Monday, December 24, 2012

Richard "Dick" Stotz: Marine Corps Combat Photographer at Iwo Jima

Richard Stotz with Roscoe, the Regimental Mascot

In Richard Stotz's last years, he gave a scrapbook of photographs to his nephew. They were taken during Stotz's time as combat photographer with the 28th Marine Corps during World War II. The photographs were taken by him and his fellow comrades during training at Camp Pendleton, in Hawaii, at the Battle of Iwo Jima, and during the occupation of Tokyo.

You can see a gallery of some of his photos on the Hayes Presidential Center website

We "pinned" some of Richard Stotz's photographs on Historypin, where you can see a slideshow .

In October, the Stotz Photographs were highlighted as the featured collection of the week on the Historypin blog.

Richard “Dick” H. Stotz was born on 18 March 1922 in Fremont, Ohio to Edward and Neva (Heinman) Stotz. Upon graduating from Fremont Ross High School in 1940, he owned and operated Abdoo Photography with his brother, Donald Stotz. On 14 December 1942 Dick enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and reported to boot camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, California.

After graduating from boot camp he was assigned to the base photograph section as a photographer, completing numerous aerial and reconnaissance training missions. In 1944 Dick was reassigned to the 5th Marine Division, 28th Regiment intelligence platoon as a motion and still photographer. Each division had 12 to 30 still photographers and cinematographers. Stotz and the other combat photographers were sent to 20th Century Fox Studios in Hollywood, California for additional training on still photography. After completing this training he rejoined his platoon, along with fellow photographer L.R. Burmeister and combat correspondents William Vessey and W. Keyes Beech.

Marines Carrying Their Wounded Comrade

In September 1944, the 28th Regiment left Camp Pendleton and sailed to the Hawaiian Islands for Camp Tarawa to join the 26th and 27th Regiments. Intense training, field maneuvers and mock landings took place until January 1945. While aboard the USS Dickens the regiments received a top secret operation called “Workman Island”, later to be known as Iwo Jima. On 19 February 1945the 28th Regiment arrived at the island of Iwo Jima and was part of the second assault wave to advance ashore, followed by three additional waves of troops.

Stotz’s primary duty was to capture the battle in photographs as it was taking place. The job of a combat photographer was made more dangerous because they were never heavily armed, usually carrying only a single weapon and their camera equipment. Photographs taken during a combat assault, like Iwo Jima, were rarely developed in the field. The photographers film was sent out by plane or naval ship to an alternate location to be developed. Most likely, photographers never saw the actual photographs. These photographs were be used for training purposes and to identify any mistakes that may have occurred.

Medic Treating Wounded Marine

Once on shore the Marines were immediately met with a heavy assault from the Japanese that included artillery and machine gunfire. Both the United States and Japan experienced heavy casualties during the initial invasion. Intelligence correspondent, Sgt. Bill Vessey, was killed on 20 February 1945, the second day of the battle. Sgt. L.R. Burmeister was wounded several days later. On 22 February 1945 the Marines gained control of Mount Suribachi and proceeded to take possession of both airfields on the island. Stotz was acquainted with fellow photographer, Joe Rosenthal, who took the iconic photograph of the flag raising atop Mt. Suribachi. The assault lasted 36 days, with the United States taking control of the island on 26 March 1945. The seizure of Iwo Jima allowed for sea and air blockades, andthe ability to conduct intensive air bombardment to destroy Japan’s air and naval capabilities. Although Iwo Jima was a key victory for the United States, the battle resulted in over 26,000 American casualties. Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to Marines and sailors, more than were awarded for any other single operation during the war.

To read more about the Marines on Iwo Jima, follow this link to Iwo  Jima: A Retrospective

Marines Dug In

Friday, December 7, 2012

Admiral Webb C. Hayes II, Commander of the USS Tracy

Webb C. Hayes II, born in 1890, was the third son of Birchard Hayes, who was the eldest son of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Webb II graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1911.

Admiral Webb C. Hayes II
Admiral Webb C. Hayes II Collection

He was commissioned lieutenant in 1912, and lieutenant commander in 1917. During World War I, he served as the executive officer on the destroyer U.S.S. Tracy and as destroyer officer in the Queenstown Flotilla. From 1918 until 1927, he commanded the United States ships: Champlin, Wood, Moody, and Sinclair.

In 1927, Admiral Hayes was given command of the destroyer USS Tracy. She and two other destroyers were assigned to the Atlantic as part of the Scouting Force of the Mediterranean Fleet. Her duties were to “show the flag” at ports of call. Steaming from Newport, she visited Queenstown, Northern Ireland before touching at ports in Scotland, England, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Tunisia, and Italy. Departing Gibraltar in January 1928, she operated in the Atlantic for another month before being transferred to the Battle Fleet.

Admiral Webb C. Hayes II and the officers of the U.S.S. Tracy
Admiral Webb C. Hayes II Collection

In 1919, he married Martha Baker, daughter of Arthur Baker of Toledo, Ohio. They were the parents of three sons: Webb Cook (born 1920), Arthur Baker (born 1924), and Scott Birchard. (born 1926)

Martha Baker Hayes in Europe with her sons Webb (left), Arthur (middle), and Scott (right)
Admiral Webb C. Hayes II Collection

Webb took the opportunity to have his wife and three sons, ages 7, 3, and 1 join him in Europe. Martha Baker Hayes and family left New York on the tenth of June  with their three sons and 14 trunks! Martha and the boys stayed in hotels, rented rooms, and chateaus, moving from port to port and country to country during the admiral’s tour of duty in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Their home movies, a part of the exhibit at the Hayes Presidential Center Tales of Travel from the President's Attic, feature the family and some of the highlights of their time in Europe and the Mediterranean.

