Friday, January 17, 2020

Anna Gilbert’s Autograph Book

Anna Gilbert, daughter of George and Anna Gilbert, is pictured above in her graduation picture from  Sandusky High School in 1892 The picture was taken by photographer J.M. Lloyd. In 1884 Anna received an autograph album as a Christmas gift. The autographs Anna collected range in date from 1884 to 1890. Several of the verses written to Annie were decorated with colorful illustrations.

On February 14, 1885, E.A. Gilbert wrote this verse encouraging Annie to think of the author, even if she were to live far away in the future:

Minnie Carter signed this verse in 1886:

George M. Stevenson suggested that Anna was the female pictured on the page on which he signed his name.

Anna Gilbert lived to the age of 96. She passed away on January 17, 1970, at the colonial Manor Nursing Home. An obituary for Anna Gilbert appeared in the January 16, 1970 issue of the Sandusky Register. Anna was a retired bookkeeper, and had been employed at several area businesses, including several wineries, the former Roberts Motor Company, and Harten and Brooks Motor Sales.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sandusky, the "Ideal Home City"

In the 1912-1913 Sandusky City Directory, Conrad Boehm was listed as a confectioner at 103 Columbus Avenue, in the West House hotel in downtown Sandusky (the present site of the State Theatre). An envelope from Mr. Boehm’s store advertised Sandusky as the “Ideal Home City.”

Conrad Boehm sold post cards and other souvenirs at the time of the Perry Centennial Celebration in September, 1913. The image he used on the envelope was from a popular postcard at the time. 

The return address on the envelope
A gate featured on the envelope promotes Sandusky as being the Gateway to the Perry Centennial, with steamers providing a direct route from Sandusky to Put-In-Bay. (Note that the imagined Perry's Victory monument doesn't quite match how it ended up in reality.) Cheap fuel, power, and free factory sites are also promoted on the envelope.  Sandusky has long been a hub of transportation, with Sandusky Bay being a natural harbor on the Great Lakes, and railroads running east, west, and south to and from the city. 

To read more about the history of transportation in Sandusky, see Leola M. Stewart’s article entitled “Sandusky, Pioneer Link Between Rail and Sail,” available on the Ohio History Connection’s website.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

William A. Richardson, Educator

William A. Richardson was born in Port Clinton, Ohio, on February 17, 1869 to David and Paulina Richardson. William’s father was born in Scotland, and his mother was born in Bavaria. After working as an educator in Port Clinton, Mr. Richardson went to Sandusky High School, serving from 1901 until 1935. From 1914 to 1921, he served as principal of the school. For several years, Mr. Richardson taught algebra and geometry at Sandusky High. 

A newspaper article that highlighted his long career stated that “Richardson is a teacher heart and soul. He feels that an instructor has a real job, whose ability comes mostly through experience and a born liking and aptitude for imparting knowledge. He has spent his entire life, in and out of school, perfecting himself in his job.” 

On January 12, 1941, William A. Richardson passed away, after a lengthy illness. Karl A. Whinnery, then the superintendent of Sandusky City Schools, stated: “With the death of W. A. Richardson, Sandusky loses one of its finest citizens. He served the Sandusky High School for thirty five years, one of the longest terms in the history of the school. The quality of his work was entirely in keeping with the length of his service. He was held in the highest regard by both the teachers and students.”

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Rollin M. Wilcox, "An Honest Merchant"

Rollin Merritt Wilcox was born in 1836 in Rock Creek, Ashtabula County, Ohio to Harmon Wilcox and his wife, the former Maria Mabel Hubbard. Rollin’s uncles were well known Sandusky businessmen, L.S. and R.B. Hubbard. Below is an undated daguerreotype of Rollin and his brother E.H. Wilcox.

In 1859 Mr. Wilcox married Martha Newton, and they had a daughter named Jessie. Mrs. Martha Newton Wilcox died when she was not yet age 30. In 1870, Rollin married again, to Helen M. Smith. Rollin and Helen also had several children, Laura, Merritt, and Mabel. Mrs. Helen Smith Wilcox was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Library Association of Sandusky, from 1875 to 1877.

