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Darlene E. Kelley
donkeyskid@webtv.net                              
May 22, 1999
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Historical Collections of Ohio
The Kelley Family Book compiled by Hermon Alfred Kelley   1897   
And Then They Went West
by Darlene E. Kelley    1998   
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     Mr. Norman Kelley told the following story regarding one of his
workmen. It seems this man was employed in the quarries, but one of his
daily tasks was to get water for the Kelley's domestic use.  His home
was close to the shore.  The man must have arrived on the Island after
the ice had formed for he was shown how to go down to the shore and
about fifteen feet to a hole that had been chopped there to get the
water out.  He dipped it through this hole every morning, filling a
barrel which he brought on a sled and took the barrel to Mr. Kelley's
house.  When spring came, the ice moved out one night. leaving the shore
clear of ice.  The man went to the shore as usual, but returned after a
while without water.  On being asked the reason he replied in broken
English that he couldn't get any water because the hole had gone away.
Let us digress further to say that there are few wells on the Island.
These wells. however, are of comparatively recent date.  At the time of
this incident, everybody got water from the lake.  Those who lived by
the shore, got it by bucket full or by barrel full. The barrels wheeled
to and from the lake on wheel barrows in summer or dragged on sleds in
winter.  Those who lived in the interior of the Island, arranged with
Island draymen or someone else, to bring them a barrel of water every
day or two, or they hauled it themselves on wagons.  Later on, Windmills
were erected along the shore and tanks were built from which the water
flowed to pipes to nearby homes.  In time, gas engines took the place of
the windmill in some cases.  Today, there is a limted water works system
owned and operated by the Kelley's Island Lime and Transport Company.
But let us return to the store.  The time is twenty-four hours later.
The day is stormy.  While still cold. the weather had moderated during
the night.  A strong southwest wind has started, and flurries of snow
scudd across the channel hiding as a white curtain, the distant main
land for an hour or so at a time.  A long telescope was kept by the
postmaster and from time to time, when the snow cleared away, someone
takes it outside and levels it at the point at Marblehead from which the
carrier usually started on his return journey.  Speculation regarding
the condition of the ice on the main shore was indulged in, for it often
happened, that poor ice or a channel of water would be encountered near
the mainland, when nothing but solid ice would be found near the Island.
Many theories have been advanced to account for this condition, some
maintain that there are large springs boiling up near the shore that
prevented the ice from foming by their comparitive warmth.  Others that
the current from Sandusky bay would take a back set along Marblehead
Shore and cause weak spots. Others, that the rise and fall of the lake
level caused by the wind, would break the shore fastenings and the
pressure of the wind, would break it away from the shore with the
result of wide cracks suddenly appeared which might remain open or
freeze over with thin ice, depending on the temperature and wind
direction at the same time. At any rate, these dangerous conditions were
to be contended with and no one was entirely free from anxiety; not so
much for the safety of the person crossing, but as to the time of their
arrival.  For strangely enough, very few lives have been lost in the
crossings and no mail carrier has ever been lost, although several have
been swept down the lake on the ice and unable to get ashore for a day
or two.  At last someone comes in, who had been scanning the shore, and
announces he can see the mail carrier and his "passengers" walkng on the
ice near the opposite shore.  It was thought that they would arrive in
about an hour.  Some of the crowd go home for early dinner and hurry
back in time to welcome the party.  When the approaching mail boat was
still a mile or more out on the ice, half a dozen or more of the younger
fellows, go out  to meet it and taking hold of the rope, start for
shore, leaving the tired mail carrier to arrive at his leisure.  The
boys rush the boat and placing its contents on the beach, they haul the
boat high and turn her bottom up.  Shouldering the mail bags, packages,
oars,etc.,they hurry to the store with them. The mail bags are stuffed
full, for this is the first mail received on the Island for nearly a
week.  There are many an Island boy in the Army, whose letters were
anxiouly awaited, not only by their relatives, but by every Islander for
each was known a intimately by all, as if they were related.  In fact,
in those days, it was a rare individual that was not related in some way
to almost half of the Island population. While awaiting the distribution
of the mail, the "Lodgites" turn their attention to the mail carrier and
his passengers.  Had he done this or that errand with which he was
