A. M. Sherman:
An unusual man…and a gifted one
r. Aaron Morgan Sherman never strayed very far from his beloved Brimfield, Ohio, nor from his ancestral roots in Brimfield, Massachusetts. And during his long lifetime, he had few peers in guarding zealously the memories of our settlers whose pioneering spirit, hard work, and determination brought forth new homes, farms, and crude but prospering industries onto the Western Reserve scene.
Dr. Sherman—known always by his initials, A.M., instead of his given name—was an unusual man…and a gifted one. He combined his multiple talents and interests in helping to build the communities of Brimfield and Kent and, for a brief period, Garrettsville. Revered as a physician during a long practice, Dr. Sherman also was, at various times, a druggist, teacher-educator, historian, soldier, musician. Few industrial community enterprises passed him by or were not touched by his able hand.
Born in 1826 in Brimfield, Hampden County, Massachusetts, Dr. Sherman traced his ancestry to a young man who emigrated from England to Massachusetts. It was a natural turn of events, considering the family’s hometown of Brimfield, Mass., that Captain Harris and Sally Sherman would migrate from New England to Brimfield in Portage County in 183I, only 15 years following the community’s settlement, when the future doctor was only five years of age. Sherman spent his early years on his parents’ Brimfield farm, attending school in the winter months and then a select school for a brief period. The latter apparently prepared him to teach for four years in daytime schools and singing classes in an evening school.
Higher aspirations called him to “study” medicine under Dr. John Knowlton in Garrettsville, beginning when he was 21. He also studied medicine at Western Reserve College in Cleveland, graduating in 1851. He launched his practice in Garrettsville, then moved to Kent, where he temporarily strayed from medicine for a brief venture into the drug business. Medicine, fortunately, called him back. Throughout his remaining years (he lived into his nineties), he attended to the ills of his friends and neighbors. But there were many diversions from his practice, one of them his service as assistant surgeon in a Washington hospital during the Civil War.
Another was his election as state representative from Portage County in I883. The doctor was an energetic promoter of enterprise. He was particularly active in helping establish industries in Kent during the 1880s. He served on a community committee to attract the Connotton Valley Railroad, as well as the Turner Brothers’ alpaca mill to the giant industrial building that still stands on the west shore of the Cuyahoga in Kent. When C. A. and Scott Williams established the Peerless Roller Mills, forerunner of the Williams Brothers Mill, Dr. Sherman helped to raise public subscriptions during a community support campaign.
While a resident of Garrettsville, Dr. Sherman became a member of the Masonic Lodge. His move to Franklin Township in 1857 prompted him to lead the organization of Kent’s Rockton Masonic Lodge, chartered in 1859, in which the doctor served as master for ten years.
He was a charter member of the Portage County Medical Society in 1866 and also of the Portage-Summit Pioneer Association, organized in 1874. He served the latter as secretary-treasurer for many years. And he was a firm believer in educating young people, hence his membership on the Kent school board for many years.
Perhaps Dr. Sherman’s crowning legacy was his authorship of a history of Brimfield Twp. in 1881. His history, dating back to the community’s settlement in 1816, was the township’s first. On July 4 of that same year, during Brimfield’s 6th anniversary celebration, he based his address upon his written words.
In 1916, when he was go, Dr. Sherman attended Brimfield’s centennial celebration. At that time, he expressed fear that the early settlers would be forgotten. Through the writings of Dr. Edgar McCormick, the Brimfield Memorial House Association, and the efforts of others, their light still shines.