Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Mr. and Mrs. Louis Duennisch

Louis Duennisch was born in Saxony, Germany on September 4, 1842. In 1857 he and his widowed mother emigrated to the United States, settling in Sandusky, Ohio. For thirty five years, he was employed by the Sandusky Sash, Door & Blind Company, and its successors. Mr. Duennisch was made foreman of the shop when he was only nineteen years old. 

On July 2, 1867, Louis Duennisch took Margaret Newman as his bride; she passed away in 1875. He married Margaret Ebert in 1878, the daughter of Conrad Ebert, a native of Bavaria.. 

Between 1895 and the early 1900s, the couple traveled extensively in the United States and Europe. Descendants of the Duennisch and Ebert families bequeathed a photograph album to the Sandusky Library Research Center, which contains many pictures from their travels.  Below is a picture of Mr. and Mrs. Duennisch in Madeira (part of Portugal, despite the caption).

For many years, Mr. Duennisch served as a trustee of Oakland Cemetery. The front page of the Sandusky Sunday Register of October 10, 1886 featured a story which reported on an electrical device which he had invented. Having heard of cases of “suspended animation,” in which a living person had been buried alive, Louis wanted to provide an escape method for an individual finding oneself in this unfortunate situation.  Insulated rings were to be attached to the body in the coffin, and these were wired to an alarm bell in the bedroom of the cemetery superintendent. At the slightest movement of an individual’s fingers, an alarm would ring loudly in the superintendent’s room. We do not know if this invention was actually implemented by Oakland Cemetery, but on October 10, 1888, it was lauded as “one of the grandest triumphs of electrical science.” 

Louis Duennisch died on October 4, 1918. He was buried in the North Ridge section of Oakland Cemetery.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Photographs by John G. Brittingham

According to the 1886 Sandusky City Directory, John G. Brittingham was a photographer whose work was “unexcelled and guaranteed.” His studio was at 707 Market Street (between Columbus Ave. and Jackson St.), and he resided at 1059 Columbus Avenue.

We do not know the name of the young lady in the cabinet photograph below, but Mr. Brittingham took this picture at his Market Street studio. This studio was later occupied by J.M. Lloyd, who was a photographer in Sandusky from about 1888 to 1893; it appears that Lloyd may have acquired the studio when Brittingham moved to Springfield Illinois. (According to A Directory of Early Illinois Photographers, published in 1977, John G. Brittingham was in business in SpringfieldIllinois in the late 1880s.)

Another picture taken by Mr. Brittingham features the names of the cities of both Springfield, Illinois and Sandusky, Ohio at the bottom of the portrait. Perhaps Mr. Brittingham traveled between Ohio and Illinois for a time.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bridges over Sandusky Bay

There has been a railroad bridge over Sandusky Bay, connecting Bay Bridge in Margaretta Township, Erie County to Danbury Township, Ottawa County since 1854.  You can see pictured  above a representation of the bridge on the left side of an 1898 birds-eye map of the Sandusky area, published by the Alvord- Peters Company. 

Samuel Catherman received the contract for the construction of this bridge, and employed three hundred men during this project. The May 30, 1854 issue of the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register reported that once the railroad bridge was completed across Sandusky Bay, there would be continuous rail service from Sandusky to Chicago, a total of 271 miles. According to Dean K. Fick’s book The Lakeside and Marblehead Railroad, the bridge was commissioned by the Port Clinton Railroad and the Junction Railroad in 1854, but it was abandoned in 1858. It was reopened in 1872 by the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway. Later owners of this bridge were: the New York Central Railroad, Penn Central Railroad and Conrail, and most recently the Norfolk & Southern Railway. 

In the 1850s, Sardis Birchard, uncle of Rutherford B. Hayes, tried to stop the development of a railroad bridge across Sandusky Bay, because he feared the bridge would interfere with ship traffic. Ultimately, it was impossible to stop development of the railroad bridge across the bay.  

Trains going across Sandusky Bay carried mail for the United States Post Office. These photographs of “fast mail” trains, from the early twentieth century, show the trains traveling on the railroad bridge across Sandusky Bay.

The bridge over the bay had a lift mechanism, to allow for the passage of boats.

In 1929, the opening of the Sandusky Bay Bridge allowed for automobile traffic across the Sandusky Bay.

In the 1960s, the four lane Thomas A. Edison Memorial Bridge, a part of State Route 2, was constructed parallel to the Sandusky Bay Bridge.

