Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hodes Zink Manufacturing Company

Hodes Zink Manufacturing Company
Fremont, Ohio
May 1923
(Shipping Room of Hodes Zink: Man standing at left is Howard Zink. Mayme Young Newberger, head seamstress and forewoman, is standing at right)

Hodes Zink Manufacturing Company
Fremont, Ohio
May 1923
(Seamstresses: Woman standing at left is Mayme Young Newberger, head forewoman, who was employed at the company from 1919 through 1953.)

The Hodes-Zink Manufacturing Company began operations December 1917 at a second floor location in downtown Fremont, Ohio. A. K. Hodes and Howard E. Zink were equal partners in the business with Hodes overseeing production and Zink focusing on sales of their products. The company’s first major products were storm fronts for buggies but they soon expanded into producing accessories for newly popular automobiles. Some of these accessories included radiator and hood covers, top recovers, and rear and side curtains for touring cars and roadsters. The Hodes-Zink Company developed a system of using patterns of each model and mass producing each item which were sold under the trademark Sure-Fit.

The company prospered and grew. In 1921 they moved to the corner of Napoleon and Lynn Streets in Fremont, Ohio and in 1923 incorporated. Hodes-Zink Manufacturing Company opened a facility in Passaic, New Jersey in 1936 to service the eastern trade outlets and added a second plant in Fremont, Ohio on Jefferson Street.

A.K. Hodes died suddenly in late November 1938. With the purchases of his assets by Mr. Zink the company name was changed to the Howard Zink Corporation. Purchasing another plant at Charleston, Mississippi in 1939 the firm’s primary focus shifted to the production of automobile seat covers which were widely sold under local and national names. Other products were cushions, seat pads, mother’s utility bags, nationally famous baby pals, reflectorized outdoor highway signs, and advertising display signs. A west coast plant opened in 1945 at Long Beach, California and the Consolite Sign Division was purchased in 1947.

Upon the death of Howard Zink in 1957 Jack Zink became president and general manager of the corporation. With his physical condition a factor (Jack Zink suffered severe injuries to both legs in World War II), Jack Zink announced the sale of the company, with the exception of the Consolite Division, to Indian Head Mills January 1966. The company became part of Crawford Manufacturing. In the next 40 years the company went through several changes of owner and name: 1969-Starlite Industries bought the firm and changed the name back to Zink due to its reputation; 1977-the name was changed to Starlite; 1984-Wynn International took over the business and named it Wynn’s Automotive; 1986-Bestop, Inc. split from Wynn’s; 1989-Bestop split, selling half the company to Saddleman, Inc. which took the Fremont, Ohio facility and changed the name to LeBra Products.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gibsonburg Ohio Volunteer Fire Department Drill Team

Gibsonburg, Ohio Volunteer Fire Dept. Drill Team, 1901

The village of Gibsonburg, Ohio, suffered devastating fires in 1895 and again in 1897 when many businesses were damaged or destroyed. As a result, a volunteer fire department was established in February 1898 for the purpose of providing fire protection to property in and around the village of Gibsonburg. The first equipment, hoses, a cart, and rubber coats and hats for the men, was ordered later that month. Initially the village was divided into three districts with a trustee overseeing operations in each of these districts and reporting to the fire chief. The department also formed a drill team. Henry Paul (in front of the team) was the drillmaster. This photograph is part of the Gibonsburg Volunteer Fire Department records donated by the organization in 1999 to the Hayes Presidential Center at Fremont, Ohio.

Maple Grove School, Seneca County, Ohio

Maple Grove School, Liberty Township, Seneca County, Ohio

The above photograph is of students who attended the one-room school at Maple Grove in Liberty Twp. Seneca County, Ohio. The photograph was shared by Marcia Thomas of Connecticut. Her Paul family ancestors attended the school, located south of Bettsville, Ohio. Maple Grove was originally known as Linden, where a post office was established in 1874. The post office soon faded from existence. By 1886. the name became Maple Grove. It was the site of two railroad crossings.

