Side A: Miami & Erie Canal and Napoleon’s First Cemetery. The Miami & Erie Canal stretched approximately 250 miles from Cincinnati to Toledo. Napoleon and other towns on the Maumee River’s banks were on a slackwater section of the canal. Between 1825 and 1845, laborers constructed the canal using shovels, picks, wheelbarrows, and horse and mule-drawn carts. In Henry County, Napoleon, and elsewhere, German and Irish immigrants and area farmers did the work and were paid around 30 cents a day. As the canal brought more people and business to the area, villages such as Florida, Damascus, and Texas flourished and the county seat of Napoleon boomed. The canal and consequent growth took their tolls, however. Sickness and disease such as “ague” (malaria) and cholera spread and carried off many. Napoleon’s first cemetery was located in the vicinity of 500 East Clinton Street, near the route of the canal.
Side B: A sawmill in Napoleon along the Miami-Erie Canal, c. 1880. The sawmill was approximately one-half mile west of this marker and is an example of the commerce that the canal helped to sustain. In the background is the Henry County Courthouse and St. Augustine Catholic Church, both on the National Register of Historic Places.