Friday, October 30, 2009

Katharine Hepburn and Ann Harding’s visit to Sandusky and Put in Bay

On the front page of the October 28, 1940 issue of the Sandusky Star Journal, reporter Harold Detlefsen wrote a feature article about two movie stars who made a visit to the Lake Erie Islands area on Sunday, October 27, 1940. (Harold and his wife would later found the RFD News.)


In conjunction with a promotional tour for the movie “The Philadelphia Story,” Katharine Hepburn, her brother, and actress Ann Harding made a stop in Sandusky while traveling from Cleveland to Detroit. The group traveled in the Hepburn Lincoln town car which had New York license plate number H-97. They visited the Sloane House hotel, where Ann Harding told the housekeeper that she was a direct descendant of Rush Sloane, for whom the hotel was named. She said she was also related to Jay Cooke. (To date, these family connections have not been confirmed.)

Despite cool weather, the visitors took a speedboat ride to Put-in-Bay. Sandusky resident Herb Barber was at the helm of the boat, owned by Worthy Brown, Inc. Ann Harding was familiar with Put in Bay, as she had formerly lived there while married to actor Harry Bannister. Mr. Detlefsen said that in spite of inclement weather, Katharine Hepburn said to him, “R-E-A-L-L-Y, I’ve had the most wonderful time here.” Miss Hepburn also autographed a photograph for the reporter. Harold Detlefsen said that the driver of the boat did not know the identity of his passengers until after their boat trip. In fact, only a few area residents got a glimpse of Katharine Hepburn and Ann Harding. Mr. Detlefsen stated that after seeing and speaking with Miss Hepburn, he felt he had “seen real glamour!”

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Vintage Halloween Postcards

Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Opie donated several Halloween postcards to the Follett House Museum. Mrs. Opie and her husband Albert Opie were associated with the O-P Craft Company, which made arts and crafts supplies in Sandusky for many years.

Here are four postcards produced by Raphael Tuck and Sons, who were publishers of postcards and greeting cards (as well as books, puzzles, and other items) from the mid-nineteenth century into the early twentieth century.


Check out The Encyclopedia of Antique Postcards, by Susan Brown Nicholson, available at the Sandusky Library, to learn more about vintage postcards.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Kurt Boker and Snakes of the Lake Erie Islands

Among the numerous historical notebooks from the Kurt Boker Collection of the Sandusky Library’s Archives Research Center, is a collection of documents related to Snakes and Snake Stories of Kelleys Island and Surrounding Areas. The articles are from the Firelands Pioneer, Sandusky Register, and several other periodicals. As article from the May 17, 1911 issue of the Sandusky Weekly Register, by E. L. Moseley, urges area residents not to kill the fox snake, which were helpful to farmers by eating rodents.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the Lake Erie water snake to be a threatened species. The non-venomous eastern fox snake is found in the northern most portion of Ohio, as well as on the Lake Erie islands. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, rattlesnakes were once prevalent on Rattlesnake Island. The last sighting of the poisonous timber rattlesnake was in 1961. Pictured below is Mr. Boker and a rattlesnake he found on Put in Bay in 1961.

In May of 1961, Mr. Boker was hoping to transport three snakes from Ohio to the Philadelphia Zoological Garden. Roger Conant replied to Kurt Boker, with instructions on how to ship live snakes via train or air, along with instructions for shipping pickled specimens.

Mr. Boker successfully managed to ship three snakes to the Philadelphia Zoo. All were of record size: an eastern garden snake with a length of 48 ¾ inches, an eastern hognose snake which was 45 ¼ inches long, and an eastern fox snake with a total length of 78 1/8 inches. Roger Conant wrote about the three snakes in the December 31, 1965 issue of the Journal of the Ohio Herpetological Society. Mr. Conant felt that the most interesting of the three snakes was the eastern fox snake. He wrote that besides being of great size, it was eyeless, and many of its scales were fused together. During its time at the Philadelphia Zoological Garden, the eastern fox snake ate freshly killed white mice that the zookeepers placed near its head.