Personal Possessions of Admiral Webb C. Hayes II & Martha Baker Hayes
as part of

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fremont Ross Track Star Meets the Best of the Best

Pete Erchenbrecher
From its earliest days, Fremont Ross High School has had a proud history of exceptional athletes. One of those was Ross track star Leland “Pete” Erchenbrecher Throughout his high school years, he nearly had done it all – the broad jump, high jump, hurdles, the 100-yard dash, and the 220. No doubt, it was a thrilling moment for the young athlete when he was named the 1938 Buckeye League Champion.

But perhaps the highlight of the celebrated track star’s career came on a warm Friday evening in July 1938. It was the night Jesse Owens, one of the greatest Olympians of all time, came to town. His stunning achievement of four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics held in Berlin’s Nazi Germany had brought him international fame. But like other Olympians of his day, Owens never benefited from product endorsements and advertising contracts enjoyed by today’s medal winners. To support his family, Owens accepted speaking engagements worked with Cleveland’s underprivileged youth, and on occasion took part in exhibitions.

Jesse Owens 1936 Olympics

That night more than 1500 excited spectators jammed Anderson Field to watch their star athletes compete against the best in the world. Sponsored by Tony Syzmanowski, owner of Tony’s Bakery, the event was organized by Fremont Ross’ track coach Whitey Althoff. Two other track standouts took part – Jim Spangler and Cy Reardon of Findlay College.

Although out of training for more than two years, Owens gave Erchenbrecher and Reardon a 5-yard handicap in the 100-yard dash. Owens flashed home two yards ahead of Erchenbrecher and four yards ahead of Reardon. Spangler then bested the Olympian by a yard over the same distance, but Owens ran over four hurdles while Spangler pounded down the straightaway. Next came the broad jump. Using a crude pit, Owens’ jump measured 24 feet 9 inches. Erchenbrecher turned in a stellar performance with a leap of 20 feet 7 inches.

Jesse Owens later moved to Chicago, where he continued his work with youth, established the Jesse Owens Foundation, and traveled throughout the world. In 1976, President Gerald Ford presented Owens with the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded an American civilian.

With war clouds looming, Pete Erchenbrecher soon joined his brothers, serving in the U. S. Army during World War II. He eventually settled in Shelby, Ohio where he married, raised three sons, worked as a purchasing agent, and established the Erchenbrecher Shoe Store. While Pete Erchenbrecher led a full life, that moment on a hot July night at Anderson Field, competing with the best of the best most certainly lived long in his memory!

A version of this post appeared in Lifestyles2000.

George Gascoyne: Island Contractor

George Gascoyne surrounded by his wife Mary, relatives, and his Dog "Watch"

Dr. Thomas Langlois Collection

Like many others, George Gascoyne came to South Bass Island perhaps never intending to stay. George had grown up in New Providence, New Jersey, the son of a farmer who had emigrated from England.  At the age of 18, he enlisted in the 26th New Jersey Infantry, experiencing the horrors of the Civil War at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Maryes Heights. After the war, the 25-year-old Gascoyne accepted contracts to build the Beebe House and the first Put-in-Bay House. When the job was done, Gascoyne stayed on, making the island his home for the remainder of his long life.

An ambitious, creative individual, he served for a time as a Put-in-Bay councilman, island postmaster and the village’s first fire chief and funeral director. He owned and operated a livery service as well as a vineyard behind Perry’s Cave. He performed in island theatricals and enjoyed his whiskey and his gamecocks.   

But it was truly his skill and talent as a building contractor that set him apart. Gascoyne built the U.S. Fish Hatchery, the Oak Point House, and the Town Hall, one of the few brick buildings then on the island. Around 1875, dock master and storekeeper Clinton Idlor hired Gascoyne to build his new home. Featuring Italianate architecture, the Idlor House was considered one of the island’s finest homes. Perhaps Gascoyne’s masterpiece was the home he built in 1875 for railroad magnate James Monroe.  Designed by a Toledo architect, “Inselruhe” (meaning “island rest” in German) features a broad verandah, a corner tower, and long narrow windows. Decorative moldings, brackets, and woodwork adorn the interior. Even the outbuildings were ornate The architectural style was sometimes known as “Steamboat Gothic.” Today the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Gascoyne’s own home, located near St. Paul’s Parish House, was simple and featured none of the elegance of the summer homes he designed for others.  The nearby picture shows Gascoyne sitting on the steps of that home beside his wife Mary, their relatives, and his dog “Watch.” When he died at the age of 93, as the oldest man in Ottawa County and the last surviving Civil War veteran, no one could say that the enterprising George Gascoyne had not lived life to the fullest!
A version of this post appeared in Lifestyles2000.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

John Davenport: Revolutionary War Soldier

Gravesite of John Davenport, Sr.
Courtesy of Find A Grave

By the time Sandusky County, Ohio was established in 1820, those Revolutionary War soldiers who were still alive were elderly. The few who migrated to the county came with the families of their adult sons and daughters who were hoping to purchase the last of the federal lands for sale in Ohio. Although it lay in the heart of the Black Swamp, the land was cheap at $1.25 per acre. Because there were so few veterans of the Revolution in the county, the Croghan Chapter of the DAR, the Sandusky County Historical Society, residents, and county officials worked hard to honor their service. Well known to everyone were the heroic forbears of the Burkett and Wagner families, who had served as members of General George Washington’s Life Guard.

But there were others. Among them was John Davenport, Sr., identified in a Sandusky County Historical Society yearbook as a Revolutionary War soldier who died in York Township. He moved to York Twp. in 1819, where he purchased 40 acres of the newly surveyed lands.

