Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Whiskeyville Revisited – Part 1

6 Mile House (also known as Midway Tavern and Whiskeyville Tavern)
Courtesy of the Lorain County Historical Society
My post about the October 1933 fire that destroyed the Midway Tavern really just scratched the surface of the history of that interesting area. So I went back and did a little more research.

Amherst’s Story (1914) by Robert Grenville Armstrong included a few paragraphs about Whiskeyville. It noted that Jacob Shupe had started the first whiskey distillery in the township, and that his success at this enterprise led others to follow suit.

“It is interesting to note in this connection that Whiskeyville received its name from one of these stills, which Elias Mann built there,” wrote Armstrong. "This was in 1838. It is hard to shake a name, once it becomes attached.

“Whiskey, in those early days of scarcity of money, became a legal tender. It served the early pioneer for money. He could pay his notes in whiskey, provided the crop of grain was sufficient. He could use it to replenish his own diminished treasury.”

A book entitled, Amherst Ohio Sesquicentennial mentioned the stagecoach line on which the Midway Tavern had been located. The book noted, “It was during the 1820’s that a stagecoach line began operating between Cleveland and Fremont. It was the first stage line west of Cleveland, and was called the Beebe Stage Coach Line. It traveled west along the South Ridge Road (Ohio 113)."

Regular blog contributor Rick Kurish sent me some information about the tavern that was included in the book Amherst Reflections (July 1976) published by the Amherst Business and Professional Women’s Club. Include in Rick’s information (at left) was a version of the photo shown at the top of this post, and a caption that read, “The “6 Mile House” on the Western Reserve Maumee stage road at the intersection of what are now State Routes 113 and 58 was so-called because it was six miles from the Beebe Tavern in Elyria and an equal distance east of the Henrietta House. The distillery which helped give the neighborhood its name of Whiskeyville, a nickname still heard, was just north, behind the tavern.”

I also made a trip to the Elyria Public Library to see what I could find out about the tavern. A 1926-27 edition of the Directory of Lorain County included a listing for it. “The Midway” was listed as a dance hall run by Edward Sinerson; its address was Telegraph Road in Amherst Township.

The library also had microfilm for the Chronicle-Telegram, and I was able to find that paper’s reporting of the fire that destroyed the tavern. Here is the article (below), which ran on the front page of the C-T on October 6, 1933. It is different from the report that ran in the Lorain Journal.

Landmark West of Elyria Burns to the Ground,
Origin of Blaze Unknown

Whiskeyville Tavern, century-old landmark and at one time a stage coach stop on Telegraph road, burned to the ground early this morning from a fire of undetermined origin.

Perpetuating its early history, the ancient building, with some modern improvement, had up to the very last been a place of social gatherings and entertainment. Even last night, not long before the disastrous fire broke out, the tavern was the scene of a party and dance.

Recently the tavern had been operated by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Wallace. Awakened about 2:45 a.m. by the acrid odor of smoke, Mr. and Mrs. Wallace discovered the building enveloped in flames. They aroused their two children, and made their escape out over the porch roof.

Amherst Dept. Called
The Amherst fire department and neighbors fought the flames, but were unable to check their progress through the dry timbers. They prevented the flames from spreading to a barn in the rear, and to adjoining buildings, however.

Deputy Sheriff Claude Adams, who responded to the fire call, said that the fire raged for about two hours before it was subsided.

Considered as one of the best taverns in the early history of this section, it never lost its identity as as social center, like so many of its early contemporaries did when automobiles and good roads made their presence felt in American life. It was a popular stopping place until the last, and its passing brings nearer to close that chapter in the early social life of the Western Reserve.

An investigation of the cause of the blaze is to be made by the state fire marshall’s office, Sheriff Clarence W. Dick said.

Next: Just where was the tavern located?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Lyon Tailoring Company Ad – November 1949

Since the Christmas shopping season has already started, it’s a good time to post this 1949 ad for Lyon Tailoring Company. It ran in the Lorain Journal on November 25, 1949 and reveals that gift certificates have been around for a long time.

I’m not lyin’ when I say that I like the Santa-suited lion advertising mascot.

Lyon Tailoring Company in Cleveland
(Courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project)
It appears that the Lyon Tailoring Company was a regional men's clothing chain based in Cleveland. There were outlets in many cities, including Cincinnati and Pittsburg.