Visit the Archives Research Center to view the Kurt Boker Collection which contains a wealth of historical and genealogical information about the families and businesses of Kelleys Island.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kahler’s Kampbell Street Kash Grocery


Kahler’s “Kampbell Street Kash Grocery” was located at the northwest corner of Campbell and Hendry Streets. John R. Kahler’s obituary, which appeared in the June 27, 1959 Sandusky Register, stated that Mr. Kahler had been a grocer and meat dealer on Campbell Street for over fifty years. He had also served as Zion Lutheran Church’s Sunday School superintendent for fifty years.

John R. Kahler was born in Ottawa County, Ohio in 1880, his parents having immigrated to the United States from Germany. John’s wife Emma listed Germany as her birthplace in the 1920 United States Census. John and Emma Kahler had family of three sons and a daughter, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren. One son, who had the same name as his father, served as Sandusky’s Mayor in 1948 and 1949. The younger John R. Kahler had also been a history teacher and athletic director of Sandusky High School, and former treasurer of the Sandusky Foundry and Machine and Good Samaritan Hospital.

Emma Kahler passed away in 1938, and John R. Kahler died on June 26, 1959. Mr. and Mrs. Kahler are buried in Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Zenia the Vestal, by Margaret B. Peeke

Margaret Bloodgood Peeke was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Garry Peck. She was born in Mechanicsville, New York on April 8, 1908. In 1860, Margaret married Rev. George H. Peeke, a Protestant minister. Rev. and Mrs. Peeke settled in Sandusky in 1883, where George served as the minister of the Congregational Church. Rev. Peeke later served a congregation in Cleveland as well. Rev. and Mrs. Peeke had six children, one of whom was well known Sandusky lawyer and local history author, Hewson L. Peeke. Hewson L. Peeke wrote in his book, A Standard History of Erie County, about his mother, “She had a remarkably bright mind and wonderful conversational ability.”

Robert H. Stockman wrote in his book The Baha'i Faith in America, that while Margaret B. Peeke had been raised as a strong Protestant church member, her interests changed, and she became a Martinist. Martinism is a form of mystical Christianity. Margaret was the author of Born of Flame, Numbers and Letters: or The Thirty-Two Paths of Wisdom, and Zenia the Vestal.


A book reviewer stated that Zenia the Vestal was a book which embodied “the occult laws of spiritual development, as given by the wise men of other lands…”

An advertisement for two of Mrs. Peeke’s books appeared in The Metaphysical Magazine in 1901.


According to Ohio Authors and Their Books, Margaret Bloodgood Peeke traveled widely, teaching Hermetic philosophy, with her largest following in the northern Ohio area. Margaret Bloodgood Peeke died on November 2, 1908. She is buried in Pomona, Tennessee near her daughter Grace Peeke. Grace Carew Sheldon wrote in an article in the Columbus Medical Journal shortly after Margaret’s death, that “The loss to her myriads of friends in every part of the world testifies to her international value, for she was beloved both at home and abroad.”

A copy of Zenia the Vestal is located in the local authors collection of the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. The book contains an inscription from Rev. George H. Peeke to Miss Hazel Maud Morgan, the daughter of local Sandusky businessman, T. T. Morgan. The inscription reads:

Wisdom is the principal thing
Therefore get wisdom. –Proverb

Friday, October 16, 2009

Program Announcement: Brown-Bag Lunch -- Exploring Sandusky's First Century, Part 1


Join us in the library program room at noon on Wednesday, October 21, as Museum Curator Maggie Marconi will take you on a chronological look at the first half of the Nineteenth Century and the key events and people that helped Sandusky develop into a bustling port city.

