Monday, December 30, 2019

African American Barbers in Sandusky

There have been barbers for as long as history has been recorded.  Razors have been found dating back to the Bronze Age, and shaving is mentioned in the Bible. In Sandusky there were many barber shops located within local hotels, for the convenience of out of town travelers.  Pictured below is the J. and F. Bock Barber Shop, at 810 Water Street around 1886.  Joseph and Frank Bock’s father Matthias G. Bock was listed as a barber in the 1855 Sandusky City Directory.

Barbering was one of the few professions open to black men in the nineteenth century, so several shops in Sandusky were operated by African Americans. In the Firelands Pioneer of July 1888 Rush Sloane states that Grant Ritchie, an African American, opened the first barber shop in Sandusky. Ritchie “was the earliest and most active agent of the line [Underground Railroad] and always successful in his operations.” Another African American agent of the Underground Railroad was John Lott, who barbered in Sandusky in the 1840’s and 1850’s.  It is thought that many discussions and plans for the freeing of fugitive slaves via the underground railway took place in barber shops, where African American men could speak freely.

Mr. Lott’s advertisement appeared in The Daily Sanduskian on January 31, 1851.

John Lott was among the several African American citizens of Sandusky who presented Rush Sloane with a silver headed cane in appreciation of his efforts on behalf of seven fugitive slaves whom he represented in 1852. You can still see this cane at the Follett House Museum. Unfortunately, no known photographs exist of Mr. Ritchie or Mr. Lott.

Barber shops continue to thrive all over America, particularly in the African American community, where people can get a haircut as well as catch up on the local gossip. Barber shops have been the inspiration for books, magazine articles, barbershop quartets, and even a major motion picture in 2002.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas Greetings, With a Christmas Card Inspired by Sandusky’s Washington Square

In 1966, Eileen Detlefsen created a series of Christmas cards which were inspired by scenes from old Sandusky.  Mrs. Detlefsen used the linoleum block print technique to make the scenes on each holiday card. Each handmade card was stamped “Eileen’s Originals” on the back.  The card above features Sandusky’s public square, also known as Washington Square, about 1863. Buildings featured in the print include Grace Episcopal Church, the old Academy building, the former Congregational Church building, and at the far right, the First Presbyterian Church. An undated (and unsourced) photocopy in our historical files appears to be a copy taken from the page of a nineteenth century book. While the photocopy is not identical to the print created by Eileen, both images are quite similar.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Sandusky Residents Helped “Stamp Out” Tuberculosis

Several sheets of Christmas seals, ranging in dates from 1950 to 1993, are in the historical collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The 1951 seals featured Santa, along with the familiar American Lung Association logo:

By 1969 a statement on top of the page of seals indicated that by purchasing the holiday seals, the purchaser was supporting the fight against tuberculosis and emphysema as well as air pollution.

Helen Hansen and Virginia Steinemann wrote an article for the December 26, 1993 issue of the Sandusky Register, “Stamping Out TB.” Tuberculosis, sometimes known as consumption or scrofula, was a common cause of death in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Oran Follett (below), a prominent Sandusky resident, lost his first wife and two daughters to the dreadful disease.

In 1907, when tuberculosis was the leading cause of death for Americans, an American Red Cross volunteer, Emily Bissell, helped to promote a fund-raising campaign in which seals were sold and funds were used to help build hospitals for tuberculosis patients. A similar campaign had been successful in Denmark. Several Sandusky women sold stamps near the Post Office. By 1920 the National Tuberculosis Association took over the sale of Christmas seals. Children could purchase the small seals in their classroom for a penny apiece. The Tuberculosis and Health Association of Erie County purchased x-ray equipment in 1932, and later a mobile x-ray truck, to help in the diagnosis of tuberculosis among local residents.   

By the year 1940, tuberculosis dropped to being number seven in the cause of deaths of Americans. Now the funding group for Christmas seals is known as the American Lung Association, which still sells them each holiday season. You can read about the history of Christmas seals online.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Early Christmas Cards

Now in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum, these Christmas cards date back to 1880. Underneath the image of each young lady on these vintage cards are the words “A Christmas greeting with love.” Each card is decorated with fringe.

These Christmas cards do not feature the bright Christmas green and red so often used in modern Christmas cards, but rather have muted colors. They were donated to the Sandusky Library’s historical museum by Mrs. Arthur Crosskill, the former Millicent West Hubbard. Millicent West Hubbard was born in Sandusky on September 21, 1880 to Charles Livingston Hubbard and Jenna West Hubbard.  Her grandparents were Mr. and Mrs. Lester Hubbard and Mr. and Mrs. William T. West, all pioneer residents of Sandusky, Ohio. 

To learn more about the history of Christmas cards, see this article from Smithsonian magazine.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Look at a Classroom at Sandusky Business College in 1908


This picture post card of a young woman in a classroom at the Sandusky Business College was created in December of 1908 when the school was in the Mahala Block on Washington Row.  At the front of the classroom was a large calendar from Buerkle and Lermann, a local insurance and real estate company. At the top of the chalkboard is the date December 17, 1908.

Vintage light fixtures -- probably only recently converted from gas jets to electric light -- are suspended from the ceiling, and shorthand characters are visible on the chalkboard. Instead of individual desks, the students in this class sat at sturdy wooden tables and chairs.

