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MADE BY THE

BATH TOWNSHIP BOARD OF TRUSTEES

ON

JULY 14, 1993

 

This presentation occurred at a Community Dinner which was held at the Bath Church - United Church of Christ on the evening of July 14, 1993.  These remarks have been prepared with reference to materials found in the official records of the Township beginning in 1865.  Township records prior to 1865 were not available for review.

 

Mr. Norman

INTRODUCTION

One Hundred and Seventy Five Years!

    Friends are surprised when I tell them that Bath Township is older than Akron.  They are even a little less believing when told that Bath is older than Summit County, but both statements are true, and with the perception of the times, neither is even strange.

    Townships existed in what is now Ohio before the state was organized, permitted, even encouraged, by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  In 1803, when Ohio became a state, there were only two counties, Washington, with its seat at Marietta, and Hamilton, whose seat was Cincinnati.  These two counties then began to divide and replicate themselves like amoeba.  There were, perhaps, a hundred townships at that time, and more were established with regularity in every part of the state.

    I like the language used by the State of Ohio to explain the need for and function of a Township.  "Townships are created to gain for their citizens the benefits of government."  Tonight, our ambitions are modest, we hope only to bring to you only one benefit, a brief entertainment from your "government" and that is who we are, your elected officials and a few others who are in support of this evening's activity.

    First, some introductions.  I am Tom Norman, the junior (in length of service) among the Trustees.  Our President, Gloria Drennon, has learned how to stay young in spite of hanging around with a couple of old guys, and our senior member is C. J. "Al" Alameda, community activist, who hardly needs an introduction.  Gene Everhard is the Township Clerk and he is the fourth and last elected official.

    We are joined this evening by David Gravis, our Administrative Assistant, who, as he does every day, will support us in our presentation.

    We know that our appearance here tonight has been variously promoted as a parody or a farce.  It may work out that way but that isn't our present intention.  As we began to prepare for this evening we became persuaded that the people of Bath had, for the past 175 years, pretty much governed themselves, and for that reason, they have gotten a lot of good government at reasonable cost.  In our research we found neither financial crisis, nor political scandal.  But we found countless examples of citizens who served this community in various capacities for years, even decades.  Their stories may be quaint, even odd, but they are interesting and they evoke nothing but gratitude and respect for those who served.

    As an example of this, let me tell you about one of our Township elections, the election of '66, 1866 that is.

THE ELECTION OF '66

Bath Township - March 5, 1866

    "This day the Trustees issues summons to Lorenzo Shaw, Constable of Bath Township, commanding him to notify the electors of Bath Township to assemble at the usual place for holding elections on the first Monday of April next and elect the usual number of Township Officers and also a Justice of the Peace in place of Henry Pardee, resigned."

    Eventually, Constable Shaw was paid $1.60 for his service, $1.20 for posting three (3) notices of election in prominent locations in the Township and $0.40 for mileage.

    On April 2nd, the electors did appear at Bath Center and elected the following officers:

                        3 Trustees            H.H. Mack

                                                   Jared Barker

                                                   Thomas Pierson

                        Clerk                    W. A. Rozelle

                        Treasurer              James Ligget

                        Assessor               Abijah Spencer

                        2 Constables         Lorenzo Shaw

                                                   Benjamin Allman

    In addition, they elected twenty (20) Road Supervisors. 

 

    The records of the day do not completely describe the election process or the events of the day.  No times for the balloting are specified in the notice, although it can be presumed that the votes could be cast throughout the day. The vote tally was not recorded for this 1866 election, but a couple of years later, in a very similar election, 359 votes were cast for Trustees, indicating at least 120 voters.

    In 1866, the Township election was supervised by five (5) judges and clerks of election; they were the three (3) Trustees, the Township Clerk, and another citizen.  All were additionally compensated four dollars ($4.00) for their activity on that day.

