Kelleys Island 1885 - 1893
The Final Chapter
I imagined that when the local newspaper, the Islander, closed down there would be fewer interesting stories to share. I was so wrong. Islanders were heading towards a new century, embracing new technology, and expanding their services to the growing community. Big things were happening. Here are some of the more interesting events in this chapter of the Island's history.
Click HERE to view the index.
So what happens in this last book?
Voter fraud is investigated as the Island becomes a pivotal vote in the 1885 Presidential election. Jacob Hayes, the Island's oldest inhabitant, dies, followed by his wife a year later, leaving their daughters destitute. The school holds its first graduation ceremony. A signal station is established for displaying weather-warning flags.
On the business side, new stores are being built. Elfer's old store becomes not just a general store, but also a mortuary office. Elfer's new store is credited in having the first electricity in Erie Co. Wine legislation affects wine production as adulterated wine is defined and a suit for serving wine in unlabeled bottles goes to court. Schaedler & Rhein form a new winery. Commercial fishing begins its decline as gill nets contribute to indiscriminate over fishing. There are major changes in the lime industry. Hughes Bros. & Bangs lease the Island quarries and for three years to excavate stone for the Sault St. Marie project. The Kelleys Island Lime & Transport Co. incorporates and purchases all the quarries on the Island and in a remarkably far-sighted action, the company preserves a large section of glacial grooves.
A local man professes love to a soiled dove who takes all his money. Gus Kelley builds a new Post Office as the race for post master heats up. Surprisingly, one of the candidates is a woman and an off-hand comment about the race creates a firestorm of articles and accusations flourish, all publicaly aired in the newspapers. The big news is that the little island township becomes a Village with almost every man on the Island signing the petition. The bigger news is that the Mayor-elect is charged with rape and the trial of the century is followed with relish. The Mayor is exonerated and officials begin passing ordinances. Unfortunately, the rules were not followed and all the ordinances were deemed invalid and had to be readopted. Huntington's Lane becomes a road, twice. The Islanders finally get a jail.
Just a few highlights:
I crossed the channel once when the ice was very treacherous. I carried a long pike pole in my hand and picked my way carefully for a time. At last I got careless, and being in a hurry did not watch my footing, when all at once the ice gave way under my feet and in I went. The long ends of the pole saved me however, catching on the ice and holding me waist deep in the water. With the energy of desperation, I grasped the pike pole firmly and threw myself right over it, landing upon the ice. The weather was intensely cold and when I reached the shore my clothes were frozen stiff and covered with ice like a coat of mail. February 1885
The smallest proprietors have their vines and fishing tackle, both of which yield them a handsome profit, and during the vintage and the fishing season even the little boys of the island pocket money at an astonishing rate. July 1887
On the cross-examination of John Woodford, Mayor Dewitt, who was defending May, attempted to show that May was drunk. The prosecution objected and the Court sustained the objection, as we think very properly, drunkenness being no excuse for violation of law. In his remarks Mr. Dewitt said that if it could be shown that May when in liquor was in the habit of muttering to himself and talking out in meetings, it would follow that he did not willfully attend the meeting for the purpose of disturbing it, intoxication in that case being a mitigating fact in the case. October 1885
The courtroom was crowded yesterday morning when the case of the State of Ohio, on complaint of Miss Anna F. Hansen for assault with intent to commit rape against Dr. Fann was called. Morbid curiosity and the chance of hearing some rich and racy testimony drew together a large crowd of not the usual attendants on such cases, but business men, young and old, who listened with a keen relish and delight to the details of the alleged attempt at outrage, as told by the prosecuting witness in her broken English tongue. January 1888
Report of Committee on Police & Public Health: [Regarding reports of smallpox] The committee recommend the employing of a special police to go on duty at 7 p.m. and remain on duty until 12 p.m. each night during the summer and part of the fall or as long as required. We recommend also that an ordinance be passed closing all saloons in the corporation at 11 p.m. May 1892
We recommend that the Deputy Marshal be authorized to purchase a police outfit of nipples, hand-cuffs, club, whistle and dark lantern. Also the purchase of a guide for Constables and Police….[and] the convenients for caring for prisoners; such as slop pail, wash basin, looking glass and towels, and that the windows be opened." May 1892
A petition to incorporate this township as a village is being circulated, and has already some 80 signatures. As an incorporated village we can get back ¾ of the money paid under the Dow law, which would otherwise go into the county treasury-a sum which would pay all the expenses of the township. May 1887
The largest quarriers and lime burners of this region, and probably the largest individual manufacturers of quicklime in the United States, is the Kelley Island Lime & Transport Co., whose quarries, as is indicated by the name, are located at Kelley Island… March 1888
There has been considerable fishing through the ice this winter but strange to say, very few herring have been caught, the catch being mostly perch, with a sprinkling of saugers and Pickerel. February 1886
After landing, the first place that greets the eye is the handsome summer resort hotel known as the Island House [built by George P. Schardt]. It is located n the corner of a magnificent grove on the site of the old Island House. July 1893
