Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sandusky’s Railroad Depot

Now used by Amtrak, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, the railroad station at North Depot and Carr Streets in Sandusky, was originally built for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad. The Sandusky Transit System and North Central EMS now have offices at this location as well. A front page article in the December 19, 1892 issue of the Sandusky Register reported on the new passenger depot, which was described as “very elegant.” 

The depot was built by A. Feick and Brother, at a cost of nearly $30,000. Several other local subcontractors were involved in the project. Brohl and Appell were in charge of the plumbing. Copper work was done by J. Mertz and Son. Woodwork and doors were installed by George R. Butler and Company, while the hardware and glass were furnished P.L. VanAlstyne. The only firm connected to the new railroad depot that was not from Sandusky was the architect, Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge, from Boston, Massachusetts. The station was built from Amherst buff stone, with blue stone trimming. The roof was a Gothic pitch roof. A baggage station was built just to the east of the main railway depot, and was used by the American Railway Express Company for several years in the 1920s.

The original railroad depot had a general waiting room, as well as a separate waiting room for ladies only. Two marble drinking fountains were located near the waiting rooms in the original building.  The article in the Register stated that this new structure was “a credit to the city in point of architecture and improvement.”  The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway Depot in Sandusky was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. Today it is served by Amtrak’s Capitol Limited and Lake Shore Limited routes. Below is a post card of the depot after the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad merged with New York Central.

Rail transportation has been vital to Sandusky for many years. Ground was broken for the pioneer Mad River Railroad in Sandusky in 1835.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sandusky Gets Ready for Thanksgiving in 1906

Many area businesses placed advertisements in the Sandusky Daily Register in November of 1906, as Sandusky prepared to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. Dilgart & Bittner boasted “A Bounteous Thanksgiving Feast for All.” The store featured a wide variety of home furnishings, and they offered the installment plan, to make paying for purchases easy on the budget.

 Edward Smith’s Meat Market at 527 McDonough Street sold turkey, duck, chicken, goose, beef, veal, mutton, pork, and homemade sausages. The Smith’s Meat Market made home deliveries to all parts of the city.

 The Mayer Lebensburger store, which sold men’s apparel, placed their ad in the newspaper in the form of a Thanksgiving menu, suggesting that the hats they carried were “creme de la creme.”

J.H. Herman suggested that it would be a “Thankful Day Indeed” if you purchased your furniture, carpets and stoves from their store on Market Street.

These are just a few of the advertisements from the Sandusky Daily Register during the Thanksgiving season of 1906. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to read historical Sandusky newspapers on microfilm, dating back to 1822.

Monday, November 24, 2014

John J. Marquart - An Interview with an Early Sanduskian in 1947

In the Twin Anniversary Edition of the Sandusky Register Star News, dated November 24, 1947, Harry Stack featured highlights of an interview he had conducted with John J. Marquart, who at that time had been a resident of Sandusky for eighty five years. Mr. Marquart is pictured below in a photograph taken at the Pascoe photographic studio. (He is seated at the left, opposite C. J. Pascoe.)

John J. Marquart was born in New York City in 1853, and moved to Sandusky in 1862, in the midst of the Civil War. As a youngster, he resided on East Adams Street above the Marquart family grocery store. He helped his father in the grocery store for a time, then around 1890 he became involved in a business which dealt in furniture and undertaking. By 1906, he was a funeral director and embalmer, on the street level of the Odd Fellows Temple on Washington Row, and for a time in partnership with a Mr. Meyers.  In 1925 Mr. Marquart took Lee B. Keller on as a partner, and the business was known as Marquart and Keller. For thirty nine years prior to 1932, Mr. Marquart was in charge of the burials of veterans at the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home. You can see a portion of Marquart’s funeral business in the Odd Fellows Temple in the picture below, in the early 1900s.

In his interview with Harry Stack, John J. Marquart recalled the pioneer businesses of Sandusky. He personally knew Jay Cooke, and members of  the Hubbard family. He recalled seeing Confederate officers arriving by train at the Lake Shore and Michigan Railroad office at Warren Street, before being taken to the prison at Johnson’s Island during the Civil War. He remembered when the harbor of Sandusky was filled with full-sail schooners transporting lumber to and from the city. The ice industry was another vital business in Mr. Marquart’s early days in Sandusky.  He recalled when the streets were made of cobble stone, and horse drawn vehicles were used. A quote by Mr. Marquart appeared toward the end of the interview: “I’ve seen many changes and much improvement in the 85 years I’ve lived in Sandusky. It used to be more important than Cleveland, but somehow or other it grew to a certain size and stayed there. Still and all, Sandusky is all right. It’s my home and proud of the fact.”  To read the entire interview, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center where copies of the Twin Anniversary Edition of the Sandusky Register Star News are available in print and on microfilm.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Zion Lutheran Church Choir

Members of the Zion Lutheran Church Choir are pictured above in front of the organ pipes. The photograph, by Mound Studio in Sandusky, was taken between 1945 and 1955. Lovely stained glass windows are located on either side of the organ pipes. Harold Parker is in the front center of the picture. Mr. Parker, a well known Sandusky architect, directed the church choir at Zion Lutheran Church for twenty five years. The church building, at 503 Columbus Avenue, was dedicated on Sunday, November 12, 1899. The architect and builder of Zion Lutheran was George Feick.

Two histories of Sandusky’s Zion Lutheran Church are found in the local history section of the Sandusky Library. While the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center does not have an extensive history of every church in Erie County, Ohio, five archival boxes are devote to church histories in the Churches Collection of the Archives. Included in these files are histories of two African American churches, the Oheb Shalom Temple, along with historical information from several Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian, and Unitarian churches in the area. Church records are available on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center for these churches:
Holy Angels Catholic Church
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
St. Mary’s Catholic Church
St. Anthony Catholic Church (Milan)
Calvary Episcopal Church
St. John Lutheran Church
First Presbyterian Church
St. Stephen’s United Church of Christ
First Congregational Church of Christ

Erie County, Ohio is rich in church history, from circuit riding Methodists, to abolitionist Congregationalists, to German Lutherans and Catholic roots going back to Father J.P. Machbeuf. St. Stephen A.M.E. church was begun by several individuals who had previously been enslaved. Four churches can be seen in the picture below of Columbus Avenue, taken in the first half of the twentieth century. 

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view the Finding Aid for the Churches Collection.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jacob Mertz, Pioneer Hardware Merchant

Jacob Mertz was born in Wurttemberg, Germany in the 1830s. He came to the United States in the 1850s, and after living for at time in Norwalk, Ohio, he settled in Sandusky.  A biographical sketch about Jacob Mertz found in History of the Western Reserve (Lewis Publishing Company, 1910), opened with these sentences:  “The great empire of Germany has contributed a most valuable element to the cosmopolitan social fabric of our American republic, which has had much to gain and nothing to lose from this source. Among those of German birth and ancestry who have attained to success and precedence in connection with business activities in the city of Sandusky is Jacob Mertz, a citizen of sterling character and one honored by all who know him.” 

Mr. Mertz married Teresa Hemmerle in 1856, and they had eight children. In 1860 he opened a hardware store and tin shop on Washington Street. In 1865 he moved his business to the southeast corner of West Washington and McDonough Streets in Sandusky.  He was the sole proprietor until 1885, when his sons became partners and the business became known as J. Mertz and Sons.

In 1910, J. Mertz and Sons carried a variety of hardware, builders’ materials, stoves, ranges, and household furnishings. 

Jacob Mertz, Sr. died on December 26, 1913, after a brief illness. His sons, John, George, and Jacob, Jr. ran the business after his death. The Mertz Hardware Store stayed in operation in Sandusky until about 1935. The Braunstein Furniture Store occupied the site at the corner of West Washington and McDonough Streets from about 1941 until 1961.  Currently this location is a multi-unit apartment building.

Several members of the extended Mertz family are buried in the family lot at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Stereograph Cards by A.C. Platt

Stereographs are a pair of nearly identical images that give a three dimensional effect when viewed through a device called a stereoscope. Several stereographic cards are found in the collections of the Sandusky Library and the Follett House Museum. Above is a stereograph card of the Erie County Courthouse created by Sandusky photographer A.C. Platt, probably around 1876. A group of stereographs created by Mr. Platt were donated to the Sandusky Library by Mrs. John H. Jacques. The cards originally belonged to her father, Willis Merry. Mrs. Jacques was a direct descendant of Ebenezer Merry, a pioneer settler of the Firelands. A view of Sandusky High School and the old academy building can be seen in the stereograph card below. The academy building was used as a courthouse prior to the construction of the Erie County Courthouse in 1875. It was torn down in 1884.

This view of downtown Sandusky was taken from the upper level of the Erie County Courthouse. The steeples of the Congregational Church, then in Washington Park, are visible. This church was demolished in 1896, and a new church was built at the northwest corner of Columbus Avenue and Jefferson Street. In the background, you can see a portion of the Cedar Point peninsula

     In 1875, the first city water works was under construction, at Meigs and Washington Streets. Here you see construction scaffolding around the standpipe. If you look closely, you can see men at the top of the scaffolding.

Below is a view of the Sandusky’s waterfront in the early 1880s. The vessel Chief Justice Waite is partially obscured by an unidentified ship in Sandusky Bay.


Thanks to A.C. Platt’s stereograph cards, we can get a sense of what life was like in Sandusky in a bygone era.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Margaret Ebert, Art Teacher

Miss Margaret Ebert was the daughter of Carl and Caroline Ebert. She graduated from Sandusky High School in 1910. In the graduation picture below, Margaret is number 17.

A closer view shows Margaret in her middy blouse, a popular style at the time.

Margaret Ebert taught art for the Sandusky City Schools for over thirty years, retiring from Jackson Junior High School in 1953. An article in the June 1, 1953 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News reported that Miss Ebert had taught art in all twelve grades at different times during her long career as a teacher. 

In about 1940 students in Margaret Ebert’s art class at Osborne School created a fabric collage of Cedar Point. In the portion of the mural below, you can see the ferry G.A. Boeckling, along with a pony ride and other attractions at the amusement park.

A carousel and ferris wheel are visible in another portion of the mural:

Miss Ebert often spoke to local community organizations about textile art. The various colors and prints in the fabrics used in the mural gave a delightful visual depiction of Cedar Point from a bygone era. You can see the mural created by Margaret Ebert’s art classes in the Toy Room of the Follett House Museum.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Gustave A. Hauser

Gustave Adolph Hauser was born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1874 to John and Margaret (Schmidt) Hauser, who were both natives of Germany. He was known fondly as Otto to his family and friends. He is pictured above next to a high wheeled bicycle when he was quite young.  Here is a picture of Gustave as an adult, again posing with a bicycle:

For most of his adult life, Mr. Hauser worked as a ship carpenter. He was interviewed in an article which appeared in the January 14, 1934 issue of the Sandusky Register, in a piece which featured an old ship named the Valley Mills. The ship was a stern wheeler, which turned out to be unprofitable for use on the lake. The hulk of the vessel remained in Sandusky Bay near the old B and O Railroad docks for many years. When Mr. Hauser had last seen the ship in 1897, he was employed at the Monk shipyard in Sandusky.

Sadly, Gustave A. Hauser died suddenly of a heart attack while riding his bicycle on Cleveland Road. He was survived by a sister, two nieces and two nephews, and was laid to rest in the family lot at Oakland Cemetery. Mr. Hauser was uncle to Norbert A. Lange, and Elmer Wirth, who were both college professors in scientific fields. 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Sebastian Schweinfurth Family

The Sebastian Schweinfurth family is pictured above in the late 1800s, in front of the Schweinfurth residence at the corner of McKelvey Street and Sycamore Line in Sandusky, Ohio. Sebastian had been born in Baden, Germany, and came to the United States in 1854. During the Civil War, Sebastian Schweinfurth served in Company D of the 128th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, a unit which stood guard at the prison camp at Johnson’s Island. In 1865, Sebastian married Anna Elizabeth Horn, who was also a native of Germany. Mr. and Mrs. Schweinfurth had a large family of seven children. After working in the Klotz and Kromer machine shop, Sebastian Schweinfurth ran a grocery store with his son Fred. All four of Sebastian’s sons were educated in the grocery business and went on to have businesses of their own. For many years, Fred and Simon operated the Schweinfurth Brothers grocery store at the southwest corner of Hayes Avenue and West Park Street.  Later, John was a partner with Simon at the Schweinfurth Brothers grocery store, and Fred had his own business.

You can still just barely read the name of Fred Schweinfurth on the building at 428 Decatur which was at one time a grocery and a bakery.

After Fred’s death, other members of the Schweinfurth family ran the business until the early 1950s. Henry and John Schweifurth operated saloons in Sandusky in the early 1900s, and later they too were in the grocery business. Consult the historical Sandusky city directories to learn the specific dates and locations of the many businesses which were operated by the Schweinfurth family in Sandusky. Sebastian and Anna’s grandson, Gerald Schweinfurth, served as the Erie County Auditor from 1947 to 1982. Members of several generations of the Schweinfurth family contributed to their community through their businesses, church, and social affiliations. 

Sunday, November 02, 2014

The Boy Scouts Have Been Active in Sandusky for Many Years

The Boy Scouts of America have been active in Sandusky since shortly after the organization was founded in 1910. Pictured above is a group of Boy Scouts in Washington Park in Sandusky about 1916, with a young lady dressed in a patriotic costume. After the flood of 1924, several troops of Boy Scouts met at Grace Church in Sandusky, to report for duty to aid in the clean up effort in Sandusky. In 1936, Sandusky Boy Scouts co-operated with the American Red Cross to collect clothing and food for flood victims in Southern Ohio. 

A Sandusky Boy Scout once made national news for his act of heroism. On January 30, 1926, Henry Sherman Potter, saved Omar E. Meyer, Jr. from drowning. Omar fell through the ice while skating on Sandusky Bay. Henry crawled on thin ice, and tossed his sweater to Omar, and pulled him to safety. For his heroic deed, Henry Sherman Potter was awarded the Carnegie Hero Medal for saving the boy's life. 

In the summer of 1937, area Boy Scouts marched in a parade before they departed for the first National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America, which was held June 30 to July 7, in Washington D.C.

Here is an undated photograph of Troop Number 4 from Sandusky:

Another undated picture shows a large group of Boy Scouts gathered in Sandusky.

If anyone knows the identity of the Scouts in the unidentified photos, please contact the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, so that the names can be recorded for history.