Davenport was born in Petersham, Massachusetts in 1760. It was there, at the age of 17, that he volunteered for 3 months service with the local militia. Young John Davenport continued to serve for periods each year from 1778 to 1781. When he filed for a pension at age 72, he was nearly blind. Although aged, he vividly recalled how he had guarded British prisoners, served as an officer’s servant, built forts, and responded to Indian attacks as far away as Albany, New York.

He provided a detailed account of a night spent on sentry duty at General George Washington’s headquarters. Davenport served at West Point during the American Revolution’s most infamous act of treason. While in command, Benedict Arnold had ordered the fort’s defenders dispersed, sold supplies on the “black market,” and removed cannons. All in an effort to render West Point defenseless so that the British might more easily capture the site. Private Davenport retrieved one of the cannons displaced by Arnold and helped capture a “mysterious person” associated with the traitor.

Following the war, Davenport returned to Petersham and married Eunice Hawes. Five years later, he took his family and settled in Grand Isle, Vermont and later in St. Lawrence County, New York. At the age of 54 and the father of nine, John Davenport once again enlisted in the militia – no doubt for service in the War of 1812.

For at least two decades, he and several of his adult children lived in Sandusky County, where Davenport was appointed York’s first postmaster. However, the Revolutionary War veteran did not die in Ohio. He sold his land and made one last move with his son, John Jr. This time it was to Winamac, Indiana. And, there, a few months before his 80th birthday, the aged veteran who had fought so bravely for America’s freedom as a young teen, died. His gravesite is fittingly marked with a special plaque testifying to his service with the Massachusetts Militia during the Revolution.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Retired Naval Commander Donates Civil War Escutcheon of General Manning Force

Ken Juul and General Manning Force's Civil War Escutcheon

This past week, during a visit to the Hayes Presidential Center, retired Naval Commander Ken Juul and his wife Vicki donated the Civil War escutcheon of Juul's great grandfather General Manning Force to the institution. Because of the lifelong friendship that existed between General Force and President Rutherford B. Hayes, Juul felt that the Hayes Presidential Center was an appropriate repository for the escutcheon and other family materials. President Hayes and Lucy named their eighth child and the only one born at Spiegel Grove for General Manning Force. 

Done in oil most likely by the J. P. Reynolds Company of Massachusetts in the 1880s, the escutcheon provides a visual record of his ancestor's Civil War service.  Force, who commanded the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War, received the escutcheon as a gift from his comrades. The escutcheon is on display in the Center's Library Reading Room.

General Manning F. Force

Manning Force was born Dec. 17, 1824 in Washington, D.C. to Peter and Hannah Force, the fourth of ten children. He attended Harvard University and Harvard Law School. Upon graduation in 1848, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and entered the practice of law. Force joined the Literary Club of Cincinnati where he met fellow lawyer Rutherford B. Hayes with whom he would form a lifelong friendship

Prior to the Civil War, Manning Force served as a member of the Burnett Rifles.
On August 26, 1861, he was appointed major of the 20th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The following month, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. The first battle for the 20th O.V.I. was at Fort Donelson in February 1862. Shortly after the battle of Shiloh, Force was promoted to colonel and placed in command of the regiment. During the 1863 siege of Vicksburg, he served as acting commander of the 2nd Brigade of Mortimer Leggett’s Division, 17th Corps, and was then promoted to brigadier general.

In the summer of 1864, Leggett’s Division joined William T. Sherman’s drive on Atlanta. While leading his brigade in the defense of Bald Hill, Force was struck by a Minie ball. The ball struck him on the left side of his face and exited the upper right side of his skull. Believing the wound fatal, Force was sent home to die. Instead, he recovered and rejoined Sherman’s Army, taking part in the March to the Sea. For his actions at Atlanta, Force was promoted to major general and, in 1892, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Following the Civil War, he was appointed military commander of the District of Mississippi, a position he held until January 1866 when he was mustered out.

Manning Force returned to his law practice in Cincinnati, Ohio. From 1866 to 1875 he served as judge of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. He married Frances Dabney Horton of Pomeroy, Ohio, on May 13, 1874. They had one son, Horton Caumont Force

In 1876, Manning Force was defeated in his bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. He later joined the faculty of the Cincinnati Law School and was also elected judge of the Superior Court of Cincinnati. Suffering from overwork, Force resigned his seat on the bench. He spent time with his good friend Rutherford B. Hayes at Spiegel Grove in Fremont, Ohio. After his stay in Fremont and a month long vacation in Europe, Force returned to Cincinnati. In 1888, he was appointed Commandant of the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home in Sandusky, Ohio, a position he held until his death May 8, 1899.
Force wrote papers and books on Native Americans and the Civil War and contributed to legal publications. His interest in music led to his affiliation with the Cincinnati Musical Festival Association. He was a member of numerous archaeological and historical societies.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Remembering the Fallen: Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall at Elmore, Ohio

Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall at Elmore, Ohio
August 11, 2012

Ron Distel, who served in Vietnam and is the commissioner of the Ottawa County Veteran’s Service Commission coordinated the effort to host the Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall in Elmore, Ohio from August 9 - August 13.  Deepest thanks go out to volunteers and donors for  a nearly  three-year effort to bring the "Moving Wall" to Elmore, Ohio.

On an overcast Saturday, many walked quietly, respectfully, looking for a name - touching a name of a fallen hero who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and their comrades.  Mr.  Distel says that the Wall has an amazing effect on those who see it. "It's a healing experience...hallowed ground. A piece of our life that we left over there. All of us have buddies whose names are on that wall."

And so it is. We remember. We pay tribute.