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, October 15, 2009

Fred F. Wetzler, German Immigrant

Frederick F. Wetzler was born in 1866 to Mr. and Mrs. Frank Wetzler, who were both natives of Germany. Frank was born in Prussia, and Mrs. Wetzler had been born in Bavaria, according to the 1870 U.S. Census for Erie County, Ohio. Fred F. Wetzler died on October 16, 1928, after he suffered a stroke while driving a vehicle on Hayes Avenue. Area residents who witnessed the accident removed him from the truck and took him to the home of Henry Homberger. He was rushed to Good Samaritan Hospital, where Dr. G. H. Boehmer cared for him, but he died shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Fred F. Wetzler had a plumbing and heating business in Sandusky for many years, at 908 Columbus Avenue. An article in the June 16, 1908 Sandusky Register gave an account of Mr. Wetzler’s business. It read, in part: “The plumber is more important in many respects than the physician, as he keeps out disease, while the doctor only drives it out, or tries to do so, after it has gained a foothold in the family. In this connection, it is a cheerful task to call attention to the work in practical plumbing done by Mr. Wetzler, who is located at 809 Columbus Ave, and has been established in our city for the past five years…”

The drawing below was included in the 1908 newspaper article.
The funeral for Fred F. Wetzler was held first at Lutz Funeral Home, and later at the Masonic Temple. Burial was in Oakland Cemetery. Mr. Wetzler was survived by his wife, his daughter Winifred, and a brother, Frank Wetzler. You can read the obituary for Fred F. Wetzler in the 1928 OBITUARY NOTEBOOK in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library.

Monday, October 12, 2009

East Market Street Primary School

Charles E. Frohman wrote in his book, A History of Sandusky and Erie County, that following a public meeting on October 14, 1843, a committee consisting of Moors Farwell, Alexander Porter, and Zenas Barker met to prepare a plan for the erection of one or more school houses for the education of the young people of Sandusky. Two stone school houses were built at the end of West Market Square and the south side of East Market Square. Another school was erected on the west side of Camp Street at Adams, and the high school was located on the West Public Square.

Pictured below is the building that was formerly used as the East Market Primary School located on East Market Street. The school was in operation from the mid 1840’s through the 1870’s. The view is from Franklin Street, and the Variety Village Drive-Through can be seen adjacent to the former school building.

The Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library has in its local schools collection an attendance register from the East Market Primary School, covering the years 1848 through 1853.


On the register page dated August 18, 1851, are the names of Melissa and Minerva Bell. These twin girls lost their parents, Horace and Sarah Bell, during the cholera epidemic in Sandusky in 1849. Mary and Rosa, daughters of well known lawyer and abolitionist F. D. Parish, are also seen on this page. (Rosa was also known as Damask Rose. See the book, Stories of Sandusky, for a touching, possibly fictionalized story about Damask Rose Parish.)


Many familiar names of the children of early Sandusky residents can be seen throughout the attendance register. A student named Theodore Hosmer would become the first Mayor of Tacoma, Washington.

An interesting report form was found from August 19, 1853. Besides recording attendance, absence and tardiness, the following items were also recorded by the teacher: number of communications for the week, number of pupils engaged in quarreling, and the number of cases of falsehood, uses of profane language and cases of obscene language. The final item to be tallied was the number of corporal punishments inflicted in the classroom for the week.

Visit the Sandusky Library to find a variety of historical items relating to Sandusky and Erie, including historical yearbooks and city directories and county histories of several counties in Ohio.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sandusky’s Central Fire and Police Station, 1890

In 1888, Sandusky’s leaders saw the need for a new building to house the city’s police and fire departments. Following a “series of complications” the contract for the new building was awarded to A. Feick and Bros. The new Central Police and Fire Station was built of native blue limestone, and trimmed in Michigan red sandstone. It had a frontage of 81 feet, and a depth of 120 feet. The main tower was 94 feet high. The building was on the south side of Market Street, between Columbus Avenue and Jackson Streets, just a few doors down from the U.S. Post Office and Customs House.


On October 9, 1890, the new building was opened for inspection. The October 10, 1890 Sandusky Register front page article reported that at the inspection, “the firemen and police patrolmen were attired in their best uniforms and wore their happiest smiles.”

The large new structure was divided into two sections, one for the police department and the other for the fire department. It included space for storing the police patrol wagon and the fire department equipment. Offices for the city marshal and captain of the police were on the second floor. There were enough prison cells for sixteen males and four females. In the basement of the building was a department known as the "tramps' reception room." The Central Police and Fire Station also had offices for the city electrician and the mayor's court. The fireman's chamber was spacious enough to hold thirteen beds and thee sliding poles. Food for the horses necessary for the horse-drawn vehicles was stored in the hay loft. On the third floor was a large hall to be used for holding large public gatherings.

