Vermilion Ohio, A Good Place to Live

It is surely harmful to souls to make it heresy to believe what is proved.- Galileo......Adversity makes men and prosperity makes monsters. - Victor Hugo......Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. - Aldous Huxley.....Sometimes silence is the best answer. -.rnt...............

September 19, 2020 CITY OF CASKS height=


SHOPTALK: On both desks this week are pix of the Lake Erie Resort / Camp that was known as Cask Villa. What follows is a short history of that place:

THE VILLAGE OF CASKS: As a boy I was always fascinated with carnival ideas. I loved Calvert’s Crystal Beach Amusement Park with its sleek shiny Space-Ship ride, the dark Fun House, the Dodgems and the like. Toward East Harbor it was Mystery Hill where water ran uphill and, of course, the Blue Hole. At the Ohio State Fair, I can remember the fairway barkers hawking kitchen gadgets much like the “as seen on TV” doohickeys of today, and the Cow-made-of Butter sculpture (squirting a stream of butter sculpted milk into a cat’s mouth). I even saw the “biggest man in the world” at the Calgary Stampede in Canada back in 1964 on a return trip from Alaska with my friend, Frank Homitz. But there was one novelty right here in Vermilion that I, perhaps, passed a thousand times without a thought.

Travel about a quarter mile west of town on Route Six and just before reaching Darby Creek you’ll come across the Lake Pointe West Condominiums on the north side of the road. On this lakefront site once sat 22 six-thousand-gallon wine vats that served as vacation cottages. The place was called (appropriately enough) Cask Villa.

Sometime in 1918 a gentleman by the name of W.J. O’Neill purchased part of the Phelp’s Farm just west of town and constructed a cottage on the lake shore near the mouth of Darby Creek. Two years later the United States Congress passed the 18th Amendment to our Constitution and Prohibition (The Great Experiment) became the law of the land. During the early months of the 20th century the Mitchell Cooperage Company of Sandusky had manufactured giant wine casks for the Shuster Wine Company of Cleveland for $1,200 each. After prohibition began those casks sat idle at Shuster’s warehouse with no prospect of being utilized in the near future. In 1925, with the help of his father, Fred E. Cash of Berea, and Warren “Red” Brooks of Vermilion, O’Neill purchased some of the casks and brought them to his Darby Creek campground. By this time the cost of making such vats had more than doubled.

The casks were made of solid oak staves two/three inches thick and were bound together with metal hoops and other fixtures to produce a combined weight of 5800 pounds each. Most of the casks were placed in a row on concrete pads on the bluff overlooking the creek. But a few were located below near the stream. Two windows were cut into the backs of each vat, and a window and a door were cut into what would become the entrance. The exterior of each was fitted with a screened in front porch.

The interiors were fitted with a folding bunk on one side, a folding table opposite, a kitchenette, an ice box, running water, toilet accommodations, and electric lights. Additional bunks could be arranged on the porch to allow room for a small family or a party of friends. A trap door in the center of each unit allowed a place for storage of various traveling paraphernalia carried by tourists.

At the time it was constructed Cask Villa was one of the few state-inspected camps in Ohio. Visitors to the place had their choice of “cask or tent”. By the summer of 1928 O’Neill’s campground had become one of the most unique, picturesque, comfortable, and popular camping grounds in the United States. It was so popular that not all the folks looking for a “cot and cask” experience could be accommodated that season.

Several years later the village of casks known as Cask Villa would be immortalized in a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not publication. People from all over our nation have contacted me via the Internet looking for pictures and more information regarding this local phenomenon.

In the mid to late 1960’s the world had become oblivious to what was once the most unique campground in America. Lake Road was no longer the main thoroughfare across northern Ohio. It had been, or was in the process of being, replaced by four-lane blacktop super-highways. Places such as Cedar Point had captured the carnival interests of the public at-large. And the village of casks simply faded into history.

-Ref: The Vermilion News, September 17, 1926 and September 6, 1928; Yesteryear, An Anthology of Vermilion, Ohio and its People, Rich Tarrant, 2005.

RE-OPENINGI will attempt to re-open the museum (hopefully) on the 1st of October. The guidelines for doing so are (from my viewpoint) rather stringent. So – methinks appointment requests, restricted hours, and fewer days might initially be the best way to handle things. [NOTE: This, believe it or not, is serious business. People need believe in the science - not politics.]

