Grant-Sawyer Home, History
This historic property has been restored by the City of Grove City in cooperation with the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society. The house is believed to have been constructed in the 1840s or earlier. This was about the same time the Gantz Farm House was built. It is located as part of the Gardens at Gantz Park. Both structures are on the National Register of Historic Places administered by the United States Department of the Interior. Hugh Grant Sr. and family were the first permanent white settlers in what would eventually become Jackson Township. When the Grants arrived, this area was actually part of Franklin Township.
Read more about the Grant family and the early history of the area by scrolling down this page to a detailed narrative on the Grant family.
Grant-Sawyer Home Opening Day 2017 Video
Video courtesy Mark Schmidbauer.
Steve Jackson Radio Interview
Radio interview copyrighted to WMKV
The Grant Family
Hugh Grant Sr.
Hugh Grant Sr. was 23 years old when Marietta became the first permanent settlement in the Northwest Territory in 1788. A native of Pittsburgh, he lived most of his adult life in Pennsylvania. From his youth, he learned the trade of a miller and as an adult he owned and operated a grist mill in that city. According to historical accounts, he also had acquired 187 acres1 of prime property that is now the heart of downtown Pittsburgh.
Grant’s grist mill was located on a small stream that emptied into the Monongahela River. No doubt, he had heard many stories about the new opportunities and adventures in the western lands that were just beginning to open for settlement.
Pittsburgh, at the time Grant lived there, was known for boat building. The city provided a river means of transportation for pioneers wanting to settle the Ohio country. Pittsburgh was a major destination for settlers moving into the Northwest Territory2 because that city was where the Allegheny River and the Monongahela River met forming the Ohio River.
Stories from several sources say Grant would construct a raft and head down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans to sell surplus goods. Once the transactions were completed in that city, he would tear down the raft, sell its lumber and head home following the river route.
On one return trip to Pittsburgh in the late 1700s, Grant is believed to have followed the Ohio River to Portsmouth, Ohio where he detoured from his normal route and followed the Scioto River Valley north.3 He would have passed through Chillicothe which was first settled in 1796. The town later become a center of business, government and commerce in the Northwest Territory.
Following and exploring the Scioto River, he arrived in Central Ohio and must have seen great potential in this new wilderness. There was ample wild game that included not only small animals like rabbits, squirrels and groundhogs, but also an abundance of deer, buffalo, elk, wild hogs and vast flocks of wild turkey. There were also wolf packs, bears and panthers.
The new frontier offered huge forests, flat lands and many streams that drained into the Scioto River. Grant, and others who followed, soon discovered most of the ground when tilled for farming didn’t produce good crops because the soil was too wet.4 Settlers drained their fields using clay tile to become successful farmers. The only land suitable for farming when Grant arrived was that near the Scioto River where he settled.5
Depending on when Grant first explored what would become Central Ohio, he may have visited the settlement at Franklinton, a town that became the seat of government for Franklin County in 1803. Franklinton was located at the forks of the Olentangy and Scioto Rivers. The Franklinton plat was created in 1797.
The land Grant had explored was part of the Virginia Military District. After the American Revolutionary War, the new central government assumed much of the war debts from the states. Virginia was an exception and it set aside land for the benefit of its veterans. Land grants were awarded the veterans but most never relocated in Ohio. They sold their land to speculators.6
Grant eventually made his way home to Pennsylvania and began to make arrangements to sell his business interests and the 187 acres he owned. Many Americans in the early 1800s saw the western frontier as an opportunity for a better life. That wasn’t necessarily the case for the Grant family. In the late 1700s, he and his family enjoyed a prosperous life in Pittsburgh. There are some who believe Grant sought a new life because competition in the big city was cutting into his business profits.
We’ll never know for sure what prompted Grant to move into a wilderness after enjoying the benefits of city life. Whatever the reason, we must give him and his family credit for their part in opening southwest Franklin County to settlement.
