Nathan Alger was born 5 may 1765 in Kent, Litchfield,
Connecticut. He married Priscilla Peet in 1785.
They had eight children: Armelia, Henry, Orres, Fanny M.,
Sally Pee, Herman A., Nathan (Jr.), and Thaddeus Peet.
He was sent to the Western Reserve by the Connecticut Land Company to
homestead 640 acres of land. Nathan and Priscilla arrived in Old
Rockport in June 1812 with their sons: Henry, Herman, Nathan,
Jr., and Thaddeus P.
Nathan's son, Henry, later
recorded in his journal that he left Litchfield County, Connecticut,
with ten dollars he had borrowed. When he arrived in the area,
his few possessions included an old French watch, an ax, a part of a
kit of shoemaker's tools, shop furniture, a bed and seven cents.
He immediately built a log cabin and furnished it with a
catamount bedstead, a shoemaker's bench and two stools. He and
his wife, Susan Nichols, began housekeeping with a broken iron tea
kettle that he had found on the lake shore.
In the fall of 1812, Henry traveled 36 miles east of Painesville to
thresh wheat on a farm. His pay was every tenth bushel of wheat.
He once worked nine days for fifty-six pounds of salt. He
carried this home on his back, walking the entire distance from
Cleveland. He chopped an acre of timber in Columbia Township for
which he received 100 pounds of flour. He carried the flour on
his back to his home, a distance often miles.
One of the conditions of the homestead was that the settler was to live
on the property for a year in order to receive full title to it. Nathan
had been on the homestead less that a year when he died, at age 47, on
January 21, 1813. Nathan was buried on the homestead awarded to
his family. The Alger family's 320 acre homestead became known as
Henry Alger later donated the acre of land that
contained his father's grave to Rockport. This became known as Alger Cemetery
as it expanded to become the area burial ground. Originally, its
entrance was at 16711 Lorain Avenue but was later relocated to 16710
Bradgate Avenue. Nathan Alger's grave is located in the northwest
section of the cemetery. It can be found by entering from
Bradgate Avenue and taking the lane on the left. The section is
readily identified by several old gravestones. His gravestone, hand ground and hewn, is
inscribed, "My friend, I'm here, the first to come, and in this place,
for you there's room." His sons, Henry and Nathan, are buried
just north of their father's grave.
His son, Thaddeus Peet Alger, was 27 years old when he was
killed by lightning on July 14, 1828. His gravestone,
also near his father's, bears the inscription, "My sudden death
proclaims aloud to you my dying friends; To be prepared to meet your
God, when he the summons sends." Nathan Alger, Jr's., grave is also in that section of the cemetery.
Many settlers of Old Rockport Township are buried in Alger
Cemetery. Algers, Nichols, Herrington and Triskett graves are in
the old section. Kamm, Colbrunn and Sixt grave sites are in an
Alger House, built in 1825 by Henry Alger, Nathan's eldest son,
was a red frame house on the south side of Lorain Avenue, near Alger
Cemetery. John Alber (his name is also recorded as
Albers) bought the house at the turn of the century. (Photograph,
of Laverne Landphair Buch.) Alber
and his wife operated a restaurant for the workers and spectators at
the Rockport Hamlet Driving Park, a harness racing track that was
located directly across Lorain Avenue. The house was destroyed in
1925. Albers Avenue was named for John Alber.
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THE BARTHELMAN FAMILY
The Barthelman Family has a long history in West
Park. First to arrive was Johann Christoph Barthelman who came to the
U.S. in 1840 from Germany. Here he met and married his wife, Johanna,
also a native of Germany. The couple lived along Settlement Road, now
known as West 130th, and accumulated a great deal of land in that area.
In 1876, Johann bought the property surrounding
the southwest corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue though the
immediate vicinity around Kamm’s Store continued to be owned by Oswald
Johann died only a year later in 1877 but made
arrangements in his will to eventually distribute his land holdings
among his sons. As a result, in 1888 the property near Kamm’s Corners
came into the ownership of Frederick Barthelman.
In about 1890 Frederick built a
spacious farmhouse (right) on the south side of Lorain Avenue at 17401
Lorain Avenue, west of Kamm’s Store, where he lived with his wife
Katherine and growing family. This house stood for many years, later
serving as a home to other members of Frederick’s family, but
ultimately gave way to the commercialization of Lorain Avenue and was
finally demolished sometime after 1934.