     After the balloting, the Constable, Mr. Shaw, was again called upon commanding him to summon the officers-elect "to appear at Bath Center and to qualify themselves for office within ten (10) days from the said (April 2nd) election."  For this effort, Constable Shaw submitted his request for additional payment:

$1.60 - for mileage

   .75 - fee for returning

 5.25 - for twenty one (21) copies of the results of election

$7.50

 

    This summons caused the newly elected officials to appear before the Clerk over the subsequent few days to comply with the formalities attendant to their election.

 

    For those elected to serve as Road Supervisors, there was the requirement to take an oath and post a Surety Bond.  The performance of each supervisor was guaranteed by another citizen of the Township, often another supervisor of roads, and their commitment was, in turn, subject to a twenty five dollar ($25.00) penalty for non-performance.

 

    For the other offices, similar requirements were applicable and similar arrangements were possible; Orison Moore gave a guarantee as to the performance of Clerk Rozelle in the amount of $300.  A. Coffin and William Barker posted a bond totaling $3,500 in respect of Treasurer James Liggett, $500 in respect of Township Funds and $3000 as Treasurer of the Schools.  The Assessors' bond, as well as the Constable bonds were in the amount of $500.

 

    The Township records provide an interesting sidelight to this 1866 election.  A month later, on May 4th, Benjamin Allman was assessed and paid a fine in the amount of $2.00 for refusing to serve as Constable, the office to which he had been so recently elected.  While the refusal to serve was not unknown, it was rare.  Elections were held annually and those elected changed frequently, tenure for Trustees seemingly short with more frequent re-election of Clerks and Treasurers.

 

The willingness of many to serve the Township over many years in the various elected positions is very impressive and as will become evident, critical to the ability of the Township to govern itself.

 

        Here is another News item from 1866:

 

            Bath, May 11, 1866

 

            "We the Trustees of Bath Township hereby

            grant a special permit to O.W. Colson to

            allow the following described cow to run

            at large in the Public Highway.  Said cow

            is light red with a little white on the

            abdomen with high horns which have been

            sawed off at the ends and is 10 or 11

            years old."

 

 

Mr. Alameda

 

BATH TOWNSHIP ROADS

 

    There is no subject of responsibility that has been so constant to the Trustees over Bath's 175 years as that of the road construction and maintenance.  From the earliest days until the present, from twenty to more than fifty percent of every Township annual operating budget has been devoted to keeping the roads safe and passable.  Road construction projects were often the most significant capital projects.

 

    Because of this constant demand and activity, it is almost impossible to address the subject of Bath Township roads in any comprehensive manner in the time allotted.  A few examples must suffice.

 

    The Township develops and/or arranges for the original construction of Township roads.  From the beginning and continuing through to today, this activity is in response to the petition of citizens.  The original procedure involved, of which some remnants remain today, required posting public notice of intent, petitioning the Township Trustees and posting a bond, arranging for a survey and a public viewing by "three (3) judicious disinterested landowners" who would report to the Trustees on the need for the road, any compensation of assessment involved, and record a proper description.  The Trustees could, then, accept the road and commit the Township for its maintenance. 

 

    Early Township records repeat over the years a rhythm of road maintenance.  Each spring was a time of great activity in dragging, scraping, crowning and hauling gravel [for then cents ($0.10) a load] to spread on the roads. 

 

    References in the summer are to mowing, with ditch and culvert maintenance, while in the autumn was added brush removal.  Winter brought the need for snow plowing.

 

    Until very recently, almost all road maintenance was undertaken by the citizens themselves who were only modestly paid for their services.  In 1860, the Township named twenty six (26) citizens as Road Supervisors and paid them from $2.50 to $12.93 for their labor and the use of tools and horses for the year.  Each supervisor was appointed to be responsible for the roads in a given area. In 1868, Jacob Hershey was responsible for the roads in District 6 which commenced "at the foot of the hill in Ghent, south to Ellis' Corners, thence west to Hubbard's thence north to Bissel's, thence east to the intersection of the road at Ghent."  He received $10.45 for his services for the year.