The Lyon Tailoring Co. was already a longtime Lorain business by the time of the 1949 ad. The company had first appeared in the 1933 Lorain City Directory at 550 Broadway, replacing Ruth Apparel Shoppe Inc. at that address. It had a variety of store managers including Gus V. Chriss (1933) and William P. Pettigrew (1937-1942).

The store sponsored several Lorain sports teams.

By the late 1940s, the store had moved to 508 Broadway. Managers during this time period and thereafter included Emil Bernard (1947) and Jos H. Bernay (1952-1955).

The store moved one last time. The 1958 city directory had it listed at 717 Broadway under the management of Leo Friedman. The store then disappeared as of the 1959 edition.

Speaking of tailors, when I was a senior in high school my parents took me to Ricci Tailors in Downtown Lorain to have a suit made. That’s because I had a bunch of events and ceremonies later in the school year that required me to look spiffy.

It was kind of exciting to pick out the suit’s material  – although I don’t think I would select the same lime-green gabardine today. (In my defense, the mid to late 1970s was the leisure suit era, and pastels were in.)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Pioneer Cemetery on Lake Road – Nov. 1956

The small cemetery on U.S. 6 located just east of the former Ford plant
Have you ever wondered about the pair of graves that you can see from U. S. Route 6 just east of the former Ford Plant?

If so, then you might enjoy the article below, which appeared in the Lorain Journal on November 9, 1956. The article was written at the time that the Ford plant was just under construction. It reveals who is buried on that “grassy knoll,” from a great source: a relative of the Claus family, whose farm (which I wrote about here) was located next to the cemetery.

Here’s the interesting article about this often overlooked cemetery.

The Motor Age Arrives
Progress Engulfs Cemetery


BROWNHELM TOWNSHIP – The only place the pioneers who lie buried on the grassy little knoll could have ever heard about horseless carriages was in the Good Book. But today their resting place lies within feet of the broad ribbon along which horseless carriages streak, and within inches of the boundaries of the giant structure which will soon be spawning them by the hundreds.

Progress has caught up with and almost engulfed the tiny, century-old graveyard which lies windswept and lonely to one side of busy Rte. 2 and 6, and at the eastern corner of the sprawling Ford plant site.

Two weathered tombstones huddle under a lone tree, while nearby the ponderous bulldozers and road graders make thunderous, and dust-clouded overtures as they level the Ford site.

A third stone succumbed to the rigors of advancement recently, snapping in two at its base apparently from the vibrations set up by the adjacent activity.

Remembering something of the early settlers buried here is Mrs. Florence Claus of Amherst, a granddaughter-in-law of one of the original owners of the land, Adam Klaus.

Klaus, she said, bought the land from the William Hershing family. One of the tombstones is that of Hershey’s [sic] aunt, Lucy Morgan, laid to rest in 1855 at the age of 80.

Mrs. Claus recalls the story of the accident which caused Lucy’s demise.

“She had come here all the way from England to visit Bill,” said Mrs. Claus. “The morning after her arrival she was out on the back stoop looking over the farm and when she turned to come in she fell and broke her hip. She never recovered.”

Mrs. Claus also believes that the tombstone (the broken one) of the 21-day-old infant, Armine Klaus, is that of the child called “Martha” by its family, who died of mysterious causes.

The baby’s mother, she recalled, was exposed to whooping cough one day, and blamed the death of the nursing infant on herself, believing she had transmitted to it the terrible fright she got from her exposure.

“For the baby died of convulsions the next day,” said Mrs. Claus.

Nothing is known about the third stone which stands there. Written in German, the legend tells of the death of an 11-month-old infant, Anna M. Leideloff in 1866. Mrs. Claus believes this may have been a child of one of the Klaus daughters living in the vicinity.

Mrs. Claus said that Adam and his wife met and married in this country although both had come here from Germany. Down the line somewhere a member of the family apparently changed the spelling of the name from “K” to the more Americanized “C.”

Owner of the property after Adam was his son Bernhardt, then Bernhardt’s son, Henry who was a brother to Mrs. Claus’ late husband Adam, namesake of the grandfather. Henry’s son, the second Bernhardt, was the last holder of the property, selling out not long ago to the real estate firm from whom the Ford company bought its site.

For the time being the little cemetery is safe. Frank Nardini, head of the firm, said he had no plans for the land and would be something at a loss to know what to do with it if he ever did have plans.

“I understand it is something the county commissioners have to pass on in the event it is to be disturbed,” he said.

With its fate in the hands of time and county commissioners, the ancient little burial ground stands as a somewhat captive spectator to an age in which something far fleeter than the horse is making inroads on it.

