Monday, April 30, 2007

Sandusky Bay Bridge Linked Two Counties

On February 2, 1929 the Sandusky Bay Bridge was dedicated, providing a direct route for automobiles across the bay, between Erie and Ottawa Counties. The project was authorized by acts of Congress and the Ohio legislature. The bridge was privately financed by the Sandusky Bay Bridge Company, but the State of Ohio took ownership of the bridge in 1936.

At the time of its construction the Sandusky Bay Bridge was the longest bridge and causeway in Ohio. The construction firm was “A. Bentley and Sons” from Toledo and the engineers were “Harrington, Howard and Ash” from St. Louis. Steel work was done by the Mount Vernon Bridge Company.
(For more pictures of the construction of the Bay Bridge, see the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library's "Images in Time" website.)

To commemorate the opening of the bridge, a luncheon was held at the Sandusky Junior High School. Ohio Governor Myers Y. Cooper addressed an audience of 1,600. He began with “I assure you it is a very deep satisfaction to me to come to Erie County and the progressive city of Sandusky to celebrate with you the consummation of a great business enterprise which will be of incalculable benefit to the citizens, not only of this county, but of Northern Ohio.”
Congressman James T. Begg, who had been instrumental in the Sandusky Bay Bridge project presided as toastmaster. Just before the luncheon twenty carrier pigeons were released, through an arrangement with the Sandusky Register. The pigeons carried a message from Gov. Cooper and were sent to other Ohio newspapers, Chambers of Commerce, and Auto Clubs.

Shortly after 3 p.m. on February 2, Governor Cooper shook hands with Toledo Mayor Jackson as the imaginary ribbon was cut, and the bridge was formally opened to traffic. The oldest person in Erie County, Mrs. Christina Heim, age 101, and the oldest person in Ottawa County, Robert Meacham, age 90, took part in the ceremonies. The Ackley Band played, and there was a 17-gun salute. Ohio’s Adjutant General sent three airplanes which flew over the bridge dropping aerial bombs in honor of the occasion. A chief from the Chippewa nation presented Gov. Cooper with a headdress, as he became an honorary member of the Chippewa tribe.

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 automobiles crossed the bridge that day. Tolls were not charged until midnight. Fees were charged for crossing the bridge until 1946.

By the 1960’s the state of Ohio as widening Route 2 into a four lane highway. The four lane Edison Memorial Bridge was constructed parallel to the Sandusky Bay Bridge. Both bridges were used from 1965 until the mid-1980’s when the State of Ohio removed the steel center of the old bridge, because of the high cost of maintenance. Now the two ends of the Sandusky Bay Bridge are used as fishing piers.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A Casualty of War

On April 23, 1928, Paul "Dick" Bickley died suddenly at his parents' home at 1138 Second Street in Sandusky. Although you won't find his name on a list of war dead, Dick Bickley was a casualty of World War I, "the war to end all wars." (!)

Dick Bickley was born in Sandusky on August 1, 1892, the son of Charles and Elizabeth Bickley; he lived with his family on Second Street. It was a large family -- three sisters and five brothers. When he reached adulthood, Dick went to work, first as a clerk in the Manhattan Clothing shop, then into the factory, like many men of the time. By 1917, Dick Bickley was a machinist in the Dauch Manufacturing Company factory on First Street, working on farm tractors and motors.

Although Americans were experiencing peace and relative prosperity, all was not well in the world. Since 1914, Europe had been trapped in a terrible, stalemated war; by 1917, the United States of America could no longer resist the pressures to enter this foreign war. Like thousands of other young American men, Dick Bickley left his home and work in Sandusky, and entered the Army.

Private Paul J. Bickley (known as Dick by his friends) entered service with Company K of of the 329th Infantry in September 1917; in June of 1918, he was sent to Europe with the American Expeditionary Forces to join the fight.

