Friday, August 28, 2009

Joe Jefferson Dramatic Club

The Joe Jefferson Club was a theatrical group formed in Sandusky in the late 19th century. It was probably named for a highly regarded actor of the time, who lived from 1829 to 1905. Between 1894 and 1895, members of the Joe Jefferson Club presented plays at the Nielson Opera House in Sandusky. The May 20, 1898 performance of "The Rivals" was given for the benefit of Company B., the local military unit which served in the Spanish American War.
Among the actors which performed in "The Rivals" were: local photographer W.A. Bishop, businessman A. J. Peters, local poet Charles Selkirk, and Miss Jessie Foster, the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Oran Follett. On May 17, 1899 the proceeds from the Joe Jefferson Club's performance of "Between the Acts" went towards the purchase of books for the Free Library Association, now known as the Sandusky Library. The Sandusky Register of May 6, 1899 reported that the play was "made up of a combination of mistakes, errors and family troubles and the final dawn of peace. Each member of the cast is an artist and the interpretation they give their parts cannot be improved upon."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

George Orr, Letter Carrier

George W. Orr was the youngest son of Fred and Bessie (Stovall) Orr, born in Sandusky in 1926. Fred Douglas Orr had been born in Toccoa, Georgia, but moved to Ohio in the 1920’s to work at the Farrell Cheek Foundry.

George Orr graduated from Sandusky High School in 1945 (seen above in his Senior class photo). He served in the U.S. Navy during World War Two. George married Bertha Swain, and they had four children. He was a letter carrier for the Sandusky Post Office for over 25 years. George’s route included Venice, Bay Bridge, and Bay View. He was well-loved by the people to whom he delivered the mail.

If an elderly person’s walk was icy, George would hand deliver the mail to the front door. George got to know many of the children in the various communities he served, which was not an easy task during the “Baby Boom” years.

When the community heard that George was going to retire in 1985, several Bay View residents organized a surprise party for their beloved mailman. 350 people met at the Bay View firehouse on Sunday, August 25, 1985 to celebrate George Orr’s retirement. Among the gifts was a three foot high money tree with more than $800 in cash tied to the branches.

The Sandusky Register reported on the party in the August 26, 1985 issue. The photographs that appeared in the newspaper captured George’s infectious smile. One resident is quoted as saying “I have never known George to have a bad day.”

On November 6, 1986, George Orr died at the age of 60. His funeral was held at Second Baptist Church, and he was buried in Oakland Cemetery. Hundreds of Erie County residents still fondly recall “George the Mailman” and his many years of devoted service to the community.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

May's Dinette

On August 25, 1939, at midnight, May’s Dinette was formally opened. The diner was located on West Washington Street, between Jackson and Decatur Streets. An advertisement in the August 25 Sandusky Register boasted that “We Never Close.” Lunch prices began at twenty five cents. On the outside of the diner was a sign that read “Food cooked in butter.” The restaurant was air conditioned, and the soda fountain was always open for sodas and sundaes. Their specialty was steak dinners, served to the customer’s liking. Rolls, pastries, pies and cakes were baked fresh daily at May’s Dinette.

No listings were found for May’s Dinette in historical Sandusky City Directories. By 1941, Hilda’s Dinette had an advertisement in the buying guide of the City Directory. Hilda’s Dinette was located at 408 W. Washington Street, so it is possible that Hilda’s Dinette took over the business formerly known as May’s Dinette.

Here is an inside view of May’s Dinette from August of 1939.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Father Joseph P. Machebeuf, Pioneer Priest

