Friday, September 22, 2023

A German Church with Connections to Sandusky

This watercolor painting of a church in SohnstettenGermany was created in 1864. It was donated to the historical collections of the Sandusky Library and Follett House Museum from the Lange estate, and is on display in the Follett House Museum. Norbert Lange’s great grandfather Carr (sometimes spelled Karr) was a pastor at this church. The church in Germany, built in 1856, still serves the community in the district of Heidenheim.

This is a portion of Norbert Lange's family tree:

The pastor of the church in SohnstettenGermany was the father of Norbert Lange’s paternal grandmother. Bertha Emilie Carr and Franz Robert Lange were married in Erie CountyOhio in 1852, according to Erie County Probate Court records. Both had been born in Germany.

Dr. Norbert Lange was a well respected professor of chemistry at the University of Michigan, Case School of Applied Science, and Western Reserve University. He authored the classic text Handbookof Chemistry. Dr. Lange and his wife Marion Cleaveland Lange were the benefactors of the Lange Trust, which provides for “The promotion of cultural and educational enterprises in the city of SanduskyOhio and the adjacent area within Erie CountyOhio.”

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Dedication of the Supplementary Education Center at Sandusky High School

Pictured above is Sandusky High School Superintendent Mr. Wallace Glenwright giving a briefing to dignitaries prior to the dedication of the Supplementary Education Center on September 17, 1967.

The Sandusky Register of March 18, 1967 described the forthcoming Center in a feature article.  Funding of the Supplementary Education Center was from a combination of funds from the National Defense Education Act, Title III, which were matched by the Sidney Frohman Foundation, estimated at over $500,000. The five major areas on which the Center focused were: instructional materials, cultural, planetarium, a teacher’s professional library, and an educational resource center. Schools from 30 separate districts, along with students from Bowling Green State University and its Firelands Branch would all have access to the Supplementary Education Center. Several 16mm and 8mm films were available for schools to borrow, while paying only for insurance and postage to and from the Center.

Project coordinator Theodore Seaman spoke at the dedication of the Sandusky Supplementary Center:

The ribbon cutting was performed by Superintendent Glenwright and Elnora (Mrs. Sidney) Frohman.

An American flag was presented to the Supplementary Education Center on behalf of the Commodore Perry Post of the American Legion:

The dedication attracted a number of dignitaries and guests:

The Sandusky Register reported on the Dedication of the Center on September 18, 1967.

While the educational resource center and library are no longer in operation, the Sidney Frohman Planetarium and Sandusky Cultural Center are still serving the educational and cultural needs of the greater Sandusky community. 

Monday, September 11, 2023

Gus Kelley, Erie County Commissioner and State Representative


Gus Kelley was born in 1882 in Huron Township to Charles E. and Charlotte Kelley. His father’s ancestry was Irish, and his mother’s side was English. In 1901, he married Jane Margaret Hinde. Gus was a farmer for most of his life, and he was an active member of the Huron Grange. During the fall of 1924, he ran for Erie County Commissioner. This advertisement appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal of November 1, 1924:

In 1925, Gus Kelley was elected to serve as an Erie County Commissioner. He held that office until January 1933. Later in 1933, after the death of Fred Powers, Mr. Kelley was appointed to serve again as Erie County Commissioner until 1936. In that year, he ran for the General Assembly of the state of Ohio. He began his term as Ohio State Representative in January of 1937 and served in the General Assembly for four years. Some of the issues with which he was involved as a Representative were the development of  state parks along the lake front, pensions for senior citizens, and the change of authority of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home being switched from the Welfare Department to the Adjutant General’s Office.

In May of 1930, a news article in the Sandusky Star Journal reported that when the Sandusky Studebakers played the Red Caps of Wakeman, former major league ball player George (Jerry) Upp was to throw out the first pitch, and Gus Kelley was to catch the ball.

