Grove City Oral History Project
The following oral history previews are part of an ongoing digital project of the Grove City Historical Commission in cooperation with the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society. Several other oral histories have been transcribed from cassette tapes from the archives of the Grove City Public Library. The complete recordings and transcribed documents can be viewed at the Grove City Library, 3959 Broadway located in the Grove City Town Center.
BOSO, Charles W.
As a youngster, Chuck remembers trips to Grove City traveling Rt. 104 to Stringtown Road before I-71 was a means of transportation. The only business on Stringtown at the time was a Certified gas station; everything else was farm land. After graduation from Bishop Ready High School in 1970, Chuck earned a degree in business and economics at Marymount College in Kansas; he received an athletic scholarship to play basketball at the college. He started his career in municipal government working for $3 an hour in 1975 for Grove City Parks and Recreation. Not a year later, he became the city’s first full-time finance director Jan. 1, 1976. As Grove City began to develop, Chuck was concerned about the city having a single water line into the city. If that line broke, the entire city would have been out of water. Under his leadership, capital improvement projects funded a new water line from Holt Road, another under I-270 and a fourth water line from U.S. Rt. 23 under the Scioto River.
BOSTIC, Dr. Leslie A.
Dr. Bostic, who once was a prison guard with a shotgun over his shoulder, is most remembered as the man who created Buckeye Boys Ranch in 1961. The Ranch located on Hoover Road in Grove City started with one building for 10 children in residence. Today, the ranch is capable of serving over 2,000 youth, each at seven different locations. Bostic, a North Carolina native, has spearheaded care for the emotionally, behaviorally and mentally disturbed children and adolescents. He has served on numerous national boards and once served as city administrator for Grove City.
BRECKENRIDGE, Marian Madeline Goldhart
Her father, Carl Goldhart, was an early town marshal in Grove City. He stood six feet four inches and had a nickname of “Abe”. Goldhart served as Grove City’s first motorcycle police officer in the 1930s. She said her father had never ridden a motorcycle until he was hired by the village. She also remembered a bus that ran from Columbus to Grove City, stopped on Columbus Street near Broadway, waiting there until it was time to return to Columbus. The bus company was the Mid-West Transit Company.
BROFFORD, Arthur Webster
Bob was born in a farm house on McKinley Avenue near San Margherita, an unincorporated neighborhood west of Columbus. Later, the family moved to Mound Street across from the Old Redbird Stadium where he has a “knot hole” pass to all of the games. He has been a lifelong resident of Franklin Township but has spend much of his time in Grove City. He married Lois File of Grove City and they became members of St. John’s Lutheran Church. Bob is recognized for his efforts to collect information and write a history of St. John’s Church. He served as the chair for the church’s 150 th celebration in 1999. He was quick to point out that St. Paul’s Lutheran Church was originally built on the site where St. John’s is today. There were originally three Lutheran congregations in Grove City. He described Grove City as a “sleepy little community” until it found itself with interstate routes on the east and north.
EESLEY, Robert (Bob)
Bob started to work in Grove City in1947 in a block building that housed Caram Chemical, located on Park Street beside the railroad tracks. Judd Perkins from California started the business. Bob was the fourth person hired. The business grew to include Caram Manufacturing (later Mid-Continental Manufacturing) Caram Chemical (later Mid-Continent Chemical). The chemical business was purchased by 3-M to get the bonding process invented by Perkins. 3-M expanded to Sunshine Drive taking over part of the old mushroom plant.
ENGLAND, William (Bill)
While a high school student, he worked part-time at the Texaco station once located at Broadway and Grove City Road. He remembered one job hauling coal for the Grove City Farmers Exchange. There was one product, Pocahontas coal that he didn’t like to deliver. It was oil-treated and messy to handle. Most homes at the time didn’t have coal chutes into the basement. Bill said he shoveled coal through basement windows. He remembered attending movies in Grove City and when he got older, he and friends drove into Columbus to go to Lowes Ohio and the RKO Palace. He also frequently attended movies at the Markham Theatre on South High Street.
