Sunday, December 31, 2017

Fremont Brewery: Fremont, Ohio

Fremont Brewery

Northwest Corner of Oak and Knapp Streets, Fremont, Ohio

The Fremont Brewery  was founded in 1857 by Charles Geisen at its location on Oak Street. Under the leadership of Julius Walde, the plant grew to ever larger proportions. According to the "Toledo Critic," the Fremont Brewery was recognized as one the very best in the state of Ohio. Walde developed extensive sales in Fremont and the surrounding area. The company advertised in the 1904/1905 city directory "Pilsner and Lager made from the choicest malts and hops."

Julius Walde was born in 1848 in Germany where he was educated. There he learned the trade of cooper. His father served as an officer in the regular army as did Julius, who was recognized for his gallant service  in the Franco-Prussian War. Following the war, he came to America, settling in La Crosse, Wisconsin. where he worked in a brewery. He later moved to Chicago, working in a brewery there as well. After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and a strike at the brewery, he left Chicago and traveled to Norwalk, Ohio. There he worked as a cooper in his uncle's shop before moving to Fremont. He soon took a job in a Tiffin brewery. Walde then bought an interest in the Fremont Brewery and became its manager, He operated the brewery until 1902 when he sold his interest.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Don Smith, TWA Pilot and War Hero

TWA Pilots Don Smith and Jack Zimmerman 

Some years ago, I wrote about Fremont, Ohio native and senior TWA pilot Jack Zimmerman, who flew the first of TWA’s fleet of DC-3s into New York City’s LaGuardia Field. A year later, Zimmerman flew the last leg of the West-East inaugural record flight of TWA’s first Boeing 307. 

Joining the Army Air Corps in 1942, Zimmerman served as control officer of the North Atlantic Division of the Ferry Command.  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 Pilot Jack Zimmerman was not among them. He remained missing in action until his plane was discovered and I was contacted by Parks Canada.

Learning about Jack Zimmerman's life was fascinating, but there were many questions left unanswered. Among them was the man named Don Smith, mentioned both as a friend and fellow pilot.  Zimmerman had encouraged him to become a pilot. With such a common name, I assumed the research would take more time than I had. 

But not long ago, John Havens, owner of Fremont, Ohio's Color Haven remarked about the portrait of Jack Zimmerman hanging in my office. John said, "Jack Zimmerman was my grandfather Don Smith's friend. He encouraged my grandfather to take up flying!" It was through John Havens that I received these photos and learned more about Don Smith.

TWA Pilot Don Smith

A fairly good athlete at Fremont High School, Smith entered The Ohio State University in 1925, majoring in psychology and minoring in physical education. When nearing graduation, Smith met an old Fremont friend, then a pilot for Transcontinental Air Transport, the forerunner of Trans World Airlines. He urged Smith to become a flying cadet with the U. S. Army, but Smith chose coaching instead.

However a few years later, he changed his mind. Smith applied and was accepted in flight school, where he became an expert pilot. His career as an Army pilot ended with his discharge in 1933. Smith returned to Fremont and took up barnstorming. Once again, Don's mentor, Jack Zimmerman, shaped his future. He suggested that Smith join him as a pilot with the growing TWA company.

Soon Smith was co-piloting the twin-engine DC-3 for TWA out of Newark, New Jersey. In 1939, he and Jack Zimmerman flew the first TWA flight into New York City's new LaGuardia Field. Smith then served as one of TWA's "check pilots." It was his job to examine the flying ability of other pilots.   

Smith and fellow pilots in WWII

When WWII broke out, Smith said, " Uncle Sam told me to come back in the Army. I was glad to go; everything I got out of flying I owed to the Army." He first served as a flight instructor and then was placed in charge of a troop carrier squadron assigned to New Guinea. There he became part of the Fifth Air Force. It was in this early phase of the war that Smith learned that his friend Jack Zimmerman had lost his life.  

Smith's 70 pilots spent a year in combat, taking part in more than 50 missions. For his courageous service, Smith was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals, and three campaign stars. Later Smith served as the operations officer of the 54th Troop Carrier wing stationed in the Philippines where he participated in the re-taking of Corregidor. At war's end, he had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.

