Squaw Rock by Henry Church Jr.

December 13, 2013

By Janet Dodrill

ink sketch by Janet Dodrill of Squaw Rock by Henry Church Jr 1885

Squaw Rock by Henry Church Jr. 1885, ink sketch by Janet Dodrill.

On a walk down a path at the South Chagrin Reservation known as Squaw Rock sits a mammoth-sized rock on the bank of the Chagrin River that was carved by an artist in1885. That artist was self-taught Henry Church Jr. (1836-1908), American primitive painter and sculptor, but blacksmith by profession, from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Squaw Rock’s formal name is ‘The Rape of the Indian Tribes by the White Man’ and it stands 30 feet high. The carving includes a woman (squaw) surrounded by a snake, a baby (papoose), skeleton, eagle, shield, flag, hatchet, arrows, and dog.

I read somewhere once that Henry used to secretly travel to the carving site by night, working by lantern, in hopes that the rock would be ‘discovered’ one day and believed to be carved by Indians, but I cannot locate the posting again to support this.

In recent years it has been vandalized and damaged. The squaw’s face and breasts have been defaced, and nature has taken its course and the stone face has deteriorated. After Church died, WPA (Works Project Administration) built a base under the rock to protect it from the river. I remember going there as a child, and even though my father was an avid photographer then and I so in more recent years, we have no early photographs, or any for that matter, of the rock at all.

In 1999 I visited the rock and did this ink sketch, as a result of an organized ‘hike and sketch’ event by the parks, which I participated in with my later mother and father who also appreciated his work.

Church carved a lion with a lamb for his own funeral stone, which is currently on long-term loan at the Cleveland Museum of Art, and pre-recorded his own funeral sermon on a wax gramophone cylinder. Though most of his painting were destroyed by his daughter after his death, he is also known for his painting The Monkey Picture (28″ x 44″, oil on paper, mounted on oil cloth, 1895-1900) which is on permanent collection at Abbey Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center.


The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History


Antiques & Fine Art Magazine (The Monkey Picture)

The Sculpture Center, Outdoor Ohio Sculpture Inventory

Photos of Squaw Rock:

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

CarCow.com, The Famous Squaw Rock

South Chagrin Reservation, Cleveland Metroparks


Old Cleveland Postcards

December 22, 2012

By Janet Dodrill

euclid avenue cleveland ohio postcard

Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, postcard

Recently, by going through family photos, albums and scrapbooks, these three old Cleveland postcards of Euclid Avenue, University Circle and the Hollenden building, were discovered, passed down through our family. I love old Cleveland pictures, and it is even interesting seeing the written correspondence and stamps on some of them.

People crave nostalgia, and Clevelander’s enjoy anything Cleveland! Progress in civilization changes things so quickly, which we can mostly tell by looking back.

I’ve noticed, working in the graphics industry, that back in the day of keylines, typesetting,

university circle cleveland ohio postcard

University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio, postcard

hand-lettering and illustration (for me it was 1970s through early 1990s), we strived to achieve a polished high end look that was difficult to manufacture by hand. Then when the desktop publishing-capable computers were introduced it seemed to be the answer to our hopes. We could generate clean text and grab clip art graphics. However, by the late 1990s fonts were being created with a hand-written or grunge look. Stock illustration was less sleek and more stroked and textured. We sought a more natural look from our computer layouts, and for the visuals to appear to be more authentic.

hollenden building cleveland ohio postcard

Hollenden Building, Cleveland Ohio, postcard

I have found a similar comparison with the direction of cameras and photography. Over time we have made many improvements to cameras and photographic imagery. From tin to plates to film to now digital cameras with ever-increasing megapixels and other features. How ironic that we get software and app filters to give us an old sepia tone or vintage look.

The innovative Instagram, available first, offered a multiple digital image filter app that could be applied from a phone or tablet and posted on the world wide web for millions to see and took off in popularity. And there are many more other apps that now do the same thing, most recently Twitter and Flickr.

Seeing old postcards is still special. That is when the imagery was the best it could be. It brings us back to a time when we had other priorities. You can just tell by these postcards that the fancy architecture shown would have drawn visitors to Cleveland, and that people were out catching cable cars, operating their horse-drawn carriages while going downtown to shop or work at their businesses, and other things of the day. It starts-off our imaginations when we look at them.

euclid avenue cleveland ohio postcard

Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio, postcard

university circle cleveland ohio postcard

University Circle, Cleveland, Ohio, postcard

hollenden building cleveland ohio postcard

Hollenden Building, Cleveland, Ohio, postcard