Put-in-Bay History offers several theories as to the origin of its name.
According to an 1879 journal, the Harbor on South Bass Island also know as Put-in-Bay was “shaped like a pudding bag with a soft bottom”. However, the origin most likely came around because the excellent refuge the bay provided in its protected harbor, and according to history, “put in the bay” is what sailors would do when it was too rough to sail on the Lake Erie waters.
According to history, the first people to use the island known as Put-in-Bay were the Indians.
The Indians used the island to protect themselves while crossing Lake Erie as they provided shelter from sudden squalls. Records from early historic times show relics of Mound Builders, pre-historic people. The pre-historians inhabited North America and their remains were uncovered when the soil was turned by plows. The Senecas, Eries, Shawnee, Iroquois, Miamis, and Ottawas were among the mainland tribes coming to the Lake Erie Islands. In Indian, Ottawa is translated into the English word “trader”.
The first large vessel to ply the great lakes, the Griffon, was sailed by Robert LaSalle
He and his thirty-two men in 1679 crossed the lake just to bring back furs, they sailed in route from Queensland, Ontario to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Stopping at Middle Bass Island, Lasalle and the Belgian missionary Friar Hennepin, celebrated the first Mass in the Mid West. The island was named, Isle des Fleurs, due to all the flowers he found while there. History was made, and for the next 200 years, this name was kept.
In 1803, Pierpont Edwards, a Connecticut U.S. District Judge, and businessman bought a part of the Connecticut Western Reserve tract that included Middle Bass, South Bass (Put-in-Bay), and the Sugar Islands. Becoming a shareholder in the Connecticut Land Company, Edwards was entitled to a tract comprising Lorain County. However, the irregular shoreline did not provide the amount of land to which he was entitled to, so he was also given the Lake Erie Islands to offset the deficiency.
The Islands stayed in the Edwards family for over 50 years and saw much history. However, Pierpont himself never saw them. Edward’s agent, Seth Done, who organized many French Canadian squatters to clear and improve the land was sent to the Lake Erie islands in 1811. One hundred acres of wheat had been planted but then destroyed when the Indians, supported by the British, ran them out in the War of 1812.
The only time in history a British fleet had ever been defeated was Oliver Hazard Perry’s victory against the British on September 10, 1813.
The 352 foot high Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial erected at Put-in-Bay commemorated the victory. Between 1913 and 1916, the massive Doric column was constructed for the centennial celebration. Three British and three American officers killed during the battle lie beneath the floor of the rotunda in the center of the monument on this Lake Erie Island.
Jose De Rivera St. Jurgo, a wealthy Spaniard, bought South Bass, known as Put-in-Bay, and Middle Bass in 1854 from Edwards. De Rivera built a sawmill, brought in hundreds of sheep, and had Put-in-Bay surveyed into 10-acre plots. In 1860, De Rivera introduced grapes as a crop for making wine. By then, German Rhine-landers had arrived bringing Catawba, Niagara, Concord, and Reisling grapevines. Land prices raised from $10 to $1500 an acre within ten years of the wine proliferation.
William Rehburg, a German Count, later bought Middle Bass from DeRivera and brought experts in winemaking from Germany to help with the industry. The Golden Eagle winery was the largest wine producer in the U.S by 1875. In 1844, The Lonz family acquired the winery and would make history many times in the coming years. After a disastrous fire, George Lonz built a two-story castle-like building with the addition of a marina. This building is still easily viewed from the Put-in-Bay harbor.
On North Bass Island, winemaking was also a big money maker. French Canadians Simon and Peter Fox bought 500 acres for grapes from island owner Horace Kelly in 1853. With two large wineries and ships to Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo, success peaked in 1890. The island is virtually controlled by Meier Wine Company of Cincinnati, Ohio; wine is the main industry. North Bass Island’s first inhabitant, a hermit named George, was honored with being the reason North Bass was once called Isle St. George. More recently, the island was purchased by the State of Ohio for a future state park.
The Put-in-Bay History Behind The Trurth Of Perrys “Don’t Give Up The Ship Flag
When many of us think of The Battle of Lake Erie, we typically conjure images of Commodore Perry making his famous longboat crossing from the Lawrence to the Niagara, through a hailstorm of cannon and musket fire, his motto flag draped across his shoulder. Dont Give Up The Ship. We see this blue flag flying all across the South Bass Island today, but do any of us really know the origin, or the myth, behind it? The truth may surprise you!
The phrase originated on June 1, 1813, when Captain James Lawrence was mortally wounded aboard the USS Chesapeake in a ship to ship action against the HMS Shannon on the Atlantic. As the wounded officer was being carried below, Captain Lawrence was heard to say “Don’t give up the ship. Fight her until she sinks.” His wishes were that the British not capture the Chesapeake, for if they did, it would become theirs and they could use it against the American navy. Unfortunately, his crew was unable to comply with these wishes and surrendered the Chesapeake minutes later. After languishing for three days, Captain James Lawrence died, but his final orders were echoed across nearly every newspaper in the U.S.
To Honor the fallen officer who’d been a friend of Commodore Perry, Perry’s flagship, being constructed in Erie, PA, was christened Lawrence. On July 30, 1813, Samuel Hambleton, the purser for the Lawrence, recorded in his journal: “I have just been given private orders for the making of a flag for the Lawrence, to
be hoisted when we sail or when we go into action. I suggested the motto, which Capt. Perry, after a night’s reflection, approved – Don’t give up the ship. These are said to have been the last words of the gallant officer whose name our ship bears & they struck me as peculiarly appropriate to the purpose.” Margaret Foster Steuart of Erie, PA, her sister Dorcas Bell, and their daughters are credited as being the women who stitched the motto flag, which measures 8’6” x 10’ and is made of wool.
At Put-in-Bay, a few nights before the Battle of Lake Erie, Commodore Perry summoned his commanders to the Lawrence, where he gave his final battle plans.
Also revealed was his motto flag, which had been kept a secret until that time. This, he told them, would be his signal for close action. On the morning of the battle, after finally catching a fair wind that would give his fleet the advantage, Perry had his flag brought to the quarter-deck of the Lawrence and unfurled it saying: “My brave Lads! This flag contains the last words of Captain Lawrence! Shall I hoist it?” At this, the crew burst into cheers and the flag was raised on the fore-royal mast of the Lawrence. From there, it rallied the American squadron to a legendary victory over the British. Following the battle, the Lawrence was converted into a medical vessel and was sent back to Erie, PA with the sick and wounded. The schooner Ariel became Perry’s new flag ship and his motto flag was transferred to that vessel, where it remained until Perry left the lakes and returned east. At this, the motto flag and captured British flags were sent
to Washington D.C. In 1849, these flags were put on display at the Naval School Lyceum in Annapolis, MD. In 1912, a blue fabric treatment was added to the flag and it was briefly displayed at the Toledo Museum of Art. Upon its return to Annapolis, it was folded, set in a glass case, and put on display in Memorial Hall at the Naval Academy. It remained there until 2002, at which time it was again restored and moved to Preble Hall at the Naval Academy. A replica of the flag hangs in Memorial Hall.
Interestingly, during the most recent restoration, the blue treatment was removed from one side of the flag. It was discovered that the original wool flag beneath had faded to brown. A test was done of the fabric and no trace of indigo, which would have been used to dye the flag blue, could be detected. It was determined
that the flag had been black all along, and not blue. This fact is reinforced by a newspaper article that describes the flags when they first went on display at the
Naval School Lyceum in 1849. That article describes the flag by saying: “It is black (the death color) with Lawrence’s last words ‘Dont Give Up The Ship’ inscribed on it in white letters.” Something else that we accept as fact is the idea that Commodore Perry transferred his motto flag to the Niagara when he made his famous crossing during the Battle of Lake Erie. This, surprisingly, may not have been so of Commodore Perry’s second in command, Jesse Duncan Elliott, during that battle. Elliott had been placed in command of the Niagara and was to have engaged at close action the HMS Queen Charlotte.
For reasons still debated to this day, Elliott kept his vessel more than a mile away for most of the battle. Eventually, Commodore Perry brought Elliott up on charges, most of which were in regards to Elliott’s positioning of his vessel during the battle and his conduct that followed. In the third specification of his first charge, Perry states that Elliott was making claims in Erie, PA that in a fit of fear or despair, Perry had thrown his motto flag overboard and that another officer had saved it. This, Perry states, Elliott knew to be false, as “said flag was still flying on board of the Lawrence when Capt. Perry left that vessel.”
This claim is reinforced by a man named Ezekiel Fowler. Following the Battle of Lake Erie, many men were seeking extra notoriety by claiming that, not only had they been at the famous battle, but they had also been one of the men who rowed Perry from the Lawrence to the Niagara. These claims reaching Perry’s ears, he set the record straight by naming the five men who actually rowed him. These names were left with his family and are preserved in the Perry Papers. Ezekiel Fowler was one of these men claimed by Perry. Mr. Fowler passed away in September of 1852 at the Alms House on Blackwell’s Island in New York and was buried in a potter’s field on Ward’s Island. Fortunately, three months before he passed away, Ezekiel Fowler recorded his account of the battle. This account was only recently discovered hidden away at the Buffalo History Museum in Buffalo, NY.
The account is titled Memorandum on the Battle of Lake Erie and is four pages long. In it, Fowler describes the morning of the battle, what time the vessels sailed from Put-in-Bay, and even describes what Perry was wearing, that being a regular plain blue jacket, dark pants, and his tourniquet (or cravat) tucked into his pocket. Ezekiel Fowler states further that: “The Comd. reached the Niagara – but the Comd. carried no fighting or other flag with him.” Initial reports stated that Commodore Perry transferred his flag from the Lawrence to the Niagara. This was a figure of speech. Transferring one’s flag means simply that they transferred their command. The phrase was taken literally. The fact that Perry may not have brought his battle flag with him to the Niagara doesn’t lessen its significance. In all honesty, after the large U.S. Flag that flew over Fort McHenry, which inspired The Star Spangled Banner, the Dont Give Up The Ship flag is regarded as the most revered flag in the government’s possession. After all, it was that flag that inspired and rallied the American sailors in Perry’s squadron to a victory over the British that glorious September day, which we still honor more than 200 years later on the Put-in-Bay Historical Weekend.
Five luxury hotels were built along the beautiful shores of South Bass Island Put-in-Bay by 1888.
Opening July 4, 1892, The Hotel Victory symbolized the pinnacle of the luxurious 1890’s. It was the largest summer resort in U.S. history at the time, and it operated 27 years prior to being destroyed by a fire on August 14, 1919. If you visit the South Bass Island State Park today, you can see that the remains of some of the foundation and its swimming pool are still visible.
South Bass Island soon became a port where cedar logs could be taken on as fuel for the vessels with the introduction of steamboats. Although Cedar trees once covered the Island, only a few can be found today. Tour boats from Detroit, Toledo, and Port Clinton brought tourists for daily outings of wine and sunshine in the early 1900’s. The Put-in-Bay steamer served Detroit, Put-in-Bay, and Cedar Point and carried approximately 150,000 passengers a season. The steamer operated from 1911 to 1950, and at one time twelve steamers stopped at Put-in-Bay a day. Steamers are now history on the Great Lakes.
1918 was an affluent year on South Bass Island with the great arrivals of new people. However, the following year prohibition took effect, and the Lake Erie Island economy took a plunge. The Great Depression followed, tour boats stopped, and the Lake Erie Islands remained inactive.
The prohibition was repealed in 1933 and in 1939 World War II was just starting. The war helped deflect the grasp of the depression, labor was scarce, and more money became available. After the war, people started to travel and spend money more freely, private boats began to visit the Lake Erie Islands like no time before in history, and real estate started to move. The area near the state park on South Bass Island was developed as Saunder’s Resort with cottages, a motel, swimming pool and golf course in the mid-fifties.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, harsh lake pollution kept many people away from Put-in-Bay. However, college students and adolescents were persistent visitors. By the late 1970s, water quality had improved dramatically and Lake Erie fishing became a strong attraction. In the 90’s, Put-in-Bay saw the constrcution of modern day hotels like the Put-in-Bay Resort which serve the islands tourists in present day. To this day, Put-in-Bay attracts and draws avid fishermen for some of the best Perch and Walleye fishing in the world.
Because of its location near major metropolitan areas, Put-in-Bay attracts many people.
Whether you’re on a daily excursion by ferry, car, camper, on a boat, or even by plane, Put-in-Bay is always a place where you can enjoy the atmosphere and unique attractions of the Islands. Over the last few years, Put-in-Bay has seen the addition of Luxury hotels and resorts. Visitors also can enjoy a wide array of vacation home rentals. Visitors coming for a day trip can ride the Jet-Express ferry boat from either Sandusky Ohio or Port Clinton Ohio with late-night service on the weekends.
THE PUT-IN-BAY STORY
Told From Top-of-the-Rock
By Ruth Dickerman Moizuk
Before The Stork had whispered his baby secret, I made my first trip to Put-in-Bay at minus eight months old. Trip number two found me returning to Cleveland
in a severe storm on a boat that plied between South Bass Island and Cleveland. A clam bake shortly after the trip left me disenchanted as I saw little of the Island, to this day I dislike clams and was the kid sister and a “drag” who tagged along. I never expected to see or think about South Bass Island again.
A number of years elapsed when Dr. Baldwin asked me to stay after class and asked a question that changed my life. I pondered it. “Where did your family originate?” I had never given it any thought. I had little thought of writing a book, of visiting Put-in-Bay or studying genealogy. Dad had never mentioned the family history until that day when I inquired. An Illinois family was contacted and they referred me to Caroline Gorham Dickerman of Mt. Carmel. She was a Connecticut historian, a teacher in Hawaii and listed in “Who’s Who in Poetry.” We became close friends and kissin’ cousins until her death.
Dr. Herman Carson, Past Chaplain General, S.A.R. encouraged me to help organize Dickerman descendants of the first family who came in 1635. Through this activity visits to Put-in-Bay ensued. The Island grew on us until lots were purchased and our home, “Top-of-the-Rock,” was built. Love for the Island compelled me to write the “Put-in-Bay Story” and tell it in the light it deserves. The research was thrilling. The first owners were the Edwards family, friends of my ancestors. Isaac Dickerman donated two acres to Yale University while Jonathan Edwards, Pierpont, and Reverend Sam Johnson were affiliated with the college. Pierpont Edwards is buried in the little cemetery where cousin Caroline is buried. He was the first owner of the Bass Islands.
Great people have loved South Bass Island dearly; Cooke, Rivera, the Edwards family. These people and those with the fortitude to endure the hardships through their love of the land have left their own shrine. It is hoped that the visitors will revere it as such and enjoy the beauty and facilities the Island has to offer. As the Islanders and summer residents reminisce about the “good old days” it is hoped that they will learn more about the days prior to their recollections and feel the presence of the early settlers. Those whose ancestors were here to make history may have more pride than ever before and realize more vividly the part they played.
If I have perpetuated the history of the Island as it deserves, my mission has been accomplished. For one born off of the Island, my love for it cannot be surpassed. The best I can hope for is someday to be considered an “honorary” Islander. The Island has my heart! (Thomas, Abraham, Isaac, Jonathan I, Jonathan II, Jonathan III, Augustus, William Irvin, William Earl Dickerman, Ruth Dickerman Moizuk)
Put-in-Bay is located approximately eight miles from Catawba Point and fourteen miles from Port Clinton, on South Bass Island in Lake Erie. It is between Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio, and may be easily reached from almost any place in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania by way of superhighways. Excellent roads shorten travel time to a few hours. Other highways have been started, which will decrease travel time still more.
“On the rocks” is not always what the words imply. The expression is almost sacred to the natives and the summer people at the Bass Islands, and well it should be. To the natives, it is their rich heritage to be born on the Islands, and their names and homes have been passed down thru generations. They are innately proud of their backgrounds and of the Lake Erie Islands, North Bass Island (sometimes called Isle St. George), Middle Bass Island and South Bass Island. They are limestone rocks attributed to the era which saw the formation of our great country.
The summer people, too, have a strong love for the Island of South Bass and pride in its historical background, its beauty, its famous Perry’s Monument, its harbor and its ducks which they feed and do not want to be molested. Many families have been coming for over fifty years. Cottages have been handed down to children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, the people who get off the shining white boats have such a limited outlook of the Island because they do not allow themselves
enough time to see the Island in its entirety. They walk to the Monument and return soon after, seeing only the many boats in the Bay and the park.
Getting To And Around Put-in-Bay
In the last few years, bicycles and motorbikes have been made available for rental, the Viewmobiles meet the boats and offer a worthwhile trip around the Island, with points of interest called to the attention of the visitors, and the driver recounts some of the historical backgrounds of the Island during the trip. Put-in-Bay is not only a historical Island, but it is also a way of life! The minute the boats leave the mainland, and one feels he has left the world and its troubles behind. There is a casualness here, which makes it unique. The hustle and bustle, traffic, exhaust fumes, and noise are a thing of the past while you are at Put-in-Bay. In contrast to the world of psychedelic trips, this is a pleasant trip that can be far more relaxing, and you can be fully aware of the sights.
