Sunday, April 28, 2013

Jacob A. Biehl’s Grocery Store

From 1888 until his death in 1935, Jacob A. Biehl operated a grocery store at the southeast corner of Warren and Reese Streets in Sandusky, Ohio. Hewson Peeke wrote in his book, A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, that Jacob A. Biehl was “a man of excellent business capacity, intelligence and sterling integrity.” Mr. Biehl was born in Sandusky on April 28, 1855, to Frederick and Barbara Biehl. For several years, Jacob Biehl worked for the L.B. Johnson Company. In 1888, without any previous experience, he started a grocery store, and met with success from the beginning of his business venture. Records from the County Commissioners’ reports in 1911 and 1912 show that Erie County purchased supplies from Jacob Biehl for use in maintenance of county buildings.  A popular product sold by Jacob Biehl’s store was “Biehl’s Killem Quick” rat poison. This product was said to free your premises from rats and mice. The rat poison came in a variety of sizes, ranging in price from twenty five cents to one dollar

In 1878 Jacob A. Biehl married Margaret Faulhaber, and they had a family of four children. Jacob A. Biehl passed away at his home on March 10, 1935. Funeral services for Jacob A. Biehl were held at the family residence, with the Rev. Arthur Von Gruenigen officiating. Mr. Biehl was buried in the family lot at Oakland Cemetery. A lengthy obituary for Jacob A. Biehl is found in the 1935 Obituary Notebook, housed with the genealogical books at the Sandusky Library.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Northwest Territory Celebration

On April 30, 1938, thousands of people in Sandusky celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.  A parade, banquet, and pageant were features of the local celebration. At 10:30 a.m. an ox-cart caravan of thirty-seven youth arrived. The young people re-enacted the journey of Ohio’s first settlers from Ipswich, Massachusetts to Marietta, Ohio. The parade began at 2:30 P.M., starting at Hayes Avenue and extending north to downtown Sandusky.

Scores of floats participated in the parade, including those from civic and fraternal organizations, marching units, area businesses and military organizations. The American Red Cross float featured a banner that read: “In Service of Those Who Suffer.”

A banquet was held at Jackson Junior High School  at 6 p.m. The school’s auditorium was decorated to look like the stockade at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky. At 8:30 p.m. a free pageant was held at Strobel Field, where events in the settling of the state of Ohio were re-enacted. Read accounts of the festivities in Sandusky in 1938 at the Northwest Territory Celebration from the Sandusky Register, now on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Eagles, Sandusky Aerie No. 444, Bowling League Champions in 1929

During the 1928-1929 bowling season, the Sandusky Eagles had eight teams in its league. Each team was named for a different portion of the eagle: Heads, Tails, Claws, Spurs, Feathers, Beaks, Legs, and Wings. Winners of the Eagles Bowling League in April, 1929 were the Heads. Members of the team included: Frank Golden, Dr. John J. Atkins, Robert Giessman, Ralph Andrews, Edward J. Shafer, and Herman Popke. Dr. John J. Atkins was the Eagles physician, but he had to step down in September, 1929 due to poor health. Bowling has been a popular leisure activity since the late nineteenth century, and is enjoyed by individuals in over ninety countries.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Weier Brothers Company

John and Henry Weier started a salvage business in the early 1880s at 922 Hancock Street. After the street numbers changed in 1915, the Weier Brothers Company’s address changed to 1024 Hancock Street. The brothers came to the United States in 1843 from Baden, Germany. The business started small, but grew to become a profitable establishment. The scrap yard dealt in waste materials of all kinds, but it specialized in steel and other ferrous scrap. The January 25, 1908 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal ran this advertisement from the Weier Brothers, in which the brothers encouraged local farmers to sell their scrap materials to their company.

The business was located close to the railroad tracks, which expedited shipping and receiving of materials.

In March, 1925, both John and Henry Weier died. The business was passed down to John Weier’s son J. Leroy Weier, who continued the family business until shortly before his death in 1971. During World War II, the Weier Brothers Company advertised for patriotic workers who could work in the scrap iron trade. Materials from Weier Brothers was sold to industries involved in making goods to contribute to the war effort.

