Sunday, February 07, 2016

Carl J. Ruff, Mathematics Educator


Carl J. Ruff was an educator for forty eight years. During most of his career, he served as the head of the Mathematics department at Sandusky High School. A graduate of Baldwin Wallace College, Mr. Ruff began teaching at Sandusky High School in 1914, first as a Commercial teacher.  (When the Commercial Department of the Ohio State Teachers Association convened at Cedar Point in June of 1917, Mr. Ruff chaired the event.) During the 1918-1919 academic year, Mr. Ruff served as acting principal of Sandusky High School.  

An article in the March 31, 1950 issue of The Sandusky Hi-Lites, a student newspaper from Sandusky High School, indicated that Carl J. Ruff had the longest service record of any Sandusky High School faculty member up to that time.


Carl J. Ruff retired from Sandusky High School in 1957. He passed away in Sandusky on December 29, 1968. He touched many students’ lives during his long career at Sandusky High School. 
In this undated photo, circa 1918, Carl Ruff is seated at the center of the image, with fellow teachers.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

James T. Begg, U.S. Congressman


James T. Begg was born near Lima, Ohio in 1877. After graduating from Wooster University in 1903, he became a school teacher. Mr. Begg served as superintendent of schools at Columbus Grove from 1905-1910, and at Ironton, Ohio from 1910-1913. On January 14, 1913, James T. Begg accepted the position of superintendent of Sandusky Schools, where he stayed until 1917. After working for two years for the American City Bureau, James T. Begg was elected to 66th United States Congress. He served as Representative from the 13th District of Ohio from 1919 to 1929. In the 1919-1920 Sandusky City Directory, Mr. Begg and his family are listed as residing on Columbus Avenue. James and Grace Begg were the parents of a daughter Eleanor, and a son named James Begg, Jr.  Sadly, James T. Begg, Jr. was killed in an automobile accident on April 26, 1929. Young Mr. Begg was only 19 at the time of his death, a student at Kenyon College.


The front page of the February 25, 1928 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal reported that Congressman Begg was the principal speaker of the dedication of the new Junior High School in Sandusky, which had an auditorium and gymnasium, and also served as a civic building for the community.


He also spoke at the dedication of the Sandusky Bay Bridge, after having been influential in supporting the bridge project. 

Mr. Begg was unsuccessful in his attempt to become Governor of Ohio in 1942.  After his political career, he was associated with Cyrus Eaton Industries, of Cleveland. In 1956, he moved to Oklahoma City, where he died on March 26, 1933. He body was returned to Ohio and was buried in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery

Monday, February 01, 2016

Keep the Sidewalks Clear of Snow! (That is, if we ever get any this year)


On February 1, 1881, the following proclamation was made by Sandusky Mayor Rush R. Sloane.
Mayor’s Proclamation
To whom it may concern
Mayor’s Office
Sandusky, O. February 1st, 1881

Whereas, it is by ordinance of said city ordained
“That it shall be unlawful for the owner or occupant of any premises in the city of Sandusky, or the owner or agent of any occupied premises in said city, to allow any snow or ice to remain upon any stone, brick or plank sidewalk abutting on his or her premises, for more than twenty four hours after the same shall have fallen or accumulated on said sidewalk.”
And any person violating said ordinance is liable to prosecution before the Mayor upon complaint of the City Commissioner of Streets and upon conviction shall be fined from one to twenty five dollars and shall be imprisoned until the fine and costs are paid.
It is also made the duty of the Commissioner to clean all sidewalks not cleaned by the owner or occupant and to report the names of the occupants on the premises thus cleaned that they may be proceeded against as required by said ordinance.
I hereby give notice that said ordinance will be duly enforced.
Witness my hand and seal this 1st day of February A.D. 1881
RUSH R. SLOANE, Mayor


The Mayor’s proclamation appeared in the Sandusky Register of February 5, 1881. It appears that someone in the city of Sandusky was not clearing off  their sidewalks in a timely manner. Mayor Sloane wanted to inform all the citizens of Sandusky that this ordinance was to be diligently enforced. Anyone who has spent the winter in Sandusky knows that the snowfall can be quite heavy and frequent. Below is just one example of how snowy the city can become. In 1913, the snow was piled high along West Water Street, in front of George Rinkleff’s hardware store.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Cough Remedy from 1795


Mary Melville donated this 1795 recipe for a cough remedy to the Sandusky Library’s former historical museum many years ago. Mary was the sister of Charles and William Melville who operated a drugstore in the Cooke block in downtown Sandusky in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

A transcription of the recipe for the remedy reads:

Receipt by Dr. James Malone ; take two tea cupfuls of best linseed; four pence worth ____ licorice and half a pound of sun raisens, put all three in two Scott’s pints of water and boil them slowly till the quantity is reduced to a little more than one pint, then add half a pound of sugar candy and strain the whole through a clean cloth and when cold put in half a gill of old rum and as much best vinegar and cork it up in clean bottles. For use, take a large cupful at going to bed and little when the cough is troublesome, this receipt cures the worst of colds in three of four days and is a most balsomich cordial for the lungs without the least danger in the application, and also the best remedy in all consumptions.