Today, the cemetery is surrounded by a chain link fence and is located on City of Lorain property.

Here is the stone (below) described as being “written in German” and inscribed with the legend of the death of an 11-month-old infant, Anna M. Leideloff in 1866.

And here is the stone (below) for Lucy Morgan. In the foreground is the broken one for the 21-day-old infant.


I almost forgot, in addition to the post that I did about the Claus farm,  I did a follow-up post about the Claus house (here) which was still standing up until a few years ago.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Buckeye Time at Curley’s Market – 1948

Tomorrow’s the big game: the Ohio State Buckeyes (my Alma Mater) vs. Michigan. So it’s a good time for this post, which was initiated by an email that I received earlier this year from regular contributor Rick Kurish.

Rick wrote, "Since I believe you attended the Ohio State University, I'm sure that you have seen the humble Buckeye nut put to many different uses. Here is one that I ran across recently.

"In the Chronicle-Telegram of Oct 14, 1948 the attached ad from Curley's Market enlisted kids to collect Buckeyes and turn them in at the market for cash.”

Here is the ad Rick is talking about (below).
Rick noted, "Since the nuts are not edible, I was at a loss to explain why the market would buy them. A brief search of later papers failed to mention anything further. I assumed that the nuts had something to do with a sales promotion, or maybe Ohio State, and forgot about it.”

Fortunately, Rick solved this mystery with a little research.

"Some months later I ran across another "Buckeye Time" ad in the C-T of Sept 22, 1949 which explained  the reason for the first ad a year earlier,” Rick explained. "The Buckeyes were apparently to be made into keychains to be passed out at The Lions Club International convention in New York City as reminders of the "Buckeye State" of Ohio.”
Rick also found out a little about the man behind the buckeye contest.
“The owner of Curley's Market was predictably a high officer in the Lion's International. His name was Erwin C. Baum (aka Curley Baum) and he was Governor of District 13E of Lions International.
Rick did have one question. "I have a hard time visualizing how a Buckeye nut would be incorporated with the Lion's Club logo into a functional keychain. I wonder what they looked like?”
I looked around on the internet, but there were no surviving keychains to be found. But I’m guessing they were manufactured very inexpensively – possibly with no Lions Club logo – and perhaps just looked something like this. 
Maybe one of the actual Lions Club keychains still exist, and its owner will drop me a line.
By the way, the buckeye shown at the top of this post came from Lakeview Park. I filched it at the time of the General Gillmore marker dedication.
Actually, I swiped two that day. I didn’t know they were poisonous and (gulp) put one in with the peanuts in my squirrel feeder. It disappeared along with the other nuts.
I just hope my squirrel pals are more informed than me.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Ad – Lorain Slag Company 1956

Here’s a nice Thanksgiving ad courtesy of the Lorain Slag Company that ran in the Lorain Journal on November 22, 1956. It’s an ad with a patriotic and religious message that you don’t see too often in these "politically correct" days.

The Lorain Public Library’s “History of Lorain” timeline had the Lorain Slag Company opening on August 1, 1950. Its address was listed as “E. 21st Street at the Bridge” in the city directory.

Slag is formed during the blast furnace phase of the steelmaking process. It has many uses, including road and railway construction.

Anyway, here’s hoping you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Vintage Lorain Restaurant Thanksgiving Ads

In honor of Thanksgiving, here are holiday-themed vintage ads for two Lorain restaurants that were neighbors on West Erie Avenue.

First up is an ad for the Castle that ran on November 10, 1956 outlining the restaurant’s holiday plans.

And what was on the royal menu? Fresh fruit cocktail; a heaping platter of tender, sliced turkey; candied sweet potatoes; garden-fresh green beans; a tossed green salad; relish trays; hot mince pies; oven-fresh rolls and butter.

Note that the graphic theme of the Castle-on-the-Lake ad is one of highways and detours. That’s because the long-awaited widening of Lake Road (U. S. Route 6) along that stretch had just gotten underway in March of 1956, making it a challenge for Castle customers coming from the west.

Today the Castle-on-the-Lake is home to Castillo Real Mexican Restaurant.

The second ad is for Howard Johnson’s, which ran in the Journal on November 5, 1966. (I’ve written about Lorain's Howard Johnson’s restaurant a few times on this blog, including its Grand Opening, its Thanksgiving 1957 fare, and some general memories of it. )

Strangely enough, its Thanksgiving dinner was only available through November 13th.

