Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Albert Popke Family

From about 1898 to 1902, Albert and Maude Popke ran a store at 623 Hayes Avenue. (This location is now in the 1500 block of Hayes Avenue.)  The store carried “gents’ furnishings” and other dry goods.  Mr. Popke can be seen in front of the store, which has several men’s shirts on display in the window.

Maud and two of the Popke children are pictured on a porch on the side of the business, which is also where the Popke family resided.

Albert Popke came to the United States from Germany in the early 1880s. He married Maud Capman on December 21, 1893, according to records at Erie County Probate Court. Mr. and Mrs. Popke had three children, Charles Popke, born in 1896; Irene Popke, born in 1896; and Clarence Popke, born in 1897.  By 1915, the Albert Popke family had moved to Perkins Avenue, and Mr. Popke was a foreman at the American Crayon Company. 

Tragedy struck the family when Clarence Popke died of tetanus while he was in military service during World War I, just one month before the end of the war.

Sadly, tragedy struck the Popke family again on August 17, 1934. Three members of the Popke family were killed when an automobile driven by Mrs. Popke collided with a Lake Shore Electric Railway passenger car. Irene Popke and her niece Virginia Popke died instantly, and Mrs. Maud Popke died at Providence Hospital a short time after the accident.  

Albert Popke went on to work for fifty years at the American Crayon Company. He passed away on February 16, 1945, and was buried at Oakland Cemetery where so many of his family had also been interred. Albert Popke must have had an amazing strength of character. He left his homeland, started a business, lost his wife and two of his three children in untimely deaths, and worked well over fifty years. 

If you have ancestors in Sandusky or Erie County, please visit the Sandusky Library and its Archives Research Center, where you will find a variety of print and online sources. City directories, county histories, census records, old yearbooks, obituaries, and many other resources can help you trace your own family roots.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Historical Pageant of Sandusky

The Historical Pageant of Sandusky was presented in Central Park, From July 26 to 29 in 1916. The production was staged by the John B. Rogers Producing Company, and was presented locally under the auspices of the City Federation of Women’s Clubs. George F. Anderson was the musical director, and Gladys Pusch and Ruth Lerman performed on piano. An advertisement in the July 24, 1916 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal stated that the Pageant of Sandusky would be the “greatest spectacle ever seen here.”

Tickets sold for twenty-five cents and fifty cents. There were six different committees that worked on the organization of the pageant.

Besides the cast of principal characters, over one thousand young people took part in the pageant. Several scenes portrayed various times throughout history, beginning with creation. “Father Time” was the first character to appear in the pageant. The first scenes included Native Americans, the War of 1812, and the laying out of the plat of Sandusky. Next were scenes that portrayed the Underground Railroad and the visit of General Harrison to Sandusky. Two ballets were performed with the themes of Civil War and Industries. The various industries represented were paper, quarries, fisheries, farming, wine and the crayon industry.

Throughout the Pageant of Sandusky,  James Ryan (pictured below at Cedar Point) played the role of the Pioneer Man, while the Pioneer Woman was played by Mrs. W.C. Scott.

The grand finale of the pageant included hundreds of youngsters dressed in red, white and blue, as the “Goddess of Liberty,” portrayed by Miss Lillian Wahnke made an entrance on a chariot, while holding the United States flag. An article in the July 27, 1916 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that the grand finale was beautiful and dramatic. 

In August, several reels of film of the Pageant of Sandusky were shown at the Schade Theatre in downtown Sandusky. To our knowledge, these films were not preserved locally. How interesting it would be to see the filmed version of the Pageant of Sandusky from over one hundred years ago.

Monday, July 24, 2017

1954 Soap Box Derby Parade

Under a sunny sky, the third annual Soap Box Derby parade took place in Sandusky on Saturday, July 24, 1954. An article in the July 16, 1954 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News showed the exact placement of all the parade participants.

Several of the floats carried the Soap Box Derby cars, which were driven in the vehicles of the sponsors. Other parade participants were public officials, local civic organizations,  and several marching units including the Moose majorettes and the Sandusky High School marching band. Below is a float from the Elmer Borchardt Company of Castalia, Ohio.

This float from the Sandusky Safety Council appears to have pulled by an old steam-powered tractor:

The Eagles Club float features a large flag on the front of the truck:

The Soap Box Derby took place down the Tiffin Avenue subway on Sunday, July 25. The winner was fourteen year old  Robert Keech, sponsored by G.B. Plumbing. Robert had a time of 28.8 seconds.  Second place went to John Duden, age 11. Read more about the Sandusky Soap Box Derby in microfilmed copies of the Sandusky Register Star News, housed at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Interior Views of the Erie County Courthouse

In the picture above, taken in 1938, George P. Lydens, Deputy Clerk for Erie County Clerk of Courts, is seen in the Clerk of Courts office. Below is a view of the Common Pleas Courtroom at the Erie County Courthouse from the summer of 1952.

Here is how a Common Pleas courtroom looked shortly after the courthouse was built in 1874:

Have you ever heard that there is a tunnel that leads from the Erie County Courthouse to the old Erie County Jail? You can see the close proximity of the two buildings in this picture, taken sometime before the renovation of the Erie County Courthouse in the 1930s.

