Wednesday, May 10, 2023

The Croghan Congressional Gold Medal

 Nearly all Sandusky Countians know of the brave defense of Major George Croghan and his men at the Battle of Fort Stephenson during the War of 1812. The 21-year old was brevetted lieutenant colonel for his heroic actions by President Madison.

During and after the war, Congress approved several gold medals for victorious military actions. But it was not until February 1835 that legislators belatedly recognized Colonel Croghan for his defense of Fort Stephenson. In that same resolution, Congress also ordered the president to present swords to six of Croghan’s officers: Captain James Hunter, Lieutenants Cyrus Baylor and John Meek, Ensign Joseph Duncan, and the nearest male representatives of Lieutenant Benjamin Johnson and Ensign Edmund Shipp. 

Croghan Congressional Medal

West Point engineer Washington Hood, who also worked as a portrait copyist, designed the reverse of the Croghan medal. His sketch portrayed the battle scene at Fort Stephenson with three ships in the distance representing Perry's fleet.  According to the “Numismatic News” Hood’s drawing differed from other army medals in that he included the Latin phrase “Par Magna Fuit” (His Share Was Great). The obverse was reserved for a portrait of Croghan to be prepared by Moritz Furst, the Philadelphia Mint’s contract engraver.

Croghan asked his brother, then living in Pittsburgh, to provide Furst with a miniature portrait as a personal sitting was not possible. Furst used Hood’s work and the portrait to create the engraving. He received $1800 for his work. Congress appropriated another $250 to cover the cost of striking the medal, the gold, and a case.

By March of 1836, Furst had completed the medal. However, a year later the medal still remained at the mint! Prodded by an agitated former Secretary of War Lewis Cass, the mint finally shipped the medal to Washington, D. C.   At long last, the Congressional gold medal was presented to Colonel Croghan by President Andrew Jackson - the final War of 1812 medal awarded.

Croghan resigned from the U.S. Army after the War of 1812. He lived in New Orleans where he was appointed a postmaster. He later rejoined the army and in 1825 was promoted to colonel and served as one of two U.S. Army inspectors general. He fought with Zachary Taylor at Monterey in the War with Mexico. Croghan died during the cholera epidemic at New Orleans in 1849. He was originally buried in the family cemetery in Kentucky.

Colonel Croghan’s body was brought to Fremont for re-burial by Colonel Webb C. Hayes. Hayes contacted his descendants, hoping to locate the Congressional gold medal. None appeared to know of its whereabouts.

Using Furst’s original dies, the Philadelphia Mint began producing bronze copies of the medal. “Numismatic News” stated that collectors could still order them as late as 1901. Many museums, including the Hayes Library and Museums hold copies of the bronze medal. The Smithsonian has a dozen in its collection.


Monday, May 8, 2023

The Journal of Lt Charles R. Noyes during his days with the Hayeses on the President's Western Trip

 President Hayes began an extended tour through the western United States. It was the first time a sitting president had ever traveled to the West Coast. The journal of Lt. Charles R. Noyes, albeit brief, is one of the few firsthand accounts of Hayes' Western Trip.

  • President Hayes at Yosemite during Western Trip, 1880
  • Courtesy of HPLM

President Rutherford B. Hayes and First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes left Chicago, Illinois, in September  1880.As the President and First Lady's special train steamed westward across the plains, Lt. Noyes discovered his post was one of the scheduled stops. Lt. Noyes, then only twenty-one years of age, introduced himself to the President. Hayes and General William T. Sherman invited Noyes to join the entourage for the four-day trip by rail through Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah.

 Lt. Charles Rutherford Noyes was the son of Horatio S. Noyes, a first cousin of President Rutherford B. Hayes. Noyes was born in Newtonville, Massachusetts, in 1858 and graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1879. Following graduation, he was stationed in the West. He later returned to West Point to teach mathematics. In 1898, Noyes married cousin Gertrude Noyes. Major Noyes was severely wounded during the Boxer Rebellion.

 Noyes' daughter Margaret Noyes Goldsmith donated a transcript of her father's journal to the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums in 1956. 


                                          Courtesy of Find a Grave

 Journal of Lt. Charles R. Noyes

 Friday, September 3, 1880

 Tomorrow President Hayes, Secretary of War Ramsey, and General Sherman with party will pass through town en route west. Extensive preparations have been in progress for some time to receive them with honor. I wonder if R.B.H. will know me.

 Saturday, September 4, 1880

 All the officers of the Depot with their ladies made an early rise to finish breakfast in time to take the special car which was to carry us to meet the President and his party. We did not get started until eight o'clock, however, and when once we were off we found that we numbered about twenty-five, a committee of gentlemen from town accompanying us with their ladies. We were a jolly party and the fast trip down the road to Egbert, thirty miles, was exhilarating. Arriving there we had not long to wait before the President's special train came along. I do not think the President's party had any intimation of this coming forth to meet them, but when the car had been attached and the proper officials stepped into the President's car to greet him, he at once with others of the party returned to our car and introductions ensued. The President led, and as he was introduced to me, he did not apparently recognize me, so I proceeded to make myself known as the son of his cousin, Horatio Noyes. He had no opportunity to speak with me longer then, and after receiving an introduction to Honorable Secretary of War Ramsey, and to General Sherman, I went with some other officers into the President's car, found there several members of the party among whom was Mrs. Hayes, and to her I at once made myself known. She arose and received me with great cordiality, and at once introduced me to all in the car. It was then that I first met Birchard and Rutherford. Although I did not catch all the names at first I afterwards found out who constituted the party. There were as follows:

