Copley Way Back When

General MacArthur was not the first soldier to vow "I shall return." it was in 1813 that Major George Croghan's War of 1812 troops camped along Smith Road, then moved on west along the area known as Stony Ridge. One of the volunteers under Croghan's command was so impressed by the land that he vowed to return if he survived the war. Thus, when Jonah Turner, a soldier from Pennsylvania, kept that pledge in 1814, he became Copley's first settler.

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Copley had been part of a parcel of the Western Reserve Territory purchased in 1807 by Gardiner and Elizabeth Greene as their portion in the first "Ohio Lottery." Turner purchased 321 acres of this land for $900, with a down payment of $18.

Terrain & Geology

The terrain and geology of Copley Township is primarily a Sharon conglomerate laid down some 231 million years ago by glaciers that repeatedly moved into and receded from the area. Some of the deposits appear to be as recent as 10,000 years ago. Gravel deposits along Medina Line Road have kept more than one gravel company in business. Copley swamps with their rich muck soil have provided abundant nurture for crops of grain, vegetables and fruit as well as for livestock. A high glacial moraine running east and west through the area is a watershed sending some waters north to the Great Lakes while the rest flows south to the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

Originally the Western Reserve plot purchased by Greene included portions of Portage, Summit and Medina counties. In 1819 the area which had been known as township 2 range 12 was deemed old enough and strong enough to exist on its own. Though earlier known as Greenfield, the name Copley was given to the area in honor of Green's wife Elizabeth, who  was the daughter of John Singleton Copley -- a famous artist of the period.

Thus on July 5, 1819, the citizens of the new Copley Township, the last in the area of the Western Reserve to organize, met and elected  their first officials. The first Township Trustees were Allen Bosworth, George Hawkins and Jacob Spafford and the first Clerk-Treasurer was Jonathan Starr.

History of Education

There is some debate about the first teacher and the first school in the  township. Honors generally go to Jonathan Starr and to a log school on  the northeast corner of the square, built about 1819 to 1820. This school also served as the community's first regular polling place and town hall. Others claim John Codding as the first teacher, and that the first log school had been built earlier in the northwest corner of the township. In any case, Copley's education process was well under way in 1819.

Agricultural History

Copley had long been an agricultural township, producing an abundance of grain, vegetables and fruits known to this climate. Copley never flourished as an industrial area, but there are claims that the stills of Copley supplied "the best medicine in the West." However, a meeting held in the old log schoolhouse prompted "The First Temperance Society  of Medina County" to be officially formed January 29, 1829.

The busy commercial activities in Montrose are not really all that new. Also called Ellis Corners or Latta's Corners, Montrose has a long history of business. When it was Latta's Corners, tavernkeeper William  Latta actually was chiefly interested in counterfeiting and his hotel  became a hangout for the gang of dandies he was in cahoots with.

Records indicate that August 31, 1831, one year before the death of Gardiner Greene, he and Elizabeth "assigned all lawful claims" to two acres of lots 23 and 28 for use as public land. Originally intended to be a square for the center of the township, Copley farmers early met there for a market day to sell their produce. Horses and wagons caused regular shortcutting of corners around the square which then ultimately became Copley Circle. Copley Township remained a part of Medina County until 1840 when it joined the newly formed Summit County.