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Published: Wednesday, 9/27/2006

Perrysburg sets birthday events as city turns 190

BY JOE VARDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The dust on the City of Perrysburg's birthday hats was a sign that it was time for a party.

Perrysburg, founded in 1816, hasn't publicly celebrated its birthday since it turned 150 in 1966.

Figuring the city was due for another bash, the Perrysburg Historic Area Museum, along with co-sponsors Historic Perrysburg, Fort Meigs State Memorial, and the city administration, will commemorate the city's 190th birthday at 11 a.m. Oct. 7 with a ceremony at the old fort on State Rt. 65.

Museum President and Perrysburg historian Judy Justus said the city actually was founded in April of 1816, but the celebration will mark the number of years, not the exact day.

Ms. Justus will elaborate on nuggets of Perrysburg history - for example, Perrysburg originally was spelled with an "h" on the end - and will be followed by author and historian David Skaggs, 69, who is a professor emeritus of history at Bowling Green State University.

Mr. Skaggs, of Burt Lake, Mich., recently wrote Oliver Hazard Perry: Honor, Courage, and Patriotism in the U.S. Navy, a biography of the naval commander for whom Perrysburg is named.

Ms. Justus said the event originally was to be held solely in honor of Mr. Skaggs' book, but the city administration decided to incorporate Perrysburg's birthday as well.

"It's an obvious fit," Ms. Justus said. "Oliver Perry is our namesake. We tried to find some of his descendants for the celebration, but we couldn't find any."

Ms. Justus said descendants of Amos Spafford, the U.S. government employee who is credited with founding Perrysburg, will be in attendance.

Twenty-two Spafford descendants visited Perrysburg in 2003 for a ceremony to rebury the remains of Mr. Spafford and 14 other pioneers that were dug up from unmarked graves near Fort Meigs Cemetery in 2001.

Ms. Justus said she will discuss how Mr. Spafford, a postmaster and collector for a little town that was near present-day Perrysburg, came to relocate to the city and name it after Commodore Perry.

Mr. Skaggs' lecture will focus on how he, a native of Kansas and an Army officer, came to be so closely involved with Commodore Perry. He said he also will discuss his new book, which will be available in the fort bookstore following the ceremony.

In Mr. Skaggs' latest work, he chronicles four critical moments in Commodore Perry's life, including how his commissioning to lead a fleet in Lake Erie during the War of 1812 happened by accident.

Mr. Skaggs said citizens of Perrysburg should be thankful to Commodore Perry for more than the use of his name.

"Commodore Perry's victory [in the Battle of Lake Erie] is a very important part of local history," Mr. Skaggs said.

"He essentially returned Ohio and Indiana to safety from attacks by the British and their Indian allies. His victory also led to the construction of very important monuments in Perrysburg and Put-in-Bay," Mr. Skaggs said.

Those interested in attending the event should contact Ms. Justus by Friday at 419-874-6828. Space is limited; admittance is free of charge.

Contact Joe Vardon at:

jvardon@theblade.com

or 419-410-5055.



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