Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cholera Victims of 1849: in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio

In the fall of 1986, Mrs. Katharyn L. Wunderley completed a project which resulted in a compilation of information about hundreds of individuals who lost their lives in Sandusky’s cholera epidemic of 1849. Mrs. Wunderley used these ten sources in her research.

Names are listed alphabetically, with the sources used indicated for each name.

Some entries provide very brief details, while others are lengthy, such as this listing for William Townsend:

About two hundred fifty victims of cholera were buried in the Harrison Street Cemetery, now known as the Cholera Cemetery.  A single column honors the memory of those who died. About one hundred twenty persons were buried in the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. After Oakland Cemetery was opened in 1850, at least thirty tombstones were put in place in memory of cholera victims who lost their lives in 1849.  Three ministers who died of cholera are buried side by side at Oakland Cemetery.

A marble monument bears the name of Rev. N.W. Fisher, former pastor of the Congregational Church; Rev. H.P. Ward, a Methodist minister; and Rev. T.C. Cooper of the Bethel Church. To learn more about the many individuals who died of cholera in Sandusky in 1849, see Katharyn Wunderley’s book Cholera Victims of 1849: in Sandusky, Erie County, Ohio, shelved with the genealogy and local history books in the Lower Level of the Sandusky Library. This resource is invaluable, as it covers a time in history prior to the publication of Sandusky City Directories. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Knights of the Maccabees

Mrs. Paul Bogert donated this picture, taken by W.A. Bishop, of a local chapter of the Knights of the Maccabees, taken around the turn of the twentieth century. Though we do not know exactly who each individual is in this picture, the first five individuals in the back row (from left to right) are: John Schoepfle, Frank Close, Jacob Hoffman, Alex Saxer, and Adam Smith. In the very front row are: Conrad Rhonehouse, Mosey Hohl, Bert Wiegel, Henry Bromm, and Dan Arndt (or Arend.) Other men in the group photo are: Gus Koegle, Caleb Till, Fred Hinkey, Robert Fox, George Braley, George Maley, Joe Andres, Lewis Biehl, E. Stevens, Dr. H.A. Chandler, John Kohler, and Al Ernst. 

Though the Knights of the Maccabees ceased to be a fraternal organization in 1962, in the late 1800s and the early 1900s the organization was active in Sandusky. In the 1916 Sandusky City Directory, there were four “tents” of the Knights of the Maccabees and two “hives” of the Ladies of Maccabees. One of the main benefits of joining the Knights of the Maccabees was the opportunity for members to obtain life insurance at a reasonable rate. 

An article in the July 16, 1900 issue of the Sandusky Star reported on a trip that the Maccabees took to Columbus. The Chandler Division of the uniformed rank, Knights of the Maccabees, marched from their hall on Market Street to the train station. As they marched, the members of the Maccabees wore wigs and played kazoos. While in Columbus, they had an encampment with several of divisions of the Maccabees. A special side show exhibit was held at the Maccabees encampment, in which Jacob Hoffman portrayed one of Custer’s scouts and Dr. Chandler served as a “crack-a-jack” story teller. 

If you have ancestors from Sandusky or Erie County, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. In our Clubs and Organizations collection, are many photographs, historical articles, and primary sources about many of this area’s former residents.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Pitt Cooke

Pitt Cooke was the son of Sandusky’s first lawyer, Eleutheros Cooke, and his wife, the former Martha Carswell. He was born on July 23, 1819 in Bloomingville, Ohio, in a building that had formerly served as the Bank of Sandusky Bay.  (The bank was never chartered.)

