Monday, October 22, 2018

Anton Johanssen, Caretaker of Johnson’s Island Cemetery

From about 1911 to 1956, Sandusky resident Anton Johanssen worked as the caretaker of the Johnson’s Island Cemetery, on Johnson’s Island. The cemetery is the final resting place of over two hundred Confederate soldiers who died at the prison camp on Johnson’s Island during the Civil War. An article from the December 5, 1953 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Mr. Johanssen made the trip from Sandusky to Johnson’s Island from early Spring until late Fall to mow the grass at the cemetery, and care for the “most peaceful place on earth.” He would drive to Marblehead, and then take a small motorboat out to the island. (At that time, the causeway to Johnson’s Island had not yet been constructed.) For many years he decorated each grave with both a Confederate and a United States flag. 

Anton Johanssen was born in 1879 on a Danish Island. He emigrated to the United States in 1895. When he first settled in Ohio, he resided on Johnson’s Island, where he raised cattle and farmed over 75 acres of land. Besides working as the caretaker of the Johnson’s Island Cemetery, Mr. Johanssen also worked for twenty-five years at the American Crayon Company. 
On October 27, 1967, Anton Johannsen passed away at the age of 88. He was survived by a son, daughter, and several grandchildren. He lived a full and busy life in his adopted country. Mr. Johanssen must have found this monument to the Confederate soldier (built in 1910) a familiar sight.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Eighty-First Annual Assembly of the Grand Lodge of Ohio

Nielsen Opera House

On October 15 and 16, 1890, the 81st Annual Assembly of the Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Ohio convened in Sandusky, Ohio. The opening meeting was held at the Opera House, where Grand Master Leander Burdick gave the address. Masonic groups from all over the world sent greetings to the Ohio lodge members. Several committee reports were given, and officers were elected. During the evening hours, Lodge officers, members, and ladies were invited to a reception at the newly-built Sandusky Masonic Temple. Mr. W. G. Mellish gave a speech, and entertainment was provided by the Masonic Quartette and the Opera House Orchestra.

Sandusky Masonic Temple

Nearly 500 members attended the banquet on October 15, held at the Sloane House.

That same evening the Masonic Veterans Association of Ohio met at the Odd Fellows Hall in Sandusky. During their time in Sandusky, lodge members were invited to go fishing. Local lodge members arranged for boats and fishing tackle to be available to all visiting lodge members. 

You can read about the 81st Annual Assembly of the Grand Lodge of Ohio in the October 16, 1890 issue of the Sandusky Register, available on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Ohio Structural Iron Company, Predecessor to Mack Iron Works

John D. Mack and A.C. Blinn founded the Ohio Structural Iron Company in 1901, after they purchased the Crandall Iron and Fence Company, located on Warren Street in Sandusky. These advertisements, the one below from an early issue of Park and Cemetery and Landscape Gardening, let us know exactly what types of products were made by the Ohio Structural Iron Company.

In 1903, the Ohio Structural Iron Company manufactured 200 lawn seats for the parks of the city of Toledo, and 100 lawn seats for the National Soldiers’ Home in Dayton, Ohio. The company built a fire escape that could fold up like an accordion for the Donahue building in Sandusky in 1905. 

After John D. Mack bought out Mr. Blinn’s interest in the company, he changed the name to Mack Iron and Wire Works. This company got a contract for building an iron fence around the Confederate Cemetery at Johnson’s Island, according to an article which appeared in the September 2, 1912 issue of the Sandusky Register. The fence was four feet in height and had ornamental posts and arched gates. 

A tornado seriously damaged the Mack Iron and Wire Works building in June of 1924.

In 1925, as the company was re-building, John D. Mack hired his son-in-law to manage the Iron Works, so he could devote more time to the Sandusky Register, where he served as Vice-President and Treasurer. Having weathered setbacks during the Great Depression, in the 1940s, Mack Iron made defense materials in support of the U.S. War Effort. So many of Mack’s regular employees went off to serve in World War II, that to keep up production the company brought in German prisoners of war from Camp Perry to work on the lines. After the war, Mack Iron moved from foundry work to metal fabrication. A lengthy article in the April 22, 2001 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that projects made by Mack Iron can be seen at Sandusky City Schools, the Erie County Jail, the County Parking Garage, a coaster at Cedar Point, and many other area buildings. 

