Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mrs. Sophia Sprague

This daguerreotype of Mrs. Sophia Sprague was created by R.E. Weeks in his Sandusky studio in 1857. Sophia Patrick was born in Madison County, New York in 1798. She married Nehemiah Sprague in the mid-1820s in the state of New York, and they had a large family that included seven children. Mr. Sprague died in 1848, leaving Sophia to support the children by herself. By 1860 she was residing in Sandusky, Ohio, with several of her children. An article which appeared in volume four of the Firelands Pioneer describes her experience as a single mother.

Seven bodies to clothe and feed, seven minds to train and educate, was no small task for a woman, but she was equal to it and performed her work well. One by one they arrived at man and womanhood and were married, but until that time she provided them all a home and her work in that direction was not completed until there were none to look after. From that time on she found a comfortable home with those she had brought through trials and hardships from childhood to man and womanhood. Two of her daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia, married, one in 1853 and one in 1856, and moved to Ohio and to that state she followed them, with the rest of her children, in 1856; since that time she has resided in Sandusky. As long as any of her children remained unmarried, she kept her own home for them; when they were all gone and her duty done to them, she took up her abode with the children to whom she had been so faithful.
At the age of 83, Sophia Sprague displayed an embroidered lace handkerchief at the Erie County Fair. She also displayed a quilt at the fair which she had done in the style of the double Irish chain. The quilt was awarded as a premium. You can read much more about the Erie County Fair of 1880 in September 24, 1880 issue of the Sandusky Register, on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.  

Mrs. Sophia Sprague died on November 19, 1886, at the age of 89. She was survived by four daughters and one son. Mrs. Sprague was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. Her brother, Dr. Spicer Patrick, was the first speaker of the house for the new state of West Virginia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Star Theatre

Opening in 1907 on West Market Street, the Star Theatre was in business on the 100 block of Columbus Avenue from 1914 to 1930. When the new Star Theatre building opened in May of 1914, an article in the Sandusky Register stated that the theater was “Built by Sanduskians for Sandusky.” A stone house built by Eleutheros Cooke had once stood where the new theater was built. Many local businesses provided supplies and materials for the new building.

The September 3, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register carried an advertisement which promoted the Fifth Annual Paramount Week at the Star Theatre. It stated that Paramount Pictures were “Celebrating Better Pictures at the all the Better Theatres.” The Paramount movies shown at the theatre from September 3 to September 9, 1922 were popular silent films, including “Call of the North,” “Morals,” “Sleepwalker,” and “Rent Free.” The stars in the Paramount Pictures were all part of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

On May 16, 1925, Bob Custer starred in “Flashing Spurs,” a western in which a Texas Ranger goes after a young woman thought to be involved with a gang of bank robbers.

The Star Theatre remained popular during the silent movie era, but eventually talking motion pictures made silent movies fall out of favor with the public, and the theatre ceased operations. Several different businesses have been located at what is now known as 140 Columbus Avenue, including cab companies and restaurants. Mr. Smith’s Coffee House is now located at the site. Visit the Sandusky Library to find a variety of books about the history of motion pictures, or to borrow classic films on DVD.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Snapshot of East Market Street from 1955

Helen Hansen, former curator of the Follett House Museum, took this picture of a portion of the Cooke Block and the north side of East Market Street on September 3, 1955. At this time Donald Smith ran the Smith Drug Store, where Holzaepfel’s would later operate a sporting goods store. When you take a closer look, you can see a sign in the shape of an LP record over the door of Meggitt’s Music Shop.

Other stores familiar to the “Baby Boom” generation of local residents include Jean Frocks, the Neisner Five and Dime, and the Sears store, where Santa would visit with youngsters each holiday season. Joseph’s Department store was to the east of the large Sears store. In the next block of East Market, was the former Whitehouse restaurant, later Markley’s, and Gossoff’s Carpet and Linoleum store.

Check out the library's online Archives to view more historical images from Sandusky and Erie County.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Servants' Call Box from the Lester S. Hubbard Home

A descendant of the Hubbard family, Dorothy Denig Shaw Speir, donated this servants’ call box, which was once in use at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lester S. Hubbard at 134 East Adams Street, to the Follett House Museum.

