Ten Things You May Not Know About the Lake Erie Islands

Brought to you by The Put-in-Bay Gazette

PUT-IN-BAY, OHIO – May’s edition is now available, both in print and electronically. Learn about Put-in-Bay and the Lake Erie Islands and keep informed. Check out the Put-in-Bay Gazette May issue at www.putinbay.news to stay up to date on the latest happenings on South Bass Island. Now only $15 for a year subscription!

1. South Bass Island was once known as Ross Island.

Ross Island

2. Indian burial sites have been found on the islands.


3. The first grapes were planted on the Lake Erie Islands in the 1850s.

4. After the War of 1812, a survey team was sent out to survey the Lake Erie islands to establish boundaries for the Treaty of Ghent which ended the war.

survey team on put in ba

5. If you extended the Airport Rd. heading from the Lime Kiln Dock to where it bends at Toledo and could keep going straight, you would end up at the turnaround at the end of East Point.


6. There is a collection of files in the Hayes Memorial Library that document the personal and family histories of many old island families.

island families

7. The cannons along Bayview Ave. in DeRivera Park have been there for more than 100 years.

cannons on put in bay

8. Before Put-in-Bay School was built in the 1920s, the island school was located in a building in the woods just southwest of today’s Goat Soup and Whiskey on Catawba Ave.

two islands

9. Many years ago, the Morrison family from Put-in-Bay had a dwelling on East Sister Island that they used while commercial fishing.

put in bay harbor

10. Sugar Island was once subdivided into many small lots, but is now entirely owned by the Keny family.

houses on put in bay

Check out the Put-in-Bay Gazette May issue at www.putinbay.news to stay up to date on the latest happenings on South Bass Island. Now only $15 for a year subscription!

In the news:

  • Cooper’s Woods Purchased
  • Island Events Update
  • April Island Diary
  • Put-in-Bay Covid-19 Response
  • This & That
  • Moss on the Rock
  • Lake Erie Walleye Numbers Skyrocket
  • St. Paul’s News
  • Earth Week Coverage
  • Obituaries and other Milestones
  • School News
  • Kelleys Island News
  • Island Living and the Global Pandemic
  • Comments on the “Transit Canal”

All available at www.putinbay.news

Put-in-Bay Ohio and Lake Erie Newspaper History

Local newspapers on the Lake Erie Islands go as far back as 1870. Today in 2020, one newspaper can claim to be the longest running island newspaper, marking its 40th year in print… The Put-in-Bay Gazette. Some of the older area newspapers had names such as the Sandusky Daily Register, the Toledo Blade and the Sandusky Star Journal. But everyone now just knows the Gazette. Old papers had topics such as early life conditions on the islands, fishing conservation woes, and even some articles on Bessie, the Lake Erie Monster.

Nowadays, you will find similar stories but the hoaxes have changed to Leaning Monument, Submarine Sightings, and the current April Fools Day article on the new “Transit Canal” being built next to the monument (joke). The old papers allow us to peek into the lives of the 19th and 20th century people of the islands. The new Gazette keeps us up to date on current island happenings and is circulated all over the USA. Both old and new papers are illuminating to say the least.

Newspaper Excerpts from Days Gone By

It is always interesting to read about the past. Here are some great little snippets from the Islands’ past, history in and of itself. Many of these snippets occur during and just after the US Civil War! We hope you enjoy!

April 1861 – THE COURAGEOUS, POIGNANT & OFTEN QUIRKY LIVES OF ISLAND PIONEERS – “The Island will send her gallant company of Citizen Soldiers to the seat of war. We feel confident no troops will win more trophys of victory or bring home more honorable scars than the Union Guards. Well may we expect much from them. Their drill and equipments are perfect, their officers of proved courage and ability. Their firing is precise. But the maneuver they most excel in is the remarkable swiftness with which they can retreat to a safe position under cover. Hail Columbia.”

