Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Ebenezer Lane House

The building at 318 Huron Avenue, now known as the Firelands Apartments, was constructed in 1853 from limestone. Built in the Italianate style, this structure was considered a mansion at the time, and served as a spacious home for Dr. Ebenezer Shaw Lane’s family.


Dr. Ebenezer S. Lane, 1819-1893

Dr. Lane’s wife was Pallas Anderson, whose father Dr. George Anderson was the first physician to settle in Sandusky. During the cholera epidemic of 1849, Dr. Lane worked long hours to aid the many people who were sick with the dreaded illness that took many lives. 

Prior to 1915, the address of this home had been 114 Huron Avenue, as seen on this nineteenth century Sanborn map. The creators of the Sanborn map made an accurate depiction of the curved double steps that lead up to the main entrance of the home.

After Dr. and Mrs. Lane moved to Chicago in 1870, John H. and Elizabeth Hudson purchased the home and property.

John H. Hudson, 1827-1893

John H. Hudson was superintendent of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad prior to the Civil War. After the war, he had a grain, salt and lime business at the foot of Columbus Avenue. His second wife was Elizabeth Orton Hudson. After her husband died in 1893, Mrs. Hudson supported herself by painting and giving art lessons. She also rented out some of the upper rooms. In the late 1890s, a female doctor, Dr. Emily Blakeslee, had her medical office and residence in the building, perhaps renting from Mrs. Hudson. Dr. Blakeslee went on to practice medicine in Sandusky for over fifty years.

This straight razor, once used in Dr. Blakeslee’s office, is now a part of the historical collections of the Follett House Museum.

From about 1908 to the early 1910s, Dr. W.A. Crecelius had his medical practice in the building. Dr. Clarence Schimanksy practiced here from 1916 through the 1930s. Dr. Emil Meckstroth had his office here in the 1940s and 1950s. Now the Firelands Apartment building is a multi-family rental unit. There have been additions to the original structure on the eastern and southern sides of the building. To learn more about the many historic buildings in Sandusky, see Ellie Damm’s book Treasure by the Bay, and Helen Hansen’s book, At Home in Early Sandusky.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Did Fannie Mills Really Live in Erie County, Ohio? A Brief Adventure Genealogy Research

In the 1880s Fannie Mills appeared in museums and sideshows as the “Ohio Big Foot Girl.” It seems that a medical condition caused Fannie’s feet to grow large, though the rest of her body was of a normal size. An article in the July 26, 1885 New York Times reported that Fannie wore size 29 shoes.

Did Fannie Mills really live in Erie County, Ohio at one time? By accessing Ancestry Library Edition, we learned that Fannie was eight and one half months old in the 1861 Census of England. She had been born in the registration district of Thakeham in Sussex, England. In 1861, Fannie resided in Sussex with her father George Mills, her mother Sarah Mills, and two older brothers. By the time of the 1880 U.S. Census, her name was listed as Fanny. On June 5, 1880, the census taker recorded the family of George and Sarah Mills as residing in Perkins Township of Erie County, Ohio. Fanny, her parents, and her brother Albert and sister Frances, all were born in England.

The census enumerator made a note next to the listing for Fanny Mills, age 14, that read  “deformed feet.”  A “Forty Years Ago Today” column in the Sandusky Register of April 9, 1929, reported that on April 9, 1886, Fannie Mills of Sandusky, who was noted as the girl with big feet, was appearing in New York. Newspaper accounts stated that she was offering $5,000 and a “well stocked farm” to the man who would marry her.  That may have been just a publicity item, rather than a fact, as Fannie/Fanny Mills married William Brown. To date, no marriage record has been located, but the Oakland Cemetery interment cards for Fannie Mills Brown list her burial date as May 4, 1899.  She was buried in Lot 6 of Block 76 at Oakland Cemetery.

Mr. William Brown, who died of cancer in 1904, was also buried in Lot 6 of Block 76 at Oakland Cemetery.

Census and cemetery records indicate that Fannie/Fanny Mills did indeed reside in Erie County, Ohio, and her death notice in the May 4, 1899 issue of the Sandusky Star helps to confirm it. 

