Clothing Featuring Ornamental Beadwork at Rose Hill Museum

by Barbara Comienski (Collections Volunteer/ Docent)

Rose Hill has a number of amazing costumes on display as part of this year’s special exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things.

Undoubtedly, the embellishment of late nineteenth century clothing with jet beads or crystals was inspired by the replacement of candles with gas lighting which would pick up the glint of the beads. The use of jet beads resurged in the 1880’s. Near the first-floor staircase, the museum has a beautiful gown, the sapphire blue bodice of which is embellished with black jet beading. There are several types of black jet. Natural jet, derived from fossilized wood, is lighter in weight and shines rather than sparkles. These beads would be a harder type than Irish jet which is fossilized peat, vulcanite, a vulcanized rubber, or dark glass imitating jet.

Collar detail of 1860s black beaded dress, 1996.C.132

Throughout the first floor, visitors can see examples of black berthas, detachable collars, and bib like accessories also decorated with jet beading. Since beading was very labor intensive, few middle-class women had the time to embellish an entire garment or be able to afford to purchase one. Such accessory pieces allowed them to be fashionable and would also have been particularly helpful to quickly utilize in mourning attire.

As with the invention of sewing machine in the mid-nineteenth century, the turn of the century also relied on decorative stitching, pleating, or ruching effects for ornamentation. By the nineteen teens, fashion turned to metallic thread and sequins until glass beads returned to popularity in the 1920’s. A black dress at the front left of the Victorian Parlor illustrates this crossover in trends with elements of both. The squared neckline, straps, and hem are defined by sequins, while the bodice, sleeves, and skirt feature heavy beading.

Early 1900s beaded black dress with square neckline, 1997.C.131

The popularity with beading in the 1920’s was to catch the glimmer of the new incandescent light bulbs. Shimmering satin fabric also reflected the light. Literally, women personified a “dazzling” fashion statement. Often 1920’s dresses favored thin gauzy fabrics. Many of these dresses have disintegrated under the weight of the beads pulling the fibers of the fabric. Several Rose Hill dresses currently on display are laid out on furniture to prevent further damage; one example is the black beaded mustard colored dress on the green sofa. Note the repeating diamond design of the black beads, which emphasizes the fascination in geometric patterns during this part of the Art Deco period.

Detail of a floral bead design, Bay Village Historical Society

Fashion in the 1920’s was also influenced by exotic cultures. Amulets and other jewelry from ancient Egypt were often copied, as were the softly side pleated skirts from Egyptian art. Howard Carter had only recently discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922. Several beaded appliques on display in the Cahoon Library of Rose Hill show the bright colors and interesting shapes emulating these ancient designs. A penchant for exotic cultures in general permeated mid to late 20s fashion; therefore, we see nature and animal motifs in ornamental beading of the time.

Wedding headpiece, 1941, 2022.C.15.05B

As one heads upstairs, the 1940’s wedding headdress, bedecked with pearls, gives a preview of the variety of eras represented by beading on the second floor. A mid twentieth century evening gown creates visual interest with the undulating overall patterns of silver and pink beads. Over the stairway is a black gabardine cape with a beaded stand-up collar. The front and back have beaded V-shape bottom edges. Black bugle beads form a swirl pattern on the main part of the cape. Continuing toward the Victorian bedroom, visitors can see a mid- nineteenth century burnt orange velvet bonnet, unique in the rim of sparkling beads framing the face. From the same period, a pale blue gauze fabric dress is displayed on the bed to preserve the garment. The profusion of beaded flowers on the bodice stresses this fragilefabric. Peeking into the children’s room, one notes the beaded flowers on the collars and pocket of the pink child’s dress from early in the twentieth century.

Child’s party dress, ca. 1890-1920, 1996.C.022

Fun vintage, but reproduction, beaded clothing can be found in the Early Settler section as one enters the basement displays. Two Campfire Girl dresses from early in the twentieth century replicate beaded Native American garb. Since treaties for land west of the Cuyahoga were not in effect until 1805, early settlers to the area would still periodically encounter a few Native Americans journeying or hunting.

1940s Campfire Girl uniform with bead accessories, 1996.C.207AE

These are just a few highlights of the amazing creations on display in our current special exhibition. We hope you can join us at Rose Hill soon. In addition, consider attending our benefit fashion show Silhouettes of Style, September 24 at Lakewood Country Club. Details can be found at www.bayhistorical.com.

Eclipses in Bay Village

The following article was written by Bay Village Historical Society members Jim and Barbara Comienski. Barbara has been a tremendous help to us as both a museum docent and collections volunteer. She is responsible for cataloging our doll collection and has assisted in the dating of our clothing collection, amongst other activities. In the past, Barbara and Jim served as BVHS secretary and vice president, respectively. Jim is a retired planetarium director and astronomy and geology teacher for Lakewood City Schools. He is a 48-year member of both the Great Lakes Planetarium Association and the Cleveland Regional Association of Planetariums. He is also a 48-year member of the Cleveland Astronomical Society and currently serves on its board. Jim is active in the Bay Village Kiwanis Club, which will be involved in activities in anticipation of the April 8, 2024 solar eclipse. The Comienskis have recorded some interesting history for us about past eclipses in Bay that we are sharing here with you.

Eclipses in Bay Village

by Jim and Barbara Comienski

Much of the Cleveland area is in preparation for the total eclipse of the sun next year on April 8, 2024.

The last one in our area that extensive – a full eclipse – was on June 16,1806, predating settlers but seen by Native populations as was an annular eclipse on April 3, 1791.

The area was then inhabited by Wyandot and, to the west, Shawnee tribes. Although treaties were established with Native Americans in 1795, the land only opened to settlers in 1805. The Prophet Tenskwatawa, who was the brother of the famous chief Tecumseh, had predicted the 1806 eclipse.