Pitt Cooke was educated at the Norwalk Academy, and he attended college at Kenyon College, where he studied law. After passing the bar, he practiced law in Sandusky, Ohio with Lucas Beecher. Later he was in the forwarding and commission business with William Townsend, until 1849 when Mr. Townsend died in the cholera epidemic. After the Civil War began, he moved east to assist his brother Jay Cooke a banker was a significant financier of the financier of the Union military effort during the Civil War. Pitt continued to work at the banking house of Jay Cooke and Company in New York until 1873, when he moved back to Sandusky, Ohio. An article in volume 17 of the Firelands Pioneer stated about Pitt Cooke, “Few men were more competent or active in business than Mr. Cooke, and as a companion and friend he was always genial and pleasant. He was a man of large heart and warm, generous impulses, and ever ready to assist to the extent of his ability those who were in need.”    After the death of both Mr. and Mrs. William Townsend in 1849, Mr. and Mrs. Pitt Cooke took in their orphaned children, who were the younger siblings of Mrs. Cooke, the former Mary Townsend.

On December 13, 1879, Pitt Cooke died at his residence on West Washington Street in Sandusky. He left behind his wife and six children. Funeral services for Pitt Cooke were held at the family residence with several members of the Episcopal clergy present, including Rev. L. S. Osborn and Rev. A. Nicholas of Sandusky; Dr. S.A. Bronson of Mansfield; and Rev. Samuel Marks of Huron. Pallbearers were: Judge E.B. Sadler, Judge Rush Sloane, R.B. Hubbard, A.H. Moss, C.C. Keech, W.T. West, W.A. Simpson, and S.S. Hosmer. He was buried in the family lot at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Leather Post Cards

Popular from about 1904 to 1909, leather post cards were a popular novelty item. The United States Postal Service banned leather post cards in 1909, due to the leather causing jams in the equipment at the Post Office. Pictured below are three leather post cards from the historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.


The Erie County Courthouse is featured in this post card.

This comical post card appears to have been painted, with the location of Sandusky burned into the leather.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Program Announcement: Author Presentation and Book Signing - Faded Lines of Gray (Novel of Johnson's Island)

Monday July 22, 6:30PM, in the Library Program Room

Faded Lines of Gray is a historical novel based on the Johnson's Island Conspiracy of the Civil War. Author Steven Harris will share the story of one of the most daring exploits of the Civil War: A Confederate plan to free thousands of rebel officers -- including half a dozen generals -- held captive on Johnson's Island, while simultaneously capturing the only warship on the Great Lakes, the U.S.S. Michigan. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Program Announcement: Brown Bag Lunch Series - Lime Industry in Sandusky

Wednesday, July 17 at noon in the Library Program Room

Join us in the Sandusky Library as local historian Jim Miller discusses the growth and importance of the lime industry in 19th century Sandusky.

Samuel B. Caldwell

This painting of Samuel B. Caldwell, now at the Follett House Museum, was painted by a strolling artist, according to the donor, Mrs. Ethelinda Griswold Free. Samuel B. Caldwell was born in Washington County, New York in 1792. During the War of 1812, he took part in the battles of Plattsburg and Lake Champlain. He married Mary S. Cady in 1815. In 1817, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel B. Caldwell moved west, along with the family of Eleutheros Cooke. First the two families resided in Indiana, and later they moved to Bloomingville, in what is now Erie County, Ohio. After Mary Caldwell’s death in 1825, Samuel B. Caldwell moved to Sandusky, where he boarded at the Steamboat Hotel.  In 1827, Samuel married Susan Boalt, the daughter of the hotel’s proprietor, John Boalt. Mr. and Mrs. Caldwell lived in this stone house at 257 Jackson Street from about 1835 until the 1850s. The property at 257 Jackson Street is now a part of the First Presbyterian Church.

Samuel B. Caldwell was one of the first local school directors, and during the years 1837 to 1839, he was the Mayor of Sandusky. Hewson Peeke wrote in A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, that Caldwell served as an Associate Judge of the Common Pleas Court, though his years of service were not listed. A biographical sketch of Judge Caldwell, which appeared in the Firelands Pioneer in 1874, stated that the judge “stored his mind with useful and varied information which he could command with facility as occasion required. He possessed a native modesty that prompted him to shun rather rather than court notoriety.”  He and his wife were very hospitable to family and friends. A letter from Judge Caldwell is held in the  historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The Judge and his wife invited Samuel and Clara Butler to Thanksgiving dinner in 1846.