The Follett House Museum in Sandusky has the lasts that were used to make shoes for Fannie Mills.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Harry Lee: A Ballad

In 1855, Sandusky resident George J. Anderson wrote and composed a piece of sheet music called Harry Lee: A Ballad for voice and the piano. The publisher was Millet’s Music Saloon on Broadway.  The sheet music was dedicated to Miss Kate Peck, and was written in memory of Stewart Holland, “who went down by the ill-fated Artic [sic] firing the Minute Gun.” This composition is housed in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library, and is also a part of the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection of the John Hopkins University Library’s Special Collections. While the ballad recounts the bravery of Stewart Holland, it is not clear as to why the title of the piece was “Harry Lee.”

On September 27, 1854, the S.S. Arctic sank off the coast of Newfoundland, after colliding with the S.S. Vesta in the fog. The total loss was nearly 400, including all women and children on board. The public was shocked to hear of the cowardly acts of the crew, which included crew members boarding the life boats before women and children. Bravely facing the sinking ship was Stewart Holland, who stood on the sinking ship's deck firing the distress cannon, until the ship went under water. He did not survive.

The November 1, 1854 issue of the New York Times carried an article in which an officer from the S. S. Arctic gives a firsthand account of the bravery of Stewart Holland. The book, The Sea Shall Embrace Them, by David W. Shaw, (available via CLEVNET) tells the tragic story of the S.S. Arctic. A Currier and Ives print also pays tribute.

George J. Anderson was the son of Sandusky’s first physician, Dr. George Anderson. The son of George J. Anderson, George F. Anderson, had musical interests as well: he formed the Sandusky Philharmonic Orchestra and acted as its conductor. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

First Day of Issue of Carousel Animals U.S. Postage Stamps

According to the Sandusky Register of October 2, 1988, on October 1, 1988 throngs of people assembled at both the Sandusky U.S. Post Office and Cedar Point to mark the first day issue of four stamps which featured images of carousel animals.

The stamps were designed by Paul Calle. The cover photo of the first day issue memento featured a photograph from The Art of the Carousel by Charlotte Dinger. The carousel animals included a Gustav Dentzel deer, a goat and camel by Charles Looff, and an armored horse carved by Daniel C. Muller, which is still a working carousel animal on Kiddie Kingdom Carousel at Cedar Point. Helen Hansen, who donated this item to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, wrote on the back of the card that it was a warm and sunny day at Cedar Point, with a lovely setting and a good crowd at Cedar Point.

You can read the history of Sandusky’s Merry Go Round Museum at the museum’s website, which states that the idea of the Merry Go Round Museum in Sandusky came about because of the first day issue of the carousel stamps. The museum opened its doors on July 14, 1990.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Henry D. Seele and the Ice and Fish News

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Henry D. Seele listed his occupation as editor of Ice and Fish News.

At this time, Mr. Seele and his wife, the former Ora Dick, lived at the West House in downtown Sandusky. The Ice and Fish News was a monthly trade newspaper, eight pages in length, established in 1872. Advances in technology led to the demise of the natural ice industry, but in the 1870s and 1880s, the Ice and Fish News informed people all over the eastern U.S. about business in the Great Lakes region. An entry in the C.A. Cooke and Co. Newspaper Directory stated that this publication was “the only paper by which advertisers can reach ice dealers, brewers, commission merchants, fish packers and dealers, oyster packers and restaurants.” This listing appeared in Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory about 1880.

In 1882 Mr. Seele was one of the proprietors of the Buckeye Business and Telegraph College, along with J.J. Dauch and H.O. Stafford. This college later became known as the Sandusky Business College. He also was the senior partner in a wholesale lake ice business at this time; the Ice and Fish News was probably beneficial for the promotion of his ice business. 

In 1884 Henry D. Seele and his family moved to Indiana, where he worked in horticulture. He died in Elkhart, Indiana in the fall of 1934. At the time of his death, he was the second oldest member of Sandusky’s Perseverance Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Distiller’s Bond Issued to Fredrick Hofner

On December 20, 1867, Fredrick Hofner was issued a Distiller’s Bond from the United States Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Hofner lived in Margaretta, in Erie County. He was listed as the principal, with Isodore Metterer and John Charles Boloker, of Sandusky, Ohio serving as sureties. Fredrick Hofner was in the business of distilling grapes, and by signing this bond he agreed to see that all taxes, including any penalties owed, were paid to the United States government. Five five-cent tax stamps were attached to the Distiller’s Bond, and were properly cancelled. 

