Thursday, June 29, 2017

Oscar Zistel Ran a Wholesale Fish Business

Oscar Zistel was born in Germany in 1854, the son of Louis Zistel and his wife the former Anna Rosenkranz. Mr. and Mrs. Louis Zistel and their young son Oscar came to the U.S. about 1858. Louis had been to the U.S. earlier, but he returned to Germany after the outbreak of cholera. Louis Zistel was involved in fishing and boating, and he also ran the Atlantic Pleasure Gardens. After working with his father in the fishing and boating businesses, Oscar Zistel eventually ran his own wholesale fish business. 

The fish company was located at 316 Meigs Street. A previous post in Sandusky History discusses how the business in Sandusky shipped 4000 pounds of live carp all the way to Philadelphia in May 1911. 

Oscar Zistel had married Martha Von Camien in 1878, and the couple had three daughters, Elsa, Norma and Vera. In December of 1907, Oscar Zistel wrote a letter to his daughter Elsa, who by that time had become Mrs. Carl Sonntag.

A transcription of the letter reads:

My Dear Girl Elsa, 
            I suppose you will be surprised to hear me as you know how well I like to write. Your mommy tells you all the news, so I won’t undertake to contradict her and can only thank you and Carl for the cigars. They are fine and thank you very much. Now Elsa your mommy has been buying you all the presents for Christmas now I don’t want to get left altogether and I have enclosed yours for New Years. Thought it best to let you buy what you like than to pick than to pick it out myself and wish you both a very very Happy New Year.
I am your loving daddy

Oscar Zistel built a cottage at Cedar Point in 1910, for family fun during the warm weather months.


Oscar Zistel died at the age of 62, on July 28, 1918, and was buried in Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. His wife Martha lived in Sandusky until 1952, when she passed away at the age of 94.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Frau Miller’s Saloon

Here is a ledger sheet written on letterhead stationery from Frau Rosina Miller’s saloon known as the Deutsches Wirtshaus, which in English is German Inn. Rosina Miller, often listed in city directories as Rosina Mueller, was the widow of Julius Miller, who operated the saloon before Rosina took it over. In the 1886 Sandusky City Directory, she is just one of the many individuals who ran a saloon. There were 172 saloons listed in Sandusky at that time; with Sandusky's population about 18,000 at the time, that comes to roughly one saloon for every 100 persons,  Below is just a portion of the page from the directory listing for saloons.

Rosina Miller/Mueller ran the saloon in the 900 block of Columbus Avenue until about 1906. She died on September 14, 1914, following injuries she received in an automobile accident. Mrs. Miller was survived by a son and two daughters, and six grandchildren. She had made Sandusky her home for fifty years. Rev. J.H. Holdgraf officiated at her funeral services and burial was at Oakland Cemetery.

The building where Frau Miller's saloon operated still stands. You can see it as it appears today on Google Maps.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Views of Sandusky Library Before 1920

The Sandusky Library has offered library services to residents of Sandusky and Erie County since the nineteenth century; after years of temporary library sites, the original library building (pictured above) opened on July 3, 1901. The exterior of the building was constructed from Sandusky blue limestone. The architects were Albert D’Oench and Joseph W. Yost, who designed the library in the Second Romanesque Revival style. The towers on either side of the Adams Street entrance give the Sandusky Library an appearance that is not unlike a castle. In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the eastern portion of the library consisted of a reference room and two reading rooms. The western portion of the library served as Carnegie Hall, where concerts, lectures, and special events were held. Below is a picture of the children’s reading room in 1917. This area is now used as the Baby Garden.

The adult reading room was in the center of the eastern wing of the original Sandusky Library. If you look closely, you can see that a stained glass window served as a skylight at that time. The two doors under the skylight led to the stacks which held thousands of books. The floor was made of thick glass, to allow for light to be let in to the lower level of the library.

The former adult reading room is now a part of the Children’s Services area of the Sandusky Library. The original pillars can still be seen in the library today.

Many other architectural elements of the 1901 library building remain in today’s Sandusky Library, including the lovely wooden doors leading to the Adams Street entrance, and several stained glass windows in the lobby. The art glass, in hues of green and gold, was designed by Jessie May Livermore.

