Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The All American: Newsletters from the American Crayon Company

Seventeen issues of The All American newsletters from the American Crayon Company are housed in the business collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The newsletters covered company news, information about the managers and employees of the company, photographs, poems, and travel articles. This item from the June 1922 issue paid tribute to the company president, L.L. Curtis, on the occasion of his seventieth birthday.

George Koch described the Art Department of the Kroma division of the American Crayon Company in the July 1925 issue. He stated that the view from his office, which faced Sandusky Bay, often gave him inspiration for his work. The employees in the Art Department created cover designs for the various styles and sizes of products.

In this article by C.W. Hord, who was with the American Crayon’s sales department for many years, he describes the process by which “Old Faithful” was chosen as a trademark for the company.

Though the American Crayon company is no longer in operation, for decades the company provided jobs locally and in other states for hundreds of individuals. To view the historic newsletters, which range in date from 1921 through 1925, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Sophomore Literary Class, 1894-1897

Longtime Sandusky High School teacher Jean Beis donated the secretary’s book of the Sophomore Literary Class. The ledger contains the club’s constitution, by-laws, and minutes, from September 10, 1894 to May 3, 1897. Members of the club wrote essays which they shared with members at the club’s meetings. In the fall of 1894, Horton Force was the president of the organization. Horton was the son of Manning Force, the first commandant of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home.

In the fall of 1895 Arthur B. Court served as secretary of the Sophomore Literary Class. His signature was distinctive.

A thought provoking essay by Miss MacAaron was entitled “The Use of Bad Language” at the meeting of the Sophomore Literary Class of October 28, 1895.

Several essays were presented at the May 25, 1896 meeting, including A Trip to the Sun on a Bicycle, A Row to Cedar Point, and 1921 or the New Women.  It is interesting to see how young people spent their leisure time in an era long ago. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view this unique ledger book from Sandusky High School students of the 1890s.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Thoughts Preserved in a Scrapbook by M.F. Cowdery

A large scrapbook that once belonged to prominent Sanduskian M.F. Cowdery is preserved at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The scrapbook contains a compilation of biographical sketches, engravings, poems, and religious passages, many from newspapers. Some entries are patriotic and others are written from an abolitionist perspective. Many articles and poems are sentimental in nature, bringing to mind thoughts of home and family. Below is a portion of a tribute to Dean Richmond, a former New York Central Railroad official who died in 1866.


Echoes is a poem written by Marian Ross, and originally appeared in a New York newspaper in October of 1866.

The tribute to General James McPherson, a native of Clyde, Ohio who died during the siege of Atlanta in the Civil War, was first published in the Memphis Avalanche. The article points out that General McPherson had been brave and gallant, even though it was written by someone from the South.

This poem was dedicated to “the cause of truth by Datus Kelley and his wife” by Mrs. Frances D. Gage on October 23, 1861. Kelley was the namesake for Kelleys Island, where he acquired and developed land, and lived from 1836 to his death in 1866.

Marcellus F. Cowdery was superintendent of schools for Sandusky City Schools in the 1860s.

He was also associated with the Western School Supply Company, which was a forerunner of the American Crayon Company. It is interesting to see what types of articles were important to an early educator in our community in the nineteenth century.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Ebenezer Lane House

The building at 318 Huron Avenue, now known as the Firelands Apartments, was constructed in 1853 from limestone. Built in the Italianate style, this structure was considered a mansion at the time, and served as a spacious home for Dr. Ebenezer Shaw Lane’s family.


Dr. Ebenezer S. Lane, 1819-1893

Dr. Lane’s wife was Pallas Anderson, whose father Dr. George Anderson was the first physician to settle in Sandusky. During the cholera epidemic of 1849, Dr. Lane worked long hours to aid the many people who were sick with the dreaded illness that took many lives. 

Prior to 1915, the address of this home had been 114 Huron Avenue, as seen on this nineteenth century Sanborn map. The creators of the Sanborn map made an accurate depiction of the curved double steps that lead up to the main entrance of the home.

After Dr. and Mrs. Lane moved to Chicago in 1870, John H. and Elizabeth Hudson purchased the home and property.

