Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Mill Race Ride at Cedar Point

The Mill Race, a log flume ride, opened in Cedar Point for the 1963 season. It was only the second flume ride of its kind in the United States. The ride cost $300,000 to build, and it was over 1200 feet long. Boats shaped like logs carried riders down a 28 foot hill, after following a winding track filled with water.  On a hot summer day, a ride on the Mill Race left riders cooled off by the water splashing them as traveled rapidly down the final hill. The Mill Race closed in 1993, to make room for the Raptor. 

To read more about the history of Cedar Point, see the book Cedar Point: The Queen of American Watering Places, by David W. and Francis (Amusement Park Books, 1995), available at the Sandusky Library. You can see the Mill Race in this aerial photograph of Cedar Point, taken by Thomas Root on May 25, 1968.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Graham Drug Store

The Graham family operated a drug store in Sandusky from 1845 until 1926. John A. Graham established the drug store, and was succeeded by his son W.A. Graham. The Graham Drug Store was at what is now 102 Columbus Avenue beginning about 1868.  In the picture above, from the late 1880s, the name W.A. Graham is on a sign above the store, and the name of Dr. A.J. Gawne appears on a window in an office on the second floor of the Graham building. 

An article in the Sandusky Register of March 15, 1915 reported that W. A. Graham “was one of the best known and best prepared druggists in this part of the state.” The Graham Drug Store building is featured in the Old House Guild’s Downtown Architectural Walking Tour of Sandusky, Ohio, which lists 1868 as the date the building was constructed.  Ellie Damm wrote in her book Treasure by the Bay, (Bucknell University Press, 1989), that the Graham Drug Store building was in the Second Empire style, constructed from limestone, and faced with sandstone.  Jay Meek operated a drug store at this location in the 1930s and 1940s. From the early 1950s through the late 1980s, the Echo Tavern did business at 102 Columbus Avenue. Daly’s Pub now occupies the building.

 See a previous Sandusky History blog post to view some trading cards that were distributed by the Graham Drug Store.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Sandusky's Coal Docks

Sandusky, Ohio has long been known as having one of the finest and most well-protected harbors on the Great Lakes. Since the late 1890s, the transfer of coal from railway cars to vessels has been taking place in Sandusky. For many years, the Pennsylvania Railroad owned the docks at the foot of King Street on Sandusky’s west side, and the transfer of coal from the railway cars to ships was done by the employees of the Lower Lake Coal Docks Co. The Twin Anniversary Edition of the Sandusky Register and Star News, from November 24, 1947 featured an article which explained how the process of loading coal went from manually dumping coal from wheelbarrows to the ships, to a steam operated crane, and finally to machines that are electrically operated. The postcard below, by E.B. Ackley featured the electrically operated coal loader #3.

 Several ships can be seen in this 1937 photograph of the coal docks.

This picture taken by the Torow Studio in the late 1940s captures the view of the coal docks at night.

Currently, the Sandusky Dock is owned by Norfolk Southern Corporation, and is operated by the Sandusky Dock Corporation. The average loading capacity is over 2,600 tons per hour. After dark, the lights from the docks can be seen for miles, causing us to take note of this vital part of the Great Lakes economy.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Aerial of View of the Sandusky Drive-In Theater

According to an article in the May 24, 1948 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News, the Sandusky Drive-In Theater was slated to open at 9:15 p.m. on May 24, 1948. The single feature film on opening night was “Copacabana,” starring Groucho Marx. The movie ran at 9:15 and again at 11:15, along with short subject and news reels. In 1948, the Sandusky Drive-In Theater was owned and operated by the Seitz Amusement Company. The theater was located on a fifteen acre field on Cleveland Road, not far from the entrance to Cedar Point. The Selby Engineering Company erected a 60 by 58 foot steel tower, for a 39 by 52 foot screen. RCA supplied the speakers, enough for 608 cars.  There were also speakers for a row of seats in front of the automobiles, for individuals who walked in to view the movie at the drive-in. The Drive-In theater provided inexpensive entertainment, and people could dress very casually. Often children attended the drive-in theater in their pajamas. The Berlo Vending Company provided refreshments in a concrete building below the picture booth where the Simplex projectors were housed. In the 1950s, there were swing sets for the youngsters to enjoy while waiting the for the first movie to begin. Shows were changed three times a week, on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. The speakers were connected with waterproof wires, so that the movies could be shown even in rainy weather. Eventually there were double features shown at the Sandusky Drive-In.  The Sandusky Drive-In Theater closed in 2001. An article which appeared in the May 24, 2010 issue of the Sandusky Register featured memories of a former employee of the drive-in. Tim Bretz spoke about the complex dual projector system which had been used at the drive-in. The Sandusky Drive-In provided inexpensive entertainment to Sandusky area for many season. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Erie County Children’s Home

According to the book Treasure by the Bay, by Ellie Damm (Bucknell University Press, 1989), in 1898 the voters of Erie County approved the construction of a Children’s Home to be built on a five acre site just north of the intersection of Cleveland Road and Sycamore Line in Sandusky, Ohio. The Erie County Children’s Home opened in May of 1901. The building was designed by the Cleveland architectural firm of Lehman and Schmitt, and the general contractor was George Feick.

