Reynoldsburg News

Historical society offers significance of gristmill stone

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Bringing an 1830s millstone back to Gahanna is churning excitement for local history buffs, in addition to those who helped make it happen.

Christy Evans, Gahanna Historical Society spokesperson, said the millstone represents great local history to preserve.

She said the gristmill was built by Jesse Baughman, one of Gahanna's founders.

"In the mid-1800s, there were actually two villages, separated by Granville Street," Evans said. "Gahanna, founded by John Clark (as in Clark Hall), was south, and Bridgeport, founded by Baughman, was north (including a lot of Olde Gahanna on Mill Street)."

In the late 1800s, the two villages combined and took the name of Gahanna. Built circa 1860, the gristmill was the first in Mifflin Township, Evans said.

"The fact that it was built by one of our city's founders makes it even more historic and cool," she said. "Behind Creekside Park is the mill race, where nowadays you can paddleboat. And there is even a replica water wheel, which is how the original mill was powered. I think it's very exciting to have that actual stone, considering how much history is wrapped up in that gristmill."

Nancy McGregor, who place the winning bid of $370 plus a 10-percent buyer's premium for the stone, said the auction cashier was excited that the stone was going to be where people could see and touch it.

"The people in line to pay were amazed when the bobcat went by with the stone," she said. "Some people had not seen it listed, and another guy said it didn't look that big in the picture."

Gahanna facilities foreman Marty White coordinated the stone's move, with assistance from Tony Tackett, facilities crew member, Cody Tackett, parks crew member and Bob Francisco, facilities coordinator.

"It is a neat-looking stone," McGregor said. "You can see different color striations, and the hole in the middle is pretty big. It had to take awhile to chisel out, especially with the tools available at the time."

She said auctioneer Kevin Burchett was so excited about the millstone coming back to Gahanna that he visited about 20 businesses, trying to generate some interest in the stone.

"Antiques are what drive me," Burchett said. "There's something historical in almost every home. We try to put importance on those things. I was so happy. It's a beautiful stone."

When he first saw it, Burchett said, it was a lovely yard sculpture.

"Nature had taken over it," he said. "They will have to clean and polish it."

He was excited to see the stone return to its origin, he said.

"It was real rewarding," Burchett said. "I felt like I was a doctor handing a baby to the mother. It was a great handoff."

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