Friday, May 25, 2007

Sarah Deeley's Friendship Book

Sarah Deeley was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1836; in 1840, she migrated to Sandusky with her family. Her father, William Deeley, established one of the first commercial fishing businesses in Sandusky. In 1846, when she was about ten years old, Sarah Deeley was given a "friendship book." The first page of the book is dedicated: "Presented to Sarah E. Deeley By her father ------ May 24th, 1846, Sandusky City, Ohio."

Friendship books were somewhat popular in the nineteenth century (and into the twentieth century). Typically, a friendship book was a small journal or autograph book that young women would use to collect writings (poetry, letters) and/or pictures (drawings, clippings, etc.) from friends and family. (Examples here.)

Sarah Deeley's book contains letters, autographs, and poems written by friends and family members, primarily in the 1840s and 1850s. With the exception of one entry written in 1869, apparently in German, the latest entry in the book is dated July 13, 1857. The 1869 entry is addressed to "Mrs. Beattie." (Sarah Deeley married John Y. Beattie in April 1854.)

One particularly poignant poems in the friendship book is one titled "The Cholera," (shown above) written by Sarah Deeley Beattie's aunt Sarah Kenney Knight, the sister of Sarah Deeley's mother Dorinda. The poem is undated, but it was likely written during or shortly after one of the cholera epidemics that struck Sandusky in 1849 and during the 1850s. It describes the fear that consumed those facing the still-then mysterious disease:

The Cholera
Waken for the coming of this scourge
That sweeps the Eastern sky:
This plague that with a prophet's voice
Cries out prepare to die.
That liveth at the rich man's house
That calleth for the poor
And spreadeth out the clothes of death
So fresh at every door!
It cometh over land and seas
With solemn strides and slow:
It summoneth the human soul
To keep watch for its woes!
Father takes its might warning
Which is mercifully given
And calls around for mortal help
And pray the help of heaven.
Be sure it cometh; do not sleep
With lazy hearts of stone.
Within your houses are friends to weep
For good and dear ones gone!
Forewarned shoud be, forewarned -- and now --
The whisper of God's breath.
Call trusting men to work and hope
Against this seige of death.
Be rady in the palaces!
Be ready in the cot
Be ready with the greatful hymn
Wheras it cometh not!
Prepare to meeth the slayer
With good courage and calm senses
But people trifle not with [illegible]
That born from providences.
Aunt Sarah
It is unclear whether Sarah Knight's family experienced death from the cholera, or if she witnessed her neighbors succumbing to the disease.
Sarah Deeley and John Beattie had five daughters. Sarah and John moved to Lakeside, Ohio from Sandusky in 1893, where they remained for the rest of their lives. John Beattie died in 1905; Sarah Deeley Beattie died in April 1925. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center holds a number of examples of friendship books from past Sandusky residents. For more information, visit the library.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

It's Graduation Season. . . .

. . .Congratulations to the class of '07.

This is a class photo of the Sandusky High School graduating class of 1907. They are probably sitting on the steps of the Erie County Courthouse, which was across Columbus Avenue from the High School (now Adams Junior High School).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Genealogy: Finding Your Ancestor in Military Records

The Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library has a variety of resources to help you trace your ancestors who served in the military. Through our collection of ClevNet Databases, you can access Ancestry Library Edition (within the library only), which offers over a billion records of interest to genealogists. Another excellent database is Heritage Quest, which is provided by OPLIN (The Ohio Public Library Information Network). Besides digitized census images, Heritage Quest also provides the full text of over 20,000 books of genealogy and local history, as well as records from the Freedman’s Bank, and Revolutionary War pension records from the National Archives and Records Administration. The Reference Services staff can assist you in accessing these online sources.

Below are a few samples of military related records found at the Archives Research Center:

David Carswell is listed in the OFFICIAL ROSTER: SOLDIERS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION BURIED IN OHIO, available on the genealogy shelves. In that record, we find (among other things) that he is buried in Oakland Cemetery. Information about thousands of Revolutionary soldiers who eventually settled in Ohio is included in this volume.

A multi-volume set which provides genealogical information about Revolutionary soldiers is GENEALOGICAL ABSTRACTS OF REVOLUTIONARY WAR PENSION FILES, also available in the Genealogy department.

For information about veterans of the War of 1812, the Ohio Historical Society offers an online database of the roster of Ohio soldiers. This is also available in print form here at the library, in the Genealogy department. Here, you can find that Joseph Taylor, who is buried in Perkins Cemetery, served in Capt. Nathaniel Massie’s Mounted Company in the War of 1812.

