•  Marblehead Lighthouse:  Ohio Historical Marker Dedication (May 25, 2019)

On the grounds of the Marblehead Lighthouse, the Ottawa County Historical Society and The Ohio History Connection dedicated Ohio's newest Ohio historical marker.  One side of the marker tells the story of William Kelly and the building of the lighthouse and the other side gives a brief history of the Keepers of the Light beginning with Benajah and Rachel Wolcott, the first two keepers. Photos by Bill Coder. Text from marker reads:

"The Light”---The Marblehead Lighthouse is the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation on the Great Lakes. Originally known as the Sandusky Bay Light Station, the lighthouse was built here in 1821 to aid navigation and prevent shipwrecks. William Kelly (1779-1867) received the contract and, using local limestone, completed construction in eight weeks. The lighthouse was 50 feet high and had a diameter of 25 feet at the base and 12 feet at the top. When the lighthouse had a keeper, the beacon was updated with ever brighter lamps and more powerful lenses. At the turn of the 19th century, a watch room and new lantern room were added, increasing the lighthouse’s height 15 feet. Beacons were lit with whale oil, lard oil, kerosene, and then, in 1923, with electricity. As of 2018, the light is an LED that is visible up to eleven nautical miles.

"“The Keepers of The Light”---Benajah Wolcott (1762-1832) was the first keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse. President James Monroe appointed Wolcott on June 24, 1822 and he maintained the lighthouse until he and his son died of cholera. His widow, Rachel Miller Wolcott (1801-1860), succeeded him, making her the first female keeper on the Great Lakes. Rachel remarried in 1834 and her husband, Jeremiah Van Benschoten (1776-1856), was officially appointed the third keeper, although both tended the lighthouse until he resigned in 1841. The light has had 16 keepers, including Johanna McGee (1854-1915), the second female keeper, who replaced her husband, George (1851-1896) after his death and went on to serve until 1903. The last civilian keeper, Edward Herman (1878-1964) retired in 1943, after which the beacon became the Coast Guard’s responsibility. In 1998 the State of Ohio assumed ownership of the lighthouse. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1969.

 

 

  • Elmore Historic Barn:  Spring Meeting of the OCHS Membership (May 5, 2019)

A capacity crowd of members and friends gathered at Elmore Historical Society's "The Barn" in Elmore on Sunday, May 5, 2019 for the Spring Meeting of the Ottawa County Historical Society. After a lunch buffet catered by Old Zims of Elmore, they enjoyed an often humorous telling of ‘The Life and Times of Peter Navarre,’ presented by area historians Larry Michaels, and Peter Navarre descendant Terry Breymaier.  Michaels told lively stories of the War of 1812 courier and scout who delivered the famous message from Oliver Hazard Perry to General William Henry Harrison:  ‘We have met the enemy and they are ours.’  Michaels gave a unique and personal telling of the seminal battles and turning points of the War---Peter Navarre witnessed the siege of Fort Meigs, the defense of Fort Stephenson, the massacre at the River Raisin, the Battle of the Thames, and the Battle of Lake Erie. He reminded his audience that the States of Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin would not have existed without American victories in these battles, which proved to be the turning point of the final territorial confrontation between the British and the Americans.  Breymaier has served as the President of the East Toledo Historical Society and is author and co-author of many local history books, including “Peter Navarre, War of 1812 Scout.’ Breymaier has taken part in many costumed reenactments, and he and his extended family have been instrumental in preserving the family’s  history.  (Photos by Kathy Leonard.)

   
Terry Breymaier (L), Larry Michaels (C), and OCHS President Patrick O'Keeffe (R)   Larry Michaels   OCHS President Patrick O'Keeffe (L) and Terry Breymaier (R)

 

 
OCHS Members and Guests  

OCHS Members and Guests

 

  • Catawba Island Club: Fall Meeting of the OCHS Membership (November 18, 2018)

The fall meeting of the Society was held at the Catawba Island Club. Following lunch, President Patrick O’Keeffe recapped the Society’s many 2018 activities focusing on its efforts to broaden outreach to new audiences and partnerships throughout the entire County. The Society unanimously approved renewed three-year terms for Trustees Linda Huber, Kathy Leonard and John Starcher. In addition, 2019 Board officers were approved: President: Patrick O’Keeffe, Vice President: Rich Norgard, Secretary: Linda Huber, and Treasurer-Brennan Madison. At the conclusion of the business meeting, President O’Keeffe introduced Craig Koerpel, President of the new Catawba Island Historical Society who spoke on the who, what, where, when and how of finding a permanent “home” for Don Rhodes’ Ottawa General Store collection culminating in the creation of the Catawba Island Historical Society.  (Photo by Kathy Leonard)