Meanwhile, in about
1920, Frederick built a second house near the first which became his
new permanent residence. This house was eventually moved to a location
further away from busy Lorain Avenue and now stands at 3906
Rocky River Drive at the corner of Fernshaw Avenue.
After a lifetime in the West Park area Frederick
Barthelman passed away in 1932 at eighty-years of age.
By that time Frederick’s son Henry
had been active in Barthelman Family enterprises for many years. In
November, 1902, Henry established the Barthelman Dairy, its
horse-drawn wagons delivering milk
throughout Rockport Township. The dairy was a great commercial success,
allowing Henry to sell the business to Earl Blain in 1914 and begin
semi-retirement at age 32!
In about 1914 Henry Barthelman became Treasurer
of the Cleveland Motor Car Sales Company, a business which sold Nash
Automobiles to a public falling in love with the open road. Henry, who
showed a particular talent for the world of finance, also served as a
director for the West Park Bank and the Thrift Federal Savings and Loan
Not long after leaving the dairy business, Henry
also built and began operating a greenhouse. He once again met with
success. So much so that, in about 1922, he led members of the
Barthelman Family in creating United Greenhouses Incorporated, adding
three more greenhouses to the existing one. These greenhouses were
located not only in West Park but also in southwest Cuyahoga County.
The greenhouse business became a big operation
with over twenty acres under glass. Tomatoes were the principal product
and were not only sold locally but shipped to other parts of the
Henry also had a new road built, running west
from Rocky River Drive, just south of Lorain Avenue. Originally named
Clarence Road, in honor of Henry’s first child, the name was later
changed to Fernshaw Avenue.
In 1924, Henry built his family a new home on
this new street. This impressive house still stands at 17219 Fernshaw
Avenue. Until this time Henry had resided in the original Barthelman
house slightly north on Lorain. Yes, all the Barthelman homes in that
area can get a bit confusing!
Henry Barthelman died in 1966 at age 84, leaving
a big influence on one of West Park’s busiest and best known corners.
Robert Barthelman, son of Henry and grandson of
Frederick, was born in 1912 on the dining room table of the house built
by his grandfather at 17401 Lorain. Robert not only served as president
of the United Greenhouse Company for many years, but, in close
cooperation with his wife, Lucille, built Olympic Recreation at West
176th and Lorain, one of the first family-oriented bowling alleys in
Olympic Recreation was run by the Barthelman’s
from 1939 to 1972 when they sold the business to a new owner. The
building was later torn down and the site is now a parking lot for
nearby Fairview Park Hospital.
Older West Parkers will recall Robert also
operated The Polar Bar, an ice cream stand on the south side of Lorain
across from Olympic Recreation, from about 1942 to 1950.
and Lucille Barthelman, now of Westlake, celebrated their 70th (!)
wedding anniversary in August, 2005.
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Frederick A. "Fred" Colbrunn was born in 1836 in
Lippe, Germany. He was a successful linen mill operator in
Germany who, reportedly, catered to royalty. He came to the
United States where he bought land and settled in Old Rockport Township
in 1830. It was a rural area with many large farms and a few
homes. He eventually became the largest landowner in the
township. He owned all four corners of Lorain Avenue and Rocky
River Drive. When settlers began arriving, the Colbrunn Family
sold many of them parcels of their land. Frederick was first married to
Elizabeth McKechnie. Following her death he
married a woman named Anna. His third wife was Jennie
W. Drucker. Oswald Kamm bought four acres on the
southwest corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue where he was to
build a home and his grocery store. Oswald had married Lena,
one of Colbrunn's granddaughters. He and Lena are buried in the
Alger Cemetery just east of the original section.
The Colbrunn family was involved in several successful business
ventures. A daughter, Jenny, lived in a large home at
3706 Rocky River Drive. Her son Fred, namesake of his
grandfather, married Oswald Kamm's daughter.
Emma married John Alber
who purchased the Alger House, called the Old
Red House, built in 1825 by Henry Alger, Nathan's eldest
son. This red frame house sat on the south side of Lorain Avenue,
near Alger Cemetery.
Fred Colbrunn, son of the original Fred Colbrunn, was
a respected gentleman farmer in his day. One of his business
interests was the Rockport Hamlet Driving Park built in 1890. It
was a harness racing track complete with a half-mile track and
grandstand. It faced West 159th Street, running north from Lorain
Avenue to Lucille Avenue. The stables stood at the south end
along Lorain Street while a saloon and a concession stand were on the
west side along West 165th Street. The entire facility was
surrounded by a tall wooden fence. Children of the area spent
many afternoons sitting on the fence or peeking through it. Races
were organized for a two to three week period, several times a year
attracting horse racers from all of Ohio and even Kentucky.
