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2007 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award Recipients

Helen Dehlia Gilmore for her longtime devotion to preserving the history of Rossville and the story of the Randolph Slaves.

For decades, Helen Gilmore has been instrumental in preserving the history of Rossville, Ohio, and the story of the Randolph Slaves who settled there in 1847. Freed according to provisions of the will of John Randolph of Roanoke Plantation, Charlotte County, Virginia, the Randolph Slaves came to Ohio where they settled in Miami County. Located on the Miami River, Rossville had a church, school, graveyard, and many small homes. A direct descendant of the Randolph Slaves, Helen Gilmore was born and raised in Rossville, and her great-grandfather, Isaac Ryal–one of the slaves that Randolph freed–is buried in the Jackson Cemetery there. After her mother died, Helen was raised by her grandmother. They lived in the home of Helen’s great-great uncle, York Ryal, another of the former Randolph Slaves. In the early 1950s, Helen and her husband, Isaac, moved back to Rossville from Dayton. At the time, township trustees planned to build a garage for salt trucks on the site of the cemetery where many of the former Randolph Slaves were buried. The trustees told Helen that if she could prove who was buried there, they would spare it. Helen found a map in her cousin’s basement listing all of the burials. Since then, she has spent countless hours compiling information about the history of Rossville and the story of the Randolph Slaves. She’s gathered copies of all of the original deeds, along with pictures, family histories, and other early records. Today, the Jackson Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and Helen’s childhood home, the York Ryal House, is the Rossville Museum and Cultural Center, where the story of this remarkable community is preserved.

2007 Awards 
Presentation Image. Click to view slides of the awards presentation.

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