At 38 years of age, Grant decided to leave Pennsylvania. It was a decision that impacted not only Grant but his wife, Catherine Barr, and their three children. By the time he left Pennsylvania, the new state of Ohio had been created in 1803.
The family’s trek west wasn’t going to be easy and to this day, his actual route is unknown. They might have navigated the river as far as Zanesville and from there followed a new overland route identified as Zane’s Trace.
A few years before Grant left Pittsburgh, Colonel Ebenezer Zane had begun to open new western lands by constructing a wilderness trail in 1796. Zane had become a wealthy man because the only way to cross the Ohio River at Wheeling, Virginia (West Virginia) and access his new wilderness route, was at his ferry landing where he charged a fee. Zane constructed other ferries along the trace.
The new state of Ohio invested in Zane’s project by taking three percent of the income from the sale of public lands and using it to improve the road leading into Chillicothe. Zane’s Trace before 1803 was not much more than an Indian trail, barely passable by horseback until 1804.7
After that, the road was more accessible to wagons, and sections of Zane’s Trace were described as a corduroy road because logs were cut and laid side by side to allow passage over wetlands. The road went by several other names in later years including the Wheeling Road, Wheeling-Limestone Road or the Limestone Road.8
This opened a 20-foot wide roadway that allowed wagons and ox carts to operate more freely. Zane’s Trace was Ohio’s only major road until after the War of 1812.9
Grant and his family of five arrived in Chillicothe in 1804. It was in Chillicothe he purchased 450 acres in Central Ohio10 that was once part of Brigadier General Daniel Morgan military land grant from Virginia. Morgan’s claim covered some 2, 222 acres.11 At the time, there were only four places in Ohio where federal land could be purchased and those settlements included Steubenville, Cincinnati, Marietta and Chillicothe. Chillicothe was the last town to have a federal land office closing in 1877.12
There is no exact record of when and how he and his family left Chillicothe traveling north to Central Ohio. Historic accounts point out there was an Indian trail that ran from the Ohio River north along the Scioto River. A state map dated 181013 shows a trail referred to as the Western Scioto Valley Route (Rt. 104) that ran through Chillicothe. It was improved between 1803 and 1810 making pioneer travel north much easier. Many of the early roads were created by migrating animals and later they became Indian trails.
However the trip was made, the family arrived in Franklin County becoming the first white people to settle in the southern end of the county that was then part of Franklin Township. Jackson Township didn’t come into existence until 1815.
Hugh Grant faced one major obstacle. When he arrived in 1804, he was unable to identify his land he had purchased at Chillicothe. He likely settled and built his cabin on a run or stream where it emptied into the Scioto River.14 That stream today is known as Grant Run. Most early settlers built cabins near water sources. The area had been surveyed by what was even considered an older method that identified trees, rocks and streams as boundaries. Since there were no good maps, it was anyone’s guess where property lines were.
A description of Grant’s 400 acres was described as: “Beginning at the northeast corner of Survey 1383 at two white oaks and a black oak corner to said survey; thence west 253 poles; thence south 253 poles; thence east 253 poles to the line of said survey; thence north along the line of said survey 253 poles to the beginning, containing 400 acres.”15
Irregularities and defects appeared in many early deeds. As late as 1889, Hugh’s grandson continued to experience problems with the land he owned.16
Today, Hugh Grant would be called a squatter. His cabin is described as being in the midst of a forest and it was to his credit he was a marksman with a rifle. Numerous stories describe Hugh Grant as a great hunter. In his first winter in Ohio, he killed 89 deer and in one day, he shot two panthers.17
Native Americans also lived in the area and passed the Grant homestead frequently. When Hugh Grant was away from his log cabin, the Indians would stop and take whatever they wanted but they never approached his property when he was home. In 1813, most of the settlers in Franklin County feared their Indian neighbors. On June 21, 1813, the Delaware, Shawnee, Wyandot and Seneca tribes agreed at a council at Franklinton attended by General William Henry Harrison, to remain at peace with their white neighbors.18
In December, 1806, Grant was victim of a freak accident. He had located a bee tree and climbed to cut off the limb but instead the limb broke. He fell to the ground with the limb landing on his chest. It is reported he died instantly. This was six months before his son, Hugh Grant Jr. was born.