There were two annular eclipses in the area after 1806 that would have been experienced by early settlers. An annular eclipse is not total; a ring of sunlight is visible. The Cahoons would have seen the one on September 17, 1811. Another occurred as the area was becoming more settled on September 18, 1838. Northeast Ohio then experienced its next annular eclipse on May 10, 1994.

There have been lots of partial eclipses where only part of sun is covered, the most recent in 2017, when our area parks were filled with viewers. All eclipses require safe viewing procedures. The Northeast Ohio area will experience a partial eclipse again this fall on October 14. This will undoubtedly generate excitement for the total eclipse in April.

Destination Cleveland projects an influx of viewers of hundreds of thousands to the Cleveland area, including Bay Village. Both LENSC and Kiwanis are developing plans with the city for possible events.

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If learning historical information such as this is important to you, please consider a donation to the Bay Village Historical Society. Find out more on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

Come visit us Sundays, April through December (excluding holiday weekends) from 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Rose Hill Museum. Currently on display for 2023 is our temporary exhibition, Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things, as well as our permanent collection concerning early Bay Village history.

Collecting Stamps

The Bay Village Historical Society is researching historical letter writing this year for upcoming educational projects. While doing so, we have come into contact with stamp expert, Michael Lynn, who has also generously donated several fine examples of stamps, envelopes and their contents to us. Some of these items date as far back as the Civil War era. Mr. Lynn also explained to us some of the terms and best practices used in the hobby of stamp collecting, which we are sharing on our website. If you would like to begin the hobby of philately (stamp collecting) and need a place to begin, Mr. Lynn is happy to get you started by emailing him at usstamps@mac.com. He will supply a collection kit and mail it to you, all at no cost (including postage). Likewise, if you have any information or objects to share on the art of letter writing with the Bay Village Historical Society, please let us know by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

Collecting Stamps

by Michael Lynn

Collecting stamps is a wonderful hobby. I was introduced to it by my grandfather when I was very young and have continued collecting my whole life. Stamps can teach us a lot about history, geography, and many other things. More than 700 countries have issued stamps and they go back as far as 1847. There are a lot of different stamps to collect!

Stamps from different countries, EA.02.003

Most collectors pick a specific country or two to collect, but some people try to get stamps from as many countries as possible. I collect stamps from the United States and Germany. There are also people who collect stamps in a “topical” way – for instance, stamps with animals, flowers, space related stamps, or air mail stamps. Any way you want to collect is fine. While it isn’t so important at first, we divide stamps into “Mint stamps,” meaning that they have never been used, and “Cancelled stamps,” meaning they have been used and canceled by the postal system. All stamps have some value associated with them, but for most stamps it is very low – only a few cents. There are also stamps worth thousands of dollars but finding them is as difficult as winning the lottery. So, collecting stamps isn’t about the value, but the fun of collecting and learning about the stamps you collect.

One of the first things to do is to sort the stamps by which countries they are from. The name of the country is always printed somewhere on the stamp but not necessarily in English or using a name we are used to seeing. I would put them into groups where all the stamps of a certain country are together, with a separate group of stamps where you can’t easily figure out the country. Often you can figure out the country by typing whatever is printed on the stamp into Google. An example is “Magyar.” Many people would not know that country, but because I’m a stamp collector, I know that it is the country “Hungry.”

First Day Covers – a first day cover is an envelope that was sent on the first day a stamp was issued, usually from the post office that is the originator of the stamp. The envelopes are often pre-printed with information about the stamp.

First Day Cover of the Hawaiian Islands, 1937, E.2023.19.02

Plate Blocks – A plate block is usually a block of 4 with the margins attached and showing the printing plate number. This is a great way to collect but doesn’t really make the value of the stamps higher unless the stamp is rare as a single stamp.

Plate Block, Frederick Remington/Artist of the West, 1961 EA.02.002B

The next step after sorting the stamps by country is to put them in order of when they were issued. The best way to figure this out is using a stamp catalog (probably available at your public library) or using an online catalog such as stampworld.com – select Catalog and then the country you are interested in. Experiment a little with this and you will figure out how to use it. There are also some phone apps where you can scan a stamp and (maybe) it will identify it. I haven’t had much luck with these, but they may be worth a try. You can also take a good photo of your stamp and upload it to Google Images. This will probably find lots of links to your stamp. From those you can usually find the country and year making it easy to find in a catalog like stampworld.com. Stamps are often issued to commemorate historical events and it is fun to look these up on Google to understand the intention for the stamp. Other times, they are showing animals, plants, or other things. There is always something to learn from a stamp.

Stamps on paper – if you have an envelope with stamps on it and you want to add them to your collection, don’t try to tear them off the envelope. You want to collect stamps in fine condition with no rips or creases. Serious collectors care a lot about the condition of stamps and they would generally consider a stamp worthless if a corner is torn off. To remove most stamps from their envelopes, all you need to do is soak them in water. Just take a big bowl, fill it with water, and put your stamps that are attached to paper into it. Wait 10 or 15 minutes and they should begin floating off. Some modern self-adhesive stamps do not come off so easily. For now, it is best to just leave those stamps as they are. To dry the stamps, put them between some paper towels and put some weight on top of them so they dry flat.

Storing your stamps – It is good to store your stamps in a way that they won’t get damaged and where you can see them and show them to your friends. A stockbook is usually a good place to start.
Never use glue or tape with your stamps – they will be ruined. Here are some links to different products that can be helpful:  Stamp Stock Pages and Stamp Stock Books

Stamp albums – especially if you decide on a particular country to collect, it is great to buy a stamp album for your country. The album will generally provide spaces for all the stamps issued by a country. There are ways online to get album pages you can print yourself. Stamp albums run from fairly inexpensive to quite expensive. You can also search online for some stamp pages you can print yourself.

