Birthday party marks Maumee’s long history

Old-fashioned celebration 175 years in the making

Brock Heard, 5, of Maumee rings the bell on the city’s 1928 Ahrens Fox rotary gear pump fire truck.   The city of Maumee kicked off its anniversary celebration Sunday at the Wolcott House.
Brock Heard, 5, of Maumee rings the bell on the city’s 1928 Ahrens Fox rotary gear pump fire truck. The city of Maumee kicked off its anniversary celebration Sunday at the Wolcott House.

Maumee is serving up some swell slices of Americana, including an old-fashioned baseball game and ice cream social, as part of its summer celebration of the creation of the community in 1838.

People flocked Sunday afternoon to the Wolcott House Museum Complex along River Road to be part of this special event 175 years in the making, an anniversary worthy of a week-long celebration, concluding with the Taste of Maumee Friday and a parade and summer fair Saturday.

PHOTO GALLERY: Maumee celebration

A highlight will be a Thursday reception at the Maumee Indoor Theater for the debut of a documentary film on the city’s history, a project spearheaded by the Maumee Valley Historical Society. Actor Robert Knepper is returning to his hometown to take part in the festivities.

“Here we are, 50 years later, and I am returning home to once again join my community in celebration,” the actor said in a statement. “One of my earliest fond memories is of my family celebrating the 125th anniversary of my hometown. Complete with 19th century costumes my mother made for herself and for my sister, Kay, and Dad and I wearing ‘Abraham Lincoln’ suits, the Kneppers came together with the rest of the city to proudly recognize the birth of our beloved Maumee.”

He will serve as grand marshal for the Uptown Summer Fair Parade that steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday at Gateway Middle School, then heads through Uptown Maumee on Conant Street, ending at the former Union School.

Other anniversary events this week include a tour of the Battle of Fallen Timbers Battlefield, a community pool party at Rolf Park, free movies at the Maumee Indoor Theater, and tours of the Maumee High School.

Brent Buehrer, Maumee councilman, said much effort by committees of local volunteers has been dedicated to the celebration. That, he said, is not surprising, considering motorists coming into the city realize, as they drive along city streets, that Maumee is a community that cares about and maintains what it has.

Many Maumee residents embrace the city’s legacy and treasure the rich history of the community, named an All-America City by the National Civic League in 2006. The emblem from that pride-pumping award is a prominent part of anniversary banner design.

Dressed up for company coming, dozens of the banners are on display along city streets. Those are new, but the city has had its own flag and motto for awhile. The flag’s royal blue field, trimmed in red and gold, features an Indian head in the center and at the bottom, the motto Peh-Kes-Ina Si-Pio-Ue Tci-Ki-Wi, translated from Native American to “Beautiful River Valley.”

Decades of history are preserved at the Wolcott House Museum Complex, managed by the Maumee Valley Historical Society, and it was a natural selection as the starting point for the week-long commemoration.

The Wolcott House’s recent history includes a 2012 visit from President Obama as he kicked off a two-day re-election campaign swing. Only the Wolcott House is original to the complex site that features a depot, schoolhouse, country church, log cabin, and other buildings open to the public.

Built by James Wolcott and his wife, Mary Wells, the Wolcott House began as a log house and evolved into a 14-room Federal-style mansion between 1827 and 1836.

“Our citizens and businesses take great pride in our community, and we are proud of our history. How many cities our size are home to both a United States Supreme Court chief justice and a Heisman Trophy winner? They say a small city is like a big family, and for our citizens this is a family reunion with many who grew up in Maumee coming home for the special celebration,” Mayor Richard Carr said in an email.

“We take pride in our excellent schools, our parks including Rolf Park and Side Cut Park, our business community, as well as the quality of services provided by our volunteer fire department, police division, and other city service providers. That pride is reflected in people who live and work here wanting to celebrate our past as well as the great quality of life we enjoy today.”

Morrison Waite, chief justice of the United States from 1874 to 1888, lived in Maumee. Dick Kazmaier, a 1948 graduate of Maumee High School, won the Heisman Trophy in 1951 as the nation’s outstanding college football player.

He died recently at the age of 82.

The community, at one time a vital ford in the Maumee River, was an important transshipment point serving Indian, French, English, and American traders throughout the 19th century.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1795 secured the Northwest Territory for the settlement and a lively river trade developed after the War of 1812.

The town was incorporated as Maumee City with a population of 865 in 1838. In 1871, the name changed to South Toledo.

The present name, shortened to Maumee with the “City” dropped, was adopted in 1887. And Maumee it has been since. The city’s population was 14,286 at the 2010 census.

Maumee’s list of “firsts” includes: first plat recorded in 1817; first election, March 26, 1838; first mayor, Robert A. Forsyth; first Lucas County Courthouse, erected in Maumee in 1841; first railroad lines through Maumee laid in 1855, and first street paving, done on Conant Street in 1908.

Near the heart of the city, an anniversary sign calls out “Welcome Home,” a friendly greeting from a community 175 years after pioneers, the first faces of Maumee, settled in the Beautiful River Valley.

Contact Janet Romaker at: or 419-724-6006.