The new Route 2 over the Thomas Edison Bridge opened November 1966. By using the exit at Route 357, you may go north on Route 357 to Catawba Point, the site of the dock for the Miller boats. There is ample parking space if you do not wish to take your car across. There is parking across the street at Parman’s for a nominal fee. You will be surprised to see that Route 357 continues right onto South Bass Island, although you have had a boat ride since you left the route. The short trip to the Lime Kiln Dock is expeditious, but the more extended trip which takes you to the downtown area is scenic as it winds its way among the Lake Erie Islands and often stops at Middle Bass Island.
The short ride does not take you near the Monument or the town, but the long journey to The Downtown Dock is within a short walking distance to the Monument. Cabs are available at the Lime Kiln Dock and Downtown Docks. Another route is via Port Clinton and the Parker Boat Line, which docks in the downtown area of Put-in-Bay. This ride also travels among the Lake Erie Islands. Summer schedules are frequent on both boat lines. Put-in-Bay Golf Cart Rentals are the new way to see the island.
The Put-in-Bay Airport & The Worlds Shortest Commercial Flight
At the Route 2 and Route 357 intersection, you will see the shortest airline in the world, the Sky Tours, Inc. It takes eight minutes to fly over to Put-in-Bay on the famous Ford Tri-Motors, affectionately called the “Tin Goose.” Charter service is also available to other points. Charter boat service is also available, which takes you to points not reached by the larger boats aforementioned. Ladd’s Marina inaugurated service in 1967, which goes to Pelee Island, Canada; Cedar Point and to Kelleys Island as a “package deal,” allowing one day for each trip. Charter service is available upon request. Sonny’s have fishing excursions, and there is also boat service to Middle Bass Island.
The Island of South Bass, in Ottawa County, is often referred to as Put-in-Bay, erroneously. The Island is made up of the Village of Put-in-Bay and the Put-in-Bay Township. Each of the three Bass Islands, North Bass, Middle Bass, and South Bass has a Trustee. These men work together as a unit and uphold the welfare of the group of islands. Mayor James Poulos presides and holds court at Put-in-Bay. Ernie Owens is Chief of Police and is also called upon to keep things in order at other islands when the occasion arises. It is regrettable that when incidents occur at other islands very often the “credit,” or better phrased, the “debit” is given to Put in-Bay because people are not aware of the relationship between the islands and because they take the Put-in-Bay boat, the inaccurate information goes forth.
Perry’s Monument & Internation Peace Memorial
The Island is divided into two parts, Perry’s Monument being the dividing line. To the east is East Point, which is residential. The land west of the
The monument is referred to as the Peach Point area, the West Shore, the State Park, and the South Shore. West of the Monument lies the park, the “White Way,” the restaurants, winery, stores, churches, garage, school, Doctor’s office, the Caves, the marinas, the Town Hall, jail, and all business activities.
Perry’s Monument majestically overlooks the entire Island, winking at its inhabitants all night. During the summer season, the whole Monument is illuminated by floodlights, which give the appearance of a giant glass candlestick with lights on the inside. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1913, The exercises were conducted by the Masonic Organization because Perry and most of his officers were Masons.
Despite the passage of fifty-four years, its grandeur is still evident, and it has lost none of its beauty, nor is the architectural design antiquated. It is maintained by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and the guides are well informed and always willing to answer your questions, describe the physical features of the Monument and to relate facts about the Battle of Lake Erie and the life of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
Each Tuesday evening during the summer season, there are free lectures by the guides. The slides are shown at the Town Hall and not only are slides and lectures about Put-in-Bay, but some evenings other National Parks are featured. In the spring, there is a cleanup campaign that gains the cooperation of the citizens. The buildings glisten with new paint, and everything is in readiness for visitors when the season opens. The Islanders work hard to make the Island casual for its visitors.
The Put-in-Bay Tourist Trade & Holidays
The tourist trade is a source of livelihood for the residents. License plates show travelers to the Island come from many states of the Union. Fresh vegetables and eggs are the fruit of the labor of the Thomas Duffs. They also sell wood for the wood-burning fireplaces. In the fall, the grapes are ready for harvesting, and their beauty is everywhere. Grapes and their by-products are big business on the Island. This is God’s Country, and it is Grape Country. The aroma of grapes as it is wafted over the Island is intoxicating. What smells better than grapes in the fall when the air is crisp, and color abounds! The Island women all rally at picking season, and the whole Island is a swinging, busy place. It is “The Smell of the Grapes and the Hush of the Crowd” in fall and one of the most beautiful times of year to visit the Bay.
More and more people are conspicuous by their absence around Labor Day. Many return to their homes to get students back to school. Each week-ends sees
more people closing up for the season. Those without students leave reluctantly a little later. Many of the older homes are not equipped for the colder weather
and must be closed before freezing weather sets in. This is unfortunate because the systematic picking of the grapes is in itself, an interesting sight.
The calmest, the roughest, the clearest, and the foggiest days can occur in November. The fall is beautiful. The colors are riotous, peace and quiet reigns. The birds are migrating, it is perfect weather for hiking, and the falling leaves flutter down when autumn descends. The boat and plane schedules are more limited, but they do allow time to spend enjoying the great outdoors at its serene best. The Miller boats run through the weekend before Thanksgiving, and the Parker boats also have a schedule. After November, the Parker boats have unscheduled trips and carry freight until the lake freezes. Planes fly all winter.
Many of the summer residents have a car on the Island to serve them as they arrive by plane or boat. Island people have cars on the mainland to transport them when they arrive there During the winter, the aircraft carry groceries, packages, passengers, and air-taxi the school children from other islands to South Bass Island to attend classes in the upper grades. The planes keep the Island open in winter and keep things moving.
Some folks commute between Put-in-Bay and the mainland to enjoy their second home in the winter. It is not unusual for them to invite friends family for Thanksgiving dinner at their retreats. Before Thanksgiving, there is a “Feather Party,” which, if you don’t understand the vernacular, is a party sponsored by the American Legion with turkeys as prizes.
Santa Claus can find Put-in-Bay and sometimes arrives by plane. Santa does not miss a child from the time of birth until graduation. A gift with the recipient’s name on it is distributed at a Christmas party held at the Town Hall. This is sponsored by the P.T.A. The selection of gifts is dependent upon the age group of the child. After the sixth grade, it is in the form of money with $5.00 being given to each homeroom in the school, and the money is used in whatever way the group cares to use it. Each classroom is given a green aluminum Christmas tree to add a note of festivity at the Holiday Season.
The Park is decorated with colored lights, and an air of happiness is prevalent. Contests are sponsored by local merchants awarding prizes for the best decorations. New Year’s Eve the Town Hall is again the hub of merriment at the annual party to see the old year out and the New Year in. It is Times Square of the Islands!
Put-in-Bay Halloween had an unusual custom for many years but has been discontinued. The young people removed everything movable and placed it in front of the school. This included signs, boats, cars, anchors, and the trees were draped with the tissue. Each successive year the class tried to outdo the previous class. After the big day, they were all returned to their original locations by the students who came to school dressed in blue-jeans. The more they had to take back the more time it took and the less school for that day. In 1967, it was decided it would be best to discontinue the observation of Halloween in this manner.
A delightful experience is attending the Halloween Party at the Town Hall. The children are given prizes for their costumes and much preparation goes into
the making of the various original designs. Never have there been so many unusual costumes in one room! Children dressed as rosebuds, Christmas trees, Cedar trees, and other ideas have been expressed. Families with several children dress them all up in these time-consuming outfits and it becomes a highlight of
the year to attend to see them.
Easter is for the small fry and the afternoon event is an Easter Egg Hunt. Some of the tots are so tiny they need an adult to “clue them” but it is difficult to know who has the most fun, the youngsters or the adults. Proud grandparents beam as the little tykes gather the eggs. This replaces the city Easter Parade. A large Easter Bunny gives candy to each child after the 60 dozen eggs are found.
Decoration Day the children sing patriotic songs in the park and a reverent service is conducted by the American Legion. The men’s serious attitudes and their straight walks display the pride they feel toward their shares in keeping America free. The Monument to their servicemen is in the park. Fireworks at the foot of Perry’s Monument are a highlight of the Fourth of July. The bombs bursting in air are significant at this hallowed memorial. Had Perry not won the war we would have been Canadians. What more fitting place could serve for the celebration of the Declaration of our Independence!
Put-in-Bay Grows On You!
Put-in-Bay grows on one. You feel it! You are proud to be a part of it! Its place in history is thrilling, the strength and fortitude of the early settlers, their outstanding perseverance in living away from the mainland, where winters were shut off, the knowledge of the Indians who were here many years ago, makes you realize history is all around you. The gulls follow the ferry boats and it is fun to throw chunks of bread to them and watch them dive for it as they put on a free show for a morsel.
The ducks in the harbor are a source of joy and pride to the Islanders and are pets. Ducks have been blown to bits when they were bombed as they were eating food thrown to them and others have had their necks wrung. They are not meant to be targets for rocks and mistreatment, and foul play is not sporting. Their trust and beauty are nature studies. Some of the boaters go away not knowing any more about this wonderful place than when they came. How much they have missed! Leaving their boats and enjoying the shore may be a pleasant experience they would otherwise miss.
Put-in-Bay And Her Tourists
Tourists have always been welcome and the Bay is a recreation spot but it is also home for people who live here and pay taxes to make it a pleasant place to spend leisure hours. Refuse containers are placed for convenience so it is not necessary to hurl bottles at the Commodore’s Bench which is a monument that deserves respect. Giving the Island the same consideration you would your home will help keep it cleaner, healthier and happier for everyone.
Gibraltar stands in the Bay. On it is the Castle, which was the home of Jay Cooke, philanthropist, and financier. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church are located on Catawba Avenue about a quarter of a mile beyond the Town Hall. The grocery store in the business section of town is on Catawba Avenue also has a meat market and drug store. During the late fall and winter, the store closes at 12:15 p.m. and re-opens at 2:15 p.m. At noon everything on the Island ceases and everyone proceeds home for lunch.
The store stays open an additional fifteen minutes to accommodate children who stop on the way home from school. In the summer season, the store is open long hours. There is also a grocery store in the Victory Woods section, near the State Park. The State Park pleases many campers and most week-ends in season see Boy Scouts arriving for the weekend campouts. The Brodersons, long-time Islanders, can help you with any questions concerning camping, by stopping at
the office of the park.
Convertible cabs have been a tradition for many years. The old-timers have been replaced by later models and are owned by the Victory Cab Company. There are modern motels, swimming pools, Laundromat, laundry, rooming houses, restaurants, hotels, and the Bay 90’s is a spot you can take the children to watch silent movies while you have a sandwich or a refresher. The revitalized “Colonial” also houses a bowling alley and pool tables downstairs and has a ballroom adaptable for receptions and has dances some week-ends, on the upper level. Boating and fishing are popular past times and boats may be rented.
There are two cemeteries on the Island which are not restricted to either religion. Weddings on the Island are just as lovely as city weddings, with all the
trimmings to make them “special.” Island children are very attractive. This is particularly noticeable when attending a function for them. There is always a room full of beautiful kiddies. One of the best-known men on the Island is Joe Parker, owner of Parker’s Garage. No matter whether you need car repairs, lawn-mower repair, gasoline or towing, you are bound to meet Joe. He has the only garage on the Island.
The Post Office was dedicated in 1961 and is an attractive building where friends meet just about 10:00 a.m. when the mail is sorted. It carries a large volume of mail-in summer and in the winter many orders are placed by mail when the boats are not running so winter keeps them busy, too. The school houses all grades and graduations are just as complete as the exercises in mainland schools, this despite the very small classes. In 1967, the full-time doctor retired and Dr. H. Boker serves the Island very ably on a part-time basis.
The Put-in-Bay Yacht Club is an active organization that sponsors sailing and swimming lessons for the younger set and provides entertainment throughout the season for its members. In August, it is host to the Inter-Lake Yachting Association Regatta. The South Bass Hardware which was built in 1966 by R. Schmidt has already started to enlarge. The Ladd’s Marina expanded in 1967. The history of Oak Point has changed through the years and provides facilities that were started in 1967, for docking.
Ted’s Tackle Shop is popular with the men for obtaining all their sports equipment. John Nissen, who owned it for years, has an adjoining shop where he sells fish and seafood which you may buy to cook to your own taste. Ken and Greta’s Souvenir Stand facing the park has been there many years and displays interesting remembrances of Put-in-Bay. Saunders’ Gift Shop at their resort and “The Corner Store,” owned by Saunders, on Catawba Ave. facing the park, have gift items and wearing apparel.
An antique shop is scheduled to open in 1968, probably in a hotel facing the park. The Caves are educational points of interest and covered elsewhere in this
book. Rummage sales on the Island are always fun. Baked goods are great favorites. Necessity being the mother of an invention must have been coined at Put-in-Bay or by someone who lived on an Island. At times there are items not available and it is surprising what ingenuity will do. Clothespin bags are fun to make from toppers, dirndl skirts make nice aprons, a terry cloth robe can be cut and hemmed for hand towels for the kitchen. Dresses can be made into toppers. Zippers may be just what is needed. Innumerable ideas can be put to work.
For years some of the summer people called the dump “Treasure Cove.” The children often would pick up small change by looking for pop bottles to redeem but since most are disposable they no longer make a quick nickel. One spring there was an antique poker table on the pile. My heart thumped for it but I could not open the trunk of the car and had no way to get it. I told a friend and she had no way to get it. When I returned the next time it was gone. A few months later I walked into a shop and could hardly believe what I saw. There was the table, a true conversation piece, refinished and beautiful! Someone else had seen it and taken it to a friend who appreciated its history and had a prized possession.
Perhaps you need a piece of tin to make a cone to keep the squirrels out of the bird feeder. The dump is the place you will find it. Don’t be proud. “Seek and ye shall find.” The United States Coast Guard is an important function at South Bass Island. They are ever ready in case of emergencies and rescue missions. Knowing they are there provides a feeling of security.
The Put-in-Bay Fire Department answers calls quickly. When the siren sounds you see the cars whizzing by to answer the call. At night the headlights of the cars can be seen all over the Island as they head for the emergency. The fire truck is up-to-date and kept shiny and in repair. Tony’s has been a meeting place for many years. It is the place to go after slides, concerts, or just when you want a refreshing soda or ice cream cone, or a drink with a bit of foam.
The Island telephone wires and electricity are carried from the mainland via submarine cables. The Ohio Music Camp is an integral part of summer. Concerts are given on Friday nights during the summer season. The Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory is located on Gibraltar Island and students come for summer sessions to acquire credits. The state of Ohio maintains the Fish Hatchery.
The Put-in-Bay Visitors And Convention Bureau is located on Loraine Avenue. Does this whet your curiosity about such a small place, roughly 1,382 acres with so much to see, know about, to do? This is only the beginning of the “Put-in-Bay Story.” Now that you have been introduced to Put-in-Bay, her history and story will be told.
Put-in-Bay Indian Style
Visitors from all parts of the world converge at Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio. Thus it has been for over three hundred years. The original “tourists” were traveling bands of Indians who found the Bass Islands their happy hunting grounds and ideal for fishing and trapping. Many of the tribes came from the mainland south of the Islands and others came from the Canadian mainland, even as the visitors do now. There were Senecas, Ottawas, Shawnees, Eries, Iriquois, Miamis, Potowatamies, Wyandots and others who found the Islands a sanctuary from spring through fall where they could survive in the beauty of nature, others stayed throughout the year as permanent residents. This is still the scheme of living for many “summer people.”
An early history book states that relics of Mound Builders, pre-historic people who inhabited North America, and those of Indians, were found when soil was turned by plows. Caves were said to have yielded eight skeletons seven feet in height, one standing as though wedged between rocks. A limestone fissure on the south shore also was said to have contained human bones.
Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle, (1643- 1687) born in Rouen, France, sailed the Great Lakes with a crew of thirty-two men on the “Griffon.” The 60-foot long vessel weighed between 45 and 60 tons and had five cannons. It was built at Fort Frontenac in August 1679, and it took four men “well stimulated with brandy” to carry the anchor around the falls. It was the first sailing craft of this proportion to traverse the Great Lakes.
On its return voyage, La Salle entrusted the ship to his sailors and he went on ahead. Enemies are said to have started rumors that his expedition was fool-hardy and his creditors seized his property in Canada. The Griffon was sent back laden with furs to offset his debts but it disappeared the same year and was assumed wrecked on its -return voyage. La Salle never knew what happened to her and there is still conjecture. La Salle established a fort in Texas in 1684 with four hundred men and was killed by them in 1687.
Friar Hennepin, a Belgian missionary, accompanied La Salle to establish a mission at Ft. Frontenac and to explore the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois. He was an adventurer and had gained the confidence of the Indians who attended religious services conducted by him. He was later captured by the Sioux and taken to Minnesota. Daniel Greysolon Du Lhut (1636-1710) rescued him. Friar Hennepin returned to Belgium where he wrote two books on his experiences in North America in which he mentioned the Lake Erie Islands. A map attached to his works published in 1683 shows Sandusky Bay drawn in relation to the south shore of Lake Erie.
