The back of our Hickory Lane property spans both the old Chagrin Falls Electric Railroad bed and the creek beside which the interurban line was constructed in 1897. For over forty years we have called the creek “Wiley” Creek as was posted on Chagrin River Road where it crosses the creek.
Not long ago, I mentioned how my grandsons love to explore the Wiley Creek stream bed to a former neighbor. He immediately corrected me and stated that the correct name is Willey creek named after John W. Willey, a Jacksonian Democrat, and Cleveland’s first mayor serving for two terms (1836-37 and 1837-38). His comments prompted me to investigate the correct name of our village creek.
The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History states that John W. Willey was one of the first lawyers in town, a prominent land developer, that he served in the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate, and as mayor wrote the first municipal charter as well as many of Cleveland’s original laws and ordinances.
Orange Township was formed in 1820 and Moreland Hills was contained within it until 1929. The population of Orange Township began to grow about the same time as John W. Willey was aggressively striving to build his law practice. It is possible that the most prominent creek in Orange Township was then named after the aggressive, sharp, Jacksonian Democrat, John W. Willey.
The drainage basin for Willey creek spans more than just Moreland Hills including: Beechmont Country Club, Orange High School and Beechbrook.
My source material includes the 1963 Department of The Interior Geological Survey Map confirming the Willey Creek name as well as captioned photographs in Don Barriball’s “Cleveland & Chagrin Falls Electric Railway Company 1897-1925.”
New Willey Creek signs have been ordered for the bridge on Chagrin River Road.
Moreland Hills Resident