Sunday, December 31, 2017

Harrison Ball, 1840

An invitation to the Harrison Ball of 1840 is on file at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. The ball was to be held at H. Victor’s Assembly Room on Thursday, December 31 at 5 p.m. This New Year's Eve festivity was in honor of William Henry Harrison, a fellow Ohioan, elected President earlier that year.

The managers of the ball were:

Maj. John G. Camp                 Henry D. Ward
Dr. Daniel Tilden                    Ebenezer B. Sadler
Oran Follett                             Charles Barney
Josiah W. Hollister                  Wm. Durbin, Jr.
Freeland T. Barney                 John M. Boalt
Sidney S. Hosmer                   Jno. G. Poole
Marshall Burton                      Lester S. Hubbard
Henry P Radcliff                    Theodore Hosmer
Davis Miller                            Alex. A. Camp
Dewitt C. Henderson              Jno. G. Camp, Jr.
Wm. A. Simpson                     Joseph B. Higbee

The list of names of people serving as managers of the Harrison Ball reads like a “Who’s Who” of early Sandusky. Major John G. Camp, Sr. fought in the War of 1812, and was active in the early years of Sandusky. Helen Hansen wrote in her book At Home in Early Sandusky, that Major Camp, along with Isaac Mills, Thomas Neill, and William Reese, laid out the addition known as “Southwark,” which was south of Monroe Street and west of Sycamore Line. John G. Camp, Jr. was an attorney in Sandusky, and he devoted a great deal of time negotiating plans for early railroad transportation in Ohio.

Dr. Daniel Tilden was a local physician who also was involved in the Underground Railroad:

Sidney S. Hosmer was an early Sandusky merchant, while his son Theodore Hosmer went west and became the first mayor of Tacoma Washington. 

Oran Follett was a prominent publisher in New York and Ohio, and his former home is now The Follett House Museum:

Ebenezer B. Sadler was a well liked early judge in Erie County:

Lester S.  Hubbard was a banker and prosperous businessman in Sandusky. Henry Clay Victor, whose Assembly Room was the location of the ball, was the father of Orville James Victor, author and editor.

To learn more about these and many other early residents of Sandusky and Erie County, visit the Archives Research Center. Here you will find county histories, historical journal and newspaper articles, and finding aids to the many archival resources available at the Sandusky Library.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Winifred Breining, One of Sandusky’s "Fair Daughters"

Winifred Katherine Breining was born in Sandusky on May 17, 1891 to William and Mary Breining. Winifred served as class secretary during her senior year at Sandusky High School, graduating with the class of 1909½. After attending Ohio University, she became an elementary teacher at Monroe School. 

During the early 1910s, the Sandusky Register ran a series of photographs of Sandusky’s popular young ladies. The series was known as “Fair Daughters of Sandusky.” The portrait above, taken by W.A. Bishop was displayed in the window of the Bishop photographic studio on Washington Row in Sandusky.

A copy of her portrait also appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper, when her engagement was announced. 

On July 14, 1917, Winifred K. Breining married Sandusky businessman William J. Duff at the First Reformed Church in Sandusky, Ohio. Mr. Duff served as Deputy Treasurer of Erie County for several years. Mr. and Mrs. Duff had two sons. Below is a family picture taken of the William J. Duff family in the 1920s, by W.A. Bishop, the same photographer who took Winifred’s picture when she was one of “Sandusky’s Fair Daughters.”

Descendants of William and Winifred Duff donated several family pictures to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. William Duff passed away in 1948. Winifred Breining Duff died in June of 1959. Both Mr. and Mrs. Duff were buried in Oakland Cemetery.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Nineteenth Century Christmas Greetings

Wishing everyone Happy Holidays with some nineteenth century Christmas cards from the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. You can see that at this time, instead of evergreen trees, gifts, and stockings, the cards were decorated with images of flowers. Fringe is attached all around the cards. Perhaps your ancestors received holiday cards like these!

You can read about the history of Christmas cards and other greetings cards in the book Encyclopedia of Ephemera, by Maurice Rickards (Routledge, 2000), available for loan from the Sandusky Library.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Christmas Ornaments from Strickfaden’s

Several boxes of German glass ornaments purchased at Strickfaden’s are now in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum. The three ornaments pictured above were dated from 1948. An advertisement for Strickfaden’s appeared in the WLEC Special Historical Edition Cookbook which was published in 1978.