You can read more about the history of Mack Iron Works in the Sandusky Register of April 22, 2001, now on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The company motto of the Mack Iron Works Company is:  “Quality people doing quality work.” 
An aerial view of Mack Iron, taken by photographer Thomas Root in the summer of 1965.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Toys from Yesteryear at the Follett House

Now in the collections of the Follett House Museum, this Singer sewing machine was sold as “A Singer for the Girls” in the 1910s and 1920s.  This miniature sewing machine, which sold for $3.00 (about $75 in today's money), was fully functional, and was promoted as an item to help young ladies learn to sew clothing for their dolls. It was sold only at Singer stores or by Singer salesmen. 

Pictured below is a box containing a Sturdy Robot Catapault [sic]:

The catapult was made by the Sturdy Toy Company, which was owned by Bert Hall. The company made wooden and aluminum toys at their small factory in Castalia, Ohio in the 1940s. Mr. Hall was a member of the French Foreign Legion during World War I.

A local resident donated these roller skates to the Follett House Museum:

The donor wore these skates as a young adult in the 1950s. 

Moving on to the Space Age, this GI Joe Official Space Capsule and Space Suit is dated 1966, near the peak of American manned space exploration:

Visit the Follett House Museum to see many historic toys and artifacts from Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Kerber’s Marine Grocery on Tiffin Avenue

Now home to Divine Awakenings, the former Kerber’s Marine Grocery was in business on Tiffin Avenue in Sandusky for many years. Lorenz Kerber built this building in 1888 as a grocery store that took supplies to coal, ore and grain boats in Sandusky, Huron and Marblehead. Ellie Damm wrote in her book Treasure by the Bay that Kerber’s sent out supply boats to meet the grocery needs of the big freighters. For a few years, Lorenz Kerber was in a partnership with Charles Miller. Sadly, Lorenz Kerber died at the age of 30 in 1892. His sons continued in the family grocery business. An article in the Sandusky Register of February 6, 1911 stated that the partnership between Charles F. Miller, F.A. Kerber and O.J. Kerber was dissolved, but the business apparently continued. 

This earthenware jug was a holiday item from the 1910s, when F.A. and O.J. Kerber were running Kerber’s Marine Grocery:

The grocery business remained in the hands of the Kerber family until the 1970s. In the mid-1980s, the business was known as the Sandusky Marine Grocery. After the grocery ceased operation, a children’s clothing consignment shop was in the building for several years. In 2018, the Divine Awakenings shop is now at 1006 Tiffin Avenue. When you drive down Tiffin Avenue, you can still see the name L.A. Kerber at the top portion of the storefront, reminding of us of the roots of this long standing place of business in Sandusky

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Mr. and Mrs. Henry C. Huntington

Henry Clay Huntington was born on November 21, 1841 in Brownville, New York, to Apollos and Deborah (Rowland) Huntington. Henry came with his parents to Sandusky, Ohio in 1852. He graduated from Sandusky High School in 1859. Even before he graduated from high school, Henry worked for C.V. Olds in his bookstore and stationery business. After the death of Mr. Olds, Henry took over the bookstore and stationery business on Columbus Avenue in Sandusky. For a time, he was in a business partnership with B.L. Skadden.  

In 1890, H.C. Huntington and Co. published a souvenir album of Sandusky.

The small album featured pictures from Sandusky, including the business district, churches, the Cold Creek area, Cedar Point, and the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home. This page features several businesses from downtown Sandusky.

The album also contains images of the homes of prominent residents.

Brown paper book covers were once sold or perhaps given away by H.C. Huntington and Company.

H.C. Huntington was married twice. His first wife, Laura, was the daughter of educator M.F. Cowdery. Laura Cowdery Huntington died in 1868. Mr. Huntington's second wife, Mrs. Josephine Huntington, served on the board of the Sandusky Library in the late 1800s.

