Friday, July 22, 2016

Samuel Brady and his Journey to the Sandusky River

Vintage Postcard of Brady's Island to the right with Truss Bridges on the Sandusky River in the Background
In 1780, General George Washington dispatched scout Samuel Brady from Fort Pitt to the Sandusky River to learn of the area’s geography and the strength of the American Indians encamped there. Brady with a few trusted soldiers and Chickasaw guides force marched through the wilderness. He entered the Wyandot country along the Sandusky River under the cover of darkness. Fording the river, he hid on an island just below the falls of the Sandusky River. The following morning a war party had returned from Kentucky with fine horses. Concealed on the island, Brady watched as the Wyandots raced the horses they’d captured again and again. Brady escaped that night.

But on a second scouting trip to the Sandusky region, Brady was captured. He was taken to Upper Sandusky where his captors prepared to torture him. Brady made a daring escape. According to early histories, Brady was pursued for nearly 100 miles when he escaped by leaping the Cuyahoga River at Kent, Ohio, ever since known as Brady’s Leap.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

St. Philomena Church and LaPrairie Cemetery of Sandusky County, Ohio

  St. Philomena Church

Until it was torn down in 1999, St. Philomena Church, the first Roman Catholic church in the county, lay at a bend on the west side of the Sandusky River. Nearby is the LaPrairie Cemetery where many of its early parishioners were laid to rest. The church was founded by French families who had migrated from Monroe and Detroit, Michigan south to the Sandusky and Maumee Rivers before the War of 1812. Following the conflict, they settled in Rice Twp. where the Sandusky River provided them with transportation, drinking water, and an abundance of fish and game.  By 1822, twenty to thirty French families were living in the area. The Office of Holy Sacrifice was held for the first time in 1823 in one of their log cabins by Rev. Gabriel Richard of Detroit. 

The first building for worship was erected in 1841 on land that hugged the banks of the river. Bishop Purcell of Cincinnati dedicated it to St. Philomena. Twenty-seven years later, a new frame building was erected on land located at what is the junction of Route 53 and 523. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Wagner donated the property. Services were held here until 1891 when the church was abandoned because of dwindling membership. But when the area’s population increased, the church was repaired and services were held for another decade.

On Good Friday of 1913, the church was moved to the farm of Walter and Mary Darr. On that day, the steeple was blown down by the heavy winds that preceded the severe flooding that took place on Easter Sunday. In 1999, some 85 years after it was abandoned, the little church was scheduled for demolition. Many of the descendants of the original parishioners attended the final mass held by Rev. James Pieffer of the St. Boniface Catholic Church of Oak Harbor. Ohio.

LaPrairie Cemetery

On Good Friday of 1913, the church was moved to the farm of Walter and Mary Darr. On that day, the steeple was blown down by the heavy winds that preceded the severe flooding that took place on Easter Sunday. In 1999, some 85 years after it was abandoned, the little church was scheduled for demolition. Many of the descendants of the original parishioners attended the final mass held by Rev. James Peiffer of the St. Boniface Catholic Church of Oak Harbor. Ohio.
The LaPrairie Cemetery began as a family burial ground, but later was part of the Diocese of Cleveland and then Toledo. Eventually, the grounds fell into disrepair. It was the family of Thomas Gonya who began restoring the cemetery in 1980. Gonya’s great great grandfather, Gregory Gonya, who died in 1908, is believed to be the last individual buried in LaPrairie. Because some of the tombstones were beyond repair or illegible, the Rice Twp. Trustees erected a large plaque, listing the names of everyone they knew who was buried in the cemetery.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Corporal Glenn Burkett, U. S. Army WWI

Corporal Glenn Burkett, Fremont, Ohio 

On July 18, 1918, the Second Battle of the Marne marked the turning of the tide in WWI. It began with the last German offensive of the conflict and was quickly followed by the first allied offensive victory of 1918. It took place in a triangular area bounded by Chateau-Thierry. Soissons and Riems. The American Expeditionary Forces with more than 250,000 men fighting under overall French command played key roles in the initial defense and the later advances. More than 30,000 were killed and wounded. The United States began suffering casualties on an enormous scale that was indicative of the losses that marked the Great War.

 One who took part in the Marne was Glenn Burkett of Fremont, Ohio.  Burkett worked as a night dispatcher for the Lake Shore Electric Railway. In December 1917, Burkett enlisted in the United States Army. He was assigned to the First Trench Mortar Battalion (First Army Corps) and trained at Fort Crockett, Texas. Burkett was shipped overseas on the H. M. T. Kursk as part of Battery "D." He received training in grenade throwing, bayonet practice, and trench mortar drill at Fort de la Bonnelle.

