Thursday, January 30, 2020

Harry G. Olds, Photographer in Sandusky and Argentina

In the novelty picture above, taken in Sandusky at the Bishop & Barker Photographic Studio in the late 1880’s are Harry Olds, Charlie Olds, John Irvine, and another male friend. The initials H.O. can be seen on the fan that Harry holds, on the left side of the image. 

Harry Grant Olds was born in Sandusky on November 3, 1868, to Mr. and Mrs. Henry H. Olds. Harry’s brother Charlie was born in 1871. On a passport application issued to Harry G. Olds in 1921 indicated that his father had died by 1921, and his mother Georgia Olds was residing in Detroit, Michigan. After working in Sandusky, Ohio as a photographer, around the turn of the twentieth century, Harry G. Olds moved to Argentina, where he had a successful career as a commercial photographer. In 1998, a book of his photographs was published in Argentina, entitled: Fotografías, 1900-1943 (Buenos Aires : Fundación Antorchas, 1998.) While this book is not found in the ClevNet library consortium, several copies of Fotografías, 1900-1943 are found in academic libraries in the United States and other countries.

Book Description:
Buenos Aires,: Ediciones FundaciĆ³n Antorchas,, 1998,. 108p. b/w plates (1 color), ports., ind., pict. wrps. 9.5x10  in. The work of Harry Grant Olds,  Ohio-born photographer who relocated to Argentina in 1899 and lived there until his death in 1943. Much of this relatively unknown, commercial photographer's work was marketed in postcard form. His original negatives show that he concentrated on institutional, documentary and journalistic photography, publicity and landscapes in and around Buenos Aires. 

Monday, January 27, 2020

A Crowd Gathered in Milan in the 1890s (Mystery Photo)

In the late 1890s, amateur photographers from Milan, F.T. Cooke and K.P. Ruggles, took photographs of a crowd gathering to hear someone speak in front of an electric railway car. There was no information accompanying the original picture as to the people in the scene, or the reason for the gathering. The man speaking at the time was moving when the picture was taken, so his face is blurred. Several other men are sitting nearby on the speakers' platform.

As was the custom of the time, almost all the people were wearing hats. The ladies’ dresses were floor length. The streetcar was part of the Sandusky, Milan & Norwalk Electric Railway line that was in operation at that time. Frank T. Cooke moved from Milan to Oberlin, where he became an agent for the Eastman Kodak Company. Mr. Cooke worked as a photo finisher at the A.G. Comings and Son bookstore for several years. If anyone has more details about this scene from Milan, please leave a message in the comments section of this post.

Edit: If you look closely particularly at the second image you could see portraits of men, draped in bunting, suggesting that this might be a political rally of some sort. William McKinley ran for Governor in 1891 and President in 1896, but the visible portraits do not show his face. Could he be the blurred-faced man speaking? We don't know, but have some doubts.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Anna Gilbert’s Autograph Book

Anna Gilbert, daughter of George and Anna Gilbert, is pictured above in her graduation picture from  Sandusky High School in 1892 The picture was taken by photographer J.M. Lloyd. In 1884 Anna received an autograph album as a Christmas gift. The autographs Anna collected range in date from 1884 to 1890. Several of the verses written to Annie were decorated with colorful illustrations.

On February 14, 1885, E.A. Gilbert wrote this verse encouraging Annie to think of the author, even if she were to live far away in the future:

Minnie Carter signed this verse in 1886:

George M. Stevenson suggested that Anna was the female pictured on the page on which he signed his name.

Anna Gilbert lived to the age of 96. She passed away on January 17, 1970, at the colonial Manor Nursing Home. An obituary for Anna Gilbert appeared in the January 16, 1970 issue of the Sandusky Register. Anna was a retired bookkeeper, and had been employed at several area businesses, including several wineries, the former Roberts Motor Company, and Harten and Brooks Motor Sales.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Sandusky, the "Ideal Home City"

In the 1912-1913 Sandusky City Directory, Conrad Boehm was listed as a confectioner at 103 Columbus Avenue, in the West House hotel in downtown Sandusky (the present site of the State Theatre). An envelope from Mr. Boehm’s store advertised Sandusky as the “Ideal Home City.”

Conrad Boehm sold post cards and other souvenirs at the time of the Perry Centennial Celebration in September, 1913. The image he used on the envelope was from a popular postcard at the time. 

The return address on the envelope
A gate featured on the envelope promotes Sandusky as being the Gateway to the Perry Centennial, with steamers providing a direct route from Sandusky to Put-In-Bay. (Note that the imagined Perry's Victory monument doesn't quite match how it ended up in reality.) Cheap fuel, power, and free factory sites are also promoted on the envelope.  Sandusky has long been a hub of transportation, with Sandusky Bay being a natural harbor on the Great Lakes, and railroads running east, west, and south to and from the city. 

To read more about the history of transportation in Sandusky, see Leola M. Stewart’s article entitled “Sandusky, Pioneer Link Between Rail and Sail,” available on the Ohio History Connection’s website.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

William A. Richardson, Educator

William A. Richardson was born in Port Clinton, Ohio, on February 17, 1869 to David and Paulina Richardson. William’s father was born in Scotland, and his mother was born in Bavaria. After working as an educator in Port Clinton, Mr. Richardson went to Sandusky High School, serving from 1901 until 1935. From 1914 to 1921, he served as principal of the school. For several years, Mr. Richardson taught algebra and geometry at Sandusky High. 

