Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Women's History Month Wrap-Up: Finding Information about Your Female Ancestors in Erie County

March is Women’s History Month, and in honor of the women of our area, here are some tips on how you can locate information about your female ancestors in Sandusky and Erie County. 

For the earliest settlers in Erie County, you can check the index of the Firelands Pioneer. There is a general index arranged by surname, and a separate index for obituaries. In the June 1865 issue of the Firelands Pioneer, Truman Taylor recounts his grandmother’s account of  how several families moved from Glastonbury, Connecticut to Perkins Township in Erie County, Ohio in 1815, by oxen train.

The women had to wash clothes along the way, sometimes hanging the wet laundry on a brush pile to dry. The families camped at night, stopping in a location with pastures for the cattle and horse. They took provisions along with them, consisting of bacon, bread, butter and cheese. Once they settled in Erie County, the pioneers had to clear the land, build cabins, and till the tough prairie sod.

Two sources that provide information are Mothers of Erie County, by Marjorie Cherry Loomis, and Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve, edited by Mrs. Gertrude Van Ressselaer Wickham. These books are anecdotal in nature, and provide biographical information about the earliest female residents of Erie County. The Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve was originally written in five parts, and is housed in a bound two volume set, shelved in the genealogical section of books in the lower level of the Sandusky Library.  The pages devoted to women from Sandusky are found in Part 1, pages 158 to 164. Mrs. Jane Hartshorn, daughter of William Kelly, recalled that when her family settled in Sandusky in 1818, there were only five frame houses in Sandusky at that time. All the rest were built of logs. The family stayed in a small log house that had been used as a cabin for fishermen. It had no fireplace, just a stone hearth, and very little furniture or dishes. Though times were difficult, she remembered those early days with fondness. Jay Cooke remembered his mother, Martha Simpson Carswell Cooke, working at her spinning wheel, to prepare material for the children’s clothing and stockings. When Martha’s husband, Eleutheros, brought back cans of oysters from the east, she shared liberally with her neighbors. Jay Cooke recalled that his mother had wise counsel and unfailing Christian love. There are indexes in the back of volume two of Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve arranged by the surname of the pioneer women, as well as an index to towns and counties.

For genealogical information about your female ancestors, the Sandusky Library has access to Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest. An outstanding online resource, available to anyone with computer access, is FamilySearch.org. This database is particularly strong in Ohio information, such as birth, marriage, and death records and some census data.  Sources available inside the Sandusky Library include school yearbooks, Sandusky city directories, Erie County directories and histories, obituaries in the microfilmed copies of the Sandusky Register, and church records, also on microfilm. Hundreds of historical photographs are housed at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Inquire at the Sandusky Library for more information.

A fun way to learn a bit more about women from Sandusky and Erie County, search for  women ​in the Labels list to the left. In these links, you can read, for example, about women working for the war effort in World War II.

Sarah Howard was the first African-American female to graduate from Sandusky High School.

The Woman’s Endeavor was a newspaper published by Sandusky women in 1908. In 1920, there was an all-women jury in a courtroom at the Erie County Courthouse. Dr. Carrie Chase Davis was one of the first female physicians in Sandusky, and was also known for her active involvement in women’s rights.

Two other notable Sandusky women we cannot forget are Marie Brehm, the first legally qualified female candidate to run for the vice-presidency of the U.S., and Jackie Mayer, Miss America of 1963, now a motivational speaker. Jackie Mayer speaks about her recovery from a near-fatal stroke when she was 28.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Emily Blakeslee, M.D.

For over fifty years, Emily Blakeslee was a physician in Sandusky. During most of her career, Dr. Blakeslee practiced medicine at 258 Wayne Street, where she also resided. (The building was razed in 1960.)

Emily Blakeslee was born in Medina County, Ohio in 1871 to Edwin Charles Blakeslee and Alice (Warner) Blakeslee. In 1897 she graduated from Cleveland University of Medicine and Surgery. 

Charles Burleigh Galbreath wrote in volume five of his book History of Ohio:
“Emily Blakeslee M. D., has been established in the practice of her profession in the City of Sandusky since the year 1897, and has won precedence and popularity as one of the able and representative woman physicians and surgeons of her native state, a state in which her paternal great-grandfather made settlement fully a century ago.”

Dr. Blakeslee was on staff at Sandusky’s Good Samaritan and Providence Hospitals. During World War I, she worked with the Home Service Department of the American Red Cross in Sandusky.