The area as annexed by Cleveland in 1923 and the Cleveland School Board
purchased the race track for $15,000.00. George Washington
Elementary School was constructed on the south end of the property the
same year. Newton D. Baker Junior High School was built on the
Several Colbrunn family members are buried in the Alger Cemetery. Grave of Fred Colbrunn (1836-1911). Grave of Fred Colbrunn (1871-1959).
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Kamm was born in Elm, Switzerland in 1845. He started his
career as a clerk in a combination saloon and grocery store at West
49th Street and Lorain Avenue where the Laub Baking Company flourished
for many years. When the business later went bankrupt he moved to
Old Rockport Township. He married Lena (sometimes
recorded as “Leona”) A. Klaue, reportedly a granddaughter of Fred
Colbrunn, about 1869.
In 1875, Oswald bought
four acres of land from his wife's grandfather. The property was on the southwest
corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Street. Here he erected a
building that faced Rocky River Drive because it was more heavily traveled than Lorain
Street. The ground floor housed a grocery store while the second
floor was the family's living quarters. As
settlement of the-area increased, more stores and establishments were
built. Oswald's business grew in the process. As business
increased, he expanded the store to offer dry goods, grains and some
cuts of meat. The store had become a general store that could
provide all of a family's basic needs. Farmers drove for miles to
the miniature "shopping center" for food, hardware and other
necessities of the day.
By middle of the twentieth century the role of the general store had
faded. The building came to house Tony's Restaurant. Tony
first operated a restaurant at the Lorain and dark Avenues triangle
area in the early 1930's. He also opened a diner on the northwest
corner of West 117th Street and Lorain Avenue. In 1997, the diner
building was still located at its original location although diner
building was removed and a Rite Aid drugstore was constructed.
In the middle of the
century, Tony moved his popular restaurant into the building that had
been Oswald Kamm's store. The building was eventually expanded to
the south and west. Although the exterior of the old grocery
store has been altered over the years, features of the old building can
still be identified. A fire gutted the building in early
1997. The building was renovated and another restaurant,
Alfonzo’s Tuscan Grill (now closed), occupied the venerable building.
Oswald Kamm became an
influential person of the area. He had successfully established
his store and greenhouse business. Eventually, he was approached
by township officials to operate a Post Office from his grocery
store. Oswald had to collect the mail at the Nickel Plate
Railroad station in what later became Rocky River west of the Rocky
River. Each day he walked into the valley, crossed the river and
continued up the other side to reach the station. He then
retraced his route back to the store. The mail was postmarked
"Kamm's, Ohio," so the area around the four corners of Rocky River
Drive and Lorain Street became known as "Kamm's" and, eventually,
As the West Park
Community developed, Kamm's Corners remained a focus of the area.
During the early years of the twentieth century, the use of
Interurban Trains altered the way of life. The tracks ran down
the middle of Lorain Avenue, from Public Square in downtown Cleveland
to the southwest end of Cuyahoga County.
Kamm's Corners was
enlarged in 1938 with the opening of many new stores. Several
landmarks, located at the northwest corner of Rocky River Drive and
Lorain Avenue, were leveled between 1960 and 1963 when Kamm's Plaza, a
shopping area, was constructed. The first gasoline station in the
Kamm's corner area was a Gulf Station built in 1930, on the northwest
corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue. A Shell station
occupied that corner in 2008.
Oswald built a large
family-style farmhouse at 17325 Lorain Avenue in 1875, just west of his
store. It was a three story-building with a wide front
verandah. In 1937, the house was moved to 17134 Fernshaw
Avenue. The original location is roughly where a Big Boy
restaurant, later Elias Brothers' Restaurant and, in 1997, the Gourme'
Restaurant stood. That building was razed early in the early
2000’s and a new building housing a Steak-n-Shake drive in restaurant
In 1909, Oswald Kamm had an apartment
building constructed at 3890 Rocky River Drive and named it Kamm's
Terrace. The name Kamm was inscribed on the building. It
remained in the Kamm Family until 1950 when it was sold and converted
into a medical building that was renamed West Park Professional
Building. In 1970, the building was sold again. In 1980,
the building had been painted inside and out. Two porches were
rebuilt and a new roof installed. The building housed offices for
eight doctors and dentists.