Joseph Projectus Machebeuf was born in France on August 11, 1812. A history of the Holy Angels Church, published in 1976, states that Father Machebeuf was ordained by the Bishop of Clermont, France in December of 1836. After hearing an address by Bishop J. B. Purcell, Father Machebeuf and Father J. P. Lamy followed the call to serve in the Catholic churches of the United States. Father Machebeuf served as a missionary to Catholics in the Northern Ohio area. He began his duties in Sandusky on January 1, 1840, and he is considered the founder of Sandusky’s Holy Angels Church. Mathilda Cassidy, born October 28, 1840, was the first infant baptized by Father Machebeuf. During the first half of 1841, Father Machebeuf had participated in three First Communions, three marriages, twenty confirmations and he had one hundred ten communicants on Easter Sunday. The cornerstone for Holy Angels Church was laid on October 13, 1841, and the church was completed in 1845.
Hewson Peeke wrote in his 1916 edition of A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, that during the Cholera epidemic of 1840, Father Machebeuf secured a home to be used as a children’s home for the children left orphans during the epidemic. Catherine Bissonette, from La Prairie, Sandusky County was the matron of this home. The 1850 Census for Erie County, Ohio lists a “Projectus Maschbuff,” along with a female named Mary, an adult male, and four children named John Sheibley, Fanny Mahoney, and Barney and James McCormick residing on the west side of Sandusky. An article on the February 22, 1883 Sandusky Register gives an account of Father Machebeuf’s strong teachings on temperance. When Father Machebeuf would hear of one of his parishioners “getting on a spree and neglecting to support his family, he used to arm himself with a rawhide and finding the chap in a saloon, he could then and there draw forth the rawhide and give him a sound flogging. It is said he was never resisted and that the priest’s unique temperance lecture was in more than one case effectual.”

In 1850 Father Machebeuf left Sandusky for the western United States. He worked as a missionary priest in New Mexico and Colorado, and he was appointed Bishop of Denver on August 16, 1868. Willa Cather based the character of Father Joseph Vaillant in her 1927 book Death Comes to the Archbishop on the life of Father Joseph P. Machebeuf. Mount Machebeuf was named after Father Machebeuf, and Bishop Machebeuf School is considered a top school in Denver, Colorado.

Two biographies of Father Joseph Machebeuf are found in the genealogy collections of the Sandusky Library: Life of the Right Reverend Joseph P. Machebeuf, by Rev. W. J. Howlett, and Death's Deceiver, by Lynn Bridgers. Father Joseph P. Machebeuf died on July 10, 1889, and he is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Jefferson County, Colorado.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Mystery Photos: Shoe Stores in Sandusky (or Elsewhere?)

Some of the most interesting photos in the library's collections are the ones we know little or nothing about. Here are three photographs of shoe stores that fit that description. We assume that these are scenes from Sandusky, but we don't know for sure. Do they look familiar to you? We can try to guess some things about the images by looking closely at the details in the picture. It is probably safe to say that the picture above was taken in the late 19th or early 20th century, judging from the design of the store and the clothes of the men. The original image is not sharp enough for us to read the signs in the background, but sometimes reading the signs might help you identify an unidentified image.
The next image is certainly from a later period than the first, judging from the more "modern" appearance of the store and the salesman. We can read some of the signs (the one in the center says: "Our terms are cash. These prices positively do not warrant any extension of credit."), but they don't really help us to locate this store. But as for the date, do you think, around 1920?

This is probably the most recent of the images, but perhaps not too far in time from the previous one. 1930s, perhaps? Clothing and shoe styles help to date this photo. (Look at the really short tie of the man on the right, for example.) Again, we don't have much else in the photo to help us determine the location of the store. We do see the prices for the shoes, which makes the scene even more interesting, and might be helpful for any shoe historians who view the image.

If you have any observations of your own -- especially if you recognize any of these stores or people -- feel free to add your comments.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Beryl Starr, "The Most Popular Girl in Sandusky"

The above image appeared in an April 1924 New York Pictorial publication with the caption that said Beryl Starr was “the most popular girl in Sandusky.” In the 1920’s Miss Starr was in a beauty contest in which she won the title of “Miss Sandusky.” She was also Miss Sandusky in 1933. An article from Massillon Ohio’s Evening Independent reported on August 23, 1926, that while Miss Beryl did not win the “Miss Sandusky” contest in the summer of 1926, she was the runner up. The article stated that on three previous occasions Miss Beryl Starr had been proclaimed as “the prettiest girl in Sandusky.” Judge William Fiesinger, Judge John E. Tanney, and Judge Claude Minor were the judges of the pageant. Miss Estelle Rogers, a Sandusky High School student won the contest.

