Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Civil War Pension Files of Harrison Washington and William H. Johnson, African American Recruits from Sandusky

An article in the June 6, 1863 issue of the Sandusky Register reported on several African American recruits from Sandusky who were traveling by train to Readville, Massachusetts to enlist in the Massachusetts 55th Infantry. The group included a large majority of the able bodied men of color in the city of Sandusky ranging from 18 to 40 years of age. The Massachusetts 55th Infantry was a sister regiment to the Massachusetts 54th, the military unit featured in the film Glory. Fourteen men from Sandusky served in Company I of the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. They were led by Captain George T. Garrison, the son of well-known abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison. A previous blog post about these soldiers included pictures of the tombstones of two Civil War Veterans of the Massachusetts 55th who were buried in Sandusky at Oakland Cemetery.

In the pension file for Harrison Washington from the National Archives, we learn that he enlisted in the Massachusetts 55th in June of 1863. At that time, he was 5 feet 6 inches tall and he had been born on May 15, 1833 in Fleming County, Kentucky. Harrison Washington was honorably discharged in Massachusetts in October of 1865. He returned to Ohio for about thirty years, and then moved back to Fleming County, Kentucky.

Another page from Mr. Washington’s pension file provides the name of his wife, Frances Washington, whom Harrison married in 1890, his third wife. One of his previous wives had been the former Cordelia Winfield from Sandusky, Ohio, who died in 1866. The file also includes the names and birth dates of Harrison Washington’s children, who were named Matilda, Charlie, Cordelia, and Mary. In 1898, Harrison Washington was still living in Kentucky.

A note in the pension file of Harrison Washington stated that he was dropped from the pension roll due to his death in September of 1917.

William H. Johnson was another Sandusky resident who served with Co. I of the Massachusetts 55th Infantry. He enlisted when he was 22 years old, and his occupation was listed as carpenter. He died from wounds he received in battle on July 2, 1864 at James Island, South Carolina. On September 3, 1883, Mrs. William H. Johnson, the former Anna McGuire, applied for a widow’s military pension. She stated that she had married Mr. Johnson on December 25, 1861, in Augusta County, Virginia. A Sandusky attorney, John E. Moore, presented the widow’s claim, though at the time she had moved to Cleveland, Ohio.

A recent article in the Charleston Post and Courier reports on the unveiling of a historic marker at Folly River Park which honors the service of the Massachusetts 55th Infantry during the Civil War. In the 129th Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio House of Representatives passed H.R. No. 297, to honor the 511 African American Ohioans who enlisted in the 54th and 55th Regiments of the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Charles Merz, Editor of the New York Times, 1938-1961

Charles Merz was born in Erie County, Ohio on February 23, 1893, to Dr. Charles H. Merz and Sakie (Prout) Merz. While at Sandusky High School, Charles Merz worked on the school’s yearbook, the Fram. During the summers, he was a cub reporter for the Sandusky Register and the Star Journal. He graduated from Sandusky High School in 1911. The younger Charles Merz is pictured below with the Debating Team at Sandusky High School.

Charles Merz graduated from Yale in 1915 and moved to New York to work at Harper’s Weekly, eventually being named editor of the magazine. In 1916, he became the Washington correspondent for the New Republic, with a brief hiatus during World War I, when he worked in military intelligence. He and Walter Lippmann compiled a survey on the press coverage of the Russian Revolution, and were very critical of the coverage by the New York Times.  

In 1931 Charles Merz went to work for the New York Times, where he served as editor from 1938 to 1961.  During the McCarthy era, Merz was known for his opposition to Senator Joseph McCarthy in his editorials. He also wrote several books, including: The Great American Bandwagon, The Dry Decade, And Then Came Ford, and Centerville, U.S.A.  It is believed that Centerville, U.S.A. was based primarily on Merz’s upbringing in Sandusky, Ohio

Charles Merz passed away on August 31, 1977. He is still remembered for his long career in journalism and his devotion to the principles of American democracy.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Historical Items from Sandusky Pharmacies

This cabinet file once used for storing medicine labels is now housed in the attic level of the Follett House Museum. It had been used at the Sloane House Pharmacy, which was on the street level of the Sloane House hotel in Sandusky, beginning about 1890. Several different pharmacists worked in the Sloane House over the years, including H.K. Henkelman, Henkelman & Bechberger; Bechberger & Brown; Bechberger & Kubach, and Kubach and Buderer. Some of remedies on the labels are for Epsom salts, cod liver oil, boric acid and liniment. The label below from a container of pine tar capsules was purchased when Bechberger & Brown were partners in the Sloane House Pharmacy.