So stay tuned.


VHS ’63: I was using an IriScan book scanner a few days ago and scanning these persons who were members of the Vermilion High School graduation class of 1963. These were some of my contemporaries.

My initial reason for doing the scan was to test the scanner. I really didn’t like the result, so I did a comparison scan of the same page with a flatbed scanner. The flatbed scan is the one pictured here.

I must confess that I did make some alterations to the original: I ran them through a software filter to create a look that I believe is better than the original(s). Each one was modified slightly by itself. I also moved the lower 3 photographs (up) closer the to the upper pix. [I don’t know why the publisher wasted so much space when the book was put together.] I also placed the dark borders around each portrait. That would not have made them look better in, say, a frame – but it makes them look good on a page like this. And I also created a nice border around all six pix just for this digital portrait.

This specific photo was made as a throw-away pic as part of a Facebook video demo. But I liked it so much that I have re-published it here. It’s amazing to me how great these kids (at least they were then “kids”) appeared in their Senior pix.

Mine, by the way – and to be candid, sucked.

AT THE THEATRE: There are over 30 videos / audios available at the theatre. I'm adding to the collection as the months pass. During the Covid (or anytime) - it's a good place to visit. I will be adding more this week. During this virus thing I've been learning a good deal about video productions.

I continue to add videos - they keep on coming. So stay close.


AND THE COLLECTIONS JUST KEEPS ON GROWING: Due to the “darned” Covid-19 pandemic the Vermilion History Museum has been closed to the public for months. Like most businesses (nonprofit or profit) it has made things, financially speaking, difficult. Nonetheless, I have continued to work there every day and, surprise, surprise, our collections have continued to grow.

When this whole mess began back around March of this year my sister, Ginny, and her husband Dave Wilkes were in the process of selling their home. Like many retired persons they were “downsizing” consolidating things – making their lives less complicated and more comfortable. Although the emergence of the virus made the process more onerous than it might have been, they did succeed. Anyway, because of their endeavors the museum became the cestui que use (i.e. a beneficiary) of their downsizing. Over the years they had, like many persons, “collected things”. They have an eye for antiques and sundry other, smaller, antiquities – things that folks have discarded over the years because they no longer had much practical use.

Among those items is a Delco Battery container; It is a large glass container for a “lighting cell” used on farms (I suppose) prior to everyone having readily accessible electricity. Dave recalled the railroads using similar items in years past. But those he mentioned were round jars that were kept below ground. They had to be kept full of water. Then there are smaller things like a telegraph key apparatus; an old wooden telephone fire alarm box that was given to Vermilion Volunteer firemen in years past. Whenever there was an emergency the alarm would sound in a fireman’s home. There is also a large bottle of marbles that Dave had collected as a boy – some quite unusual. Inside the same bottle was a neat leather coin purse – a souvenir from Put-In-Bay in years past.

And there also some larger artifacts; Such as a vintage cast iron and wood school desk with an attached chair and an inkwell; an old-fashioned child’s rocking chair with a cushioned seat; a vintage dress form (for a seamstress); and last, but hardly least, a Windsor fan back chair with a saddle seat from (Oh my gosh!) the old Maud-Elton Hotel.

But the pièce de résistance is at the center of the accompanying photo. I should explain that after my sister Ginny and brother-in-law Dave were married in 1956, they made their first home in a second-floor apartment toward the back (on south side) of the former Hotel Wagner. Dr. Burley, the local optometrist, had his office in the front part of the upper floor. Dr. Halley MD, who I assume then owned the building, kept an office where Dr. Suszko’s dental office is currently located. In the shop downstairs, that is now the home of the Vermilion Photojournal weekly newspaper, Vermilionite Chuck Prieur operated an appliance store. Evidently, the key to room #4 at Vermilion’s historic Hotel Wagner had been, as previously mentioned, one of those small “things that folks discard over the years because they no longer had much practical use.” Well, my sister found the key. And though she had no real practical use for it she kept as a keepsake for the next 64 years.

On Saturday last (09/12/20) she came to visit me at the museum jokingly remarking this had been the first time in a long time that she had not brought anything to add further to the museum collections. In other words, she had finally finished her move to “new digs”. But shortly before leaving she suddenly realized she had in fact brought something and said “Oh, I almost forgot. I thought I didn’t bring anything,” and she slapped the key ring (pictured) down on the table.