 

    Later there was a tendency for the supervisor, fewer of them, decreasing for example to only two (2) in 1915, to hire other citizens for work on the roads.  In addition, one (1) of the Trustees was separately compensated for the additional responsibility as Road Dragging Boss ($18.15 in 1914).  A farmer of this era could connect his team to the Township's new $150 ($130 after trade-in) Ideal Road Machine and earn twenty two and on half cents (22 1/2 cents) per hour for himself and twenty seven and one half cents (27 1/2 cents) per hour for his horses.  Twenty (20) citizens of Bath Township claimed compensation for road maintenance work in May 1916.  Almost as many were paid for snow removal in the winter, particularly around Christmas 1918 and the first of 1919 which must have been a period of heavy snowfall.  From time to time, when the work was more to do than men and horses were available, the Trustees turned to the County for necessary services.

 

    Another Trustee responsibility was to promote and leverage county road investments in the Township.  For example, in 1915 the Trustees approved the issuance of bonds, payable through 1932 in the amount of $17,660.52, which was the fifteen percent (15%) local contribution to the construction of the New Brick Road which was to be a great improvement over the track which joined Akron and Richfield through Ghent.  Since the amount of the debt was greater than one percent (1%) of the assessed valuation of all the property in the Township, it was necessary that the voters approved, which they did on 17 April 1915, the borrowing and additional real estate taxes sufficient to amortize the debt.

 

    Also, in 1915 the Trustees voted to participate to the extent of seven and one half percent (7 1/2 %) or $1,339.40 in "grading, draining, curbing, and paving of the westernmost one and one half miles of the Akron-Medina Road, that is from Babcock's west line to the County Line." These funds were also borrowed, but for only three (3) years.

 

 

 

Mr. Everhard

 

THE TIMES SHAPE THE TOWNSHIP

 

    Reviewing the Township records reminds us that the history of Bath Township is a part of the history of the United States and that the "Grand Events" of the times were reflected in the lives of the citizens and the Township and helped determine the issues and character of the times.  Being a part of the Western Reserve of Connecticut dictated the origin of the earliest settlers.

 

     A little while later, with the collapse of the banking system in 1837, the whole country was plagued with economic depression until the middle part of the 1840's.  Bath Township was similarly affected, and it seems that there was a permanent change in the prospects and fortunes of the community. During this post recession period, the industrial activity along Yellow Creek ceased to expand and  lost ground to Akron and Cuyahoga Falls.  New business ventures seemed limited to serving strictly local markets, and some families looking for a fresh start relocated either to nearby towns or to the frontier - then located in Northwestern Ohio and Indiana.

 

    The next upheaval was the Civil War, and it may be seen in the records of the Township that the conscription of Bath citizens to serve in the Union Army was administered in part by the Township.  In 1864 and 1865, the Bath Trustees issued bonds for the purpose of raising the bounty to obtain volunteers.  By doing so, they released the Township citizens from the draft ordered July 1864 to January 1865.  The names of the subscribers of the bonds are available, and the list includes Township Trustees, Clerks and prominent citizens. 

 

    Also available is a list of the veterans who, in 1866, upon their return from service, were paid $100 each as a bounty for their enlistment.  This list too included the names of those who would later serve as Trustees and Clerks.

 

    After the Civil War and again after World War I, the Township made small, regular payments over the years to the widows of veterans.  Also noted in the World War I period was a shortage of men and horses to work on the roads.  The Trustees turned to the county for help with road maintenance, mowing, and snow removal.

 

    A review of the Township expenditures in 1933 is a sobering reminder of the Great Depression.  In that year, there was an unprecedented need for the Township to intervene on behalf of many truly needy citizens.  A third of the resources were spent to supplement the county's efforts to provide Bath residents with medical care, food, shoes, coal, and even the expenses of burying three indigent citizens.  All through the 1930's concerns in regard of the welfare of citizens occupy a most significant amount of the Township's activity. 

