Saturday, April 18, 2015

Indoor Circuses Held at Jackson Junior High

From 1940 through 1958, the Sandusky Industrial Union Council sponsored an annual indoor circus, which was held at Jackson Junior High School. The event was sponsored by . The November 1940 performance by the Patterson Brothers included trained horses, trapeze artists, clowns, and comical dogs and monkeys. A feature of the 1940 indoor circus was a trained pony that kicked footballs into the stands. In the 1941 Indoor Circus, Buck Owens appeared with his horse Goldie.

Buck Owens was a native Sanduskian. He was born Max Geis, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Geis, who lived on Clinton Street in the 1940s. 

Below is an advertisement for the indoor circus held on March 17, 1949, which appeared in the March 12 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News. School age children could attend the event for forty cents.

The indoor circus of 1953 featured the Lehmback family from Fort Wayne, who performed balancing, juggling and acrobatics. Captain Walcott also brought trained dogs and ponies to entertain the crowds. In 1958, aerialist named “Miss Consuelo” performed. Area residents recalled her last appearance in Sandusky when she was featured during the halftime show of the Harlem Globetrotters game. 

While the indoor circus was not as large as a traditional circus, the Junior High provided a convenient location for most area residents.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

William H. Reinhart, President of the Sweet Valley Wine Company

William Homer Reinhart was born in 1865 in Huron County, Ohio to Mr. and Mrs. Carl Reinhart, who were both natives of Germany.  When William was quite young, both his parents died. He learned the cooper trade while quite young, and then he went to Kelleys Island to work for the Sweet Valley Wine Company. Reinhart first worked as a salesman for the company, and by the early 1900s he became its president, holding that position until his death in 1940.

Mr. Reinhart also served as the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, where he spearheaded a fund raising drive to help reorganize the organization after the Chamber had faced a severe financial crisis. Additionally, he was the first president of the Perry’s Victory Memorial Association. And when the United Commercial Travelers held their convention at Cedar Point in June of 1906, Reinhart addressed the group as chairman of the general executive committee of the Sandusky Council, No. 278, United Commercial Travelers. Mr. Reinhart’s picture appeared in the June, 1907 issue of the Ohio Magazine, which featured an article by John T. Mack, entitled “Industrial Sandusky” while he was the president of the local Chamber of Commerce.

On October 1931, he was named the Conservation Commissioner of the state of Ohio. While in this position, he took many steps to improve game wildlife in Ohio, and he spoke to sportsman’s groups all over the state. Mr. Reinhart was one of the founders of the Ohio State Elks Association, and he served as its president twice. During this time, in the late 1930s, Mr. Reinhart also served as a city commissioner. 

William H. Reinhart died on December 31, 1940 at the Cleveland Clinic, after a lengthy illness. Funeral services were held at the Sandusky Elks Lodge, with the Rev. C.L. Alspach officiating. He was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery. He was survived by a wife, one sister, one brother, a daugher, a stepson, and three grandchildren. The Sandusky city building was closed during Mr. Reinhart’s funeral, and the flag at the Post Office flew at half staff, in memory of the former city leader. George J. Doerzbach, fellow city commissioner, said about Reinhart, “No Sanduskian had the interest of this city more at heart than did Mr. Reinhart. I have worked with him for many years on civic and social affairs and always found him ready to give of his time an energy in helping to boost his home community and give a helping hand to his host of friends."

Sunday, April 12, 2015

In Celebration of National Library Week

The Library Association of Sandusky was incorporated in Ohio on November 4, 1895, and has provided free library service to residents of Erie County ever since.  For more history of Sandusky Library, visit the library’s website. In honor of National Library Week, here are some pictures of readers and library patrons from the collections of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Three young ladies are seen reading in the back of a truck in front of the library in 1926.

In the early 1950s, the Follett House was home to Home Economics classes from Sandusky High School.  These young readers were a part of the early education unit of the Home Economics class.

Long time Head Librarian Mary McCann sometimes worked on the Bookmobile.

We do not know the exact date of this picture, but notes on the back indicate that these women and girls were all members of Mrs. Emrich’s Reading Club.

Besides tradional books in hard copy, Sandusky Library now offers books for your Smart Phone, Kindle, or tablet, and eBooks for your mp3 player.  Click on the eMedia link on the Sandusky Library’s home page to get started.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

The Schade Theatre and Ohio Theatre

The Schade Theatre in Sandusky opened in the 200 block of West Market Street in 1915 as the Alhambra Theatre. An article in the December 19, 1915 issue of the Star Journal reported that the “motion picture palace” cost a total of $100,000. George J. Schade was the owner of the theatre.

