Toledo, Ohio incorporated as a city in the year 1837. During the same year, the city's residents elected John Berdan as their first mayor. [All information from Toledo Biography Scrapbook (Mayors), Local History Collection, Toledo/Lucas County Public Library.]
Berdan had been born in New York City on December 16, 1798. He married Pamela Freese and the couple moved to Brunswick, Ohio in Medina County. In Brunswick, Berdan held the office of the justice of the peace while working as a merchant.
The Berdan's settled in Toledo in September of 1835 where John formed a partnership with B.H. Peckham and Company, a commission and forwarding business located at the bottom of Lagrange Street. As local leaders in the business, most of the steamboats on the Maumee River stopped at the company's dock. Berdan's reputation as an astute business person gained him a reputation as a fair and honest individual. His popularity helped to assure his election as mayor.
Berdan's governing strategies earned him reelection in 1838 and at the end of his second mayoral term in 1839, the county commissioners named him associate justice of the Court of Common Pleas for Lucas County. He remained in this position until his death on October 11, 1841.
Berdan had two children, Peter F., a prominent man in the wholesale trade, and Rachel, wife of Valentine H. Ketcham. continued the reputable Berdan name throughout the Toledo community. The Berdan name lived on as part of the proud legacy of Toledo's boom days. A street name helps to remind local residents of the glorious past. Once a main thoroughfare in the outer region of Toledos suburbs, Berdan Avenue lies in the center of what is now a working class area of west Toledo.
The Berdan Family mausoleum
(Photography of Woodlawn Cemetery by Josef Schneider.)