Henry C. Huntington died unexpectedly on December 11, 1905, at the train depot in Sandusky. He was survived by his wife, three sons, and three daughters. Mr.Huntington was buried in Oakland Cemetery. Besides running his successful  bookstore, from which he retired in 1904, Mr. Huntington had been a member of the Congregational Church, served on the board of the Sandusky Cooperage and Lumber Company, and he had been member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Men’s Literary Society. Mrs. Huntington moved to Spuyten Duyvil, Bronx, New York after her husband’s death, where she and her daughter ran an inn. Mrs. Josephine Huntington passed away on August 19, 1914. Her remains were returned to Sandusky for burial in Oakland Cemetery.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Former Residence of the Sisters of Notre Dame

From about 1909 to the early 2000s, this building in the 500 block of Decatur Street served as the residence for the Sisters of Notre Dame, who were associated with St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School in Sandusky. The building was originally constructed as a school in 1887, and housed the female parochial students, while male pupils attended school in a building on Jefferson Street. The girls’ school was constructed of limestone. Above the main entrance was a tower, and the windows featured decorative lintels. When the new St.Mary’s School opened in 1909, the girls’ school was converted to a residence for the Sisters of Notre Dame.  Below is an image of the residence in 1930. The picture appeared in a history of St. Mary’s Church that covers the years 1855 to 1930.

During the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, when the Health Department closed all schools in Sandusky, the Sisters of Notre Dame “gladly and without charge” offered their services to suffering humanity. 

In the 1940s, a wing was added to the southern portion of the convent. Included in the new addition were a reception room, office, pantry and kitchen on the first floor; while a chapel, typing room, linen storage, and bedrooms were located on the second floor. In 1948, twenty sisters who taught school at St. Mary’s were residents of the convent, along with a housekeeper. Though the former residence of the Sisters of Notre Dame no longer stands, these pictures take us back in time to the traditions of some of our grandparents and great grandparents who were of the Catholic faith.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Clocks Around Sandusky

The charming clock pictured above was outside the store of “Henry Dehnel, The Leading Jeweler” on Sandusky’s Columbus Avenue. The scene is a parade which took place in downtown Sandusky about 1905, and the view was facing north towards Sandusky Bay. 

In the late 1890s, Jacob Kronthal gave away a small clock that was set inside a figurine. The store was in a variety of different locations, but at the time this promotional item was given away, Jacob Kronthal’s men’s clothing store was at 705 Water Street:

When Citizens Bank was located in the Feick Building, this clock was in front of the Bank on Market Street:

In 1992, the clock was moved to the corner of Water and Wayne Streets, opposite Civista Bank.

Always a popular spot for taking pictures, this snapshot of Sandusky’s floral clock was taken on June 18, 1988.

If you are in Washington Parks in downtown Sandusky, you can always just look up at the Courthouse to see yet another clock.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Iron Skillet Made in Sandusky

This iron skillet, now housed at the Follett House Museum, was created at the Co-Operative Foundry in Sandusky, Ohio. The top of the handle of the skillet featured an opening for ease of storage in one’s home kitchen.


The Co-Operative Foundry was located at the southwest corner of Water and Shelby Streets in the 1890s and early 1900s. In 1900, the president of the company was John J. Molter, who once served as Sandusky’s Postmaster, and later as its Mayor.

According to the 1900 Sandusky City Directory, the Co-Operative Foundry employed founders and machinists. The company specialized in brass and grey castings, and also did blacksmithing “in all its branches.” The 1893 Sanborn Map shows the exact location of the Co-Operative Foundry:

A brief article in a 1906 issue of the Foundry magazine stated that the Co-Operative Foundry and Machine Company had been taken over by the Sandusky Foundry and Machine Company, later known as Sandusky International, and now the Sandusky International Division of MetalTek International.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Venice School

Mrs. Leona Zeller Fitz donated these pictures of students and teachers from Venice School to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Pictured above are over fifty elementary students who attended Venice School in the first quarter of the twentieth century. No students have been identified, but Mrs. Baum was the teacher on the left and Mrs. Kelley was the teacher standing on the right. 