Catawba Island Historical Society President Craig Koerpel and OCHS members

 

  • Union Chapel Museum:  Tour for OCHS Members (September 26, 2018)

The Catawba Island Historical Society provided a tour of their new Union Chapel Museum to members of the Ottawa County Historical Society.   Curator Connie Batterton shared details on the artifacts being catalogued from Don Rhodes' Ottawa General Store Museum collection.   This year's summer exhibition on Ice Harvesting will be replaced next year with a history of Catawba Island.  (Photo by Kathy Leonard)

(L-R) George McCormick, Connie Batterton, David O'Neal, Patrick O'Keeffe, Joan Herl, Connie Wonnel

 

  • Ottawa County:  Ohio Open Doors (September 7-16, 2018)

The Ohio History Connection in Columbus sponsored a statewide event called “Ohio Open Doors” September 7-16, 2018 where building and landmark operators opened their doors to the public for special tours and programs.   The purpose of the event was to honor the history and stories of the local area helping to promote, educate and inspire pride in Ohio's amazing heritage.

Within Ottawa County, 13 organizations and individuals opened their doors to share the history of Ottawa County.   Area walking tours, museums, town halls, and ‘behind the scenes’ building tours provided wonderful stories of the County’s fascinating history.  Here are some photos of various events held.  (Photos by Linda Huber)

 

 
  • 1CarrollTownshipMuseum
  • 2OakHarborPark
  • 3OakHarborCabin
  • 4OakHarborSchool
  • 5LakesideHooverOutside
  • 6LakesideHooverInside
  • 13SkirmishMarker
  • 8CourthouseMural
  • 9JohnsonsIslandTour
  • 10JohnsonsIslandCemetery
  • 11WolcottHouse
  • 12WolcottHouseTalk
  • 7CourthouseMarker
  • 14SkirmishHeadstone
  • 1CarrollTownshipMuseum
  • 2OakHarborPark
  • 3OakHarborCabin
  • 4OakHarborSchool
  • 5LakesideHooverOutside
  • 6LakesideHooverInside
  • 13SkirmishMarker
  • 8CourthouseMural
  • 9JohnsonsIslandTour
  • 10JohnsonsIslandCemetery
  • 11WolcottHouse
  • 12WolcottHouseTalk
  • 7CourthouseMarker
  • 14SkirmishHeadstone
 

 

  • Avery's Cafe:  Keeper's House Docent Appreciation Brunch (September 13, 2018)

A group of Wolcott Keeper’s House volunteers gathered for an appreciation brunch at Avery's Cafe in Marblehead.  During the summer months, serving as docents they showed visitors through the restored home of the Marblehead Lighthouse's first keepers, Benajah and Rachel Wolcott, and the adjacent museum and gift shop.  Volunteer coordinator Bill Coder recognized volunteer Linda Price for 60 hours of service, and Patrick O’Keeffe for 56 hours.  Members of the group shared stories, including George McCormick, who hosted former owners of the 1820’s stone home, the Kellers.  The Kellers related how their grandmother was adamant about preserving the historic features of the House, even the copious vines nearly hiding the exterior. O’Keeffe told about a family from Indiana on a road trip to discover some of the historic sites in the midwest. “Seeing their eyes light up is just fun,” he said.  New volunteers David O’Neal and Todd Marsh were introduced.  Also attending were Paul Moon, Linda Huber, Becky Shemenski, and Kathy Leonard.  Karl and Carol Kessler, Barbara Sminchak, Ray Machar, Tom Wiseman, Nel Adcock, and Lynn Pedro were unable to attend.   (Photo by Kathy Leonard)

(L-R) Becky Shemenski, Paul Moon, Patrick O'Keeffe, Bill Coder, Todd Marsh, George McCormick, Linda Price, David O'Neal, Linda Huber

 

  • Genoa Town Hall:  Sesquicentennial (150th) Celebration (June 1-2, 2018)

