Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Zurma Brothers

Image courtesy of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library, Fremont, Ohio

From the 1920s until 1945, two brothers of Italian descent, Urbano and Guerrino Zurma were in the tire business. The Zurma Brothers’ first shop was at 316 Scott Street.

The Zurmas were local distributors for Mason tires. They used a "Vulcanizing" process to repair tires. In an article in the Sandusky Star Journal of April 23, 1927, the Zurma Brothers promised to “give you the best in tire service.”

By June of 1928, the Zurma Brothers had moved their tire shop to the corner of Cleveland Road and Ogontz Street. In 1931, the Zurma Brothers sold Atlas tires and used Standard Oil products in their shop. In an article in the December 13, 1934 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal, Urbano Zurma explained that full retreading of tires was superior to the process of “capping” tires. The Zurma Brothers used Akron Simplex Retreaders at their tire repair shop.

Guerrino Zurma passed away in 1945. The Sandusky Register Star News of November 7, 1945 reported that the Lake Shore Meat Company had acquired the former property of the Zurma Brothers. When Urbano Zurma died in December of 1954, his obituary stated that he had been “a pioneer in the tire vulcanizing and repair business in Sandusky.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Mrs. Josephine Leeson, Descendant of Pilgrims

Josephine Adelia Cook was the daughter of Dr. Thomas M. Cook, who was the surgeon of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. The Cook family traces its roots back to Francis Cooke, who came to America on board the Mayflower. (Through the years, some family members dropped the final letter “e” on the surname Cooke.)

Josephine Cook married Joel Byington Leeson about 1874. In the 1880 U.S. Census, J.B. Leeson and Josephine Cook Leeson were residing with her parents, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas M. Cook. In the 1880s, J.B. Leeson was associated with the Sandusky Wheel Company, and later the American Wheel Company.

By 1900 the Leeson family moved to New York State. Joel Byington Leeson died in Cleveland, Ohio on October 30, 1922. He was buried in the Whitney Cemetery in Ontario County, New York. When Mrs. Josephine Lesson died in 1929, an article in the March 2, 1929 issue of the Sandusky Register reported on her death

Mrs. Leeson was buried next to her husband in the Whitney Cemetery. She was survived by two sons and four nephews. She had been on the Board of Trustees of the Sandusky Library from 1888 to 1891. When she lived in Sandusky, Mrs. Leeson sang in the choir of Grace Episcopal Church.

Saturday, March 11, 2023

The John Rice Miner House

A daguerreotype image taken around 1876

The home at the southeast corner of Fulton and Washington Streets in Sandusky, Ohio, was built in 1868 in the Italianate style. In the 1870s and 1880s, the family of John Rice Miner resided here. Mr. Miner was a vice president of the Sandusky Wheel Company. The address of this home prior to 1915 was 934 Washington Street. By the late 1890s, Mr. and Mrs. Miner had moved to Fresno County, California.

Through the years, the house was sometimes a private residence, with an apartment upstairs, but often it was home to a variety of businesses. In the early 1900s, the Gilbert Harris family lived in the house. When Mr. Gilbert died in 1905, the Sandusky Register featured an obituary of the prominent businessman.

In 1937 Dr. James D. Lea had his “optical parlors” at what by then was 618 West Washington Street.

From about 1942 through 1973, Brownworth’s Furniture was in business on the site. In this advertisement from the May 7, 1953 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News, it appears that Philco radios were a popular item at the business.

The Darr Chiropractic office was in the house for much of the decade of the 1990s. In more recent years, a legal office has been in operation at 618 West Washington Street. Here is a recent view of the former home of John Rice Miner:

From Google Maps

Visit the Sandusky Library to learn more about the residents of Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio.

Monday, March 06, 2023

Women's History Month: Miss Emeline Baumeister, Educator and Author

Emeline Baumeister was the youngest child of Frank and Katherine Baumeister, born in Erie County, Ohio in 1895. She graduated from Sandusky High School and attended Kent State University, earning a lifetime teaching certificate. By 1919, Emeline and her sister Edna were both teachers at Campbell School, also known as the 8th Ward School. By 1927, she was the Principal of the school.

Between 1924 and 1936, Emeline Baumeister, along with school superintendent Frank J. Prout, and Nellie Mischler authored several reading textbooks that were published by the University Publishing Company. Several of the books authored by Dr. Prout, Emeline Baumeister and Nellie Mischler are still found in university libraries throughout the United States today.

An article in the March 14, 1936 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that Miss Baumeister had special lessons with a youngster who had moved to Sandusky from Italy, and who did not speak English. Two-thirds of the way through the school year, young Mariana Cinquanta was speaking and reading English very well, with a slight Italian accent, after special attention from Miss Baumeister.

