Southington Legion’s ‘family’ reunion

so-legion

Members of Southington, Ohio’s American Legion post visited local officials. From left, Southington Town Council member Mike Riccio, Southington Post 72 commander Steve McCarty, Southington (Ohio) commander Les Strock, and Southington (Ohio) finance officer Bob Bieri.

By JEN CARDINES

STAFF WRITER

Ohio’s American Legion Post 751 met with Connecticut’s American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 on Sunday, Sept. 11 to reciprocate Post 72’s visit to Ohio last year.

Post 72 Commander Steve McCarty said that the Ohio legion was discovered when Connecticut members went online to make a group Facebook page and stumbled across the town that has striking parallels to this one.

During Connecticut’s settlement, the town of South Farmington, then shortened to “Southington,” was established. As people migrated west, they adopted town names that were familiar to them, and oddly enough, the region of Southington, Ohio was founded just south of Farmington, Ohio.

These two towns with similar histories are the only two Southingtons in the world.

The Ohio town was founded in 1805 by the Norton family, whose ancestry began in Southington, Conn. Both towns have a rock commemorating the site of their first public meeting houses, and similar historical societies.

Southington, Ohio is located in the northeastern corner of the state within a region called the Connecticut Western Reserve.  The Reserve was once Connecticut land, but was sold to Ohio during revolutionary times.

A plaque on a rock at Oak Hill Cemetery marks the site of Southington’s first town meeting house.

A plaque on a rock at Oak Hill Cemetery marks the site of Southington’s first town meeting house.

Post 751 Commander Les Strock and finance officer Bob Biery came with their wives to spend the weekend with officials from Post 72. Strock said there are many ideas he wants to bring back with him that were inspired by the trip, including the local laptop program and the flag mailbox.

Local legion members created a program where they send refurbished laptops to soldiers overseas, complete with web-cameras and Skype software installed for communication.

“We remember snail mail and having to wait for a letter,” said McCarty about the technology, which allows easier ways to call home.

In addition, the local post has a mailbox on its property for old and retired flags to be dropped off.

Biery has spent 35 years operating a family store with his wife Debbie in Ohio. The store is from her side of the family, the Hurds, who had seven generations live in Connecticut and is known for their homemade old-fashioned sodas, which were distributed at Sunday’s meeting.

The visitors had a busy weekend attending a lobster bake dinner, a town tour, and the Sept. 11 memorial service in Plantsville. Sunday afternoon’s meeting at the Legion hall gave Town Council Chair Michael Riccio an opportunity to present an official document to the Ohio natives. The statement thanked them for visiting Southington, Conn. and recognized the two communities as “sister towns.”

McCarty said that locals were happy to have the Ohio families reciprocate the visit from last year, and he hopes this can become a tradition. “It’s kind of neat that we got to find this town and meet them,” he said.

Joe DellaPorta called it “a nice long-distance relationship.”

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