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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

JOHNSON, LEVI - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

JOHNSON, LEVI (25 Apr. 1786-19 Dec. 1871), who arrived in Cleveland in 1809 from Herkimer County, N.Y., built ships and constructed homes for the early settlers. He built Cuyahoga County's first courthouse and jail on the northwest corner of PUBLIC SQUARE (1812), an inn (Johnson House) in 1852, and Cleveland's first lighthouse (1830). One of the jury at the trial of Indian O'MIC, Johnson also built the gallows on which the Indian was hanged. Johnson's skill as a shipbuilder contributed to the growing lake trade. In 1813 or 1814, he built the schooner Lady's Master, and in 1814 built the schooner Pilot. He also constructed the 65-ton schooner Neptune, launched in the spring of 1816. In 1824, Johnson and the Turhooven brothers built and launched the Enterprise, a 220-ton steamboat, the first in Cleveland, which carried merchandise from Buffalo to Cleveland and towns along the lake. Also interested in real estate and building, Johnson owned 96 properties by 1838. In 1843, Johnson built his permanent family home, the city's first stone house, which stood until 1909. A 65-ft. stone lighthouse was built by Johnson at Cedar Pt. in 1836. He also set the channel buoys in Sandusky Bay. In 1837, he built a 700-ft. stone pier east of the mouth of the CUYAHOGA RIVER. He married Margaret Montier on 9 Mar. 1811. They had three children: Harriet, Perriander, and Philander. Johnson died of typhoid fever. At his death, he had continuously lived in Cleveland longer than any other person. He was buried in the WOODLAND CEMETERY.

Meakin, Alexander C. Man of Vision: The Story of Levi Johnson and His Role in the Early History of Cleveland (1993).

Last Modified: 17 Jul 1997 02:17:57 PM

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