Thursday, November 29, 2007

German Newspapers in Sandusky

Some of you may not know that there once was a large, active German community in Sandusky, one large enough to support German-language newspapers. Many native Germans migrated to the United States in the nineteenth century; some chose Sandusky (and many other midwestern towns) as their point of settlement. Ernst von Schulenberg's book about the German influence in Sandusky (written in German, and translated into English as Sandusky: Then and Now) claims that there were about 300 German-speaking people in Sandusky by the 1830s -- out of a total population of about 1000.

In 1851, the first German-language newspaper in Sandusky began publication. The Intelligenz-Blatt was founded by Herman Ruess (left) and August Ruemmele (right). By 1860, the newspaper had ceased publication.
Another German newspaper began publication in Sandusky in 1856. Founded as the Baystadt Demokrat ("Bay City Democrat"), the newspaper later called the Sandusky Demokrat operated until 1919, when anti-German pressure as a result of World War I forced the paper out of business. (During the war, German-language publications were required to seek a government permit to publish; additionally, popular sentiment made it difficult to support German heritage at that time.)

These newspapers help us to understand a part of our culture that no longer exists. Unfortunately, the Sandusky Library has very few copies of these newspapers, and there does not appear to be a complete run of these newspapers in any public institution. Could there be copies of these newspapers in your attic, or in some other storage place? If you find any of these newspapers, please consider donating them to the Sandusky Library, or loaning them for microfilming, so that we might preserve our city's heritage.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Aspiring Entertainers

Nettie Baumeister Buder, Heenan Elliott, and Helen Fisher are pictured below in front of a stage backdrop from a play in which they were performing at Cedar Point, around 1918.
Sadly, Helen Fisher, who later married George Reynolds, died in 1922 at the age of 25.

Nettie Baumeister married Edwin Buder, and was the mother of Dr. Joseph and Thomas Buder. She was a lifetime resident of Sandusky, and was involved in many local musicals and civic affairs. She was a 50-year member of Grace Junior League, volunteered at the Grace Church Thrift Shop, and was a member of the former Memorial Hospital Guild. Nettie lived until the age of 97.

Heenan Elliott was the husband of Freda Black Jenkins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Black. Heenan Elliott appeared on television shows, and was in several movies. He also traveled as a speaker with the Chautauqua Circuit. In 1926 Heenan Elliott was the secretary of the Catawba Candy Co., where his father-in-law, Leslie Black, served as company president. Heenan and Freda eventually moved to California, where Heenan served as president of the San Fernando Valley Real Estate Board. The Elliotts lived in California until their deaths in the 1970s.
Above is a photograph of a man driving a wagon from the Catawba Candy Company, which operated in Sandusky from 1905 until 1933.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Program Announcement -- Travelogues & Scrapbooks: Records of 19th & Early 20th Century World Travel by Sanduskians

Today it is relatively easy (for those who can afford it) to buy an airplane ticket and be in another part of the world in a few hours. Before the days of high-speed travel, taking a trip was a major event in one's life and was treated accordingly.

On Saturday, December 1, at 2:00 p.m. Archives Librarian Ron Davidson will present some examples from the Library's archival collections of past Sanduskians' scrapbooks, letters, and souvenirs describing their trips around the world, around the country, or just around the lakes. Among other sights, we will see views of Egypt in the 19th Century, take a trip around the Great Lakes during the Great Depression, and read accounts of people's journeys.

Registration is requested. To register, call 419-625-3834 and press 0 to speak with a switchboard operator (9-5, Monday-Friday) or press Option 6 to leave a message.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Aline Stem’s “First Book of Essays”

Before Aline Stem graduated from Sandusky High School in 1862, she kept a notebook of essays, beginning September 14, 1859. Aline was the daughter of Jesse Stem, a Seneca County lawyer, and his wife Matilda Pittenger Stem. She was the niece of Anna Pittenger McMeens, wife of Dr. Robert R. McMeens. After Jesse Stem was tragically killed in Texas in 1854, Mrs. Stem and her four daughters moved in Sandusky.

Here is an essay written by Aline Stem on Nov. 9, 1859:


“The Woods”

How pleasant it is in the woods in summer, when every thing is bright and green around!

It is such a grand place for picnics, berrying parties, or any thing of that kind; and here we find thousands of beautifull [sic] flowers scattered all around us; daisies, butterups, violets, forgetmenots, spring-beauties, sweet Williams and many others.

And if we go out some bright morning in Autumn after a shower, we may find a basket of truffles, or mushrooms as some call them, which make a very nice dish for breakfast.

Sandusky City
Nov. 9th, 1859
Composition No. 5

Opposite Aline’s essay on “The Woods,” are two conundrums.

Why is Frank Parish like a learned man?
Ans. Because he knows (nose) so much.

