HISTORY BLOG

HISTORY BLOG – Discover some little known stories about life on Kelleys Island in the 1800’s. Use these links to jump to a particular section. The most current topic will always be at the top of the list.

Island Health
Islanders & the Civil War
Island Holidays
The Island Cemetery
Court Cases
Island Schools
Leisure Activities
History Museum
Historic Bits & Pieces
People
Island Newspapers
Island Places
My trip to Switzerland

ISLAND HOLIDAYS ……
VALENTINE’S DAY IN THE 1860s – The first mention of Valentines appeared in The Islander in 1861. “St. Valentines Day passed off very briskly. We learn that 50 Valentines pass through the Post Office on that day…”
NEW YEARS 1867 – There was dancing at Kelley’s Hall, supper at midnight, and breakfast served up between 3 and 4 in the morning, sponsored by the Catholic church.
HALLOWEEN 1868 – There were many traditions celebrated on Halloween. Most were of Celtic, Scottish or English origins and reflected the heritage of Island residents. Read how the Island ladies celebrated.
JULY 1873 – This is the Island in July. “Gentlemen having families here can take the Cleveland boat in the evening and have a good night’s rest and be back early in the morning; and can leave Cleveland at evening and be here by one o’clock.”
JULY 4 1872 & 1874 – See how Islanders celebrated the Fourth of July. “The glorious Fourth of July 1874 is past, and those who survived the perils of the day without burnt fingers or accidents may rejoice over the good time they had burning powder and making a noise…”
MEMORIAL DAY 1870 – Rev. Holbrook delivered the Decoration Day address at Kelley’s Hall, and a procession of carriages travelled to the cemetery. Six soldiers are buried in the cemetery and were honored, the ladies formed wreaths and bouquets.
CHRISTMAS DAY FOR THE SOLDIERS – 1862 – Island soldiers, far from home, celebrated a different type of Christmas. Simon Huntington describes the day from the 101st near Nashville Tenn.
CHRISTMAS ON THE ISLAND 1862 – The Civil War continues and the community tries to celebrate a somewhat normal Christmas. The Lodge takes an active part.
THANKSGIVING OVER THE YEARS – Islanders celebrated Thanksgiving much like we do today. Through articles, diary entries, weather reports and personal accounts, we can experience Thanksgiving through their words. From its earliest days (1840s) to 1892, read how they joined together on this day. Did you know that on November 23, 1880 – The whole head of the lake to the Bass Islands is full of ice. Over 60 vessels are frozen in.”

A Family Standing and Sitting Infront of a House

ISLAND PLACES ……
THE LIBRARY – AN EARLY REPORT (1867) – Part 3 – This small Island community was rarely without some type of library. In 1867 the Young People’s Association received from the family of the late Datus Kelley a valuable donation of books. The Young People’s Association would take the library under their management. 
THE ISLAND LIBRARY & WORKS OF GOOD DEEDS – Part 2 – 1877 – An update on the library situation. “Although our Library has been out of sight before the last year, it has not been out of the minds of 39 persons, 20 ladies and 19 gentlemen, who have drawn books.”
OUR ISLAND LIBRARY DATES BACK TO 1864 – Part 1 – Newcomers to the island take our “new” library, dedicated in 2000, for granted, but library services have a long history on the island. The Kelley’s Island Library Association was organized on February 21, 1864 under the direction of M. K. Holbrook and E. C. Barnard. The Library was kept at Kelley’s Hall for 13 years, then moved to the Congregational Church.
TRIESCHMAN’S MEAT MARKET 1871 – Now the Island Market – this building was once part of the Store on the Corner and houses a Reading Room, a shoe repair store and a barber shop. Read how the market first came to serve the Islanders.

THE ISLAND SCHOOLS ……
GRAPE HARVEST TO CLOSE KELLEYS ISLAND SCHOOL – October 1950, 58 pupils get the week off to help harvest grapes.
JAMES ESTES & THE KELLEYS ISLAND SCHOOL – His death made our school possible.
BUT
THE CONTROVERSARY SURROUNDING THE SCHOOL BUILDING – It wasn’t smooth sailing to get this school built.

