Wednesday, August 30, 2017

African American Students in Sandusky Erie County, 1854 - 1858







Above are scans of the cover and a record of students' attendance for the quarter beginning April 20th 1858 for the "Colored School" located in Erie County, Ohio. The ledger provides a record of students' attendance for the years from 1854 to 1858. Transcribed below are the names and ages of students listed on the above scan (April 20th 1858). Some names (not all) listed on this page appear as students for all all four years. Only a single teacher's name is given - E. Hastings. From the Sandusky Directory, the teacher of the "Colored School" was given as Eliza Hastings.

The ledger identifies the number of days attended by each student. Rather than quarters, classes seem to have begun each year in late April and continued through June. Classes then resumed once more in late August or September and continued through December.

According to A History of Sandusky and Erie County, written by the late Charles E. Frohman, "small schools for Negro children had been maintained at irregular intervals by Negro directors, but in 1853, at the request of the Negro people, these schools were transferred to the city Board of Education. In 1861 they were discontinued by the Superintendent of Schools, and the Negro students attended classes in the regular school system." Considering the dates of the attendance ledger, it appears this record was kept after the school was transferred to the Board of Education.

No information is given in the ledger as to the location of the school, but with much assistance from Dorene Paul, Reference Librarian at the Sandusky Library and her Sandusky History blog, it seems logical that the school was located near Neil Street in Sandusky, not far from the St. Stephen AME Church at 312 Neil Street. From 1873 to 1876. Reverend Thomas Holland Boston, born in Maryland in 1809, served as minister of the St. Stephen A.M.E. Church and lived on Hancock Street. Reverend Boston's three daughters by his second marriage appear on the attendance register. 



April 20th, 1858
Teacher, Miss E. Hastings



Susan Boston, 14
Sarah Boston, 10
Georgianna Boston, 7
Adaline Veecher, 12
Hannah Veecher, 7
Margaret Veecher, 10
Arminda Moss, 9
Sarah J. Johnson, 9
Lucinda Smith, 9
Antonette Smith, 11
Josephine Holley, 10
Cynthia Payne, 9

Rhoda Payne, 7
Fidelia Anderson, 15

Elijah Brown, 13
Arthur Harris, 9
Elijah Moss, 7
Thomas Holley, 12
Mark Holley, 7

Van Vector Harris (?), 11
Edward Veecher, 5

Edward Smith, 6
William Holley, 5
George Payne, 10
George Harris, 5
James Williams, 12
Gus Wingfield (?), 7
Edward Gleason, 10
James Smith, 8
John Anderson, 7
Robert Smith, 6



Neil and Hancock streets appear in the lower left hand corner a block north of the Fair Grounds. 
1874 Erie County, Ohio Atlas




Probable Location of First Settlement of African Americans in Erie County, Ohio
1874 Erie County, Ohio Atlas


According to an article by A. W. Hendry titled "History of a Vanished Settlement" appearing in the July 1878 issue of the Firelands Pioneer, African Americans had arrived in the area  before 1838. Known locally as "Africa" because of the African American settlement, Hendry described its location as "then about two miles from the city, in a southeasterly direction, and across Pipe Creek." Hendry believed that by 1843, more than 100 individuals resided at the settlement. This settlement no longer existed by the 1850s. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

MIKE GILBERT'S POPULAR HISTORY ROUNDTABLE BEGINS SEPT. 16TH !!




Educator and Local Historian Mike Gilbert’s popular series, History Roundtable, returns this fall! We are grateful to Dr. Mary Wonderly for once again making the sessions possible. Gilbert will offer six sessions on Saturdays Sept. 16 through Oct. 28 with the exception of Oct. 7. Pre-register with Nan Card or Julie Mayle by calling 419-332-2081
x 239.

