Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Huron's Former Brothels

Interestingly, the town of Huron, Ohio, was the home of two brothels at one point. The most infamous was Myrtle's. This was a longstanding business in Huron. I have heard that Myrtle paid for the first lights at the football stadium. The other brothel, possibly called Rosie's, was housed on a boat. Both of the brothels helped calm the sailors who came into port after being out on the Great Lakes for a long time. If you can add anything to the story, I would greatly appreciate it! Mery Christmas.

Monday, November 8, 2010

LISTED: The Stone House on Mason Road Officially Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

On October 28, 2010, the Stone House, located amongst the apple orchards of Quarry Hill Orchards on Mason Road in Berlin Heights, was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first property in Berlin Heights to be listed on the National Register. The Stone House, a small Greek Revival structure built solely of quarried sandstone, qualified for the National Register listing under Criterion C- architecture. The house was constructed around 1835 by Connecticut native, Joseph Tucker.

The National Register nomination was completed by Lisa Yako of Historical Research Partners of Huron at the request of William Gammie, owner of the Stone House and Quarry Hill Orchards and Winery. Gammie hopes to renovate the house now that its status as an architectural gem has been confirmed by the National Park Service. The nomination process from the preliminary questionnaire to the final listing took over a year. Yako is currently working on the National Register nomination for McCormick School in Huron.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tower Jackson, An Amazing Man With A Great Name!

I first encountered nineteenth-century Huron, Ohio, resident, Tower Jackson, several years ago and was so intrigued by his name that I wanted to know something about him. Yet, what is in a name? According to, the word tower can mean: “one that conspicuously embodies strength, firmness, or another virtue.” After researching the many facets of his life, I can truly say that Tower Jackson lived up to his name.

Tower Jackson was born in Woodstock, Vermont, on November 23, 1798 to Morris I. Jackson and Lucinda Sheldon. In 1804, the Jackson family moved to Hudson, New York, and then settled in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1817. In 1819, Tower Jackson moved to Norwalk, Ohio, and gained employment as a clerk in the store of George and Ralph Lockwood in Norwalk. The Lockwood brothers relocated their store to Milan, and Tower moved also. Around 1820, Tower settled in Huron. He invested in various businesses in Huron, his first being a dry goods and grocery store. For this venture, he partnered with Henry W. Jenkins. This partnership continued for a few years. About 1830, Tower built the Huron House hotel on the northwest corner of Main and Wall streets. Around this same time, Tower entered into a partnership with Richard E. Colt. These two entrepreneurs invested considerable money in a variety of businesses, most notably in the building of ships. In 1833, they financed the building of the 170-ton steamer Delaware. She was ready in 1834 and sold to a company in Detroit. From around 1834 through 1841, Tower served as the postmaster in Huron. He was required to make a weekly trip to Cleveland to get the mail. For his efforts, Tower was paid $175 per year. In 1840, he built another hotel, the American House.

Tower remained in Huron until 1846 when he moved to Racine, Wisconsin. Prior to leaving Ohio, Tower became associated with John James Speed and Ezra Cornell who were instrumental in the creation of the telegraph. Tower, along with Speed, Cornell and others, erected and successfully operated over 5,000 miles of telegraph line in New York, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Tower also laid 100 miles of telegraph line from Cleveland to Newcastle, Pennsylvania, and was paid $20 per mile. In 1848, he moved to Brooklyn, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland, where he lived with his brother, Morris, and some extended family. Tower was listed as one of eight directors of the Erie and Michigan Telegraph Company in 1849. In the 1850 census, Tower listed his occupation as telegraph agent.

By 1852, Tower again changed careers. He was named the first mining agent of the Cleveland Iron Company. Tower was sent to Marquette, Michigan, to determine how to extract iron ore from a newly-discovered source and then bring it to the lakeshore for shipping. This was a daunting task which Tower solved by erecting a plank road from the top of the mountain where the iron was located to the lakeshore. Though Tower was replaced as mining agent in June of 1853, 1,449 tons of iron ore was shipped to Cleveland for processing in 1855 due to Tower’s efforts in building the plank road. The first load that was shipped was 120 tons and was carried by the two-masted brig, Columbia. The Columbia was the first vessel to pass through the Sault Canal between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. She reached her destination of Cleveland on June 18, 1855. Tower returned to Ohio and again changed careers. From 1860-1870, he was living in Huron and listed his occupation as farmer on the United States censes. At the time of the 1880 census when he was 81 years old, Tower listed his occupation as capitalist.

