By Thomas Palmer
Today we will be looking through a small treasure trove of pieces of Galion history that were discovered in 2015 “between” the second and third floors of 106 Harding Way East (the home of Artistic Gatherings). That building is possibly the oldest surviving brick building in Uptowne Galion — a possibility made more likely today by this find, which includes documents dating back to 1847.
What can these papers tell us about the occupants of this building, and about life in pre-Civil War Galion?
We will share some of the discoveries, and hope to add to this in coming days.
First, a letter.
This was still in part of the original envelope — an 1855 letter sent from Chicago, Illinois to Galion, and addressed to Pierce Fellows. Pierce was the son of Jonathan Fellows, a well-known figure in very early Galion (he donated the land for the first Methodist church in Galion, was a friend of Johnny Appleseed who planted an orchard on his property, and developed the area just southwest of the Square (roughly bounded by South Market, West Atwood, Orange Street, and Harding Way West)).
A quick check on Ancestry.com shows that Pierce Fellows married in 1858 and died of consumption just two years later.
Pierce’s sister, Olive, married Daniel Cherry — for whom Cherry Street is named.
Then, a postmark.
Mailed from Columbus to Elizabeth McClelland in Galion (who was to become the wife of Pierce Fellows) on October 27, 1856.
Now, a telegram.
A telegram sent from Jefferson City to Pierce Fellows in Galion in January of 1856. This is the same year that the New York & Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph Company was renamed “Western Union” — note the “Union Telegraph” name at the top. This was sent at an important point in US communications history.
The Fellows do some decorating.
It looks increasingly likely that Pierce and Elizabeth Fellows lived in the building at 106 Harding Way East during their short marriage (1858 to Pierce’s death in 1860). It also looks as if they were doing decorating, possibly on moving in.
This is a receipt from Freeman & Kellogg Dry Good Store in Cleveland. Interestingly, in 1866, just a few years later, Henry Sherwin secured his first job in that very store on moving to Cleveland. Years later, he would help in founding the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, still headquartered in downtown Cleveland.
According to owner Kent Gimbel, the first section of the building — where this paperwork was found — was built first as a two story structure, and then had a third story added. At the time, the roof of the two-story building was kept, a two to three foot space added, and then the floor of the new third story placed above that.
It seems likely that the two story building dates from the late 1840s, and that the third story was added for Pierce and Elizabeth Fellows in 1858. That’s my current working theory.
This is the writing on the back of the receipt:
Stair carpet 3.00
Total with a couple of undecipherable additions $26.84
Well-known local relatives.
The 1860 census of Galion reveals an interesting connection to a local family of note. The newly widowed Elizabeth McClelland Fellows was living with someone who must have been a near relative — Hannah McClelland Stewart. Hannah and her husband, Alonzo, had one child at the time, a son named Charles. Shortly after the census was taken, they were to have one more child — Nellie. Nellie Stewart grew up in the structure which now houses the law offices of Hottenroth, Garverick, Tilson & Garverick on South Market Street, and went on to marry Bloomer B. Gill. The Gills were the couple which constructed the landmark Gill House on Harding Way West, now being restored, and Nellie was also the childhood friend of Mrs. Thomas Alva Edison.
Interestingly, while Alonzo Stewart was listed as owning real estate worth $1100 (this was before the construction of the South Market Street house), Elizabeth McClelland Fellows owned $4000 in real estate — likely including the building at 106 Harding Way East.
Elizabeth re-married in 1865 to John McDonald.
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.