Monday, August 10, 2020

Cyrus B. Winters, Ohio Legislator


According to an early twentieth century issue of Ohio Legislative History, Cyrus B. Winters was one of the oldest members in 80th General Assembly of Ohio (convened 1913). He was elected four times to represent Erie County in the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democrat. 

Cyrus Bertrand Winters was born in Townsend Township, Sandusky County, Ohio, and he lived on the family farm for several years. He attended the Milan Normal School, and after reaching adulthood he became a deputy clerk in the Clerk of Courts office. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1874. From 1882 to 1888, Mr. Winters served as the Erie County Prosecutor. The listing for C.B. Winters in the 1884-1885 Sandusky City Directory stated that C.B. Winters was an attorney at law, and Erie County Prosecuting Attorney, with his office in the Erie County Courthouse. He also served for a time on the Sandusky Board of Education.

While in the General Assembly of Ohio, Mr. Winters served as chairman of the Committee of Cities, Ways and Means. He was considered an authority of matters pertaining to legal affairs, and is well known as the author of the Public Utility Law. 

In 1874, Cyrus B. Winters married Helen E. Clason, a native of Logan County, Ohio, and had six children. On June 9, 1916, he died in Castalia, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Howard Brown, at the age of 68. Funeral services for Mr. Winter were held at the Brown residence in Castalia, with the Reverends Ross W. Sanderson and J. W. Overmyer officiating. Burial was in the Castalia Cemetery. Mr. Winters was survived by his wife, two sons, three daughters, a sister and a brother. To read more about this former Ohio legislator, see Elected to Serve, by Patty Pascoe (Sandusky, Ohio, 2003) and A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, by Hewson L. Peeke (Lewis Publishing Company, 1916.)

Friday, August 07, 2020

Busy Northwest Corner of Jackson and West Water Streets



The northwest corner of Jackson and West Water Streets was the location of the passenger depot for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad in Sandusky beginning in 1838. By 1867 Peter Gilcher and Son operated a lumber business at that corner. Eventually R.E. Schuck joined the firm and the company was known as Gilcher and Schuck. On May 9, 1911, a notice in the Sandusky Register stated that the stock of Gilcher and Schuck was to be sold without delay, following the death of Mr. Schuck.


In 1923, it was announced that William Py had purchased the building at the corner. The new Sandusky Butter and Egg Company building was opened to the public on March 20, 1924. The company had its beginnings by delivering butter, eggs, flour, cheese and sugar with horse-drawn buggies. In 1912 the business opened at 217 West Water Street, and soon after switched from horse and buggies to trucks. By the 1960s, the Sandusky Butter and Egg Company was best known as being the local distributor for Stroh’s Beer products.


From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, the Feddersen Bakery was located at 301 West Water Street, at the site of the former Sandusky Butter and Egg Company’s plant.


Feddersen’s was just one of the many bakeries in Sandusky that sold New Year’s Pretzels in years gone by. Do you have any special memories of Feddersen’s Bakery?

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

“The Spirit of the Lakes”

From 1849 through the 1850’s, a journal named the Spirit of the Lakes and Boatmen’s Magazine was published in Sandusky, for the Western Seaman’s Friend Society. The purpose of the Society was “to improve the moral and religious condition of seamen and boatmen on western waters.”

An outreach of the W.S.F.S. was the Bethel Chapel, which can be seen at the top left of the picture below.

Bethel Chapel was first located on the south side of Water Street between Wayne and Hancock Streets, and later moved to the north side of Water Street, just west of Jackson Street. This chapel served as a church for those working on the Great Lakes. Sandusky ministers who were associated with the Bethel Chapel and the Western Seaman’s Friend Society included Rev. Nathaniel Wilcox Fisher and Rev. Leverett Hull. Both of these ministers died of cholera, Rev. Fisher in 1849, and Rev. Hull in 1852. Judge Ebenezer Lane and former Sandusky Mayor Moors Farwell served as vice presidents of the Western Seaman’s Friend Society.

On page 92 of the June 1850 issue of the “Spirit of the Lakes” is an advertisement for the Bethel Chapel, which served the port of Sandusky.

An advertisement for the steamboat Arrow also was featured in that issue.

In the February, 1850 issue, Rev. Leverett Hull discussed the possibility of creating a songbook containing hymns especially for sailors.


Charles E. Frohman wrote an article about this publication in a 1973 issue of Inland Seas. He stated that the Bethel missionaries attempted to improve the moral character of canal drivers and boatmen. A particular challenge was to overcome the use of profanity by the seamen. The Western Seaman’s Friend Society did not survive very long, and never met with widespread success. Surviving issues of the Spirit of the Lakes are quite rare.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Rice Harper, Erie County Clerk of Courts



Rice Harper was born 1803 in Lake County, Ohio to John and Loraine (Miner) Rice. After studying law in the office of Wheeler and McClurg, he was admitted to the bar in 1827. He left the legal field due to health problems, and for a time he worked in the mercantile business. Mr. Harper was one of the original incorporators of the Ohio Railroad, a predecessor or the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In about 1838, he moved with his wife, the former Susannah Montgomery, to Sandusky, Ohio.