After the deaths of J. Leroy and Laura Weier, money from their estate was bequeathed to several charities.  The $600,000 was distributed to three area hospitals, the Firelands Council of Boy Scouts, Firelands Council of Camp Fire Girls, and the Sandusky Y.M.C.A. What started as a small business founded by two German immigrants, became a vital business in Sandusky. The Weier Brothers Company employed hundreds of local residents through its many years of operation, and after the company ceased operations, the local community benefited from the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. J. Leroy Weier. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dr. Augustus J. Gawne, Inventor

Augustus James Gawne was born in 1843 to Charles and Alice Gawne. From about 1880 to 1910, Dr. A. J. Gawne was a physician in Sandusky, Ohio. He had his office at several different locations in Sandusky. In the late 1890s and early 1900s, his office was on the second floor of the Graham building at the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and Water Street.

On January 12, 1897, A.J. Gawne was issued a patent for a medical device called a Static Generator.

In an 1898 news article, the Portsmouth Daily Times described the Gawne Static Electric Generator as "one of the greatest inventions of the age." The machine was sold to physicians, and was used for the treatment of acute and chronic aches. Dr. Gawne claimed to have success with the static generator in treating rheumatism, neuralgia, headaches, nervousness, and muscle spasms.

Dr. Gawne was married twice. His first wife, the former Ella Warden, died in 1887 when she was only 39 years of age. In 1893, A.J. Gawne married Sophia Louise Alvord, but according to his death record, that marriage ended in divorce. On June 1, 1910, Dr. Gawne died at Good Samaritan Hospital. Funeral services were held at his residence on Decatur Street, with the Rev. W. Ashton Thompson officiating.
Dr. Gawne was buried next to his first wife in the North Ridge section of Oakland Cemetery.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Carl L. Osberg’s Drug Store

In the early part of the twentieth century, for over twenty years Carl L. Osberg operated a drug store on the street level of the Odd Fellows building on Washington Row in downtown Sandusky. You can see row after row of bottles lined up behind the counter in the pharmacy.

 The soda fountain was a popular feature at Osberg’s.

After selling his business, Carl L. Osberg worked for a time in real estate in Detroit. In 1931 Mr. Osberg started the Estmont Company, a manufacturing chemists business which specialized in cosmetics. The Estmont Company was started in Detroit, but moved to Vermilion in 1932, where Carl L .Osberg ran the company with his sons Carl and Leonard Osberg. On April 21, 1947, Carl Osberg died in a nursing home in Lorain. He was buried in the family lot at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is fortunate to have been given several vintage pictures of the former Osberg Drug Store. The interior views of the store remind us of a time gone by.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Program Announcement: Brown Bag Lunch -- Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, April 17, at 12:00 p.m.
Eleanor Roosevelt was born into New York City’s high society in 1884, but experienced a childhood filled with tragedy. In 1905 she married her distant cousin Franklin. Together they formed a political partnership that extraordinarily impacted people from all walks of life, all over our country. Even after FDR’s death in 1945, Eleanor continued her social activism and eventually became known as the “First Lady of the World.” Jeri Diehl Cusack from the Midwest Committee of Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt will be our guest presenter. Registration is not required.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Leonard B. Gurley, Pioneer Poet

In honor of National Poetry Month, a story about Sandusky's pioneer poet:

Leonard Beatty Gurley was born in Connecticut to Rev. William Gurley and Susannah Beatty. His uncle, John Beatty, was the Mayor of Sandusky from 1833-1836, and his cousin, also named John Beatty, was a Brigadier General in the Civil War.  The Gurley family moved to the Firelands in the early 1800’s. Both Leonard B. Gurley and his father were Methodist preachers.  In the earliest days, they were “circuit riders,” riding on horseback to preach to the settlers. Rev. Leonard B. Gurley served as pastor of Sandusky’s Trinity Methodist Church from 1867 through 1869. Rev. Gurley was well known in Ohio, Michigan, and Indiana.

Though he is not credited in the newspaper, L.B. Gurley wrote what some consider to be the first poem published in Northwestern Ohio. Rev. Nathaniel B. C. Love wrote an article about Leonard B. Gurley in volume 10 of the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society Publication.  The poem Thy Plains Sandusky begins:

Thy Plains Sandusky, and thy green retreats,
Thy perfum’d flowers, & they op’ning sweets,
How bright the scene to fancy’s richer glow,
True colors  deepen’d, void of airy show.

