Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mrs. Portia Follett Gardner

Portia Bartholomew married Foster Valentine Follett in Cuyahoga County in 1866. Foster V. Follett was the son of Foster Morse Follett, and the nephew of Oran Follett, publisher of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Mr. and Mrs. Foster Valentine Follett had three children, two of whom died quite young from diphtheria. Their son Foster Morse Follett became a well known cartoonist. His work appeared in the New York Herald, The World, and the Saturday Evening Post

After the untimely death of her first husband (at age 40), Portia married J. Henry Gardner, a musician who led bands in Michigan and Ohio. In the 1890 Sandusky City Directory, J. Henry Gardner is listed as the Manager of a Piano and Organ Warehouse, as well as a piano tuner and repairer. Mrs. P.A. Follett Gardner was listed as a Music Teacher and also a Dealer in Pianos, Organs, and Musical Merchandise. Mrs. Portia Follett Gardner died in 1906 in Flint, Michigan, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery in Sandusky. She was a strong woman, having outlived two children and her first husband, and was a full partner with her second husband in the music business. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Dress Makers in the 1910 Sandusky City Directory

At the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, dress makers were often called upon to help area residents with their sewing and mending needs. Pioneer women usually made their own clothing, by necessity, and later ready-made clothing became available in local stores. Dress makers, most often female, could work at home, and contribute to the household income with having to find employment outside of their house. In 1910, there were over sixty dress makers listed in the Sandusky City Directory. Many of the surnames were of Irish or German origin.

Vital records indicate that Clara L. Bier, one of the dress makers listed in the 1910 Directory, died in 1923. Another member of the family (or possibly Clara, shortly before her death), listed only as “Mrs. Bier,” can be seen in the second row (first person at the left) in this picture from the Sewing Society of the First Reformed Church in the 1920s or 1930s. These ladies all used their sewing skills in service to their church.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Mrs. Willard A. Bishop’s Cookbook

Mrs. Mary Mathews Bishop was born about 1857 in Worcester, Massachusetts, and moved to Sandusky with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Matthews. She married Sandusky photographer Willard A. Bishop in 1884. She was an active member of Grace Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Willard A. Bishop’s cookbook was given to the Sandusky Library’s historical collections in 1985, from the Estate of Ethel Herman. Most of the recipes were handwritten, but a few were clipped from printed sources and pasted in the book. Some of the names of the recipes are unfamiliar to today’s world, such as “calves head hash” and “ragged britches,” which was a combination of milk, lard, soda, and salt that was combined and then fried. Often the title of the recipe reflected the person who gave it to Mrs. Bishop, including “Em Keyes’ Cocoanut Cake” and “Fannie Melville’s Sheet Cake.”

Below is a recipe for Oyster Cocktails (top of page).


Oyster Cocktails

To ½ doz. oysters (Blue Pearls preferred) add one tablespoon of catsup, ½ teaspoon Worcestshire sauce, one dash of horseradish, lemon juice, salt and red pepper to suit taste.
(Mrs. Peterson’s Receipt)

It is interesting to read the various ingredients and cooking terms listed in Mrs. Bishop’s cookbook. In the era it was written, home cooked meals were the norm, and dining out occurred  only for special occasions. Mrs. Bishop died in 1925, and Willard A. Bishop in 1942. Both are buried in Oakland Cemetery. Mr. Willard A. Bishop’s obituary in the 1942 Obituary Notebook provides a detailed look at his sixty year career as a photographer in Sandusky.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sandusky Dyeing and Cleaning Works

An article in the March 19, 1895 issue of the Sandusky Register reported that J.R. Conley opened a dye and cleaning works on East Park Street in Sandusky. Mr. Conley and several of his employees and family members are pictured above. When you look closely at some of the employees, you can see a variety of irons that were used in the clothing cleaning and renovating business.

In the 1896 Sandusky City Directory, there were four listings for “clothing renovators.” They included John R. Conley, Louis Dietz, John M. Fox, and Mrs.Otto Peter. 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Frederick Douglass Spoke in Sandusky in 1864

On March 16, 1864, Frederick Douglass spoke in Sandusky at Norman Hall, located on Water Street. His topic was the “Mission of the War.”

