William Wetmore


William Wetmore

(Adapted from Akron and Summit County, by Karl Grismer)

William Wetmore was born in Middletown, Connecticut, in September 16, 1771. His parents were Seth Wetmore and Mary Wright, of Middletown. He married Anne Ogden in 1795 in Hartford, CT. They had four children: William Jr., Edwin, Clarissa and Henry. William died in Ohio on October 9, 1827.

A cousin of Joshua Stow, Wetmore agreed to be Joshua's land agent, selling properties to the new settlers coming to the Western Reserve. In order to do this, he moved to Ohio with his family in June, 1804, and built the second log cabin in what would become Stow Township. At first, they lived on lots 25, 35 and 36, which surrounded the present intersection of Darrow and Kent Roads. His brother, Titus Wetmore, also came with them.

In 1808, the new township was organized with an election of officers, and William was elected Justice of the Peace [a judge]. Portage County was organized in August of that same year [then it included what is now Summit County]. William was appointed Clerk of the Court of Ravenna. He later resigned the office and moved back to his farm in Stow.

William's conscientious dealings with the Indians soon made them his faithful friends. It was this close relationship that saved the settlers during the War of 1812. The British wanted the Indians to kill the white settlers, but the tribe moved away, rather than slaughter their friends.

During the War of 1812, Mr. Wetmore was appointed commissary for troops stationed at Old Portage. [This was the northern end of Portage Path, at the Cuyahoga River.] Acting as an agent of Joshua Stow, owner of the township, William also gave permission to Francis Kelsey and Isaac Wilcox to build a dam across the Cuyahoga River and to erect a sawmill. It is said that lumber from this mill was used by the army to build ships at Old Portage for use against the British. (The dam washed away not long after this.)

In 1825, Mr. Wetmore, in partnership with Joshua Stow, started the development of the town of Cuyahoga Falls. The two men owned jointly 210 acres in the southwest corner of Stow Township. The actual development work was supervised by Wetmore's two sons, William, Jr., and Henry. They employed 30 men and constructed a dam near the present Stow Street, and built a gristmill, sawmill and linseed oil mill. Late in 1826 a paper mill was built, the first in the state to make paper by gathering the pulp on a cylinder.

On the occasion of Edwin Wetmore's 21st birthday (1823), his parents, William and Anne, gave him a 95-acre plot of land. Now in the Village of Silver Lake, along an upscale suburban stretch of Kent Road, then it was the farm that helped sustain his family. In 1820, Edwin had already built a 2-story Connecticut style farmhouse on this property. The house, with modifications, still stands on one acre and is occupied today.

The whole Wetmore farm was subdivided early in the twentieth century, into a neighborhood known as Paradise Park. This tree-lined neighborhood stretches from the Wetmore house to the present site of the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, and north several blocks. Today we have Wetmore Park and Wetmore Avenue as reminders of Stow's first settler family.