Welcome to the
James A Garfield Historical Soc





About the Society

Third Monday of the Month 
except August 
7:30 p.m. 
At the Society Museum 
8107 Main St. 
Garrettsville, Ohio 44231
Board Chairman: Connie Knop
President: Kit Semplak
Vice President: Lynn Fry
Secretary: Cindy Matson
Treasurer: Connie Knop
The acquisition, conservation and preservation of objects of historical interest.  To promote knowledge and inspire interest and pride in the early history and settlement of the communities of the James A. Garfield School District.



The James A. Garfield Historical Society was organized in 1979. It encompasses the communities of Freedom, Garrettsville and Nelson in Portage County, Ohio. The school system of the same name honors our nation's 20th President, who lived in the area and was a member and one-time chaplain of  the still active Masonic Lodge 246 F. & A.M. on Garrettsville's Main Street. The brief life of our Society pales in comparison with the history of the settlers and settlements we honor: Freedom was settled in 1818, Garrettsville in 1804 and Nelson, 1800.

Operational funds are derived from membership dues, benefactors, and a biennial "Christmas Walk" in Garrettsville, held the first two full weekends in November, in even-numbered years.

The Historical Society welcomes your membership as they strive to preserve the historic past for present and future generations. Annual dues are $10.00 per person. A lifetime membership is $100.00. Business and corporate memberships are available.

On The National Register of Historic Places
 "Mott Drug Store" ca. 1840

Our Museum


Our museum home is a 19th century Greek Revival-style structure that has occupied the northwest corner of Main and High Streets for more than one hundred and seventy years. It first housed dry goods businesses on the main floor, with the second floor at times serving as a residence, select school, and a photography studio.

History records that Alonzo C. Lake started the town's first photography studio soon after he came to Garrettsville in 1847. The new Daguerreotype art interested him and he established his gallery and continued in business here for nearly thirty years. Dr. E.B. Lee joined his father in the pharmacy endeavor here in 1857. Frank Mott joined Dr. Lee and assumed ownership in 1890 at the time of  Lee's death.

The Society's first home, in 1983, was the quaint historic building just around the corner, known for many years as the famous little Bogrand Millinery Shop. Initial donations consisted mainly of lovely old hats and clothing, including several wedding dresses in period styles. We soon outgrew  the little building and in 1990 we moved into the 2-story building next door which last housed Andy Krauss' Garrettsville Paint and Glass business.

Our larger quarters give us space to display donated historic artifacts, memorabilia, books, clothing and furniture. Items from the estate of the late Jeanette Wheeler Meloy offer a glimpse into the lives and lifestyles of early Wheeler, Pierce, Waters and Atwater families. The spacious second-floor Don Meloy Memorial Research Library contains the large reference collection of the late Les and Mary Folger. Mary was editor of The Western Reserve Magazine published in Garrettsville, 1973-1983. These magazines were also in that collection.

The Society is also the recipient of a very generous offering of old books from Garfield High School. The library's bookshelves are being expanded in order to preserve and protect these books. Some of them had originally been donated from personal libraries in the latter part of the last century. Diaries, ledgers, maps, pictures, local histories,
yearbooks, etc. add to the wealth of information available to visitors.

Nestled in back of our building a small picket-fenced garden, dedicated to the memory of Lou Danku, invites relaxation.


          The Village Clock Tower

Just a few hundred feet north of the museum stands the village Clock Tower.  The building of the new tower was a community project which was begun at the time of our nation's bicentennial. Community fund-raising efforts were intense and donations were generous, but in the meantime, costs of construction were escalating  It was through the
efforts of the newly organized Historical Society that the tower construction was completed in 1980 and the 1907 clock was restored and placed in the new tower. The four-faced clock was rescued from its original home in the town's Opera House when it met its demise several years ago on this very same spot. The old clock, which was purchased so long ago with donations from loyal friends and pennies from the school children, still chimes the hour over our village.

"Mott Drug Store"

Frank F. Mott was associated with the drug store business in Garrettsville for 56 years.  He came to Garrettsville from Hiram in 1875 and associated himself in the drug store of Dr. E.B. Lee. Later the store name was changed to Lee & Mott  and after Dr. Lee's death in 1890, F.F. Mott assumed ownership.

Mott's Drug Store carried an assortment of wares including drugs, medicines, chemicals, paints, oils, varnishes, brushes, trusses and leather goods, toilet articles and perfumeries.A leading specialty was the filling of physicians' prescriptions, farm and householdrecipes, veterinarians' formulas, etc.

 Mr. Mott was active in civic business life in town. He occupied the mayoral chair in 1890 and 1891, and served several terms on the village council. He was active in the Masonic Lodge and the Silver Creek Chapter, R.A.M. and was always interested in all projects affecting the village.

Frank Fletcher Mott was born in Hiram on May 25, 1854, the son of Eber and Sabrina Fletcher Mott. He attended Hiram Schools and Hiram College. He was married on April 21, 1885, to Hattie Hadden. They had five children, Mrs. Frances Tracy, Cassius H. Mott, Mrs. Hazel Blanchfield and Carl M. Mott. A daughter Laura died in 1922. Mr. Mott  died in June, 1932 and his son Carl M. continued the business for a few years.

The Historical Society has purchased and placed a bronze plaque by the museum's entrance declaring the National Register prestige of the "Mott Drug Store".


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