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Final chances to see sheep at Perkins Mansion

Published: September 5, 2016 12:00 AM
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Have "ewe" seen the sheep at Perkins Stone Mansion?

In partnership with The Spicy Lamb Farm, the Summit County Historical Society has been home to a small flock of Dorset sheep, a breed produced from a mixture of Spanish Merino and Horned Wale's sheep. The sheep have been "mowing" the lawn as a living history sheep demonstration since July.

"It's like stepping back in time to the 1840s when Colonel Simon Perkins hired abolitionist John Brown to tend his 1300 -1500 flock of Saxony Merino sheep on Mutton Hill," says Society President & CEO, Leianne Neff Heppner.

Visit the sheep here in the city before they return to the farm within the Cuyahoga Valley National Park at the end of the month. Upcoming events are free and open to the public including Working Dog Wednesdays on Sept. 7, 14 and 21 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m.; Sheep Day on Mutton Hill on Sept. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. that will also include children's sheep crafts, free tours of the Perkins Stone Mansion/John Brown House and musical entertainment. The final herding demonstration day is Sept. 24 at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.

An Ohio Open Doors program will be hosted at the John Brown House on Sept. 15 with Dave Lieberth, Society board chair, speaking at 5 p.m. on the Legacy of John Brown. There will also be a hike to the John Brown Monument Sept. 17 at 9 a.m. starting at the Akron Zoo. Both events are free and open to the public as part of the Ohio History Connection's Open Doors program. https://www.ohiohistory.org/preserve/ohio-open-doors

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"Sheep were a big part of Akron's history," said Lieberth. "The introduction of a flock of sheep gives us new ways to interpret our history. John Brown was the most consequential man ever to live in Summit County, employed by Perkins to tend the large flock of Merino sheep that was known as one of the finest flocks in Ohio. Brown lived with his family in the 2-room house at Diagonal and Copley Roads, and traveled to Europe to promote the wool business.

"Mutton Hill" is the name that residents of 19th century Akron gave to this 150-acre farm, known for its Merino sheep that were reputed to produce some of the finest wool in the world.

"The Perkins Estate was first a farm," said Leianne Neff Heppner, President and CEO of the Summit County Historical Society. "We want to interpret that story of the importance of agriculture in Akron and Summit County's growth and development before it became a manufacturing center."

Four generations of the Perkins family lived at the Stone Mansion estate. Simon Perkins built a reputation for fine wool, later becoming an Ohio senator who founded Summit County. Perkins' son George Tod Perkins, who also lived at the mansion, became the second president of BF Goodrich Company.

Sheep production is the nation's oldest organized industry, with wool being the first international trade commodity. Ohio was a major producer of mutton and wool in the 19th century. Perkins operated a woolen mill in what is now downtown Akron in the 1850's. All of the soldiers in the Civil War wore wool uniforms.

The Brown House property is an essential link in John Brown's personal history as an abolitionist and militant guerilla in the fight to end African slavery in America.

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