Posts filed under ‘The Leo’

General(ly) Gillmore- The Last Post – Lorain Part 12

Peggy  Gillmore- (Josephine Jean) Gillmore 4th Street, Lorain Ohio

Peggy Gillmore-
(Josephine Jean) Gillmore
4th Street, Lorain Ohio

I have wandered , these past weeks, through the lives of a family totally disconnected from my own- The Gillmores.

I have found them to be fascinating, courageous, strong of character, with a work ethic that would put most of us to shame. They are a family who were founders of at least two communities in this young country. They participated from the beginning of this country- through the Revolutionary War-, prospered, hauled a settlement out of a wilderness, fought for freedom, faced adversity with confidence, sailed the inland seas, built the ships and helped take America to the skies .

On my desk are faded newspaper clippings, tantalizing mentions of yet another Brigadier General WILLIAM EUGENE Gillmore– ( born in Lorain.) He was the son of Quartus J Gilmore ( brother to our General Quincy Gillmore) and the grandson of the original Quartus Gillmore . Another Brigadier General being honoured, mentioned in a fading letter. A letter asking Peggy to attend the ceremony at Wright Patterson Air Force Base-

wpat scanresrev

October 27th 1976 the ceremony to memorialize William E Gillmore by naming the building which houses the Air Force Logistics Command Headquarters “Gillmore Hall”

It seems this son of Lorain was heavily involved in the new “airservice” – the people he rubbed shoulders with are still remembered today.

Wright and Gillmore
The members of the Main Committee of NACA which met in Washington, D.C. on April 18, 1929. Shown from left to right: John F. Victory, Secretary; Dr. William F.Durand; Dr. Orville Wright; Dr. George K. Burgess; Brig. Gen. William E. Gillmore; Maj. Gen. James E. Fechet; Dr. Joesph S. Ames, Chairman; Rear Adm. David W. Taylor, USN (Ret.), Vice Chairman; Capt. Emory S. Land; Rear Adm. William A. Moffet; Dr. Samual W. Stratton; Dr. George W. Lewis, Director of Aeronautical Research; Dr. Charles F. Marvin. Dr. Charles G. Abbot was absent.

Brig. General  William Eugene Gillmore  1875-1948

Brig. General William Eugene Gillmore 1875-1948

at the forefront of aviation in this country – Aviation in the US Army- 1919-1939
air excercisresw
Gillmore planeres
( Gillmore far right )

I am afraid to open one more file folder of news clippings because I just keep finding more and more. The only place in Lorain you will find a plaque mentioning “The GILLMORES” -is a little plaque at Lake View Park for General Quincy A Gillmore – the chap who started it these posts when he arrived in my dining room. And even that plaque is incorrect – the birthdate of 1820 is incorrect- it is 1825
Gilmour Tablet
Nowhere else in this community is there mention of the Gillmores- not on any house/home or even in what is now known as Veterans Park – given to the city by General Gillmore’s sister Sophia Gillmore Leslie. And yet, there were veterans aplenty in this family.

The importance of the Gillmores to a fledging nation, the pioneers of Lorain, the fact that the house on 4th street, the last of the Lorain Gillmore’s is all that is left of those 1,000 acres!
403 Oberlin (2)

This charming home the last “testament” to a founding family who did more than pull a city from the wilderness, their drive and expertise have touched and guided a nation. Their worthiness embraced and memorialized in other communities, as with Thomas Wilford, The State of Michigan commemorates his life and story whilst Lorain?????- well just another rental up for sale.wilford collage
I cannot believe what little regard this community has for their very unique history. But what do you expect from the local Lorain community who remain ignorant of their “story”. Even the local historical society ( of whom Peggy was one of the original members) turns down a portrait “sight unseen” of a native son who gave so much to the birth of a nation including his part with freeing the slaves. Do THEY know “their history” one has to wonder?
gillmore  scan
I am tired of preaching to the choir on Lorain’s unique maritime and pioneer history. It seems most think the history started with the advent of steel , it didn’t.

Unless history has dollars and or “grants” attached it really doesn’t seem it is worthwhile in this city. The streets and homes where those that formed this nation walked and lived unmarked and unremarkable.

Could Lorain make money out of its heritage? Yes ! but first they have to know what it is and where to find it! For the most part Lorain’s tangible and tactile history is going down like the Titanic. Oh! you will find some archives, and memorabilia in the “museums” but along her streets where you can see the remnants of her early days- the homes of the “Captains Courageous”, of those nation builders, early pioneers, the movers and shakers are fading very fast.

Lorain historical home

Lorain historical home

Elyria Historical Home

Elyria Historical Home

Peggy Gillmore 2007

Peggy Gillmore 2007

Peggy , if you are somewhere close, I have tried my best to document and archive the Gillmore story. The links are there in the posts for those interested in finding more. I know I have just touched the surface and there is so much more .


General Quincy Adams Gillmore’s portrait has looked at me these many weeks reminding me of my guilt that I didn’t do more when you were just a few houses away. I know you would be thrilled the home you so loved built in 1895 has, thanks to your out of state family, been reroofed, painted and landscaped. The house once more something of which a “Gillmore” and especially you would have been so proud, as is the neighborhood. I wish I could do more. Unfortunately , unless there is “money in it” Lorain doesn’t see the worthiness of her history. How much more do they need ? This city has a history of which “movies are made” .

I am sorry Peggy. I have tried my best but sometimes my best is not good enough. I have not the expertise to make a town “feel the passion” of its history but I promise I will make sure your files and photos , portrait and print finds a home worthy of your family, and a home where they will be cherished – not dismissed.

Gillmore House Today!

General(ly) Gilmore

Part One
Part Two
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five
Part Six
Part Seven
Part Eight
Part Nine
Part 10
Part Eleven

October 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm 16 comments

PART FOUR- You know it don’t come easy – Lorain


by Loraine Ritchey





What exactly happened that Sunday in 1889- The best information came from the newspapers of the day -the headstones at Elmwood only tell of the ending of a voyage.

The headline in the local paper – A Quiet City tells how the loss of the most prominent young businessmen devasted this growing community of 5,000 souls.



Our Quiet Little City in Mourning.
Nine Lives Lost in the Cruel Waters of Lake Erie.

But the Yacht Goes Down Four Miles
East of Rocky River.

One by One Their Bodies are Thrown up on the Shore by the Waves.


Since Monday evening this community has been in a state of great excitement and deep sorrow over one of those catastrophes that fills everyone with horror and grief.

On Sunday afternoon the steam yacht Leo, which bad been recently purchased by some of our citizens started for Cleveland, leaving this place at 230 p. m. and having on board J. B. Tunte, L. D. Lawler, E. A. Lawler, Con. P. Ritter, Ben. Klein, S. E. Knight.
Capt. Sam Root, Fred Pelow and the engineer, name unknown. The intention was to have the boat inspected and licensed. All of the party excepting Tunte and Lawhr went for pleasure and expected to return by rail Monday morning or evening at the latest.

Monday morning none returned, but no anxiety was felt until they failed to appear in the evening. Little parties then gathered in different places and discussed the probabilities. Later in the evening a number of our people gathered at the office of John Stack and used the wires to discover if the yacht had been seen or heard of at Cleveland or elsewhere along the shore but{no} news could be obtained and although there was still a small chance for hope nearly all were satisfied that she had gone with all on board.

The next morning the wires were used-again with no better result and parties started out to look for traces of the wreck. One party started on the tug Chamberlain, but after proceeding as far as Avon Point returned without learning anything.

About this time it was found that a young son of H. G. Brown who had spent Sunday at Avon had seen the boat turn the Point a little before 5 p. m. and about 20 minutes before the squall struck. In the meantime Messrs. Parks and Humbert who had started down the shore with horses reported by telegraph from Avon that she had been seen to pass the Point and that they were going on and would report again front River Bank.

In the evening Mr. Humbert returned leaving Mr. Parks to proceed dawn the shore to Cleveland. Humbert reported that she was seen Sunday evening about 6 o’clock stand straight out into the wind and apparently not waking an inch. Later in the evening a telegram was received that the yacht Winifred had met her at 7 p. m. 2 miles east of Rocky River and she whistled all right.

However, the fact remained, that although she was alright at 7 o’clock, and ought to have reached Cleveland by 8, nothing had been heard of or from them and with few exceptions our people gave up their last hope.

A report also came that they were crying for help midway between Cleveland and Rocky River. Wednesday morning a party consisting of Henry Snyder for the 1. 0. 0. F. Ed. Van Orman, Amos Pelow and the writer went by rail to River Bank and thence along the shore, while H. D. Root, Walter Bonsor and Fred Pierce went to Whippoorwill and thence across to the beach a still others went on to the city intending to search the shore west from that point.

