Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Otto Schimansky, Member of the Grand Army of the Republic

In 1890 Otto Schimansky (sometimes spelled Shimansky) was the General Manager of the D. J. Brown Manufacturing Co., a company which manufactured hoops for barrels.

He was born in Germany, and settled in Oak Harbor, Ohio. He served in the Third Ohio Cavalry during the Civil War. In 1884, the Schimansky family moved to Sandusky. Otto held several patents, including a patent for cutting hoops, planing hoops, and pointing hoops.

Otto Schimansky and his wife Elizabeth were married for fifty-seven years. They were the parents of Dr. C. A. Schimansky and O. K. Schimansky, former publisher of the Cleveland Leader and Times. Otto was a member of the McMeens Post of the G.A.R. (serving as Inspector General), the Perseverance Lodge, and the First Congregational Church. 

When he died in November of 1928,  his sons received a condolence telegraph from General G. M. Saltzgaber, past commander-in-chief of the G.A.R. It began with “My heart was filled with grief on learning of the death of your noble father. He served with me during the great Civil War in the Third Ohio Veteran Volunteer Cavalry. Under the great Lincoln he was one of those fine young Americans who endured suffering and gave his great strength to recement our glorious union…”

Otto Schimansky and his wife and sons are buried in the family plot in Oakland Cemetery.

Here is a photograph of the 24th Reunion of the Third Ohio Cavalry held at Cedar Point:

Saturday, October 24, 2020

With the 308th Engineers From Ohio to the Rhine and Back


In the military section of the Genealogical and Local History books at the Sandusky Library is a book entitled With the 308th Engineers From Ohio to the Rhine and Back. The book was published in 1923 by the 308th Engineers Veterans Association. Pictured below are insignia and symbols associated with the 308th Engineers.

The major operations of the 308th Engineers in World War I were in France in 1918, and included the Aisne-Marne Offensive, the Oise-Aisne Offensive, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The main tasks of the 308th Engineers were to repair and maintain roads and build bridges. The 308th Engineers were the first American troops to bridge the Rhine. The 308th also furnished Guards of Honor for General Pershing, the Prince of Wales, and Marshall Ferdinand Foch. Several men from Sandusky, Ohio served with the 308th Engineers during the war: Edwin Uhl, Reinhold Ahlers, Henry Baker, Ralph Carney, Vergil Grant, Fred Kranz, Victor J. Moore, John Riesterer, Emil Grahl, Paul Knupke, Robert Mees, Henry Cycoly, Walter J. Kleinfelder, Edward Klueg, Carl Mainzer, Lee Staffler, Guy Norton, Henry Bates, Norman Martin, Charles Hasbrook, Peter Scavio, Charles Voight, and Herbert Textor.

The third annual reunion of the 308th Engineers Veteran Association was held at Cedar Point on August 5 through August 7, 1923. The headquarters for the group during their stay at Cedar Point was at the Hotel Breakers. During the Reunion, business meetings were held, along with a banquet, athletic events, and several speeches. A dance was held at the Coliseum on August 5, 1923. Sandusky resident Herbert Textor served as Treasurer of the Association in 1923.

Visit the Sandusky Library to see the book With the 308th Engineers From Ohio to the Rhine and Back. Another outstanding World War I resource at the library is Erie County Edition, Honor Roll of Ohio, 1917-1918, which provides brief biographical sketches and photographs of Erie County residents who served in the Great War. Inquire at the Reference Services desk for more information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Former Lehrer Clinic on West Washington Street


In 1916 Dr.  Henry William Lehrer opened his medical practice at 1015 West Washington Street in Sandusky, Ohio. He practiced medicine at that location until his retirement in 1977. During his long career, Dr. Lehrer served as chief of medical staff at both the former Providence and Good Samaritan Hospitals. He also served on the Advisory Board of BGSU Firelands College. The article below appeared in the February 4, 1974 issue of the Sandusky Register, when Dr. Lehrer was honored, along with several other area physicians.


Dr. Henry G. Lehrer joined his father’s medical practice in 1946, and another son, Dr. David R. Lehrer, came on board in 1948.


The senior Dr. Lehrer died in 1980. Eventually, Dr. David R. Lehrer left the Sandusky area. When Dr. Henry George Lehrer retired in 1983, it was the first time in sixty-seven years that there was not a Dr. Lehrer in the medical office at 1015 West Washington Street.

According to the Ohio Historic Inventory for Erie County, the man who was constructing the original building became sick with cholera and died in 1849. Later the building was a boarding house, a millinery shop, and a doctor’s office. In 1906. Dr. G.H. Boehmer had his medical office at 1215 Washington Street, the former address of the Lehrer Clinic. In 1901, this ad appeared in the January 15, 1901 issue of the Sandusky Star.


