- Amish Country
Kirtland was part of what was called the Western Reserve, land claimed by Connecticut. It was first surveyed by the surveying team headed up by Moses Cleaveland that first arrived in this area in the late 1700s. The beautiful hilly land was not well suited for large scale farming, but it was attractive for its dense forests. The first settlers arrived here just before the outbreak of the War of 1812.
The town of Kirtland is named for Turhand Kirtland, a member of the Connecticut Land Company and one of the early surveyors of the area. Besides being one of the surveyors who began laying out northeast Ohio, Turhand Kirtland was an American Revolutionary War veteran and was well suited for being able to communicate with Native Americans he encountered during his time surveying the area. His son founded a medical school in Willoughby.
Although there was some small scale farming here, the soil was not as productive as other geographic regions. It became an ideal location for raising dairy cows, orchards, and chicken raising. The area was incorporated as a village in 1968.
Try as they might, the new religious group known as the Mormons had a difficult time almost from the onset of their arrival in Kirtland Township, but it was nothing like would befall them in the west. When Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon were severely beaten by a few locals under the influence of alcohol, other local residents took their own form of punishment on the drunken revelers. For a time everything seemed to be in harmony. Yet, like in many places across the country, the Panic of 1837 caused a major financial collapse which caught up in the Mormon community in Kirtland.
Money that had been borrowed or otherwise leveraged, became due and creditors began demanding payment. Eventually the law suits forced Smith and his followers to abandon their enterprises and began a long migration that would eventually end along the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.
With more than 3,600 acres, Holden Arboretum is one of the largest arboretums in the United States. It is named for Albert Fairchild Holden who began the expansive collection of trees, woody plants and other plants.
Be prepared, unlike other arboreta, Holden Arboretum is meant to be walked. There are limited tram tours available that take about an hour, but for the most part, the massive grounds are not accessible by anything other than on foot— as it should be. There are a number of guided hiking tours that will take you to a number of special gardens such as the Lantern Court House.
The deep ravine that cut through Samuel Halle's farm is said to have been deep enough it could be used as a natural confinement, like Mother Nature's Penitentiary. Whether it was used for that purpose is doubtful, but the description was adopted by the Lake Metroparks when it acquired the land in the mid 1970s. Today the park is a natural attraction for visitors wishing to escape the confines of city life by taking self-guided tours through the rugged landscape.
In 1831 several years after Joseph Smith had his first series of revelations, and as the movement began to gain converts, it was decided the church needed to expand. By 1831, the new church had established its headquarters in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith urged the membership to gather in Kirtland where the first Mormon Temple was constructed. The new church remained here and prospered for a time with membership approaching 3,000. In 1838 several events came together and the church departed Kirtland and headed west.