Mr. Harper served as Erie County Clerk of Courts from 1839 to 1855. During his term of office, a cholera epidemic hit Sandusky. Oakland Cemetery opened shortly after the last major outbreak, and a monument was placed in the cemetery to honor three local ministers who died in the cholera of 1849; it was erected on the Rice Harper family lot. Most likely, Mr. Harper was among the members of the local Civic Committee who raised funds to provide a fitting monument to the three ministers: Rev. N.W. Fisher of the Congregational Church, Rev. H.P. Ward of the Methodist Church, and Rev. H.P. Ward, of the old Bethel Church.


During his years in Sandusky, Rice Harper fought vigorously for improvements in the city parks. At one time, the park in downtown Sandusky was an open space that allowed for people and animals to walk freely through the park. Mr. Harper pushed for the placement of post and rail fences to be placed around the park squares on each side of Columbus Avenue, that were later replaced by picket fences. The park squares stayed enclosed until 1875, when horses, cattle and other livestock were prohibited from running at large in the city, and the fences were removed. The beautiful park system in downtown Sandusky as we know it today, was helped immensely by Rice Harper’s leadership in the nineteenth century.



Mr. Harper was a member of Grace Church since 1839, and he served as a church warden for several years. Along with William G. Lane, he was instrumental in organizing the former Good Samaritan Hospital.

Rice Harper died from pneumonia on February 19, 1891. A lengthy obituary that appeared in the February 20, 1891 issue of the Sandusky Register read in part, “Mr. Harper was one of Sandusky’s most active citizens, serving in various official capacities and always taking a leading part in public affairs. He was one of those self-made men who laid sure the foundations of character and built well the superstructure of the intelligent honorable citizen.” Funeral services for Rice Harper were held at the family residence, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and a daughter.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Ruby Souvenir Glass from Sandusky


Ruby souvenir glass was popular in the United States in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Tourists could purchase items made of ruby colored glass while at the fair or train station, and could take them home as a memento of their travels. Several items made from ruby glass are in the collections of the Follett House Museum.

The ruby glass pitcher below was purchased at Cedar Point.





The tumbler below is etched with the words “Cedar Point” on one side, and “Mother” on the opposite side. It dates back to 1906.






This personalized mug was originally purchased for someone named Ethel in 1907.





Visit the Follett House Museum to view a variety of historical souvenirs and items from Sandusky’s storied past. To read more about the history of ruby glass, see this article from the Antique Trader.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Michael Osterman’s Naturalization Certificate



Michael Osterman became a naturalized citizen of the United States on February 10, 1860. He was born in Bavaria, in what is now Germany. Rush R. Sloane, Erie County Probate Judge, signed the certificate.

 An article in the October 12, 1905 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Michael Osterman had resided in Sandusky for fifty years, prior to his death on October 10, 1905. He worked on the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad, and later was a steam engineer for the Sandusky fire department. He was the organizer first president of the local Prussian Society.

For many years he operated a saloon on Water Street. The 1888 Sandusky City Directory listed Michael Osterman as the proprietor of the Engineers’ and Hunters’ Saloon and Restaurant at 808 and 810 Water Street 300 block W. Water today). In the 1900 Sandusky City Directory, Mr. Osterman’s saloon and residence were both located at 435 Market Street (at the northeast corner of Market and Hancock Streets).

 In the January 29, 1923 Sandusky Star Journal, an article tells of the discovery of an old railway passenger coach from the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad being found in the back of property on West Water Street that had once been owned by Mr. Osterman. The old railroad car had first been used as part of a kitchen, and later was moved to the back of the property where it was used as part of a shed. Alex Osterman, Michael’s son, was asked to tear down the structure in 1923 because it was considered a fire hazard.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Schwehr Box Company



Established in 1878, this cigar box manufacturing company was first operated by the Fox Brothers. In 1884, Albert Schwehr became a partner in the Fox & Schwehr Box Company at the northeast corner of Water and McDonough Streets. By 1886, Albert Schwehr was the sole proprietor of the Schwehr Box Company, by then at the southeast corner of Water and McDonough Streets. That same year, the Eureka Lumber Company was in business at the northeast corner. Both the Schwehr Box Company and the Eureka Lumber Company were manufacturers of cigar boxes.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries cigar making in Sandusky was a major industry. Locally produced cigar boxes were made of cedar, held together with nails. Karl Kurtz wrote in the Sandusky Register of January 14, 1978 that in the early years, the Schwehr Box Company made 350,000 cigar boxes and 5000 fish boxes a year. The factory employed about 25 people, and had a printing press to make their own labels for the boxes. By 1900, C. B. Lockwood was the proprietor of the business. In the 1912 Sandusky city directory, the company’s name had been changed to the Standard Box Company, and around 1920, William Sumser became the proprietor. In 1930, the Standard Box and Screen Company was manufacturing window and door screens as well as cigar boxes. An advertisement in the May 17, 1941 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal recommended the bronze screens made at the Standard Box Company for their endurance.


