Wednesday, September 29, 2010

German Comedy at Turner Hall

On April 17, 1873 a comedy played at the Concordia Theater of the Turner Hall in Sandusky. The title of the play was Unberufene Dienstbarkeit! oder Ungeheurer Wirrwarr, which translated into English is Unwarranted Easement or Tremendous Confusion. All the members of the cast were of German descent. Players in the comedy included: Herman Dehnel, Lina Thieri, Emilie Doegelman, Mr. Linder, Mr. Streit, Heinrich Dehnel, Mr. Schoenemann, Mrs. Hauser, Mr. Klaus, Mr. Knebel, Miss Spathelf, Richard Riegger and Mr. Dreumus. Music was provided by the Great Western Band.

An article from the April 18, 1873 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that due to inclement weather, attendance was not as high as would have been expected, but “what the audience lacked in numbers it made up for in enthusiasm.” The reporter stated that the comedy was “rendered in a truly artistic manner.” According to History of Erie County, Ohio, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, at one time Sandusky had two German theaters, the Volks Theater and the Concordia Theater.

Heinrich Dehnel, whose name was later changed to Henry Dehnel, was one of the performers in Unberufene Dienstbarkeit! oder Ungeheurer Wirrwarr.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Training Nurses in Sandusky

September 26, 1907 was the date of the first official graduating class from the Providence School of Nursing. Providence Hospital opened its doors at 1912 Hayes Avenue on April 5, 1904, under the direction of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine of the Cleveland Diocese. In 1923, the diocesan boundaries were re-drawn, placing Sandusky in the Toledo diocese, so the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine transferred ownership to the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania, Ohio.

Leo Bahnsen, the first male nurse at Providence Hospital, is shown making his rounds in 1938 in a male ward at Providence Hospital:
In 1918, local Red Cross officials taught nursing skills to volunteers to help in the war effort during World War One, as well as to assist with local victims of influenza.
From 1910 to 1937, Good Samaritan Hospital also trained nurses. A listing in the 1923 Sandusky City Directory shows Good Samaritan Hospital at 624 Van Buren Street, and the Good Samaritan Hospital nurses’ home at 612 Van Buren Street.

Here is a scene from the Good Samaritan nurses’ residence in 1923; the young ladies may actually be Good Samaritan nursing students:
If male callers came to visit the nursing students, they had to stay in the “beau’s room” at the end of the hall, and they were never to enter the upstairs rooms of the young ladies.
Names of individual nurses who resided in Sandusky were listed on pages 501 and 502 of the 1923 Sandusky City Directory.

Today individuals who wish to enter into a career in nursing can enroll at Firelands Regional Medical Center School of Nursing. The history of the school has its origins in Sandusky, dating back to 1905. Today's Firelands Regional Medical Center is the combination of three former hospitals in Sandusky, Good Samaritan Hospital, Sandusky Memorial Hospital, and Providence Hospital.

Visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center to learn more about the history of health care in the Sandusky area. Books, historical newspaper articles, city directories, and other archival resources provide details about the former hospitals, nurses and doctors who served Sandusky residents.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Soldiers from the 12th Veteran Reserve Corps

In 1964, Mrs. Jessie Fleming donated a number of military related items to the historical rooms of the Sandusky Library, in memory of the Fleming family. Now those items are housed at The Follett House Museum and the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Included in the bequest were several cartes-de-visite of Civil War soldiers, all of whom served in Company H of the 12th Veteran Reserve Corps. The Veteran Reserve Corps , which was originally known as the Invalid Corps, allowed partially disabled soldiers to serve on light duty. Usually the soldiers in the Veteran Reserve Corps had already served in a regular unit during wartime. Only soldiers who were considered “meritorious and deserving” by their commanding officers were recommended for the VRC.

Robert Leavell served in the 75th Indiana Volunteer Infantry before being assigned to Co. H. of the Veteran Reserve Corps. A listing on the National Gravesite Locator, from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, indicates that Robert Leavell is buried in the Marion National Cemetery in Indiana.
Joseph Flickinger was a private in Co. H of the Veteran Reserve Corps. There were actually several Civil War soldiers with this name, serving from a variety of states in the United States.
Pictured below are A. J. Biddison and John Mayers. According to his Civil War Pension File, Annias J. Biddison served in the 97th Ohio Infantry as well as in Co. H., VRC.
William H. Begley was a Corporal when he joined Co. H of the 12th Veteran Reserve Corps. His carte-de-visite appears more ornate than the images of the privates from the same unit.
If you have Civil War ancestors, visit the Sandusky Library, where you can access Ancestry Library Edition. Many military records from several different wars are available at Ancestry. Another valuable online resource is the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System. Freely available from any computer, this database provides basic information about the military service of men from both the Union and Confederacy. Histories of individual regiments are also available at the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Judge James L. DeWitt

James Lloyd DeWitt was born on September 20, 1848 in Perkins Township of Erie County, Ohio to Mr. and Mrs. James DeWitt, pioneer settlers of the Firelands. (He was usually known as Lloyd DeWitt.) He attended Oberlin College, and studied law in Sandusky. In April of 1873, J.L. DeWitt was admitted to the bar. Mr. DeWitt practiced law in Sandusky, until he was elected Mayor of Sandusky and served as Mayor from 1883 to 1886. From 1887 until 1890, James L. DeWitt was the Common Pleas Judge for Erie County, Ohio.