The party starting from Rocky River found nothing whatever until they reached t place of Mr. H. W. Munhall where they overtook Root Bonsor and Pierce, and found a considerable amount of wreckage. Mr. Munhall was not at home at the time no but his man was found and told the following story:

“About 3 o’clock Monday morning Mr. Munhall got up to let do down the window as it was blowing very cold. While he was doing this he heard loud cries for help from the direction oil lake and apparently 100 yards from the shore. He closed the window and ran down and opened the door and again heard loud cries for help seemingly from a dozen men. He then got a lantern, called me and we went to the shore, but when we got there we could neither see nor hear anything.”

The party then went on to Whites’ Place where there is a small stretch of beach. Here we found more wreckage such pieces of the hull from 10 feet long down to a mere sliver while standing on this beach a coat washed ashore and was eagerly examined The figure was a very small check and the color was gray. There was nothing whatever in the pockets by which the owner could be identified, and none of the party recognized it.

It was preserved by Henry Snyder who now in his possession. One-half of a life preserver also washed ashore but there was nothing about it to indicate where it came from. We then proceeded to bathing house in West Cleveland where found the canvas curtains belonging the yacht spread out on the beach and learned that E. A. Lawler and Con, Ritter had been found.

Ed Lawler was found about 500 feet west of the bathing house at about 9 o’clock Wednesday morning, and Ritter was found among the rocks that have been thrown over to protect the shore. Heads are bent in sorrow today……
shipwreck-map The Leo was lost near point 86 on the map

Eight of Lorain residents last Sunday took passage in the boat that carried them to their death. Nine men in good health and in the prime of life suddenly hurled into eternity is an occurrence that would shock any community, and in this case respected citizens and men whom all, residents of Lorain met almost every day adds to its horror.

None of us on last Sunday night dreamed of the agony those nine men must have experienced The battle between hope and despair that lasted until the craft went to pieces. None of us suspected that the cruel waters of Lake Erie that night would Ill our homes with sorrow and take from us our loved ones. But cruel fate would have it thus.

To the homes that are desolate no consolation can come from words of sympathy, they do not take the place of our friends. ‘The only bright spot seems to be that there were not more of us with them “Requiescat in pace.”

The New York Times also covered the catastrophe:
Published: September 20, 1889
Copyright © The New York Times

ED NOTE:Lorain and her citizens forged a community from a wilderness- gave their life and their youth for her success and freedom- a heritage to be proud of and to be celebrated!

April 8, 2009 at 10:19 pm 10 comments

PART THREE-You know it don’t come easy – Lorain


by Loraine Ritchey

PART ONE- The Nine

PART TWO- The Nine


The weather on that Sunday afternoon in September 1889 had changed and a cold front approached Lorain- a city of 5,000 souls. Three of the party would not board the vessel “The Leo”.
The Lorain (Ohio) Journal September 23rd 1953

Clifford Tune and Frank Knapp had arrived at the boat but went home for their overcoats and arrived back at the docks after the boat had left.

Ben Weigand , a grist mill operator in Amherst, unwillingly cancelled his plans to make the trip . He was having trouble at the mill and he took Sunday afternoon to go over to Brownhelm to try and talk a disgruntled miller into staying with him.

Others were not spared by fate – luck or design:
con-ritter C. RITTER
Lorain News Extra, Tuesday, 24 September 1889

The second to be found cast upon the beach was Con. P. Ritter. He was born in Penn Township, Alleghany County, Penn., June 15, 1860, and was on the day of his death 29 years, 3 months old.

His home was until he came of age, in Penn Twp. and the vicinity of Verona. He was a student at Duffs’ College at Pittsburg, where he graduated. On his 21st. birthday he left his home for Cleveland, and was for some months engaged in various businesses and finally in 1881 took the position of clerk at the Porter House in this place.

He afterward was in the employ of Marion Porter at Elyria, at which place he also worked for a year at his trade of carpenter. In February of 1887, he started into business for himself where he has been ever since.

Mr. Ritter was everywhere recognized as a man, and a gentleman and had a large circle of friends in all classes. His smiling countenance, hearty laugh and good natured jokes will long be remembered and missed. He leaves a wife and one child to mourn the loss of a husband and father. The funeral on Thursday at St. Mary’s Church was largely attended. His mother and brothers Peter and Daniel of Verona, were present and his brother Joseph, of Louisville, Ky., arrived too late for the services. Ritter’s life was insured for $2000 in the C.M.B.A. The business will be continued by his brother, Daniel

fred-pelow F. PELOW

The third one of the victims to be cast up was Fred Pelow, whose body was found Thursday morning on the beach in front of the W.J. White’s residence and taken to Heffron’s morgue where it was identified by his father Amos Pelow.