From 1946 to 1952, the Weske Cutlery Company, which primarily made fixed blades, was in business at the site of the former Standard Box and Screen Company. You can see the layout of the Weske Cutlery Company on the Sanborn Fire Insurance map, below.


In the 1960s and 1970s, Bob’s Furniture had a warehouse at 932 West Water Street, where the box factory once stood. Now, the southeast corner of Water and McDonough Streets is an empty lot, but that location was once an important spot for local businesses.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Miss Ellen Lehman, Teacher



Ellen M. Lehman was born in 1907, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Franklin Lehman. Miss Lehman graduated from Sandusky High School in 1924. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College, and her Master of Arts degree from Columbia University. Miss Lehman also studied at Western Reserve University, the University of Paris, the University of Lausanne, the National University of Mexico and Middlebury College.

At Sandusky High School, Miss Lehman taught French classes, and she also was head of the foreign language department. In 1938, she was the faculty sponsor for the Girls Photography Club, and later served as a guidance counselor. In a 1926 Sandusky Register column, “Teen Talk,” Miss Lehman gave advice to students who intended to go to college. She stated that younger students should research their prospective fields of study, while older students should concentrate on the reality of financing their education.

On July 19, 1985, Miss Ellen Lehman passed away after a lengthy illness. She had no known survivors. An obituary appeared in the July 21, 1985 issue of the Sandusky Register, and listed many of Miss Lehman’s accomplishments. She had been a Jennings Scholar in 1967-1968, and won a Register Community Service Award in 1970. She was a member of Christ Episcopal Church, member and past president of the College Women’s Club, a member of the American Association of University Women, Zonta International, the Art Study Club, the Erie County Board of Mental Health, and the Huron Library Board. She was also a charter member of the Sandusky Cultural Center board and life member of the Ohio Association of College Admission Advisers.

Here is Ellen Lehman (third from right) with a group of people at a French Club picnic:


Friday, July 17, 2020

Hoffman Finger Protector



Around 1910 the Hoffman Manufacturing Company in Sandusky, Ohio sold a product called the Hoffman Finger Protector. In the 1910 Sandusky City Directory, Charles Hoffman was listed as the manager of the company, which was located at the northwest corner of Scott and Hancock Streets. The company made elevating trucks and clothesline reels. The Hoffman Coal and Milling Company was also at that location. A previous blog post discussed the Daniel Hoffman family, and mentions the patent issued to Charles Hoffman for an elevating truck.

Letterhead from the Hoffman Manufacturing Company.

The Hoffman Finger Protector was a thimble-like device that prevented the needle from harming the finger of a person who was doing sewing or embroidery. The price of the Hoffman Finger Protector ranged from five to fifteen cents (about $1.39 to $4 today). Notes on an advertisement indicate that the patent for the Hoffman Finger Protector had been applied for, but there is no evidence that it was ever actually patented.

An article in the May 9, 1917 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that attorney R.B. Fisher had purchased the patents and equipment from the Hoffman Manufacturing Company, and he was going to continue to make the handy combination elevating trucks. Though we do not have a Hoffman Finger Protector in our collections, you can see the Hoffman Handy Combination Elevating Truck in the Industry Room of the Follett House Museum.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

J.N. Victor’s Cash Book



J.N. Victor’s cash book was donated to the Sandusky Library 1928. Dates recorded in the book span from 1852 through 1854. While the specific business with which Mr. Victor was associated is not noted on the item, merchandise that was sold includes: wool, pig iron, nails and a variety of foods. Some entries record payment for freight charges only. As he was only 17 in 1852, he may have been a clerk for a railroad or other shipping company at this time.

The page below, from May 5 through December 20, 1852, is a record of payment from architect Sheldon Smith, who purchased molasses and sugar.


Sales of barley and wheat were recorded from July through December of 1854.


 By  1861, J.N. Victor was employed at the general freight office of the Sandusky, Dayton and Cincinnati Rail Road Company in Sandusky, Ohio. He went on to become the superintendent of the California Southern Railroad Company. The town of Victorville, California was named in his honor.

Jacob Nash Victor was the son of Henry Clay Victor and the former Gertrude Nash; his brother was author and editor Orville James Victor.