Parkman Historical Society
Parkman Community House
on Rt. 422 just east of Rt 88 / Rt 528

If you have a presentation that you would like to add to this historical collection, please contact and share your story!

Past Presentations hosted by the Parkman Historical Society

The Baton of the
Parkman “Buckeye” Band
returns home!

By: Cory Anderson

The Buckeye Band “Drum Major Baton” was recently returned to the Parkman Community.  This Baton, part of the Drum Major uniform for the Parkman Town Band, was last used by William H. Cromwell.  He led the band for over 40 years using this glistening time keeper.  The Baton was attached to a plaque by Ernie Conover of Conover Workshop in Parkman and will be displayed at the Parkman Historical Society Thompson House – located on Rt. 528 just north of Rt. 422.

 William Cromwell Edwards, (a grandson to W.H. Cromwell), and his niece  Sherry Barnes, (great granddaughter of W.H.C.), presented the Buckeye Band Baton to the Parkman Historical Society.  Jeanne Ebersbach (Parkman Historical Society President), Kurt Updegraff (President of the Geauga Historical Society), and Cory Anderson (VP of the Chamber of Commerce) were present to receive the Buckeye Band Baton on behalf of the Parkman Community.

 This presentation was a part of the 2007 Parkman Community day held on October 27th.  Many residents were in attendance to be a part of the event.  You are welcome to visit recent events on the Parkman Community Website - - to view the rest of the story about this ceremony and a full story about the history of the Parkman Buckeye Band including more photos. 

History of the Parkman “Buckeye” Band
(Based off of the bands 50th reunion booklet - 1936)

The Parkman “Buckeye” Band had its beginnings in the Fall of 1886 at the suggestion of Guy B. Norton.  Melvin H. Norton organized a Parkman High School Band and Guy Norton wanted to involve the rest of the community.  Thus the Parkman Town Band evolved from such ambitions.  The first meeting of the Parkman Band assembled at the “Factory Hall” (today called the Parkman Community House). 

 During this meeting a few instruments were found on hand that were from a band called the George Burt Band from the 1860’s.  The band disassembled and another band rose which Volney Johnson was a part of.  This band did not have a long existence and some of the remaining drums and brass instruments came with Volney. Since there was a need for more equipment, Mr. O. C. Smith lent $360 with no security to the charter members and Andrew Wilmont was sent to Cleveland to purchase the necessary instruments to start this adventure. 

 The 17 charter members of the band included:
Frederick Cook – 1st Eb Bass
William Henry Cromwell – 2nd Tenor
James Farley – B Clarinet
Sabe Hoxter - Piccolo
Volney Johnson – Solo Alto
Wilbur Minturn – 2nd Alto
Emerson Norton – 2nd Baritone
Guy B. Norton - Baritone
Ellsworth Owen – 1st Eb Coronet
Frank Owen – 2nd Eb Coronet
Fred Owen – 2nd Bb Coronet
Park Scott – Snare Drum
Allen Shermin – Bass Drum
Clayton C. Smith – Solo Bb Coronet
Andrew Wilmont – 1st Tenor
Burret Wilmont – 1st Alto
Allie Wygant – 1st Eb Coronet

 The Parkman Band’s first public performance was played on top of the new roof of the Masonic Hall.  This was the third floor of the Old Blackmar Block.  James Farley, who was in charge of the brick laying of the block, invited the Buckeye Band to play on the evening that the brick work was completed.  The Bands first piece was the Telephone Quickstep. 

 After six months of organizing, the Band ordered new uniforms from the M.C. Lilly Company in Columbus.  They were elaborate affairs trimmed with red and gold braid, black helmets with scarlet plumes.  The goal of the Band was to have the uniforms for the Parkman Memorial Day Parade to honor the community that supported them. The uniforms did not get to Parkman until June 1st, so they were first worn at the Burton Fair.  With the new colors, the Band played a three day engagement at Burton Fair Races (June 21st – 23rd 1887).

 On August 10th 1887, the Parkman Bandstand was dedicated.  Located in the town center, this gazebo would be a place to allow the community to enjoy outdoor performances.  Local residents spent the summer building the bandstand and it was a point of community pride.  There was a large crowd for this dedication.  The Western Reserve Band from Windham, and the West Farmington Cornet Band were both there to help celebrate the event.  People traveled from long distances to enjoy the sounds.