The Ottawa County Historical Society had a fun-filled time helping Genoa celebrate their 150th birthday June 1 & 2, 2018.  There was a host of activities for the whole family to enjoy.  We greeted residents in the historic Town Hall both days and listened to folks share their history.  With folks having lived their entire lives in Genoa or folks born in Genoa and having moved away or folks having moved to Genoa at some point in their life, it was clear Genoa holds a special spot in everyone’s heart.  One story, in particular, truly captures why these events are so rewarding.  Saturday’s day of activities included an antique car show and one outstanding automobile has an incredible historic history----both in Genoa and the Marblehead Peninsula.  Bill Otto restores antique cars.  Traveling the roads near his farm in Tipp City, he came upon and purchased an old 1921 Model-T Ford truck.  During the restoration process, as he removed layers of old paint he began to see lettering which would eventually display “Claus Grocery” in Genoa.  Wanting to learn more, Bill wondered whether the store or any members of the Claus family still existed in Genoa.  Bill learned from directory assistance there were two listings for “Claus” in Genoa.  Calling the first listing, Dwight Claus turned out to be the jackpot.  Dwight’s grandfather, George Claus, owned and operated the Claus Grocery in Genoa and used a Model-T Ford truck for deliveries.  Eventually getting together, Dwight was able to confirm the car Bill had was in fact Dwight’s grandfather’s delivery truck!

But wait, there’s more to the story---the Marblehead Peninsula connection.  After hearing Bill’s story we were anxious to see the Model-T car and meet Dwight.  As Bill showed us the car and introduced us to Dwight, we started talking about the Ottawa County Historical Society.  Dwight then truly topped off the evening by indicating he was a descendant of Benajah Wolcott, the first Keeper of the Marblehead Lighthouse.  Benajah’s family residence is the Wolcott Keeper’s House on Bayshore Road which was restored by the Ottawa County Historical Society!  So the family genealogy is Benajah and his second wife, Rachel, had a son, Henry.   Henry and his third wife, Safronia, had a daughter, Emma.  Emma had a daughter, Iva.  Iva had a daughter, Marian Jane.  Marian Jane had a son, our Genoa’s Dwight Claus.  Benajah Wolcott is Dwight’s great, great, great, grandfather.   A perfect ending to a wonderful day.  Indeed!  (Photos by Doug Huber)

 

The Claus Grocery Genoa, Ohio

1921 Model T Ford Truck

 

(L-R) Dwight Claus and Bill Otto

 

 

  • Oak Harbor Golf Course:  Spring Luncheon with OCHS Membership (April 29, 2018)

A beautiful day to meander through the pages of Along the Highways and Waterways of Ottawa County.  In his slide presentation, OCHS President Patrick O'Keeffe highlighted a few places of note from the newest Oral History book.  (Photos by Kathy Leonard)

 

OCHS President O'Keeffe with audience

 

(L-R) Tom Wiseman and Lloyd Dayton

 

  • Bay Township Townhall:  "Harvesting History" Event (April 14, 2018)

The Society held its first "Harvesting History" event at the Bay Township Townhall.  Building upon the photo and story collection drive while preparing the county's 175th anniversary book as well as part of the Page & Stage Oral History project, the Society recognizes there is a treasure trove of history in family photo collections.  Our desire is to help preserve these photos as well as capture the background story surrounding the photo.  At the event Society members scanned photos and discussed family histories with fellow Township residents.  Personal appointments were also scheduled to gather more information on family histories.  Future events are planned in other locations around the county.  (Photos by Patrick O'Keeffe)

       
Clara Dracka (L) shares a family photo with Linda Huber (R)   Mark Segaard (L) displays an article to Rich Norgard (R)   Township residents Jodi Regal (L) and Clara Dracka (R) review family histories.

 

  • Catawba Island Club:  Fall Meeting of the OCHS Membership (November 12, 2017)

About 60 people attended as outgoing President Paul Moon gaveled his 10th fall membership meeting to order.  Here incoming President Patrick O'Keeffe presents a certificate of appreciation to President Emeritus Moon.  (Photos by Kathy Leonard)

 

 

       Outgoing President Paul Moon

 

   (L-R) Patrick O'Keeffe and Paul Moon

 

  • Ida Rupp Library-Marblehead Branch:  Grand Opening (July 1, 2017)

At the Grand Opening of the Marblehead branch of Ida Rupp Library, OCHS President Paul Moon presented Library Director Tim Hagen with a copy of History of Ottawa County: The First 175 Years.  On hand for the celebration were fellow OCHS members Bill Coder, Sharon Coder, and book author Patrick O'Keeffe.  Also making a presentation was U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur.  (Photos by Linda Huber)

  • Book Presentation OCHS President Paul Moon presents 175th book to Library Director Tim Hagen.
  • Kaptur Presentation U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur makes a presentation to Library Director Tim Hagen.
  • OCHS Members with Director (l-r): Bill Coder, Paul Moon, Sharon Coder, Tim Hagen, and Patrick O'Keeffe.