Christopher & Maria Louisa Frese

Christopher Frese 1834-1904; Maria Louisa Frese 1828-1904

The weather report for the 28th of June 1904 called for partly cloudy conditions and “light and fresh, east to southeast winds.” It promised to be a little warmer than the previous three days when temperatures had hovered in the mid-60s. During the brief service at the late home of the deceased, No. 189 Burton Street, a throng of people, unable to gain admission to the little house which was already crowded, lingered about the property and streets until its conclusion, waiting for the later service at St. John’s Evangelical Protestant Church on Harbor Street. When the two hearses reached the church, even standing room could not be secured and many were unable even to enter the church.

The two caskets were borne simultaneously down opposite aisles of the church and placed side by side before the pulpit, The service was simple, consisting of prayer, scripture reading, and special singing by the choir. Rev. C. W. Weiss officiated, and made brief mention of the aged couple’s tragic end.

Frese headstone
Frese headstone

From the church, the procession proceeded to the Monroe Street Cemetery for the burial service. The procession was unusually long, over forty carriages being in line. The bodies were buried side by side.

Christopher Frese – or Christian as he was called in newspaper articles or Christoph as he is called in legal documents – was one of the wealthiest and best know residents of the district where he lived. He was an early West Side resident and made his fortune from investments in real estate. He lived on and owned much property on Burton Street, which today is West 41st Street, several business properties on Lorain and a number of residences on Ward Street. Frese Street – the street sign today reads “Freas” – was opened in the 1870s by Frese and several associates. They owned practically all of the property from one end to the other of the street. They sold the various properties at good figures realizing large profits. In addition Frese owned and operated a grocery store at 199 Burton street, which was later run by his son, August C. Frese.

Frese was a stalwart Republican and took much interest in political affairs. He represented the Tenth ward in the Cleveland City Council under Mayor Robert McKisson (1863-1915) who served as Mayor from 1895-1899. During the time that McKisson and Frese served their city, construction was begun on a new city water and sewer system, the Cuyahoga River was widened and straightened to facilitate steamer traffic, and five new bridges were built across the river. Frese served on a council committee on cemeteries and was partly responsible for the opening of West Park cemetery in 1900. During one session of the Grand Jury Frese served as one of the jurors.

Frese and his wife, Maria Louisa, were loved and respected residents of their community. They had brought two boys into this world, August and Frank. August seems to have taken after his father; a hard-working businessman and devoted father. Frank, on the other hand led a less than admirable life. Since retiring from active business Christopher Frese had spent much of his time driving about the city and country. Maria Louisa generally accompanied him and their rig was a familiar one on Burton and the neighboring streets. “I tell you there is nothing so good for one’s health as plenty of rides in the open air,” Christopher had said frequently to his friends. In early June of 1904 when Christopher was seventy years old he suffered a paralytic stroke which affected the right side of his body leaving his right arm almost powerless. However, the damage done was not sufficient to keep Christopher on his back for very long. He lingered in the house no longer than absolutely necessary and the first day that he was able to move about found him in his buggy. His friends advised that he be careful, owing to his weakened and crippled condition, but he took their warnings with a complacent smile. “This old horse and I have traveled over this town for a good many years,” he said, “and I guess if anything was going to happen to us, it would have happened before this.” He was wrong.

On June 26, 1904, Christopher and Maria Louisa headed out for yet another buggy ride into the nearby hamlet of Lakewood. The following day the Plain Dealer described what happened:

Phaeton doorless carriage
A phaeton was an open, four-wheeled, doorless carriage, popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. It contained one or two seats, usually had a folding, or falling, top, and was owner-driven.

“Mr. and Mrs. Frese had been driving since they finished their Sunday dinner. Their vehicle was a phaeton of an old fashioned type and they drove a gentle and well trained horse. It is supposed that they had been driving along Lake avenue and intended to go through Belle avenue and return to their home by way of the boulevard.

As he drove across the tracks at Bell Avenue and Clifton boulevard about 2:30 o’clock yesterday afternoon, the buggy containing Christian Frese, a former city councilman, and widely known resident of the West Side, who lived at No. 189 Burton street, and his wife Louisa, was struck by a Lake Shore Electric car. Frese met instant death and his wife died a short time later in an ambulance on the way to St. John’s hospital.

The car which struck the buggy was bound west and according to the statements of eyewitnesses, was at a high rate of speed. A greenhouse is located at the corner of the boulevard and the street, but not close enough to the tracks to shut off the view of either those who are driving or the motormen. A hedge about four feet in height extends almost to the tracks, but this it is believed was not high enough to hide the buggy or the track from sight. Whether Frese did not notice the car or miscalculated the speed and tried to crosss in front of it is not known. The motorman, according to statements made at the company’s car barns, has as yet made no explanation of the accident.

Frese had nearly cleared the tracks when the collision occurred. Only a part of the buggy was on the tracks, but this was hit while the car was still going at almost the full speed. Hurled about sixty feet the buggy struck a feed wire pole and then glanced off into the road. Frese was carried beneath the wheels of the car and his body cut in two. The left arm was crushed and mangled and the right arm broken.