Mike grew up in the Grandview area in a very tight knit family. He moved to Grove City in 1978 and remembers when the McDonalds Restaurant opened on Stringtown Road. Other early businesses when he relocated were BJ’s Dairy Dip, owned and operated by B. J. Roach; the A&W Root Beer drive in on Columbus Street and the large Rinks Department Store. His memories of the Town Center include the ability to go to the former Grove City Hardware and purchase just two nails instead of an entire box. “You can’t do that anymore,” he is quoted saying. He has also been a constant volunteer in the community first serving on the Civil Service Commission. Other volunteer efforts include the Grove City Zoning Board, Tree Commission, Keep Grove City Beautiful Committee, Friends of the Library, Library Trustee and numerous committees with the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society. He has also served in several capacities with the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and 4-H. Mike retired after 37 years with the State of Ohio. He currently is business manager for St. John’s Lutheran Church, a positions that has allowed him to know many stories about founding families who attend Grove City’s oldest congregation.
EYERMAN, Agnes A.
She started teaching in 1932 and continued for 36 years. She remembered that at one time the superintendent was also the high school principle. Ms. Eyerman said that she was once going over records at St. John’s Lutheran Church and found records that Mrs. Amalia Miller Voeller (she was the first child born in Grove City) was paid 50 cents a week to clean the church. She also remembered how many of the roads got their names. Her father was at a Columbus outdoor market when the flood of 1913 hit. His was the last vehicle to cross the Rich Street Bridge before the flood carried it away.
Joan Eyerman is a local historian actively involved in the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society. She and her late husband, Louie, were instrumental in the development of Century Village and the many annual events held there. The couple also made the first donation to the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum; a 1912 Ford Model T. Her family heritage includes the following families: Taylor, Seeds, Orders, Wade, Borror, Worthington, Haughn, Rader, Gulick, Ford, and McCord. She was also among the founding members of Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Grove City that she has attended for over 50 years. She has been a volunteer leader in 4-H for 50 years and was inducted into the 4-H Hall of Fame of Ohio in 1992.
EYERMAN, Louis Edward
Louis remembers his first farming job was on the Leithart farm at Hoover and Stringtown Road. Later, Louis made many of the farm tools he needed. He farmed and raised cattle, pigs and sheep. In 1967, he worked for UPS and retired after 20 years. He also worked at the 3-M plant in Grove City, canning glue. As a youth, his favorite pastime was playing marbles. He also built a 4-wheeled scooter using parts from a junk yard.
EVERETT, Virginia Kunz
Virginia was a career nurse who graduated from the Mt. Carmel School of Nursing. When she was younger, her father was a farmer. One farmer owned a thrashing machine and it was moved from farm to farm. All farmers in the area would work together. She remembered her mother calling in a food order to Otto Galle’s grocery. The food was picked up, cooked and delivered to the field in a pony cart. She dated her future husband, Jim, after he returned from World War II. One of his first jobs was as a photographer for Ray Ward who had a studio at Broadway and Park Street. Jim and Bill Knaff were responsible for starting a Boy Scout Troop at the Methodist Church.
FARNSWORTH, Pauline Woda
“It was a pretty rude awakening” when Pauline, 12, moved with her parents to Grove City from Columbus. She had been a student at West High School and the adjustment from city life to a “little country village” took time. In Grove City, she attended the old Jackson Building that was located at the curve on Park Street. Her single big memory was the food that was served. Her favorites included sweet potatoes, Spanish rice and doughnuts. She began playing the violin in school and continues to play today. She was also a member of the Grove City High School band when Herb Murphy served as director. She recalled marching in a parade down High Street in Columbus and the Fourth of July parades in Grove City. Her husband, John, was a veteran of World War II and she is currently a member of the VFW Auxiliary and she once volunteered with the Child Conservation League.
FERGUSON, William Lee
William Lee Ferguson is a familiar name in Grove City. He is known by friend and foe alike but his trademark is a broad smile and hearty and rich laugh. He grew up on Casa Boulevard just south of Windsor Park outside the Grove City limits. Today, he and his wife, Robin, travel about 8,500 miles a year in their recreational bus. While still having a permanent address in Grove City, they plan to travel for five years before they settle in Bonita Springs, FL. Bill has served as a member of the South-Western City School’s Board of Education, a member of Grove City Council and was once a candidate for mayor of Grove City.
FLEMING, Virginia Ann
Virginia recalls stories as a young child about Indians living near her grandparent’s house near Big Darby Creek. Her grandfather was friends with them and allowed them to camp on his property near his corn patch. Her grandchildren have found many arrowheads and other artifacts in the area where the Indians camped. That home place was on Biggert Road. Her grandmother also saw Abraham Lincoln when he was president. She also recalled her father built a brick house that had holes in the wall allowing a rifle to fire at Indians when they were on the warpath.
GALLE, Otto Albert
Albert was born in 1895 at Harrisburg, Ohio. He attended three different schools including Pennsylvanee (today known as Darbydale), Harrisburg and Green Hill School. He started in the grocery business at 12 working for an uncle, Louie Remo. Later, he and his wife, Edna Gladman Galle, operated one of three grocery stores in Grove City. Galle butchered his own beef. He said his competition was Otto Grossman and Bob Grant. At times when customers didn’t have cash, they would barter with eggs, butter and lard.
GANTZ, Wilbur Roy
Wilbur recalled how the Gantz family purchased acreage in Jackson Township in the mid-1800s. The Albert Gantz family operated a dairy farm with nearly 100 head of cows and delivered milk on two separate routes into Columbus. They also hauled feed to area farms as far away as Galloway. The descendants today are scattered around the world working in agriculture, doctors, dentists, ministers, school teachers and an attorney.
Leroy grew up on a farm in Jackson Township and worked farms as an adult but he is best known as a barber in the Town Center. He recalled when White Road, where he lives today, was once called Breckenridge Road that extended all the way to Rt. 23 (High Street) crossing the Clickenger Bridge that spanned the Scioto River. The bridge was washed away in the 1913 flood. He also recalled a dairy farm operated by Louie Keller near the Burger King restaurant known as Brookside Dairy. There was another dairy on White Road near Clark Drive operated by Thelma Baumgartner. Leroy attended Barber School then taught the skill for two years before opening his first shop on Sullivant Avenue. He built his shop in Grove City in 1964 and moved his business here.
Paul grew up around the old Greyhound dog racing track in Grove City. That track opened in the mid-1920s on ground now occupied by the OLPH School. The land the track occupied was once a large apple orchard and many trees were cut down to make room for the racing venture. Paul said there was a canning factory on Columbus Street that used to can apples. He also indicated that it is believed that Al Capone was once involved in Greyhound racing in Central Ohio. Paul said his mother was the seventh generation of the White family which crossed the ocean on the Mayflower. Paul continues to talk at length about local history and people.
HAIMERL, Diane and Frank
The Haimerls are recognized for their restoration of one the oldest homes in the Grove City Town Center. The Corzelius house was a challenge of the heart according to Diane. The couple purchased the house in 1998. This was the first time the house had been out of the Corzelius family in over 100 years. Diane had several stories about the family. She said she was told the family would sit around a fireplace telling or reading stories. The family loved flowers and had extensive gardens outside.
HAUGHN, George Malcolm
George was born at his parent’s home on South Broadway in 1923. His father operated a large dairy farm and sold milk door-to-door in Grove City and Columbus. George, or Bud as he was known, was only four when his father died. His mother later married William Carl. During the Depression, his mother lost the farm to a Cleveland bank that held the mortgage. As a youngster he carried the Columbus Citizen and remembered that the newspaper would at times print on pink paper and the Dispatch would print on buff paper. George and friends would go through the community dump where the Lutheran church is located for wood crates. He and friends would put a roller skate under a piece of 2×4 and skate on Park Street. George also served on city council and as mayor. He is responsible for promoting the Grove City Community Fair in the early 1970s. He lost reelection because he supported an income tax. The tax has since provided the city with income making it one of the fastest growing towns in Ohio.
KOEHLER, Eva May and Orville A.
Eva recalled going to market in Columbus on the Interurban riding with friends Mary and Catherine Herschman who operated a beauty shop on Broadway. It wasn’t uncommon for people returning from Columbus to have a basket full of vegetables and burlap bags with live chicken and turkey heads sticking out the top. She also recalled that Interurban service to Orient was discontinued before the line between Grove City and Columbus ceased to operate. She recalled a lot of home brewed beer was made in Grove City and if you wanted whiskey you had to go to Urbancrest.
LOTZ, Flossie A.
Flossie was known around Grove City as the operator of probably the largest boarding house in town and catered to people affiliated with Beulah Park. The three floor brick house was located on Broadway at Lotz Drive and was once better known as the El Nor Inn. She provided an evening meal with the weekly rent and renters were allow to use the kitchen for other times of the day as long as the kitchen was cleaned. Her husband, Glen, was a home builder who constructed many of the houses in the area. She remembered going to and from school in a horse drawn wagon. One year, her father told her she would have to quit school. She objected and he found her a place where she could earn room and board to continue schooling.
LOTZ, WILLIAM F. Sr.
Bill is the son of Flossie and Glen Lotz. He grew up in the Lotz home that had nine bedrooms and two additional bedrooms in the attic area. When the races returned, the family moved to the attic and rented the nine bedroom on the first and second floors. As a youngster, he remembers playing at the Greyhound race track. The building was eventually torn down but a large concrete slab remained. He and his friends put up basketball hoops on the slab and created a new play area. He also hung out around Beulah Park as a youngster and in later years owned horses and raced at the track. One horse in particular, Jenny Jo, raced 50 times and won 15 races. Bill retired as the chief building officer for Grove City and later was elected a Jackson Township trustee.
NEFF, Richard L.
Dick, born in 1923, lived most of his childhood in Grove City in a small four bedroom home with the only heat coming from a kitchen and living room stove. He said he didn’t know what an inside toilet was until he was 16. He started working at age nine and later delivered milk in Grove City for Louis Keller who had a large dairy farm between Stringtown and White roads. In 1942, Neff went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad as a brakeman. At that time, crews worked seven days a week, eight hours a day without overtime or vacations. In 1943 he was drafted into the Army serving with a bomber squadron in Italy.
MUELLER, Anna Baer
Anna was a former telephone operator in Grove City. Her grandfather, Henry Witteman Sr., and her uncle, Henry Witteman Jr. were both butchers who sold beef, pork, lamb and calves at Central Market in Columbus. Her uncle later opened a shop in Grove City. Her Grandfather Mueller had a farm in Franklin Township where the River Bend community is today. Her father operated a blacksmith shop at Broadway and Dutch Pike (Grove City Road). After his death, her mother rented the shop to H. G. Grossman where he sold automobiles.
PATZER, Carl Anton
Carl has many memories of Grove City including one where he and his sisters were attending the theater on Broadway. One of his sisters said something ran across her feet and asked what it was. Carl replied it was just a rat. With that, the girls were ready to go home. In the 1950s, Carl was in the military assigned to the Fifth Weather Recon at McClellan AFB in California. His unit flew B-29 and B-50 aircraft to monitor weather in the Pacific area and was airborne when an aerial atomic bomb was dropped over Bikini Island. He remembered the blast lit the early morning sky like high noon. He was present for 20 other atomic ground blasts. When he retired, he was co-owner of the Lockbourne Farmers Exchange. Carl’s father, Anton, was a two term Grove City mayor.
Born in Franklin Township, Jack has spent his entire life in the Grove City area. He attended the old Briggsdale Elementary School then Starling and Central High Schools. Jack recalls being with a group of high school friends when they heard the radio announcement that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor; it was the first time any of them had ever heard of that city in Hawaii. When he turned 18, Jack joined the Navy and was assigned to the USS Ingraham destroyer near the end of the war. In 1950, Jack married Ruth who lived in Harrisburg at the time, but was a native of Portsmouth. They met on a blind date. Career wise, he worked twice for the Grove City Lumber Yard and also worked for George Milligan, owner of a large turkey farm on Hoover Road where Grove City High School stands today. He remembered one harsh winter that killed almost all of the turkeys on the property. [The turkey farm once housed between 3,000 and 5,000 birds.] He also worked for Searman’s Hatchery on the north side of Columbus Street at Haughn Road and he also worked at the Eberhart dairy.
Ray was born on a family farm on Kropp Road and attended a one room township school where Pleasant View Middle School is today. When he graduated, he started working for Ohio Cartage Trucking hauling food and in 1941 he was drafted into the Army. He was assigned to a Howitzer field artillery unit and sent to Germany. While in Germany, he qualified for a commando unit known today as the Army Rangers. After the military he worked for the Grove City Farmers Exchange and also did some farming. He joined the Grove City Police Department in 1952 and advanced to the grade of captain. He remembered before radios were in cars, there was a pole at Park and Broadway with a light that blinked when triggered by a telephone operator. Calls for the police were dispatched that way. The officer on duty would stop at the pole and answer a phone and receive instructions.
SEESE, Betty Cain
Betty’s great grandparents emigrated from Germany arriving at Baltimore. From there they traveled overland and rode the Ohio Erie Canal settling on a 100 acre farm off Grove City Road. Her Grandmother Emma Landes was one of the few women in Franklin County to have a telephone on a farm. The party line had eight subscribers who spent a deal of time listening in on private conversations. The practice was referred to as “rubbering”. She also recalled the ice box, forerunner to the refrigerator. It has a large block of ice at top to keep perishables cool delivered by Russell Darnell. The cook stove was either coal or wood fired.
SEESE, Jack Ellworth
Jack was born in Hebron, Ohio and moved to Jackson Township as a youth. In 1939, he delivered the Columbus Dispatch and won a contest that enabled him to go to the World Fair in New York City. He remembered traveling 3-4 days to New York by train as a guest of the newspaper. Another memory was carrying rocks in his pocket for protection if anyone bothered him. His first job as an adult was with the Bell System from which he retired; he also had a side business, Seese Electric. As a contractor electrician, he worked on many new homes, the 3-M plant, Doctors Hospital and the fire station on Broadway.
STAHL, Dr. Martin L.
Dr. Stahl, superintendent for South-Western City Schools for 20 years, grew up as a “farm boy” in Putnam County, Ohio. His wife, Martha, was in charge of the gifted student program for 19 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in just two and one half years at Bluffton College where he also played basketball. As a teacher, his courses included social studies, physical education and coaching. By 1957 he had earned a master’s degree and his first job as a superintendent at Wainsfield, Ohio. From there he earned his doctorate at the Ohio State University. He became superintendent of South-Western in 1967. During his tenure he opened two new high schools, closed a school in Urbancrest, he was forced to suspend sports play for a time between Grove City and Westland, passed a bond issue to expand Paul C. Hayes Tech School and its programs. At the time, there were very few vocational schools in Ohio. He also negotiated the “Win Win Agreement” that protected the district’s tax base on the Westside of Columbus. Dr. Stahl also spoke about snow days, the blizzard of 1978 and the school year Westland and Grove City High Schools had to close because of a natural gas shortage. Dr. Stahl also spoke with pride of the student gifted program and the merit scholars. One mentioned was merit scholar Richard Cordray, the current director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau with the federal government.
Larry was a professional baseball player and scout before he retired. He remembered his grandparents operating a dairy farm just outside Grove City. His father, because of Beulah Park, went into the feed business in addition to farming. Larry’s job was to mow and bale hay. When he was 10 years old he was driving a tractor into town and no one thought anything about it. As a youth, he worked walking horses at the race track earning enough money to buy his own clothes and be somewhat self-sufficient. That was back when gasoline was 15 cents a gallon. He credits his father with advancing an interest in baseball and sports. An uncle also had a team called the Grove City Dodgers, a semi-pro team that played on the east side of Haughn Road near Voeller Circle. Thomas played Little League, Babe Ruth League, American Legion, Grove City High School and Ohio University teams. Larry play professional ball with the Red Socks and later managed the team and ended his career as a scout.
Don, a long-time member of the Franklin County Board of Elections, remembers stories about Beulah Park that have been lost in time. Jessie Lawless Carpenter, the Beulah Park laundry lady, lived on Grant Avenue and was excited when the races returned. It generated extra income for her family. She would collect saddle cloth numbers after races, return home and wash them and have them back at the track by the next day. Don said it would have been difficult to count how many people worked at the track and had great respect for the track’s majority owner, Mr. Dienst. He also said that Greyhound racing didn’t shut down because of a lack of interest in the sport. A new state law on wagering allowed bets at a horse track but outlawed wagering on dogs. This story contains much information on early Grove City.
WEINHART, Marvin Eugene
Marvin remembers living on Big Run Road when he was about three years old. That was the same time the road was covered with gravel and tar poured on top replacing the dirt roadway. He also recalled moving from Big Run to an 80-acre farm his father rented for $550 a year when he was in the first grade. The farm was located in the area of the Kroger store at Rt. 665 and Hoover Road. After school, he was drafted into the Army and trained at Fort Knox to be a tank gunner. He later cross trained and became a bakery cook after six weeks training at Leitersburg, Germany. After military life, he returned to Grove City and was called by George Iftner to begin working for the Grove City Lumber Yard. Marvin declined saying he wanted to work at the Deshler Hotel in Columbus as a chef. Iftner won the conversation and Marvin began his career at the lumber yard.
Paul served as Grove City mayor during the Depression era. Revenue dropped and he and his assistant had to perform much of the work that might have been contracted. People who worked as general labor had it hard, farmers did much better. Paul was the chairman of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) for this area and coordinated a sanitary sewer system, creation of sidewalks and curbs. The sidewalks and curbs had to be “sold” to residents. The cost was 25 cents a foot. During the 1952 Centennial held at Beulah Park, Harry Shepherd came to run the harness races at the track. He was from Driving Park in Columbus.