Its menu included: roast young turkey with giblet-gravy and savory celery dressing; creamy whipped potatoes; garden-fresh peas; cranberry sauce in lettuce cup; freshly baked roll and butter.

A “Take Home Three-Pack” included 1 can of New England style baked beans, 1 can of brown bread, and 1 can of date-nut bread.

I’m not sure if this canned trio of goodies was supposed to supplement a Thanksgiving meal, or if it was a standalone New England-style light snack. I hope the restaurant threw in a Hojo can opener!

Today of course, the distinctive Howard Johnson’s building in Lorain is home to the popular (see for yourself in the recent photo below) Chris’ Restaurant.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Vermilion Lagoons Go Dry – November 22, 1956

It was a windy time in Sheffield Lake over the weekend, with some strong winds blowing off Lake Erie (which unfairly deposited all the leaves from the lakeside homes opposite mine onto my neatly manicured and previously leaf-free estate).
There were some pretty good winds back in November 1956 too. An article with the headline "Erie Water Shuffles Off To Buffalo" that ran in the Lorain Journal on November 22, 1956 – 60 years ago today – tells of the effect that the wind had on the Vermilion Lagoons.

The article noted, “Much of Lake Erie’s water was piled up near Buffalo yesterday leaving the Vermilion Lagoons almost dry, the Detroit River too low for navigation, and rivers between the east and west ends of the lake four to six feet below normal level.

“A gale in Lake Superior caught the ore freighter J. P. Wells off Sault Set. Marie and ripped off its rudder. It radioed it was adrift in the teeth of the storm and asked aid from the Coast Guard. The 420-foot freighter is owned by the Nicholson Transit Co. of River Rouge, Mich.

“Forecasters at the U. S. Weather Bureau at Cleveland Hopkins Airport said last night the low water level at this end of Lake Erie was the result of a strong southwesterly flow of winds throughout Tuesday night and all day yesterday.

"“It just blew the water up to the east end of the lake,” they explained, adding, however, that they had received no reports of flooding conditions around Buffalo."

Monday, November 21, 2016

Meyer Goldberg’s 15th Anniversary – November 1966

Well, Thanksgiving is almost here – and for most of us that means a trip to the grocery store in preparation for it. For many Lorainites back in the 1960s, that meant a trip to one of Meyer Goldberg’s grocery stores.

Here then is a short interview with Meyer Goldberg himself at the time of the 15th anniversary of his first store. It ran in the Lorain Journal on Thursday, November 3, 1966. It includes a nice capsule history of the store chain that many of our mothers (including mine) shopped at.

Meyer Goldberg’s 15th Anniversary

(Note: Philip and Rebecca Goldberg first came to Lorain in 1921 with one daughter, Annette, and five sons, David, William, Marvin, Hyman and Meyer. The children all helped in five small Goldberg neighborhood grocery stores. Fifteen years ago, son Meyer constructed and opened his first large Meyer Goldberg store at 3810 Broadway. Today, he employs 250 full and part time workers in four supermarkets. Here he answers four questions on the development of his Lorain County chain.

Question: How come you decided to celebrate on the 15th anniversary of your first store?

Answer: Fifteen years is a long time – and I decided I wanted to show my appreciation to the people who have supported me and made all this possible. I’m humble and grateful.

Q. You keep saying that the people in Lorain County have helped you help them. What do you mean?

A. I mean simply that as more and more people came to patronize my stores, I learned how to reduce costs, buy in volume and pass on the savings to the customer. In fairness, I must admit I couldn’t have done it without my fine co-workers in the stores – nor without the great number of people who came to buy.

Q. You now claim that you are able to bring fine merchandise to people in Lorain County at a low cost. How do you do it?

A. It’s very easy. We have been able to give people a greater variety of goods because we have utilized every modern technique of merchandising – quantity buying, cost control, promotion and personal observation. We not only attend sales seminars on merchandising, but we send our people to learn. We try to be part of the community. Because of cost accounting alone, we have been able to lower 4,000 items.

Q. How does a store become a part of the community?

A. You participate with the community in worthwhile activities, such as charity drives. We try to help any church without a redemption program. We give any church back one percent of the total sales that people deposit in a special box. We have bake sales. And I started the Cystic Fibrosis program in Lorain.

For more Meyer Goldberg memories, revisit my 2011 post entitled (appropriately enough) Meyer Goldberg Memories.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sugardale Semi-Boneless Ham Ad – Nov. 1, 1956

Okay, enough with the lunch meat; it's time for real meat.

