Thursday, December 31, 2015

Unpuzzling a Baptismal Record

Recently we came across this baptismal record from 1885 in an archival box in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. It looks like Josezf Karl [?] Wilhelm is the name of the child, the son of Johann Wilhelm, born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1885. The day of the month was 12, but the name of the month was not easily interpreted. After determining that Sohn is the German word for son, we could match the old German lettering of the first letter of the month, which appeared to be an “S.”  Since the only month that begins with the letter “S” is September, it seemed very possible that Josezf Wilhelm was born on September 12, 1885.  A search at for the surname Wilhelm, with a birth date of 1885, and father’s first name as Johann or John, retrieved this birth record.

This record has the same date as the baptismal record, and the same parents, so most likely the infant who was christened Josezf Karl [?] Wilhelm is the same infant which was listed as John Charles Wilhelm in Erie County, Ohio birth records. In looking at Erie County marriage records, for a groom with the surname of Wilhelm, and a birthdate of 1885, this record for the marriage of Charles F.Wilhelm and Marguerite Zimmerman was retrieved.

The parents of Charles F. Wilhelm were listed as John Wilhelm and Anna Hein, the same parents that were on the birth record of John Charles WilhelmMilitary records at Ancestry Library Edition showed that Charles F. Wilhelm, with a birth date of September 12, 1885, filled out draft registration cards for World War I and World War II. The employer of Charles F. Wilhelm on both cards was listed as the U.S. Post Office in Sandusky, Ohio. In Mr. Wilhelm’s early years, the Post Office was located at Columbus Avenue and Market Street. 

By the mid-1920s, the Post Office had been relocated to the corner of Jackson and Washington Streets in downtown Sandusky.

The Social Security Death Index lists the death of a Charles Wilhelm, born on September 12, 1885, as August of 1972. An obituary for Charles F. Wilhelm appeared in the August 21, 1972 issue of the Sandusky Register. The article stated that Mr. Wilhelm had enjoyed a long career at the Post Office, where he rose to the position of Superintendent of Mails in 1943. He died at the Classic Care South Nursing Home, after a lengthy illness. He was survived by his spouse, the former Emma Marguerite Zimmerman, a brother, and several nieces and nephews. He was buried at Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio.

Though there were many discrepancies in the first name and middle name of Mr. Wilhelm, all the records consistently showed the birth date of September 12, 1885, and the parents’ names as John and Anna Wilhelm. Don’t get discouraged when you find that records for the same individual have conflicting information. Search for as many vital and military and church records as you can, and compare the details, focusing on the facts that remain the same in each.  Unpuzzling this baptismal record turned into a genealogical adventure. Mr. Wilhelm’s baptismal record is housed in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, which can be seen from the former U.S. Post Office where he spent so many hours during his long career.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Portraits of Walter and Edwin Sprau

Walter Sprau gave this picture of himself to his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Sprau, on Christmas Day in 1915, when he was eleven years old. Walter was very active in Grace Episcopal Church, and he may be wearing a church choir robe in his portrait.  Walter’s brother Edwin gave his parents this picture on Christmas Day in 1916.

 Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Sprau were the parents of three sons. Walter and Edwin had a younger brother named Emmett. The Sprau family owned and operated a grocery store at the northeast corner of Camp and Jefferson Street from the early 1900s to the 1950s. Edwin and Emmett helped their father in the family business. The E.C. Sprau grocery store is pictured below in 1908, with two of the Sprau boys standing in front of the door of the grocery store.

Sadly, Edwin Sprau died at the age of 39 in 1942. He had been very active in baseball circles. He was secretary of the Sandusky Baseball Federation, secretary-treasurer of the Northern Ohio Baseball League, and had also been associated with the Firelands Baseball League, the Junior Leagues of Sandusky, and the Church Indoor League. Walter Sprau died in 1964 at the age of 60. Walter and his brother Emmett were both employed by the Erie Proving Grounds in Ottawa County.  The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is fortunate to have hundreds of historical pictures of Sandusky families and businesses in its collections. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Gifts for the 1915 Holiday Season in Sandusky

By browsing through historical issues of the Sandusky Register, we can determine some of the popular gifts that were advertised to area residents in 1915. Mr. Bamberger carried winter scarves and hats at The Avenue Store on Columbus Avenue.

C.V. Baumgardner advertised pianos, while J.H. carried a wide variety of “talking machines.”

The Manhattan store sold suits, overcoats, and other men’s clothing.

Scheurer’s advertisement pictured toys, so that children could look at the newspaper and select a gift.

The Herb and Myers suggested that local residents purchase the unexpected gift of furniture as a Christmas present.