Tower’s personal life was just as interesting as his professional life. In 1822, he married Sarah Clock of Monroeville. She bore him several children, but only one, Sarah Elizabeth (Griffith), lived to adulthood. Sarah Clock Jackson died in 1854while living in Cleveland. In 1856, Tower married Lucy M. Button and then returned to Huron.

Tower was named one of the first vestrymen of Christ Episcopal Church after the church was officially organized in 1839. While living in Cleveland, Tower joined forces with other abolitionists to help runaway slaves find freedom, an effort he often supported with his own money. After returning to Huron, he was named a lay delegate for Christ Church in 1862, and again named to the vestry in 1865. Tower died in Huron in 1891 in his 93rd year. He was buried in the Erie Street Cemetery in Cleveland. According to Tower’s obituary, he was “a man of wonderful vigor, both mentally and physically.” Further, “He was prompt in all business enterprises, and contributed more largely to the early prosperity of Huron than any other resident.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plan Now For a Unique Christmas Gift

Over the past few years, I have completed house history and genealogy projects for clients to give as Christmas gifts. These gifts have always been received with great enthusiasm. If you are looking for a gift for the person with everything, consider giving that person a written history of their house/property or a written history of their family. This is a gift that endures the test of time. Due to the fact that compiling a house history or family history often takes several weeks to several months to complete, now is the time to get started! Go to for more information.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Current/Recent Projects

Old Mill Road, Gates Mills, Ohio- This Greek Revival structure was built around 1900 by a family that owned the adjacent property. The family claimed the property under Squatter's Rights and built a house there. Likely, the house was used as a rental property for a number of years.

McCormick School, Huron, Ohio- McCormick School was completed in 1943. This fully concrete school built in the Art Moderne-style was the first concrete school in Ohio. Since 1949, the auditorium at McCormick School has been the home of the Huron Playhouse, the longest, continuously running summer theatre in Ohio. Currently, I am completing the nomination for the National Register of Historic Places for this structure.

Williams Street, Huron, Ohio- In the early 1850's, Alexander Ledgard, a veteran of the War of 1812, built this house. In 1871, the house became the parsonage for the fledgling German Evangelical Church in Huron. The house was used in this capacity until 1904. For much of its history, the house was used as a rental property. Interesting, the current owner is a retired minister.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Huron Public Library- Who Do You Think You Are?
333 Williams St.
Huron, Ohio

Thursday, August 26
6:45 PM

Have you ever wondered who your ancestors really were? NBC’s hit series, Who Do You Think You Are?, follows several celebrities as they trace their family history and face the facts, both good and bad.

In the spirit of the show, Lisa Yako of Historical Research Partners will lead you in the quest to discover your family history. Part of the program will be hands-on online searching. Registration is required: online at or call 419-433-5009.

Firelands Historical Society- Isaac Hoover: farmer, inventor, and philathropist

4 Case Avenue
Norwalk, Ohio

Wednesday, September 15
7:00 PM

Isaac Hoover, a native of Erie County, Ohio, began his career as a potato farmer, and his farm produced the largest potato harvest in the county. After years of tediously harvesting potatoes by hand, Hoover envisioned a mechanical potato digger. During the winter of 1884-1885, he designed and constructed his first digger and used it to harvest his 1885 crop. Foreseeing the potential of his invention, he submitted a patent application in March 1885. The patent was quickly granted, and the Hoover & Prout Company of Avery, Ohio, was formed to produce and promote the diggers. By 1914, the Hoover Manufacturing Company employed 75 to 100 people, produced about 5,000 machines per year and shipped diggers worldwide. In 1926, Hoover sold his company to the John Deere Company. In addition to his business success, Isaac Hoover played a role in the growth of the communities of Milan and Lakeside, Ohio. Hoover’s commitment to Lakeside helped the community to survive the trying times of the Great Depression. In his 1916 book, A Standard History of Erie County, Ohio, H.L. Peeke described Hoover in glowing terms: 'He has prospered, and his success and prosperity have produced a permanent and far reaching benefit to mankind.'

Friday, May 21, 2010

Researching the History of Your House

I will giving a program at the Gates Mills Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library on Wednesday, June 2 at 7 PM. In the program, I will detail how to go about researching the history of your home in Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Registration for the program is requested at

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Stone House in Berlin Heights recommended for the National Register

Below is a press release from the Ohio Historical Society regarding six properties in Ohio that were recommended for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places.