Beryl Starr is pictured below (far right) in the Ohio Beauty Pageant at Cedar Point in 1927. Beryl Starr was born on July 27, 1902. She was employed by the city of Sandusky’s water department for eighteen years. She never married. Miss Starr passed away on June 1, 1986.She is buried in the family lot at Oakland Cemetery with her parents Louis and Frances Starr.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Carnegie Hall at the Sandusky Library

The Sandusky Daily Star, in its February 20, 1901 issue, reported that when Andrew Carnegie gave his “handsome gift” to Sandusky to be used for the purpose of building a public library, one of his stipulations was that the library should have a music hall and an organ, and efforts were to be made to have free musical recitals for the community on a regular basis. The Carnegie Library had its grand opening on July 3, 1901. The musical hall held 338 people, and was known as “Carnegie Hall.”
One of the earliest groups to sponsor concerts at Sandusky’s Carnegie Hall was the Tuesday Musical Club. The composer Beethoven was featured on the January 21, 1902 concert. It appears that the entertainment was provided by local musicians. The string quartet was composed of Miss Heiter, Mr. Dempsey, Mr. Schnaitter, and Mr. Anderson. Mary Lockwood and Mr. Anderson had solo numbers, and the final number was “Symphony, C. Minor” which was performed by Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Feick, Miss Stoll, and Mrs. Sloane. Anna G. Lockwood was the President of the Tuesday Musical Club during the 1901-1902 season. Miss Lockwood (Shown below in her 1888 Sandusky High School graduation photo) would go on to teach piano at the Institute of Musical Art, later known as The Juilliard School in New York City.
Besides musical events, Carnegie Hall was used for political, social, and other cultural activities. In December, 1903, Professor Edwin Earle Sparks gave a lecture about Alexander Hamilton, and also presented a short study of the U.S. Constitution at Carnegie Hall. In January 1905, Hewson Peeke and F. G Strickland participated in a lively debate at Carnegie Hall. Hewson Peeke’s premise was: “Resolved that the Prohibition party presents a better solution of the labor problem than the Socialist party.” Mr. Strickland was a member of the Socialist Party. The January 21, 1905 Sandusky Star Journal wrote that about two-thirds of the crowd in attendance were in support of Mr. Strickland.

Area clubs and organizations often met at Carnegie Hall. In January of 1905, the Knights of St. John and its Ladies Auxiliary had their joint installation of officers at Carnegie Hall. In January, 1908, a new club called the “Children of the Republic” held a preliminary meeting at Carnegie Hall. Several ladies from the Martha Pitkin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution wanted to help young people in Sandusky to learn how to become good citizens. Speakers for the evening were Mrs. Thomas M. Sloane, Mrs. James Melville, Mrs. Roy Williams, and Dr. Carrie Chase Davis. The annual meeting of the Erie County Farm Bureau held one of its sessions at Carnegie Hall in February, 1920. The Firelands Historical Society held an all day session at Carnegie Hall on November 10, 1920.

By 1929, the space in the auditorium on the first floor of the Library would become an adult reading room with additional space for books and shelves. Though the library no longer features a music hall, you can read about the early days of the Sandusky Library in the historical newspapers, housed on microfilm in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. The music hall of the original Carnegie library building in Sandusky is now a portion of the Children’s Services Area of the Sandusky Library.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Contralto Marian Anderson Sang at Lakeside

On Saturday evening, August 4, 1956, Marian Anderson presented a concert at Lakeside in Hoover Auditorium, with Franz Rupp at the piano. During the first half of the program Miss Anderson sang classical selections by George Frideric Handel, Franz Schubert, and Camille Saint-Saens. Featured during the second half of Marian Anderson’s concert were “None But the Lonely Heart,” by Tschaikovsky, “The Ploughboy” arranged by Britten, and “Blow, Blow the Winter Wind,” arranged by Quilter, as well as four traditional spirituals. Mrs. Earl Abele donated the autographed program to the historical collections of the Sandusky Library.

Marian Anderson was the first African American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She sang for both President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s and President John F. Kennedy’s inaugurations. In January of 1939, when Miss Anderson was not allowed to perform at Constitution Hall, which was owned by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the D.A.R. On Easter Day, April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson gave a concert at the base of the Lincoln Memorial. More than 75,000 people attended this historic event. Miss Anderson was commemorated on a United States postage stamp on January 27, 2005.