The priests who helped make up La Salle’s crew reported that Lake Erie “tossed like an angry ocean” so they encamped during the winter at Long Point
and in spring landed near Pt. Pelee. Although no mention was specifically made by La Salle it is reasonable to conclude he and his crew visited the Islands of Lake Erie. In 1755 Captain James Smith was captured by the Indians and lived with them for four years. In his account of his life during his captivity, he mentioned the Bass Islands. In the first week of November, a council was held to determine the route to take to their winter hunting grounds. They planned to cross the lake together and discussed whether to go via the Islands or follow the shore.
Smith said the “Wyandots” and Ottawas frequently wintered on the Islands due to the abundance of fish and fowl. Raccoons were prolific and each winter each man would get as many as a thousand raccoons. There were also many snakes on the Islands at that time. The Indians would see raccoons on the rocks in the fall and would place traps for them. In the spring the raccoons would be gone and snakes would be in their places. This led the Indians to believe the snakes turned into raccoons in the fall and raccoons became snakes in the spring. Smith did not think they were a transfiguration.
Put-In-Bay, New Connecticut
South Bass Island, along with her adjacent sister islands, were a bonus! Great Britain relinquished the land south of the Great Lakes and east of the Mississippi River by the Treaty of 1783 and Virginia, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut disagreed on the occupancy so it was ceded to the Federal Government. Connecticut, however, reserved a tract of 2,835,547 acres in the Lake Erie area of which the Firelands comprised 500,000 acres.
The Bass Islands were encompassed in the Connecticut Western Reserve Tract, purchased for $1,200,000 at 30 cents an acre. Kelleys Island and several Bass Islands consisted of 5,924 acres. The total acreage in New Connecticut was 173,921 acres larger than Connecticut, itself. Each share was worth $3,000 and there were 400 shares. The accumulated interest from the $1,200,000 realized from the sale of land by the Ohio Land Company has for many years constituted the common school fund by the State of Connecticut.
During the Revolution of 1792 the 1,870 sufferers, with over $800,000 loss were entitled to land in New Connecticut. Pierpont Edwards of Connecticut who invested $60,000 in the Connecticut Land Company became one of the stockholders in 1807. His part of the tract, drawn by draft, comprised land in Lorain County. To compensate for the Irregular shoreline that did not provide the amount of land to which he was entitled, he was awarded the Lake Erie Islands to offset the deficiency. The Edwards Family figure prominently in the development of the Lake Erie Islands as well as in the development of the United States.
Although Pierpont Edwards, whose wife was Francis Ogden Edwards, was the first owner of South Bass Island by virtue of his investment, he never saw the Islands. It is Pierpont who will be used as the pivot of the Edwards Family to designate the relationship of members of the family one with the other. Mention is made of other members of the family and events which were taking place during that period to depict more vividly life on the Islands and throughout the country during this era in history. It will tie in the Islands with early American history as it was being made and emphasize the fortitude of the early settlers, some of whom could have been living graciously in the East rather than pioneering in the “Wild West.”
The perseverance of the early settlers of our country under hardships and not-so-easy living is evident in the journals they kept. One of the Edwards family was riding in her carriage when her horse became thirsty and the depth of the water was misjudged. The carriage and occupant were overturned in the water and she was drowned.
Another tragedy occurred when a bride who was married in October wore her wedding gown to the Meeting Hall, which was the custom. She developed pneumonia and died a few months after her wedding. Aaron Burr’s life was no exception. His only daughter became ill when her baby died. Burr arranged an ocean trip for her, accompanied by her physician, to assuage her grief. The steamer was never heard from again.
In 1836, John Pierpont was drowned on a trip from South Bass Island to the mainland. Alfred Edwards owned the Island at that time and he was a descendant of the Pierpont’s and this could have been his relative who had visited the Island. Pierpont Edwards was the youngest son of the controversial and fiery preacher, Jonathan Edwards, who served as rector for twenty-three years at Northampton, Massachusetts, and later became a missionary to the Indians at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He was President of the College of New Jersey (Princeton) after the death of his son-in-law, the Reverend Aaron Burr, Sr. His powerful writing, “Freedom of the Will and Original Sin” was one of his strongest contributions.
Pierpont’s mother was Sarah Pierpont Edwards of New Haven, daughter of the immortal Reverend James Pierpont and his third wife, Sarah Pierpont. She was the niece of the famous Reverend Joseph Haynes. Pierpont Edwards was a United States District Judge in Connecticut. He served the Continental Congress after the term of his son-in-law’s father, William Samuel Johnson. He was Administrator of the estate of Benedict Arnold who had been his friend before Arnold turned traitor.
As first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Connecticut, F. & A.M., he entertained George Washington who was Master of the Alexandria Lodge in Virginia. They attended church together at the Episcopal Church and the White Haven Congregational Church where Pierpont’s brother, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., preached. At a later date Jonathan, Jr., worked with the Indians. He had grown up with them and knew their language. Three sons, of Pierpont’s eleven children, played important roles in the Put-in-Bay Story. In 1810 he deeded the islands to John Starke and (Moses) Ogden. Alfred P. Edwards enters the story at a later date.
In 1799 John Starke Edwards, who was named for the hero of the Battle of Bennington, had gone to New Connecticut which at that time was “way out west.’’ He was one of the first settlers in Warren, Ohio, and his home, built-in 1807 still stands and is the Headquarters of The Trumbull County Historical Society. After living in Ohio for a short time he wrote to his brother-in-law, Sam W. Johnson, saying, “I am heartily tired of living alone and am determined to marry as soon as I can find a woman who will answer.”
His sister, Henriette, (Mrs. Eli Whitney) answered, “I advise you, my dear brother, to get you a wife where you are for there is hardly anybody left here worth having.” His brother, Ogden, also wrote, from Litchfield, April 25, 1802, “My matrimonial days do not seem to approach. I feel that the jaws of old bachelorship will swallow me up at last.” Six years later the confirmed bachelor succumbed to the charms of Harriet Penfield of Penfield, New York, whom he married.
They had a family of nine children, the firstborn in 1809. While his family continued the search for a suitable mate for him, John Starke Edwards made several trips east to look for a wife. When he returned from one visit a letter followed from his sister and one from Ogden singing the praises of a young lady, Louisa Maria Morris, daughter of Major General Lewis R. Morris of Springfield, Vermont, and Mary Dwight Morris.
Her father was Chief Justice of New York and a Congressman. Louisa’s mother was John’s cousin. They were married on February 28, 1807, at Springfield. Born to them were Pierpont in 1808, Lewis Morris in 1810, and William Johnson Edwards in 1811. In 1812, John Starke became the first Representative in Congress in his district. In 1810 Margaret Van Horn De Witt (12-29-1790 to 10-9-1834) went to Warren to visit Louisa Maria and John Starke Edwards. Her report on the trip in “A Journey to Ohio in 1810” is a classic.
Her father, Maurice Dwight, who died in 1796, was John Starke’s cousin. Her mother, Margaret (De Witt) Dwight remarried. Margaret was raised by her grandmother, Mary Edwards Dwight, until her death on February 7, 1807. Margaret then went to New Haven to live with Aunt Elizabeth Dwight who had married William Walton Woolsey.
Their son was Theodore Woolsey who became President of Yale University from 1846 to 1871. His sister, Elizabeth, was the recipient of the journal written of her experiences traveling to the west. Margaret embarked on her journey in the company of a Deacon and his wife. She did not enjoy traveling with the overly thrifty Deacon, she was frightened staying in taverns where they sought lodging, her feet became sore from walking, the horses became mired. She said that if they encountered trouble fording the stream the next day it would be the end of them and the end of the journal.
In some areas, people came to look at the “Yankees” as they would a “learned pig.’’ Travel averaged ten miles a day over the 600-mile trip. She ended her journal by saying, “Let no one see this but your own family.” Her charm and sense of humor did not falter on this difficult journey.
They were met near Warren by Mr. Edwards, stopped to see Cousin Joseph Woodbridge, and finally reached Louisa’s and thereby ended her weary voyage. A year later she married William Bell, Jr., who came from Ireland and resided in Warren. They were married on December 17, 1811. Their children numbered thirteen. In 1810 there were a few French settlers on South Bass Island who were joined by several families of French Canadians. They felt there was safety in numbers against hostile forces and nature provided them with food and clothing. There was timber for building and for warmth. The Island provided all their requirements and although danger lurked it was offset by their provisions.
The Indians and French Canadians were averse to being evicted and the Indians were not willing to accept the fact that land west of the Cuyahoga River no longer belonged to them. Mr. Seth Doan was sent to Put-in-Bay by Judge Ogden Edwards of Connecticut in 1811 to start a colony. The soil was fertile and with his laborers, he succeeded in his effort to grow a large crop of wheat. They had about 150 sheep and 400 hogs on South Bass Island by 1811. (In 1879 the wheat fields were covered with a second growth of forests with trees forty feet high.) Two thousand bushels of wheat were shipped to the mainland and hidden but the British scouts and Indians burned it. In 1812 Indians attacked at Put-in-Bay and the wheat there was also destroyed.
The seven families who evacuated the Island found sanctuary with the Austin family near Vermillion. This, too, was New Connecticut. Five days later the men, who worked diligently making ammunition, returned to Put-in-Bay, cautiously made their way to the top of a knoll, after securing their boats in a hiding place in the marsh, and reconnoitered. They had a clear view of their cabins.
The time was not opportune so they left without accomplishing their mission. They returned, however, and this time the Indians were seen leaving their cabins. They opened fire and seven of the seventeen Indians were killed and the houses burned out. When they headed for the mainland they were again attacked. This time the Indians were on Gibraltar, in the bay. Again they hit their targets and in a severe storm made it safely back to the mainland. They re-established their homes in the area of the Austin family who had given them refuge and did not go back to Put-in-Bay to live.
In January 1813, John Starke, in company with William Bell, who had married Margaret, and George Parsons, who may have been related to Sara Parsons, aunt of John, started for the Islands. They wanted to see whether anything had been disturbed due to the friction on the frontier during the war of 1812. At Lower Sandusky, they encountered a heavy thaw and started for home after John became drenched when fording the Huron River. He became seriously ill before they had traveled far.
Mr. Bell went on ahead to notify Mrs. Edwards who left her three babies at home and went forth with Dr. Seeley and Mr. Bell to meet her husband and Mr. Parsons. They had gone nine miles at night and then another forty-five miles when they encountered Mr. Parsons who was bearing the body of her husband on the sleigh. After showing some improvement he had suffered a reversal and died suddenly at Huron, Ohio. Mrs. Edwards wrote of the incident: “Fourteen miles from a house just before sundown in a snowstorm -and we were obliged to return that distance to get even the shelter of a cabin. For hours after dark, I followed the coffin. My dear sister, do you not wonder that I lived to we this?”
Mrs. Edwards married, June 1, 1814, Robert Montgomery. John’s first two sons died soon after within weeks of one another. His third son, William Johnston Edwards, grew to adulthood and his daughter, Louisa Maria, wrote of her grandmother’s ordeal in “A Pioneer Home Maker, a Sketch of the Life of Louisa Maria Montgomery” by her granddaughter, Louisa Maria Edwards. This is a remarkable story after John Starke Edwards died the family had little concern about the
Bass Island for several years.
The War of 1812 had its effect on the shores of Lake Erie. GeneralWilliam Henry Harrison and Oliver Hazard Perry mapped their strategy to overcome the British. Perry was directed to prepare and superintend a naval fleet at Erie, Pennsylvania, which would give him supremacy on Lake Erie. The enemy watched
the building of the fleet but the shallow water had to stay their distance. This protective feature gave Perry anxious moments because the water was too shallow to allow the ships to disembark after they were built. Large scows were attached to each side of the ships and sunk, then pumped out to raise them to the necessary level to hoist the ships enough to float them. Perry was 28 years old when he sailed, August 12, 1813, from Presque Isle.
Tecumseh was on the Canadian Island of Bois Blanc on the side of the British. General Harrison was at Fort Seneca awaiting the outcome of the Battle of Lake Erie. Prior to the battle, Perry remarked to Purser Hambleton, “This is the most important day in my life.” September 10, 1813, was an important day in the lives of future Americans as the battle was the determining factor in making the inhabitants on the south shore of Lake Erie American rather than British subjects and was the decisive factor in the drive to end the war.
Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry had 492 officers and men, about one-fourth of whom, were negroes. There were 54 guns and nine vessels, namely, the Lawrence, Niagara, Calendonia, Ariel, Scorpion, Trippe, Tigress, Porcupine and the Somers. Captain Robert Barclay had 504 officers and men, 63 guns and six vessels, the Detroit, Queen Charlotte, Hunter, Little Belt, Chippewa, and the Lady Provost.
In 1812 Gibraltar was fortified and a look-out when Perry was anchored in the Bay. He sailed six miles out to three miles north of Rattlesnake Island when his scouts saw the British headed toward the Islands. Barclay and Perry approached in silence. The line of battle formed at 11:00 a.m. At 11:45 a.m. the British opened fire on the Lawrence and the Detroit sounded a bugle while its men cheered. Perry had short guns and returned no shots for forty minutes. The enemy wanted to destroy Perry’s ship first. Tremendous firing on the Lawrence made her unmanageable. Other ships were unable to assist her at that time. As fast as gunners were wounded others stepped up. The dead on the Lawrence could not be removed during the action.
Perry and his thirteen-year-old brother survived the heavy fire. The enemy thought the battle was over. Perry took four men with him and transferred in a small boat to the Niagara, hoisting his Union Jack. On June 1, 1813, during the engagement with the Shannon, off the Chesapeake Coast, Commander James Lawrence of the Chesapeake made his dying cry, “Don’t give up the ship.” This was Perry’s Battle Cry.
The Lawrence’s flag was no longer flying. The boat was badly maimed. When the crew of the Lawrence realized the enemy was crippled they again
raised their flag. Barclay had no small boat to take him to the Lawrence. The Niagara and other ships closed in on the enemy. Perry wrote his famous message to General Harrison on the back of an old envelope. Harrison received the victory message at Fort Seneca which read, “We have met the enemy and they are ours, Two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.”
Levi Johnson, Cleveland’s first- professional boat builder, listened from the roof of the Courthouse which was being built. When the guns stopped he said, “The battle is won by the Americans. I heard the big guns last and Perry had the big guns.” It was also heard in Cleveland by E. W. Barnum who had his ear to the ground and heard the big guns last.
Two days after the battle two Indian Chiefs who had been brought by Barclay to aim at American officers were found in the hold of the Detroit. They were terrified at this strange warfare on large boats. The battle had lasted three hours and when it ended there were more prisoners than fighting men. Twenty-two men were killed and sixty-one were wounded on the Lawrence. Twenty men were fit for duty. The other boats
had a total of five killed and thirty-five wounded.
Funeral services were conducted the next day, both crews participating in the services as a unit. Enlisted men who had been killed were lowered into Lake Erie. Officers killed were American Midshipman Henry Laub, Lt. John Brooks of the Lawrence and Midshipman John Clark of the Scorpion and British officers Captain Robert Finnis and Lieutenant James Garden of Queen Charlotte and Lieutenant John Garland of the Detroit, all of whom were buried in the park at Put-in-Bay. A willow tree marked the site until it deteriorated and fell. It is now marked by cannonballs. The bodies were moved to the rotunda of Perry’s Monument when services were held 9-13-1913 on the one-hundredth anniversary of Perry’s Victory.
Mr. P. Vroman, a man of veracity, described the Commemoration of the Battle of Lake Erie on the forty-fifth anniversary of the battle. William HenryHarrison attended and there was an enormous crowd at the all-day affair. while Mr. Vroman spoke he noticed a man among the spectators who had tears running down his face. Mr. Vroman talked to him later and was told he had been one of the soldiers at the battle. He related that “three officers from each side had been buried at the willow tree. The sailors and marines were buried on the beautiful treeless knoll near Squaw Harbor. It is now vineyards.” This disputes the more commonly accepted version of the mass burial in the Bay.
Barclay was seriously wounded. He had lost one arm in the Battle of Trafalgar and the other was now useless due to a shoulder blade injury. He also received a hip wound. Perry spoke highly of Barclay and asked for his immediate parole and the parole of his second in command, Captain Elliott. Tecumseh’s spirit was broken when he learned of the defeat and he appeared to be a “weary, old man.” This was the last battle on Ohio soil.
Harrison marched his Army to Lake Erie and they boarded Perry’s ships to pursue the British. The Battle of the Thames ensued and Tecumseh lost his life. Later Harrison became the first President from Ohio soil. Oliver Hazard Perry who was born in Kensington, Rhode Island, August 23, 1785, died on August 23, 1819, of yellow fever at Trinidad on the “Java,” following a voyage to the Mediterranean Sea. He is buried at Newport, R. I. A painting by Louis Bennett Chevalier, circa 1838-1825, of the Burial of Officers slain at Perry’s Victory—War of 1812—shows Put-in-Bay, Gibraltar and the military men at the burial. This hangs at the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio.