Judge Samuel B. Caldwell died on July 15, 1873. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery. Mrs. Susan Caldwell survived until 1886. A portrait of Mrs. Susan Caldwell can also be seen at the Follett House Museum.

Friday, July 12, 2013

William F. Peters, Composer

William Frederick Peters was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1871 to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Peters; he graduated from Sandusky High School in 1891.  He is pictured above with his student Reber N. Johnson in 1896. Mr. Peters received his musical education in Leipzig, Germany.  In the 1890s, William F. Peters composed The Alpha Tau Omega Waltzes, The Elks March, and The Catalpa Waltz. Copies of these compositions are held in the historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. (Inquire at the Reference Services desk at the Sandusky Library if you would like to view them.)

William F. Peters was the music director of the Empire Stock Company for twelve years, working with Charles Frohman and David Belasco. He wrote the music for Robert H. McLaughlin’s drama, “The Rites of Spring,” which premiered at the Euclid Avenue Opera House in Cleveland, Ohio in 1920.  The New York Times of December 2, 1938 stated that he was “the first composer to write an original score for the movies.” Some of his notable scores include: “The Four Feathers,” “The Hungarian Rhapsody,” and “Orphans of the Storm.”  You can view the titles of several of his compositions at the Internet Broadway Database and the Internet Movie Database. The National Jukebox project of the Library of Congress features four recordings of William F. Peters compositions. 

After suffering from heart disease for several months, William F. Peters died at his home in Englewood, New Jersey on December 1, 1938. Funeral services for Mr. Peters were held in Manhattan, and burial was in Hartsdale, New York. Obituaries were published locally in the Sandusky Register and the Sandusky Star Journal.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Commercial House in 1898

Pictured above is a wagon from the Consumers’ Ice Company in front of the Commercial House hotel in 1898 on the west side of Jackson Street, between Market and Water Streets. Theodore Schleicher was the driver of the wagon.  In the 1898 Sandusky City Directory, Mrs. J. Reuter was listed as the proprietress of the hotel, which had formerly been known as Reuter’s Hotel.

Room rates were $1.00 to $1.50, and meals were twenty five cents apiece. There were bathrooms and electric fans in the Commercial House. Due to the close proximity to the Opera House, special rates were offered to theatrical people. In the 1893 Sanborn Map, you can see the exact location of the former Reuter’s Hotel and the Opera House.

AdWriter, Inc. is now at the former location of the Commercial House at 165 Jackson Street in downtown Sandusky.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

William H. Gilcher, Lumber Dealer

William H. Gilcher was born in Sandusky, Ohio on July 2, 1843 to Peter and Christina (Boos) Gilcher. Peter Gilcher was a native of Germany, and came to Sandusky in the 1830s. He started out as a carpenter, and later embarked on a long and prosperous career in the lumber industry.  As a young man, William H. Gilcher went into the lumber business with his father. In 1868, the Gilchers became partners with R.E. Schuck in the lumber business, and the firm was known as Gilcher & Schuck. The office was on Water Street, in the former depot of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad.   You can see stacks of lumber from the Gilcher & Schuck firm along the waterfront in the picture below.

Hewson Peeke wrote in his book entitled A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio: “For more than half a century the name of William H. Gilcher has been synonymous with the lumber industry around the shores of the Great Lakes.”  Since heavy shipments of lumber came down the lake in boats, he aspired to become involved in the shipping industry, eventually becoming one of the founders of the Gilchrist Transportation Company. Unfortunately, the Gilchrist Transportation Company suffered disaster, and the investors and stockholders all lost a great deal of money. Other business ventures with which William H. Gilcher was connected were the White Line Electric Company, later part of the Lake Shore Electric, Cedar Point., and the Third National Exchange Bank.

