SHOPTALK: On the shop desk this week is a color pic of the Rocket Ship ride at Vermilion’s Crystal Beach amusement park. It was taken back in the 1950s. It was obviously a very popular ride. This photo is taken looking to the southwest toward Liberty Avenue. The roof of the building just beyond the ride was a refreshment stand. You can also see the sign “Crystal” at the entrance to the park.
On the final day of school in Vermilion in those days all the kids got some tickets for some of the rides at Crystal. It was an exciting time.
On my home desk this week are VERMILION’S KEEPERS OF THE SCOUT LAW: The history of scouting in Vermilion, O. is quite lengthy. With the exception of just a few months - a lapse caused by the untimely illness of a leader - Vermilion has had a chartered Boy Scout Troop for nearly 100 years.
Vermilion Boy Scout Troop #2 was organized and chartered by the Reverend Mr. W.K. Williams of the First Congregational Church in 1912. Considering the fact Boy Scouts of America had been formally incorporated barely two years earlier Vermilion’s troop was likely among the first of those to be chartered in our nation. And though Rev. Williams only pastored in the community until 1914 his legacy (i.e. that of scouting) has proven to be extremely resilient.
Largely due to the growth of the BSA over the years the designated / chartered troop numbers were changed to reflect the region in which they were / are located. Thus, by March of 1950, when the accompanying photograph was taken, Vermilion’s BSA Troop #2 was known as Troop #313 indicating its location in the “Central Region” of the national organization.
Pictured from left to right are: Lloyd Owen; Assistant Scout Master Ron Neiding; Nelson Parsons receiving the troop charter from BSA District Leader Charles Hupp; Scout Master Franklin Seith; and Assistant Scout Master Dean Rapprich. With the exception of Mr. Hupp all the gentlemen pictured were well known Vermilionites. And all of the men (at least to my knowledge) have now gone to their final jamboree.
Perhaps the best known man in the photo was Nelson Parsons. Aside from being a rather successful businessman (he owned and operated Parsons Fishery) he was also a member of the Village Council in the mid-1950’s. His sons, Rich and Don, and daughter, Patty, and their respective families, continue to be familiar and friendly faces about town. Nelson died at the relatively young age of 60 in 1973 - but his contributions to our community, in scouting and many other matters, were substantial.
Some may remember Lloyd Owen best as a war veteran who served as Chaplain for the local post of the American Legion, as well as his church as a Lay-minister. A man of very good humor, despite his war wounds, he helped more than a few of his fellow veterans, and their families, who found themselves wrestling with the bureaucratic nonsense that is oftentimes a part of acquiring benefits to which they are entitled. Like Mr. Parsons Lloyd’s contributions to our community were substantial. Lloyd’s son, Glenn, no longer lives in Vermillion. But he and his wife, Pat, like many Vermilion expatriates, maintain a keen interest in local affairs from afar.
Although Dean Rapprich and his wife Mary only had a daughter - Meredith - both had a keen interest in their church and the community which included scouting. His work with the boys was balanced by Mrs. Rapprich’s work as s a Girl Scout leader. Their love of and dedication to the community was so strong that while Mr. Rapprich worked for a company near Toledo the family continued to live in Vermilion. Consequently, he drove to and from work everyday. Note that this was prior to the construction of Route #2, and the turnpike was far less accessible than today.
I must confess that I know little to nothing about Franklin Seith except to say that he was a highly capable and respected Scout Master. His son Bill is a retired Lorain, Ohio minister and lives in Linwood Park. Although “officially” retired he is currently sharing the pastorship at Vermilion’s E & R Church. And if Bill is anything like his father his Dad must have been an inspiration to the boys in Troop #313.
Today Troop #313 is known as Troop #447. Carrying on for the past 30 years in the tradition of Owen, Neiding, Parsons, Seith, and Rapprich is Scout Master Larry Howell. The times have changed. The faces have changed. But the oath of yesteryear remains the same: “On my honor, I will do my best /To do my duty to God and my country; /To obey the Scout Law;/To help other people at all times;/To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Ref: U.S. Census 1930; Elyria Chronicle Telegram 3/18/73; Special Thanks to: Al Tarrant, Reverend Louis Bertoni, and Larry Howell; Published in the Vermilion Photojournal 01/21/2010.
