The stories of people's lives often tell a greater tale, including that of the area in which they live.

The stories of people's lives often tell a greater tale, including that of the area in which they live.

Jean Jarvis of Gahanna realized this one day and decided to spend about 11 years of her life collecting stories for her third book, Along the Big Walnut, As It Flows Through Gahanna.

"I thought, 'If somebody doesn't write about what's going on today, how will people know how it used to be?'" she said.

A native of Kansas City, Jarvis moved to Jefferson Township, raised six children and operated her own business in the township prior to retiring and moving to Gahanna 22 years ago. In her business, the Columbus Research Center, she and her partner conducted market research, determining why people choose the things they do and make the decisions they make. She basically had been interviewing people all of her business life, so interviewing people for a book on the area seemed a natural fit to her.

"I was always questioning, and once I retired, it was natural for me to continue doing that," she said.

Jarvis interviewed people throughout the township and Gahanna, finding "people I thought were interesting," she said. One of her favorite interviews, she said, was with Mary Miller Patton, who was born in the 1800s. When Jarvis interviewed her, she already had lived a century.

"She was one of the most fascinating people," Jarvis said. "She remembered when street cars came, and she voted in every election after women were given the right to vote."

In the book, Jarvis allows Miller Patton to describe what it was like when the first street car came to Gahanna and when the first automobile arrived: "I'll tell you about when the first automobile came. I was about six. Somebody came up the street and said there was an automobile in town. I was so excited, me heels nearly touched the back of my neck. I got down there to see that first automobile. It was not a gasoline one, must have been an electric one because it had a bar on front of it. It had just the one seat, called a two-seater. Then a bar went across the front and you guided the machine with that bar and you increased speed that way, too."

Jarvis interviewed people of all ages, from high school students to centenarians, collecting experiences and perspectives on the city, then and now.

"I needed a theme," she said, then thinking about the Big Walnut Creek and how it meanders through the city and township. That's how she came up with the name.

The book is structured so that a historical perspective in a summary of the city's past 200 years is part of the book's introduction. Jarvis then separated the area's history into four sections: "Really Old Gahanna," "Big Walnut Creek," "Gahanna Parks" and "Community Organizations." Using stories from those she interviewed, she described the city, explaining it through the eyes of others.

In the book, for example, Lucille Kring explained her sledding trips to Fisher Brothers Grocery Store on Mill Street: "It was nothing for us to take a sled and go down there for mother for some little thing. It was right at Mill and Township street, near where the post office was. You know how kids used to run and fall on the sleds and keep going. At that time it was very, very bad out. We had a lot of cold weather and deep snow. We'd start right outside our house and go all the way down to Fisher's store. Snow covered enough so we could do that. I remember when there was a hitching post in front where people could tie up their horse and go in and shop."

The book concludes with some journal entries written by George Stambaugh. The journals were donated to the Gahanna Historical Society by an unknown donor.

Jarvis said she included some word-for-word entries but condensed others. She said the journal entries feature some interesting tales, such as the time Stambaugh's neighbor came over to borrow a shovel because he needed to dig a grave.

"Things were so different then," Jarvis said. "It's so out of our realm."

Jarvis worked on the book with two of her daughters, Becky Whittington and Laurie Phillips, who provided editing, computer skills and photographs for the book.

The books were published by Metcalf Design and Printing Center of Gahanna. Beverly Metcalf, one of the owners, said this is the third book she has published for Jarvis.

"We're always pleased to do that kind of book," Metcalf said. "It's fun to work on a project you enjoy and that's very pertinent to the community."

The books are on sale at the Gahanna Chamber of Commerce, 1000 Creekside Plaza; the Ohio Herb Education Center, 110 Mill St.; and Upscale Refurnishings, 57 Granville St.

Jarvis said the books cost $25. Her hope, she said, is that people will be able to get a sense of how things once were and how people once lived.

"My kids cannot imagine a time when there was not television, Internet or telephones," she said. "It helps to know it wasn't always the way it is now. I hope people will get a continuity of time and a feeling almost of peace with what's gone on before, an awareness of what preceded them."

Jarvis' two other books are Your Grandmother's Tales and As It Was in Gahanna and Jefferson Township.

lwince@thisweeknews.com