Friday, December 21, 2012

Edmund H. Zurhost, Politician and Businessman

The front page of the December 21, 1923 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that Edmund H. Zurhorst was “one of the picturesque personages of partisan politics of Sandusky,” on the occasion of Mr. Zurhorst’s death in California.
Edmund H. Zurhorst was born in 1845 in Montreal, Canada, to William H. and Letitia  (McKenna) Zurhorst. In 1849 the Zurhorst family moved from Canada to Sandusky, Ohio. Edmund Zurhorst began his studies in the Sandusky city schools, but when he was age 14, he left school in order to obtain employment to help support the family. Before the Civil War, Mr. Zurhorst worked on lake and ocean vessels. During the Civil War, he was both a seaman and a surgeon’s steward. After the Civil War, he was connected with several business interests, including the Marblehead Lime Company, the Sandusky and Columbus Short Line Railway, the Columbus, Sandusky and Hocking Railroad, the Second National Bank, and the C. C. Keech Company. From 1898 to 1904, he served as the U.S. Collector of Customs for the Sandusky district.

Perhaps Edmund H. Zurhorst was best known for his years as a keen politician in which he gained the confidence of state and national leaders of the Republican party. The Register article stated that Mr. Zurhorst often said “They called me a boss, but I wasn’t. I used to have the boys gather around me and then I’d tell ‘em how I thought things out to be done. They just generally agreed with me, that was all there was to it.” Mr. Zurhorst was personal friends with President Chester Arthur, President William McKinley, and Senator Mark Hanna.

On December 20, 1923, Edmund H. Zurhorst passed away in Hollywood, California. His wife, the former Harriet West Keech had predeceased him in 1890. Mr. and Mrs. Zurhorst had three children, Christopher C., William K., and Mary Louise. Mrs. Mary Louise Mitchell was the only surviving child of Mr. Zurhorst. Funeral services were attended by many, and burial was at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery.

Edmund H. Zurhorst is the gentleman on the left in the picture above. He and an unidentified man are seen reading the December 9, 1914 issue of the Sandusky Register. Biographical sketches of Edmund H. Zurhorst can be found in Hewson Peeke’s A Standard History of Erie County and History of the Western Reserve by Harriet Taylor Upton, both available at the Sandusky Library.

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