According to the December 17, 1915 issue of the Sandusky Register, many local stores planned to close by 6:00 p.m. on December 24, to allow the employees time off to spend with their families for the holiday. Several organizations proposed the early store closings, including the Business Girls Association, officers of the Trades and Labor Assembly, and every clergyman in the immediate area. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Feature -- Link to Archives Catalog

If you look very carefully at this page, you might have noticed some new information added to the left side of the page, above the subscription link. You'll see a link inviting you to "Search the Sandusky Library Local History Collections." If you click on the button labeled "PastPerfect Local History Archives," you will be taken to a website containing a catalog of items from the Sandusky Library's local history archives.
In this catalog, you will find records for: over 10,000 photographs (most with images attached); over 600 historic books and pamphlets about local history topics, or written by local authors; over 1500 items or collections from the archives. This catalog (as well as many of the records) is a continual work-in-progress -- not all items are cataloged; many records could use more thorough descriptions; and we are regularly adding new items to the collections as the are received from donors -- and it is not a real substitute for visiting the archives, but it will offer significant information for those wanting to learn more about Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio.

For more information, contact Ron Davidson, Special Collections Librarian. 419-625-3834.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Illustrated Lecture on the Battle of Gettysburg

On Thursday night, December 23, 1886, an illustrated lecture on the Battle of Gettysburg was presented at Biemiller’s Opera House in Sandusky. 

The guest lecturer was former Civil War officer James T. Long. Mr. Long devoted himself to the study of the Battle of Gettysburg, and he served as a battlefield guide for several years. Mr. Long was the author of the book: Gettysburg: How the Battle was Fought.

 According to an announcement in the Sandusky Local, the presentation on Gettysburg was “the greatest and most life-like ever exhibited and is drawing crowded houses everywhere.” Proceeds from the lecture were for the benefit of the relief fund of the McMeens Post No. 19, Grand Army of the Republic. Admission to the lecture was fifty cents (about $12 in today's money), and admission to the gallery only was twenty-five cents.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Thirteenth Regiment Band of New York Performed in Sandusky

The following notice appeared in the December 19, 1890 issue of the Sandusky Register.

Fred N. Innes and his 13th Regiment Band from New York gave a concert in Sandusky on Friday, December 19, 1890. Mr. Innes was considered “the greatest trombone player in the world.”  Tickets for the concert were on sale at Nusly’s Jewelry Store, and sold for fifty cents, seventy five cents and one dollar. The concert was held at Biemiller’s Opera House, which once stood at the southwest corner of Water and Jackson Streets.

A brief article in the Sandusky Register of December 29, 1890, reported that the famous 13th Regimental band gave a superb concert at the Opera House, and “the music loving people of Sandusky who attended were more than pleased.” The audience was not as large as was expected, due to the closeness of the holidays. The article continued, “The members of this band are all artists of the highest rank, and under the matchless leadership of Mr. F. N. Innes this musical organization is one of the strongest in the country, not excepting the great Gilmore’s band.”

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

J.H. Herman Carried the Columbia Grafonola for Christmas, 1919

In December, 1919, the J.H. Herman store sold the Columbia Grafonola. The grafonola was a type of phonograph which was used to play recorded music. In the 1920s, the grafonola was popular with music teachers all across the U.S. In the book The Grafonola in the Class Room, the Columbia Graphophone Company pointed out that music helped to cultivate contentment, faith, hope and love, and brought people together from all walks of life.

In the December 12, 1920 issue of the Sandusky Register, an advertisement from the J.H. Herman Company showed several models of Grafonolas. A special Grafonola Christmas Club offered customers a plan in which payments could be made over time.

The J.H. Herman Company was Sandusky’s “largest furniture store” for many years. It was at the southeast corner of Market and Wayne Streets in Sandusky from about 1906 until the late 1940s, when Mr. Herman moved his furniture store out to Cleveland Road. By 1948 Bing’s Furniture was at the site of the former J.H. Herman furniture store. Since the late 1980s, Value City Furniture has been in business at this location.

Friday, December 11, 2015

William Durbin, Former Railroad Superintendent

William Durbin was born in Carroll County, Maryland in 1813. He studied the art of civil engineering. As a young man he worked as an Assistant Engineer on the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad. He lived in Sandusky, Ohio from the late 1830s through 1851, when he left to survey the Wabash Valley Railroad from Fort Wayne to its western terminus. Then, from about 1852 to 1855, he was involved in the management of the Lafayette & Indianapolis Railroad. In 1856 he returned to Sandusky and entered into a partnership with F.T. Barney and L.S. Hubbard in the banking business. An ad from the Union Bank appeared in the Sandusky Register of June 13, 1857.

In 1858 Durbin was elected president and superintendent of the Sandusky, Mansfield & Newark Railroad. His name appeared in the Low’s Railway Directory in 1862.

William Durbin died after a brief illness on May 21, 1863. An article which appeared in the May 22, 1863 issue of the Sandusky Register stated about Mr. Durbin, “Mr. Durbin was one of our most active, energetic and public-spirited citizens. He was the life and soul of the S.M. & N. Railroad, managing its affairs and caring for its interests in a manner unexcelled. He will be a sad loss to the city and its interests and an irreparable one to the Railroad.” 

William Durbin’s funeral was held at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Hubbard, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Former First Church of Christ Scientist

The church located at 128 East Adams Street, now home to the congregation of the Emmanuel Temple Church, was originally constructed as the First Church of Christ Scientist.  Christian Scientists began worshiping in Sandusky in the late 1800s. Two early converts to this faith were the second wife of John M. Boalt, and her niece Clara Boalt. The early followers of Christian Science in Sandusky first met at the Odd Fellows Temple. Later they met at the Masonic Temple and then moved to Carnegie Hall of the Sandusky Library. 

The cornerstone for the church building was laid in 1922.

The two story brick structure was built in the Neo-Classical style. Classic columns line the portico of the church, along with two pedestal lamps.  The original church featured a Moeller organ. 

The church building was dedicated on March 2, 1924, with Frank Bell presenting the inaugural lecture.

On October 2, 1982, the former First Church of Christ Scientist in Sandusky was added to the National Register of Historic Places.  For over eighty years, the beautiful building at 128 East Adams Street has been home to the members of two different denominations.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Dorothy Keefe, Sandusky’s “Globe Trotting” Librarian

Miss Dorothy Keefe, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Maurice Keefe, began working at the Sandusky Library in 1915. She was a graduate of Sandusky High School, and attended college at Chautauqua, New York and Western Reserve college in Cleveland, Ohio. She was also an outstanding musician, having studied with Professor N.E. Fox. For several years she was in charge of the library’s outreach services to various sections of Erie County. In November of 1922, she was named Librarian of the Sandusky Library. An article which appeared in the February 18, 1928 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal featured the headline “Librarian is efficient in various lines.”

Miss Keefe often spoke to community groups. She was an active member of the Harlequins, a local theatrical organization. When a musical revue was presented in 1937, for the benefit of Providence Hospital, she performed a dance solo entitled “Sea Gardens”  and appeared in the number “Castilian Castanet Dance.”  

In 1938 Miss Keefe took a five month world cruise aboard a British freighter. She traveled to the innermost parts of China, India and Africa, and took a camel caravan across the African desert. Though at times the food was terrible, and she became sick after having been bitten by fleas, Dorothy told the local Rotary Club that “she wouldn’t take a thousand dollars for her experiences, nor would she go through the same experience again for ten times that amount.”  She became known as Sandusky’s “globe trotting librarian.” 

In the Spring of 1939, Dorothy Keefe announced that she would be resigning as chief Librarian of the Sandusky Library, in order to move to England. Miss Mary McCann took over as Librarian of the Sandusky Library in September, 1939, a post she held until 1976. Miss Keefe married Frank Gordon, an engineer for a British freighter line, in November of 1939. At the time of her brother’s death in 1961, Mrs. Frank Gordon was residing in New York. Dorothy Gordon passed away in Florida in 1980. 

Here is a picture of the staff of the Sandusky Library from the 1930s; Dorothy Keefe is the second person on the left:

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

The Lea Block, on Market Street

Located at the southwest corner of Market and Wayne Streets in Sandusky, Ohio, the Lea Block was built in 1895, at what is now 174 to 186 East Market Street.  It was named for its first owner, James D. Lea, a prominent Sandusky business man. The three story brick structure was built in the Second Romanesque Revival style of architecture, and features rounded windows and corbeled brick trim.

There is ornamentation both above and below the fire escape on the side of the building that faces Wayne Street.

The first floor of the Lea Block has been home to number of different businesses through the years. In the early 1900s, the top floor was used as an Armory. Mr. F.X. Rinderle operated his tailoring shop in the ground floor in 1900. (Note: Before the street numbers changed in 1915, the Lea Block was in the 600 block of Market Street.)

From about 1917 to 1919, the Wendt Economy Grocery was in business in the Lea Block.

Wrestling matches were held on the upper level of the building in the early 1920s. In 1928 the Lea Block was purchased by the Knight of Pythias, for use by the lodge for meetings, dances and parties. In 1936 the Knights of Pythias occupied the third floor; the second floor was home to the Oheb Shalom Jewish congregation and the Progressive Spiritual Church; and on the first floor were a music teacher, dental office, insurance agent, and two dress makers. In more recent years, the ground level of the building has been occupied by jewelry and floral shops, a finance company, a novelty business, home decorating store, and even a metaphysical shop. 

Read Ellie Damm’s book, Treasure by the Bay, available at Sandusky Library, to learn more about the historic architecture of Sandusky, Ohio.