Mansfield/Richland County Public Library Collection
Located some 70 miles southwest of Cleveland, the area now known as Richland County was, 200 years ago, the western edge of the Ohio frontier. The first settlers named their settlement after Jared Mansfield, a government surveyor of the Northwest Territories. Eventually, the Delaware Indians that inhabited the area were pushed westward with the vacuum filled by farms and villages.
In 1846, a railroad line connecting Mansfield with the lake shore at Sandusky began operation. With the railroad, came industry. With the industry, came wave after wave of immigrants. Germans, followed by Irish, eastern Europeans, Italians and, from the American south, African-Americans, all looking for their own piece of the American dream.
Mansfield became a center for the manufacture of steel, agricultural implements, stoves and later for washers, dryers, toasters and all manner of electrical appliances. As industries grew, the town grew. In the 1950’s General Motors opened a stamping plant in nearby Ontario. It was the crown jewel in the area’s industrial development.
But as time passed, older factories like Westinghouse, Ohio Brass and Tappan were replaced by newer facilities in the American south or overseas. General Motors finally shut down in 2010, one of the last of the factories that had transformed Mansfield into an industrial powerhouse. But Mansfield is not without energy or hope. It is a city both proud of its past and confident of its future.
Cleveland Memory Project
What is Cleveland Memory?
The Cleveland Memory Project is a freely searchable online collection of digital photos, texts, oral histories, videos and other local history resources, built by the Michael Schwartz Library at the Cleveland State University in collaboration with a host of community partners around Northeast Ohio.