commissioned?  Was there an express package for this one, among his
bundles?  What was the latest war news?  Did he encounter any open water
in the crossing? Had anyone broken through the ice? (This was a common
occurrence.)  These, and a hundred other questions are asked and
answered while the mail carrier thaws the ice out of his beard and
mustache and warms himself.  His mittens and ice creepers lying on the
floor at his feet near the stove.  The voice of the Postmaster
announcing that the mail is ready, cause a surge toward the little door
connecting the Post Office room with the main store room. Almost
everyone expects mail; if not letters, then the Sandusky Register or
some monthly or weekly publication such as Lyttel's Living Age, the
Atlantic Monthly or Schribner's magazine. Soon, someone says, " I have a
letter from Jake."  Silence falls and the letter is read.  Jake Rush
wrote very interesting letters.  It containd news of the battles and of
the Island boys in his company.  Then a letter from Douglas Kelley is
read and so on until all have contributed whatever common interest the
letters contain.  The store is almost emptied after this, for the men
are anxious to get home wth the latest news for the women of the family
and to get their dinner or supper, as the case may be.  In the evening,
they re-convened and devoted their time to an exchange of opinion
regardng the war.  There were amateur generals, who could give McClellan
valuable advice.  There were amateur Captains who navagated and managed
the various boats plying the lakes, much better than their actual
captains had done and so on down the list, from the best method of
combating the rot in grapes to the best location for fish nets or the
best way to cut a pig's or a calf's ear to identify it.  In summer time
the lodge convened on the front porch of the store and filled it so
completely, that passers by who did not care to enter the store, had to
walk out in the street.  There was aways a large attendance at the dock,
about the time for the arrival of the steamboats.  However, these
meetings were short, for almost everyone went about his business, soon
after the steamer left.  The " Lodge " had reached its height of
popularity during the propietorship of A.S.Kelley & Company; but under
the regime of Erastus, it became notorios.  Erastus was a genius.  Keen
and quick in thought and speech, he was a leading light in the Lodge.
It was said that the Lodge was an institution where one could receive a
liberal education.  The men attending its sessions were an unusual lot.
Keen, clever, well read and many well educated.  It is true that they
did loaf, yet they were by no means an idle lot.  Their was criticism of
the Lodge by the ladies, who came to make purchases, that the tobacco
smell was sometimes too thick to breathe,that tobacco cuds lay under
foot too avoid slipping on them, that the counters, were occupied by men
sitting on them and that the excited debaters at times raise their
voices to such an extent that it was impossible for the lady customers
to make their own wants known above the clamor.  During Erastus's
incumbency,there was a game of checkers in progress from morning till
night.  Erastus was himself an expert, but he had many rivals and a
constant struggle for supremacy went on.  The honor of being champion
was in dispute, but by common consent between Erastus Huntington, Peter
Ditchy and Titus Hamilton for many years.  It was claimed that a
customer coming in during the progress of a game would have to await its
conclusion before being waited upon.  An old cigar box was located on
the sill above the door leading to the store. In it, was always to be
found a paper of smoking and chewing tobacco and a supply of matches,
for the benefit of the Lodge members.  It was an unwritten law that the
first man to find any of these items missing, was obliged to replenish
the supply, which was done amid a good deal of good natured "chaffing"
from more lucky members.  The lodge continued to flourish with
undiminished vigor until 1876 when Elfers and Heckerman opened their new
store with a free "smoker."  It was claimed that the "boys" after
getting the cigars. went to their lodge room in the old store to smoke
them.  Yet it is true that the new store did cut down the attendance at
the old store to some extent.  The too,Mr. John Reinheimer, who was
always popular, especially with the younger set, gave the lodge
competition when he opened his feed store on the steamboat dock which he
purchased of Mr. Norman Kelley in 1879.  Yet the lodge continued to hold
its meetings in the old store long after it passed out of the hands of
Mr. Erastus Huntington and was operated by Mr. Titus Hamilton, who sold
it shortly before his death in 1913 to Mr. Frank Reinheimer, who in turn
sold it to the Murphy brothers.  The Elfer's store is still at this
writting in operation.  After the death of Mr. Fredrick Elfers in 1923,
the management passed into the hands of his son  Arnold.  There if
anywhere a trace of the old Lodge spirit remains.  The Emmet Martin's
confectioners store and pool and billiard room under the hill seemed to
be at present, the most popular rendezvous for the younger set.    

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