By Thomas Palmer
Today, at the start of a three day weekend, it’s time for a bit of a breather. Instead of a full article, I am going to review a handful of history-related items which come to mind.
Monday, of course, is Memorial Day. My earliest memory of this particular holiday is making that long trek from Public Square to Fairview Cemetery with fellow Cub Scouts in North School Pack 331. At the time, it seemed like we were hiking the entire Appalachian Trail. In those days, the parade started an hour earlier (at 9:00 AM); otherwise, it is very much the same.
At the risk of revealing my age (but as this is my hometown, that is pretty much a known commodity), in my earliest memories it seems that there were a survivor or two from the Spanish-American War still living, or at least one of their widows.
During my high school years, I spent at least one Memorial Day afternoon with my fellow GHS Marching Band members traveling to Loudonville to canoe on the Mohican. Did I get wet? Who didn’t? Otherwise, it was otherwise full of family picnics and fun.
THE BLUE DINING ROOM
The Gill House Dining Room received its final coat of wall paint this past week, and the ceiling was cleaned in preparation for repair and painting in due course. The house will be open for tours on Sunday afternoon from 1 PM to 3 PM; come by and look at the progress being made.When you’re there, be sure to get your Crawford County History Passport stamped – and if you have yet to start your Passport, you can pick up one there to start your journey.
SCAVENGER HUNT TOURS
Speaking of tours, the Galion History Center is hosting new Scavenger Hunt-style tours at Brownella Cottage for children and adults alike. These tours are avilable during regular hours this summer (June 1, 15, 29; July 13, 17; and August 10 and 24) for the price of a regular tour. Contact the History Center for hours and additional details.
BACK TO MEMORIAL DAY
As I close for today, here’s a quick look back at events in Galion on a previous Memorial Day. Back in 1881, the holiday was known locally as “Decoration Day,” and the events would seem very similar to today’s Galionites. The day began with a meeting at the Opera House (located on the site of today’s Municipal Building), from which a procession would march down to the cemetery. Right up the street the new St. Joseph Catholic Church, which still stands, was under construction.
This was the year before Fairview Cemetery was opened, so that solemn parade would have marched westward down to Union Green Cemetery at the corner of Church and Union Streets, later the site of Galion High School.
Unfortunately a heavy rain fell that day beginning a bit after 1:00 PM. The Inquirer reported, “In a blinding, driving rain, the Veteran Association, headed by the Galion City Band, marched to the cemetery, and there, amid the tears rained down by the clouds and the solemn dirge of the Band, the graves of the departed were covered with flowers.”
Interestingly, it was noted that the year before Decoration Day fell on a Sunday (this was before the standard Monday holiday was established), and so local ministers refused to participate in the ceremony. In response, in 1881 the Veterans Association refused to send ministers an invitation to participate.
Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.
This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.
Image by Liam Ortiz from Pixabay