TWA Flight Leaving New York City

Following the war, Smith returned to TWA, where he was one of the company's senior pilots. His status made it possible for him to select the choice run from Chicago to New York City. He was able to return to his home on Long Island after every flight. At career's end Smith had flown more than two million miles. In retirement, he and his wife, Louise Wolfe, returned to their hometown. They had raised a daughter Marjorie who had three sons. One of whom is John Havens   

Pilot Don Smith Preparing for a Flight

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The White House Gates

“Over five years ago President Harding requesting his successor in the United States Senate, Senator Willis of Ohio, to secure the passage of an act presenting the [White House] gates to the Spiegel Grove State Park, but which, through unaccountable bungling in the preparation of the original bill as well as the omission of the proposed beneficiary from the act, has recently come to naught.”
–Colonel Webb Cook Hayes to Edna M. Colman, April 27, 1927

The White House Gates
Meghan Wonderly
Annual Giving and Membership Coordinator
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums

Colonel Webb Cook Hayes, second son of President Hayes, founded the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums  in 1916. As construction began on the addition to the museum, Webb turned his sights towards the entrances to Spiegel Grove. He wanted every aspect of the site to be historically relevant. While the grounds themselves were historically important, the entrances to them were not. Webb sought something that would signal to visitors that they were entering a prestigious historical site.
Webb’s quest to find the perfect gates for Spiegel Grove began in 1920. Upon learning that the gates to the Soldiers Home in Washington D.C. were to be removed, Webb requested the gates from the governor of the Soldiers Home. The governor happened to be his former commander Lieutenant General S.B.M. Young. After his appeal to Young dragged on, Webb sought other possible gates.

When marching in the 1921 Armistice Day parade to honor the burial of the original Unknown Soldier, Webb took note of the iron gates in front of the future site of the Grant monument in the Botanical Gardens in Washington D.C. The gates were an attractive prospect. The Grant monument was too large to fit through the gates as they stood, so they would have to be removed for its installation and dedication. Upon broaching the subject of the Botanical Gardens’ gates with Colonel Clarence O. Sherrill, the commissioner of public buildings and grounds, Webb was informed that the gates on West Executive Avenue (between the White House and the State, War and Navy Building) would be a better proposition because the government desired their removal. At Sherrill’s suggestion, Webb at once called on President Warren G. Harding. Having been present at the 1920 dedication of the Soldiers’ Memorial Tablet at Spiegel Grove, Harding was personally familiar with the site. President Harding voluntarily offered to sign an Executive Order presenting the gates, if Colonel Sherrill brought it to him that day. Unfortunately, the commissioner was unavailable to meet with Webb before he returned to Ohio.  Nevertheless, Webb left Washington D.C. assured that President Harding’s approval had garnered him the gates at last. He later sent Sherrill a letter reminding him of the gates, and explained the historical significance and symbolism the gates would represent at Spiegel Grove.

However, the matter soon grew complicated. President Harding found that it required congressional approval and was out of his hands. As a staff correspondent for the Cincinnati Times-Star newspaper stated, “There the trouble started.” Harding wrote to Ohio Senator Frank B. Willis, “I told Colonel Hayes I would be glad to have the Museum (State Park) possess these gates and thought I could do so by Executive Order. I have learned that this is not possible, however, and that the donation must be made by act of Congress.” Therefore in 1922, Harding handed the matter to Willis. Through Willis’s initiative, a bill was created to remove the gates and send them to Spiegel Grove. The Senate and its Committee on Military Affairs approved the bill. 

The White House gates originally stood on West Executive Avenue between the White House and the State, War, and Navy building. The emblem that can be seen on the center set of gates features an anchor for the Navy department, guns for the War department, and an eagle for the State department

With this positive news, the Fremont area citizens began celebrating. A slightly overzealous Webb paid $2,500 to enlist Charles Mosser of Fremont, Ohio, to build massive split boulder gateways to hold the White House gates. Carl Rakemann, an artist friend of Webb’s, began designing the plaques for the dedication of the gates. The Green Springs [Ohio] Echo and the Fremont News both published articles congratulating Webb and Spiegel Grove on the accession of the gates. 

However, the bill had yet to pass through the House of Representatives. Ohio Congressman James T. Begg was put in charge of this task. He encountered resistance in presenting the bill, even though it had been approved by the Committee on Buildings & Grounds. At first representatives questioned if it had even been decided that the gates were to be removed. Begg read a letter from Colonel Sherrill (the Commissioner of Buildings & Grounds), stating that various government offices involved had attempted to remove the gates for several years due to the great congestion of traffic at that avenue. Sherrill explained that:
An effort was made to find someone who would pay something to the Government for the privilege of taking the gates away, but it was found that no one would pay for the privilege and on the contrary they expected us not only to give them the gates but to pay someone for taking them away. 