COURT CASES ……
KELLEYS ISLANDERS ARRESTED FOR STILL – Sept. 16, 1934 – John Ditchey (80 years old) and William Becker arrested during the island’s centennial celebration Labor Day. George Bier and Vern Huber awaiting trial.
ANIMALS CANNOT BLOCK THE STREETS – Not exactly a court case, but the Village did pass an ordinance that makes for interesting reading.
A MOST UNUSUAL COURT CASE – October 1877 – When you can find them, the Justice of the Peace dockets are a fun read that expose scandals, larceny, drunken brawls and sometimes paternity as this entry by Alfred S. Kelley, Justice of the Peace, shows. Civil Case No. 9 – Sarah O’Neill vs. Wm. Maher, October 1877
OCTOBER 1867 – OPERATING A SALOON & SELLING INTOXICATING LIQUORS – In May, John Reinheimer was accused of selling liquor to minors. This was followed by complaints of vandalism against Wm. Robinson; the first of several cases involving the Robinsons and the Reinheimers, as well as a charge of Assault & Battery. The Island had several Justice of the Peace officers and their dockets are a treat to read.

Emeline in a Vintage Dress Sitting for a Portrait

PEOPLE ……
IN CELEBRATION OF MOTHERS DAY – ‘Did you ever think of the amount of thought requisite to plan three meals a day for 365 days in succession? To prepare enough and not too much, and for those living at a distance from the village, to remember that the stock of flour, sugar, tea, etc., is replenished in due time. Do you ever think of the multitude of her cares and duties?’ Discover what comprised a woman’s workday in 1867.

SIMON HUNTINGTON FATALLY WOUNDED AT STONES RIVER – Simon was wounded on December 31, 1862 and wrote of his injuries and hopes for recovery. Brother Erastus was at his side while his mother, Emeline tried mightily to reach her dying son. Simon and Erastus wrote about their time in the hospital. Died on February 9, 1863.

ISLAND NEWSPAPERS ……
This community has a rich history of sharing its news. Besides writing letters to the Sandusky Register, they also published their own newspapers, with many driven by the school students.
THE EARLY YEARS – The Islander is the newspaper that started it all. It was published for a remarkable 17 years, during each winter (1860-1877), then came the Erie Echo (1924-1931), followed by The KiHi News (1936-1937) and finally, The Islander II (1937-1938).
THE 50s, 60s, 70s, & 80s – The Kellegian, School Spirit and the Home Town News.
THE 80s & 90s: Seascape, the Perchie Press, and the Island Scene.
LIFE ON KELLEYS (THE EMERALD ISLE NEWS), KELLEYS LIFE & THE PUT-IN-BAY GAZETTE – As we look forward to the first edition of the new newspaper Life on Kelleys – the Emerald Isle News.

ISLANDERS & THE CIVIL WAR ……
SIMON HUNTINGTON FATALLY WOUNDED AT STONES RIVER – Simon was wounded on December 31, 1862 and wrote of his injuries and hopes for recovery. Brother Erastus was at his side while his mother, Emeline tried mightily to reach her dying son. Simon and Erastus wrote about their time in the hospital. Died on February 9, 1863.
CHRISTMAS DAY FOR THE SOLDIERS – 1862
– Island soldiers, far from home, celebrated a different type of Christmas. Simon Huntington describes the day from the 101st near Nashville Tenn.

ISLAND HEALTH ……
A DESPERATE CASE OF DIPHTHERIA ON THE ISLAND – January 1921 – Mrs. Hauser (nurse) traveled with Fred Martin Jr., Alex Betzenheimer, & Fred Hauser to care for Frank Brown, a 3-year old child suffering from Diphtheria.
THE 1920 INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC – During the influenza epidemic of 1920, this incredibly detailed study was done on the Island. It was the perfect place since it was isolated in the winter with minimal exposure, making it easy to trace origins and transmittal rates. There are loads of charts and graphs and the goal of interviewing everyone on the Island was fully accomplished. In all, 53% of the population contracted influenza and two died.

THE ISLAND CEMETERY ……
PART 1 – IT’S 1854 AND OUR ISLAND CEMETERY IS ESTABLISHED – This is the history of our Island cemetery, which is quite old. It is a source of meditation, interest, research and an occasional lawsuit. And, it looks really different than what was originally planned.
PART 2 – THE EARLIEST BURIALS – John McDonald, Lydia (Estes) Norris, Lydia Kelley, Carro & Charlie True, William Cagney, Charles Reid, Thomas Quinn, Mary Morgan and George Clement. Many of these were children who died of Dysentery.

