The Connecticut Land Company’s Western Reserve
Sagamore Hills Township is situated in the northwest corner of The Connecticut Land Company’s Western Reserve Range 11, Town 5. Its eleven square miles is part of original Northfield Township that now comprise the Township and the additional communities of Northfield Township, Northfield Village and Macedonia. The first pioneer in the area was Isaac Bacon of Boston, who in 1806 purchased 160 acres in the modern day corner of North Boyden and Valley View Roads. Bacon and his wife built a small cabin there and, as all early settlers did, lived off the land. Jermiah Cranmer, Mrs. Bacon’s brother, settled one-half mile away in about 1810. It is Cranmer who is credited with naming this portion of the Range of Northfield Township because he had formerly lived near Northfield Connecticut. Indians and wild animals roamed the woods making life tough. While Bacon served in the War of 1812, the families moved to the more populous Hudson Township for security. After the war, they returned.
The Early Brandywine Years
As Bacon was settling the northern area, a small community was growing along the southern border known as Brandywine. A distillery, grist mill, sawmill, tannery, and carding mill grew around Brandywine Falls. When Northfield formally organized in 1814, the citizens wished to include Brandywine into their new community. After much negotiation with Boston Township, the Brandywine area was annexed to Northfield, resulting in a jog on the boundary line that still exists today. By 1817, Brandywine was flourishing with several general stores and a tavern. A reporter characterized the areas as a more lively community than even Cleveland. There were 26 homes in the thriving Brandywine area.The first school was built in Brandywine in 1817 and cost $1.00 in tuition per student per term. The first church, United Presbyterian, was built in 1837 at a cost of $1,000. This strongly Calvinistic church was one of the first to oppose slavery. A great flood in 1843 swept much of Brandywine away, and damaged the grist mill. The mill was rebuilt and sold to the Way Family in 1859. It continued operation until about 1900. In 1907, Willis Hale purchased the mill and moved in his Champion Electric Company. Before beginning operations lightning struck destroying the building and contents. Hale rebuilt the building eventually selling to Ben Richards who converted the factory into a welding shop. After Mr. Richard’s death in the mid 1970’s, the property became part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area. The home and factory is now leased by the CVNRA to Katie and George Hoy who operate a bed and breakfast at the site, The Inn at Brandywine Falls.
The Early 1900’s
In 1912, seven years after Macedonia separated, Northfield Township was incorporated as Northfield Village. At the time, the geographical boundary of Northfield Village included the areas now known as Sagamore Hills Township and Northfield Center Township. With a large amount of money for such a small community, Northfield Village was declared one of “the wealthiest municipalities” in the State. The wealth resulted in some harsh battles and ultimately the division of the large community. The 1929 election for Mayor of Northfield Village was a bitter contest for incumbent William J. Burns. In early 1930, resident C. W. Seiberling of the Seiberling Rubber Co. of Akron became increasingly upset with the reelection of Mayor Burns. Just after the election, Mayor Burns and the council that he controlled distributed $54,000 from the general fund. The expenditures included $4,000 for the construction of a firehouse and the addition of many new employees. This firehouse still stands connected to the current Northfield Center Township Hall.
Sagamore Hills Village
By the summer of 1930, several large estate owners in Northfield Village including rubber baron C.W. Seiberling, Industrialist Cyrus Eaton and drugstore magnate W.G. Marshall were becoming increasingly upset with Mayor Burns. The final straw came when Northfield Village proposed a bond issue involving the expenditure of over $200,000 for a water works system to benefit the more urbanized north end of the village. The bond issue was to be placed on the fall ballot in 1930. The wealthy estate owners and the prosperous farmers in the southwest area of the Village protested the costly waterworks proposal. Ultimately, these residents petitioned to separate and detach almost 6,000 acres and form Sagamore Hills Village. The annexation area included the estates of Eaton, Seiberling, Marshall, and many prosperous farmers in the area.
The detachment petition also included the newly constructed and controversial dog racing track now known as Northfield Park. At the time of its construction in 1930-1931, dog racing was illegal in Ohio and Northfield Village had waged a bitter battle to prevent the track from opening. Northfield Village became outraged that Sagamore Hills Village would detach and take the dog track, thereby leaving Northfield Village with little or no control of the new facility. One Northfield Village official said, “If detachment succeeds, we’ll have dog races again.” On October 21, 1930, 123 people voted for the detachment petition, 78 ballots against the issue, and 3 blank ballots, thereby forming the Village of Sagamore Hills.
Sagamore Hills Township
After hard times hit the Village in early 1947, a special election changed the Village of Sagamore Hills to the Township of Sagamore Hills, thereby eliminating some prior debt. On April 15th, 1947, the Summit County Probate Court selected the first three township trustees; Cyrus S. Eaton, Harry Miller, and Curtis Polcen. The three trustees held their first meeting on April 16, 1947, and selected Paul Helke as Clerk with a monthly salary of $29.16. Mr. T.C. Neids was appointed highway superintendent and a fire contract was executed with Northfield Center Township. A lease was also executed with Northfield Center Township for town hall and garage space. By April 29, 1947, County Engineer Earl Wolf had determined that the new Township was responsible for the following roads: Highland, 1.5 miles; Brandywine, .5 miles; Northfield, 2.6 miles; and Dunham, .8 miles. Later, all of these roads were returned to the county. Today, the township has approximately 11,000 residents and 78 lane miles of roads.