2nd Lt. George W. Coleman, U. S. Marine Corps
December 5, 1942 - March 17, 1968

Silver, Star Citation
Silver Star, Awarded posthumously, for actions during, the Vietnam War: The President of the United States of America takes pride, in presenting the Silver Star, (Posthumously) to Second, Lieutenant, George W. Coleman, (MCSN: 0-103411) United States, Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity, in action, while serving as a Platoon, Commander, with Company D, First, Battalion, Seventh, Marines, FIRST, Marine Division, (Rein.) FMF., in connection with combat operations, against the enemy, in the Republic, of Vietnam, from 4, January, to 17, March 1968. Participating, in several major, combat operations and numerous small, unit operations, Lieutenant, Coleman displayed, outstanding leadership and professional ability, while leading his men against, the enemy. Working tirelessly and with faultless, attention, to detail, he skillfully trained and instructed, his men, in general, military subjects and small, unit tactics, which greatly enhanced the combat, effectiveness, of his unit. On 17, March 1968, during Operation WORTH, Lieutenant, Coleman's platoon made contact, with a well-entrenched, North, Vietnamese, Army force and sustained, several casualties. He fearlessly moved, about the hazardous area deploying, his men and directing their fire upon, the hostile positions. Observing several wounded men lying, in an area dangerously exposed, to the enemy, fire, he courageously maneuvered, across, the fire-swept, terrain and on two separate occasions, carried casualties, to positions, of relative safety. Ignoring the hostile rounds impacting near him, he began moving toward another injured man and was mortally wounded by enemy automatic weapons fire. His bold initiative and sincere concern for the welfare of his comrades inspired all who served with him and were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines. By his courageous and efficient leadership and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of overwhelming odds, Lieutenant Coleman upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country. Action Date: January 4 - March 17, 1968 Service: Marine Corps Rank: Second Lieutenant Company: Company D Battalion: 1st Battalion Regiment: 7th Marines Division: 1st Marine Division (Rein.), FMF
Mar 17, 2010

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Della Barber: Teacher for the Freedmen

Della Barber
(Colonel Seth M. Barber Collection)

When Della Barber passed away in Norwalk, Ohio in 1928, her obituary stated that she was a “teacher” and “highly respected.” No truer words were ever spoken. But they did not begin to tell her story. Born shortly before the Civil War into a well-educated and deeply religious family, Della Barber committed her life to teaching the children of former slaves. She chose to leave Ohio at the age of 25 and travel alone to Concord, North Carolina where she began her career at Scotia Seminary

Established in 1867 by the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen, Scotia educated young African American girls in “religion and in the arts and sciences usually taught in seminaries of a high order.” In fact, the board modeled the school after New England’s Mount Holyoke. New students were astounded to see their teachers - white and African American, dining and socializing together. The board believed that whether its students became Christian teachers, social workers, nurses, wives, or mothers, Scotia graduates would pass on their knowledge to the next generation. Della Barber was one of the six teachers responsible for educating more than 200 young women at Scotia.

Unidentified Photograph from Della Barber's Album
North Carolina, dtd.1883

Four years later, the Board of Missions sent Della to Point Coupee, Louisiana to open a new school. It was a rude awakening for the young Ohio missionary teacher. Northern congregations sent books, clothing, and money, but it was not enough. Della labored, often alone against poverty and growing racial tensions. Even though the school was strongly supported by prominent Creole families, intimidation and threats on Della’s life forced the Board of Missions to give up its efforts at Point Coupee in 1892.

Unidentified Photograph from Della Barber's Album
North Carolina, no date

Della found safe haven at the church’s Mary Holmes Seminary in West Point, Mississippi. Ever the devoted teacher, she worked to secure funds so that of some of her Point Coupee students could join her or board at other Presbyterian schools.

Finally, Della was appointed to the Mary Allen Seminary in Crockett, Texas. The town of Crockett donated land. The Board of Missions funded the seminary’s construction. The curriculum prepared young women for teaching. Later, courses for elementary and secondary students were added. Eight teachers conducted classes for more than 200 students. The death of the school’s president in 1910 and a devastating fire a short time later sent the seminary into decline.

After more than 30 years, Della Barber retired and returned to Norwalk, where she lived with her brother. She continued to keep in touch with her colleagues and former students. Many became the educators she had envisioned.

Some criticized the Presbyterian Board of Missions for Freedmen for not challenging the segregation that increased as Jim Crow laws took hold in the Deep South. Others believed the opposite: by ignoring racial tensions around them, efforts to educate the first generation of young African American women grew and flourished in the first critical decades after the Civil War.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Civil War Battle of South Mountain Subject of Lecture by Brian Jordan August 19th at the Hayes Presidential Center

Brian Matthew Jordan

The Battle of South Mountain (Sept. 14, 1862) was the precursor to Antietam. It also was the conflict in which Rutherford B. Hayes suffered the most serious of his five Civil War wounds. Yet, most histories of the war devote little time and attention to South Mountain ... until now.

Brian Matthew Jordan, a cultural historian of the American Civil War, has released Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory . The book relies on extensive research with primary sources to show that the Battle of South Mountain not only was a decisive Federal victory, but also a turning point in the campaign.

Jordan made use of the Manuscripts Collections at the Hayes Presidential Center in his research. He now returns to the Center to discuss his findings during a free lecture at 3 p.m. Sunday, August 19 in the Hayes Museum. A book signing follows the talk. Copies of Unholy Sabbath can be purchased in the Museum Store.

Unholy Sabbath: The Battle of South Mountain in History and Memory

In his third year of the history Ph.D. program at Yale University, Jordan is a native of Tallmadge, Ohio. He received a bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude, valedictorian) in history with a minor Civil War Era Studies from Gettysburg College in 2009. He is a frequent speaker at Civil War Round Tables nationwide, delivers tours for Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. He also conducts seminars for various Teaching American History programs. His published works have appeared in Civil War History and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History & Biography .

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall Comes to Elmore, Ohio

Vietnam Combat Veterans Moving Wall

On August 9th, 2012, The Vietman Combat Veterans Moving Wall will begin its journey at 10:00 a. m. from the Port Clinton, Ohio Municipal Building (1860 E. Perry St.) escorted by hundreds of motorcyclists-most of whom are Vietnam Veterans. At approximately 10:30 a. m. the Moving Wall and its escorts will be entering the business district of Oak Harbor, Ohio. The Moving Wall will then travel St. Rt. 163 and St. Rt. 51 to Genoa, Ohio where it will pass through the business district at about 10:55 a. m.The final leg of the trip will be from Genoa to Elmore using St. Rt. 163 and St. Rt. 51 It will arrive in downtown Elmore, Ohio at approximately 11:15 a.m. The Wall will then go to Depot Park. Opening ceremonies for the five-day visit will be held at 3:00 p. m.
Ron Distel, past Commander of Elmore Legion Community Post #279 which is sponsoring The Wall visit, has spearheaded the effort to bring the memorial to Elmore. Distel, served in Vietnam and is the commissioner of the Ottawa County Veteran’s Service Commission.
The Moving Wall is a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. There are 58,267 names on the memorial of which 253 are from northwest Ohio. 3,095  Ohioans were killed in the Vietnam War. Over 2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam from 1959-1975.
The schedule for the Vietnam Veterans’ Moving Wall:

Thursday, Aug. 9: 3:00 Opening ceremonies hosted by HMMUSIC Ltd.
Friday, August 10: 7:00 Ceremonies Hosted by Area American Legion Posts
Saturday, August 11: 7:00 Ceremonies Hosted by Vietnam Veterans Chapter #35
Sunday, August 12: 7:00 Ceremonies Hosted by Area VFW’s
Monday, August 13: 2:00 Closing Ceremonies
Organizers have put together several events to help educate others about Vietnam and American war history. These events will be held at different locations in Elmore.The Northcoast Veteran’s Memorial and Museum from Gibsonburg, Ohio will display memorabilia from the Vietnam era at the Elmore Historical Society Depot and will also have a display from several area veterans at the Harris-Elmore Public Library. Storefront windows in the business district will also have displays from Elmore area veterans who served in Vietnam.

For more information about the "Moing Wall" visit to Elmore, contact: Ron Distel @ 419-862-2344 or email him To make donations, please make checks out to: Elmore American Legion Community Post #279 and send to: Ron Distel, 2010 S. Nissen Rd., Elmore, Ohio 43416

Monday, July 30, 2012

The U.S. Navy "Comes Home" to Toledo, Ohio August 20 - 27 to Commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and The Star Spangled Banner

American flag lowered for evening colors during a reception aboard the Oliver Hazard Perry Class Frigate USS DeWert at Quebec. The DeWert, USS Hurricane, and the Canadian Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec are visiting cities in America and Canada to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812
Courtesy of the U.S. Navy

Toledo Navy Week, Aug. 20-27, is one of 15 selected cities where America’s Navy will “come home” in 2012, giving area residents an opportunity to meet Sailors and learn about the Navy’s capabilities and relevance to national security.

Toledo Navy Week will commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and The Star Spangled Banner with U.S. Navy ship visits, and special events recognizing America’s Navy for keeping the sea free for more than 200 years.

The U.S. Navy conducts Navy Weeks across the country to show Americans the return they receive for their substantial investment in America’s Navy. During a Navy Week, the Navy conducts a variety of outreach events (approx. 75+) in a metropolitan area, sharing the Navy story with as many people as possible.

The Navy plans to include the following elements in Toledo Navy Week 2012:
- Visiting U.S. Navy Ships
- Navy Band musical performances
- Admirals and other senior Navy leaders, who will engage with local corporate, civic, government and education leaders
- Navy simulator and other interactive displays
- Visits to area schools
- Community service projects and events with local sports franchises
- Visits with local veterans

Army of the Ohio Completes Preservation Fundraising For the 23rd Ohio Battle Flag: Announces Adoption of the 25th Ohio Battle Flag

23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Battle Flag
with Members of the Army of the Ohio
Courtesy of Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann

Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Mann, Ohio National Guard Historian, recently sent me this news release. Thanks to the Army of the Ohio, the necessary funds to allow for the conservation of the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) battle flag from the American Civil War. In addition, the group has announced it will continue its preservation efforts by adopting the 25th OVI battle flag.

The group adopted the 23d OVI flag in January 2011 and has since raised $14,755 of the estimated $29,000 needed for the conservation of the nearly 150 year old silk regimental flag. The remaining funding came from a grant from the Army Historical Foundation, an anonymous donation to the Ohio Historical Society and from the general flag fund of the society, who operates the Save the Flags Campaign.

“One of the goals of the Army of the Ohio is to honor the memory of Ohio’s Civil War Soldiers,” says Col. Bob Minton, commander of the Army of the Ohio and Fostoria, Ohio resident. “The simple way to accomplish this is through accurate portrayals of them at reenactments, but to be able to preserve this distinctive symbol of the war is essential to telling the Soldiers story to future generations.”

The 23rd Ohio was organized at Camp Chase, Ohio on June 11, 1861 and served in the eastern theater, fighting at South Mountain, Antietam and Winchester. The members of this regiment gained distinction in military and civilian life. The first commander, William Rosecrans, became a noted general. The 23rd Ohio is also the only unit in the history of the Army to contain two future presidents: Rutherford B. Hayes and William S. McKinley.

The 25th Ohio was also organized at Camp Chase, Ohio on June 28, 1861 and served in the eastern theater. At the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 the regiment sustained a loss of 179 of the 220 officers and men it went into battle with. The 25th remained in service until April 1866 and had eighteen color bears killed or wounded, including eight at Gettysburg.

