UNION — A small crowd attended the City of Union’s Bicentennial celebration Friday at 7 p.m. on the grounds of VFW Post 5434 adjacent to city hall.
The celebration included the American Legion Post 707 Honor Guard, an address by Union Mayor Mike O’Callaghan, and a presentation of a plaque by VFW 5434 Post Commander Phyllis Gannon to the Randolph Township Historical Society. Commemorative coins and historical calendars were also available for purchase.
Ivan Clark of the Post 5434 Men’s Auxiliary emceed the event and delivered the welcoming address. He was also present for the 150 year celebration in 1966.
“Time waits for no one,” Clark said. “The changes over the years have been incredible.”
He reviewed historical events that have taken place over the last 50 years. In 1966 the cost of a new home was approximately $23,300 and first class stamp was five cents, a dozen eggs 60 cents and a gallon of gas 32 cents.
“Now, here we are in 2016. What will the next 50 years bring?” Clark queried. He then introduced Union Mayor Michael O’Callaghan.
“Welcome everyone and thank you for having me here tonight,” O’Callaghan said. “Today is not only a celebration of the bicentennial it is also a celebration of the centennial celebration that was held here exactly 100 years ago on today’s date.”
He went on to give a quick overview of how the city was settled along the Stillwater River. Union was founded in 1816 by Daniel Razor and David Hoover. It began as an agricultural community and soon was home to a sawmill and gristmill. A shopkeeper’s district grew up along what is now North Main Street and included a variety store, post office, and even an opera house. Union shares in the Dayton area heritage of invention as the home of the Sheets rifle, a long-bore rifle used during the 1800s. An image of the rifle is part of the Seal of the City of Union.
“Steam railroad and traction lines ran through Union up until 1920,” O’Callaghan continued. “We had an opera house and yes, we even had a post office. Fancy that. Over the years our citizens have proudly served in the armed forces in defense of our country in all conflicts. As a matter of fact, our first female mayor, Leona Jackson, was the head of the Army Nurse Corps in World War II. In 1982 Union became a city and continues to grow. Almost 7,000 people live in this community today. That’s hard to believe.”
He also talked about the development of the city’s industrial air park and the opening of the Proctor and Gamble facility, the expansion of walking paths in city green spaces, the tree lined corridor along Main Street that displays lights during the Christmas holiday and the blossoms in spring on the flowering pears on either side of the street.
“Many changes have taken place, but some things never change – community spirit and pride,” O’Callaghan added. “We have a commitment to a place we call home and to a belief that helping our neighbors is a part of that commitment. As mayor of Union, I would encourage everyone to go out and celebrate our 200th anniversary of the City of Union.”
The date of the celebration was chosen to commemorate an earlier celebration. Townspeople, merchants, and area farmers came together 100 years ago on May 13, 1916 to celebrate the city’s centennial. A photo taken at the time is framed and on display at the Union City building.
A tri-city celebration of the bicentennials of Union and the City of Clayton and Englewood’s 175th anniversary will be held at Meadowbrook at Clayton on Saturday, July 23 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Everyone from all three communities are invited to attend.