Leona died in 1917 and
Oswald, in 1922. They are buried in Alger
Cemetery just east of the original section of the cemetery.
Oswald's stone carried the
inscription "1845-1922" while Lena's reads "1853-1917."
History Comes to Life: Mr. Kamm Returns to
29 September 2012
by Gary Swilik
As most West Parkers know, Panini's Restaurant is located in the
historic building that was once home to Kamms Store and post office.
Oswald Kamm was born in Switzerland in 1845 and came to Cleveland in
1867. He moved to present West Park in 1875 and built a grocery store
at the southwest corner of Rocky River Drive and Lorain Avenue. His
first store faced Rocky River Drive because it was then more heavily
traveled than Lorain. Mr. Kamm was appointed local postmaster by
President Grover Cleveland and operated a post office in his store for
1900, Mr. Kamm constructed the current building now Panini's Restaurant
- on the site of his earlier store. This second store was larger and
faced Lorain Avenue, now a much busier street. By this time the
business had become a "general store" offering dry goods, groceries,
meats, hardware, and farm supplies, while still serving as a post
office. Oswald Kamm died in 1922 and is buried in Alger Cemetery.
September 29th of last year, several of us had lunch at
Panini's with Oswald Kamm's great-grandson, Carl Jacob Kamm II. We
found ourselves discussing local history with Oswald Kamm's direct
descendant in the very space that had once been Kamm's store and post
office. And Carl even looks like his great-grandfather, right down to
the stylish beard.
The five-member lunch group consisted of Carl Kamm, Gary Swilik of
westparkhistory.com; KCDC Executive Director Steve Lorenz; and West
Park Historical Society trustees Ralph Pfingsten and Dar McGeady. Carl,
amiable and soft-spoken, shared his stories and memories. Carl operates
Kamm Farms in Huron, Ohio, growing fresh produce for individual and
After lunch we all took a short walk to Kamm's Terraces on Rocky River
Drive, built by Oswald Kamm in 1909. We also stopped by Oswald Kamm's
old house, on nearby Fernshaw Avenue, where Carl knocked at the door,
hoping the current residents might not mind letting him take a look
around. The residents weren't at home but it's fun to think about what
their reaction might have been to find someone on their front porch who
appears to be Oswald Kamm!
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One of the first settlers to come to the Old Rockport Township arrived
in 1809. George Peake was a mulatto from Pennsylvania.
He and his family were the first settlers to use the new road
through the territory. He was also the first African American
settler on the west side of the Cuyahoga River. George had served
in the British Army under General James Wolf at the Battle of Abraham
Plains at Quebec during the French and Indian War of 1859. After
he left the military service he moved to Maryland and married a wealthy
Black woman. The couple moved to Pennsylvania where they raised a
George was 87 year old when he arrived in Ohio with his two grown sons,
George and Joseph. Two other sons, James
and Henry, followed later. He purchased just over 100 acres of
land north of what later became Munn Road. His acreage was bound
by Fisher Road, McKinley Road, Lakewood Heights Boulevard and Northland
Avenue. He farmed and also worked for other settlers arriving in
Old Rockport Township. A highly respected and capable citizen, he
invented a hand operated grist mill for grinding grain. It was
hailed as a vast improvement over the “stump mortar and spring pestle”
type. He died in 1827 at the age 105 years.
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William Sixt was born in Berlin, Germany, about 1823.
He had five sons, three daughters, ten grandchildren and ten
great grandchildren. His descendants have left their mark on Old
Rockport Township and West Park Village.
The original Sixt property on the north side of Triskett Road extended
west from Rockport Avenue, north including Lydian Avenue and west on
the north side of Lorain Avenue to 15614 Lorain Avenue, including West
Park Avenue. At one time there were three gas wells on the
House, at 15500 Triskett Road,
was built in the Civil War period (one source reports 1849) by William
Sixt who named the house in honor of General William Tecumseh
Sherman. A Greek Revival Italianate House, it is a two story
building with a hip roof. It has elongated windows on the first floor,
with remnants of stonehead moldings.
Sixt Tavern was in the west end of the building. The family's
living quarters occupied the rest of the first floor. There was a
ballroom and bedrooms on the second floor. The kitchen was a
frame structure [later a residence at 3591 West Park Avenue] attached
to the northwest corner of the building.
The Sherman House has been used as a stagecoach stop and inn.