Two months later, Battery "D" took part in the reduction of the salient at St. Mihiel and then marched to the Argonne. He also served as an ammunition carrier for machine gunners of the 305th and 306th Infantries of the 77th Division. The battery also saw action at the Battle of the Meuse. On the 10th of November, Burkett’s battery received news of the armistice. On January 29, 1919, Burkett left France aboard the U.S.S. Virginia to return to America, arriving at Newport News two and one-half weeks later. Corporal Burkett was discharged from Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, on March 13, 1919.

Burkett wrote the following in his diary, which is part of his two-volume record of his WWI service in the Hayes Library’s Manuscripts Division. Names of French locations are spelled just as Corporal Burkett wrote them in his diary. To learn more about his service in WWI, follow the link to a description of his collection that is part of the Local History collection. Burkett included pictures and biographical sketches of those who served with him; daily diary entries; overall explanation of the battles in which he particpated; and photographs of French locations.

I suppose there are many other things to be proud of, but being where we were on July 19th and the following days is just about the best thing that ever happened to us. The fun all started here and stayed with us for four months or more. Like all the Army we had our regular crabs and growls, but it’s got Vitry beat ten ways going and coming. Three enemy machine guns were taken over here, and although nobody knew beans about ‘em, we fired them at every boche plane that we even heard, much to the Majors and Captains disgust. A la the Major we remember “Ger-ry-mon-ey”, What is that? “Whizz-bang, Sir? and the fun that followed. But Lt. Dennis was in for blazing away, and blaze away the machine guns did.

When the order was issued to dig-in, the sand was gently brushed to one side, making a hole about an inch in depth. Fine Dug-out. If it were up to the Americans to have dug-outs, there wouldn’t be such a thing. Digging dug-outs is all a waste of time, to the American notion, but when they are already dug, well that’s a different thing.

The 26th.Division, the 32nd, the 42nd, and a few other stray outfits were mixed up in the counter attack around that neck of the woods, all of them being parts of the First Army Corps, the largest unit of the American Army then organized. Near our last location on that front, was a Big Bertha enplacement, close to the Coincy Aviation field, just outside of Fere-en-Tardenois. Along the roads from that town to Soissons and the Chateau-Thierry, in the heat and dust of summer roads, came the non-forgetable picture of emmence traffic that is caused when an Army Advances. Traffic had all been going south, you might say, for months, and the sudden change was like letting loose a long restrained dam of trucks. Wagons, people and soldiers, for that is the way the American Army went after the astounded Dutchmen when the tide turned. That time in the summer, how long ago it seems.
Looking back now, it seems like a paradise, compared to sitting around a cold barracks in the winter, Waiting. August 12th 1918 we with-drew to the hang-out at Germigny, for a few days recuperation, then, on the 18th day of August we hiked it to the La-Ferte-Sous-Jouarre then headquarters for the First Army Corps, and entrained Monday August 19th 1918, for other ports. 

Thru Reims, Chalons and Epernay, all night travel we arrived at Wassy, detrained and marched to the quiet unsuspecting little dried up village of Arranacourt, all on the day of August 20th. 1918. In six days rest at this peaceful little place, we found the only startling thing was to much blackberry short cake. This haven for bums was deserted August 27th. And on the hob-nailed specials came into their own in three days one-two-three-four thru Joinville, Houdelaincourt and Vancouleurs, to Pagny-sur-Meuse, stubble and freshly plowed fields being the bed for aching feet and bodies at night. Pagny-sur-Meuse proved to be another pup-tented area, on the banks of the Meuse. The moving tractors at night, and propaganda from enemy planes by day were the chief amusement here. August 31st. we packed the roll once more, marched thru Teul in the hour that made September Morn famous, and arrived at the Jallion woods on dawning Sunday morning, General Ligget inspected the picket line and bits of equipment. Two days here and the Army was again on the move, this time under fire, into the Foret de Peuvenelle the original home of rain as it appears when looking at the ocean. The square heads bombed us every time they smoked a cigarette, and the balloon outfit down the road had the windlass hot all the time. September 7th. 1918 the Battery footed it out of that place for Montauville (Thru Pont-a-Musson) and into the positions in the Bois le Pretre, on the extreme right of the Saint Mihiel salient , for eight nights and days without rest, only grabbing an occasional hunk of beef, bread and cup of java, the men beavered away on the positions where we were to first use the “Helluve gun to get the Hun”

This particular spot was known as Dead Mans Hill, for the French had lost so many lives holding it as the final point of resistance against the enemy in 1916. Across the ravine (for that is all it is) were the German trenches in full view of our peering eyes, and the machine-gunners who were waiting for our peering eyes to pop out far enough to warrant a shot. The path from “P.C” to No.3, enplacement was a walk that openly envited a shot, and if Heinie wasn’t asleep he didn’t pass you by without a greeting. The kitchen here was right out in the open, so were all the emplacements, and also the ammunition pile and the emplacements used were old ones of the French which would have been fine dope for Fritzies intelligence department had he known it.  

Friday, June 24, 2016

Former HPLM Staff Member Presents Lecture on President Hayes to Brevard County Florida Librarians

Former Hayes Presidential Library reference librarian Merv Hall, now living in Florida, hasn’t forgotten the nineteenth president and HPLM. Using Hayes photographs provided by Manuscripts Assistant Julie Mayle and knowledge gained from his years spent at HPLM, Merv gave a power point presentation on President Rutherford B. Hayes, the founding of the first presidential library, and our new exhibit for the Centennial celebration. In attendance were members of the Library Association of Brevard County, Florida. There were library personnel from school, public, private, military, and federal libraries. We’re pleased that Merv remembers all of us so fondly!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

HPLM Staff Member Meghan Wonderly Writes Book about the Founding of the Nation's First Presidential Library

When Col. Webb Cook Hayes decided to found America’s first presidential library, he faced myriad challenges that tested his resolve and threatened his health and finances.

He faced delay after delay, and at one point, the construction was so shoddy that parts of the building had to be torn down and rebuilt again. 

Still, he persevered, and on Memorial Day 1916, the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums opened to the public, forever making the papers, books and artifacts of 19th U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy Hayes available to the public for research and learning. 

Meghan Wonderly, HPLM annual giving and membership coordinator, tells the story of Webb Cook Hayes and how he founded HPLM in her recently released book, “A Son’s Dream: Colonel Webb C. Hayes and the Founding of the Nation’s First Presidential Library.” The book is available in the HPLM Museum Store for $14.99. 

Meghan Wonderly

Wonderly has been actively involved at HPLM for many years. A native of Fremont, she visited Spiegel Grove for field trips in elementary school. In high school, she volunteered in the manuscripts division and was an intern in that department during her college years. She also served as a tour guide in the Hayes Home. She has been the annual giving and membership coordinator since January 2015. 

During her undergraduate career, she attended New York University before graduating from Oberlin College with a bachelor’s degree in English. She is working on a master’s degree in history at Bowling Green State University.

The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museums is America’s first presidential library and is celebrating its centennial this year. It is located at Spiegel Grove at the corner of Hayes and Buckland avenues in Fremont, Ohio. The facility is affiliated with the Ohio History Connection. 

For information, call 419-332-2081, or visit Like HPLM on Facebook at follow on Twitter at @rbhayespres. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hayes Presidential Library and Museums Celebrates Its Centennial, May 28 - 30

Hayes Family and the Historic Sandusky River Cruise 

HPLM Executive Director Christie Weininger Introduces German Rojas, Paraguayan Ambassador During the Centennial Celebration

HPLM Executive Director Christie Weininger and the Paraguayan Ambassador in the Rotunda During the Centennial Celebration

HPLM Executive Director Chistrie Weininger during Centennial Celebration

"The President's Own" Performing on the Verandah During the Centennial Celebration

Centennial Celebration Visitors Enjoying "The President's Own" Performance on the Hayes Home Verandah

Servers Ready for the Farm to Table Dinner at the Centennial Celebration

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Members of the Firelands Postcard Club Research at the Hayes Presidential Library

Lou Schultz joined Firelands Postcard Club members (left to right) Jeff Brown, Roger Dickman, and Jim Semon on a recent visit to the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. Their interest in the photographs of the late Ernst Niebergall prompted their research visit. 

Niebergall, a professional photographer, settled in Sandusky sometime before WWI.  He photographed the communities along the shoreline of Lake Erie. From ice harvesting and railroads to early aviation and island leisure activities, the Niebergall photographs depict the everyday lives and activities of residents of Lake Erie's southern shoreline communities. The black and white photographs, the majority taken between 1909 and 1918, provide a record of communities in transition as old methods gave way to advances in industry and technology. 

Preserved at the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums are more than 4,000 Niebergall photographs.  Many appear online at Lake Erie's Yesterdays. The club members are researching the possibility of creating a publication featuring some of Niebergall's photographs. Members have already collected numerous postcards that Niebergall produced. Most recently, Mr. Semon has worked with Tiffany Middleton in publishing Clydesdale Motor Truck Company: An Illustrated History 1917 - 1939.