This apothecary bottle came from the pharmacy of Charles A. Lehrer, who had his business at the corner of Central Avenue and Decatur Street for several years in the first quarter of the twentieth century. He was the son of former Zion Lutheran Church pastor Rev. J. George Lehrer.
The compound of licorice powder is from the pharmacy of J.H. Emrich, an early Sandusky pharmacist.

This bottle of medicinal oil came from the E. J. Windisch Quality Pharmacy, which was in business in the 800 block of Hayes Avenue from about 1908 to 1925.

From 1898 until about 1930 Daniel Schaffer manufactured liniment. Advertisements claimed it to be the “greatest pain killer on earth.”  This advertisement for Schaffer’s Wonderful Liniment appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal on November 17, 1920:

Mihalovitch’s Hungarian Blackberry Juice was manufactured by a liquor dealer in Cincinnati, but was sold locally by nine different pharmacies in Sandusky in 1887. The juice was said to be a remedy for diarrhea, dysentery, cholera morbus (gastroenteritis), and all disorders of the bowels.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hinde and Dauch Company Workers

Around 1900 the photographer L.C. Sartorius took pictures of employees of the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company. in the first photograph above we can see that several women worked at the company during this time. The man on the far left is holding a cart that contains a corrugated paper product manufactured at the Sandusky plant.

In the image below we see men posed in a field near a pile of straw. These men might have been responsible for gathering the straw that was used to make the corrugated cardboard in the factory.

This advertisement from Hinde and Dauch appeared on page 20 of  the souvenir booklet entitled What, published by Charles M. Hill and William F. Holly in 1903. Hinde and Dauch products revolutionized the shipping industry in the early twentieth century.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Several Valentines created by the Buzza-Cardozo Company of Hollywood, California, are now in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum. The Valentine above is from the “Heart to Heart” line of Buzza-Cardozo greeting cards, which were popular in the 1940s and 1950s. The Valentine pictured below is a Valentine's Day birthday card.

Another combination birthday card and Valentine is shaped like a book.

This Valentine features a three dimensional rose when opened. It was a Valentine from a husband to his wife.

The inside greeting reads: “Because you're such a darling so dear in every way.  Because I love you always, and especially today." 

The ordinary items in our daily lives can provide family history clues. We know that the recipient of these lovely cards was a female whose birthday coincided with Valentine’s Day, and that she valued the cards enough to keep them for several years.  To learn more about ephemeral items of our daily lives see the book Encyclopedia of Ephemera: A Guide to the Fragmentary Documents of Everyday life for the Collector, Curator, and Historian, by Maurice Rickards (Routledge, 2000), available for loan at the Sandusky Library.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ceylon, Ohio

Ceylon is a small unincorporated community north of Berlin Heights in Erie County, Ohio, along Route 61 and just east of Old Woman Creek. It was a stop for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, and later was a station on the Lake Shore Electric Railway route. A small refreshment stand served both automobile and interurban customers. Aldrich’s History of Erie County stated that in 1889 Ceylon had “two stores, two saloons, a hotel, a post office and a sawmill.”  The May 6, 1881 Sandusky Daily Register reported that Ceylon was “one of the leading shipping points on the Northern division of the Lake Shore Road.”  In the fall of 1880, twenty five thousand bushels of wheat were shipped out of Ceylon. There was a Post Office in Ceylon until September 14, 1904. (It was established as the Berlin Station Post Office in 1858, and the name was changed to the Ceylon Post Office on Oct. 2, 1871.)   Mail was delivered by stage coach for many years.

