Monday, August 31, 2020

Erie County Companies Contributed to the War Effort During World War II

Many of you might know about Erie County's contribution to the production of war munitions during the Second World War. From 1941 to 1945, the Trojan Powder Company manufactured explosives at the Plum Brook Ordnance Works, five miles south of Sandusky in Perkins Township. It is estimated that over a billion pounds of ordnance was manufactured at the complex. The PBOW News, an employee newsletter, was discussed in an earlier blog post.

Several other companies in the Sandusky area also contributed to the war effort during the 1940’s. Charles E. Frohman, a Vice President of the Hinde & Dauch Paper Company, was chairman of the War Savings Program for Erie County in 1941-1942, and was a member of the Sandusky Appeals Panel of the War Manpower Commission in 1944-1945. In December, 1946, Mr. Frohman sent out several letters to Sandusky factories inquiring about their involvement in war production, as requested by the Ohio War History Commission.

Mr. E.C. Trausch, from the advertising department of Apex Electrical Manufacturing Co., answered Mr. Frohman’s request with a three page document that itemized the many products manufactured by Apex’s Sandusky plant between 1942 and 1945. Over $21 million of materials were manufactured by the local Apex plant during World War II.

The Klotz Machine Company manufactured bearings, castings, and grinders during the war.

The Union Chain & Manufacturing Company of Sandusky assisted in the design of the special track necessary for LVT amphibious tractors, and built a variety of sprocket chains and sprockets for several different military applications. Just a portion of the military items built by Union Chain are listed below.

The Barr Rubber Products Company manufactured inflatable life rafts, airplane fuel tanks, rubber fittings for tanks, pilot balloons, and gaskets and rubber coated wheels, which netted over $5 million dollars during wartime. The Hinde & Dauch Company was one of the leading suppliers of packaging for war materials and supplies. Special types of packaging were designed to meet overseas shipping requirements. Packaging had to be created that could withstand the weather of arid deserts, as well as tropical beaches and jungles. The Sandusky factory of the Hinde & Dauch Company produced 132,633,235 square feet of V-board and fabricated 14,368,000 packages, which carried everything from beer to bullets. 

Brown Industries produced heavy duty gasoline and diesel engine manifolds and cylinder heads. Employees of Brown Industries averaged more than 60 hours of work per week during the war years, in order to meet the orders needed for the war effort. Oliver F. Rinderle discussed his company’s war experience in his letter, “The greatest satisfaction experienced by us was in having our customers tell us at the end of the war that none of them had ever failed to maintain promised shipping schedules of their products due to failure on our part in meeting their demands upon us.” 

Several additional letters from Sandusky factories describing contributions to the war effort are available for research in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Dr. Smith Gorsuch of Castalia

Dr. Smith Gorsuch practiced medicine in Castalia, Ohio from 1902 until shortly before his death in 1945. He was born in Delaware County, Ohio in 1870, and was a graduate of the Ohio Medical University, now known as the College of Medicine, Ohio State University. Through the years, Dr. Gorsuch was in attendance at many births and deaths, and he treated several patients who were injured in farm and automobile accidents. He was a member of the American Medical Society, Ohio State Medical Society, and the Erie County Medical Society. He was also the President of the Castalia Bank, and served on the board of directors of the Erie County Investment Company. For nine years, Dr. Gorsuch was the physician at the Erie County Home.

On October 8, 1943, he and his wife, the former Lucinda Rich, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. Dr. Smith Gorsuch passed away on May 23, 1945. His obituary is found in the 1945 Obituary Notebook at the Sandusky Library. The article read in part, “Known as a humanitarian, Dr. Gorsuch was held in high esteem by his patients in all walks of life.” Dr. Gorsuch was buried at Castalia Cemetery. He was survived by his widow, a son and two daughters.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Early Report Cards from Sandusky City Schools

William Henry Nye taught grammar at the elementary level for Sandusky City Schools in 1848 and 1849. The grade card pictured above belonged to Martha E. Newton, who later became Mrs. Rollin M. Wilcox. Martha’s individual scores in grammar are listed on the right side of the report card. On the left portion of the report card are the names of all the girls in Mr. Nye’s grammar class, and the “exception to morals” for each student. Martha had no exceptions to morals, but Miss Rosabella Dewey received marks for exceptions to good lessons and good order. Several of the students’ surnames are well known for their parents’ early contributions to Sandusky and Erie County. Clara Beecher was the daughter of the abolitionist lawyer Lucas Beecher. Augusta Farwell was the daughter of Sandusky’s first Mayor, Moors Farwell. Julia Townsend’s father was pioneer Sandusky businessman William Townsend. The report card was signed by both the teacher, Mr. Nye, and the school superintendent, M.F. Cowdery.

