Sunday, September 18, 2016

Full Circle: Tallmadge's Namesake Leads the Way in AMC's TURN: Washington's Spies

It’s not every day you hear a familiar name on TV, but if you’ve ever watched AMC’s TURN:Washington’s Spies then you’ve certainly come across one of the show’s main characters, the dashing Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge, who helps maintain George Washington’s military intelligence operation during the Revolution.

If you’ve ever wondered whether there was a connection between this character and Akron’s neighbor to the northeast, the answer is absolutely YES.  Tallmadge (played on the show by actor Seth Numrich) was founded in 1806 by Rev. Davis Bacon, and Colonel Tallmadge was one of the first property owners. Bacon named the township after Tallmadge precisely because of his well-known, highly-respected name, which was known throughout New England.

While a major landowner and investor, Tallmadge was never a local resident. He maintained his home in Litchfield, Conn. and was happy to support Bacon, a missionary whose religious views he fully shared. Eventually, Bacon obtained a contract of purchase with Tallmadge and the other dozen or so investors in the settlement, which stipulated that whenever payment of any part was secured, a deed would be delivered for that part.

Tallmadge was leader of  the Second Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons, also
known as Tallmadge's Dragoons.

While much of Colonel Tallmadge’s notoriety comes from his espionage activities, he had an equally distinguished service in more conventional military activities, participating and leading forces in several important military actions against the British and their Tory sympathizers. After the war, Tallmadge flourished as a successful businessman, land speculator, and served several terms as a Federalist Congressman. He died in 1835.

It’s important to remember that years ago, a large section of east Akron was actually part of Tallmadge, which extended down across Chapel Hill and down through Goodyear Heights towards Middlebury, until it was eventually annexed by the city. Even today, if you look at a map of Akron, you can see that for the most part, there really is no “northeast Akron”—what would be is mostly Tallmadge, and Cuyahoga Falls.

As for Bacon, his plans for settlement did not offer much personal success; there was little hard cash available for new residents to buy land, and he was forced to return to New England after 1811. Bacon's idea was a good one, it just took longer to develop than he expected. Those who did stay here held on long enough to see the settlement prosper and grow into a successful town and today, their descendants can claim a prosperous city.

With that in mind, it seems appropriate that we take a moment to enjoy Colonel Tallmadge’s newfound posthumous fame. It makes the TV show that much more fun to watch.


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