Around October 9, 1918, death approached Dick Bickley in a trench on the front lines, although it didn't finish its work until nearly ten years later. Like thousands of other men on both sides of that war, he was victimized in a poison gas attack. It was most likely mustard gas that wounded Dick Bickley, although many gases were used in the Great War, including phosgene and chlorine gas. The principal effects of mustard gas are severe burns and difficulty breathing. Discharged from the military in May 1919, Dick spent much (if not all) of his remaining service time in hospitals.

Even after he returned to his homeland, his war injuries kept him from spending much time at his home. He travelled to several government hospitals in the United States for treatment. It was only in his last year of life that Dick Bickley was able to live consistently at home. Despite the destruction of his body, his spirit remained strong, as we can see in the memorial article a friend wrote for him in the Sandusky Register (April 24, 1928): "he had a sunny disposition and it carried him through many a siege of sickness." It seems that his death was quick and merciful.

Dick Bickley's story is one of many personal stories preserved in the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Although he was not wealthy, highly educated, or well-known beyond his circle of friends, his story is an important one. If you have records documenting other important community stories, please consider donating those materials to the Sandusky Library.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sandusky Then and Now

Ernst Von Schulenburg was both a minister and a physician in Sandusky, Ohio. He was born in Berlin in 1849, and settled in Sandusky in the 1870s. In 1872 he was the pastor of Emmanuel German Evangelical Protestant Church, and later he served as pastor of the St. Stephen’s German Evangelical Protestant Church. He is perhaps best remembered today as the author of the book, Sandusky Then and Now.

The author wrote the book in his native German language; the original title is Sandusky "Einst und Jetzt" : Mit Besonderer Berücksichtigung der Deutschen Localen Verhältnisse, which in English translates to Sandusky Then and Now: With Special Regard to Local, German Situations. In his book, Dr. Von Schulenburg discusses the political life of Germans in Sandusky, as well as German culture, customs, and business ventures. It includes biographies of several Sandusky German settlers, including their dates of migration. The book also provides a history of early Erie County and Sandusky, and includes an entire chapter on the cholera epidemics of 1849, 1852, and 1854.

In the preface to this book, originally published in 1889 , Dr. Von Schulenburg noted that “although the German population of Sandusky seems almost the same as that of the native-born and has become a powerful factor in the religious, political and social life of the city, yet it is surely striking that in all the local histories which I have seen, the German element was either completely ignored or at best treated as a step child.”

In 1959 Dr. Norbert A. and Marion Cleaveland Lange, chemistry professors who resided in Sandusky, translated Dr. Von Schulenburg’s book. It was published as Publication 114 of the Western Reserve Historical Society.
To read Sandusky Then and Now (in the English translation or in the original German) visit the Sandusky Library’s Reference Services area on the lower level of the Sandusky Library.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's Baseball Season!

Baseball has long been a popular sport in Sandusky. It was played by both the prisoners and the guards at Johnson’s Island Prison during the Civil War. The Bay City Baseball League was organized here in April 1868, while in March 1886 William J. Stoffel purchased several lots bordering Central Ave., Osborn and Prospect Streets to be fitted up as a baseball park. The streetcar line ran close to these grounds, so fans could come to the games from far and near. Here is a view of the Central Park ballfield around 1940:

The Detroit Tigers of the American League were the opposition for the Sandusky team when League Park opened at the corner of Columbus and Perkins Avenues on April 22, 1907; future Hall of Famer Ty Cobb played right field for the Tigers. An estimated crowd of 2200 fans were at the game that day. Herman Schleman’s “Sanduskys” were defeated 18 to 1 by the Detroit team. Herman Schleman later went on to manage the Telling Strollers in Cleveland.

Elmer Smith, a Sandusky native, hit the first grand slam home run in World Series history when he played for the Cleveland Indians in 1920. Other major league baseball players born in Sandusky are George “Jerry” Upp, Elmer Miller, and Alva “Al” Halt (pictured below, at around age 20, with the Sandusky BPOE Elks Team in 1910, four years before he entered the major leagues; unfortunately, although we know the names of the players, we do not know which person is which).

