LIME CITY — Best-selling author and historian Douglas Brinkley will be the headliner for the Perrysburg Township Bicentennial Festival. Several other events are also lined up, including the reenacting of court cases recently found in the original docket.
J.D. Justus presented the plans for the 200th anniversary event during the Dec. 7 trustees meeting. The Bicentennial Festival is set to be held on May 13 at the Spafford House Museum.
“People are getting very excited about this. I think it will be a good event for Perrysburg Township,” Justus said.
Brinkley is originally from Perrysburg. He will be giving a speech on local Perrysburg Township history. He is a presidential historian that is regularly consulted by the network news stations, as well as CNN, PBS and C-SPAN. His books have been on the New York Times Best Seller list seven times and he won a Grammy Award for the liner notes he wrote for Chuck Berry’s last recording, “Chuck.”
Brinkley last spoke in Perrysburg about his history of the Moonshot, on the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.
Justus included an update to trustees with the current spending totals for the event, at $1,910, of the allocated $7,000. He said that there are sponsorship pledges that will likely cover the allocation before they reach the total.
The Bicentennial Festival already has several events lined up to take place.
Reenactors, including blacksmiths, Native Americans and artists, will be part of the festival. There will also be period music, including fiddle and hammer dulcimer players.
Perrysburg Municipal Court Judge Aram Ohanian will be portraying Circuit Judge Spafford and hearing cases in which some local residents may find themselves incarcerated in the reconstructed township jail, that is to include the original iron barred jail door.
Trustees Bob Mack, Gary Britten and Joe Schaller will also conduct a township meeting under a big-top tent.
The police will also be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the department next year and will have new special uniforms for the event, with three original members attending.
Justus is also having the fire department’s original 1919 REO fire truck brought to the event. It has been in storage at the Wood County Museum.
Way Public Library Reference and Local History Librarian Richard Baranowski was with Justus for the presentation. While Justus has been doing the organizing, Baranowski has been researching the township.
“He was like a kid in a candy store last week, while going through the 1800 journals,” Justus said of Baranowski.
“I thought this would be a good way to promote and preserve the local history for our area,” Baranowski said.
Perrysburg Township was formed May 8, 1823, on lands owned by the Spafford family. The Spafford House, which is now the location of the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum, was built the same year. Family members were elected as the township’s trustees.
Baranowski has been diving into the official township files and found the original leather bound book that served as the Justice of the Peace Docket for 1823-30. It is handwritten and starts in September of 1823, when new Justice of the Peace, attorney, Thomas Powell, took over for the township’s first Justice of the Peace, Paris Plumb. Plumb was present at the June 19, 1823, election at the Spafford House.
“It was very hard to read. After a while I started catching on to it. We’re going to try to do a booklet, like the Wood County bicentennial booklet,” Baranowski said.
Wearing white cotton gloves, Baranowski showed off the docket during the trustees meeting.
“It’s mostly small claims court records,” he said.
He pointed out that the pen that would have used to write on the handwritten pages was likely a sharpened goose or buzzard’s quill tip, as metal tips were only recently invented and it’s obvious when the pen ran out ink, as the pages are filled with splotches from the recently re-dipped quill.
It’s unclear where the court would have met, as the Perrysburg courthouse wasn’t built until 1824. Baranowski suspects that cases would have been held at Fort Meigs, or the Spafford House. The city was no more than two or three cabins and Front Street was still a trail in the woods.
The Wood County Commissioners met at Samuel Spafford’s house, which is now called the Spafford House.
Sponsorships are still being sought. Interested individuals and businesses can contact the Spafford House Museum and ask for Justus.