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The GHS reprints classic Granville memoir

Review by Wayne Piper

Ellen Hayes’ Wild Turkeys and Tallow Candles: Growing Up in Granville Before the Civil War was first published in 1920. Hayes had been a professor of Astronomy and Applied Mathematics at Wellesley College. Hayes’ dedication includes words that motivated her to write this charming reminiscence of life in Granville in the mid-1800s: “That the future may be linked with the past.”

And in keeping with its mission of linking the past of our pleasant village to the present, the Granville Historical Society now has reprinted and once again made the book available for sale.

An early reviewer of the book wrote, Wild Turkeys and Tallow Candles describes in a wonderfully delightful manner the stories common to the nineteenth century village culture of Granville.” An example of that delightful manner which stood out to this reviewer is Hayes’ description of the landscape of Raccoon Creek between 1850 and 1860: “One will search far to find any valley that surpassed in winning loveliness that of the Raccoon as viewed from one of those southern spurs of the Welsh Hills. … Often the soft shimmering mist hung over the creek and out of its blue-grey would come the mournful notes of a wild dove. … I know of no other place where I would rather I had been turned loose to live and grow. Through the loveliness of that valley I believed the wide world was lovely, and in its shelter I was prepared to regard the whole earth as home and all the dwellers in the earth as my kinfolk.”

The book is charming yet realistic; nostalgic but never maudlin. The challenges and rewards of a hearty pioneer existence in the early days of Granville are captured in readily accessible prose. It’s a perfect read for those who want to learn more about the early days of our village as well as a great gift. It’s available by calling the Granville Historical Society at 740-587-3951 or by visiting the Society’s online store here.