The President

General Sherman

Mrs. Hayes

General A. McD. McCook

Mr. Birchard Hayes

Colonel Barr

Mr. Rutherford P. Hayes

Mrs. Hunt

Mrs. Mitchell

Mrs. Audenreid

Mr. Herron

Miss Rachel Sherman

Mrs. Herron

Mr. Furness

Secretary of War Mr. Jamieson

There were five cars in the train, one carrying the baggage, the second, a C.B. & Q. dining car, the third, C.B. & Q. directors car occupied by Secretary of War, General Sherman, and the ladies of their party. The fourth, a Pullman sleeper occupied by General McCook and other gentlemen of the party, also by Colonel and Mrs. Barr and Birchard and Rutherford Hayes. The fifth was the Union Pacific Directors car occupied by the President and his party excluding the boys. After chatting for a few moments with several of those to whom I had been introduced, I invited Miss Sherman to go with me to our car to be introduced to the ladies and gentlemen there. Mrs. Hayes had in the mean time gone back with somebody to be introduced. Upon our return we found the car quite full and everybody talking away as fast as possible with the President, Secretary of War, General Sherman, Mrs. Hayes and others who had come in. After introducing Miss Sherman as far as I could, I left her with some ladies, and finally found myself near a party of ladies of which Mrs. Hayes was the central figure. She was soon called away by some others, much to the regret of Mrs. Nash and Mrs. Heath who were charmed with her conversation, and another lady was introduced - Mrs. Hunt. Just then Rutherford Hayes came in from the President's car and said his father wished to see me. The President had returned to his own car and was conversing with one or two gentlemen as I came in. He bade me take a seat near him and moving close beside me himself asked me several questions about my station and my duties. "Where are you stationed?" "What are your duties?" "How long have you been stationed there?" "Are you much employed, do your duties confine you closely to your post?" To which I replied they did not. "Well, how would you like to go on with us a little way, say to Salt Lake? We would be pleased to have you accompany us." I expressed myself as willing and delighted to accept the invitation. "Who is your commanding officer, to whom should I speak to have you accompany us?" I informed him that Lieutenant Bowman was the proper person, and with the remark that he would speak to him about the matter, he left the car. I happened then to be near Secretary of War who inquired of me if I was a relative of the President, and where I was from. Shortly afterwards Mr. Jamieson who was in charge of the party as _____ inquired of me my name, rank, and station, and I realized that I was booked for a short journey with the President. He told me to report to General Sherman, which I did immediately finding him in our special car conversing with some on the folds there. Upon reporting to him he exclaimed in his quick, peculiar way:

"Oh, you are the young man who is going along with us. Very well, sir, make your preparations as quickly as possible when we reach Cheyenne and be ready when the President returns to the Depot. Don't take your uniform with you - you'll not need it, we are not military at all, simply citizens - just an ordinary suit such as you would wear with the President anywhere. Better take some money along with you too. Got some money? All right, you may need it to come back with. That's all."

His active mind was ready to grasp the situation and able at once to let me know even to such minute details all that I wished to know and without questions on my part.

 We soon reached Cheyenne, and after the party had been conducted to a platform erected for them and as the speech making began, I slipped away, found Lt. Heath's horse and buggy which he had kindly offered, had his man drive me out to the Quartermaster's Depot, and hurrying to my quarters changed my dress uniform for my half dress cits.[citizen's?]. I packed my valise with the necessaries for a four days trip. Then I returned at once to the train. The President and party had in the mean time gone away for a short drive through town and out to Fort Russell. I was surprised to find General Brackett at the Depot in citizen's dress and afterwards learned that he made a great botch of the reception in that he failed to be present at his post when the President passed through and that he had not ordered any review of the troops. Nobody was there to receive the party and in some way a great error was committed. About one o'clock the party returned and as they alighted from the carriages I reported to the President again, and in my new dress was scarcely recognized again. I soon got the opportunity to talk with the boys for a few minutes, and at this moment Rutherford thought he ought to take the time to get shaved, so off he went on a run to the Inter-Ocean Hotel telling Mr. Jamieson to detain the train until his return. I took the opportunity to say goodbye to the ladies and officers at the depot and the adieux from all were most cordial. Major Lord got in some of his ridiculous remarks producing greatest mirth, and his assurance that he was now confidant that I was to be selected to fill General Myer's place as Chief Signal Officer caused considerable merriment. Captain Bowman kindly offered me money and told me to draw on him at the Desert National Bank at Salt Lake for any amount I might need. As I had just drawn my August pay I thought I would have no occasion, and thanked him for the kind offer.

 I then got aboard the train and it soon started. I conversed with Mrs. Mitchell for a few minutes after starting, and inquired what relationship we bore to one another. It seems that her mother was the President's sister, and she herself was therefore his niece. Rather difficult relationship to express.

 As we went along up the steep grade toward Sherman [post station on the Union Pacific Railroad in Albany County, Wyoming] I had the pleasure of a short conversation with the President of a general nature - nothing personal. He remarked that he had great faith in the future of this western land sterile as it appeared at present. He thought that as the country became settled and cultivated and more and more of it ploughed up, the rain in falling upon it would be held where it fell and not run off as now from the dry hard soil into the streams, and as it evaporated from these more extended surfaces would again collect and fall, thus giving more frequent rains and greater amount of vegetation.

