Lakewood’s First African-American Resident

In 1809, African-Americans George Peake and wife Hannah guided their wagon across the Cuyahoga River and onto the new Rockport Road. Theirs was the frist wagon to travel on the new road, which had been the former Indian trail known as the Detroit Road. Records show that George was a British veteran of the French and Indian War and had served under General Wolfe in Quebec. It was said that he had deserted his unit, taking with him the money he was given to pay the other soldiers. He married and settled in Pennsylvania, then moved to Cleveland in 1809, choosing to settle on land one mile south of the mouth of the Rocky River in Rockport.

George was 87 when he arrived in Rockport with his two older sons, George and Joseph. His younger sons James and Henry soon followed them. George purchased 105 acres of land, which he farmed, and became a well-respected Rockport citizen. The Peakes built a handmill which was an improvement on the Indian style mills used locally in grinding hominy. George died at the age of 107. He and his wife Hannah were said to have been the first African-Americans to reside in Cleveland.

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