By Thomas Palmer
Present day Galion could hardly be described as wild and untamed as those terms apply to wild animals. That was not always the case.
In a July 1902 edition of the Bucyrus Journal, former Galionite John Reed was interviewed about his earliest local recollections. Reed was born in Galion in 1821, a full ten years before the Ruhl brothers platted the community, and even seven years before Greensburg was laid out.
In his interview, Reed shared:
“When I was a little fellow, in fact when I was quite a boy, what is known as Galion was then called Goshen and all the houses there were in it you could count on the fingers of one hand, the principal one being a large cabin for those days which stood down here in the west part of town near the old Gill spring…
I have seen wolves, bear, panther, deer, wildcats, in fact all kinds of wild animals roaming the wood right where the residence section of Galion now stands and have hunted over this entire territory many a time. Wild game was plentiful and we never wanted for fresh meat winter or summer.”
A man named John Hibner settled on the land just east of Galion, in the middle of a “forest” filled with wild animals. A later Crawford County history shared this story:
“One day while Mr. Hibner was absent, his wife while at her household duties in the little log cabin heard a noise near the chimney, and looking in that direction was horrified to see that the chimney stones had been displaced, and the great black paw of a bear had been thrust through the opening to seize the baby which she had placed near the fireplace. She hurriedly grabbed the baby, and removed it to a place of safety, but before she could get the axe or some other weapon, the bear withdrew his paw and returned to the woods.”
Another account of the relationship between early Galionites and their animal neighbors was this:
“One of our party went upon a ridge and killed a very fine deer, so we had plenty meat. He cooked our venison and lived sumptuously and deliciously. At night we would crawl into our nice bed-chamber to rest. Then would come the howling of wolves to lull us to sleep. Sometimes they would venture so near that we could hear them gnawing the bones of our venison behind the fire. Sometimes we would shoot at them in the dark to scare them away. They would then scatter with a howling that made music indeed. We continued there three weeks cutting logs, and raised a cabin. We prepared it fit for use and then returned home for the family.”
Not surprising, perhaps, that a ferocious animal was eventually chosen as the Galion High School mascot.