Side A: The completion of the Miami and Erie Canal passing through Napoleon in 1843 provided a way to receive manufactured goods, export farm products, and power local mills. The early industries of Napoleon utilized the canal as a source of reliable water power, which led to the development of a mid-19th-century industrial waterfront. Some of the local businesses that relied on the canal were Sayger’s Saw-mill (1843), John Ritter Flouring Mill (1850), Augustin Pilliod’s Napoleon Flouring Mill (1853), and the Napoleon Woolen Mill (1863). These mills used flumes, or artificial channels, to divert canal water to their water wheels. These brick-arch flumes were instrumental in bringing Napoleon into the national economy.
Side B: Napoleon was founded in 1834 but its name was almost changed to Henry in 1853. At that time, there was a popular movement to Americanize place names and some citizens of Napoleon wanted to rename it after the patriot Patrick Henry. Village Commissioners approved the change in March 1853. In five issues printed that autumn, the publisher of the Napoleon North West newspaper listed its location as Henry, Ohio. Frenchman Augustin Pilliod, who was starting construction of his three-story flouring mill on Front Street, opposed the measure. On October 10, 1853, the day a mayor and councilmen were to be elected for the newly-incorporated village of Henry, Pilliod and other opponents staged a demonstration, which blocked both the election and the name change. The village of Napoleon was finally incorporated in1863.