Tools – Another thing that is necessary to handle stamps for stockbooks, albums, or even just moving them around, is a pair of stamp tweezers. One other tool which is useful when identifying some stamps is a perforation guide. Stamps are produced with different spacings of the perforations around the stamp. Especially with older stamps, a couple of stamps my look the same, but one could be worth 5c and another $5.00, the only difference being their perforations and how many of each type were printed. Here is one option – Stamp Perforation Gauge

I hope you enjoy your stamp collecting!

Michael’s Stamps

usstamps@mac.com

This 3 cent Washington stamp is a #26 issued in 1857, the most popular stamp prior to the Civil War, 2023.19.01.06.

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Come visit us Sundays, April through December (excluding holiday weekends) from 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Rose Hill Museum. Currently on display for 2023 is our temporary exhibition, Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things, as well as our permanent collection concerning early Bay Village history.

The Story of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia

The Story of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia

by Michele Yamamoto

It began with an inquiry from a former Bay Village resident. Steve Gress wanted to know if we had any information on the Bay Village Volunteer Militia. As it turned out, Steve was one of the youngest members of the group.

Bob Finicle, David Bryant, John P. Harmon (kneeling), Daniel Warnke, Doug Hansen and George V. Woodling, Jr. Unknown photographer. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.06

Not long before this email, I was doing a bit of research in the Bay Village Historical Society archives, searching through the scrapbooks from the late 1960s and early 1970s. Time and again I encountered news articles with pictures of men and women in American Revolutionary War attire, engaging in historical re-enactments. I thought the email was the push needed to explore further. After sending out a call to the community and doing a little searching, we found five former members of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia who were willing to talk with us and share valuable information about this short-lived but quite impressive group of historical re-enactors.

Former participants Bob and Marilyn Finicle and their friend, Rhonda Totten, recall the group being thought up in the late 1960s, during Junior Women’s Club couples bridge games, which took place at various member homes. It was during these games that it was learned at least a few members collected and displayed antique firearms. This unexpected shared interest in history sparked an idea.

Captured! Left to right: Dan Warnke, Jr., Bob Finicle, Mark Totten and his father Arthur. The two figures in the back are unidentified. Courtesy of Bob Finicle from The Plain Dealer, June 30, 1969, photograph by Norbert J. Yassanye. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.01

Attendees Daniel Warnke and Arthur Totten (Rhonda’s husband) are credited in at least one news article of the time as taking the lead in formalizing the group. Warnke’s son, Daniel Warnke, Jr., and other former members of the group confirm this. Fittingly, July 4, 1968 is the date given by Warnke Sr. as the official start of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia.

“We want to bring a little meaning back to the Fourth of July,” Warnke said in a July 3, 1969 interview with The Plain Dealer. The article goes on to say that Warnke and others were concerned about young people who said they did not see any connection between fireworks and the meaning of the Fourth of July. “Are the colorful flares and rockets and booms at Edgewater Park a reminder of the ‘rockets red glare with bombs bursting in air’ in ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’?” asked Warnke. “Or are they supposed to represent the battles and the mortars that killed the patriots and heroes we are supposed to remember on the Fourth? We want to remind people that these are the weapons that were used to build and defend our country by the men we honor on the Fourth of July.”

The musters and skirmishes of the Bay Volunteer Militia were done during the Vietnam War and perhaps Warnke felt a need to quell any objections to his group when he stated in a July 2, 1972 article in the Chronicle-Telegram, “The group’s re-enactment of Revolutionary War ‘call to arms,’ musters and battle moves are not designed to glorify war, but illustrate a page from our history.” Today, his son agrees with the sentiment and says the Militia was more of a sort of “tribute band” to the American Revolutionary War.

Warnke also mentions in the article the fun of dressing up and acting like a kid again. “It’s fun to play dress up,” Rhonda agreed. “We were all kind of hams, weren’t we?” Marilyn added, as she perused some photos from a scrapbook that she and her husband shared with the Bay Village Historical Society.

Gretchen Warnke, Christal (Chris) Finicle (third from left), Kristin Warnke, baby Eric Warnke, Marilyn Finicle and Donna Warnke. Daniel Warnke, Sr. stands in uniform in the background. Photo by the U.S. Marine Corps. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.07

The Bay Village Volunteer Militia is listed in publications of the time as having anywhere from 35-50 members. The number of regular participants was actually closer to 35. In the case of the Warnke, Finicle and Totten families, the whole family unit would dress up and participate, at times. Member Steve Gress was only about 11 or 12 when he joined.

Steve remembers having an interest in history and antique firearms at a young age and how it led him to join the Bay Volunteer Militia group. “I’ve always been interested in history,” Steve said. “My parents had bought me a black powder rifle for a Christmas present and I had been down to watch one of [the Militia’s] parades when they went down Wolf Road and I just asked them.” Steve got some pointers on how to make an inexpensive costume and his parents helped him put together a uniform using a ruffled tuxedo shirt, leather vest, altered pair of pants and some moccasins. Steve has fun memories of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia and his time living in Bay. He counts those years as a positive part of his life and something very memorable.

Steve in costume with his Dad, Matthew Gress, May, 1972, from the collection of Steve Gress.

They may have been called a militia but there was nothing combative about the somewhat informal group who met to entertain and enlighten spectators. All of the former participants remember a casual organization and not a lot of regular meetings, unless they needed to practice for an upcoming demonstration. The call went out to be at a particular event and the members would show up. “Which would have been indicative of what it would have been in real life [in the Colonial times],” Rhonda said. “You didn’t get together but, when you got the call, you showed up.” Steve remembered: “It was a very laid-back group and not a lot of egos involved. We all got along, went out there and had a great time.”

