Mogadore’s first settler, Ariel Bradley, was only nine years old when he was a spy for George Washington during the American Revolution. Born in Salisbury, Connecticut, Bradley came to the Western Reserve of Ohio and eventually settled in a small crescent shaped valley with good timber and plenty of springs. There in 1807 he built a log cabin on a tract of land costing $335.00 containing 146 acres (0.59 km2). The town eventually became known as Bradleyville, then in 1825 the name of the town would be changed through the unintentional act of a celebrating sailor.
Mogador is an Arabic word meaning “beautiful” and the name of a town in Morocco. In 1825 a large home was built by Martin Kent Jr. Reportedly, when the rafters were all in place, one of the workers, a former sailor, climbed to the top of the structure, removed a flask of whiskey from his pocket and christened the home, “Mogadore”. There has always been a debate on why he chose the name Mogadore. Some say the sailor had fond memories of trips to North Africa, some have said he had a friend that had been captured by the Barbary Pirates and was imprisoned in old Mogador and others have speculated that popular literature of that era was the Arabian Nights and the mysterious markets on the North African coast.
In a popular book of the time, Captain James Riley authored an account of his shipwreck off the coast of Africa. The book was a classic tale of adventure, where a young American sea captain named James Riley, shipwrecked off the western coast of North Africa in 1815, was captured by a band of nomadic Arabs, and sold into slavery. Thus begins an epic adventure of survival and a quest for freedom that takes him across the Sahara desert to Mogadore, Morocco. This dramatic account of Captain Riley’s trials and sufferings sold more than 1,000,000 copies in his day, and was even read by a young and impressionable Abraham Lincoln. The degradations of a slave existence and the courage to survive under the most harrowing conditions have rarely been recorded with such painful honesty. Sufferings in Africa is a classic travel-adventure narrative, and a fascinating testament of white Americans enslaved abroad – during a time when slavery flourished through the United States.
Whatever the reason, people began to refer to the center of the hamlet where this house stood as Mogadore.
The Little Cuyahoga River flows through the town and was an early source of water power for several mills and shops. It wasn’t long until the small village began to prosper. The first industry was a flour mill built by James McCormick in 1817. Between 1820 and 1850 there were two more flour mills, a carding mill, two saw mills, two barrel factories, two distilleries, a wheelwright, a millwright, blacksmith and a tannery.
Prior to the American Civil War, Mogadore served as a station on the Underground Railroad. Escaped slaves on their exodus to Canada would find shelter in several homes within the village. During the Civil War, 45 men and boys of Mogadore fought for the Union and only two men, John H. Hill and brother Hiram C. Hill, were killed in the war – John at Chancellorsville and Hiram two months later at Gettysburg.
Vast claybeds were found and the first pottery was built by Fisk and Smith in 1829 south of Mogadore. Within a few years twenty one potteries sprang up around the village. Millions of gallons of the finest stoneware were manufactured and shipped out on the Ohio canal. By 1870, the clay industry employed 700 men making crocks, bricks, churns, pie plates, sewer pipes, jugs, vases, urns and many other specialty products. The quality of the stoneware had achieved an international reputation for quality. The unique clay qualities produced wares with durability comparable to cast iron vessels. Eventually glass and tin containers were favored over the heavy crockery thus ending the era of an industry noted for fine quality and craftsmanship. Today, any pottery with a Mogadore stamp is highly coveted on the antiques market.