Thursday, August 17, 2017

Dan Rice's Circus in Sandusky

The Sandusky Register of August 17, 1872 reported that while the afternoon crowd was not very large for Dan Rice’s Circus, every seat was filled at the evening performance. One of the favorite parts of the circus was when Frank Gardner did a double somersault over ten horses. Dan Rice kept the audience entertained with his “lively witticisms.” A blind horse named Excelsior, Jr. was also very much admired by the audience. Prof. Menter’s band was “the best we have seen in connection with any circus.” 

Dan Rice had a long and interesting career in traveling entertainment. After he died on February 22, 1900, a lengthy article about him appeared in the February 27, 1900 issue of the Sandusky Star. The article reported that he had been a frequent visitor to Sandusky, Ohio. Born Daniel McLaren in New York City in 1823, his father nicknamed him “Dan Rice” after a well-known Irish clown. The new Dan Rice made his own way in the world as a young man. After working for a time in Pittsburgh as a stable boy and a hack driver, he began traveling around the Midwest with his trained pig. In 1845 he began performing with the Seth B. Howes Circus. Eventually he became known as the “Shakespearean Clown,” as he performed dramatic readings while with the circus. It is said that Dan Rice was the first person to train and perform with a trained rhinoceros. After traveling with several entertainment shows and circuses, he created his own traveling show. Though he achieved great prominence, he earned and lost three fortunes during his long career, and he died a poor man. A blog post from the New York Times stated that some believe Dan Rice was the model for “Uncle Sam.” To read more about Dan Rice, borrow the book Dan Rice:The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of, by David Carlyon available through the ClevNet system

Monday, August 14, 2017

Grand Opening of Hills Department Store in Sandusky

On August 14, 1963, the Hills Department Store opened in Sandusky, Ohio in the Perkins Plaza. Alden Wintersteller, a local photographer, captured images of the grand opening. You can tell by the number of cars in the parking lot, that area residents welcomed the new store.

Officials cut the ribbon at the front of the store.

A full page advertisement for Hills appeared in the August 14, 1963 issue of the Sandusky Register. The ad stated that customers could shop between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. in air-conditioned comfort. There was plenty of free parking, and any item could be returned for a “cheerful exchange.”  Customers could cash their paychecks at no cost. The toy section in the Hills store made it seem like Christmas every day. Clothing was sold for every member of the family. Tools, sporting goods, housewares and lawn and garden equipment could all be purchased under the roof of one store at Hills. 

Customers in the picture below were eager to make their purchases at the new department store.

Through the years, Hills Department Store had special events for its customers. Santa Claus would arrive in November, often on a fire truck, and then Santa would make his way to the “throne” in the store, where boys and girls could tell him their Christmas wish list. Fireworks were set off in the parking lot on July 4th. Hills was a popular place to shop for back to school clothing, and the lay-away service allowed customers to pay off the bill in weekly payments. Popcorn and Icees were favorite items at the snack shop at the front of the store. 

In December 1998, the Ames store chain acquired Hills, and took over operation of the former Hills store in Sandusky. By 2002, Ames went out of business. Eventually the building that was home to Hills Department Store in the Perkins Plaza was razed, but many Sandusky residents still have fond memories of the once booming department store.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Steamer Lakeside, Later Named the Olcott

Ernst Niebergall took this picture of the Steamer Lakeside as it was coming in through icy waters, around 1905. The Lakeside had been built in 1901 by the Craig Shipbuilding Company.  An advertisement from the Sandusky Register of August 10, 1908 provides us with the prices for round trips aboard the Lakeside from Sandusky to Cleveland and Sandusky to Detroit (about $13.50 and $20 in today's money).

In 1911, the name of the steamer Lakeside was changed to the Olcott. During the summer of 1911, the Olcott was chartered by the Buffalo, Lockport and Rochester Transit Company, to ferry passengers from Olcott, New York to Toronto, Canada. The Olcott returned to Sandusky in October, 1911. The Niebergall photo below shows the Olcott travelling through open waters.

The photograph below, by Ernst Niebergall, shows the Olcott as viewed from the rear.

In 1916, the Olcott was sold to the Government of France, and never returned to the Great Lakes region.  


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Jungle Larry at Cedar Point

In 1964 Lawrence Tetzlaff, known as “Jungle Larry,” a highly respected zoologist, opened a wild animal exhibit at Cedar Point. By 1965 Jungle Larry’s exhibit was located in the lagoon area of Cedar Point known as Safari Island.

For several years, both Jungle Larry and his wife, Safari Jane, could be seen driving this van around the Cedar Point amusement park.

