Happy Presidents Day! To celebrate, we’re happy today on 1831Galion to bring you a sneak peek at a tour being released in written form later this year.
Over the 205 years since the first East Coast settlers came to this part of Ohio, Galion has had more than its expected share of contact with Presidents of the United States in one form or another. This tour will connect the stories of those men with specific places in our community.
Today we share three of those connections and Galion locations.
The Big Four Depot
As you likely know, the current Big Four Depot was not the only railroad station in Galion’s history, or even the only one for that rail line. Nevertheless, in its 123 year history it has experienced the visit of more than politician.
As the historical marker shares which is on the Depot property:
Peak passenger usage occurred during and after World War I when 32 trains stopped here daily. Railway Express serviced as many as 20 trains a day into the 1950s, and Galion became a “whistle stop” for presidential campaigns with speeches from the train platform from such candidates as Al Smith in 1928, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932, and Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon in 1952.
Fralick Plot, Fairview Cemetery
This is the resting place for the family of Elias H. and Harriet Fralick. The Fralicks were neighbors and friends of Abraham and Mary Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois. After Lincoln’s election, they attended the celebration party held at the President-elect’s house.
Elias Fralick was a train engineer hand picked by Lincoln and the railroad to be at the throttle of the engine that left Springfield to take the new President to Washington D.C. and the White House. The speech given by Lincoln from the back of that train, as it got ready to depart, is one of the President’s best-known addresses.
During Lincoln’s first term, the Fralicks moved across the street from the Lincoln House. Then, after the Civil War, Elias took a position as engineer for the Erie Railroad and the family moved to Galion.
Heise Park and Unckrich Stadium
The stadium area has a unique connection to President Warren G. Harding. Harding, who was born a few miles from Galion in Blooming Grove, had many family and friend connections in Galion. His wife, Florence Kling Harding, actually lived here for several months in 1880.
During the 1920 Presidential campaign, Harding used what was even then an old fashioned electioneering style – the “front porch” campaign. Through much of that year, he confined his speeches to the porch of his house on Mount Vernon Avenue in Marion. People from across the country would flock to hear him speak, including Hollywood actors, sports figures, and important political leaders.
In late August, not long before the election of 1920 (which Harding won handily), he made his first speech away from his front porch. He chose Galion for that purpose, and in specific at a reunion and tournament of Erie Railroad employees. The speech was a successful one and was covered by press nationwide.
The speech was given at the then-Galion football field, which is located near the current Unckrich Stadium.