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.

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