Monday, May 30, 2011

Decoration Day, May 30, 1870

Decoration Day was established by the Grand Army of the Republic on May 5, 1868, as a day set aside for decorating the graves of the war dead. For many years May 30 was the day on which Decoration Day was observed, later becoming known as Memorial Day, and celebrated on the last Monday in May. The May 31, 1870 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that May 30, 1870 was the first celebration of a national Memorial Day in Sandusky. At 2 p.m. the procession began, including the Great Western Band, the widows of soldiers riding in carriages, speakers of the day, and elected officials and committee members. Dozens of wagons, carriages, and citizens on foot also participated in the procession. Forming at Wayne Street, the procession went past Sandusky High School (now Adams Junior High) and traveled south on Columbus Avenue to Oakland Cemetery. Several Civil War veterans who had been injured in the war marched the entire distance.

On the platform with the speakers of the day were the Honorable Walter F. Stone, Mayor Philander Gregg, Ferdinand Geiersdorf, Dr. A. H. Agard, C.J. Parsons and the Honorable Oran Follett. Chaplain L. Allinger and Rev. George B. Sturgess said prayers. Speakers for the day included F. W. Cogswell, J.M. Root, Rev. Babcock, Rev. W.W. Farr, General John G. Mitchell and Judge A.W. Hendry. The Glee Club sang hymns and “America,” accompanied by the Great Western Band. The closing benediction was given by Rev. H. N. Burton. While the addresses were being given, several ladies marked the graves of over eighty soldiers with small flags. The Sandusky Register articled concluded by stating that the Decoration Day “was in all its features a worthy demonstration, impressive, and patriotic.”

Oran Follett was one of the men on the platform along with the Decoration Day speakers in 1870. You can tour his former home in Sandusky, now the Follett House Museum, and see a variety of photographs and artifacts from Sandusky and Erie County.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frank "Casey" Casserly

On December 29, 1890, Frank J. Casserly was born in Sandusky, Ohio, to Michael and Julia Casserly, who were both natives of Ireland. Frank Casserly was the manager of the Shamrocks baseball team in Sandusky in the 1910’s. The picture above is a portion of the 1914 championship team photo. Below is a postcard of the Shamrocks team, though Baldy Platt appears to be wearing a jersey from the Sandusky Tool Company team.

Front row: Walter Wendt, Whitey Metzgar, Manager Frank “Casey” Casserly, George Kimball and Elmer Brengardner

Back row: Butch Eckler, George Dahm, Walter Appel, Norm Troike, team secretary-treasurer, Alde Broderson, Gordon Osgood, Baldy Platt, and Roy Kerber

An article in the August 26, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal referred to Manager Casserly as “the Connie Mack of Sandusky.” In the 1930’s he managed the Eagles baseball team, and he coached area football teams as well. In the Spring of 1935, Frank Casserly was struck by an automobile, and was hospitalized for several weeks. The Eagles sponsored a benefit to help with his medical expenses. In the 1940’s and early 1950’s, he was a popular bartender at Stone’s Grill and Jax Bar on Columbus Avenue.
On November 20, 1954, Frank J. “Casey” Casserly died after a lengthy illness. At the time of his death he was secretary-treasurer of the Bartenders Local No. 804. He was past president of the Eagles Lodge. Mr. Casserly was survived by his wife Minnie, and two daughters, Nancy and Julia. Charles J. Andres Sons’ was in charge of funeral arrangements, and burial was at St. Joseph Cemetery.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Banquet Honoring Spanish-American War Soldiers

On Monday, May 29, 1899, a banquet was held at the West House on the return of the soldiers from Company B of the Sixth Ohio Regiment, who had served in the Spanish-American War. According to records in the historical files of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, Company B of the Sixth Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry was organized in April 1898. The regiment arrived in Cuba in January 1899, and was in Cuba until April 22, 1899. The unit was mustered out of service on May 24, 1899, at Camp McKenzie, Georgia, and returned to Sandusky on May 26, 1899.