SAY IT AGAIN SAM: I’ve noted lately that many current visitors to the museum are not very interested in the history of the town beyond the year 1950. These are, by and large, younger people so that sort of makes sense. I have also noticed that more than a few persons ask about people, places and things that I have written about and published in the local newspaper over the previous 15 or 20 years. Either they weren’t around during those years or they weren’t interested during those days – so they never paid any attention to those articles.
I recall writing late Vermilion historian George Wakefield about something a number of years ago, asking him to write about something that interested me that took place in the 1940s. I’ll always remember his reply. He wrote that the subject I was asking about was “too new” for him to make any comment about. I now own a better understanding of what he was talking about.
One person asked me if I could remember the name of the restaurant that was once across the street from the old Liberty Theatre during the 60s. I did because I worked there for a number of years. It is part of my life – my history. But she didn’t know it. To her it was the old days. It never occurred to me that it may seem like that to some people (until now).
In another instance someone found an old trunk that appears to have been owned by late Vermilionite Charles Wheeler Baumhart when he was in the Navy. His name and rank are stenciled on it. Folks (on line) were wondering among themselves who Mr. Baumhart was – who he is and / or was related to in Vermilion.
I was somewhat flabbergasted because over the years I’ve written about Charlie and most of his family numerous times for both the newspaper and this webpage. In fact the web stuff can still be found by following links from this site.
So I have to ask why any of this is a mystery to anyone? It’s not hidden. The information is more accessible today. Nonetheless, there is good reason to repeat things even if it is done ad nauseam. So - do I repeat myself? You bet.
THE SPRUNGERS: Johann “John” Abraham Sprunger was born in Berne, Switzerland on 12 August 1852. He died on 28 September 1911 in Birmingham, Lorain County in Ohio.
Katharina “Katie” Sprunger was born in Adams County, Indian (near Berne) on 3 September 1859. She died on 4 April 1934 of cancer at Berne, Indiana.
The couple married on 15 February 1880. They had four children, three boys and a girl. All died when they were very young.
Persons familiar with the urban legend re: a place now known as the Gore Orphanage may already be familiar with Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Sprunger. They were responsible for the creation, management and operation of the project. It was formally known as the “Light and Hope Orphanage”. The couple had established the children’s home in Berne, Indiana on April 1, 1893 before moving it, along with its residents, to Birmingham, Ohio in 1903.
As indicated, John and Katie had four children. Their daughter, Hillemonda was born in December of 1880, but died at the age of six in July of 1887. The boys; Edmund, was born in Berne in February of 1884 and died at birth; another boy they named Salem, was born in Berne in April 1891. He only lived a bit over a year; and another infant boy born in Bern, Switzerland in 1890 lived less than one month. It very well may be that the untimely death of their daughter played more than a minor role in moving Sprungers toward trying to help those in dire need.
In his younger days Mr. Sprunger had been a very successful and wealthy businessman in Berne. In 1888, after the aforementioned death of his first child Hillemonda, who had been the idol of her parents, he apparently felt a need to surrender himself fully to the work of the Lord. So in 1889, he started out on a home Missionary tour. The couple left Berne for a short time going to Tennessee to visit an uncle, where Sprunger first preached. They then travelled to Europe. He was ordained in Switzerland. While in Europe they became aware of the Mennonite deaconess movement. [Women were trained to act as nurses and social workers.] The Sprungers felt it would be a good Christian service to carry back to Berne Indiana.
When they returned, they wanted to begin the deaconess type work but since other Mennonites in their area had no desire to help them, they started it on their own with some local young ladies and several others who had come to Berne with them from Switzerland.
After their training in Berne, these deaconesses went to Chicago to work. The deaconesses worked for room and board. After being there awhile people began to ask them to care for their children. The children were brought to Berne and, as already mentioned, on April 1, 1893 the orphanage they dubbed to be the Light and Hope Orphanage opened. This, essentially, became a life-long work for the Sprungers.
Mr. Sprunger, as the leader of his Deaconess Society helped establish homes in Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland. Unfortunately, the Cleveland home on Jennings road was destroyed in a terrible fire on February 1, 1895. Four people lost their lives in the fire including an 8-month old child. Minnie Baumer, 24, a nurse lost her life trying to save a 55-year-old resident who was strapped to a cot with a broken hip. Again, a story such as that might have also fed into the urban legend surrounding the children’s home. The tragedy was widely publicized.
After the Birmingham orphanage was established Hillemonda’s remains were moved to a place near the orphanage and it is said that her mother “always kept flowers growing on the grave.” Following Mr. Sprunger’s death Mrs. Sprunger moved back to Berne and had Hillemonda’s remains re-interred there.
It might interest some persons to learn that prior to moving the operation to Ohio 3 girls lost their lives in an 1899 fire at the wooden Girl’s Home at the Berne orphanage. The home was rebuilt as a brick structure. It may very well be that this incident traveled with the Sprunger’s and the orphanage from Berne to Birmingham and helped fashion the urban legend surrounding the orphanage that remains to this day.
Vol. XIV, No 32 - VERMILION, OHIO THURSDAY, January 12, 1910
WILL REOPEN OPERA HOUSE
The Town Hall after being thoroughly overhauled, redecorated, equipped with new scenery etc., will be open next Monday night Jan. 16th, by Lanham’s Lyric Players. Judging from the press reports of the various cities where this company has played, Vermilion amusement lovers are to be treated to something out of the ordinary in the way of a stock company. The management is carrying ten acting people, besides the vaudeville talent, and specialties will be introduced each and every act of the plays, making the show continuous.
The opening play will be The Vampire, a three-act society drama, with Karl Lanham in the title role.
Vaudeville will be presented by Miss Bessie Seabright, Mr. John Newman and Dan Vaebay.
Our old friend, Franklin McNarry is connected with this company and he assures his many friends here that Lanham’s Lyric Players is an organization of artists.
The prices during this engagement will be 10 and 20 cents, with a few reserve seats at 30 cents. One lady will be will be admitted free Monday night, providing she is accompanied by one 30 cent paid ticket. Reserve seats will be on sale Friday at C. H. Nuhn’s drugstore.
Hold A Special Meeting
The village council held a special meeting Monday evening. The ordinance for vacation of Columbus Street, which was read at the regular meeting was brought up for consideration, however no action was taken.
The controversy between George Fischer and the Lake Shore Co., over the ownership of the lots took up considerable time. Mr. Fischer presented an abstract of the property in question showing his claims in said property and Mr. Handy presented the L. S. & M. S. Co.’s claims. Mr. Handy’s abstract shows that the company purchased an undivided half of the lots in question some years ago by court proceedings had since acquired the other half interest. While this controversy which will have to be settled between Mr. Fischer and the Railway Co. has nothing to do with the councils proceeding; all that body asks for is a renewal of agreement with the railway company to keep a roadway open on both sides of the track as heretofore done. With this assurance the ordinance may possibly be passed at the next meeting.
A petition was read asking that something be done at the L. S. & M. S. Ry. bridge to give a clear passage for the ice thus preventing a flood which might do serious damage. The petition was signed by those having property below said bridge. It was accepted and the clerk instructed to write the State Railroad Commissioner and the Railroad Company concerning the matter.
At the last meeting of the Council it was decided to have H. E. Rose redecorate the Council chamber. It was decided to have him refinish the furniture also. The windows are in bad condition and will be repaired. After ordering several bills paid council adjourned.
Will Be Re-Opened
The Town Hall or Opera House as it is often called will be reopened next Monday night if the present plans go through.
A dramatic company spoken of elsewhere will play all the week. Franklin McNarry well known to Vermilionites is with them. While the refinishing of the building is not complete and will not be for some time the auditorium and stage will be ready for use. We will not attempt to describe the decorations now but it is enough to say that Mr. Rose is an expert at the work and is doing his best. The roof of the building is being repaired and the other leaks have been stopped so the structure will again be in first-class condition.
A Good Meeting
The Vermilion Chamber of Commerce held the regular monthly meeting Wednesday evening.
When Chairman Klaar called the meeting to order he found” a baker’s dozen” present but before adjournment the number had been increased to almost 20.
Very few of the standing committees had reports to make. The industrial committee had two communications, one from a concern at Euclid stating that they expected to be compelled to move in the near future and would keep Vermilion on their files as a location.
A communication was read from the Farmers Telephone Co. asking the opinion of that body as to the possibility of granting of a franchise for the establishment of a telephone system in Vermilion to compete with the present Vermilion Telephone Co. The matter was laid on the table for future consideration when a larger number of members were in attendance.
In regard to the Taft Wood Working establishment Mr. Wakefield reported that Mr. Taft would not consider the matter.
The civic improvement committee had no report on the public comfort station so a special committee consisting of Messrs. Wakefield, Fisher and Leimbach were appointed to confer with the public grounds committee of the Council who are ready at any time to take up the matter. This is a good thing and should be attended to at once.
The matter of the action of the board of equalization and doubling the valuation of property in Vermilion was taken up and discussed to considerable extent. Finally a committee consisting of Messrs. Mattison, Morse and Wahl were appointed to take action toward having the property placed no [sic “on”] the duplicate at a fair evaluation.
Mr. Wakefield suggested that as he was acquainted with a gentleman who had made a study of the tax question, he would endeavor to have him come and address the chamber on the subject.
An opinion was read regarding the railroad franchise recently granted by the L. S. & M. S. Ry. Co. By vote of the members Mr. Wakefield and his attorney were thanked for their opinion.
The committee on the entertainment reported that they had menus from the hotels Maud-Elton and Wagner for the banquet. By lot standing 10 to 9.
The committee was given power to make all arrangements.
After some further discussions the meeting adjourned.
The Driscoll Fish Company have this year sent out several fine souvenirs. One is a large banner calendar with pictures of their plant and boats on each section, the days of the week being in large figures which makes it especially suitable for offices and business places. Another calendar, an artwork was also sent out. A number of the of neat calendar boards have been having picture of the Ames in the ice in the center and a thermometer at one side and a calendar pad at the other. Their enterprising secretary-treasurer, C. A. Heidloff, has our thanks for one of the souvenirs as well as an office calendar.
The Maccabees of broke up after broke up and sold all their belongings.
Mrs. Alfred Fleming’s has been very ill with LaGrippe for the past two weeks.
BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Koehler, Jan. 5, a twelve-pound boy.
L. D. Lord is getting ready to tear down his old cider mill where he will replace a larger and more up-to-date one.
Mr. Ewell, the barber has been a little under the weather last few days and his father is been substituting.
Mrs. Tillman, the teacher, and her nephew George Jones had a runaway Wednesday p.m. while coming down the Sand Hill; both escaped uninjured but the cutter was badly broken.
W. P. Funk is remodeling his store and house, by putting a stairs from the store opening into the Macabee Hall which he will use for a storeroom and the two back rooms will open into the upstairs of the house and made into bedrooms, also a bathroom would be added to the conveniences of the household.
Mrs. Chaz Clary returns home from California next Sunday after a visit of a couple of weeks with her parents. Her sudden return is rather unexpected, but on account of the homesickness of the children. Her husband, Mr. Clary will meet her in Chicago and accompany her on the remainder of her trip.
NEWS OF NEARBY TOWNS
Frank Belden is reported on the sick list.
Geo. Sippel was in the hospital at Lorain is reported some better.
BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. Harley Franklin, a son, Thursday, January 5, 1911.
BORN – to Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Linn, a daughter, Thursday, January 5, 1911.
Several children of the East Quarry school are absent on account of having the mumps.
The funeral of the infant son of Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Finegan was held Friday afternoon and laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery at Lorain.
The general store of Shattuck and Curtis, at Brownhelm Center has been sold to Vern Zilch and Ezra Wahl. It is reported $2,500 was the amount paid for the stock.
The little daughter born to Mr. and Mrs. Eugene Linn, Thursday died on Friday morning. The funeral was held Friday morning and the remains placed in a vault and will be buried later.
Mrs. Anthony Sebolt who has been very ill for two weeks is reported better.
School started Monday after two week’s vacation.
Several of the children in our neighborhood are on the sick list.
Mr. John Reinhart has purchased a valuable horse.
Mr. Morrey has taken possession of Frank Miller’s place.
Mrs. Sherwood has been quite ill for the past week.
Raymond Bacon took in the dance at Birmingham last Friday night.
Mrs. M. D. Slocum is home from Huron.
Mr. Mrs. Arthur Heys and son Floyd of Ogontz spent Sunday at Almon J. Lee’s.
Mrs. John Lee has been quite sick for the past two weeks but is some better this writing.
Mrs. Fred Kent has been sick with Grippe for the past few days.
We have at hand a letter written by a friend of the Lawrence family, neighbors of the Abell family, where a case of scarlet fever exists. Miss Lawrence has been barred from teaching school and a sister from attending for two weeks. The article criticizes the action of the school board and Board of Health for their action in the matter and states that the Lawrences do not neighbor with the Abells and have not been in the latter’s house. Taking the statements in the letter that a prominent attorney and physician had been consulted, as a basis the matter might bear further investigation. For want of time and space we cannot print it. The quarantine is a serious matter.