Grant Run was likely named for Hugh Grant Sr. because that was the site of his death in the winter months of 1806-1807.19 After his death, Catherine was able to identify the acres her husband had purchased. She moved the family to that land and constructed a cabin on the land that would eventually be known as the Grant-Sawyer Home. The house was located on Crushed Stone Pike, a road today identified as Haughn Road. She lived there until her death in 1836.
The History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio describes these early settlers as “. . . one of the grandest armies that earth ever knew . . .” That description continued stating: “It was the army of peace and civilization that came, not to conquer an enemy with blood and carnage and ruin, but to subdue a wilderness.”
Hugh Grant Jr.
Hugh Grant Jr. was willed the property after his mother’s death and he became the family member responsible for the brick house located at Haughn Road and Park Street.20 Hugh Jr. was a successful farmer and community leader. He was also an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and did what he could to promote the church within the community.
He was influential in the field of agriculture in Franklin County and his methods of farming were both progressive and practical. His fields and crops always looked like they were maintained under a careful eye.
Grant, a Democrat, served several political positions within Jackson Township. He died at 77 and was considered one of the most valued citizens in the township and was “widely known and highly esteemed for his sterling worth.”
Adam Gabriel Grant
Adam Gabriel Grant was the son of Hugh Grant Jr. He was only 12 years old when William Foster Breck and others platted the settlement of Grove City in 1852. The Grant home was located outside Grove City in Jackson Township. Little is known about Adam’s youth but no doubt he watched Grove City develop from a small settlement into a prosperous community.
It’s told21 that Adam as a child walked two miles from his home to a township school. The school had slab seats and a single pane of glass for a window. He attended Grove City schools and spent one school year at Delaware.
In 1861, he left his studies at Delaware and returned home working on the family farm with his father. In reality, Adam’s interest leaned more toward business than his father’s profession of farming.
In April, 1862, Adam, 22, left Central Ohio to seek his fortune mining gold at Sierra, California. He ventured west at the start of the Civil War and near the end of the California Gold Rush. When he returned to Grove City in 1864, he opened a mercantile and became a successful Grove City merchant for 27 years.
His next venture in the business world was to enter the grain and hay business, an enterprise that later became known as Johnston & Grant Lumber and Sawmill.
About 1860, a building was constructed near the railroad tracks at west Park and Front Streets. According to Earl R. Nicholson, a local historian, it was first occupied as a Methodist Episcopal Church. In the late 1880s, the congregation moved the wooden building to Park Street and Lincoln Avenue to a double lot donated by Adam Grant. They moved because trains would spook their horses and disturb worship services.
As the congregation grew, a new brick church was constructed and dedicated in 1905. The abandoned wooden building was moved from the site by Adam Grant to its original location at Park and Front. Grant remodeled it and marketed the building as the Grant Auditorium. It saw life as a theatre, roller skating rink and dance hall. Many music recitals and graduation exercises were held there.
In 1908, the building was rented by the school board for a graduation exercise and commencement service. The school board issued an invitation to a Presbyterian pastor to offer a prayer. This didn’t sit well with Grant who insisted the only way to send the graduates out on the “sea of life” was to have a good old Methodist prayer. The school board didn’t waiver in its decision and made arrangements to move the entire graduation service to the Presbyterian Church. Grant didn’t want that. In the end, Grant backed down and allowed the school program to continue at his auditorium with a Presbyterian prayer.
By 1889, Grant had secured much of the land west of the railroad which at the time was half of the entire village. He began plotting the Beulah Addition as Grove City’s first housing sub-division. As a land developer, Grant sold his housing lots for $50 to $200 each. Many of the people who built homes in the new sub-division worked in Columbus and rode his Interurban to and from work.
