As Beulah Park closes, so passes the last member of the family that helped found it.
Ruth Sawyer Jividen, a lifelong resident, died on April 14, at the age of 98. In addition to being the last descendent of Hugh Grant, Grove City's original settler, she owned what is considered to be the oldest house in the community, the the A.G. Grant Homestead at 4126 Haughn Road, which is believed to have been built around 1840.
In March, Jividen sold the homestead, which has been listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places since 1998, to the city for $350,000. The city's long-term plan is to turn the property into a walk-in, living museum.
A.G. Grant, a prominent Grove City businessman who spearheaded much of the early development in Jackson Township and the village of Grove City, originally bought the land that would eventually become Beulah Park in 1889, plotting it for residential development and setting aside a portion for recreation.
In 1895, the first Grove City Fair was held at Beulah Park. The park was named after Grant's granddaughter, Beulah Grant Campbell, who was also the aunt of Jividen's mother, Relieffe Gertrude Grant, who was born at Beulah Park.
Jividen was born June 8, 1915, the same year her grandmother died and her grandfather moved to California, of which she wrote in Ruth Remembers, a series of columns she wrote with Liz Thompson in the Grove City Record.
"Four years later, we moved into their home, which was quite neglected, and I still live in that home today," she wrote in a 2011 column. "My mother had a lot of work making it livable again as renters destroyed much of the house and used the kitchen as a grainery. My mother said the grain would forever come out behind the woodwork."
The family farm has horses, cows, pigs and chickens.
"We raised our own meat, which was butchered, rendered for lard, made into ground sausage, cured hams, and we took the head and made all kinds of lunch meat," Jividen wrote. "We used the whole hog one way or another."
Her column also describes cooling milk for the milk truck to pick up, separating it to sell in five-gallon cans of cream and canning and pickling produce from the garden.
"We bought very few things at the store -- sugar, coffee and salt -- and traded eggs for groceries," Jividen wrote. "We farmed down to where Hayes Tech is now, on Haughn Road on both sides of the road west of Moore and Dudley and north to Richard Avenue."
Thompson said she met Jividen back around 2006 at a neighborhood social gathering, and after talking with her for a few minutes, Thompson asked the hostess for some paper and a pencil because Jividen was a "fountain of knowledge."
"She told history the way it should be written in books," Thompson said of Jividen. "She was in her 90s when I met her, and I had a hard time believing that. ... She was sharp. She was funny."
City Councilwoman Laura Lanese, who co-wrote Images of America: Grove City with Janet Shaler, interviewed Jividen for the book.
"She was the inspiration for the book because she could trace (Grove City history) all the way back," Lanese said. "She told me stories about growing up and the different events her family would have on their property. ... She had complete recall of so many things."
Jividen also passed down stories she had heard, including one from her grandmother about how Native Americans came around to look at the house when it was the only two-story building in the area.
Jividen was also a charter member of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society, a 50-year member of Rebekah Lodge and a member of Moose No. 11, the Grove City Civic Club, Royal Neighbors of America, Evans Senior Center and St. John's Lutheran Church.
She also was an honorary member of the Tracktown Square Dance Club.
She is survived by two step-daughters, Reta (Dan) Ferguson and Betsy (Johnny) Click, three step-grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and her cousin, Paul Sawyer. She was preceded in death by her parents; first husband, Lem Seymour; and second husband, Dale O. Jividen.