The portion of State Route 2 commencing at the approach of the Thomas A. Edison Memorial Bridge and extending through Erie County is known as the Jackie Mayer Miss America HighwayJackie Mayer is a former Sandusky resident who served as Miss America in 1963. Both the Sandusky Bay Bridge and the Thomas A. Edison Memorial Bridge were in use from 1965 until the mid-1980s when the State of Ohio removed the steel center of the old bridge because of the high cost of maintenance. Traveling over Sandusky Bay has been a key concern of local residents and officials for well over one hundred years. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the history of Sandusky and Erie County.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show Visited Sandusky

The September 15, 1885 Sandusky Daily Register carried an advertisement for Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, to be held at the Sandusky Fair Grounds (in the area now known as Cable Park) for “positively only one performance,”  on Thursday, September 17 at 2:30 p.m. Admission was fifty cents for adults, and twenty five cents for children. Streetcars ran directly to the fair grounds, and railroads brought excursion groups to the show.

A grand parade was held at 10 a.m. on the day of the performance. The show advertised the appearance of Sitting Bull, White Eagle, and fifty-two braves, along with Miss Annie Oakley, Frisking Elk, and the phenomenal boy-shot Johnny Baker. The show claimed to have the largest herd of buffalo ever exhibited. 

Buffalo Bill was to shoot at clay pigeons while on foot, but he would shoot at glass balls while riding horseback at full speed. The ad continued to state that the ten cowboys who rode bucking horses were wilder than the horses themselves.  Equestrian acts, lassoing, and steer riders rounded out the program. Proprietors Cody and Salisbury promised to “fulfill every promise.”

Charles E. Frohman, in his Sandusky Potpourri, recounted Sandusky’s only buffalo chase.  After Buffalo Bill’s September 17th show closed, a buffalo escaped near the railroad depot at North Depot and Mcdonough Streets. The buffalo ran out Hayes Avenue, as a dozen Native Americans pursued it on horseback. It ran through the yard of C. C. Keech’s residence, and kept going through neighboring fields, destroying corn stalks along the way. After an hour’s pursuit, the buffalo was caught and taken back to the depot.

(About twenty years later, the C. C. Keech home later became part of Sandusky’s Providence Hospital, now the South Campus of Firelands Regional Medical Center.)
While the chase was in progress, two cows belonging to Patrick Gagen were frightened, and ran away. Dairy farmer Louis Benckart and his sons found the two cows, and refused to give them back, stating that the cows damaged their fields. Mr. Gagen took legal action to recover the cows.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Elementary Textbooks by Frank J. Prout and Other Sanduskians

Between 1924 and 1936, Frank J. Prout and other local authors produced several reading textbooks that were published by the University Publishing Company, which had offices in Lincoln, Chicago, Dallas and New York.

The book, Thought Test Readers, for First Grade students, is shelved in the Woolworth Bookcase in the Quiet Reading Room of the Sandusky Library. The authors were Frank J. Prout, Emeline Baumeister, and Nellie Mischler, with illustrations by Helen Renner. In 1930, when this title was published, Mr. Prout was the Superintendent of Schools in Sandusky, Emeline Baumeister was a second grade teacher at Campbell School, and Nellie Mischler was a first grade teacher at Barker School. Dr. Prout would later serve as president of Bowling Green State University.

The King's Drum was written in 1937 by Dr. Prout, and Ms. Baumeister, who by this time was the Principal of Campbell School in Sandusky. This title, another in the Thought Test series, was designed for use with students in Grade Four. Ruth Mary Hallock illustrated the book. The illustrations were done in shades of aqua, green, and orange.

Included in this book were fictional stories, tales from other lands, stories about numbers, citizenship, and animals. Chapter 10 was entitled “Song and Story” and featured background information about familiar songs. To view this title, which is located in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, inquire at the Reference Desk of the Sandusky Library.

Copies of books written by Frank Jay Prout, Emeline Baumeister, and Nellie Mischler are found at several colleges in Ohio, the Library of the R. B. Hayes Presidential Center, the Ohioana Library in Columbus, Ohio, and the Library of Congress. A Thought Test Reader is also housed at The Richard L. Venezky Collection of 19th and 20th Century American Primers and Readers at Stanford University in California.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Garment Care in Sandusky

The 1896 Sandusky City Directory lists a variety of businesses which advertised services that helped area residents maintain their clothing. While we not know the specifics of what types of renovation were offered, four individuals were listed as "Clothing Renovators": John Conley, Louis Dietz, John M. Fox, and Mrs. Otto Peter.  Businesses which offered to dye clothing in 1896 were: Burt Moskovits, C. F. Rathke, and Waibel & Knoebel. Three laundries appeared in the 1896 City Directory: Beilstein & Pfanner, Henny Frank, and Till & Wagner. Ten merchant tailors and dozens of dressmakers were also included in the 1896 Sandusky City Directory.