John H. Hudson, 1827-1893

John H. Hudson was superintendent of the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad prior to the Civil War. After the war, he had a grain, salt and lime business at the foot of Columbus Avenue. His second wife was Elizabeth Orton Hudson. After her husband died in 1893, Mrs. Hudson supported herself by painting and giving art lessons. She also rented out some of the upper rooms. In the late 1890s, a female doctor, Dr. Emily Blakeslee, had her medical office and residence in the building, perhaps renting from Mrs. Hudson. Dr. Blakeslee went on to practice medicine in Sandusky for over fifty years.

This straight razor, once used in Dr. Blakeslee’s office, is now a part of the historical collections of the Follett House Museum.

From about 1908 to the early 1910s, Dr. W.A. Crecelius had his medical practice in the building. Dr. Clarence Schimanksy practiced here from 1916 through the 1930s. Dr. Emil Meckstroth had his office here in the 1940s and 1950s. Now the Firelands Apartment building is a multi-family rental unit. There have been additions to the original structure on the eastern and southern sides of the building. To learn more about the many historic buildings in Sandusky, see Ellie Damm’s book Treasure by the Bay, and Helen Hansen’s book, At Home in Early Sandusky.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Did Fannie Mills Really Live in Erie County, Ohio? A Brief Adventure in Genealogy Research

In the 1880s Fannie Mills appeared in museums and sideshows as the “Ohio Big Foot Girl.” It seems that a medical condition caused Fannie’s feet to grow large, though the rest of her body was of a normal size. An article in the July 26, 1885 New York Times reported that Fannie wore size 29 shoes.

Did Fannie Mills really live in Erie County, Ohio at one time? By accessing Ancestry Library Edition, we learned that Fannie was eight and one half months old in the 1861 Census of England. She had been born in the registration district of Thakeham in Sussex, England. In 1861, Fannie resided in Sussex with her father George Mills, her mother Sarah Mills, and two older brothers. By the time of the 1880 U.S. Census, her name was listed as Fanny. On June 5, 1880, the census taker recorded the family of George and Sarah Mills as residing in Perkins Township of Erie County, Ohio. Fanny, her parents, and her brother Albert and sister Frances, all were born in England.

The census enumerator made a note next to the listing for Fanny Mills, age 14, that read  “deformed feet.”  A “Forty Years Ago Today” column in the Sandusky Register of April 9, 1929, reported that on April 9, 1886, Fannie Mills of Sandusky, who was noted as the girl with big feet, was appearing in New York. Newspaper accounts stated that she was offering $5,000 and a “well stocked farm” to the man who would marry her.  That may have been just a publicity item, rather than a fact, as Fannie/Fanny Mills married William Brown. To date, no marriage record has been located, but the Oakland Cemetery interment cards for Fannie Mills Brown list her burial date as May 4, 1899.  She was buried in Lot 6 of Block 76 at Oakland Cemetery.

Mr. William Brown, who died of cancer in 1904, was also buried in Lot 6 of Block 76 at Oakland Cemetery.

Census and cemetery records indicate that Fannie/Fanny Mills did indeed reside in Erie County, Ohio, and her death notice in the May 4, 1899 issue of the Sandusky Star helps to confirm it. 

The Follett House Museum in Sandusky has the lasts that were used to make shoes for Fannie Mills.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Harry Lee: A Ballad

In 1855, Sandusky resident George J. Anderson wrote and composed a piece of sheet music called Harry Lee: A Ballad for voice and the piano. The publisher was Millet’s Music Saloon on Broadway.  The sheet music was dedicated to Miss Kate Peck, and was written in memory of Stewart Holland, “who went down by the ill-fated Artic [sic] firing the Minute Gun.” This composition is housed in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library, and is also a part of the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection of the John Hopkins University Library’s Special Collections. While the ballad recounts the bravery of Stewart Holland, it is not clear as to why the title of the piece was “Harry Lee.”

On September 27, 1854, the S.S. Arctic sank off the coast of Newfoundland, after colliding with the S.S. Vesta in the fog. The total loss was nearly 400, including all women and children on board. The public was shocked to hear of the cowardly acts of the crew, which included crew members boarding the life boats before women and children. Bravely facing the sinking ship was Stewart Holland, who stood on the sinking ship's deck firing the distress cannon, until the ship went under water. He did not survive.

The November 1, 1854 issue of the New York Times carried an article in which an officer from the S. S. Arctic gives a firsthand account of the bravery of Stewart Holland. The book, The Sea Shall Embrace Them, by David W. Shaw, (available via CLEVNET) tells the tragic story of the S.S. Arctic. A Currier and Ives print also pays tribute.