The militia would re-enact battles, marches and compete in shooting competitions in Bay (Huntington Park) and further afield. Bob Finicle recruited Bay High School band members to serve as their fife and drum corps. The Bay Volunteer Militia even performed at an Indians baseball game in Cleveland in 1971, mustering and firing right before the game to celebrate the city’s “Super Sesqui Celebration” (175th anniversary) on the field. Both Steve Gress and Daniel Warnke, Jr. remember actors Bob Hope and Tim Conway being there and a very kind Conway taking particular interest in the group, speaking with them at length about it.  The stadium couldn’t guarantee dressing time and space and so the Militia needed to come prepared and in costume. Steve’s group had to park about two blocks away from the stadium and walk in to do the show. He remembers, “We were walking down through downtown Cleveland in our costumes, with our rifles, some people carried flintlock pistols, we all had a knife or a tomahawk or both on our belt and literally just walked down through the main streets of Cleveland.”

The Militia performs at the Cleveland stadium, July, 1971. Steve Gress is in the middle, wearing a coonskin cap. From the collection of Steve Gress.

The muskets used were from the Revolutionary and Civil War eras and were all muzzle-loading. Dan Warnke, Jr. remembers he and his father using flintlock muskets of the type used in the American Colonial era. The Civil War era guns, such as the type the Finicles used, were percussion cap muskets. Although not a flintlock mechanism, as would have been used during the actual Revolutionary War, it still required the user to pour the black powder in the muzzle for every firing. Obviously, no bullets were inserted for demonstrations at events. Traditionally, a wad of cotton or paper would be packed down over the powder with a ramrod. Dan Jr. remembers his father being very safety conscious and insisting they carry their black powder for each firing in a piece of aluminum foil, wrapped up like a Hershey’s Kiss. The emptied foil was then rammed down over the powder instead of cotton or paper so as to prevent accidents from smoldering embers remaining inside the muzzle from the previous firing. For the percussion cap muskets, the percussion cap piece, which contained a small amount of powder, was placed on the nipple of the gun. The force of a hammer hitting the cap provided the charge needed to spark the black powder in the barrel and cause the bang and smoke required to put on a good show for the spectators. The ramrod needed to be placed in front of the shooter between firings, stuck upright in the ground, as a visual safety check in case it was left in the muzzle and became a dangerous projectile. The final effect was that of merely shooting off fireworks and so the muskets were designated as such for the events.

Bob Finicle barks orders to (left to right) Charles Herrmann, Doug Hansen and William Whittemore. By photographer John Kenney for the Chronicle-Telegram, July 2, 1972. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.03

Before the skirmishes, the commanding officer would call out for the group to load and fire three times, then he would command the group to “fire at will,” at which point the participants would approach the opposing line and discharge the muskets, never aiming directly at a person. Some would run away or fall “dead” until it was over. Many “battles” or skirmishes in Bay involved eastside Bay members versus westside Bay members battling. When fighting in another town, the Bay Village Volunteer Militia would “lose” to the opposing side as a courtesy but always “won” in their own hometown.

The muskets were a challenge to use. They were very heavy to carry, difficult and time consuming to load. In addition to the loading issues, these old guns would not have been very accurate. If you feel the heft of the old firearms and imagine the stamina needed to march with and load and use these in battle, it gives one an appreciation for the challenges our forefathers had to overcome during war. “How they fought a war with this, I’ll never know,” Bob Finicle remarked while showing me his flintlock muzzle-loading pistol from the mid-1700s. A petite Marilyn Finicle recalled challenges she had with using the old-style guns, “When we put on a show at the stadium…the gun’s very heavy, even though I shot the shorter plainsman rifle. I got it up on my shoulder, I shot it once and it’s so heavy it went down. I just got it back up and thought, ‘I have to shoot this thing again!’ I don’t think anyone noticed but I only shot it that one time and we were supposed to shoot three times.”

The group also had a cannon that would be fired during demonstrations. The Militia first used one on loan but then raised $950 to have their own designed and made to Revolutionary War standards. It was built by the owner of the Heavy Carriage Company, William D. Lentz.  The loading of the cannon was not unlike that of the muskets, except they used larger amounts of foil-wrapped powder packages that would later be pierced through the fuse hole, in preparation for igniting. Practice firings were done at the old Bay Gun Club, overlooking Lake Erie. When the cannon wasn’t in use, former Bay residents recall it resting at Bay Village City Hall.

Daniel Warnke gives the signal with, left to right: Mark Totten, Dan Warnke Jr. (in coonskin cap), John Zipp? (in front of left cannon wheel), Rhonda and Arthur Totten at right wheel. Bob Finicle and Marilyn Zipp at far right. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.02

The Bay Volunteer Militia got a lot of attention during its lifetime and even became an official member of the United States Marines, named the First Battalion Continental Marines, a unit first authorized by the Continental Congress in 1775. It was the first unit of the Revolutionary War period to adopt a Marine Corps identity. The designation was announced in the June 1970 edition of Marine News. Although honorary in nature, it was noted that if the British ever dared to attack our shores, Bay Village would be ready for them.

Major Karl S. Holdaway inspects the musket of Bob Finicle as Bay Village Mayor Henry P. Reese looks on. From the Marine News, June, 1970. From the collection of Bob & Marilyn Finicle. RP.07.02.08

All of the former members I spoke with agreed that the Militia stopped meeting and performing sometime after 1972. Daniel Warnke was the leader of the group and the glue that kept the organization together. After a time, perhaps because of family obligations, Warnke wasn’t able to devote time to organizing the militia. The kids involved were becoming busy with high school activities and Steve Gress’s family moved away from Bay. Rhonda Totten and the Finicles both agreed the group gradually came to a halt.

Unfortunately, founders of the Bay Village Volunteer Militia, Daniel Warnke Sr. and Arthur Totten, have both since passed and of the original members of the Militia that we were able to talk to, all five have left Bay. Rhonda Totten, born and raised in Rocky River, lived in the Bay Village area for 63 years and now lives in Westlake. Bob and Marilyn Finicle, high school sweethearts and both from Lima, Ohio, were in the process of moving away from Bay Village as of June, 2023, after being residents for 57 years. They are celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary this year! Young members Steve Gress and Daniel Warnke, Jr. live in Colorado and Florida, respectively.