Gus Kelley died on January 29, 1964, at his home on East Perkins Avenue. He was survived by his three sons. Mrs. Kelley had died in 1962. Funeral services for Gus Kelley were held at the Charles J. Andres Sons’ Funeral Home, and burial was in Oakland Cemetery.

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Sandusky School Children in 1919-1920

Pictured below is a group of children from classes 3-A and 4-B at Sycamore School in 1919. While the students have not been identified, we know that Polly Smith is among the children in the picture. Sycamore School was built in 1876; by 1984, the school was closed and the new owner re-purposed it as an apartment building.

The four young men below were on the second team of the Eagles basketball team in 1920. The surnames of the boys were listed on the back of the original picture. From left to right are: Meinzer, Schemenaur, Stephens, and Pusateri.

The next picture shows class 3-B from Campbell School in 1919. There are 45 children in the group, but only one person has been identified. Thomas Rotsinger, the donor of the photograph, is the fourth person from the left, second row from bottom.

Campbell School, designed by J.C. Johnson, was built in 1885 by Adam Feick and brothers. The former Campbell School is now home to Nehemiah Partners of Sandusky, a nonprofit group that benefits area youth.

Friday, September 01, 2023

Rene J. Zouary, A Popular Concessionaire at Cedar Point

Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept. 4, 1965

Rene J. Zouary was born in Bordeaux, France in 1886. In an article in the September 4, 1965 issue of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Rene told about his long career in show business.

My father started in the World's Fair in Paris, I wasn't born yet, and in 1878 came to the World's Fair in Philadelphia," Rene says, then rattles off dates of expositions in St. Petersburg (now Leningrad) Russia, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Rumania, Berlin and others in which the family took part. Rene came to the United States in 1901 to operate an exhibit at the Pan American Exhibition in Buffalo, N. Y. He intended to return to France but was attracted to New York's Coney Island where he set up shop and stayed from 1902 until 1904. After the St. Louis Fair his odyssey of shows took him all over the country and back to Coney Island several times. His memory for reciting the various fairs, expositions and amusement spots and their dates in chronological order is a tribute to the clear mind of a man who will be 80 next April 28. Among the concessions that made R. J. (the nickname Rene acquired somewhere along the way) famous were his ‘Streets of Cairo,’ ‘Chinese Village,’ and ‘Tunisian Village’ (with Bedouins from North Africa merchants, artisans and others presenting their works). If there is any one of the many concessions, R. J. recalls more fondly it was the ‘Bouquet of Life,’ an embryological exhibit that traced life from the beginnings through the various stages of development. ‘This was done by photographs, dozens of them, and we had nurses and others explaining the show. It always drew thousands,’ he says. In 1941 R. J. went back to Cedar Point, Ohio, where he had two fun houses and an animal show. I also had a 'Honeymoon Express', a 'dark' ride, and the Eli Ferris wheel, but in 1960 a new management took over, and most of us concessionaires had to sell and get out," R. J. says, with a dark frown. ‘All of us took a loss.’ 

An article in the Sandusky Register Star News of June 4, 1941 lists the attractions that R.J. Zouary featured on the Midway and Concourse at Cedar Point in the summer of 1941.


Often Rene’s brother assisted him with various attractions. An article in the Sandusky Register Star News of June 6, 1951 indicated that Ellie Zouary was the trainer of the monkeys in Rene J. Zouary’s midget auto attraction, and that two of the monkeys had become ill.

Ellie Zouary died on September 1, 1961, and was buried in Sandusky’s Oheb Shalom Cemetery.

After new management at Cedar Point did away with the concessionaires, Rene took out an advertisement in Billboard on August 22, 1960, to sell off his performance equipment.