On the afternoon of October 11, 1890, Judge J. L. DeWitt was killed while walking along the Lake Shore Railroad tracks just east of Sandusky. Some young boys saw the judge walking, and he stepped aside to avoid a freight train approaching from the west. He did not see the other train which was coming from the east. Judge DeWitt was struck by the east bound train, and died instantly. The judge’s faithful dog did not leave his side. His pocket watch was found to have stopped exactly at eight minutes to four o’clock, the accident having caused it to stop. A front page article about the tragic accident appeared on the front page of the October 12, 1890 issue of the Sandusky Register. The first paragraph read in part, “No man in the city was more generally known or better liked by people of all classes than Judge DeWitt, and the expressions of sorrow on all sides were most sincere and heartfelt.”

On the day of the funeral of Judge DeWitt, several members of the bar formed a procession and marched in a unit from the Erie County Courthouse to the DeWitt residence on Columbus Avenue, where the funeral was held. The courtroom of the Erie County Common Pleas Court was draped in mourning, as an expression of sympathy felt by the members of the bar and officials of the Courthouse. Newspaper accounts stated that funeral services were officiated by Rev. J. F. Brant of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and included several hymns. The red cedar casket was covered with broadcloth, and the plate on the casket bore his name. Burial was at Oakland Cemetery. In the proceedings of the Ohio Bar Association in 1891, E.B. King made these remarks:

Mr. DeWitt was at the time of his death a Common Pleas Judge in the first sub-division of this district, and had been holding that position for four years. He was a young man, in the prime of his life, and in the full vigor of his strength and manhood, and was regarded, both by the bar and a very large circle of acquaintances and friends, both as a citizen and as a judge, as a man of perfect, upright character, conscientious and faithful, to a fault, in the discharge of judicial duties, exceedingly careful in the decision of causes and the rendition of opinions, and popular with all classes of his fellow men. He was elected to the Bench at the age of thirty seven years, and in his forty-first year was accidentally and suddenly killed by a railroad train. No event that has happened in our community for a score of years cast the gloom over society and the public in general that the death of Judge DeWitt did, under the circumstances that it occurred.
Judge J. L. DeWitt was survived by his wife and a son and daughter. Judge DeWitt is the first individual on the left in picture below. This stereographic image of the Erie County Common Pleas Courtroom was created by A.C. Platt in 1874.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

James A. Ryan: Journalist, Author, Postmaster

James A. Ryan was born in Sandusky in 1870, the son of Irish immigrants James and Ann Ryan. He began working in the composing room of the Sandusky Register when he was only eleven years old. By the time he was 21, he was a reporter for the Register. Mr. Ryan wrote a number of articles about the history of Sandusky and Erie County during the 1920’s and 1930’s for the Sandusky Register, the Star Journal, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. On June 23, 1911, James A. Ryan wrote an article for the Register about his experience as a passenger in the Hydro-Aeroplane of aviator Glenn H. Curtiss.

In April of 1900, James A. Ryan became the press agent for Cedar Point. He assisted Manager G.A. Boeckling with both the Cedar Point resort and the Nielson Opera House. For about a year, Mr. Ryan was in the theatrical business in Michigan and Indiana, but he returned to Sandusky in 1903. On September 1, 1914, Mr. Ryan was appointed to be Sandusky’s postmaster. Serving in this position during the Great War, Mr. Ryan was one of the organizers of the Erie County Welfare League. He also handled publicity for the Liberty Loan Drive and the Red Cross during the wartime years.

Below is a page from James A. Ryan’s book entitled The Town of Milan. He dedicated this copy of his book to the Sandusky Library Association on May 10, 1928.
James A. Ryan passed away on September 16, 1939. He was buried in Oakland Cemetery. An obituary for Mr. Ryan is found in the 1939 Obituary Notebook, housed with the genealogical books at the Sandusky Library. A scrapbook compiled by James A. Ryan was bequeathed to the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The scrapbook contains newspaper clippings, letters, telegrams, photographs, and historical brochures which chronicle the life and career of Mr. Ryan. A very sad item in the scrapbook is the obituary for Wilson Ryan, the son of James and Caroline Ryan, who died at the age of two in 1897. An undated news article describes how James Ryan earned his first dollar. He saved money from his earnings at his first job with the Sandusky Register, in order to purchase a piece of furniture for his mother. It was a very happy event for young James when the furniture was finally delivered to his parents’ home.