Minton said the groups fundraising efforts took them to numerous events across Ohio and New York selling T-shirts, mugs and selling raffle tickets for Civil War artwork. Additionally, members conducted preservation marches and sought donations from individuals and groups. The group will continue to sell these items to raise the estimated $29,000 required for the 25th OVI flag.

The 23rd Ohio flag will be taken to a conservator later this summer where it will be stabilized in order for the flag to be displayed. The Ohio Historical Society's flag collection is one of the largest in the country. It includes the Ohio Adjutant General’s collection of 553 flags, three quarters of which are from the Civil War. Since the inception of the Save the Flags campaign, 21 of the flags in the collection have been treated and housed in frames for display purposes.

The Army of the Ohio was organized in 1999 to combine the strength of American Civil War reenacting units from Ohio and surrounding states. Currently infantry, artillery and cavalry units from Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania comprise the group.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command Now on the Wreckage Site of WWII Pilot Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman's Plane

Lt. Col Jack Zimmerman

More than three years ago, I wrote about Fremont, Ohio native, Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman, legendary pilot, who was instrumental in developing America's commercial aviation.  Senior pilot at TWA, Zimmerman flew the first of TWA’s fleet of DC-3s into New York City’s LaGuardia Field. A year later, Jack Zimmerman flew the last leg of the West-East inaugural record flight of TWA’s first Boeing 307. He later set a coast-to-coast speed record for transport planes.

Joining the Army Air Corps in 1942, Zimmerman served as control officer of the North Atlantic Division of the Ferry Command. The command was responsible for transporting men, supplies, and equipment to England to support the war effort. In November 1942, after inspecting an air base, Zimmerman's seaplane foundered on take off. Fishermen from Quebec’s Longue-Pointe village rescued four of the nine men, but Jack Zimmerman was not among them.

Two months after writing the article, Parks Canada called to inform me that its team of underwater archaeologists had located Lt. Col. Zimmerman's plane. Parks Canada and Longue-Pointe villagers coordinated with the United States to protect the discovery.

Underwater Archaeologist at the wreckage site of Lt. Col. Jack Zimmerman's plane
Courtesy of Parks Canada

Parks Canada underwater archaeology technician Chriss Ludin visited the Hayes Center to examine some of Zimmerman's records that are part of the institution's collections.

Parks Canada Underwater Archaeology Technician
Chriss Ludin

The investigation was turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command which conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify unaccounted-for Americans from past conflicts in order to support the Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts. The organization is deploying more than 85 investigation and recovery teams on 30 missions to 11 countries this year.

Parks Canada has informed me that a 50-man recovery team with 18 underwater divers, JPAC specialists, and the crew of the U.S. Grapple have now arrived at the discovery site of Lt. Col. Zimmerman's plane.
The team plans to spend a month diving on the plane wreckage in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to potentially recover bodies and any personal items, like watches or military tags, that might have belonged to those aboard the plane.

U.S.S. Grapple

Following the Orphan Train Riders

Orphan Train
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Searching for one’s family history can be rewarding but also frustrating. Perhaps few have as great a challenge as descendants of Orphan Train Riders. Between 1854 and 1929, more than 200,000 poor and orphaned were “placed out” in rural communities in 47 states and Canada.

How did it all begin? Mass immigration to the United States during the 19th century left America’s eastern port cities overflowing with the destitute. The abundance of cheap labor led to poor paying jobs. Often entire families, including children as young six, worked 12 hours a day to afford food and a room shared with as many as ten others. Illness, accidents, lost wages, unwanted pregnancies, or death quickly sent families into poverty. In 1850, the city of New York estimated that 30,000 “vagrant children” roamed the streets. Another 3,000 lived by stealing.

At the same time, a labor shortage existed throughout the Midwest and on the Plains. Reformers and missionaries believed that traditional rural values held the promise of American life. If children could grow up on farms and in small communities, they would become productive, responsible, Christian citizens.

Leading the way was Charles Loring Brace, one of the founders of the New York Children’s Aid Society. The New York Foundling Hospital was also committed to helping the urban poor as were smaller charitable institutions. But the New York Children's Aid Society was deeply committed to resettling the destitute. The society placed out more than half of all of the poor between 1854 and 1910. Many more were relocated in the final two decades of the program.

Now, as then, the perception remains that the destitute were shipped to rural areas in what we today call the “West.” But, according to researchers at the National Orphan Train Complex in Concordia, Kansas, the New York Children’s Aid Society resettled 1/3 within its own state. Ninety percent of the remaining poor found homes in the states of Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Kansas, Indiana, and Iowa. Nearly 8,000 were resettled in Ohio.  Some 12,500 were placed in Michigan.

Agents traveled by rail with as few as five and as many as 50 children. Although most were not orphans, the trains soon became known as “orphan trains.” They stopped at rural communities, where locals gathered at depots, churches, courthouses, or schools. There they inspected the lot of waifs and made selections.

Children’s experiences were as varied as their personalities and the families who chose them. Some were separated from siblings, never knowing their heritage or their parents’ names. Some endured constant hard labor and beatings, living in surroundings worse than those they had left in New York or Boston. Others were well cared for, educated and cherished for the remainder of their lives by the families who gave them a home.

Today, it is estimated that there are 2 million descendants. Many want to know more about their grandparents and great grandparents experiences even if their stories were grim and their lives were painful. A good place to learn more is through the National Orphans Train Complex website. Contact information, reunion dates, research materials, and much more is available. PBS' American Experience website features an excellent bibliography and Teacher's Guide.

A version of this article appeared in Lifestyles 2000.

The Napiers: A Seafaring Family

Some called Captain Benjamin Napier a rogue, who sailed amidst Lake Erie’s islands and waged a furious but futile war with the Kelleys for ownership of Cunningham’s Island (Kelleys Island). Others described him as a good-natured giant of a man with a heart to match. Whatever he was, no one could deny that Benjamin Napier was a superb sailor, who raised a family of larger-than-life seafaring sons on Lake Erie.

Among them was Nelson Napier, who left Ohio to settle near St. Joseph, Michigan, in the heart of the “Great Fruit Belt.” He soon captained a Great Lakes steamer and developed his own orchards. Later, Napier convinced his employer, the Goodrich Shipping Line, to establish a regular route from St. Joseph to Chicago, where the fruit trade was booming. A gentle giant like his father, Napier was loved and revered as one of the finest sailors on Lake Michigan. First on the “Comet,” then the Corona,” and finally on the refurbished side-wheeler “Alpena,” Captain Napier plied the waters of Lake Michigan. Three nights each week, he carried a cargo of fruit and passengers across the lake.

On an Indian summer afternoon in October 1880, Napier sailed out of Grand Haven with his usual cargo of fruit, a 25-man crew, and twice that many passengers. Halfway through his run, he encountered a squall. A veteran sailor, Napier had weathered many of them. But suddenly the 65-degree temperature plummeted to below freezing. The night skies filled with snow and sleet. Hurricane force winds battered the “Alpena.” .

Napier’s terrified passengers were thrown about violently in their cabins that were rapidly filling with freezing water. Knowing he could not make safe harbor, Captain Napier turned about, trying to keep the “Alpena” afloat. The crew of the “Hattie Wells,” running parallel to the “Alpena,” looked on helplessly. Captain Dearkoff later said, “Me and my crew stood on deck and watched him try to turn his ship around in that storm. She was halfway around and that wind just took right hold of her and turned her over. …We watched her disappear under the waves.” Some speculated that the recently repaired rudder chain had broken again. Others felt as Captain Napier had once expressed; side-wheelers were not suited for open lakes, where large waves rocked the vessel, often leaving one wheel out of the water.

The storm raged for three days. When it was all over, two bodies, apples, a piano, and bits of the “Alpena” were strewn across a 70-mile stretch of beach north of Holland, Michigan. Although Napier’s ship was never found, a piece of cabin molding washed ashore. Stuffed between the cracks was a note that read, “This is terrible. The steamer is breaking up fast. I am aboard from Grand Haven to Chicago.” A year later, a bottle floated onto the beach at Point Betsie. Inside was a note bearing the last words from passenger George Moore.

He described the terror on board the “Alpena” that night: “She has broke her port wheel; is at mercy of seas; is half full of water; God help us. Capt. Napier washed overboard. The finder of this note will please communicate with my wife and let her know of my death.” But it would not be the last of the “Alpena.” In 1909, twenty-nine years after the storm, the “Alpena’s” name board floated ashore!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

History of Warren Chapel A.M.E. Church, Fremont, Ohio

A History of Warren Chapel A.M.E. Church
Fremont, Ohio
Compiled by Charles J. Weiker

Around 1859, Mrs. Eliza Hughes of Genoa, Ohio started religious meetings in the homes of the few colored families that had settled in Fremont, Ohio. She was a faith-healer and ordained preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and would later move to Fremont, Ohio and marry Abraham Carr in that locale in 1867. Mrs. Carr was instrumental in organizing a congregation of her denomination and building a church in Fremont; where both white and colored would attend. The parishioners of Mrs. Carr's fledging congregation, organized in 1862, came primarily from the Thomas Vincent Curtis family one of the earliest colored pioneer families, who arrived in 1833.

As time went on, for some reason; the effects of Mrs. Carr's early work never materialized. It was Thomas G. Reese, a son-in-law of Thomas Vincent Curtis, who took up the proposition to continue to keep the congregation going and its hopes for a church building growing.

On July 8, 1868, property located at 607 Second Street was sold 'for divers good causes and considerations' to Absalom Revels, Thomas V. Curtis and Orlando Curtis, who were the trustees of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Fremont. The property was sold to them for the sum of $1.00 byWilliam J. Greene, Joshua M. Dotson, Orlando Curtis, Abraham Carr and Charles Moore; the trustees of the Christian Church of Fremont.

The church, which was built that same year, was a small frame building that set close to the ground on a stone foundation. The structure had a tower with a bell installed within it to welcome all as a call to worship. The building also had a pot-bellied stove for heating, oil lamps, and outside facilities. The edifice was first called Payne Chapel, named after Bishop Daniel Alexander Payne, who was an American bishop, educator, college administrator and author. He became a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a major shaper of the denomination in the 19th century. At some point, Payne Chapel was renamed Warren, which was chosen from Warren A.M.E. Church in Toledo, Ohio; which is a few years older than the Fremont church. The Toledo Warren A.M.E. was named for Reverend Charles W. Warren of Pennsylvania, who became pastor of the Toledo Church in 1865.

Warren Chapel A.M.E. Church remained much the same until 1919, when the church was raised up and a basement put under it. On Sunday, September 7, 1919 the cornerstone services were conducted with a procession that started on Front Street at 2:40 p.m. and proceeded to the church by way of State Street, Sandusky Avenue, Chestnut Street and Second Street. In conjunction with the ceremony of laying the cornerstone, addresses were given by Mayor Harry S. Day and the Honorable Arthur W. Overmyer. The singing was rendered by a special quartet from Warren A.M.E. Church of Toledo, Ohio and band music by the Woodman and Light Guard bands. In 1921 or 1922, the parsonage was built on the south side of the church. Minor improvements were made over the years. These included painting, new windows, roof shingles, floor tile over the old oak floor, and a new furnace.

And as the years passed, time was taking its toll on the century-old structure. In 1963, when Rev. Harold E. Sheffield was assigned to the church, there was $154.64 in the Building Fund. In 1968, an effort was started to raise money for another building.

A property was purchased at 703 Second and Mulberry streets, from Mrs. Edna Broshious for $7,900.00. The house on the property was rented until September of 1971, when the house was razed and burned on the site. A one floor plan, designed by Harry Heyman, was approved by the church's membership, which initiated the groundbreaking ceremonies that were performed on October 3, 1971 by Bishop William Wilkes, Rev. H.E. Sheffield, Rev. C.S. Hinton, Rev. Donald Jacobs and Fremont Mayor George Demmel. Construction of the new church started with footers being dug on October 11, 1971. The construction continued until the cold weather set in. It was continued in the spring of 1972.

Most of the labor was done by members and friends: Samuel Weiker, Chester Weiker, Charles Erner, Earl McMullen, William Roberts, Ronald Roberts, Millard Tucker, Thomas Mayberry, John Bowes, Robert Williams, John Carter, Robert Clark, Jim Troike, James Avant, Ed Zimmerman, Jake Feagins, Jerry Schneider, Tory Jackson, Larry Williams, Mrs. Lillie Lewis, Melvin Roberts, Robert Atkins, James Minnifield, Sam Barbour, Ken Werling, Paul Woesner and Rev. Harold E. Sheffield. The women of the Church provided lunch. The Building Committee consisted of Rev. Harold E. Sheffield, Samuel Weiker, Jake Feagins, Julia Feagins, Lillie Lewis, Marguerite Polter, Chester Weiker, Millard Tucker, Odessa Howard, Tory Jackson, Thomas Mayberry, Arline Ellison, Charles Erner, Dallas Wallace, Henry Smith, Evelyn D. Weiker, Evelyn A. Weiker and Earl McMullen. On December 17, 1972, services ended at the old structure. The choir and the congregation marched to the new edifice, with the new address of 304 Mulberry Street, where services continued. The old bell was dismantled and placed in the front yard of the new church; as a reminder of the church's past and its future of worship and praise.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rutherford B. Hayes Exhibit on Display at The Ohio State University

President Rutherford B. Hayes

Legendary Ohio State University football coach Woody Hayes would not have had a place to work had it not been for a man who shared his surname.

Rutherford B. Hayes was governor of Ohio in 1870 when he urged the Ohio General Assembly to pass a bill creating a land-grant university under the Morrill Act of 1862. His persistence led to passage of the bill establishing the Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College in Columbus - today known as The Ohio State University.

The Hayes Presidential Center and The Ohio State University's Rare Books & Manuscripts Library have partnered to create an exhibit Rutherford B. Hayes: Buckeye President. It is on display May 9 - August 26 in Thompson Library Room 165 at The Ohio State University (1858 Neil Avenue). In addition to exploring Rutherford B. Hayes’ connection to OSU, the exhibit tells the story of his life. Exhibit hours are 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. Monday - Friday and noon - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Rutherford B. Hayes: Buckeye President includes artifacts from the Center’s and The Ohio State University's collections.

*Footnote: Rutherford B. Hayes and Woody Hayes are not related.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

U. S. Coast Guard Cutter Will Bear the Name of Great Lakes Sailor

Joseph Napier
Neidecker Collection
On March 2nd, the Bollinger Shipyards held a fleet dedication at Lockport, Louisiana, only the third in its history. Louisiana dignitaries along with more than 500 others were in attendance for the occasion. Under contract to Bollinger are 14 U.S. Coast Guard Fast Response Cutters. Each will be named for a hero who holds a special place in the Coast Guard’s celebrated history. Number Ten will honor the courageous Great Lakes sailor Captain Joseph Napier. He was the son of Captain Benjamin Napier, the Lake Erie sailor who waged battle for ownership of Kelleys Island. Losing out to the Kelleys, Benjamin Napier took his family west, following his brothers to Chicago.

There, son Joseph Napier became the city’s harbormaster. In the tradition of his seafaring family, Napier built, owned, and captained Great Lakes vessels. In 1854, the citizens of Chicago presented Napier with a gold watch for leading the daring rescue of the crew of the “Merchant:” during one of the city’s most violent storms.

Captain Napier eventually settled near St. Joseph, Michigan, where he was as loved and revered as his brother Captain Nelson Napier. When the federal government built its lifesaving station in 1874, Joseph Napier was appointed its keeper. Napier and his crew were responsible for multiple rescues on Lake Michigan.

According to the U. S. Coast Guard, “the most notable occurred Oct. 10, 1877, when the schooner “D.G. Williams” broke apart approaching the port in a storm.” The schooner's crew of six clung to the rigging as Napier and three of his crewmen rowed into the violent lake. The surfboat capsized on the first effort. The crew righted and boarded the surfboat and reached the “Williams,” rescuing two sailors. Heavy waves swamped the rescue boat on their next attempt, but the volunteers bailed the water, battled rough seas, and saved two more men. On their final attempt, the crew was thrown from the boat. Napier suffered a serious leg injury. One of the rescuers threw a line to Napier, who helped right the boat and rowed it alongside the “Williams.” The last two sailors were rescued.

The U. S. Life-Saving Service, the forerunner of the U.S. Coast Guard, awarded Captain Joseph Napier its first life-saving gold medal. Today the Coast Guard station at St. Joseph is located on the exact site as the station Napier oversaw. Adam Kane, the current chief of the station, said, “Joseph Napier continues to serve as an inspiration not only to the crew but also the community.”

Bollinger Shipyards announced that the “Joseph Napier” would be completed in 2014 and assigned to Miami, where the fast cutter will perform search and rescue, drug interdiction, and coastal security.