Ralph Hugh Lodge
Ralph Hugh Lodge was born August 3, 1830, at Munroe Falls, Summit County, Ohio, and was the eldest son of George Horner and Rebecca (Smith) Lodge. The Lodge family can trace their ancestors to the Huguenot Religous Sect that found refuge in Belfast England, (the Sect was founded in Germany about 1562) and he later accompanied William Penn to Pennsylvania.
George Horner Lodge married Rebecca Smith in Philadelphia, and probably in the same year, 1829, started with his bride to what was then the far west,Ohio. They settled on a small farm in Stow Township where they resided for some seven years.
In 1836 came about the era of land speculation in this section of Ohio, and Edmund Monroe, a Boston capitalist and promoter, bought up large tracts in this vicinity and founded what is now called Munroe Falls. Here all the children of the Lodge family were born, Ralph being the eldest, the five others being: Emma; George H.; Mary; Cornelia, who married George J. Parks; and Mrs. Caroline Lodge Combes.
Ralph Lodge was kept busy employed in his fathers trade as a mason. They laid a part of the walls of the E.N. Sill stone house on front street, Cuyahoga Falls, now one of the landmarks of the place, and in 1846, prior to moving back to Cleveland, did the lathing, plastered the rooms and built the fireplaces and chimneys in the Thorndike house, now as the Gaylord home, opposite Silver Lake, which then became the residence of William R. Lodge.
Ralph Lodge lived on the corner of Euclid Avenue and Doan Street, then moved to the Leonard Case farm where he helped his father operate a dairy farm for six years. Later the building of the Cleveland/Pittsburgh Railroad right through the Case farm near what is now called St. Clair Street.
Ralph H. Lodge secured work in the new industry of Railroad, and was employed as a fireman on the construction train and at the round house. About 1855 the family moved to a tract east of Wilson Avenue, now 55th Street in which they lived for 17 years, being a site almost opposite the present Central High School.
Ralph H. Lodge married Julia Anna Plum on April 7, 1869 and they had nine children.
Ralph H. Lodge took an active part in the extensive fruit growing and market gardening operations and assumed the management which he continued until 1872. He also purchased a piece of property on Ontario Street, Cleveland, behind Public Square, which he established a grocery with his brother George Horner Lodge, Jr.. This enterprise proving a very successful business venture. But his love of the soil and growing things took him back to his boyhood dream of the time when he might make his home on the banks of a beautiful lake, not far from his birthplace.
Ralph sold his interest to his brother George H.. Click for photo of Grocery Store era 1880. George H. Lodge is last on right. On January 10, 1874, the beautiful pellucid bit of water known as Silver Lake, at present, was purchased from Horace A. Miller, whose wife was a granddaughter of the original proprietor of Stow Township. Mr. Lodge purchased 35 acres of the surrounding land, it being his idea to develop here a pleasure resort. Taking up his residence on this ground, in April, 1876 , Mr. Lodge made it his permanent home and lived here until his death, May 22, 1907.
The lake in its surroundings were perfect as they were to Mr. Lodge, but he recognized the demands of modern life and determined that Silver Lake should have every added attraction that time, labor, thought and money could procure. An interesting event was the planting of 1,000 hard maple trees. He set them out along the west border of the natural timber(now known as Silver Lake Blvd)
Silver Lake Park was the most popular summer resort in this part of Ohio. The Park had its own electric lighting plant, water works system, sewerage system, bakery, laundry, policy, farm, garden, hotel, and justice of the peace. Excellent facilities provided for all kinds of athletic sports. Among the numberless attractions was the miniature steam railroad with its track running around through the shrubbery and winding around the lake shore. A number of cottages were built and many of the elite people of Akron and elsewhere throughout the country began building permanent summer homes. A sheet of about 100 acres of water offered delights to the yachtsman, and a number of steamers and boats ran back and forth. The night of illumination seen reflecting on the water made a picture not equaled by an storied spot in any other land.
Visitors to Silver Lake soon became acquainted with the kind, unassuming man who proved a most interesting companion when his friendship was gained. He could recall so much from a long past that was instructive and entertaining that he never failed of auditors. His religious rearing had been after the precept of a Society of Friends and in his nature and manner was much of their simplicity. He was a strong advocate of temperance and Silver Lake Park excluded every intoxicating feature.