In the picture below, Leona Zeller is marked with an x. Mr. D.W. Carlisle, a teacher at Venice School in 1915, is the tall man in the back row. Later, he became principal of Venice School. Many of the male students are wearing short pants, or "knickers," and most of the older boys have on hats.

Venice Heights Elementary School is now a part of the Sandusky City Schools system, but for many years Venice School was one of the schools in Margaretta Township. (The original Venice School was founded in 1818 on Venice Road near Cold Creek.) This map from the 1896 Erie County Atlas shows the location of the school at that time, just south of the railroad tracks along Sandusky Bay.

An article in the April 4, 1923 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that “a handsome new school building” in Venice was to be dedicated on April 5. At that time, Mr. D.W. Carlisle was the principal of Venice School, and he also taught grades 7 and 8. All the other teachers at Venice taught two grades as well. That new school building, no longer standing, was on Bardshar Road, a short distance away from Trinity Lutheran Church. In the 1950s and 1960s, during some years an entire grade held class in the basement of  Trinity Lutheran Church, because of over-crowding at Venice Elementary School.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Mrs. Sophia Sprague

This daguerreotype of Mrs. Sophia Sprague was created by R.E. Weeks in his Sandusky studio in 1857. Sophia Patrick was born in Madison County, New York in 1798. She married Nehemiah Sprague in the mid-1820s in the state of New York, and they had a large family that included seven children. Mr. Sprague died in 1848, leaving Sophia to support the children by herself. By 1860 she was residing in Sandusky, Ohio, with several of her children. An article which appeared in volume four of the Firelands Pioneer describes her experience as a single mother.

Seven bodies to clothe and feed, seven minds to train and educate, was no small task for a woman, but she was equal to it and performed her work well. One by one they arrived at man and womanhood and were married, but until that time she provided them all a home and her work in that direction was not completed until there were none to look after. From that time on she found a comfortable home with those she had brought through trials and hardships from childhood to man and womanhood. Two of her daughters, Elizabeth and Sophia, married, one in 1853 and one in 1856, and moved to Ohio and to that state she followed them, with the rest of her children, in 1856; since that time she has resided in Sandusky. As long as any of her children remained unmarried, she kept her own home for them; when they were all gone and her duty done to them, she took up her abode with the children to whom she had been so faithful.
At the age of 83, Sophia Sprague displayed an embroidered lace handkerchief at the Erie County Fair. She also displayed a quilt at the fair which she had done in the style of the double Irish chain. The quilt was awarded as a premium. You can read much more about the Erie County Fair of 1880 in September 24, 1880 issue of the Sandusky Register, on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.  

Mrs. Sophia Sprague died on November 19, 1886, at the age of 89. She was survived by four daughters and one son. Mrs. Sprague was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. Her brother, Dr. Spicer Patrick, was the first speaker of the house for the new state of West Virginia.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Star Theatre

Opening in 1907 on West Market Street, the Star Theatre was in business on the 100 block of Columbus Avenue from 1914 to 1930. When the new Star Theatre building opened in May of 1914, an article in the Sandusky Register stated that the theater was “Built by Sanduskians for Sandusky.” A stone house built by Eleutheros Cooke had once stood where the new theater was built. Many local businesses provided supplies and materials for the new building.

The September 3, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register carried an advertisement which promoted the Fifth Annual Paramount Week at the Star Theatre. It stated that Paramount Pictures were “Celebrating Better Pictures at the all the Better Theatres.” The Paramount movies shown at the theatre from September 3 to September 9, 1922 were popular silent films, including “Call of the North,” “Morals,” “Sleepwalker,” and “Rent Free.” The stars in the Paramount Pictures were all part of the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation

On May 16, 1925, Bob Custer starred in “Flashing Spurs,” a western in which a Texas Ranger goes after a young woman thought to be involved with a gang of bank robbers.

