Willoughby is a community in Lake County, Ohio. During its history, the town has also been called Charlton, Chagrin, and Chagrin Mills.
Prior to the 1750s, Erie Indians resided in the area of what is now Willoughby. During the 1750s, French traders established a trading post at Willoughby, which they called Charlton. Following the French and Indian War, British traders renamed the community Chagrin River, after the Chagrin River, which flowed through the area. The first white Americans to arrive in the region on a permanent basis came in 1796. In that year, Charles Parker surveyed the land that is now Willoughby. The first residents were surveyors for the Connecticut Land Company, but during the first decade of the 1800s, traditional families began to settle the region. These residents originally named the community Chagrin River, but as people constructed various mills and other industries, the area became known as Chagrin Mills. In 1815, residents again renamed the community, now calling it simply Chagrin. In 1834, residents changed the community's name one final time to Willoughby, after Dr. Westel Willoughby, an educator in Herkimer County, New York. Residents hoped to attract Dr. Willoughby to the community to establish a medical school.
Willoughby grew relatively quickly, primarily due to the town's proximity to Lake Erie and the Ohio and Erie Canal. By 1840, nearly four hundred people resided in the community, which contained at least two churches and Dr. Willoughby's medical college. Forty years later, the population had increased to more than 1,000 people, and the town boasted five churches, one bank, and one newspaper. The medical college had left the community several years previously.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Willoughby developed a booming tourist trade, attracting especially businessmen from nearby Cleveland. These men sought to escape the dirtiness of Ohio's industrial cities. Following World War II, Willoughby continued to grow. By the late 1940s, most American families owned automobiles, allowing these people to live farther from work. Willoughby experienced an increase in middle and working-class families. These people lived in Willoughby, but many of them worked in Cleveland, Ohio, located to the west. In 2000, approximately twenty-two thousand people resided in the city.
Over the course of Willoughby's history, the community has been part of six different counties, including Washington, Jefferson, Trumbull, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Lake Counties, all of which are located in Ohio. No other community in the United States of America has been part of so many different counties.
- Howe, Henry. Historical Collections of Ohio in Two Volumes. Vol. II. Cincinnati, OH: C.J. Krehbiel & Co., Printers and Binders, 1902.
- "Welcome to Willoughby, Ohio." http://www.willoughbyohio.com.