Monday, April 12, 2021

Sunnyside Acres

Image courtesy Erie County Auditor Historical Maps

The Sunnyside Acres Subdivision is located in Sandusky, Ohio in an area south of Cleveland Road. Streets in the subdivision include Wamajo Drive, Knupke Street, Dixon Drive, and Judy Lane. Many of the homes in Sunnyside Acres were built by the Wamajo Development Corporation from Milan, Ohio. According to an article in the September 1, 1959 issue of the Sandusky Register, building officials with the City of Sandusky issued three building permits to the Wamajo Development Corporation. The homes were expected to be built for an estimated cost of $8000 each (about $70,000 today). By December of 1959, permits had been issued for the construction of twenty-five homes. Many more would be built as time went by. 

A park located within the boundaries of the Sunnyside Acres Subdivision was listed as “City Playfield” on this map from the Erie County Auditor’s historical map collection: 

When football great Orlando Pace gave his speech at the time of his induction into the NFL Football Hall of Fame, he stated that his dream started “when I was seven years old, playing in Sunnyside Park in Sandusky, Ohio.” That park is now Orlando Pace Park, on Wamajo Drive in Sandusky, named for Sandusky High School’s football legend. Below is a picture of the Junior Varsity Football team at Sandusky High School, when Orlando Pace wore number 75.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Ivette Martin Miller, An Active Senior

In honor of National Library Week, we recognize a former library worker.

Mrs. Ivette Martin Miller, usually known as Betty, was a former employee of the Sandusky Library. For a time she was in charge of the circulating library at Viewpoint, where she was also a resident. An article in “The Elderlies” column by Karl Kurtz, in the August 14, 1976 issue of the Sandusky Register provides more information about Betty’s background and her determination. Betty started working in Sandusky in 1913, around 17 years old, at her uncle Fred Martin’s ice cream parlor in the old West House building. Kurtz wrote that he and his friends would try to confuse Betty when they ordered sodas or ice cream sundaes, but she always got their orders correct. When Fred Martin moved his ice cream parlor, along with a restaurant, to the Cooke Building, Betty became the manager of the bakery department. 

Later she worked for the B& O and New York Central Railroads, in the ticket office. In 1922, Betty married Edwin Miller, who passed away in 1952. By 1970 Betty had moved to the Viewpoint Apartments, where she was a neighbor to Karl Kurtz. Around 1974, Betty fell and broke her right shoulder. In spite of several operations, and complications, her arm remained in a sling for quite some time. Karl said that Betty should be given a medal for “cheerfulness in time of anxiety, suffering, unselfishness, and endurance in face of much tribulation and trial, while retaining steadfast faith in a higher power.” Throughout her health problems, Betty always tried to cheer up others, and kept a positive attitude. If you would like to read this article in its entirety, along with dozens of other human interest stories, you can see a three-volume compilation of Karl Kurtz’s “The Elderlies” columns at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. 

Below is a picture of Betty when she was a volunteer with the Women’s Auxiliary at Sandusky’s former Providence Hospital. Betty is in the front, on the left side. In this picture the ladies were modeling hats, some of which were made from pieces of hospital equipment.

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Historic Photos from the Sandusky Library

In commemoration of National Library Week, we are sharing some historical photos from the Sandusky Library.

Cora Rehfus looks up from her duties in the adult department of the Sandusky Library in the 1940s. Note the portrait of Andrew Carnegie above the book shelves. Through the efforts of Sanduskian Mrs. Jay O. Moss, in 1899 Andrew Carnegie, wealthy philanthropist, offered to give $50,000 for a public library in our city. 

In the picture below, Miss Mary McCann, longtime Head Librarian at Sandusky Library, checks out books in the Bookmobile, which operated in the 1950s and 1960s throughout Erie County. 

Long before Netflix and Hoopla, Mrs. Louise Kuemmel inspected and cleaned 16mm films from the Sandusky Library’s circulating collection of films. The film department of the library was in the basement, where the Sandusky Library Archives Research Collection is currently located. 

