There's More Than Meets the Eye on
Stories from the Road:
On I-480 southeast of Cleveland, you’ll pass a community named Twinsburg. You’ll even catch glimpses of the outskirts as you go by exits 36 and 37.
Now, "Twinsburg" is an odd name for a town. You might initially suspect that two close-by burgs came together to form a single entity—Ohio’s answer to Minneapolis/St. Paul. But no, that would be "Twinburgs." Twinsburg got its name from actual twins, Moses and Aaron Wilcox. In the early 1800s, they arrived from Connecticut and sort of took over.
Moses and Aaron Wilcox were identical twins. They were so identical that virtually no one could tell them apart, and they seem to have done just about everything together. They lived in the same house, held their property in common, married sisters, and somehow even managed to have the same number of children. They were also lifelong business partners.
Business is what brought the twins to this community, which was called "Millsville" when they arrived. They came to Millsville as representatives of the Connecticut Land Company with the idea of creating a New England-style town square in the center of this village. Then they would sell lots around it for businesses. Also, following the New England model, some of these lots would be reserved for community buildings, such as, a church.
To get this project underway, the twins offered to donate six acres of land for the square. They also pledged to give $20 toward the cost of building a new schoolhouse. In return, they asked a little favor: that the town be renamed in honor of them. Hence, Twinsburg.
The community agreed to the terms, and Twinsburg was built around its town square. To this day the square serves as center to the community, giving it the look of a New England village, complete with its white steepled First Congregational Church facing the square.
After living in their town of Twinsburg for only 4 years, the brothers died—within hours of each other, from the same disease. They are buried in the same grave in their town of Twinsburg.
Today, Twinsburg faces the good news/bad news scenario of many small towns that are located near the interstates. The good news is the interstates make it easier to reach these towns so people move here as do businesses and retail outlets. The economy booms. The bad news is that the interstates make it easier to reach these town so people move here as do businesses and retail outlets. Even though the economy booms, the residents encounter problems more characteristic of urban areas, such as, traffic and crowding.
When Millsville/Twinsburg was founded, it was in the wilderness. And throughout most of its history—up until I-480 was completed—the community maintained its distinct identity. But today, the town is an easy commute to both Cleveland and Akron. People are attracted to Twinsburg because of its small-town feeling—but then as more and more people arrive, it isn’t a small town anymore.
It takes a gentle balance between the old and the new: maintaining the heritage and traditions of the community while also attending to the needs of the new residents. That’s the challenge faced by Twinsburg and countless other small towns that find themselves on an interstate within striking distance of weary city-dwellers, yearning for a slower and more humane way of life.
One more thing about Twinsburg. In recent years, it has become home to an annual festival called Twins Days. Trading on its name and history, Twinsburg hosts this gathering that attracts 3,000 sets of twins (also triplets, quadruplets, etc) from all over the world. You don’t have to be a twin to attend—there are events for all, though you might have a disconcerting sense of seeing double as you wander through the crowds.
Events include a "Double Take" parade and a twins talent show. One year there was even a double wedding: twins marrying twins. There is a special relationship shared by twins—a closeness deeper than that usually experienced by other siblings. This festival creates a community of twins and celebrates that special relationship.
You have to think that Moses and Aaron would have been proud.
For more about Twinsburg and its surrounding communities, see the tape or CD for I-480/80 East: Cleveland to Youngstown.
Museum of the Open Road, Inc
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