Fred was a bright young man of 19 years who has always lived in Lorain. He was a young man of exemplary habits, a member of the I.O.G.T. and was respected and loved by all who knew him. Last winter he worked for some time with his father at ship carpentering in Cleveland.

His mother has been frantic with grief since the day of the wreck, but has now become partially reconciled to her terrible loss. The funeral Friday afternoon was attended by many friends of the family, and the I.O.G.T. in a body.

jbtunte J. B. TUNTE

: Lorain News Extra, Tuesday, 24 September 1889
J.B. Tunte, Age 31 years, born 337 St. Clair St., Cleveland, son of John Tunte, once a prominent grocer of that city, came to Lorain in ’78 and the same year married Mary Fix of Cleveland.

J.B. Tunte was the leading grocer of the town and aside from doing the best grocery business he was interested in many other enterprises, one of the main ones being the real estate business in partnership with his companion in death I.D. Lawler. He was a good business man and never neglected to extend a helping hand or a deed of sympathy when the opportunity was here.

He has had some very hard blows in the last eighteen months, having lost his wife and daughter within that time, and although, having all this trouble, he had a smile for all and the customer would never dream of the sorrow that he carried in his heart.

He was a man that had the respect of all with whom he came in contact and through his genial ways has made many friends, who are bent in sorrow today. He was widely known for his integrity, honesty and business capacity having nearly all the marine trade at this port.

Two children are left to mourn the loss of a kind and loving father. Thanks to his thoughtful provisions in way of life insurance they although orphans, are not destitute.

Yes, J.B. Tunte is dead and no more shall we receive that kindly greeting. No more will the struggling youth look to him for aid or advice. Never again shall we see that genial face on our streeets. Blessed be his memory and the prayer of many a struggling mariner on the sea of life is that his mantle may fall on some citizen equally worthy.

The funeral service of J.B. Tunte was held in Cleveland Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock. The different lodges of this place and the Masons of Amherst attended in a body, going by special train via Nickel Plate, also a goodly number of our citizens. We understand there were 280 tickets sold at this place.

Unfortunately not all the voyagers were so well known and the last of “The Nine” has only been descibed as “Matthewson” in one newspaper article and “unknown name “- Engineer ….

The Voyage and the resulting Newspaper articles in Part 4.

NOTE: Again Thanks to Kathleen Lawler for her research

April 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm 3 comments

PART TWO-You know it don’t come easy-Lorain


By Loraine Ritchey



Along with Irvin Lawler, on the voyage of the Leo was Captain Samuel Root

Lorain News Extra, Tuesday, 24 September 1889

Captain Samuel J. Root was born at Wellington, Ohio in the year 1830 and came to Lorain in 1831. Since that time he has always made this his home. He has followed the lakes all his life, having sailed before the mast, as mate and as captain.

He was for several seasons mate of the Comrade. He was Captain of the Scow Cousin Mary, and later Captain of the Scow C.S. Taylor, his last berth was Capt. of the ill fated yacht Leo, that carried him to his death.

He was one of those unostentatious men of whom few know the real worth and are so highly regarded by those who do not know them. He leaves a wife, a daughter and two sons one of whom is married, to mourn his loss.

The funeral of Capt. Saml Root was held at his late residence on the East Side at 10 o’clock Saturday morning, and was largely attended. Rev. McKaskey officating.

Also joining his brother was Edwin Lawler.
Lorain News Extra, Tuesday, 24 September 1889

He was found nearly a mile west of the Cleveland breakwater partially in the water imbedded in the sand, bruised about the face, head and lower limbs, and with both arms broken. He was taken to Heffron’s morgue and was soon identified. He was born at Tawas City, Mich., Nov. 17, 1866 from which place he came to Lorain when 5 years old. In 1885 he with his people removed to Cleveland where he studied law for two years with Wm. H. Clark on Superior Street. His evenings for these two years were occupied with the study of stenography. He returned to Lorain again in January of the present year, and has been for some time employed in the Brass Works. He was one of our most respected young men, kind of heart, amiable, and will be missed by a large circle of friends.