At the end of the school year in 1946, Miss Baumeister was promoted from Principal of Campbell School to the position of Elementary Supervisor for the entire Sandusky City Schools district. Students and teachers paid tribute to her with gifts and a dinner party.

Miss Baumeister was a popular speaker for women’s organizations in Sandusky. In 1953 she spoke to the Mothers’ Federation along with television star Paige Palmer ("The First Lady of Fitness"), when the ladies met at Osborne School. 

Emeline Baumeister retired from her long career in 1959. She passed away on September 25, 1980. An article in the Sandusky Register of January 9, 1982 reported that she left the Sandusky City Schools over $95,000 in her will (worth about $312,000 today). Miss Baumeister cared about the children of Sandusky during her lifetime, and she made provision for Sandusky students even after her death.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

Remembering the Cassidy and Silvani Market

Ad from Sandusky Register Star News, February 17, 1953

Silvani’s Market was located at 1614 Milan Road in Sandusky, Ohio for several years. The original store was started by Arthur Silvani’s father in law, Primo Cassidy, who was also known as Primo Cassadei. Mr. Cassidy started in the grocery business in Sandusky in 1922.

In 1935, Cassidy’s was just one of several Sandusky grocery stores that carried Kellogg’s Wheat Krispies.

An article in the April 3, 1940 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that the Cassidy Super Market was to be open for public inspection, after the store had recently been enlarged. New refrigeration cases had been added, and modern display counters were in use. With the newly enlarged floor space, Mr. Cassidy offered a wider variety of grocery items for sale. He invited all shoppers to visit the store to see the improvements. There were specials on sale in every department.

By 1947, Mr. Cassidy had retired, and the market became known as Silvani’s Market, now run by Primo’s son in law Arthur Silvani.

In November of 1960, Silvani’s advertised “more big food bargains” at the market.

Arthur Silvani died on February 27, 1967, and Primo Casadei in 1971. Sandusky city directories list a Clearwater Pool Supply business at 1614 Milan Road in 1970 and 1971. Many of our parents and grandparents probably shopped at the former Cassidy or Silvani Market, which was in the heart of Sandusky’s Little Italy neighborhood.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Wyandotte Point

An article in the October 12, 1919 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that real estate development had begun in an area known as Wyandotte Point, under the impetus of James J. Hinde, manager of the Sandusky Development Company. The area contained 30 acres of land adjacent to West Monroe Street, running from Sandusky Bay to land close to New York Central railroad tracks.  The name Wyandotte Point was a nod to the Native Americans who once lived in this vicinity. The plot was laid out prior to World War I, but government regulations prohibited new construction during the wartime years.

Homes were to be constructed for a cost of between 3000 and 7000 dollars ($47,000-$110,000 in today's dollars), with only single family residences to be built here for fifty years. Mr. Hinde was quoted in the Register article, “The time is right for extensive real estate development here. This is evident owing to the incoming of many manufacturing plants and the need for housing. Employees and officials must have dwellings. Another thing, as I see it, all modern home development must be in the suburbs. The tendency of home seekers is to withdraw from city surroundings into the more open and healthy country.”

The close proximity to Sandusky Bay and Winnebago Park were key factors for prospective buyers of homes in Wyandotte Point. A street car line took residents from Winnebago Park to Sandusky.

Notes on the picture below indicate that J.J. Hinde had these homes built on Gartland Avenue, which was close to the G and C Foundry, and namesake of one of the foundry's owners.

An advertisement in the Sandusky Register of November 26, 1919, told prospective owners of homes in this development that they could double their money in five years.

Winnebago Park is now known as Lions Park. In “The Follett House Scrapbook,” a feature in the August 23, 1987 issue of the Sandusky Register, Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann gave a brief history of Winnebago Park and Lions Park. The park was once included in the Wyandotte Point development.

In the 1920s through the 1950s, many family reunions were held at Winnebago Park, later known as Lions Park. The Sprau family gathered at Winnebago Park in 1920.

Sandusky Register, Oct. 12, 1919

Monday, February 20, 2023

Three Sandusky City School Officials in 1970

In the picture above, three Sandusky City School officials are looking over a magazine article explaining the art program for the school district in 1970. From left to right are: Frank Smith, Wallace Glenwright, and Thomas C. Gallagher.

Frank Smith was well known in art circles in Sandusky. He was an art teacher for Sandusky Schools, and eventually became supervisor of art instruction for the entire school district. Mr. Smith was the founder of the Sandusky Cultural Center, and he was a long time member of the Art Study Club.

