The History of Cheviot

Cheviot Tavern

The history of Cheviot dates back to 1796 when one James Smith discovered a large spring. He cleared a couple of acres, built a cabin and lived there in solitude for a while. He then disappeared for a time but in 1812 came back with a family and bought a tract of land near the spring. This spring was the largest spring in this section, the largest west of the Mill Creek and was situated near what is now Kenker Place. It was known as the Beech Flat Spring. This spring is the reason that Harrison Avenue makes such an elbow at Kenker Place. This spring was the center of the activities for years. In 1800, Jacob Johnson built a two story log house about 250 feet west of the spring and in 1814 he sold it to John Craig, Sr. who built a two story frame house in front of the old Johnson house and named it the “Cheviot Tavern”. Later this tavern was sold to Wm. Woolley, then to Thomas Wardell, then to Isaac Bush, and finally to Edward Glashein who operated it for 27 years as Glashein’s Tavern until 1923 when the building was torn down. It is now the site of the present Kenker Place.

Late in 1814, travel had increased to such an extent that the Cheviot Inn was often overcrowded. Therefore, early in 1815, Roswell Fenton, Sr. built the first Seven Mile House at the “Old Forks”. He had bought 60 acres from a Robert Moore. Later it was operated by a young Marylander, Henry L. Wilmer, then Charles Thrasher, David J. Brown, Balser Mueller and Al Reusing. The building was torn down when it was acquired by the Cincinnati Board of Education, the site now being occupied by the Cheviot Public School, built in 1926.

John Craig

In 1814, John Craig, Sr. bought 320 acres of land at Beech Flats Spring. This purchase included the old Johnson house at the spring and he at once built the “Cheviot Tavern”, a two story building with a balcony porch, which soon became the most important tavern west of the city. In the year 1818, he platted and laid out a town at the spring, four blocks in a square with an alley running east and west, the lots being 40 by 100 feet and sold for 18 dollars each. He named the town after the boundary hills between England and Scotland, the Cheviot Hills. The town was on the south side of Harrison Avenue — the road Jake Johnson had cut from Brighton to Harrison in 1805 for a section of land as his pay.

When Craig platted the town his own tavern, Roswell Fenton’s Seven Mile House, a gristmill, sawmill and carding mill, a little frame Methodist Church and a few cabins already were there. The first school was a log one built in 1823, later weatherboarded and rented out. It was the Methodist parsonage in 1885 and was still standing in the Gay 90s. Cheviot lots first sold at $18 apiece but Charles Karber, a German peddler, got his for $12 in 1819. He later opened a store, prospered and put up the biggest brick house in town — on a $12 lot.

On May 14, 1814, two of Craig’s sons (Archibald & Thomas) were killed by lightning when taking shelter under a tree. Their sister, Jane, 12, escaped like fate because she ran into the tavern at the first raindrop to keep her new sunbonnet from getting wet. Then, on June 28, 1836, he came in from the fields and couldn’t find his wife, Jannet. Finally he looked in the cistern. Jannet was a large, heavy woman and Craig was a very small, weak man with rheumatism — he couldn’t pull her out and before help arrived Jannet had drowned in the cistern into which she had tumbled. Craig grieved for 10 years and on September 10, 1846, he died at the age of 77 and was buried beside Jannet in the old Bethel graveyard in Cheviot.

First Homes Built

Plat Map of Cheviot 1869After the town was platted, the first house was of logs and was built near what is now Davis and Harrison Avenues by a man named Hill. An old two story brick residence, which was said to have been built about the year 1830, stood at the southeast corner of Harrison and Cheviot Avenues. The old Bruce residence was on Glenmore Avenue on the ground now occupied by the St. Martin’s Church. The old Robb residence was located at the southwest corner of Lora and Francis Avenues. It was over 100 years old when it was torn down and in its early days was considered one of the finest residences of this vicinity. It was torn down about 1935. An old log cabin now standing at the southwest corner of Gamble and Cross Streets is reputed to have been originally built by a John Powner in 1832. This building has since been remodeled and is still occupied.

The home that was located on Wardall Avenue facing Taft Avenue and built by William Woolley and his wife Jane, a year before John Craig, Sr. who platted the town of Cheviot, passed away. The house was torn down in December, 1939. It was 94 years old and was probably the oldest building standing in Cheviot when the wreckers began dismantling it shortly before Christmas. The builder of the old house died in 1856 and since that time the property had been owned by a number of individuals including the late Dr. Peter Williams, grandfather of the Dr. Foster M. Williams, John Hader and Ben Meyerfeld and the Westwood Homestead Savings and Loan Association.

Some of the early ministers, in a number of instances, served in the double capacity of doctor of medicine and preacher. The first physician was Richard Dardiner Kendall, in 1827. Prior to Dr. Kendall’s arrival, doctors were brought in from Cincinnati or Cleves. The Musekamp family is a pioneer one, as also the oldest family of physicians continuously in Green Township. Dr. George Henry Musekamp came from Germany to Cincinnati in 1837. In 1849, he located on School Section. Four generations of this family have uninterruptedly followed the medical profession during more than eighty years. These secceeding generations had lived in their location at Harrison and Carson Avenues about 85 years, the house being more than one hundred years old, before being torn down when purchased by the Pure Oil Company in 1965.

The Miller Bros. had a livery stable at what was Beech and Harrison Avenues (now Everett and Harrison Avenues). Later it was occupied by Fred Walber who used it as a livery stable and an undertaking establishment. At the present time it is occupied by the Vitt Stermer & Anderson Funeral Home. It is still the old building, but it was remodeled some years ago.

Churches

In 1809, “Deacon” Richard Gaines bought a tract of land just north of the spring James Smith discovered in 1796. A deer path was followed from his home to the spring, this deer path later becoming North Bend Road. He built Cheviot’s first Sunday School; people came from all directions on horseback to attend. Bethel Baptist Church was the result of this effort. It was constructed from logs and located at what is now Glenmore and Harrison Avenues. In 1824, at the same site, a brick meeting hall was built. It was at this building that President William Henry Harrison gave a 4th of July oration.

The Methodist built a church in Cheviot about 1842 on a lot and a half given by Dr. Kendall and valued by him at $75.00. It was located near what is now Gamble and Cheviot Avenues. The Presbyterian Church that existed in Cheviot some years ago, on what is now Harrison and Davis Avenues, was organized about 1832. In 1875, a German Brethren Church was organized. St. Martin’s Catholic Church was founded in 1911.

Cemeteries

Cheviot had two cemeteries in the heart of the city on Harrison Avenue. The one on the south side was known as Township Cemetery. The earliest tombstone dated back to 1825 on through to the 1850s. It has been converted to a municipal parking lot and the bodies were re-buried at Bridgetown Cemetery. The other cemetery is known as the Baptist Cemetery. The earliest tombstone recorded there is from 1839. It is at these two cemeteries that John Craig and other Cheviot pioneers were buried.

Schools

A one-room log cabin served as the first school in Cheviot from 1818 to 1823. A lot was purchased for $12 and a one-room frame school was built, serving until 1840. This was succeeded by a two-room brick school, located at what is now Davis and Gamble Avenues. It was later torn down and replaced by a frame colony school, used only for a few years.

In 1926, a modern school was built with 12 classrooms (Cheviot Public School). St. Martin’s Catholic School was established in 1911, in a frame building with one room. A larger school was erected in 1912, and the buildings which are now standing were completed in 1961.

Government History

Cheviot was governed by the Trustees of Green Township until 1901. On July 19th of that year, a special meeting was held at the Cheviot Hotel to form the official governmental body of the newly incorporated Village of Cheviot. Click here to see the minutes of that first Council Meeting.

Police

The first Marshal, J. Thane Weaver, was succeeded by George Klusman. Daniel Weirman, Davis Applegate, Joseph Doll and John Grinstead followed in succession. Grinstead served as Marshal until December 31, 1931. On January 1, 1932, he was appointed Chief of Police. He served until 1935 when he died. A plaque in memory of John is mounted on the base of the flagpole in front of the Cheviot Memorial Building. The next Chief of Police was Clifford C. Jacobs. He served until 1955 and was followed by Elmer Zoller who held the position until retirement March 15, 1969. He was succeeded by Donald Mackie and then David W. Voss. The current Chief of Police is Joseph G. Lally.

In 1901, the police department consisted of a Marshal. Later, a Night Marshal was added and when automobiles became numerous, a speed officer was added. When Cheviot became a city in 1932, the police department consisted of a Chief and three Patrol Men.

Fire Department

Prior to 1913, firefighting services were provided by Westwood, now a suburb of Cincinnati. Cheviot’s first fire department was organized around 1913. George A. Fischer was appointed first chief. George Hoffman, Robert B. Mills, William Hoffman, Clarence Borntrager, William Owens and Donald B. Clark followed in succession. The current fire chief is Robert Klein.

The first fire equipment consisted of a hose and reel connected to a rope and pulled by a number of men. This was replaced later by a horse-drawn vehicle. The first auto pumper was purchased in 1919.

Banks

A bank was established in 1907, the First National Bank, later taken over by the Brighton Bank and Trust Company. In 1932 it became a branch of the Central Trust Company of Cincinnati. The Cheviot Building and Loan Company was organized in 1911. A new modern building was erected in 1928 on Glenmore Avenue. The Harvest Home Building and Loan Company was established in 1916 and a branch of the Central Fairmount Building and Loan Company was established in 1919.

Telephone History

Cheviot Telephone ExchangeTelephone history in Cheviot dates from the early part of 1884 with the installation of one telephone — known as a Toll Station — at the corner of North Bend Road and Harrison Avenue. Residents of Cincinnati and other nearby communities wanting to talk to anyone in Cheviot and vicinity, called this toll station and gave the name of the party wanted. A messenger was sent — frequently by horse and buggy — to the party wanted, who came to the telephone and called the party who previously called him. Service from this toll station continued until March 1904, when the increased demand for telephone service required the opening of the “Cheviot” exchange in this area with 104 telephones connected. In March, 1913, Cheviot Exchange was abandoned and the 683 telephones connected with it were switched to the New Warsaw Central Office, opened in October 1912, now known as Wabash. The continued rapid growth of Cheviot and Westwood made it necessary to build an office to serve this area exclusively, and in January 1925 a new office, known as Harrison was placed in service. About this time consideration was being given to dial service in Cincinnati and engineering studies for this dial service were under way. In these studies, names of prefixes for central offices had to be considered, and in some cases changes had to be made in some of the names then in use. For this reason it was necessary to replace the name “Harrison” with that of “Montana” in December 1929, as Harrison, Ohio became a toll point in the Cincinnati toll area. The thousands of homes, with approximately 8000 telephones, that now occupy what were the great wide open spaces of the 1880’s with their lone telephone, tell the story of the substantial growth of the Western Hills, and accomplishment of people of foresight and energy.

Parks

In 1805 Enoch Carson bought 100 acres of land at $3.00 an acre ¾ of a mile west of the spring. On this property he built a two story house. This property became known as Carson’s Ranch. The Carson family would invite all the neighbors to come to the Carson Ranch after the gathering in of the harvest and held what was known in those days as open house. The present Harvest Home Park is part of that ranch and the only forest trees still surviving on the Carson Ranch. This open house resulted in the birth of the Green Township Harvest Home Festival which has been held every year on these grounds up to the present time. This Harvest Home Park is now a part of the City of Cheviot, having been purchased by the city for thirty odd thousand dollars. When Cheviot took over Harvest Home Park, they immediately established a children’s playground there. Most of the playground equipment was bought by the proceeds of a weekly dance given at the park. These dances were sponsored and conducted by the Western Hills Business Association. The city also constructed a swimming pool, which proved to be very popular with the children. During the summer months, a recreation director was employed by the city to supervise the recreation at the park.

Cheviot FieldhouseAbout 1935 the city bought a plot of ground on the west side of Robb Avenue. Work was started on clearing this plot for a playground on Tuesday, October 29, 1935. The workmen engaged on grading the athletic field were transferred to the work of excavating for the fieldhouse in April, 1936. It was turned over for the use of the people of Cheviot at the dedication program Friday evening, December 11, 1936. It was named the Cheviot Recreation Center. The fieldhouse has a clear floor space of 96 by 66 feet with a large stage in the offset to the rear of the building. The floor was marked for volleyball, basketball, center ball and indoor baseball. Temporary seats are provided for athletic contests and stage presentations. The fieldhouse is also used for dances, parties, wedding receptions and meetings of various organizations. When it was dedicated, the 14 acre recreation field consisted of three tennis courts, softball and hardball diamonds, a quarter mile running track, a football field and a children’s playground. The fieldhouse is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Important Dates in Cheviot History

1796 First cabin was built in the area
1805 Harrison Road was built by Jacob Cornelius Johnson
1806 First public religious service held by the Rev. Samuel McMillan
1806 First Harvest Home Picnic was held by Enoch and Achsah Carson
1809 Calculated by early historians as the year that Green Township was formed
1809 The Green Township Pioneer burying ground opened on Harrison Road between the present Glenmore and Lovell Avenues
1818 Cheviot named and platted by John Craig
1837 First prize fight in Ohio held in Cheviot
1860 August 17, 1860, the first Green Township Harvest Home Festival Association fete held at Carson’s Grove. This has now become a fixed institution in Cheviot.
1901 Westwood-Cheviot Street Car line opened up
1901 July 19, 1901 — Cheviot became a Village
1932 January 1, 1932 — Cheviot became a City
1936 Cheviot Memorial Building was built
1968 Cheviot Flag was adopted
1969 Harvest Home Lodge was built
1969 Cheviot city emblem was adopted
1987 New City Hall was dedicated
1997 Cheviot.org is launched on the world wide web
1999 Cheviot city motto/slogan was adopted
2009 Cheviot Fieldhouse is placed on the National Register of Historic Places

Cheviot Mayors

1901 Henry Fischer
1902-1905 Fred E. Wesselmann
1905-1911 Ferd C. Baechle
1912-1917 Fred H. Altemeier
1918-1941 Clifford H. Hay
1942-1967 Edward C. Gingerich
1967 Albert W. Schottelkotte
1968-1971 Donald P. Bennett
1972-1983 Louis E. Von Holle
1983-2003 J. Michael Laumann
2004-present Samuel D. Keller

Other Facts

  • Elevation is 906 feet above sea level.
  • Susan Hoffman was the first Cheviot merchant.
  • Dr. Cagy was the first physician and surgeon in Cheviot. He preceded Dr. Richard Kendall (1827-1849), who was the first resident physician and surgeon.
  • Rev. John Clark was the first resident minister.
  • George Hildreth had the first drug store.
  • David Stathem had the first grocery store.
  • Isaac Bush had the first butcher shop.
  • Timothy Tomlinson was the first tailor.
  • Charles Short was the first shoemaker.
  • Cheviot had its own Postmaster from 1832-1896.
  • Cheviot had a race track until 1922.
  • The first Marshal was J. Thane Weaver.
  • The first Police Chief was John Grinstead.
  • The first Volunteer Fire Chief was George Fischer.
  • The first Fire Chief was Bert Mills.
  • Frank Volz developed several species of Snap Dragons including the “Cheviot Maid”, “Cheviot Maid Supreme” and “Suntan”.