Copley Township Historical Society

Founding

In 1974, when the old railroad depot on Sawmill Road at Cleveland-Massillon Road was threatened with demolition, a number of citizens banded together for its preservation and in the process formed the Copley Township Historical Society. The depot was moved to its present site on Copley Road just west of the cemetery.

The restored depot and its adjacent also-restored caboose now serve as the center for the Society with about 50 members who meet the 3rd Monday of each month at 7PM, March thru July, and September thru November, at Copley Town Hall, 1540 S Cleveland-Massillon Rd, Copley, OH 44321. 

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Organization

Copley Historical Society is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) (3) Organization. As such, donors may deduct contributions as provided in section 170 of the Code. To better understand the work of the organization view the Copley Chamber Presentation - Copley Then and Now 1819-2016 (PDF).

Bequests, legacies, devises, transfers or gifts are deductible for Federal estate and gift tax purposes if they meet the applicable provisions of Code sections 2055, 2106, and 2522. Please note, membership dues are not tax-deductible. Federal Identification No: 34-1441501

Memberships sustain the Historical Society's operational expenses, which involves the preservation of historic articles that are currently housed on the third floor of Copley Town Hall. Major projects are funded by various fundraisers throughout the year.

Museum

The Copley Historical Society Museum is located:

Town Hall
Second floor
1540 S Cleveland-Massillon Road
Copley, OH 44321

Email Helen Humphrys

Historic Depot

The Copley Depot and Caboose are open on the second Saturday of the month from April to October from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. The Depot and Caboose are on Copley Road west of the Circle.

History of the Copley Cannon

Copley Cannon on Display

Akron Beacon Journal Sunday Magazine article "A Blast from the Past" written by Mark J. Price and published on June 21, 1998.

Copley Township's historic cannon helped the United States defeat the British in the War of 1812. 
Strangely enough, its biggest battles were yet to come.

The 300-pound iron cannon in front of Copley's Town Hall is older than the township that surrounds it. When Copley was founded in 1819, the cannon already had weathered years of combat. 

It was in Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry's fleet, which bombarded British ships into submission during the Battle of Lake Erie on Sept. 10, 1813.

Historical accounts vary as to when the cannon was given to Copley. Some say the relic stood vigil in Copley as far back as the 1830's. Others say Republican politicians brought it to the township after the Civil War.

Public officials like to shoot the war ornament at Copley Circle during patriotic gatherings such as July 4 celebrations or election rallies. Its roar could be heard for miles.

"The cannon was fired after every GOP victory - all too frequently for tender Democratic ears," reported Beacon Journal staff writer Robert Henretty on Sept. 14, 1958. "One night in 1880, the gun disappeared."

Legend has it that Democrats hid the relic in Seth Minor's barn.

"They pulled the cannon to a cow stable, led bossy (a generic term for a pet cow) out of her stall, removed the  straw, dug a hole in the center of the stall, put the cannon in the hole, filled in the dirt, replaced the straw and led bossy back to her stall," wrote historian Arthur H. Blower in the Summit County Historical Society Bulletin from October 1949.

For 18 years, the cannon remained hidden. It wasn't returned to the village until 1898 when America found itself on the verge of another war.

"In a burst of bipartisan patriotism, the Democrats returned the cannon...to a permanent mounting in the square on the eve of the Spanish-American War," Henretty reported.

Despite having been buried for so long, the cannon was still in excellent condition and reclaimed its role in patriotic celebrations, Blower said.

It stood undisturbed on its cement base for nearly 60 years until one night in September 1958 when young pranksters tried to carry it away.

The three Barberton brothers, ages 15, 17 and 20, made quite a ruckus as they tried to drag the heavy cannon to their waiting car.  The noise  awoke a neighbor who confronted the youths, scolded them and made the boys drag the cannon back to its proper place.

The next theft proved to be more serious and more costly.

In April 1974, a thief took the cannon and it wasn't seen for three years. In December 1977, Copley police tracked the relic to a Canal Fulton man who had purchased the weapon without knowing it was stolen.

A weapon expert identified the cannon as the missing Copley cannon, but there was no legal proof.

The Copley Historical Society and Copley Heritage Committees of 1978 and 1979 donated money to buy the cannon back.

"A purchase price of $1,800 was negotiated and the Canal Fulton man returned the cannon on Nov. 8, 1979... We had to buy her back but she was home at last," reported Suzanne Wasick in Village Views on July 21, 1982.

The historical society didn't take any more chances at Copley Circle. The cannon was hidden for more than five years in Wasick's barn until a safe place could be found to house it, said society treasurer Marty Knapp.

Boy Scout Robert J. Gill came up with a solution in 1987 when he designed a brick display case as his Eagle Scout project.

The cannon is now padlocked, chained and cemented to the display case at Copley's Town Hall on Cleveland-Massillon Road, where public officials can keep a watchful eye on it.

After nearly 200 years, Copley's war relic is finally at peace. 

Written by: Price, Mark J.  "A Blast from the past,"  "Akron Beacon Journal,  Sunday Beacon Magazine, June 21, 1998, p.5"

Read the original Beacon Journal Article


Copley Museum