 As we reached Sherman, the General interested all the party in pointing out points of interest, and in asking them to guess the distances to large rocks which appeared less than half a mile away. He surprised them with the information that they were five miles distant - distances were so deceptive in the high altitude of Sherman.

 In the course of the afternoon's ride the President inquired about my father and my brothers, and made some very few inquiries about my doings. During this time we went down the slope to Fort Sanders and Laramie City. At Fort Sanders the troops were drawn up in line near the railroad and as the President descended from the train presented arms. Afterwards the officers advanced to the front to meet the officials, and I got out to have a handshake with some of my friends. I saw Ducat and Leyden, also Dodd of the 3rd Cavalry. Ducat and Leyden were of course surprised to see me, and Ducat remarked that he would like to be in my boots. The train stopped only a few minutes, and ten minutes ride brought us to Laramie City. I believe it was just at this time I was struggling with a cinder, which had gotten in my eye, and the President also had met with the same misfortune, and while engaged in removing it he sat beside me and explained the way he usually adopted in ridding himself of a cinder. His theory was that in keeping the eye perfectly quiet for a few minutes not rubbing or interfering with it in any way, a kind of coating would naturally form all about the cinder covering the sharp angles, and then could be worked out without any irritation or injury to the eye. But I did not have time to follow out his rule as we were soon at Laramie and I much needed [to] take a walk about the square with Miss Sherman who wanted to see all there was to be seen. When we returned the President had just finished a few remarks to the assembled crowd in which he referred to the Secretary of War as a man whom he had thought knew much about war, but a good man for the place in time of peace. The Secretary being thus introduced made a few remarks complimentary to the good appearance of the country and people, and soon after the train went off. I then engaged in a game of cribbage with Miss Sherman and beat her the rubber. Returning to the President's car I found Mrs. Hayes, Mrs. Hunt, and Mr. Jamieson singing in the rear compartment of the car, and I joined the party. Mrs. Hayes entertained us then with a recital of the Star Spangled Banner a la Mrs. Landers (?) of Washington, and afterwards Barbara Freitchie was given. Then dinner was announced and I accompanied Mrs. Hayes to the dining car, Mrs. Hayes, Governor Hoyt, and myself sitting at the same table. The party seemed to be divided up into couples and trios at dining, generally occupying the same seats. On the right as we entered the car, Mrs. Hayes usually sat with Dr. Huntington as her usual vis-a-vis; opposite this table were General Sherman, Mrs. Audenreid and Mrs. Hunt; next on the right were the Secretary of War and Miss Sherman; opposite them Colonel and Mrs. Barr and Mr. Furness; next on the right, the President and Mrs. Herron; opposite them, General McCook and whoever happened to be with the party for a way. Last on the right, Mr. Herron and Mrs. Mitchell with one or both of the sons, Birchard and Rutherford. Last on the left, Mr. Jamieson with one of the sons, usually Rutherford.

 While at supper, Governor Hoyt monopolized the conversation with descriptions of his visit to the Indian tribes in the Territory and his ascent of mountains in Colorado. I was slightly bored and I suspect Mrs. Hayes was, too. He talked so incessantly that he got little to eat, and this notwithstanding we were the last to leave the car. Mrs. Hayes partook of almost all the dishes served, and appeared to enjoy her supper or dinner very much. We returned to the President's car, and after some general conversation as we were all sitting in one compartment of the car, games were suggested. First we played "Here comes a ship laden with__." "B" was our letter, then we had several games of "Shouting Proverbs". It was about nine o'clock when Mrs. Jamieson interrupted us with the information that we had reached Fort Steele [Fort Fred Steele located on the Union Pacific Railroad in Carbon County, Wyoming] and officers and men were out to see the party. It was quite dark and of course there was no ceremony. The President did not appear but the Secretary of War and General Sherman spoke a few words to the officers, General Sherman inquiring of Lieutenant King if he was a captain yet. I had the opportunity to shake hands with Beach and say a few words to him. After we were started we bid good night and withdrew to our separate cars. My berth was in the fourth car opposite the one occupied by Rutherford Hayes. We conversed for a few minutes and he informed me that he intended studying up railroad engineering as a profession. Before retiring I wrote a letter home, also wrote up some notes for my journal, and eleven o'clock appeared before I turned in. When passing Rawlins [Wyoming] a crowd of roughs, there, made great demonstrations and frightened some of the ladies, as we afterwards learned. Rawlins is probably the roughest place on the railroad now.

Sunday, September 5, 1880

 The night and early morning were rather cold. Woke up at seven o'clock. Rutherford and Birchard slept later. General McCook said he did not stay awake to see how he slept. The morning found us in alkali soil and sage brush. An occasional cottontail skipped away as we passed and the prairie dogs wiggled their tails and dodged into their holes. A few antelope were seen in the distance. Presently breakfast was announced, and on this occasion I breakfasted with Secretary Ramsey and Miss Sherman. The Secretary was good natured and pleasant. Conversation ran along on general topics, the Secretary punned - what was the difference between a cantelope [sic] and an antelope - only a C (sea), and the breakfast was in every respect first class. While at breakfast we passed Hilliard where numbers of charcoal burning ovens were, and General Sherman informed us that the wood was floated in an artificial narrow canal for fifty miles.

 At Evanston [a city on the Bear River in Wyoming, 75 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, Utah] we saw the same, and there the train stopped to change engines. A fine breakfast had been prepared by the citizens of the place in honor of the President, but he would not stop, as I suspect, because it was Sunday morning and he did not wish to speechify on that day. We walked about the town a little and I was much pleased with its appearance. It was here that Mrs. Mitchell met a nephew of hers, a nice appearing young fellow. There President also invited on the train a Mr. Charles Smith whom I believe he introduced as the youngest member of his old regiment in the War. At Evanston we also saw a couple of Indians, one in citizen's dress, the other, a squaw, in the dress of her people with blanket and buckskin. They were Shoshones. A short ride further during which I had a few moments talk with both Mrs. Hayes and the President and pointed out to them on the map of the Territory the position of Camp on Snake River, and we arrived at a station called Emery [a village in Emery County, Utah], and upon invitation of Rutherford Hayes I ran forward to join a party on the cow-catcher for a ride through Echo Ca–on. 

Echo Canyon
Photo by O'Sullivan, 1869
Courtesy of Library of Congress

There were six of us on the cow-catcher, Mr. Herron, Mrs. Mitchell, Miss Sherman, Rutherford and Birchard, and myself. The President, Mrs. Hayes, Doctor Huntington and Mrs. Herron rode with the engineer in the cab. The ride was down hill all the way and for twenty or twenty-five miles through a most beautiful ca–on with magnificent mountain scenery on both sides. The railroad followed a small stream for several miles which finally flowed into the Weber River [river through the Wasatch Mountains], and then the Weber was followed down. At places the valley was wide enough to allow of fine wheat fields, and the houses were quite numerous, probably all Mormon settlements as we were by this time within the limits of Utah. One crop which we noticed and which covered quite large fields, we afterwards learned was alfalfa or Luzerne [sic]. Its brilliant green color attracted Mr. Herron's attention and no one knew at first what it was. It is said to make excellent fodder for animals and three or four crops can be harvested in a year, giving as many as nine tons to the acre. The wonderful rock formations on both sides of the track and the high cliffs attracted our attention. We noted the Devil's slide, and the Devil's Gate, also the one thousand mile tree, all of which we passed during the ride. The track crossed the stream whose course it followed many times and twice plunged through short tunnels where the very circuitous course of the stream could not be followed. On several occasions, as we sped along, it appeared as though we were about to run full against a mountain side, but just before reaching such places the track by a sudden turn curved through some narrow defile, and thus we passed from open glades to steep sided ca–ons, and back again to open glades and thrifty farms. It was a most delightful ride, and at the end of twenty-five miles we returned to the train much pleased with our experience. This was at Weber, and there we passed the regular east bound train which had brought a special car from Salt Lake City with members of the Reception Committee who had come out to meet the party. We arrived at Ogden at about one P.M. and there found a crowd and a brass band. No speeches were made, the dignitaries did scarcely more than show themselves at the door of the car and bow. General Sherman said they were not traveling to make speeches, had only come out to see the country and "find out what you fellows are about". The President had given the example, which the others followed, refraining from speeches principally on account of the day - the Sabbath.

 The whole train was transferred from the Union Pacific to the track of the Utah Central, and soon we were speeding along toward Salt Lake City. This was another delightful part of the trip. The views across the Lake on our right were charming, and on our left were farms with wheat fields, gardens, and orchards, most of them the properties of Mormons, but all presenting a thrifty appearance. The train made two or three stops to ennable [sic] the people gathered at the stations to catch a glimpse of the President. At one stopping place a great many children were gathered together having numerous banners with Mormon mottoes and devices, apparently Sunday School children. The President stood on the steps shaking hands with many of them, and being desirous that Mrs. Hayes should see the children, he turned to me with the request that I find Mrs. Hayes and invite her to come out on the platform to see the numerous gathering. She joined Mr. Hayes and a great many children passed by them shaking their hands. It was at this station that my attention was called to the domineering spirit of the leaders and the crowd and cringing look of those who were ruled. Of all this crowd one man seemed to have control - independent in thought and act, all others were passive and submissive to the authority exercised by the one, who was probably Bishop or Elder among them. As the train moved away a tall ungainly youth who had been interested in what took place and felt some enthusiasm which he was almost afraid to express, called out in a drawling, hesitating manner, "Three cheers," shrinking back ashamed of his enthusiasm and impudence. The cheers were given but not with much spirit.

 As we went along down, the arrangements were made for distributing the party among the members of the Reception Committee, and assigning to carriages. I was introduced to a Mr. Hollister and found upon arriving at the City that I was to ride to the hotel with this gentleman, Mr. Herron and a Mr. Kimball. We were driven at once to the hotel. There the 14th Infantry band was playing, and upon being shown to the parlors a number of ladies were found waiting, and an informal reception took place. To satisfy the crowd outside President Hayes was obliged to step on the balcony and speak a few words to them, but he excused himself quickly. While in the parlors I met Colonel Trotter and was introduced by him to Mrs. and Miss Chettain, whom Captain Bowman had charged me to find out as they were particular friends of his stopping with General Smith. I had a few minutes pleasant conversation with them, then secured a room or rather was assigned to one by General McCook, but before cleaning up I started away with Mr. Herron, Rutherford and Birchard Hayes, Doctor Huntington and two or three Salt Lake gentlemen to visit the Lake, hardly knowing how much of a trip it would be. A carriage took us to the depot of the Utah Western Railroad (narrow gauge), and at four fifteen we started thence by train for Black Rock, a complimentary ticket for the party being furnished by the superintendant [sic] of the road who accompanied us. The direction of the road was straight across the valley, an hours ride, 22 miles, brought us to our destination. During this ride conversation ran on the question of irrigation and the fertility of the soil. All that land, presenting now a very barren appearance, was reported to be capable of producing great crops, if water could be gotten on it. It is the alkalie [sic] soil covered with sage brush and grease wood which constitutes such a great extent of this western country, and all experience so far goes to show that this land can all be cultivated, if only water can be obtained in sufficient quantities for irrigation. Arriving at Black Rock, we proceeded at once to secure bathing suits and have a bath in the Lake. Most remarkable experience! The water is so saturated with salt that it can hold no more in solution, and its specific gravity is greater than that of the human body, so a person can float for hours without exertion. I floated for five minutes without difficulty, lying on my back with head and toes out of water, and spreading out my arms to keep balanced, for the tendency was to turn over on my side as a barrel hoop would in fresh water if placed in the water with the curve down and the two ends out just above the surface. With a little exertion I could maintain an upright position and walk along without touching bottom. While swimming as in fresh water I experienced difficulty in keeping my feet under water. We were cautioned before entering the water not to let any get into our mouths or eyes, and I was careful to observe this caution. Rutherford Hayes was not so fortunate, and when way out beyond his depth got mouth and eyes full, nearly blinding him for the time being. He struck out for land with his eyes shut and, without presence of mind, tired himself out with his exertions to reach a point where he could touch bottom.

Before returning to the city we took a slight supper in a restaurant near by and climbed to a high rock where we could witness to advantage the setting of the sun. It was a magnificent sunset viewed across the lake and surrounded by such ranges of high mountains, distant twenty or thirty miles and more - the whole scene was beautiful. While on the train returning to the city I sat near the superintendant [sic] of the road, and had a long talk on railroads and various other matters. He said he had been connected with railroads for two years - never received any extended education except such as he could get in this western country and when not obliged to work for his bread, began his career in railroading with a pick and shovel on the Union Pacific Railroad, afterwards became a subcontractor on the same road, and so on. It seems to me his present position is a very desirable one.

 Upon arriving at the hotel I went to my room to clean up, but my valise was not there, somebody else's trunk was, and I concluded some mistake had been made. My room was the one which had originally been assigned to Mrs. Mitchell, but she had gone elsewhere in town, and I found myself place[d] between Mrs. Hayes' room and the two sons! The President occupied another room of the same suite beyond Mrs. Hayes', and all the rooms had doors opening one into another. I waited in the hotel entrance in conversation with McCammon and Murphy, lieutenants of the 14th, until the boys had finished their supper which they had taken without waiting to dress, and Rutherford then made a search for me in his parent's rooms, where my valise was finally found. In the meantime, however, I had missed a royal dinner, as I afterwards learned. I attempted nothing further than a letter to Captain Bowman that evening retiring at about ten. I found the boys already in bed when I repaired to my room, and they were asleep before I turned in.

 Monday, September 6, 1880

 I had a very sound sleep during the night and awaked when called at about six thirty. I dressed in clean linen, and just here I must note my surprise at seeing the garment which one of the boys put on for an undershirt. It was evidently intended for use in an exceedingly warm climate (!), and as it could not possible [sic] withstand the rigors of another passage through was[h] tub and over a wash board, the wearer must have labored for some weeks previous with it to get is money's worth before it was finally doomed.

 While dressing, Mrs. Hayes called at the door, and I withdrew to the boy's room, while one of the sons communicated with his mother at the door leading from my room to hers. Soon after, the President himself came in, in his nightshirt, and inquired who occupied the rooms. Rutherford informed him that he, Birchard, and Noyes occupied them.

 "Ah! And where's Noyes?"

I was standing behind the door in the boys' room in undershirt and drawers and in the act of wiping my face after a wash.

"Here I am, sir," I replied, showing myself.

"Well, what kind of a time are you having, Noyes?"

"Oh splendid time, sir. I have enjoyed myself very much indeed."

"I am glad of that; can't you go along farther with us."

I thought I could if he wanted me to. Then it occurred to him that I was a soldier and traveling under orders

"Have you your orders yet?"

"Yes, sir."

"How does it read?"

"It orders me to accompany you as far as Salt Lake City, return to Ogden and from there return to my station."


Upon this he returned to his own room, and thereupon all hopes of further invitation were done away with.

 After getting a shave I returned to the hotel and repaired to one of the parlors where breakfast was being served to the Presidential Party. All were seated upon my entrance, except Birchard who entered just about the time I did. It was a very fine breakfast, and everything was well served. At about nine o'clock, everything in our rooms being left in shape to be taken directly to the train, the party was divided up for a ride about the city to see the sights. I went in a carriage with Mrs. Herron, Rutherford Hayes, and a gentleman whose name I did not catch, one of the committee of reception. I wish to make a note here before going further with my account, of the question the President asked at the breakfast table concerning father, and of the pains he took to send his regards, desiring me to give expression to the same when I saw him. My seat was near the President's and beside Birchard. Opposite were Mr. Jamieson, Colonel Barr, and Miss Sherman. Secretary Ramsey occupied the chair at the farther end of the table, opposite the President's, and others of the party were distributed on both sides without any apparent arrangement.

 During our ride we had all points of interest called to our attention. The Lion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution, the Tithing House, and the Tabernacle, where we descended from the carriage to take a look at the interior, the janitor in attendance explaining and exhibiting all its wonderful characteristics. The ease with which the human voice could be heard at the most extreme point from the speaker's platform was very remarkable. We could even hear a whisper, hear a man brush his pantaloons, or a pin drop. This was at a distance of two hundred and twenty feet. The President and General Sherman as well as others of the party were very much delighted with this exhibition. The janitor played a few chords on the organ, also. The regular organist was to have been there a little later but we could not wait. In another large building near by, called the Winter Temple, the frescoing on the ceiling and walls was rather remarkable. Another very large temple is in course of construction, and when finished the walls will be a hundred feet high. The carriages did not keep together during the drive; ours passed along some of the principal streets by many beautiful residences, some of them Mormon, others gentile; an old gray haired man standing at his gate as we passed was said to be "old man Wells" who had eight wives, and the Lion House where Brigham Young had had his office and a number of his wives. Opposite this was a magnificent residence in which his favorite wife had lived. Our carriage took us to the top of a hill from which we obtained a magnificent view of the city, the valley, and the high mountains on all hands. One peak in the dim distance was said to be ninety miles away; snow lying on many of the nearer mountains. We returned to the hotel at ten o'clock and the President had a reception at that time; but almost immediately upon reaching the hotel I joined Mr. Herron and Birchard Hayes in a trip to the Warm Sulphur Baths, which we reached in fifteen minutes ride. The bath was very pleasant and refreshing, and we had just time enough to reach the hotel before the procession of carriages was formed for the ride to Fort Douglas. This was a tiresome and dusty ride of three miles, almost all the way up hill, but we arrived in good time. A salute of thirty eight guns was fired as the President's carriage approached the post, and upon entering the gates, the six companies of the 14th Infantry were found drawn up in line to present arms. K Company was on the left of the line near where our carriage stopped, and I recognized Lieutenant Gustin and Captain Carpenter of that company. During our stay at the post, and while the others of the party were partaking of a lunch in General Smith's quarters, I met all the officers of the 14th with whom I was acquainted. Mrs. and Miss Chettam were present, the former apparently having the care of the ceremonies at the house, acting as hostess. Just before leaving I hurried off with Gustin to take a look at the Officers' quarters. They appeared to be substantially built brick quarters, and the post itself presented a very cosy [sic] attractive appearance. From Fort Douglas [military post 3 miles from Salt Lake City] the party was driven directly to the depot where the train was found in readiness, the engine beautifully decked with flags, and at one thirty we started back for Ogden. During this ride I beat Miss Sherman a rubber at cribbage, the[n] took the time to see all the party and make my adieux, thanking the President, General McCook, and Mr. Jamison [sp] for the pleasure I had enjoyed and for several favors. I was much pleased with the cordial adieux from Secretary of War and from General Sherman.

 Upon arriving at Ogden [located in Weber County, Utah, 37 miles north of Salt Lake City] the party changed cars to Central Pacific sleeping cars, and the director's car of the Central Pacific was in readiness for the President. This was the finest car, which I think I ever saw, its upholstery was of the richest, and all its appointments complete.

I had my baggage taken to the hotel which was right at hand, and while the train was being made up, took dinner, afterwards having a final adieux, not leaving the train until it started westward away, and as it went round a curve out of sight, I was left standing on the platform of the railroad station, once more a mere citizen, a spectator.

 I devoted an hour to walking through the town, left a card at Captain Howell's office (Q.M.D.), and in the evening interested myself watching operations during the arrival and departure of trains. Was much interested in the Utah and Northern Railroad, which is a narrow gauge starting from Ogden, running two hundred and fifty miles north into Montana.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Moses Fleetwood Walker and the Toledo Blue Stockings

The Major League Baseball season is underway. Most people believed the phenomenal athlete Jackie Robinson was first to break the color barrier in 1947. It was Moses Fleetwood Walker who holds that distinction. Born in Mount Pleasant in 1856, Walker, better known as “Fleet,” was the son of Moses W. Walker, one of Ohio’s first black physicians and a Methodist Episcopal minister. Fleet and brother Weldy both enrolled at Oberlin College where in 1880 they played intercollegiate baseball.
Moses Fleetwood Walker
Courtesy of Wikimedia

So impressive were the Walkers, they were recruited by the University of Michigan, where Fleet studied law. With Fleet as its superb catcher and power hitter, Michigan won 10 of 13 games. That summer he played for an amateur team at New Castle, Pennsylvania. Local papers referred to him as a “wonder.”

1882 University of Michigan Baseball Team
(Walker, bottom third from right)
Courtesy of Wikimedia

 In the spring of 1883, Walker left school to play pro ball in Toledo, a part of the Northwestern League, where he was signed as the team’s catcher. But before the season even opened, the league’s executive committee attempted to block Walker and any African American from playing baseball. Bitterly contested by his team’s management and backed by the “Toledo Blade,” Walker took to the field and led the way to a pennant-winning season. According to baseball historian John Husman, the “Toledo Blade,” praised Walker as being of “greater value behind the bat than any catcher in the league.” The following year, theToledo Blue Stockings joined major league baseball’s American Association. With Fleet and then Weldy on the roster, the brothers became the first and second African Americans to play in the major leagues. It was a dismal season for the Toledo Blue Stockings and the Walkers. 

Toledo Blue Stockings
(Walker, top row center)
Courtesy of Wikimedia

 Fleet, who caught barehanded, was plagued by injuries. (Catchers’ only protective gear was the mask.) He was released in September and the Blue Stockings returned to the minor league. Fleet with his wife and two children remained in Toledo, where he worked as a postal clerk. He caught on with several minor league teams and later, he and his brother bought a theater in Cleveland. It was here that Fleet patented several improvements in film’s early technology. In 1891, while playing with the Syracuse Stars, Fleet killed a man in a fight with three other white men. Fleet claimed self-defense. An all-white jury found him not guilty. A few years later, Walker was convicted of mail fraud and sentenced to a year in prison. Subjected to racial harassment throughout their lives, Fleet and Weldy Walker published the “Equator.” As editors, they wrote about black nationalism and proposed that African-Americans emigrate to Africa. Fleet detailed these ideas in a book titled “Our Home Colony.” Walker owned several more theaters before his death in Cleveland in 1924. 

One final note: Baseball researcher Pete Morris discovered ballplayer William Edward White, who played a single game for the Providence Grays some five years before Fleet Walker. White was born into slavery, but passed as white. Despite these facts, baseball historians still credit Moses Fleetwood Walker as the first to play openly as an African American in the major leagues.

For more about Moses Fleetwood Walker and the Toledo Blue Stockings, check out "Toledo's Attic" online.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Congregation of the Girton Church of God, Scott Twp. Sandusky County, Ohio

Congregation of the Girton Church of God, 1939

 The Girton Church of God had its origins in tent meetings held near County Road 32 in Scott Twp., Sandusky County, Ohio. Many of these meetings were conducted by Daniel Sidney Warner and Brother Barney Warren. Warner had broken away from the Winebrennerian Church of God. He formed the Warner Traveling Group, conducting evangelistic tours throughout the Midwest. The nearby home of George Roush was a frequent site for gatherings by members.

Realizing a need for a building in which to worship, members pledged funds for the construction of a church in the fall of 1915. By the following spring, the building (seen above), was completed near the site of their former tent meetings,  On July 16, 1916 the Girton Church of God was dedicated and a week later, the Sunday School was organized.  

World War I Letter of Dr. Robert C. Gill of Norwalk, Ohio



Dr. Robert C. Gill
Courtesy of Michael Belis and Find A Grave

Robert C. Gill, M.D. of Norwalk, Ohio wrote the following letter at the close of World War I to Mildred Monnet Laning, wife of Sheldon Laning.  The Lanings were close friends who also lived in Norwalk, Ohio. Gill was a descendant of Huron County, Ohio pioneers. He graduated from Norwalk, Ohio high school and Denison University. He received his medical degree from Western Reserve in 1914 and then served an internship at St. Luke's Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Gill served in World War I as a medical officer of the 37th Division where he attained the rank of major. He trained in Montgomery, Alabama and saw action on several European fronts, including the Argonne Forest and in Belgium. He was awarded the silver star. Dr. Gill married Olga Schroeder of Youngstown, Ohio in 1922. Following his service, he did graduate work at the New York Optalmic Hospital and then returned to Norwalk, Ohio where he practiced medicine until his death in 1955. 

This letter is part of the Sheldon Laning Local History Miscellaneous Manuscript Collection.


Capt. R. C. Gill                                                                   Belgium

140th Amb. Co.

112 [?] Train

Amer E Force                                                                     November 11, 19

 Dear Mildred:

 Your first letter was read while I was walking down a lane in Belgium just a few hours before we went – no by God I read it the second day of the drive while we were moving up beyond a ridge that the enemy had occupied the night before. And they gave us hell that night. Your letter was in my hand while we passed machine gun pits, artillery and infantry units lying in support while we moved up under shell fire. I wish Tud [Sheldon Laning] could have seen what your letter saw. Since then I have been in another drive that was just getting underway when the armistice came.

 We had our dressing station about ½ mile from the enemy’s line when peace was declared. In the drive before we moved up to 250 yds of the enemy’s first line at night and at dawn the boys went over under a terrific barrage. We got it coming & going but are all here safe now. Believe me folks, it was hot and I tell you I’ve seen all of War that I want. I’ve seen refugee women running towards our lines bar[e]footed, with their hair down, and bleeding from wounds, They really were surrounded by children and sometimes carrying wounded babies. I saw an old man pushing a wheelbarrow with two wounded babies in it. They came streaming in with our wounded and they all had a smile on their faces. Wounded Boche and Boche prisoners. And all the time the houses in the town to our left and the building to our left were crashing under the Boche shells. Trees falling in the distance and the big shells plunging into the canal behind us searching for our pontoons.  Then between us and then. road large geysers of earth would leap into the air. They were trying to get the high road then. Machine guns around us were rattling and one [?] banging in our ears. Once in a while something would swizz thru the air. Besides we had a light attack of sneezing gas. Believe me, one took interest in things. We laid behind straw-stacks til we got word to go forward and then moved cause the Boche were getting our range.

 Some of those things I believe I’ll never forget and some I never want to remember again. I can’t tell you where we are yet because the censor-ship is still on. The Division has made a name for itself. You going to invite me and some nice girl to your house party? I’ll come if you keep your old man from saying embarrassing things and behave yourselves. You try any sfommy [?] in my presence as you two usually do or I'll go you one better or go home or get drunk or something. When I get home I want to get drunk in Cleveland. Can you spare Tud one night to take care of me? Lord know somebody ought to for I sure am going to celebrate, oh Boy. You might keep that cider til I get home – it will be tart alright.

 Just now we are still doing fours right and fours left. It seems strange to see lights in all the houses and to go out in the moonlight and not hear a plane over head. Write soon ”tootsweet” and tell Tud I’m using “commissary” tobacco.  Yours Bob.

 Almost forgot to tell you. I got my captaincy after the first drive and on the third front was given command of the company. It’s a hell of a job taking care of 122 men keeping em fed clothed and in good spirits. They can send me home now and cut out the honors.












Saturday, January 7, 2023

Jay Cooke and the Yellowstone


The recent popularity of “Yellowstone” and Kevin Costner’s appearance on Fox Nation brings to mind the first efforts to make Yellowstone a tourist attraction. It all began with Jay Cooke, born in Sandusky, Ohio and known as the financier of the Civil War. Following the war, the wealthy Cooke invested his fortune in building the Northern Pacific Railway. With Duluth as its hub, Jay hoped to push the railroad ever westward. Transporting products to and from the West was not the only thing on Cooke’s mind. He believed he could develop tourist destinations along the Northern Pacific route.

 He learned that in March 1871the government had allocated $40,000 to geologist Ferdinand Hayden to survey northwestern Wyoming. Joining Hayden would be photographer William Henry Jackson and painter Henry Wood Elliott. It was their job to visually document the area.


Tower Falls and Sulphur Mountain
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Thomas Moran, a painter of the Hudson River School and illustrator for Scribner’s Monthly magazine, had heard about the expedition, but was disappointed to learn that an artist had already been chosen. Jay Cooke knew Moran’s artwork could prove invaluable for future advertisements for the Northern Pacific. Using his political connections, Cooke was able to get Moran assigned to the expedition. He and Scribner’s covered the expedition costs for Moran.


Thomas Moran
Courtesy of the National Gallery of Art

 Although neither Jackson nor Moran knew each other, they quickly struck up a friendship that became a professional partnership. Together, through Jackson’s photographs (developed in the field) and Moran’s sketches and his onsite watercolors, they documented some of Yellowstone’s most iconic landscapes. When the expedition ended, Moran produced 30 paintings that created a sensation in the East.


Grand Canyon of the Yesllowstone
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Many were skeptical of the stories trappers told of the area’s beauty. Jackson’s images proved they were not wrong! Their enduring images helped Americans realize Yellowstone was a treasure to be preserved and shared with future generations. The following year, when Congress debated establishing Yellowstone as the world’s first national park, the work of Jackson and Moran played a critical role. Moran’s 9 ½ foot by 14 ½ foot “Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone” hung in the Capitol for many years. Today it is on long term loan to the Smithsonian. All of Moran’s paintings can be viewed on the Library of Congress website.

 The Jackson/Moran friendship did not end there. They teamed up on two additional expeditions. Jay Cooke’s investments in the Northern Pacific Railway drove him into bankruptcy, setting off the Panic of 1873. By making it possible for Thomas Moran to join the Hayden Expedition, Cooke accomplished something of lasting value. A record attendance of more than 4,800,000 tourists visited Yellowstone in 2021

A version of this article appears in Lifestyles 2000



Monday, December 19, 2022

The Cannons That Came To Spiegel Grove

 For many years, I wondered what had become of the cannons that flanked the Spiegel Grove entrances featured in old postcards. Not long ago, Curator of Manuscripts Julie Mayle discovered when and why they disappeared. Her research appears in an article in the Hayes Presidential “Statesman,” The cannons were Rodman guns, named after their inventor Thomas Jackson Rodman.  At the time of the Civil War, they were the largest guns in the U.S. arsenal.

Preceding the White House gates, the cannon at the Harrison Gateway were the 15-inch style, while those at the McPherson-Thompson Gateway were 10-inch. Atop each gun was a 20-inch cannonball. Julie learned that it was Admiral Webb Hayes II, grandson of the president, who believed they should be donated to Sandusky County’s scrap drive in support of World War II.

Undated Spiegel Grove Post Card

It took great effort to bring the 7-ton cannons down. The job was completed in November 1942 and the guns were transported by rail to a rolling mill in Mansfield. Eventually, more than $230 was raised and donated to the U.S.O.

Now my question was how did these giant Civil War cannons come to be at Spiegel Grove? There was little doubt that this was the work of Colonel Webb C. Hayes, Rutherford and Lucy’s second son and founder of the Hayes Presidential Library and Museums. The colonel acquired two for the Harrison Gateway in time for the dedication of the Harrison Trail.

But the two 10-inch Rodmans came later through the colonel’s contact with Major General Frederick Grant, the son of President Ulysses S. Grant. After a storied career in the military, General Grant became the Commander of the East, headquartered at Governor’s Island in New York. He wrote in 1911 that he considered the colonel’s desire to place the Civil War cannons at the McPherson-Thompson Gateway was a “worthy purpose.” No doubt he had known General James McPherson.  As a 10-year-old boy, he was with his father, General Ulysses S. Grant, during the Siege of Vicksburg. General McPherson had served on his father's staff.

General Frederick Grant ordered two Rodmans located at Fort Caswell in North Carolina be sent to Spiegel Grove. The Union forces had placed the guns there to defend Wilmington in early 1865 after the Confederates surrendered the fort. They arrived in Fremont, Ohio in November of 1911. According to a Fremnont “New-Messenger” article, it took a massive effort by the city engineer, superintendent of streets, and a number of men under direction of the colonel to erect the two cannons weighing 35,000 pounds. 

For more than 30 years, they marked the gateway honoring Civil War General James McPherson and Samuel Thompson who fought in both the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico.