Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Oak Harbor Glass Factory, Oak Harbor, Ohio

Oak Harbor Glass Factory, ca. 1929
Arch Street, Fremont, Ohio
Melinda Keller Hofacker (center)
Courtesy of John Liske,
Oak Harbor Library Local History & Museum Center 

On a recent visit to the splendid Oak Harbor LibraryLocal History and Museum Center, I admired the display of glassware. The more I looked, the more I recognized pieces that resembled several of those in my cupboard. I remembered that my pieces were supposedly Heisey Glassware, but none bore the distinctive “H” within a diamond. I recalled that one of my late aunts had worked at the Oak Harbor Glass Factory. After discussions with John Liske who is knowledgeable about “all things Oak Harbor,” I learned that indeed a glass factory had once existed on Houghton St. north of town. Mr. Liske showed me the notes he had acquired from Connie Bahs who researched the history of the factory and interviewed several of the former employees. Her work is published in the History of Ottawa County, Ohio and Its Families.

Originally known as the “Brilliant Cut Glass Company,” it began operations in 1919 with Jacob Neipp as president and John H. Fisher, a glass cutter formerly of Libbey Glass, as manager. The following year, the “Liberty Cut Glass Company” of Egg Harbor, New Jersey purchased the plant, retaining Fisher as its manager. Within the year, Fisher became the president and owner of what was then named the “Oak Harbor Glass Factory.”

No glass was blown or molded at the factory. Blanks were shipped from Cambridge and the Heisey factory in Newark, Ohio as well as Egg Harbor. The “Oak Harbor Glass Factory” employed 30 to 40 women as etchers. Their wage was 30 cents per day. Skilled etchers from Libbey Glass taught the women the proper technique of hydrofluoric acid etching. They practiced on broken or imperfect pieces known as “chards.” Sometimes samples were given to the women, who then created their own designs. Variations also occurred as each woman worked to perfect her technique.  Other “chards” were tossed out the window onto a heap behind the factory. Villagers often salvaged some of these less than perfect pieces.

Women worked in lots of a dozen pieces, using a grinding wheel to apply a single design to each piece. Once completed, they etched a second design (leaf. stem, or bud). on each of the same blanks until the entire design was complete. There were at least eleven designs. Some were known as dahlia, aster, forget-me-not, daisy, grape, poppy, vesta, and mystic.

Oak Harbor Glassware

The women wore heavy aprons to prevent burns from the lime water sprayed onto the grinding wheels to keep them from overheating. They etched a myriad of pieces: glasses (a dozen sold for $1.50) plates, compotes, cordials, sherbets, pitchers, sugar and creamer sets, cake plates, candlesticks, syrup containers, vases, and candy dishes. Even lamps, and mirrors were etched. Not all were crystal clear. There were blue, green, pink and even rare amber pieces.

Ms. Bahs states that the “Oak Harbor Glass Factory” sold “vast quantities of the finished product to Kresge’s and Woolworth’s.” The Lion Store, Hudson’s, and Crowley’s were just a few of the department stores that carried Oak Harbor glassware. Locally, grocery stores gave them away as premiums.

On a cold night in February 1928, fire destroyed the factory. Crossed electrical wires were believed to have been the cause. Fisher estimated the loss at $40,000. The company continued in business above the Oak Harbor fire station and then in 1929 moved to the north end of Arch Street in Fremont, Ohio. A victim of the depression, the Oak Harbor Glass Factory went out of business the following year. Stop in at the Oak Harbor Library. You too may find that you have some Oak Harbor Glassware!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Emancipation Proclamation Celebration, Fremont, Ohio, 1879

Celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation

Fremont, Ohio, 1879

The nearby broadside, printed in Fremont, Ohio, publicized the celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation in the United States and the West Indies. The date, August 1st 1879, was chosen by the organizers as it was on this day in 1838 that full freedom from slavery was enacted  throughout the British Empire It had taken England four years to implement the act. Because England “ruled the waves” with its powerful navy, it was necessary for all its ships to comply with the proclamation as it sailed to many of the country’s colonies where slavery had existed for decades.

Locally, Reverend Edward Claybrooks took charge and served as president of the event. Born in Tennessee some fifty years earlier, he had come to Fremont, married Sarah Ann Curtis, and ministered to many of Sandusky County’s African American families at the A. M. E. Church. Orlando Curtis, T.G. Reese, Jacob Reed, George Taylor, Robert Keyes, and John Floyd were just a few of the event organizers.. 

For whatever reason, the celebration was postponed until the 9th of September. Locals met Rev. J. W. Lewis of Toledo, J. P. Green of Cleveland, and other distinguished guests at the railroad depot as the morning trains arrived. The procession, numbering more than 200, formed in front of the courthouse. 

The Clyde Band led off the parade followed by the speakers of the day. Behind them came wagons and carriages filled with both locals and out-of-towners. They wound their way through Fremont’s major streets and then headed for the fairgrounds. There, they gathered in the grandstand, eating picnic lunches as they listened to the speakers.

Rev. Claybrooks read letters of regret from President Hayes and the Honorable Charles Foster. A reading of the near-sacred Emancipation Proclamation followed. Then J. P. Green took to the stand and declared to all that “knowledge is power” and “we must educate ourselves.” He explained that he was firmly against the emigration of freedmen to Africa. Green declared that we are all Americans. We helped “cut away the forests, build canals, railroads, and cities, and fought for the Union.” While opposed to emigration, Green believed in the settlement of the West.  They had helped and would continue to help make the country what it is - the “land of the free and the home of the brave.”

After Green’s uplifting speech, Prosecuting Attorney John Garver spoke on behalf of the town.  The Clyde Band “serenaded” the visitors who then gave three cheers for the mayor and the city council. That evening a large festival was held at the city hall where former mayor Homer Everett addressed the crowds.  To cap off the celebration, everyone enjoyed a grand ball at the Opera House.   


Thursday, December 27, 2018

York Twp. School Class Photograph, Sandusky County Ohio

York Twp. Class Photograph, Sandusky County, Ohio

Although the date of this class photograph is unknown, the names of the students appear below. Eathel Haff Van Doren, teacher, was born in 1882. She was educated in Ada, Ohio and taught school in York Twp. in the Colby Schools and on the North Ridge. If you know the date or the name of the school where this class photograph was taken, we would be pleased if you would share it with us.

Front Row: L - R Ed Mincer; Bill Mincer; Stella McHarlan, Fred Richards, Irma Hughes, Harold Van Doren, and Foster Wilbert 
Back Row: L - R, Clara Comstock, Karl Richards, Ethel McHarlan, Eathel Haff Van Doren (teacher), Stella Miller, Charles Needham, James Needham

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Art Highlights Experiences of Local Veterans

View local veterans' stories of serving in wars dating back to World War I through original artwork to be featured in the special exhibit "Experiencing Veterans and Artists Collaborations," opening November 11 in the Hayes Museum.

EVAC is a national project that pairs artists with veterans to create an original piece of art based on their experiences.  The goal is to bridge the gap between civilians and veterans by educating the public about military life. For this special exhibit at the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, EVAC founders Professors Lee Fearnside and Joe Kerkhove partnered with HPLM's Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project..

Through the oral history project, Associate Curator of Manuscripts Julie Mayle meets with local veterans and records their stories, scans their photos and important documents, and preserves them in the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums Local History Collection. The veterans also receive a digital copy of their interview ad records.  Mayle then places the interview recording on YouTube and Historypin.

Associate Curator Julie Mayle with Veteran Dick Willer

In the case of veterans who have died, Mayle conducts the interviews with family and scans and saves photographs and documents. "When the Northwest Ohio Veterans Oral History Project was first started, we always had intentions of utilizing the material in a variety of ways,. So it's very exciting to see this exhibit become a reality," Mayle said. "We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with the EVAC organization on the unique project."

Co-Founder of EVAC Professor Lee Fearnside
The artwork in the EVAC exhibit features 12 to 15 pieces created using stories of veterans Mayle interviewed. Artists use a variety of printmaking  techniques, including etching, serigraphy, relief print and lithography to create unique and original artwork. Veterans also receive a copy of the art created based on their experiences.

They're all different, " Mayle said of the pieces. "They're all up for interpretation."

Veteran Participants Receiving EVAC Artwork 

The exhibit will be in the museum rotunda and opens to the public at noon on Veterans Day, Sunday, Nov.11. An exhibit opening reception for HPLM members and veterans' whose stories are featured in the artwork will take place on Saturday, Nov. 10. Members and veterans will receive an invitation through the U.S. mail or email.

The exhibit will be on display through Thursday, Jan. 31. It is sponsored by Beck Suppliers/Friendship Food Stores. 

Wife and Daughter of Veteran Leonard Dentinger

Some of the pieces in this exhibit will eventually be on display at other locations throughout the country. EVAC has placed other exhibits at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport; Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.; Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD; and the Army Transportation Museum at For Eustis, VA.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Baloni Bullet and the Black Hand

The " Baloni Bullet" was discovered in a manila envelope in a bound volume of "Sandusky Register" newspapers during obituary indexing

On the night of March 9th, 1916, James Baloni (aka Bologna) rushed into the home of Angelo Lauria (aka Lowrey) to call the Sandusky police. He reported to Chief Weingates that his older brother Giuseppi (aka Thomas) Baloni had been shot in the neck and lay dead in the alley at Camp and North Depot. James had also suffered a gunshot wound to his thigh. Both had come from Italy and were working as section men on the Pennsylvania Railroad.

James told police that he had no idea who had shot them. But the coroner noted there were powder burns on Giuseppi’s neck, indicating the murderer was at close range. He also discovered a 32 caliber revolver with 5 loaded chambers lying beside the body. Surely, there was more to the story than what James was telling the chief. In fact, James was also carrying a fully loaded revolver.

Weingates interrogated James before taking him to Providence Hospital. He also questioned Angelo Lauria…. No one was talking. The chief hoped the bullet would reveal the truth. Had the Baloni brothers fought and shot each other? Had Angelo Lauria shot both brothers? What was the motive? Was it a family argument or was it the work of the “Black Hand”?

Black Hand tactics were at work in Italy at the turn of the century and then infiltrated Italian neighborhoods in large U.S. cities. Black Hand gangs used extortion and threats of violence to extract protection money from their intended victims. The term Black Hand evolved from the cryptic notes that bore black lettering and drawings. Now, Chief Weingates suspected the Black Hand may have come to the Sandusky area.

Eventually the bullet did reveal the truth. It was not of the same caliber as that of the Baloni brothers’ revolvers. Pressuring Angelo Lauria further, he confessed that it was his brother Dominick who had murdered Giuseppi and wounded James. Dominick had fled the city on the very night of the killing.

Less than a week later Diego Lauria, cousin of Dominick and Angelo, turned up dead at the Vissenera boarding house. Two 38 slugs were extracted from his head. All eight boarding house residents were held at the police station and questioned. Chief Weingates told the “Sandusky Register” reporter that Diego had been implicated in a Black Hand murder at Marblehead a few weeks earlier.

Further investigation led Chief Weingates to suspect boarding house resident Vincenzo Denneria as the man who had killed Diego Lauria. Vincenzo was picked up while on the run in Toledo. He later confessed that he had murdered Diego because he feared Diego was out to “get him.” The two had quarreled when Diego had lured Vincenzo’s cousin Mariano Dennaria to Marblehead to extort $100 from another Italian. In a matter of three weeks, Giuseppi Baloni, Diego Lauria, and Mariano Dennaria had all been victims of revenge. Chief Weingates’ theory had proved correct. The Black Hand had indeed come to Sandusky.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Frohman Summer Series: "Hands on History" Features Roller Coasters

Steve Oberst Demonstrating How Coasters Use Kinetic Energy
Students Creating Their Roller Coasters

It Works!

Students Working with Sierra Lobo Sponsors

The second session of the Frohman Summer Series "Hands On History" focused on roller coasters. The Charles E. Frohman Collection housed in the Manuscripts Division at the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums contains the oldest pictures of the world famous Cedar Point Amusement Park. From 1892 to the present day, coasters have been a top attraction at Cedar Point. 
Students, age 6 to 11, used the  photos of these early coasters to gain firsthand knowledge  by connecting history to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  Steve Oberst then demonstrated the impact of speed, kinetic energy, and gravity. Students used a variety of materials and applied the knowledge they'dd gained in this STEM project to create their own coasters.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Join us for History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert now in its Fifth Season!

Mike Gilbert 
The ever-popular History Roundtable with Mike Gilbert returns for its fifth year this fall with another fascinating series. From taverns and mile markers on Route 20 to Civil War medicine and ghost stories, master storyteller Mike Gilbert will speak Saturday mornings from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Hayes auditorium. The cost is $5 for each session. We are grateful to Mary Wonderly, M.D. for sponsoring History Roundtable once again this year. Preregister with Nan Card 419-332-2081, x239, or ncard@rbhayes.org

The schedule is as follows:

Sept. 15Taverns, Route 20, Mile Markers   - Travel the same path as our pioneer leaders as we explore the taverns and mile markers along Route 20.  During the early 1800s these taverns served as resting places for the trip through the Black Swamp. Learn the history and stories hidden behind their doors.

Sept. 22 – Tales of Fort Stephenson - Experience the noise and smoke of battle. You may feel you’ve heard it before, however, this presentation promises to deliver interesting and lesser known stories about those who participated. Unless you’ve studied the battle in detail you are certain to learn something new.

Sept. 29 - Did You Know ?  Bring your knowledge of Sandusky County for this topic. Find out and share the amazing connections that make our county one of the most historically rich areas in Ohio!

Oct. 13 - Trolley Tours of Oakwood Cemetery, sponsored by George Schrader, attorney at law -
This session, which covers the stories of the men and women who are buried at Oakwood Cemetery, is sold out. 

Oct. 20 - Civil War Medicine - The medical field has made tremendous advancements since the Civil War.  Listen to a discussion of medical practices certain to make you squirm in your seat.  Thankfully participants will not have to undergo treatment, just listen to stories concerning early medical procedures.

Oct. 27 - Ghost Stories -  Gilbert brings back one of his most popular Roundtable presentations and just in time for Halloween! Gilbert takes us around the world as we investigate international hauntings.