Letters to Emily – Letter 30

CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL was established on 13 July 1846, ten years after Cleveland was incorporated and 15 years before the CIVIL WAR began. Central High was the first public high school in Cleveland and the first free public high school west of the Allegheny Mountains to provide free secondary education at public expense. At the time, the prevailing belief was that education beyond the elementary level was a private responsibility, and funding the school out of public funds was illegal under Ohio statutes. The issue was resolved in 1848 by state legislation that made provisions for Central's funding. At first, Central High operated out of the basement of a Universalist Church on Prospect Avenue. In 1856 Central High moved to a brick and stone building at Erie Street (later East 9th) and Euclid Avenue. When enrollment exceeded 300 students, officials decided to build a new high school, a Victorian Gothic structure completed in 1878 at 2201 Willson Avenue (later East 55th Street) at Central Avenue. The new building’s ornate clock tower was donated by a graduate, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Sr.  (From Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, Case Western Reserve University)

Written to George Ames (1839-1918), Emily’s son-in-law. It was from Gad Elmer Johnson (1819-1901.) Elmer says that his daughter graduated from Cleveland City High School. In doing research on early Cleveland schools, we could only find a reference to Cleveland Central High School established in 1846 as a boys only high school. The first high school in Cleveland was in the basement of a ‘Church on Prospect Street.’ Ten years later, Cleveland built a free-standing high school. Girls were taught at high school but were taught different subjects from the boys. This letter is Elmer’s inquiry about colleges in Massachusetts to further his daughter’s education.

Friend Ames – George Ames (1839-1918), married to Emily’s daughter Elizabeth Dwight.

Bell – Ella ‘Nell’ Johnson (1867-1891), Gad Elmer Johnson’s daughter.

Minerva – Minerva Jane Eldridge Johnson (1828-1901), Gad Elmer’s wife.

Warrensville Aug 21, 1879

Friend Ames

Bell has Graduated at Cleveland City High School. She is not satisfied, would like to persue study further, We have heard the normal School located at Westfield Mass highly recommended How far is Westfield from Williamsburg Will you please write me all you know about the reputation of the school, the manner of boarding whether in private families or in boarding Halls, the probable cost per week to and any other things that you can learn about the school We are all of us well accept Minerva her health has been poor for a long time We are engaged in the Milk trade in the city that is we run two wagons each day in summer and one in winter. Otto drives one and myself the other. This business and our farming operations make a busy life for us, we are building this fall If you or someone of your family will answer this by return mail you will greatly oblige.

Best regard to all

            Yours    Gad E. Johnson

direct to no 596 Woodland Avenue Cleveland Ohio (in care of) Otto Johnson

The next letter is from William Wallace Johnson (1813-1900). He lived in Wisconsin at the time of this writing. He talks about old times before they moved from Massachusetts and how he has documented the genealogy of their families.