Note: This story appears in the Sunday, Sept. 15 newspaper on Page A3.
You can often tell whether a person is from Gallipolis just by how they pronounce the town’s name. People who grew up in the Ohio River community say it one way, while much of the rest of the region says it entirely differently.
In the upcoming “Our Town: Gallipolis,” filmmaker Evan Shaw will examine why this is even an issue by diving deeply into the town’s French roots, as well as looking at the historical events that shaped this Gallia County village.
“One of Gallipolis’ claims to fame is that it has the longest running Emancipation Proclamation Day celebration in the United States,” Shaw said. “The people of Gallipolis have been celebrating the freedom of African-American slaves every year since Sept. 22, 1863, which was exactly one year after President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary proclamation stipulating that if the southern states did not cease their rebellion by January 1, 1863, the proclamation would go into effect.”
The film will also examine many other unique aspects and people of Gallipolis including: the formation of the Ohio River, the Battle of Point Pleasant, and the Silver Bridge disaster, along with some of its more notable residents like Bob Evans and Grandma Gatewood.
Shaw is a 13-time Emmy-Award winner and a Southeastern Ohio native. Previously highlighted communities in the Our Town series include Lancaster, Pomeroy, Nelsonville, Jackson, Athens and Morgan County. Shaw started his research work in Gallipolis last spring and said he is very excited about the seventh episode of the series.
“Each community has its own personality,” Shaw said. “Once you learn about the events and people that make up the town and see how the past has influenced the present and will influence the future, you can’t help but fall in love with these places. I’m already learning things about Gallipolis that tell me how special of a place it is, and I can’t wait to share that with the community, the region and the entire state.”
Our Town: Gallipolis will premiere at a free public screening at in Gallipolis in March of 2020. More information on the date and location will be announced soon.
Our Town is a historical documentary series produced by WOUB Public Media and the Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact which aims to tell the unique creation stories of communities in the Appalachian region. Through the telling of this history, Our Town is building the collective story of the Appalachian region and developing an incredible sense of place and purpose to inspire residents to continue building on the past to create a stronger future.