The photo of it was captured but five minutes after my sister set it on the table. Due to the magic of photo filtering I was able to make the image of the artifact more discernable without actually cleaning it. The surrounding composition is a “now and then” photograph of the Wagner building. The lower left inset is the window of the Vermilion Photojournal; the chair in the upper right inset is a dining room chair from the old hotel. But that’s another story for another time. And our collection just keeps on growing...

-September 13, 2020

YESTERYEAR'S NEWS: The following clips are dictated transcriptions from past issues of The Vermilion News. I think you will find them both interesting and fun...

Vol. XVI, No 16 - VERMILION, OHIO THURSDAY, September 19, 1912


Judge Scott Stahl, in the Court of Common Pleas Monday, held that the village of Vermilion acted without authority of law, went through its council and Mayor it enacted legislation in the form of an ordinance, under which general manager F. W. Coen, of the Lake Shore Electric was fined some time ago, because certain Lake Shore Electric cars were not stopped at specified crossings within the village limits. The court, however, will be asked to investigate the case in the hope that it will reverse the judgment which Judge Stahl entered against the village.

Former Mayor Williams, of Vermilion, appearing for the village argued that the ordinance was drafted in accordance with the provisions of the franchise ordinance under which the Lake Shore Electric operates its cars through the Vermilion, and that, if the legislation in question was invalid, the franchise ordinance was also invalid. Attorney R. K. Ramsey, representing the Lake Shore Electric, insisted that Vermilion has no right to interfere with the company in the operation of its lines.

“We did not grant that franchise to the Lake Shore Electric just because the company asked for it,” said Mr. Williams., “We expected certain benefits to which we contend, we are entitled.”

Judge Stahl did not take the case under advisement as it was thought he would. He announced as Mr. Williams concluded the final argument that the village had acted clearly without authority of law and entered a finding accordingly upon the appearance docket.

Mr. Williams, for the village, immediately gave notice of appeal.

Later it is claimed that there was a misunderstanding in the judge’s decision and that it was the finding of Mr. Coen which was not proper but that the ordinance was all right. Other procedure [sic] will be necessary to compel the L. S. E. To live up to the provisions of the ordinance.

Old Soldiers Night at Mayor Wakefield’s

Old Soldiers, W. R. C. and the G. A. R. Band, to spend Friday evening as his guests at his beautiful home “Harborview”. The band will give a concert on the north porch to which all are invited. The following program has been prepared for the occasion:

Mr. E. L. Coen, subject, Interesting Remarks
Mr. W. H. Eastwood, subject, The Soldier
G. A. R. Band on the north porch, Public Concert

Social Time, Smoker, Illumination.

[NOTE: There is a photo of this gathering at the Vermilion History Museum.]

Mrs. Leidheiser Burned

Mrs. Henry C. Leidheiser of Main Street was quite seriously burned yesterday morning the result of having her coal oil can filled with gasoline. She filled the can of her oil stove and lighted it when it blazed up. Her face and arm were burned, and hair scorched. This is the second time that a like mistake has been made in this family and several other families have reported similar experiences. Too much care cannot be used by salesman filling cans especially since so many oil stoves are in use. The result might be fatal.

The law requires that gasoline cans be painted red.

[NOTE: I didn’t really understand this article at first. I assume that Mrs. L. was under the impression that she was filling her oil stove with coal oil but the person who sold the fuel to her filled it with gasoline and BOOM


All the schools of the Township closed Wednesday on account of the fair.

BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hassenpflug, a son, Friday, Sept. 13, 1912.

Miss Elizabeth Short, who is now telephone operator at the Hollenden Hotel, Cleveland, was taken suddenly ill with appendicitis and taken to the Huron Road hospital where she was operated upon. Reports are that she is getting along nicely.


The farmers are very busy getting their ground ready to put in their wheat.


Jenkins is in this part of the country threshing this week.


A. C. Ward is digging a well on Chas. Gegenheimer’s farm which has proven a success.

Liva Brown is attending the Lorain County fair. He has a fine two-year-old colt he expects to exhibit.

BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. Lyle Bacon of Lorain, a daughter. Mr. and Mrs. Bacon were former residents of this place.