That's the subject of today's post: dee-lishus Sugardale Semi-Boneless Ham, as seen in this ad that ran in the Lorain Journal on November 1, 1956 – 60 years ago this month.

(Please don't ask me why I'm featuring ham on this blog today instead of turkey.)

Anyway, the part of the ad that caught my attention, of course, is the cute Sugardale advertising mascot: Hamlet. Like all pig advertising mascots, he has no problem carving up (shudder) and serving up his own kind to us hungry humans.

Hamlet used to be featured prominently on Sugardale packages. These days, however, the chef-hatted piglet is apparently semi-retired. I couldn't even find hide nor ham of him on the Sugardale website.

UPDATE (November 21, 2016)
I purchased a package of Sugardale Bunfull Hot Dogs over the weekend (in the interest of journalistic research, of course). Hamlet is indeed still on the package (below).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Lawson's Dutch Loaf Ad – Nov. 16, 1966

On the same day yesterday's Old Dutch beer ad ran in the Lorain Journal back in November 1966, elsewhere in that same edition was this nearly full-page ad for Lawson's, featuring its popular Dutch Loaf.

What in tunket is Dutch Loaf anyway?

Well, according to this Wikipedia entry, it's a lunch meat made from "coarse-ground lean pork and beef mixed and or coated with spices, formed into a loaf shape and then smoked over a hardwood fire."

Apparently it's not really consumed in the land of windmills, wooden shoes and leaky dikes; it's really more of a Pennsylvania Dutch thing.

Although my brother Ken was fond of Dutch Loaf, I wasn't a fan of the stuff as a kid. I'm sure I reached instead for the salami or baloney (or bologna if you prefer) to put between my slices of DeLuca Bakery white bread.

But now as I approach curmudgeon-hood, Dutch Loaf actually sounds pretty good. After all, meat shaped into a loaf is one of my favorite meals.

Alas, I'm a few decades late if I want to wash it down with an Old Dutch though.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Old Dutch Beer Ad – Nov. 16, 1966

Lorain Journal ad from November 16, 1966
Well, it’s November 16 – my father’s birthday (it would have been his 95th) – so it’s a good time to post this ad for his favorite beer, Old Dutch.

The ad ran in the Journal appropriately enough on November 16, 1966, 50 years ago today. It explains how the current owner of the beer brand had decided to go back to the original label design (shown at right).

You might remember that one of my past blog posts dealt with how International Breweries of Detroit had changed the classic Old Dutch label, logo and even the tagline when it bought the brand (see below).

April 1965 ad from the Lorain Journal
Fortunately the beer brand's beloved label and heritage was restored, as indicated in the November 1966 ad.

Old Dutch beer has been a favorite topic on this blog. My 2012 post entitled “Memories of Old Dutch Beer" has generated a lot of wonderful comments from other fans of “the Good Beer,” and even a brewery employee.

Old Dutch was my parents’ beer of choice from the 1960s right up into the 1970s and early 80s. They even used to send me back to Ohio State with a six-pack of “the Good Beer,” so I’d have a little bit of home right there in my dormitory mini-fridge. (As I mentioned before on a previous post, my wise-guy roommate Steve used to call it “Old Ditch.”)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More Arlington Traction Memories

Shortly after I posted my update last week on the Arlington Traction Company, I received a nice email from Mary Jane, the niece of Norman Muller, the man behind it.

(And to think that when I first planned to write about the Arlington Traction Company, all I had was a jpeg of one of its old tickets!)

Mary Jane wrote, "I just saw your blog on the Arlington Traction Company Revisited and also looked at your three-part series.

"Norman Muller was my uncle (my mother's brother) and my father (Irving Crooks) was the one that built the engine. I have so many memories of the time we spent at Norman's house."

Mary Jane was kind enough to share some great family photos. The first one (below) shows Norman's family at his Ferris Wheel, one of the other amusements that he built.

"The group photo shows Norman's mother (who had the wallpaper store on Reid Ave.) on the bottom left, and his wife Lois on the bottom right,” explained Mary Jane.

“Irving Crooks is standing behind Lois, and my brother David Crooks is to the right of Lois. I am on the Ferris Wheel between my two cousins, Karl and Robert - Norman's sons. The other two people are more distant cousins whose names I can’t remember.”

Another photo (below) shows family members proudly posing with the train Mary Jane’s father built.

"In the train engine picture is my mother, Pauline Crooks driving and Lois and the unnamed cousin in the back,” noted Mary Jane.

She also sent a great photo (below) of the miniature train in action.