See the website of the Sandusky Library for more information about the history of the library. In 2004, the Sandusky Library celebrated the completion of a large renovation and addition project which incorporated the former Erie County jail with the Sandusky Library, thus uniting two historical buildings in Sandusky into one library which remains a vital part of the community today.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Local Recruiting for the Civil War

The poster above was placed in various public places around the Sandusky area in June of 1863. The recruiting office for the Cavalry was on the upper level of Reber’s Block on Water Street. A “competent officer” staffed the office to inform potential soldiers about pay and rations. The poster stated that service in the Civil War was “glorious - - full of dashing adventure.” 

Thomas Reber’s name appeared at the bottom of the recruiting poster. The son of Sandusky lawyer George Reber, Thomas Reber enlisted in Company K, 88th Ohio Volunteer Infantry in 1862. Later he transferred to the Ohio 196th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. At the time of his discharge in 1865, he had achieved the rank of First Lieutenant and Quartermaster. He moved to Louisiana after the close of the Civil War, where he was a Parish Judge, then, in 1872, he took up residence in Natchez, Mississippi. He became interested in the history of that city, and wrote the book Proud Old Natchez.  The Thomas Reber Collection is housed at the University of Mississippi, and contains several letters sent to individuals in Sandusky, Ohio. 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Elmer B. Otto, Pioneer in the Dairy Business

Elmer B. Otto, seen above in a portrait which appears in Hewson Peeke’s A Standard History of Erie County (Lewis Publishing Co., 1916), was a pioneer in the dairy industry in Erie County. He was born in 1885 to Herman and Frances (Oswald) Otto, who owned a farm in Perkins Township. Elmer began selling milk from his father’s farm with just one horse and wagon. Soon he purchased a large milk cooler and a cream separator. In 1907, he bought the former Pitt Cooke residence at what is now 515 West Washington Street. He lived with his family in the front portion of the large stone home and in the rear part of the building, he operated the dairy. 

An article in the August 16, 1958 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that a Mr. Whitney had operated a restaurant at 515 West Washington Street, and he named the house the “Esmond House,” after his son. Elmer Otto decided to call his business the Esmond Dairy, in honor of Mr. Whitney’s son.  In 1916, the business had eight delivery wagons that took milk, butter and other dairy products to customers all over the city of Sandusky.

A new building for the Esmond Dairy opened at 1610 Campbell Street in 1919.

A special feature article about Esmond Dairy appeared in the May 1, 1919 Sandusky Register.    

The Esmond Dairy used the Milwaukee filler and capper machine to ensure that dairy products were bottled and sealed in the most sanitary conditions. George Feick and Sons had built the modern building, which was three stories high and constructed from brick, steel and concrete. The new Esmond Dairy building and plant was considered “a model of perfection.” The public was invited to the grand opening on May 2, 1919, and Esmond ice cream was served to all visitors. 

On June 7, 1921, it was announced that Don Lightner would take over as president of the Esmond Dairy Company, with Elmer B. Otto still retaining part of his holdings in the company, and remaining on the board of directors of Esmond Dairy for a time.  Elmer Otto branched out into the cold storage business and a new dairy business known as Otto’s. A listing in the 1925 Sandusky City Directory stated that Elmer B. Otto was the proprietor and manufacturer of milk products. The main plant was located at 305-307 East Water Street, with substations on Monroe Street, the corner of Adams and Lawrence Streets, and in Venice. Otto’s products carried the name Otto’s which was always slightly angled in an upwards direction.

This Otto’s syrup bottle is now housed in the historic collections of the Follett House Museum.

A later popular location operated by Otto’s was at 2434 West Monroe Street, which was eventually purchased by Toft’s. Otto’s had a variety of locations throughout its many years of operation. Visit the Sandusky Library to view historic Sandusky City Directories for the  exact years and locations.

