In a couple of weeks our project will be heading to southern Ohio and Gallipolis. We are in search of the back story, the setting, for Emma Gatewood’s life. Gallipolis is a farming community on the banks of the Ohio River. Not far from the farm were Emma lived are the hills and “hollers” that made this area of Ohio the touchstone for Appalachia. A natural crossing from West Virginia to Ohio that brought many to the rich fertile farming areas along the river, the area was known for triumph and tragedy.
According to Wikipedia “Gallipolis was settled in 1790 by French aristocrats known as the “French Five Hundred”. Escaping punishment in pre-revolutionary France the French were swindled. The Scioto Company which had encouraged investors in France to purchase lands in Ohio by describing it as a virtual Garden of Eden. The deeds purchased proved worthless, because the Scioto Company did not actually own the land.” In 1802 it became the county seat for Gallia County. The town prospered and the land was fruitful. It remains a vibrant small city. Bad fortune struck the area in 1967 when Gallipolis gained notoriety for the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which spanned the Ohio River from Gallipolis to Point Pleasant, West Virgina.
One of the counties best known citizens, besides Emma, was Bob Evans the founder of Bob Evan Restaurants. He and Emma became friends and supported Emma’s efforts to establish the trail system later to become part of the Buckeye Trail. We are looking forward to scouting and filming the backdrop to Emma’s life and will be meeting some of her other siblings. We hope to share the scenes with you here after we get back.