AURORA -- Historic markers recognizing Aurora's first settler Ebenezer Sheldon and his deed house, along with a tree in memory of Kathlyn Brown, were dedicated in a public ceremony May 24 on the triangle across from Aurora Memorial Library.
The city's landmark commission and the Ohio History Connection are sponsors of the Ohio Historical Marker program. Markers identify, commemorate and honor important people, places and events that have contributed to the state's history.
"The Ohio Historical Markers Program, administered by the Ohio Historical Society, is a vital educational tool, informing residents and visitors about significant aspects of Ohio's past," said Aurora Historical Society president John Kudley Jr.
"With the recent focus on the Sheldon Deed House and creation of Pioneer Park, the landmark commission believed it was appropriate to apply for a marker."
He explained the application involved a rigorous process of approval, with the initial application and suggested marker text being written at the local level and then submitted to the state for "fact-checking." Documentation must be provided to obtain approval.
The text for the Sheldon marker was written by Kudley, while the text for the path marker was written by him and edited by society member Katie Trook, with graphics designed by landmark commission chairman Jeff Clark.
Side one of the Sheldon marker reads: "Ebenezer Sheldon (1754-1825) was born in Suffield, Conn. On April 19, 1775, he answered the Lexington Alarm, fought in the Revolution and in 1789 was appointed a captain in Connecticut's militia.
"Following the Revolution, Sheldon, like many others, suffered financial hardships and sought a new beginning in the Western Reserve. In 1799, he established a homestead in Aurora, and returned to Connecicut the following year to bring his wife Lovee and their six children to the area.
"A family legend relates that when Lovee saw the family's home, she 'shed a few tears over the cheerless prospects' of her new life in the wilderness."
Side two reads: "Ebenezer Sheldon was an agent for the Big Beaver & Cuyahoga Land Co. In the 1799 lottery for lands in the Western Reserve, the company drew Township #5 in Range #8 (Mantua Township) #5 in Range #9 (Aurora). Sheldon was responsible for the deeding of the land in Aurora.
"Sheldon's original homestead was located on the Aurora-Mantua border. He was the township's first justice of the peace, one of the first township trustees and a founding member of the Congregational Church. Sheldon's circa 1805 deed house was relocated to city-owned Pioneer Park in 2016."
The deed house path marker recognizes the collaboration between the city and the historical society in saving an important part of the community's pioneer history.
According to Kudley, the idea to save the deed house began in 2014 with the society discussing how the building might be saved. Talks with city officials led to the decision to move and renovate the structure.
The building was moved in July 2015 and opened to the public June 9, 2016. The marker describes the significance of the deed house and efforts at renovation.
Kudley said the National Park-styled path marker was initiated by the historical society, which believed the entire story of the collaborative project of the city and society needed to be shared with visitors of the park.
Meanwhile, Brown's "serviceberry tree" was given by a close group of women known as the First Friday Friends, and honors the late Brown, who won the historical society's 2015 lifetime achievement award.
She joined the society's board as secretary in 2012 after a 40-year career as a professional educator. According to Kudley, her marketing abilities increased the viability of the society.
"Brown was a driving force in the successful antiques appraisal fair and consignment shop and cafe, and her skills were vital to the success of the deed house project, including managing two well-received fundraisers," said Kudley.
"The historical society and city have worked hard to develop a focal point in the center of town which honors Aurora's early settlers and tells the story of the town's beginnings," he said, "while at the same time providing the community with an attractive park."
In addition to Kudley and Clark, others participating in the dedication were the Rev. Kevin Horak of the Church in Aurora and Becki Trivison of the Ohio Historic Marker Program. Mayor Ann Womer Benjamin gave closing remarks, and those attending enjoyed refreshments under a tent.
The latest Ohio Historic Marker is the city's fourth, and this fall the fourth will appear. Current ones mark the site of the old Silver Creek Cheese Factory on West Garfield Road, just west of Eggleston Road; one on the lawn of the Church in Aurora; and one marking the Chillicothe Pike at Routes 306 and 82 in front of the Aurora Inn. The new one will recognize the Geauga Lake area.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4189