As the year 1910 passed out of existence and 1911 came in the primary opening of the Rumsey Park was held. Decorations alone have been for months at work on the new palatial room where a company of ladies and gentlemen watched the old year out.
This particular room is decorated with scenes from Vienna, Switzerland, Coliseum at Rome, farm scenes and scenes from the Yosemite Valley. The floor is beautifully inlaid and covered with costly rugs. Luxurious chairs are part of the furnishings. Two bronze statues from France among its ornaments, one of these represents Liberty.
As the clock struck the hour and the New Year opened the party were indulging in a royal feast, consisting in part of twenty broiled lobsters, oysters, and all the delicacies of the season, served in a most appetizing manner. After the supper followed music and dancing. Then a lady from afar told the “Kings” fortune which we are sure was a good one. The gathering closed with many pleasant greetings Happy New Year’s to all.
The village school board met Monday evening and reorganized the same officers for the past year being chosen.
Miss Bertha Nieding was reported as ready to assume her duties as teacher.
A case of scarlet fever was reported at the home of Henry Abell in the Stove Plant Allotment. After ordering payment of the bills the meeting adjourned.
It behooves the person or persons who are prowling around chicken coops or coal sheds in quest of property not belonging to them to consider well before they tackle a certain place in this town; the owner has openly stated that in case they catch anyone having no business on the grounds that they are taking mighty poor chances as their life will be in peril for this person means business.
[NOTE: An early “Stand your ground” thing.]
LOCALS AND PERSONALS
The Fishermen held their annual banquet and smoker at their hall Tuesday evening. Cards were indulged in until a late hour and music was furnished by a Sandusky orchestra.
Last Thursday evening Leon Mehnert, Hall Friday, B. L. McQueen and Clarence Stevenson attended the wrestling match at Huron. Then happened the joke. After waiting for a car they found the last car for Vermilion had gone. A livery rig brought them home, but was near morning.
Mr. J. M. Delker visited his son, Charles at the Maritime Hospital Cleveland Thursday.
Sam J. Edge who has been in the U. S. Navy for the past four years is the guest of his mother, Mrs. M. E. Edson for a few weeks.
Howard Cuddeback was arrested on a nonsupport charge this week and placed in jail in Toledo.
Margaret P. (Hurl) Black was born in Penn. June 18, 1823. Departed this life, in Vermilion, Jan. 10, 1911, aged 87 years; six months, and 23 days. She was united in marriage to William Henry Black, November 11, 1852 who departed this life April 4, 1909.
She was a resident of Vermilion Township for 59 years. A brief funeral service was conducted at her late residence, in Vermilion, on Thursday afternoon, by Rev. T. H. D. Harrold of the Methodist Church, and burial in Maple Grove Cemetery.
Mrs. Laura Harris, daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth Brooks was born in Vermilion Twp., Erie Co., Ohio, Dec. 2, 1818. She departed this life at the home of her daughter at Marshalltown, Iowa Jan. 7, 1911, age 92 years, 1 month and 6 days.
She was married in 1836 to Richard S. Harris, and to this union were born 13 children, seven sons and six daughters; four of whom, three sons and one daughter, survive her. These are:
Mr. Ellsworth Harris of Vermilion, O.
Mr. Geo. W. Harris of Vermilion.
Mr. J. L. Harris Milan, Mich.
Mrs. Wilbur Wilcox Marshalltown Iowa.
Mrs. Harris was one of a family of seven children, four sisters and two brothers; of these two sisters are still living, Mrs. Mary Crozier and Mrs. Sarah Jones both of Vermilion. Besides the immediate family there are 24 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
On July 24, 1831 Mrs. Harris became a member of the First Congregational Church of Vermillion, and during all these 79 years has lived and devoted a devoted Christian life. She enjoyed the unique distinction of an exceptional record. As the oldest member of the local church a few years ago she was specially honored by having her picture framed and placed in the church as its diamond member. This picture can be seen today as a simple reminder of her devotion. Prolonged life of faithfulness is a great contribution for those who would lay deep the foundation of Christian character.
The body was brought from Iowa and arrived here Tuesday evening. The funeral being held Wednesday afternoon at 2 o’clock from the First Congregational Church conducted by the minister Dr. Raymond Swisher. Interment was made at Maple Grove Cemetery.
“Well done, thou good and faithful servant, thou hast been faithful over a few things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.”
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