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Come see a bit of costume history now at the Rose Hill Museum. The Bay Village History Society has on display now a uniform in the style of the Revolutionary War era as well as various dresses from the 1860s-1960s in our exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things. The Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village is open from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday through December (closed holiday weekends). Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you. Contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com, with any questions.

Summer Road Trip, 1920s-Style

Summer Road Trip, 1920s-Style

by Michele Yamamoto

Summer is unofficially here and many vacationers have plans to travel by car sometime during the season. Many will be using a GPS guided map to navigate to their destinations. Smartphone apps will tell them where and when to turn at every step of the way.

In the past, their road trip would have been a little more challenging. About 20 years ago, they may have used a print-out of MapQuest’s list of directions. Before the internet, they could consult a printed map and figure out on their own how to get from Point A to Point B. Before there were even numbered routes, in the early days of automobile travel, a road guide might be the best way to navigate an unfamiliar area.

Introduction to the Official Automobile Blue Book. Advertisement at left offers a protective sleeve for the the book for additional money,2023.B.02.6A

In the Bay Village Historical Society archives, we have acquired a copy of one of these road guides, printed in 1921. It is the Official Automobile Blue Book, Volume Four, which covers Ohio and the states surrounding it. The book is one of the yearly editions that was published between 1901 and 1929,  sponsored by The American Automobile Association, beginning in 1906.  It was the “Standard Road Guide of America,” and in 1921 it covered the entire United States and Southern Canada in twelve volumes. As the book explains, “They tell you where to go and how to get there, giving complete maps of every motor road, running directions at every fork and turn, with mileages, all points of local or historical interest, state motor laws, hotel and garage accommodations, ferry and steamship schedules and rates. A veritable motorist’s encyclopedia.”

In order to use the guidebook to navigate, a driver needed to find his or her starting point and destination in an index at the back of the book. A key number and letter next to the name of the towns are listed and allow the person to find the route line between them on a fold-out map. After finding the page which lists the route number (at top right of each page), the driver would find a running list of directions, with turn-by-turn instructions. Two columns at left gave accumulated or total mileage and the distance between turns. An asterisk found after certain towns listed in the directions referred to a point of interest, described in detail at the bottom of the page. Many local roads appear unnamed or numbered and where to turn is described by a nearby landmark, such as a cemetery or courthouse. If no landmark existed, a description of the road or the distance since the last turn, had to be observed.

A sample of running directions from Columbus to Cleveland, Ohio. An attached can-shaped bookmark served as both advertisement and placemarker, 2023.B.02.6A

Perhaps the most enjoyable parts of the guide book areall of the beautiful and sometimes colorful advertisements for hotels, garages, tires, motoring magazines and various tourist destinations. Please enjoy those shared here and drive safely this summer!

Promotion for Colorado Springs and Manitou, CO, 2023.B.02.6A

A two page promotion for New Jersey’s North Shore, 2023.B.02.6A

Some of the information for this post was taken from the paper The Official Automobile Blue Book, 1901–1929: Precursor to the American Road Map, by John T. Bauer, a posting of which can be found online.

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If you would like to find ways of supporting the Bay Village Historical Society in preserving finds such as the one above, check out the Support Us page on our website at www.bayhistorical.com.

Come view beautiful examples of bead art during our latest exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things at the Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday through December (closed holiday weekends). Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you. Contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com, with any questions.

Early Graduates of Bay High School

Early Graduates of Bay High School

Congratulations to the recent Bay Village graduates of 2023!

In the Bay Village Historical Society archives, we have a small collection of photographs (mainly from the 1940s and earlier) of past Bay Village public school buildings, students and faculty. We also house a collection of objects, diplomas, programs, publications and other papers relating to Bay Village Schools up until the present day.

The following photos and diplomas are a sampling of this collection. Enjoy!

Vera Wuebker was a member of the first graduating class in Bay Village, in 1927. The high school, then at the corner of Wolf and Cahoon Roads, was known as Parkview High School. Before the Class of 1927, Bay high school students had to attend high schools in neighboring towns, 2021.BVS.09a, 2018.P.03.03.81

The 1934 Diploma of Colette Clement, 2021.23.03

Class of 1934 diploma photo insert, 2021.23.03C1934

Members of the Class of 1948 pose on a car, including Don Friend, standing at bottom left and holding a yearbook. Fun fact: This was the class with whom former New York Yankees principal owner and Bay resident, George Steinbrenner, was due to graduate, had he stayed in Bay Village for high school. He is listed as having attended at least one class reunion, which may speak to the affinity he had for this class, 2021.P.26.14.08

Don Friend’s diploma from 1948. The high school was now known officially as Bay High School, 2021.26.07

Six girls from the Class of 1948 look through their new yearbooks in front of Bay High School (the old Parkview building), 2021.P.26.14.04

This dance card, with a palm tree on the cover, is from the Junior-Senior Prom of 1955. “Dave” seems to be the lucky dance partner penciled in the most for that evening, 2021.BVS.10E

Class of 1955 pose on the steps of the old Parkview building (from the 1955 Bay Bluebook)

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If you are a graduate of Bay High School and would like to browse your old yearbooks, the Bay Village Historical Society has a collection going back to the early 1920s. High school yearbooks can be viewed on our website at www.bayhistorical.com.

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Come view beautiful examples of bead art during our latest exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things at the Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday through December (closed holiday weekends). Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you. Contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com, with any questions.

The History of Bay Village City Hall 1914-Present

The following article was part of a presentation given in 2014 by Bay Village Historical Society President, Catherine Burke Flament, during the 100th anniversary of Bay Village City Hall.