The concert given by Marian Anderson took place when the Lakeside Association was under the leadership of Dr. Herbert J. Thompson. James Allen Kestle wrote in his book This is Lakeside, that Dr. Thompson was known as “the Englishman who never lost his Scottish accent.” Three books about the history of the Lakeside Association can be found in the genealogy and local history section of the Sandusky Library.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

1918 Obituaries at Sandusky Library

In the genealogy section of the Reference Services Area of the Sandusky Library, is found a title in a single volume which contains obituaries that appeared in the Sandusky Register and the Sandusky Star Journal newspapers during 1918. Not only was the United States at war in 1918, but also the influenza epidemic was claiming thousands of lives. Mrs. Katharyn Wunderly, longtime area genealogist, took the time to photocopy Sandusky obituaries from 1918. An index appears at the front of the book, creating a very user friendly resource.

The obituary of Lowell C. Hein, the namesake of Sandusky’s VFW Post 2529, appears on page 125. At the time of his death, it was believed that Mr. Hein was the first Sandusky resident to lose his life in the Great War. In fact, it was later discovered that Corporal Elmer A. Reese had been killed a month earlier, in June, but his death was not reported until September. His obituary appears on page 147. An article from the October 5, 1918 Sandusky Register, appearing on page 155 in the 1918 Obituaries book, stated that 134 deaths from pneumonia and Spanish influenza had been reported at Ohio’s Camp Sherman. Throughout 1918, other deaths were caused by suicide, car accidents, other illnesses, and even murder. Several articles about a heart-wrenching incident in which a blizzard claimed the lives of two young men from Marblehead, are found on pages 3 and 4 of the 1918 OBITUARY NOTEBOOK.
M. B. Caroll was reportedly the oldest resident of Erie County, according to the article reprinted on page 86.
Visit the Sandusky Library to view several sources of Obituaries. A multi-volume set of Obituary Notebooks covers obituaries from February 5, 1921 through August 6, 1952. The newspaper clippings were compiled by Mrs. Carl J. Sartor, and given to the Sandusky Library by her daughter, Bernice Sartor Hug. A necrology file which gives the citations to obituaries appearing in the Sandusky Register from 1977 to 1992 is found in the Archives Research Center. See the Reference Services Staff for more information.

The Ohio Obituary Index, hosted on the website of the R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, indexes over one million obituaries, with thousands of Sandusky residents’ names included.

Four computers in the Archives Research Center are reserved for the use of genealogists and local historians. If you only know the date of a person’s death, you can search through the microfilmed copies of local newspapers in the Archives Research Center.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Household Gadgets

Kitchen tools created for very specific purposes are nothing new. The Follett House Museum has many examples of tools which may be somewhat unrecognizable by modern standards but function to serve the same essential needs as today.

Jelly molds (example above), more properly accepted as gelatin molds, were used in the kitchen to shape jelly, a savory dessert treat, into decorative designs. Jelly, in this case, refers to gelatin, which is the animal fat or clear mixture that arises out of boiling calf bones. It is not the fruit preserve popularly paired with peanut butter, which many may think of nowadays. Originally, gelatin was a dish prepared from scratch at home, unlike many modern boxed brands of flavored powder at the store today. Often beginning as a by-product of meat, cooked for dinner or some other meal, as gelatin cooled, it settled in the bottom of the pan. The addition of water, sugar, and flavoring, usually fruit based, made it more appetizing and visually appealing. Before modern electrical refrigeration, gelatin treats were placed inside an icebox to chill and set. After it was set, the gelatin was removed from the icebox and served as a dessert. The molds, usually made of tin or some other metal, were used during chilling and setting, and then the gelatin was unmolded. They had ornamental patterns on the top and came in a variety of shapes and sizes. By pouring gelatin into these molds before cooling, the mixture took on the decorative shape. Coincidentally, the number or size of jelly molds a family possessed reflected upon their socio-economic status. Gelatin was derived from meat, which was relatively expensive at the time, and the more often it was made, meant the family could afford meat on a regular basis and more gelatin molds were accumulated. Consequently, wealthier families possessed larger and more gelatin molds than most until the commercialization of the product.

