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Cleveland, Ohio

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History's Mysteries

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This page is set aside for musings about historical facts that seem contradictory and/or just plain, uhm, mysterious.

Early settler Ozias Brainard bought his property from a man named Granger.

Historical Record - Nearly ever history written about the earliest settlers on the west side of the Cuyahoga River, mention that when Ozias Brainard arrived in Cuyahoga County, he found a man named Granger and his son squatting on the land. Apparently, Granger had arrived some time earlier and claimed the land as his own. So Granger sells the land to Brainard and moves off to some other part of Ohio.
Question -
  1. Didn't all the Connecticut settlers buy their lots from Lord & Barber before they arrived here? If they did, then Brainard should have booted Granger off his land, not bought it from him.
  2. Was this Granger actually Gedeon Granger who owned large, vast tracts of land in Northeast Ohio?

Mass grave in the Brooklyn Cemetery of flood victims

Historical Record - Is there any? No one seems to have found any actual facts on this story. The story is that 20 or 30 people were victims of a flood on the Cuyahoga and all of them were buried in a mass grave in the old Brooklyn Cemetery on Broadview Road (the old Brainard cemetery). This cemetery isn't in Brooklyn Centre, but it's a mysterious enough story to include here.
Suppostions -
  1. The big question is why would they all be buried together? Why wouldn't their families have them buried in proper plots?
  2. Were the bodies unidentifiable?
  3. Were they all impoverished?
  4. Were they from somewhere other than Ohio so that the bodies couldn't be shipped back to their home towns or countries?
  5. Which flood on the Cuyahoga was so bad that so many were killed?
  6. What year did this supposedly happen?
  7. Was their death the result of a shipwreck?
  8. Could they have actually been passengers on a train that derailed due to a flood?
  9. Were they possibly burn victims from the major flood that resulted in Standard Oil's refinery spilling oil on the river and it catching fire?
  10. Did this occur prior to the opening of Riverside Cemetery, thus the reason the bodies ended up in Brooklyn Cemetery?

The most likely candidate, found thus far, is the following account about an event that occurred on July 16, 1896. While not a flood, the drownings occurred on the Cuyahoga River; there were numerous deaths; and the victims were most likely poor.

16 July 1896:
"Another of the serious casualties that have shocked the city occurred on July 16th, 1896, when a scow, used as a ferry-boat, crossed the river, near the Willow Street bridge, loaded with laborers from the ore docks in that neighborhood. The craft held nearly forty persons, and, considering its age and size, was overloaded. It had left the dock but a few feet when two tugs, towing a large vessel, passed near it, the swash of which tossed the old boat with considerable violence. One of the men, apparently becoming pani-stricken, arose in the boat and began pulling off his coat, as if for the purpose of jumping into the river. His fears spread among the passengers, who, rushing to one side, canted it and turned it over in the water. In consequence of this nearly half of them sank into the river like lead. The heavy brogans on their feet, and their clothes weighted with the particles of iron ore, carried many of them immediately to the bottom, from which they did not rise, as is usual with drowning people. The men on shore, who might have taken some measures to rescue them had they dreamed of what was to come, supposing that the rocking of the boat was only an occasion for frolic, and considering it a joke, had no idea of the serious consequences until the victims were all in the water. Life preservers were thrown from one of the big vessels in the vicinity, and thereby some of those who did not swim were rescued; but fifteen of the unfortunate men were drowned, and one other victim, in his anxiety to reach the scene and see it, fell off the dock and was also drowned. Most of them left families dependent upon their labor. Very few of them could swim, and the fact that so many were saved was due to good fortune. The crowd was horrified by their shrieks and cries for help. "Oh, God save me." "Don't let me drown in this muddy river," and other like appeals for aid were heard. No one could be said to be to blame for the accident except the men themselves, who probably would not have been plunged into the water, or have jumped into it, had they kept their seats or not overloaded the boat in the first place."

-- "The World's" History of Cleveland, page 121

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