July 11, 1795


It is not known exactly how Mary Melville came to be in possession of this vintage cough remedy, but it is interesting to read  a remedy that some of our ancestors may have used to help cure coughs and colds. 

Here is a picture of downtown Sandusky in 1899, when Sandusky’s soldiers were returning from the Spanish American War. The Melville Brothers drugstore was in business in street level of the Cooke block (the building at the corner in the background) at that time.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cooperages in Sandusky


Throughout much of the world, wooden barrels have been the primary method for storing and transporting bulk materials for centuries. Those who make and repair casks, barrels and other containers are known as coopers, and a cooperage is their business place. (A famous cooper from the past was John Alden, hired as the ship’s cooper on the Mayflower.) Though no cooperages are listed in today’s Sandusky telephone directory, they were an important business in Sandusky, Ohio in the 19th and early 20th centuries.  In the 1867 Sandusky City Directory, there were over fifty listings for coopers, many who worked from their own home or barn.


At the Elks’ Fair in 1909, President William Howard Taft won a barrel of sauerkraut. The barrel holding the sauerkraut had been made by the Michel Cooperage Company of Sandusky. Hewson Peeke wrote in his book A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio (Lewis Publishing Co., 1916), that barrels made in Sandusky were found all over the U.S. as well as in foreign countries.  Lumber was shipped to Sandusky lumberyards via the Great Lakes. Local cooperages then made barrels and kegs that were filled with goods and products made in Erie County. The railway system enabled efficient delivery of the filled barrels and kegs to other cities in Ohio and across the United States.


An article from the September, 1921 issue of The National Coopers’ Journal reported on a manufacturers’ display at Cedar Point, which included several cooperages from Sandusky. At that time the Michel Cooperage Company manufactured containers for wine, pickles, beer and oil. The Brumm brothers were known for their fruit barrels, while the Kilbourn Cooperage made primarily fish kegs at that time. 

As packaging and shipping innovations developed in the twentieth century, the number of cooperages in Sandusky began to decline. In 1912, only five cooper shops were listed in the Sandusky City Directory. And to compound matters, the 1924 tornado did severe damage to both the Michel and the Kilbourn Cooperages.


The Sandusky Register of May 6, 1934 reported that only one cooperage remained in Sandusky, the cooper shop operated by Fred Schwab at 317 Perry Street. Besides technological advances, other factors leading to the decline in the cooperage manufacturing in our location included Prohibition, the disappearance of thousands of acres of forests, as well as the lack of laborers skilled in the art of cooperage. Today there are still a number of cooperages throughout the United States. The Associated Cooperage Industries of America, Inc. is a trade association which is located in the state of Delaware. To read a general history of barrels, you can borrow the book Wood, Whiskey and Wine, by Henry Work, (Reakton Books, 2014), available for loan through the ClevNet system.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ethel Swanbeck, State Representative

Ohio Representative Ethel Swanbeck is the woman seated at the table in this picture from an unidentified event. To the left is Mark Hellerman; to the right are: attorney Richard Kruse, Sandusky city official Stuart Gosser, and businessman John Pascoe.

 Ethel Swanbeck served Ohio House District 72 for eleven consecutive terms, from 1955 to 1976, making her the longest serving female in the Ohio House of Representatives. Mrs. Swanbeck, a former teacher, was the wife of Dr. Carl Swanbeck. During her long career, Representative Swanbeck served on several House Committees, including Finance, Education, Health, Education and Welfare, and Rules and Insurance. In an article which appeared in the December 22, 1989 issue of the Sandusky Register, former Representative Marie Tansey recalled the time that Rep. Swanbeck wanted to get crossing gates at the railroad crossing on Rye Beach Road in Huron. She invited Governor James Rhodes for a car ride. She proceeded to stop on the tracks, just to get her point across. It wasn’t long until gates were installed. Another time, she brought a live bird into the Ohio State House when there was an issue about the legality of hunting mourning doves. 

Mrs. Swanbeck’s portrait is found in the Ladies Gallery of Legislators in the Museum of the Ohio Statehouse. She was honored many times for her leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives, including the Huron and Sandusky Chamber Awards for Public Service and State Education, the Erie and Huron County Awards of Education Accomplishments. On September 28, 1963, members of the Erie County Republican Women's Organization observed "Ethel Swanbeck Day" at a luncheon at the Business Women's Club. Mrs. Ethel Swanbeck was a successful woman who made significant contributions at a statewide level. We can be proud that she called Erie County home. 