In August of 1980, Sandusky Library staff was delighted to have completed its inventory project.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Stories of Sandusky, by Hewson L. Peeke

According to the Sandusky Register of August 4, 1922, Hewson L. Peeke wrote ten stories about the early days of the city of Sandusky, calling them Stories of Sandusky. They could be best described as fictionalized versions of early events. Sandusky City Schools Superintendent Frank J. Prout had the stories mimeographed in the form of a pamphlet for use in the public schools. Dr. Prout stated, “They will teach the children to respect the historical incidents connected with the city’s existence.” In 1934 an expanded version of Stories of Sandusky was printed by the Stephens Company in Sandusky, Ohio, with forty-five stories in this edition. 

In many cases, Mr. Peeke gave fictitious names to the characters. The story “How John North Came to Sandusky and What He Did There” was actually about early Sandusky businessman William T. West. It turns out that William T. West intended to go to Cincinnati. In Buffalo, his baggage accidentally was put into a boat bound for Sandusky, so he followed the boat to Sandusky to retrieve his baggage. Then Mr. West missed his train bound for Cincinnati, and he ended up staying in Sandusky. He worked as a carpenter, ran a store, and eventually he and his brother constructed the West House hotel in Sandusky. The story indicates that Mr. West felt he was a “creature of circumstance.” 

The character of John North in Stories of Sandusky was William T. West

 In “The Story of Damask Rose,” Peeke relates that Damask Rose was the beloved daughter of attorney and abolitionist F.D. Parish. Supposedly, young Damask Rose Parish was carrying food to a runaway slave child and was seen by a U.S. official. The little girl and her mother were turned over to the slaveholder, and sent back south. Damask Rose Parish died at age 10, and she always blamed herself for the unfortunate events that transpired. 

A lawsuit was brought against F.D. Parish, and he lost the case. Though F.D. Parish did indeed have a young daughter named Damask Rose, the U.S. Census and Oakland Cemetery records indicate that she died in 1855, not in 1845, as Peeke wrote in Stories of Sandusky. Her tombstone can still be seen in Block 28 at Oakland Cemetery in the Parish family lot. 

In the story about “Old Mockabee” Peeke recalls how the town drunkard redeemed himself by digging graves for the victims of cholera in Sandusky in 1849. You can read many more stories about Sandusky and the Firelands in Stories of Sandusky. Inquire at the Reference Services desk if you would like to see this interesting book by Hewson L. Peeke.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Miss Jessie Wilcox, Cultural Leader

Jessie Martha Wilcox was born in Sandusky, Ohio in April of 1861, the same week that the Civil War broke out in the United States. Her parents were Rollin M. Wilcox and the former Martha Ellen Newton. For many years, Jessie’s father was a partner in the R.M. and C.B. Wilcox Company, a popular department store in downtown Sandusky. 

When Jessie was just a toddler, her mother Martha passed away at age 28. 

Jessie graduated from Sandusky High School on June 27, 1879; her niece, Esther Sloane Curtis, donated her aunt's high school diploma to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. 

In 1884, she graduated from Wellesley College in Massachusetts. After graduation, she taught school in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, before moving back to her hometown of Sandusky, where she also taught school. 

From 1904 to 1937, Miss Wilcox was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Sandusky Library, serving for a time as President of the Board. She was also a member of the Nineteenth Century Club, the Martha Pitkin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and Trinity United Methodist Church. 

On August 12, 1937, Jessie Wilcox died suddenly at her home on Franklin Street in Sandusky. Funeral services were held at the home of Jessie’s niece, Mrs. Worth Curtis, with the Rev. Roy Smith of Trinity Methodist Church officiating. Burial was at Oakland Cemetery. An obituary in the August 12, 1937 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that Jessie had been one of the area’s most prominent women, and she had been a leader in the cultural life of Sandusky. The Sandusky Library closed from 2:30 to 3:30 on Saturday, August 14, 1937, during the funeral service, in honor of her many years of service to the Library.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Pearl of the Sea by Karl Merz

In 1878 Karl Merz wrote the sheet music for a waltz entitled Pearl of the Sea. It was published by S. Brainard & Sons in Cleveland, Ohio. The sheet music was sold in Sandusky in the late 1870s at Hammond’s Music Store on Columbus Avenue. 