Another interesting gadget used in the 19th and early 20th century kitchen was the cherry pitter. Without access to or a sufficient amount of refrigeration, many homes found alternate ways to preserve food into the winter. Commonly, fruits were combined with sugar or honey to make preserves, which then were then canned. This was a time consuming yet necessary chore during the late summer and autumn. To properly prepare cherries required removing the pits. The cherry pitter, also known as a cherry stoner, was a product created at the beginning industrial age in an attempt to speed up the tedious process in a more efficient manner. This handheld operated model (shown above) made of cast iron was clamped to a table like many other styles at the time, while it rapidly removed cherry pits. Only a few cherries were put in at a time, yet it was faster than removing the pits by hand. This clever, convenient tool was only produced between 1880 and 1920, as it became victim to the growing popularity of canned goods and store bought items. People were not required as often to make their own preserves since they could buy the canned goods relatively inexpensively. The cherry pitters’ main market disappeared as a result and the gadget’s production along with it.

Another less recognized gadget today which was found in many 19th and early 20th century homes was the invalid feeder. It was a tool that facilitated home health care before the state of general public health care was established, and hospitals became more readily accessible. Caring for the sick was believed to fall within a woman’s domestic realm; since, she was responsible for upkeep of the family’s moral welfare and healthful well-being. As the name, “invalid feeder,” implies, it was a tool to feed very sick individuals, unable to care for themselves. The gadget (shown above) resembles a sort of miniature tea kettle with a small feeder, handle, and elongated spout. Some styles and variations have partial or whole covers over the feeder. Many invalid feeders were often made of porcelain. The feeder portion was filled with a liquid or some semi-soft food, and the spout placed into the mouth and then slowly poured down. The different spout styles and feeder covers help to approximate when it was made. The curved spout style of the invalid feeder roughly dates from 1875 through the 1880s. This fairly common tool in home health care was used in many American homes and by nurses alike until 1930. Increasing legislation against invalid feeders around WWI was based on a growing knowledge and reform of sanitary medical practices, and these legal prohibitions finally ended their use in America.

These gadgets are just a few examples of items, which were created and designed to help us lighten or just accomplish our work load. Although technology may alter their appearances, many still serve the same basic functions and needs. These few household artifacts provide a revealing glimpse into the daily domestic work of women and children and also remind us of these individuals’ humanity through their search for improving the circumstances.

These items and many more are part of The Household Gadgets Suitcase Museum Trunk of the Sandusky Library Follett House Museum, made possible by a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Program Announcement: Re-live the '60s in Sandusky Through the Library's Local History Collections

Join us in the Library Program Room on Monday, August 10, at 7:00 p.m. for a slideshow of images and records of life in Sandusky during the 1960s. Archives Librarian Ron Davidson will offer views of photographs, documents, and artifacts from the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center and the Follett House Museum that record the history of that part of the baby-boom era. You'll be reminded (or learn for the first time) about Sandusky's Miss America, Jackie Mayer; Sandusky High School's championship football teams from the "Sensational Sixties;" the Sandusky Sesquicentennial; and other events from that era. 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.

Lewis H. Ohly, Prescription Druggist

In the early part of the twentieth century, Lewis H. Ohly operated a drugstore at the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and Adams Street, just opposite Emmanuel United Church of Christ. Lewis, his wife Lena, and sons Nelson and Stuart are pictured above about 1910. An advertisement from a 1910-1911 local mail directory stated the Lewis H. Ohly, Druggist, was the headquarters for goldfish and aquarium supplies. The drugstore also sold candy, cigars, and toilet articles.

Lewis H. Ohly died at his residence above the drugstore on April 18, 1918. The April 19, 1918 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that Mr. Ohly suffered from rheumatic trouble. Mr. Ohly had been a druggist for twenty five years, and had run his own business for the past eighteen years. Before opening his own drugstore, Lewis Ohly worked for W. A. Graham and Charles Lehrer in Sandusky.

Eventually Lewis Ohly’s son Nelson Ohly would own the Ohly Drugstore in Sandusky at 402 Columbus Avenue, the same location as his father’s drugstore. The building next to it, at 106-108 East Adams Street is on the National Register of Historic Places. Today the Lawyers Title building is on the site of the Ohly building.

(Edited to correct errors in description.)