Old Salem Church of Grove City – Part 2

(The following was written by Mrs. D. Tyler, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

In 1924, Rev. Eugene Drake, a Baptist Minister, and his daughter, Madeline (now Mrs. James Hutchinson), were quite concerned with the little church on the corner being closed. So they sat in front of the church one afternoon and prayed for divine guidance in opening the church, and they felt they received their answer. Following this, they contacted a Rev. Gilfillen, who was a Methodist minister, to intercede with the Methodist Church to allow Rev. Drake to open the church again, but under the Baptist name. Rev. Drake and his daughter unboarded the windows, cleaned the church and got it ready for “meetings” once again. Rev. Drake served the church until his death in 1927.

At Rev. Drake’s death, Rev. Grover C. Gilfillen became Salem’s pastor and the church reverted back to the Methodists. Rev. Gilfillen was minister from 1928 to 1931. He now lives in Columbus.

On October 13th, 1928, sparks from trash being burned by employees of the Midland Power & Light Company ignited the wood shingles of the church roof. The fire roared out of control, burning the church to the ground. The only thing that was saved was the piano that was carried out by Mr. W.S. Brown, Mr. Lawrence Wells and possibly some others.

In 1929, Mr. W.S. Brown was responsible for rebuilding the present Salem Church (minus the addition). Due to the efforts of Mr. Brown, the church received $1,100 in damages from the Power Company. He was paid $25.00 per week, by the church, to work full-time at rebuilding. Most of the gravel, lumber and cement was donated free to the church. The seats that were placed in the new building were old streetcar seats, purchased for $1 a piece. It is interesting to know that a team of mules was used to dig out the basement and, with the aid of a block and tackle, to place the bell in the bell tower. Incidentally, the church bell weighs 700 pounds.

In December 1929, a mortgage was put on the church for $1,800 to pay off the debt of the new construction. Trustees at the time of the building of the new church were H.T. Lambert, W.S. Brown, William Tyler, E.D. Rhyan, T.H. Martindale and A. Basmajian. H.T. Lambert received his local Preacher’s License while attending Salem Church, but was never its pastor. Rev. Lambert now pastors a church in Flushing, Ohio, and expects to retire next June.

In the 1930s Salem Church struggled along, very short on both money and attendance. They were fortunate to have ten or fifteen in Sunday school and at one time, we learned, there were only three families attending the church. Being on a circuit Salem Church only had services once a month for a while.

The next decade brought the greatest changes in the history of Salem Church. With Rev. C.A. Moore as our Minister, Salem Church, ushering in 1950, was to get the first feeling of “growing pains”. Since the Sunday School had doubled in attendance and many more new members were added to the church membership, the small church rapidly outgrew its facilities.

Old Salem Church of Grove City – Part 1

(The following was written by Mrs. D. Tyler, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The Old Salem Church was situated in Jackson Township, Franklin County, Ohio. The ground for this house of worship was given by Mr. Edward Marsh, A.D. 1798, (this was corrected to 1843), for burial and religious purposes. The original structure was built of logs.

Improvements by boarding over mark its present condition. It was remodeled and rededicated in 1859, by the Rev. William Doughty, pastor on the Harrisburg Circuit. The parents of the writer were among the first settlers of Franklin County; they have related how anxious every one had been to donate something toward its construction. Nearly all the landowners in the surroundings were willing to cut down trees, hew the logs, make shingles or lend a helping hand in some way. The only cash outlay required was to pay for nails, window glass, and sash. The seats were simply slabs with strong wooden legs, and with no backs. The children sat erect, swinging their feet back and forth in unison with the old Methodist hymns and tunes.

I presume today sermons would seem tedious and uninteresting, if we were to sit on those same benches. Our only illuminations were of tallow candles, made and donated by the good people of the community. The pulpit resembled that of a large store box, open at one end, if the preacher happened to be tall in stature, we could see his head and shoulders, otherwise the top of his head only. The following are names of several pastors who have served this charge: Brothers Michner, Hopper, Green and Doughty. The Reverend H.K. Miller is the present Pastor. To the sorrow of many of our aged members, it is whispered at the opening and closing of each conference year that the little country church should be discarded. Many of us can say we love the dear old church, for it was the last spot we laid our eyes on our loved ones.