Put-In-Bay, Site Of Perry’s Monument
Perry’s International Peace Memorial National Monument dominates the Islands and the sky and welcomes visitors as they approach from any direction. It commemorates Perry’s Victory, fought and won on September 13, 1813, the Northwestern Campaign of General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812 and the years of peace between Great Britain and the United States. It is the longest undefended boundary in the world, 4,000 miles. The boundary between Canada and the United States at this point is five miles out. Pelee Island, Canada, can be clearly seen many days of the year.
A Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie was observed in September 1913, and a Sesqui-Centennial in 1963. The Monument was erected under the auspices of the United States Government and the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Rhode Island, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. Situated on 21 acres of land of the park site, the Memorial stands 352 feet above the Lake level and is the greatest battle monument in the world and one of the most massive columns ever constructed. From its plaza may be seen as the site of the Battle of Lake Erie. Washington’s Monument and the
St. Louis Gateway are the only monuments that surpass it in height.
The quarries of Milford, Massachusetts, were selected for the pink marble which appears white against the sky. The base of the fluted column is forty-five feet in diameter with a thickness of nine feet at the base. The elevator ascends to the parapet which is 329 feet above Lake Erie. The entire Monument is lighted by floodlights at night and its beauty has not lessened with the passing of time. Its architectural simplicity has not become out-dated. Mrs. Caroline Jacobs remembers the winter her father, Karl Oelschlager, stayed on South Bass Island directing the installation of the parapet on Perry’s Monument. He stayed with the Foyes that season, going home only for the Holidays. The project was completed in time for the Dedication. The tripod of solid bronze weighs eleven tons and the cost was $14,000.
It was designed by the Gorham Company of New York. It has a bowl for illumination purposes with ground plate glass one-half-inch thick and two hundred lamps beneath it. The steps leading to the entrance are 67 feet wide and are granite. The rotunda has four bronze doors, each one facing a cardinal point of the
compass. Three officers from each side are interred there, and the names of the persons engaged in the battle are on bronze tablets. The cost of the Memorial was approximately $1,000,000. The architect and designers were J. H. Freedlander of New York and his associate, A. Duncan Seymour.
The Memorial and Reservation are the property of the U.S. Government and the Reservation is a national park created by an Act of Congress and the Perry Memorial Commission, approved by President Wilson. It is another National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
Put-In-Bay Sold To Puerto Rican
James Ross was hired by Judge Ogden Edwards to stay on South Bass Island in 1813 after Perry’s Victory and it was named Ross Island at that time. Ross died August 11, 1848, and was buried on Gibraltar Island, as is J. Elliott, d. 9-18-1848. Shelly Johnson and Captain Hill stayed after the war. About 1818 Henry and Sally Hyde were caretakers and the family was on the Island until about 1834. Ben Napier, a squatter, who had been with Perry and commended for his performance became a squatter after the war. In the early 1830’s Ogden was in trouble money-wise. His younger brother, (Henry) Alfred P. Edwards bought the Islands at a sheriff’s sale. Ogden had defaulted on his 90-day payments and Ebenezer Seeley had to pay $500.00.
He got a court order tying up the Bass Islands. Ogden’s brother bought the notes from other holders and then requested a sheriff’s sale in Huron County. In 1836 he secured the Islands for $6,298 at the sale, bought Seeley’s note and cleared a deed from John Starke’s son, William. One deed was signed by W. S. Johnson and his wife, Laura. William was Ogden’s nephew and Laura was Ogden’s second cousin. Just as it is now, the families were all related. Today at Put-in-Bay most everyone is related to someone. Although the marriages are not with close members of families, the relationships do exist. William Johnson was an attorney in business with Ogden and no doubt had lent money to him.
About 1832 Ben Napier who had built a log cabin went to Kelleys Island with five men and warned he would be back in 1833. He left South Bass Island about that time and his log cabin became the first Post Office. When Alfred Edwards took up residence he evicted the French Canadian and laborers started to erect buildings. The early homes were crude but he brought with him ideas from the East Coast and in 1836 built a two-story home called, “The White House,” or “The Manor House.” A few later homes had widow’s walks to watch the seamen coming home, similar to those in New England.
A small boat serviced the Island and another boat which took ten men to row provided transportation and communication with the mainland. He soon recovered his investment by inaugurating a lucrative timber business. Engineers were on Gibraltar in 1845 and they cut thru Sight Road on the Island. Philip Vroman came to South Bass Island as a caretaker for Alfred Edwards about 1844.
The owner just spent summers at the Island and development was not rapid His interest began to wane A deed dated October 3, 1853, shows he deeded South Bass Island, Gibraltar and Ballast Island, consisting of 1,800 acres in all to his only child, Alice Edwards. Her mother died at her birth. In 1853 she married Elisha Dyer Vinton of Providence Plantation, Rhode Island. Oliver Hazard Perry’s daughter, Elizabeth Mason, was married to Vinton’s uncle, an astute preacher, Francis Vinton.
On July 12, 1854, she and her father sold their islands to a wealthy New York importer and world traveler, Senor Jose De Rivera, St. Jurgo, a Puerto Rican. Eli Whitney, Tr., Alice’s cousin, acted as Agent per deed dated October 19, 1853. Regular trips from Sandusky to Put-in-Bay on “The Islander” were set in
motion and Put-in-Bay were to start a new way of life!
Put-in-Bay Under Jose De Rivera
Jose De Rivera, St. Jurgo, whose foresight was responsible for changing the destiny of South Bass Island, was a speculator with perseverance, a perfectionist, and expected a day’s work for a day’s pay. The swarthy, short, chunky Puerto Rican, who was born in 1813, is respectfully and warmly referred to by Islanders as “Rivera.”
Rivera was poor as a boy, became a millionaire, and died comparatively poor. He came to America when he was thirteen years old. A few years later he rose from obscurity and accumulated wealth in foreign commission trade. Business trips took him back to Europe on numerous jaunts and he spoke and read several foreign languages. The dream of starting a plantation in the South was detoured by friends who told him about the Lake Erie Islands. Being adventurous he was consumed by the possibilities the Islands offered and curious about the tales of their beauty.
He ventured forth and at Sandusky boarded a boat but was forced to return three times because of severe weather. Undaunted and eager he traveled on to Lakeside where he hired a private boat and arrived at Put-in-Bay at night. This experience did not discourage him and within forty-eight hours after he set foot on South Bass Island he bought South Bass, Middle Bass, Sugar, Ballast and Gibraltar Islands for $44,000. This was a step forward for Put-in-Bay.
In 1856- 1857, the New York City Census indicated Rivera lived in Stratford Connecticut and conducted his business in New York City. Alfred P. Edwards’ sister, Susan, was married to S. W. Johnson in Stratford and it is quite possible he may have heard of the Islands through them. In 1858, the New York Census listed Josephine Rivera’s address as 34th and Lexington Avenue and in I860 at 216 Lexington Avenue. It is likely that Rivera gave up his Stratford home when he bought the Islands and Mrs. Josephine Rivera established residence in New York City. His business address changed from 111 Broadway to 10 Broadway and later to 45 Beaver Street in successive years. His occupation was listed as Merchant.
In his diary, he mentioned his home at Inwood-on-the-Hudson. Inwood is located in the northwest section of Manhattan where the Harlem River is joined to the Hudson River by Spuyten Duyvil and near Fort Tryon Park. The area was heavily wooded and surrounded almost completely by water much like South Bass Island. He commented on traveling to Tarrytown to take the train to East 42nd Street on his way to Ohio.
His winters were often spent in Florida and his summers at Put-in-Bay where his family commuted to visit him. On one occasion he stayed as late as November 21, commenting in his diary that the boat did not run November 20, and on November 21, the Steamer Jay Cooke arrived late due to severe weather.He also mentioned that half the people in Sandusky were German.
Rivera’s first venture was sheep ranching and he had 2,000 sheep at one time. During this period he had the soil analyzed and in 1858 started the cultivation of grapes. Excellent soil, drainage, and climate produced prolific harvests of grapes that were “worthy of being compared to the most prized produce of France.” Gravel was sold from Ballast Island for ten cents a ton. Sheep were shipped to New York and wood was sold to the Government for building ships and
Ballast Island was eventually sold in 1869. Jay Cooke bought Gibraltar Island for $ 3,000. Middle Bass Island was sold to Count Wiliam Rehberg and Mr. Andrew Wehrle and Mr. Caldwell. In 1859, he sold Sugar Island for 1,000. During his early visits to the Island, he stayed at the Put-in-Bay House. He had sold the Manor House to the Editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Joseph W. Gray and it was enlarged and became the Put-in-Bay House. Mrs. Gray, his widow, sold it in 1864.
Philip Vroman who had been Agent for the Edwards Family and was retained by Rivera built a home at Put-in-Bay and Rivera often stayed with him. It was on Vroman’s porch he recorded the weather and planned his work. Philip Vroman was born in Otsego, New York, on August 22, 1823. After he left school, he sailed the Great Lakes. He was a member of a crew of a schooner that visited the Island after sailing from Coopertown, New York in 1843. He located on South Bass Island July 1, 1844, and on May 2, 1847, married Amelia Luce in Tiffin, Ohio. He purchased the first land sold at Put-in-Bay from Rivera and settled there in 1858. Mr. Vroman and Mr. Wehrle cut roads on the Island and the stone where Rivera sat as he plotted the ground still stands as a monument to his foresight.
In later years Rivera had a home built on what is now Mitchell Road. The cupola on the barn where he had his office has been removed but
the house and barn are still standing. ‘ To encourage cultivation, Rivera would lease the land, specify the planting to be done and the percentage of the crop he expected to receive.
Rivera had the Island plotted into parcels of five and ten acres. Markers with his initials, RSJ (Rivera St. Jurgo) are still used. The best land brought $1,500 an acre in Post-Civil War days. One-fourth of an acre was purchased on November 20, 1855, for the first school and Rivera specified it was to be used for this purpose and nothing else. A. I. Jones was the first teacher. In July of 1870, he sold an additional three- quarters of an acre with the same stipulation. Through the efforts of Philip Vroman, the first schoolhouse was erected and Vroman became the first School Director.
The park on the lakefront was deeded in 1868 with the specifications it was “never to be exploited for money. It is to be forever free for the people.” A dock was built on the Bay at the end of the park. He also deeded land for the cemetery where he is buried. Although he was frugal he was also benevolent. He kept an account of every penny he spent, showing two cents for a newspaper, ten cents for fruit on his trips. He methodically kept a record of the temperature at various times of each day both at South Bass Island and in New York.
In 1865, Rivera, a Catholic, donated the church site for the Episcopal Church and Jay Cooke had it built. After Rivera’s journeys to Florida, he would bring fruit and candy for the children and sometimes he would throw pennies for a penny scramble during the recess. Some Islanders still have fond memories of these happy times. About 1871, he retired after having made a fortune in slate in Vermont and sugar in the West Indies. In 1882, he retired permanently to South Bass Island. His son, Henry, a sugar merchant, tried to corner the sugar market and it back-fired in 1886. Rivera, being a man of integrity, assumed the obligations and lost almost all his money. News of his financial ruin was received while he was at Put-in-Bay.
An entry in his Journal on July 4, 1886, read: “Left the Island via Steamer Jay Cooke on my way to New York where I have been called by telegraph at 5:30 a.m. Temperature 69°, at 2:00 p.m., 87°.” The following entry was dated July 13, saying he left at 11:00 a.m. to return to the Island, accompanied by his daughter, Mrs. Daussa. Some of his entries were in Spanish but the majority were in English. His grammar was impeccable and his writing flowed and had a decisive slant. However, on July 14, 1886, the last entry in the ledger was written in pencil instead of ink, the handwriting very shakey and it lacked the strength of his other entries. The telegram regarding his son’s unfortunate business venture which broke De Rivera had changed his penmanship overnight and was a criterion of the
the shock he felt.
In 1886, he had 300 acres of property left but sold most of that and in 1893, his widow disposed of two parcels to “release dower interest of said grantor.” His first wife, Josephine, died sometime prior to a journal entry in 1869 which mentioned under “family expense,” “my late wife.” His second wife, Rachel, traveled to Italy with him in 1875. His journal listed payments to Mrs. Rachel St. George who may have been his second wife.
He was the father of eight children, the last being born to his second wife. His daughter Josephine became Mrs. W. A. Ros and was the mother of Josephine and Dolores. Belle became Mrs. Vasquez, Annie Rivera married a Spaniard, Dr. Alexander Daussa. Rivera’s sons were Henry, Thomas, William, and John. His journal mentioned a daughter, Carilda. His wife used the full name, Mrs. Rivera St. Jurgo. Rivera sent his sons to Spain for their education because he did not want them to become snobs. Despite his wealth, he lived simply but numbered among his friends the Vanderbilts, Goulds, Jay Cooke, the Vintons and the
The family operated the cave which was thought to have been discovered by Perry but none of his family has any connection with the Island now. The last Agent for the Rivera family was Stephen Traverso who was brought here from New York. His family is still represented on the Island, among them, Charlie Traverso, who recalls living in the Rivera home where he was born. He read diaries and chattels by candlelight in the attic. Thinking they were of no value many of them were destroyed.
The following journal entries reveal the character of Rivera, his personal supervision, his interest in nature, his love of walking, his frugality and his
generosity. In 1886, he mentions Frank Kroger and later the entry shows Kromer. He probably was not sure of his name. Other names that appeared frequently
were: “Fritz,” D. Webster, John Ruh, “Charlie” who was at the farm, Lorenzo, Armstrong, Ackerman, Fox. He mentioned the Ros farm and his daughter
was married to Mr. Ros. The daily accomplishments were entered and on various dates, the following notations were made:
Gus Heineman hauled three loads of corn stalks. Kitty and Bill—two front shoes were used. Took mares to the blacksmith. Le Roy Webster took charge of my buildings—dated November 23, 1882. Dec. 3, Webster moved to my house today as my winter guest. Took care of Lewis Schiele tree.
January 15, 1882, walked through the woods with Webster. Walked through the woods again. Measured the depth of water in front of Look Out where
I propose to build a dock. Webster went to measure stone for H. Holly on the shore west of outlet of the Terwilliger Pond. I went to Bay woods. Sold cord to J. Daley. John Brown not home. Surveyed woods.
Peach trees on Engel lease trimmed. Webster went and got J. Brown in the morning and surveyed part of the Bay View Lot and set six cornerstones. They are hardheads and have a + cut on the upper end and their positions are marked on a plat of same by a red +. Stayed at P. Vromen’s. Grapes are being picked.
Put-in-Bay (hotel) closed at noon and I took up quarters at P. Vroman’s. Paid P. Vroman my board and lodging one week to date $10.00. Taxes on house, Vz daughters and Yz to the wife for life $180.00. Receipts of $4.00 for wood, $16.00 trees, grapes $5.00—1873. Put-in-Bay-Hotel and other expenses and for return to New York, October 1872: $70.00, Cash taken to New York $300.00.
Allowances to relatives to Puerto Rico, in 1869. In 1869, he showed total expenditures, $15,468.86. Rivera’s diary written in 1872 again showed he kept his eye on the weather while in Europe. At Cannes, the weather was fine although somewhat damp and cloudy at times. Another, “Cloudy till noon, then rainy.”
Jose De Rivera died in his Island home on May 31, 1889, and he is buried in the cemetery near the State Park where his vault is located near the road. It
can be distinguished by the cross on the peak. The little Puerto Rican boy who came to the New World is buried on the Island where he lost his heart to its- beauty and the Island lost its heart to him. This modest man who envisioned the potential of the Island never realized the importance of his contribution to the establishment and growth that was to place within the next hundred years after his purchase. Rivera has become a legend and he will live forever in the minds and hearts of the inhabitants of Put-in-Bay. A Statue of Jose DeRivera carved from a tree stands in the park of Put-in-Bay Today.
A very early settler was Lorenz Muller who was born in Baden, Germany, in 1831. He came to America when he was 21 years old. In 1854, he located at South Bass Island and May 26, I860, married Henriette Foy of Germany who came here in 1854 and to South Bass in 1855. Their children were George (1861), Frank (1862), Henry (1873) and Lorenz (1875). Lorenz was born exactly eight months after his father’s death. Mr. Muller was a greatly admired neighbor to all and the community grieved at his death.
John Fox, born in 1793, married Rachel Stuard, 1796. Their children numbered twelve: Charles, James, Mary Ann, Susan, Simon, Peter, Barbara, Julia,
Margaret, Jane, William, Adaline (born 1841). The Fox name has been handed down for many years. Simon married Elizabeth Sullivan of Dundas, Ontario. Their child, Nannie was born on 7/15/1858 at Put-in-Bay. Simon and Peter bought two-thirds of North Bass in 1852 and sold lots.
The John Brown Family
Infamous or martyr, depending upon your geographical location, the name Brown is one never to be forgotten. The Brown family was prolific. Owen Brown, Sr., married three times (Ruth Mills, Sally Root, Lucy Hindale) and had ten sons and six daughters. One of his sons, John Brown, Sr., along with five of his own sons were abolitionists and John, Sr., was an agent for the underground railway. He lost three sons for the cause. After John Brown, Sr., captured the United States Arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, the arsenal was recaptured and he was hung for treason at Charleston. To the Western Reserve settlers, he was a hero; to the south, he
was a victim of scorn.