 Today, a gazebo still stands at the same location in Parkman Center Park, but the original had to be replaced from deterioration.  You can find the brass roof of the original Parkman Bandstand on the gazebo in the Burton Square. It is a part of the Century Village and the Historical Society for Geauga County.

 A Drum Majors uniform (including the newly returned Buckeye Baton) was purchased and worn for the first time by Fredrick T. Cook at an event in Garrettsville on October 13th, 1887.  Six bands attended this event, but since the Parkman Band was the only band with a Drum Major, they led the procession.  After many engagements, the Parkman Buckeye Band became very well known.  No matter how many events were on the schedule, the band vowed to always be on hand to donate its service to the Parkman Memorial Day exercises.  It became custom for the Band to play in Parkman’s Cemeteries while children decorated the graves of soldiers.

In September 1888, the band was invited by the Grand Army of the Republican Posts of Geauga County to attend the National Encampment at Columbus Ohio.  In a long line of march, the Ohio companies were placed in the 6th division.  Before taking their places, every man was given a buckeye, strung on a silk cord, to hook in the button hole of their uniform.  It was that circumstance that the band derived its name.  Homer Burroughs suggested that this become the name of the Parkman Band organization, and on that – the longest trip of its career, the name Buckeye Band was found and been retained for over almost 70 years.

In 1898, a new order of uniforms was made to the same company.  They were dark blue trimmed with gold and black braid.  The name Buckeye was stitched across the front of their caps.  In 1909, another order of uniforms was made to the Lilly Company that followed the same design.  The uniform design lasted until the forth order of uniforms where they were changed to brown with gold trimmings.

In later years of the Parkman Buckeye Band, William H. Cromwell took over as Drum Major.  His flashy uniform with the fluffy hat was very distinguishing as he led the bands march.  One of the most memorial performances was September 30th 1911 during an event called “All Roads Lead to Parkman” where the band celebrated its 25th anniversary.  The event was widely attended to hear the bands traditional melodies.

Buckeye Band Photos can be found on our Historical Pictures page... use the menu of this site!

 In 1923, three ladies joined the Parkman Buckeye Band.  Charlotte Cromwell, Marian Moore, and Fredrica Jones were the first females to participate.  Their ambition was a great addition to the ranks.

 Membership in the Parkman Buckeye Band was not an easy commitment.  The band rehearsed 40 weeks a year and had engagements all over the NE Ohio area.  The tally on their Golden Anniversary in 1936 was over 2000 rehearsals and almost 900 public appearances.  They estimated over 1000 miles of total marching. Parkman Buckeye Band’s success is largely due to the leadership of Clayton C. Smith, where for over 30 years he unselfishly devoted himself to the interest of the band.  His health failed in 1916, and passed away in 1921.  Hence forth, Howard Fram assumed the leadership role of the Band.  Howard joined the Band at age 13 playing the trombone and, like many of the band members, carried on the tradition of playing for the community after graduation.  

 Many changes in members occurred throughout the bands history, yet a dedicated group of fellow residents kept the tradition alive and very successful.  It held many firsts in Geauga County. William Cromwell was one of only a couple charter members that lasted through the entire history of the band. 

 The Parkman Community wishes to express gratitude to the Cromwell family for the return of the Buckeye Band Baton and the variety of other historical artifacts donated back to our Historical Society.  Having the opportunity to reclaim a part of Parkman History, learn about the people of this era, and understand the commitment that our community had for the band, were all really interesting parts of this Parkman Buckeye Band project.  The Edwards siblings, (William, Charlotte and Susan), along with the Barnes family spent a lot of time gathering much information on Parkman Township.  This effort was very much appreciated.  Thank you for your generosity.  Remember that the collection can be seen at the Parkman Historical Society Museum or special selections will be displayed on the Parkman Community Website.

Guest speaker Rich Gates
on the Gates Family History
Mark Dolezal introduced our guest speaker, Rich Gates. The Gates family has traced ancestors to New York State. The family was all farmers. The first residence was the Puck place on Farmington Road (now the Schloss rental house). They then moved to the first farm on left side of Nash Road in Troy Township. The farm was sold in 1946-1948. Rich’s brother, Dale attended Parkman School in 1947 when they lived at the point of Hosmer Road and Rt. 528. This home was originally a church. The family then moved to Grove Road near Mumford. Gates Construction started in Middlefield on Button Avenue with three or four houses. Then they built three or four in Parkman and then on to Lake Lucerne in Chesterland. In 1959 or 1960 they bought the bottom half of the Grand River from the Electric Company (200 to 300 acres) and the top half was purchased by the Moss’. Later the Gates’ purchased the Hoxter farm which squared up the property lines.