All sessions except for the Sept. 23rd Oakwood Trolley tours will take place in the Museum auditorium from 10. A.M. to 11:30 A.M. The cost is $5.00 for each session or $25 for all five sessions. THE OAKWOOD TROLLEY TOURS SPONSORED BY GEORGE SCHRADER ARE SOLD OUT.

Sept. 16 Facts, Myths and Legends: Learn about the known and unknown history of Sandusky County as Gilbert explores facts, urban legends and myths of the area. Help unravel stories from the past that have generated local and national interest.

Sept. 23 Oakwood Cemetery Trolley Tours: SOLD OUT!

Sept. 30 Hangouts:
Mike will discuss the hot spots of local youth from the founding of the county to participants’ own high school days.

Oct. 7 NO SESSION SCHEDULED!

Oct. 14 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry: The beginning of the Civil War was a tumultuous time for the men and women of Sandusky County. Discover how the soldiers of the 72nd brought a sense of pride to their hometown as they fought their way through Shiloh and Vicksburg. Relive their agony at Brice’s Crossroads and Andersonville Prison as they made the long march back home.

Oct. 21 Native Americans: Sandusky County has a rich tradition concerning Native Americans in the area. Learn about the history of the tribes and the shaping of the community. Hear the stories of Chief Tarhe, Peggy Fleming, James Whittaker and others.


Oct.28 Ghost Stories: Mike brings back one of his most popular presentations. Just in time for Halloween, he will share local, state and national hauntings. 

Friday, July 28, 2017

S/Sgt. Charles Holcomb, Jr. B-24 Nose Gunner During WWII


Crew of the WWII B-24 Bomber
L to R standing) Lt. W.J. Toczko, co-pilot; Lt. E.H. Patterson, pilot; Lt. K.W. Verhagne, navigator; Lt. Doug Reid, bombardier

(Kneeling) T/Sgt. H. Dodd, engineer; Sgt. Web Brown, gunner; S/Sgt. Serradell, w/gunner; S/Sgt. Higgs, tail gunner; S/Sgt. Edgar, radio; S/Sgt. Holcomb, nose gunne



S/Sgt. Charles Holcomb, Jr. of Helena, Ohio enlisted in the Army Air Corps in 1942. After completing his training, Holcomb was assigned to the 389th Bomb Group as the nose gunner aboard a B-24 bomber.  He completed 17 successful missions before being shot down near Berlin, Germany on June 21, 1944.  Charles was captured that day and became a prisoner of war until April 29, 1945.  

Pictured below is the hat that he knitted prior to a forced march in the winter of 1945 from the Stalag Luft IV prison camp located in Pomerania, near the hamlet of Gross tychow.  Mr. Holcomb recalled watching a fellow POW knit the hat after they had only received coats from the Red Cross. His comrade eventually taught him how to knit his own cap.

Cap knitted by Sgt. Charles Holcomb, Jr. while a prisoner of war during the winter of 1945 at Stalag Luft IV.

The B-24 was produced in greater numbers than any other bomber in aviation history. In all, five plants built 19, 256 Liberators between May 1941 and the end of WWII in 1945. The Ford Motor Company built 6,792 at its Willow Run plant in Michigan. 

By the end of the war in Europe, 3,800 B-24s had become part of the Eighth Air Force. A third of these were lost in action over enemy territory.


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Governor Rutherford B. Hayes and the Lincoln and Soldiers Monument at the Ohio Statehouse

Guest Post by
David Boling, Ohio Statehouse Tour Guide

In early January,1872  Rutherford B. Hayes was completing his term as Ohio's governor. He wrote in his diary a list of what he believed were his most important acts of legislation and accomplishments since coming into office in 1868. Nestled between the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and creation of an ''Asylum for the Inebriate"  in Mansfield, he lists item number 12,   The Lincoln Memorial - T. D. Jones (See Diary entry, January 9, 1872)


What memorial to Lincoln? Where is it? Does it still exist? What role did Governor Hayes have in its creation? Perhaps most important why was this so important to Governor Hayes?

