An Interview with Ohio
Author and Historian Jacob L. Bapst
Writing of Ohio’s cultural history,
Jacob L. Bapst has an extensive resume of researching, collecting and archiving
facts. I had the great opportunity to meet Jacob at the 2022 Monday Creek Book Festival,
Stuart’s Opera House, Nelsonville, Ohio. Here’s Jacob’s bio…
Jacob Lamar Bapst, the oldest of the
six children of Jacob and Janet Bapst, was born in the Chillicothe (Ohio)
Hospital on September 13, 1953. Two days later he was taken to the family home
in Beaver (Pike), Ohio. Jake attended Beaver Elementary School and graduated
from the Eastern(Pike) Local Schools in 1971. In the fall of 1971, Jake
enrolled in Rio Grande College. In 1973, he married Joann Snyder, a native of
Mansfield, Ohio, (a girl he met during a theater production at Rio Grande,)
Jake and Josie graduated from Rio Grande College in 1975 and soon began their
long careers in education. In 1983, their daughter Suzanna was born. Jake is
retired from the University of Rio Grande/ Rio Grande Community College. Jake
has also taught for Marshall University (he received his master’s degree there
in 1989), Ohio University, and Morehead State. He also served as the Director
of The Ohio Appalachian Center for Higher Education. Since 2016, he has served
as the volunteer archivist/historian at the University of Rio Grande. He has
co-authored four books with his close friend and colleague Ivan Tribe.
Currently he is working on a new book and preparing to celebrate his 50th
GM: What books have you written?
JB: I have four -West Virginia's
Traditional Country Music, The University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande
Community College, Beryl Halley: The Life and Follies of a Ziegfeld
Beauty 1897 - 1988, and The Jamboree in Wheeling. I co-authored them
with Ivan Tribe. Two are centered on music and musicians. The Rio Grande book
is a history of the school. Beryl Halley was a Rio Grande student who became a
member of the Ziegfeld Follies.
GM: As a writer, what do you find more difficult
- research, content writing, or editing?
JB: I love the research aspect of writing. My
content writing is difficult because I write in spurts. Editing is my least
favorite aspect of the process - it reminds me of grading papers!
GM: When writing storylines and characters, how
do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
JB: Almost all of my material is chronological
in nature, so it is easy to maintain thoughts.
GM: What would you like readers to take away
from your book?
JB:I want the reader to walk away with new
information and wanting more.
GM: What are you currently writing?
JB: I began work on Rio Grande
College between 1935 and 1955. That was the time when Rio had a farm, a
self-help program much like Berea College, almost closed, lost its affiliation
with the Baptist Church, and Bevo Francis became a college basketball legend, I
am well into the research stage of the project and am plotting my approach.
GM: What are you currently reading?
JB: I am reading lots and lots of newspaper
articles from the period of 1935-1955, and beside my computer is a copy
of Deciphering a Memory: Pontius Pilate.
GM: Who is your favorite author and genre?
JB: I absolutely love the works of Allan
Eckert. I actually got to meet him and have about an hour long conversation!
GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
JB: Write about things you are passionate
about and let that passion grow!
GM: List 10 things your fans may not know
JB: 1. I am a graduate of Rio Grande College
and retired from the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College.
2. I was the director of The Ohio Appalachian
Center for Higher Education.
3. I was the head baseball coach and an
assistant football coach at Kyger Creek High School for four years,
4. My wife is a retired teacher.
5. My daughter lives in New York City.
6. For the last seven years I have been the
volunteer archivist and historian at Rio Grande.
7. In 1973, I turned down an offer to go to New
York City and take a job as a stagehand on Broadway.
8. When I was in high school I worked as an
aide to a geologist and turned down an offer to spend a summer in Antarctica,
9. I wanted to be a pilot.
10. I was a pretty good baseball player once
upon a time.