In this close up view, you can see the listings of the various rooms from which the family members could call on the household servants.

We can learn the names of some of the individuals who may have answered these call bells from the U.S. Census. In 1860, the names of the domestic servants residing at the Hubbard home were: Ann Maloy and Margaret Cavanagh, who were both natives of Ireland, and Susan Bass who had come to Ohio from New Jersey. In the 1870 U.S. Census, the names of the servants working at the Hubbard home included: Authy Harlb, from Germany, Minnie Schwine, from Ohio, and Ann Cora from Ireland. 

Mrs. L.S. Hubbard was the lady of the house in 1860 and 1870:

After the death of Mr. and Mrs. L.S. Hubbard, other members of the family lived in the Hubbard home. In 1920, their daughter Jeannie L.H. Denig lived there with her husband Robert. At this time there were no servants listed in the U.S. Census records.

Jean Livingston Hubbard Denig
While most of us have probably never had the opportunity to use a servants’ call bell, it was not unusual for prominent families who employed household servants to have such an item in their homes.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

"The Grandest Pic-Nic of the Nineteenth Century"

An announcement for a steamboat excursion to the Lake Erie Islands appeared in the September, 1868 issue of the Teacher of Penmanship. Graduates and current students of the Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College, the predecessor of the Sandusky Business College, were invited to the event, held on September 9, 1868. Three steamboats were chartered, including the Evening Star, the Eighth Ohio and the General Grant. It was to be a “select intellectual and educational convention.” Guests were asked to bring baskets of food for the excursion. The trip included a “sail upon the Lake, around the vine-clad Islands, Inlets, Bays Peninsulas and Promontories, where the immortal Perry ‘met the enemy and made them ours’ under the auspices of the College at Sandusky.” An article in the September 8, 1868 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that railroads were offering half price fares for attendees of the excursion, and current students of the Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College were to be issued free tickets. 

The Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College was established in 1866. At first all students were male, though in later years many female students enrolled.  Some of the courses offered at the College were accounts training, telegraphing, and shorthand.

On the day of the Excursion, everyone who attended found it to be a “pleasant affair” according the Sandusky Register of September 10, 1868. Threatening weather kept hundreds of people at home, who would have gone on the trip had there been fair weather on September 9. 

Below is a picture of three steamboats close to Put in Bay in 1868:

The Evening Star is on the left. The center boat is the Lake Breeze. To the right is the Eighth Ohio.  In the far distance, you can see a portion of Jay Cooke’s home on Gibraltar Island.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

When the Auditor’s Office Issued Bicycle Licenses

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, bicycle licenses were issued in Ohio, to provide funds for the construction and repair of bicycle paths. This blank bicycle license was issued by the Erie County Auditor’s Office for the fee of one dollar (about $30 in today's money). In the late nineteenth century, bicycles became popular for both transportation and recreational purposes. 

Below is a picture of a young man named Lloyd Gaa, standing with a penny-farthing bicycle at the Lloyd Studio in Sandusky in 1882.

We are unsure if the bicycle in front of the Beilstein Laundry belonged to an employee or a customer.

These young men are getting ready for a local bicycle race in 1919:

Here is a copy of the Bicycle Laws that were passed by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio on April 21, 1898:

And if you want to know about today's bicycling rules, follow the link for a column from the Ohio Bar Association that discusses current guidelines about the Law of Riding a Bicycle in Ohio.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Fruit Jar Marker Booklet from The Commercial Banking and Trust Company

In the early twentieth century, the Commercial Banking and Trust Company was at the northeast corner of Columbus Avenue and East Market Street. In 1922, as a promotion, the bank offered customers a booklet of canning labels to use in marking hand canned fruits, vegetables and preserves.

The booklet described the “Emergency Shelf,”  which homemakers could keep stocked with home canned goods, to be used in an emergency or if the homemaker found herself quite busy on any given day.