Why is Dr. McMeens like a rich man?
Ans. Because he is a man of “Meens”

In 1881, Aline Stem was married to Christian Hornung, a math professor at Heidelberg College in Tiffin. After Professor Hornung died in 1918, Aline often spent time with her sister Sarah Stem in Sandusky. It is at her sister’s home where she passed away in 1934.
Mr. and Mrs. Hornung are buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Tiffin, Ohio.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Veterans Day, Nov. 11: George Schiller, Last Spanish-American War Veteran in Erie County

At the time of his death in September 1977 at age 99, George S. Schiller was the last surviving Spanish-American War veteran in Erie County. In his own words: "I enlisted April 25, 1898, right after the sinking of the Maine." He served in Company B of the 16th Ohio Militia, which was renamed the 6th Volunteer Infantry after becoming part of the national army. Schiller and his unit were shipped off to Cuba on December 22, 1898, but by then the worst of the battles were over, with Spanish defeat following soon after. Company B returned home to Sandusky in May 1899, receiving a welcoming parade on Columbus Avenue, as seen below.
George Schiller lived a long and fruitful life, using his experience as an Army cook in a restaurant and catering career. He was an active member in several veterans organizations, including being elected National Senior Vice Commander-in-Chief of the United Spanish-American War Veterans at age 97. A lifelong resident of Sandusky, he is buried in Oakland Cemetery.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Veterans Day, Nov. 11: Reinhardt Ausmus Inducted into Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame

In this year's class of inductees to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame is a long-time resident of Sandusky and an aviation pioneer. Through the efforts of Sandusky resident Bob Daniel, Reinhardt Ausmus is being recognized for his "distinctive contribution to the progress of early aviation" as well as for his services contributing "to the well being of veterans and other citizens of the Sandusky area."

He was born in Cleveland in 1896, and raised in an orphanage. Interested in aviation since childhood, in 1912, at age 16, he built and flew his first airplane. By age 18, he had built and flown a second airplane, a biplane. In 1915, he moved to Sandusky to work with another Sandusky aviation pioneer, Thomas Benoist. "Reiny" (as he was known to his friends) worked as both a production assistant and flight instructor, until Benoist's tragic death in 1917.

In 1918, during the First World War, Ausmus joined the U.S. Army as a flight instructor, and taught combat pilots in Wichita Falls, Texas for the duration of the war and after. He left active duty in the Army in 1919, after a plane crash (shown below) that killed his passenger and nearly killed him; he received multiple broken bones, and suffered from the effects of the crash for many years.
He was an advocate for veterans' welfare from his early days until his death in 1970. Beginning as the Veterans Service Officer for American Legion Post 83 in 1922, he was appointed the first Erie County Veterans Service Officer in 1949, serving in that position until 1969.
Our thanks to Bob Daniel for gathering the information about "Reiny" Ausmus (seen here in his later years, with his famous checkered cap) and for sponsoring his nomination to the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Veterans Day, Nov. 11: Leonard J. Thom, Naval Hero

Leonard J. Thom was the oldest of eight children, born to Walter and Maye Thom. Walter Thom worked as a blacksmith. Walter’s father J. J. Thom, pictured below, had a blacksmith shop on Hayes Avenue, next to the American Crayon plant.
In 1936, Leonard J. Thom graduated from Sandusky High School, where he was a standout football player. He went on to play football at Heidelberg College, and Ohio State University. Thom was a guard for the Buckeyes. After playing semi-pro football for the Columbus Bulls, he coached high school football for a year in Columbus.

During World War Two, Leonard J. Thom, became an Ensign in the Navy, and was an Executive Officer of the PT-109, serving under John F. Kennedy. When the torpedo boat was cut in half in August of 1943, Leonard Thom and Jack Kennedy both assisted in the rescue of the men aboard ship. Both men were awarded the Purple Heart.

In 1944, Leonard Thom married Kate Holway in Youngstown, Ohio. He was working at an insurance agency and commuting to Columbus for college classes when he was tragically killed in an automobile accident in October of 1946, at the age of 29. The “Leonard J. Thom Memorial Scholarship Fund” at Sandusky High School helps to keep his memory alive.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Mystery Photo, and International Drum Month

According to my "Simpsons" calendar, today begins International Drum Month. In commemoration, I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to reintroduce the "Mystery Photos" feature of the blog. Here is a mystery photo, with drums:
All we know for certain (or more accurately, what we can safely assume from appearance) is that the photo was taken by the W.A. Bishop studio in Sandusky, probably in the 1880s or 1890s. Willard Bishop was a prominent local photographer, who arrived in Sandusky from his native Indianapolis as a young man in 1880. During his long career in Sandusky (he died in 1940), he was perhaps best known as the photographer of "society" and the prominent people within it.

The men in the photo apparently are from a drum section of a marching band -- with the drum major holding the baton, and the rest with their drums. Marching bands were a popular form of entertainment in American culture before the advent of the phonograph and the radio.

Do you recognize anything that could help identify this photo? Do you think you could make up a reasonable story for this picture?