As Mary Jane explained, "The last picture shows a group of neighbor children having a ride.”

Mary Jane was also able to explain to me the layout of Norman’s property relative to the church located at the corner now.
She wrote, "Norman's property was an L-shaped piece of land bordering Broadway on one side and North Ridge (or Cooper Foster)  road on the other side. He lived in a small two-bedroom cottage on the property. All of the amusements were on the side farthest from Broadway.
"The actual corner property was not included which is how the church came to be built there. 
Norman also had other amusements on his property besides the train that was all part of his desire to make people happy.
As Mary Jane explained, he had "a large frog with a speaker attached to a microphone in the house so that as people walked by the frog would talk to them. 
"He had other small rides from time to time and sometimes slides and swings." 
Courtesy Ashland Times-Gazette
Mary Jane was able to tell me a little bit about Norman Muller. 
"Norman was a quiet man who refused to have a television in his house,” she explained, "but preferred to spend his time working on amusements for others. He never built anything like this again after he moved to the Ashland area, but he loved the people he met there and was very content.”
Norman’s obituary noted that he had written letters for the National Shut-in Society for years. Mary Jane noted, "Norman did like to write letters to people, and corresponded with many people over the years."
Just like her uncle, who moved to the Ashland area, Mary Jane eventually moved away from Lorain. 
"I left Ohio in 1969 and my grandmother (Norman's mother) died in 1974, so I never saw much of him or his family after that. But those years that he lived in Lorain were great ones and I enjoyed the memories." 
Mary Jane thanked me, as well as Paula Shorf (who contributed photos and a company history) for the blog posts. 
"I'm glad that my uncle's Arlington Traction Company is still remembered."

Monday, November 14, 2016

July 1961 – General Gillmore Article in the Chronicle – Part 2

Over the weekend I stopped at the Elyria Public Library and retrieved the second part of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram two-part series on General Quincy A. Gillmore written by Don Miller. Here’s the article (below) as it appeared in the July 18, 1961 edition.

Artillery Skill Helped Lorain County General
Overcome Civil War Numerical Troop Odds

The fall of Fort Pulaski to Union forces in April, 1863, helped to serve as a springboard for Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, native of Black River, O., with the Federal Army.

Gillmore, who graduated from West Point at the head of his class, was regarded as the nation’s top expert on besieging of heavily fortified units. He’d risen from lieutenant to major general, commanding the Department of Western Virginia and the Department of the South.

Menu under his command, outnumbered and outgunned, had defeated the Confederates wherever Gillmore ordered them into action.

So to Gen. Gillmore went the task of reducing Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started in April, 1861. It was this action which was to make the name of “Swamp Angel” one of those most to be remembered from the entire Civil War.

2 Stumbling Blocks
To assault the heavily-armed fort in Charleston Harbor, Gen. Gillmore first had to overcome the protection of two other forts, Wagner and Gregg, both rebel-held.

To do this he got a foothold Aug. 24, 1863, on Morris Island which brought Fort Sumter within range of his guns. An assault on Fort Wagner failed, so Gillmore puzzled the problem out in speedy and workmanlike fashion.

If he couldn’t go through those two first-line forts, he’d go over them. And this was the technique he used in a seven-day bombardment to leave Fort Sumter in ruins, helpless for the harbor defense although not actually surrendered.

Gen. Gillmore’s artillery was two miles from Fort Sumter. And as he’d done earlier at Fort Pulaski, the Lorain Countian used the concealment of darkness, plus camouflage in daytime, to move his pieces into position for the bombardment.

The task was rugged, for at the fort the Confederates had taken strenuous measures to strengthen the walls. These were of sold brick to start with.

And the Confederate piled sand bags loaded with sand 15 feet thick and 45 feet high on the outside of the brick wall. They did the same thing on the inside, giving them a brick wall and sand wall 35 feet thick.

Swamp Route Chosen
Gillmore’s answer was to head for the swamps again, ordering a single 200-pound Parrott rifled cannon – the Swamp Angel – into a swamp to the left of Fort Sumter.

A young lieutenant, ordered to mount this gun in the swamp, claimed it was an impossible task. But higher officers insisted that it could be done; Gen. Gillmore wanted it accomplished.

And if the young officer knew what was good for him, he’d just go ahead and order whatever he wanted in the way of equipment to move the heavy cannon through the sea of mud.

In a masterpiece of striking back at military rank and red tape, the young officer wrote out his requisition:

“Wanted, twenty men, 18 feet long, to cross swamp 15 feet deep.”

The project was one to stagger the imagination. Before it was to be done and the “Swamp Angel” in place, two and a half miles of bridges would be constructed. Men would carry 10,000 bags of sand more than two miles. They’d carry 300 heavy pieces of timber and logs more than 10 miles.

The job was formidable. But 1,000 men worked seven nights and the “Swamp Angel” was ready to fire on Fort Sumter, two miles away, and Charleston, 4 1/2 miles away.

Surrender Requested
Before firing, Gen. Gillmore sent a message to Confederate Gen. P. T. Beauregard, ordering him to surrender Morris Island and Fort Sumter or face fire.

The demand was refused, and the siege launched.

First shot of the campaign came from the Swamp Angel, heralding the beginning of a seven-day rain of shells on Fort Sumter. The wall was breached as, day and night, shots rained onto the fort.

The parapette crumbled. The Barbette guns fell. The sandbags disappeared, and shells plowed through the regular brick wall. The fort was a jagged ruin, no longer able to aid in the harbor defense.

The Union forces, however, didn’t gain control of the fort itself.

Then Gillmore turned his attention to Charleston, warning Gen. Beauregard that he intended to shell the city with incendiary shells, known as Greek Fire. Beauregard ignored the warning.

The shelling started, as promised, but without too much damage at this time.

Fort Wagner was still a thorn in Gen. Gillmore’s side, and even as Charleston was under siege he turned attention to this fort. In a few days, Union men dug 10 miles of trenches which led them to the fort itself.

Withdrawal Ordered
They crowded against its wall, a single step away from the rebels, and prepared to charge over the walls the next morning. But that night Gen. Beauregard evacuated Fort Wagner along with Fort Gregg.

Now in possession of Morris Island, Gillmore stepped up the assaults on Fort Sumter and Charleston. Ruins of the fort literally were pulverized and Charleston residents fled from the city.

From Cummings Point on Morris Island, Gillmore’s heavy artillery rained shot and shell, plus Greek Fire onto the fort and city.

For six months Fort Sumter was to be pounded. It was helpless to assist the Confederate cause, but it didn’t fall.

Next came the assault on Richmond, Va., with Gen. Gillmore shifted to the Tenth Corps under Gen. Benjamin F. (Cockeye) Butler.

Gillmore commanded the left flank, and in the assault swept the rebels ahead in a three-mile stretch. Here he urged that Butler order the men to intrench.

But Butler, visions of glory in his eye, refused. He wanted an offensive, not defensive, action.

Fog Shrouds Attack
Then came a dense fog, two days later, and the Confederate troops swarmed down on the army’s right flank, carrying it after a three-hour battle.

Butler ordered a retreat, but Gillmore begged him to stay, confident he could hold his area. Butler refused.

There was a seven-mile retreat, and the battle emerged as one which hurt the Union. For the original occupation by Gillmore’s forces had slashed the southern Confederate Army off from Gen. Robert E. Lee’s forces.

Disgusted with Butler, Gillmore asked that he be relieved of command and was transferred to the army in Maryland. Here, while at the head of the 19th Corps, Gen. Gillmore was tossed from a horse and severely injured his ankle.

In that same month, July, he was promoted to the rank of major general. Late in 1864, Gen. Gillmore made an inspection tour of defenses and forts in the West, then in the spring of 1865 he was back with Gen. William Sherman in the Carolinas, and later helped in the occupation of Atlanta, Ga.

The Lorain Countian who took Forts Pulaski, Gregg and Wagner; who pulverized Charleston and Fort Sumter, finished out the war in comparative quietness. Only Gen. Butler’s order to retreat at Richmond had kept him from gaining even higher honors and perhaps ending the war months earlier.

Local historian and regular blog contributor Rick Kurish emailed me about the Chronicle-Telegram's series on General Gillmore. He wrote, "The C-T articles from 1961 did a good job of detailing the operation against Charleston harbor in the summer of 1863.

"On September 15, 1863 General Gillmore issued a General Order to his command expressing his thoughts and thanks for the successful completion of the operation. Thought you might be interested in reading the General Order. It was copied from the official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies: Series 1, Volume 28."

Here is the order (below). It's very well-written and I'm sure it meant a lot to his troops.

Thanks for sharing, Rick!

Friday, November 11, 2016

July 1961 – General Gillmore Article in the Chronicle – Part 1

In honor of the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker last weekend, here's a pretty nice article about General Quincy A. Gillmore that ran in the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram back in July 1961.

It was part of the celebration in 1961 surrounding the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War. (I used to wonder why the Peanuts characters were wearing Civil War kepi caps in some of the early 1960s comic strip paperback reprints.)

Anyway, the well-written C-T story is first of a two-part series on Gillmore for that paper.

Interestingly, the photo used in the story was courtesy of a third cousin of Quincy Gillmore that was still living in Elyria at the time.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Arlington Traction Company Revisited

Norman Muller’s “Toonerville Trolley"
Shortly after my three-part series on Norman Muller and the Arlington Traction Company, I received an exciting email from historian and author Paula Shorf.

Paula wrote, “I enjoyed the posts on the Arlington Traction Company and thought you might like to see photos, etc. that I have about it."

I couldn’t believe what Paula was able to provide.

Besides a collection of great photos of the kids riding the various cars (one of which is shown above), Paula also included a scan of a typewritten fact sheet about the company dating from its early days. It tells the whole Arlington Traction Company story, with a timeline as well as the names of the people who contributed to its construction. The sheet even explains how the Arlington name was a sentimental choice.

Here is my transcription of that fact sheet (below). Apparently, the miniature track that ran around the property at the corner of Cooper Foster Park Road and South Broadway had designated numbered stops, just like a real interurban system.


The Arlington Traction Co. made its first run July 4, 1949. It operated on 65 ft. of track and had one car patterned after the Fontaine Fox “Toonerville Trolley.” In a few weeks the tracks were extended until we had over two hundred feet of 24" gauge track. We now have over five hundred feet of track.

Stop 34 and Stop 35 are stops that were on the old Norwalk line of The Cleveland Southwestern System. Stop 34 was Arlington Road, on which we spent our childhood summers. Our old swimming hole was at Stop 33. Stop 33 is now Rt 113 just west of Berlinville, Ohio.

Hickory Corner was named to please our neighbors who can remember the big hickory tree at the end of Middle Ridge and the water trough for the horses. At the turn of the century the local farmers drove down to Penfield Junction to meet the old “Green Line” cars.

Some of the pioneers of this road are: Al Bertwell, who located the wheels for the trolley; Gil Herrick, who gave us the old irrigation pipe that we use for rails; Hale Gault, who furnished parts and helped with the welding; Bob Younglas, secured most of the trolley wire for us and Floyd Owens, who gave us the crating lumber from which the cars and ties were made.
Two fellows, who were classmates in school, were here for the first run with their families. Bob McCahon, originated and has printed over five thousand “Season Tickets” for the kiddies. Ray Ewers has printed dozens of pictures since, for shut in kiddies and lame kiddies that have ridden out road.
The engine, patterned after Walt Disney’s Donald Duck Choo Choo, was built last year and made its first run June 21, 1951. Irving Crooks helped build the engine as well as furnish the brass work. Pearl Jacoby, another classmate, furnished the bell for the engine. Gibson Bros. at Oberlin furnished the wheels for the coal car and some parts on the engine. The engine wheels are old hand car wheels we secured from the Wheeling & Lake Erie R. R. The boiler on the engine is an old air tank taken from Nankin Substation on The Southwestern System.

Last year 4737 kids rode our line free! Of these kiddies, about fifty were lame kiddies, who are able to run the engine just as well and get a great deal more fun out of it. If you know of any kiddies that are shut in or have difficulties in walking, bring them out and we will make a special effort to show them a good time.

Here are the rest of Paula’s great photos. You can see the original “Toonerville Trolley” as well as the miniature train.

As Paula noted in her email, “Looks like it was a fun time for the kids!”

And here's the ticket mentioned in the fact sheet.

Thanks, Paula, for sharing these items from your collection! They really tell the complete story of the Arlington Traction Company and what a wonderful thing it was for local kids.

Just for a fun comparison, here’s what Donald Duck’s “choo choo” (referred to in the fact sheet) looked like.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Lorain Telephone Company Ad – November 19, 1963

Here's a great full-age ad for the Lorain Telephone Company that ran in the Lorain Journal on November 19, 1963.

The ad includes a map of the service areas, showing all of the well-remembered telephone exchange letters. Ours was AVenue (282).

It's interesting seeing all of the little exchange buildings that were located all over Lorain County. Actually they're still there, although I don't know if they perform the same function.

Who could have imagined 53 years later that the Lorain Telephone Company would be but a quaint memory? Or that only about 40% of Americans would still have landlines (including me), and that we would all be slaves to our smartphones?