Initially colonized by French fur traders, the frontier land that became Ohio became a British colonial possession following the French and Indian War in the mid-1700’s, before the American Revolution.
After the American Revolution, Britain ceded control of the territory to the newly formed United States, which incorporated it into the Northwest Territory, established in 1787. (source History.com). It included land which eventually became the states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
The U.S. Congress allowed Connecticut to reserve ownership of land known as the Connecticut Western Reserve. It included all of what is now Lorain County. In 1803, Ohio became the seventeenth state.
The earliest settlers in this area, tended to establish small farms along the banks of the Black River. Some of those families included William Hart, Captain John Day, Captain Jabez Burrell, Obediah Deland, Joshua Smith, Joseph Fitch, Solomon Filch, Isaac Burrell, Henry Austin, Samuel B. Fitch and Asher Chapman. Soon after, Henry Root, wife and six children, arrived from Sheffield, Massachusetts. (source: History of Lorain County, speech by WW Boynton, delivered, July 4, 1876, stored in the Library of Congress https://tile.loc.gov/storage-services/public/gdcmassbookdig/earlyhistoryoflo00boyn/earlyhistoryoflo00boyn.pdf
In 1816, these early settlers adopted the name “Sheffield” for their community.
Historians say settlers heard guns fired from ships in Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Known as the Battle of Lake Erie or the Battle of Put-in-Bay, the American victory proved to be a turning point in that war.
In the early days of the Civil War, hundreds of local men joined the Union Army. They formed the 103rd Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry and saw action in Kentucky, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. Some who fought and died are buried in nearby Garfield Cemetery. The 103rd OVI maintains a headquarters and musuem in the city. Learn more about them here.
In 1873, The Lake Breeze House, Sheffield’s first hotel, was opened by Jay Terrell, formerly of Ridgeville Township. The hotel was situated “upon the bank of, and overlooking the blue waters of Lake Erie.” Terrell also operated a number of cottages and kept pleasures boats for use of guests.
It reportedly took decades for early settlers to realize the benefits of living on the lakeshore. Most had established their farms along the banks of the Black River and French Creek. As they discovered the advantages of farming closer to the water, more established farms on the lakeshore. In particular, grape crops thrived near the water.
Progress continued as the Lorain and Cleveland Railway began service from Lorain to Cleveland with stops in Sheffield. this service brings the community the greatest convenience in travel it has ever had. In 1901, The Lake Shore Electric Railway System absorbed this line (Sources: Cudebach (1915); Elyria Chronicle-Telegram (October 8. 1931); Rennie (1974).)
Progress was not seen as a benefit by all, Harriet Root (1885-1975), granddaughter of William H. Root and daughter of Orville Root, wrote about the changing patterns of life in Sheffield in 1917: “We, of the early families, have guarded this Township of Sheffield as “ours.” Now, its quiet, rural life is of the past. No longer content with its agricultural possibilities it has launched itself out into the narrow and tricky stream of high finance and manufacture. Property, which sold, even a few years ago as farming land now brings almost a thousand dollars an acre. The American Tin Plate Company and the Cromwell Steel Plant have decided to settle in our Township. And, we must gird ourselves with a new pioneer zeal and strength to do battle with the conditions, which an industrial age, will bring to our doorsteps.”
By 1920, Township residents living east of the Black River voted to withdraw from Sheffield Township and form the Village of Sheffield Lake. Sheffield west of the Black River continues to be administered by township trustees. Sheffield Lake Village incorporates and elects Harry Woodruff as its first mayor (Source: St. Teresa Sesquicentennial Committee (1995).)
Ten years later, Brookside High School graduated its first senior class with nine students.
In 1933, a rift that had grown between residents living on smaller lots in the north end of the village and farmmers lving in the souther part of the township prompted farmer to vote to separate from Sheffield Lake. The noth remained the village of Sheffield Lake while the souther formed a new entity known as Brookside Township. A year later they incorporates to form the Village of Sheffield. (source: St. Teresa Sesquicentennial Committee (1995).)
Following the census of 1960, the Village of Sheffield Lake, with a population of 6,800, became the City of Sheffield Lake; Frank Dugiud continues on as mayor, being the first mayor of the City of Sheffield Lake
In 1964 the dream of a library became real with the construction of the Domonkas Library on the lakeshore at the foot of Lake Breeze Road.
The city’s current municipal building at 609 Harris Road was built in 1970.
In 2015, the City of Sheffield Lake, Sheffield Village and Sheffield Township joined together to recognize the 200th Anniversary of their common founding in 1815. (Source: www.sheffieldbicentennial.org)
In 1669, The French explorer Louis Joliet is credited as the first European to discover Lake Erie—the last of the Great In Lakes to be discovered. (Source: Office of Coastal Management (2007)
By the time the first European explorers arrived in North America in the late 1400s, the original indigenous people had inhabited what is today the State of Ohio for over 14,000 years. (source: Ohio History Central.org))
The Battle Of Buffington Island was the only Civil War battle fought on Ohio soil.(source Ohio History Central.org))
Sheffield Lake became a city following the 1960 census.