Civil War soldiers’ discharge records are on microfilm in the Archives Research Center. In the film are copies of the original discharge certificates. For example, on this film you can find that First Lieutant Foster V. Follett was mustered out on July 13, 1865 at Camp Chase.

Several men from Sandusky served in the Massachusetts 55th Volunteer Infantry. The Sandusky Daily Commercial Register of June 3, 1863 (available on microfilm) lists the names of men of color from Sandusky, ranging in age from 18 to 40, who were anxious to fight for freedom. Two of the recruits were Elijah Brown and Maurice Darnell, both buried in Oakland Cemetery.

The Archives Research Center also a number of photographs of military service men and events:

Sandusky photographer Willard Bishop photographed these officers from Company B of the Sixth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. During the Spanish American War, this unit served in Cuba from January through April 1899.
Hundreds of local residents turned out to welcome back Company B on May 26, 1899.

The information in this entry represents just a fraction of the military-related resources available at the Archives Research Center. Visit the lower level of the Sandusky Library to find a wealth of information about the history of Sandusky, Erie County, and its residents.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Thomas R. Koba, May 19, 2007

The community has lost a great advocate for local history: Tom Koba, historical filmmaker from Berlin Heights, died on Saturday, May 19. (For a complete obituary, see Monday's Sandusky Register.)

He produced several popular films on local history topics, including Rebel Fire Yankee Ice: The Johnson's Island Story and One Saturday Afternoon: The Story of the 1924 Lorain/Sandusky Tornado, as Told by the Survivors. (These titles and several others are available at the Sandusky Library.) Recently, he had presented a screening of one of his later films, Hotel Victory: Lake Erie's Grand Lady, at the Sandusky Library, and was planning to present his tornado film at the library in the near future.

His contributions to preserving the history of the community will be missed.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Men's Literary Club

On the evening of December 29, 1899, twelve serious minded men of middle age met in the office of Judge A.E. Merrill for the purpose of organizing a “Men’s Literary Club.” The 1940 club calendar states that the object of the club was “to promote the intellectual improvement of its members,” and this was to be done through the presentation of papers, written by the members and followed by a general discussion. The club continued until 1954. The members were prominent members of the community, including doctors, lawyers, clergymen, educators, and businessmen.

Topics were often about social issues, current events, and historic events and personalities. In 1900, "H.C." spoke about “Socialism, its Progress in America.” Dr. A.J. Gawne’s paper on April 1, 1903 was “The Influence of Electricity upon the Nerve Center.” Other issues covered by members include treatment of prisoners, eugenics, unemployment, race relations, and economics.

While the Archives Research Center does not have the actual papers written by the Men’s Literary Club, copies of club calendars and membership lists for several years are kept on file.

Below is a photograph taken on December 8, 1914. The Men’s Literary Club met at the home of Dr. C. B. Bliss at 413 Columbus Avenue. Judge Malcolm Kelly, grandson of William Kelly, builder of the Marblehead Lighthouse, was the featured speaker. Judge Kelly’s address was “Things I have Enjoyed in Dickens.”

Pictured are (back row):E.A. Boyer, H.W. Parsons, Leslie Black, Dr. J. T. Haynes, Rev. F. G. Mitchell, Merritt Wilcox, Rev. Ross Sanderson; (middle) C.A. Judson, D.E. Storms, Dr. F.F. Lehman, Judge Roy Williams, Claude B.Dewitt, James T. Begg, Dr. C. B. Bliss;
(front) Rev. E.P. Graham, Judge Malcolm Kelly, C.H. Cramer, Dr. W. Storey, Dr. H. D. Peterson, Rev. C. A. Keller.

The wives of the members surprised the men by marching into the meeting dressed as characters of Dickens novels. The women paraded around the room and challenged members to tell which character they representeted.

Pictured are: (back row) Mrs. Roy Williams, Mrs. C.A. Keller, Mrs. C.A. Judson, Mrs. Leslie Black, Mrs. D.E. Storms, Mrs. C.H. Cramer, Mrs. C.B. Dewitt; (middle) Mrs. H.D.
Peterson, Mrs. J. T. Haynes, Miss Jane Mitchell, Mrs. Frank G. Mitchell, Mrs. Angie Mitchell, Mrs. James T. Begg; (front) Mrs. E.A. Boyer as Jenny Wren, Mrs. F.F. Lehman as Betsy Trotwood, Mrs. H.W. Parsons as David Copperfield’s wife; Mrs. C.B. Bliss, Mrs. Merritt Wilcox as Lady Deadlock.