Two more of Lorain’s young men who were also on board ( NOTE: I have not been able to find any text to accompany their sketches- it would be nice to know their story)
Benjamin Kelin
seknight S.E. KNIGHT

End of the Journey – Elmwood Cemetery


NOTE: I have not been able to contact Kathleen Lawler whose research was invaluable in discovering the information on “The Nine”

April 7, 2009 at 1:49 am 3 comments

You know it don’t come easy – Lorain


by Loraine Ritchey

Part One -THE NINE

Lorain “Queen of the Lakes” has had some tough times and the one attribute she has always had is her port.

Recently the Lorain Port Authority announced plans to “bring a jet express” to the Lorain Port

Novak said:“This is a way to get people off the highway and to Lorain,”

Back in September of 1889 a group of enterprising young men – the movers and shakers of those times decided that excursions from the Port of Lorain to Cleveland was the way to go . This enterprising group purchased from Detroit the latest excursion vessel of the time –THE LEO-a Naptha Powered launch ( yacht)
(NOTE: I have been unable to find a photo of the vessel Leo but similar vessels are shown)


launsket SOURCE

“Incredible as it may seem, around the end of the nineteenth century, small boats really were powered by boiling petrol and using the vapour to drive a sort of “steam” engine. ”

The ‘Nine” Samuel Root- I.D Lawler- E.A Lawler – Ben Klein – Fred Pelow, John B Tunte -S.E Knight – C.E Ritter and a skipper Mathewson, brought excitement to the Port of Lorain and her 5,000 citizens.

These men were the businessmen of the day – a tailor, grocer, clothing merchant, a saloon keeper, a real estate broker and retired Lake’s worker. Three others were also part of the civic minded group Ben Weigend , Clifford Tunte and Frank Knapp.

I.D Lawler was the editor of Lorain’s first newspaper
I.D. Lawler age 27
Lorain News Extra Sept 24th 1889

While he was yet a small boy he showed considerable ability to plan and execute business transactions. At the age of 13 years he by his own industry gathered together a small hand press and a little type and started into the card printing business.

This was followed 3 years later by the publication of the Lorain Monitor a quarter sheet 3 column folio, I.D. Lawler, editor.

This was the first newspaper published in Lorain and consequently Mr. Lawler is the pioneer newspaper man of this community. He continued the publication for two years and then sold the business and plant to Rowley and Whitman who changed the name to the Lorain Times under which name it now exists.

Mr. Lawler shortly after located at North Amherst and began the publication of the North Amherst Times, this he continued for a year and then sold to Rowley and Whitman.

Soon after Mr. Lawler began studying law in the office of G.J. Clark with whom he remained for 2 years at the end of which time he purchased Mr. Clark’s Real Estate and Insurance business, since that time he has devoted himself almost exclusively to the management of Real Estate and Insurance, and the business has grown to be large and lucrative.

In 1888 he opened up an addition on the shore west of town and in the present year with Mr. Tunte opened the Lawler Trustee addition on the east side.

In 88 he also with some of our citizens organized the Lorain Street Railroad Company and but recently through his energy and push there has been organized a Building And Loan Association. The business of both these corporations was left largely in his hands, he being the Secretary of each.

In politics he was also prominent almost invariably eing one of the representatives to Republican Conventions, both county and Congressional.

In 1888, he was candidate for Mayor on a citizen’s ticket that was largely supported. He was one of those public spirited gentlemen who always have the interest of their town at heart, genial, always pleasant to meet, and universally respected.

Click on to enlarge

According to the Lorain (Ohio) Journal in an article in 1953 -Mr. Lawler’s first editorial October 29th 1878 (at the ripe old age of SIXTEEN ) wrote on page two of The Monitor

“To The citizens of Lorain and vicinity –
Why deaden the place, dishearten the value of your own property by doing your trading elesewhere when you can buy goods just as cheap at home.”

Issues of The Monitor came out every other Tuesday and in 1878 the 500 readers were paying 15 cents for 3 months subscription. Advertising rates were 5 cents per line for the first 5 lines – space rates 35 cents per square and 25 cents per half.

Mr. Lawler, by the age of 27 had accomplished a great deal for one so young and set out , along with his fellow businessmen , on a maiden cruise for inspection and licensing of THE LEO . He and 8 civic leaders started their journey to Cleveland on Sept 15th 1889 but eventually found him coming home to Elmwood Cemetery
lawstone Photo Renee Dore

To be Continued

April 5, 2009 at 9:04 pm 6 comments



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