H.C. Millot was the architect, and the building contractor was Feick and Company. According to the Star Journal, “It can be stated truthfully that not a city of Sandusky’s size in the country, and few of the larger ones can boast of so beautiful a movie play-house.” Seating capacity on the main floor was 700, with a balcony that seated 50 more individuals. Special attention was paid to the lighting and acoustics. By the fall of 1916, the theater was known as the Schade Theatre. Until the late 1920s, the films were all silent. Mr. Schade advertised heavily in the Star Journal. He wrote a column known as “Schad–E Tips” which promoted the films that were being shown in the theater. In the summer of 1916, a theater organ known as the Hope-Jones Unit Orchestra provided musical entertainment for the theater.

The theater organ could simulate the sounds of orchestra music with just one musician. By the fall of 1930, and continuing through the 1960s, the Schade Theatre became known as Warner’s Ohio Theatre, under the proprietorship of Warner Brothers.

The marquee of the Ohio Theatre is visible in this picture of Market Street from the 1930s.

In March of 1940, the movie Young Tom Edison, starring Mickey Rooney, played for ten days at the Ohio Theatre. This was of particular interest to area residents, since Thomas Edison was born in nearby Milan, Ohio. Love Story played in Sandusky exclusively at the Ohio Theatre in Feburary of 1971.  By the late 1970s, the Ohio Theatre was operating as an adult theatre. The Ohio Theatre closed  in 1979, and eventually the building was razed.

For more information about local theaters, see the Sandusky Register column “Market Street Was Movie House Mecca” by Ron Davidson, or visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Several archival boxes are devoted to the history of arts and entertainment in Sandusky.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Early Days of the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky

Pictured above are the members of the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky in 1936. At that time, Elliott Bender was the president of the organization. In 1936 the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky took part in Sandusky’s Safe Motor Vehicle Campaign, in conjunction with the Sandusky Register and the Star Journal. Sandusky residents were asked to sign this pledge:

Once the pledge card was filled out, automobile drivers could stop at one of several Sandusky businesses to pick up a sticker for their car that read:


After the March 17, 1936 meeting, members of the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky went to the William Mound studio to get a group photograph taken. By 1951, the membership of the club had increased.

There were 65 members of the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky in October, 1951. Roger Doerzbach was president at that time. In 1951, the club sponsored a film series put out by the National Audubon Society, and hosted a Christmas dinner for the Erie County Children’s Home. When the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky met with the Lorain Kiwanis Club in October, 1951, there was 100% attendance at that meeting. 

The Kiwanis Club of Sandusky, Ohio is a service club that was chartered on November 8, 1919. The group donated a collection of historic items to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center which includes photographs, minutes, monthly reports, and membership rosters. Visit the Archives Research Center to view the archives of the Kiwanis Club of Sandusky.

Friday, April 03, 2015

When the Cooke House was on Washington Row

A local resident, Leroy Hinkey donated several historical photographs to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Because of his generosity, we can get an idea of what Sandusky looked like in days gone by. This stereographic image, created by Sandusky photographer A.C. Platt, was made in the 1870s as part of the Isles of Lake Erie series. In an enlarged view, you can see several buildings that were important to the daily lives of Sandusky residents for many years. The Cooke Block, at the northeast corner of Columbus Avenue and Market Street, was constructed in the 1850s. It was built by Wildman Mills, who sold it to Charles E. and George A. Cooke in 1866, and still stands today. Many local residents will recall when Holzaepfel’s was in business in the Cooke building.

The West House hotel was owned by brothers W.T. and A.K. West. It opened in 1858, in time for the Ohio State Fair, which was held in Sandusky that year. It was five stories high, and was located at the northwest corner of Columbus Avenue and Water Street. Now the State Theatre occupies the site. The old Post Office and Customs House was at the southwest corner of Columbus Avenue and West Market Street from 1857 until 1927. This location is now a parking garage. Gray Drugs was in this spot for many years.  The home of Eleutheros Cooke was built in 1843-1844, at the southwest corner of Washington Row and Columbus Avenue. (Note: Eleutheros Cooke and Geoge and Charles Cooke were not related, to the best of our knowledge.) After Eleutheros Cooke died, Sandusky attorney  Rush Sloane purchased the home. In 1878, he had the house dismantled, brick by brick, and was reassembled at what is now 1415 Columbus Avenue. Mr. Sloane gave the home to his newlywed son Thomas and his wife Sarah, who was a granddaughter of Eleutheros Cooke. Below is a picture of the Cooke home about 1890.