Grant was also instrumental in forming a fair and race meet in 1895 at Beulah Park, a community park he named after a daughter. The Grove City Fair operated as a county fair for many years offering horse races and showcasing agriculture, horticulture, farm machinery and livestock. The Franklin County Fair Association took over in 1912 and continued conducting county fairs at Beulah Park for several years before moving the fair to Hilliard in 1918.
Grant was also involved in farming. He worked 20 years as a stock broker in Franklin, Pickaway and Madison Counties, and operated a brick factory for 28 years. He was a major player in the creation of Grove City Savings Bank in 190322 and had real estate holdings in Columbus.
He also donated land in 1911 for construction of Crushed Stone Pike, a road later identified as Haughn Road.
One of his great accomplishments came in 1897 when he, along with others, organized the Grove City and Green Lawn Street Railway that operated electric Interurban cars between Greenlawn Cemetery and Grove City.
The six mile rail line connected with the Columbus street railway at Greenlawn. The round trip toll was 15 cents. He had plans for the line to eventually run south to Washington Court House but Orient was as far south as the line was ever extended.
Adam Grant was also instrumental in forming a fair and race meet in the fall of 1895 at Beulah Park, a facility he named after his daughter, Beulah Grant Campbell. The Grove City Fair operated as a county fair for many years showcasing horse races, agriculture, horticulture, farm machinery and livestock. The Franklin County Fair Association took over in 1912 conducting fairs for several years before moving to Hilliard in 1918.
Grant was also instrumental in the construction of Grove City’s first storm sewers, several roads and bridges.
The last member of the Grant family to occupy the old homestead was Ruth Sawyer Jividen, the only daughter of Relieffe Grant Sawyer and Clarence Wilbur Sawyer. Relieffe was the daughter of John Grant, Adam Grant’s step brother. After Adam’s death, the property passed to John Grant in 1919 and his daughter, Relieffe, who would live in the house until her death in 1987. When she died, the house passed to her daughter, Ruth.
Ruth’s father operated the Sawyer Dairy on the property and he provided the first pasteurized milk to Grove City residents on his dairy route. Ruth wrote in a newspaper article that she worked at her father’s dairy milking cows. She also drove tractors and operated a hay bailer on the family farm.
Ruth, 98, was born June 8, 1915 and died April 14, 2014. She was a sixth generation of Hugh Grant, Sr., and the last family member to occupy the Grant-Sawyer Home. She was a charter member of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society and many other organizations in the city. She married twice, first to Lem Seymour who died, then her second husband, Dale O. Jividen, a marriage that lasted 22 years.
This history was compiled in 2017 by James F. Hale from records and documents maintained in the archives of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, 3378-B Park St., Grove City, Ohio 43123. Other sources have been cited.
1 A Centennial Biographical History of the City of Columbus and Franklin County
2 Wikipedia, Pittsburgh History
3 Harold Windsor, Grove City historian, 1932
4 Harold Windsor, Grove City historian, 1932
5 History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, 1880
6 All of Jackson Township fell within the Virginia Military District
7 Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; Ohio History Connection
8 Ohio History Connection, Ohio History Central
9 Ohio History Connection
10 History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, 1880
11 Marilyn Gibboney, Grove City historian
12 Ohio Historical Society
13 A Brief History of State Route 104, CRM Report for ASC Group Inc.
14 Ed Lentz, Franklin County historian, Grant Looms Large in Grove City History.
15 Franklin County Deed Book F, page 154 in the Recorder’s Office
16 Charles S. Cherington, Attorney at Law, April 22, 1889
17 A Centennial Biographical History of the City of Columbus and Franklin County
18 Many Indian tribes were allies of the British in the War of 1812.
19 History of Franklin and Pickaway Counties, Ohio, 1880
20 Marilyn Gibboney, Grove City historian
21 A Centennial Biographical History of the City of Columbus and Franklin County, 1901
22 Centennial Biographical History of the City of Columbus and Franklin County, 1901