In May of 1950, Dr. Blakeslee was honored during a joint meeting of the Erie County Medical Society and its Auxiliary. She received a 50-year certificate and gold medal. 

On April 26, 1955, Dr. Emily Blakeslee passed away at the Cleveland Clinic, after an illness of several weeks. The headline on the front page of the Sandusky Register Star News read Sandusky’s Only Practicing Woman Doctor is Dead.  Dr. Blakeslee had been a member of Grace Episcopal Church and the Erie County Medical Society. She was survived by a sister, brother, and two nephews. She is buried in Medina, Ohio.

On April 3, 1976, G.D. Wallace paid a salute to Dr. Blakeslee in the Sandusky Register. Wallace stated that Dr. Blakeslee took additional medical courses so she could stay in tune with medical advances and improvements in surgical techniques. The article continued, “Dr. Blakeslee’s appearance as a Sandusky citizen gave added enchantment to the Erie County area. Besides a great interest in religion, she was fond of drama and music, and was a popular factor in the social, cultural and art circles of the county and city…Especially among women, Emily merits the heavy applause for her triumphant struggle to reach the heights of her chosen profession, an interest that carried through since childhood days.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Seven Mile House

The Seven Mile House was situated in the extreme northeast corner of Groton Township, Erie County, Ohio, along the old Columbus-Sandusky Pike, close to the intersection of Mason Road and Route 4. John Powell built the Seven Mile House about 1831. This early hotel got its name from its location, which was seven miles south of the city of Sandusky. An early stage coach route passed by the building. During the time of the Underground Railroad, fugitive slaves were transported from the old Omar Tavern in Seneca County to the Seven Mile House, on their way to Lake Erie, where they could cross over the lake to freedom in Canada. In his memoirs, detective John Wilson Murray wrote that Charles H. Cole met with fellow conspirators at the Seven Mile House, to make plans for an attempt to free Confederate prisoners from the prison camp at Johnson's Island. In 1870 the house hosted a United States Post Office.

According to an article in the issue of the March 4, 1899 issue of the Sandusky Star, Charles Linder operated a butcher shop and saloon in the building. Three of the Linder children came down with smallpox in March of 1899.

 This advertisement for dancing at the Seven Mile House appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal on December 3, 1920. The Seven Mile House served as a tavern in the same location for a number of years.

 A bookstore has recently occupied the intersection near the site of the old Seven Mile House. When you travel by automobile from Sandusky to Columbus, you will drive by the spot where weary travelers once found rest and food in years gone by.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pythian Sisters

While we do not have details about the place or people associated with the Pythian Sisters riding in the float in the picture above, it is estimated that the picture was taken between 1910 and 1925. The streets are made of brick, and a horse drawn vehicle can be seen on the left side of the picture. It could have been for a patriotic parade during the First World War. 

The Pythian Sisters are an auxiliary group connected with the fraternal organization known as the Knights of Pythias. The mission of the Pythian Sisters is:

To bring together women of diverse backgrounds and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow through the principles of Purity, Love, Equality, and Fidelity.

Local Sandusky newspapers, available on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, covered the activities of the Pythian Sisters on the Society Page. The ladies had dances and card parties, and raised money for charitable organizations. An article in the November 23, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that the “Sandusky Pythian Sisters’ degree team is one of the best in the state.” The degree team of the Pythian Sisters participated in ritualistic ceremonies associated with the Pythian Sisters.  In 1923, the Pythian Sisters held a fund raising activity with the proceeds going to the Sophie Huntington Home for Aged Pythian Sisters in Medina, Ohio. On October 27, 1931, the tenth annual convention of District No. 15, Pythian Sisters, was held in Sandusky. Over 300 people attended the convention. During the evening hours, the Sandusky Lodge, Knights of Pythias met with the Pythian Sisters. A play entitled “A Lesson in Friendship” was presented, along with musical selections.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the past activities of the Club and Organizations of Sandusky and Erie County.

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Combined Corrugator and Double Facer at Hinde and Dauch

The invention of the Combined Corrugator and Double Facer used by the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company was attributed to Solomon Sylvester Knisely, who was a mechanical engineer at the company. He began working at H&D in 1905, and retired in 1949 after 44 years of continuous service. Mr. Knisely is the man on the right in the picture below.

Two female employees of the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company are pictured at the Combined Corrugator and Double Facer in the 1920s or 1930s.


For most of the twentieth century, the Hinde and Dauch Paper Company was a leader in the manufacturing of corrugated paper boxes. Hinde & Dauch Paper Co. was incorporated April, 1900. At the helm of the company in the early years were James J. Hinde and Jacob J. Dauch.  In 1953, Hinde and Dauch was acquired by Westvaco. For most of the 1980s, the company operated as Displayco Midwest, which was bought out by Chesapeake in 1989. The factory closed in 1997. The former Hinde and Dauch building at 401 West Shoreline Drive is now home to Chesapeake Lofts. An article which provides the history of the development of Hinde and Dauch can be found online. Additionally, Tom Jackson wrote an excellent article for the Sandusky Register in May 2010 about Sandusky's Paper District.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Dr. and Mrs. Edgar J. Waye

According to U.S. Census records, Dr. Edgar J. Waye was born in the state of New York about 1826 or 1827. Dr. Waye is pictured above in a reproduction of a daguerreotype, created when he was a young man. His bride can be seen below  in a digital image of a daguerreotype taken when she was about 21 years old. Sometimes her name is listed as Leonice Smith; later records list her first name as Lelia.

On August 11, 1861, Erie County Probate Judge F.D. Parish signed the application for the marriage license of Edgar J. Waye and Lelia H. Smith.

Dr. Edgar Waye had a dental practice in Sandusky from the 1860s through the early 1900s.  An advertisement which appeared in the Sandusky Register of February 4, 1863 stated that Dr. Waye could make artificial teeth for his patients which would improve their physical appearance and also help them to chew their food more easily. Dr. Waye’s office was on Columbus Avenue across from the old Post Office. Dr. Waye often contributed articles to dental journals.  In an issue of the Southern Dental Journal, Dr. Waye discussed “Amalgam and Its Manipulation.”

Dr. Waye wrote about “Textile Foil” in volume 6 of the Ohio State Journal of Dental Science. On March 7, 1877, he delivered the address at the thirty-first annual commencement of the Ohio College of Dental Surgery in Cincinnati, Ohio. 

On April 2, 1905, Dr. Edgar J. Waye died at the age of 78. Dr. Waye was buried in Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.  Mrs. Leonice/Lelia Waye passed away on April 17, 1919. She was buried next to Dr. Waye at Oakland.  Dr. and Mrs. Waye were survived by three daughters.  One of the daughters, Winifred Lee Waye, was well known in Sandusky as a painter, musician and newspaper columnist. Winifred wrote her newspaper columns under the name “Molly Lee.”

Saturday, March 14, 2015


A neighborhood on the eastern part of Sandusky was once known as Camptown. It is located east of Sycamore Line and south of Scott Street, including First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Street. Camptown was named after John G. Camp, John G. Camp, Jr. and Jacob A. Camp, who added this section of the city to the original plat of Sandusky in 1852.  In the 1800s, St. Ann’s Chapel was built in Camptown as an outreach of Grace Episcopal Church. This chapel later became Calvary Episcopal Church, which is now in use as a wedding venue. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Philip Schmidt ran the Camp Town grocery store at the corner of Monroe and Meigs Streets, on the edge of the neighborhood. In the 1870s, artist Samuel Tebbutt lived on Second Street. The neighborhood has always been primarily residential. Though no signs of the name Camptown remain today, thousands of tourists drive through the section of Sandusky formerly known as Camptown, on their way to Cedar Point each summer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The New York Central Railroad in Sandusky

The history of railroads that operated in Sandusky is a long story involving many mergers and acquisitions. On September 17, 1835, ground was broken in Sandusky for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. This line was a predecessor of the Big Four Railroad, which was active in Sandusky in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

In 1906 the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad acquired the Big Four (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company), and in 1914, the company changed its name to the New York Central System. That same year, the New York Central merged with the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway to form the New York Central Railroad. Below is an undated postcard of the New York Central crossing Sandusky Bay, just north of Medusa Cement in Bay Bridge.

You will recall that in an earlier blog post, we learned that the Amtrak Station was originally built for the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway, and was used by the New York Central for many years.

In 1968 the New York Central merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad to form the Penn Central, which went bankrupt by 1970.

From the 1920s through the 1960s, members of the Lake Shore Pioneer Chapter, New York Central Veterans, had reunions at Cedar Point. Below is a picture of a souvenir plate from the 1934 Reunion of the Lake Shore Pioneer Chapter of New York Central Veterans, now in the collections of the Follett House Museum.

In the Twin Anniversary Edition of the Sandusky Register Star News, dated November 24, 1947, Paul Laning provides a history of Steam Railroads in Erie County, up to that point in time. For more information about railroads in Ohio, there area number of books available for loan through the ClevNet system at the Sandusky Library.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Theatrical Performance at Sidley Memorial Hall

In this image we see the cast from a play performed by members of the parish Dramatic Club in Sidley Memorial Hall, the auditorium of Saints Peter and Paul School, in the 1910s. From left to right are: Walter McGory, Cecelia Canning, Norm Gagen, Bernard McGory, Mrs. Leo Butler, Barney Gagen, Mr. Printy, Helen Esch, William Willmouth, Ralph J. Conley and Alica Hering. 

Sidley Memorial Hall was named in honor of Father R.A. Sidley, who was the pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Church in Sandusky from 1871 until just before his death in 1904. Father Sidley oversaw the building of the church which still stands today at the southeast corner of Columbus Avenue and Jefferson Street. Father Sidley left a bequest of over $13,000 for the building of a new school, which was completed in 1907. Major alterations were made to the school building in 1950, and in 1955 a large addition was made to the school. Though Father Sidley did not live to see the school completed, he had dreamed of a large school and auditorium to serve the families of his parish.

In 1916 two members of the dramatic club were married. Alicia Hering became Mrs. Ralph J. Conley. In the 1910s, the Dramatic Club of Saints Peter and Paul Church put on many plays at Sidley Memorial Hall. In the early 1930s, the Catholic Players met bi-monthly at the auditorium of Saints Peter and Paul Church, and put on plays throughout the year. The Catholic Players were just one of several amateur theatrical groups in the area. The group was part of a larger organization known as the Northwestern Ohio Little Theater Association. To read more about the rich history of Saints Peter and Paul Church, visit the Sandusky Library. The title Saints Peter and Paul Church: A Church and Its People chronicles the 125 years of the church’s history, from 1866 to 1991. Several other church histories are also available at Sandusky Library.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Aerial View of the New Departure Plant

In 1990, Thomas Root took this aerial view of Delco Moraine, New Departure Hyatt (Division of General Motors) located at the southwest corner of Perkins and Hayes Avenue in Perkins Township, Erie County. Dozens of automobiles dot the parking lot of the plant, while a semi and other cars travel southbound along Hayes Avenue. On the left side of the picture is Foster Chevrolet. Across the street from Delco Moraine, New Departure Hyatt, you can see Mr. Hero, Berardi’s Family Kitchen, the AFL CIO Union Hall, and other businesses. At the very right of the picture you can see a portion of Strobel Field, now Strobel Field at Cedar Point Stadium.

General Motors established the New Departure plant in Perkins Township in 1946. In 1965 New Departure was merged with another GM Division, Hyatt Bearings, to form the New Departure Hyatt Bearings Division and Sandusky was selected as the divisional headquarters site.  In 1989 New Departure Hyatt merged with another GM division, Delco Moraine, to become Delco Moraine NDH.  In 1991 Delco Moraine NDH merged with Delco Products to become Delco Chassis Division.  Delco Chassis Division became Delphi Chassis Systems in 1995.  Delphi Automotive Systems spun off from parent company GM in 1999, and then changed its name to Delphi Corporation in 2002. KBI (Kyklos Bearing International) now occupies the site of the former New Departure/Delco Moraine/Delphi facility.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Program Announcement: The Lincoln Funeral Train

Saturday, March 7 / 10:30 a.m., at the Sandusky Library
Scott Trostel, presenter

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination, the first president to be killed while in office. Scott Trostel, author of 50 books and appearing on the History Channel’s documentary Stealing Lincoln’s Body, will present this program about the Lincoln funeral train and the sad journey from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL between April 21 and May 2, 1865. The train made State funeral stops at Cleveland and Columbus en route to Springfield. This program is co-sponsored by the Erie County Historical Society.  More information about the Lincoln funeral train can be found at http://www.the2015lincolnfuneraltrain.com/

Monday, March 02, 2015

Advertising Signs on Barns

Throughout the Midwest and South, advertising signs were often painted on barns and other buildings in the early to mid-1900s. Building owners were paid to have the advertisements on their property, and many farmers appreciated the fresh coat of paint on the barn. Citizen’s Banking Company offered loans for real estate, and an interest rate of 4 percent on the sign pictured below.

The Herb and Myers Company “Big Store” gave Union Stamps to customers at their Sandusky store in the 1920s.

The Dilgert and Bittner (sometimes spelled Dilgart) store suggested that local residents could furnish their homes completely with the products sold at their store in Sandusky.

And restaurants advertised their menus, as well.