To read some of the writings of James A. Ryan, visit the Sandusky Library. Over sixty local newspaper articles related to Mr. Ryan have been indexed in the Charles E. Frohman Index to the Sandusky Register and Star Journal, located on microfilm in the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. Mr. Ryan wrote articles for the Firelands Pioneer, which is also available at the Sandusky Library. See the index to the Firelands Pioneer for references to James A. Ryan. A newspaper tribute to James A. Ryan reads in part, “Editor, historian, postmaster, Board of Elections clerk and a public spirited citizen. That well describes James A. Ryan, whose death Sandusky mourns. Few men have played a more prominent part in this community than Mr. Ryan. He was honored on many occasions by the citizens of his home city and always carried his honors well.”

Sunday, September 12, 2010

1809 Sampler by Gertrude Nash

According to records at the Follett House Museum, this sampler was handstitched by Gertrude Nash in 1809. Gertrude Nash was an early resident of southern Ohio. Hewson Peeke wrote in his book A Standard History of Erie County that Gertrude’s maternal grandfather, Major Horton, served in the Revolutionary War. In 1818, Gertrude married a Mr. Cook, who died young. She later married Henry Clay Victor, who was once a tavern keeper in Erie County, Ohio. One of the sons of Henry Clay and Gertrude Nash Victor, Orville James Victor, became a well known author and editor. Henry Clay Victor and his family lived in Erie County, Huron County, and Seneca County. By 1860, Gertrude was a widow, and she moved back to Sandusky, Ohio. Gertrude Nash Victor died in 1882, and she is buried in Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Program Announcement: Cemetery Walk - Cemetery Symbolism

Cemetery Symbolism is back by popular demand! Join Museum Administrator Maggie Marconi on Wednesday, September 15; Thursday, September 16, or Saturday, September 18, at 10:00 a.m. and take a closer look at one of Sandusky’s historic burying grounds, Oakland Cemetery. As we wind our way through the peaceful grounds, we will learn about 19th Century mourning practices and the rural cemetery movement, as well as examine examples of grave marker symbols and their meanings.

As this is a walking tour, please wear appropriate shoes and outerwear and be prepared to stand or walk for at least an hour. Registration is required. To register, call 419-625-3834 and press 0 to speak with a switchboard operator (10-5, Monday-Friday) or press Option 6 to leave a message.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The American Liquor & Opium Cure Company of Sandusky, Ohio

A newspaper article in the December 1, 1892 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that the American Liquor and Opium Cure Company was ready for business. Medical directors were physicians A. J. Crane and A. L. Wilson. Officers were: F. E. Hoover, President; Sam W. Miller, Manager; F.A. Layman, Secretary; and F. L. Felch, Treasurer. The facility claimed it could help patients overcome the habits of liquor, morphine, and cigarettes with pure vegetable remedies. The sanitarium was located at Oak Grove Place, the former home of Sandusky businessman C.C. Keech.


By 1898, the American Liquor & Opium Cure Company was no longer in operation, and a saloon known as Oak Grove Villa was at this location. In 1902, Laurence Cable purchased the former Keech residence, and deeded it to Rev. Bishop Ignatius F. Horstman to be used as a hospital. After the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine took charge of the proposed hospital, it was given the name of Providence Hospital. In 2001, Providence Hospital became a part of the Firelands Regional Medical Center. Helen Hansen wrote about the C. C. Keech house, at 1912 Hayes Avenue, in Article 17 of her book At Home in Early Sandusky.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Celebration at Johnson’s Island in 1897

On September 6, 1897 the Sandusky Trades and Labor Assembly held their eighth annual Labor Day celebration at the Johnson’s Island Pleasure Resort Company.

Speakers of the day were Jacob Holl, Jr., Isaac Miller, and the Honorable Max S. Hayes, a well known labor leader from Cleveland.

Scouton’s Concert Band, conducted by Will Scouton, presented concerts in the afternoon and evening. Dancing was enjoyed as well, including waltzes, the two-step, and a schottische.

Advertisements from Sandusky businesses are found throughout the program.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

1890 Veterans' Schedules

On file at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is a roll of microfilm which contains the Schedules of the 11th Census (1890) which enumerated Union Veterans and Widows of Union Veterans of the Civil War. The Veteran’s or widow’s name is listed in the upper portion of the census page, and notes regarding the individuals appear at the bottom of the page. The rank, company, regiment, date of enlistment, date of discharge, and length of services is listed for each serviceman. Below we learn that Josh B. Davis served as a Corporal with Company B of the 101st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as well as Sergeant with the 1st United States Veterans Infantry. He enlisted on August 6, 1862, and was discharged on June 20, 1865. Information about several other veterans appears on the page below the name of Josh B. Davis.



Looking at Entry 9 on the census page below, we find the name of Anna McMeens, widow of surgeon Dr. Robert McMeens, who died during the Civil War. Notes under entry number 9 indicate that Anna McMeens was suffering from a fall through a sidewalk that took place in February of 1889.


Erie County’s Veterans’ Schedules include sixty three census pages on which are enumerated the residents of the Ohio Soldiers’’ and Sailors’ Home.


The 1890 Veterans Schedules are also accessible via Ancestry Library Edition, which can be accessed from the computers in the lower level of the Sandusky Library as well as in the Archives Research Center. Many other resources pertaining to U.S. Veterans are available at the Sandusky Library, including military rosters, regimental histories, and pension abstracts from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.