For many years, Mr. Wilcox was connected with the Wilcox Company, a dry goods and department store, in operation in Sandusky from 1886 until 1929.


In the first days of operation, the store was called Hubbard and Wilcox. Later it became March and Wilcox. The third name of the business was E. H. and R. M. Wilcox. (Edward Harmon and Rollin M. Wilcox were brothers.) After the death of Edward H. Wilcox in 1886 his son C. B. Wilcox entered the firm, and the firm became known as the R. M. & C. B. Wilcox Company.  

On May 1, 1902, Rollin M. Wilcox died at his home on South Columbus Avenue, after a brief illness. An obituary in the May 4, 1902 issue of the Sandusky Register featured the headline, “A Good Man Gone.” The article went on to declare that he was an honest merchant, and maintained that excellent reputation throughout his long career. Mr. Wilcox was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery in the family lot. After his death, his son Merritt S. Wilcox began working for the company.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Men of Sandusky

In 1895, a booklet promoting Sandusky was printed by the I. F. Mack & Brother Printers in Sandusky, Ohio. On page 3 is the beginning of an introductory essay by C. S. Van Tassel, the publisher of this book. According to Ohio Authors and Their Books, Charles Sumner Van Tassel was born in Wood County, Ohio in 1858, and worked at several Ohio newspapers, including the Sandusky Register, before he retired from the field of journalism to focus on writing books on local history.

Men of Sandusky begins with a brief history of the city of Sandusky. Photographs taken by Platt feature scenes of Sandusky, including city parks, churches, schools, and government offices. Several pages of the booklet are devoted to the businesses, newspapers, and transportation services of the Sandusky area. Pages 17 through 21 focus on the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home, now known as the Ohio Veterans Home. On page 15, General Sheridan is quoted as saying “Sandusky ought to be made the most beautiful city on the Lakes….”

Forty nine leading male citizens are pictured in the second half of Men of Sandusky. Jacob Kuebeler and John E. Stang were both connected with local brewing businesses.

I.F. and John T. Mack were the co-owners of the Sandusky Register

An index (pp. 57-59) to the men pictured in Men of Sandusky gives a very brief description of the prominent Sandusky men whose portraits appear in the booklet.

Visit the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library to view Men of Sandusky.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Bobbed Hair

Members of the Sandusky High School Class of 1928

The bob cut hairstyle was popular in the United States in the 1920’s. It was a hairstyle for women with the hair cut to neck or chin length, all around the head. The public reaction to bobbed hairstyles varied widely. An Associated Press article featured in the September 6, 1921 issue of the Sandusky Register was entitled “Bobbed Hair Argument Gets Serious.” Some employers banned the new shorter hair styles. The AP article reprinted editorials which represented opposing points of view on bobbed hair. One editorial stated, “Bobbed haired girls may not be vapid and silly, we don’t say they are, but you can’t get around the fact that they look that way. And, naturally, a girl that appears frivolous is not wanted in business, even though she may be serious minded.”

Another editorial thought bobbed hair was sensible. “Bobbed hair is not a foolish fad. It is the most sensible way for business girls to wear it. They don’t keep looking at the mirror all the time, and it gives them a chance to type a letter all the way from the ‘replying to you favor’ to the ‘we beg to remain’ without having to fidget around trying to keep stands from trickling the ears or blowing in the eyes.”

In the picture below, three young ladies are getting bob haircuts at the McMahon Barber Shop, inside the Hotel Rieger, in 1925.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view historical photographs and high school yearbooks, to see the fashions and hairstyles of past generations in Sandusky and Erie County.

Monday, December 30, 2019

African American Barbers in Sandusky

There have been barbers for as long as history has been recorded.  Razors have been found dating back to the Bronze Age, and shaving is mentioned in the Bible. In Sandusky there were many barber shops located within local hotels, for the convenience of out of town travelers.  Pictured below is the J. and F. Bock Barber Shop, at 810 Water Street around 1886.  Joseph and Frank Bock’s father Matthias G. Bock was listed as a barber in the 1855 Sandusky City Directory.

