COE, LEON MELVILLE (5 Nov. 1845 - 31 Jan. 1931), also known as L. M. Coe, was a farmer, politician and street railway (INTERURBANS) developer and executive, who was instrumental in the early development of several Cleveland suburbs, including BEREA and NORTH OLMSTED. Born in Dover Twp., Ohio (today, part of the City of North Olmsted), he was a son of Edwin and Harriet (Peck) Coe, and grandson of Asher Miller Coe (1789-1867), a pioneer settler and early community leader of that township. The Coe family lived on Coe Ridge (today, Lorain Rd. from the western corporation line of FAIRVIEW PARK to Butternut Ridge Rd. in North Olmsted). There, the Coe family for several generations operated a dairy farm said to be one of the largest in western Cuyahoga County. Leon became a dairy farmer, and was also active in local politics, serving on the Dover Twp. board of trustees in 1872, 1873 and 1877. In 1864, Coe married Cora Linn Beebe. The couple had two children, Edwin and Leva.
In 1886, Leon Coe moved to Berea, then an agricultural center of southwestern Cuyahoga County. He opened a feed store and later a milling company, and also became involved in local politics, serving as a Berea councilman from 1888-1890. In the 1890s, Coe became a partner in a number of interurban ventures in Cuyahoga County, as well as in other counties in Ohio. In 1894, he was awarded a franchise by Cuyahoga County to build and operate an interurban railway on Lorain Avenue, from KAMM'S CORNERS in what is today Cleveland's WEST PARK neighborhood, across the South Rocky River bridge, and along Coe Ridge and Butternut Ridge rds., which were renamed Lorain Rd. extension (today, Lorain Rd.), all the way to the Lorain County line. Coe, ALSON POMEROY, a Berea banker, and others, then formed the Cleveland and Elyria Electric Railway Co.,which in 1895 established interurban travel between Cleveland and Elyria. This railway spurred the growth of retail shops, as well as a community, centered along Lorain Road in Dover and Olmsted Townships, and led in 1908 to the incorporation of the Village of North Olmsted. Later, the railway became part of the larger CLEVELAND, SOUTHWESTERN AND COLUMBUS RAILWAY.
In 1893, Coe became one of the founders of the West Cuyahoga County Fair (today, the CUYAHOGA COUNTY FAIR) in Berea, Ohio. For the next three decades, he traditionally opened the fair each year, earning him the sobriquet of "Barnum of the Fair." In 1907, Coe ran for and was elected mayor of Berea, serving in the office from 1907-1910. In recognition of his service to the Berea community, Coe Lake in Berea was later named in his honor. In 1913, following the death of his wife Cora, Coe moved back to his family home in Dover Twp., which was now part of the new North Olmsted Village. In 1915, he ran for and was elected mayor of North Olmsted. He served six terms as mayor, his administration coming to an end in 1929 when he was defeated by Progressive Party candidate Charles Alden Seltzer, a western novelist and the father of LOUIS B. SELTZER, editor of the Cleveland Press. On January 31, 1931, just a little more than a year after leaving office, Leon M. Coe died. He is buried at Coe Ridge Cemetery in North Olmsted.