Numbered among the children of John, Sr., were Owen, Jr., and Captain John Brown, Jr., born to his first wife, Dianthe. By his second marriage, he had thirteen children. John Brown, Sr., was plagued by tragedy throughout his life. One daughter accidentally scalded another daughter, resulting in her death. In 1843, he lost four children, three buried at the same time. John Brown, Jr., had two wives, Wealthy—and Mary A. Brown. He came to Put-in-Bay in 1862 and died there in 1895. He owned a Museum (See Hotel Era Chapter) which contained relics, among them those of Mound Builders. He was also a surveyor and surveyed the land for Rivera when it was marked. His home and office are still standing. His beautiful daughter, Edith, married a well-known actor, T. B. Alexander, who was Mayor of Put-in-Bay for 26 years and operated the Crescent Hotel.
The Alexanders died childless and left everything to Cy Semenuk who lived with the Alexanders as a member of the family for sixteen years prior to their deaths. Cy came from White Russia when he was in his teens, was robbed on shipboard on the way over and since he spoke no English found it a very disturbing experience. He was finally admitted to the country and had sundry jobs when a friend urged him to move to Put-in-Bay to work for the Alexanders. He was reluctant at first, took a leave of absence and kept his room in Cleveland for a year in case he wanted to return. He learned to love the Alexanders and the Island and did not go back to live.
He raised chickens, had a green thumb and had a large garden. He was adept at any work assigned to him and was with them when Mrs. Alexander died on Thanksgiving Day in 1935. Mr. Alexander followed soon after, March 17, 1936. Cy Semunuk was named heir to their estate and he maintains it with reverence just the way they left it. The ferns belonging to Mrs. Alexander are as fresh and green as they were before her death. He speaks of the Alexanders with adoration. He also speaks with adoration when he shows the picture of his own mother and brothers and sisters who were wiped out during the war. It could only happen in America! A young man from a foreign country living with American history which he has inherited.
John Brown, Jr., his wife, and the T. B. Alexanders are buried on the Island and their graves are marked with a cedar tree at each corner of the four-
grave plot. Owen did not marry. He built the Lime Kiln next to the Miller Ferry Dock on the South Shore. He worked for Jay Cooke in the winter taking care of his property and lived in his home on Gibraltar during the offseason.
Their brother, Watson Brown’s body was preserved by a Medical College and was not buried for a couple of years. During this time it was brought to Put-in-Bay for some unknown reason and viewed here. He was later buried with his father at North Elba. Owen Brown was buried in California. A nephew bought Ballast Island “for a song” and it was soon worth $ 10,000.00. 1832 the Put-in-Bay was dock built 1833 the West was dock built 1834 the Manor House was built and in 1840 Ottawa County was given Danbury Township and Islands,
1883 A Year of Growth At Put-in-Bay
The Government put the first lighthouse on Green Island when De Rivera bought Islands. There was a single house The First schoolhouse built. Philip Vroman first school Director A. I. Jones was the first teacher Vroman, L. Harms, L. Miller, and De Rivera started grapes on South Bass Island. Put-in-Bay Township organized. Put-in-Bay became a township in June. The first election of Township officers was held, Trustees: Stone, Rehberg,
Peter Fox, Simon Fox, J. of P. The School district was established
Put-In-Bay Era Of Elegance And Grand Hotels
Hotels have played a large part in the growth of South Bass Island. Under the influence of De Rivera, the Island saw a transformation from agriculture to an era of luxurious hotels and the mecca of the west became a meeting place for an affluent society. De Rivera encouraged tourists and the appeal of island living tempered with good climate and excellent publicity started Put-in-Bay on its way to becoming one of the most glamorous resorts in the world.
The combination of quiet rest amid the beauty and the charm of island living was described by one tourist who enjoyed the “quiet dream-like stillness on the calm water, it comes to the excited brain like sweet rest to the traveler at the close of a long and toilsome journey.” “Where the great Lakes sunny smiles Dimple round its hundred isles And Gibraltar’s granite ledge Cleaves the water like a wedge Ringed about with smooth gray stones Of waters, island strown Of sand-filled sanded beach Leaf locked bay and misty reach Watch and word Gibraltar keeps.”
In 1850 the population recorded 106 males, 80 females, 32 dwellings and 32 families. Occupations were listed as farmers, housewives, carpenter, no insane, no blind, and the oldest persons 52 years and 54 years old. By 1870 the population had grown to approximately 304 males, 274 females, 128 dwellings and 120 families plus a few foreign-born. Between
1850 and 1870 the occupations had changed and reflected the growth of the hotel trade. There were now waiters, servants, honor servants, seamstress,
hotel keepers, fewer farmers but grape growers appeared frequently. The earliest census listed migrations from Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New York and Michigan. By‘ 1870, Virginia, New Hampshire and other eastern states were represented on South Bass Island. Rivera had determined that the Rhineland of Germany had similar weather conditions and encouraged some of its natives to move to Put-in-Bay for the culture of grapes, thus the census listed Baden, also Bohemia, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Mecklenburg, Prussia, and Hanover as origins of the populace.
Among the names which appeared were Jason Terwiliger, Schiele, Rehburg, Wehrle, Fox, Ruah, P. Vroman, D. Vroman, Le Fevre Webster, La Tory Webster,
De LaRoy Webster, Doller, Lorenz Muller, Engle, Fox, Kiinzler and Wherling. Brodersen, Cooper, Dodge, Engel, Gascoyne, Reidling, Herbster, Smith, Hallock, add, Burggraf, Oelschlager, Fuchs, Heineman, Conlen, Schnoor, Duff, Traverso, Arndt, Reibel, Kindt are also names that have been on the Island for many years. In 1880 the population was 1,222.
During the hotel era, Put-in-Bay was referred to as the “Saratoga of the West,” “1904 – Nature’s Beauty Spot,” “Beautiful Isle of the Sea,” and “Gem of Lake Erie.” One publication said there was “only one Niagara and only one Put-in-Bay.” Taft said it was the home of small-mouth bass. A manuscript dated 1871 and signed J. Shedd, related in several pages about his second trip to Put-in-Bay. There was a several hour layover in Shelby and he “had the good fortune to have a few hours to enjoy looking around town and visit the ice cream parlor.”
The boat left Sandusky at 7:00 p.m. for a 16 mile trip to Put-in-Bay. At 9:00 p.m. K’elleys Island came in sight. The boat stopped a few minutes. There was a large crowd on the wharf as they rounded Peach Point” (at that time a peach orchard). He stopped at the Put-in-Bay House and one of his first impressions was of the ballroom and people dancing. They had danced on the boat on the way over, too, but
he enjoyed the view from the deck in lieu of dancing.
The Beebe House was a quarter of a mile away and more secluded. Both hotels faced the water. A dock was being started and “it would probably become more popular.” Comments were made concerning the visiting preachers at the home of J. Cooke and he pointed out that Mr. Cooke’s guests preached at the church during their two-week stay. Mr. Cooke was known to invite preachers who were poor to visit on Gibraltar for two weeks at a time to enjoy island living.
By 1888, there were five excellent hotels with accommodations from $1.00 to $3.00 a day or $5.00 to $18.00 a week. The largest was the Beebe House. Mr. Herbster had a rooming house and charged 50 cents a night for lodging and meals were 35 cents. Mr. Herbster’s untimely death left a young son, Otto, who is now one of the Island’s oldest citizens and a storehouse of knowledge on the history of South Bass Island. For many years he was an Island photographer and probably took more portraits than anyone else in Ohio in his lifetime.
There was a bandstand in the grove, now called the park. Facing the park, one of the focal points by 1888 was the Museum and adjoining arcade where one could “satisfy his hunger and thirst.” The Museum was valued at $50,000 and was free to the public. It was 45 feet x 70 feet x 30 feet high. In this edifice were exhibits of animals, birds, (2,000 kinds), reptiles, insect fish, alligators, Indian canoe and relics, Japanese and Chinese work of art.
It had a piano to entertain visitors, an area to buy beverages, sandwiches, wine, beer, soft drinks and it was not expensive. There was also a Fountain Pavillion, bagatelle and billiards, a Ladies Ice Cream, Tea and Coffee Parlor. Inter-urban streetcars ran from the Museum to the Hotel Victory after it
was built. It stopped in front of the Round House. Tea service was available in those days in the Round House. There was a store with dress goods, notions, hats( caps, boots, fish, groceries, drugs, stationery, confections, wood, wire, and brushes.
Smaller hotels of the era were the New Park Hotel (Deutsches) presiding, G. F. Schmidt. 26 rooms, dining seats 100. $2.00 a day and special rates for families. The Round House-Wine Hall was dome 32 feet from floor adjoined. Hotel Oelschlager and general store were popular with English and German clientele. The hotel accommodated forty guests and charged $10.00 a week to boarders. Enormous yachts were not uncommon but changes in government regulations concerning the size of crew required tended to reduce the size of the boats that came in.
The Odd Fellows Hall was 24 feet by 60 feet and had a saloon below and billiards. This building was owned by Louis Schiele. It was said he “never sees his friends realize the pangs of hunger for the need of a sandwich although he does not conduct a restaurant.” A select line of beverages was advertised. The Odd Fellows was organized in 1889 and discontinued in 1949.
The Beebe House was lighted by coal gas, the dining room seated 400, there were separate buildings for billiards, bowling, ice cream, and wine rooms. The second floor had a dance hall, and there was a barbershop. A physician established on the island cared for guests. It was situated on the water with the lake in front, a bathing beach in the rear and the grove on the left. It was located on the site of the Log Cabin Restaurant and Linker’s. It became the Commodore Hotel and later burned.
During this era horses and carriages which were ferried across lent a touch of elegance as they traveled down Sight Road. Yachts and fishing boats graced Squaw Harbor. The advertisements from the first hotel and the last of the big hotels are a criterion of the era of elegance enjoyed during the hotel era and the follow¬
ing accounts are from the original brochures. Todays modern Put-in-Bay Hotels greet visitors with large heated pools and swim up bars.
Put-in-Bay House Sweeny, West And Shepherd Mgrs
Derives its name from the fact that Commodore Perry put in here with his fleet just previous to and after the memorable battle of Lake Erie in 1813, which virtually terminated the war with England. It was here that Perry penned that significant dispatch to the Government, “We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner, and one sloop.” It is conceded to be the loveliest sheet of water on any of the northern lakes, surrounded on all sides by an island in the highest state of cultivation, which is covered with vineyards, picturesquely dotted with elegant residences, surrounded with delightful flower gardens—the summer homes of people of refined culture and wealth, who here find in the pure and invigorating lake air renewed health and the highest rational enjoyment.
Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island is the loveliest of all the group of Islands. It contains about 1,700 acres, is three miles long and has about 800 resident population. All the islands of this famous locality are rich in geological interest, affording to the naturalist a broad, inviting field for research. Many scientific visitors of note resort here annually to pursue their investigations. There are many curious subterranean caverns, one of them very large, with cool miniature lakes apparently designed by nature to refresh and please the weary visitor. All the varieties of staple and fancy grapes are grown among these islands. Large quantities of the wine of superior quality are also made.
Nature seems to have designed this spot for the very purpose it is now serving—the great and popular summer resort for the people of the West and South. Season of 1878: This house was established a few years ago by H. B. West, who is still connected with it, and Colonel M. Sweny, who has for years so successfully superintended the house. Colonel Sweny will again fill the same position this year, assisted by T. D. Shepherd, who had charge of the office during the season of 1877.
The entire house has undergone a thorough system of repairs, having been repainted and refurnished in elegant style. The table will be supplied with a cuisine unexceptionable in quality and style of serving, with a corps of servants especially chosen for their experience and capacity. In fact, under the present management, all that extended experience and determination to please can suggest will be done to render the Put-in-Bay House the favorite resort of the
great West and South.
This is the largest Summer Hotel west of the Alleghenies, having ample accommodations for a THOUSAND GUESTS, and as a first-class Summer Hotel, is fully equal to any to be found in the East, and altogether superior to any similar establishment in the West or South. A Promenade Hall, 500 feet long, extends through the center of the whole house, which at night, lighted by 100 gas burners, presents a beautiful and dazzling appearance. The kitchen is large and contains all the latest and most improved cooking apparatus and the very best corps of cooks employed. The Dining Room, which is 50 x 150 feet, with light and air on all sides, is the finest Dining Hall west of the mountains. A large Ordinary for children and servants.
Water is drawn from Lake Erie by an engine, and pipes put through the house. Two fountains in front of the house will be kept constantly playing with later water, in the basins of which can be seen all the varieties of lake fish. Telegraph Communication is established with the Island by a cable so that the businessman can communicate with his house any moment. Coal Gas in every room in the House, afford guests what is so often found lacking in places of this character—light equal to that found in city residences.
On the premises, near the hotel, a large and handsome two-story building is wholly devoted to purposes of amusement and entertainment for both sexes. The Gentlemen’s department is furnished with Billiard Tables, Bowling Alleys, etc., and there are Ladies’ apartments for Ice Cream, Native Wine, Croquet Games, Bowling, etc. A large and handsome Dancing Hall, 50 x 100 feet adjoins the house, built
expressly for the purpose.
Near the house and adjoining the Bay is a natural grove of about six acres, which has been fitted up with seats, tables, etc., for comfort and pastime in hot
weather. Commodious Bathing Houses have been built at the south shore, about one-quarter of a mile from the Hotel, where the beach seems to have been designed by nature expressly for bathing purposes. No bathing waters in the world equal that of Lake Erie in purity, or excel it for its invigorating and bracing qualities. It may also be mentioned that a skillful and experienced Physician and Surgeon are established here.
A New Room, supplied with the leading daily papers, stationery, etc. A full and superior Band for Parties, Hops, Serenades, etc. First-class Barber and Hair Dressing Salon, Steam Laundry with experienced hands, and a Livery Stable, well stocked with handsome turn-outs. This Island, in connection with two others lying directly north has for many years been known and distinguished from all other islands in the Lake as “The Bass Islands” from the fact that there are found greater quantities of Black Bass than anywhere else in Lake Erie. It seems to be their natural breeding grounds.
Put-in-Bay And Sports Fishing
Sportsmen from all parts of the country come here both spring and fall in great numbers to fish. Large numbers of the finest and best constructed small boats can always be had and minnows and bait. Two small steamboats are here also to take fishermen out to more distant points. Several Club Houses devoted altogether to this purpose, are already erected here, and others in contemplation.
Moon Light Excursions form one of the most prominent features of the place and add much to the pleasure of all classes, both young and old. Boats of all sizes, from small steamers or the sailboat with handsome cabin accommodations for a large party to the small rowboat for a single couple, are in constant readiness for guests.”
Advertised was a verandah extending 450 feet across the entire front of the hotel, facing the bay. Rates $2.50 a day by week, children and servants half price. By day, $3.00. “Gibraltar, half a mile distant from Put-in-Bay was the famous summer home of Jay Cooke. Purchasing the entire island, comprising five acres of ground, rising forty feet above the lake and covered with natural trees of giant growth, he built a splendid residence and brought the surrounding grounds into a high state of ornamentation and beauty. He and all others who have seen the island region agree that it is the loveliest place in the United States for spending the summer.”Rates for the board is much less than at Eastern Watering places.”
The World Famous Hotel Victory
Palatial Steamers plying the Great Lakes and touching Put-in-Bay Island. These steamers run daily from the above lake ports on Lake Erie. Owned by the Victory Hotel Co., American Plan Only—Rapid Transit—Electric Railroad between the boat landings and hotel. Large open cars with a five-minute service. Six full acres of ground, 80 feet above the water and 500 feet back from it, has a commanding and charming view of the lake from every direction. It is 600 feet long by 300 feet deep, the main part surrounding a court 200 feet square. To one side, in the form of a wing, and connected with the main building by a grand lobby, are the dining halls—main and ordinary.
The main dining hall is 155 feet long by 85 feet wide and 52 feet high, a roomy balcony surrounding the entire hall. The ordinary is 50 x 100 feet and the combined dining capacity is 1,200 guests at one sitting. There are 625 large, light airy and elegantly furnished guest chambers, including 80 suites with bath and every room fronts either some lake view or the beautiful court. It has three elevators, bell boy stations on every floor, electric call bells, 6,000 in¬ candescent electric lights, steam heating throughout the entire building and the largest and most modernly equipped hotel kitchen in the world.
There was a Western Union telegraph station and long-distance telephone in the hotel office with cable connection with the mainland, and all parts of the United States. Nothing is left undone to insure the toothsome and appetizing preparation of the food served on our tables and every effort is directed towards serving each guest in exactly the manner desired.
Each afternoon and evening concerts are given, selections in a lighter and more popular vein and dancing was indulged in. A charming feature of life at Hotel Victory is the daily concerts. Here sweet music mingles with the soft splash and tinkle of the fountain’s falling waters and guests may at their pleasure enjoy the music from the verandas or scatter about the lawn. The repertoire comprises a range of music from popular “rag rime” to classical overtures all rendered in a manner to please the most fastidious.