The fish tug Sloat and crew left Tuesday morning for the fishing fields of Ashtabula.

BORN – Marshal and Mrs. Melvin Gross, a daughter, Wednesday, Sept. 11, ‘12.

We are glad to report Mrs. Henry Schmoll, who broke her leg several weeks ago, able to be about the house again.

The Vermilion Telephone Cos. lineman are engaged in replacing the cable between Ohio and South Street with a new one. The trees have so injured the old one as to render this step necessary.

BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. Earl Wells, a son, Friday, Sept. 13, ‘12.

Miss Ethel Brooks entered St. Joseph’s Hospital Lorain yesterday for treatment and will probably undergo an operation for appendicitis.

Levi Cuddeback was taken to the Soldiers Home at Sandusky we. Mr. Cuddeback has been ailing for some time and his many friends hope that the change may benefit him.

The party who borrowed the steel bar of the Vermilion Telephone Company, please return it as we wish to use same.
– The Vermilion Telephone Company.


Mrs. Twinning is on the sick list.

Miss Eleanor Kent is now working in the W. P. Funk’s store.

Helen Bissell was on the sick list last week.

Farmers are busy fitting and planting their weak ground.

Apple growers are beginning to harvest their early apples.

BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. John Pfurr, Saturday, September 14, a daughter.

Hunting season is now open. Squirrels are not very plentiful but many signs of “Bull Moose”.

The defeat of the Good Roads amendment has caused many of our citizens to feel almost ashamed of our own state.

O. B. Haise who is visiting relatives in Kansas, writes that the horse epidemic prevalent in Kans., is of a very serious nature, horses dying by the hundreds daily.

BET YOU DIDN'T KNOW IT EITHER:While looking about in old newspapers I found this clip. My assumption that this land was in the area of the land where the Valley View Estates development was later constructed.



…wife, Elizabeth, was born in Weingarten, Baden, in 1808. They emigrated in 1834 and lived in Sandusky up to the time of their deaths. Of the six children of this marriage, three are living: Theodor, born June 30, 1838; Frederick of Port Clinton, born January 16, 1841, and Heinrich, born March 12, 1842. Elizabeth, Motri's first wife, died in April 26, 1843, in childbed. On November 15th, of the same year, he married the second time, taking Theresa Leonhard as wife. Five of the children of the second marriage are living: Elizabeth Molitor, born August 25, 1844; Joseph, born October 26, 1845; Alexander, born October 20, 1846; Carl Ludwig, born September 23, 1848; John Frank, born November 16, 1850. Motri was a tailor by trade and had his first workshop where Robertson's store is located at present on Water street, moving from there to a place now occupied by the Ruprecht family. He subsequently built the National House on Market and Wayne streets, where he kept a hostlery in connection with his tailor shop. In 1854 he engaged in the nursery business in Bigfield. He was a great hunter and known far and wide as an excellent marksman. He died May 4, 1867. His widow lives on Hancock street He was, without question, the fashionable tailor in his time. His old ledger, dated January 1, 1840, is before me. In its index I find the following names of the aristocracy of our day, the Mooses, Folletts, Sloanes and many others. Most interesting though for our purpose, are the names of the old German settlers that opened an account with him nearly fifty years ago. In giving their names I am in hopes that those appearing in the foregoing pages may quasi supplement my carefully prepared list.

From this interesting book I copy the following German names: John Bauer, John Bach, 1843; Fred Booss, Jacob Benz, Clausius, 1841; Valentin Degen, 1843; Martin Eltis, Fred Epp, 1842; And. Earney, 1843; Anton Fink, 1842; Peter Gilcher, Guckenheimer, 1843; John Hornung, Wilhelm Heisser, 1845; Alph. Lucas, 1842; Hopfinger, Hocken, Iceman, Henry Laubscher, John Meyer, 1843; I. Paul, 1840; Valentine Peter, 1842; Fr. Reinheimer, and John Schnecker.

For the edification of our merchant tailors, I will say that according to Motri's figures, thirteen cents was charged for cutting a pair of pants, and that a good share of his earnings were liquidated by accepting almost anything from a load of wood, stone, or sand, down to firm produce and labor in exchange. Fr. Reinheimer's account is balanced by thirty-nine days of work, $53,43; P. Gilcher's account thirty-seven days of work, $51.00; Henry Laubscher's account for two days' work, $3. By this we see that skilled labor was well paid for, and that even forty years ago a boss carpenter received as much as twelve shillings wages per day.