We do not know the owner of the report card from Miss L.A. Barney’s arithmetic class. The names of young gentlemen and young ladies in Miss Barney’s class appear on the left side of the report card. It is clear that the boys in this class had several more “exceptions to morals” when compared to the marks of the young ladies in the class.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Paul Browne Patterson, Music Educator

Paul Browne Patterson was the son of Rev. and Mrs. Charles D. Patterson, born in 1876 in LaPorte, Ohio. Rev. Patterson had formerly been a minister in the Perkins Methodist Episcopal Church. Paul Browne Patterson graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1896, with a double major in piano and voice. Following graduation, Paul spent three years studying music in England, France, and Germany. From 1900 to 1903, he operated the Patterson School of Music in Sandusky. In 1903 he moved the school to New Castle, Pennsylvania. Below is the cover of a brochure from The Patterson School of Music when it was located in New Castle, Pennsylvania.

While in Pennsylvania, he formed the Festival Choral Society of New Castle, which was comprised of one thousand voices. Through his musical career, Mr. Patterson was the conductor of many symphony orchestras, including orchestras in Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and Dresden, Germany, during their guest appearances with the Choral Society. In 1935 Mr. and Mrs. Patterson moved back to Sandusky, and he helped to organize the local Choral Society. He served as director of the choir at the First Congregational Church for many years, and was active as a teacher of piano and voice at his school, the Patterson School of Music, on East Park Street, until his retirement in 1966. Mrs. Patterson also taught piano lessons. Pictured below is a program from the vocal recital of Mary Louise Clary, a pupil in the Patterson School of Music.

Mrs. Patterson, the former Mary Evelyn Blocher, was a gifted singer, pianist, teacher, and accompanist. She served as the secretary-treasurer of the Patterson School of Music. 

Paul Browne Patterson died on January 12, 1971, at the age of 98, survived by his wife Mary, a daughter Mrs. Thomas Monroe, a granddaughter, and two sisters. He was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. He had been a former member of the American Guild of Organists, and was listed in the International Who’s Who in Music. Mrs. Patterson passed away in 1995, at the age of 90. The cultural life of Sandusky was deeply enriched by the musical talent of both Mr. and Mrs. Paul Browne Patterson.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

G.M. Heck Stoves and Tinware

 From the 1860s through the 1880s, the G.M. Heck Stoves and Tinware business was in operation at 725 Market Street in downtown Sandusky. (Around the middle of the first block of East Market Street today.) In the picture above, you can see that Mr. Heck’s business is next door to Theodore Goessling’s grocery store at 727 Market Street. 

George Michael Heck was born in 1836 in Baden, Germany. He came with his parents, Samuel and Magdalina Heck, and several siblings to the U.S. when he was about ten years old. An article in the June 2, 1898 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that G.M. Heck was “an expert mechanic with a thorough knowledge of the tin and stove trade.” In January of 1868, he married Lena Gilcher, the daughter of Peter Gilcher. On June 1, 1898, Mr. Heck died of influenza, at the age of 62. Members of Sandusky Lodge, No. 669, I.O.O.F. attended the funeral of Mr. Heck. The flag at the Odd Fellows’ Temple was at half-mast in his honor. Funeral services for Mr. Heck were held at his residence, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

C. J. Messer, Manufacturer of Agricultural Machinery

Charles J. Messer’s name appears in the 1860 Federal Census for Erie County with his wife Mary, and daughters Ruth, age 2, and Evelina, age 2 months. Mr. Messer’s occupation was listed as machinist. In the 1858-1859 Sandusky City Directory, C. J. Messer had an advertisement for threshing machines. His manufacturing facility was at the corner of Water and Warren Streets in Sandusky. Some of the models of agricultural machinery manufactured by Messer’s factory were the “Pitt’s Double Pinion Power,” “Woodbury’s Separator,” and “Reading’s Corn Sheller.”

The Thirteenth Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture stated that Reading’s Power Corn Sheller “has no superior.” When the Ohio State Fair was held in Sandusky in 1858, Mr. Messer received a silver medal for his power corn sheller. This medal is now in the collections of The Follett House museum.

Pictured below is an image of the Pitt’s Separator, an improved threshing machine, from the 1860 Sandusky City Directory.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

When Button Shoes Were Sold in Sandusky

In the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth century, a popular style of shoe was the button shoe. An interesting article appearing in the Sandusky Star newspaper of January 27, 1899 recommended this handy shoe button bag to keep on hand for when a button came loose from your shoe.

Below is a picture of one of the pair of high button shoes that Miss Evangeline Vinton wore when she married former Sandusky Mayor Charles Bouton in 1871. They are now housed in the historical collections of the Follett House Museum.

W.O. Stubig sold button shoes in both kid and patent leather in 1904.

Local shoe stores sold button hooks to help their customers fasten the buttons of their shoes, like this one from the Leo A. Sacksteder store on East Market Street in Sandusky in the 1910s.

Mr. Sacksteder placed an advertisement in the January 1916 issue of the Fram, stating that “Shoes for graduation must have character and style and what Sacksteder says is so.” At that time Sandusky High School had a winter graduating class as well as a June graduating class.

You can see the buttons on the shoes of young Steen L. Parker in this picture of the toddler, taken by C.W. Platt about 1911.

The two younger Ebert children in this picture are also wearing button shoes.

After World War I, the popularity of button shoes declined, as more and more people purchased ready-to-wear clothing and footwear. But the fashion was remembered in a unique way: on October 9, 1947, the show High Button Shoes opened on Broadway. It was a musical comedy set in 1913, when high button shoes were still a popular fashion item.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Cyrus B. Winters, Ohio Legislator

According to an early twentieth century issue of Ohio Legislative History, Cyrus B. Winters was one of the oldest members in 80th General Assembly of Ohio (convened 1913). He was elected four times to represent Erie County in the Ohio House of Representatives as a Democrat. 

Cyrus Bertrand Winters was born in Townsend Township, Sandusky County, Ohio, and he lived on the family farm for several years. He attended the Milan Normal School, and after reaching adulthood he became a deputy clerk in the Clerk of Courts office. He studied law, and was admitted to the bar in 1874. From 1882 to 1888, Mr. Winters served as the Erie County Prosecutor. The listing for C.B. Winters in the 1884-1885 Sandusky City Directory stated that C.B. Winters was an attorney at law, and Erie County Prosecuting Attorney, with his office in the Erie County Courthouse. He also served for a time on the Sandusky Board of Education.

While in the General Assembly of Ohio, Mr. Winters served as chairman of the Committee of Cities, Ways and Means. He was considered an authority of matters pertaining to legal affairs, and is well known as the author of the Public Utility Law. 

In 1874, Cyrus B. Winters married Helen E. Clason, a native of Logan County, Ohio, and had six children. On June 9, 1916, he died in Castalia, at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Howard Brown, at the age of 68. Funeral services for Mr. Winter were held at the Brown residence in Castalia, with the Reverends Ross W. Sanderson and J. W. Overmyer officiating. Burial was in the Castalia Cemetery. Mr. Winters was survived by his wife, two sons, three daughters, a sister and a brother. To read more about this former Ohio legislator, see Elected to Serve, by Patty Pascoe (Sandusky, Ohio, 2003) and A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, by Hewson L. Peeke (Lewis Publishing Company, 1916.)

Friday, August 07, 2020

Busy Northwest Corner of Jackson and West Water Streets

The northwest corner of Jackson and West Water Streets was the location of the passenger depot for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad in Sandusky beginning in 1838. By 1867 Peter Gilcher and Son operated a lumber business at that corner. Eventually R.E. Schuck joined the firm and the company was known as Gilcher and Schuck. On May 9, 1911, a notice in the Sandusky Register stated that the stock of Gilcher and Schuck was to be sold without delay, following the death of Mr. Schuck.

In 1923, it was announced that William Py had purchased the building at the corner. The new Sandusky Butter and Egg Company building was opened to the public on March 20, 1924. The company had its beginnings by delivering butter, eggs, flour, cheese and sugar with horse-drawn buggies. In 1912 the business opened at 217 West Water Street, and soon after switched from horse and buggies to trucks. By the 1960s, the Sandusky Butter and Egg Company was best known as being the local distributor for Stroh’s Beer products.

