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Later development came in the 1830s and 1840s as a result of the settlement's position along the route of the Pennsylvania and Ohio Canal.
Leading up to the American Civil War, Franklin Mills was noted for its activity in the Underground Railroad.
Settlement by Europeans began in the late 1790s and early 19th century.
The first village, known as Franklin Mills, or locally as the "Lower Village", developed mostly around the original Haymaker property.
In 1818, Joshua Woodard arrived in the area and began constructing buildings just north of the village forming the "Upper Village" that would come to be known briefly as Carthage.
As a result, an industrial and business region was established along the east side of the river in what is now downtown Kent.
Factories and mills were either planned or constructed along the Cuyahoga River, some of which either were never built or ultimately failed, due mostly to effects of the Panic of 1837.
It was incorporated as a village in 1867 and became a city after the 1920 Census.