Jungle Larry was very popular with the media in Northern Ohio. He appeared on the Captain Penny show and Gene Carroll’s Uncle Jake's House, local programs out of Cleveland. 

In 1966, the Sandusky Register reported on Jungle Larry’s recent rescue from quicksand while he was on safari in West Africa.  An article in the Sandusky Register of August 25, 1967 reported on Jungle Larry showing a Cleveland dentist how to clean the teeth of a tiger.


Lawrence Tetzlaff died on February 6, 1984 at the age of 65. A lengthy obituary in the Sandusky Register chronicled his long career as a zoologist. Robin Innes, the Cedar Point public relations manager at that time, said, “Cedar Point was Jungle Larry’s summer home for nineteen years. During that time we got to know him as an entertainer and a conservationist of the highest caliber. Jungle Larry was an institution at the park and we will miss miss him a great deal.” Members of the Tetzlaff family continued the wild animal exhibit at Cedar Point through the 1994 season.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

With the 308th Engineers from Ohio to the Rhine and Back

In the military section of the Genealogical and Local History books at the Sandusky Library is a book entitled With the 308th Engineers from Ohio to the Rhine and Back. The book was published in 1923 by the 308th Engineers Veterans Association. Pictured below are insignia and symbols associated with the 308th Engineers.

The major operations of the 308th Engineers in World War I were in France in 1918, and included the Aisne-Marne Offensive, the Oise-Aisne Offensive, and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive. The main tasks of the 308th Engineers were to repair and maintain roads and build bridges. The 308th Engineers were the first American troops to bridge the Rhine. The 308th also furnished Guards of Honor for General Pershing, the Prince of Wales, and Marshall Ferdinand Foch. Several men from Sandusky, Ohio served with the 308th Engineers during this war: Edwin Uhl, Reinhold Ahlers, Henry Baker, Ralph Carney, Vergil Grant, Fred Kranz, Victor J. Moore, John Riesterer, Emil Grahl, Paul Knupke, Robert Mees, Henry Cycoly, Walter J. Kleinfelder, Edward Klueg, Carl Mainzer, Lee Staffler, Guy Norton, Henry Bates, Norman Martin, Charles Hasbrook, Peter Scavio, Charles Voight, and Herbert Textor.

The third annual reunion of the 308th Engineers Veteran Association was held at Cedar Point on August 5 through August 7, 1923. The headquarters for the group during their stay at Cedar Point was at the Hotel Breakers. During the reunion, business meetings were held, along with a banquet, athletic events, and several speeches. A dance was held at the Coliseum on August 5, 1923. Sandusky resident Herbert Textor served as Treasurer of the organization for that year.

Visit the Sandusky Library to see the book With the 308th Engineers from Ohio to the Rhine and Back. Another outstanding resource at the library is Erie County Edition, Honor Roll of Ohio, 1917-1918, which provides brief biographical sketches and photographs of Erie County World War I veterans. Inquire at the Reference Services desk for more information.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Watson Hubbard, Sandusky Businessman

Watson Hubbard was born in Bloomfield, Connecticut on July 11, 1819. He married Georgiana A. Holcomb in 1845. Mr. and Mrs. Watson Hubbard, along with Watson’s brother Langdon, moved to Lexington, Michigan in 1848, where the brothers began work in the lumber business. The lumber business they founded developed into the firm of R.B. Hubbard and Company. 

Watson Hubbard moved to Sandusky, Ohio in 1860, where he lived with his family in the West House for eight years. He had a house built at the northwest corner of Wayne and Jefferson Streets, just down the block from the home of his cousin, Lester S.Hubbard. Watson Hubbard served as Director and Vice President of the Second National Bank, and he was on the Board of Directors of the Sandusky Plow Company and the Nes Silicon Steel Works. He was among the earliest contributors to Good Samaritan Hospital. 

Watson and Georgiana Hubbard had three children, but only one survived to adulthood, Elizabeth Hubbard. Elizabeth married Jay Caldwell Butler, a Civil War Veteran who ran a business in Sandusky that manufactured sashes, doors, blinds and other wooden items. Pictured below are the daughter and granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Watson Hubbard, Mrs. Elizabeth Hubbard Butler and Mrs. Elizabeth Butler Harten.

In 1955, the former home of Watson Hubbard and his descendants, at 429 Wayne Street, was razed, to make room for an office for the telephone company. Before the house was razed, a neighbor, Mary Dauch, made this sketch of the home at 429 Wayne Street.

To read a biographical sketch about Watson Hubbard, written by his daughter Elizabeth, see the April 1925 issue of the FirelandsPioneer.