By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
If you're interested in delving into some of the city and county's history and learning more about who was responsible for making much of it, a good place to visit is Oakwood Cemetery in Warren.
Buried there are many of Warren's most prominent families such as the Packards and Perkinses, as well as numerous veterans from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World Wars I and II and the Vietnam War.
The 35-acre cemetery at 860 Niles Road S.E. was the site of a 11/2-hour-long walking tour Sunday, sponsored by the Warren-Trumbull County Public Library. About 100 people, some descendants of those buried there, participated in the walk, conducted by Trumbull County historian Wendell Lauth.
Lauth took the group to several family lots and gave brief overviews of each. He also shared stories of people who escaped from slavery and served in the military.
Kicking off the tour was a stop at the Perkins family lot that included the headstones of Gen. Simon Perkins and other family members. Perkins served in the War of 1812 and built a home and office/library on Mahoning Avenue. The structures are now the city hall complex.
Perkins had nine children, one of whom was a founder of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Lauth told gatherers. Another son, Jacob, helped establish the cemetery and was president of the Mahoning-Cleveland Railroad, he continued.
Near the Perkins site is where Judge Calvin Pease is laid to rest. He was Trumbull County's first clerk of courts and served on the Ohio Supreme Court.
Another stop was Judge Leicester King's plot. Judge King, an abolitionist, came to the area from Connecticut and tried to end black laws, which restricted the civil rights of blacks, Lauth noted.
In addition to serving for seven years as a common pleas judge, and in the state Senate, Judge King became the first president of the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society, formed in 1835.
"His house was an open home for visitors," Lauth said. "We believe it was a stop on the Underground Railroad."
Supporting the arts
Several members of the Packard family were mentioned on the tour, including William Packard, the first postmaster of Lordstown in the 1830s. A son, W.D. Packard, "gave us Packard Music Hall," Lauth said.
James Ward Packard and his wife are buried together nearby. He invented the Packard motor car.
"The Packards have been around the Mahoning Valley for well over 200 years," Lauth added.
Also on the tour were the grave sites of David Tod, Joseph G. Butler Sr. and Jr., Robert Ratliff, Charles Hill, Lucia Darling Park, Charles Washington and Zell Hart Deming.
Tod, a lawyer and governor during the Civil War, bought land and sold lots. He also established a village that is modern-day Girard, Lauth noted.
Ratliff, a Civil War general who led the 12th Calvary, was founder of 2nd National Bank, which is now Sky Bank, Lauth pointed out.
Joseph Butler Sr. was a county sheriff during the Civil War, and his son was a founder of The Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.
For a while, Lucia Darling Park lived with an uncle, Sidney Edgerton, who was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln to be governor of the Montana Territory. She is thought to be the territory's first teacher, and she later served at Berea College in Kentucky. Park also was instrumental in fighting for women's rights, Lauth noted.
"She was a very progressive woman," he said. "She led a very interesting life."
Charles Washington settled in Warren in 1857 after escaping from slavery on the Underground Railroad. His 300-mile journey began in Louden, Va., and included a freight train ride from Pittsburgh to Salem, Lauth said.
"He apparently felt safe enough here to not go to Canada," Lauth added.
Charles Hill is perhaps the only black Civil War veteran at the cemetery, Lauth said. After the war, he was a custodian and performed other jobs.
Zell Hart Deming began a career at the Warren Tribune writing obituaries and society columns before she "worked her way up the ranks" and became its owner, Lauth noted.
Oakwood Cemetery is Warren's oldest active burial site and is operated as a nonprofit organization. It receives money from lot sales, services, investments and other means.