all of the one-room schools were closed down, as the present Orange Consolidated school was built. The Will Jackson family lived in the former Boynton homestead and were leaders in this area. Dr. Theron Jackson, a son, became of Cleveland’s great surgeons.
Until 1923 S.O.M. Center Road was a winding dirt road and the only paved roads were Chagrin Blvd. (South Kinsman) and N. Miles Ave., both of these were only paved for one lane of traffic, as the farmers wanted their teams always to be on dirt.
Many Indian artifacts have been found in the Chagrin River Valley. The Graham collection, now at Ohio State University was picked up along the river in Moreland Hills Village. Glen Shaw, the artist, found an Aztec stone figure, probably lost by some Indian traveling down the stream.
Just after the depression Robert L. Stern, who had purchased a number of farms in Moreland Hills Village, decided in 1937 to subdivide them. This opened up the beautiful natural area of Moreland Hills to the people who wanted a view, trees and clean air, with larger homesites than were available in Shaker Heights.. This proved successful and set the trend for many adjacent Villages in the Chagrin Valley to initiate good zoning laws.
The change from total agriculture in 1937 to an entirely suburban area in 1965 brought Moreland Hills Village to a new age. The Maple trees, wheat, hay and oat fields turned into the lovely homesites of the professional, business and manufacturing leaders of Cuyahoga County.
The shrill steam whistle of Art and Elias Smith’s threshing tractor no longer salutes these hills. A complete metamorphosis, equal but not better, has taken place. So – Moreland Hills, we hail your quiet and peaceful neighborhoods. Your still beautiful trees and long views of the Valley and your ensuing generations may be mindful of the following: this land produced a President of the United States and a great many other people who helped in the transition from beautiful farm country to beautiful home country. They built lovely homes, raised fine families and made Moreland Hills a beautiful place to live.
Bob Stern, Jr.