Look around the House
You will find extensive collections housed in the museum. One of the highlights is the display of over 200 antique dolls. Most were collected by Helen Thompson with the intention of the dolls becoming part of her museum. More dolls have since been donated by others wishing to add to the fine collection.
Another highlight includes a quilt made by the ladies of Granger in 1976, for the U.S. Bicentennial, as well as examples of early coverlets and quilts. You will find a mixture of antique furniture from the pre-Civil War through the Victorian era, spinning wheels, kitchen utensils, glassware, clocks, Victrolas, and musical instruments. We are even fortunate enough to have items that belonged to some of Granger’s earliest pioneers.
History of the House
Originally built between 1840 and 1843, this Western Reserve style home was built by Dr. Stacy Hills and his wife Naomi. The house served as their family residence, and the doctor practiced medicine in the small front room on the western side of the house.
In 1908, S. Irvin and Cynthia Work Thompson purchased this house and raised five children in it. The Thompson family improved and expanded the home to accommodate their growing family. Mr. Thompson elevated the home two blocks above ground level.
Irvin pre-deceased his wife Cynthia, and the widow continued to live in the house 12 more years, but rented out part of it. After Cynthia’s death in 1948, daughter Helen Thompson purchased her parents’ home. Since Helen was working in Chicago, she used the house as rental property until she retired back to Granger. In the summer of 1966, she donated her home and all of its contents to the township. She wished to provide a museum for the benefit of others, especially children. She had an addition, the “museum room,” added to the east side of the house. Although she donated her home, she reserved the right to continue to live in the house and did so until she passed away in 1989.
Hills Family Biography
Elizur Hills, Burt Codding, James Ganyard, and Anthony Low were the first 4 property owners of Granger Township. The four had purchased the majority of the township from Gideon Granger and moved here from the Canandaigua, NY area in 1818. Elizur and his wife, Abigail (Codding), had 10 children, 7 of whom came with them to Granger. They first settled in the Coddingville area.
The youngest of Elizur and Abigail’s children was Stacy Hills. Stacy and his brother Myron were among the pride of the Granger’s common schools. Stacy “read medicine” under Dr. John Cleveland, and then attended Willoughby Medical College, graduating in 1842. He practiced in the west room of what is now Granger’s museum.
Stacy married Naomi Hatch, and they had 3 children, two of whom lived to adulthood. Their son Elbridge went to West Point, served as a career soldier, and reached the rank of captain. Two of Elbridge’s descendants, Catherine of Maryland and Babette of Arizona, attended Granger’s bicentennial!
Stacy and Naoma’s daughter Lelia was a beloved teacher in Medina. She married William Barker, and they had a son Clare. He graduated from Medina High School in 1895. Lelia and Clare both died in 1928, and are buried at Spring Grove Cemetery.
Helen Thompson’s Biography
Miss Helen M. Thompson was born in 1902 and came to Medina County with her family in 1904. She moved to the Granger Road house in 1908. She had 3 sisters, Clarice, Mary, and Dorcas, and a brother, David. She graduated from Granger High School in 1922.
Miss Thompson was a descendant of Scotch-Irish Presbyterian pioneers who came to America before the Revolution. She was interested in the “history of our county and in the preservation and memorialization of the principles and ideals which motivated our forbearers in coming to this country.”
Miss Thompson retired from the Gray Line Company after a thirty-five-year career. For thirty of those years, she resided in Chicago, Illinois. Upon her retirement, she returned to her childhood home in Granger.
Along with the house and property, Miss Thompson’s gift to the township included what she said were “some items of personal property, hopefully, to be displayed.” Her home contains early American and Victorian furniture (which, she said, “talk back” to each other) as well as her fine collection of dolls. The gift was formally presented to Granger Township Trustees in the summer of 1966, but Miss Thompson retained the right to live on the property and did so until she passed away in 1989.
Look around the Library
This is a library, so yes there are books, but there is also much more. The original collection of 8000 books has been drastically culled over the years to create a collection more geared toward historical interest. The books are meant for research purposes and are no longer circulated. There is also a nice collection of classic children’s books.
Through donations from other residents, you will notice other displays including Granger High School graduate composites, Highland High School yearbooks, a display of GAR items, World War I and II artifacts, blacksmithing tools, carpentry tools used in local barn construction, and country store equipment such as the very large coffee grinder, and the large school bell from one of the township's one-room school houses.
In 2020, through a grant from the state of Ohio, the library was much improved with new cabinetry which greatly enhances the ability to display collections. Included are not only bookcases, but also display spaces and file cabinets where visitors can research local history and find genealogy information. The research materials can even enable you to trace the previous owners of your own property.
View a full list of reference books that can be used to research your ancestors or the previous owners of your property in Granger.
How the Library Came to Be
The library building and its original contents were gifts from Judge Aldrich Underwood, dedicated to the township in 1974. His donation had been under consideration since at least 1969, as evidenced by a letter to him from Willis and Hazel Stoll in that year. The cost of the 30x40 foot building, which was built on land that belonged to Helen Thompson, was about $10,000. It was lined with particle board bookcases along the perimeter, and also running in parallel rows from front to back.
Originally the library was filled with a collection of tools, mainly antique farm implements, a collection of Native American relics, and about 8000 books provided by Judge Underwood. The Judge was a well-read man with broad interests, so his books included history, medicine, travel, science, religion, biographies, and lots more, even etiquette and oratory. In the early years, the books had check-out pockets, and were circulated.