In 1955, 67-year-old Emma “Grandma” Gatewood hiked the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail — the first woman ever to hike the entire trail solo.
A native of Gallipolis, Ohio, Gatewood had lived through the Depression and raised 11 children in an abusive marriage. Years after she’d divorced her husband and her children were grown, Gatewood read a story about the Appalachian Trail in National Geographic that noted that only five men had hiked the entire trail by themselves, and that no woman had. It spurred her to grab her sneakers and strike out for the trail.
A Symbol for Overcoming Adversity
After conquering the Appalachian Trail, she hiked it two more times, hiked the Oregon Trail and helped found the Buckeye Trail in Ohio. From age 67 until her death, she hiked more than 10,000 miles and became a symbol for overcoming adversity to achieve the seemingly impossible. To honor her achievements, in 2012 the Ohio General Assembly declared April 27 as “Emma ‘Grandma’ Gatewood Day.”
Grandma Gatewood’s story is so remarkable that it’s inspired the folks at Eden Valley Enterprises in Elyria, Ohio, to make a documentary about her life.
Documentary Aided by Contributions to Ohio’s History Fund
A $15,000 grant from Ohio’s History Fund, awarded in 2013, is helping them get the documentary off the ground.
The History Fund is a grant program funded by voluntary contributions from Ohioans who opt to donate a portion of their state income tax refund to the Ohio History Connection. The society uses the donations to make grants that help fund local history- and preservation-related projects in communities cross the state.
“Without this grant and the generous contributions of Ohio taxpayers, this documentary project might not have happened and Emma’s story would be relegated to relative obscurity,” says Betty Lou Higgins, project director. “With the 60th anniversary of her hike approaching in 2015, this documentary will be a wonderful way to celebrate and honor this remarkable Ohio woman.”
Learn more about the documentary project and Grandma Gatewood’s story at www.edenvalleyenterprises.org.
Learn more about how you can contribute to Ohio’s History Fund, aiding projects like this throughout Ohio via your state income tax return, at www.ohiohistory.org/makehistory.
How the Tax “Check-Off” Works
• Although we call it a “check-off,” on your tax form, you won’t find a box to check.
• Toward the end of your individual Ohio state income tax return, after you’ve calculated the amount of your refund (if you’re receiving a refund), you’ll find a line that asks “Amount of line 00 that you wish to donate to the following funds.” (The line number will differ depending on which version of the Ohio state income tax return you’re using — hence we’ve used 00 to represent the line number here).
• One of the four options is “Ohio History Connection.”
• Under “Ohio History Connection,” fill in the amount that you’d like to contribute. Last year’s average contribution was $8.63, so even a small donation can make a big difference.
• The amount you contribute to the Ohio History Connection through your Ohio state income tax return goes specifically to support the History Fund, which makes grants that help support local history- and preservation-related projects in communities throughout Ohio.
• Questions? Learn more about the History Fund grants at www.ohiohistory.org/makehistory or call the Ohio History Connection’s Local History Office at 800.858.6878.