One of these properties is the Stone House on Mason Road in Berlin Heights, Erie County, Ohio. After working on the required paperwork for nearly a year, I am thrilled that the Stone House has been recommended for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places. The Stone House, which sits amidst the orchards at Quarry Hill Orchards, was built around 1835 of locally quarried sandstone. This is one of the oldest Greek Revival-style structures in Berlin Heights and the only one constructed solely of sandstone. Most importantly, this is the first property in Berlin Heights to be recommended for inclusion on the National Register. The final decision is in the hands of the National Park Service and should be rendered within 90 days.

For Immediate Release - April 9, 2010
Contact: Kim Schuette, 614.297.2314 or 800-340-6131 or by email at

State Board Recommends Six Nominations to National Register of Historic
Places Properties in To Be Considered by National Park Service

(COLUMBUS, Ohio)- Members of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board voted today to recommend that nominations for the following properties in Ohio be forwarded to the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places at the National Park Service for consideration:

They include: Avon Isle in Avon (Lorain County); Bellville Cemetery Chapel in Bellville (Richland County); Baldwin Wallace South Campus Historic District in Berea (Cuyahoga County); Stone House, Berlin Heights (Erie County); East North Broadway Historic District in Columbus (Franklin County); and Woodland Cemetery in Dayton (Montgomery County).

If the keeper agrees that the properties meet the criteria for listing, they will be added to the National Register of Historic Places. Decisions from the keeper on all five nominations are expected in about 90 days from when they are sent to the National Park Service.

The 17-member board, chaired by Nancy Otis of Celina, is appointed by the governor to advise Ohio Historical Society and the state on historic preservation matters. It includes professionals in history, architecture, archaeology and other historic preservation related disciplines as well as citizens. The board meets three times each year to consider proposed Ohio nominations to the National Register of Historic Places and conduct other business.

About the National Register

The National Register lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering, and culture. It includes buildings, sites, structures, objects, and historic districts of national, state, and local importance. To be eligible for listing on the National Register a property or district must:

Be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or Be associated with the lives of people significant in our past; or Embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant, distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (e.g. a historic district); or Have yielded, or be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

National Register listing often raises community awareness of a property. However, listing does not obligate owners to repair or improve their properties and does not prevent them from remodeling, altering, selling, or even demolishing them if they choose to do so.

Owners or long-term tenants who rehabilitate income-producing properties listed on the National Register can qualify for a 20-percent federal income tax credit if the work they do follows the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, guidelines used nationwide for repairs and alterations to historic buildings.

In Ohio anyone may prepare a National Register nomination. Nominations are made through the Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society. Proposed nominations are reviewed by the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board, a governor-appointed panel of citizens and professionals in history, architecture, archaeology, and related fields. The board reviews each nomination to see whether it appears to be eligible for listing on the National Register, then makes a recommendation to the State Historic Preservation Officer. The final decision to add a property to the register is made by the National Park Service, which administers the program nationwide.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Who Do You Think You Are?

Last night, I watched NBC's new series where famous people trace their genealogy. Being interested in this topic, I found the show to be quite good. Yet, the reality is that without the means to travel all around the country or across the world to do your research, you must do your research mostly online. Having spent countless hours doing research for other people, I must say that those that do genealogy research are 95% of the time quite helpful. If you see that someone else is researching the same person, contact that person and share stories. You never know, you might just be related.

Back to the show...Emmitt Smith discovered some amazing things about his ancestors. His past involved slavery, rape, mixed races, and more. I have never taken a trip into the past that hasn't been interesting and rather unexpected. Give it a try (or have me do the research for you).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Huron, Ohio History Articles

Here are links to articles that I wrote that recently appeared in the Huron Hometown News Paper. The first one is on a former one-room schoolhouse that I researched- The second is on Huron shipbuilder John F. Squier (aka John F. Squires)- I hope you enjoy reading these articles!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Greetings from snowy Ohio. This is a blog about embracing the history around you and embracing your own history. Many people who live in an old house have questions about the history of their home and especially about what the proverbial 'they' were thinking when 'they' did something to the house that has no apparent explanation.

My husband and I live in a circa 1883 Folk Victorian house that we purchased in
1998. I was delighted to find out that our house was built for a run-away wife- quite the rebel for 1883. Myra Thomas was married to a widower who was 29-years her senior. Apparently, Myra was not happily married because she left her husband and built our house. In 1887, her husband was granted a divorce from her on the grounds of her "willful absence for three years." The subsequent owners were also interesting.

It is also rewarding to know who your ancestors are. I am of Sicilian and Slovak decent. I have yet to dig too deep into my own history, but have gotten to know many people that I have researched for others. I would be happy to hear other's stories.

In this blog, I will share information on houses and people that I have researched. The majority of these people resided in northern Ohio. I hope you enjoy the stories I have to tell.