Wallace Glenwright was associated with Sandusky City Schools for over thirty years, having been a coach of football, basketball and golf. He also served as Athletic Director, Assistant Principal, and Principal of Sandusky High School, and eventually became the School Superintendent.

Well known Sandusky Register Charles Wagner once said of Mr. Glenwright, “He was a gentleman’s gentleman.”

Thomas Gallagher was in the field of education for thirty five years, and was the Principal of Osborne School for twenty eight years. When he retired, the Sandusky Register of March 25, 1986 featured an article chronicling his career.

Many former students of these local educational leaders will have fond memories of these Sandusky educators.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Embroidery from the Historical Collections of the Follett House Museum

Embroidery, as defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica, is "the art of decorating material, primarily textile fabric, by means of a needle and thread (and sometimes fine wire)." It dates back to ancient times, often used in garments, tomb paintings, and for religious items.  Shown above is an embroidered sampler created by nine-year-old Nancy Ward in 1810. She stitched two upper case alphabets, a lower case alphabets, and numerals 1 to 10.

Here is a hand embroidered motto that reads “Forget me not” with a floral design:

In 1834 Caroline Sprague monogrammed the letter “M” on a linen tablecloth. Since Caroline married Henry Frost Merry in 1837, it is likely that the tablecloth was made for a member of the Merry family.

These four linen embroidered doilies belonged to pioneer Sandusky resident Mrs. William T. West, nee Lydia Mahala Todd:

Also in the historical collections of the Sandusky Library and Follett House Museum is a book published in 1888 entitled How to Shade Embroidered Flowers and Leaves, by Ellen Galusha Smith.

To read more about the history of embroidery in the United States, see the book The Development of Embroidery in America, by Candace Wheeler, available at Project Gutenberg.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Was the Surname Melville or Milne?

According to Helen Hansen's At Home in Early Sandusky, William Gordon Melville-Milne was born in Aberdeen, Scotland in 1819. He emigrated to Canada, where he married Catherine Kennedy. The couple moved to Missouri, where Mr. Melville-Milne worked for E. F. Osborn, the owner of a large flour mill. In the 1840s, Mr. Osborn moved to Sandusky to serve as superintendent of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. He sent for Mr. Melville-Milne in 1847, to assist in the operations of the railroad in Sandusky. 

In February, 1861 William Melville-Milne died at age 41. He left a widow and eight children, six of whom survived to adulthood. In her book, Mrs. Hansen explained that some branches of the family used the Scots double name of "Melville-Milne." Some family members used only "Milne" as their surname, but many dropped the "Milne" and went by the last name of "Melville." (This is just one example of how family history can be quite confusing.) There are streets in Sandusky named for both of the surnames Melville and Milne. Melville Street runs between Camp Street and Pearl Street, while Milne Street runs between West Adams and Harrison Streets.

Sons of William Melville-Milne, who were known as William and Charles Melville, ran a drug store in Sandusky which was in operation for fifty years. Another son, George W. Melville, was an engraver in Chicago. The former home of William G. Melville-Milne is at 319 Lawrence Street in Sandusky.

Photo taken in 1958

When looking through genealogical records, there are several variations of the surname. A descendant named Frank Rowland Melville Milne is listed as “Frank Rowland Melville” on his World War II draft registration card, but the name on his tombstone at Oakland Cemetery reads Frank Rowland Melville Milne.

When researching anyone in the Melville-Milne family, be sure to check for Melville, or Milne, or Melville-Milne! Do the same for any hyphenated name.

Monday, February 06, 2023

Elmer Grahl’s Painting and the Story of Sandusky's Puck

In 2003 longtime Sandusky barber Elmer Grahl painted a picture of the ice cream and sandwich shop operated by the Charles Hoffman family in the 1920s and 1930s. This shop is no longer standing, but it once stood at the southeast corner of Scott and Hancock Streets.

Puck, the figure on top of the stand, was in the front window of Dietz and Mischler’s cigar store on Columbus Avenue until about 1915. After the cigar store closed, this zinc statue landed in John and Henry Weier’s scrap yard, on Hancock Street, between Neil and Scott Streets. Charles Hoffman rescued Puck and placed him on top of the family sandwich shop, just down the street. The tip of Puck’s spear was electrified, and fitted with a light bulb, showing the way to Hoffman’s shop. Hoffman descendants donated Puck to the Follett House Museum in the 1970s.

Below is a photograph of Hoffman’s shop when it was in business in Sandusky. The Hoffman family was well known in Sandusky for its business ventures, including the Hoffman Coal and Milling Company and the Hoffman Manufacturing Company.