Karl Merz had been born in Germany in the 1830s. He learned how to play the organ and violin while quite young. In 1854, he emigrated to the United States, and by 1861 was was on the faculty of the Oxford Female College in Oxford, Ohio (later incorporated into Miami University). In 1882, he was asked to organize the music department at the College of Wooster. While at Wooster, he also wrote a column for Brainard’s Musical World. Eventually he became the editor of this publication. 

As a prolific composer, many of his musical pieces are preserved at the Library of Congress. During the summer of 1888, when Mrs. P.A. Follett operated a Summer Musical Institute, she arranged for  Merz to give a series of lectures at the Sandusky High School. Merz often visited Sandusky to pay a visit to his son, Dr. Charles Merz, and family. Dr. Merz was a leading Sandusky physician, and he was also an expert on Masonic history. 

Karl Merz's grandson, who was also named Charles Merz, was the editor of the New York Times from 1938 to 1961. 

Karl Merz died from pneumonia on January 30, 1890. The March 1890 issue of Brainard’s Musical World was dedicated to the memory of its former editor. An obituary honoring the memory of Karl Merz appeared in the February 1, 1890 issue of the Sandusky Register

Karl Merz was greatly missed by the musical community. A beautiful monument honoring the memory of Karl Merz was unveiled at the Wooster Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1894.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

The Sloane House Annex in 1969

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center collections have several pictures of the Sloane House Annex from June of 1969. The Annex was a building on West Washington Row adjacent to the Sloane House hotel for several years. In 1949 the LaSalle store opened next door, on the site of the former Sloane House hotel. The Parkview Barber Shop and the Kubach and Buderer pharmacy were at the street level of the Sloane House Annex  in 1969. You can see a portion of the Beecher House on the left side of the picture below. In the 1960s, the Beecher House was the home of the American Legion. (The small structure between the Sloane House Annex and the Beecher House was unoccupied at the time this picture was taken.)

On the east wall of the building was a sign advertising free downtown parking. Note the classic Volkswagen beetle parked on the street. 

Today the Erie County building is at the corner of West Washington Row and Columbus Avenue, where the Sloane House hotel once stood. First Federal Savings-Lorain is at the site of the former Sloane House Annex, and two businesses are in operation at the Beecher House. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to see these and hundreds of other historic images of Sandusky and Erie County.

Monday, March 22, 2021

E.W. Altstaetter, Mayor of Sandusky

After having served as City Commissioner of Sandusky during the early 1920s, Edward W. Altstaetter was Sandusky’s Mayor from 1926 to 1930. Mr. Altstaetter issued several proclamations during his years as Mayor. In 1926, He made a Proclamation of Art Week from April 11 to 18, which was published in the Sandusky Star Journal on April 10, 1926. 

The proclamation indicated that an appreciation of art would result in “better and more artistic homes, more harmonious and attractive dress, and a more beautiful city and community.” An article in the Sandusky Register of November 9, 1927 printed an Armistice Day issued by Mayor Altstaetter. A portion of the Armistice Day read: 

An interesting proclamation issued by Mayor Altstaeter on January 30, 1929, was his endorsement of “Brake Test Week.” In this proclamation, the Mayor called on the citizens of Sandusky to test the brake equipment of their automobiles, and have faulty brakes adjusted or repaired, to reduce the number of traffic accidents in the city. The Mayor also issued a proclamation urging local citizens to attend the ceremony of the opening of the Sandusky Bay Bridge, which was a huge accomplishment at the time. This proclamation appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal on January 30, 1929. During Mayor Altstaetter’s term as Mayor, the Jackson Junior High School was opened, as well as the Post Office, which for many years stood at the intersection of Central Avenue, Washington Street, and Jackson Street.