Mr. Gilcher married Miss Tinnie Rosenbaum in 1868. After Tinnie’s death in 1890, he married Julietta Stimson of Ashtabula in 1902. On March 9, 1922, William H. Gilcher died after a lengthy illness. His obituary, which appears in the 1922 Obituary Notebook, stated that he had been a “pioneer lumber and business man and one of the best known residents of the city.”  Funeral services for Mr. Gilcher were held at the family residence on Columbus Avenue, and burial was in Oakland Cemetery.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Fourth of July Celebration in Sandusky in 1889

During the latter part of June, 1889, George Frohman spent three days putting up posters all over Erie County, informing residents of the upcoming Fourth of July Celebration to be held in Sandusky. According to a lengthy article in the July 5, 1889 issue of the Sandusky Register, the July Fourth Celebration in 1889 was a huge success. The weather was perfect, and people came from near and far for the festivities. The day’s events began with a concert by the Great Western Band. A parade was held at 10 a.m. and included the bicycle club, the Great Western Band, City Police and Firemen, men from the McMeens Post G.A.R., the G.A.R. Drum Corps, and many city officials. Several businesses had floats in the parade. The Sandusky Wheel Company, Sandusky Box Company, Germania Basket Company, Sandusky Tool Company, Sandusky Ice Company, and many other manufacturers and merchants from Sandusky participated in the parade. The Weier Brothers Scrapyard had a display of junk on a wagon for the parade.

At 1 p.m., the crowd proceded to the Fair Grounds, where Major E.B. King gave a stirring patriotic address. At 2 p.m., a variety of races were held,  which included horse and goat races, a bicycle race, foot race, and a farmers’ wagon race. After the races, the crowd was mesmerized as Professor King Burk went 1,000 feet up into the sky in a hot air balloon. After he cut the ropes from the balloon, he abruptly landed in a field near the railroad. The Fouth of July festivities concluded with a display of fireworks held at the Grandstand at the Fair Grounds from 8:30 to 10:30. (In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the Erie County Fair Grounds were located on Wayne Street, south of Scott Street.)

An article in the July 5, 1889 Sandusky Register stated that the “parade was a dandy,” and that the executive committee had done a fine job. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to read the complete article about the 1889 Fourth of July festivities, in the 1889 Sandusky Register, now on microfilm.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

George Helmich Served at Gettysburg

The most devastating conflict of the Civil War, the battle of Gettysburg, was being fought 150 years ago on this date. Of the more than 7000 who died in this battle, one was a German immigrant who made his home in Sandusky.

In the 1860 U.S. Census for Erie County, Ohio, George Helmich was 32 years of age, a native of Baden. He and his wife Fredericka had a family of six children, ranging in age from infancy to ten years of age. As often is the case with individuals of German descent, George's surname appears in census, vital, and military records with several different spellings, including Helmich, Helmick, Helmig, and Hellmich. On August 20, 1862 he enlisted in Co. F of the Ohio 107th Infantry. The 107th Infantry was initially led by Sanduskian Louis Traub, who had formerly been in charge of the local military unit known as the Jaeger Company. On July 2, 1863 George Helmich was killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. His remains were brought back to Sandusky, and he was buried in Block 31 of the North Ridge of Sandusky's Oakland Cemetery; in 1884, his body was re-interred to Block 65 of the North Ridge section.

An article in the April 11, 1920 issue of the Sandusky Register featured an article in which three Sandusky men recalled the re-interment of George Helmich. The cemetery employees found that the coffin of Mr. Helmich was still in excellent condition in 1884. While moving the coffin, the lid became opened accidentally. The grave diggers were amazed to find the remains of George Helmich to be in a perfect state of preservation, though twenty two years had passed since he had been killed in the Civil War. His military uniform was so perfect, that it was still bright blue, and its buttons looked as though they had just been polished. The Register articled concluded by stating that the case of the preservation of the remains of Mr. Helmich was "without parallel."

To read more about Ohioans who served in the Battle of Gettysburg, read the book Buckeye Blood: Ohioans at Gettysburg, by Richard A. Baumgartner (Blue Acorn Press, 2003), available for loan through the ClevNet Consortium.