The advertisement provided historical information about the popular garden center, which is no longer in operation.

The talking Santa was just one of the many attractions enjoyed by local families who shopped at Strickfaden’s. 

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sandusky High School’s A Capella Choir

This is the Sandusky High School A Capella Choir during the 1957-1958 academic year. The A Capella Choir was organized in 1934 by Miss Eulalie Shaw. In 1947 the Choir was heard over a local radio broadcast for the first time, and the Sandusky Rotary Club presented the choir with thirty-seven handbells in 1960.  

The fiftieth annual Christmas concert was presented by the A Capella Choir of Sandusky High School on December 19 and 20, 1983. Over twenty holiday songs were sung at the concert, with the final number being the Hallelujah Chorus from the “Messiah,” which was dedicated to the memory of former choir director Harold C. Kaufman. A special program was created for the Golden Anniversary concert of the Choir was created by Mr. Charles T. Mayer. It featured drawings of the directors of the A Cappella Choir from 1934 to 1983.

This key to the illustrations appears inside the front cover of the program.

A history of the A Capella Choir is found in the 50th Anniversary program, along with the story of the Sandusky High School choir robe. The first robing ceremony took place in 1953. 

Here is a picture of the first A Capella Choir, from the 1934-1935 school year:

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the rich history of the Sandusky City Schools. Several archival boxes are devoted to graduation programs, photographs, and many other historical items. Concerts by Sandusky City School students in band, choir, and elementary music classes have been enjoyed by local residents for many years.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

When Railroad Tracks Ran Through Downtown Sandusky

Beginning in the 1850s, when a landfill project added more land to downtown Sandusky, moving the shoreline well north of Water Street, railroad lines traveled along the north end of downtown Sandusky, along the bay.

This view of the foot of Columbus Avenue was taken from the water, around 1900-10. Sandusky’s waterfront has been the hub of a variety of modes of transportation in Sandusky, including horse and buggies, boats, trains, the interurban, and later automobiles, motorcycles, and even Segwave tours.  The West House hotel was popular with tourists in Sandusky for many years. The State Theatre is now at the site of the former West House hotel. 

Below, we see the train tracks on Railroad Street (now Shoreline Drive) in downtown Sandusky about 1908.

The A. Booth and Company’s fish house and the Johnson’s Island boat landing were just north of the tracks. A water tower on the roof of the Hinde and Dauch factory is visible in the distance. 

The 1905 Sanborn Map shows three different railroads in operation through downtown Sandusky at that time: the Baltimore and Ohio, the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago and St. Louis Railway Company (later known as the “Big Four”), and the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway.

A recent view of this location can be seen at Google Maps.  

Look at the huge crowd gathered in downtown Sandusky to hear Theodore Roosevelt when he visited here during his unsuccessful race for the presidency in 1912:


Society has changed in many ways throughout the last one hundred years, but downtown Sandusky remains a popular destination for visitors and area residents alike. Visit the Sandusky Library to learn more about the city of Sandusky’s rich history. The website of the Erie County Historical Society hosts several historic walking tours of sites around town. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Do You Remember Vacationland Stamps?

From the mid 1950s till about 1980, Vacationland stamps were given to customers who shopped at local merchants who were part of the Vacationland Stamp Association. One stamp was given for every ten cents that was spent at a participating store. When the book was filled, it could be redeemed for $3.00 at any merchant who participated in giving and redeeming Vacationland stamps.The large advertisement below stated: “It’s Like Receiving Free Money.”

In 1976 the value of a book filled with Vacationland stamps increased to $4.00.

Though the stamp program no longer exists, hundreds of thrifty Sandusky shoppers once enjoyed the savings they earned when they shopped at stores that gave and redeemed Vacationland stamps.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Business Thermometer

In September of 1898, the Alvord-Peters Company (publishers of the Star Journal newspaper) published The Business Thermometer. It was a series of free monthly publications, promoting businesses in Sandusky. To date, only one issue has been found in our historical files.  In a column called Trade Notes, various products made in Sandusky were highlighted.

In the editorial section, the publishers suggested that additional streets in Sandusky should be paved, since the paving of Wayne Street was completed.

The West House Pharmacy took out a full page advertisement in Volume 1, Issue 1:

In 1898, the Alvord-Peters Company advertised selling prints of a lithograph “Bird’s Eye View of Sandusky.” The print was 19 by 38 inches, and sold for $1.00 (about $30 in today's money).

A copy of the print is on display at the Follett House, and an enlargement of this image is located in the Adams Street entrance of the Sandusky Library.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Vim Motors Were Made in Sandusky

The boat above, owned by Ed Hinkey and a Mr. Pfeil in 1911, was powered by a 35 horsepower motor manufactured by the Vim Motor Company. On the reverse side of this picture postcard is the owners' positive description of the Vim Motor and its performance.

An article in the April 12, 1907 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that the Vim Motor Manufacturing Company had recently been incorporated by C.P. Barber, W.L. Fiesinger, H.W. Parsons, Herman Kugel and E.C. Knopf. The business was established at the southeast corner of Hancock and Market Street, but by 1911 the company had re-located to the southwest corner of Water and Meigs Street, close to Battery Park. Eventually the company had a plant on the west end of Monroe Street, and a repair shop at 636 East Water Street. In 1911 the Vim Motor Company made nineteen different sizes of marine engines, ranging from 3 to 55 horsepower. “Put real Vim in your boat” was the slogan used in this 1916 advertisement which appeared in a Power Boating magazine in 1916:

By that time, the Vim Motor Company had branched out into farm engines as well as marine engines. This advertisement appeared in Popular Mechanics in January, 1916:

During World War I, the Vim Motor Company merged with the Sandusky Forge Company, and began manufacturing munitions for the war effort. After the war’s end, the company faltered, and went into receivership in 1920. In the 1950s, Ruby’s Fisheries was located at the site of the former Vim Motor Company, now the parking lot for the Erie County Senior Center.

Monday, December 04, 2017

William J. Schweinfurth’s Grocery Store

From about 1900 until his death in 1932, William J. Schweinfurth ran a small neighborhood grocery store at the northwest corner of Perry and Jefferson Streets. Mr. Schweinfurth and his family lived just around the corner, at 529 East Jefferson Street. You can see both the address of the grocery store, at 433 Perry Street, as well as the Schweinfurth residence on Jefferson Street in this close-up view from the Sanborn Map.

The Schweinfurth grocery store was one of several stores that were part of the Home Service Stores group. The Home Service Stores were a group of individually owned grocery stores which organized for the purpose of collective buying. This organization was in existence in the Sandusky area from 1923 through the early 1950s. On March 29, 1930, an advertisement in the Sandusky Star Journal featured several Easter specials on sale at local Home Service Stores, including the William Schweinfurth grocery.

In the window of the Schweinfurth grocery store in the photo above is a sign for Salada Tea, which was a popular product at that time. Salada Tea advertised heavily in newspapers in the twentieth century, including newspapers published in Sandusky. The ad below appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal of November 17, 1922.

Friday, December 01, 2017

A Look Back at Area Depots

Ernst Niebergall took this picture of the New York Central Depot in Sandusky in 1920. This depot still stands today, where it also serves as home to the Sandusky Transit System. 

From the late 1800s until 1938, a depot for the interurban lines was located at Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home (now the Ohio Veterans Home.)

The Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railway built a small depot in Bay Bridge, Ohio in the 1870s. A telegraph office was also at this location for many years.

Greyhound’s bus depot was on Columbus Avenue in 1939, between Joe Weske’s barber shop and Weber’s men’s clothing store. Newspapers were also sold at the bus depot.

To view more vintage pictures of Sandusky and Erie County, visit the website of the Sandusky Library’s Past Perfect Local History Archives.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Sandusky Wheel Company

After having started in 1860 as a business that made wheel hubs and bent stock, the Sandusky Wheel Company was incorporated in 1867. Eventually it became an important manufacturer of wheels and wheelbarrows, and had over 200 employees. The entire stock and shops were destroyed by fire in 1872, but the company rebuilt and the business was back in operation by the summer of 1873.  

The 1886 Sanborn Map below shows that the Sandusky Wheel Company took up a large portion of an entire city block, along Water Street between Shelby and McDonough Streets.

Besides wheels, the Sandusky Wheel Company made all the wooden components for buggies, carriages, and wagons. A variety of woods, in different qualities, allowed for a full range of pricing for the vehicle companies that sent orders to the Sandusky Wheel Company. 

W. J. Comley and W. D’Eggville wrote in their book Ohio, the Future Great State (Comley Bros, 1875) about the Sandusky Wheel Company: “The unexampled success of this company in the manufacture of carriage woodwork has followed, as the legitimate result of well-digested plans and sound principles of construction. Discarding alike all foreign precedents and crude American examples, the officers of this company, by the application of scientific principles, careful observation, and mature judgment, influenced and corrected by practical experience, have brought to perfection a class of work which in material, design, proportion, and details of construction have not been excelled in this or any other country.”

In 1889, the Sandusky Wheel Company became a branch of the American Wheel Company, which had its headquarters in Chicago. By the mid-1890s, the company was known as the Standard Wheel Company. On the evening of July 7, 1900, the Standard Wheel Company was destroyed by fire, with losses estimated at $100,000. In the 1920s, ruins of the former company were still standing.


Saturday, November 25, 2017

G.B. Hodgman Manufacturing Company

Above is a receipt for goods sold to Frank Rittman from the G.B. Hodgman Manufacturing Company in Sandusky in 1893. The company was located on the very eastern end of First Street along the waterfront. 

The G.B. Hodgman Company started out as a cooperage in the 1870s, and later became a lumber mill; it was founded by George B. Hodgman, who served as president of the organization. O.A. Knight was vice-president, and Henry Knight was the secretary-treasurer.

An article in the Sandusky Register of July 30, 1881 reported that the G.B. Hodgman Manufacturing Company gave constant employment to over one hundred workmen. At that time the factory sat on two acres, and had two docks for shipment of products. There was a branch factory in St. Louis, Missouri. The book History of Erie County, ed. by Lewis Cass Aldrich (D. Mason, 1889) described the company as sitting on twenty acres, which included a warehouse, sawmill, band factory, cooper shop, stables, blacksmith shop and wagon shop. The buildings had incandescent lighting, and the company had its own generator. Products were shipped throughout a large portion of the United States, and the proprietors were known for “business integrity and thoroughness.” The 1890 Sandusky City Directory listed the company as a manufacturer of lumber and cooperage, specializing in fish, syrup, lard and pickle packaging. 

During the Panic of 1893, the G.B. Hodgman Manufacturing Company went into receivership, as did many companies throughout the United States. Mr. and Mrs. Hodgman moved to Chicago, where George worked in wood manufacturing, and later they moved to St. Louis, Missouri. George B. Hodgman died in St. Louis on May 8, 1934. His remains were returned to Sandusky, Ohio for burial in Oakland Cemetery. 

Marian Hodgman, a sister to George, was an early member of the Board of Trustees of the Sandusky Library.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Play “Witches of New York” Played in Sandusky in 1871

Albert W. Aiken, who wrote the play “Witches of New York” brought his company of actors to Sandusky, Ohio on November 22, 1871. The play, in which Aiken also starred, appeared at Fisher’s Hall for one night only. Mr. Aiken and the performers in the theatrical production signed the guest book of the West House, where they stayed during their time in our city. The West House register is now on display at the Follett House Museum.

An article which appeared in the November 23, 1871 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that the play was full of sensations, and kept the audience interested. Mr. Aiken is said to have performed his role exceedingly well, and his manner was “far from being stagey.” Mr. Aiken and his company were taking the show to Toledo, Ohio following the performance in Sandusky.

Fisher’s Hall was located at the northwest corner of Wayne and Water Streets in downtown Sandusky. This property is still a vital commercial property in Sandusky today. For many years the street level of the structure was occupied by businesses, and the upper floor was used as a theater. Concerts, lectures and wrestling matches were held at Fisher’s Hall from the 1860s through the 1930s.

Below is a picture of the former Fisher’s Hall (now the Cable Block), taken by then-Follett House curator Helen Hansen in the early 1990s.