The Martins and Shamrocks were popular baseball teams in Sandusky in the 1910’s. (Below: the Shamrock baseball team, Sandusky city champions, 1912.)
Ernie Nimmons, an outstanding Sandusky High School athlete in the late 1940’s, played for the Indianapolis Clowns in 1952.

Baseball continues to be played in Sandusky in several area leagues, with youngsters as young as age five playing T-ball. To read more about baseball in Sandusky, you can view the sports pages from our local newspapers in the Archives Research Center.

Baseball on the beach at Cedar Point, date unknown.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The Women’s Building and Rest Room Association

The Women’s Building and Rest Room Association was formed around the turn of the twentieth century to provide a clean, safe place for women and children to go while in Sandusky. The Association also served inexpensive hot meals.

The organization’s charter described their purpose as such: “The purpose for which said corporation is formed is to establish and maintain rooms for the use, entertainment, and instruction of girls and women and their clubs, societies and organizations and for social functions and amusements; to employ teachers and instruct classes of girls and women in cookery, domestic science, sewing, dressmaking, manual t raining, physical culture, arts and crafts, to prepare and serve to the public for pay, refreshments, lunches, meals and banquets, as a means of raising revenue for said purpose; and by lease, purchase or otherwise, to acquire and hold title to real estate… maintain buildings suitable for said purposes and furnish them with proper and suitable furniture, fixtures, fittings and decorations….”

They were first housed on Market Street, opening there in 1908. To raise funds to get the association established, they published a newspaper called the Women’s Endeavor as a fundraiser. In 1912 they purchased a building on Columbus Avenue for $9,500. The new location was declared to be ideal, “within a short distance of the steamboat and railroad passenger landings and this of itself is a decided advantage for the association’s public dining room from which it must continue to draw a larger percent of its revenue…. The two upper stories will give the association ample room for its several industrial classes and domestic science work, while the ground floor with a moderate expenditure, including the installation of a proper kitchen, will give the association adequate and attractive quarters for the restaurant which the association has always needed and for lack of which the women have been greatly hampered in the past.”

In an editorial, the Sandusky Register spoke of the importance of the work of the Association. “The fundamental purpose of all this is to train them [women and girls] to be self-helpful and that is the most important thing after all not alone for the individual but for the community, for people who are self helpful do not become a public charge. They are producers and add to the community’s wealth and to the comfort and happiness of the home.”

The important role that the Women’s Rest Room Association played in the community is evident from its numbers. In 1912, more than 30,889 people used the building. The same year, they taught classes in embroidery, knitting, crocheting, millinery, sewing, and cookery.

The Association was active for a number of years, but by the early 1920s, the membership had dropped dramatically, and only a core group of women kept the club alive. By that time, the classes they had previously provided were no longer needed, as they had been taken up by the city schools. Mrs. C.J. Krupp, the president of the group also noted that “Other ventures of the association for the comfort and welfare of the community have also been taken over and ably handled by others. We feel that the ground is pretty well covered.” In 1921 they decided to sell the building for $20,000.

In 1925, the Rest Room Association started exploring options for the logical best next step. They focused on the Business Girls Club. After months of meetings, the Business Girls Club became an incorporated group known as the Business Women’s Club, and they had agreed to purchase the Farrell home on Wayne Street as their headquarters. At the June 3, 1926 meeting of the Women’s Rest Room Association, a resolution from the Business Women’s Club was read as follows “That on final disposition of the Club the earnings of said Club, are to be invested in good securities, and eventually go back to the cause for which it was intended, namely the activities of women.” On September 14th of that year, they passed a resolution to turn over the assets of the Women’s Building and Rest Room Association to the Business Women’s Club AT the December 21, 1926 meeting the Women’s Building and Rest Room Association met for the purpose of adopting a resolution and taking necessary steps to dissolve the association.