According to an article which appeared in the Sandusky Register of February 11, 1992, there is indeed a tunnel that connects the Erie County Courthouse to the old jail building. However, Erie County employee Bill Higgins told the Register reporter that the tunnel contains the service water main. The tunnel is inspected by maintenance crews every year, and the height of the tunnel is only four feet by four feet. Most likely, prisoners were never transported through the tunnel because of the very small space it occupies.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Snapshots from Dorothy Wieland’s Photograph Album

Descendants of the Wieland family donated a photograph album to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The album once belonged to Dorothy Wieland, the daughter of Frank and Blanche Wieland. Though not all the people in the pictures have been identified, by looking through the album one can get a sense of what everyday life was like for a family in Sandusky in the 1910s through the 1930s. The family took several trips, and often had family gatherings, which provided plenty of opportunities for picture taking. Dorothy Wieland married Rev. F. Plummer Whipple. Together, Rev. and Dorothy Wieland Whipple published the pictorial monthly publication Lens in the late 1940s. Dorothy was an artist and a freelance writer, and she was included in both Who’s Who in American Art and Who’s Who in American Women. Below is a picture of Dorothy as a youngster.

This selection of pictures includes Dorothy’s parents, Frank and Blanche Wieland, as well as a group of family and friends at Bay Point. Sadly, Mrs. Blanche Wieland died at the age of 38.

Frank Wieland and his brother in law Lewis Arend posed by a sign for the Sea Swing on the Cedar Point beach.

Below we see Blanche and Frank Wieland, standing next to Lewis Arend and Lil Arend, the sister of Blanche. In the front are cousins Eloise Arend, Mary Wieland, Howard Arend, and Dorothy Wieland.

This unidentified person is enjoying the beach at Cedar Point.

Thanks to the Wieland family for allowing us to get a glimpse of the past through Dorothy’s photograph album.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Popular Silent Film at the Schade Theatre in 1924

The silent movie “George Washington, Jr.” played at the Schade Theatre in Sandusky in July of 1924. The movie was based on a well-known musical play written by George M. Cohan in 1906.  Wesley Barry played the lead character in the silent film version of “George Washington, Jr.” The popular song You’re a Grand Old Flag was written by Cohan for this musical comedy. The Schade Theatre featured air conditioning in 1924. Pictured below is a picture of the Schade Theatre on West Market Street in 1918. The Schade Theatre was later known as the Ohio Theatre. (It is no longer in existence.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Summertime in Vacationland

For decades, the pleasant summer weather in the Lake Erie Islands region has provided a terrific spot for local residents and tourists to spend some leisure time. Here are just a few images from the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center that capture some of those moments. Above is a snapshot of swimmers and boaters at Marblehead in 1957. Below is a picture of Ruth Beach, Verna Bornhauser, and Helen Rheinegger, at the Hotel Victory swimming pool in the summer of 1919.

The guests at Cedar Point in 1946 were walking along the Moon Rocket ride, long before Apollo 11 landed on the moon in July of 1969. In the 1940s visitors to the amusement park dressed much less casual than today’s visitors. This attraction was only at Cedar Point for a few seasons.

Notes that were attached to the original picture indicate that these people were fishing at the Bay Bridge Beach in June 1923. What a catch!

You can see the enthusiasm of the youngsters getting off the train in downtown Sandusky about 1940. Perhaps they were getting ready to board a boat to one of Lake Erie Islands.


View many more historical pictures from Sandusky and Erie County at the Sandusky Library Local History Archives online.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

The "Letters from Home Club"

In 1944 and 1945, Sandusky had a “Letters from Home” club. Members sent a monthly letter to more than 2000 men and women in military service during World War II. Pictures of the officers of the club appeared in the July, 1945 copy of letter sent out from the club. Mrs. Harrison W. Pratt was the president, Mrs. W.A. Carnes was vice president, Mrs. J.L. Sampson, Jr. served as secretary, and Mrs. Frank D. Schneider was the club’s treasurer. The letter included details about the potluck held at Lions Park, at which Cpl. Kenneth Stauffer spoke. An article which appeared in the September 11, 1943 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News reported that people in military service listed “letters from home” as what they most desired, followed closely by snapshots from home.  In June of 1944, serviceman Bernard Palmer wrote back after he read a letter sent to him from the club: 

“Out here in the South Pacific a fellow is always glad to hear from the folks at home. This is a land of perpetual summer. All these tropical islands are spots of everlasting green on the beautiful blue Pacific, but regardless of all this, give me dear old Sandusky, the best spot to me on all the earth. Walking down Columbus Ave. is just another thing to you people, but to us, and I mean all of us out here, it would be a privilege worth everything.”

One of the activities of the “Letters from Home” club was a baby contest in which local residents voted for the favorite son or daughter of Sandusky men and women in the service. Below are a few of the young boys in the contest.


Here are some the young ladies entered in the baby contest.

Besides the baby contest, the “Letters from Home” club also had contests in which they selected a pin-up girl and a pin-up grandmother. If you would like to read a copy of one of the letters from home, stop by the Reference Services desk. 

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Sea Swing at Cedar Point

From about 1914 to the 1930s, the Sea Swing was a popular attraction at Cedar Point. The ride was located in the water of Lake Erie, about 100 feet from the bathhouse along the Cedar Point beach. It operated in a fashion similar to a Merry Go Round, but being shaped like hexagon, the riders dipped into the water as the swing went around, instead of going in a direct circular motion. The Sea Swing was powered by electricity.

An earlier apparatus in the water at Cedar point, date unknown

An article which appeared in the August 6, 1914 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that with fees collected from riders the Sea Swing would “pay for itself” in just one or two seasons. As you can see in the photograph below, the Cedar Point beach was quite popular.

A member of the Andres family donated this family vacation picture to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Could the youngsters be thinking about riding the Sea Swing?