A newspaper article that highlighted his long career stated that “Richardson is a teacher heart and soul. He feels that an instructor has a real job, whose ability comes mostly through experience and a born liking and aptitude for imparting knowledge. He has spent his entire life, in and out of school, perfecting himself in his job.” 

On January 12, 1941, William A. Richardson passed away, after a lengthy illness. Karl A. Whinnery, then the superintendent of Sandusky City Schools, stated: “With the death of W. A. Richardson, Sandusky loses one of its finest citizens. He served the Sandusky High School for thirty five years, one of the longest terms in the history of the school. The quality of his work was entirely in keeping with the length of his service. He was held in the highest regard by both the teachers and students.”

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Rollin M. Wilcox, "An Honest Merchant"

Rollin Merritt Wilcox was born in 1836 in Rock Creek, Ashtabula County, Ohio to Harmon Wilcox and his wife, the former Maria Mabel Hubbard. Rollin’s uncles were well known Sandusky businessmen, L.S. and R.B. Hubbard. Below is an undated daguerreotype of Rollin and his brother E.H. Wilcox.

In 1859 Mr. Wilcox married Martha Newton, and they had a daughter named Jessie. Mrs. Martha Newton Wilcox died when she was not yet age 30. In 1870, Rollin married again, to Helen M. Smith. Rollin and Helen also had several children, Laura, Merritt, and Mabel. Mrs. Helen Smith Wilcox was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Library Association of Sandusky, from 1875 to 1877.

For many years, Mr. Wilcox was connected with the Wilcox Company, a dry goods and department store, in operation in Sandusky from 1886 until 1929.


In the first days of operation, the store was called Hubbard and Wilcox. Later it became March and Wilcox. The third name of the business was E. H. and R. M. Wilcox. (Edward Harmon and Rollin M. Wilcox were brothers.) After the death of Edward H. Wilcox in 1886 his son C. B. Wilcox entered the firm, and the firm became known as the R. M. & C. B. Wilcox Company.  

On May 1, 1902, Rollin M. Wilcox died at his home on South Columbus Avenue, after a brief illness. An obituary in the May 4, 1902 issue of the Sandusky Register featured the headline, “A Good Man Gone.” The article went on to declare that he was an honest merchant, and maintained that excellent reputation throughout his long career. Mr. Wilcox was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery in the family lot. After his death, his son Merritt S. Wilcox began working for the company.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Men of Sandusky

In 1895, a booklet promoting Sandusky was printed by the I. F. Mack & Brother Printers in Sandusky, Ohio. On page 3 is the beginning of an introductory essay by C. S. Van Tassel, the publisher of this book. According to Ohio Authors and Their Books, Charles Sumner Van Tassel was born in Wood County, Ohio in 1858, and worked at several Ohio newspapers, including the Sandusky Register, before he retired from the field of journalism to focus on writing books on local history.

Men of Sandusky begins with a brief history of the city of Sandusky. Photographs taken by Platt feature scenes of Sandusky, including city parks, churches, schools, and government offices. Several pages of the booklet are devoted to the businesses, newspapers, and transportation services of the Sandusky area. Pages 17 through 21 focus on the Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Home, now known as the Ohio Veterans Home. On page 15, General Sheridan is quoted as saying “Sandusky ought to be made the most beautiful city on the Lakes….”

Forty nine leading male citizens are pictured in the second half of Men of Sandusky. Jacob Kuebeler and John E. Stang were both connected with local brewing businesses.

I.F. and John T. Mack were the co-owners of the Sandusky Register

An index (pp. 57-59) to the men pictured in Men of Sandusky gives a very brief description of the prominent Sandusky men whose portraits appear in the booklet.

Visit the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library to view Men of Sandusky.

Thursday, January 02, 2020

Bobbed Hair

Members of the Sandusky High School Class of 1928

The bob cut hairstyle was popular in the United States in the 1920’s. It was a hairstyle for women with the hair cut to neck or chin length, all around the head. The public reaction to bobbed hairstyles varied widely. An Associated Press article featured in the September 6, 1921 issue of the Sandusky Register was entitled “Bobbed Hair Argument Gets Serious.” Some employers banned the new shorter hair styles. The AP article reprinted editorials which represented opposing points of view on bobbed hair. One editorial stated, “Bobbed haired girls may not be vapid and silly, we don’t say they are, but you can’t get around the fact that they look that way. And, naturally, a girl that appears frivolous is not wanted in business, even though she may be serious minded.”

Another editorial thought bobbed hair was sensible. “Bobbed hair is not a foolish fad. It is the most sensible way for business girls to wear it. They don’t keep looking at the mirror all the time, and it gives them a chance to type a letter all the way from the ‘replying to you favor’ to the ‘we beg to remain’ without having to fidget around trying to keep stands from trickling the ears or blowing in the eyes.”

In the picture below, three young ladies are getting bob haircuts at the McMahon Barber Shop, inside the Hotel Rieger, in 1925.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view historical photographs and high school yearbooks, to see the fashions and hairstyles of past generations in Sandusky and Erie County.