Tales From The Tollgate House

These are some of the people that helped shape Parma Heights to what it is today. This area started with the 1817 arrival of Conrad Countryman, his wife, three sons, Peter, John, Jacob, and his brother, William, all from Mohawk, New York. They settled in the area of Stumph Road and Pearl. He ran a sawmill and a blacksmith shop and some reports say he also kept an inn nearby, possibly the one that became known as the Old Stone Tavern. A Connecticut Yankee named Pelitiah Bliss also came to claim the piece of land he purchased from the Connecticut Land Company in 1821. He built a log cabin home at York and Pearl Road. Later in 1821, the population rose with the arrival of Asa Emerson, Jesse Nicholas, Amos Hodgman, Joseph Small, and William Steele. They were all from Bowdoin, Maine. A half brother of Lorenzo Carter, John Ackley settled later after working as an engineer on Cleveland's first stone pier and other Harbor installations. All of these people were strong believers in education and religion.  

The first schoolhouse was a log structure on the hill at the northern corner of what is now the Parma Heights Cemetery. At the time it was part of the Robert Hodgman's farm. It stood until 1841 and many a square dance was interspersed with prayer meetings along class recitations as the school was the civic and religious center of the town.  

Fred Cogswell arrived here via the Erie Canal from Connecticut. He purchased the Peter Countryman property on York Road. Across the Road was a piece of land that was purchased by Amos Denison in 1837. He was the brother of Mrs. Fred Cogswell. Many of the streets in the area were named after these people and new families arriving and settling in the area.   

The first Church was formed as a congregational Church in 1837 and was built in 1841, after the original log cabin burned down. A few years later, the Church became a Presbyterian Faith. After all these years, the Church still stands and many from the area and surrounding area attend services here.  

During the Civil War Years 1861-1865, crowds would gather at Asa Emerson's house on Pearl Road and watch the Soldiers practice; loading and firing their rifles.  

Many of these people came here with high spiritual and moral beliefs that have transcended down through time to many people living here today. This is why our History is so important and should never be forgotten. Anyone with any Historical information or artifacts would be greatly appreciated by the Parma Heights Historical Society. Please come and share your stories with us by calling the Parma Heights Historical Society, Joe Reeves (President), at 216-870-4864.

Bob Stilwell

Retired Manufacturing Supervisor since 2008. I'm a member of the American Legion Post 703 In Parma,Ohio. Active Member of the Parma Heights Historical Society and a School crossing guard for the City of Parma,Ohio. I have lived in Parma Heights for 50 years. This is where I met my wife. We have a son and daughter and 3 grandaughters. Two of our grandaughters are Junior Olympic Volleyball Players. They have won several state, Gold Medals, and a National Championship Gold Medal in Atlanta,Georgia in 2011. We are very proud of all of them. 

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Volume 6, Issue 11, Posted 10:42 AM, 11.03.2014