GC author tackles history in new book

 Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
 Grove City author Janet Shailer wanted to wrote about the town she loves – Grove City. Shailer teamed up with Laura Lanese to document the history of Grove City. "Images of America: Grove City" debuts Oct. 6.

Grove City is growing, but recalling its historic past was not an easy task if you only had time to look in one place.

Although the Grove City library is a local repository for documents, photos, and memorabilia, author and native daughter Janet Shailer said no one had written a comprehensive history of Grove City…that is, not until now.

Shailer, whose German ancestors immigrated to the area in 1848, is the author of "Dutch Pike Trilogy", a children’s book on local history, and a former newspaper editor, along with Laura Lanese, a former Justice Department attorney who moved to Grove City in 1999 from the Washington, D.C. area and co-authored "Game of my Life, Ohio State: Memorable Stories of Buckeye Football," recently collaborated on "Images of America: Grove City."

The book, along with a companion postcard packet, will debut Oct. 6 at local retailers, online bookstores, and through Arcadia Publishing. The 128-page publication is filled with chapters on early settlers, immigration, farm and religious life, transportation, schools, community, commerce, and racetracks, along with hundreds of black and white photos.

"It was a challenge," said Shailer. "The company asked us in February if we could have the book done in 12 weeks. We started our research in the Grove City library in the reference department where the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society has a photo archive area, which started in 2002 with an Attics to Archives project. We tried to document everything as best we could and double check our facts as much as possible.

"We decided to focus on an early time period from around 1803 to 1952. Laura and I started working and combing through the archives. Then Laura went to the Ohio Historical Society and dug through their archives. I started calling the old families of Grove City, people who are now in their 80s and 90s, who are descendants of the original pioneers. They were very generous and had old photos they shared with me."

The authors said every American town has a story to tell and Grove City is no exception. In 1848 Grove City was a stagecoach stop along the Harrisburg-Columbus Turnpike and the area was part of a land grant given in payment for services by Revolutionary War veterans. The town was first platted in 1852 and settled primarily by people from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York, as well as Europe-especially Germany.

"Planks is the oldest continually operating business in Jackson Township," reported Shailer. "You can still go in there and buy a couple of things – like a Braunschweiger sandwich – that you could get in the 1800s when Broadway was a stagecoach route.

"And even though Grove City was such an agricultural community, there was also a rich social life. Farmers and their families would come in to town on the weekends. The farmers would conduct business, the women would socialize, and the kids would run around. They set up fraternal organizations and started business groups and my grandmother talked about how they used to roll back the carpets, invite musicians in, and have dances in her own home.

"There was a lot of music in the town and people were able to entertain themselves."

Grove City’s first library started in 1891 when residents combined their own book collections at a central location – Harsh’s Drug Store. The library was later moved to a building at Broadway and Civic Place by the town’s Women’s Civic Club.

"Images of America: Grove City" highlights also include a history of the Gantz farm; information on St. John’s Lutheran Church, which was founded in 1849 and is one of the largest Lutheran churches in central Ohio; photos of Ohio’s first thoroughbred track and the old greyhound track in operation during the Roaring 20s, and elaborate artwork on German Taufscheins.

Copies of the book will be available at Meet the Author book signing events on Oct. 11 and 18, 8 a.m.-noon, at the downtown Grove City Harvest Market and on Oct. 25, 1-3 p.m., at the Borders bookstore, 6670 Sawmill Road.

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