Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Announcement: New Local History Photograph Book

A new local history book, Erie County and the Erie Isles: A Pictorial History of the Early Years, has been published (just in time for the holidays) by Pediment Publishing. Presented by the Sandusky Register and the Sandusky Library, the book contains hundreds of images of scenes of life in Erie County before 1940, from photographs in the library's collections and from contributions of local residents.

A great coffee table book, Erie County and the Erie Isles is available for purchase ($39.95) at the Register or at the library's gift shop -- or you may order it online via the Register's website.

Join us in the Library Program Room on Sunday, December 10 at 1PM for a book release celebration, where you can purchase copies of the book, learn about how it came together, and see original copies of some of the images in the book (some more than 100 years old).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

As many of you might remember learning in grade school, the first "official" Thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Abraham Lincoln during the height of the Civil War, in 1863, in honor of the first Thanksgiving held by the pilgrims in Plymouth during the 17th century. But even before President Lincoln made Thanksgiving a holiday, it was traditionally celebrated by many people. The first letter below is evidence of that:

In this letter, Judge Samuel Caldwell of Sandusky has invited Samuel Butler and his wife Clara to his home for Thanksgiving dinner. (We know pumpkin pie was on the menu!) The date of the letter is November 23, 1846, nearly twenty years before the national holiday was observed. (It is also interesting to note that even then Thanksgiving was celebrated on a Thursday in November -- nobody seems to know for sure why this day was chosen.)

The second letter is from Eliza Follett, the wife of Oran Follett, requesting contributions from local residents to provide Thanksgiving food to the wives and children of soldiers serving in the Civil War. Mrs. Follett was very active in community service and charitable work, as can be inferred from this letter.

Have a happy Thanksgiving. . .

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Football Season!

In commemoration of the big football game coming up this weekend (no, not Manchester United v. Chelsea -- that's later in the month; I mean the one between those schools on US 23) , I thought I'd show some scenes from early football in Sandusky.

The image above is of the very first Sandusky High School football team in 1901. (Did you know that SHS had a basketball team before it had a football team?) The 1901 team went 2-1, defeating Cleveland West (16-5) and Norwalk (10-5), but losing to Toledo Scott, 34-0.

The 1906 SHS team (pictured here) was Sandusky's first undefeated team, winning all five of its games without allowing a single point. They defeated Fremont twice, Lorain Senior twice, and Norwalk.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Helen M. Hansen, 1902-2006

Helen Hansen, a former curator of the Follett House Museum, died Sunday morning, after a long and rich life. She was 104. The photo above shows Mrs. Hansen while at work in the museum, holding a copy of an original plat map of the city of Sandusky. She served at the museum beyond the age of 90.

As many know, Mrs. Hansen was a dedicated local historian; with Virginia Steinemann, she wrote a series of history-related articles for the Sandusky Register for several years. These articles were the foundation for a two-volume book series, From the Widow's Walk. Additionally, Mrs. Hansen was the author of At Home in Early Sandusky, a book about the histories of early homes in Sandusky and their occupants. In her many years of service at the Follett House Museum and as an independent historian, Mrs. Hansen was instrumental in preserving and promoting the history of Sandusky, through her curatorship of the historical collections and her extensive historical research. The collections of the museum and the Archives Research Center substantially reflect her contributions.

The community owes a deep debt of gratitude to Helen Hansen for her contributions to preserving its history.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dr. McMeens Inducted into Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

Dr. Robert R. McMeens, who served in both the Mexican War and the Civil War, was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Columbus on Thursday, November 2.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1820, Dr. McMeens received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1841, and migrated to Tiffin, Ohio shortly thereafter. He settled in Sandusky in 1849. During his medical practice in Sandusky, he treated many of the victims of the several cholera outbreaks that struck the city (in 1849, 1852, and 1854). (A report he wrote on cholera for the Ohio State Medical Society in 1857 is excerpted in Peeke's book, A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, available in the library.)

As a soldier, Dr. McMeens served as a surgeon in the Mexican War of 1846-48. Back in Sandusky, in 1851, he founded and commanded the Bay City Guards, a local militia. Upon the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Dr. McMeens returned to active duty, again as a surgeon, in the Third Regiment of the Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He died while serving at the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky on October 30, 1862. The Firelands Pioneer of January 1888 quoted a letter written by a fellow surgeon on the day after Dr. McMeens' death: "He has fallen while nobly working at his post; although suffering greatly from disease, he refused to abandon his work, and performed several important surgical operations only a few hours before his death."

Sandusky resident Dr. Robert Bartholomew, who was instrumental in garnering this recognition for Dr. McMeens, accepted the award in Dr. McMeens' honor at the induction ceremony.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Some Gave All . . .

As I hope you know, Veterans Day is commemorated on November 11 in recognition of the armistice that ended World War I, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Millions of lives were lost in that war, including more than 125,000 American soldiers. Sandusky and Erie County suffered its share of losses, with around 40 men dying in service. The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center holds material relating to the lives and deaths of two men of Erie County who gave their lives in the First World War.

John A. Michel was born in Cleveland on November 24, 1892, the son of William and Caroline Michel. He lived with his parents in the family home on Huntington Avenue in Sandusky, and worked for the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company before entering the war. Drafted into the Army, he was inducted on May 26, 1918 and sent to the European battlefield for the final offensive at Meuse-Argonne. Private Michel was killed in battle on November 8, 1918 -- three days before the end of the war; one of the last Sandusky men to die in the war.

The first man from Sandusky to die in the First World War, was Corporal Elmer A. Reese of the U.S. Marine Corps. Born in Niles, Ohio on August 12, 1896, he volunteered for service on May 19, 1917, and was sent to Quantico for training on August 1, 1917. While in Quantico, he wrote a letter to the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, offering thanks for the gifts they sent and describing life at camp. (This letter is part of the archival collections at the Sandusky Library; you can read it online here.) He was shipped to France on February 12, 1918 with the American Expeditionary Forces. On June 18, 1918, Corporal Reese was killed in the battle of Belleau Wood. His body was returned to Sandusky in 1921, and he was buried in Oakland Cemetery.

To see a photo of Elmer Reese and most other men and women from Erie County who served in World War I, see the book, Honor Roll of Ohio, 1917-1918, Erie County Edition, which is available in the genealogy department of the Sandusky Library. (I had intended to post Corporal Reese's picture in this entry, but . . . let's not talk about Blogger again.)