Elmer B. Otto died in 1973. His obituary in the July 20, 1973 issue of the Sandusky Register indicated that Mr. Otto had been a pioneer in the practices of pasteurization and homogenization of milk, and he was innovative in his use of paper and milk bottles for milk. Elmer B. Otto was survived by two sons, a daughter, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. His wife had died in 1957. Elmer B. Otto was laid to rest at Oakland Cemetery. His years of innovations and good business practices were recalled by hundreds of area residents. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Stone House on East Perkins Avenue

The old stone house at 1338 East Perkins Avenue has a very rich and interesting history. An undated paper in the historical files at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center provides many details about this structure. In Sheila Gockstetter's paper, “The Stone House: Ever a Refuge,” the author explains that Aaron Whipple and his nephew Allen Remington designed and built this limestone home around the shell of a small log cabin that was near the site of the former settlement of African Americans known as Africa. For many months, the men dug out huge limestone blocks from the quarry in Perkins Township. They used buggies and sleds, drawn by horses to transport the stones to the intersection of what is now East Perkins Avenue and Remington Avenue, on a plot of land that was twelve acres. 

In this closer view, you can see details of how some of the stones were assembled to build the house

By 1863, Allen Remington had purchased the land and stone house from his uncle. He brought his bride, the former Quintrilla Hand, to live at the stone house with him. You can see the name A. Remington on this portion of a historic map of Section 2 of Perkins Township, dated about 1900.

Map courtesy Erie County Auditor’s Office

Allen Remington was known for the excellent cider that he pressed in an outbuilding located east of the main stone house. Farmers from all around Erie County brought him apples, and he made the apples into cider and vinegar. 

Allen and Quintrilla Remington had seven children. After Cora Belle Remington Anthony lost her husband, McDowell Anthony, at a young age, she moved back to the stone house as a widow with her two young children. Besides making cider at the stone house, Allen Remington had an interest in a line of fishing boats, along with Lorenzo Dow Anthony, Cora Belle’s father-in-law. It is believed that in the days of the Underground Railroad, Mr. Remington and Mr. Anthony harbored slaves in the fruit cellars of the stone house, and saw that they got transported to fishing boats headed to Canada in the darkness of the night. 

Allen Remington died in 1911. His son, named Allen Hand Remington, lived in the stone house with his wife and children after the death of his father. The younger Allen Remington passed away in 1944.

From the late 1940s through the late 1980s, the Stone House became a popular restaurant with several different proprietors, including Frank Mulheran, Gil Rossman and Bud Linton.  From 1977 through the 1980s, the Baxter family owned the Stone House. Since about 1990, the historic building at 1338 East Perkins Avenue has been commercial property, having been home to a variety of businesses. In the spring of 2017, a financial office, legal office and Piccolo’s Wine Cellar are all housed in the historic Stone House building.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Eighth Grade Graduates of Saints Peter and Paul School, 1922

According to an article in the June 13, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register, a large crowd attended the graduation exercises of Saints Peter and Paul School, which was held in Sidley Hall on June 12, 1922. Father William F. Murphy gave an eloquent address at the graduation ceremony. John McCrystal gave the valedictory address, and Lenore McGory gave the salutatory address. The graduates stood on the stage in front of a trellised arch which was decorated with roses. The evening’s entertainment included skits, songs, and drills performed by elementary school students. 

The names of the graduates were: John E. Gosser, Richard Hiltz, Norbert Keeley, Richard Ludwig, Louis Lindsley, John F. McCrystal, Russell Payne, Gilbert Steinen, Joseph Shaw, John P. Ryan, John Walsh, Mildred Conley, Lucille Casaver, Thelma Falk, Lucille Grathwol, Agnes H. Miller, Lenore McGory, Dorothy McNulty, and Thelma Wonder. Though there were eleven young men and eight young ladies in the class, at the time this picture was taken, only ten of the boys were present. 

Father William F. Murphy served the parish of Saints Peter and Paul for thirty-eight years, having begun his long career in Sandusky in September of 1905. He saw the congregation through two world wars and the Great Depression, and was well respected as a community leader by local residents from all walks of life and religious denominations. 

Friday, June 09, 2017

Miss Gertrude Hartung, Teacher and Principal

Gertrude Hartung was associated with the Sandusky City Schools for forty years. She began as a teacher in 1921, teaching at both Madison and Campbell Schools. When she was still in her 20s, Superintendent Frank J. Prout named her as principal of Madison School.

Later she served as principal of Barker School. In her final years of teaching, Miss Hartung taught Social Studies at the Sandusky High School. She retired from Sandusky City Schools in 1961. 

