The Gale Hill Radio Hour

Ep 13 - Awe in Ohio: Abolitionists, America's First Black Professional Football Player & More

March 05, 2022 Kate Jones
The Gale Hill Radio Hour
Ep 13 - Awe in Ohio: Abolitionists, America's First Black Professional Football Player & More
Show Notes Chapter Markers

In the first segment, Frank Satullo, the creator of ohiotraveler.com, talks about five fascinating places to visit around the state. Each inspires awe in its own way.

The first is the John Rankin House in Ripley. A National Historic Landmark on the Ohio River near Cincinnati, this was the home of Presbyterian minister John Rankin and his large family. The Rankins are said to have been among Ohio's first and most active "conductors" on the Underground Railroad. 

The next stop on this Ohio tour is a man-made wonder called the Temple of Tolerance.  Jim Bowsher created this amazing rock garden in a residential neighborhood in Wapakoneta, also the hometown of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. 

Another Ohio rock garden worth seeing is in Springfield. The Hartman Rock Garden consists of more than 50 structures ranging from a castle and capitol building to Noah's ark, all created between 1932 and 1944 by Ben Hartman, who died in 1944. Today, the site is owned and maintained by the Friends of the Hartman Rock Garden. 

Anyone who's a fan of Bob Evans sausages might want to head to Rio Grande to check out the Homestead, the farmhouse where Bob and his wife, Jewell, reared their six children. Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the Homestead was once a stagecoach stop and inn. Later, the Evans family opened The Sausage Shop in their front yard, which became the first Bob Evans restaurant and is still open today. 

Finally, the Ernest Warther Museum and Gardens in Dover celebrates the ingenuity and artistic ability of master carver Ernest "Mooney" Warther, who hand-sculpted more than 60 works on the premises. The Ernest Warther Museum and Gardens, which opened in 1936, is owned and operated by third- and fourth-generation family members.

The second segment of the show features Marty Starkey, director of the Wayne County Convention and Visitors Bureau, talking about Charles Follis, America's first Black professional football player. 

Follis was a great athlete and a well-regarded young man. In 1898, he became the captain of the first Wooster High School football team. He led the team to two undefeated seasons and earned the nickname “The Black Cyclone.” There's an Ohio Historical Marker at the school recognizing his athletic skills. 

He went on to be the star player on the Shelby Blues, a professional team in Shelby, Ohio. His ability and character impressed his teammate Branch Rickey who, decades later, signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers, breaking the race barrier and bringing an end to segregation in professional baseball.

Visitors can learn more about Follis by following The Black Cyclone Trail, a driving tour that winds through Ohio’s Wayne and Richland Counties. 

Follis' story also is featured in  “The Black Cyclone,” a play written and produced by Jim and Amy K. Stoner.

To read an article about Charles Follis that Frank Satullo wrote for the Wayne Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit ohiotraveler.com

Thank you for listening to The Gale Hill Radio Hour, a show about purpose, passion, and sharing our gifts with the world.