Salem Church had its good years and its lean years as indicated in 1917, when the church was closed. Salem Church was locked and the windows boarded up. The reason for his closing is now unknown, but this must have been a sad sight for the many people who had loved this church in years past. The church remained closed for seven years.

Ministers were appointed from 1917 to 1924, but, as Salem Church was closed, the ministers served only the other churches on the circuit.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry).

History of Briggsdale

(The following was written by Jill Billman Royer in the Southwest Messenger (2003), includes material from the obituary of Louisiana Briggs, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Briggsdale, located in Franklin Township along the 3C Highway, going north from Grove City to Columbus, received its name the same way many early Ohio settlements did. The community was named for the Briggs family, which was one of the prominent families of the area.

Edward Briggs, a soldier in the War of 1812, immigrated to Ohio for New Jersey in 1816, but the family’s ancestry is tied to England, Ireland and Holland. Edward’s sons were Nicholas, John, and Henry. They eventually bought a large tract of land in the vicinity now known as Briggsdale.

Nicholas Briggs was born February 26th, 1807. His son Joseph M. Briggs was born November 25th, 1833 in Briggsdale. He married Louisiana Ransburgh who was born in Madrid, Missouri, the daughter of John and Nancy Ransburgh. Her mother died when Louisiana was 14 and she was sent north to live with relatives who lived near Briggsdale. She later attended Ohio Wesleyan University, as did Joseph. They were married in 1867 while he was still a captain in the Union Army.. Joseph was a large landowner and widely known. He was elected to the position of Franklin County Commissioner in 1880, serving more than six years with his re-election. He was also postmaster from 1887-1901, promoted the construction of the interurban railway that ran from Columbus to Grove City, was instrumental in building the United Methodist Church in 1901 and other civic organizations.

Joseph and Louisiana had seven children. Mrs. Briggs became known as “grandma” by the community. She was fond of people and her house was a landmark, the old homestead that was situated far back from the highway at 1575 Harrisburg Pike. She disliked publicity and was shy about one incident for which she was remembered. Being born in Missouri and her mother in Louisiana, she still had southern feelings about the Civil War, but her husband had been in the Union Army. She was the first woman in this vicinity to decorate the graves of the confederate soldiers buried in Camp Chase Cemetery. This took a great deal of courage. To guard her appearance she would wait until dark, don a lace veil, go to the cemetery and toss the flowers over the stone wall. She was known for years as the “Veiled Lady of Camp Chase”.

Louisiana lived to be 100 years old and five of her. They were W. Irving and Claude Briggs, mrs. Lewis Morehead, Mrs. Arthur DeVinnish and Mrs. Merritt B. Cheney. Joseph Briggs “Uncle Henry” was also a township trustee with an affiliation to the Republican and Whig parties, but in 1860 he changed his turn and cast his vote for Abraham Lincoln.

In early years, the Union Methodist Church was located on the north side of Frank Road where Gantz Road ends. The cemetery is still located there. This land was owned by Jason M. Briggs. In 1901, Joseph and other trustees worked very hard and the new United Methodist Church was built on Harrisburg Pike for $5,000.

History of Harrisburg – Part 2

(The following was written by Lillian Swysgood McKinley and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

An overall picture of the village in the early twentieth century would include these early residents and business people.

  • There were the groceries, five of them, owned and operated by Larry Seifert, Frank Chenoweth, Charles H. Copeland, C.O. Smith, Henry Manning and Jerry Chenoweth.
  • A hardware and buggy store operated by Fred A. Chamberlin.
  • The Tin Shop furnished work for Hayes Brown.
  • The physicians were Dr. George Helmick, Dr. Will McKinley and Dr. James (Jim) McKinley. Earlier there were Dr. Postle and Dr. Rofey. Later came Dr. Charles Smith.
  • The undertaker, Lon Douglas, followed by Smith and Norris.
  • The plasters were Jacob Snyder and his sons, also his brother “Monk”.
  • Jake Snyder was the Sunday school superintendent for many years.
  • The barbers were Jake Seward and Hiram G. McKinley.
  • The cobblers were George Six and Ed H. Parks.
  • L. T. “Lafe” Shepherd and his sons John and “Budge” were the harness makers.
  • The paperhanger was Uriah Swygerd. He also had a greenhouse.
  • Early liverymen were Joe Murphy, Joe Gantz and Lou Potter.
  • The superintendent of schools was Joe McCarty, and later a Mr. Howard.
  • Carpenters were Ed Wood and Frank Alexander.
  • The well cleaner was Fount Ballard.
  • The blacksmiths were Joe Smith, Seymour Lane and Henry Wright.