Although this photograph is undated, the names of all of the children and the teacher are written on the reverse. The names listed here are given in the order written:

Sylvester Paul, Richard Huffman, Peter Hygelund, Blanch Kelley, Josie Kelley, Ella Noggle Teach[er], Mary Cook, Oliver Paul, Anna Paul [?], Thomas Cook, Carrie Smith, Adam Paul, Arthur Morgan, Edith Paul, Harry Paul, Pearl Shffler [sp?], Charley Shifler, Julia Schroder, Jocie Davis, Gerhardt Hygleund, Mary Jones, Sarah Cook, Dora Smith, Bryce Kelley.

Maple Grove School

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kyle Burks, 1st Engineers, Operation Iraqi Freedom

The following interview was conducted by Christy Meggitt, a student participating in the Fremont (Ohio) Ross High Scho0l Veterans Project 2009. Student research and/or interviews with veterans may be found in the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center's Local History Collections.

Interview with Sergeant Kyle Burks, 1st Engineers, 111th Sapper Company. Burks saw service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kyle Burks was born to Susan Burks on November 16, 1982, in Fremont Ohio. He attended Clyde High School and played football throughout his high school years. After high school Kyle was planning on playing football in college, but a torn A.C.L. and meniscus made him have a change of plans. He then got a job at Whirlpool, where he worked until 2005 when he enlisted in the United States Army. On September 23, 2006 he was deployed to Mosul, Iraq,where he was a part of the 111th Sapper Company. His job was route clearance. His team found over 250 road side bombs and was in over 100 fire fights during its time in Iraq. Kyle served in Iraq until December 15, 2007.

And here is Kyle Burks' story of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

What was your job and rank in the war?
“My job was the gunner on the main truck. So I talked to the other trucks and would let them know what was going on. I would fire when I needed to and look for “IEDs” at all times. My rank was E-5 Sergeant.”

When and where were you deployed during the war?
“I was deployed on September 23, 2006 to Mosul, Iraq.”

What kinds of weapons did you use?
"I shot the M-16, the 240 Bravo, and the 50 cal almost every day.”

What was a typical day like while you were deployed?
"I would wake up and eat, then I would go to the gym for about an hour, come back take a hour nap, then go on mission for 5 hours come back, eat, rest for about 2 hours then go on another 3-4 hour mission. Then do it all over again.”

Why did you enlist and what made you choose this branch?
"I wanted a change in my life, and I chose the Army because my grandpa was in the Army at one time.”

How do you feel the war is going right now?
“I think it’s a lot better over there now, and that we need to pull out. I think it’s time that they get a chance to run their country themselves. I don’t agree with the reasons we went there. It’s funny because the government says that we were not there for oil. But, when I was over in Iraq, the main reason I did route clearance was to clear the road of bombs for oil trucks to go to Turkey. I truly believe we were there for oil in the long run. I know we are not using their oil right now, but someday I think we will be.”

Personal Stories of Kyle Burks

I asked Kyle to share a few personal stories with me that happened while he was deployed in Iraq. Below are two stories that he told me during my interview with him.

1. “I remember it was some time in November of 2006. I had only been in Iraq for 2 months and as my team and I were driving down the street, I saw a blue car at the intersection. I didn’t think a lot about it. The first truck drove by, then the second truck started to go by, and that’s when the blue car floored it. I took a shot at the blue car but missed and that’s when the blue car blew up on the truck in front of me. It was a suicide car bomb. Luckily, the car bomb only knocked everyone out in the truck no one was killed. Within seconds of that happening we were fired at. The fire fight lasted about 10 minutes then help got there, so we were able to check everyone out.”

2. “I believe the time that sucked the most wasn’t going out on the road but during the months of June – August. It was awful because we could only shower once a week after being on missions for 8 hours a day, with no air conditioning in the trucks, during the hottest months of the year. We could only shower once a week, and it was only during the times of 2000-2300 hours on Sundays. If you were on a mission during those hours, you had to wait until the next week to shower. It was awful; I always felt so dirty. Also, during the week, we could only use one 20 oz bottle of water per day. This was the worst time. I think it was even worse than being on the road looking for “IEDs”.”