Federal organization and the liquidation of the war debts became the principal work for our law makers after the declaration of independence.

HISTORY OF ERIE COUNTY OHIO - With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. - Edited by Lewis Cass Aldrich - Syracuse, N.Y. - D. Mason & Co., Publishes - 1889.

Visual Verification Image
* Required


AND IT JUST WENT - POOF: I really know the answer, but I just can't help but ask "What happened to the Crystal ballroom? And what league of damn fools thought tearing it down was a good idea?" I suppose I'm getting bitter in my old age. But stupidity needs be recognized as stupidity - even if it is well after the fact.


A man tells his doctor, "Doc, help me. I'm addicted to Twitter!"

The doctor replies, "Sorry, I don't follow you..."

Subscribe to the Views mailing list

* indicates required
Email Format

LOCAL ANNOUNCEMENTS: After giving it much thought this link has been "put-down". During the last year most of the folks who used to use this page as a bulletin board have acquired their own and, consequently, no longer need this forum from "Views". I have, however, kept links (in the links section) to Larry Hohler's "Hope Homes" in Kenya - and to Bette Lou Higgins' Eden Valley Enterprises sites. They are historically and socially relevant projects. I suggest that you visit these sites on a regular basis to see "what's shakin'".

Pay particular note to the "Hope Homes" page during the next few months / years. They are constantly improving the lives of their youngsters and those around them. This is an exciting project accomplished by exciting people.

Although this Vermilion High School Class of 1959 reunion is over classmates may want to stay connected with each other through organizerROGER BOUGHTON. Ye can connect by mailing him @ 2205 SW 10th Ave. Austin, MN. 55912 or you can just emailRoger.

Persons interested in the history of the Lake Shore Electric Railway (which was the subject of a recent past podcast series) - "the greatest electaric railway system on the planet" may want to go to and purchase a book called "Images of Rail - Lake Shore Electric Railway". It was put together by Thomas J. Patton with the help of my friends DENNIS LAMONT and ALBERT DOANE. It'd make a nice gift.

Another great book with Vermilion Roots is, "Grandma's Favorites: A Compilation of Recipes from MARGARET SANDERS BUELL by Amy O'Neal, ELIZABETH THOMPSON and MEG WALTER (May 2, 2012). This book very literally will provide one with the flavor of old Vermilion. And ye can also find it at Take a look.

MARY WAKEFIELD BUXTON'S LATEST BOOK “Tripping: A Writer’s Journeys.” Signed copies of her new book can be purchased for $15.00 at the Southside Sentinel office or by mail by writing Rappahannock Press, Box 546, Urbanna, VA and adding $6.00 to cover mailing costs and tax.

THE BEAT GOES ON: This page is generated by a dreaded Macintosh Computer and is written and designed by (me) Rich Tarrant. It will change weekly ~ usually on Saturday. Bookmark the URL (Universal Resource Locater) and come back at your own leisure. Send the page to your friends (and enemies if you wish). If you have something to share with those who visit this page, pass it on. And if you see something that is in need of correction do the same. My sister, Nancy, is a great help in that respect. It only takes me a week to get things right. And follow the links. You might find something you like. If you experience a problem with them let me know. Also, if you want to see past editions of this eZine check the new archives links below.

If you're looking for my old links section (pictured) I've replaced it with a pull-down menu (visible in the small box next to the word "Go"). If you're looking for links to more Vermilion history check that menu.

How the old links menu looked

Links to additional Vermilion Ohio pages:

For Persons who would like to donate to the cause (to keep these "Views" on-line you can send whatever you would like to me at the following address. And THANKS to everybody who has already donated to the cause. I doth certainly appreciate it):
Rich Tarrant
P.O. Box 437
Vermilion, Ohio
Telephone: 440-967-0988 - Cell: 440-522-8397

or you can use PayPal: (NOTE: IT WORKS NOW)

"Bring me a bowl of coffee before I turn into a goat" - Johann S. Bach

Vol. 18. Issue 29 - September 19, 2020

Archive Issue #914

Vermilion Views Search Engine


© 2017 Rich Tarrant