BOARD OF TRUSTEES
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.
One Hundred and
Seventy Five Years!
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
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.
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
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
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,
"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."
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
3 Trustees H.H. Mack
Clerk W. A. Rozelle
Treasurer James Ligget
Assessor Abijah Spencer
2 Constables Lorenzo Shaw
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.
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
- for twenty one (21) copies of the results of election
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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)"
would appear to be the first evidence of a Township forward
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
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.
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:
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
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
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.