 The building was constructed of native limestone, and featured a large entry portico with pillars, with the windows and doors arranged symmetrically. Dormitories were located on either side of the main building. Girls were housed on the first floor of the right side of the building, and boys were on the first floor of the left side of the building. Each child was assigned an individual locker for his or her belongings. The dining room was located on the first floor of the main building. On the second floor of the main building was a hospital, quarters for the maids, and the rooms of the superintendent and his wife. The first superintendent of the Erie County Children’s Home was Eugene Peake. An epidemic of scarlet fever caused the residents of the home to be under a strict quarantine during July of 1901. The schedule for the Erie County Children’s Home was printed in the Sandusky Register of December 1, 1901. The daily routine included: rise at 6 a.m.; family worship at 6:20; breakfast at 7; school at 8:30; lunch at noon; school from 1:30 to 3 p.m.; supper at 6 p.m.; and bedtime at 8 p.m.  In December of 1926, the local Kiwanis Club sponsored a Christmas party for residents of the Children’s Home.

While the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center does not have extensive records from the Erie County Children’s Home, we do have some snapshots taken during the 1940s in our historical files.

The Erie County Children’s Home ceased operations in 1960. In the early 1960s, the building that formerly housed the Children’s Home was used for offices by Erie County. In 1992, the property was purchased by Stein Hospice, which opened at 1200 Sycamore Line in the summer of 1993.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sandusky Motor Truck

This postcard featured the “Sandusky Motor Truck,” manufactured in Sandusky from about 1910 to 1912. Charles Blatz was a local agent for the Sandusky Auto Parts and Truck Company.  Charles E. Frohman wrote in his book Sandusky's Yesterdays (Ohio Historical Society, 1968) that the Sandusky Auto Parts and Truck Company was incorporated on April 28, 1910, with Daniel E. Storms and J.W. Woods, both of Indiana, as the principal financial backers. The manufacturing facility for the Sandusky Auto Parts and Truck Company was located at 1531 First Street, which was later the site of Barr Rubber Products for many years.

The Sandusky Auto Parts and Truck Company manufactured commercial trucks, motors, axles and transmissions. One of the features of the truck was that it had a removable power unit. A test drive of one thousand miles was successful, and the company showed great promise, but it went into receivership by 1913. The 1912 Sandusky City Directory listed these men as the officers of the Sandusky Auto Parts and Motor Truck Company: A.F. Knotts, President; J.J. Dauch, Vice President; R.D. Mitchell, Secretary; and Daniel E. Storms, Treasurer and General Manager.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The G.A. Boeckling

The steamer G.A. Boeckling was built by the Great Lakes Engineering Works in Encorse, Michigan in 1909, named in honor of George A. Boeckling, the president of Cedar Point.

This vessel was designed to carry 2,000 passengers, and cost $120,000 to build. On June 26, 1909, the G.A. Boeckling was christened with a bottle of Hommel’s White Star Champagne. The next day the Boeckling began ferrying passengers from Sandusky to Cedar Point, and continued to do so until the end of the season in 1951. The 155 foot long steamer had a pilot house at each end, which enabled it to travel in both directions without the need to turn around. A crew member is pictured outside the pilot house about 1949.

There were two passenger decks on the G.A. Boeckling.

While onboard the Boeckling, a lovely view of the city of Sandusky was visible as the vessel traveled to Cedar Point across Sandusky Bay.

Because of rising costs for fuel and maintenance, along with changes in laws requiring an increased number of crew members, the Bay Transportation Company decided to retire the G.A. Boeckling. Her last trip to Cedar Point was on Labor Day Weekend of 1951. 

For several years the Boeckling was used as a floating warehouse and machine shop in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. In the early 1980s, a local group was organized in an attempt to restore the steamer. This project ceased when the Boeckling was destroyed by a fire of suspicious origin as she sat in a Toledo shipyard on June 21, 1989. The G.A. Boeckling carried thousands of passengers to Cedar Point for over forty years. Have you ever heard your parents or grandparents mention their travels aboard the Boeckling

Monday, June 23, 2014

Edgar N. Wilcox, Civil War Officer

Edgar N. Wilcox was born in 1837, the youngest child of Franklin and Julia (Root) Wilcox. In 1850, U.S. census records indicate that Edgar was age 13, and residing with his parents and brother in Huron, Ohio. Edgar was an 1860 graduate of the University of Michigan. On June 19, 1861, Edgar N. Wilcox enlisted in the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Shortly after his enlistment, he sent this letter to his sister Lottie from Camp Tyler in Weston, Virginia. He signed the letter “Ned.”

Here is a transcription of Edgar’s letter.

In his letter, Edgar talked about sleeping with guns and ammunition by his side, and celebrating Independence Day with a regimental parade and the raising of the Union flag.  Before he mustered out of the 7th Infantry, Edgar was promoted to Full Sergeant. Edgar reenlisted in the 18th U.S. Infantry. On September 30, 1863 he was promoted to Full 1st Lieutenant. On September 1, 1864, he was promoted to Brevet Captain. During his war time service, Edgar N. Wilcox participated in many battles, including Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, Lookout Mountain, and the Atlanta campaign. After the Civil War ended, Edgar remained in military service, and worked as a military recruiter at Fort Columbus and David’s Island, New York. Edgar Wilcox mustered out of military service on June 1, 1871. In the 1880 U.S. Census, Edgar was living with his brother, Lucien Wilcox, in Huron, Ohio. On September 10, 1884, Edgar N. Wilcox was admitted to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Dayton, Ohio. He died on March 13, 1887, and was buried at the Dayton National Cemetery.

You can learn much more about the Wilcox family in the Wilbor and Wilcox Family Collections, housed at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center

Saturday, June 21, 2014

J.J. Butts, Pioneer Hardware Merchant

According to his death record, Joseph Jeremiah Butts was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania on October 20, 1843, to Charles Butts and Anna (Long) Butts.  Most often known by his initials, J.J., the name Joseph Jeremiah Butts has many variations, in a variety of vital and military records. Oakland Cemetery records list his name as J.J. Butts. In the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census, his name appears at Jerry Butts. In the U.S. Civil War Pension index, his name is listed as Joseph J. Butz. These inconsistencies in names and spellings can make genealogy research quite challenging. By comparing other information, such as his wife’s name and parents’ names, and double-checking addresses provided on the records, it is possible to sort out the facts, in spite of the conflicting information given in the records. In the 1860s, J.J. Butts moved from his birthplace of Pennsylvania, to the state of Illinois. During the Civil War, J.J. Butts served in Company B of the 105th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After the Civil War, J.J. Butts moved to Sandusky, Ohio, where he was a clerk in the hardware store of Barney & Ferris for several years.  By 1881, he became a partner with Thomas Whitworth in the hardware business of Butts & Whitworth. In 1892, J.J. Butts opened his own hardware store, with his son as his partner. The store J.J. Butts & Son Hardware Store was located in the Sloane Block on Columbus Avenue in downtown Sandusky.  Below is a postcard of Columbus Avenue from 1913, in which the Sloane House and Sloane block can be seen on the west side of Columbus Avenue.

 A closer view of the postcard shows the sign of the J.J. Butts and Son Hardware store, which sold iron and nails, and other hardware items.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has transcripts of Civil War letters written by J. J. Butts to his parents during his time in the Civil War. In the letters, J.J. Butts tells about marching to Atlanta, skirmishes against enemy troops, foraging for food, building bridges, and writing letters by the light of the campfire. He often comments on his well being, in order to comfort his family members back home.  While we do not own the original letters, we are grateful to Butts descendant Douglas Butts, who loaned the letters to the Sandusky Library. Helen Hansen, former Follett House curator, transcribed the Civil War letters written by J.J. Butts. 

On September 15, 1927, J.J. Butts died, following a lengthy illness. Funeral services were held at the Masonic Temple, and burial was at Oakland Cemetery. He was survived by his wife Mary, son Theodore, and daughters, Mrs. Chauncey F. Lake and Mrs. Edna Buck. An obituary for J.J. Butts appeared in the September 16, 1927 issue of the Sandusky Register.  Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center if you would like to read the transcripts of the Civil War letters written by J. J. Butts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Miss Mary J. Deeley, Educator

Mary Josephine Deeley was born on November 9, 1868, the oldest of six children born to Benjamin and Eliza Jane (Steen) Deeley. Benjamin Deeley was a carpenter who served in both the Ohio 123rd Infantry and Ohio 8th Infantry during the Civil War. Mary graduated from Sandusky High School in 1888. She taught in the Sandusky City Schools for forty two years. From 1918 until her retirement in 1932, Miss Deeley served as the principal of Sycamore School.

According to a 1921 Sandusky Register article, Miss Deeley organized a film festival in order to raise funds for educational equipment and supplies for Sycamore School. George Schade provided posters, films, a film projector as well as a film operator for the big event. From 1:00 until 9:00 p.m. on December 8, 1921, children as well as adults were treated to four consecutive films “of diversified appeal.” The films were shown in the auditorium of Sandusky High School. Over $200 was raised, and was to be used to purchase balls, talking machine records, and other educational items. The December 9, 1921 issue of the Register reported that Miss Deeley stated: “We feel that we cannot sufficiently express our appreciation of Mr. Schade’s kindness.”  During the summer months in the 1930’s, Miss Mary Deeley and her sister Sarah allowed their nephew, future Mount Vernon, Ohio dentist, Dr. George Deeley, to live with them, while he earned money for college by working at Cedar Point. 

On November 8, 1945, Mary J. Deeley passed away at Good Samaritan Hospital in Sandusky. She had outlived all her siblings. She was buried in the family lot at Oakland Cemetery. Mary J. Deeley was a member of the Garden Club, Fortnightly Club, and Grace Episcopal Church.

Here is a picture of Grades 3-A and 4B at Sycamore School, taken in 1919, when Miss Mary Deeley was the principal.