George J. Anderson was the son of Sandusky’s first physician, Dr. George Anderson. The son of George J. Anderson, George F. Anderson, had musical interests as well: he formed the Sandusky Philharmonic Orchestra and acted as its conductor. 

Friday, June 11, 2021

First Day of Issue of Carousel Animals U.S. Postage Stamps

According to the Sandusky Register of October 2, 1988, on October 1, 1988 throngs of people assembled at both the Sandusky U.S. Post Office and Cedar Point to mark the first day issue of four stamps which featured images of carousel animals.

The stamps were designed by Paul Calle. The cover photo of the first day issue memento featured a photograph from The Art of the Carousel by Charlotte Dinger. The carousel animals included a Gustav Dentzel deer, a goat and camel by Charles Looff, and an armored horse carved by Daniel C. Muller, which is still a working carousel animal on Kiddie Kingdom Carousel at Cedar Point. Helen Hansen, who donated this item to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, wrote on the back of the card that it was a warm and sunny day at Cedar Point, with a lovely setting and a good crowd at Cedar Point.

You can read the history of Sandusky’s Merry Go Round Museum at the museum’s website, which states that the idea of the Merry Go Round Museum in Sandusky came about because of the first day issue of the carousel stamps. The museum opened its doors on July 14, 1990.

Monday, June 07, 2021

Henry D. Seele and the Ice and Fish News

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Henry D. Seele listed his occupation as editor of Ice and Fish News.

At this time, Mr. Seele and his wife, the former Ora Dick, lived at the West House in downtown Sandusky. The Ice and Fish News was a monthly trade newspaper, eight pages in length, established in 1872. Advances in technology led to the demise of the natural ice industry, but in the 1870s and 1880s, the Ice and Fish News informed people all over the eastern U.S. about business in the Great Lakes region. An entry in the C.A. Cooke and Co. Newspaper Directory stated that this publication was “the only paper by which advertisers can reach ice dealers, brewers, commission merchants, fish packers and dealers, oyster packers and restaurants.” This listing appeared in Rowell’s American Newspaper Directory about 1880.

In 1882 Mr. Seele was one of the proprietors of the Buckeye Business and Telegraph College, along with J.J. Dauch and H.O. Stafford. This college later became known as the Sandusky Business College. He also was the senior partner in a wholesale lake ice business at this time; the Ice and Fish News was probably beneficial for the promotion of his ice business. 

In 1884 Henry D. Seele and his family moved to Indiana, where he worked in horticulture. He died in Elkhart, Indiana in the fall of 1934. At the time of his death, he was the second oldest member of Sandusky’s Perseverance Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons. 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Distiller’s Bond Issued to Fredrick Hofner

On December 20, 1867, Fredrick Hofner was issued a Distiller’s Bond from the United States Internal Revenue Service. Mr. Hofner lived in Margaretta, in Erie County. He was listed as the principal, with Isodore Metterer and John Charles Boloker, of Sandusky, Ohio serving as sureties. Fredrick Hofner was in the business of distilling grapes, and by signing this bond he agreed to see that all taxes, including any penalties owed, were paid to the United States government. Five five-cent tax stamps were attached to the Distiller’s Bond, and were properly cancelled. 

In the 1880 U.S. Census, Frederick Hoffner still resided in Margaretta Township, Erie County, Ohio, with his wife, four children, and three grandchildren. Mr. Hoffner died on March 27, 1890, and was buried at the St. Mary’s Cemetery in Sandusky, Ohio.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Graduation '79


Jessie Martha Wilcox, the daughter of Rollin M. Wilcox and his first wife, the former Martha Newton, graduated from Sandusky High School in June of 1879. At this time, U.T. Curran was the superintendent of Sandusky Public Schools and Emily Patterson was the Principal of Sandusky High School. 

Here is the cover of the program from the annual commencement exercises, held on Friday, June 27, 1879:

During the ceremony, several students gave essays and orations. Jessie Wilcox spoke about “Friendship of Books.”  Charles Courtney Curran, the son of the Superintendent U.T. Curran, gave an oration on American Inventions; he would go on to become a well-known artist. The Great Western Orchestra began and ended the program with musical selections.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has in its Schools Collections many primary sources related to Sandusky High School, including several commencement programs, class photographs, graduation pictures, and many decades of the Fram.