In the 1990s, Doctors Jay and Jerri Nielsen (known for her experience as a cancer patient in Antarctica) had their offices at 1015 West Washington Street, followed by an After-Hours Medical Center. Though this location no longer serves as a medical office, hundreds of Sandusky area patients were treated at the former Lehrer Clinic throughout many decades of the twentieth century.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

When There Was an Undertaking Business in the Beecher House


You might recognize the Beecher House as it looks today on Washington Row, surrounded by commercial buildings, next door to the Odd fellows building:


But when it was built around 1848 as the home of Lucas Beecher, that portion of Washington Row was was residential. 


After Mr. Beecher’s death, and the city's business district expanded, other individuals as well as businesses were located in this building. In 1890, W.A. Bishop's photographic studio was in the Beecher House. For a time, Dr. E. Gillard had an office there. In the late 1890s, an undertaking business was located in the house at 725 Washington Row (later the 200 block), also known as “Beecher Place.”

H.J. Breeze and Mr. Hole advertised their “exclusive undertaking and embalming” business in the Postal Guide which was distributed to local residents in Sandusky in the late 1890s. Breeze and Hole also provided free ambulance service to any part of Sandusky, and they could be reached by telephone at any hour of the day or night. An interesting article about H.J. Breeze appeared in newspapers all over the U.S. in 1898. He had a process in which he successfully embalmed pet dogs.

from https://archive.org/stream/Peoplesadvocate1898/Aug%201898#page/n7/mode/2up/search/breeze

It seems that a wealthy lady had two St. Bernard dogs, which she treasured. After the dogs attacked a messenger boy, the police said the dogs had to be put down. Mr. Breeze successfully embalmed the dogs, and after several weeks, they still appeared in good condition. They appeared to be dogs at rest.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Violet Ray Generators Sold in Sandusky

During the first half of the twentieth century, thousands of “Violet Ray Generators” were sold in the United States for home use. Advertisements claimed that the device would cure heart disease, paralysis, writer’s cramp, rheumatism, lumbago, and many other ailments. In theory, electricity was supposed to carry revitalizing power to the cells of the body, to enrich the blood and increase oxygen levels. An early instruction booklet is available online. 

 Below is a portion of an ad for the “Renulife Violet Ray High Frequency Generator” which was sold at the Herb and Myers store in Sandusky in 1921. Customers could visit the store to have a treatment before purchasing the product. 


 In the summer and fall of 1921, Ben Sprau was an agent for “Tucker’s Violet Rays” High Frequency Generator. Potential customers were encouraged to write or call for an expert demonstration. 


 Eventually the Violet Ray generators were banned for making false claims, although you can still locate similar devices on the Internet. Visit the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library to view decades of historical newspapers on microfilm. It is both interesting and entertaining to see the products that were sold locally.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Dance Party at the Odd Fellows Hall


N.J. Abele took this picture of a large group of people at a dance at the Odd Fellows Hall about 1912. A few people were identified in notes on the back of the original picture:


The couple at the bottom of this close up view appear to adore each other:

The people at the party were dressed in formal attire.


Some of the ladies wore flowers or ribbons in their hair.


The upper level of the Odd Fellows Hall was the site of many dances in twentieth century Sandusky.



Friday, October 09, 2020

West Water Street Businesses from Behind in 1926


Sandusky photographer Ernst Niebergall took this picture of the rear side of the buildings along West Water Street between Columbus Avenue and Jackson Street about 1926. Today we know this area as the newly renovated Shoreline Drive. The first building on the eastern part of this block is known as Hubbard’s Block, at what is now 101 West Water Street. The building was originally owned by Sandusky businessman Lester Hubbard, and designed by Sheldon Smith, was built in the Romanesque Revival style of architecture. Hubbard’s Block was home to the Cosmopolitan Art and Literary Association in the 1850s. Moving down the street, next is the Stiles E. Hubbard building at 115 West Water Street, which had as its first tenants a grocery and dry goods store, and Austin Ferry’s hat shop. In 1926 George M. Rinkleff had a hardware store at 121 West Water Street. This advertisement shows us some of the items that were carried by the Rinkleff Hardware store in the 1910s, a few years before Mr. Niebergall took the picture of the block.


Known as the Lawrence Cable building, the structure at 121 West Water Street was built in 1868. Samuel Love had a men’s clothing store at 201 West Water Street in the mid-1920s. Charles R. Carroll ran a transfer business and a second hand store at 211 West Water Street. Many of the vintage trucks parked on the street were probably used to transport goods to local residents by employees of Mr. Carroll’s transfer business.