With the coming of the Citizens telephone, Harrisburg had its own exchange. Originally Grove City served the village. Employees were needed. Lorena Shepherd and Mrs. Caldwell were the first “hello” girls. Faye Martin was a repairman.

Mrs. Swysgood had a hotel “The Swysgood House” on High Street. The earlier hotel had been the United States on the southeast corner of Columbus and High. This building burned in 1915.

At one time, including a jug saloon, there were five in the village. A jug saloon was in connection with a grocery store. The drinks were poured into the glass directly from the jug.

In 1900, there were two thriving saloons. One operated by Jacob Galle, stood at the northeast corner of Columbus and High streets, now the Harrisburg bank has erected a building on this lot. The other saloons stood on the eastside of High Street. The saloon was owned by Willis Poulson, son of Andy, who was mentioned previously as having helped erect the church. This lot is now occupied by the Bell Telephone Company. The saloon building was moved across the street and is now owned by Mr. Gochenour.

History of Harrisburg – Part 1

(The following was written by Lillian Swysgood McKinley and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The fertile Valley of Big Darby Creek proved an attractive place for natives of Maryland who had previously settled in Pike County, Ohio. In 1799 Thomas and Elijah Chenoweth each purchased 200 acres of land, a part of which later became the village of Harrisburg. Other early settlers were The Fosters and Kerns.

These rugged pioneers were followers of Wesley and hoped to keep their religion in their habitation. Religious meetings were first held in the log house of Thomas Chenoweth. About 1810, Rev. John Collins and James Quinn held a series of meetings attended by the early settlers eager to keep alive the spark of their religious fervor. These meetings, which formed the foundation of the present Church organization, continued in the homes for several years. Doubtless many meetings were held in this old church with hardly room for all. Could we only have a picture of the band of worshipers – their church the one thing that took away the monotony of their weeks labor, dressed in their homespun garments and wearing hand-made boots.

In 1836 a village was laid out and named Harrisburg. The class had now grown quite large, too large for the small homes, a meeting house was needed. After due consideration and much figuring a church of brick was built. Its dimensions were forty by fifty feet.

Only a few years after the erection of this church, Harrisburg became a thriving village. A record mail delivery was made between Columbus and Cincinnati nine and one-half hours, a record never broken until the coming of the steam engine. The Columbus and Harrisburg Pike had been completed. The stagecoach was making regular trips, changing horses at White Hall, later known as the United States Hotel, Harrisburg’s thriving hostelry. The little settlement was incorporated in 1851 with Dr. J. Helmick its first mayor.

Most social events were the activities of the church. Most people were born, lived, work and died in the same locality, among people they knew and saw everyday. Their employment or business was in the community.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry).

Georgesville Local History and Newspaper Clippings – Part 2

(The following was taken from an article in the Southwest Messenger by author Jill Billman Royer – Grove City Record, July, 1966, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

Georgesville originally was home to a large population of Wyandot Indians and Robert Wright, who owned a blacksmith shop in 1840, told his descendants of many visits by the Native Americans to his shop for the repair of their rifles, axes and knives.

A large settlement from Pennsylvania came to the area in the 1830s including one of the first wagon makers in Pleasant Township, James Bradfield.

At the turn of the century the town was a bustling center of rural life. It had seven groceries, two blacksmith shops, a post office, a railroad depot, a gristmill, several churches, and a one-room house.

By 1966, the town had dwindled to 100-150 people living in the town. Oliver Goldhart owned a small general store with two gasoline pumps in front. That was the only business in the little unincorporated town. Two churches were open for services and a small tavern was just outside of town where men have to talk, play cards and have a few beers.

When word came out that Georgesville would be completely covered by water, when the $31 million dollar Big Darby Dam was built, citizens were very upset and asked many questions. “Do you think they will take my home? Will they move the cemetery? Will they take the church?”