The History of Bay Village City Hall 1914-Present

by Catherine Burke Flament
President, Bay Village Historical Society

Bay Village was carved from the Northwest Territory and then the Western Reserve which was divided into 5 square mile townships. By 1806 Hubbard and Stow would purchase Township #7, Range 15 on Lake Erie for $26,087 and named it Dover (currently Bay Village, Westlake and the northern section of North Olmsted).

In 1901 not everyone was happy with how the government was being run in Dover and those in the northern section decided they were not being represented adequately and since they were paying the majority of the taxes the decision was made to separate.  After separation was proposed a lawsuit ensued over who would have the railroad and we won the Ohio Supreme Court case.  So, the Hamlet of Bay was formed in 1901 and trustees were elected.  With a population of 300 the environment was changing.  Trains and the interurban, which began in 1897, were transporting more and more individuals to the country and allowing others to go to the city for employment, although Dover continued to remain primarily a rural community.

Another change occurred in 1903 as a petition was made to incorporate into the Village of Bay.  In an old scrapbook it was stated that there were 110 eligible voters at the time and 40 individuals running for mayor. Reuben Osborn was elected to a two-year term as mayor with the first meeting held at the School House on May 4th.  There were some interesting issues that council would address over the next few years:

Letter from Attorney William Mathews to the Cahoon sisters, December 23, 1903, 2000.FIC.02.254. The letter refers to the recent split of the Village of Bay from Dover Township and proposes a petition to change the name of the town. Mr. Mathews and the sisters seemed to agree that the name “Dover” should be retained.  Mr. Mathews prefers to get rid of the word “Village” and suggests the name “Doverlake.”

In 1905 an ordinance was passed to not allow signs to be erected in the village and every effort was made to keep telephone poles from being installed.  The world was changing.  The model T, phonographs, light bulbs, typewriters and other advances were emerging, but Bay Village seemed to enjoy its country flavor and not want to rush into any drastic advances.  But bathhouses were slated to be installed which may have been a result of the influx of weekend visitors from the city, looking for a relaxing weekend at the Wischmeyer Hotel or just a day at the beach.

Albert Horace Wolf would become the second mayor of the Village of Bay in 1910 and one issue he had to address, which came up more than once, was the conduct and attire at the beach. This year also brought the addition of our first bank.

Two major issues though evolved in 1909.  It was proposed to have water piped into the village and that a formal city hall should be built.  The Cahoon sisters, becoming aware of the need offered land for city hall which was gratefully accepted. Plans were designed by architects Knox and Elliott who were hired in 1912, blending a combination of styles.  John Kiser & Brother Co. proposed the lowest bid of $8,300, which was accepted on March 12, 1914 and the building began.  Construction was questioned in July stating that the quality of the brick work needed to be re-evaluated and may need to be stopped.  Evidently the quality improved and city hall was completed.  The first official meeting was held in this building 100 years ago today, November 3rd, 1914.  The school board would begin using city hall for its meetings in 1915 with a temporary outhouse built in March of that year.  The annual budget submitted in 1915 was $7,350.

One more name change would occur as we approached 7,000 residents in 1950 and we became a city with the official name of City of Bay Village.

Numerous improvements have occurred from the original structure with additions in 1962 and 1973 and a gable roof and clock tower added to this building in 1990.  All in all, these additions have mirrored the growth the city has seen through the years.

1963 Invitation to the opening of Bay Village City Hall additions

Inside of invitation to see new additions floorplan of Bay Village City Hall, 1963

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Come view beautiful examples of bead art during our latest exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things at the Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday, April through December, 2023 (closed May 14). Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you. Contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com, with any questions.

Ornamental Beadwork

Ornamental Beadwork

by Barbara Comienski, Collections Volunteer/ Docent, Bay Village Historical Society

The Rose Hill Museum is excited to be premiering our special exhibition for the year on ornamental beadwork in costumes and accessories Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things. Every room features an aspect of beadwork, in addition to the museum’s permanent displays.

Beads have been in existence between 70,000-100,00 years. Originally beads were fashioned totally of natural materials such as bone, shell, or wood. Metal and glass beads followed. Often these beads were strung as jewelry and were a visible sign of prosperity. For centuries few people could afford to embellish clothing with beadwork. One needed the wealth to buy beads and then to have the workforce to apply these to clothing and accessories.

Blue satin beaded bodice, 1860s, 1996.C.132

Eyeglasses with beaded case, owned by Ida Cahoon, circa 1910s,1996.C.624AB

Embellishment followed trends with beads losing popularity, then resurging. Lush fabrics and pearl and gemstone jewelry were popular in the 1700s, but simpler styles in the early 1800s resulted in less use of beadwork. The mid-nineteenth century invention of the sewing machine focused attention on fabric embellishment; however, jet beads resurged in the 1880s.  Decorative accents were achieved in the nineteen teens with metallic thread and sequins until glass beads returned to popularity in the 1920s.

Vase dripping with beads. Blue beaded necklace circa 1910s on left, 2005.C.08

The special exhibit includes jewelry and actual embellished garments. Early twentieth century Campfire Girls’ Indian dresses on display in the basement area replicate the wooden bead patterns used by Native American artisans. The Cahoon Library displays include wooden beads from Africa, and silver and stone ones from Mexico; other mediums include bones, polished stones, pearls, and even paper beads!

The historical society’s beaded purses, also on display in the library, show the intricacies of design possible in beadwork, as do design school sample strips from the newly accessioned collection of items from the Darvas School of Fashion Arts in Cleveland from which several Bay Village residents graduated. The school, established in 1910, operated into the 1950s. Students would use these design samples to learn beading skills.

Blue-green and peach chiffon gown with beaded overlay, circa 1910s, 1996.C.121. At bottom is an evening bag of white seed beeds with a pink flower motif, 2004.C.03.