 

    World War II is barely mentioned in the Trustee's records, but the transition of the Township over the 1940's was great and unmistakable.  The records show an escalation of costs.  Road labor was paid forty cents ($0.40) per hour in 1941 and seventy cents ($0.70) in 1943.  A man and his tractor was hired and one dollar and twenty five cents ($1.25) per hour in 1941 and two dollars ($2.00) per hour in 1943.  A driver and team of horses were paid one dollar ($1.00) per hour in 1941 and one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) per hour in 1943; and, incidentally, in that later year was seen the last reference to hiring horses to work on Township roads; an era had passed.  In spite of a willingness to pay more, there were few takers and the Trustees turned again to County Engineer to maintain the roads.  Even after the war, there was only a small return to citizen labor on the roads and ever since, professional, full-time maintenance workers have been the norm.

 

    Very little went on in the Township during the war; Surplus Cemetery Funds were invested in War Bonds.  The Township's road grader was not depreciated but was written up in value until 1946 when it disappeared entirely from the asset register, apparently having been scrapped.  Payroll deductions were started and payments were first made to Social Security and the Internal Revenue Service.  The Clerk's job was forever changed.  Finances improved and fund balances increased since there was little to buy.  So, at the end of the war, on February 19, 1945, the Trustees resolved to ask the County Engineer to:

 

        ".....make estimates of the costs to black top the

        following roads according to schedule:

 

        1945 - Hametown Road (from Granger north)

        1946 - Oak Hill Road

        1947 - Martin Road

        1948 - Hametown Road ( from Granger south)

        1949 - Bath Road (east from Shade)"

 

This would appear to be the first evidence of a Township forward plan.

 

    Also, in 1945, the Township made plans to acquire a new fire truck and did, pumps and some equipment from the Office of Surplus Property were mounted on a new 1946 Ford chassis.  Therefore, the equipment list for 1946 showed the new truck with a value of $2000 and all other Township equipment valued at only $141.

 

    The changes brought about by the Second World War and its aftermath were most dramatic.  Before, Bath Township was genuinely rural, its' citizens were largely farmers and the economy based on agriculture and local business.  The Township government was concerned with roads and public assistance.  The citizens themselves provided the labor and horsepower on a part-time basis to do what was needed doing.  At the end of the war, there was a great demand for improvement.  Prosperity returned.  The citizens wanted services, the safety forces were born and a new concept, Township Zoning, began to be advanced.

 

   

    Mrs. Drennon

 

THE ORIGINS AND EVOLUTION OF ZONING

AND OTHER SERVICES IN BATH TOWNSHIP

 

    Zoning is a body of laws enacted locally and intended to regulate and control the use of private property.  It seeks to accommodate the desires of the individual property owner while also considering the common welfare of the community.  It does present the opportunity for differences of opinion over important Township matters and can lead to disagreements between citizens and/or their representatives.

 

        In 1947 the Ohio General Assembly passes legislation enabling Township to engage in land use zoning.  This action was the result of efforts by Townships continuing for more than twenty years seeking this authority. 

 

    On April 5, 1948, a petition was presented to the Trustees of Bath Township requesting the Township to proceed with adopting a Zoning Resolution and administration.  The petition was sponsored by the Bath Community Council and was presented by its' Chairman, William Mettler.  In response, the Trustees appropriated funds to complete a study and appointed the first Zoning Commission, consisting of:

 

                R. Hopkins

                Russell Harp

                Rice Hershey

                Homer Steiner

                A. C. Hough

 

    The first meeting of the Zoning Commission was held April 9, 1948 at the home of R. Hopkins.  The Township Trustees attended and passed out copies of the recent state legislation and maps of the Township.