Herman Sixt operated it as a hotel with food and lodging for overnight
guests and lived there until his death. It was later converted
into a four suite apartment building. The facade was altered in
1910 by the addition of four Corinthian columns that supported a two
story porch. The latest role of the house is as the West Park Masonic
One of William Sixt's sons ran a hardware store 15300 Lorain Avenue
where the YMCA was located in 1997. Another was purchasing agent
for a Cleveland Department store, Wm. Taylor & Son Company.
One operated the first Cleveland & Southwestern Railway electric
car into Cleveland. He later became bookkeeper for that company.
His home was at 15610 Lorain Avenue. The house was later
moved to 14513 Triskett Road. Another son had a farm on Rocky
River Drive just north of where the airport was later to be
located. One lived at 15480 Triskett Road in a resident that
later housed Mandley-Vetrovsky Funeral Home. He raised prize
white Leghorn and white Wyandotte chickens that were shown at county
fairs and even at Madison Square Garden in New York City. A
daughter and her family resided in an eight room house at 15614 Lorain
Avenue that has been moved to 3499 Granton Avenue. His daughter Matilda
married John W. West, a son of John M. West.
William Sixt held an interest in the plank road with a toll gate at the
railroad crossing at West 143rd Street and Lorain Avenue.
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Joseph Triskett, his father and brothers settled in
Old Rockport Township in 1826. He purchased 50 acres on the
corner of West 117th Street and Triskett Road. He developed a
very productive farm and became an active part of the business
community. Triskett Road was named for him. Joseph is buried in the original section of Alger
Cemetery as are several of his
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JOHN M. WEST
John M. West was born in May 1811 in county Leitrim,
Ireland, the son of John West and Fannie Harmon. His father was
well educated having received a degree of Doctor of Medicine in Dublin,
Ireland. When he came to America in May of 1826 and settled in
Euclid Township John's father had expected to practice medicine.
However, his health failed and he went into farming and dealing in
stock. John and Fannie had two other sons, George H. and William
It was about 1842 when John M. West moved to Rockport Hamlet in
Rockport Township. He purchased a farm of 600 acres that abutted the Leonard Case farm south of Lorain
Road and east of West 140th Street. He built a large thirteen
room brick house set back several hundred feet from Lorain Road.
According to present County Auditor’s records, the house of over 3257
square feet of living space was built in 1842. (In 2004, it
was a two family home. Photo to the right is from the early 1960's.)
A lake, equipped with rowboats, and picnic grounds were created on the
twenty-five acres front lawn between the house and the street. It
became a show place of the township. This area was opened to the
public who were soon calling it "West's Park." This evolved into
"West Park" that was eventually applied to the entire community.
Later, the name West Park generally referred to the area west of
the site of its origin.
John M. West purchased adjacent parcels of land to increase his
holdings considerably. He was a public-spirited citizen and was
instrumental in having the Ohio City and Olmsted plank road constructed.
In the early 1840’s he had married Frances N. O’Brien in
Buffalo, New York. They had eight children of which six reached
adulthood. Charles P. West was born 29 November
1854. John W. West married Matilda Sixt, daughter
of William Sixt. Fannie married Christopher
C. Southern who was prominent in real estate development in
Lakewood. Alice H. married J. W. Kinney and died
in the late 1890’s. The other son to reach maturity was George
W. Others died young. Nicholson died at age
fifteen and Arthur at age two.
Upon his death on 15 February 1890, John M. West was buried
in the East Cleveland Cemetery
at East 118th Street. Fannie died in 1902 and was also
buried in the East Cleveland Cemetery. Evidently John M. West’s
parents lived in Euclid until their deaths. His father who
died in 1842 is also buried in the East Cleveland Cemetery.
reports hold that “Benjamin West” the person who was the early settler
who purchased the property later known as “West’s Park.” Records
do not support this. John M. West was apparently the person who
initially purchased this property.)
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P. West, son of John M. West, was born 29 November 1854. He
attended Humiston Cleveland Institute for three years then spent one
year at Oberlin College. His primary business was farming until
June 1893 when he formed a partnership with H. G. Dryer.
He sold the family house in 1914 and began dividing the remaining land
into lots. The lake was drained and filled. A neighborhood
of homes evolved, closely enveloping the house. In 1970, the old
brick home, painted bright red, was sold to a couple who planned to
restore it to its original 1830 condition. The house is the 18th
from Lorain at 3684 West 138th Street. The east end of the house
faces the street since its originally faced Lorain Avenue.
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