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
Island Newspapers
Island Places


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.


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.
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.
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.”
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.

Emeline in a Vintage Dress Sitting for a Portrait

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.

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.

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 soldiers, far from home, celebrated a different type of Christmas. Simon Huntington describes the day from the 101st near Nashville Tenn.

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.

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.

JAMES ESTES & THE KELLEYS ISLAND SCHOOL – His death made our school possible.
THE CONTROVERSARY SURROUNDING THE SCHOOL BUILDING – It wasn’t smooth sailing to get this school built.

A Family Standing and Sitting Infront of a House

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.

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.

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.”

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?.