Rose Hill is fortunate to have some beautifully preserved late nineteenth century berthas, bodices, and dresses ornamented in beads, a variety of 1920s beaded flapper dresses, and a stunning mid-twentieth century pink dress with silver beading upstairs. Even children’s clothing in the Nursery has beaded embellishment.

Detail of heavily beaded pink chiffon dress, 2023.C.04.01

Future articles will highlight specific aspects of the exhibition. The Historical Society hopes you can view these outstanding displays soon!

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Come view these beautiful examples of bead art during our temporary exhibition Beadwork: The Beauty of Small Things at the Rose Hill Museum in Bay Village from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday, April through December. Admission is free and our docent guides will be happy to direct you.

If objects such as these are important to you, please consider a donation to the Bay Village Historical Society. Find out more on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

The Wischmeyer Model Boat Collection

by Ed Neal

You might not know anything about boats. Your knowledge of them might be limited to one end is pointy, some use a sail to move around, and all of them can sink, so beware. If that is the case, then you have probably completely overlooked the Wischmeyer Model Boat Collection in the basement of Rose Hill.  Let’s change that.

Here is a short guide that can help you understand the models and how they provide a window into the Bay Village waterfront from a by-gone era.

Henry Wischmeyer in later years, circa 1940s, 2021.P.FIC.175

Henry Wischmeyer in later years, circa 1940s, 2021.P.FIC.175

Henry Wischmeyer  

Henry Wischmeyer, who died in 1959 at age 86, built the models. His family owned a small Bay Village summer hotel on the north side of Lake Rd at the intersection of Glen Park. The hotel offered a sandy beach where guests could swim or pull up a boat to enjoy the summer lake.

Henry likely took an avid interest in the variety of boats that appeared on the beach. Eventually, he began to plan and draw boats of his own design and he built models showing in accurate detail how the boat would be constructed.

Here is a bit of background on each boat in the collection.

Great Lakes Schooner, 1996.A.066TN

Great Lakes Schooner, 1996.A.066TN

Great Lakes Schooner  

In the early 1900’s when the Wischmeyer family first operated the hotel, some aging, decaying sail powered freighters continued to haul cargo on the lake. These three masted commercial vessels had sails aligned with the center line of the hull rather than across the hull like a clipper ship. This type of boat design is called a schooner and in its glory days prior to the 20th century there were a few thousand operating on the Great Lakes.

A young Henry Wischmeyer possibly standing on the Wischmeyer hotel beach could see the last, decaying examples of these vessels on their way to a Lake Erie port.

Pile Driver Boat, 1996.A.063TN

Pile Driver Boat on display at the Rose Hill Museum, 1996.A.063TN

Pile Driver Boat 

If you want to build a pier out into the water, you need some way of driving posts down into the mud to support the pier beams. A pile driver boat is just the thing for the job.  In its simplest form it is a derrick on a raft.

The derrick would lift long wooden pier posts vertically in the water. Atop the derrick, a very heavy weight guided on a slide could be raised a few feet above the post. When released, the weight crashed down on the post ramming it into the mud. With each strike the post would be driven deeper until its end reaches the desired height above the water.

Lake Erie fishermen often used a pile driver boat to drive thin posts into the lake shallows on which they would vertically string nets to guide fish into a holding pen.

It is very reasonable to think that Henry saw pile driving boats at work along the Bay Village coast or operating on the Rocky River waterfront.

Lake Erie Pound Net Boat

The technique of catching fish by guiding them along vertically strung nets to a holding pen is called pound net fishing. It is aptly named because the posts on which the nets were strung were ‘pounded’ vertically into the lake bed mud.

As hundreds of fish accumulated in the holding pen they had to be lifted out and into a boat which could take the catch to shore. A boat evolved for this specific task.

The Lake Erie Pound Net Boat was wide so it wouldn’t tip over when a catch of hundreds of pounds was pulled in over its side.   It had a unique way of setting large sails so the boat could be easily powered when the wind was light.   It was also simple to build.  It was not unusual for fishermen of the late 19th and early 20th century to build their own boats over the winter.

The bounty of the Lake Erie fishery was far greater in the past than it is today. Most rivers and creeks along the lakeshore housed at least one commercial fisherman. Members of the Cahoon family themselves were in the fish business and had a fish house at the mouth of Cahoon Creek.

It is easy to imagine a young Henry being sent on an errand to buy fish from a pound net boat spotted making its way to the Cahoon fish house dock.

Mackinaw Boat, 1996.A.065

Mackinaw Boat, 1996.A.065

Mackinaw Boat  

The Mackinaw boat was the delivery van of its day. It could shuttle light cargo and passengers or be used for commercial fishing. The able, seaworthy boat could handle the wind and wave conditions of the Great Lakes. The boat set sails on two masts and a bowsprit and ranged in length from 25 – 35 feet.

Henry’s boat appears to be an experimental fishing version of a Mackinaw boat. It appears to be shorter than conventionally built and is accented with fish totes.

Detail inside of the Mackinaw Boat, 1996.A.065

Detail inside of the Mackinaw Boat, 1996.A.065

Cat Boat 

Amateur backyard boatbuilders would find a small v-bottomed boat with a single sail to be a very appealing first project. A cat-rigged boat describes the sailing rig of one mast set very far forward at the bow. It is easy to speculate that this boat may have been designed by Henry and the model developed to proof the construction process.

Lake Erie Sharpie, 1996.A.064

Lake Erie Sharpie 

The final model in the collection presents a recreational boat version of a typical American sharpie:  a flat-bottomed, slab sided, long and narrow hull with a uniquely shaped horizontal rudder. A cat-ketch sailing rig of two masts drove the boat. Built as work boats for fishing and oyster harvesting, sharpies ranged from 24 – 36 ft.

The Wischmeyer model presents sharpie attributes on a shortened hull possibly done to gauge the feasibility of scaling a sharpie down to a recreational boat length under 20 ft.

Now that you know what you are looking at take a closer look at the Wischmeyer collection. It tells a story of lake transportation, lake fishing, and lake recreational boating. It is more than the work of a hobbyist model builder. These boats reflect the reality of day-to-day life along the Bay Village lakefront from years gone by. Thank you, Henry!

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First launch of the Wischmeyer Pram (built from plans drawn by Henry Wischmeyer and currently in the Bay Village Historical Society collections) is planned for Wednesday, September 27, 2023, on what would have been Henry’s 151st birthday. The event will take place at Huntington Beach, by Porter Creek, at 6:30 PM. Guests will have to use the parking lot and walk down to the launch/beach area.  There will be a ceremonial cake and refreshments for guests. All enthusiasts are welcome to attend. Note: This is a weather dependent event.  If lake conditions are too rough or there is rain, it will be postponed.

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If objects such as these are important to you, please consider a donation to the Bay Village Historical Society. Find out more on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

To view all of the Henry Wischmeyer’s boat models in person and see other artifacts from the old Wischmeyer Hotel, please visit the Rose Hill Museum from 2:00-4:30 p.m. every Sunday, April through December. Our docent guides will be happy to direct you. We hope to see you soon!

The Wischmeyer Boat Plans Collection

by Ed Neal

Hobbies are where unique aspects of a person’s character manifest themselves. Hobbies are pleasant escapes from the tensions of the work-a-day world and offer miniature worlds that absorb a person’s full attention. They often are a counterpoint to stresses of career and domestic issues.

Henry Wischmeyer as a young man (middle), 2021.P.FIC.174

Henry Wischmeyer’s hobby was designing small boats. The Osborn Center of the Bay Village Historical Society houses boat plans Henry drew before his death in 1959. These are not the quick sketches of a waterfront artist but rather drawings of small sailboats and rowing craft drafted the way a professional naval architect would draw up plans. Who was this man, why did he draw these boats and how did he learn the art of designing boats?

Henry Wischmeyer grew up in a family that owned a summer hotel on the north side of Lake Road by Glen Park Rd in Bay Village. The back of the building led down to a Lake Erie beach where guests could enjoy the summer lake. Small boats could be sailed or rowed off the beach.

The hotel had a small craft for guests to use. Quite possibly, boat maintenance fell to Henry and he became knowledgeable in boat construction and repair.

Also quite possibly, guests might have brought a small boat with them, possibly launching it from Cahoon Creek or Rocky River and storing it pulled up on the Wischmeyer beach.  These boats might have introduced new types Henry had not seen before.

Into the late 1920’s, boatbuilding persisted on Rocky River. Most famous was the Rocky River Drydock Company and the yacht building and repair yard of Ted Zickes. One can imagine Henry being drawn to these locations and possibly finding work there over the winter. There he might have been exposed to the methods and drawings of naval architects.

Part of plans for a Wischmeyer boat (cross section) produced in the early 1930s, 1976.02.061B

Lyman dinghy plans, 1976.02.042

However he acquired his drawing skill, Henry drew boats incorporating his own ideas. The Bay Village Historical Society collection shows a wide range of small sailboats and rowing craft ideal for light to moderate weather conditions. Some drawings appear to imitate conventional, commercial designs – Lyman did produce small sailboats at one time.  Others present fanciful elements one might think of as experimental craft.

Detail of a plan with a nearly impossible-to-build canoe bow, 1976.02.003

A few drawings present Henry’s personal affinity for boats with a canoe bow: a gracefully curved bow extending out from the waterline and curving up and backward in the direction of the stern. Although this curved front end made for a dramatic presence, in reality, it might have been very difficult or nearly impossible to build on a small boat.

Blueprint with another example of a challenging bow, 1976.02.052

Before a boat is built, it is advisable to build a scale model in which all the detail of the plans are followed. The process works out construction details and solve problems before they effect material and labor costs. There may be crossover between the Wischmeyer boat plans and the Wischmeyer boat model collection housed in the Rose Hill basement. Some of the boat models are constructed with full details mimicking an actual boat. It is possible that two model boats in the collection – the catboat and the sharpie – might have been pre- construction models of plans drawn by Henry.

Part of Henry Wischmeyer’s plan for a utility pram, currently being used by the Cleveland Amateur Boatbuilding and Boating Society. 1976.02.059B

There is no record of any boat built to Henry’s plans. However, the Bay Village Historical Society is involved in a current project to actually build Henry’s 1953 design for a 9’ 7” boat he labeled a utility dinghy. Since the boat presents a flat transom front rather than the typical pointed bow of a dinghy, it is being referred to as a utility pram to eliminate confusion. Led by the Cleveland Amateur Boatbuilding and Boating Society, the boat will be used to aid in the regular clean-up of North Coast Harbor, the area behind the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. Anyone interested in the project can contact Ed Neal 440-570-7620 for more information or check out the group’s website: www. cabbs.org.

First launch of the Wischmeyer Pram is planned for Wednesday, September 27, 2023, on what would have been the 151st birthday of Henry Wischmeyer. This event will take place at Huntington Beach, by Porter Creek, at 6:30 PM. Attendees will have to use the parking lot and walk down to or be dropped off at the launch/beach area.  There will be a ceremonial cake and refreshments for guests. All enthusiasts are welcome to attend. Note: This is a weather dependent event.  If lake conditions are too rough or there is rain, we will have to postpone.

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If historical documents such as these are important to you, please consider a donation to the Bay Village Historical Society. Find out more on our website Support Us Page. You may also contact us by phone at (216) 319-4634 or email info@bayhistorical.com.

Rose Hill and the Osborn Learning Center are closed to the general public until Sunday, April 16, 2023. Please come and visit us this spring!