Businesswoman Eileine Simmons, 91 at the time, was the first grand marshal for the newly organized 1990 Grove City Arts in the Alley Parade. Grove City hosted parades in past years but a large parade had not been held since the Grove City Community Fair Board, later known as the Grove City Festival Committee, ceased operation.
“It’s an honor,” she said being selected as parade marshal. “It’s an easy job. All I have to do is smile and wave and sit in a car. I love it because I love Grove City.” Her parade featured 100 units, a military A-7 flyover of jet bombers and four high school marching bands.
Mrs. Simmons and her husband came to Grove City in the 1930s when the population was about 1,200. She was an individual who always praised Grove City. She owned Heleine’s, a women’s and children’s apparel store, for 18 years. In 1970, she became the first woman to serve on Grove City Council.
She was always a big high school band booster. When the Grove City Greyhound marching band performed at the Rose Bowl, she raised $150 making and selling crocheted doilies to help with expenses. She had been making doilies since she was 10. This effort also provided her with national recognition when she appeared on ABC News the day of the Rose Bowl Parade.
James F. Hale – 2000
Pauline Woda Farnsworth, born on the Hilltop, moved to Grove City at age 12 with a love of music which prompted her, after retirement, to purchase a violin and take refresher classes to enjoy making music again. Farnsworth has schoolyard memories from the Jackson Township Junior High School. She remembers lunch items like baked sweet potatoes, Spanish rice and doughnuts. “My favorite time, I think, was lunch,” she says. Farnsworth says her future husband lived just a few doors from her childhood home. She was only 12 at the time, but she had made up her mind he was the man for her. John and Farnsworth didn’t date until she was a junior, and he was a senior on the football team. After John returned from World War II, they married in 1945.
By James F. Hale for Discover Magazine
Born in Grove City, William F. Lotz, Sr. spent much of his life as a city and township civil servant, also serving as an elected Jackson Township trustee.
Lotz, who goes by Bill, is well-known for his years as a Grove City zoning officer and a Jackson Township trustee. He was raised in one of Grove City’s largest homes still standing at the southeast corner of Broadway and Lotz Drive. The nine-bedroom house was a hub of activity, especially during race season at Beulah Park. His mother, Flossie, rented rooms to jockeys, trainers and others associated with the racing industry. The house, once known as the el Nor Inn, was known for comfort and great food. His mother served lunch and dinner to the boarders who rented rooms on the first and second floors.
By James F. Hale for Discover Magazine
Grove City once had a mushroom factory located on Franklin St. near the end of Sunshine Place on the east side of the railroad tracks. The site is not far from the present day First Presbyterian Church, which was a farm field in the 1940s. Today the site of the mushroom factory holds the remains of the old 3-M building.
According to Grove City resident William Cain, brother of Betty Seese, the factory was co-owned by Charles Donnelly, Sr. and another man whose last name was Ducher. Cain, now 90, worked at the factory while a student at Jackson Township/Grove City High School during World War II. He was a classmate of Donnelly’s son, Charles (Chuck) Donnelly, Jr. The Donnellys, Cain recalled, lived on Demorest Road.
Cain said that a railroad car stacked full of horse manure would pull up behind the factory. The manure would be unloaded and sterilized before being used to grow the mushrooms. He said the work was difficult due to the smell.
Cain recalled that the mushrooms would sprout up overnight and had to be harvested every day. After high school, Cain served in the Air Force and later graduated from Otterbein College. He is retired from the Ohio Bell Telephone Company.
Donnelly graduated from Otterbein College and served his career in the Air Force, rising to the rank of general. He was a fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and in 1981 was named commander of the 5th Air Force and all U.S. Forces in Japan and Korea with headquarters in Yokota Air Base, Japan. In 1984, he became commander in chief of all U.S. and NATO air forces in Europe with headquarters in Ramstein Air Base, West Germany. Among his medals is the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He died in 1994 in Washington, D.C.