Guest speaker Dale Komandt
on the history of the Western Phoenix Masons #42
Our guest speaker, Dale Komandt, presented the history of the Western Phoenix Masonic Lodge #42 and its importance to our community.  Parkman has one of the oldest in Ohio and the first in Geauga County.  The #42 Charter was granted to the Parkman members in 1818.  Members would meet on Thursdays eve following the full moon as there were no street lights to travel by.  The Lodge ceased to exist between 1828 to 1857.  In 1866, the third flood of the Blackmann and Jones Building was erected for the Lodge meetings.  It cost $1300 to build.  Most of the records before 1886 were lost to time and fire, however they are in the hands of of the present lodge 1877 to present.

Guest speaker  Linda Jacobs
the Soltis Family History

(postponed from September)
Our guest speaker, Linda Soltis Jacobs and her cousin Cindy Baptie Derifield presented the Soltis Family immigration to America.  Cindy researched their entrance to Ellis Island around 1906 and on to Ohio.  Linda picked up and brought us to the present generation of Soltis and the changes of farming along with doing business as a farmer.  She introduced all of the various family members in attendance and they had many pictures to share from the turn of the century and pictures of farm expansion.


Guest speaker Kaarlo Pollari
 on the history of Parkman School
Kaarlo Pollari presented the history of the Parkman Elementary and High School.  As a Parkman student from 1st grade through 12th, and a lifetime resident of the Township, he has seen many changes to the school.  Kaarlo entered first grade in 1937 and found his 12 years very enjoyable.  He continued to Hiram College and became a part of the Parkman Board of Education after.

Some facts about the school.

In 1806, Joseph Noyes, a Yale graduate immigrated to Ohio and reportedly taught the students of the very first school ever built in Parkman.  This one room log building structure was just east of the square probably where the Gazebo now stands.

In 1817, A Masonic Lodge was formed in Parkman and began construction of a large framed building designed as a school and place for religious worship.  School was taught by a Mr. Alfred Phillips.  Students came from Middlefield, Farmington, and Nelson to this school up to 1875 when sub districts were developed.  The total annual budget then for the school was $1500.

In 1890, the first graduating class graduated with 5 students.
In 1891, Music was added to the curriculum for Parkman.
In 1896, school was extended two weeks due to measles.
In 1907, a formal rule disallowed ball playing of any kind on school property.
In 1910, the high school library opened and fire escapes and alarms were installed.
In 1911, the state passed a law referred to as the 1% law.  This limited the school levies
and put a heavy burden on schools to find alternative funding.

In 1926, the annual salary of a teacher (Cleo Grace) was $1200 and the superintendant (M.H. Norton) was $1800.
In 1929, the total budget was $23, 700 but dropped in the 1930's due to the Great Depression.
In 1931, the budget was $19, 000 and in 1933 it was $16,000.


Guest Speaker  - Dale Komandt - Parkman Fire Department

On May 18, 2006 our guest speaker Dale Komandt presented the history of the Parkman Fire Department.  He covered the topic from the roots to present day operations including recent requirements to be a part of the Parkman Volunteer Fire and EMS Team.  Dale presented many photos throughout the history of the team and how present day operations compare with the past.  The evolution of equipment advancement has added safety to the volunteers from one he first joined the Parkman Rescue Team.   A Video was recorded to preserve this presentation and can be viewed upon request from any of the Historical Society board members.  Please contact them for this request or attend a Historical Society meeting. 


Guest Speaker  - Wilma Sparrow Young - Cromwell History

Our speaker was Wilma Sparrow Young.  She has researched both sides of her family back to Ireland and coming to America.  She gave a wonderful overview and history of the “Orphan Train” as her grandfather William Cromwell came to Garrettsville on the train.  He was one of thirteen children left off there.  He served in the Civil War and reenlisted in 1865 for a bounty (served for another person).  He met his future wife, Augusta Cone (real name Bridgette O’Coen) at a dance at the hotel in Parkman.  He wrote her letters during the war, but she was illiterate and they were sent to Amelia Converse for her to read to Augusta.  Wilma did teach her grandmother to read once she herself started going to school.  Wilma found that the Clinton Railroad (that was to go through Parkman) was to go from Boston to St. Louis, Missouri as her grandfather, Jamie O’Coen signed on in New York to work on building the Clinton Airline Railroad.  He worked for several years and when reaching Parkman the manager absconded with the funds or the company had financial woes and abandoned the workers.  Little Ireland was born in Parkman, Ohio.  Wilma had many other informative and entertaining pieces in her presentation.  A Video was recorded to preserve this presentation and can be viewed upon request from any of the Historical Society board members.  Please contact them for this request or attend a Historical Society meeting. 

