By Thomas Palmer

As generations of historians have confirmed, the first people known to settle in what is now Galion were Native Americans, a part of the Wyandot tribe, who lived along the Olentangy River near what is now the North Union Street bridge. Little is known about their number or lives.

The first settlers arriving from the east came in 1817 in the person of Benjamin and Mary Leverich and their sons, followed the next year by a couple of additional families, the Gills and the Woods. It took little time for the first births to take place; the first two being girls from these families. It is not surprising that they were actually cousins.

The first was Eliza Leverich, daughter of Nathaniel and Martha Wood Leverich; Nathaniel was one of Benjamin and Mary’s sons. This event likely took place at their cabin, located in what is now Public Square. The second birth was that of Frances (Fanny) Gill, daughter of David and Margaret Gill; the Gills had settled in what is now northeast Galion, just east of Fairview Avenue between Grant and Sherman Streets.

Only three weeks separated the two births in 1821 or 1822, at which time there were still only a handful of families living here.

The girls’ earliest lives took place at time when life was difficult for these pioneers. The principal food at the time was bear meat, venison, turkey, corn meal, potatoes, and hominy. Settlers wore buckskins and “linsey-woolsey,” a kind of linen made from nettles. For most of the year, children went barefoot and bareheaded. 

Eliza’s family moved from Ohio to Michigan when she was young. She married in 1842 in Kalamazoo County and is buried in Schoolcraft, Michigan; she has descendants there to this day.

Fanny stayed in Galion, however. In 1885, she was recognized as being the oldest living resident in the city. By this time she had married and had become Fanny Gill Bryfogle. Fanny was the aunt of Gill house owner Bloomer B. Gill.

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 author and the other current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.

Source: 1912 History of Crawford County by John E. Hopley; Image by Don Gilman from Pixabay