GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia County Historical Society (GCHS) has recently received a donation they are calling invaluable. James Sands was a pastor and regular writer for the Gallipolis Daily Tribune for years.
His research and breadth of work was always noticeable in his writings, however his meticulous method of research and keeping all of his notes has been more recently revealed.
Sands, having passed in 2016, left his family with numerous totes containing books, research, hand-written and typed notes, photos, and articles on topics ranging from local church history to sports to the homes and architecture across Gallia.
Sands’ family donated all of this to the Gallia County Historical Society, which now has the daunting task of sorting and displaying the contents in a useful and efficient way for the public.
“It’s a massive collection, but it will be so useful once it’s sorted,” said Cheryl Enyart, director for GCHS. “All of the pictures will be put in binders and labelled, they will be displayed so people can go looking through them.”
The task facing the society is how to display and organize so much material. Some of the pictures are not labelled and are of buildings that are no longer standing or of people that have since moved away from the area. According to Enyart, just being able to get all of the pictures into binders will be a momentous task.
“It’s going to be a slow process unless I get volunteers. If people can come in an put photos into sleeves for an hour, I mean how many pictures can you put in a binder in an hour? Every bit will help,” said Enyart.
Enyart said that many people come to the historical society wanting to learn more about their homes and the history of a house they just bought.
“People come into town and they have bought a new house and they as us ‘what do you have on my house,’ not only do we check but we go back a ways farther, Dwight Weatherholt used to write a column called Gallia Landmarks,” said Enyart. “James just went a little farther than Weatherholt, he put meat on that history, he put people in that history, he dug into who owned it, not just that they owned it, who were they and when were they born.”
Mary Lee Marchi also uses Sands’ work for her Gallipolis in Pictures, which displays historical landmarks across Gallia.
Sands first began submitting his columns to the Gallipolis Daily Tribune in 1975, and continued to submit his writings even after he moved away from the area.
“James, when he came into the area he was a minister in Thurman, and for a lack of a lot of things to do, one of his things was history. And not knowing anything about the area he just dug in. Whatever he picked as a subject, he delved into it to find the exact history of it,” said Enyart. “It was just a hobby, something he dug in to, he was an extremely deep researcher, he didn’t just skim the surface, and so what he has given us is not a timeline, but something that we can look back and see what our town was like and how we got from there to here. His articles kind of bind the past to the present.”
The addition of Sands’ collection to GCHS is one that will take quite a time to process, but one that will be immensely valuable to the historically minded members of the public.
“Everything there that I can, I will display so that people can walk in and use it, it’s just an invaluable source when people want to know the history of something here,” said Enyart. “It’s a massive undertaking, one that I really want to do but I want to do it proper, so that things aren’t lost, and I’m going to scan as many pictures as I can as a backup.”
If you are willing to help sort, organize, and display some of Sands’ work at the Historical Society, contact them on Facebook or give them a call at 740-446-7200.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.