By 1919, C.A. Rathke had expanded his business to a dry cleaning and dyeing works. Mr. Rathke also made suits to order. Mr. Rathke was a tailor in Sandusky for many years.

In 1906 Henry Beilstein and Philip Pfanner were the proprietors of the Beilstein Steam Laundry at 630 Market Street. In later years, there were Dry Cleaning establishments owned separately by the Beilstein and Pfanner families.

The people in the photograph below are not identified, but notes on the back of the photo state that some of the last names of the people pictured are: McLaughlin, Ryan, McCann, and Conley. The Sandusky Dyeing and Cleaning Works was on East Park Street in the 1890s.

By the 1950’s, there were several dry cleaners in Sandusky. The Sun Way Dry Cleaners offered “One Hour Martinizing” at its East Market Street location in the Hubbard block.

There were many more laundries and dry cleaners in Sandusky for which we do not have photographs. The Mahala Steam Laundry operated in Sandusky for many years, with various owners and locations. Visit the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library to view historical city directories. The historical city and county directories will provide information about the citizens and the businesses of Sandusky and Erie County dating back to the nineteenth century.

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Dedication of Cable Park Historic District

On October 8, 1989, the Erie County Historical Society dedicated a marker in the Cable Park neighborhood of Sandusky to commemorate the historic district on Wayne Street between Scott and Cable Streets, as well as the former Erie County Fairgrounds, at this location between 1865 and 1899. In the picture above, Mayor Mike Kresser is speaking to the group gathered for the marker dedication. Laurence Cable and his sons Frank and Edward planned the residential district.

There were specific guidelines for the homes that were built at Cable Park, listed below in the August 9, 1914 issue of the Sandusky Register.

There were to be only residences, and no commercial properties in Cable Park. The house lines were to be no less than forty feet from Wayne Street. No two-family homes were allowed. The planned residential area was to have a park-like atmosphere, and it was close to public transportation routes.

Cable Park Historic District was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. You can read more about Cable Park in the Sandusky Register of February 24, 1988.

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Andrew J. Biemiller, Member of Congress

Andrew J. Biemiller in High School

Andrew J. Biemiller was the son of Andrew Frederick and Pearl (Weber) Biemiller, born in Sandusky, Ohio in 1906. (A Biemiller family member of an earlier generation founded the Biemiller Opera House in Sandusky in 1877.) Young Andrew was a member of the Sandusky High School Debating Club during his senior year at Sandusky High School, in 1921-1922.  According to the 1922 Fram, he was an outstanding orator. After graduating from Cornell University in 1926, he taught history at Syracuse University and the University of Pennsylvania. For a time he was associated with the Socialist Party, serving as a campaign manager for Norman Thomas, Socialist candidate for President in 1932. But in 1944 he was elected as a Democrat to serve as United States Representative for Wisconsin’s Fifth District. He lost the election in 1946, but was returned to Congress in 1948. After serving in the U.S. Congress, Mr. Biemiller became the chief lobbyist for the AFL-CIO. The Truman Library features an oral history in which he mentions Sandusky several times. 

Andrew J. Biemiller died on April 3, 1982. He was buried in Ellicott, Maryland.

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

The Century Buffet

This full page advertisement for the Century Buffet appeared in the book What: Souvenir of Sandusky and the Islands of Lake Erie, published by Hill and Bolly in 1903. According to the Sandusky Evening Star of October 14, 1902, William C. Klaes took possession of the Century saloon and cafĂ© on Columbus Avenue, taking over the business from Fred Volk. Mr. Klaes is pictured in the center of the page. An advertisement from 1903 indicated that the business was thriving.

One of the favorite beverages on tap at the Century was Atlas Beer. An article in the December 31, 1903 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that Mr. Klaes had been secured to be the manager of the African American boxer Jim Watts. 

By 1907, Charles T. Wolfe was the proprietor of the Century. Mr. Wolfe went out of business in 1909, due to poor business in general, as well as high liquor taxes. Because of its prime location in downtown Sandusky, a variety of businesses have been in operation at the site; Daly’s Pub now occupies the spot on Columbus Avenue that was once home to the Century Buffet.