The children, as well as the older guests, particularly enjoy these concerts, and no child who listens can for long be still; while the shuffle of tiny dancing feet, the graceful, swaying little figures, the glimmer of the dancing, sparkling water beyond, combined with the music, bids one believe that Hotel Victory is verily the “Enchanted Castle where all its guests have been awakened by the magic kiss—the breeze from old Lake Erie.”
A physician with a mind for statistics has been estimating the distance covered by one in dancing through the ordinary ballroom program. An average waltz, the doctor estimates, takes one over three-quarters of a mile. A glide makes you cover half a mile, the same distance is covered in a schottische, while a rapid two-step will oblige you to traverse just about a mile. The swimming pool is located in full view from hotel galleries, has water, toboggan slide and graduated depth of fresh, lake water, admitted and emitted constantly, has a cement bottom and side is provided with steam to give water an even temperature, is canopied covering, wide platforms, furnished.
Hotel Victory is equipped with two passenger and baggage elevators, electric lights, hall patrolmen, iron fire escapes, broad stairways, and all precautionary
safety appliances. No fire whatever is used in the Main Hotel Building. The Hotel Victory was built by J. K. Tillison. The cornerstone was laid on September 10, 1889. The Hotel opened in June 1892. The hotel operated its own streetcar line between the boat landings and the hotel. Power for the same was generated by the Hotel’s own generating plant. The hotel closed about 1911 and re-opened under new management in 1919. The season lasted from mid-June to about September 5. It was called America’s largest, most charming, elegantly furnished summer hotel. It was the site of many conventions including the I.L.Y.A.
The Victory Hotel was destroyed by fire on August 14, 1919, and did not re-open, The remains of the pool and some pillars may be seen at the State Park. The older residents of Put-in-Bay speak nostalgically of the Hotel Victory! It took three years to build and enjoyed great popularity. It closed and reopened after extensive remodeling. There were three hundred people employed there in 1918 when it was being rebuilt. To up-date the hotel plumbing and wiring were changed, steam heat added on the second and third floors, at a cost of $15,000. Help was paid fifty cents an hour to paint and time and one-half for overtime.
There were four or five cupolas, about the floor space of two houses, which were meeting places for the men after work. The fire started forty to fifty feet up in a tower in the northwest section, early in the evening. The kitchen, dining room, lobby, and office were the last to burn. Conventions displayed their wares in the huge lobby. The rug was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide and felt about two inches thick. The side of the building had to be removed to put it in and it took twenty men to lift it.
There were three-foot-wide posts in the structure. There was a bowling alley, dance floor, and a merry-go-round. There were two parlors for the ladies, one pink and one blue. The help was not allowed to use the elevator and when Otto Herbster received a call from the fourth floor it was a long hike. He wore braid on his uniform, saluted, and was paid at the rate of $10.00 a week. The electric railway carried 104,000 people in one year. The pool was very large, even at today’s standards. The ruins of it and some of the foundation of the hotel still remain in the South Bass Island State Park.
There was a pergola for the band. On August 5, 1907, a copy of a masterpiece by Alphonse Telzer was erected at the cost of over $2,000. Copper and bronze, 10 feet high and on a 12-foot pedestal of natural Island stone, it was an imposing symbol. There was also a Pompeian Throne stairway leading down the terrace. The wings of the Goddess were two feet high and spread seven feet. The cost was $600 more than anticipated. It was located at the west end of the Victory Hotel.
There were a number of hotels of much smaller dimension. Boarding houses were popular. The Reibel House was on the South Shore and the fruit, chickens vegetables and eggs were all produced on the grounds for the enjoyment of the guests. Conlen’s was another popular residence for guests. It burned and was
rebuilt. The Conlens met while they were both employed by the Hunker House. Maple Cottage has been a popular rooming house for many years. The Coopers had a sight-seeing bus that carried visitors around the Island. Cooper’s Restaurant was opened by Fred Cooper and sons about 21 years ago. Cooper’s has been taken over by his son, Gus Cooper, who personally managed and cooked at the restaurant.
The Castle was fashioned after a German Castle and is still operated near the State Park. Mr. William Kiinzler was the blacksmith and did pipe fitting as well.
Drays were used for transporting guests and luggage to and from hotels. Mrs. T. Eriksen, who has not missed visiting the Island for fifty years relates that it was common for people from the outlying sections of the Island to get dressed in their fancy gowns, carry their shoes, and wear tennis shoes to hike to town and change shoes for an evening of dancing and promenading.
The Colonial was built on the park in 1906 for $40,000 and featured the Finzel Orchestra from Detroit who played the waltzes and two-steps. The first building was burned and rebuilt. In 1913, during the Centennial, there were two jumping horses who dived into a tank of water. After the horses no longer entertained, the tank was in part used for the foundation of a house that still stands at the location. Among the famous people who vacationed at Put-in-Bay were President Harrison, President Grover Cleveland, Chief Justice Waite had his own home, Senator Mark Flanna, President Hayes who owned Mouse Island near Catawba Point. Mrs. Alla Myers who lives in Cleveland has visited Put-in-Bay every year since she was five years old. She will be 91 years old in April 1968.
The trips she made in the early years left Cleveland on the “Pearl,” in the morning and arrived at Put-in-Bay in the afternoon. Her father was a member of the 7th Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry of the Civil War, and called themselves “The Roosters.” Everyone wore a badge for identification and it was one big, happy family. They had the Wagoner Awning Company of Cleveland make tents for sleeping and dining and they would also set up tables. The camp was situated on East Point opposite Middle Bass Island. Mrs. Myers’ family had two tents. The settlement was run like an Army Camp and was laid out in the streets. Young people took turns waiting on the tables.
Meals were served in milk pans and consisted of meat, potatoes, and vegetables. Each family had to pay per person for the time they spent there. Some stayed one week and others stayed two, as did the family of Alla Myers. On Saturday night they would have a campfire and one of the members would relate stories of experiences during the war. Sunday there was a worship service and there would always be a minister in the group to conduct the services. Rowboats were rented in Cleveland and taken up on the “Pearl.” Fishing was a popular past-time and some of the younger men would swim to Middle Bass Island.
The largest number of people to attend at one time was on a Sunday when there were five hundred people there. Dances were held frequently at Wehrle’s on Middle Bass Island. The building burned down and was rebuilt. There was a boat to island-hop but there were always some who would row across. Her father played the violin and there would be other musicians in the camp who would form an impromptu orchestra. These are all fond memories Mrs. Myers still enjoys reliving and talking about. Her many pictures attest to the fact she spent many happy hours at Put-in-Bay.
Mrs. Hermina Burgraff, who will be 106 years old in June, reflects the love she has for the Island. Although she now lives in Cleveland, Put-in-Bay was her home until more recent years; she has a tender smile as she simply says, “Put-in-Bay.” Miss Anna Doller, 92 years old, now in Cleveland, beams at the mention of Put-in-Bay which was her home until not too long ago.
The Put-in-Bay Daily Tribune, now out of existence, cost ten cents a week or five cents a copy, 40 cents by the month during its publication. In the early 1900’s, there were bowling alleys, bathhouses and beach with water slide. There was a midway near the Wheel House. In 1913, a circus was held near the Arcade in the Centennial year. The Victory Hotel was the first hotel to allow men and women to swim together. Excursion boats ran until 1935. Eleven came at one time and left at 4:30 p.m.
The Colonial was the focal point for entertainment for many years and used for dancing and later for roller skating. The park was the place to see and be seen. In 1967, the Colonial was remodeled and reactivated. It maintained its original architectural beauty and again dominates the park. From 1895 through 1906, ice was shipped to Cleveland from the Forest City Ice House which was located near the fish hatchery.
Mrs. Erna Bergstrom has a large chair that Chief Justice Waite had specially built for the large frame of President William Howard Taft to sit in when he visited him. Ed Bang, Cleveland sportswriter for the old Cleveland News related that as a youngster he sold papers and shined shoes on his Sunday trips to the Island on the Steamer Put-in-Bay. A quarter tip was big money and during a newspaper strike, every little bit helped. He remembers Taft’s hearty laugh which could be heard “five miles out.” Ed’s father was Master Printer for the Sandusky Register and all his sons served novitiates. Ed followed Grantland Rice as a sportswriter in 1907 on the Cleveland News. He is now retired and lives in Cleveland.
Peach Point, the point of South Bass closest to Gibraltar was originally an artist’s colony after the peach orchard was no longer in existence. Theatrical people who lived there were Ross Lewis, Jack and Sue Snyder, the Whitfields, Irelands, Witling and Jordan, Teck Murdock, Johnny, and Winny Henning, Cal and Gussie, Lew Murdock. Anne Harding is said to have spent her honeymoon on the West Shore. Opera Singer Ada Glasca (Mrs. Haldy) is buried on the Island. The Inter-Lake Yachting Association was formed by Commodore George C. Gardner in January 1885 and the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club was an outgrowth of ILYA who held their first Regatta at Put-in-Bay. Regattas are still an outstanding event of the summer season. Mr. J. J. Day and Commodore A. G. Smith were early benefactors. In 1949, the Ladies Auxiliary was founded.
Charlie Traverso remembers interesting stories during the earlier days of the Island. He came here when he was six years old and he is now seventy-six. The family originally came from Genoa, Italy, and lived in New York before moving to the Island. His father was wheelsman on the Frank E. Kirby, the Flyer of the Lake. It plied between Detroit, the Bass Islands, and Sandusky. They followed the spawn. During the summer season, he worked at farming grapes and fruit. For twelve years he worked in Detroit auto shops but he came back to his beloved Put-in-Bay. His fondest memories were of those as Agent for Rivera.
Otto Herbster, Island photographer, can spin many tales of early life on the Island. When he was thirteen he accompanied his father to Dayton to St. Mary’s Institute. On their return, his father who had heart trouble felt a pressing need for air and when he walked to the doorway he fell off the train. The train had to go back four miles to get him. Otto was put in a hotel room that night alone and someone said, “Goodnight, kid.” That was all he knew until the following day. It was a vivid experience he has never forgotten.
Mayor Jim Poulos came to Put-in-Bay in 1914 and in 1963 became Mayor. In 1913, a waiter who worked in his Toledo Restaurant told him about Put-in-Bay and he took a streetcar to Sandusky and then traveled by boat to South Bass Island. In 1914, he sold his restaurant and intended to visit Greece but war broke out between Turkey and Greece and he was advised not to go there. He had worked in Massachusetts for $10.00 a month when he came to this country and then went to the Tourraine Hotel in Boston, and the American House. In 1909, he met his wife and married her on Christmas day the same year. In 1910, he came to Toledo and worked at the Secore Hotel. In 1911, he had his own business. About 1914, he opened a hamburger stand and then Jim’s Place at Put¬ in-Bay. In 1927, he built a home and lived at the Island year-around ever since.
A great influx of people came to the Island in 1918 and it was a very prosperous year. Michigan “went dry” in 1918 and Ohio was still “wet.” In 1919, two disastrous events took place which left their impact. The Victory Hotel which provided a livelihood for many Island residents was destroyed by fire and with the advent of prohibition in the same year, it was a double blow.
The depression followed and the Island felt the pinch just as the rest of the country. Everything lay dormant for the intervening years. The excursion
boats discontinued their trek to the Lake Erie Islands. In 1933, Prohibition was repealed and in 1939 World War II was in the making and by 1941 the United States threw off the depression days and World War II turned the country into a beehive of activity. There became a shortage of labor, money became more plentiful, people started traveling and spending money more freely. Private boats again started to visit the beautiful harbor at the Bay. Prosperity had returned and with it South Bass Island started its upward trend until the present time.
Real estate started to move, new homes began to appear, older ones enlarged and remodeled, motels appeared and the Islanders again found themselves
busy. The Island took an about-turn. In the mid-fifties, the area near the State Park was developed by the Saunders Resort with cottages, motel, swimming pool and golf. Thus the story of Put-in-Bay with its ups and downs has revived and its future may be still greater than its past.
Put-in-Bay, Gibraltar Island & Jay Cooke
Jay Cooke was born in Sandusky,’ August 10, 1821, and was probably the first white baby in Sandusky. He lived at the site of Ogontz’ dwelling and grew
up a friend of the Wyandot Chief. -His father was a Congressman and an influential man. Enoch Clark and Edward Dodge of E. W. Clark and Company saw him at Congress Hall Hotel at Sandusky and sent for him. In 1838, he was on his way to work for them and starting on a career as one of the most astute businessmen of his time. He became a partner when twenty-one years old and had his own firm in 1858.
On March 3, 1865, a bill was passed authorizing the issuance of bonds to finance the Civil War. In 140 working days, he sold $700,000,000 in bonds. Jay Cooke had married Clara Moorehead in 1845 and they had eight children. The Cookes had a family portrait of four generations of male Cookes. Mrs. Cooke was unable to walk to the Methodist Church after their marriage so they started to attend St. Paul’s, Old York Road, Philadelphia. He gave almost $50,000 to the church when peace returned after the Civil War.
Jay Cooke was almost six feet tall, 190 lbs. and had a personality that was an asset to his great achievements. He was very hospitable, congenial and had very winning ways. A friend of Lincoln, Robert Morris, Chase and also a friend of the unknowns. His love of God governed his life. Jay Cooke had a mansion built in Chelton Hills, northwest of Philadelphia, at a cost of over a million dollars and it was completed in 1866. He also bought Gibraltar in the same era. In 1864, while having breakfast with De Rivera, he was told by De Rivera he would not sell Gibraltar for $1,000.
Jay Cook offered him $3,000 and over a cup of coffee, he became the owner of the Island in the Bay. In 1864 and 1865, he built a fifteen room Victorian Castle which still may be seen from South Bass Island. John Brown, Junior wanted to buy the island from Rivera but could not finance it so Jay Cooke was the owner until his death.
Mrs. Anna C. McMeens, widow of Dr. R. R. McMeens was the housekeeper. The Castle was built during the war and fixtures and doors were on the ill-fated Island Queen for a few days. It was captured in Lake Erie by Beall, the Pirate of Lake Erie. This was the farthest north in Ohio the flag of the Southern Confederacy was ever flown. The ship was refloated in a few days. In June 1865, the first visitors were entertained at The Castle. General Sherman visited in 1866. Owen Brown, son of John Brown, Sr., the abolitionist, lived on Gibraltar in winter and was overseer.
After the war for ten years, Jay Cooke had two Methodist, two Presbyterian, two Episcopalian, two Lutheran ministers, etc., ten at a time, as guests at his home. They would always be men with lean purses and he donated checks for traveling expenses. While they were guests they sailed, fished and enjoyed the island living. There would always be a minister to fill the pulpit on Sunday morning.
Gibraltar is 45 feet above the lake and composed of eight acres. The Castle is on the highest spot. Jay Cooke and Co. did the greatest banking business in the world and in 1865, business amounted to three thousand million dollars. He spent one million dollars financing bonds during the war. When his firm failed in 1873, there was great panic. Financing the Northern Pacific Railroad was a big factor in this crisis. In 1894, he invested in land in the west and by 1894, he had recouped some of his fortunes.
After his business failure, an auctioneer sold many of his beautiful possessions and furnishings at “Ogontz,” the Mansion at Chelton Hills but there were still 1,800 acres left. Through a Real Estate Agent, he repossessed Ogontz although there were people who know he wanted it back and the bid was kept up. He finally paid $113,500 to obtain ownership. It had cost over a million dollars.
The house was too large to move back into and the Chestnut Street Seminary was invited to move there. He spent $40,000 remodeling it for their use. Mrs. Cooke had a heart condition and died at Ogontz, July 22, 1871. She had become ill at Gibraltar and with the greatest care had been transported back to Philadelphia. Mr. Cooke mourned deeply as their lives had been one long courtship but his faith in God helped him through his sadness. On February 13, 1905, Mr. Cooke attended the annual reception at the Girl’s School at Ogontz and appeared well on Tuesday, he was in good spirits but on Wednesday, at Eildon, the home of his daughter, where he had made his home, he became very ill and the minister was called. The family was around him when the prayer for the dying was repeated. He said, “Amen. That was the right prayer.” He died on Thursday, February 16, 1905, shortly after the prayer.
In 1867, he had a mausoleum erected at Ogontz and he was taken there for burial. The schoolgirls sang hymns and there was a great feeling of sadness and solemnity both in Philadelphia and the Islands. His acceptance of people as individuals and his sensitivity to their feelings made him a friend to all. He was a man of stamina. In October 1901, he was found in a coma by a servant while at Gibraltar. He returned to Philadelphia and recovered from the seizure. His journal entries, however, often left the impression he did not know how many more visits to his beloved Gibraltar he could weather.
In October 1904, he wrote, “Goodby old Gibraltar. We thank God for permitting us to enjoy such a glorious vacation and hope to come again soon.” One entry said, “Many years from now when we old ones are all gone I suppose my child & Grand & great Grandchildren will read these records with curiosity & interest—Let them all understand that this dear Gibraltar was the gift of God to me & I receive it as such & enjoy it as such—& have tried to honor God here and show forth the Savior’s love by doing good—I wish them to follow in my footsteps—to realize that everything we have is from God . . .”