 

    The Commission hired a consultant and a lawyer.  After considerable effort and coordination, the Commission and Trustees, at a joint meeting held 9 April 1949, approved the Zoning Ordinance and map and discussed the approval process and plans.  Eventually a Public hearing was scheduled at Bath Center for the evening of June 20th.  About forty citizens attended and took part in the discussions.  Some changes were made in the text of the Ordinance which required additional review by Summit County Planning and an additional Public Hearing  - which was held on 12 September 1949.  The Trustees adopted the Zoning Resolution on 23 September 1949 and arranged that its approval be submitted to the electors of the Township on 8 November 1949.

 

    It seems there was concern that the agricultural nature of the Township could be in jeopardy at that time and the voting citizens of Bath did not support the adoption of the Resolution, and, for awhile, the issue of zoning was dormant.

 

    In early 1951, the Alpha and Beta Garden Clubs addressed a letter to the Township stating that "proper zoning is fundamental to keeping Bath beautiful" and urged the further consideration of a zoning law.  This led to meetings with the clubs, the Trustees, and with the previously appointed Zoning Commission - Roscoe Mitchell and W. Fryman having replaced Russell Harp and R. Hopkins. 

 

    Also, representatives of the PTA, the Grange, and The Farm Bureau Council were added to the group promoting the zoning of the Township.  On July 12, 1951, the Zoning Commission was reappointed with E. M. Daugherty replacing W. Fryman. 

 

    Early in 1952 the Zoning Commission submitted to the Trustees a revised Zoning Resolution and certified its approval by Summit County Planning.  The Trustees scheduled a Public Hearing for 8 March 1952.  After the Hearing, the Resolution was approved to be put on the ballot in the primary election of May 6, 1952.  The people of the Township approved this Resolution.  Soon thereafter the Trustees confirmed the appointments to the Commission and established the fees for zoning applications.  Clarence Plank resigned his post as Justice of the Peace to become the Township's first Zoning Inspector.  He was paid from permit revenues of one cent ($0.01) per square foot for buildings.  In 1956 the fee went to 1.1 cent a square foot, one cent went to the inspector and the remainder to the Township.  Today the charge is three cents a square foot for residential structures and four cents a square foot for commercial structures and revenues all go to the Township zoning fund.

 

    Consistent with the growing need for services, law enforcement responsibilities by constables and then the County Sheriff were handed over to the Township's own police department in 1968.  The all volunteer fire department evolved into a combination full-time and volunteer/part-time department in 1964.  The concept of neighbor helping neighbor still exists.

 

    As the demands of Township government increased and became more complex, in 1965 a Trustees' Advisory Council was formed by the Trustees and this Council continues to function today.  The first appointees were John Schlemmer, Philip Smith, Oscar Schneyer, Mike Goarley, O. R. Bethel, Fred Williams, Harold Alleck, Jackie Marshall, and Lynn Stuart.  Mr. Smith and Mrs. Marshall ultimately served the Township as Clerk and Trustee respectively.

 

 

Mr. Norman

 

A CELEBRATION OF COMMUNITY

 

    This 175th anniversary is aptly named and our program this evening seems to reflect and confirm the reason for our celebration.  We were not concerned with heroic deeds or historical events, but rather sought out the issues that occupied the community and its people.  We tried to point out the truth we discovered in our research, that Bath Township, citizens and elected officials alike, were normally occupied with the events and circumstances of the day and looked at the Township as the instrument of government which could and would respond to the needs of the people as the people defined those needs.

 

    From the beginning, when Bath was populated by the immigration from Connecticut, its governance has been both a challenge and an opportunity.  In the main, the challenges were met and the problems resolved.  As a result, the Township has been attractive, over the generations, for farming, residential development and as a place for family life.  The past, in some respects seems attractive but few, if any would suggest rolling back the clock.

 

    Change will continue as you, the citizens of Bath, perceive the evolution of your interests and your needs.  That is the advantage of Bath, its government is limited, flexible, responsive, and immediate and will continue to be so.  It is an endeavor worthy of your attention.  It is a community that has been and will continue to be worth celebrating. 

 

    Thanks to all of you and to the Anniversary Committee for asking us to participate in these events, and thanks to all who helped us put this program together.