Bath resident helps facilitate new memorial to honor great-grandparents, early Western Reserve settlers
A new memorial for Northampton Township founders Simeon and Katharine Prior in Cuyahoga Falls has ties to Bath Township.
The creation of the family memorial was led by Simeon and Katharine’s great-grandsons, Kenneth Clarke of Bath and Emery Prior of Hudson. It stands in the historic Harrington Cemetery, where many other early settlers and historic figures from the Akron area rest. The Prior family was one of the first New England families to settle in the Cuyahoga Valley in 1802.
Simeon, Katharine and their 10 children traveled more than 40 days over water from their hometown of Northampton, Mass., to reach the Western Reserve. They reached what was then the westernmost frontier of the young United States, seeking a better life than they could find in post-war New England.
“Emery and I wanted to make sure this important piece of Cuyahoga Falls, Northeast Ohio and national history was not forgotten, so we reached out to family across the nation and raised the funds to replace the old weathered headstone of Simeon and Katharine,” said Clarke, Simeon’s fifth-great-grandson. “We also included a small amount of historical context on the back of the new stone.
“From Simeon’s service in the Revolutionary War, to the Prior family’s experience in the wilderness of the Cuyahoga Valley, to the founding of one of Ohio’s local governments, it is history worth keeping alive.”
Northampton Township was one of the 16 original townships in Summit County. An excerpt from Clarke’s compiled history of the Prior family, “Wolves and Flax: The Prior Family in the Cuyahoga Valley Wilderness,” shows how Bath and Northampton townships were connected in the early years of the Western Reserve, and how the Priors knew and worked with prominent Bath founders:
“The date of Northampton’s organization is involved in obscurity. The only record extant, previous to 1820, is part of a tally sheet, without date, in possession of Mr. James M. Hale, of Akron, one of the earliest if not the first election held in the township.”
“It will be recollected that previous to its organization, in 1818, Bath was connected with Northampton in local governmental affairs, and as the tally sheet in question contains a number of names of persons known to have been residents of Bath, the organization of Northampton must have been previous to the date named—a total of 18 votes only being enrolled in the tally sheet in question.
“Whatever the date of that election, the officers elected were: Jonathan Hale (a resident of Bath)[;] Simeon Prior and David Norton, trustees; Samuel King, clerk; Wylie Hamilton, overseer of the poor; Elisha Perkins, constable; William Prior, Israel Parker and Jason Hammond (also of Bath), supervisors; Luman Bishop, fence viewer[;]and Simeon Prior, treasurer; the first justice of the peace being Samuel King.”
A memorial rededication ceremony was scheduled for June 27 at Harrington Cemetery. This date also marked the 266th year of Simeon’s birth.
The original headstone is now part of the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society’s collection, which can be viewed during public hours or by appointment. A new, detailed history about the Prior family, based on more than 200 years of private archival material, published accounts and documents, is available upon request at PriorFamilyHistory@gmail.com.
Feature image photo caption: A Bath resident has coordinated a new memorial to be installed in Cuyahoga Falls’ Harrington Cemetery in memory of his fifth great-grandparents, who founded Northampton Township. Photo courtesy K. Clarke.