An article which appeared in the March 17, 1864 issue of the Sandusky Daily Commercial Register read in part:

Norman Hall was filled with an appreciative and highly delighted audience last evening to listen to Fred. Douglass’ lecture on the “Mission of the War.” As this was the first time the speaker ever addressed a Sandusky audience, the attendance as well as the often-repeated expressions of approbation, were flattering to the speaker and betokened a public sentiment in sympathy with his views of the mission of the present great struggle…Suffice it to say that it was a masterly effort – both as to matter and manner was worthy of the speaker’s reputation as one of the first orators in our country. It evidenced logical thought, abounded in nice points, well put, and was delivered in most choice and chaste language, and with an air of ease and dignity which belongs to the graver debates in the Senate chamber, but which is too rarely seen there or elsewhere
 A copy of “The Mission of the War,” as presented by Mr. Douglass in Philadelphia in 1863 can be viewed at The FrederickDouglass Papers at the Library of Congress.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Program Announcement: Brown Bag Lunch Series -- NASA Plum Brook Station

Wednesday, March 20, 12PM

Join Bob Arrighi, Archivist, Wyle Information Systems for NASA Glenn Research Center History Program in Cleveland, as he puts the history of Sandusky's own NASA Plum Brook Station into a larger context. He will focus on Plum Brook's contributions to the nation's World War II eort and NASA's space program of the 1960s. Registration is not required.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Miss Jessie Hornig, Teacher and Businesswoman

Jessie Hornig was born in Ohio about 1875 to Alexander and Nettie (Brost) Hornig. Both Jessie’s father and her maternal grandfather, J.V. Brost, were in the marble works business in Sandusky in the late 1800s. From 1897 until her retirement in 1937, Miss Jessie Hornig was a teacher in the Sandusky Schools. In the 1920s, Jessie Hornig also served on the Board of Directors of the Hornig Electric Company, a family run business. Her brother J. Frank Hornig was president of the Hornig Electric Company. Pictured below is an advertisement for the Hornig Electric Company from the Sandusky Register of July 21, 1921. The company brought in specially trained demonstrators who were experts in the use of Westinghouse household appliances. The experts were ready to call on every woman whose home was wired for electricity in the summer of 1921, to demonstrate how the electrical appliances worked.

On January 28, 1951, Jessie Hornig passed away at her home on Columbus Avenue, after an extended illness. Funeral services for Miss Hornig were held at her Hornig residence, with Rev. Robert F.R. Peters officiating. Burial was in Oakland Cemetery.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Program Announcement: The Battle of Lake Erie and the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

Saturday, March 16, 2PM

The year 2013 will mark the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, fought near Put-in-Bay, a major American victory in the War of 1812. Join us in the library program room on Saturday March 16 at 2PM, as Jeff Helmer, Ranger at the Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial on Put-in-Bay, will discuss the battle and its significance, and give a preview of programs and activities slated for this year at the Perry’s Victory park on South Bass Island.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Moses Lebensburger, Sandusky Merchant

According to the book, History of Erie County, Ohio, edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich, Moses Lebensburger was born in Bavaria, Germany, December 10, 1813, and came to America in 1840. Mr. Lebensburger married Caroline Monat in Dayton, Ohio in 1852. By 1860, Mr. and Mrs. Lebensburger were residing in Sandusky, Ohio, and Moses was a salesman at Leopold Monat’s men’s clothing store.  The Lebensburgers raised a large family of seven children. By 1867, Moses Lebensburger and Leopold Monat were partners in a store that sold ready-made men’s wear in West’s Block in downtown Sandusky. In 1875, Moses Lebensburger took over the men’s clothing business. In the 1870s, his store was at 161 and 163 Water Street. In 1880, Moses Lebensburger retired, and his sons took over the family business. For many years, Mayer and Abraham Lebensburger ran a menswear store on Columbus Avenue across from the old Post Office. The advertisement below appeared in the May 27, 1890 issue of the Sandusky Register.