January 1868 – THE GROUNDS EAST OF THE HALL – “This place was left large for the purpose of erecting sheds to protect the horses of persons who come here to attend public meetings. It was thought that persons living at a distance would erect sheds for Hall purposes but as yet the ground remains unoccupied except for one building erected this season by some enterprising Germans [at their church]. Horses are hitched to the fence where they do more or less damage every week, besides being in the way of ‘passers by’ and exposed to the cold rains and wind. A merciful man will be merciful to his beast. Many hands make light work. ‘No so.’ Mr. Monigan said when he was splitting wood after four men sawing.”

October 1869 – HALLOW’EN – “The last evening in October is supposed to be the favorite time for Fairies, mischief-making beings, &c., to be about. That evening this year being Sabbath evening, the young folks in this vicinity decided it would be more proper for them to come Saturday, the 30th. Quite a number of leading spirits, still in the flesh, assembled at West Point to ‘pull the rail,’ ‘burn the nuts,’ and several other tricks said to be legitimate business on that night. We did not hear of their seeing any Fairies or other spirits, except when they looked in the glass.”

March 1870 – THE LODGE, SUFFRAGE & BASEBALL – “Ho everybody that fisheth! Come unto the waters about Kelley’s Island and shake your fish lines. The bass are now biting like ‘all possessed.’ One boat caught yesterday alone 101 fish, 95 bass and six of other varieties. The fish were not all fastidious as to bait; port rind and minnows alike seeming to satisfy their appetites.”

January 1877 – TOWNSHIP TRUSTEES PURCHASE NEW STOVE – “The New Year’s Ball Monday evening, the proceeds of which are to be used to pay for that ‘horrid stove,’ was a financial as well as social success. The receipts bring $64.06. We hope those who staid at home and twirled their thumbs, because somebody else went, enj​oyed the serenity of body and mind to which that delightful past time is conducive.”

February 1878 – FRIDAY SOCIAL GATHERING – “One of the pleasantest social gatherings ever enjoyed on the Island was given last evening (Feb. 15th). A few of the ladies took it into their wise heads to get up a little party on their own account and in their own way. Time seemed to fly. 9 o’clock came before we were aware of it and in came the Band as by magic, which betokened a dance and in less time than it takes to write it, the floor was filled with five sets for a Quadrille. The old, the young, and the middle aged, the Grandfather, son and Granddaughter entered into the dance as none other than the Islanders can. Their whole heart was in it and their toes too.”

November 1888 – THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – “Official returns for the Presidential election for the island: Cleveland and Thurman-147; Harrison and Morton-141. The Harrison and Morton pole on Kelley’s Island is said to be a sight to behold. At least a dozen flags and ensigns are floating therefrom.”​

March 1890 – ST. PATRICK’S DAY AT KELLEY’S ISLAND – “Quite a large number of Sanduskians went to Kelley’s Island this afternoon on the steamer American Eagle to take in the St. Patrick’s Day exercises. Tim Mulheron made a great hit at the Kelley’s Island celebration Monday night. He sang ‘Mrs. Fogarty’s Wedding Cake’ and ‘The Irish Patriot’ and each was encored a half dozen times. It is said that he was the whole show as far as vocal music was concerned.”

August 1890 – NEW LIVESTOCK ORDINANCE PASSED – “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 fort the purpose of travel or passing over the same.”

March 1893 – ST. PATRICK’S DAY – “The Jovial Dramatic Club, of this island, presented a drama in four acts, entitled ‘Little Ruby.’ The band furnished splendid music. The hall was thronged to its utmost capacity long before the performance began, and the drama was of such an excellent character that it held the audience to the very end, with the exception of the certain ladies who sat on the north side, very nearly the center of the hall. I am informed the entertainment netted about $65.”

(For more great Lake Erie Islands history, please visit the Lake Erie Islands Historical Society and the Kelley’s Island Historical Association.)

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