There were 275 guests at the banquet, held in the ball room on the fourth floor, which was decorated with palms, flowers, and candelabras. Toastmaster for the evening’s events was Judge E. B. King. He said, in part, “I can say that the soldiers of the Sixth Ohio have fully performed the service which they called upon to perform…It can be truthfully said that there have been no better soldiers in the volunteer service than the Sixth Ohio.” Captain Charles E. Stroud, pictured below, said about Company B, “Over a year ago you placed in my charge over a hundred of your brave sons, who had answered to their country’s call. Today I count it the highest honor and privilege of my life to have brought them all safely home.”

Owner and editor of the Sandusky Register, I.F. Mack gave a tribute to the veterans of the Civil War. He said, “The same spirit which had animated and inspired the boys of the Civil War had inspired the boys of the Civil War had inspired the boys of ’98, and perhaps would inspire those of another war thirty years hence.” Several other military men, public officials, and local pastors spoke at the banquet. A double quartet, consisting of four men and four women sang the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the “Star Spangled Banner.”

A huge parade in downtown Sandusky welcomed Company B home on May 26, 1899.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the many men and women who have served in the military service to their country.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Daniel Frohman, Theatrical Producer

Daniel Frohman was the oldest of three Frohman brothers born in Sandusky, who all moved to New York City and became well known as theatrical producers and managers.

Born on August 22, 1851, Daniel was the son of Henry and Barbara (Strauss) Frohman. When Daniel Frohman first moved to New York as a teenager, he worked as an office boy at the New York Tribune. In 1874 he began working as an advance agent for Callender's Georgia Minstrels. He later became associated with the Madison Square Theatre and the Fifth Avenue Theatre Company. From 1887 to 1909, Daniel Frohman was the producer-manager of the Lyceum Theatre and its stock company. He launched the careers of many actors and including Henry Miller, E.H. Sothern, Maude Adams, and Richard Mansfield. Later he became involved in the motion picture business with Adolph Zukor. He was connected with the production of more than seventy films between 1913 and 1917. From 1903 to 1940, he was president of the of the Actors’ Fund of America.

In November of 1939, Daniel Frohman fell and fractured his hip. He went to the Leroy Sanitarium for treatment. At the age of 89, he passed away on December 26, 1940. The Washington Post carried an article about him on December 27, 1940. The Post reported that shortly before he died Frohman said, “The curtain’s coming down.” Dr. J. Q. Pressner, who had attended Mr. Frohman, said that his last days were spent reminiscing about his old theater friends. Funeral services for Daniel Frohman were held at the Little Church Around the Corner, and burial was at Union Field Cemetery. The Actors’ Fund of America prepared a resolution expressing their grief on December 27, 1940.

It was signed by the officers and trustees of the Actors’ Fund of America, including George M. Cohan.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center owns two books written by Daniel Frohman, one entitled Daniel Frohman Presents, and the other entitled Encore. The books chronicle Frohman’s many years in the theatrical world. Of particular interest is “Daniel Frohman’s Album,” which appears at the end of Daniel Frohman Presents. The album features many pictures of early twentieth century actors and actresses.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mothers of Erie County, by Marjorie Cherry

Marjorie Loomis Cherry wrote Mothers of Erie County in 1932. She subtitled her book A Pageant of Historic Personages. Mrs. Cherry provides brief biographical information about thirty women from Erie County. In the sketch about Minerva Bell, a recounting of Minerva out-screaming a wild panther is told. Mrs. Katherine Banks Darling’s role in the Underground Railroad is told in Article 25.

The text is anecdotal in nature. The article about Lorania Mitchell discusses the life of a pioneer woman, including chopping wood, building a fire, and the use of herbal medicine. Mrs. Cherry points out that while Frances Ann Griswold Lane, wife of Judge Ebenezer Lane, was the daughter of Governor Griswold of Connecticut, she still knew how to milk a cow, and care for a baby at the same time. The story gives an account of the Lane family moving to Norwalk from Elyria on horseback. Judge Lane put a pillow in front of the saddle, and after Frances placed her infant on the pillow, she got on the horse as well. They rode through the woods to their new home, all riding on horseback.