The Peake Cemetery is located just east of the intersection of Ceylon Road and Route 2. The cemetery was named after the Peake (sometimes spelled Peak) family which resided in the Ceylon area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. An obituary for Oliver Peak, one of Ceylon’s earliest settlers, is found in the July 1878 issue of the Firelands Pioneer.

The final line of Mr. Peak’s obituary says that “The deceased was an industrious farmer for many years, a man of sterling qualities, genial spirits, and went down before the Great Reaper as a shock of corn ripe for the harvest.”

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Levi Till, Builder and Architect

Levi Till was born in Staffordshire, England in 1826 or 1827. (Sources vary.) He studied architecture in England, and later with an uncle in Mansfield, Ohio. By 1849, he was residing in Sandusky. Mr. Till is credited with designing and building the former home of Thomas C. McGee at 536 E. Washington Street in Sandusky.

While in some census records Mr. Till listed his occupation as carpenter, in the 1870 U.S. Census he stated he worked as a “builder and architect.” At this time, he and his wife Anna had four children in their home, ranging in age from 9 to 18.

 An article which appeared in the Sandusky Register of August 9, 1873, reported that “One of the finest jobs in iron work to be found in this or any other city” had just been completed at the residence of Rush R. Sloane. Mr. Sloane’s home had built in the 1850s by Samuel Torry, and was sold to Rush Sloane in 1854. In 1873, Levi Till designed the tower, cornices and piazza of Rush Sloane’s residence, with the construction work carried out by J.B. Weis and Company, of Sandusky.

In 1878, Levi Till designed of the former home of William Robertson, Jr., a Sandusky grocer.

Helen Hansen wrote in At Home in Early Sandusky, that “Neither time nor money was spared” in the building of this house. Charles Bauman painted each room in a different color, and the newel post and stairway came from Cincinnati. The original home had chandeliers made of cut glass and the hardware on the doors was made from triple plated silver. 

Another building that Levi Till designed was the old Number Three Fire Station on Meigs Street, which is now a law office.

Levi Till died on January 28, 1901 at his Meigs Street home in Sandusky. Funeral services were held ad the family residence, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery. 

To read more about the many historic buildings and homes in Sandusky, Ohio, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Charcoal Drawing of Paul and Clarabelle Cayhoe

Charles G. Cayhoe created this charcoal drawing of his children, Paul and Clarabelle Cayhoe, around 1909. Mr. Cayhoe was trained at the Zanerian College of Penmanship in Columbus, Ohio. He was a teacher of penmanship for thirty years, serving as supervisor of penmanship and drawing at Sandusky City Schools from 1910 until his retirement in 1919. 

Paul and Clarabelle Cayhoe can be seen in this family picture, along with their parents, aunt and grandmother.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Lower Lake Dock Company Dinner at the Hotel Rieger in 1928

On February 11, 1928, several members of management and staff of the Lower Lock Dock Company met for a dinner at the Hotel Rieger in Sandusky. The celebratory dinner was held in honor of the crews who staffed Heyl and Patterson dumpers at the Lower Lake Docks in Sandusky. 

On May 6 and 7, 1927, 1254 coal cars of the Pennsylvania Railroad were unloaded, resulting in 73,987 tons of coal being dumped. This feat broke all previous unloading records at the dock.

The invited guests were treated to a dinner of steak and baked potatoes with all the trimmings. 

At that time, C.H. Hampe was the superintendent of the company. He would go on to have a career that spanned over fifty years of dock service, having worked in Ashtabula and Sandusky. In 1950, officials of the Lower Lake Dock Company and the Pennsylvania Railroad honored Mr. Hampe with a celebration of his fifty years of service by hosting a party in his honor at the Odd Fellows Hall. 

Now the company formerly known as the Lower Lake Dock Company is owned by Norfolk Southern and is operated by the Sandusky Dock Corporation. This firm still uses equipment made by Heyl and Patterson. To see more pictures of the coal docks, see a previous post at Sandusky History’s website.