Oliver Goldhart expressed is feeling this way. “It sure makes me feel bad. Small towns are good place to grow up. Out here when you’ve got troubles, everybody flocks in to help you. Most of the residents are second and third generation residents.” The people are nostalgic and sad. They were angry because they had been in a state of limbo since the government announced the Big Darby Dam project more than three years ago.


Georgesville Local History and Newspaper Clippings – Part 1

(The following was taken from an article in the Southwest Messenger by author Jill Billman Royer – Grove City Record, July, 1966, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

“Georgesville is a village of hill and dale where only the labors of years prevail and the railroad is swung from hill to hill.  Above the river so clear and still. For the Big and Little Darby unite. Below the twin bridges sustained all right. Of all the picturesque towns, you will find nothing that compares with Georgesville.”

The author of the above poem is unknown; but it was found in the printed church history of the Georgesville Methodist Church, also known as Dyer Chapel, published in 1951. Dyer Chapel was the first church constructed in Georgesville, originally erected as a wooden structure in 1875 for the cost of $1,800 and was named in honor of his chief promoter, William Dyer.

Georgesville was never Incorporated, yet the community is believed to be as old as any town in Franklin County. One of William Dyer’s ancestors, John Dyer is credited with being among the first settlers in the area of Georgesville soon after the turn of the nineteenth century.

Although Mr. Spencer and his son-in-law Osborn, are thought to have settled near Georgesville in the same year Franklinton was settled (1797). In fact the Rev. James Hoge, from the Presbyterian Church in Franklinton, visited the town periodically to conduct the first church services in the homes of John Biggart and Thomas Roberts.

Roberts served as Georgesville’s first postmaster and is credited with “laying out” the town in 1816. Some official histories of Georgesville credit its name to a majority of men with names of George inhabiting the town. Rumor has it that George Spencer, George Lambert, George Osborn, and George Sullivant name the town after themselves. Before it became known as Georgesville the area was referred to as “The Farms of Darby” for its proximity to the Little and Big Darby Creeks.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry).

History of Galloway, Ohio – Part 3

(The following was recorded from memory by Myrtle Brooks Burnside with the help of George Lavely, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

This same summer the railroad company built a station and ticket office. My father, Wells J. Brooks was the first ticket agent, selling the first tickets to Columbus. All the work of course, fell to the ticket agent, and I assisted in this work, such as receiving and sending freight, making out way bills and selling tickets.

Following the completion of my father’s house in the Summer Of 1872, the same carpenters contracted for and started the building of the Methodist Church. They were David Deffenbaugh, Wallace Peddicord and Collier Burkey. The next Improvement was a small house with one room attached for dry goods, built by Martin Suver. This was opposite the Methodist Church. A third dwelling was next built and occupied by George Ray, his wife and Mr. Ray’s niece, Lizzie. One room in the house was used as a grocery and post office. Mr. Ray was appointed postmaster. This house stood where the present Township House stands.

The Ray’s were followed by the Neer family, consisting of Mr. and Mrs. William Neer and their two children, Kerry and Frank. Into the Neer family came the first child born in Galloway, Nellie Neer. There were no modern houses here until Dr. D.B. Peters built a large Brick house by the railroad. Next, I believe, came the John Felton family and their son Joe was the first male child born in Galloway.

For many years there was no school here but the pupils were forced to walk through all the mud and snow in the winter months over what they called, “Frog Pond”, on Bukey Road. Many a day, children were forced to sit in their wet clothes and muddy shoes. Then, finally, a two-room schoolhouse was built in Galloway.

Mrs. Busby-Postle was the first teacher. The first minister of the Methodist Church was Rev. Cherrington, this being one of either three or four churches held by him. Four evangelists from Columbus often held revival services, their names were Dunbar, Weaner, Webb and Rev. Rusk. Some years later the present United Brethren Church was built next to the cemetery. From then on, Galloway grew gradually and other business places came into existence.

Mrs. Smith and Mr Galloway drained the land, first by making a “V’ shaped trough. This trough was inverted and placed in a ditch. This really helped a great deal as in some places a boat could be navigated easily. Later very wide and deep ditches were dug, and there was running water in them most of the year.