Ethel Swanbeck died on December 21, 1898 in Huron, Ohio at age 96. She was buried beside her husband at the Scott Cemetery.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Ice Harvesting in Sandusky


Before the advent of electricity and refrigeration, Sandusky’s natural harbor provided ice for local residents and businesses, and was also shipped by rail to other locations. An early document from the United States House of Representatives stated that Sandusky ice was in great demand in the 1880s. It was in good supply, was up to twenty inches thick, and it was clear as plate glass. The shipping of hundreds of tons of ice brought great profit to the railroads that transported it. The cities of Columbus, Cincinnati and Springfield purchased Sandusky ice in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Snow had to be cleared off the ice by horse drawn equipment in the early years of ice harvesting. Later mechanized equipment was used in ice harvesting.


After the ice was cleaned and scored, employees piked the blocks of ice. Then they were taken across a channel to the ice house.



The blocks of ice were loaded into the ice houses on a conveyor belt, awaiting shipment. Many fisheries in Sandusky harvested their own ice, in order to keep their fish fresh. In the late 1800s, dozens of ice houses were found along the shoreline. To read more about the natural ice industry in Sandusky, see Ron Davidson’s blog post in the January 20, 2014 online issue of the Sandusky Register. The picture below shows several employees who were packing blocks of ice in an ice house in Sandusky in 1929.



Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the harvesting of ice in Sandusky.                     

Friday, January 15, 2016

George Mylander: Rooted in (and for) Sandusky

On January 3, 2015, Sandusky lost a well-respected community leader, George L. Mylander.  Mr. Mylander came from a long line of civic-minded individuals in his own family tree. His great grandfather was Jacob Kuebeler, who along with his brother August Kuebeler, was a pioneer in the brewing industry in Sandusky.


 Mr. Mylander's maternal grandfather was George J. Schade, a Sandusky businessman who was a pharmacist, and then manager of a coal business, before he opened and managed the Schade Theater on West Market Street in Sandusky. Mr. Schade served several terms on the Sandusky City Commission, and was Mayor of Sandusky from 1934 to 1936.


Dr. Lester Mylander, his father, was founder of the former Sandusky Memorial Hospital. These families are the namesakes for the Schade-Mylander Plaza, which is a focal point of many activities in downtown Sandusky. 

Mr. Mylander is pictured below, when he was ex-officio Mayor, at a rededication ceremony for the Sandusky City Building in 1983. 


George L. Mylander was a teacher and administrator in the Sandusky City Schools for 27 years. He served four terms on the Sandusky City Commission, and was ex-officio Mayor of Sandusky from 1980 to 1985. He was a former director of the Citizens Banking Company, and served on the Board of Directors of the Firelands Regional Medical Center and the Bowling Green State University Foundation Board. In 2003, he donated two million dollars to the B.G.S.U. Foundation, and recently he donated one million dollars to BGSU Firelands in support of the Allied Health and Sciences Project. BGSU Firelands changed the name of its West Building to George Mylander Hall in honor of Mr. Mylander’s generous contributions to the  college.  Mr. Mylander's final resting place is at the Schade Mylander Mausoleum in Oakland Cemetery.



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Another Hidden Treat in the Collections


One of the secret pleasures of working with historical documents is finding a secret treasure hidden inside. (Better than Cracker Jacks.)

To research a question about German comedies, we went through our collection of theater programs, which are mostly from around 1880 to 1920. The building shown above (which had many names in its history, including the Sandusky Theater, Sandusky Opera House, the Himmelein Theater, and The Grand) was the prime venue for performances in Sandusky at that time. The Archives Research Center has a number of programs from that theater. Unfortunately, we didn't find an answer for the question we had, but we found a rather fascinating piece of history hidden in plain sight within a program for a performance of The Prince Chap at the Grand in 1904.


Here is the page listing the cast. Movie buffs -- do you recognize any names?

click on the image for a larger view
The "Earl of Huntington" was played by Cecil DeMille, better known through much of the twentieth century as Cecil B. DeMille, the famous motion picture producer and director, probably best known for The Ten Commandments, among his many movies.

Who knows who else might be hiding in the Sandusky Library's collections!

Saturday, January 09, 2016

No More Five Cent Soda in Sandusky


On the front page of the December 31, 1915 issue of the Sandusky Register was an article that read “Five Cent Ice Cream Soda is Thing of Past in Sandusky.”


It seems that at this time, Ohio’s Board of Health was soon to begin requiring the sterilization of spoons, glasses, dippers, dishes, and other soda fountain equipment with either steam or boiling water. If this was not possible, then disposable paper products were to be used. Due to the added cost of new equipment, as well as the training of employees in the use of the new equipment, Sandusky businesses that operated soda fountains decided to raise the prices of ice cream sodas from five cents to ten cents. Phosphates and plain drinks continued to be sold for five cents. Several Sandusky druggists and confectioners met at Martin’s Confectionery to discuss the recent Board of Health regulations.



Fred A. Martin ran a wholesale and retail ice cream and confectionery business in Sandusky from 1910 until his death in 1939. Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to view local newspapers on microfilm from 1822 through the 2000s.