This man of great stature in the world of business, politics and the hearts of all who knew him was deeply religious, generous and tender. He loved to be greeted by his dog “Colonel,” and his “pussy cat, Blacky.” The colonel would jump into the boat and jump all over him when he would arrive. He often spoke of his animals and his love for them shines through his journal. Many Island homes have momentoes of his generosity. Cooke donated the Episcopal Church which was built in 1865 on land donated by De Rivera. His daughter, Mrs. Charles Barney donated a window in the church in memory of her mother. His son was Reverend Henry E. Cooke, pastor of a Cleveland church. The Island church is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, the same name as the church he attended in Pennsylvania.
This man could meet adversity and rise above it. Ten days after his suspension after the failure, his assets amounted to $15,875,120.04, his liabilities $ 7,937,409.26. His kindness and philanthropy will live in the hearts of the Islanders. A statue of Jay Cooke stands at Duluth on Lake Superior. In 1925, Julius F. Stone of Columbus purchased Gibraltar from the heirs of Jay Cooke and presented it to Ohio State University. The Castle and the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory are used by the University for the instruction of biology and zoology.
Put-in-Bay Nature At Her Best
Lake Erie is 241 miles long and 57 miles wide at its widest point. Its greatest depth is 210 feet. The shoreline on the south shore of the lake is over four hundred miles. It is the second smallest of the five Great Lakes. Professor G. Frederick Wright said, “A region is a meeting place of several botanical provinces, Canada, Southern, Atlantic, Rockies, and a species as nowhere else on the Continent,” when speaking of the South Bass Island area. One of Cooke’s guests spoke of the bounteous food grown on South Bass Island and served at the Castle. Recorded in October he said he had “lima beans picked at Put-in-Bay for dinner, also cantaloupes and watermelons, peaches. Flowers were growing in profusion. Thirty miles south the mainland had had frost. Water tempers the atmosphere. There are 800 acres of grapes.”
South Bass Island holds special interest for geologists. The Island is made up of 1,382 acres and is the third-largest island in Lake Erie. It is about three miles long and at its narrowest point, the isthmus where the Monument is located is approximately five hundred feet wide. South Bass Island is located eight miles from Catawba Point and fourteen miles from Port Clinton and reached by Ferry from both points. The entire island is a rock formation and dates back to the glacier age, 20,000 years ago. The Islands are the ridges that remained above water as the glacier melted.
South Bass Island is composed of two sections, the Island proper and East Point which were joined by a marsh until the Monument was started. This area was very wooded at that time. The land was filled in to erect the monument and the hydraulic pump took much of the sand which had been a bathing beach with slides and toboggan, bathhouses and promenade, and a walk across a portion of the water. This operation enhanced the Monument grounds but played havoc with the bathing beach and the activity diminished and the buildings were eventually torn down. The beach is still there but the sandy bottom faded into oblivion.
Weather is a major concern of summer and winter residents. The weather flag on the park is carefully watched. On a clear day, it is possible to see the entrance of the Detroit River and the trees on Pelee Island can be observed. When a fog rolls in everything comes to a standstill and at times you can only see a few feet ahead. Boats stop running and the planes do not attempt their flights. Newspapers and mail must wait. Fortunately, this is infrequent. You have been initiated to the Island when you are “fogged in.” It is a cozy, relaxed feeling. The climate averages 50° and the altitude is 570.5 feet above sea level. Most of the storms come from the west and southwest and the West Shore gets the brunt of it. Usually, when it is out of the northwest it lasts longer and this occurs most frequently in early spring or late fall and winter. Storms can “blow themselves out” by a fast wind and often die just as rapidly as they come and the day turns into a beautiful day.
The storms of major proportion hit the mainland and do more damage than those that come to the Island. There was a water spout on July 25, 1924, at 8:00 p.m. and wind storm on March 19, 1948, and January 1967. On August 2, 1934, a near tornado hit and a warehouse near the dock were carried into the lake. For the most part, the lake absorbs many of the storms and the Island does not suffer. However, in 1934 the pavilion and other buildings were damaged. Grape crops did not escape the wrath. The power plant was out of commission. The news was carried by the Chippewa to the mainland concerning the damage. The storm followed the shoreline going east to Vermillion, Lorain, and Kelleys Island. This was ten years after the Lorain Tornado.
In July 1966 a flood-hit Sandusky and the storm was a phenomenon only witnessed about every hundred years. It was clearly observed overhead as it traveled back and forth over the same area and the rain was continuous for hours. Normally the movement of air moves the storm but this time the same area felt the effects as the clouds poured forth in the same location causing the severe flooding. Put-in-Bay was spared any serious flooding but had a “box seat” for Heaven’s show. Glacial grooves have been seen on the South Shore and at East Point when a well was dug. Near the State Park layers of gravel were found when a house was being built on a slight incline and the soil was dugout. Lake gravel follows the curve of a ridge and one theory is that at one time a river ran along the curve.
The depths of the wells vary. Usually, fifty to sixty feet will suffice and hit good water. Sulfur water is found in some parts of the Island and lime in others. There are many frost-free days and the days are cooler here than on the mainland during the summer. Nights are always comfortable for sleeping. Grass has peeped through in two days and snapdragons measuring 47 inches in height are not unusual. The quality of gardens and growths cannot be surpassed. Two caves remain open on the Island. Mammoth Cave has been closed for a number of years.
Crystal Cave is located at Heineman’s Winery which has a stairway down to the cave and is lighted. It was found by accident when a well was being dug in November 1897. It is a deposit of strontium sulfate, the only one of such magnitude in the United States and is designated by scientists as the Immense Geode. It has the largest strontium crystals in the world, the largest being 18 inches long and the crystals are blue-white.
Perry’s Cave, across the street from the Crystal Cave, is 208 feet long and 165 feet wide. It has a subterranean pool which is thought to have an outlet in Lake Erie as it rises and falls with the level of the lake. The water remains at the same temperature at all times, 42°. It has three distinct sections and has been of interest to geologists since it was discovered. Perry’s expedition is thought to have discovered and used the cave during the Battle of Lake Erie when the fleet was anchored in the Bay. It was opened by P. Vroman in 1870. It is open to the public, as is the Crystal Cave. Perry’s Cave is located 52 feet below the surface and is 208 feet long and 165 feet wide.
Put-in-Bay The Grape Country!
Jose De Rivera had determined the-climate and soil would be conducive to prolific grape harvests. Drainage is good and the rows are planted at right angles to the lake. Posts were set, vineyards planted and the Island was to have another claim to fame, for its luscious grapes and productivity. They became the main crop around 1858 and are still a major industry. It has been said that grapes do not like to stand with wet feet. Rainfall normally averages less than in other sections of Ohio. The length of the frost-free season is an important factor. The soft limestone base is good for grapes and a ton produces about 160 gallons of juice.
After the first of the year, while the vines are still down they require trimming and are then tied to the wires with willow, rye straw or wire. Weeds must be sprayed and the soil fertilized in the spring, with subsequent spraying throughout their growth. They are mowed or diced and a close watch is kept for any attention, they may need as they mature. Harvest usually starts in mid-September and continues until they are all picked which is about early November. Heavy frosts injure the fruit as the stalk is damaged and the ripening is forestalled. The different varieties do not all ripen at the same time and weather conditions determine the picking season.
Young vineyards can produce seven tons to the acre. The baskets are hung on the posts for the picker’s convenience. As they are picked they are loaded onto a skid drawn by a tractor and taken to one spot in the vineyard to be used for dumping them into barrels. They are later taken in the barrels on trucks to the winery. Niagaras, Concords, Catawbas, Ives, Rieslings, and Delawares are among the popular species. The aroma of the grapes on the vine is “delicious”. It is surpassed only by the aroma as you sip your glass of wine or juice to enjoy it to the fullest.
The Heineman Winery on South Bass Island is well-known on the Mainland and they fill orders from Put-in-Bay. E. and K. (Engels and Krider) is a very old winery, also, with its winery in Sandusky. At the Crystal Cave, you may stop in the wine room for a refreshing drink of wine or juice, or you may buy it by the bottle or case. But keep the cap on because it is unlawful to drink it on the streets and public areas of the Island. Also, remember wine and sun are not a good mixture so use discretion.
The Duff and Cooper vineyards produce grapes of excellent quality, also, which are sold for wine and juice or by the basket. Rivera’s dream was fulfilled far beyond his expectations! Talley and, Eighteenth-Century Diplomat is attributed to the following observation. “First you caress the glass with the palm of your hand so as to warm it. Next, you rotate the wine gently in order to liberate its bouquet. After that, you take it to your eyes to admire its fine color. Then you put down the glass . . . and begin to talk. Finally, you take a sip and there goes another song down your throat.”
In the Spring and Fall, the Steamer Put-in-Bay is usually used on the Miller Boat Line. The other Miller boats join it when additional service is required. Parker’s Erie Isle Ferry Line also runs on schedule and continues until weather forces the discontinuance of service and the runs are unscheduled after the regular season ends. Both lines are dependable and safe and are a life-line to the Island.
Boat service is one of the most important functions of the Island. Everything must be brought over including building materials, food, fuel, and furniture. The exception is gravel. The two boat lines operate rain or shine between the Islands and the mainland. It is a rare occasion when the boats do not run during the season but if the situation warrants, for the safety of the passengers, crew, and ship, the boats remain in dock until weather conditions clear and safe service can
be resumed. During peak periods extra boats are run to expeditiously move the cars and people to and from the Islands.
There are times when situations arise which cause strangers to wonder. Islanders and summer people learn there is a reason for everything. By the time they try to explain, you could miss the boat. Visitors would be helpful to follow suggestions rather than “reason why.” Ferries may take passengers from the downtown dock on a busy day but request the cars be taken to the Lime Kiln Dock. The boats then may leave the downtown dock with the car space empty. Reason: They must get cars back to the mainland from Middle Bass and space is saved as not all boats stop at Middle Bass. The boats at Lime Kiln Dock are able to remove the cars from South Bass Island.
Another perpetual question is why cars cannot be taken over and back on Sunday. There are already as many cars on the Island as they can get back on Sunday and you would run the risk of not getting yours back the same day. Parking space is provided at all docks. It may look calm and ideal where you are but the opposite side of the Island or the mainland may have water level conditions that prohibit docking. Have faith in the boat lines as you would in your doctor. They, too, have your welfare at heart! Remember this happens only occasionally so bear with it. It is all for your welfare.
In the excursion days, there were as many as eleven boats that stopped at South Bass Island, one carrying as many as 2,400 people. The Island Queen which was kidnapped during the Civil War has become legendary. She stopped at Wehrle’s dock at Middle Bass and her occupants were taken off. She was then set adrift and partially sunk but a few days later was back in service. She had, among her passengers, thirty Kelly Island men on the way to be mustered out at Toledo. The Philo Parsons had been picking up people on her trip all day. When a trunk was opened holding hatchets and revolvers the party was armed. It was not difficult to take the Island Queen and after kidnapping her passengers, she was towed out and set loose. John Yates Beall had seen the men who were to be mustered out and had mistaken them for Union soldiers hence the kidnapping took place at Middle Bass.
In 1878 the Put-in-Bay House advertised boat service from June 1 through November 1, inclusive, on the “large and commodious” side-wheeler Steamer Jay Cooke, which ran between Detroit, Put-in-Bay, and Sandusky. The run between the last two points took one and one-half hours. It then left Put-in-Bay at 6:50 p.m. and arrived in Detroit at 11:30 p.m. Steamers Alaska and Pearl left Cleveland at 8:30 a.m. and the boat left Put-in-Bay at 3:00 p.m. to go to Detroit. Put-in-Bay is about halfway between the two points.
The Olcutt, the “old reliable,” ran between Put-in-Bay and Sandusky all winter if it could possibly get through. If transported Islanders to the mainland for Christmas if able to do so. There were many steamers sailing Lake Erie, among them the City of Detroit, the Mystic Isle, the Goodtime, and Alabama. The Arrow, which was considered the pride of the island burned mysteriously in October 1922 and the loss amounted to $80,000. It was replaced by the Chippewa.
Put-in-Bay has many unsung heroes. They stay together whenever an emergency arises. Lake Erie has taken its toll with its share of tragedies and near tragedies. The stalwart men of South Bass are always ready in an emergency. They take their own lives in their hands if someone is in trouble. Captain Dodge owned and operated the Ina, and many are the stories of this brave man. Captain Elliott J. Dodge was a fearless man who was always near when help was needed. In 1906 the State of Ohio ran aground at Rattlesnake Island.
Later Captain Sinclair and two of his men who had stayed with the ship flew distress signals but the men were thought to be safe on the island and the weather was too dangerous to venture out. They had gone ashore but were without provisions so decided to head for Put-in-Bay, a distance of about two miles. Their boat capsized and they hung on desperately and they then saw Captain Dodge coming to their rescue. While his family watched from shore he accomplished his daring rescue and received a gold medal for heroism by the United States Government. Other rescues were also performed by Captain Dodge. His daughter, Mrs. Bert Millen, of Riverview Home, Oak Harbor, Ohio, speaks with pride of her father. Mrs. Millen was born and raised on South Bass Island and with the exception of a very short time after her marriage lived within a mile of her birthplace until she and her husband moved to Riverview Home where they both reside.
The early transportation of automobiles was via a barge towed by a ferry. Miller Ferry service between Catawba Point and Put-in-Bay was in¬ augurated in April 1945, with the sailing of the South Shore, a 64 ft. diesel-powered ship. The Miller Boat Livery now also operates the West Shore, which was launched in May 1946, The William M. Miller and the Put-in-Bay. On December 1, 1926, Captain Lee Miller was the youngest person to acquire his master’s papers.
The Mascot, sunk in Lake Erie, September 1929, while taking needed supplies to Pelee Island. Five people were taken from the water between Marblehead and Kelleys Island. On February 12, 1933, two iceboats coming from Port Clinton went through the ice into open water. The occupants swam to solid ice and three
of them walked ashore. All were able to walk home after their rescue. They were G. Hallock, Alf Parker, Russ Stoecker, Willard Senne, Wilbur Dodge, Jr., Charles Fuchs, and Ed Morrison.
Private boats fill the harbor and it is a pleasure to walk along the parks and docks to see the beautiful powerboats and sailboats. The “Tin Goose,” as the Ford Tri-Motor Planes are called, provides passenger transportation and freight service to South Bass Island. It is said to be the shortest airline in the world, taking eight minutes to fly from Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay, via Sky Tours, Incorporated. There has never been an accident involving the Tin Goose.
Islanders travel to the mainland via plane with no more thought than the city dwellers take a bus. Children are air-taxied to school from other Islands, the priest flies from one Island to another to conduct his services, newspapers and mail arrive by plane. Rush emergency trips to the hospital are dependent on the planes. Frequent trips are scheduled to and fro with additional trips in summer. In winter the ice fishermen arrive and leave by plane. Islanders have a warm spot in their hearts for the Tin Goose.
The first scheduled flight to the Island was made by Milton Hershberger, Pilot, and Father J. E. Maerder, the Island priest at that time. Islanders cleared the airport and it was dedicated 11/26/30. In May 1934, Hershberger crashed into the lake when his motor flew apart in his open small plane but he survived to tell the tale. Fly-ins and individual private planes use the airstrip and its popularity is ever increasing. Ralph Dietrick is President and Newell Witte is Base Manager.
The Parish of Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church was established in 1866 and the home of the Henry Burggraff family on East Point were used as a chapel. The first church was a small frame building built around 1880. The present church was built in 1927. The present unique windows are faceted glass and replaced the panes originally used a few years ago. The priest also conducts services at Kelleys Island, commuting by plane. He divides his time between the two Islands.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was founded by Jay Cooke and its history dealt with in the chapters on Jay Cooke and Rivera. The Wa-Li-Ro, privately maintained summer school for Choir Boys and Choirmasters of the Episcopal Church stresses choir work and the balance of the time is used for recreation. The boys are considered on the basis of high interest in the music of the church and their musical and vocal abilities and must be nine years old or over. There is also a session for organists and choirmasters who exchange views. The choir boys sing at St. Paul’s Church during their stay on the Island. Islanders attend services in winter and in the summer the congregation swells with the attendance of the many week-end visitors and summer people.
The Unique Side Of Schools On The Bass Islands
In 1844 South Bass Island was still in Van Renssalaer Township and Mr. P. Vroman was one of three voters on the Island who had to go to the mainland to vote. He was elected one of the school Directors of Van Rensselaer Township with power on the Island. He received permission to build the first schoolhouse. A. I. Jones became the first teacher. The land was purchased on November 20, 1855, for the first school and Rivera specified it was to be used for this purpose and nothing more. In July 1878, Rivera sold an additional three-quarter of an acre with the same stipulation.
In about 1865 the basement of the church was used. Small schools were erected in 1891; in 1892 the schools were graded and the high school courses were included. The first graduate was in 1895, George J. Linsky, the son of the first doctor who was drowned. East Point was divided and on April 15, 1867, East Point had its own School Board. L. F. Webster was the first teacher and Harriet Haskins the second one.
Pay at that time was $20.00 a month. Wood was $3.50 per cord. The last business the Board did was April 4, 1879, when F. W. Burggraf was hired. Subsequently, the United Put-in-Bay special district embraced the other
Lake Erie Islands and districts on South Bass Island. The present school was completed in 1921.