Chicken dinners were served at a restaurant to the west of Mr. Carroll’s business. At the corner of West Water Street and Jackson Street is the Freeland T. Barney building, which was built about 1870 and renovated in 1892. Most of the buildings that are pictured had businesses on the street level and apartments on the upper floors. You can read more historical details about the commercial property on West Water Street in Ellie Damm’s book, Treasure by the Bay. Pages 53 to 58 are devoted to the architectural background of these historic buildings.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Political Mementos from Joseph G. Cannon


Sandusky resident Leo Kugel donated two political mementos from Joseph G. Cannon’s unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 1908 to the historical collections of the Sandusky Library. At the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Joe Cannon received fifty eight votes for the presidential nomination. Of course, William Howard Taft won the nomination and he went on to win the U.S. presidential election in November. 

Joseph G. Cannon, often known as “Uncle Joe,” was a longtime member of the House of Representatives, serving from 1873-1891, 1893-1913, and 1915 -1923. He was Speaker of the House from 1903 to 1911.

Joe Cannon wielded a great deal of power in the House of Representatives. People all across the U.S. had strong feelings about Mr. Cannon, ranging from admiration to contempt. His image graced the cover of the very first issue of Time Magazine. When he died in November of 1926, the news was featured on the front page of the Sandusky Register.


A brief excerpt from the article read “No other public man of his time was at once so strongly hated politically and so strongly loved personally.”

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Mrs. William G. Moorhead


Image from Sandusky Library Collections

Sarah Elizabeth Cooke was the first child and only daughter born to Eleutheros and Martha Cooke in the state of New York in 1816. The Eleutheros Cooke family moved to Sandusky, Ohio in 1819. In 1833, Sarah Elizabeth Cooke married William G. Moorhead. Mr. Moorhead was closely associated with Sarah’s brother Jay Cooke, and he became a prosperous railroad financier. The city of Moorhead was named after him for his service with the Northern Pacific Railway.

According to an article in the May 12, 1868 issue of the Sandusky Register, Mrs. Moorhead died in Philadelphia on May 11, 1868, at the age of 50. In 1927 a miniature portrait of Mrs. Moorhead was donated to the historical room of the Sandusky Library. The miniature painting may now be seen on the second floor of The Follett House Museum. An article from the June 7, 1927 Sandusky Star Journal reported that though Mrs. Moorhead spent much of her time in Europe and South America, she was so devoted to the city of Sandusky that “on her return from a long voyage, she stooped down and kissed the sidewalk, declaring that she loved every stick and stone in the town.” (In 1862 she donated a baptismal font to Sandusky’s Grace Episcopal Church. Many beautiful stained glass windows at Grace Episcopal Church were given in memory of Sandusky’s earliest residents.)

Visit the Sandusky Library and The Follett House Museum to learn more about the early residents, churches, and business of Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is home to several church histories, county histories, historical newspapers on microfilm, and many photographs and other primary sources. Ask at the Reference Services desk for assistance.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Record Book of the Commissioner of Insolvents, Erie County, Ohio


In the early years of Erie County government, the county kept records of the proceedings between debtors and their creditors. The record book shown below was given to the Sandusky Library from the estate of Rush R. Sloane, former Mayor of Sandusky. In 1841, John Sloane, Rush’s father, was the Commissioner of Insolvents for Erie County; he also served as the Mayor of Sandusky from 1840 through 1843. 


The ledger book was purchased from D. Campbell & Sons in Sandusky, Ohio who were the publishers of the local newspaper of that time, the Sandusky Clarion (now the Register). 

Pictured below is a portion of the liabilities of Jonathan Mordock. He appeared before Commissioner  Sloane, regarding debts that dated back to March 12, 1831.

Following the itemized list of debts is a transcript of questions and answers between Sloane and Mordock. Evidently Mr. Mordock gave Asahel Fox some horses, a wagon, and a harness. Mr. Sloane was trying to determine whether the items that Mordock gave to Fox covered his indebtedness. It turns out that Ashael Fox was the son-in-law of Mr. Mordock, and Mr. Sloane determined that Jonathan Mordock was destitute, and qualified for the provisions of the March 1831 “Act for the Relief of Insolvent Debtors.”

Some of the phrases that appear in the affidavit are very familiar, such as “not to my recollection,” and “not that I know of.” While much of the Record Book of the Commissioner of Insolvents may not be very interesting to read, one can get a sense of which businesses were doing well in the 1830s and 1840s, by noting the names of the creditors. Some of the businesses to whom debtors owed money during this time included: lawyers Parish and Sadler, real estate agent John Beatty, grocers Johnson and Simpson, and the stone mason Ogden Mallory.

The Record Book of the Commissioner of Insolvents, Erie County is a two volume set that is housed in the “Sandusky and Erie County History” collections at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library.