Newburgh, Ohio

Once upon a time, Cleveland was known as "six miles from Newburgh." Newburgh was a community with a bright future, but today it exists only in memory.

Last modification 07/21/2005


Contact me!

Janice J. Gerda
jgerda at

Janice J. Gerda
Please let me know if you use this information

Newburgh, Ohio

Newburgh had an early advantage as a settlement in Northeast Ohio. The small landing known as Cleveland was set in the mucky, mosquito-infested, malaria-inducing swamps at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Newburgh, on the other hand, was upriver (on a tributary of the Cuyahoga) and on higher ground. Its primary disadvantage was wolves, but it persisted. As early as 1799 mills were built on Mill Creek, providing a source of industry that inevitably brought people and taverns and hotels. Eventually, a coach road was routed through Newburgh, what is the present-day road of Broadway.

Organized as a township in 1814, Newburgh had as its city center a village green just north of the Mill Creek mills (today near Broadway and Miles Park.) In the early years, New England and Manx settlers focused on farming the rich soil, and on a product called "black salt" created from lye and potash from burned timber. Although Newburgh had early advantages, it lacked the port that Cleveland had, and so lost a 1809 bid to become the Cuyahoga County seat. They would not know it then, but that decision would ultimately lead one city to absorb the other.

Water power from the Mill Creek soon attracted more heavy industry. The Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad came through in the 1840s, and the Cleveland Rolling Mill (re-rolling iron rails) opened in 1857. With the arrival of the rolling mill, laborers flocked to the town. First Welsh iron puddlers moved in, then they were replaced by Irish laborers, then they were eventually replaced by Polish and Czech mill laborers.

As soon as 1823, bits of Newburgh began to be eaten up by surrounding towns, especially Cleveland. The annexation that most loudly tolled the end of Newburgh as an independent entity was the 1873 annexation of the town center, the village square. In that year, the former heart of Newburgh became the 18th ward of Cleveland, known as "the iron ward."

What was left of Newburgh was incorporated as the Village of Newburgh the next year in 1874, but further annexations shrunk it even more in 1878, 1893, and 1894. Finally, around 1904, the remaining land was split into Newburgh Heights (considerably west of the old Newburgh village center), South Newburgh (1907), and Corlett. South Newburgh became Garfield Heights in 1930, named after the park in its boundaries, which had first been Newburgh Park and then Garfield Park in honor of president James A. Garfield.

Most of this information came from The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History - entry Newburgh.

In the early 20th century, the heart of old Newburgh was primarily inhabited by Eastern Europeans. It took on the name of Slavic Village. In the mid an late 20th century, the demographics shifted to a population that was (is) primarily African American. Singer Tracy Chapman grew up virtually on the village green of old Newburgh. However, she has little nostalgia for the area as it was apparently not an ideal neighborhood in her childhood years. Today, several organizations are working to revive the neighborhood, both in the old heart of Newburgh (now called Slavic Village) and near the old Mill Creek. There is project underway that will clean and renew Mill Creek, establish parks and picnic areas along the northernmost bend, and run a hiking/biking trail along its banks from Garfield Park in the east to the existing trails along the canal route and the Cuyahoga River to the west and South. The Brilla House near the site of the old Cataract Mills has been renovated as a museum dedicated to the area history.PLEASE SUPPORT THESE PRESERVATION/RENEWAL ORGANIZATIONS! (Slavic Village Development, Ohio & Erie Canal Corridor Coalition , Cleveland Metroparks, Mill Creek Falls History Center).

The histories of Newburgh, South Newburgh, Garfield Heights and the 18th ward of Cleveland are so intertwined that it is difficult to separate one from the other and even more difficult to understand one without the others.They are VITAL to the family stories on the Janicealogy pages, for both my mother's and father's sides.

Specifically, the Helman grocery store was (and the building still is) near the banks of the Mill Creek at the falls. (See a picture of it in the introductory video at the Mill Creek Falls History Center.) The Rahe hardware stores were up Broadway, only blocks from the old Newburgh village green. And the Rahe homes on Tioga are between the Helman store on the west and Garfield Park.