By Janet Shailer
We would like to respond to our recent Facebook post and the comments on Harrisburg (Mudsock), Darbydale (Little Pennsylvania), and Orient (Morgan’s Station). We appreciate all comments and are willing to make changes or corrections as needed when documentation is provided. We encourage comments by email to firstname.lastname@example.org when at all possible so we can exchange information. Unfortunately, actual documented history is limited and what is available is largely word-of-mouth
DARBYDALE. There were two grist mills near that early Pleasant Township settlement. One was Dyer’s Mill near Georgesville and the other was Chenoweth’s Mill in the Darbydale-Harrisburg area. A one room log school was organized by the Pennsylvania School District of Pleasant Township as early as 1836, according to a Columbus Dispatch article dated July 28, 1939. The settlement was referred to as Little Pennsylvania because most of the early settlers were of German ancestry popularly known as Pennsylvania Dutch. The area became known as Darbydale in the 1950s. We have no official documentation calling the settlement Little Pennsylvania, just word-of-mouth.
HARRISBURG was first known as Darby Cross Roads although some residents used the name Mudsock. A 1985 story in the Dispatch pointed out a Mudsock was actually on a Rand McNally road map at one time located at the intersection of Roberts and Alton-Darby Creek Roads. Elijah and Rachel Chenoweth left Pike County and became among the first to settle there. Harrisburgh was first laid out in 1836 and incorporated in 1851. The “H” was dropped in 1893. It was a lively place with several saloons and two hotels. The Swysgood House and White Hall later known as the United States Hotel catered to those traveling by stagecoach.
ORIENT, once identified as Morgan’s Station, was so named by the Columbus, Cincinnati and Midland railroad company. It should not be confused with Miller’s Station which was on the southside of Lambert Road at Rt. 62. Miller’s Station was the southernmost boarding station for the Grove City Interurban that provided electric rail transportation between Columbus, Grove City and Orient. Orient was once a thriving community and, in the early 1900s, it even had its own hotel.
Oh, the good old days, or were they? It might be hard for many to recall, but Grove City didn’t have a sanitary sewer system until 1937. Up until then, when an inside toilet flushed or water drained from a sink, it went into a septic system or cesspool on the homeowner’s lot. The result, odor and contamination.
Many of the homes had a leach field that drained into open ditches along the streets. An article in the Grove City Record described the situation as creating offensive odors and objectionable conditions. Adding to the problem, the ditches frequently became stagnate. Crews from the county had to come into town to clear street side ditches allowing the waste water to move quicker.
Health Department officials described the situation “deplorable” and pointed out the potential for an outbreak of typhoid fever.
What created the problem? Around 1922, the village took a major step forward. It built a water purification plant, dug a well and constructed a water tower at the present site of Windsor Park. To complete the effort, the village installed water lines to residential homes.
That was a positive, but it also created an unexpected problem. Municipal water flowing freely into homes also created more outflow. In turn, more liquid was leaving the house than what the household septic systems weren’t built to accommodate.
The result, stagnant and odorous open ditches.
The problem would not have existed if the village had installed both water lines and a sewage system in the early 1920s but as often was the case, it was one step at a time because of municipal revenue.
The urgency came to a head when a Grove City resident threatened to sue the village because of the open ditches and unhealthy conditions. In January 1936, a $25,000 bond issue was being discussed by village council to pay the village share of a sewage treatment plant and installation of sewage tile.
The bond issue was approved by voters and the community got behind the project. Over 100 property owners contributed to the project allowing the village to secure easements.
That wouldn’t be the entire cost though. Since the village was able to use Works Progress Administration (WPA) workers, the village was only obligated for one fifth of the $263,000 projected cost. The contract also provided that village and township residents would have the first employment opportunities. Workers received $65 in monthly wages.
A location for the sewage treatment plant was on property owned by Benjamin Ziner. The village purchased 1.6 acres on Hoover Road for $1,600. The site was just north of the current Jackson Township Administrative building.