Barbering was one of the few professions open to black men in the nineteenth century, so several shops in Sandusky were operated by African Americans. In the Firelands Pioneer of July 1888 Rush Sloane states that Grant Ritchie, an African American, opened the first barber shop in Sandusky. Ritchie “was the earliest and most active agent of the line [Underground Railroad] and always successful in his operations.” Another African American agent of the Underground Railroad was John Lott, who barbered in Sandusky in the 1840’s and 1850’s.  It is thought that many discussions and plans for the freeing of fugitive slaves via the underground railway took place in barber shops, where African American men could speak freely.

Mr. Lott’s advertisement appeared in The Daily Sanduskian on January 31, 1851.

John Lott was among the several African American citizens of Sandusky who presented Rush Sloane with a silver headed cane in appreciation of his efforts on behalf of seven fugitive slaves whom he represented in 1852. You can still see this cane at the Follett House Museum. Unfortunately, no known photographs exist of Mr. Ritchie or Mr. Lott.

Barber shops continue to thrive all over America, particularly in the African American community, where people can get a haircut as well as catch up on the local gossip. Barber shops have been the inspiration for books, magazine articles, barbershop quartets, and even a major motion picture in 2002.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Greetings, With a Christmas Card Inspired by Sandusky’s Washington Square

In 1966, Eileen Detlefsen created a series of Christmas cards which were inspired by scenes from old Sandusky.  Mrs. Detlefsen used the linoleum block print technique to make the scenes on each holiday card. Each handmade card was stamped “Eileen’s Originals” on the back.  The card above features Sandusky’s public square, also known as Washington Square, about 1863. Buildings featured in the print include Grace Episcopal Church, the old Academy building, the former Congregational Church building, and at the far right, the First Presbyterian Church. An undated (and unsourced) photocopy in our historical files appears to be a copy taken from the page of a nineteenth century book. While the photocopy is not identical to the print created by Eileen, both images are quite similar.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sandusky Residents Helped “Stamp Out” Tuberculosis

Several sheets of Christmas seals, ranging in dates from 1950 to 1993, are in the historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The 1951 seals featured Santa, along with the familiar American Lung Association logo:

By 1969 a statement on top of the page of seals indicated that by purchasing the holiday seals, the purchaser was supporting the fight against tuberculosis and emphysema as well as air pollution.

Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann wrote an article for the December 26, 1993 issue of the Sandusky Register, “Stamping Out TB.” Tuberculosis, sometimes known as consumption or scrofula, was a common cause of death in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Oran Follett (below), a prominent Sandusky resident, lost his first wife and two daughters to the dreadful disease.

In 1907, when tuberculosis was the leading cause of death for Americans, an American Red Cross volunteer, Emily Bissell, helped to promote a fund-raising campaign in which seals were sold and funds were used to help build hospitals for tuberculosis patients. A similar campaign had been successful in Denmark. Several Sandusky women sold stamps near the Post Office. By 1920 the National Tuberculosis Association took over the sale of Christmas seals. Children could purchase the small seals in their classroom for a penny apiece. The Tuberculosis and Health Association of Erie County purchased x-ray equipment in 1932, and later a mobile x-ray truck, to help in the diagnosis of tuberculosis among local residents.   

By the year 1940, tuberculosis dropped to being number seven in the cause of deaths of Americans. Now the funding group for Christmas seals is known as the American Lung Association, which still sells them each holiday season. You can read about the history of Christmas seals online.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Early Christmas Cards

Now in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum, these Christmas cards date back to 1880. Underneath the image of each young lady on these vintage cards are the words “A Christmas greeting with love.” Each card is decorated with fringe.

These Christmas cards do not feature the bright Christmas green and red so often used in modern Christmas cards, but rather have muted colors. They were donated to the Sandusky Library’s historical museum by Mrs. Arthur Crosskill, the former Millicent West Hubbard. Millicent West Hubbard was born in Sandusky on September 21, 1880 to Charles Livingston Hubbard and Jenna West Hubbard.  Her grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Lester Hubbard and Mr. and Mrs. William T. West, all pioneer residents of Sandusky, Ohio. 

To learn more about the history of Christmas cards, see this article from Smithsonian magazine.