By Thomas Palmer
I thought that I would share a bit about my experience on Monday morning looking at Galion and Crawford County materials at the Center for Archival Collections at BGSU.
I made the trip after contemplating it for many months/years. I was heading up to a downtown revitalization conference in Toledo, and I couldn’t resist stopping by. I had called and made a research appointment a few days before (smart idea), so that when I arrived about 20 to 25 boxes of microfilm were set out for me.
As he brought them over to the reader, the aide said, “Ah, you’re the glutton for punishment.” I laughed. Microfilm is not difficult to use, but it does get to the eyes after an hour or two.
I came because of records I had once accessed in the old, very dirty, and very creepy downstairs storage room at the Crawford County Courthouse. My friend Kent Gimbel joined me in that enterprise. When they redid the building years ago, they cleaned that area out. I was aware that some, but not all, of the records were preserved; I hoped that the ones I had seen had survived.
It turns out that of the two really priceless records that I knew were in Bucyrus at one point, one of the two had been copied and preserved.
So there I was, looking through a set of rough pen and ink drawings of all Galion buildings (with their owner’s name) which dates to 1853 – just two years after the arrival of the first rail line in Galion (the map above dates to 1851). Among other things I saw, there was:
- A drawing of the first Catholic Church, which was located on Harding Way East. This would have been before the brick church was constructed which was later used as Bishop Brown’s study. I copied down that drawing and will share my rendition in the comments later today.
- A drawing and a precise location for Galion’s first-ever railroad depot and freight house.
- On Public Square, a barn was located on the present site of Key Bank, something I did not know as no photo exists of that site until years later. The Riblet House, part of the present Central Hotel, was there on the southwest corner.
- The “Union Church,” the building which gave birth to three current congregations, was drawn at the corner of Union and Church Streets (across from my house).
At the time, Galion did not stretch west of Boston Street. The large Gill land holdings were noted (including today’s Heise Park), with a house on the approximate site of the current Gill House. We knew about that house, which incorporated portions of a log hotel from the 1820s.
The BGSU records also include many boxes of Galion City Council records. I will, at some point, look at these in more depth to add to and revise my Henry D. Lee series. As it was, I was able to see the meeting minutes from the fateful evening when Council chose to pursue an electric light plant.
I will add that this is one of those rare instances where the number of Galion-based records exceeds that of Bucyrus.