Marjorie Loomis was born in 1889 in Steuben, Ohio. She was married to Ross Cherry. Mrs. Cherry lived in either Norwalk or Sandusky for most of her life. She was the author of several books dealing with local history and genealogy. Marjorie was considered an authority on flags and early American costume. She was responsible for planning numerous historical pageants given in Ohio. In 1951, the Toledo Blade reported that Mrs. Ross Cherry was the head of a state conference of the United States Daughters of 1812. Members from all over Ohio met at the Hotel Rieger in Sandusky in April 1951.

Mrs. Marjorie Loomis Cherry died on January 22, 1978. Her obituary appeared in the January 23, 1978 issue of the Sandusky Register. Marjorie had been a member of the Peru Farm Women’s Club, the Opportunity Club, the Firelands Historical Society, Sandusky County Historical Society, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and the Ohio State Historical Society. She had also been past president of the Joshua Giddings Chapter Daughters of 1812, and was past regent of the Martha Pitkin Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Visit the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library to read several historical books written by Marjorie Loomis Cherry.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Prisoner's Farewell, by Irl Hicks

With several other military artifacts at the Follett House Museum is found the book entitled The Prisoner's Farewell to Johnson's Island; or Valedictory Address to the Young Men's Christian Association of Johnson's Island Ohio. The work is a lengthy poem penned by Irl Hicks. The full text of this book is accessible through Google Books.

According to an article in the Confederate Veteran magazine, Irl Roger Hicks was born on December 18, 1844 in Bristol, Tennessee. In December of 1861, at age 17, Irl enlisted in First Cavalry Regiment of the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Irl Hicks was engaged in several battles during the war, including Perryville and Chickamauga. At Chickamauga Irl R. Hicks was taken prisoner and sent to the prison camp at Johnson’s Island. While there, he was made distributor of the mail. As the prisoners were ready to be released to go home, on May 19, 1865, the last meeting of the Y.M.C.A. was held at the prison. Irl Hicks was selected to give the address, which was in the form of a poem, and was well received.

After returning home, Irl R. Hicks entered college at Andrews College in Trenton, Tennessee. He took courses in literature, meteorology, philosophy, and theology. Irl R. Hicks was ordained into the ministry of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1871. Soon he was assigned to a church in St. Louis, Missouri. Later he joined with the Congregational Church. In 1887 Rev. Hicks turned his time and talents to publishing. He became president of the Word and Works Publishing Co. One of Rev. Hicks’ favorite publications was his Almanac, in which he made monthly forecasts of the weather.
In 1900, the Rev. Irl R. Hicks Almanac sold for twenty five cents an issue, or seventy five cents per  year. A newspaper article accessed via Chronicling America reported about Rev. Hicks, “Few men have labored more faithfully for the public good or found a warmer place in the hearts of the people.”

Rev. Irl R. Hicks died from pneumonia on October 13, 1916 in Wellston, Missouri. He was 71 years of age at the time of his death, and it is said that he had amassed a fortune through the publication of his almanac.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Regular Girl Plays in Sandusky

On May 17 and 18, 1920, the film A Regular Girl, starring Elsie Janis, played at the Schade Theatre, on West Market Street in Sandusky. The American Legion promoted the movie with a large banner. (The building being constructed, seen at the left in the photo below, is the Sandusky Star Journal building, now home to the Sandusky Register.)

Elsie Janis, born Elsie Jane Bierbower in 1889, was an actress of stage and screen. During World War One, she entertained troops in France and England. In 1919, Elsie starred in A Regular Girl, a film for which she wrote the screenplay and co-wrote the title song. The movie was loosely based on her experiences entertaining the troops during the War.

In conjunction with A Regular Girl appearing in Sandusky, a marching band and a woman dressed up as the title character appeared in front of the Schade Theatre. Members of the American Legion also conducted a membership drive.

Elsie Janis appeared on Broadway in 1939, and her final film was “Women in War” in 1940. She moved to California, and led a relatively quiet life. She died in California on February 27, 1956. To read about the life and career of Elise Janis, see the Elsie Janis Exhibition hosted at Ohio State University’s Libraries.

Monday, May 16, 2011

International Museum Day, Saturday May 21

Erie County museums will join together on Saturday, May 21, to celebrate International Museum Day in Sandusky and Milan. The Eleutheros Cooke House and Garden, the Follett House Museum, the Maritime Museum of Sandusky, the Sandusky Greenhouse, the Merry-Go-Round Museum, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum, the Edison Birthplace, and the Milan Historical Museum will all be open free to the public, and each will offer family activities. The Sandusky Underground Railroad Education Center and the Erie County Historical Society will also offer free activities.

The USO in Sandusky

In September, 1942, a U.S.O. Service Center was opened in the rear portion of the Lake Shore Coach station at 129 Columbus Avenue. Having started in 1941, the primary mission of the United Service Organization was giving social support to America’s troops. In contrast to the regimented life of military life, the U.S.O. strived to create a warm homelike atmosphere.
An article which appeared in the May 15, 1943 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News stated that the Sandusky USO Center provided a spot for relaxation for thousands of men in uniform who found themselves temporarily in the Sandusky area. The article continued, “It has given them little attentions and helped out in the practical things of everyday life that beset a stranger; and it has done this in a homey, kindly atmosphere and with warmth of spirit that has eased the ache of homesickness and loneliness in the hearts of many.” Cookies and fruit were provided through the generosity of local organizations. Dances and parties were held both at the Sandusky U.S.O. and at Camp Perry. Junior hostesses of the U.S.O. visited men who were in the hospital at the Erie Proving Ground, playing cards and games with them as they convalesced.

A photograph was taken at the last party sponsored by the Erie County U.S.O., held at the Plum Brook Country Club.

The Sandusky U.S.O. Center closed in December of 1945 with a “fine service record,” according to an article in the December 1, 1945 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Tom Benoist, Pioneer Aviator

Tom Benoist was an aviation pioneer in the early part of the twentieth century. He and his brother started an automobile supply shop in 1907 in Missouri. As time went by, the shop became a supplier of aviation parts. In 1909 Tom Benoist began manufacturing airplanes. He established the Benoist Flying School in Kinloch Park about 1911. Benoist began making hydroplanes in 1913, using engines manufactured by the Roberts Motor Company. Benoist operated a flying school in Sandusky, as well.

Benoist founded a promising airplane factory in Sandusky, Ohio. In 1917 the factory was located on Columbus Avenue, near the Lake Shore railway tracks, and the testing grounds were at East Battery Park. In the fall of 1916, Elmer Straub flew a Benoist hydroplane over the housetops of Sandusky. An article in the June 2, 1917 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that during a huge parade, leaflets about the Liberty Loan plan were to be distributed by aviator Elmer Straub from a Benoist aircraft. A Benoist aircraft is pictured below at the Erie County Fairgrounds.

At the age of 37, Tom Benoist was killed in a streetcar accident in Sandusky. He was taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, but died just a few hours after he arrived. Funeral services were held at the Masonic Temple, with Rev. C. L. Alspach paying tribute to the young aviator. A large floral offering in front of the coffin were designed in the shape of an airplane as a token of esteem from members of the Aviation School and the Benoist Aeroplane Company. The remains of Mr. Benoist were taken to Missouri for burial.

A plaque was placed at Battery Park in honor of the early aviation activities of Weldon B. Cooke, Thomas W. Benoist, and Reinhardt N. Ausmus.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Charles Frohman, Theatrical Manager

Charles Frohman was the son of Henry and Babette Strauss Frohman, born in Sandusky in 1860. (Some sources say 1856.) Henry Frohman was born in Germany, but moved to the United States as a young man. The Frohmans had a family of seven children. All three of the Frohman sons, Gustave, Daniel, and Charles, were involved in the theater.

A historical marker on Lawrence Street in Sandusky marks the birthplace of Charles, Daniel and Gustave Frohman.

Around 1864, the Frohman family moved from Sandusky, Ohio to New York City, where Charles found work at a newspaper office. Charles Frohman started his career in the theater by selling tickets, but soon joined his brother Daniel Frohman in management. Charles had his first success as a producer with the production of Shenandoah in 1889.

Soon he took over Proctor’s Theater, and eventually started the Charles Frohman Stock Company. Charles Frohman was one of the founders of the Theatrical Syndicate which for a time controlled theaters in America.

In 1893 Charles Frohman and Al Hayman opened the Empire Theater, which was for many years the oldest and most prestigious playhouse in New York City. Charles saw the theater makes its transition from the stock system to the star system. Frohman personally managed a bright group of stars, including Ethel Barrymore, John Drew, and Nat Goodwin. He coached actors in their parts, advised them, and often sent them gifts of books, candy, and flowers. By 1900, Charles was producing plays in New York and London, where his favorite playwright was J. M. Barrie, author of the play Peter Pan.

Charles Frohman traveled back and forth between New York and London often, usually in the fall. On May 15, 1915, Frohman was aboard the Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. The ship sank in just eighteen minutes, and over one thousand lives were lost. The body of Charles Frohman was recovered, and following a private funeral at Daniel Frohman’s home, there were several public memorial services held simultaneously. John Barrymore was an honorary pallbearer at the service at Temple Emmanu-El held on May 25, 1915. Other services were held in England, Los Angeles, and Tacoma, Washington. Charles Frohman is buried in Union Field Cemetery in Queens.
Daniel Frohman and Isaac Frederick Marcosson co-authored a biography of Charles Frohman, entitled Charles Frohman: Manager and Man. This book is located at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library, and is also available online. The Sandusky Library also has several books written by  Charles E. Frohman, a nephew. Charles E. Frohman wrote a number of local history books about Sandusky, Erie County, and the Lake Erie Islands region. Another excellent resource which was created by Charles E. Frohman is his index to the Sandusky Register and the Sandusky Star Journal, located in the microfilm case at the Archives Research Center.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Aerial View of Tiffin Avenue Around 1950

This aerial view of the area surrounding the intersection of Tiffin Avenue and the New York Central Railroad, in Sandusky’s west end was taken about 1950. At the very bottom left of the picture is a “Tourist Court,” according to the 1950 Sandusky City Directory. This later was known as Hopper’s Mobile Home Park. The New York Centrail railroad tracks can be seen just north of the mobile home park. Tiffin Avenue intersects with the railroad, in the lower half of the picture, forming an X. Traveling in a northeastern direction along Tiffin Avenue, the Brightman Nut and Manufacturing Company, now known as Industrial Nut Corporation, is visible. Directly across from Brightman Nut, you can see the old Coca Cola bottling company, near the current location of the Juvenile Justice Center. Continuing northeast on Tiffin Avenue are the former homes of Jacob and August Kuebeler, at 1318 and 1319 Tiffin Avenue. In 1950, the Erie County Detention Home was located at 1319 Tiffin Avenue, and Mrs. Anna Schade, the daughter of Jacob Kuebeler was still living at 1318 Tiffin Avenue. Dick’s Carry Out is currently located at 1318 Tiffin Avenue. Other landmarks on the aerial picture are the coal docks, seen at the top of the picture, and Mills Creek, to the east of Brightman Nut. The smokestack from the former G and C Foundry is visible at the very left side of the picture.

See a previous blog post to view aerial photographs taken by Tom Root.