The original site of the Cooke house later became the location of the Sloane House hotel in 1881, followed by the Lasalle’s store in 1949; it is now occupied by Erie County governmental offices. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Women's History Month Wrap-Up: Finding Information about Your Female Ancestors in Erie County

March is Women’s History Month, and in honor of the women of our area, here are some tips on how you can locate information about your female ancestors in Sandusky and Erie County. 

For the earliest settlers in Erie County, you can check the index of the Firelands Pioneer. There is a general index arranged by surname, and a separate index for obituaries. In the June 1865 issue of the Firelands Pioneer, Truman Taylor recounts his grandmother’s account of  how several families moved from Glastonbury, Connecticut to Perkins Township in Erie County, Ohio in 1815, by oxen train.

The women had to wash clothes along the way, sometimes hanging the wet laundry on a brush pile to dry. The families camped at night, stopping in a location with pastures for the cattle and horse. They took provisions along with them, consisting of bacon, bread, butter and cheese. Once they settled in Erie County, the pioneers had to clear the land, build cabins, and till the tough prairie sod.

Two sources that provide information are Mothers of Erie County, by Marjorie Cherry Loomis, and Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve, edited by Mrs. Gertrude Van Ressselaer Wickham. These books are anecdotal in nature, and provide biographical information about the earliest female residents of Erie County. The Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve was originally written in five parts, and is housed in a bound two volume set, shelved in the genealogical section of books in the lower level of the Sandusky Library.  The pages devoted to women from Sandusky are found in Part 1, pages 158 to 164. Mrs. Jane Hartshorn, daughter of William Kelly, recalled that when her family settled in Sandusky in 1818, there were only five frame houses in Sandusky at that time. All the rest were built of logs. The family stayed in a small log house that had been used as a cabin for fishermen. It had no fireplace, just a stone hearth, and very little furniture or dishes. Though times were difficult, she remembered those early days with fondness. Jay Cooke remembered his mother, Martha Simpson Carswell Cooke, working at her spinning wheel, to prepare material for the children’s clothing and stockings. When Martha’s husband, Eleutheros, brought back cans of oysters from the east, she shared liberally with her neighbors. Jay Cooke recalled that his mother had wise counsel and unfailing Christian love. There are indexes in the back of volume two of Memorial to the Pioneer Women of the Western Reserve arranged by the surname of the pioneer women, as well as an index to towns and counties.

For genealogical information about your female ancestors, the Sandusky Library has access to Ancestry Library Edition and Heritage Quest. An outstanding online resource, available to anyone with computer access, is This database is particularly strong in Ohio information, such as birth, marriage, and death records and some census data.  Sources available inside the Sandusky Library include school yearbooks, Sandusky city directories, Erie County directories and histories, obituaries in the microfilmed copies of the Sandusky Register, and church records, also on microfilm. Hundreds of historical photographs are housed at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Inquire at the Sandusky Library for more information.

A fun way to learn a bit more about women from Sandusky and Erie County, search for  women ​in the Labels list to the left. In these links, you can read, for example, about women working for the war effort in World War II.

Sarah Howard was the first African-American female to graduate from Sandusky High School.

The Woman’s Endeavor was a newspaper published by Sandusky women in 1908. In 1920, there was an all-women jury in a courtroom at the Erie County Courthouse. Dr. Carrie Chase Davis was one of the first female physicians in Sandusky, and was also known for her active involvement in women’s rights.

Two other notable Sandusky women we cannot forget are Marie Brehm, the first legally qualified female candidate to run for the vice-presidency of the U.S., and Jackie Mayer, Miss America of 1963, now a motivational speaker. Jackie Mayer speaks about her recovery from a near-fatal stroke when she was 28.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Emily Blakeslee, M.D.

For over fifty years, Emily Blakeslee was a physician in Sandusky. During most of her career, Dr. Blakeslee practiced medicine at 258 Wayne Street, where she also resided. (The building was razed in 1960.)

Emily Blakeslee was born in Medina County, Ohio in 1871 to Edwin Charles Blakeslee and Alice (Warner) Blakeslee. In 1897 she graduated from Cleveland University of Medicine and Surgery. 

