Monday, March 31, 2014

The Market Street Fire of 1939

On this date seventy-five years ago the most devastating fire Sandusky has known struck downtown, turning nearly an entire block into ruins. Commonly known as the Herb & Myers fire (or the Market Street fire) because it was believed to have started in the M.R. Herb department store on East Market Street, the fire quickly destroyed many business on the 100 block of East Market Street, and continued to smolder for days afterward. The cause of the fire was never determined, probably due to the intensity of the flames, which left little evidence to discover in the rubble.

Among the other businesses destroyed in the fire were the Sears & Roebuck store, the W.S. Frankel store, the McLellan Dollar store, all in the Graefe Building,  and E.B. Ackley's cigar store and office on Water Street.

The fire and the subsequent demolition and removal of the remaining rubble soon became a major tourist event, as can be seen in some of the photographic images. Reports claimed that as many as 10,000 spectators went downtown to see the fire and its aftereffects, although that might be an exaggeration.

The estimated financial cost of the fire was $2 million (about $33 million in today's dollars), with about 200 people put out of work.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

C. Keim’s Excelsior Monumental Works

Conrad Keim was the proprietor of C. Keim’s Monumental Works in Sandusky, Ohio from 1902 until his death in 1927. The monument business was located at the southeast corner of Market and McDonough Streets. Prior to moving to Sandusky, Mr. Keim had also been a marble sculptor in Johnston, Pennsylvania. One of the first tombstones he made was the monument he created for Jacob Horner, who was the founder of the Sandyvale Cemetery in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Keim was a survivor of the Johnstown Flood of 1889. Conrad Keim opened his home to house and feed other survivors of the flood, even though he himself lost most of his possessions in the disaster. 

Tombstones made by Conrad Keim can be seen throughout Erie County. The head of an angel adorns the tombstone which Mr. Keim made for Constance A. Fleming who died in 1914. This monument can be seen at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Mr. Keim signed his stones C. KEIM  in block letters.

The Singler monument at St. Mary’s Catholic Cemetery features an exquisitely sculpted angel.

Christ on the cross is the focal point of the Bauman monument at the Kelleys Island Cemetery.

 Mr. Keim was apparently quite confident in his workmanship. In an ad which appeared in the January 8, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Register, he stated, “Monuments and tombstones free of charge if they can be equaled in design, beauty or workmanship manufactured by C. Keim.” Conrad Keim passed away on January 12, 1927, at the age of 66. He had been in failing health for three years. Mr. Keim was survived by his wife Elsie, and a daughter, Mrs. Walter Erly, of Cleveland, Ohio. Mr. Keim was buried in section G of Oakland Cemetery.  A lovely angel adorns the top of the Keim monument.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

George Schade’s Runabout Automobile

George Schade’s Runabout automobile is pictured above, in front of the Kuebeler-Schade home on Tiffin Avenue in the very early 1900s. The Runabout was manufactured by the Sandusky Automobile Company. The Courier was another model made in Sandusky.

A longtime city commissioner in SanduskyGeorge Schade was one of the first automobile owners in Sandusky. Mr. Schade was the husband of Anna Kuebeler, daughter of  Jacob Kuebeler, a pioneer in the brewing industry.

The Sandusky Automobile Company, founded by James J. Hinde, was only in business for a few years in the first decade of the twentieth century. To read more about the early automobile age in Sandusky, see chapter 18 of the book Sandusky's  Yesterdays, by Charles E. Frohman.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Program Announcement: "The Clydesdale Motor Truck Company" -- Author Talk and Book Signing

Saturday March 29, 2PM, in the Library Program Room

Manufactured in nearby Clyde, Clydesdale trucks were important products of the early motor vehicle industry, achieving international fame as the "Liberty Truck" of World War I. Authors James M. Semon and Tiffany Willey Middleton will discuss their book on the history of this significant local company. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Odd Fellows’ Festival in 1856

On March 25, 1856 the Odd Fellows’ Festival was held at West’s Hall in the West House in downtown Sandusky. The floor managers were John Youngs, Warren Smith, and Jerome Monroe. Twelve Sandusky men served on the Committee of Arrangements, including John W. Holland, a well-known local sign painter and businessman.

Clock’s Band provided music for the evening’s entertainment. Rev. Samuel Marks addressed the Daughters of Rebekah, the women lodge members, who attended the festival in full regalia. An article in the March 26, 1856 issue of the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register reported that the Odd Fellows’ Festival was “one of the most brilliant and admirably conducted entertainments ever given in Sandusky.” After Rev. Marks’ address, the crowd enjoyed a dance and music. Several amateurs sang throughout the evening. Dinner was served at eleven o’clock p.m. One hundred seventy people attended the banquet, which featured three tables “loaded down with all the luxuries and substantials the most craving appetite could demand.” The Independent Order of Odd Fellows is a fraternal organization. The I.O.O.F. symbol features a three link chain, which represents Friendship, Love and Truth. The I.O.O.F. building in Sandusky was dedicated on March 18, 1890. Several attorneys and businesses are now located in the I.O.O. F. building on Washington Row in downtown Sandusky.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Views of the Foot of Columbus Avenue

As Leola M. Stewart noted in her 1948 article, Sandusky,Pioneer Link Between Rail and Sail, Sandusky has one of the finest natural harbors on the Great Lakes. In the picture above, three excursion boats can be seen in Sandusky’s harbor around the turn of the twentieth century. After the passengers got off the steamships, this is what the view of Sandusky looked like from the waterfront, facing south.

By 1920 automobiles parked at the foot of Columbus Avenue. At this time, streetcar lines ran down Columbus Avenue as well.

In this scene from the mid to late 1950s, you can see cars from the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad which was still in operation in downtown Sandusky. The Cedar Point boat dock had a festive sign which was brightly lit at night.


Today the Schade-Mylander Plaza welcomes visitors to downtown Sandusky, providing beautiful views of Sandusky Bay, Marblehead, and Cedar Point.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day Entertainment at Biemiller’s Opera House

On the evening of St. Patrick’s Day, most likely in the 1880s or 1890s, a program of entertainment was held at Biemiller’s Opera House in Sandusky, Ohio.

Though the church was not identified, the evening began and closed with selections from a church choir. Judge A.E. Merrill gave the introduction, followed by a lecture on the Land League by Rev. P. F. Quigley, a Catholic priest. Several musical numbers were performed. Mr. Buyer, Mr. Farrell, Mr. Dempsey, and another Mr. Farrell sang a serenade. While we do not know precisely which members of the Dempsey and Farrell families sang the Serenade, Helen Hansen wrote about the William Farrell and Thomas Dempsey in Supplement 13 of At Home in Early Sandusky. Both gentlemen were Irish immigrants, and they lived at 525 and 527 Columbus Avenue for many years.

Immediately before I. F. Mack gave remarks, Miss Kate Farrell sang When I Left My Home in Erin,” by William Shakespeare Hays. You can view the sheet music to this song at the Musicfor the Nation exhibit of the Library of Congress. A midi version of the song can be found online as well.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Annual Examinations in the Sandusky Public Schools in 1860

Don't put stickers on your historic documents!
On March 14, 1860, at 9 a.m., several students from the First Grammar School of Sandusky City Schools had a program in connection with the students’ Annual Examinations. In 1860 the First Grammar School was located in Sandusky’s Public Square. Mr. John G. Chandler was the principal. Miss Eliza Moore was Mr. Chandler’s assistant and she taught elementary school classes as well. Essays and declamations were presented by students from geography, arithmetic and grammar classes. Musical selections were presented throughout the exercises. At 1:30 in the afternoon another set of students participated in the Order of Exercises for Annual Examinations.

Many of the students who attended the First Grammar School in downtown Sandusky were the children of individuals who played key roles in the city’s history. Ezra Gregg’s father, Philander Gregg, served as Sandusky’s Mayor from 1869 to 1870. Master Ebenezer Lane and Master William Cheesebrough were both the grandsons of Judge Ebenezer Lane. John G. Chandler married Miss Emeline Barber in 1864. By 1870 the Chandlers were living in St. Louis, Missouri, where John G. Chandler was an attorney. Eliza Moore and her sister Sarah Moore were teachers with the Sandusky City Schools for over fifty years. In 1891 Sandusky children collected pennies to help pay for a monument to be erected at Oakland Cemetery in honor of their teachers, the Moore sisters.

Program Announcement: Brown-bag Lunch Series - Jay Cooke, the Sandusky Native Who Financed the Civil War

Wednesday, March 19, at noon in the Library Program Room

Local historian and author John Hildebrandt will explore the life and times of Jay Cooke, with an emphasis on Cooke's Civil War years and his ties to the Sandusky area.

Monday, March 10, 2014

James R. Davis, Mail Carrier

James R. Davis is on the right in this 1905 picture of Sandusky mail carriers. According to U.S. Census records, James R. Davis was born about 1877 in Virginia. Mr. Davis was appointed mail carrier at the Sandusky Post Office in 1903, a position he held for thirty-nine years. For thirty years, Mr. Davis served as president of the Ohio Baptist Sunday School Convention. In his many years as a member of the Second Baptist Church, Mr. Davis served in a variety of posts, including deacon, trustee, Sunday School superintendent, and financial secretary. On June 22, 1953, he was honored at a banquet at Second Baptist Church. An article about the banquet appeared in the June 20, 1953 issue of the Sandusky Register. 

James R. Davis died in the summer of 1965. He was buried in Los Angeles, California. Mr. Davis was well known and respected in Sandusky for many years. You can see him in the picture below, taken in 1912 at the old Post Office Annex on Market Street.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Women Worked for the War Effort at Barr Rubber Products Company (Women's History Month)

From 1923 until 1986, the Barr Rubber Products Company was a leading manufacturer of quality rubber products in Sandusky, Ohio. During World War II, several products were made for the nation’s war effort. Two women employees of Barr Rubber are pictured below making rubber gas tanks for B-29 bombers.

The company also made rubber life rafts for the war effort.

An article in the March 25, 1944 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News described the life rafts that were made in Sandusky. The rafts were used by aviators during World War II. At first the rafts appeared to be cushions, but when airmen jumped from a plane, the cushions inflated to become life rafts. Included on the raft were a sail, bailing bucket, an anchor, paddles and a first aid kit, along with distilled water and sea markers. In March of 1944 several Sandusky High School students who were facing possible military service used a life raft made by Barr Rubber Products during a series of physical fitness and lifesaving classes conducted by Coaches Howard Ziemke and Howard Caldwell.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Program Announcement: The Blue Streaks & Little Giants - More than a Century of Sandusky and Fremont Ross Football

Join us in the library program room on Saturday, March 8 at 2:30 as author Vince Guerrieri will discuss his book about the long and great rivalry between these two high school football teams. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and signing.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Alex H. Osterman’s History of Bands in Sandusky

In the Arts Collection of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is a binder with typewritten pages, in which Alex H. Osterman presented a history of bands and orchestras in Sandusky, from 1851 to 1934. The binder was given to the Sandusky Library from the library of Dr. Norbert A. Lange. Local musicians Ed Senne and Fred W. Bauer assisted Mr. Osterman in gathering information, as many of the musicians in the early bands were deceased by 1934. The first known band in Sandusky was the Jaeger Band, which was organized in 1851.

Mr. Osterman related how Charles Baetz’s stern discipline helped the Great Western Band to build up an enviable reputation. The band performed from 1867 to the early 1890s, and had several different directors. The Great Western Band is pictured below in the 1870s.

While Mr. Osterman’s history provides us with details about relatively well known bands, such as Ackley’s Band, the Cedar Point Orchestra, and Scouton’s Concert Band, he also covered little known bands, such as the Sandusky Light Guard Band, the Big Five Band, and the Curtiss Orchestra. Below is a list of members of the Harlemetts Orchestra, an orchestra made up of African Americans from Sandusky.

In the back portion of Mr. Osterman’s history binder are letters and anecdotes from local musicians, as well as notes from Dr. Norbert A. Lange with further details about Sandusky’s rich musical history.

Alex H. Osterman died on November 10, 1945, at the age of 69. He had been a restaurant operator in Sandusky from 1896 to 1901, and he served as the street superintendent of Sandusky from 1928 to 1933. In his later years, he was employed at the Erie China Company on Cleveland Road. Mr. Osterman’s little black binder helps us know more about music in a time gone by in Sandusky. An article in the Sandusky Star Journal of April 7, 1934, Alex H. Osterman stated that his history of bands in Sandusky was written “to perpetuate the memory of those men who were always ready and willing to give their time so that their music might be means of bringing joy and pleasure to tired bodies and saddened hearts.”