For a time, Rene J. Zouary worked at LeSourdesville Lake, near Middletown, Ohio. Rene’s wife Maria, who was born Countess Marie Bentivolglio of Italy, died in Ohio in 1964.  Rene eventually moved to California, where he died on November 26, 1965.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Decatur Street in 1929

Looking north from Madison Street

In 1929, an unidentified photographer took pictures of Decatur Street, between Madison and Jefferson Streets. The purpose for taking these photos was to gather evidence for a long-forgotten court case (Ritzenthaler v. Singular), but now they help to document the evolution of a neighborhood.

 A small store selling snacks and cigarettes can be seen on the left side of the photo. By looking in the city directory for 1927-28, we can make an educated guess that the store was the Albert E. Moos grocery, at 533 Decatur. (There were at least 94 groceries in Sandusky at this time.) If you look closely near the first automobile parked along the right side of Decatur Street, you might notice what looks to be a pile of stones or bricks.

We have another photograph in this set that shows this more clearly:

 A note on the original photo describes this as 522 Decatur Street. Today, the even-numbered side of the 500 block of Decatur Street is occupied by Sandusky Central Catholic School properties.

Marked “Looking south on Decatur Street” is another picture taken at the same time.

Again, we can see the pile of stones in front of the house, which gives us some perspective. Now the odd-numbered houses (on the west side of the street) are on the right of the photo. Here is how that block looked about 40 years later:

Today, you can use Google Maps to further view the evolution of this block. 

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center holds a significant collection of historical photos from Sandusky and Erie County. To view these images, see the Past Perfect Local History Archives online.

Monday, August 21, 2023

Merlin Wolcott, Library Director in Several Ohio Libraries

Merlin Wolcott in the 1950 BGSU Key

Merlin Wolcott was a son of Melvin and Adelia Wolcott. He and his twin sister Merriam Wolcott Washburn were born in 1920; they grew up on Shelby Street in Sandusky. As a youngster, Merlin was a frequent patron of the Sandusky Library, and worked one summer at the library during his college years. 

After earning a library degree at Kent State University, Mr. Wolcott went on to become the director of several Ohio libraries including Elyria, Avon Lake, and Canton. As part of his requirements for the degree of Master of Arts from Kent State University, he wrote a thesis titled The History and Development of the Sandusky Library Association, Sandusky, Ohio in 1953. A bound copy is on file at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

The thesis covered the history, growth and development of the Sandusky Library from its earliest years to the early 1950s. In the publication, he pointed out that the Sandusky Library, which opened on July 3, 1901, looked similar to a medieval castle. He stated that the library represented the ultimate ideal of the “university of the common man.”  Mr. Wolcott also discusses the earliest libraries in Sandusky, including the Portland Library Association and the Lyceum from the 1820s, and the Philomathesian Society that grew out of the Young Men’s Debating Association in 1840. He went on to cover the Ladies Library Association that met in 1870 for the purpose of forming a library association, and the Library Association of Sandusky which was incorporated in 1895.  In 1896 the Ladies Building Fund Association was organized, and two years later the Association purchased property at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Adams Street. The philanthropist Andrew Carnegie gave $50,000 for the library building and equipment, with the stipulation that no part was to be used for maintenance.  The original building was constructed with blue limestone from the Wagner Quarries, caps and sills in Berea sandstone, and the base in Columbus limestone.

Mr. Wolcott provided statistics about the Sandusky Library between 1921 and 1951. Today the Sandusky Library owns over 200,000 items, which include books, periodicals, DVDs, compact discs, books on tape, and e-books.  A host of online research databases provide instant access to information to library patrons twenty four hours a day.

Merlin Wolcott died in 1993 at the age of 73. He was a World War II Army Veteran, a member of Grace Episcopal Church, the Mayflower Society, the Descendants of Henry Wolcott, Masonic Lodge, the American Library Association and the Ohio Library Association. Mr. Wolcott had a deep interest in family and local history. He was a direct descendant of Benajah Wolcott, the first keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse.

