Thomas Wilson

Thomas Wilson, a local community member, recalled his days in the Quarry Chapel as memorable and busy. Wilson described himself as a “townie” and indicated that from a young age he acquired an acute sense for detail. He knew everything about everyone.

In 1925, about the time that Wilson attended the Wiggin Street elementary school, his uncle Ed Wilson graduated from the Bexley Seminary School. Ed led a number of services at the Quarry Chapel on Sunday nights by candlelight for the local members. Ed then received a job with the Trinity Cathedral in Pittsburgh and settled there with his family.

The Quarry Chapel was the center of social activity in Gambier. In 1926, the Quarry Chapel closed briefly due to the rector’s resignation. By early 1935 the Chapel reopened allowing young seminarians an opportunity to practice their sermons. Thomas Wilson recalled attending with his father and local friends such as Jim Rowley, the “bopsie twins,” Squire Sheasby, and even William Fish. Thomas Wilson’s father was an active member of the Chapel and took a particular interest in renovation and upkeep. He donated the bell that hangs in the lantern on the top of the building and purchased three “laden” lights for the interior. Wilson’s father came to Kenyon to study theology. However, he completed his studies with a much stronger desire for political science. Thomas Wilson recalled his father as a stickler for Sunday school. Even in the heaviest of snowfall, Thomas walked to the Parish House where after twelve months of perfect attendance he was given an award.

The land surrounding the Chapel was owned mainly by the Wilsons, Rowleys and the Batemans. The Wilson’s occupied lot numbers 33, 34, and 35 along Monroe Mills Road perpendicular to Quarry Chapel Road. These lots are now the part of the Tomahawk Golf Course. The Bateman’s owned the land next door and were old friends of the Wilson’s. Wilson laughingly recalled the times when John Bateman, a Republican, and his father, a Democrat, often found themselves in heated political debates.

As each member of the local community went about their day, Thomas Wilson hopped on his bicycle and observed the landscape and the people. He noticed that a Phil Timberlake, a Kenyon Professor at the time, had difficulty sleeping and drove at night to keep himself from losing his mind. He drove down the Ohio River at night and went through two engines in his car. He was one of the first people in Gambier to own a car. Wilson kept a close tab on whose car belonged to whom and was the most impressed with Ted Boomer’s (a local community member) Buick as a child. He watched people closely and looked forward to community gatherings at the church where all the young people had the opportunity to visit in the religious setting.

Thomas Wilson described Gambier as a homogenous community. Any distinction between the people resulted from a difference in intellectual levels. “The town ranged from dumb dumbs who couldn’t balance a checkbook to the best educated of them all.” It was a thriving community filled with small town folklore and church community gatherings. Some of Thomas Wilson’s fondest memories were at the church. Local school girls, who he recalled from his childhood and went to the Quarry, are still close friends and meet about every five years. In 1934, the Wilsons left the small town of Gambier to live in Mt. Vernon where they joined the Episcopal Church on High Street in the town center.