Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year’s Pretzel

This article was originally posted on December 27, 2006

The tradition of the New Year's Pretzel appears to date from the turn of the 20th century in Sandusky. As the city of Sandusky grew, it was home to a very large German population. Sandusky had German neighborhoods and even supported a German language newspaper or two. It was the strong influence of the German community that brought about a holiday tradition known to very few communities.

The New Year’s Pretzel is different from the pretzels we know today. It is soft and made from an egg dough, and instead of being sprinkled with salt, it is washed with a glaze. The finished product is chewy. The pretzels were anywhere from 15 to 36 inches across and were made by a number of bakeries in Sandusky, including Becherer, Frank’s (pictured here, at 834 Columbus Ave.), Knoerle, Feddersen, Kanzler, Schweinfurth, Michel, Smith’s, Sandusky Baking, H & S, Park, and others.

The pretzels are usually eaten for breakfast on New Year’s Day. Wilbert Ohlemacher recalled that his father would hang the pretzel by a ribbon from the gas chandelier over the dining room table. He would cut the ribbon and then cut the pretzel into smaller pieces for everyone in the family. When the custom was practiced in early Sandusky, the pretzels were often decorated with intricate braids made from the same dough.

There are a few different theories about the origins of the German New Years Pretzel. One is that they were first baked by monks in Southern Germany as a reward for children who learned their prayers. Thus they were shaped to represent the crossed arms of a child praying.

Another story is that the circular shape of the symbolic loaf is derived from the old calendar sign for the winter solstice, which was a circle with a dot in its center. The central cross was added to represent the four seasons.

Yet another story tells of German citizens parading through the streets with pretzels piled onto long sticks, and groups of people would go calling on friends and relatives and exchange pretzels instead of greetings.

While the exact origin is unknown, the New Years Pretzel is fondly remembered by countless residents of Sandusky.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Rudy Vallee Turned Down an Opportunity to Appear in Sandusky in January 1933

In December of 1932, J. Leroy Weier of the Lake Shore Tire Company, asked musical star Rudy Vallee to consider appearing at the opening of a new building in Sandusky. A reasonable search did not turn up exactly which building or business was opening in Sandusky in the winter of 1932-1933, but Mr. Weier had several local business interests at that time, including the Lake Shore Tire Company and the Weier Brothers salvage yard. It seems that the famous entertainer was going to be in Cleveland, Ohio for the Automobile Show in January of 1933. Mr. Weier had hoped that Rudy Vallee could appear in Sandusky, during the same week as the Auto Show. It turns out that Mr. Vallee had to return promptly to New York City for the radio broadcast sponsored by the Fleischman Yeast Company.  Though Mr. Vallee seemed optimistic that he may be able to appear in Sandusky at a later time, it does not seem that he ever made it here.

During the 1920s and 1930s, radios were sold at the Lake Shore Tire Company. In the historical business files of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center is an undated promotional item that was given away by the Lake Shore Tire Company. Inside the small notebook were pages on which a person could jot down the call letters, city, and state of radio programs, and make notes about those programs.

In the 1920s and 1930s, the Lake Shore Tire Company stocked a variety of radio accessories, including tubes, condensers, batteries, condensers, speakers and sockets.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Sandusky Children Gave Gifts to a Local Hospital in 1889

In December of 1889, hundreds of Sandusky schoolchildren brought in donations for the Good Samaritan Hospital, which at that time was located on Van Buren Street.

According to the Sandusky Register of December 23, 1889, school children all across Sandusky were asked to contribute gifts to the hospital.

Hundreds of youngsters brought in donations of food for use at the hospital. Ethel Moore brought in two cakes of chocolate. Other gifts included a pound of coffee from Joe Nolan, four pounds of rolled oats from Jessie Hornig, a pound of tapioca from Willie Banks, and a live chicken from Albert Trout. Some students brought in contributions of cash. (You can read the article above in its entirety on microfilm at the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.) 

During the holiday season of 1889, the D.C. Powers and Company store promised to carry something to please every member of the family

After having opened in 1886, the Good Samaritan Hospital ran into serious financial problems and closed its doors in 1893. The hospital reopened in 1910, and was rebuilt in 1918. Later a new facility was built, next door to the old one. In 1985 Good Samaritan Hospital and Sandusky Memorial Hospital merged to form Firelands Community Hospital, now known as Firelands Regional Medical Center.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Issue of the Hourglass Newsletter

Several issues of the Hourglass newsletter from the former Apex Manufacturing Company are housed in the business collection of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center. The December 1948 issue of the Hourglass promoted home cleaning products. Page 16 of the newsletter depicts Apex cleaners under a Christmas tree:

The back cover of the newsletter provides details about a display for the Apex cylinder cleaner that featured the attachments for that model. The attachments helped the 1940s homemaker clean not only the floor, but also draperies and furniture and blinds.