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Artist John Opie's Painting of a Lyman Boat


In the historical collections of the Sandusky Library and the Follett House Museum is a painting of a Lyman boat, titled Lyman Islander, by artist John Opie. Mr. Opie is a native of Sandusky, graduating from Sandusky High School in 1954. He earned Bachelors of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts degrees from Kent State University; after several years of teaching in art schools and universities, he became a full time artist, now living in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. John Opie’s family was associated with the O.P. Craft Company in Sandusky for many years. (His father was treasurer and general manager of the business.)

The Lyman Boat Company was founded in Cleveland in 1875 and moved to Sandusky in November 1928. They made wooden boats in Sandusky until 1973; these boats are still beloved by many Great Lakes boaters.

To read more about the Lyman Boat Works, read the book Lyman Boats: Legend of the Lakes, by Tom Koroknay (T, Koroknay, 2004), available for loan through the Clevnet system.   You can see a Lyman boat on exhibit at the Maritime Museum of Sandusky.         

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Gilbert Harris, Dry Goods Merchant

Gilbert E. Harris was born in Sandusky in 1848, to Gilbert Harris, and his wife, the former Almira Belknap. The elder Mr. Harris died in 1849, leaving his widow to raise two small children on her own. The younger Gilbert Harris started out his long career as a clerk for the dry goods store of Charles and George Cooke. Later Mr. Harris went into a partnership with Henry Schumacher and John Bredbeck. In his final years in business, the dry goods store would become simply Harris and Schumacher. In 1900, this store was at 131 Columbus Avenue, just down the street from the West House.

This advertisement appeared in the Sandusky Register of March 13, 1900:

Mr. Harris and Mr. Schumacher were so enthusiastic about the closet sets they carried at their store that they took out an advertisement, along with many others, in volume 28 of Scribner’s Magazine in 1900.

The hangers provided in the Goodform Closet Set were supposed to keep garments in good condition, while also providing more space in one’s closet.

Mr. Gilbert E. Harris died from a bout with pneumonia on April 15, 1905. His obituary, in the April 16, 1905 issue of the Sandusky Register, stated that he was one of Sandusky’s “prominent, popular and progressive citizens.” He had been a deacon and trustee of the Congregational Church.  Mr. Harris was survived by his wife and two daughters. His obituary reported that his many friends were filled with sorrow. Mr. Harris was buried in Block 59 of Oakland Cemetery. Henry Schumacher carried on the dry goods business as sole proprietor.

Monday, August 07, 2023

The Rittman Family of Put-in-Bay and Sandusky

This picture of Lucy, George and Mamie Rittman was taken at the Pascoe studio in Sandusky, Ohio in the late 1880s. The parents of these children were Frank Rittman, Jr. and his wife, the former Fannie Parker. The Rittman family resided in Put-in-Bay, but often visited Sandusky to see relatives, including their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Rittman, Sr. 

Memorial card for Grandfather Frank Rittman, Sr.

The Put-in-Bay column in the Sandusky Register often reported on the social activities of the Rittman family. In this brief posting, Lucy and Mamie had gone to Cleveland to visit their brother George and his wife.

George F. Rittman carried on the family butcher business at Put in Bay. He spent his final years on the mainland in Sandusky. In the early 1900s, Mary Rittman was a teacher in the public schools. In 1916 she married Captain Ezra Bickford, a veteran lakesman who was the first captain of the ferry the Erie Isle. Lucy became the wife of Granville Heuchele, who was associated with the U.S. Fish Hatchery. After Lucy’s death in 1933, Granville remarried.

The graves of George, Mary, and Lucy are all on South Bass Island. George Rittman (1877-1959) and Lucy Heuchele (1879-1933) were buried at the Maple Leaf Cemetery, and Mary “Mamie” Bickford (1882-1944) was buried at the Crown Hill Cemetery.

If you have ancestors from Sandusky or the Lake Erie Islands area, you can search for articles about them in local newspapers through Newspaper Archive, a Clevnet database. (To access, log in with your Sandusky Library card.)