The History of Perry Township

 

Townships are statutory local governments that can exercise the powers delegated to them by the General Assembly or reasonably inferred by the Ohio Revised Code.

 

Townships were the first form of local government in Ohio.  They were plotted according to a basic policy for the survey and sale of public lands.  With the formation of the Ohio Territory under the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the six mile township squares were used as a means of establishing local civil governments in the territory.

 

Since the adoption of the 1851 Ohio Constitution, the basic form of township government has remained unchanged.  Townships are governed by three elected Trustees serving four year terms.  A Board of Trustees is the legislative authority and fulfills many executive responsibilities.  A fourth elected official, Township Fiscal Officer, is independent of the Trustees, yet by law works closely with the Trustees.

 

There are over 1,300 townships in the state of Ohio.  Although they all operate under the same basic form of township government, they are quite varied in size of population, annual operating budget, and range of services delivered to township residents.

On December 7th, 1813, Stark County Commissioners named Township 10, Range 9, Perry Township.  The name is derived from Oliver Hazard Perry who was the Lake Erie American Fleet Commander and hero of the War of 1812.  Commander Perry was the victor of a battle on Lake Erie on September 10th, 1812.

 

A settlement earlier than Perry was the town of Kendall, currently a part of Massillon.  Kendall was formed in 1811 by Thomas Rotch and his wife who were Quakers from Massachusetts.  Other settlers arriving with the Rotch Family were Arvine Wales and Charles Skinner.  They utilized Sippo Creek and operated a woolen factory and saw mill.

 

In 1814, Captain James Duncan came to Perry Township from Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he had done business in the Merchant Service.  Captain Duncan is recognized as the person who “deserves honorable and prominent mention for business enterprise and energy in the early days.”  When he moved to Perry Township area, he operated a farm south of town laid out in 1825 and 1826.

 

Captain Duncan was a busy entrepreneur in those days.  He is credited with operating a flour mill, saw mill, and distillery.  He also had a dry goods store and was a member of the C. K. Skinner and Company woolen “manufactory”.

 

From 1820 – 1830, the development of Perry Township was phenomenal.  The Ohio/Erie Canal was opened to Massillon in 1828 and the entire area and surrounding communities had a growth explosion.

 

Johnny Appleseed (Jonathan Chapman) planted the first orchard in Perry Township on the south side of the Canton – Massillon Road on the Daum Farm.  Dr. William Gardner was believed to have been the first physician to settle in Perry Township.  He came from New York in 1814.  The first religious society was the Society of Friends in Kendall about 1813.  Methodists soon populated the area.

 

The first school in the township was established when the Quaker Society of Friends settled in the area.  The school was supported by tuition, not taxes.  Public schools or common schools came into existence in Perry Township in 1825.  By 1875, Perry Township had seven one-room schools.

 

The construction of Reedurban, Genoa, and Richville Schools brought the one-room era to an end.  In the 1950’s Whipple, Watson, Lohr, and Perry High were built.  The 1956 opening of Perry High School signifies the first time Perry Local Schools offered secondary education.  The growth of the school system continued with the construction of Edison Junior High in 1962 and a vocational wing on the High School in 1964.

 

Perry Township as a community experienced rapid growth.  The agricultural farms from the early days have been reborn as housing developments, commercial and industrial sites, medical facilities, and municipal structures.  In the 1970’s, housing developments in the township were advertised as “the convenience of the city and the charm of the country”.

 

Today, Perry Township is a stable, united community with a population of nearly 30,000 residents.  Even though most of the land has been developed, there is still a hint of the agricultural history in some sections of the township.

 

The history of the township is important to its residents.  On April 18th, 2007, the Perry History Club was formed and held its first meeting under the guidance and leadership of Stan Krawson.  The group appointed officers, collected dues, and created a mission of beginning to formalize and document the official history of Perry Township.  This website will keep you posted of future meetings, discoveries, and developments of the Perry History Club.  For information about Genoa School Reunions go to the following link:  http://genoarocks.homestead.com.