Other features of this newsletter include family news about employees, safety tips, and news from the various Apex departments. An interesting letter from Sandusky Plant Manager Henry A. Klingenberger discusses the social climate of the U.S. after World War II. Having faced material shortages during the war, and the loss of employees to military service, in 1946 the company was shifting back to normal peacetime production. “Good will and cheer” were in the air.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Musical Entertainment at Norman Hall on December 18, 1863

On Friday evening, December 18, 1863, musical entertainment by the pupils of the Sandusky High School was presented at Norman Hall under the direction of Prof. William C. Webster. The venue was the same location where noted abolitionist Frederick Douglass would present a speech in Sandusky in 1864.

Martha A. Webster played the piano for the evening’s program. Several musical numbers were performed during the first part on the program, which concluded with the chorus singing “Prepare We for the Festive Scene.”  During the second part of the night’s entertainment, the “Coronation of the Queen” was enacted.

The queen was played by Mary Whitney, with Mary Dewey and Julia W. Webster serving as attendants. Twelve young ladies presented the queen with a basket of flowers. Speeches were given by Emma Cowdery, Julia Pool, and Maud Youngs. Several musical performances by the Webster family were included during the course of the evening.  

Tickets to the program were sold at the C.V. Olds Bookstore at the West House for twenty five cents, with tickets for children under 12 years old selling for fifteen cents.  William C. Webster and his wife, Mary Cushing Webster, were pioneer music teachers in the states of Ohio and New York. A biographical sketch about William C. Webster in the book History and Genealogy of the Gov. John Webster Family of Connecticut states that Mr. Webster was a teacher of vocal music for thirty years.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Anthony Ilg, Pioneer Brewer

Anthony Ilg, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Casper Ilg, was born in Germany in 1820. He came to the United States in 1849, settling first in Cincinnati, where he worked in the hotel and saloon business. In the 1870s, he and his family moved to Sandusky, where he purchased an interest in the old Fox brewery, becoming a partner in the brewery known as Raible, Strobel, and Ilg. From 1874 to 1879, the brewery was operated by Strobel and Ilg. Eventually Mr. Ilg became the sole proprietor, with his son Otto working for him. The Anthony Ilg brewery operated at the foot of Harrison Street on Sandusky’s west side until the late 1880s.  

The 1886 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map shows the layout of the Ilg Brewery, with a large ice house, and smaller areas for coal, barley, mash and malt:

An excerpt from Hewson L. Peeke’s A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, describes the popularity of breweries and saloons in Sandusky in 1883:

According to Peeke’s History, there was a saloon for every sixty five residents of Sandusky in 1883.

Anthony Ilg passed away on July 18, 1905, and was buried in the North Ridge section of Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Ivonhoe Theatre

In 1914 and 1915, Charles L. Blatz was the owner and manager of the Ivonhoe Theatre, located on the west side of Jackson Street between Market and Washington Streets. An advertisement for the theatre stated that it was “built to conform to the Ohio State code, is absolutely fire and panic proof.”  Music was provided by a special musical instrument, the “American Photo Player,” which combined piano, organ, and musical and sound effects in one unit. In the lobby of the Ivanhoe, hung a painting by Ralph S. Tebbutt, said to be a rendition of a "Native American maiden." The model for the painting was Mr. Blatz’s niece, Ivon Gamble. Ivon was about nineteen years of age when Tebbutt did the painting.  

Ivon Gamble married Augustus Feick in September of 1921. Following the death of Mr. Feick in 1938, Ivon married John W. Campbell. Mrs. Ivon Gamble Feick Campbell passed away in 1985 at the age of 90. She is buried in Oakland Cemetery next to her first husband, Augustus Feick. Mrs. Ivon Campbell is pictured below in her later years.

Mr. Norbert Erney wrote a piece of sheet music entitled “Ivonhoe,” in honor of the theater. The sheet music is now located in the Arts Collection of the Sandusky Library Archives Research  Center. By 1916, the theater on Jackson Street became known as the Plaza Theater.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Products Sold by the Cleveland and Sandusky Brewing Company

According to this advertisement, which appeared in the December 18, 1906 issue of the Sandusky Register, several types of beer could be delivered to Sandusky homes in 1906. Two dozen pints of C & S Special beer sold for $1.25. A case of Hof-Brau beer also sold for $1.25. A case of Crystal Rock or Amber beer sold for $1.00. 