LEISURE ACTIVITIES ……
BASE BALL PART 1 – BASE BALL FEVER – 1869 – This is one of the first references to baseball on Kelley’s Island. While organized baseball had been around for several years, 1869 marked the first year that a recognized all-professional baseball team took the field. An Ohio team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, was the first team to be openly paid a salary. They closed the 1869 season with a record 65 wins and no losses.
BASEBALL PART 2 – BASE BALL RULES OF 1860, CUSTOMS & A POEM – It was noted that the old rules of base ball were quite different than today’s rules, but many of the Customs remained the same. These Rules and Customs came from the Rules and Regulations of the Game of Base Ball Adopted by the National Association of Base-Ball Players March 14, 1860
PART 3 – BASE BALL: A WOMAN’S VIEW – While the men so enthusiastically gained proficiency in the sport, one woman offered the other side of the base ball issue. “We would like to know what benefit has been derived from base ball so far….”
1869 – CHECKERS ON THE BRAIN – The first mention of checkers appeared in 1869. The game board was set up at The Lodge and the lodge members took the game very seriously. The Lodge was the home of the Independent Order of Island Loafers.

HISTORIC BITS & PIECES ……
STONE FENCES date back to 1856 – So what is the story about those walls that snake across the Island, looking like historic beasts?
THE HORSE CALLED OLD KATE 1873 – She was the horse that pulled the ice wagon in the summer, but she had a voracious appetite as this story shows.
THE HAY SCALES – It’s November 1861, the hay has been harvested, winter is coming, now what? Mrs. Brindle deserves the best so “give her good honest living for her milk and butter by getting, as soon as possible, a good load of hay as is this hay.”

THE ISLAND’S HISTORY MUSEUM ……
KELLEYS ISLAND’S NEW HISTORY MUSEUM OFFICIALLY OPENS JUNE 26, 2010. You can’t imagine how much the museum has changed.
THE HISTORY MUSEUM – Cornerstones, logos and signs. See how KIHA has evolved and what the heck is The Past Is Prologue?

MY TRIP TO SWITZERLAND, AUSTRIA, BAVARIA & GERMANY September 2023….
In September 2023 I took a trip of a lifetime, touring Switzerland, Austria, and Bavaria, with a last stop at the Munich Octoberfest. Photos never do a trip justice, so I chose to link to some of the best websites, videos etc. available online. The best part is that they often throw in tidbits about the places. We began our trip by flying into Zurich, then to
Bern
This is an interesting city. The river (which runs very fast) circles the old city on three sides. People actually swim in the river.
Here is another photo of Bern
This photo was taken from one of the nearby castle windows . We took a street car to the amazing old town section every day. From Bern, we took daily trips into the country to some really great places.
Montreux
We were in lovely Montreux, by the Freddie Mercury statue overlooking Lake Geneva! This is probably the best group photo ever! I’m the one on the far right. I am amazed that we got everyone to do a butt-shot photo.
Lucerne – Another stop on our trip was a visit to Mt. Pilatus in Lucerne Switzerland. Unfortunately, this was the only day that we had light rain and fog so we didn’t get the whole. extraordinary view from the mountain top.
We DID get to hear the Alphorn players.
This is a great video that features their playing and view from the mountain top (that we didn’t get to see). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnDnsfgl-OE

