Thursday, July 24, 2008

Program Announcement: Glenn Kuebeler: Castalia, Cold Creek, and the Blue Hole

Join us in the Library Program Room on Wednesday, July 30, at 7:00 p.m. when Glenn Kuebeler, a retired chemical engineer with a strong commitment to the pursuit of Sandusky area history, will review his postcard history book Castalia, Cold Creek, and the Blue Hole, published by Arcadia in June 2007. Images from the book portray the history of the famous Blue Hole, trout fishing clubs, and Russell Heywood's family's and Venice flour mills. Glenn grew up on a farm bordering Cold Creek and graduated from Margaretta High School in 1953. Copies of his book will be available for purchasing and signing at the program. Registration is requested but not required.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Before there was Photoshop

Since I discovered this, I've always found it amusing. . . .

Here is a picture from the library's photographic collections of the Cedar Point boat landing, circa 1900 (when virtually everybody who went to Cedar Point arrived by boat).Yes, believe it or not, those people in suits and floor-length dresses are going to the beach and the amusement park. (You always dressed up in those days.) But you'll notice that the dock itself isn't very "dressed up" -- you see the spare lumber and debris and the nearly-bare ground next to the boardwalk. Not very attractive; certainly not a scene you would want to put in a tourist guide.

But there is a solution to every problem. . . . In 1903 there was published a book, titled simply What, that was intended as a souvenir and promotional guide to the Sandusky area. It showed scenes of local interest, including, of course, Cedar Point. Here is a view from the book of the same photograph above, but with a little bit of editing:Notice the difference? The publisher decided to beautify the dock by adding some flower beds and making the grass a little fuller. Unfortunately, they had to do it with a little bit of paint and creativity. Looks realistic, doesn't it? (Well, maybe not.)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How They Earned Their First Dollar

In the first half of the twentieth century Sandusky newspapers often featured articles which gave an account of how prominent area residents earned their first dollar. Eugene McFall told reporters in the Dec. 17, 1904 Sandusky Daily Register that he earned his first dollar at A. J. Mowry’s general store in Milan. McFall was general manager of the Sandusky Steamboat and Peninsula Steamboat companies in 1904.

“My First Dollar: How I Earned It” was title of a column by F. Holt for the Sandusky Star Journal in 1921.
Sheriff John B. Taylor, pictured above, went to work at a Sandusky wheel company at the age of 13, where he received payment of forty cents a day. Most of his money went to help support his mother and the rest of the Taylor family. Sheriff Taylor later introduced the science of fingerprinting to Erie County.
John Himmelein was Mayor of Sandusky in 1921 and owned three theaters. He told Mr. Holt that his first job was washing bottles for the Kelleys Island Wine Company. He spent his first dollar at the county fair. F. Holt reports “Probably it was the thrills he experienced in every show on the fair grounds that put the show business bug in his ear…”
G.A. Boeckling, who managed Cedar Point in the twenties, said his first dollar was earned in Michigan City, Indiana, where he was the bookkeeper and janitor of a dry goods store. Boeckling said that “the proudest moment of his life” came when he bought Mother Boeckling a kerosene lamp with the first money he ever earned.

You can read many more human interest stories about Sandusky residents at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library, which houses several decades of Sandusky newspapers on microfilm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Die Gartenlaube"

Though the entire issue is not found, the cover of Die Gartenlaube (The Arbor, in English) is located in the Stubig Family Collection of the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. The issue is dated January 1, 1870, and features a cartoon by X. A. W. Aarland. Die Gartenlaube was the most widely read magazine in Germany in the late 1800’s. It was first published in Leipzig in 1853, and later moved to Berlin, continuing publication until 1944. The weekly magazine featured many illustrations, serialized novels, and travel narratives.

The New York Times carried an article about Kurt Aram’s visit to the United States. The editors of Die Gartenlaube pondered how German immigrants could manage to live in the United States of America without knowing the language and having very little money. They decided to fund a project in which Kurt Aram, a German writer, would go to America with only twenty five dollars, and then report to the editors about his experiences in the new land. Mr. Aram told how he found food and lodging, obtained employment, and even managed to find a German restaurant that served authentic German beer and sauerbraten. For a book which gives a thorough look at Die Gartenlaube from 1853 – 1900, read Kirsten Belgum’s Popularizing the Nation, available for loan through ClevNet.
Christian Stubig was born in Nassau, Germany in 1835, and came to the U.S. in 1861, settling in Sandusky. (He is probably the man standing at the back of the group of men in this photo; the photo was taken in Nauheim, Germany, at a reunion of schoolmates in 1900.) He had a shoe business which was later carried on by his son William. Another son, Carl Stubig, had a local newspaper in Sandusky from 1914 through 1918, and was active in local politics. Christian Stubig served as a guard at Johnson’s Island during the Civil War and later re-enlisted in the 5th Regiment, U.S. Veteran Volunteer Infantry. An obituary honoring Christian Stubig in the Sandusky Register, July 20, 1904 stated that “Sandusky loses a prominent citizen.” Christian Stubig became fully involved in every aspect of American life, but he also remained in touch with his family members who remained in Germany. The Stubig Family Collection contains several letters to the Stubig family, as well as financial documents, postcards, and business and legal papers.

