Sunday, August 24, 2014

Join Us for History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert!

Officers of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
Vicksburg 1863

Orin England, A. G. Tuther, Eugene Rawson, Milton Williamson, Henry Buckland
(left to right)
Ralph P. Buckland

History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert


 Sandusky Countians have strong links to the Civil War.   Sandusky County, Ohio men formed substantial elements of the following Ohio regiments: 8th, 21st, 25th, 49th, 53rd, 55th, 57th, 67th, 72nd, 100th, 101st, 111th, and 186th as well as the 169th ONG and the 3rd, 9th, and 10th cavalry units. The county's largest single contribution of men was the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry recruited by Fremont attorney and Ohio Congressman Ralph P. Buckland. By war's end, 65% of the county's military-age men saw service in the Civil War.
There were two Medal of Honor winners: John Miller of the 8th Ohio Volunteer Infantry at Gettysburg and Charles McCleary of the 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Nashville. Major General James Birdseye McPherson of Clyde, Ohio, commander of the Army of the Tennessee, was the highest ranking Union officer killed in the Civil War.

Hayes Presidential Center’s newest educational program History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert explores those connections.

Recently retired from Fremont Ross, the ever-popular Mike Gilbert taught history for 38 years. Topics related to the Civil War always have been a passion of his and he has spent many hours researching the war’s history. Gilbert assisted the Hayes Presidential Center during several of its multi-year grants that focused on History for elementary, high school, community college educators.

Earlier this year, Curator of Manuscripts Nan Card approached Gilbert about launching a roundtable discussion series at the Hayes Presidential Center. Their conversation resulted in History Roundtable.

In its inaugural year, the six-part series focuses on “Sandusky County in the Civil War Era.” The first session is Saturday, Sept. 20. Each session takes place 10-11:30 a.m. in the Hayes Museum. Cost is $5/each or $25/for all six. To pre-register please call Nan Card at 419-332-2081, ext. 239.


Sept. 20- Tales of the 72nd OVI 

Sept. 27- 
E. J. Conger: On the Trail of Lincoln’s Assassin 

Oct. 11- 
Fremont’s Civil War Doctor John Rice 

Oct. 18- 
Buckland, Sherman and Shiloh 

Oct. 25- 
Women’s Roles in the Civil War 

Nov. 1- James McPherson: A Life Cut Short


Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Charles and Jessie Biehler Family's Sacrifice in WWII

Robert Biehler
Armored Reconnaissance Division,
 Entered the U.S. Army November 11,1942

Earl Biehler
North Africa, Christmas 1942
Inducted into the U. S. Army January 8, 1942

Donald Biehler
Enlisted in the U.S. Navy October 2, 1944
Discharged September 14, 1945

Louis Biehler
Served with the 164th Infantry in the Negras, in the Philippines
Killed May 7, 1945 Philippines

Fred "Fritz" Biehler
Entered the U.S. Army January 9, 1942
Military Police

Lester Biehler
Served with the U. S. Army Communications Headquarters Division,
330th Infantry
since October 29, 1942
Participated inn the landing at Omaha Beach 
Killed July 5, 1944
Carentan, Normandy, France

Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of meeting Mildred Biehler Lipstraw of Oak Harbor, Ohio, at the Hayes Presidential Center. She had seen our news release regarding the Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project.
 She wanted to tell me of the extraordinary sacrifice of her family during World War II.

Mildred is one of twelve children of Charles and Jessie Caris Biehler, who originally lived not far from Rocky Ridge in Ottawa County, Ohio.  According to Mildred, the family moved to Sandusky County around 1927, where her father managed the Sandusky County Farm Bureau Co-op. Three of her brothers were employees of the Co-op

It was humbling experience to learn of the Biehler family's sacrifice. Six of Charles and Jessie's sons served during World War II. Two did not survive the war. Lester and Louis were killed in action. Lester was killed in Carenton France just after the D-Day invasion. Louis was killed in the Philippines May 7, 1945.

Mildred remembers that in November 1948, a Military Honor Guard accompanied the bodies of her brothers Lester and Louis home to Fremont. The Honor Guard remained on duty through the days prior to the memorial service held for these young heroes . They rest in the Veterans Circle at Fremont's Oakwood Cemetery.

It is with much thanks to Mrs. Lipstraw for providing the Hayes Presidential Center with copies of her brothers' war time photographs and other documents about their service. They will be added to the Center's Biographical File, but we wanted to share the Biehler family's sacrifice for our country's freedom during World War II.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Post #114 Donates $1000 to the Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project

Julie Mayle, Manuscripts Assistant and Officers of the Auxiliary of the American Legion, John A. Fador Post, Oak Harbor, Ohio

Just as the Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project was getting underway, Jeannie Gloor, Sergeant-at-Arms of the American Legion Ladies Auxiliary of Oak Harbor, Ohio, contacted Nan Card at the Hayes Presidential Center. The auxiliary had read about the Hayes Presidential Center's project. They said, " We believe recording and preserving the experiences of veterans is very important and we would like to support this effort."

On behalf of the Ladies Auxiliary American Legion, John A. Fador Post #114, President Kathy Johnson. Vice President Becky Scherf;  First Vice President Liz Smith; and Jeannie Gloor, Sergeant-at-Arms presented Julie Mayle, who heads the project for the Hayes Center, with a check for $1.000! The 73-member auxiliary is deeply devoted to supporting America's veterans who have sacrificed so much on behalf of our nation.

The funds will help cover travel, scanning, copying, and recording costs; expansion of our Veterans Tribute displayed on the wall just outside the Library's research room; archival boxes and folders for storage of donated military documents, letters, and photos; veterans' packets, and educational kits for use by students in future years. Eventually, Julie and Nan hope to use materials for an exhibit at the Hayes Center.  

Jeannie Gloor said, "It is such a great gift to these veterans and their families.. It takes a lot of courage for them to get their story out."

Julie interviews veterans and records their memories. Then, she transcribes the recorded interviews and scans letters, documents, and photographs. Originals are returned to the veteran along with a typed transcription and CD with their scanned documents and photographs. These can be shared with their families. Another copy is kept permanently at the Hayes Center for research in the decades ahead. Lastly, the audio interview and scanned images are placed on Youtube and Historypin.

Card said, "This will be a great help! Julie and I have found it so very rewarding and a privilege to speak with veterans about their experiences. We are deeply grateful to the auxiliary for their thoughtfulness, deep commitment, and generous support!"

If you or someone you know, is a military veteran or is active military and would like to participate, please contact Julie Mayle, Manuscripts Assistant (, or Nan Card, Curator of Manuscripts (, at the Hayes Presidential Center, 1/800-998-7737 x239. Julie and Nan would be pleased to arrange an interview at a time and place that is convenient for you. We also would encourage participation of U S citizen civilians who were actively involved in supporting the war efforts - USO workers, defense workers, WAVES, medical volunteers, etc.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

326 Military History Detachment Visits the Hayes Presidential Center

Members of the 326 Military Regiment

Tasked with collecting and preserving U. S. Army history, Captain Nathan Davis, Staff Sergeant Jeff Vanwey, and Sergeant First Class Deane Barnhardt of the 326 Military History Detachment spent time at the Hayes Presidential Center learning about document preservation and conservation from Nan Card, Curator of Manuscripts.

Captain Davis (center) is educated as a historian. Sergeant Vanwey (left) is a photojournalist and Sergeant Barnhardt (right) a broadcast journalist. Currently, their focus is collecting military documents, photographs, soldiers' experiences, and artifacts associated with Operation Iraqi Freedom and operations in Afghanistan. The team also records, photographs, and collects veterans' experiences personally and at Army commemorations, and reunions.

After collecting, recording, and preserving the Army's historical materials, the team forwards it to the U. S. Army Military History Institute at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The collections are then eventually processed and made available for research to historians and members of the U.S. Army.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jim Robenalt Donates Replica of U.S.S. Michigan to the Hayes Presidential Center

Jim Robenalt of Tiffin, Ohio views his replica of the U.S.S. Michigan now on display as part of the Hayes Presidential Center's new exhibit, Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed
Photograph by Julie Mayle

The U.S.S. Michigan was the United States Navy's first iron-hulled vessel. She was laid down in 1842 and launched the following year. She operated on the Great Lakes. During the Civil War, she was armed with a 30-pounder Parrott rife, five 20-pounder Parrotts, six 24-pounder smoothbores, and two 12-pounder howitzers. The U.S.S. Michigan provided a level of security against possible invasion by Confederates from the Canadian shores.

Tiffin, Ohio resident built a replica of the U.S.S. Michigan to enhance the Hayes Presidential Center's current exhibit, Privy to History: Civil War Prison Life Unearthed. Through artifacts, documents, letters, diaries, and photographs, the exhibit tells the war time experience of the Confederate officers imprisoned on Lake Erie's Johnson's Island.
March 1864, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles ordered the Michigan to "prepare for active service as soon as the ice will permit." That fall John Yates Beall and 20 Confederates launched their secret plan to free Confederate officers incarcerated at the Union prison on Johnson's Island. The Confederates seized the Philo Parsons and captured and burned the Island Queen, but Commander Carter discovered the plot before Beall could reach Johnson's Island on the Philo Parsons. Beall reluctantly gave up the plan to free the prisoners and fled to Windsor, Ontario where he stripped and burned the vessel.
In 1905, the Michigan's name was changed to the U.S.S. Wolverine.  She was turned over to the Pennsylvania Naval Militia, which she served for 11 years making training cruises in the summer for the Naval Reserve. It was the Wolverine who towed the brig USS Niagara from port to port during the 1913 centennial celebration of Perry's Victory on Lake Erie during the War of 1812. In 1927, the Wolverine was pushed up on  Misery Bay at the Presque Isle State Park. After fundraising for her preservation failed, she was sold for scrap. However, her prow was donated and today, after restoration, she resides at the Erie Maritime Museum.


Friday, May 23, 2014

A Look Back to Memorial Day Sandusky County, 1987

Memorial Day
Sandusky County Ohio
This Memorial Day, we once again remember and honor those who have sacrificed so that we might continue to enjoy America's freedoms. A look back  shows Boy Scouts Randy Witte (top) and Ben Everett (below) with Tom Klyne (reading names) and Charlie Nopper placing the American flag on each veteran's grave at the West Union Cemetery in Gibsonburg, Ohio, May 26, 1987.  These photographs are part of the Fremont News Messenger photographs donated to the Hayes Presidential Center.

Memorial Day
Sandusky County Ohio

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Octagon

The Octagon


Jacob's Folly
East Norwich, Columbus, Ohio
Photograph by Dr. Thomas Langlois

Dr. Thomas Langlois was an Ohio State University professor who served as director of the Stone Laboratory on Lake Erie’s Gibraltar Island for more than two decades. Much of his research, photographs, and published works are today located at the Hayes Presidential Center. A quick glance at the collection reveals that the late Dr. Langlois had many interests far beyond his research of Lake Erie. One of them was octagonal structures. During the1940s, he took pictures of many of these unusual buildings throughout his travels in the U.S. and Canada.
It was President Thomas Jefferson who first designed the octagonal house, but it was Orson Squire Fowler who popularized it some 30 years later. Fowler was better known for his phrenology research, the “science” of reading a person’s character by studying the bumps on an individual’s head. Today, phrenology seems strange beyond belief, but Fowler lectured, wrote, and published extensively on the subject from his New York offices.

He became interested in architecture when he decided to design his own home. It wasn’t long before he grew fascinated with the octagon, claiming it was superior to other forms of architecture in lighting, heating, and ventilation. He soon published plans for octagonal cottages and homes that used scrap lumber and gravel for walls. Fowler believed the octagonal home was more in accord with nature, economical, and healthier to live and work in than other buildings.

In 1958, the Columbus Dispatch Magazine” featured an article with 17 Ohio octagonal structures that Dr. Langlois had photographed and researched. It wasn’t long before readers wrote the magazine to tell about other octagons. Within weeks, six more structures were documented. Today, some 53 Ohio octagonals have been identified. While some have been  demolished, others have deteriorated. Many have been lovingly preserved. There were barns, schools, and courthouses. Of Ohio’s 88 counties, Ashtabula features the most. Many of its early residents were from New York, the state where more octagons exist than any other.  

Researchers across the U. S. have worked to create a website ( Organized by state, they have included articles, drawings, and photographs of octagonals as well as round and hexagon structures. No doubt many Ohioans will recognize or recall some of the octagons that appear on the site. 
I was pleased to make some of Dr. Langlois’ photos available for the Ohio portion of the site. One is featured above. It is his 1946 black and white print of a 20th century octagon built by William Jacobs on E. Norwich in Columbus. Jacobs called his octagon an “experiment” in ventilation without using windows. Others called it “Jacobs Folly.” It featured an early form of air conditioning and a roof and floor made of concrete with a tunnel underneath. After spending nearly $40,000, the walls still “sweat” continuously and heating costs were exorbitant. Jacobs finally sold it in 1937 for $4500. The new owner added a second story and divided it into apartments. Finally, in the late 60s, it was

Below are several more of Dr. Langlois' photographs of octagonal structures.


Octagon Home
Chatham, Medina County, Ohio
 by Dr. Thomas H. Langlois
Octagon Home
Pleasant Home Road, Wayne County, Ohio
by Dr. Thomas Langlois


Octagon Home
Richfield, Summit County, Ohio
by Dr. Thomas Langlois