For a complete collection of the records of the Men's Literary Club, contact the Center for Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Connecticut Yankees in Perkins Township

Truman B. Taylor was a pioneer Erie County citizen, farmer, and financier. For many years he was the president of Citizens National Bank. He was born on February 10, 1846 to Dennis and Phoebe Wright Taylor. His grandfather Jesse Taylor was an early settler from Connecticut. Truman B. Taylor married Mary Jane Eddy in 1872, and to them were born three children, Carrie, Burt, and Nelle, who became Mrs. C. W. Hord. Mrs. Taylor died on April 6, 1914. Truman Taylor died on May 28, 1930 and is buried in Oakland Cemetery.

In the Firelands Pioneer of June, 1865, Truman Taylor tells of his grandmother’s reminiscences of the settlement of Perkins Township. John Beatty had inspected the land in Ohio in 1814, and came back with a favorable report. In the fall of 1815, fourteen families from Glastonbury, Connecticut loaded their goods into “Yankee wagons” and headed west. Oxen and horses pulled the wagons. The journey was begun on September 5, the trip taking forty-nine days of traveling along seven hundred miles of unbroken roads. Along the way they had to buy provisions. When clothing was laundered, they had to dry the clothes on piles of brush if no fence was to be found. One youngster accidentally fell out of the wagon, and though the wheels passed over his body, he survived to live a long life.

Truman’s great-uncle Julius House was so sick with fever, that they had to leave him with relatives in Pennsylvania for a time. When they reached Cleveland there were only a few frame buildings and some log cabins. The settlers were all Methodist and they formed a “Methodist class,” later building a church where circuit riders would preach.

Once in Perkins Township, which was part of the “Firelands” of the Connecticut Western Reserve, the settlers had to clear the woodland. The prairie grass was so high that a man could sit on a horse and tie the grass over the top of his head. Fires often threatened their homes, and the sod proved difficult to break up. Through hard work and perseverance the settlers built homes, raised families, started business ventures, and eventually had thriving farms.

Most of the settlers were buried in Perkins Township. In 1941 when the government purchased 9000 acres of township land to build a munitions plant, the cemetery had to be relocated. In 2002 the Ohio Historical Society placed a marker telling the story of the Perkins Cemetery.

Hewson Peeke says in his 1916 HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY, ”The Taylors and their associates in pioneer settlement were all people of substantial New England stock, moral and upright and thrifty, and in many ways the influences and results of their lives can be traced in the history of Erie County.”

You can read many narratives of the early settlers of Erie and Huron Counties in the Firelands Pioneer at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Program Announcement: "Bringing the Canals to Ohio"

The latest in the series of lunchtime historical programs at the library will be presented in the library program room at noon on Wednesday May 16 -- Bringing the Canals to Ohio. David Simmons, editor of Timeline, the local history magazine of the Ohio Historical Society, will discuss key figures involved in the development of Ohio's canal system, and how it was decided where to build the canals.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Old Courthouse Bell

This fire and alarm bell originally hung in the old Courthouse on the east side of Columbus Avenue from approximately 1838 until 1874 when it was moved to the new Erie County Courthouse on the west side of Columbus Avenue. The bell was made in Troy, New York. For years, the tolling of this bell was the recognized fire alarm in the city and it rang out for every conflagration. After the water works standpipe was built in 1875, a whistle on it was used as a fire warning. The whistle signaled the location of the fire by the number of blasts.

In 1874 when the new court house was built, the bell was moved from its original location in the academy building to the new Erie County Courthouse. A light hearted item about the change in location for the bell appeared in the Sandusky Register on November 24, 1874:

The Old Bell—The bell of the old court house is to be taken down and placed in the tower over the Common Pleas Court room in the new building. The old bell has hung in the court house for thirty years and has done excellent service. It has for years been the only recognized fire alarm in the city, and at every conflagration for the past three decades it has rung out warning notes. It has never been “cracked” on any subject and has always attended strictly to its own business. As a reward for its exemplary course in the past it has been assigned an exalted position in one of the finest court houses in the State. And yet it isn’t “stuck up.” It will by next week probably, as the place is about ready for it.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ebenezer B. Sadler: A Judge Who Lived Without an Enemy

Judge Ebenezer B. Sadler was born at Grafton, Mass., on Nov. 16, 1808, and died March 25, 1888 in Rochester, New York. His mother died in Geneva, New York when Judge Sadler was not yet ten years old. He first studied law in the office of Hon. John Dickson, of West Bloomfield, New York.

In the summer of 1835, at age 26, E.B. Sadler took a stagecoach to Buffalo, and from there embarked for Sandusky. Soon after reaching Sandusky, he was admitted to the bar, and in 1836 formed a law partnership with F.D. Parish, which continued for eleven years.