Kyle also shared with me the story of how he earned the very honorable Purple Heart award. “I got my Purple Heart because a 300 pound “IED” went off under my truck. It threw me around the truck and almost knocked me out; I had no idea what was going on. I began throwing up in the back of the truck and to this day still get headaches from that incident. I was hit by at least 4 “IEDs,” but this one was the only one that really rocked me.”

I asked Kyle if he had earned any more awards, and this was his answer, “I also have a Valor Award, a soldier receives this when he/she shows extreme courage and bravery. We were in a 3 hour fire fight, and I almost got hit by a sniper round. The bullets hit the top of the truck right beside where I was standing, but I stayed on my gun and kept shooting.”

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Friendship Forged Amid the Bloodshed of Shiloh

General Ralph P. Buckland

One of the most prominent national figures to ever visit Sandusky County, Ohio was General William Tecumseh Sherman, commanding general of the United States Armies from 1869 to 1884. Sometimes he accompanied President Hayes, but whatever the reason for his visit, Sherman never failed to make his way to the Park Avenue home of Fremont attorney Ralph P. Buckland. Their common bond was their shared experience at the Battle of Shiloh, the Civil War’s first great bloody battle.

General William Tecumseh Sherman

Ignoring warnings of an imminent Confederate attack, Sherman was surprised on the morning of April 6, 1862, when thousands of Rebel troops streamed out of the woods and attacked his division of green troops. Terrified, hundreds of soldiers threw down their weapons and fled to the rear. But somehow in the chaos of battle, Buckland kept his cool and the 72nd Ohio held its ground. The Sandusky Countians unleashed a withering fire as Rebels charged their front. Sherman quickly amassed what troops he could around Buckland’s defensive stand and held off the enemy long enough for Union forces to reorganize and avoid a complete rout.

General Ralph P. Buckland's Civil War Pistol
Gift of his Nephew Captain Henry Buckland
(privately owned)

Rather than accusing Sherman of negligence, Americans hailed him as a national hero for his courageous leadership under fire. No doubt, grateful to Buckland, Sherman gave high praise to the “cool, intelligent” Buckland, whose brigade was “the only one that retained its organization.”

Shiloh was a turning point in Sherman’s life. Only an average student at West Point and a failure in civilian life, he re-entered the Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. After enduring defeat at Manassas and humiliation in the press for dire predictions of Union failure in Kentucky, Sherman suffered intensely. After Shiloh, he found his footing under the command of Ulysses S. Grant. Together they formed a lethal combination.

An advocate of total warfare and never one to evade hard truths, Sherman said, “You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.” Called hero and liberator by some and demon and destroyer by others, General William Tecumseh Sherman earned his reputation as America’s first modern general.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lloyd Abbott with the 24th Marines at Iwo Jima

The ten-part mini-series, The Pacific will soon air on HBO. One portion will focus on Iwo Jima. In February 1945, a U. S. force of some 70,000 Marines invaded Iwo Jima, a small volcanic island some 500-plus miles south of Tokyo. It was defended by more than 22,000 Japanese. Americans expected Iwo Jima to fall within five days. However, the battle lasted from February 19th to March 26th. The United States suffered more thant 6,800 fatalities and nearly 20,000 wounded.

The nearby pictures are those preserved by the late Lloyd E. Abbott of Burgoon, Ohio. Lloyd was born in Helena, Ohio, in 1925. He entered the United States Marine Corps May 18, 1944. He donated these photographs and others, along with his wartime letters, to the Hayes Presidential Center. Lloyd was part of the 24th Marines , 4th Division. Corporal Abbott joined the 24th Marines in Hawaii as a replacement for losses suffered by the 24th in the Marianas. In late January 1945, the 24th sailed for Iwo Jima with other 4th Marine Division units. The 24th encountered fierce resistance and were often involved in hand-to-hand combat. The regiment suffered 652 killed and 1,053 wounded.

At left is a picture of Company A and Company B of the 24th Marines, who survivied Iwo Jima. The photograph was taken just prior to the regiment's departure. Corporal Abbott identified himself as the Marine standing in front of and between the two tallest soldiers in the back row. Much later he recalled the hoards of flies that descended on the island and the black sand that made maneuvering so difficult. Although Corporal Abbott did not see the raising of the American flag at Mt. Suribachi by his fellow Marines, he distinctly remembered the shouts that went up from the island. At left is a map of Iwo Jima. Corporal Abbott wrote that he picked it up as he was leaving the island. Click on the map to read Corporal Abbott's notes and see his landing location (x marks the spot).

The photograph of Corporal Abbott and his fellow Marines was taken aboard the U.S.S. Newberry, a 12 1/2-ton troop transport. The photograph is a reprint of the original owned by one of Abbott's comrades. Abbott identified himself as sitting in front of the organ. Interestingly, Abbott stated that he celebrated Easter twice as the 24th Marine Division on board the Newberry crossed the International Date Line on Easter.

The 24th Marines remained in Hawaii until October 1945 when it was ordered back to California where it was deactivated. Corporal Abbott was discharged from the United States Marine Corps on May 28, 1946. He returned to farming at his home near Burgoon, Ohio. Lloyd Abbott passed away in 2008.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lucy Webb Hayes and Her Four-Footed and Feathered Friends

The nearby photo of Lucy Webb Hayes, wearing the President’s hat while feeding pigeons on a cold, snowy morning, is one of the last ever taken of the former first lady. It has always been one of my favorites. This candid image would be considered common place in today’s casual world, but in the 19th century, such unassuming poses of women, particularly former first ladies, were much less common. Perhaps its appeal is that it represents a true reflection of who Lucy Webb Hayes was and how she lived her life.

Compassionate, cheerful, gracious, and possessed of a quiet confidence, Lucy showered kindness on family, friends, children, the sick, and the helpless. The same was true for animals - be they domestic or wild. It was always her way.

Upon Lucy’s arrival in Washington, society columnists commented on what changes she surely would make in her hair style, her dress, and her demeanor. But the First Lady remained unchanged - outwardly and inwardly. It wasn’t long before such questions were forgotten. Rather, Lucy’s warmth and kindness to all around her became the recurring topic in DC newspaper columns.

Gifts for Lucy poured in – a mockingbird, a Siamese cat, a turkey, a cow, and other feathered and four-footed creatures. They all found their place in the White House family. When Lucy learned that an owl had become trapped inside the unfinished Washington Monument, she asked that construction stop until it could be freed.

When the Hayeses returned to Ohio, their White House pets came with them. Their homecoming at Spiegel Grove brought more gifts of dogs, chickens, turkeys, and cats. Lucy welcomed and loved them all.

In his letters and diary, President Hayes often mentioned how children, servants, and animals responded to Lucy. He wrote, “All seemed to know her, and loved to be near her. The dogs would climb on her, the Jerseys would rush to her, the pigeons came at her call….How happy she was to see their glad welcome of her. I must preserve the pictures that show these things.”

Lucy's Jersey Cows at Spiegel Grove

Everyone was aware of Lucy’s love for animals and the affection they returned. Some weeks after her death, a Fremont teamster came up to President Hayes after Sunday services. He said, “There was a notable thing at [Lucy’s] funeral. I noticed it and many others [did]. The jerseys – her Jerseys – all came up as near to the funeral procession as they could get and stood in a row looking at it – standing still like soldiers in ranks until the funeral had all passed.”

Willetta Adams Michaels: Woman of Talent and Vision

When Willetta Adams graduated from Fremont Ross High School in Fremont, Ohio, in 1910, the right to vote for her and all women across the United States was still a decade away. Casting a ballot wasn’t the only restriction women faced in 1910. Their career choices also were greatly limited.

None of that seemed to matter to the talented Willetta Adams. Holding a firm vision for her future, she charted her own course. She joined the first women’s basketball team in Fremont. Willetta went on to attend secretarial school, eventually leading to employment at Claus Shear and the well-known Jackson Underwear Company.

A gifted vocalist, she studied at the Toledo Conservatory of Music and at Heidelberg University. Willetta joined Fremont’s Musical Matinee Club, Madrigal Glee Club, and the Brahms Choral Club. She performed in musical productions that featured lavish sets and costumes. Pictured here is one of her family’s photographs, showing the cast of the club’s performance of the popular Gilbert and Sullivan production “H. M. S. Pinafore.” Willetta can be seen standing second from the left dressed for her role as Little Buttercup.

She was one of the first to perform musical readings for Fremont composer Elizabeth Cox. Winning numerous honors, Willetta gave recitals throughout Ohio. A significant highlight was recognition by and the opportunity to sing for the internationally renowned opera contralto Mme. Schumman – Heink.

After her marriage to Hayes Michaels, one might have expected that being a wife and mother would have consumed all of her time and energy. But while caring for their ten children, Willetta continued her musical career. As a member of Trinity Evangelical Church, she also sang in the choir, taught Sunday School, and participated in the Dorcas Circle Class, Women’s Missionary Society. The Batesole Farm Women’s Club was part of her life as well.

Willetta lived until 1978, long enough to see career opportunities open up for young women. But in her era, the full and vibrant life Willetta Adams Michaels carved out for herself was accomplished only by a personal vision and a drive to make the most of every talent she possessed.
This post first appeared in Lifestyles 2000 Fremont, Ohio

Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home, Xenia, Ohio

The stereoscopic view at left is of children playing on the lawn before one of the cottages at the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home in Xenia, Ohio. The image, one of a series, was given to Lucy Webb Hayes, who was instrumental in rasing funds to establish and support the orphanage.

The Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans' organization of Union soldiers who fought in the American Civil War, established the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home in Xenia, Ohio in 1869. GAR officials rented a two-story building, where some 50 children were housed.

Initially, children whose fathers had died in the Civil War or as a result of service-related wounds or disabilities were accepted. The need was so great that the city of Xenia donated more than 100 acres outside the city to establish a larger orphanage. A committee petitioned Ohio's General Assembly to assume control of the orphanage. In April 1870, the orphanage officially became an institution of the state of Ohio. That summer, the orphanage was moved to the land outside Xenia.

The first board members (1870 - 1874) were General Ralph P. Buckland, of Fremont; General James Barnett; General J. Warren Keifer; Barnabas Burns; General Manning F. Force; head of the Soldiers' and Sailors' Home at Sandusky; General John S. Jones; and A. Trader.

Originally, the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home provided Ohio children who had lost their father in the American Civil War with a place to live. Eventually, the State of Ohio opened the institution to orphans of all military conflicts and the children of all veterans, including ones who had not died on the battlefield. In some cases, the children of a living veteran and/or his spouse, who were suffering financial difficulties could leave their children at the home. In 1901, more than 900 children resided at the institution. It was the largest institution of its kind in the world.

Children lived in cottages like the one featured in the image above. They received a traditional education and manual training. In 1978, the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home became known as the Ohio Veterans' Children's Home. In 1997, the Ohio Veterans' Children's Home ceased operation. More than 13,500 children had been cared for and educated. The Greene County Library maintains an online database of "Applications for Admission" to the home from 1877 - 1919.

As early as 1881, the Association of Ex-Pupils was formed. Members consist of former pupils of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home or of the Ohio Veterans' Children's Home. You can read a 1901 article from the institution's newspaper, the "Home Weekly", reporting on some of the former pupils. For pictures of the home from 1901, follow this link to those displayed on Ohio Memory.

Each year, the association holds a three-day reunion on the former site of the home. They also operate a museum and have worked to improve the care of the Collier Chapel Cemetery. In 1963, a history, titled Pride of Ohio: The History of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home at Xenia, Ohio, 1868-1963, was published. The association is now in the process of publishing a second history due out this year.