Here is a photograph of the Stubig Shoe Store located at 754 Water Street around 1904.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Program Announcement: History of the Erie County Fair (Brown-Bag Lunch Series)

Join us in the library program room this Wednesday, July 16 at noon for a presentation on the history of the Erie County Fair. Over the course of its more than 150 years, the Erie County Fair has been held in a number of locations around Sandusky, and in 1858, Sandusky hosted the Ohio State Fair. Local historian Janet Senne will look back at the history of the Erie County Fair and some of the traditions and stories associated with this venerable local institution. Registration is requested. To register, call 419-625-3834 and press 0 to speak with a switchboard operator (9-5, Monday-Friday) or press Option 6 to leave a message.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Cosmopolitan Art Association

The Cosmopolitan Art Association was a nationally-recognized organization founded in 1854 in Sandusky, Ohio, by C.L. Derby. It was modeled after similar Art Associations in Philadelphia and London. The purpose of the Association was “for the encouragement and general diffusion of literature and art.”

Subscribers paid three dollars a year to belong to the Cosmopolitan Art Association. For this fee, they received an annual periodical subscription or an engraving, as well as a ticket for a chance to win a work of art in a lottery held each year.

At the end of its first year of operation, the Association had 22,418 subscribers, and had distributed over one hundred works of art. In 1855 the grand prize was a sculpture entitled “Greek Slave” by Hiram Powers. Mrs. Kate Gillespie of Brady’s Bend, Pennsylvania, was the winner of this sculpture. (Later, after touring the country with the sculpture, Mrs. Gillespie sold the it back to the Cosmopolitan Art Association.) The Association printed a list of the winners and their prizes in the local newspaper, as well as its own publications.
The third annual art drawing was held at Sandusky’s Norman Hall on January 28, 1857. The Honorable Eleutheros Cooke, then president of the Association, gave an opening address. Next, a poem by Metta Victor was read. The annual address was given by Ralph Waldo Emerson. His theme was “Beauty.” The Sandusky Daily Commercial Register had this statement about Emerson’s visit to Sandusky: “The undoubted and superior attainments of Mr. Emerson as a scholar and lecturer, is a sufficient guarantee of the rich intellectual treat which my expected, and the procurement of such an accomplished gentleman to pronounce the Annual Address is a strong testimonial of the high aim and objects of the enterprise.”

Eventually the Cosmopolitan Art Association moved its office to New York. By August, 1861, a local news article in the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register read “The Cosmopolitan Art Association in New York has been obliged to suspend its operations and discontinue its journal.”

A paper, titled A Study of the Cosmopolitan Art Association, 1854-1861, by Doris Preis Rubinow is available at the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. There are also several articles and other primary sources related to the Cosmopolitan Art Association in the historical files.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Plum Brook Ordnance Works News Comics

Sandusky’s war effort during World War II far exceeded the typical activities of Red Cross drives, victory gardens, and military recruitments. Just five miles south of the city was the Plum Brook Ordnance Works munitions factory, charged with the responsibility of manufacturing explosives trinitrotoluene (TNT), dinitrotoluene (DNT), and pentolite. The site produced more than one billion pounds of ordnance throughout World War II.

The Trojan Powder Company, the operating contractor of the factory, published a weekly newspaper for its employees. The PBOW News ran between July 1942 and August 1945, keeping readers abreast of the company’s most recent activities, like company softball and bowling stats, war progress, and production details.

But the paper’s pages provide more information than company endeavors. Attempting to keep its employees entertained, PBOW News editors filled out weekly issues with all sorts of cartoons. A look at these toons offers some insight into the attitudes and outlooks of Sandusky factory workers during wartime. The scope of these comics ranged from job safety to social commentary to mindless entertainment, all with an amusing edge. Editors arranged the cartoons alongside grim World War II news, demonstrating that a sense of levity was sometimes a necessary accompaniment to the serious nature of war.

Some of these strips come with messages to the workers. . .

Did people in the 1940s actually find these strips funny? Perhaps not. After all, how many of us split sides over Non Sequitur?

Now this one is funny, although probably not intentionally so.

After the war’s end, the facility sat idle. The U.S. Army decontaminated and decommissioned the buildings and structures associated with manufacturing the explosives. With the close of the munitions factory came an end to the company newspaper. Those interested the history of the facility can visit the Sandusky Library Archives and browse through the records. Past issues of the PBOW News comprise the bulk of the Library’s Plum Brook Ordnance Works Collection.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

The Map Collection at the Sandusky Library

Visitors to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center in recent months may have noticed new map cabinets at the far end of the reading room. These cabinets, along with environmental monitoring devices (for temperature, humidity, and water leaks) for the archives storage room, were purchased with funds from a Preservation Assistance Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Recently we have completed transferring our oversize map and poster collections to these cabinets -- to allow for better storage of these items and to create more storage space for other materials in the storage room. The map collection, which includes early maps of Sandusky and the Sandusky Bay, among others, is available to researchers in the archives. See the Archives Librarian or any Reference Librarian for assistance.