While today's students often use computers and tablets, students in 1908 used books, paper and pen as their main educational tools. 

The Sandusky Register of December 17, 1908 featured articles about President-Elect William Howard Taft, who had recently been elected. Employees of the Enterprise Glass Company were negotiating for higher wages. The suffragists were planning a convention to continue their quest to earn the right to vote for American women. Also in the Register was an ad for Hood's Sarsaparilla, which claimed to be helpful for troubles of the blood, liver, stomach and kidneys. Locally, Frank Schnaitter sold suits at his tailor shop for prices ranging from $25 to $50. The Manhattan men's store carried a full line of "union suits." Grocer Herman Bremer gave out Eagle stamps at his grocery store at the corner of Monroe and Clinton Streets with every cash sale. The Donahue Hardware Store on Water Street offered several suggestions for Christmas gifts, including pockets knives for twenty cents, skates for sixty cents, and sleds for fifty cents and up. By viewing this post card, and the local newspaper of the day, we can get a good idea of what was happening in Sandusky on December 17, 1908. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view microfilmed copies of Sandusky newspapers dating back to 1822.

Friday, December 13, 2019

When Sandusky Had Twelve Channels on Cable TV

Subscribers of cable television through the former North Central TV, Inc. in Sandusky in 1978 had access to twelve channels. The channels are listed below in a brochure.

Cable subscribers could have access to more channels, better reception, and no need for an antenna, according to the brochure from the cable company. 

An informational exhibit from Washington and Lee University, states that in 1978 were 72,900,000 American households with televisions. The top four television programs in 1978 included Laverne and Shirley, Three’s Company, Mork and Mindy, and Happy Days. You can read more about the history of television in Cleveland in the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Cotillion Soiree Held in 1850

At the top of the invitation to the Cotillion Soiree held on December 11, 1850 at the Townsend House in Sandusky is a portion of a poem by Milton.  It reads:

Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe.

(From this poem, to “trip the light fantastic” became a way of describing dancing.)  
The Townsend House, which opened in the 1840s, was at the northwest corner of Market and Decatur Streets.

A young Rush R. Sloane was one of the floor managers of the Cotillion Soiree. He would later go on to build the Sloane House hotel, and serve as Mayor of Sandusky. He was also known for his bold abolitionist views and actions during the time of the Underground Railroad.
image from the Internet Archive
Other floor managers of the Soiree were: John W. Wetherell and G.J. Francisco. Honorary managers were Ebenezer B. Sadler, E.S. Flint, Pitt Cooke, J.G. Camp, Jr., J.E. Follett, and Theodore Hosmer. These were some of the earliest and best known pioneer residents of Sandusky. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research to learn more about the history of Sandusky and Erie County, Ohio.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Victrolas Sold at the Scheuer-Frankel Store

The Scheuer-Frankel Company, in the Grafe Building on East Market Street, sold the Orthophonic Victrola in downtown Sandusky during the holiday season of 1926. 

This product was said to offer improvements in sound, compared to former models of the phonograph. Below is an advertisement which appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal of November 23, 1927.

On YouTube you can hear a recording played on a 1927 Victor Orthophonic Model 812X by Ted Weems and His Orchestra: “You’re the Cream in my Coffee.”  Click here to read more about the history of the Victor Phonograph. Many residents of Sandusky and Erie County enjoyed sound recordings played on a Victor phonograph.

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

P.O.C. Beer in Sandusky

An advertisement in the December 4, 1935 issue of the Sandusky Register announced that the P.O.C. beer, made by the Pilsener Brewing Company of Cleveland, was to be served and delivered by “discriminating dealers” in Sandusky. The local distributorship was located at 1329 First Street in Sandusky, Ohio. 

According to the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History, the company was founded in 1892 by Bohemian brewer Wenzel Medlin. One of Pilsener’s most popular brands was P.O.C., which stood for “Pilsener of Cleveland,” though many people thought it stood for “Pride of Cleveland.”

In the Sandusky Register Star News of May 27, 1949, an ad declared that P.O.C. beer was the “pick of the crop.”

The Sandusky distributorship of the Pilsener Brewing Company remained in Sandusky until about 1962. For many years, an ad for P.O.C. beer could be seen on the outside brick wall of Cronin’s Tavern at 1119 West Washington Street, the current location of Joe Sundae’s.

Sunday, December 01, 2019

A View from the Steeple at St. Mary’s Church

This picture was taken in 1911 from the steeple of St. Mary’s Catholic Church. St. Mary’s Parochial School is visible on the right side of the photo, located at the corner of Decatur and Jefferson Streets. Further to the east, at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Columbus Avenue, the tops of three different churches can be seen. The tallest church tower at this intersection is that of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. Zion Lutheran Church is directly across the  street, and the First Congregational Church is at the northwest corner of Jefferson and Columbus.

It looks as though the weather is cold, as you can see people scurrying down Decatur Street in this close up view below.

In 1911 Fred Westerhold had a jewelry and clock store in the 400 block of Decatur Street. He stated that his prices were reasonable in this ad from the November 2, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal.

Gasper Anastas had opened a shoe repair shop in August of 1911 at 426 Decatur Street.  He promised to bring first-class work and the best materials to his customers.

By looking at city directories from the period in which a photograph was taken can help you understand what a neighborhood was like in a specific era. Visit the Sandusky Library to learn more about the historic businesses and residents of Sandusky and Erie County.