Steam heated the new building, and there was lighting by both gas and electricity. Furniture for the new Police and Fire Stations was provided by J. Krupp & Son, Kugler & Marquart, and Deck & Andres, all local firms. Carpets, linoleums and mattings were purchased from John J. and George A. Esch. The article in the Sandusky Register continues with brief biographies of several Sandusky firemen and policemen, and gives further details about the contractors of the new building.

Below is a photograph of the Central Police and Fire Station in 1901. The building is draped with flags and mourning ribbons following the death of President McKinley who died on September 14, 1901. Several firemen and policeman can be seen outside the station. A. Steffenhagen’s saloon is to the east of the Central Police and Fire Station.

The building which began as the Central Police and Fire Station building in 1890 went on to serve as the City Building from 1915 until 1958. The new City Building on Meigs Street was dedicated in May, 1958.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Young Men’s Debating Association of Sandusky

The secretary’s book containing the minutes of the Young Men’s Debating Association is housed in the Archives Research Center of the Sandusky Library. The group was organized in 1840 and was later called the Philomathesian Society (a precursor of the Sandusky Library). The back of the book contains a listing of the questions which were debated as well as the bylaws, constitution, treasurers’ accounts, and a record of fines that were collected. The book was donated by Thomas B. Hoxsey. According to notes found with the secretary’s book, the group’s motto was “Knowledge is power.”

In the beginning, only the surnames of the members were given. Early members were: Mr. Lockwood, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Camp, Mr. Vrooman, Mr. McGee, Mr. Cooke, Mr. Mills, and Mr. Davidson. H. D. Cooke, brother of Jay Cooke, served as the Secretary-Treasurer in August 1840. A different member served as president of each meeting.

On October 7, 1840, the Young Men’s Debating Association met in Sandusky. Mr. J. Vrooman served as president, as the person who was designated to serve as president was absent. Attending the meeting were: Jacob A. Camp, William S. Mills, J. H .Lockwood, J. Steiner, E. B. Goodrich, J. S. Vrooman, and James McGee. The members debated the question: “Which is more desirable knowledge or fame?” The minutes read that “after a long and extremely animating debate” the president awarded the honor to both parties. The question for the next meeting was “Should fiction ever be considered as a vehicle for truth?”

Other questions debated were:

“Which affords the greatest field for eloquence, the pulpit or the bar?”
“Which has been the most benefit to mankind, invention or discovery?”
“Was Columbus the first discoverer of America?”
“Is conscience an innate principle?”

The final entry in the minutes book of the Young Men’s Debating Society is dated April 13, 1841. Jacob A. Camp was serving as the Secretary-Treasurer at this time, and Mr. Vrooman chaired the meeting.

Long before radio, television, cell phones, and the Internet, debating served as an enjoyable pastime for Sandusky’s young men. Visit the Sandusky Library’s Archives Research Center to view the minutes of the Young Men’s Debating Association.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Mystery Photos: Identify the Scene

In the Sandusky Library Archives is a small collection of stereographs from the early 1870s, collected and described by Leroy Hinkey. Over the next few months (unless I forget), we'll use some of those images here in the blog as "Mystery Photos." Let's start with a relatively easy one (or maybe not):


Can you describe where this scene is? From where was it taken? How many landmarks can you identify?

Here is a crop of a single frame, which might make it a little easier to see things. (The original is not of great quality).


Update: Told you it was an easy one. Our first commenter had the correct answer. It shows the corner of Columbus Avenue and (what is now) East Adams Street, viewed from the courthouse. Some of the buildings in the scene are still standing today, nearly 140 years later, although some have been modified. In the left forground is the Emmanuel Church. It was expanded in the 1950s, and had been remodeled well before then as well. In the background, you can see homes on Wayne Street that are still recognizable, including the Follett House, the Moss house, and Hubbard houses. In the distance is the German Reformed Church, now the site of First Faith Community Church.