Discover Shelby County History App is live

SIDNEY — As part of the legacy project for the Shelby County Bicentennial in 2019, a few members of the bicentennial committee came up with the idea to create an application for mobile devices where a user would be able to view pieces of Shelby County’s rich history from wherever they are in the county.

The driving force behind the idea of this “app” was the Tour Guide Map of Shelby County created for the Ohio Sesquicentennial in 1953. It gave a basis of 25 locations spread out throughout the county that interested citizens could take a “historical pilgrimage” to and visit at their own leisure in a self-guided driving tour. The committee thought, wouldn’t it be neat to do something similar to this project, but updated and maybe with a few more locations? Thus the Bicentennial Driving Tour app legacy project was born.

The project was presented to the Shelby County Historical Society in the late spring 2018 and research on what types of locations to include began immediately by Jane Bailey, the Society’s curator. A preliminary list of locations throughout the county was written up, and given to the mayors of each town at a committee meeting to review and elaborate on. It was eventually agreed upon to include all cemeteries, villages and ghost towns, remaining one-room school houses, buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, churches mentioned in the History of Shelby County books, bygone churches, the new Veteran’s Memorial Plaque bridge locations, and other locations of historical and community value. As the research on each of these places progressed, new locations were found, increasing the number from its original 25 locations to encompass a new total of 346 points of interest throughout the county!

Finally, by the end of January, a database had been created for the driving tour app containing the name of the point of interest, a brief description, its township and/or village it’s near, its physical address (if applicable), its GPS coordinates, category, photograph (if there was one available), and a description of the photograph. After careful proofreading and discussions on several locations to confirm information, the database was finally ready for submission. This database was given to the SMS Group of Sidney where it was converted by Steve Sommer into an application that could be downloaded onto both Apple and Android devices. Previous research into creating an app such as this was priced at upwards of $15,000 a year to create and maintain; however the SMS Group was willing to donate their time and cover the yearly maintenance fee to upkeep the app since it was part of the Bicentennial Legacy Project.

The app was given the name “Discover Shelby County History” and once downloaded can be used in multiple ways to learn more about Shelby County’s rich history. Places of interest are sorted alphabetically and searchable by township, village it’s near, category, and keywords. When in the app, there is also a tab that states “History Near Me,” which when clicked will display through Google maps a red pin at what locations are near the user that are of historical interest. After over a thousand hours of research, proofreading, and programming, this app is finally available as a free download in both the Apple and Android app markets for all to enjoy.

While it may currently contain a multitude of historical locations, it does not encompass every single historical site within Shelby County. An update to this app containing more locations, especially within Sidney, will hopefully be released for the Sidney Bicentennial in 2020. If there are any locations not within the app that should be included, please feel free to send an email to addressed to the Shelby County Historical Society with the location’s name, location, and a brief sentence as to its historical value or why it should be included.