Sherrill’s explanation did little to sway the politicians.

Members of the House of Representatives argued that the gates provided the president much needed security even though they had generally been considered a hazard to safety. The failing came when Begg stated that the bill was “for the purpose of permitting the President to give away Government property.” He also stated that Harding was a “very good friend” of Webb C. Hayes. With these statements, the bill lost its momentum. 

Webb believed that the failure was Begg’s fault. He wrote to other representatives and senators asking for assistance. Most of those he wrote to assured him of Begg’s competence. The Speaker of the House Frederick H. Gillett told Webb that he was annoyed with Begg because of his attempts to use “unparliamentary methods.” Begg defended his efforts, citing Webb’s misunderstanding of congressional procedure. The bill was considered private, meaning that it could only be brought up on certain days for discussion. A private bill also had to pass unanimously. Throughout 1922 Begg struggled to get the bill on the calendar and to combat any objections.

The White House gates now sit at each entrance to Spiegel Grove

Two years passed with almost no mention of the gates. It took the Secretary of War’s intervention in 1924 to get the bill back on the calendar. In early 1925, the bill returned to the senate.  This time the chair of the Senate, along with other senators, were against Willis.  One senator even wanted the gates to go to New York instead of Ohio. A week later, a journalist for the Cincinnati Times-Star newspaper released an article about the conundrum titled: “Useless White House Gates Suddenly Become Important: Gift Made by Harding for Marker for President Hayes’s Grave Again Held up by Skeptical Congress.” The witty and sardonic author wrote that:
When Colonel Webb Hayes…came to Washington recently to carry away the White House gates, he ran into more opposition than he had expected.  He thought he was going to do the Government a favor, but he discovered that some members of the Government were not backward about calling it something else. 

The author continued, stating that “[Webb] offered to take the gates off the hands of the Government, or more specifically off their hinges, without cost to the Government.” The author then quipped, “When a bill was presented in Congress some of the legislators, who had, up until that time, never noticed the gates, asked some questions so as to learn where they were, and then decided that the Government might want these gates after all.”  

The next time the bill came up in the Senate and the House, the portion dictating where the gates were to be sent was removed. Even with the change, the Committee on Public Buildings & Grounds once again strongly recommended passing the bill. They stated that the gates “have long been a serious impediment to traffic and are a constant source of danger, both to vehicles and pedestrians.” Again, the House of Representatives did not heed the committee’s advice. Rather, they objected whenever the bill was brought up, stating that “it would be a waste of time to consider it further” and that “those are valuable gates and ought not to be torn down.” The Committee on Public Buildings & Grounds were again given the bill, which they again approved. They stressed that the gates had no material or intrinsic value, regardless of what the senators and congressmen believed. The committee also emphasized that if the gates were kept up “provision must be made for some expenditure on them for repairs.” 
Carl Rakemann, artist and friend of Webb Cook Hayes, included sketches of gatepost possibilities in a letter dated February 7, 1922.

In April of 1926 the Senate approved the bill.  However, Senator Wesley L. Jones from Washington interrupted the proceedings and said, “My attention was diverted for a moment, and I did not realize that…bill…had been passed.” He argued that the bill be reconsidered and put on the calendar again, since he did not agree with its passage. When the bill came up again for discussion, an argument ensued. Senator Royal S. Copeland from New York, who had previously wanted the gates to come to his state, argued with Jones about the gates’ removal:

It is not my bill, and I have only the interest in it that any other Senator would have, but I think those gates are a very great menace there in an automobile accident, and I would not want to have the Senate assume the responsibility for something that may be, after all, purely a matter of sentiment so far as the retention of the gates is concerned.

The discussion spiraled out of control. Other Senators jumped in to voice their opinions. It became so heated that they had to be called to order. The next time the bill was discussed, Jones recommended it be reviewed by a committee, since it was technically different than the one they had previously reviewed. This caused a debate amongst the Senators about which committee should review the bill, the District Committee or the Buildings & Grounds. It went to Buildings & Grounds for the fifth time.

            Finally, the Senate agreed on an amendment to the bill that would allow the gates’ removal but would not remove the piers to which they were attached. Congressman Richard Elliott from Indiana joined in the fray because he deemed the removal of gates but not the piers as “nothing short of idiocy” because the piers were just as much behind the traffic impediments as were the gates. This left the bill stuck between two politicians who wanted very different outcomes. Therefore, the House and Senate had to hold a conference to discuss the Senate’s proposed amendment to the bill. The conference was fruitless, ending with the two factions agreeing to disagree. 

            Elliott ended his determined efforts to remove the piers and urged the House to agree with the amendments. So on March 3, 1927, an act was passed that would authorize the removal of the gates from West Executive Avenue as long as the piers were left undisturbed. After five or so years of effort, the bill that had been approved simply permitted the gates’ removal but did not secure them for Spiegel Grove. The Fremont Daily News reported, “Congress has passed an act which merely states that the gates shall be removed, but doesn’t specify to what place.” Webb saw this as “rather stupid bill” that was badly handled by the Ohio representatives. Aware of Webb’s frustration, Willis explained to the colonel that he thought it was best to take what they could get and accept this small victory. 

            Congressman Begg explained that the gates now had to go out to bid for removal and possession, but that the Chairman of the General Supply Committee was going to try his best to ensure the gates went to Ohio. The General Supply Committee was chaired by Colonel Ulysses S. Grant III, grandson of the former president and son of Webb’s comrade Frederick Grant.  Aware of connections between Grant and himself, Webb wrote to him asking for assistance in securing the gates. Grant replied that there was no legal way for him to give the gates to Spiegel Grove. The committee was forced to invite bids for the gates, since they had to be sold as junk.  Difficulties arose as “Washington people have all at once gotten the idea that these gates are exceedingly important to Washington.” Webb’s bid for the gates unfortunately fell $1,050 below the highest offer. Willis wrote Webb that there was some insistence that the gates be erected at one of the Washington parks. F.A. Roman, a local attorney, made the winning bid.  Newspapers rumored that the Fine Arts Commission was behind his bid, as they desired the gates to remain in Washington D.C. In April of 1927 the Fremont Daily News released an article stating that Webb had lost the bid for the gates. The paper bemoaned the loss, stating:
The six year request of Colonel Webb C. Hayes of Fremont for the possession of the ancient White House gates at the Pennsylvania avenue entrance to West Executive Avenue apparently ended in failure Monday when bids were opened by the treasury and his offer was found to be considerably below another submitted.

However, the bid had to be approved by certain treasury heads before the gates could be given away.

            In 1928, Begg went to bat for Webb again, this time to ensure the gates be presented to the Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society so they could hang at Spiegel Grove. The Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds reviewed the bill. They suggested an amendment, removing the preamble of the bill which simply explained the historical nature of Spiegel Grove. The House passed the bill. The Senate also passed the bill after its Committee on Public Buildings and Grounds amended it to ensure the federal government would incur no expense for the gates’ removal. At last, on April 11, 1928, the bill passed and was approved by President Coolidge, securing the gates’ donation to the OHC for historical entrances to Spiegel Grove. The Anchor Fence Company removed the gates from the White House and shipped them to Fremont in mid May 1928. 
After the entrance to the museum moved from Jefferson Street, these gates were moved from the Memorial Gateway to the Croghan Gateway.

            Webb wanted to christen the gates at the annual Memorial Day festivities at Spiegel Grove, but the gates’ poor condition required some maintenance before they could be erected.  The Fremont Steam Boiler Company, operated by the Nickel brothers, worked with the Fremont Foundry to repair the gates. Therefore the celebration of the gates’ installation was postponed until August 2, to coincide with the 115th anniversary of the Battle of Fort Stephenson. Webb coordinated the event to include the dedication of the nurses’ home at the Fremont Memorial Hospital and the christening of a 
tree in honor of Theodore Burton, a trustee of the Rutherford B. and Lucy Webb Hayes Foundation.

After eight years of persistence, the gates were finally brought home to Spiegel Grove. They were laid out exactly how Webb had imagined in 1922, with four of the White House gates installed in four gateways, and the fifth divided to make two single pedestrian gates. The gates have remained in that configuration ever since.

A Son's Dream: Colonel Webb C. Hayes and the Founding of the Nation's First Presidential Library by Meghan Wonderly

To learn more about Colonel Webb C. Hayes and the founding of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums, you can purchase a copy of Meghan's book online or in the Museum Store