The Stang Brewery on King Street
From about 1898 until Prohibition, the Kuebeler-Stang plants of the Cleveland and Sandusky Brewing Company distributed beer locally. In the 1904-1905 Sandusky City Directory listed Jacob Kuebeler as the first vice president and general manager of the local plants, while John E. Stang served as the assistant manager. The general office of the company was on the east side of Tiffin Avenue, near the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern railroad. The branch office was on the east side of King Street, north of Madison Street.

Frank Stang started the Stang Brewing Company in 1880. His younger brother John Stang took over as president in 1890. Pictures of John Stang and Jacob Kuebeler appear in the 1895 publication, Men of Sandusky.

Jacob and August Kuebeler founded the Kuebeler Brewing Company in 1867. Around 1885 the Kuebeler brothers both built virtually identical large brick homes on Tiffin Avenue. Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kuebeler lived at 1318 Tiffin Avenue. (This home no longer stands.) The August Kuebeler residence was built at 1319 Tiffin Avenue, and is still standing today.

The Kuebeler & Stang Breweries merged in 1896.  Two years later the Kuebeler-Stang Breweries merged with Cleveland breweries to form the Cleveland and Sandusky Brewing Company. Many breweries closed during Prohibition, but the Stang plant continued doing business as Crystal Rock Products Company, selling soft drinks. The picture below shows a float sponsored by the Kuebeler Stang Brewing Company in the late 1800s.

To read more about the Kuebeler and Stang Brewing Companies and other brewing companies, see the book, Brewing Beer in the Buckeye State, by Dr. Robert A. Musson, available for loan through the CLEVNET system.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

The Former Home of W.W. Wetherell

Razed in 1997, the building that once stood at 507 Wayne Street had many different purposes throughout the many years of its existence. William W. Wetherell, the former proprietor of the Fulton Car Works built this red brick house about 1850. The Fulton Car Works was a business which manufactured wooden railroad cars for the Mad River and Lake Erie Railroad and other railroads. W.W. Wetherell was an early church leader and a strong opponent of slavery. He served as Mayor of Sandusky in the mid-1840s and was City Clerk in his later years; he died on March 4, 1884 at the age of 72, and was buried in Oakland Cemetery. 

The Samuel Butler family lived here from about 1859 to 1876. George A. Marsh lived here through the rest of the 1890s. After Mrs. Marsh died in 1905, the house became the home of the H.W. Parsons family. Mr. Parsons was with the American Banking and Trust Company, and the Vim Motor Company. 

From about 1910 through the mid-1930s, the property at 507 Wayne Street was the property of the Sunyendeand Club, a men’s social club made up of prominent Sandusky residents.

From 1939 and into the early 1940s, the International School of Art leased this property. In an article that appeared in the April 30, 1977 issue of the Sandusky Register, a former Sandusky resident recalled her memories of the School of Art. She said that Elma Pratt filled the rooms with wall hangings, ceramics and art objects from all over the world. At the same time Elmer Frank taught music classes to a number of students. In the early days of the Sandusky Choral Society, the group rehearsed in the ballroom upstairs. In 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Sharpe operated a nursing home in the building. Through the years, several different nursing homes were in business here. The building at 507 Wayne Street was razed on April 30, 1977.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Rev. Jacob Dornbirer, Pastor of Zion Lutheran Church

Jacob Dornbirer was born in Switzerland on July 31, 1825. He came to the United States in 1855, where he settled in Fremont, Ohio. For a time he worked at the June Engine Works, where he met the Rev. Henry Lang. Rev. Lang encouraged him to enter the Lutheran ministry. In 1858, Rev. Jacob Dornbirer was ordained as a Lutheran minister, and in the same year he married Elizabeth Trott. In his early ministry, Rev. Dornbirer served at churches in Thompson Township, Bellevue, Venice, and Loudonville. 

From 1879 until his death in 1891, Rev. Dornbirer was the pastor at Sandusky’s Zion Lutheran Church. While he was pastor, the church met in the former Beatty Church in Washington Square.

According to an article in the Lutheran Standard of May 2, 1891, during his years in the ministry, Rev. Dornbirer preached over one thousand sermons, baptized 1217 infants, confirmed 530 young people, married 315 couples, and officiated at 397 funerals. 