Dr. Love says of Leonard B. Gurley, “His imagery is so true to nature that one continually recognizes it as something seen, heard, felt in the observations and experiences of life.” Besides writing many poems and sermons, Rev. Gurley also wrote a biography of his father, The Memoir of  Rev. William Gurley, which is available for reading full-text at Google Books.

Rev. Leonard B. Gurley was a minister for over fifty years. His obituary in the March 29, 1880 Sandusky Register states that Rev. Gurley was “full of kindness for his neighbors, he was an excellent citizen, a faithful friend and brother adviser.” Though beloved by his family and friends, there is another side of Rev. Gurley.  A young woman named Mary Monnett came under the guidance of Rev. Leonard B. Gurley. Though she was in love with a male seminarian at Ohio Wesleyan University, Rev. Gurley convinced Mary that she should not pursue the romance. The story, which is available online, ends with Mary losing her money and living in an asylum.

Accounts of Rev. William Gurley, Rev. L. B. Gurley, and many other early settlers of Erie and Huron counties can be read in the Firelands Pioneer, available at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. 

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Walter F. Rittman, Chemical Engineer

Walter F. Rittman was born in Sandusky in 1883 to Christ and Louisa Rittman. Walter was an excellent football player while at Sandusky High School. He worked his way through Ohio Northern University, and then went on to complete his Master’s Degree at Swarthmore College in 1909. At Columbia University, he earned his doctorate. Dr. Rittman was pioneer in the field of chemical engineering, and was considered one of the outstanding chemical engineers of his time. In 1915 he gained national attention for his invention of a process which increased the output of gasoline from crude oil. He also perfected several other processes used in the explosive and dyestuff industries, which were used by the U.S. government during World War I.  He wrote several articles about the application of chemistry to industrial processes. From 1921 to 1933, Dr. Rittman was connected with the engineering department of the Carnegie Institute of Technology. He also served as a trustee of the Ohio Northern University from 1928 to 1941. For a time, Dr. Rittman was an instructor in chemistry at Columbia University, and later he worked as a chemist in the U.S. Bureau of Mines. On September 26, 1954, Dr. Walter F. Rittman died in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He was survived by his wife Anna, two sons, a daughter, and a sister, Mrs. Elmer B. Otto of Sandusky, Ohio. Dr. Rittman was buried in Chautauqua, New York, where his family had a summer home.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Lake Shore Tire Company

The Lake Shore Tire Company operated in Sandusky, Ohio from about 1915 to 1931 on the 1000 block of Hancock Street.  The business was run by Fred Brobst and J. Leroy Weier. The company started out selling tires for trucks and automobiles, but by 1927 the Lake Shore Tire Company was listed in the Sandusky city directory as a sporting goods store. In the mid 1920s, the Lake Shore Tire Company sold radios and radio accessories. This ad from the December 21, 1923 issue of the Sandusky Register told of the joys a family could have by listening to radio programs.

 In the vintage photograph from the Lake Shore Tire Company below, we see that the Lake Shore Tire Company once sold Imperial and Pullman tires. A handwritten slogan reads: “We’re the guys who put the miles in mileage.”

Monday, April 01, 2013

The Dilgart & Bittner Company

Here is an advertisement created by Gerald Abele Signs for the Dilgart & Bittner Company. (Most records list Dilgart as the correct spelling of the first partner’s name, though the sign gives the spelling as Dilgert.) According to A Standard History of Erie County, by Hewson L. Peeke, Dilgart & Bittner was “a business which Sandusky people regard with special pride, and for many years its development and prosperity have reflected upon the thorough commercial enterprise and character of William H. Dilgart, senior proprietor.”

William H. Dilgart came to Sandusky in 1901, and opened a furniture store in the Odd Fellows building. On March 4, 1905 William H. Dilgart and William P. Bittner formed a partnership, and the company was incorporated in 1907. The business, located on East Market Street, was a retail establishment which sold furniture, floor coverings, stoves, and other household items. After a fire in 1906, the store relocated at Wayne and East Market Streets.

After another fire in 1916, the Dilgart & Bittner store moved to East Washington Row.

In the mid 1920’s, the partnership between Mr. Dilgart and Mr. Bittner was dissolved, but William H. Dilgart continued in the furniture business. William P. Bittner went on to become secretary of the Erie County Investment Company.