Guest Speaker  - Don George - Georges Store

On January 19, 2006 our guest speaker - Don George, talked about the “Georges Store”. Since almost everyone knows Don it was an evening of history and reminiscing.  The George family came to Parkman from Warren in 1939 when Don was five days old and Don stayed until 1999.  The “corner store” had always been the general store and drug store.  The fire of May 6, 1899, destroyed the store and downtown Parkman. Don noted that the new fire station had been completed the day before the fire.  Mr. Cromwell chose to rebuild the store in brick.  Not liking local brick he bought them in Warren and transported them by rail to West Farmington and by wagon to Parkman.  He reopened on November 7, 1899.  The new store was not liked by all because no potbelly stove was installed to “sit around”.  The Greyhound Bus company put in a ticket station in the store and a lunch counter was added.  In the 1930’s, when Rt. 422 became four lanes the ticket station was moved to the Post House restaurant.  Don George’s father bought the store in 1939 and stopped the drugstore but put a meat counter in.  Don and others told a few humorous stories about his father and the store.  In 1955 the lunch counter was tore out and the parking lot was ruined when Rt. 528 was widened.  Business became tough.  In 1965, Don & Shirley took over the store and ran it until 1973.  It was then sold to Jacque Picard and has been apartments, etc.



Guest Speaker -  Father John Burkley - History of the Parkman Churches

Our speaker - Father John Burkley of St Edward’s Catholic Church,  gave a thorough historical background of some of the organized religions that offered their services in Parkman since its founding days, and the evolution of modern Parkman today. Father Burkley then went into the establishment of the Catholic Parish that currently resides in this community.


The early Catholics came out from Cleveland and began farming. Most being Polish, Slovak, etc. To attend church they originally had to drive

to Warren. In 1928, Frank Soltis, Sr. and others purchased at auction the 87-year-old Episcopal Church and a small parcel of land for $1,075.00. This church had been moved from across the street and was originally a Methodist church. After some remodeling and a lot of detailing, the first Catholic Church in Parkman celebrated its initial mass and dedicating ceremony on December 23, 1928. St. Edward’s Mission existed until February of 1929 when its status was changed to St. Edward Parish. The first resident pastor for St. Edward Parish, Father Steven Valko, resided on Payne Road, as there was no rectory. This was also the site of the first St. Edward Chicken Dinner in 1932.

In the 1960’s a second larger tract of land adjoining the original was donated by Frank & Mary Soltis Sr. for a new and larger building. In 1964 the new church held its first mass. The old St. Edward Church building was 123 years old that same day. Father Burkley also showed copies of old downtown maps and copies of a typed history of the church.

Father Burkley (known as a local Train buff) also dipped into a very detailed talk about the history of local Railway development and Tracks that crossed our area in Parkman’s past.


The “Clinton Air Line” shows scars across NE Ohio. In 1853, one of Dewitt Clinton’s sons developed a vision of a railway from Chicago to Buffalo. This bold undertaking was near completion, and the tracks would have come right through Parkman. Traces can be seen crossing Rt. 700 in Troy and in Parkman crossing Grove Rd, Jug Rd, Mumford Rd, and Agler Rd. The rail touches the north edge of the Parkman Cemetery, and crosses Old State Rd just south of Rt. 88 disappearing into Trumbull County. This ambitious project was close to completion until it was quickly halted by the “Panic of 1857”, which wiped out potential investors and froze all efforts. Other companies attempted to revive the project but adequate funding was never reached.


Maps from 1900 showed Parkman in a very different light, and many had helped to put the puzzle together with personal experience of local railway grading knowledge. Thank you all for sharing this lesson in Parkman History. The fun is to imagine if the so called Panic never occurred, how would Parkman be - with a railway running through it? Ponder on that!


Thanks to Father Burkley and everyone who supported this Historical Society Meeting and sharing their thoughts!


Hope you were able to make the January meeting at the Community House where Don George had shared his memories of Georges Store and how it helped Parkman’s development. Story will be in the Spring issue of the Parkman Paragraphs.