At the corner of Olde Route Eight and Valley View Roads, the local cemetery has a long history. There is some disagreement about when the first person was buried at the cemetery. A marker with the oldest date is that of Abram Cranmer (9-8-1812). This date is 35 years before the land was even deeded for cemetery use on August 28, 1847. The original site was just 1.5 acres, selected because it was high and dry. The cemetery name was Chestnut Hill Cemetery. Sometime between July, 1918 and April, 1919, the name was changed to the present name, Northfield-Macedonia Cemetery. Over the years small sections of property were added to the cemetery. In 1898, a stone building was built in the cemetery as a receiving vault. It was constructed for $1,400 using Northfield stone and remains standing today. It was remodeled in 1959 into an office and meeting room for cemetery trustees. In 1919, the iron fence that presently surrounds the cemetery was constructed. Additionally, the iron front gate and stone pillars to the cemetery were constructed as replicas of a gate at Arlington National Cemetery.
Presently the cemetery is equally owned by the four communities of: Northfield Village, Northfield Center Township, City of Macedonia and Sagamore Hills Township, and governed by a Board of Trustees. Two full-time employees maintain the beautiful grounds.
Sagamore Hills Township
Sagamore Hills Township operates with three elected trustees and a clerk. Every two years, two trustees or a trustee and a clerk are elected. Trustees manage a 6 million dollar budget operating the police and road departments. Trustees also manage the community through various appointed boards and commissions including zoning, zoning appeals, fire appeals and water. All regular Township meetings occur on the second Monday of each month throughout the year. The Township Hall is located at 11551 Valley View Road.
The Township currently operates a full-time police department. Presently the department operates with 11 full-time police officers, including a Police Chief, Lieutenant and two Sergeants . Four part-time officers supplement the patrol division. Additionally, the police department has a Detective and Juvenile Bureau, a School Resources Officer and other community policing programs as well as a Civilian Police Records Clerk. The Macedonia Police Department provides dispatching service to our community.
The police department began service in 1981. Before 1981, the Township contracted with the Summit County Sheriff for police protection. The police department started with two full-time and five part-time officers providing full-time coverage to the community. Initially many residents and township officials volunteered thousands of hours to provide both dispatching and police service. It was the efforts of the entire community that helped develop the fine police department that now operates in the community.
In September 2016 Sagamore Hills Township partnered with the City of Macedonia under a 5-year contract for Fire/EMS protection. Sagamore Hills Township renovated an existing building to house the new 24/7 full-time staff along with our existing Fire/EMS equipment. This building is now known as Station 2 and is located at 11550 Valley View Rd. (Bldg. A) in the Sagamore Hills Township Park.
The Township Road Department operates with full-time employees and part-time summer help. The department is primarily responsible for the repair and maintenance of the seventy-eight lane miles of Township roads. These responsibilities include road repair, snow removal, ditch, culvert, catch basin repair and grass cutting. Waste disposal is provided by a waste disposal company that directly bills residents.
Sagamore Hills Township Park
The initial almost five acres of property that has eventually become the Sagamore Hills Township Park was given to the Township from the Ohio Department of Mental Health. The initial property was given to the Township to acknowledge the costs and services the Township has provided over the years to the State’s mental health facility. The gift included a restriction that the property could only be used for park purposes. For many years, a few Township residents talked about creating a public park on the small property. There was even a few who had a plan to try to place an entire baseball field on the small parcel. The dreams of some to build a park stalled and it seemed would never become a reality.
In the fall of 1997, Trustees Robert Speerbrecher, Paul Schweikert, and Rose Mary Snell began to pursue the plan for a park. They successfully sought out and negotiated the purchase of an additional thirty-five acres of property from the Ohio Department of Mental Health immediately behind the five acres that Sagamore Hills had already owned along Valley View Road. This purchase and their commitment to spend Township resources to develop a park was not without controversy. Many openly questioned why the Township would spend money to create a park when one-third of the community was already in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The Trustees continued to pursue the dream to build the park despite the controversy and began an aggressive campaign to pursue grants for additional funding.
The Township successfully obtained a $175,000 grant to begin construction of a new baseball field and bathrooms for the new park. In kind work by the Ohio Operating Engineer’s Apprenticeship Program, contributed over $100,000 in excavation work. Finally in 1998, the Park officially opened to the public but some continued to criticize the Trustees. In 1998, the Township Trustees acquired an additional two acres to connect the then over 40-acre Park to the Summit Metro Parks Bike & Hike Trail. Eventually the Township obtained grant funding to build a connector trail. Another $75,000 grant built a quad of baseball fields to increase the total number of baseball fields to five. Funding was obtained to build a picnic pavilion and volunteers installed new playground equipment. Later, a second pavilion was constructed upon the property and additional new playground equipment was installed paid for with the proceeds from recycling newspaper at the Township. Since 1988 all funds the Township has collected from recycling at the Township Hall has been used to support the Park.
In 2008, the Township acquired an additional ten and one-half acres of property immediately to the west of the then existing Park. Now the Park shares its entire western border with the Summit County Bike & Hike Trail. With the assistance of Congressman Steven LaTourette, the Township obtained the funds to pave the nearly one mile trail that travels along the Park’s border. The Sagamore Hills Township Park has become a favorite of residents. The Park is regularly used for walkers, runners and cyclists. The Parks regularly hosts concerts, family events, races and sporting events. The baseball fields are extensively used throughout the summer and the property also serves as soccer fields in the fall of the year. The Township continues to look for opportunities to expand and enhance the Park. The Park has become a successful addition to the Township.