I am a tour guide at the Ohio Statehouse. On our daily tours of the Ohio Statehouse, one of our stops in the Rotunda is a large marble tableau (pictured below) that honors Abraham Lincoln and the soldiers who fought at the battle of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863.





Standing 14 feet tall, from floor to the top of the bust of Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln and Soldiers Monument stands in the same spot as it did when it was dedicated on the evening of January 19, 1871. The dedication itself was quite the event, Here is how it was described in the Cincinnati Enquirer the next day. 
                                                                            

'An immense crowd attended the unveiling, music by the Quintet Choir of First Presbyterian Church was magnificent. Governor Hayes presided. Mr. Galloway, representing the Association spoke first, followed by General William H. Enochs of the House and General Durbin Ward of the Senate. When Mr. Jones unveiled the monument, the crowd gave unequivocal demonstrations of applause.'

'
Governor Hayes presided. As chairman of the Ohio Monument Association, the contracting agent for the memorial. As governor and as a veteran he would have been within his rights to give his own speech, but as Hayes writes the next day in his diary, he chose 'a meritorious thing'.


January 20, 1871, -- I did an unusual, and, I think, a meritorious, thing last night, Tom Jones' memorial to Lincoln and the Ohio Soldiers was to be inaugurated in the rotunda of the Capitol. I presided, I had a fairish little opening speech, which with my good lungs I could make go off well.  But there were three speakers to give addresses. I knew that the little, pretty, pet things to be said were not numerous, and that my speech would more or less interfere with the success of theirs. I accordingly swallowed my speech and introduced the various actors without an extra word. Who has beaten this? 


The Speech I Didn't Make 
Fellow Citizens: -- We have assembled this evening to witness the inauguration, the unveiling of the Memorial -- the work of an Ohio sculptor, Thomas D. Jones, of Cincinnati -- placed here in the rotunda of the State House,  to remain, we trust, as long as the building itself shall stand in honor of the brave sons of Ohio who in more than a thousand conflicts on land and water poured out their lives for Liberty and Union; and in honor also of him who "strove for the fight as God gave him to see the right," and who "with charity for all and malice towards none," "Ascended Fame's ladder so high from the round at the top he stepped in the sky.  


The Lincoln and Soldiers Monument stands in the southeast niche of the Statehouse  Rotunda where it was originally placed, although it was moved to other locations, and the monument and bust were displayed removed and stored for some time. Starting at the top of the 14-foot monument, there stands a bust of Lincoln, done by T.D. Jones in Springfield, Illinois, during the winter months of 1861 after Lincoln's election, but before his inauguration in March. It is one of five known to be in existence for which Lincoln sat. .
 
The surrender of the Confederate army at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863 fills the center tableau (shown below) of the monument.  On the left, General John S. Bowen, Colonel M. C. Montgomery and General John C. Pemberton, who is seen handing over a list of his troops to General Ulysses S. Grant. Standing next to Grant on the right, is General James B. McPherson and General William T. Sherman. All three of the Union generals were from Ohio. On each side there is an orderly holding the reins of a horse to honor all those on both sides who had served.



Just below this scene is a quote from Lincoln's second inaugural address, "Care for him who shall borne the battle and for his widow and his orphans." Use of the words appear to have been a compromise as Governor Hayes had written to his Uncle Sardis Birchard on February 3,1868 that not enough money had been collected to include the 'uprising of the people when Fort Sumter was taken.'



Personally, I think the words are a better choice for they cause us to pause and remember the more than 620,000 Americans, from the North and the South, who lost their lives in the Civil War, and especially the 35,475 who were from Ohio.

The Ohio Statehouse in Columbus offers free tours of the capitol building and of the grounds during the summer. Open seven days a week, I hope you will come and view the monument yourself and learn more about 'the people's house.'



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Captain Charles L. Hudson, 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry and 4th U. S. Cavalry


Charles L. Hudson
72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry
4th U. S. Cavalry



Army and Navy Journal
March 7, 1874

Lieutenant Charles L. Hudson was born in Brantford, Canada West, January 17, 1843.  In 1859 his parents moved to Ohio,  first settling in Huron County, but two years later making their permanent residence near the beautiful village of Clyde. In 1861, Colonel Eaton, recruiting a company for the Seventy-second Ohio, found young Hudson, yet but a boy, at work in a corn field and without any difficulty secured him for his command. "He proved at once a worthy and brave soldier.  His intelligent performance of duty and faultless conduct in camp and in the field made him a favorite with officers and men and step by step he ascended in rank from his original position as private.  In 1864, he was made adjutant of the regiment which position with the rank of first lieutenant, he held till the end of the war, when he was commissioned a captain.  

.                                                                              
Inscribed Sword Presented to Charles L. Hudson by his 72nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Comrades
(privately owned)
                                                                           


He was in nearly every engagement with his corps, and wounded at Shiloh in the hip, and a second time very seriously at Tupelo, Mississippi, a musket ball entering below the waist in the abdomen, and after passing half round the body, lodging near the backbone.  

After the war Hudson’s original idea was to study medicine, but in 1866 he was persuaded to adventure as a cotton planter in Louisiana. This enterprise proving disastrous, he returned to Clyde, when the summer of 1867 found him a law student. 
                                                                            

                   
     National Cemetery San Antonio. Texas

In December of that year, through the influence of appreciative friends, he was commissioned second lieutenant in the U. S. Army and assigned to the Fifteenth Infantry, joining his regiment at Mobile in January, 1868. He was shortly assigned to the Fourth Cavalry, promoted to first lieutenant and breveted captain. For three years, the headquarters of the command was at Fort Clark, and it is hardly necessary to suggest that a company thus located, which accompanied Colonel McKinzie [ Randall McKenzie] in his famous raid ‘over the border’ and was in the successful expedition of December last, against the Indians has seen pretty trying and constant service.

On the morning the 4th of January, just returned from a fight with the Comanches and resting from his fatigue, Lieutenant Hudson received his death wound from the accidental discharge of a Winchester carbine, dropping from the hands of Lieutenant Tyler. The ball entered the body a little below the third rib in the back of the left side, and passed through the cavity of the abdomen ranging downward and passing out on the right side of the stomach.  He lived till the 5th, at dark, conscious and suffering very little. He received every attention from his comrades, officers and men hoping almost against hope that the wound might not prove fatal, but about noon, it becoming evident that death must be the result, he was able to give an hour  to such partial arrangements of his affairs as one almost in extremis but retaining his mental faculties, is capable of.  

A friend writes, with true “soldierly pathos” he full realized that he was dying and went down to the brink of the dark river with the same calm composure that he had so often shown when death shots were falling thick and fast. The message which reached his widowed mother in far off Ohio, at noon, of ‘Charley’s’ successful skirmish with the Indians, was followed the same afternoon by a telegram announcing his death.

The friend to whom we are indebted for the foregoing details adds: “No words of encomium could ever rate the many excellent qualities of Captain Hudson. I knew him long and well, and do not believe he had an enemy. He was brave, generous, and just. As a soldier few equaled him. It is not too much to say, that in the Army and at home, he was universally respected and beloved. As an Indian fighter and leader of cavalry, Hudson was the  Bayard of the Border, not more popular with his command than idolized by the frontiersmen.  

General Sherman had recommended him for promotion shortly previous to his sad taking off. The body of Hudson was embalmed and laid in the National Cemetery at San Antonio,Texas.  Economy and retrenchment just now do not recognize the value of a soldier’s life, and it is hardly strange that they refuse to pay the usual respect to his remains. Thus the department was forced to respond to the request of one of Captain Hudson’s friends, to have his body forwarded to the little Ohio hamlet, whence some of the States’ best soldiers went to the war, and where McPherson’s remains were buried, ‘I am compelled to return a negative answer to your request.’