He married Emily Webb, of West Bloomfield, New York, in 1843. Mrs. Sadler died of cholera in 1849, and Judge Sadler never re-married. His only child was C. Webb Sadler.

In 1844-1845 E. B. Sadler was mayor of Sandusky, and in 1847 he was appointed presiding judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the 13th Judicial Circuit, then embracing the counties of Erie, Huron, Sandusky, Ottawa, Lucas, Wood and Henry. He served in this capacity for five years. In 1852 he was the Whig candidate for Congress. In the years 1866-1867 he was State Senator from this district. He was the Sandusky Postmaster from 1869 to 1871. After the Civil War, E. B. Sadler was involved in several area railroads.
His obituary in the Sandusky Register March 27, 1888, indicates that E.B. Sadler was in politics originally an anti-slavery Whig. He became a Republican at the birth of that party. The obituary continues to say that Judge Sadler “was the friend of every good work, broad, liberal and charitable in his views, and ever ready to do others a kind turn even at the cost of his own comfort." In the HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, it is stated that Ebenezer B. Sadler lived without an enemy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Groceries in Sandusky

Before the advent of supermarkets and megastores, the neighborhood grocery store was the primary source for provisions among city residents. Since, of course, in the nineteenth century there was no refrigeration and no private automobiles, people most likely walked to the local grocery to purchase food for the daily meal. Therefore, there were many grocery stores in the community, scattered throughout the neighborhoods. In the 1855 city directory, for example, there were listings for 26 grocers, serving a population of about 8000 in the city.

The Sandusky Library Archives Research Center has images of some early groceries. Here are a few:
The M.J. Bender Co. grocery store was at the southwest corner of Hancock and Monroe Streets; the image above shows that corner in 1904.

Theodore Goessling briefly operated a grocery at the corner of Market and Hancock Streets, seen here around 1882.

Here is an interior view of the Edward Marquart grocery store, on Scott Street, in 1909. In the picture are Edward and Dora Marquart, with their son Harry.

The Schweinfurth Bros. grocery operated at the corner of Hayes Avenue and West Park Street from about 1898 to 1923. The people in this image are unidentified, but probably are members of the Schweinfurth family.

For more images of grocery stores of Sandusky, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Reading Photographs

Photographs are my favorite sources of history. A photograph can tell you much about the world that existed at the time the picture was taken -- and, by extension, much about the world you live in today. (You'll notice that each entry on this blog has at least one photograph or an image of some sort.) Often, the most interesting parts of a photograph are things beyond the original "subject" of the picture. In some ways, the best photographs are ones that allow you to discover something new whenever you look at them. The photo below is a good example of that:
This is a scene at the foot of Columbus Avenue, probably in 1903 or 1904. The area in this picture was a major transit point for people and goods travelling through Sandusky at that time. Can you count how many different forms of transportation are visible within this image? What can this scene suggest to you about why Sandusky was founded and how it developed the way it did? (For answers relating to this question, see the article, "Sandusky, Pioneer link Between Sail and Rail," in the Ohio History journal.) What can the people in this scene tell you about life in Sandusky over one hundred years ago? Do you think you can create a reasonable story about the life of a person in the picture? Why do you think this picture was taken? How do you explain why a scene like this does not happen there today?

Here is another scene, on the waterfront (near the foot of Meigs Street) in the late 1870s. What inferences can you draw from this image? Why do you think this picture was taken? Does it say anything to you about the ideas of "progress" and "technology" and how people perceived those ideas at the time of the photograph?
Finally, compare and contrast the two photos below. You might not know who either of these men were (in fact, the man on the right is unidentified in our collections), but you can probably make some rather accurate assumptions just by looking at their photos. Note their appearance -- both in their clothing and pose. Even the type of photograph might give hints as to the background of the subject. (The image on the right is a carte-de-visite, an early pocket-sized photo.) Do you think you could create a realistic story for each man?

In many ways, photographs are as valuable as the written word for studying history. We tend to have a different kind of "intellectual filter" (perception) with a photograph than with a written text, and what is not found in the text may sometimes be revealed through your observation of the image. (But beware -- as with made-up stories, photographs can often be distorted to give an inaccurate presentation of the event pictured. It does not have to be "doctoring" of an image; the distortion could be as simple as selectively framing a scene to influence one's perception of events.)

For brief lessons on reading photographs, see here, here, and here. And, of course, the library has many interesting books on the history of photography and its role in culture and society. A good place to start is with Beaumont Newhall's book, The History of Photography (770.9 NE).

As always, if you have your own thoughts about this topic, or about any other postings on this blog, feel free to leave a message in the comments section.