OLMSTED TOWNSHIP as it is today was originally Township 6, Range 15 of the Connecticut WESTERN RESERVE. Located in the southwestern corner of Cuyahoga County, it borders NORTH OLMSTED on the north and BROOK PARK and BEREA on the east. It surrounds OLMSTED FALLS on three sides. Aaron Olmsted, a shareholder in the CONNECTICUT LAND COMPANY, placed a bid on large tracts of land in the northern part of the original township in 1795, but he passed away in 1806 before the purchase was officially completed a year later. The land passed to his heirs, including his son Charles. In 1814, the James Geer family became the first white settlers in the area which, at the time, was called Kingston. In 1829 village officials accepted the name Olmsted in exchange for the 500-book library of Charles Olmsted. It was not only the first library in the settlement but also the first west of the Allegheny Mountains (see LIBRARIES, ARCHIVES, AND HISTORICAL SOCIETIES).
The village of Olmsted grew steadily, reaching a population of 1,216 by 1850. With the coming of the railroads to central Olmsted Township in the 1850s, residents carved out a small southern section which, in 1857, became the village of Olmsted Falls. The change launched a shift of township government offices and power from northern to central Olmsted Township. Later, fueled by discontent over the movement of government offices and rising power to the south of them, citizens in the northern part of the township formed their own village government in 1909 which they called North Olmsted. This left Olmstead Township as a 10-square-mile rural residential area. It continued to thrive as an agricultural community, with farmers growing wheat, corn, oats, hay, potatoes, apples, peaches, grapes and several kinds of berries. They also raised livestock, including sheep, goats, hogs, cows, chickens, and turkeys.
Over the years, several failed attempts were made by Berea and North Olmsted to annex parts of Olmsted Township. Residents also battled over ZONING the area's wealth of undeveloped land. Many, for example, opposed the creation of the Columbia Trailer Park in the early 1950s. (The project was sanctioned nonetheless and is known today as the Columbia Park Manufactured Home Community.) Subsequent disputes with land developers led to additional annexation attempts.
For many decades (and well into the 1970s) North Olmstead, Olmsted Falls, and Olmsted Township had one of the nation’s largest concentration of greenhouses (see AGRICULTURE). In 1980 Olmstead Township's recreational facilities included a golf course, horse farms, and until the early 2000s, TROLLEYVILLE, U.S.A., a museum featuring a working trolley line.
Olmsted Falls now comprises 9.8 sq. mi. Recently, its population has increased dramatically—from 10,575 in 2000 to 14,506 in 2020. Since the early 20th century, it has been part of the Olmstead Falls school district. Like Olmstead Falls and North Olmstead, the great majority of Olmstead Township’s citizens identify as white.
Last updated: 12/3/2022
Banks, Bruce and Jim Wallace. The Olmsted Story: A Brief History of Olmsted Falls & Olmsted Township. Charleston: The History Press, 2010.