Mrs. Otto Herbster taught in 1906 for $35.00 a month. All grades attend the same school building. The well-qualified teachers take a personal interest in each child and some of the teachers are natives. Graduation exercises are held in the Town Hall. In 1967 there were only two graduates although the average class is larger. Commencement leaves nothing to be desired. There are class colors, flower, and motto. The traditional Processional “Pomp and Circumstance” opens
the program and is followed by the National Anthem and an address by the Salutatorian and Valedictorian. The School Superintendent introduces the
visiting speaker of the evening.
The school chorus takes part, awards and diplomas are presented. The School Board and clergymen sit on stage with the class and the invocation and benediction are spoken by the Island priest and the minister. During the evening the eighth grade is introduced and welcomed into the high school classes.
The Annuals cannot be overlooked. The covers show the Islands in relation to one another. The inside cover often shows woodland scenes in their true colors. Pictures of the school, class officers, graduates, Board of Education, and Faculty are shown. In 1967 the Faculty Members were Jerry Kissel, Mrs. Ruth Hallock, Mrs. Margaret Fox, Mrs. Justine Bianchi, William Miller, and E. J. Market. The history of the Senior Class from the beginning of their school days until graduation will long be cherished. The Class Prophecy and Class Wills are traditional. There were seventy students, including the graduates in 1967.
Not by-passed are the pictures of the PTA, the Annual Staff, Advisor, (N. Bianchi in 1967), the Glee Club, BSA, GSA, driver training, activities program, freshman initiation pictures, girl’s soccer team, boys football team, Kissel’s Minutemen (taught sportsmanlike hunting). Under humor are baby pictures and personal snapshots. The Buckeye Boys State at Ohio University and Buckeye Girls State at Capital University are given recognition. There is a space for autographs and all graduates from the beginning of the high school are listed with the year of graduation and where they live now. Advertisers and boosters buy space to support the annual.
The fact that the classes are small does not dampen the enthusiasm and the annuals surpass those in many city schools. The warmth is there and felt. A graduation dinner party is held and dinner exclusively for graduates through the years and their spouses is an annual event. The personal touch is much more evident in a small school than in the city where the students do not have a close association through all their school years. Many of the students go on to higher education. Perhaps it is the city school student who is missing something, rather than the reverse as many people may think.
Put-in-Bay Mail Delivery – Yesterday And Today
Before the airline delivered the mail, it was delivered over the ice and water for eight years. An iron-clad with runners was used on the ice by Lee Miller and Cletus March. In severe weather, the trip would take several hours and people would watch from both shores to be assured of the safety of the mailmen. Rowboats with glider and sails were used until 1930. Mrs. Cletus March was around ten or eleven years old the first time she made the trip for mail with the mailmen. In January 1923, Mrs. Tom Conlen, her mother and her aunt, Mrs. Sutton, made the trip in a severe storm when their father became ill and died on the mainland. The carriers were M. Arndt and A. Burggraff at that time and they accompanied them on this harrowing
trip across the ice. ,
In January 1923, when Mrs. Conlen and Mrs. Sutton returned to Put-in-Bay after the death of their father, two Cleveland Press newspaper reporters were assigned to the trip to cover a story on mail delivery over the ice. The article was concluded thus: “If the weather is bad, ‘Arnie’ and ‘Mick’ refuse to take passengers. The passage fare is $1.00 per person, one way. ‘Arnie’ and ‘Mick’ transport everything from a package of needles to a corpse. They can have their job for the rest of their lives so far as we are concerned. A predecessor died a few years ago when the ice gave away beneath him. ‘Arnie’ and ‘Mick’ have narrow escapes every day. But the mail must go through.” The mail carriers at that time were Arnie Burggraf and Mick Arndt.
There were years when the ice was thick enough to drive across to the mainland but in recent years this has not been popular because some Islanders went through the ice and though they were saved it discouraged the practice. The original Post Office was located in the log cabin of Ben Napier, an early settler after he left the Island. It later was in the Schiele Building and also across from it. A modern Post Office has been in use on Erie Street. Mr. Nello Bianchi became the Post Master in 1967 after the retirement of Mr. Nate Ladd. Mrs. Nate Ladd and Mrs. Russell Smith complete the staff.
Mrs. Chester Dress transports the mail and the newspapers from the planes to the Post Office and store, respectively. It is always fun to go for mail and see your friends. A trip for mail and groceries are usually combined and friends often meet for a chat along the way. At the beginning and the end of the season hellos and goodbyes often take place on this route. It is almost like returning to college and meeting your friends when school starts and the farewells “until next season” like going home for the summer.
Put-in-Bay Doctors – The Undaunted Heros
Doctor Luther Nelson and his family settled in 1854 and he was the first doctor to live here. The first Island doctor to lose his life was Dr. Charles Linsky who came in 1880. On March 30, 1882, he and his pilot Amos Hitchcock, a veteran sailor, were on their way to Middle Bass during a gale. Dr. Linsky had been sum¬ moned to deliver a baby. The boat capsized and Mr. Hitchcock swam to Gibraltar. Dr. Linsky was drowned. His wife was still on the Island when his body was found in the summer at Pelee Island and he was identified by his wedding ring.
They were originally from Washington, D.C., and had come here with Abraham Lincoln’s associate. His family remained and his son, George Linsky was the first graduate of the Island school. Doctor Towsend of North Bass took care of the Islands’ medical needs. Other doctors came to the Island from Medical Colleges. Dr. Bell was said to have been part Indian. Dr. Sowash, Dr. Petcoff married a native, Miss Fisher, Dr. Robinson, Dr. Hessel, Dr. Suttle, Dr. De La Roy Webster (Ellen Dodge of Put-in-Bay) was among the doctors who have cared for Islanders. Many professional people have homes on the Island and often doctors are
here if needed in an emergency.
Dr. Griest and his nurse, Miss Silvia Schultz, were drowned near Green Island on February 17, 1923. He wanted to drive to the mainland over the ice and hit an air pocket. A letter was found mentioning his interest in checking the ice preparatory to a trip across and the examination was thought to be the reason for his driving off course. He escaped but it was too late. He may have suffered a heart attack trying to save the nurse. His body was found out of the car with his glasses and gloves on.
On February 14, 1940, Dr. Edam and his wife, Noretta, and two children, George 3, and Barbara 2, were found five hundred feet off Middle Bass Island
after their car went through the ice. Dr. Evans was an Island doctor who moved to Port Clinton and was on the Medical Board for the County. Dr. Renshaw retired from practice and left the Island in 1967. Presently Dr. Boker has office hours on a part-time basis and his other office is on the mainland. He is available at any time for emergencies.
Unlike the other doctors in earlier days whose only mode of transportation was over the ice, Dr. Boker took flying instructions. In 1967, he had a call from Middle Bass Island and was flown over. There were no lights on the landing strip so the residents drove to the airport and with their car headlights they lighted the field so a landing could be made to pick up the expectant mother and take her to the hospital on the mainland accompanied by Dr. Boker.
Put-in-Bay Oak Point History
Oak Point is premonitory at the west tip of Squaw Harbor before passing over the bridge at Terwilliger’s Pond. In 1894, Oak Point was purchased by the Cincinnati Fishing Club who built a plush Clubhouse. The dining room chairs had beautiful high backs. When the waiters complained because they were in the way when they served, the backs were cut down. The washbowls were marble and the fixtures ornate.
In 1898, they found they had gone over their heads and it was sold to E. J. Dodge who lived there with his family. In 1917, A. G. Smith of Elyria bought Oak Point. In 1938, it was purchased from him by the Ohio Conservation Division. For some time, it was used as a dormitory for the Theodore Franz Laboratory, Ohio State University, and later was torn down. It had been made into apartments and used mostly for families.
In 1967, a retaining wall was erected and dockage space added. A circular drive was added and washroom facilities provided. The location provides a breath-taking view of the bay and the Monument. It faces Gibraltar and neighboring islands.
Put-In-Bay Ohio Music Camp
The Music Festival at Put-in-Bay commenced in I960 as a three-week opera workshop under the sponsorship of the Ohio State University School of Music. During its three years on the Island, the workshop presented in the Put-in-Bay Town Hall eleven operas and scenes from numerous other operas. When Ohio State air-conditioned its music auditorium, the operas moved back to Columbus, but a group of instrumentalists assembled on the Island to accompany the operas were organized into a String Festival which has become an annual affair under the sponsorship of The Ohio Unit of the American String Teachers Association. As many as two hundred players come to the Island each summer to play in the New Festival House near the west shore and to play the traditional Friday evening summer concerts in the Put-in-Bay Town Hall.
Members of The String Teachers Association contribute their services and time to operate and teach in the camps and workshops sponsored by the Island Festival Association, a non-profit corporation which itself is sponsored by the Ohio Federation of Music Clubs and the Ohio String Teachers Association.
The Ohio State University 1 has resumed its place in the program by sponsoring several weeks of workshops and clinics. Prominent leaders and performers who have come to the Island to participate are Professor John Kendall, leading “Suzuki” violin specialist, the noted violinist Giorgio Ciompi, Dr. Boyd Neel, Dean of the Royal Conservatory of Music, University of Toronto, harpsichordist Hilda Jonas, and recorder player and teacher Patty Grossman Hoover.
The Festival Association erected the New Festival House in 1967. Its builder was Dr. J. P. Cobes, of the Theatre Department, Ohio State University. A dozen musicians have bought a property in the vicinity of the Festival House. A permanent summer musical colony is in the making which will parallel the “actor’s colony” of Put-in-Bay’s earlier history. The organizer and Director of the Festival and Camp are Dr. Theron McClure, a former member of The Cleveland Orchestra, who is an Associate Professor of Music at Ohio State University.
Put-in-Bay Ice Fishing
Put-in-Bay is as popular for ice fishing enthusiasts in winter as it is for boating and fishing enthusiasts the other months of the year. Islanders rent shanties and act as guides. They look forward to ice-covered waters in the winter for their livelihood during that season. These men who are “born to the water” are well-qualified and helpful to the sportsmen who are flown over.
The shanties vary in size but average about four to five feet in breadth, six feet long and five feet high. The skeleton part is built of light pieces of lumber, usually pine, and constructed tightly with a door at one end. The shanty is covered with canvass. Wooden floors are used for anchoring and they are airtight except for the square hole for fishing and the vent for a stove pipe. They rest on runners for ease in taking them out on the ice. Years ago horses were used to draw the shanties but stripped down cars are now used. They are open to facilitate exit from them in case of emergency because the doors won’t open when underwater. Accidents are a rarity. In 1966, four hundred ice fishermen were taken over in one weekend. A two-man shanty costs about $12.00 a day. Tackle and bait are furnished and the stove is included.
Precautions are taken and weather conditions watched carefully to ensure the safety of the fishermen. In traveling around the Island, fishing shanties will be noticed stored in some of the yards. Summer activities include fishing, dancing, visiting caves, swimming, water skiing, camping, boating, visiting the Monument, and the Regatta in August. Hiking is especially beautiful in spring and fall and many of the most beautiful days of the year and calmest waters are in these two seasons. Tourists would do well to consider this peaceful time of year to visit South Bass Island. Bowling has come into its own all year. Pool tables are available at the bowling alley. Special activities come to the Island such as Barbershop Quartettes and dance bands. Life is never dull at Put-in-Bay.
Put-In-Bay In Retrospect
The following letter was written in 1965 to our friends on the mainland. It depicts life on the Island and was an impression that could still be used in 1968 after having been there most of the time since. The snapdragons are still “snapping”—or perhaps just “dragging” . . . the turkeys are still running the opposite direction (if they run one more day they will have it made!)—then it is soon Christmas. It is hard to believe that the stores in the cities have been decorated for a month and we are still going to our new home via the ferry and car. Tomorrow is the last day of the regularly scheduled season and we will take the boat back . . . the last one. We will then be city-bound until the first of April.
What a busy year this has been. We took one of the first boats, through ice floes, across Lake Erie to Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, to buy a lot. When we crossed the crest of the hill and looked down upon the Harbor and other Islands we elt like Chris did when he discovered land (Columbus, not Kringle). It has always been Ruth’s dream to live up on a hill and look down upon a view and we knew this was it! It is a densely wooded area with a view of Perry’s Monument which is the second tallest National Monument. Its beacon lights our rooms from across the Bay like a Guiding Light. In front of us, we have a grape vineyard and farmland and the harbor forms the backdrop. We enjoy watching the ferries and other boats come and go. The Island is rich in history and is a yachtsman’s paradise. It is thrilling to stretch imaginations back to those historical hours when the Battle of Lake Erie was enacted practically at our front door and picture the ridge used as a look-out due to its elevation.
We can see Pelee Island, Canada, from the porch, (about 12 miles over) and know that the International Peace Boundry is about five miles out. Living is very casual on the Island—far removed from the city rat-race. The Islanders are fine people, sincere, friendly, honest and very proud of the Island. The Village Store (meat, groceries and drug store) closes at 12:15 p.m. and re-opens at 2:00 p.m. At noon when the siren sounds everyone takes off like a jet for lunch. Everything comes to a standstill. The hardware store is an old barn that has many items that may be needed. Should you want anything you call the owner, make an appointment and he meets you.
Put-in-Bay has a quiet charm and it grows on you. In the summer there is plenty to do and keep you amused if that is what you want and is a very lively place with tourists bouncing over. The people who have lived there for many years are “natives” and all others are “foreigners”—all in a friendly way. The tourist trade is the main occupation in summer and in winter it is ice-fishing and you see fishing shanties on the ice. After the boats stop running, you must go by plane and we think it is interesting to note that the children from other islands are brought over by air-taxi to attend school. Musette, Pete and I attended commencement in the Spring and the class had seven graduates but the graduation was complete with caps, gowns, Processional and all it takes in the city, including Scholarships.
Ruth drew the plans which included three bedrooms, two baths, and the usual rooms. The fireplace is flanked on both sides with large panels of glass and the large door on the side, facing the Monument, provides an outdoor feeling inside. Feels almost like a treehouse. Since we plan to live there someday it is of strong construction. The nearest neighborhoods are the Eldie Dickerman’s who are distant cousins and dear friends. We have enjoyed their company and appreciated their help and suggestions. It is like being Red Riding Hoods in the forest. Nature is around us.
Within four weeks we saw the roughest, the calmest, the foggiest and the clearest days we have ever seen up here. Our twenty-four foot screened porch will get heavy usage, “the better to see you with” . . . (referring to the great outdoors). Usually, I review my Christmas cards in April but this year we were so very busy going up and buying material to take up that we had little time for anything else. Everything must go over by boat. We have named our house, “Top-of-the-Rock” because the whole Island is a big rock and we have the highest spot.
Musette gets cuter every day. She weighs about seven lbs. and takes everything in stride as if every French Poodle commutes one hundred miles each week to drink in the joy of quiet living and then back to the city. I almost forgot to mention that in February Musette and Ruth were on the Mike Douglas T.V. Show with him and Eva Gabor. Naomi had received wide publicity for her business of making dog coats. There were six dogs who modeled. Musette kissed Eva Gabor at which Miss Gabor said, “I love you dahling, but don’t kiss me on the mouth.” Musette gets around. Going to the Island twenty-nine week-ends out of thirty-two does not leave much time for correspondence.
In 1966 the weekend trips were no longer necessary and a permanent address was established. In 1967 there were two graduates from the High School. A new hardware store and marinas were built, the Colonial re-opened, many changes took place. Every year improvements are manifested. Put-in-Bay is again reaching a shining hour. The following was printed in my column in the Dews, Ottawa County, Port Clinton on October 31, 1967: “Every day is a new challenge and can be another “first”. This morning I had to decide whether to get up “between the dark and the daylily Nht” to mail a copy to the newspaper, then return for more snoozing, or “coast” a while in a light doze and await the alarm clock. Fortunately, the first approach seemed the most satisfactory. I donned my fringed robe, thought no-one would up to see me and if the car developed a flat tire, I looked prepared for Halloween, depicting an Indian Squaw. I found that getting up early on the Island was its own compensation.
It was the first time I had even been astir on the Island at that hour which often is still the middle of the night’s sleep for me. Although it was still dark when I went out to the car there were lights on in many of the homes. An unexpected squirrel emerged from under the car and ran up a tree. I was so startled I almost did the same thing but would have met it halfway up as he picked the nearest tree, the one I would have charged! The water on the bay looked like a mirror and there was a power boat gliding across the glass. When I left I could hear the night sounds of the woods. In a short time, I was gone the transition from night to the start of a new day was beginning to manifest itself. As I reached the hill I looked down at the base of Perry’s Monument and saw the red sun just beginning to rise above the skyline.
The sound of the night had very rapidly changed to sounds of the birds and the rustling of leaves – probably my pet squirrel was back. After seeing all the beauty about me I lost the enthusiasm I had for going back to bed. Like the sun, I decided to “rise and shine.” Carry in wood and breathing fresh air semed a privilege. The fireplace was soon crackling and the smell of the wood fire is cozy. What a wonderful place, this Island!”