The main sewer lines would include 18-inch pipe and eight-inch pipe in residential areas. In September, a record 3,420 feet of sewer pipe was laid in five days; by October, 29,000 feet had been placed in the ground with only 19,000 feet remaining. One of the major projects was drilling a tunnel under the B&O Railroad tracks.
The entire project was finished in 1937 and the sewage plant opened June 3, 1937. Now, with both water and sewage treatment plants in operation, residents were told to expect the village to nearly double in size.
Grove City was then recognized as suburban community.
James F. Hale, 2018
In July 1936, Grove City village officials wanted vitrified pipe to be used for the sanitary sewerage being installed by the WPA. Federal engineers declared the low bid was for concrete pipe and if the village wanted vitrified pipe the village residents would have to pay for the pipe. Village council voted 100% in favor of the low bid.
Nothing slows down Grove City-born Bill England, who may have earned retirement but continues to be active in his community. England, known as Bill to most, was born in Grove City and grew up along Park Street. While in high school, Bill worked for a brother who owned a Texaco station at Broadway and Grove City Road, where the gazebo is located today. “I always enjoyed driving a truck,” he says. Once, while working for the Grove City Farmers Exchange, England had to deliver a coal product known as Pocahontas coal. It was an oil-treated, very fine coal that was very dirty and messy to handle. That was one job he didn’t enjoy. England recalls he would shovel it down a coal chute and often had to shovel it through a basement window.
By James F. Hale for Discover Magazine
The impact Dr. James Charles “J.C.” Sommer had on the community and the education of its children was so significant and long-standing that in 1956 – nearly nine years after his passing – the Board of Education overwhelmingly voted to name its new elementary school at Haughn and Kingston after him.
Dr. Sommer’s passion for education began at an early age. After completing the equivalent of an eighth-grade education, he passed a teacher’s examination and spent the next two years educating youth near his home in Cottageville, West Virginia. He then attended and graduated from Valparaiso University (Indiana) in 1908 with dual degrees in art and science. In 1913, he received his medical doctorate from Starling-Ohio Medical College, now The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
For nine years following his graduation, Dr. Sommer practiced medicine and taught school in Somerset, Ohio before moving to Grove City. He was most comfortable making house calls; however, he would often see patients in a small office next to his home on the corner of Park and Front streets.
Dr. Sommer was a trusted physician, a tremendous public servant and a beloved member of the community. As president of the Jackson Township Board of Education (one of the school district boards that consolidated in 1956 to form the South-Western City School District), he was largely responsible for the sound structural adjustments of village and township schools; established state-funded educational opportunities for local underprivileged youth; facilitated extensive remodeling and construction of school buildings; and established commercial, industrial and musical arts curriculums. Dr. Sommer also served more than 16 years on the Franklin County Board of Education before passing unexpectedly in 1947.
The original J.C. Sommer Elementary School has since been replaced, yet Dr. Sommer’s educational impact remains strong as the new building was also dedicated in his honor in 2015. Interestingly, Dr. Sommer never received a traditional high school diploma. During the 1940 Jackson Township graduation ceremony, he was presented with an honorary diploma, acknowledging his accomplishment achieved some 40 years prior.
Born in Jackson Township, Leroy Geyer retired recently after a 60-year barbering career and plans to continue loving life, feeling blessed to be in Grove City.
“Make beauty out of adversity, that’s the philosophy of mine,” says Geyer.
Geyer, a popular local barber, remembers his father’s stories about the 1913 Scioto River flood. His dad was down by the Scioto when the Clickenger Bridge was washed out. Clickenger Road crossed the river, intersecting with U.S. Route 23. After the flood, the road changed names and became Breckenridge County Road. It later changed names again to Isaac White Road. Today, the road that once connected with High Street is simply White Road. Geyer also remembers when racing was in its heyday, there were seven bookie joints in Grove City. He also says the Grove City area once produced its fair share of moonshine.
By James F. Hale for Discover Magazine