Fastlane: Hank Mallery

Hank Mallery, Historical interpreter, Cleveland Metroparks

Ever wonder what life was like in Cleveland when your mother-in-law was born? You know, back in 1801? Well, wonder no more. "There was a whole lot of not-a-whole-lot," says Hank Mallery, a historical interpreter (shown here as Trader McGuinness) for the Cleveland Metroparks.

"The truth is, for a long time, if someone asked you where Cleveland was, people would say it was a little city about five miles north of Newburgh."

So, how did we get here?

Well, basically, the state of Connecticut was given Ohio from England. And once they took ownership, they sent surveyors here to plot it out and sell the land.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back up. We were owned by those pipsqueaks?

Exactly. That's why so many of our cities follow the same model as New England communities: a town square, a church as a focal point, things like that.

So how long did it take the surveyors to get here?

About six weeks. It was very rough, difficult trip: a lot of physical hardships, brutal terrain, unknown weather.

Even worse, 42 days of the kids saying, "Are we there yet?"

Arguably the toughest part of all.

I read that the surveyors described the land here as "the perfect place for vegetation and animals."

Well, they kind of lied. It was pretty much wilderness.

Say it isn't so.

They were businesspeople trying to sell land. What can I say?

And then there was Moses.

Moses Cleaveland was actually the leader of the surveying expedition.

So he shows up and says, "Hey, I was here first. Let's name it after, oh, I don't know -- me!"

Actually, it was standard to name a site in honor of the leader of an expedition.

And so Moses lived a happy, contented life here in the town he surveyed.

Not exactly. He was only here for a few months and never came back.

You're killing me. What's next, Bernie's got a condo in Baltimore?

Hey, Lorenzo Carter is a good story, though. He's considered Cleveland's first settler. He lived in the Flats and had a trading post there.

So he was the first guy to sleep in the Flats?

Probably not the last, either.

It's 1803 and we're standing on Public Square. What's going on?

There'd probably be a lot of animals roaming around with people trying to tend to them.

So it hasn't changed a lot.

You said that, not me.

No hot-dog vendors?


Rabbit vendors?

Right. With little carts. And mustard.

Share this story: