Monday, May 6, 2024

Nazi Stolen Treasures at the Merkers Salt Mine

 Merrill Rudes was a prominent Ottawa County, Ohio, probate and juvenile courts judge. Born in Genoa, Ohio in 1920, he served as a captain in General George Patton’s Third Army during World War II. Captain Rudes was with the Third Army as it crossed the Rhine, plunging deep into German territory. While on patrol near Thuringa, Captain Rudes met two women who had worked as forced labor at the nearby Merkers mine. They told him of “treasure in the Salt Mines.”  According to a March 2019 (Toledo, Ohio) article, Rudes included their information in his notes and sent it up to headquarters.

On April 8th, 1945, U.S. Army officials followed up on Rudes’ notes. There, in the mine, they discovered more than 500 masterpieces by artists such as Rubens, Vermeer, Rembrandt, Manet, Titian, and others. The vault inside Merkers contained the Nazis’ stolen gold, silver, platinum, sculptures, drawings, and also valuables confiscated from Holocaust victims.


Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton examining valuables stolen by the SS from Jews in concentration camps 
Courtesy of National Archives

Immediately, Patton informed Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. On the 12th, the three generals descended more than 2,100 feet into the mine to personally inspect its treasures. General Eisenhower was visibly moved when he saw those items taken by the SS from Jews at the concentration camps.

That night while discussing the protection and movement of the treasures, the three generals learned of President Franklin Roosevelt’s death. According to the earlier Yalta Conference agreement, this area would become part of the Russian sector once the war ended. The generals planned to remove the treasures as quickly as possible via a heavily-guarded convoy that included air cover. The artwork, many pieces wrapped in sheepskin overcoats, abandoned by the Nazis, was transferred within days to Wiesbaden and then Frankfurt. 

Young Woman with the Pearl Necklace by Vermeer, 1664
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In late 1946, amid strong opposition, 202 of the most important works were brought to the U.S. President Truman, personally, gave his assurance the paintings were not confiscated, but only temporarily moved for better protection at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. 

Two years later, when conditions improved, General Lucius Clay ordered the artwork returned. But many Americans wanted to see the paintings before they left for Europe. The Army agreed to a traveling exhibit that would take the paintings on a 12,000-mile journey to 14 of the nation’s leading museums. An estimated 7 million Americans saw the European masterpieces. An requested admission fee of 30 cents raised more than $190,000 which the U.S. Army used for the support of orphans in the American sector of Germany.

Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, and Patton Looking at Stolen Artwork

"Paintings from the Berlin Museums" Exhibition, 1948
                         Courtesy of  National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D. C. was the first to display the paintings beginning March 17th to April 25th, 1948. In 40 days 964,970 visitors attended the exhibit. The original frames had  been removed for storage. Because they were lost in a fire, the gallery used simple wood moldings to display the paintings.  Fifty of the most fragile paintings (mostly on panels) were returned immediately. After the Boston exhibit another fifty paintings  were returned.

In March 1949, over a 10-day period, more than 100,000 visitors saw the exhibit at the Toledo Museum of Art. The exhibit was in part made possible by the museum’s director Otto Wittman, one of the Monuments Men (now made famous by George Clooney’s movie). Area businesses raised funds so that 42,000 schoolchildren could attend. As Toledo was the tour’s final stop they would be among the last Americans to see the masterpieces all in one place in the U.S.

Note: For a detailed account of events at Merkers mine, see  Greg Bradsher's article in the National Archives publication "Prologue," Volume 31, No.1, Spring 1999.


Monday, April 1, 2024

Clydesdale Motor Truck Company

Clydesdale Motor Truck 
Courtesy of the Clyde Public Library

The Clydesdale Motor Truck Company built truck bodies in Clyde, Ohio, between 1917 and 1939. The trucks were marketed in the 
U. S. and other countries, and many were used in World War I. Two of the unique features available on the trucks were a special type of radiator and a patented automatic controller that acted as a governor. 

Clydesdale Motor Truck
Courtesy of Clyde Public Library


The Clydesdale Motor Truck Company began as the Clyde Cars Company (a continuation of Krebs Commercial Car Company), on Amanda Street in Clyde, Ohio, the site of the earlier Elmore Manufacturing Company. The Krebs company had taken over the plant in 1912 and built trucks until sometime in 1916. Although sources indicate the Clydesdale company was established in 1917, an advertisement in the "Saturday Evening Post" for January 5, 1918, says: "Nearly three years ago this truck, which was performing its peaceful duties here, was selected for war service in Europe." The advertisement also describes some of the features available on the Clydesdale, one of them being the the Krebs Patented Automatic controller. "This device is not an ordinary governor, but an exclusive patented attachment that practically acts as a second driver. It maintains any speed-uphill or down-and positively prevents engine racing… Another exclusive feature is the Clydesdale radiator, patterned after the famous London General Omnibus radiator-with a tremendous cooling surface of plain standard copper tubing."

Clydesdale One Ton Truck with Express
Clydesdale Catalog

According to Hans Compter, "During most of WWI total production capacity for Clydesdale Trucks was taken up to fill military army orders for the European arena. An enlargement of the plant allowed the Clyde people to begin…selling Clydesdale trucks in their own country again, and by the end of 1917 large ads started appearing in leading US newspapers…" Compter also indicated that in 1936 Clydesdales made a resurgence in the marketplace, powered by Hesselman Diesel engines, and suggests that the Hesselman system, which was difficult to tune and in which the fuel did not burn efficiently, may have been the reason why "these new generation Clydesdales never really made it. The last ads for them appeared around May or June 1939."
(Quoted from "The Clydesdale Truck," in New Zealand Classic Car, January 1995
Clydesdale 2 1/2 Ton Truck, Model 65x
Clydesdale Catalog

For more information see:

Clydesdale Motor Truck Company, An Illustrated History 1917 - 1939
by Tiffany Middleton and James Semon

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Soldiers Memorial Parkway, Fremont, Ohio

Soldiers Memorial Parkway Dedication
May 1919

 The Soldiers Memorial Parkway in Fremont, Ohio, was built to honor the Sandusky County soldiers who died in World War I and earlier wars. The parkway was laid out in the form of a cross, with buckeye trees lining the streets, and plaques bearing each soldier's name. Buckeye trees were chosen as a tribute to Ohio's 37th Division, also known as the Buckeye Division.

Officially known as the Soldiers Memorial Parkway and the McKinley Memorial Parkway, the living tribute was constructed in 1919 and 1920 on land donated by Colonel Webb C. Hayes. Soldiers Memorial Parkway begins at Hayes Avenue and proceeds south to Buckland Avenue. McKinley Memorial Parkway extends from McKinley Circle at the intersection of the two parkways, east to the Cleveland gateway of Spiegel Grove. A plaque and large artillery shell are placed at its entrance.

The one hundred-foot-wide strip of land, with parallel north and south brick drives and sandstone curbs, is separated by a series of fifty-foot-wide grass islands where buckeye trees honor the war dead. Spearheaded by local veterans and veterans' organizations and funded by a grant from the state of Ohio, a restoration project was carried out by the city of Fremont, Ohio in 1999. Throughout the years, veterans have replaced weathered or lost markers.

Various early lists were published. They contained from 78 to 83 names of soldiers to be honored with plaques on Memorial Parkway. The original list held 78, but not all of the names were available from the government at the time the parkway was constructed.  Some were added later. Today the parkway trees bear 82 plaques.


Col. Webb C. Hayes replying to Captain Kent H. Dillon, Memorial Tablet Committee Chairman

Dear Sir:

            Referring to the resolution adopted by your Committee April 2nd, 1919, it will give me great pleasure to provide memorial trees, preferably buckeye trees, with suitably inscribed tree tablets, for the proposed Soldiers’ Memorial Parkway of Sandusky County, under the terms prescribed, and with the approval and assistance of the County Commissioners, the Trustees of the Memorial Hospital Association and the Chamber of Commerce of Fremont, for dedication on Memorial Day, May 30, 1919, and later also to provide a Bronze Memorial Tablet when the necessary data is available.


                                                            Very respectfully,

                                                                                    Webb C. Hayes

Bronze Memorial Tablet

Memorial Parkway History:

Upon the signing of the Armistice ending World War I in 1918, Colonel Webb C. Hayes sent a cablegram to John M. Sherman in Fremont:

Will erect bronze memorial tablet containing names of killed, wounded or died, born, living or who lived in Sandusky County, in World War, for dedication next Memorial Day if accurate list furnished in time.

[Signed]         Webb C. Hayes

 A Memorial Tablet Committee was quickly formed, with Captain Kent H. Dillon as chairman. Knowing it would be unable to obtain a complete list of soldiers' names by May 30, 1919, but wishing to honor Sandusky County's heroic dead with an appropriate memorial, the committee adopted a resolution on April 2, 1919. The committee asked Colonel Hayes to consider an alternate plan - that of establishing a County Soldiers' Memorial Parkway where a tree would be planted for each soldier, with an inscribed plaque honoring that individual. The committee also suggested that McKinley Parkway between Buckland Avenue and Hayes Avenue would be an excellent location for the memorial parkway. Further, the committee asked the Sandusky County Commissioners to adopt the parkway as a county park and agree to maintain and care for it.

Resolution of the Memorial Tablet Committee

WHEREAS, the Memorial Tablet Committee has been informed by the Adjutant General of the United States Army and the Adjutant General of Ohio that it will be impossible to furnish an official list of casualties of Sandusky County soldiers, sailors and marines by Memorial Day, May 30, 1919, and perhaps for many months thereafter, so that the bronze memorial tablet generously offered by Colonel Webb C. Hayes may be ready for dedication by May 30, 1919;

AND WHEREAS, the Memorial Tablet Committee is desirous of having some form of memorial for dedication with suitable exercises on May 30, 1919 for her soldiers, sailors and marines, who shall have died during the World’s War of 1917, so that Sandusky County may not be laggard in paying a tribute of respect to her heroic dead;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, by said Memorial Tablet Committee THAT; Colonel Webb C. Hayes be requested to consider the plan of establishing a County Soldiers’ Memorial Park or Parkway in which shall be planted a memorial tree, preferably a buckeye tree, with a suitably inscribed tree tablet, containing the name, organization and place and date of death of each soldier, sailor and marine from Sandusky County, who shall have given up his life for his country during the World’s War of 1917; and further beg to suggest that the McKinley Parkway, extending from Buckland Avenue to Hayes between the grounds of the Memorial Hospital of Sandusky County and the Spiegel Grove State Park, is in every way suitable for such a Soldiers' Memorial Parkway; PROVIDED THAT the Board of County Commissioners of Sandusky County accept and adopt as a County Park, the proposed Soldiers’ Memorial Parkway of Sandusky County in honor of her heroic dead of the World’s War of 1917, and agree to improve and perpetually care for said Soldiers’ Memorial Parkway; AND FURTHER PROVIDED THAT this suggested plan of procedure meets with the approval of Colonel Hayes, the President of the Memorial Hospital Association of Sandusky County and the Chamber of Commerce of Fremont, Ohio; it being understood that the above suggested memorial is to be in addition to the bronze memorial tablet so generously heretofore offered by Colonel Hayes.

[Excerpted from the 1919 Yearbook of the Sandusky County Pioneer and Historical Association]

Hayes responded to Kent Dillon:

Dear Sir:
Referring to the resolution adopted by your Committee April 2nd, 1919, it will give me great pleasure to provide memorial trees, preferably buckeye trees, with suitably inscribed tree tablets, for the proposed Soldiers' Memorial Parkway of Sandusky County, under the terms prescribed, and with the approval and assistance of the County Commissioners, the Trustees of the Memorial Hospital Association and the Chamber of Commerce of Fremont, for dedication on Memorial Day, May 30, 1919, and later also to provide a Bronze Memorial Tablet when the necessary data is available.

Very respectfully,
[Signed]         Webb C. Hayes

The Sandusky County Commissioners agreed to see that the necessary grading of the parkway was done. Although the work was delayed by a long siege of wet weather and only part of the trees could be planted, the Memorial Day exercises were held at the parkway. Members of the Colonel George Croghan Chapter, D.A.R., prepared wreaths and flags in memory of the dead soldiers.

The parkway was re-designated Soldier Memorial Parkway, and the intersecting street nearest Buckland became McKinley Parkway. The two form a cross. Trees on Memorial Parkway are dedicated to World War I soldiers, and those on McKinley Parkway represent soldiers who died in wars before World War I. Before 1920, buckeye trees were planted and marked with tablets honoring 78 Sandusky County soldiers. A few more were added later.

In 1991, the Parkway was named to the National Register of Historic Places.

[Colonel Webb C. Hayes’ messages were excerpted from the 1919 Yearbook of the Sandusky County Pioneer and Historical Association]

Bronze Memorial Tablet

The idea of a bronze memorial tablet inscribed with the names of the war dead did not die. Colonel Webb C. Hayes proceeded with the creation of the tablet. In a ceremony held October 4, 1920, the Bronze Memorial Tablet affixed to the north wall of the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center was unveiled. The tablet honors Sandusky County soldiers "who died in service during the World War, Mexican Border, China, Philippine Insurrection, War with Spain."

Memorial Tablet Committee

Capt. Kent H. Dillon, Fremont, chairman
Mrs. Lester J. Connors, Fremont, secretary
Capt. A. Otto Baumann, Fremont
M. H. Wrigley, Fremont
Ben. Dewey, Clyde
J. L. Hart, Gibsonburg
B. J. Burket, Lindsey
C. F. Soldan, Woodville

Soldiers’ Memorial Parkway Committee

Sgt. A. E. Slessman, 1st Ohio Cavalry, War with Spain, chairman
Capt. Stanley Wolfe, Fremont
Capt. Frank Buehler, Fremont
Capt. Kent H. Dillon, Fremont, secretary
Sgt. Carl Heid
Sgt. Carl H. Stroup, Fremont
Maj. Edward Welsh, Clyde
Capt. A. W. Wicks, Clyde
Capt. A. G. Eyestone, Gibsonburg
Sgt. Chester Kopp, Woodville
Sgt. Francis M. Dalton, Vickery
Sgt. Edgar A. Smith, Helena
Sgt. Paul Yeagle, Lindsey



Parkway Map  

Courtesy of Hayes Presidential Library and Museums


Various early lists were published of soldiers to be honored with plaques on Memorial Parkway, containing from 78 to 83 names. The original list held 78, but not all of the names were available from the government at the time the Parkway was begun, so some were added later. Today the Parkway trees bear 82 plaques. The following alphabetical list includes names from all of the early lists. We are indebted to Michael Gilbert's honors history class of spring 2002, at Fremont Ross High School, for compiling part of the information in this list.

Names of Soldiers Memorialized on the Parkway

William E. Allen, 19 years old
Died November 8, 1918 of wounds, in France
Co. K, 166th Infantry, Rainbow Division

Phillip M. Anderson,
Was also in the Co. H, 6th Regiment in the Spanish American War
Killed in action on August 24, 1900 during the Boxer Rebellion, at the battle of Tien Tsin, China
Co. K, 14th Regiment, United States Army

Harold Balsizer, 24 years old
Enlisted in October, 1917 and sent to Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Killed in action on September 28, 1918 in the Argonne Forest, France
Co. B, 147th Regiment, United States Army

Wayne Bauman, 27 years old
Died February 7, 1919, of disease, Coblenz, Germany
Co. M, 126th Infantry, 32nd Division

Robert R. Benner, 25 years old
Enlisted on September 15, 1917
Killed in action on September 30, 1918 in the Argonne Forest, France
Co. K, 109th Infantry, United States Army

Irvan Bennett
Killed in action September 26, 1918 in France
Co. I, 47th Infantry

Arthur N. Berry
Died September 13, 1918 of disease, in LeMans, France
Co. G, 329th Infantry, 83rd Division

Harry Bolton, 21 years old
Killed in action September 27, 1918, Battle of Argonne Forest
Enlisted with Co. K, later transferred to:
Co. D, Machine Gun Battalion, 37th Division

Phillip Bowe
Killed October 28, 1917, accident at Camp Perry, Ohio
329th Infantry, 83rd Division

David Cherry, Jr.
Died at sea October 9, 1918 en route to France, of pneumonia
Co. B, 605th Engineer

Lorenz Chochard
Killed in action October 15, 1918 in France
166th Infantry, 42nd Division

Roman Chudzinski, 25 years old
Enlisted April 1, 1918
Died April 21 1918, at Camp Sherman, of pneumonia
Co. 15, 158th Depot Brigade

Henry H. Clayton, 25 years old
Died February 8, 1919 in France, of pneumonia
Co. C, 111th Machine Gun Battalion, 29th Division

Isaac Newton Courtney
Died on October 10, 1918 at Camp Jackson, South Carolina of Spanish influenza
Batt. D, 6th Regt. Field Art., United States Army

Frank W. Craig
Died October 5, 1898, in Clyde, Ohio
Co. I, 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Dale Cunningham, 25 years old
Died September 22, 1918 of disease, Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Chicago
Co. D2, Hospital School of GLNTS

Scott Damschroder, 24 years old
Killed September 28, 1918, Argonne, France
Co. M, 147th Infantry, 37th Division

Emory Deitemyer, 23 years old
Enlisted and left for Camp Taylor on August 28, 1918
Died on December 26, 1918 at Camp Taylor in Kentucky of the flu and a mastoid abscess
Battery F, 70 FA, United States Army

Earl Dempsey, 20 years old
Killed in action November 6, 1918, Argonne, France
Co. K, 166th Infantry Rainbow Division

Carl H. Drenning, 18 years old
Enlisted in Fremont on Feb. 5, 1917 and sent to Texas
Died on April 5, 1919 at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio of pneumonia
Co. B, 16th Infantry, United States Army

Karl H. Eisenhart
Died February 9, 1917 at Fort Bliss, Texas
Mexican Border War

Frank W. Emerson, 22 years old
Died March 27, 1899 in Cuba, of malaria
Co. K, 6th Regt.

Walter Endle, 23 years old
Enrolled at the first Officers Reserve training camp, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana
Died on December 8, 1917 in Bellevue, Ohio of complications from tonsilitis
Distinction of being the third enlisted man in the 83rd Division, United States Army

Charles Englehart, 20 years old
Killed October 9, 1918 in France
Co. E, 328th Infantry, 82nd Division

John Fader, 26 years old
Enlisted in June of 1917
Killed in action by a sniper on October 15, 1918 in the Argonne Forest
Private in the Rainbow Division, United States Army

James J. Feeney
Died on October 18, 1918 in Petersburg, Virginia.
155th Depot Brig., United States Army

Charles A. Fought, 28 years old
Left Fremont April 1, 1918 and arrived at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Died on April 16, 1918 of pneumonia
United States Army

Orrin G. Franks, 26 years old
Enlisted on July 29, 1917
Died on March 27, 1918 in Texas of burns received from a plane fire
Signal C, 41st Aero Squadron

Berthart Gabel, 21 years old
Died on October 6, 1918 at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio of pneumonia
50th Co., 158 Depot Brigade, United States Army

Clement J. Gabel, 26 years old
Died October 7, 1918 at Camp Taylor, Kentucky of broncho pneumonia
United States Army

Charles V. Garber, 29 years old
Arrived at Camp Custer, Michigan, in September of 1917
Died on April 30, 1919 at the hospital in Newport News of pneumonia
Co. A, 42nd Division, United States Army

Marshall S. Greene, 45 years old
Died August 20, 1900 at Manila, Philippine Islands, of dysentery
Co. E, U.S. Signal Corps

Bert J. Hale, 33 years old
Enlisted and arrived at Camp Lewis, Washington on May 1, 1918
Killed in action on September 29, 1918 in France
Co. B, 262nd Regt, 91st Division, United States Army

Edward H. Hartman, 29 years old
Enlisted September 21, 1917
Died on January 6, 1918 at Camp Sherman Hospital of pneumonia
Co.G, 329th Infantry, 83rd Division, United States Army

Clyde Hawk, 35 years old
Enlisted with Co. B, Ohio Engineers at Cleveland June of 1917
Died on August 27, 1917 at Fort Sheridan, near Chicago of accidental gun shot wound
Co. B, 1st Regt. Ohio National Guard

Charles R. Heffner, 21 years old
Enlisted with Co. D, First Illinois Volunteer Infantry
Died on September 13, 1898 in Montauk, New York en route from Cuba of malarial fever and rheumatism
United States Army

John P. Henry, 26 years old
Enlisted September of 1917 Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, South Carolina
Killed on October 21, 1918 in France
Co. K, 107th Infantry, 17th Division, United States Army

Samuel C. Jackman, 28 years old
Died on July 2, 1900 on the Philippine Islands (Manila) of tuberculosis
Served with the 6th Regt., Co. K, O.V.I and with Co. L, 47th Regt. United States Volunteer Infantry

Raymond R. Jones, 32 years old
Died November 21, 1918, of disease, Camp Sherman, Ohio
Co. B, Q.M.C.

Charles L. Keller
Died on April 2, 1917 at Fort Bliss, Texas, military hospital
Co. K, 6th Regt., Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Henry G. Knauer, 22 years old
Enlisted in the United States Navy in 1912
Died on September 8, 1918 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania of pneumonia
Serving aboard the U.S. Destroyer Maury, United States Navy

Melvin J. Knepper
Died October 3, 1918 of disease, Camp Sherman, Ohio
Pvt., Cooks and Bakers School, Camp Sherman

John P. Knudson,
Enlisted on September 20, 1917
Killed in action on November 29, 1918 in France
329th Infantry, 83rd Division, United States Army

Charles Ervin Koons
Died October 27, 1918 of disease, Camp Jackson, South Carolina
12th Regt., Hdqtrs Motor School F.A.R.D.

John E. Krauss, 24 years old
Enlisted and arrived at Fort Thomas, Kentucky on May 10, 1918
Died on November 15, 1918 in France of a gun shot wound
Company L, 54th Infantry , United States Army

John Lowe, 23 years old
Died November 12, 1918 in France, of influenza
309th Headquarters Co., 84th Division

Leroy V. Mackey
Killed in action on October 7, 1918 in France.
Co. C, Machine Gun Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division,
United States Army

Anthony F. Maier, 23 years old
Died November 5, 1918
Co. L, 360th Infantry, 84th Division

Lynn H. Martin, 25 years old
Arrived at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, in May of 1918; transferred to Camp Merritt, New Jersey
Died on January 9, 1919 in Europe of pneumonia and meningitis
Co. C, 308th Field Signal Battalion, 83rd Division,
United States Army

George B. Meek, 26 years old
Killed in action May 11, 1898, Cardenas, Cuba
Seaman, USS Torpedo Boat Winslow

August B. Mischke
Died October 4, 1918 at Camp Meade, Maryland
Co. E, 63rd Infantry

Fred C. Mitchell, 24 years old
Enlisted and arrived at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio April 27, 1918
Died on October 8, 1918 at Camp Sherman of Spanish influenza
United States Army

Alfred Myers
Killed in action October 2, 1918 in France
Co. D, 9th Infantry

Clifton Niebling, 18 years old
Co. D, 10th Infantry
Died April 18, 1918 at Rock Island, Illinois, of disease

Clarence L. Nieman, 26 years old
Enlisted in early 1918 and went to Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Killed in action on October 16, 1918, in France
Co. I, 331st Regiment Infantry, N.A.A.

Clifford L. O’Brien, 24 years old
Enlisted on June 21, 1916 and served a year on the Mexican border
Died on October 7, 1918 at a base hospital in France after being gassed at the Argonne Battle
Co. I, 147th Infantry, 37th Division, United States Army

Louis Pressler, 23 years old
Died October 17, 1918, at Camp Jefferson, of pneumonia
16th RCT Co.

William H. Pump, 28 years old
Killed in action on October 4, 1918 at Argonne Forest
Co. F, 26th Infantry, 1st Div.

Frank L. Reiber, 28 years old
Enlisted in October of 1917
Accidentally killed in January of 1919 at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland
United States Army

Glenn Richards, 20 years old
Enlisted in the summer of 1916 and sent to Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas
Died on April 4, 1917 at the base hospital of pneumonia
Co. K, 6th Regiment, Machine Gun Division, United States Army

Wesley Saam, 25 years old
Enlisted and arrived on April 27, 1918 at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Wounded in France and sent to Mobile Hospital No.2, France, and died October 17, 1918
Co. E, 327th Infantry, 82nd Division, United States Army

Harry A. Schall, 19 years old
Died on November 8, 1918 in Tiffin, Ohio of pneumonia and Spanish influenza
Member of the Army Training Corps at Heidelberg University, Tiffin, Ohio

Perry R. Schneider, 26 years old
Enlisted on April 27, 1918 and sent to Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Died on December 12, 1918 in France while serving with the American Expeditionary Forces
Co. B, 307th Supply Train, 82nd Division, United States Army

Albert Charles Seiler
Killed in action July 19, 1918, in France
Machine Gun Co., 58th Infantry, 4th Div.

Charles Robert Shade
Died September 26, 1918 at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Illinois, of Spanish influenza

James A. Smith
Enlisted in the Navy
Died June 24, 1918 at Buffalo, New York of pneumonia while on furlough
Served on the U.S.S. Mongolia, United States Navy

Edward J. Snyder
Died October 27, 1918 at sea, from influenza
12th Veterinary Base Hospital Corps

Floyd Starkey, 26 years old
Died July 24, 1918 of wounds received at Battle of the Marne

Frank S. Stevenson, 21 years old
Enlisted and then called for Service on September 4, 1918 and was sent to Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
Died October 1, 1918 of pneumonia at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio
5th Co., 2nd Training Battalion, 158th Depot Brigade, United States Army

John Stine, 23 years old
Died October 10, 1918 of disease, Camp Jackson, South Carolina
Battery E, 2nd Battalion Motor School F.A.R.D.

Emil Strickler, 23 years old
Died November 11, 1918 in France, of battle wounds

Raymond Swint, 22 years old
Died on December 9, 1918 in Italy of pneumonia
Co. D, 332nd Infantry, 83rd Division, United States Army

Edgar Thurston
Enlisted May 1917
Killed September 28, 1918, Battle of the Argonne
Co. K, 147th Infantry
American Legion Post named in his honor

Louis Triphon, 30 years old
Enlisted May 1918
Killed in action November 9, 1918 in France

John W. Ward, 17 years old
Died November 12, 1898 at Knoxville, Tennessee, of pneumonia
Co. I, 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

William Welker
Died on May 17, 1919 at sea on his way home of pneumonia
325th Infantry, 82nd Division, United States Army

Luther W. Westerhause, 23 years old
Enlisted August of 1918
Died September 23, 1918 in an American hospital in France of disease
Instructor of aerial gunnery, United States Army

Dennis Whelan
Enlisted August 1, 1916
Died on August 15, 1918 at a hospital in Washington D.C. from injuries sustained in France
147th Infantry, 37th Division, United States Army

Thomas Williams, 24 years old
Died April 10, 1918 of disease, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Co. K, 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

William J. Wott, 25 years old
Enlisted in September of 1917 and sent to Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio and later sent to Camp Forest, Georgia
Seriously wounded in the Argonne Battle, France and died on September 14, 1918 at a base hospital in France
Co.C, 11th Infantry, United States Army

Ralph W. Wright, 24 years old
Enlisted in Michigan where he had been living
Killed in action on July 19, 1918 in France
Co. K, 37th Infantry, 4th Division, United States Army

Alphonse Wyss, 20 years old
Enlisted on February 5, 1918 with the United States Marine Corps
Killed in action on November 4, 1918 in the Argonne Forest, France
Co. B, 49th Infantry, 5th Division of the United States Marine Corps

John Yetter, 33 years old
Enlisted in the Navy and went with the expedition to China in 1913, from San Francisco
Died on October 30, 1918 at sea from disease
Medical Dept., United States Army


Read More About the Soldiers Memorial Parkway 

   "Fitting Tribute Is Paid to Hero Dead of All Wars, Memorial Parkway," Fremont Daily News, May           31, 1919

"Large Crowds Heard Tributes at the Parkway," Fremont Daily News, Mary 31, 1921

"McKinley Parkway Earns Spot on National Historic List," News-Messenger, March 20, 1991

"Plaques Rededicated at Memorial Parkway," News Messenger, May 20, 2000

Keeler, Lucy Elliot. Unveiling of Soldiers Memorial Tablet on the Hayes Memorial Building at Spiegel Grove. Columbus, OH: The F. J. Heer Printing Co., 1920.

A version of the post once appeared on Sandusky County Scrapbook

1 Sandusky County Scrapbook (Ohio). All rights reserved.

Updated 30-Apr-2004




Thursday, March 14, 2024

John Brown Jr. and the “Pirates” of Put in Bay

 Guest Post by Nathaniel R. Ricks

 HPLM Summer 2023Manuscripts Intern


In 1867, long before its heyday of partying, the village of Put in Bay on Lake Erie’s South Bass Island was just barely developing a knack for hosting tourists. Drawn to its War of 1812 connection, beautiful vistas, mild climate, easily accessible caves, and growing number of vintners, it became common in the postbellum period for individuals, families, and even large groups to visit the island for a day of merriment.  Several services began offering regular excursions to Put in Bay when the lake wasn’t too stormy to navigate.  On September 4, 1867, for example, a large group from the Cleveland Fire Department made the trip on the steamer Ironsides.  Unfortunately, sharing their boat that Wednesday was “a gang of roughs and bullies,” wrote island resident John Brown, Jr., the kind of people in his experience “who attach themselves more or less to all excursion parties.”  In a letter to his sister-in-law Isabelle Thompson Brown, John described the “sacking” of Put in Bay 

After touring one of the island caves, the ruffians “called at the School house and used insulting and obscene language to the teacher and on leaving threw several stones against the school house.”  They then “vented their passion” on the church building, as The Sandusky Register phrased it a few days later, “by breaking windows and stoning the building.” Brown also reported that they broke several lights at the church and “stripped Mrs. Fry’s peach trees,” which would have been in full fruit in early September. 

Upon arriving back at the docks, the bandits stumbled upon Salmon Brown fairly alone, watching some melons that Lemuel “Lem” Brown, had prepared to sell to tourists.  While keeping one eye on the melons, Salmon was getting ready to lead a few other gentlemen on a quick boat tour of the area when “ten or a dozen of these roughs came along and jumped into the boat attempting to control it entirely.” When Salmon protested, “Some others of the gang then pitched Salmon off the Dock into the Lake.”  In blow-by-blow detail, John described for his sister-in-law the brawl that ensued, a brawl that would leave him with a grave injury:

Salmon got into the boat as soon as he could and threw the line to have some one make fast, when he was Knocked down into the boat and beaten.  By this time Lem. came to the boat from the shore through the water and ordered the scamps out of the boat:  upon this, they set upon him, clinched him, struck and kicked him. – he finally broke away and seizing an oar gave them a number of good strokes when one of their number came into the water behind him and Knocked him down and held him under the water while the mob around shouted “kill him! drown him!”  Up to this time I was at the Hotel reading a newspaper; noticing a rush at the door I looked out and saw the melons flying from the Dock, and judging that Salmon or Lemuel were in trouble I ran down to where the crowd was when I saw Lemuel and a man apparently much larger struggling in the water at about waist deep, Lem appearing to have the worst of it as he was frequently put under the water, the crowd yelling “drown him!”  I went in immediately to where they were and seized by the nape of his neck the fellow who was holding Lem under.  I gave him such a jerk as made him let go pretty quick when he turned on me striking at and endeavoring to clinch me, but I had such a hold that his shirt collar became too tight and I shortly had him on his back and under water and commenced towing him ashore.  When I had dragged him to within 8 or 10 feet of the shore some one from the crowd threw a heavy stone hitting me in the face.  My next remembrance is, that some persons were aiding me up the bank.  It seems that I fell back into the water, and the general word was that I was killed.  This alarmed the mob and they at once hurried aboard their Boat.  I was the worst hurt of any:  the left nostril of my nose the lower part was cut off, barely hanging to my face, a shocking gash extending back to the bones of my face.  I was assisted at once to the Hotel, & Dr Elder sewed up the wound, fastening it also with adhesive straps.  It has now entirely healed externally and I have yet a tolerable nose left.  There will always remain a scar, shall not otherwise be much disfigured – Am exceedingly thankful it is no worse.  Had the stone hit me in the eye, fairly on the bridge of the nose instead of the side, or on the head the result would have been far different.  Such a blow on the skull would in all probability have killed me.  Salmon was severely beaten with fists about the head and face.  Lemuel the same, and in addition had a severe cut with some sharp instrument on the elbow.  My coat was cut through with a knife, on the shoulder  I think it was done when the fellow let go his hold of Lemuel and struck at me.  Salmon was bitten on his cheek by the man who Knocked him down in the boat.  We are now pretty well recovered.  The bones of my face are yet a good deal painful indicating a disturbance there which is not yet settled.  A number of my teeth were loosened but they have become quite firm again.  If the bones of my face get well without any piece coming out I shall every reason to feel thankful.

A Portion of John Brown Jr.'s Letter to his sister-in-law
John Brown Jr. Papers
Charles E. Frohman Collection
Hayes Presidential Library and Museums

While the attackers escaped initially, within a few more days the main “ringleaders” had been rounded up on charges of attempted murder.  John Brown did, indeed, suffer the worst of the injuries sustained that day, and by November he had deteriorated to necessitate institutionalization for two months at the Northern Ohio Lunatic Asylum in Newburg, Ohio. His symptoms included uncharacteristically violent outbursts and mood swings, continuing headaches, panic attacks, lapses in attention, and “a sort of mental stupor,” he told his sister-in-law in later letters, “which has unfitted me for writing at all.” He experienced “flashes” of pain, “up along the left side of my brain much as a great light seemed to flash up when that stone struck me.”  It seems likely that he suffered what we would call today post-concussion syndrome following a mild traumatic brain injury from the blow to his face.  Exacerbated by exhaustion from tending to both the Fall grape crop and the injured  Lemuel Brown, who broke a leg during the harvest, John’s mental deterioration in the fall of 1867 seems unsurprising. 

After his stay in the asylum, John made a full recovery of his mental faculties, enduring at most a "dizzy feeling at times, with a tendency to faint." He also experienced a great deal of lingering anxiety, anticipating the attackers' May 1868 trial, which he did not want to attend, but was subpoenaed.  He avoided writing about the incident after returning home, preferring to move on from the problem with the "pirates."   Rather he focused on proving to his family and friends that he was firmly rooted in sanity once again.



John Brown Jr
John Brown Jr Papers
Charles E. Frohman Collection
Hayes Presidential Library and Museums

 John Brown, Jr.’s account of the “brawl” and descriptions of his condition can be found in his letters to Isabelle Thompson Brown (“My dear Sister Belle,” ) dated September 6, 1867; December 8, 1867; December 25, 1867; and April 26, 1868, all contained in the John Brown Jr. papers, part of the Charles E. Frohman Collection at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums.  Learn more about Brown’s history and his collected letters at our website

Sunday, February 25, 2024

WWII Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient Pvt. Rodger Young


Biographical Sketch of Rodger W. Young

Written by: Larry Cook

Rodger Wilton Young was born April 28, 1918 in Tiffin, Ohio to Mr. & Mrs. Nicholas Young. He had three brothers and one sister. The Young family lived in Green Springs, Ohio, moving to nearby Clyde shortly before the outbreak of World War II. While growing up Rodger spent much time fishing and hunting and acquired the nickname "Fuzz" one day hunting rabbits.

Rodger joined Company B 148th Infantry (the Fremont Company) of the Ohio National Guard in January 1938. At that time Rodger, who was always small, was 5'2" tall and weighed 125 pounds - one of the smallest men in the outfit. In October 1940 the Guard unit was activated as part of the 37th Infantry Division under Major General Robert Beightler. The company trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi and Indiantown Gap Military Reservation, Pennsylvania. Rodger served as an instructor on the rifle range, won marksmanship medals, and was a sergeant and squad leader when the company left the United States for the South Pacific.

The unit went first to the Fiji Islands and then to New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. Rodger suffered from poor hearing, the result of an incident during a high school basketball game and aggravated by the sound of gunfire at the firing range. Concerned that he would not hear an important order or some significant sound in the jungle during a mission, he asked to be demoted back to the rank of private and have someone else lead the squad.

On July 31, 1943, Young's squad was pinned down by a hidden Japanese machine gun nest protecting the Munda airstrip on New Georgia. Rodger, wounded by the initial burst of fire, spotted the location of the gun. Firing his rifle and attracting the fire of the enemy, he crept forward and was wounded a second time. When he was close enough, he began throwing hand grenades, was hit again and killed. His heroic efforts allowed his squad to withdraw with no additional losses while inflicting several casualties on the Japanese. For this action, Rodger Young was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in January 1944. About a year later this story came to the attention of Pfc. Frank Loesser who, already established as a writer of popular songs, wrote "The Ballad of Rodger Young".

The Governor of Ohio, Frank J. Lausche, proclaimed March 25, 1945 as "Rodger W. Young Day" in Ohio. On that day a celebration was held in Fremont, Ohio honoring Rodger and his gallantry. The day's activities culminated in the dedication of Fremont's Water Works Park as Rodger W. Young Memorial Park.

Pvt. Rodger Young Parade, Fremont, Ohio
Courtesy of Hayes Presidential Library and Museums

In 1949 Young's remains were returned to the United States and he is now buried in McPherson Cemetery, Clyde, Ohio.


Return of the Remains of Pvt. Rodger Young
AP Photo: Courtesy of Hayes Presidential Library and Museum

Rodger Young Gravesite, McPherson Cemetery, Clyde, Ohio 
Courtesy of Find a Grave


[Text of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's citation upon presentation of the Medal of Honor]

The President of the United States takes pride in awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to



                                           for service as set forth in the following


"For distinguishing himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with the enemy on New Georgia, Solomon Islands. On 31 July 1943, the infantry company, of which Private Young was a member, was ordered to make a limited withdrawal from the battle line in order to adjust the battalion's position for the night. At this time, Private Young's platoon was engaged with the enemy in a dense jungle where observation was very limited. The platoon suddenly was pinned down by intense fire from a Japanese machine-gun concealed on higher ground only seventy-five yards away. The initial burst wounded Private Young. As the platoon started to obey the order to withdraw, Private Young called out the he could see the enemy emplacement, whereupon he started creeping toward it. Another burst from the machine-gun wounded him the second time. Despite his wounds, he continued his heroic advance, attracting enemy fire and answering with rifle fire. When he was close enough to his objective, he began throwing hand grenades and while doing so was hit again and killed. Private Young's bold action in closing with this Japanese pillbox and thus diverting its fire, permitted his platoon to disengage itself, without loss, and was responsible for several enemy casualties."

Franklin D. Roosevelt 

Private Rodger Young Medal of Honor
Courtesy of Hayes Presidential Library and Museums


Reminiscence of Fellow Soldier William Ridenour

"We didn't know how we were going to get out - we were surrounded by the Japanese. We were all in a semi-circle, and we lit up our ammunition. We had to burn it up. That's one of the lessons you learn, not to leave any ammunition for the enemies to use on you." - William Ridenour, saved by Pvt. Rodger W. Young during World War II in the Solomon Islands, July 31, 1943. Being shot at by the Japanese, with only his fox hole to curl into, William F. Ridenour, now 72, of Fremont, thought he was a dead man that day in 1943. And then came Pvt. Rodger W. Young, the man who, despite being injured, continued his drive to save the lives of his comrades. He lost his own life doing just that. "He was a good guy, a little strong-headed," Ridenour said, reminiscing about that fateful day, 50 years ago today. "A lot of times, he didn't hear." It was that "hearing problem" that led Young, only six weeks prior to his heroic acts, to ask his captain that he be reduced in rank, from staff sergeant to private, so he would not jeopardize the lives of his comrades. We were given up as annihilated," Ridenour said about his fellow soldiers, members of the 148th Infantry, 37th Division, company B of the Ohio National Guard. "You had to keep your tail down."

Excerpted from a Fremont News Messenger article by
 Shari L. Veleba dtd. July 31, 1993


A version of this post once appeared on Sandusky-County-Scrapbook