MassMu to Publish Book about Founding of Massillon

MassMu to Publish Book about Founding of Massillon

A new Massillon history book, The Massillon Connection: A Pioneer Woman, a French Bishop, and a Village on a River, will debut on February 26, published by the Massillon Museum.

The Massillon Connection focuses on the inception of Massillon in 1826, and the naming of the town for a legendary 18th-century French bishop. Andrew Preston researched and penned the first section of the book, which details the lives of founder James Duncan and his wife Eliza during the earliest days of the town. Genealogist Deb Altimus helped track the history of the founding family. 

Katina Hazimihalis explored the life of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Massillon (1663–1742), an influential French orator who delivered compelling sermons to the nobility of the French court of King Louis XIV as well as the commoners. His messages often addressed moral issues and Christian principles, speaking for justice, equality, and human dignity. Books of his sermons were compiled and published during the decades after his death. Underscoring Bishop Massillon’s stature during the reign of The Sun King, more than 1300 books of his sermons in at least five languages are for sale on the internet nearly three centuries later. 

An academic team, using an 1818 translation of one of Massillon’s most famous sermons, "On the Fewness of the Elect," (sometimes known as "On the Small Number of the Saved") faithfully turned it into contemporary English for inclusion in The Massillon Connection. If read aloud, the message takes nearly an hour to complete. “We made every effort to maintain the style used by Bishop Massillon,” said Paquelet. 

The Massillon Connection, a 120-page hardbound book, includes an introduction by David W. Schultz, David Dowd, and Charles Paquelet, as well as a fold-out timeline. The book will be printed locally at Bates Printing. Copies will be donated to schools, universities, libraries, and museums. Others may purchase The Massillon Connection at the book launch on February 26 or thereafter in the Massillon Museum shop, OHregionalities, at cost, $29.95 plus tax.

The book, which is fully funded by an anonymous donor, is the culmination of more than seven years of intense research, writing, editing, and revision. Shortly after retirement from his orthopedic surgery practice, Dr. Charles Paquelet presented the concept of compiling the definitive account of the founding and naming of Massillon to the Museum’s board of directors. With their blessing, a team of more than two dozen men and women of diverse backgrounds and talents worked until they felt, according to Paquelet, they “are satisfied that our investigation of these matters has been as thorough and complete as possible.”  

The project, which started as a community effort using resources and research talent at the Massillon Museum and the Massillon Public Library, expanded into an international project. Claude Gerard, professor of history at The Sorbonne, Paris, France; Dr. Douglas Palmer, associate professor of history, Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio; and Rev. Thomas E. Blantz, professor of history, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, all contributed their expertise.

In the fall of 2013, a core group from the committee—Dr. Charles Paquelet, Massillon Museum Executive Director Alexandra Nicholis Coon, and Fulbright scholar and former French teacher Trisha Merchant—traveled to France to participate in a colloquium commemorating the 350th anniversary of Bishop Massillon’s birth in Hyères, a small town in Provence. 

Paquelet says the project is intended as a community service. “The interest displayed over such a long period of time speaks loudly about the passion the contributing citizens have for their town,” he said. “Massillon has an esprit de corps not usually found in other communities. Many believe it’s all about football—a game that brings us together.” The 18th-century French cleric might be surprised to find that his name is together and synonymous with the 21st-century Tiger football team.

About the Ticketed Launch Celebration

An elegant French dinner party at the Massillon Museum will launch the book. The event, called “From Whence We Came,” on Thursday, February 26, at 6:00 p.m. will begin with a five-course French meal in the Museum lobby. The $130 per couple reservation includes one book as does the $80 per person reservation. 

Seating will be limited and RSVPs must be received by February 12. Checks may be written to the Massillon Museum and mailed to 121 Lincoln Way East, Massillon 44646, or reservations may made with credit card payment in person or by telephone: 330.833.4061.

The dinner will be catered by and sponsored in part by Robert J. Events and Catering. The Massillon Museum is located at 121 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon. Free parking is available on adjacent city streets and in nearby city lots.

About the Public Book Launch

At 8:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 26, the official book launch and signing will be held at the Lincoln Theatre. Maureen Ater, General Manager of The Independent, will emcee the presentation, which will include a panel discussion among contributors to the book. Questions from the audience will be welcome.

The Lincoln Theatre portion of “From Whence We Came” will be free and open to the public with no reservations required. Books will be available ($31.90 including tax) for purchase and signing before and after the program. The Lincoln Theatre is located at 156 Lincoln Way East in downtown Massillon.

For more information about the book or its launch, call the Massillon Museum at 330-833-4061. To learn more about the Massillon Museum, visit



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