The News Journal
Wednesday, September 27, 1978
Early Mansfielder’s Relatives Still in the City
By Virginia Lee
Mansfield Hedges Gilkison was the first white male born in Mansfield, early historians agree. That was back on February 2, 1811.
His great-granddaughter, Mrs. Ruth Daum of 41 ½ Baldwin Ave, and great-grandson, Norman Gilkison, 162 Popular Street, are city residents today!
What’s more Norman Gilkison is reportedly the “spittin’ image” of his pioneer relative. Norman said, “He had a Roman nose, generous ears and wore a healthy beard, but I am no doubt judging him from pictures, that he was as tall as I am.” Norman is six foot tall.
Norman was the son of Grover Cleveland Gilkison, brother of Mrs. Daum. He had been an expressman for the historic Wells-Fargo Express Company.
To continue the genealogy—Grover was the son of Willard, who was the son of William, who was the only son of Mansfield Hedges Gilkison to survive him. Mansfield Hedges Gilkison died on February 23, 1885 at the age of 74.
Mansfield Hedges Gilkison was twice married according to Mrs. Daum. His first wife and the mother of his four sons and three daughters was Elmiline Duke. His second wife was Mattie Stewart, whom he married only one year before his death. Mansfield Hedges Gilkison severed as an early constable in the city. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge.
The city’s first born male was the son of John C. Gilkison, to whom the local kin also point with pride. A printer by trade, he is credited with establishing Mansfield’s first newspaper, The Olive. He also was a printer on another early paper, The Mansfield Gazette, which was own by James Purdy.
“I was always proud that he was a newspaperman,” Norman, an avid reader, said.
His pride was shared earlier by General Roeliff Brinkerhoff, who wrote in A J Baughman’s 1908 History of Richland County about the father and son. “I know both John C. Gilkison and his son Mansfield well. Both were excellent citizens. “
Norman recalled a couple of stories passed down by his family. One concerned the printer and his brother James, who became lost as young boys. They were found and returned by local Indians.
Norman told also of his grandfather, Willard, who as a lad climbed atop the Mansfield Building to see “a hanging” of a murder.
“When my grandfather got down and started to run home he found a diamond ring that had been taken in a robbery, which was the motive in the murder,” he said.
Norman Gilkison, 6’ is a former farmer and manufacturer, also has had an interesting life. For a while he lived in a log cabin near where the Mansfield-Lahm Airport is today. He attended Bowman Street School when H.L Creveling was principal and Mansfield High School when Jesse Beer was principal. He graduated in 1929. He attended Adelbert College of Case Western Reserve University for two years. He also attended night classes at the Cleveland State University.
He established the Gilkison Manufacturing Company in Mansfield (it made furniture) and later operated it Elyria. For a while he also operated a motel in the desert area of Bouse, Arizona. He also worked for Mansfield City parks, but has since retired.