Stories that connect our past to our present and our future
A steady snow was accompanying a large group of visitors walking along Locks 1-4 in downtown Akron. The cold, sleety weather seemed an appropriate backdrop, though some would say unwelcome, on March 25, a supposed spring day, for the gathering.
It was 100 years before that Mother Nature, with all of her unpredictable might and volatility, wreaked havoc with a treacherous flood that devastated not only Akron, but all of Ohio and 14 other states.
Pat Rydquist, a naturalist with Metro Parks, and the Summit County Historical Society hosted a free hike along the downtown towpath for more than 75 people who gathered to commemorate the Great Flood of 1913, which brought an end to the locks of the Ohio & Erie Canal.
The storm of the century was 100 years ago. Only it was more like the storm of the Millennium. The resulting flood waters caused one of the most widespread natural disasters in our nation's history and turned the streets of our great Midwestern cities into the Canals of Venice for five days and nights.
Hurricane Katrina ; Hurricane Irene ; and Super-storm Sandy  were not even close in the amount of wide-spread devastation they each left in their wake. Mother Nature doesn't play favorites. She took the lives of more than one thousand individuals in a massive storm system that started out as a string of several tornados Easter Sunday, beginning March 23, 1913 at 6 p.m. in Omaha, Nebraska. Then she pelted the ground with freezing rain lasting days and gorging major and minor rivers to bursting east of the Mississippi in a fifteen statewide area.
It disrupted communications and manufacturing from the industrial north to the agricultural south. Hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were destroyed and millions were left stranded from the Ohio Valley outward to Pennsylvania; Michigan; Indiana; Kentucky and as far away as Nebraska; Arkansas, New York; New Jersey and Vermont. The flood was often compared to the San Francisco earthquake and resulting fire and the sinking of the Titanic which was the year before. More Americans were affected than both of those catastrophes combined.
The Summit County Historical Society in Akron presented awards Saturday, March 16 to the 2013 Class of Summit Award recipients, co-sponsored by the City of Akron.
These awards are presented to distinguished past and present residents of Akron who have been recognized nationally for inspirational accomplishments and whose life stories continue to impact Greater Akron.
To see the video biographies of each of the recipients, go to www.akronbuzz.com.
Relocated home marks sole trailhead in downtown Akron
Long before super highways — and prior to that, railroads — canals were the key mode of transportation that carried passengers and transported goods during the first half of the 19th century.
And standing testament to Akron’s vibrant canal history is the Richard Howe House, which, appropriately enough, has the Ohio & Erie Canal and Towpath Trail as its backdrop.
The original 1836 Howe House, known to many during the canal era as the Howe Mansion, was moved to 47 W. Exchange Street in late June 2008 from its original location across the street from the Akron Beacon Journal, just two and a half blocks away.
Between 1825 and 1832, Richard Howe was the Residential Engineer for the Ohio & Erie Canal who designed the canal and lock system between Cleveland and Massillon.
Dorothy O. Jackson, known as "Akron's goodwill ambassador" will speak on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2013 at 2 p.m. in the Main Library Auditorium.
Dorothy O. Jackson has been a tireless, lifelong social activist. She has given her voice and support to issues that concern the poor and disabled in the Akron area for decades.
Ms. Jackson served as Deputy Mayor of the City of Akron for nearly 20 years. She was the first African-American woman to serve in an Akron mayor's cabinet. Ms. Jackson retired in June 2003 but continues her community activism.
Prior to becoming Deputy Mayor, Ms. Jackson worked for Goodwill Industries, followed by a sixteen-year career with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority as the Social and Tenant Services Administrator.
The elves have been busy this year decorating the Col. Simon and Grace Perkins residence with an American Civil War accent. Come tour the Victorian era elegance and learn the history of one of Akron’s most prominent families. Located at 550 Copley Rd., the Greek Revival stone structure stands tall and majestic among grounds where sheep raised by Perkins and tended by future radical abolitionist, John Brown, once grazed.
Referred by the family as Perkins Hill, but dubbed “Mutton Hill” by local residents, the property overlooks the city of Akron in the valley below. Construction of the mansion started in 1835 and finished in 1837 using sandstone from a nearby quarry. Trees cleared from the property were used for timbers to build the floors, stairway, cabinets, doors and all trim work. Perkins' father, General Simon Perkins, who lived in Warren, Ohio, was the co-founder of Akron. Both were instrumental in having the Ohio & Erie Canal go through the city. The home’s exterior, along with every room on the interior, sports festive festoons of green garlands with bright gold bows and various other whimsical holiday decorations.
Looking to try something a little different than all the usual fare this holiday season? Then step back in time to the year 1862 by attending an authentic Victorian supper at Farnam Manor. The evening includes entertainment of popular music, period parlor games, conversation and the latest news of the war as related by the hosts, members of the Farnam family.
The Ohio Living History Society is serving several dinner meals at Everett Farnam Manor, 4223 Brecksville Road, Richfield on Dec. 22, 28 and 29.
The recipes date from the 1860s and are served by historical interpreters decked out in period attire. The guests are greeted at the entrance precisely at 6 p.m. by Mrs. Farnam and escorted inside where introductions are made and the clock magically turns back 150 years to the backdrop of the American civil war.
Stow law director Brian Reali, Major in Army Judge Advocate General's Corps Reserves, is on his third deployment to Afghanistan. Before his current tour of duty, in Kabul, Major Reali applied for and obtained a small piece of the World Trade Center tower from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It arrived in Stow shortly before the attack's tenth anniversary last year.
A permanent memorial monument and garden has been designed and constructed in front of Stow's municipal building. A formal ribbon cutting and dedication ceremony will be announced once the plaque is finished and other details are in place. But for now, the I-beam section with black granite base, Pennsylvania Blue Flagstone walkway and landscaping are all there in place for visitors to see and reflect on.
The 29th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Company "G" Civil War re-enactment group held a "recruitment" re-enactment in the shadow of the stately Perkins Stone Mansion in Akron on Saturday, Aug. 25 to replenish their ranks. The event was well attended and many civilian spectators were "recruited" to fight for the cause.
In 1862, with the ranks decimated, 29th O.V.I.'s plea was to "Preserve and protect this Union and the Constitution." A recruiting poster stated: "Arouse men of Ohio. Our country's flag has been insulted. Patriotism and love of country alike demand a ready response from every able bodied man, 18 and over, capable of bearing arms in this trying hour – not only to sustain the existence of our government, but to vindicate the honor of the flag so ruthlessly torn by the traitor's hands from within the walls of Ft. Sumter."
The goal was to refill the ranks of the 29th Ohio. This great regiment, once part of a division, the only division that defeated General Stonewall Jackson, had suffered a great loss at their last battle at Cedar Creek (11 killed; 26 wounded; 12 missing). Only 83 men were fielded for duty out of 988 the morning following that terrible battle on Aug. 10, 1862.