Monday, April 16, 2018

Helena: Sandusky County, Ohio

Helena, Sandusky County, Ohio
This albumen print of Helena in Sandusky County, Ohio, is believed to have been taken around 1890. According to information on the reverse of the photograph, it was taken from atop one of the oil derricks built on a vacant lot. 

Helena, lies partially in the townships of Jackson and Washington in Sandusky County, Ohio. The village was established in 1871 as a result of the construction of the Toledo branch of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad. 

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Surveying of the village was done by Joseph Garn. John Ickes, Isaac Garn, and Jonathan Wagner laid out lots.  

Thirteen oil derricks can be seen in the image. According to longtime area resident, Gene Long. who wrote Conquering the Black Swamp: A History of Jackson Township's First 170 Years, the first oil well was drilled in 1889 on the Joseph Garn farm . Shortly thereafter, wells sprang up throughout the area. However, most were close to Helena. The population increased as men came to work in the oil fields. According to Mr. Long, the "oil boom" did not last long. He writes that "by July of 1909 there were about 4200 wells operating in the county and the average production was less than one barrel per day. "

Joseph Garn Oil Well No. 9
The photographs are part of the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums Sandusky County Local History Photograph Collection.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Buzzards Return to Ohio

The image above was taken this week on the grounds of Spiegel Grove by Hayes Presidential Library and Museums Head of Photographic Resources Gilbert Gonzalez. Each spring and fall turkey vultures - often called buzzards, arrive from the south and gather in the huge trees on the grounds of Spiegel Grove. They roost quietly for several days before soaring off ever so gracefully on the thermals as they search for carrion across northwest Ohio. Their six-foot wingspan allows the buzzards to glide effortlessly for hours. They will lay their eggs on ledges, the ground and in hollow logs, crevices, and abandoned barns (mine included). 

Perhaps the most well-known Ohio location for the roosting of turkey vultures each spring is in  Hinckley Twp. in Medina County.  Like clockwork they arrive each year on March 15th.

According to  a Medina County history referenced by Mark Price in an Akron Beacon Journal article, the arrival of the buzzards is directly connected to the "Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818." Some 500 pioneers in the area gathered on December 24th to eliminate the wolves, bears, and other wildlife who were destroying their crops and livestock. The hunters encircled the area of Hinckley Twp., driving the creatures into a confined space where they were killed. One account states the 21 bears, 17 wolves, 300 deer, and other wildlife provided a Christmas Day feast for the hunters' families. In the spring, the carcasses attracted a gathering of  buzzards in Hinckley Twp. that has continued each spring for two centuries. 

1n 1957, Hinckley residents began celebrating Buzzard Day On the first Sunday after March 15th, more than 1,000 residents and visitors gather to enjoy Hinckley's hospitality with the day filled with good food and old fashioned fun and games.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Join Us For Retro Roundtable April 21st in the Hayes Presidential Library & Museum Auditorium!

Bring your favorite artifact, photograph, game, toy, document, or any treasure that is special to you. Share its story with us at Retro Roundtable in the Hayes Presidential Library & Museums auditorium on Saturday April 21st from 9:30 to 11:30. Admission is free.

We ask that those presenting an item preregister by contacting Julie Mayle, Associate Curator of Manuscripts, at 419-332-2081, ext 239 or by emailing All are invited. Attendees not presenting an item need not register.

The Hayes Presidential Library & Museums staff members will begin the event by presenting their favorite items from HPLM's collections. We ask that those presenting limit to a 10-minute time.

We thank Rebecca White for sponsoring Retro Roundtable!