The Business Women’s Club continued on at the Wayne Street location for many years. Over the course of time, however, activities there began to diminish. In 1964, the club lost its non profit status. In 1969, the club sent out a letter to its membership advising them of the club’s annual loss of $3,000 per year, and the plans to discontinue the dining room at the close of the calendar year. The club began to explore options to pay outstanding bills. In 1975, the Business Women’s Club filed papers with the Ohio Secretary of State to officially dissolve the group, thus ending a long, rich Sandusky tradition.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Professor Moses True Brown

Born in Deerfield, New Hampshire, in 1827, Moses True Brown was the first professor of oratory at Tufts University, serving in that capacity from 1866 to 1890. Prior to teaching in New England, Moses True Brown was superintendent of Toledo Public Schools (1861-1866), and was a literary critic. In 1884 Moses True Brown established the Boston School of Oratory, acting as its president until he moved to his wife's home town of Sandusky, Ohio in 1890.

Professor Brown had married Cora B. Barney, daughter of George Barney, in 1863. Mrs. Cora Barney Brown died in 1886 in Atlantic City, but she was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky. When Professor Moses True Brown died on September 11, 1900, his obituary in the Sandusky Daily Star stated that he was an "eminent educator, a highly respected citizen, and a man of high attainments."

Professor Brown was a mentor to Pulitzer Prize winning author Hamlin Garland. Several well known orators had studied with Moses True Brown, including Anna Morgan, the Chicago dramatist. In his will Moses True Brown left his personal library to the public library of Sandusky which was under construction at that time.

To learn more about about Moses True Brown and other early residents of Sandusky and Erie County visit the Archives Research Center at Sandusky Library.

Suffrage in Sandusky

Woman suffrage was slow to gather momentum in Erie County. It’s popularity waxed and waned over several decades, and never had the strong support here that it did in other areas of the nation. From time to time, the cause was taken up, and formal organizations to promote suffrage were created.

Some notable names in the cause came to Sandusky to speak. In 1854, Amelia Bloomer lectured in Sandusky to a small crowd. The Register noted that she spoke on “the usual plea for the right of suffrage and a vote in the enactment of laws. As these arguments have long been before the public, any report of the lady’s remarks were, perhaps, useless.” Today, Amelia Bloomer is probably best remembered for her promotion of the Bloomer costume, which consisted of a knee length dress worn over loose trousers. The costume was controversial when it was first introduced.

In 1900 a suffrage convention was held in Sandusky. Carrie Chapman Catt was the main speaker. Catt was influential in the suffrage movement and in the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment. Later that year, there was an Equal Suffrage Day at the fair, with speakers and a chorus singing patriotic songs.

In 1901, a two day Women’s Suffrage meeting was held in Sandusky, in the Methodist church.

In 1903 a state suffrage convention was held here. Not all of Sandusky agreed with the cause of suffrage. An editorialist in the Fram didn’t agree with women’s suffrage, saying “Women usually rule the world, anyway, for the most of them rule their husbands, and if they can’t do that they aren’t worthy to vote.”

Little to no suffrage activity took place in Sandusky until 1911, when a large rally for Northern Ohio was held at Cedar Point. 200 women gathered to show support for the vote.

In 1912, the local group changed its name from the Erie County Woman’s Suffrage Association to the Erie County Equal Suffrage League. In 1913, the group had many entries in the Perry Centennial Parade promoting suffrage.

Enthusiasm for suffrage waned until 1917, when the local woman’s suffrage group conducted a house to house canvas, hoping to secure support for a proposed amendment to the city charter, giving women the vote. The referendum was defeated.

Suffrage was slow to catch on in Sandusky, and as evidenced above, had many stops and starts. The Federation of Women’s Clubs in Ohio didn’t endorse suffrage, and thus the women of Sandusky were reluctant to do so.