A little more about Mt. Pilatus
Maker of weather, dragon’s lair, home to giants and grave of rulers: Lucerne’s very own mountain, Pilatus, is one of the most legendary places in Central Switzerland. And one of the most beautiful. The mountain can be reached from Lucerne by gondola lift and aerial cable car with the world’s steepest rack-railroad. On a clear day the mountain offers a panoramic view of 73 Alpine peaks and towers above the region at 6,981 feet. A dragon rock supposedly fell from the sky in the year 1420 and the Roman governor Pontius Pilatus might have been buried in Lake Pilatus. This is a great article explaining the legends surrounding this mountain.
We visited Lucerne and saw
The Lion of Lucerne, ‘the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world’, according to Mark Twain. Carved into a wall of rock and completed in 1821. Yes, that’s me, right in the middle, back row. It was spectacular and so moving, it is hard to describe. This is a great article (sorry, lots of ads though) that tells the story of this remarkable piece of history.
Gruyere – Switzerland and cheese
Yes! we visited the Gruyere Cheese Factory! Cherry (the cow) narrated a wonderful interactive guided tour of the region. Did you know that the cows spend the summer up in the mountains and the winters back home in the low lands? Gruyere is the cheese that tops French Onion Soup (here it is Swiss cheese). We even got a sample packet of the cheese to sample as we toured the facilities. So Much Cheese!
One place I wish I could have toured was the
H R Giger Alien Museum in Gruyere Switzerland. Ridley Scott was searching for the right look for a creature in his upcoming film. That creature, of course, turned out to be the Alien, and Giger’s masterful designs for the film of the same name garnered him a much-deserved Academy Award.
I peeked in the windows of the Alien Bar
WOW, I so wished it was open so I could go in. It’s in the old town of Gruyères, just below the castle (quite a hike but worth it. The view was extraordinary).
Another missed visit was Gruyere castle
This was way up the hill from the Alien Museum. The building was built between 1270 and 1282 and is one of the most famous in Switzerland. https://www.chateau-gruyeres.ch/en/homepage/ The view was breathtaking as was the climb up the hill. Made it to the top, but did not have time to go inside. Photo by Giles Laurent
Castles
On our trip we saw (in the distance) oh, so many castles, block houses, chateaus, and/or forts – they were literally everywhere! Some were near the river in the valley, some were high on hills, and others were on top of mountains (OK, small mountains, but mountains nonetheless). We were particularly impressed with the castles of (the mad) King Ludwig. This is the family retreat where he grew up. The view we got was from the shore of the lake, looking up, way up. We didn’t have time to walk up the mountain and take a close-up look, but seeing it this way, you can appreciate how incredibly large it was.
Linderhof Castle
The one castle that we did get to tour was Linderhof, built by King Ludwig II. And there is a great video HERE. Click on the name of each room in the diagram to see the pictures. You can’t imagine the amount of gold gilt throughout the building. Just click on the name of each room in the floorplan to see the pictures.

A little more about Linderhof Castle – In the dining room, see the odd square in the floor? That was so that the floor with the table on it could be lowered to the lower level and dinner placed on it. Unfortunately, it took 15 minutes to lower and raise the table, so only one course was presented this way. In the bedroom, there is truly a king-size bed – it is about 8×8 feet in size.
One more post about Linderhof Castle (for those of you who really embrace the history of unique buildings) – how it was built and how it changed.

King Ludwig II
He was known as the Mad King, but he wasn’t really mad at all. He was the product of in-breeding. His history is really quite fascinating and very tragic.

Salzburg Austria
We visited the Mirabell Gardens (Sue and I are on the far right). These steps were featured in the movie the Sound of Music, the Do Re Mi song. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=10155430275064005

Mirabell Gardens
The gardens are really impressive and this photo does not do them justice. High on the mountain is the Salzburg Fortress (we did not get to see that). Mirabell Palace was built in 1606. There are some cool photos HERE
Liechtenstein
We visited one of the smallest countries in the world – Liechtenstein. Since they have open borders with their neighbors, there is no border crossing. BUT – for a small fee you can get a special Liechtenstein passport stamp! It really is quite small. We did visit the church, but didn’t have time to go anywhere else. The castle is very easy to see (but not open to the public) and there is a small model of it near the street that you can look at. Discover it s very interesting history: https://www.liechtenstein.li/en
Munich
While in Munich, we did get to see the The Rathaus-Glockenspiel, a large mechanical clock located in Marienplatz Square, in the heart of Munich, Germany. Famous for its life-size characters, the clock twice daily reenacts scenes from Munich’s history. This is a great video of the show – watch the whole thing, the two knights battle twice! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsfxTyhCzr8 Literally hundreds of people fill the square to watch the clock’s show. It is the largest in Germany and the 4th largest in Europe.
Munich’s Ocktoberfest
We were so lucky that on our last day we were able to go Munich’s Ockoberfest. It was the second day of the festival and a Sunday! Needless to say, there was probably a million people streaming on to the grounds. Food and beer were served in ‘tents’ which were actually massive permanent buildings seating anywhere from 800 to 1800 people. You cannot imagine the crowds and the noise. https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/beer-tents/big-tents

What to wear at Oktoberfest? Dirndls and lederhosen. I imagine that about 30% of everyone who attended were dressed up in these traditional clothes. https://www.oktoberfest.de/en/dirndl-und-tracht/everything-about-dirndl-and-lederhosen