From the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s, the Feddersen Bakery was located at 301 West Water Street, at the site of the former Sandusky Butter and Egg Company’s plant.

Feddersen’s was just one of the many bakeries in Sandusky that sold New Year’s Pretzels in years gone by. Do you have any special memories of Feddersen’s Bakery?

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

“The Spirit of the Lakes”

From 1849 through the 1850’s, a journal named the Spirit of the Lakes and Boatmen’s Magazine was published in Sandusky, for the Western Seaman’s Friend Society. The purpose of the Society was “to improve the moral and religious condition of seamen and boatmen on western waters.”

An outreach of the W.S.F.S. was the Bethel Chapel, which can be seen at the top left of the picture below.

Bethel Chapel was first located on the south side of Water Street between Wayne and Hancock Streets, and later moved to the north side of Water Street, just west of Jackson Street. This chapel served as a church for those working on the Great Lakes. Sandusky ministers who were associated with the Bethel Chapel and the Western Seaman’s Friend Society included Rev. Nathaniel Wilcox Fisher and Rev. Leverett Hull. Both of these ministers died of cholera, Rev. Fisher in 1849, and Rev. Hull in 1852. Judge Ebenezer Lane and former Sandusky Mayor Moors Farwell served as vice presidents of the Western Seaman’s Friend Society.

On page 92 of the June 1850 issue of the “Spirit of the Lakes” is an advertisement for the Bethel Chapel, which served the port of Sandusky.

An advertisement for the steamboat Arrow also was featured in that issue.

In the February, 1850 issue, Rev. Leverett Hull discussed the possibility of creating a songbook containing hymns especially for sailors.

Charles E. Frohman wrote an article about this publication in a 1973 issue of Inland Seas. He stated that the Bethel missionaries attempted to improve the moral character of canal drivers and boatmen. A particular challenge was to overcome the use of profanity by the seamen. The Western Seaman’s Friend Society did not survive very long, and never met with widespread success. Surviving issues of the Spirit of the Lakes are quite rare.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

Rice Harper, Erie County Clerk of Courts

Rice Harper was born 1803 in Lake County, Ohio to John and Loraine (Miner) Rice. After studying law in the office of Wheeler and McClurg, he was admitted to the bar in 1827. He left the legal field due to health problems, and for a time he worked in the mercantile business. Mr. Harper was one of the original incorporators of the Ohio Railroad, a predecessor or the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway. In about 1838, he moved with his wife, the former Susannah Montgomery, to Sandusky, Ohio.

Mr. Harper served as Erie County Clerk of Courts from 1839 to 1855. During his term of office, a cholera epidemic hit Sandusky. Oakland Cemetery opened shortly after the last major outbreak, and a monument was placed in the cemetery to honor three local ministers who died in the cholera of 1849; it was erected on the Rice Harper family lot. Most likely, Mr. Harper was among the members of the local Civic Committee who raised funds to provide a fitting monument to the three ministers: Rev. N.W. Fisher of the Congregational Church, Rev. H.P. Ward of the Methodist Church, and Rev. H.P. Ward, of the old Bethel Church.

During his years in Sandusky, Rice Harper fought vigorously for improvements in the city parks. At one time, the park in downtown Sandusky was an open space that allowed for people and animals to walk freely through the park. Mr. Harper pushed for the placement of post and rail fences to be placed around the park squares on each side of Columbus Avenue, that were later replaced by picket fences. The park squares stayed enclosed until 1875, when horses, cattle and other livestock were prohibited from running at large in the city, and the fences were removed. The beautiful park system in downtown Sandusky as we know it today, was helped immensely by Rice Harper’s leadership in the nineteenth century.

Mr. Harper was a member of Grace Church since 1839, and he served as a church warden for several years. Along with William G. Lane, he was instrumental in organizing the former Good Samaritan Hospital.

Rice Harper died from pneumonia on February 19, 1891. A lengthy obituary that appeared in the February 20, 1891 issue of the Sandusky Register read in part, “Mr. Harper was one of Sandusky’s most active citizens, serving in various official capacities and always taking a leading part in public affairs. He was one of those self-made men who laid sure the foundations of character and built well the superstructure of the intelligent honorable citizen.” Funeral services for Rice Harper were held at the family residence, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and a daughter.