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Frederick Hoffner still resided in Margaretta Township, Erie County, Ohio, with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren. Mr. Hoffner died on March 27, 1890, and was buried at the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Graduation '79


Jessie Martha Wilcox, the daughter of Rollin M. Wilcox and his first wife, the former Martha Newton, graduated from Sandusky High School in June of 1879. At this time, U.T. Curran was the superintendent of Sandusky Public Schools and Emily Patterson was the Principal of Sandusky High School. 

Here is the cover of the program from the annual commencement exercises, held on Friday, June 27, 1879:

During the ceremony, several students gave essays and orations. Jessie Wilcox spoke about “Friendship of Books.”  Charles Courtney Curran, the son of the Superintendent U.T. Curran, gave an oration on American Inventions; he would go on to become a well-known artist. The Great Western Orchestra began and ended the program with musical selections.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has in its Schools Collections many primary sources related to Sandusky High School, including several commencement programs, class photographs, graduation pictures, and many decades of the Fram.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Dramatic Entertainment, May 29, 1874

On May 29, 1874, a program of Dramatic Entertainment was given at the Sandusky High School, now known as Adams Junior High School in Sandusky. It was considered “A Very Serious Drama in Two Acts.” The first act was “Among the Breakers,” and the second act was “The Day After the Wedding.”

An article in the May 29, 1874 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that the dramatic entertainment was put on by the Sandusky Dramatic Association, and was a most enjoyable affair. Many familiar names were part of the cast. George P. Barker, cast in the leading role, was later a Major during the Spanish American War. Oran Follett Foster, who portrayed Larry Divine, was the grandson of Oran Follett, a well known publisher. Jessie and Allie Stem were the daughters of former Indian agent Jesse Stem, who was killed in Texas in 1854 when his wagon was ambushed. Miss Emma Marsh later married C. Webb Sadler, and they were the parents of C. Webb Sadler, Jr., once the City Manager of Sandusky, Ohio. Charles Livingston Hubbard married Jennie M. West, the daughter of early Sandusky businessman William T. West.

Major George P. Barker, during the war with Spain

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view this program, and many other primary sources from Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

"This Was My Home"


In 1941, Sandusky High School student Eleanor Downing wrote an essay for the Fram entitled “This Was My Home.”

Eleanor wrote that she always loved living in the country, with its blue skies, sunshine, and starry, still nights. She enjoyed the sights and sounds of rural Erie County, Ohio, and war seemed far away from her happy home. In 1941, the United States War Department acquired 9,000 acres of farm land in Perkins Township, to make way for a munitions factory. 150 families had to find homes elsewhere. The Plum Brook Ordnance Works was named for a creek which ran through the land. Later the site was occupied by NASA for nuclear research. The Plum Brook Station is now called the NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at the Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility.

By doing a bit of research on Ancestry Library Edition, Rootsweb, and the Ohio Obituary Index, we were able to determine that Eleanor Downing was a descendant of the House family, who were among the early settlers in Perkins Township from Connecticut. The land was a vital resource to those pioneer residents, who had large farms on which they raised crops and livestock. Eleanor wrote a poignant article about how much she appreciated her home in the country, and how soon the things that she had “loved and looked forward to” would become things of the past. Visit the Sandusky Library to view the original article by Eleanor Downing in the April 1941 copy of the Fram.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Blue Streak

The Blue Streak roller coaster, which made its debut at Cedar Point on May 23,1964, it was the first major coaster built at the park since 1929. It was named after the mascot of Sandusky City Schools. 

David and Diane DeMali Francis wrote in their book, Cedar Point: The Queen of American Watering Places (Amusement Park Books, 1995), that the Blue Streak was designed by coaster engineer Frank Hoover. Crews worked on construction of the coaster in the winter months, battling high winds and snowstorms. Three tons of nails and 200,000 feet of lumber were used in the construction of the Blue Streak, which was 72 feet high and 2,400 feet long. 

Two pictures taken by Sandusky photographer Alden Wintersteller show the Blue Streak under construction. Several workers can be seen on the frame of the Blue Streak roller coaster, on January 21, 1964. 

Park officials viewed the Blue Streak roller coaster as construction continued in late January, 1964.

The Blue Streak coaster celebrated fifty years at Cedar Point during the 2014 season.