Sandusky native Glenn Everett, who worked as a news correspondent in Washington D.C., wrote a tribute to Miss Hartung in the June 25, 1989 issue of the Sandusky Register, not long after her death. He told about Miss Hartung taking a large group of elementary children on a flat-bed truck to the Hartung family farm on Campbell Street, so the students could see cows being milked, and corn being harvested.  On another field trip, the children watched milk being bottled at the old Esmond Dairy, and they all got an ice cream sandwich after the tour of the plant. A field trip that really made an impression on Glenn Everett was when all the members of the class were locked for a minute in a dark jail cell at the old Erie County Jail, as a deputy sheriff warned the students about the consequences of bad behavior.

Miss Hartung felt that by going on field trips, the children learned things in a practical way that could not be learned just from reading a book. Mr. Everett wrote, “She made education exciting so that her students wanted to come to school to learn as much as possible…She was the kind of teacher all teachers could wish to be.”  In 1974, Miss Hartung was honored by the Firelands Council of Camp Fire for her many years of service as a Camp Fire Girls leader. 

On June 9, 1989, Gertrude Hartung died at the age of 89. Funeral services were held at the Groff Funeral Home, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery. Miss Hartung touched many lives during her long career as an educator with the Sandusky City Schools

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Receipts from the Horse and Buggy Era

Before the automobile age, people as well as goods were often transported by horse drawn vehicles. In 1880, Rush R. Sloane, Mayor of Sandusky, signed a license which granted Jay Bogart permission to run a hack from August 2, 1880 to August 2, 1881. The original document is embossed with the Mayor’s seal. (According to the tenth edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, one definition of a hack is “a horse let out for common hire.”)

Horses often had to have their horse shoes replaced in order to protect their feet. This bill dated 1899, is from Hodgins & Large, Practical Horse Shoers:

You can see the Hodgins and Large Horse Shoers building in the 400 block of Decatur Street in this picture taken in Sandusky about 1900:

In 1905 Mr. John Feick paid for services from the Charles Sprow livery and feed stable:

Dr. William A. Ferry had an active Veterinary practice in Sandusky for over thirty years, which certainly would have included the treatment of horses.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research to learn more about the historic businesses of Sandusky and Erie County. 

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Edward Leopold Steuk, Pioneer Grape Grower and Winemaker

Edward Leopold Steuk was born in the Village of Doneuvitz, Province of Podolia, Russia, to William Edward Steuk and his wife, the former Johanna Straese. The Steuk family was of Prussian heritage, and both William Edward Steuk and his father Johann Steuk worked as cloth manufacturers. When just a youngster, Edward came with his family to the United States. For a time, William E. Steuk was involved in the clothing business, while his wife ran a grocery store on Market Street in Sandusky. Eventually he bought some land on Venice Road, and he began to raise grapes and manufacture native wine. 

Edward L. Steuk worked with his father in the wine business. In the 1870s the Steuk winery was at the corner of Market and Decatur Streets. In 1881, Edward L. Steuk married Julia Harms, the daughter of pioneer grape grower from Put in Bay.

Pictured below are Edward L. Steuk, his wife Julia, and their first two children, William Ludwig Steuk and Elmer Carl Steuk. Later  they had another son named Edward Frederick Steuk.

Edward L. Steuk carried on the family wine business after his father’s death. This advertisement appeared in the 1912 Sandusky City Directory: 

Hewson L. Peeke wrote about Mr. Steuk in his book A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio (Lewis Publishing Co., 1916): “Among the energetic and enterprising Erie County men who have met with assured success in the culture of grapes is Edward Leopold Steuk, of Sandusky, who has established an extensive and remunerative business in that line of industry.” This picture, taken not long before Mr. Steuk's death, shows a happy and healthy gentleman who found success in his adopted homeland of America.

Later generations carried on the family wine business for several years. During Prohibition, the Steuk family concentrated on selling fruit from its orchards. After Prohibition ended, the family went back to making wine as well as running Steuk’s Market at the intersection of Routes 2 and 6 on the west side of Erie County. After the construction of the Route 2 Bypass, travelers on the highway could see the big red apple from Steuk’s Market. Steuk’s closed in 1997, but hundreds of local residents and tourists have wonderful memories of this longtime local business.