|Helen & Isaac Gilmore
Black History Advocates and Historians
Helen Dehlia Russell Gilmore is the founder and President of the
Rossville-Springcreek Historical Society. She is also director of the Rossville Museum and
Cultural Center. Helen is a granddaughter of Frances Rial (Ryal) Russell (a daughter of
the freed Randolph slaves Isaac Rial and Mary White). Helen has written and published a
36-page booklet entitled, "The History of the Randolph Freed Slaves of Roanoke,
Virginia who settled in Miami & Shelby Counties."
With the assistance of her husband, Isaac, Helen researched the court records
of the predominantly black community of Rossville and decided
to save and restore the run-down African Jackson Cemetery in Rossville. Together, they
were able to locate the 120 bodies buried there through the aid of the original cemetery
plat and court records. According to Helen, "When my hand got tired of writing,
Isaac would write for me."
In 1986, the Gilmores
took a trip to the John Randolph plantation in Goochland
County, Virginia. They returned to Virginia the following year with twenty-four interested
persons, white and black, who wished to connect with the Randolphs history. These
travelers included former Sidney Mayor Jim Humphrey and
his wife, Louise. Owned by Dr. and Mrs. Charles Willis, the Randolph farm home was built
in the 1800s. Descendants of Piquas Randolph slaves, who had returned in later years
to Virginia, joined the local group for a reunion.
Helen contributed most of the Randolph slave support material for
this teachers guide and has spoken to Shelby County students about slavery. The
Gilmores worked for eight years to restore and furnish the one-story Rial frame house, and
spearheaded efforts to place it on the National Register
of Historic Places. It was one of the first black residences in Ohio to be added to
the Register. She and her husbands efforts were profiled in a seven-page feature
article in the June/July, 1996, issue of "Ohio Magazine".
''Black History' segment
written in June, 1998 by David Lodge
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