Charles Burleigh Galbreath wrote in volume five of his book History of Ohio:
“Emily Blakeslee M. D., has been established in the practice of her profession in the City of Sandusky since the year 1897, and has won precedence and popularity as one of the able and representative woman physicians and surgeons of her native state, a state in which her paternal great-grandfather made settlement fully a century ago.”

Dr. Blakeslee was on staff at Sandusky’s Good Samaritan and Providence Hospitals. During World War I, she worked with the Home Service Department of the American Red Cross in Sandusky.

In May of 1950, Dr. Blakeslee was honored during a joint meeting of the Erie County Medical Society and its Auxiliary. She received a 50-year certificate and gold medal. 

On April 26, 1955, Dr. Emily Blakeslee passed away at the Cleveland Clinic, after an illness of several weeks. The headline on the front page of the Sandusky Register Star News read Sandusky’s Only Practicing Woman Doctor is Dead.  Dr. Blakeslee had been a member of Grace Episcopal Church and the Erie County Medical Society. She was survived by a sister, brother, and two nephews. She is buried in Medina, Ohio.

On April 3, 1976, G.D. Wallace paid a salute to Dr. Blakeslee in the Sandusky Register. Wallace stated that Dr. Blakeslee took additional medical courses so she could stay in tune with medical advances and improvements in surgical techniques. The article continued, “Dr. Blakeslee’s appearance as a Sandusky citizen gave added enchantment to the Erie County area. Besides a great interest in religion, she was fond of drama and music, and was a popular factor in the social, cultural and art circles of the county and city…Especially among women, Emily merits the heavy applause for her triumphant struggle to reach the heights of her chosen profession, an interest that carried through since childhood days.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Seven Mile House

The Seven Mile House was situated in the extreme northeast corner of Groton Township, Erie County, Ohio, along the old Columbus-Sandusky Pike, close to the intersection of Mason Road and Route 4. John Powell built the Seven Mile House about 1831. This early hotel got its name from its location, which was seven miles south of the city of Sandusky. An early stage coach route passed by the building. During the time of the Underground Railroad, fugitive slaves were transported from the old Omar Tavern in Seneca County to the Seven Mile House, on their way to Lake Erie, where they could cross over the lake to freedom in Canada. In his memoirs, detective John Wilson Murray wrote that Charles H. Cole met with fellow conspirators at the Seven Mile House, to make plans for an attempt to free Confederate prisoners from the prison camp at Johnson's Island. In 1870 the house hosted a United States Post Office.

According to an article in the issue of the March 4, 1899 issue of the Sandusky Star, Charles Linder operated a butcher shop and saloon in the building. Three of the Linder children came down with smallpox in March of 1899.

 This advertisement for dancing at the Seven Mile House appeared in the Sandusky Star Journal on December 3, 1920. The Seven Mile House served as a tavern in the same location for a number of years.

 A bookstore has recently occupied the intersection near the site of the old Seven Mile House. When you travel by automobile from Sandusky to Columbus, you will drive by the spot where weary travelers once found rest and food in years gone by.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pythian Sisters

While we do not have details about the place or people associated with the Pythian Sisters riding in the float in the picture above, it is estimated that the picture was taken between 1910 and 1925. The streets are made of brick, and a horse drawn vehicle can be seen on the left side of the picture. It could have been for a patriotic parade during the First World War. 

The Pythian Sisters are an auxiliary group connected with the fraternal organization known as the Knights of Pythias. The mission of the Pythian Sisters is:

To bring together women of diverse backgrounds and to provide opportunities for them to help themselves and others grow through the principles of Purity, Love, Equality, and Fidelity.

Local Sandusky newspapers, available on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center, covered the activities of the Pythian Sisters on the Society Page. The ladies had dances and card parties, and raised money for charitable organizations. An article in the November 23, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that the “Sandusky Pythian Sisters’ degree team is one of the best in the state.” The degree team of the Pythian Sisters participated in ritualistic ceremonies associated with the Pythian Sisters.  In 1923, the Pythian Sisters held a fund raising activity with the proceeds going to the Sophie Huntington Home for Aged Pythian Sisters in Medina, Ohio. On October 27, 1931, the tenth annual convention of District No. 15, Pythian Sisters, was held in Sandusky. Over 300 people attended the convention. During the evening hours, the Sandusky Lodge, Knights of Pythias met with the Pythian Sisters. A play entitled “A Lesson in Friendship” was presented, along with musical selections.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the past activities of the Club and Organizations of Sandusky and Erie County.