Thursday, June 15, 2017

General Ralph P. Buckland at Vicksburg

The 4th of July 1863, marked the culmination  of the long land and naval campaign by the Union forces to capture the key strategic position of the Civil War - Vicksburg on the Mississippi River. President Abraham Lincoln stated that "Vicksburg is the key, the war can never come to a close until the key is in our pocket." Capturing Vicksburg severed the Confederacy and opened the river to Union traffic along its entire length. Brigadier General Ralph Buckland commanded Tuttle's First Brigade made up of the 114th Illinois, 93rd Indiana, 72nd Ohio, and 95th Ohio. 
Ohio decided that instead of a single monument devoted to all of the Ohio veterans who fought at Vicksburg, it would erect a monument to each of its 39 generals. This brochure, created in 1912, was used to solicit funds from veterans for a monument for General Buckland at Vicksburg Military Park's Union Avenue . 


General Ralph P. Buckland Monument at Vicksburg as it appears today


Vicksburg Battlefield as it appears today

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Huntington Family Members Research Their Ancestor's Collection


Mr. and Mrs. William Huntington, Jr. of Maryland joined their cousin Sally Sparhawk of Colorado for a day's research of the papers of their  mutual ancestor Dwight Huntington, lawyer, artist, editor, and wildlife conservationist. Some of Dwight's correspondence, photographs, and watercolor landscapes are a part of the George Buckland Collection. (George Buckland, originally of Fremont, Ohio married Huntington's sister.) 

In 1898, the Cincinnati Sportsman’s Society published In Brush, Sedge, and Stubble: A Picture Book of the Shooting Fields and Feathered Game of North America. It was to be the first of many books Huntington would write and illustrate on wildlife conservation.





Huntington gave up the legal profession in 1900. Passionate about nature and wildlife conservation, he moved to New York and became editor of the Amateur Sportsman and the Game Breeder Magazine. .

Huntington wrote the nation’s first game breeding bill. With the assistance of Franklin D. Roosevelt, then head of New York’s Forest, Fish, and Game Commission, his bill became law in 1912. 


Sally and Bill were so pleased to learn that much of Dwight's material is preserved at the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums that they decided to donate two additional watercolors by Huntington and the galleys to In Brush, Sedge, and Stubble.  


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Fremont, Ohio High School Graduating Class of 1869

Fremont, Ohio High School Graduating Class of 1869

Charlotte Fenimore, Julia E. Ashley, Sophia E. Culbert, Lillie Everett, Irene Newcomer, Lucy Rumbaugh

Charlotte Fenimore, the young girl seated on the far left,  is the only individual identified.   


Friday, April 7, 2017

S/Sgt Arthur Claypool's World War II Service

S/Sgt. Arthur E. Claypool




S/Sgt. Arthur E Claypool was born in Kittanning, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania. He was drafted into the US Army 23 December 1942. He went to Fort George G Meade Jan 1 to Jan 4, Miami Beach Jan 6 to Feb 6, Lincoln Air base Nebraska Feb 7 to July 2, Chanute Field Illinois July 3 to Aug 24, then to Boeing
Aircraft Factory Seattle, Washington Aug 27 to Nov 1, 1943. In February 1944 he was transferred to Clovis Army Airforce Base in New Mexico. There he began training on the B-17F bomber. He later trained on the B-29 bomber in June 1944. In August 1944 he was assigned to Army Airforce base in Herrington, Kansas and then transferred to Morrison Field for more training on the B-29 bomber. On September 1944 he was assigned to Left Machine Gunner on the B-29 bomber. October 1944 he was transferred to Twentieth Air Force, 58 Bomber Command, 40 Bomb Group, 45 Bomb Squadron APO 631 CBI Theater of War (China-Burma-India).
Combat Operations began in October 1944 from a B-29 Air Base in Hsinching, China. Combat Operations ran from September 1944 till March 1945. On November 21, 1944, during S.Sgt Claypool's third mission, he and nine other crew members bailed out when their aircraft suffered mechanical malfunctions due to battle damage. The crew's bombardier was killed in action. Notifying by radio to a nearby base, the crew was soon rescued. The Chinese, living in the area, were helpful in the rescue. On April 1945, the 45 Bomb Squadron was transferred to Tinian Island APO 247 in the Marianna Islands. Combat Operations continued until August 14, 1945. Tinian Island is historically important because the 2 Atomic Bombs were dropped on Japan from this Island. On 25 October 1945 S/Sgt Arthur E Claypool was separated from the US Army Airforce at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio.
S/Sgt Arthur Claypool married his wife Doris Schwartz in Clovis, New Mexico 4 April, 1944. They met by reading an interesting letter an Army buddy was reading. Letters back and forth between Clovis, New Mexico and Detroit, Michigan resulted in their marriage. Following his service, S/Sgt. Claypool and wife Doris moved to Helena, Ohio where he raised a family of three sons. He worked at the National Carbon Company in Fremont, Ohio from which he retired in 1980. Biographical information and service record were provided by S/Sgt. Claypool’s eldest son Ron Claypool of Helena.




THE CREW OF THE SNAFUPER BOMBER
 1/Lt JAMES COWDEN; Leland Jones; Floyd Steiner; Ira B. Redmon; Leonard Koenig; E.L. Austin;
William Salmon; Ray Adamson; Michael Shebak; Edward Bronson; Glen Voris; Sgt Arthur Claypool  lCC-
#275 B-29 Bomber Bailed out after bombing OMURA, JAPAN


S/Sgt. Arthur Claypool, performing maintenance on Snafuper Bomber #275, the aircraft which suffered mechanical malfunction due to battle damage on November 21, 1944.
S/Sgt Arthur Claypool and wife Doris Schwartz Claypool

S.Sgt Claypool served as left machine gunner on this plane for 22 his bombing missions. 
 S/Sgt Arthur E Claypool SN 33416992 list of B-29 bombing raids against           Japan WW II; 40th Bombardment Group (VH), 45th Bombardment Squad

S/Sgt Arthur E. Claypool left the USA on Aug. 17, 1944 and arrived in India Sept. 23, 1944 for assignment to B-29 base (A-1) Hsingching, China. Listed with the bombing raids are the planes he flew in by number. The first B-29 was Snafuper Bomber # 275 which crashed in China after being damaged over Omura, Japan. The crew bailed out with one man killed in action. In April 1945 S/Sgt Claypool's Unit was transferred to TINIAN island.
                         (1944)
1. Mission-Formosa Oct 14 B-29 # 275 1100 hours
2. Mission-Formosa Oct 17 B-29 # 275 1040 hours
3. Mission-Omura Japan Nov 21 B-29 # 275 1625 hours (Plane crashed in China from battle damage)
4. Mission-Omura Japan Dec 19 B-29 # 739 1400 hours
5. Mission-Mudken Manchuria Dec 21 B-29 # 739 1200 hours
                         (1945)
6. Mission-Omura Japan Jan 6 B-29 # 739 1400 hours
7. Mission-Singapore Malaya Jan 11 B-29 # 407 1730 hours
8. Mission-Formosa Jan 14 B-29 # 739 1130 hours
9. Mission-Formosa Jan 17 B-29 # 739 1030 hours
10. Mission-Singapore Malaya Feb 24 B-29 # 739 1645 hours
11. Mission-Rangoon Burma March 22 B-29 # 739 1225 hours
12. Mission-Singapore Malaya (night raid) March 30 B-29 # 579 1850 hours
13. Mission-Kure Japan May 5 B-29 # 739 1625 hours
14. Mission-Tokoyama Japan May 10 B-29 # 739
15. Mission-Nagoya Japan May 14 B-29 # 085
16. Mission-Tokyo Japan (night raid) May 24 B-29 # 555
17. Mission-Kasumiguara Seaplane Station (Japan) June 10 B-29 # 739
18. Mission-Osaka Japan June 15 B-29 # 739
19. Mission-Toyahashi Japan (night raid) June 20 B-29 # 739
20. Mission-Kagamigahara Japan (Mitsubishi Aircraft Plant) June 26 B-29 # 739
21. Mission-Yokohama Japan (night raid) June 29 B-29 # 739
22. Mission-Kure Japan (night raid) July 2 B-29 # 739
23. Mission-Takamatsu Japan (night raid) July 4 B-29 # 739
24. Mission-Sendai Japan (night raid) July10 B-29 # 739
25. Mission-Osaka Japan July 24 B-29 # 739
26. Mission-Tsu Japan (night raid) July 29 B-29 # 739
27. Mission-Hachieji Japan (night raid) Aug 2 B-29 # 739
28. Mission-Tokoyawa Japan Aug 7 B-29 # 739
29. Mission-Hikari Naval Arsenal (Honshu Island) Japan Aug 14 B-29 # 739

Honorable Discharge Papers of S/Sgt Arthur Claypool
S'Sgt Claypool's squadron flew over the battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945 during the signing of the Japanese surrender 
S/Sgt. Claypool's last bombing mission on August 14, 1945 on the Hikari Naval Arsenal. This was the day the Japanese surrendered. 

Chinese puppy lying on a 500 pound bomb

S/Sgt. Claypool bailed out of this Snafuper bomber (#275) due to malfunction caused by battle damage. Captain Coden piloted this bomber. 

Crew members saying farewell to Captain Cowden as he was being re-assigned. (Cowden stands second from left.)

Aerial View of B-29 Air Base located in Hsinching, China






Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Alys McKey-Bryant: Female Aviator, Deep Sea Diver, and Barrier Breaker

Alys McKey Bryant and Ottomer Savanack: Taken at Battery Park in Sandusky as the two  work on Tom Benoist's Flying Boat 106
Charles E. Frohman Collection
A woman once called a "Jack of all trades and master of none" by her mother, Alys McKey-Bryant wound up trailblazing her way into the history books thanks to her passion for aviation and her reckless abandon for the gender norms of her time. Her response to her mother, "Well perhaps it is good... to be able to do several things, for then one is never out of a job." It was a testament to the life she lived and the legacy she left behind. 

In 1912, Bryant was living in California and spending her time rebuilding a Curtiss-type pusher aircraft and teaching herself to fly. By the summer of the following year, she made history as the first female to fly in Canada when she took off at Minoru Park, Vancouver, on July 31, 1913. That year, she also barnstormed in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  

John Milton Bryant came into Alys' life early in her flying career. It was he who signed Alys as a barnstormer pilot. But within ten short weeks of their marriage, Alys became a widow. Days after Alys' historic Canadian flight, John lost his life while flying an exhibition at Victoria on August 6, 1913.  

Within three years of rebuilding her plane and learning to fly, Alys McKey-Bryant found work as an aircraft mechanic in 1915. This is also the year she met Tom Benoist, who would soon become both her employer and close friend. Benoist had opened The Benoist Airplane Company in Sandusky, Ohio. Alys became Benoist's factory supervisor, mechanic, and flight instructor. Two of her responsibilities were building aircraft and training students for military service as airmen. Their friendship was short-lived, however, as Benoist lost his life in a freak accident as he stepped off the local street car in June of 1917.  After his death, classes were suspended and the factory shut down, leaving Bryant to sort through all of the drawings, patent records, and office files for the now defunct company. 
Alys McKey Bryant and Elmer Straub stand before Benoist Flying Boat 106. and Benoist Aviation  students: Reinhardt Ausmus, George Thompson, Marian Baily, Horace Leper, George Lites, Otis Kline, Brubaker, Ottomer Savanack, Verne Carter at Battery Park, Sandusky, Ohio
Charles E. Frohman Collection
Bryant penned an unpublished manuscript, Born With Wings, which provided insight into her personal life, as well as her time at what had come to be affectionately referred to as "the Benoistery." The stories she shared about her work, the students, and their leader painted a picture of a man who was idolized by those fortunate enough to learn from him and who left a hole the size of a crater in his wake. 

She also spoke of a plane she spent time designing and building during the winters when Lake Erie was frozen and flying was not possible. Although this "pursuit style" aircraft made it as far as partial fabrication. it was ultimately never finished. 

Charles E. Frohman Collection
Staying true to her "jack of all trades" philosophy, she had interests in fields involving land, air, and sea. A business card advertises her services as both an aviator and a deep sea diver, but her love for the air ran the deepest, and it also garnered the majority of her recognition. 

During the celebration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of her historic flight in Canada, Bryant stated that, "Although WINGS have given me everything--and have taken from me-- everything but my own life--my love for them has never diminished and now my one thought--one prayer-- is that WINGS may be used--NOT for destruction, but for making more friendly and understanding relations between the nations of the earth."

Guest Post by Amber Lewis, Archival Intern Hayes Presidential Library and Museums




Saturday, March 11, 2017

Teddy and Taft Campaigning in Ohio

This photograph  was taken in Fremont, Ohio in May 1912 while William Howard Taft was standing on the Sandusky County Courthouse steps campaigning for President.


Known as a bellwether state, Ohio has been the scene of numerous political showdowns in the race for the presidency. Perhaps none excited residents more than the primary campaign of 1912. Fighting for his political life, President William Howard Taft set out on a week long campaign tour through his native state to battle his one-time friend and mentor ex-president Teddy Roosevelt. It was the first time a sitting president had campaigned during the primaries. Both men needed Ohio’s delegates to win the Republican Party’s nomination at the upcoming convention.
\This photograph is of Teddy Roosevelt campaigning in Fremont, Ohio, for Vice President twelve years earlier. The date was October, 18, 1900. Beside him is T. P. Dewey of Clyde, Ohio, who was a candidate for Congress. This photograph was donated by Thomas F. Dewey, Jr. in 1991. 

As Taft’s train steamed into Ohio on the 13th of May, Roosevelt was only hours behind. Thrilled at the prospect of so much attention, Ohioans along the campaign route quickly constructed makeshift speaker platforms, flew flags, decorated their homes and businesses, and organized bands and parades. With factories and schools closed, excitement reigned as thousands waited for the chance to see President Taft and the dynamic Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was on the attack from the moment the "Teddy Special" rolled across the state line, but he resisted calling the Ohio-born president a "fathead" as he had earlier in the campaign. When the platform collapsed just before his arrival in Marion, Ohio, Roosevelt climbed atop a freight car to speak to cheering crowds. In Sandusky, Ackley’s Band greeted Roosevelt’s train at the foot of the Columbus Avenue dock. Women and children, who made up more than half of the crowd, scrambled to catch "Teddy buttons" and candy tossed from the train.

At several stops, Taft’s train pulled away while he was in mid-sentence. At the State Theater in Sandusky, the president literally begged his fellow Ohioans for their votes. After 15 more speeches, the president grew so hoarse that he could barely utter a word. But Taft struggled on, traveling more than 3,000 miles before ending his campaign a day before the election.

As the returns rolled in, it quickly became apparent that Taft had lost the battle. Ohioans had turned their backs on their native son, presenting a grateful Roosevelt with a landslide victory. But in the end, Taft controlled Ohio’s state convention and that of nearly every other state, giving him enough delegates to win the Republican nomination. Furious at Republican Party bosses, Roosevelt bolted the party and made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency as an independent on the Bull Moose ticket.