Of course E.W. Altstaetter was also Mayor when the Stock Market crashed in October of 1929. When Mr. Altstaetter passed away in 1970 at the age of 91, he was the oldest insurance agent in the city of Sandusky. His concern for the well being of the citizens of Sandusky was definitely evident by the words of his many proclamations during his tenure as Mayor.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Charles W. and Alberta Walker French, a Family Tragedy, and Questionable Business Practices

Portraits of Charles Walker French and his wife, the former Miss Alberta Walker, were donated to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center by a relative of Mrs. French. The photos were taken in Mansfield about 1902.

Charles W. French was born near Wakeman, Ohio in 1862. A lengthy biography of Mr. French appeared in the book A Centennial Biographical History of Richland County, edited by A. J. Baughman in 1901. In 1888, Mr. French worked in Sandusky, with an excavation contracting business. Alberta Walker was private secretary and bookkeeper for the business, which was operating in an upstairs floor of a building on Columbus Avenue. 

Tragedy struck the family on Thanksgiving morning, November 29, 1888, when Alberta’s father, Albert Walker, was killed in an explosion. Mr. French’s firm had been given a contract to excavate the cellar of the Odd Fellows building under construction on Washington Row. 

Mr. Walker was the foreman for the job. Albert had picked up six sticks of dynamite from Mr. French’s dynamite storage house on Perkins Avenue, and placed them on the stove of the office to thaw out. When the paper on the outside of the sticks of dynamite caught fire, Albert Walker rushed four of the sticks to the washstand to try to put out the caps. In the process, the dynamite exploded and Albert Walker was fatally injured. Mr. Walker died while on the way to the hospital.

On June 27, 1889, Charles W. French married Alberta Walker. By 1900, Mr. and Mrs. French were living in the Mansfield area, where he worked with several short line railroads (many of which failed), as well as serving as president of the Baker Stone Company; Mrs. French was the secretary of the company. 

About 1902, Charles and Alberta French moved to California, where Charles promoted a steel company and a railroad. He was involved with several schemes that did not come to fruition.  A New York Times article from August 25, 1921 reported that he was being investigated for securities fraud, and the September 3, 1921 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that he was arrested for fraud as a result of his failed schemes. He had been implicated in a widespread mail fraud scheme.

Mrs. Alberta French passed away in California in 1929, but to date we do not know when Charles W. French died. An article from the Los Angeles Times on August 31, 1921 stated that “Charles W. French is a financial hypnotist, wielding a strange, compelling power over a wealthy man, able to talk thousands of dollars out of a man against his own better judgment.”

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Lamb Brothers and Their Many Businesses

The business ventures of three Lamb brothers graced the cover of the 1880-81 Sandusky City Directory. G.W. C. Lamb stated that he was a consulting engineer and a mechanical expert. He was proprietor of the Lamb Steam Plow and Company. A Lamb mower took first premium at the Sandusky County Fair in 1877, according to an article in the Ohio Practical Farmer from October, 1877. In the late 1890s, G.W. C. was instrumental in designing several steam canal boats for use on the Miami Canal, between Cincinnati and Toledo. 

Brothers Anson C. Lamb and Virgil M. Lamb advertised their sign painting and decorating business, also on the cover of the 1880-81 Sandusky City Directory. The ad stated that the Lamb brothers were sign writers and fresco artists. They also did house painting and paper hanging. 

Anson C. Lamb saved several thousand dollars that he earned while working as a painter and decorator in Sandusky, and eventually became a successful stock broker. Embarking on yet a third career, he served as President of the Federal Casket Company. One of his patents was for a casket that looked like a couch, but when closed, became a fully functional casket. 

He hoped to “avoid, insofar as is reasonably possible, the usual background associated with the presence of death, and to retain with appropriate dignity the normal atmosphere of the household.” 

Anson C. Lamb lived to the age of 93, dying in 1949; he was buried in Riverside Cemetery in Cuyahoga County. Virgil M. Lamb had passed away at the age of 73 in 1933. Though the Lamb brothers did not in Sandusky their entire lives, they were quite productive when did live here. Below you can see the listings for the Lamb surname on page 62 of the 1880- 1881 Sandusky City Directory.