On February 8, 1898, Moses Lebensburger died at the family residence on Washington Street. Funeral services were conducted by Rev. Dr.Machol of Cleveland, Ohio, and burial was at the Oheb Shalom Cemetery. An obituary which appeared in the February 11, 1898 Sandusky Register reported that the last rites over the remains of Mr. Lebensburger were witnessed by many friends and family of the deceased.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

William T. and Abel K. West

An article which appeared in the December 31, 1922 issue of the Sandusky Register stated that to William T. West and Abel K. West, “Sandusky is indebted for its first boulevard, its first cement pavement, the first open front store, the first mansard roof, even its first mahogany chairs.”  W.T. and A. K. West operated a general store in Sandusky in the 1840s. Theirs was the only store that remained open during Sandusky’s cholera epidemic in 1849. The West brothers were the owners of the West House Hotel which was opened to the public in 1858. At one time the West House was the largest hotel between Cleveland and Toledo. It was five stories high, and was located at the corner of Columbus Avenue and Water Street, in downtown Sandusky. It was open in time to accommodate the crowds who came to the Ohio State Fair, hosted in Sandusky in 1858.

William T. West became a resident of Sandusky quite by accident. In 1837, he planned to go from Buffalo to Detroit. He stayed overnight in Sandusky, Ohio. In the morning the hotel keeper forgot to waken him. When he woke up, his ship had already left.  He threw himself into the water, and swam after the vessel. After it was determined that his baggage had stayed in Sandusky, he returned to Sandusky and settled here. During the Civil War, William T. West and a partner, Philander Gregg, received a contract to build prison buildings and officers’ quarters at the prison on Johnson’s Island. Because the proximity of the West House to the confederate prison at Johnson's  Island, the hotel was almost always filled to capacity during the Civil War. Government officials who had dealings with the prison often stayed overnight at the West House after taking care of war business during the daytime.

William T. West and Abel K. West were key individuals in Sandusky’s early days. Abel K. West died on April 16, 1880. William T. West died at the West House on June 13, 1809. His obituary in the Firelands Pioneer stated that the greater part of William T. West’s eighty-four years “were devoted to business and the erection of buildings in the city of Sandusky.”

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Len Winkler, Voice of Sandusky High School Athletics

Leonard Winkler, son of William and Emma Winkler, was a 1923 graduate of Sandusky High School. According to the March 2, 1966 issue of the Sandusky Register, Len Winkler coined the phrase “Blue Streaks” as the nickname for Sandusky High School athletes. In the early 1920s, Len was a reporter for the Sandusky Star Journal.  Another reporter had called Sandusky High School athletes the “Blue Devils.” After Winkler called them the “Blue Streaks,” the nickname stuck. For several years Len Winkler resided in an apartment underneath the home grandstand at Strobel Field. (Now Strobel Field at Cedar Point Stadium.) Click here to read an article at for more details about other residents of the apartment beneath Strobel Field.

For almost thirty years, Len Winkler was the “Voice of Sandusky High athletics.” He announced almost every Sandusky High School football game, basketball game, track and wrestling match from 1936 to 1965. Due to illness, Len was forced to quit announcing in 1965. At that time he also resigned his teaching job at Sandusky High School. On October 9, 1965, Sandusky Mayor William Harbrecht proclaimed that day as “Len Winkler Day.” Later that night Len Winkler announced his final game at Strobel Field. Len Winkler died on March 1, 1966 after a lengthy illness. He had been a teacher of industrial arts, mathematics and physics at Sandusky High School. He was a graduate of Ohio State University, where he earned an engineering degree. While Len was employed at the Ohio Public Service Company, he supervised the installation of public address system at the SHS stadium. Len Winkler was survived by his wife Mary, two sisters, and several nieces and nephews. Funeral services for Len Winkler were held at the Charles J. Andres’ Sons Funeral Home, and burial was at the Castalia Cemetery.