In April of 1891, Rev. Jacob Dornbirer suffered serious injuries when he was thrown from his buggy, by the falling of his horse. He died on April 12, 1891. Funeral services for Rev. Jacob Dornbirer were held at Zion Lutheran Church in April 16, 1891. There was such a large turnout for the services, that only a portion of those who wished to attend could be accommodated in the church. At the time of his death, Rev. Dornbirer was survived by twelve children; he had lost both an infant son and his wife Elizabeth in 1883

Two of Rev. Dornbirer's sons became Lutheran pastors, and four of his daughters married Lutheran pastors. He was the maternal grandfather of Rev. Theodore Stellhorn, Jr., who served in the Lutheran ministry for over sixty years. Rev. Stellhorn was assistant pastor of Zion Lutheran Church from 1928 – 1949, main pastor from 1949 – 1955, and senior pastor of Zion from 1956 – 1969.  

Rev. Jacob Dornbirer was buried at Sandusky’s Oakland Cemetery, next to his wife Elizabeth.

To learn more about the history of Zion Lutheran Church, as well as several area churches, visit the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

When Sandusky’s City Building was on Market Street

The building which began as Sandusky's Central Police and Fire Station building in 1890 served as Sandusky's City Building from 1915 until 1958. Local photographer Robert E. Frank took several pictures of the former City Building before it was razed in 1958. In the picture below, several businesses along West Market Street are visible, including Gray Drugs, Weber's Men's Wear, and Herman's Jewelers.

In a closer view, you can see the words "City Building" above the large doors on the street level. The lower level of the building originally housed horse-drawn vehicles for the city’s police and fire departments.

You can see the old city building in this picture postcard, which was taken from West Market Street looking east.

An image of Sandusky's former city building graces the cover of the Old House Guild's Downtown Architectural Walking Tour of Sandusky

Sunday, November 27, 2016

First Anniversary of the Buckeye Business and Telegraph College

A lengthy article in the November 27, 1867 issue of the Sandusky Register reported on the first anniversary celebration of the Buckeye Business and Telegraph College. The school was founded in Sandusky by Professor E. A. Hall, and began as the Buckeye and Great Western Business College. Eventually the name was changed to Sandusky Business College. In the 1860s the school was located at Union Hall, on Columbus Avenue, between Water and Market Streets. The first anniversary celebration was held at Donahoe’s Block, with the Great Western Band providing musical entertainment. A.C. Van Tine, proprietor of the college, called the audience to attention.  M.F. Cowdery, the superintendent of Sandusky City Schools, gave an address.

The Register article summarized his remarks: “He said that next to religion, morality and intelligence must be ranked the claims of trade and commerce of the world. He referred to the effects of commerce in settling new countries, opening seaports and stimulating enterprise. He alluded to the fact that our American Independence was achieved in a war begun on account of commercial oppression, and closed by discussing the importance and value of a strict and unyielding integrity in all the walks of a business life. He paid a very handsome tribute to the energy and enterprise of the proprietors of the Buckeye College, and foresaw for it a career of great usefulness to the young of our city.”

During the evening’s program business students presented Professor Jarrett with a Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary. Lieutenant Governor John Lee spoke to the audience, advising them: “You do well to patronize and encourage an enterprise so fraught with good to the youth of your city.” Mr. John Delamater presented a gold-headed cane to Professor S.P. Hare. Rev. W.D. Godman of Cleveland told the audience that education was important not only for business, but for any vocation to which one is called. Judge Taylor pointed out that the prospects for the winter term were promising, as a large number of students had already enrolled. The evening concluded with the presentation of the engraving “Irving and His Friends” to Mr. A.C. Van Tine. 

The college had a variety of locations and proprietors throughout its existence. The last proprietor of the Sandusky Business College, then located in the former residence of Rush Sloane on Adams Street, was William O. Loudenslagel. The college closed in 1949, due to declining enrollment.

J.J. Dauch
J.J. Dauch, co-founder of the Hinde and Dauch paper company, graduated from Sandusky Business College, and at one time owned the college. Hinde and Dauch was known for hiring graduates of the local school. For over eighty years, The Sandusky Business College and its predecessors played an important role in training young people for their careers in banking, finance, and many manufacturers in Sandusky.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Menu from the Townsend House from 1850

Pictured above is the “bill of fare” from the Townsend House for the evening of November 20, 1850. At this time, E.A. Huntley was the proprietor of the hotel, which was located at the northwest corner of Market and Decatur Streets. Roasts at this meal included spiced round of beef, boned turkey, roast turkey and larded chicken. Four different types of cake were offered for dessert, along with a variety of fruit. The menu was printed on cloth by Campbell’s Press.