The Star Theatre remained popular during the silent movie era, but eventually talking motion pictures made silent movies fall out of favor with the public, and the theatre ceased operations. Several different businesses have been located at what is now known as 140 Columbus Avenue, including cab companies and restaurants. Mr. Smith’s Coffee House is now located at the site. Visit the Sandusky Library to find a variety of books about the history of motion pictures, or to borrow classic films on DVD.

Friday, September 14, 2018

A Snapshot of East Market Street from 1955

Helen Hansen, former curator of the Follett House Museum, took this picture of a portion of the Cooke Block and the north side of East Market Street on September 3, 1955. At this time Donald Smith ran the Smith Drug Store, where Holzaepfel’s would later operate a sporting goods store. When you take a closer look, you can see a sign in the shape of an LP record over the door of Meggitt’s Music Shop.

Other stores familiar to the “Baby Boom” generation of local residents include Jean Frocks, the Neisner Five and Dime, and the Sears store, where Santa would visit with youngsters each holiday season. Joseph’s Department store was to the east of the large Sears store. In the next block of East Market, was the former Whitehouse restaurant, later Markley’s, and Gossoff’s Carpet and Linoleum store.

Check out the library's online Archives to view more historical images from Sandusky and Erie County.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Servants' Call Box from the Lester S. Hubbard Home

A descendant of the Hubbard family, Dorothy Denig Shaw Speir, donated this servants’ call box, which was once in use at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Lester S. Hubbard at 134 East Adams Street, to the Follett House Museum.

In this close up view, you can see the listings of the various rooms from which the family members could call on the household servants.

We can learn the names of some of the individuals who may have answered these call bells from the U.S. Census. In 1860, the names of the domestic servants residing at the Hubbard home were: Ann Maloy and Margaret Cavanagh, who were both natives of Ireland, and Susan Bass who had come to Ohio from New Jersey. In the 1870 U.S. Census, the names of the servants working at the Hubbard home included: Authy Harlb, from Germany, Minnie Schwine, from Ohio, and Ann Cora from Ireland. 

Mrs. L.S. Hubbard was the lady of the house in 1860 and 1870:

After the death of Mr. and Mrs. L.S. Hubbard, other members of the family lived in the Hubbard home. In 1920, their daughter Jeannie L.H. Denig lived there with her husband Robert. At this time there were no servants listed in the U.S. Census records.

Jean Livingston Hubbard Denig
While most of us have probably never had the opportunity to use a servants’ call bell, it was not unusual for prominent families who employed household servants to have such an item in their homes.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

"The Grandest Pic-Nic of the Nineteenth Century"

An announcement for a steamboat excursion to the Lake Erie Islands appeared in the September, 1868 issue of the Teacher of Penmanship. Graduates and current students of the Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College, the predecessor of the Sandusky Business College, were invited to the event, held on September 9, 1868. Three steamboats were chartered, including the Evening Star, the Eighth Ohio and the General Grant. It was to be a “select intellectual and educational convention.” Guests were asked to bring baskets of food for the excursion. The trip included a “sail upon the Lake, around the vine-clad Islands, Inlets, Bays Peninsulas and Promontories, where the immortal Perry ‘met the enemy and made them ours’ under the auspices of the College at Sandusky.” An article in the September 8, 1868 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that railroads were offering half price fares for attendees of the excursion, and current students of the Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College were to be issued free tickets. 

The Buckeye and Great Western Business and Telegraph College was established in 1866. At first all students were male, though in later years many female students enrolled.  Some of the courses offered at the College were accounts training, telegraphing, and shorthand.

On the day of the Excursion, everyone who attended found it to be a “pleasant affair” according the Sandusky Register of September 10, 1868. Threatening weather kept hundreds of people at home, who would have gone on the trip had there been fair weather on September 9. 

Below is a picture of three steamboats close to Put in Bay in 1868:

The Evening Star is on the left. The center boat is the Lake Breeze. To the right is the Eighth Ohio.  In the far distance, you can see a portion of Jay Cooke’s home on Gibraltar Island.