Recipes were also included:

There are several gummed labels still in excellent condition in the booklet, now in the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

In 1923, the Commercial Banking and Trust Company opened a new building at the northeast corner of Washington Row and Columbus Avenue. Unfortunately, the bank failed during the Great Depression.

Soon, this former bank building will become part of a new Sandusky City Hall.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Jay Cooke's Address to the Firelands Historical Society in 1900

Jay Cooke was born in Sandusky, Ohio on August 10, 1821. After working for E.W. Clark and Company, he opened his own banking business in 1861, known as Jay Cooke and Company. His company prospered, and during the Civil War Jay Cooke and Company negotiated loans for the government and sold bonds to raise capital for the Union cause. Because of his fundraising efforts in the 1860s, he became known as the “financier of the Civil War.” 

On October 3, 1900 Jay Cooke read an address to the members of the Firelands Historical Society at the Trinity Methodist Church in Sandusky.

Cooke’s address was printed in the December 1, 1900 issue of the Firelands Pioneer. Besides discussing his successful fund raising efforts during the Civil War, he recalled many fond memories of his early days in Sandusky, such as going hunting with Judge Caldwell. He remembered that the first train from Sandusky to Bellevue was horse drawn, and that a cannon had been shot off at the ground breaking of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. He revealed that he had sent the first telegraph to Sandusky, written in Philadelphia and sent to his father Eleutheros. 

You can read Mr. Cooke’s entire address in the Firelands Pioneer of December 1, 1900.  

In the nineteenth century photographer A.C. Platt created this stereographic card which features the steamer named Jay Cooke in honor of the Sandusky born banker.

A silver spoon with inscribed with the name “Jay Cooke” is in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum.

A marker noting the birthplace of Jay Cooke can be seen in downtown Sandusky on the north side of East Market Street.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Letter from Horace Greeley to Andrew W. Prout, Jr.

Apparently Andrew W. Prout, Jr. had invited Horace Greeley to a meeting of the Erie County Agricultural Society in 1871. Mr. Greeley was unable to attend, and he sent a letter of regret to Mr. Prout. The letter read:

Aug. 26, 1871
Dear Sir:            I will not be able to service west of the Ohio so long as will be required by attendance at your fair, and must respectfully decline your invitation.Yours,Horace Greeley 
Mr. A.W. Prout, Jr.Treasurer, Ag. Soc.Sandusky, Ohio
Horace Greeley was a politician and the long-time editor of the New York Tribune, which he founded in 1841. He ran unsuccessfully as the Democratic candidate for President just before his death in 1872. Mr. Andrew W. Prout, Jr. , born in Bloomingville in 1837, was a prominent Erie County businessman.

He was in the banking business for over forty years, and he served as Treasurer of several organizations, including the Erie County Agricultural Society and the Erie County Farmers’ Insurance Company.

Friday, August 24, 2018

The City of Sandusky Has Beautiful Parks

In a 1907 article for the Ohio Magazine, the Honorable Charles S. Reed wrote, “It can fairly be said that there are few cities in the country that can boast of such beautiful and well kept parks as Sandusky. They are the admiration and envy of the thousands and thousands of people who visit the city annually…”   The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has several historical images of Sandusky’s City Parks in the Parks Collection of photographs. 

Here an employee from the City of Sandusky’s Park Department admires a floral mound labelled “Flora.” This picture was taken before the Erie County Courthouse was renovated in the 1930s:

In 1950, a worker mows the grass on a mound that features the Masonic emblem:

In 1955, Chris Goelz, then supervisor with the Sandusky Parks and Greenhouse can be seen working on a mound that reads “Drive Slow - Save Lives.” In the 1950s, Mr. Goelz often traveled to parks throughout the United States and Canada to get new landscaping ideas.

In the picture below, four city workers are hard at work getting the floral lighthouse ready for the summer season at Washington Park.

This picture of the city of Sandusky’s Greenhouse employees was taken about 1980. Three of the four people are identified: Ernest Erdman is standing at the back of the group; next to him is Mary Bloker; one of the other men is Fred Bloker.