The Townsend House, which opened in Sandusky in the 1840s, had several different proprietors and names throughout the years. Though the Townsend House suffered a fire in 1864, it did open again. In 1876 a notice the Sandusky City Directory stated that the hotel formerly known as the Townsend House would now be known as the Wiedemann House. 

From the 1930s through the 1950s, the hotel was known as the Chittenden House. The hotel building was razed in 1961 by the Sandusky Foundry.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lake Erie Kist Beverages

From about 1947 to 1958, Lake Erie Kist Beverages was in business in Sandusky, Ohio. Most of the time that the franchise was in town, it was located at 1401 Sycamore Line, where the Sandusky Paint Company is now located. In November of 1947, Kist Beverages was among the many sponsors of the Amvets Hour on Sandusky’s new radio station, WLEC.  Auditions for the program, which featured amateur performers, were held on November 15, 1947 at the auditorium of Sandusky High School, now known as Adams Junior High.

An article in the November 9, 1956 issue of the Sandusky Register Star News stated that Kist beverages came in twenty different flavors, including orange, root beer,  cream soda, strawberry and grape. John Routh, Jr. was the president of the company, which was franchised nationally. In 1956, over two thousand bottles were processed at the Sandusky bottling facility, and were transported to 492 customers in an eleven-county region in Ohio. Lake Erie Kist Beverages sponsored an athletic scholarhip, a marbles champion, and a bowling team. A sign on the company read “Get Kist for a nickel.”  This slogan was also printed on a bottle opener that was given away by Kist, now in the collections of the Follett House Museum.

A Kist beverage bottle is among the several vintage soda bottles in the Industry Room at the Follett House Museum.


Lots of small grocery stores in Erie County carried Kist beverages in the 1950s. Kist collectibles are popular today on online auction sites.   

Monday, November 14, 2016

Biemiller’s Cove

Now a part of Cedar Point and the Causeway, Biemiller’s Cove used to be a popular fishing spot for area residents. Charles E. Frohman wrote in Sandusky's Yesterdays that small cottages were built along the cove, and were accessible by sailboat or rowboat in the late 1800s. In 1882 the steamer R.B. Hayes transported people from Biemiller’s Cove to Cedar Point. Pictured below are two rowboats in the cove.

Charles Schuck took this photograph of men net fishing at Biemiller’s Cove in the early twentieth century.


To read more about Biemiller’s Cove, see Sandusky's Yesterdays by Charles E. Frohman, or E.L. Moseley’s article on Sandusky Bay and Cedar Point. Inquire at the Reference Services Desk at the Sandusky Library to see these items.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Captain David H. James, Ohio 72nd Volunteer Infantry

David H. James was the son of Thomas and Frances James, early settlers of Bloomingville in Oxford Township of Erie County, Ohio. In the Fall of 1861, after civil war had broken out in the nation, he enlisted in Company G of the Ohio 72nd Volunteer Infantry, reaching the rank of First Sergeant in his unit. He was discharged from the Army in August of 1862 on a Surgeon's Certificate of Disability. A Civil War pension card indicates that by May 28, 1863, he was considered an invalid.

After he had recovered, Sergeant James enlisted in Company G of the 145th Ohio Infantry on May 12, 1864, and was named a Captain. He mustered out of the 145th on August 24, 1864. Sadly, he died in early September of 1864, when he was not yet thirty years of age. Capt. James was buried in the Bloomingville Cemetery. 

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Sandusky High School Football

The football team at Sandusky High School is having a successful season this year -- just a few days from a second-round playoff game, at the time this was published. This has been one of many good years for SHS football over the past 120 or so years.

Sandusky students played their first football games in the 1890s, but it appears that these teams were at more of a club-level rather than varsity, playing whatever nearby teams were available; records of those games are not readily available. What we might call varsity football began in 1901, when the team pictured above defeated Norwalk and Cleveland West High Schools, while losing to Toledo Scott in a three-game season. Judging from the picture, they may have been a somewhat disorganized bunch, with no standard uniforms.

Sandusky's first undefeated football season was in 1906, when the team won five games without allowing a single point!

The 1930s was a great time for Sandusky football, with winning records every year, including five undefeated seasons. The remodeled and expanded stadium (Strobel Field) was dedicated in 1936.

Many still remember the "Sensational 60's," when Sandusky football seemed nearly unbeatable, and produced future stars in both the playing and coaching ranks, as well as politics and other professions.

Do you recognize number 75 in the picture below? He is Sandusky's Pro Football Hall of Famer Orlando Pace, with his 1991 Junior Varsity squad.

Good luck to the Sandusky High School football team!