The railroad changed hands and then was known as the I. B. & W. So many accidents occurred, people were afraid to ride on it, and spoke of it as the “I better walk” railroad, which indeed seemed the only safe way. The accidents were often due to the fact that the trainmen were obliged to work from 14 to 18 hours a day and many times I went to sleep while on duty. Later the railroad was sold to the BIg Four Company. Todd Galloway gave the land and the franchise to the New York Central Railroad to build a railroad with the stipulation that a passenger train would stop once a day traveling in each direction.

From 1872 to September 1922, I lived in Galloway or nearby. There might be other items of historical value, but these I have mentioned will probably be sufficient to acquaint the present generation with the beginnings and historical progress of the village of Galloway.

History of Galloway, Ohio – Part 2

(The following was recorded from memory by Myrtle Brooks Burnside with the help of George Lavely, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

Previous to this the surveying had been finished for the Cincinnati, Sandusky and Cleveland Railroad. Within 1872, The work was completed. What is now Galloway was then a clearing. As soon as a plat of the new town could be made, my father began making preparations for the building of his house, which stood on the site of the present home of Mrs. Samantha Smith, widow of the late William Smith, a son of Roseline Smith.

It was difficult to obtain carpenters in the country at this time, as farming was the chief industry. My father upon learning that two carpenters had contracted to build the trestle over the little creek just west of here, obtained their services. They were David Deffenbaugh and Wallace Peddicord. I accompanied my father on this trip where he hoped to engage them. We went east of here about a mile through dense woods, and found them hewing great trees for the trestle. They were engaged to build the house in the summer Of 1872, after completing the trestle.

The lumber used in this house was hauled from Columbus by my father with teams. The sand for the plastering was obtained from Big Darby, several miles from here. This house stood until about ten years ago when it was razed and replaced by Mrs. Smith’s house.

For a time there was much indecision about the naming of the town. It was finally decided to call it Galloway after Samuel Galloway who was the partner of Roseline Smith in the ownership and clearing of this land. Smithville was mentioned many times. After the large tracts of tmber were cleared and the land drained with tile made by Clinton D. Postle, Galloway became a very large shipping point for livestock and grain.

Roseline Smith and my father built the first warehouse, using the rear for storage of grain, except corn, the corn being taken direct to the cars, as shipping shelled corn was unknown in those days. The front of this building was used as a grocery by my father. This building was also erected in the summer Of 1872. There were three or four sawmills cutting lumber at one time in the vicinity of Galloway.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry).


History of Galloway, Ohio – Part 1

(The following was recorded from memory by Myrtle Brooks Burnside with the help of George Lavely, and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the authors.)

The military grant in this area was in 1887, $1 per acre. Some purchased large sections. People lived in this vicinity as early as 1852 in log cabins. As I was the first child who lived in what is now Galloway, I remember quite a number of event of events that probably would be of much interest, if I had the time to relate them.

Several years after Roseline Smith with her family, had moved into what was known as the woods, which was something less than a mile north of what is now known as Galloway, my father, Nells J. Brooks with my mother and myself moved near the home of Roseline Smith; Mrs. Smith being my father’s sister. This move was made in February 1872, just 50 years ago.

The ambition of Roseline Smith and Samuel Galloway was to have a town here for the accommodation of the farmers of the surrounding county where they could sell their grain and avoid the distance to Columbus and where they could also get produce for themselves.

The roads being impassable many times, slabs and sawdust from the sawmill were used to repair them. This was done by alternating layers of sawdust with layers of slabs, thereby making very good roads. As much hauling was done over them, they needed replenishing often, which was not difficult, is there was much material at hand. After reaching the National Road, there was a good pike. It may seem strange to the younger generation to try to realize that it took two-and-a-half to three hours to travel from the National Road to Galloway.

In the winter time Mr. and Mrs. Smith would start very early for Columbus, if the weather was cold, in order to get through before the fall. They traveled in a large spring wagon and would bring back great quantities of groceries, dry goods, drugs such as quinine and other ague cures. The ague was very bad because of the swampy conditions of the land. The woodcutters gave them large orders for drugs.

After a day of hurried shopping they would start for home, find a team of oxen awaiting them where they left the National Road. The two oxen together with the two horses hitched to their spring wagon, would finally get them home after pulling them through mud which sometimes reached the hubs.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry).