Monday, August 31, 2015

New England Influence on the Firelands

The area of land in Ohio known as the Firelands is the far western portion of the Connecticut Western Reserve. The Western Reserve was over three million acres of land in northeastern Ohio which was given to Connecticut residents whose lands were burned by the British during the American Revolution. Because so many of the early settlers to the Firelands were originally from New England, the architecture and mindset of those early residents reflected the architecture and attitudes of New England. The Ohio educator and historian B.A. Hinsdale said about the Western Reserve, “No other five thousand square miles of territory in the United States, lying in a body outside of New England, ever had, to begin with, so pure a New England population.”  Several Huron County townships and towns have names that were duplicates of places in Connecticut, including Norwalk, Fairfield, New London, and Litchfield. When Oran Follett had his lovely home built in the 1830s, it was constructed in the Greek Revival style which was popular in New England.

The layout of the town of Milan reflects the style of the typical New England town square.

Many of the early settlers to the Firelands brought with them the antislavery sentiment that was common in New England. Dozens of fugitive slaves were aided in their journey to freedom by citizens of Huron and Erie County. This monument in downtown Sandusky honors those who assisted fleeing slaves on their way to Canada.

Yankee ingenuity and thriftiness is shown by the fact that so many early homes in Sandusky were built from native limestone, such as the former home of William Townsend.

Ellie Damm wrote in Treasure by the Bay that the stone for many of the early homes had been quarried near the building site.  

Visit the Sandusky Library to read more about the history of the Firelands. The Firelands Pioneer is a multi-volume set of periodicals featuring articles about the earliest settlers to Huron and Erie Counties.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Oliver W. Marble, Architect

Oliver W. Marble moved to Sandusky in 1901, after having worked as an architect in Chicago for twenty-two years. In Chicago, his firm, Wilson and Marble, designed the Chinese Village and Theater for the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893. After arriving in Sandusky, he quickly made a name for himself with many local designs.

Mr. Marble, along with Ed Bertsch, was the architect for the First Congregational Church of Marblehead, Ohio, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.  After the American Crayon Company plant in Sandusky suffered a massive fire in October of 1901, he was selected to draw up plans for the construction of several new buildings for the company.

Marble also designed and built the White House Hotel at Cedar Point in 1901, pictured in the postcard below.

An article in the July 26, 1901 Sandusky Daily Star stated that “the attainments of Mr. Oliver W. Marble, of this city, are of the highest order. Mr. Marble is deservedly popular, not only with property owners, contractors, builders and other directly interested in improvements, but with the business community and general public.” 

Mr. Marble was active in the First Church of Christ Scientist where he was first reader and healer. In the early 1900s, Erie County Prosecutor Roy H. Williams prosecuted him for practicing medicine without a license. Mr. Marble was found guilty of the charge, but the Erie County Common Pleas Court dismissed the verdict. The prosecutor appealed the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, and the Court overruled the trial court and reinstated the guilty verdict.  

Oliver W. Marble died on June 4, 1908. He was survived by his wife and four children.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Monday, August 24, 2015

Ogontz Fire Company and Firefighting in Sandusky

On June 4, 1870, Richard C. Cuthbert was given a certificate from the Fire Department of the city of Sandusky for a life membership in the Ogontz Fire Company, No. 1.  Mr. Cuthbert had served with the Ogontz Fire Company for twelve and a half years. The certificate was signed by Henry J. Hertel and Joseph C. Whetstone.  The Ogontz Fire Company, No. 1 was begun by volunteers in 1834, at a fire station located at the foot of Hancock Street. “Bucket brigades” had been in use in Sandusky in the early 1830s, under chief fireman Henry H. Wilcoxsen. The early fire stations were built so that the animals that carried the horse drawn vehicles could be housed on the street level of the station.  The picture below was taken at the Central Fire and Police Station which was on Market Street in the 1890s.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has two publications that chronicle the history of the Sandusky Fire Department. A souvenir booklet published in 1896 documents the Sandusky Fire Department and Division of Public Safety, up to that time. Included are several pictures of officials of the Sandusky Fire Department, and a listing of forty two call boxes that were placed throughout the city in 1896. The publication was published “in the interest of the Firemen’s Pension Fund.”

Jim Martin, a retired Sandusky firefighter, produced two booklets of his research on firefighting in Sandusky, entitled The Sandusky Fire Department: A Look Back at History. The first volume covers from 1830 to 2002, and a second volume describes events between 2002 and 2004. This publication includes a history of the department, a listing of the individuals who served as Fire Chief, and a breakdown of major fires in Sandusky throughout the years. The “Last Alarm” page of the booklet lists the names and dates of death of those firemen who died in the line of duty. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research to learn more about our historic Sandusky Fire Department.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Do You Remember Mark’s?

Below is an aerial view of Mark’s Market, taken by photographer Thomas Root on September 13, 1955. You can see shadows from Mr. Root’s airplane at the bottom of the picture.

According to an article in the October 7, 1898 issue of the Sandusky Register, Marcus Kellerman founded the first independent supermarket in Sandusky under the name Mark’s Market at 709 West Perkins Avenue. In 1960 a corporation known as “Mark’s Pick n Pay Supermarkets” was created through a merger with the Cook Coffee Company. Mark Kellerman was now in charge of two Sandusky supermarkets, Mark’s Market on Perkins Avenue, and Mark’s Pick n Pay in the Sandusky Plaza. Eventually both stores were known as Mark’s Pick n Pay. Mark’s was known for issuing and redeeming Vacationland stamps. These stamps were given to customers by several Sandusky retail stores. When a book of Vacationland stamps was filled, the customer could take it to any retailer and exchange it for merchandise. This 1960 advertisement from the Sandusky Register informed buyers that if they purchased pork roast or frozen dinners, they could receive fifty free Vacationland stamps.

By 1982, there were three locations for Pick n Pay stores in Sandusky. They were at 709 West Perkins Avenue, the Sandusky Plaza, and at a new location north of the Sandusky Mall. By the early 1990s, the store on Perkins Avenue had become a Foodtown Plus, and the Pick n Pay formerly at the Sandusky Plaza had becoma a Sack-n-Save store. The Pick n Pay north of the Sandusky Mall was then a Finast store. In the late 1990s, Finast stores were taken over by Tops Friendly Markets. The Old Navy store was in operation at the site of the former Tops Market by 2007.  Mark’s Pick n Pay was always known for its excellent produce section and freshly butchered meat. Though no Pick n Pay store remains in town today, many of our parents and grandparents patronized Mark’s for several decades in Sandusky and Perkins Township. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Willard A. Bishop, A Popular Sandusky Photographer

Willard A. Bishop was born in Shelby County, Indiana in 1856. In 1880, he moved to Sandusky, Ohio, where he opened a photographic studio. The 1882 Sandusky City Directory listed his studio at the northeast corner of Water Street and Columbus Avenue, with his residence at the West House hotel. By 1884, Mr. Bishop had a partnership with James H. Veitch in a photography studio in Stone’s block, on the corner of Columbus Avenue and Market Street. Besides taking photographs, Bishop and Veitch also created crayon drawings and ink portraits for their customers. Frank S. Barker was a partner with W.A. Bishop in 1886, and by then the studio had moved to 725 Washington Row, which is now in the 200 block of West Washington Row.  By 1888, W.A. Bishop was the sole proprietor of the studio, which can be seen in the picture below, taken in the first decade of the 1900s. Mr. Bishop remained in this location until 1941.

On the back of a cabinet card, Bishop advertised as a “photographic artist,” whose studio was all on the ground floor.

Bishop took pictures of individuals, families, businesses, and local government offices. This 1908 picture shows Sandusky’s downtown after a sleet storm.

Here is a composite picture of the Sandusky High School graduates of 1911:

In 1908 Mr. Bishop gave the history room at the Sandusky Library three frames containing 149 pictures of business and professional men of Sandusky whose portraits he had taken prior to this time. These portraits are now in the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. 

More than just a photographer, Mr. Bishop was active in many local community activities. In 1903, he was in the cast of “The New Dominion”, a play which was performed at the Nielsen Theater. He can be seen here with fellow cast member Annette Fitch Brewer.

In 1917 Willard A. Bishop was the chairman of the building committee of the Good Samaritan Hospital. He is the second individual on the left in the picture of the ground breaking for the new hospital building on Van Buren Street which was built in 1918-1919.

Late in 1941, Willard A. Bishop’s health began to fail. He passed away on January 31, 1942. A lengthy obituary for Mr. Bishop is found in the 1942 Obituary Notebook at the Sandusky Library. It read in part, “Few men were better known or highly respected in Sandusky than Mr. Bishop…his camera recorded the history of Sandusky in pictures in the thousands of negatives on file in his studio here.”  The article pointed out that Bishop’s pictures told the story of the surrender of the horse to the automobile, and portrayed the transformation of the hoop-circled American girl to the modern athletic person of the 1940s. Funeral services for Willard A. Bishop were held at the Keller Funeral Home, and graveside services at Oakland Cemetery were held under the auspices of Erie Commandery, Knights Templar. Mrs. Bishop, the former Mary Mathews, had predeceased her husband in 1925.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Colonial Opera Company at Cedar Point

In 1903 George A. Boeckling opened a 1200 seat opera house at Cedar Point. The Opera House was located between the Grand Pavilion and the Hotel Breakers, not far from the Cedar Point Beach. The Colonial Opera Company performed there during the summers of 1907, 1908, and 1909. The program above was from a performance of Girofle-Girofla, under the direction of Bradford Mills, of Toledo. The play was about identical twin daughters of the governor of a Spanish province during the time of Moorish domination. It was a comic opera that had been popular in Europe since the 1870s.  

You can see this vintage map of Cedar Point at the Follett House Museum. The 1907 post card below shows the entrance to the Opera House at Cedar Point, with the Hotel Breakers in the background.


A 1908 issue of the Grain Dealers Journal reported that while the grain dealers were in daytime meetings at their annual convention at Cedar Point, they took their wives to the comic opera during the evening hours.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works Made the Hero Reaper

Though the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works was begun in the mid nineteenth century, it was not incorporated until 1870, with W.F. Converse as the president. The 1874 Sandusky City Directory states that the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works was located on Water Street between Jackson and Decatur Streets. The company manufactured threshers, corn shellers, portable engines and other agricultural implements. In the business collections of the Sandusky Archives Research Center is a catalog for the Hero Reaper, made by the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works in the 1880s.

The brochure’s cover claimed that the Hero Reaper was the lightest draft and strongest reaper in the world. It could work in any type of soil, and was easily pulled by a pair of light horses. The Hero Reaper sold for $125, and each reaper came with its own tool box of extra bolts, rivets and wrenches. Several pages containing testimonials of farmers who had satisfactorily used the Hero Reaper were printed in the 1881 catalog.

Another product manufactured by the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works was the Excelsior Gleaner and Binder, which was said to be simple, efficient and light.

Eventually the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works was consolidated with the Klotz and Kromer Machine Company.

In the early twentieth century, the Sandusky Machine and Agricultural Works name was dropped, and by 1929, the Klotz and Kromer Machine Company incorporated as the Klotz Machine Company. Later it was known as the Klotz Machine and Foundry Company, which was acquired by Union Chain in 1951. Today, the company formerly known as Union Chain is a part of U.S. Tsubaki, located on Edgewater Avenue on Sandusky’s west side.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

The Colton House

From the early 1860s until his death in 1898, Harry Colton was the proprietor of the Colton House, a hotel located in Sandusky at the southeast corner of Lawrence and Water Streets. It was situated just across from the docks of the Big Four railway and its predecessors. A portion of the 1886 Sanborn Map shows the location of the business. There was a saloon and billiards hall on the portion of the hotel that faced Water Street, and the hotel’s rooms were located along the side of the hotel which faced Lawrence Street.

The 1870 U.S.Census lists all the residents of the Colton House in Sandusky on July 25, 1870, which included Harry Colton, his wife Susanna, and several children. An article in the July 1, 1905 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that the Colton House was a leading hotel in Sandusky at one time, due to its proximity to the shipping docks along Sandusky Bay. In its later years, it became known primarily as a boarding house and cafĂ©. 

Harry Colton died on May 8, 1898. After his death, the Colton House was operated by his wife, and later by his sons. By the early twentieth century, other owners had taken over the business. In 1905 the hotel became known as the Hotel Lawrence. The building was razed in the fall of 1932.

Harry and Susanna Colton and several of the extended Colton family are buried in Block 60 of Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

The Rich History of the First Congregational Church

After having been organized in 1819, the First Congregational Church opened its first church building in Sandusky in 1835. This church stood in Washington Park until it was razed in 1896. An article in the January 1920 issue of the Firelands Pioneer stated that in the early years, the First Congregational Church was considered a social center for Sandusky. It was the site of a number of meetings dealing with temperance and antislavery issues. At a church meeting held on August 16, 1847, resolutions denouncing slavery were introduced by Moors Farwell, and passed unanimously. 

Rev. N.W. Fisher was minister of the First Congregational Church in 1849, when a cholera epidemic swept through Sandusky. Rev. Fisher died from cholera on July 30, 1849. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery along with two other local ministers who also fell victim to cholera, Rev. Thomas Cooper and Rev. Hibbard P. Ward.

Under the leadership of Rev. Clarence Vincent, a new church building was constructed at what is now 431 Columbus Avenue. The builder was by George Philip Feick. (He would later also build Zion Lutheran Church across the street from the Congregational Church.)

From May 25 to May 28, 1919, the First Congregational Church celebrated its centennial services. A copy of the program from the centennial celebration is located in the church collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Now known as the First Congregational United Church of Christ, this church continues to play a vital role in the spiritual life of many local residents. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the history of churches in Sandusky and Erie County.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

George C. Matthes Coal and Supply Company

The postcard above was sent to customers as a reminder to order coal from the George C. Matthes Coal and Supply Company in Sandusky, in order to stay warm in the winter months. The company was founded by George C. Matthes in 1900, and was located at 642 North Depot, at the Hayes Avenue Subway. The Matthes Coal and Supply Company dealt in both wholesale and retail coal. Because of the popularity of coal as a fuel for businesses and homes, in 1916, there were six wholesale coal dealers in Sandusky, and ten retail coal distributors. 

In 1921, Matthes Coal was one of several Sandusky coal dealers that shipped their coal on the New York Central Railroad. Four huge silos for storing coal were built at the Matthes coal yards. The four new silos, along with another smaller silo, the company had the capacity for 1,250 tons of coal. You can see the coal silos at the Matthes Coal and Supply Company in this aerial picture, taken by photographer Thomas Root in 1955.

In 1929, Matthes Coal and Supply provided the enamel brick for the new swimming pool at Jackson Junior High School. Mr. Matthes was active in the National Retail Coal Merchants’ Association and in state coal organizations as well. The advertisement below appeared in the September 9, 1940 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal.

This receipt from the Matthes Coal and Supply Company dates back to the 1950s.

As the demand for coal declined, when more modern methods of heating became popular, Matthes Coal and Supply branched out into more types of supplies, such as patio brick, cast stone, and parking blocks. 

George C. Matthes died on May 21, 1973. The Matthes Coal and Supply Company continued for a time in Sandusky, under the leadership of Alvin W. Beverick, vice president and treasurer of the company. By 1976, the Matthes Coal and Supply Company was no longer listed in the Sandusky City Directory. Though the George C. Matthes Coal and Supply Company is no longer in existence, for many years, the company helped keep “the home fires burning” in the Sandusky area.