Elyria Historical Hunt

Elyria History

    Elyria was founded in 1816 when the United States was only 40 years old by a man named Herman Ely from Massachusetts. He came here on horseback and built a log house near the Black River where small bands of Indians camped nearby. He also built a dam, gristmill and sawmill on the site. The sawmill was built near one of the waterfalls and they used the lumber to build more houses to accommodate immigrating settlers. When Mr. Ely died in 1852, Elyria had five churches, three grocery stores, three flour mills, a newspaper, and a population of more than 1500 people. Early postal service was provided from Cleveland by a rider named Artemis Beebe who had the first contract to deliver mail across the Black River.
     In the early 1900s the town had grown to 8000 people with the streets full of hourse drawn wagons carrying sacks of flour to and from nearby stores. Telephone poles began to be placed, bringing electricity and phone service. Tall brick buildings were built along Broad Street and East Avenue and trolley tracks ran down the middle of the street connecting all parts of the city. In 1908 Elyria Memorial Hospital was built in response to a horrible trolley accident where many victims died because there was no place close for medical aid.
 In 1967, the peak of it's population boom, Midway Mall opened changing Elyria's economy. In 1975 there was a racial riot in the southern and western portions of the town that resulted in broad vandalism and burnt buildings and shops. It took the State Guard Troops to come in and bring it under control. The 1990s brought a minor and temporary revival of the town with the addition of some new roads and new housing.
More information can be found by visiting the Ohio Room at the main branch of the Elyria Public Library, or by calling The Lorain County Historical Society at 440-322-3341.