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Captain Aaron Olmstead, a wealthy sea captain in the China trade out of New England, was one of 49 investors who formed a syndicate in 1795 to purchase a major part of the Western Reserve from Connecticut. He became the owner of thousands of acres from his $30,000 share of the $120,000 total land deal. The land encompassed the areas now known as North Olmsted, Olmsted Falls and Olmsted Township. At the time of the purchase, the area was known as Lenox. Olmsted traveled west on horseback to visit the land in 1795, but never settled here. He died in 1806. In 1826, Aaron's son, Charles Hyde Olmstead, offered to donate 500 books from his father's personal collection in Oxford, Connecticut, if the residents of Lenox agreed to change the name of the area to Olmstead, which they did.
The books traveled by oxcart over 600 miles of rugged terrain. They were individually covered with blue paper and arrived partly stained with mud and rain. The books were housed in various families' homes and circulated to residents in the area.
The collection today
Around 150 of the original books can be found in a display case in the North Olmsted Branch Library. The blue paper covers remain on many of the books.