The electric light machinery for [Elfer's] new store arrived yesterday. The building is enclosed, but will not be ready for occupancy till late in June. May 1885
From Put-in-Bay, Middle Bass and Isle St. George – From six inches to a foot of slush and water cover inches the ice on the bay, but the main body of ice is not much cracked, still 22 inches thick. There are about 100 shanties on the ice near the islands and good fishing. One day last week an ice boat made the trip from Kelley's Island to Pelee, a distance of seven miles, in 10 minutes, being at the rate of 42 miles an hour. March 1885
The Captain settled at Kelley's Island about five years ago and since that time has been actively identified with the business interests of the Island. He has a splendid dock, 300x40 feet, with 12 feet of water inside and 16 feet across the end - a sufficient depth of water, as will be readily seen, to accommodate heavy draft vessels. His dock is equipped with an elevator for hoisting stone, and he has an enviable reputation among vessel men of loading craft quickly and satisfactorily. He can load easily 100 cords a day. August 1885
The Winter Bridge – 'Do you know,' said a Kelley Islander to a Register reporter Saturday, 'that we Islanders are driving directly across to Sandusky through the mouth of the bay? A dozen teams came over this morning loaded down with casks of wine and there is not a foot of distance that is not as firm and solid as the ground. It does not happen once in 20 years that crossing can be made right over the channel at the mouth of the bay. Our teamsters, I tell you, are making the most of it. They are getting $1 per cask for bringing over wine, taking high wines and other merchandise back at like good charges. A team will haul about as many sleds as you can hitch to it with perfect ease and one of our teamsters will to-day make a clean $15. March 1884
Quite an epidemic is raging here known as house cleaning. The lady of the house is generally the most affected by the disease; the medical prescription calls for plenty of soap, water, carpet tacks, etc. The children are kept busy by filling the same, while the husband generally has important work on the furthest end of his farm where he feels safe from the dangerous disease. May 1889
Ordinance No. 18 – Be it ordained by the Incorporated Village of Kelleys Island, Erie Co., O., that it shall be unlawful for the owner or owners or any person having the custody or control of any horse, mare, mule or other beast of burden or of any ox, steer, heifer, cow, calf, swine, sheep, goat or goose to herd, stake out, tether, tie or in any other manner, any of the animals herein named upon any of the streets, public grounds, alleys or parks of said Village, so that the rope, chain, strap, or other thing by which said animal is tied shall extend across any street or sidewalk in said Village of in any manner interfere with the free use of said streets and sidewalks for the purpose of travel or passing over the same. Section II - Any person violating the provisions of this ordinance shall be fined in any sum not less than $1.00 and not more than $5.00. August 1890
The steamer American Eagle made her way through the ice to Middle Bass Thursday; the boat labored from 6 a.m. until 3 p.m., breaking her way through about three miles of ice. The ice was found to be from 10-14 inches in thickness, and pretty solid. The Eagle now touches at Marblehead, two docks at Kelley's Island and at Middle Bass, and will Saturday break her way through to Put-in-Bay. The boat brought in a large cargo of wine, fish and other freight, and a good list of passengers from the Islands yesterday. She had on board several tons of fish, all taken out from under the ice with hooks and lines. Some of the fish caught in this manner weighed as much as 15 pounds. February 1886
The weather has not been cold enough to freeze the passage between Kelley's Island and Marblehead. Islanders wishing to come to the city must either come via Port Clinton and LS&MS RR, or come over to Marblehead in the mail boat. This boat is a common sail boat with runners on the bottom and answers the purposes of both an ice boat and sail boat, but when the boat comes to ice it is rather tiresome pulling it out of the water onto the surface. February 4, 1886
The team from Sandusky, yesterday, broke through twice, and but for men from Marblehead, both would have been lost. Our Mr. Beatty would have lost his, Tuesday, but for timely help from the other side. The trouble is, there is so much snow on the ice that the current underneath cuts it out faster than the cold weather makes it. The consequence is, a horse will go safely one day and drop through the next day in the same spot. There is plenty of wine here to go, but our people are very shy about putting their horses on the ice at present. At least one horse in four drops through. It is good luck merely that none have been lost. January 1887
Fishing has come in for its share of attention, and to see a village of 25 or 40 fishing shanties out on the ice was quite picturesque. It is needless to say they are now safe on shore. February 1887
The Island, which now contains 1,200 inhabitants, was bought in 1833 from the Connecticut Land Company by two brothers by the name of Kelley, the cedar which it contained paying for it several times over. Their descendants, who embrace about 1/3 of the present population of the island, are persons of rare intelligence and wide experience, which may explain why one hears so little gossip among them. August 1887
The serious condition of affairs soon dawned on the quartette and all that could be done was to remain quiet and trust to fate. The turn of affairs soon came and the boat moved in a southeasterly direction at the mercy of the gale, as the craft had become fast between two large cakes of ice and was being carried through the water at a terrific rate of speed, while now then it came in contact with cakes of honey-combed ice, crunching them to atoms and throwing the particles over the occupants of the boat. These pieces soon covered the clothing, which was frozen stiff. February 1888