By Kevin Kelley
Cuyahoga County claims more Ohio Historical Society historical markers – 113 – than any other county in the state. And five of them are in Westlake.
Westlake’s fifth historical marker, which honors the Clague family’s donation of their 78-acre homestead to the community, was officially dedicated Saturday outside the Clague House Museum, headquarters of the Westlake Historical Society.
In 1926, siblings Sophronia and Walter Clague decided to donate 78 acres of land to the community, then known as Dover. Their donation and a memorial monument to the Clague family were officially dedicated at a ceremony on Oct. 12, 1929, exactly 84 years before Saturday’s dedication.
Clague family patriarch Robert Clague first came to Dover Township from the Isle of Man in 1829, returned to his native land, but settled for good in Dover in 1837 with his wife and first child.
The cost of the marker, $2,400, was paid for through fundraisers and donations.
Lysa Stanton, president of the Westlake Historical Society, held up a jar of pennies and other coins in which donations were collected from residents and Westlake children. She recalled that a child once stopped her in a local supermarket, handed her some coins and said, “History lady, I have some money. Please put this toward the marker.”
Mayor Dennis Clough said the Clagues’ donation of their 78-acre homestead demonstrated that they thought about the future of the community.
“We must recognize that Westlake wouldn’t be the type of community it has become without of all the efforts of those that came before us,” Clough said. “It’s the real reason why we want to make sure that we don’t forget about our past.”
Will Krause, the city’s assistant director of planning, said that, in addition to being successful fruit farmers, the Clagues were known for being kind and lending money to farmers so they could buy seeds in the spring.
While Walter and Sophronia never married or had children, the donation of their land to the community –
in the form of Clague Park, the Clague House Museum and Clague Playhouse – are part of the ancestral DNA of Westlake, Krause said.
“Their donation forever changed the character of Westlake for the better,” said Krause, who was dressed to portray Thomas Clague, a brother of Walter and Sophronia.
“Now, with this historical marker, even the casual passerby down Clague Road will be able to see the importance of this house and what made it important,” he said.
Walter Clague himself, portrayed by Dave Pfister, Stanton’s husband, appeared at Saturday’s ceremony and presented Stanton with flowers as thanks for having the vision to get the marker installed.
The Clague Family Homestead Historical Marker joins for other such markers in Westlake:
• Nature conservationist Jack Miner’s birthplace marker, on Dover Center Road;
• Congressman Theodore Elijah Burton’s home, on Detroit Road;
• the Weston House, on Center Ridge Road; and
• first Westlake settler Leverett Johnson’s marker at Evergreen Cemetery on Center Ridge Road.
Andy Verhoff, local history coordinator of the Ohio Historical Society, noted that the markers are manufactured by a company located in Marietta, Ohio.
“We sort of think of them as sort of a textbook of Ohio history, but the pages are all over the place,” Verhoff said of the 1,450 historical markers that have been erected throughout the state.
BOOK SALE: The Westlake Historical Society will hold a used book sale from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Oct. 26, and from 2 to 5 p.m. Oct. 27, at the Clague House Museum, 1371 Clague Road. Proceeds will go toward two scholarships awarded by the organization. Donations of used books and CDs can be made by calling Lysa Stanton at 440-808-1961.