Mrs. Frese was thrown into the road about forty feet from where the phaeton was struck. When found, her head was resting upon the curb, less than half a dozen feet from the body of her husband upon the tracks. Her head was cut and bruised and her body crushed.

electric interurban car
An electric interurban car circa 1908.

The motorman succeeded in stopping his car about 150 feet down the tracks and with many of the passengers, hurried back. Mrs. Frese, unconscious but still breathing, lay upon the road. She was carried to the side of the boulevard and Mastick’s ambulance was called. Mrs. Frese was hurried to the hospital, while the body of her husband was taken to the undertaking rooms. Before the hospital was reached the injured woman had expired. Her remains were also taken to Mastick’s undertaking rooms.

Aside from a ring upon the finger of Mrs. Frese, which bore the initials, C.F. to L.F, there was nothing about the body to lead to their identification, but through the initials upon the ring a clew to their identity was later gained. Telephone inquiries revealed the fact that the initials of Mr. and Mrs. Frese were similar to those upon the ring and that they had gone driving. A son was notified and early in the evening he recognized his parents as they lay side by side in the undertaking establishment.

The horse, which had been driven by the couple, was entirely uninjured. The harness had broken when the vehicle was hit and the horse released. It cantered down the boulevard, but was stopped and brought back. The buggy was entirely demolished. The wheels and body were splintered into small pieces and scattered about the boulevard.”

Christopher Frese
Christopher Frese
Maria Louisa Frese
Maria Louisa Frese

Prior to the accident there had been practically no complaints about the fast speed of the interurban cars, but on the day following the accident many complaints against the interurban companies were made to the board of public safety and Cleveland Police Chief Fred Kohler. Most of the complaints were against the Lake Shore Electric. County Coroner Burke directed that an inquest be held at which particular attention was to be taken to investigate the condition of the brakes with which the car that caused the deaths was equipped. Burke said, “I will probably have an expert make a thorough examination and test of the car which figured in the accident. If his report shows that the car was poorly equipped with brakes and that the brakes are not of a recognized modern standard, I will attempt to hold the company liable and will also make recommendations not only to that company, but to all other companies in this county to examine their brakes and install, where necessary, modern and efficient brakes. If they fail to do so and other accidents of like nature happen I can then easily hold them responsible. This has been the first accident of its kind to come to my notice, but modern science has perfected brakes which, if properly applied and used by intelligent men, will almost to a certainty protect people against accidents of this nature.”

It was no surprise when Warren Bicknell, president of the Lake Shore Electric Railroad said, “The brakes on the car that killed Frese and his wife were in the best of condition and they had passed a close inspection not only in the barns at Toledo before the car was sent out on the run, but also two other inspections between that city and Cleveland. That was not our accident, but that of the city company,” said President Bicknell last night. “The car is under the direction of the city company when it is on their tracks. When we turned it over to them the car and brakes were in good condition. . . . All of our cars are supplied with the best and most modern brakes and they are kept in perfect repair. The brakes on that car were installed only about a year ago, while the life of a car’s brakes generally is ten years or more.”

Brakes were one issue but equally important was the speed at which the interurban cars made their way through the city. The interurban lines connected cities at great distances from each other and revolutionized communications and travel. A majority of the distance on these journeys passed through farm country and speed was the key in getting someplace fast. In Cleveland however, an ordinance had been passed to restrict the speed of railway trains to a maximum of twelve miles per hour within the city limits. As a result of the complaints, Chief Kohler had a stretch of track a mile in length measured along the Lake Shore tracks in the eleventh precinct. Patrolmen Clenadenin and Whalen were detailed to watch. During the afternoon of June 28, 1904, the patrolmen found motormen Charles Holmes and Simon Purcell sending their cars at a rate of twenty miles an hour. Warrants for the two men were sworn out. The attention of the police was not confined to the Lake Shore Electric alone. All lines in the city were watched and arrests were to be made for any violation of the law.

Included in the Plain Dealer of July 2, 1904 was an article entitled “MOTORMEN WERE FINED.” It read: “The two motormen of the Lake Shore Electric who were arrested yesterday for violating the city speed ordinance with their cars, were yesterday fined $5.00 and costs by Police Judge Whelan. The Judge enjoined them to be more careful in the future and warned them that the ordinance would be severely enforced. The two men were Simon Purcell and Charles Holmes. The police of the Twelfth Precinct caught them several days ago speeding at the rate of twenty miles an hour in the city limits where only twelve miles is allowed.

The arrest of the two men was the outcome of the accident in which ex-Councilman Frese and his wife were killed last Sunday. The police are now making an effort to curtail the many liberties which the motormen are said to have taken with the city’s speed ordinance.”

The coroner’s inquest was held on July 6, 1904, and a witness testified that the air brakes on the Lake Erie Electric car were not in working order at the time of the accident. The testimony was from Irving Robinson of Beach Park, Ohio, who was the motorman of the ill-starred car: “My car was in good condition when I got it at Norwalk but coming into Cleveland at the corner of Superior and Water streets the wire to the air pump burnt out, leaving the air brakes useless. At the square I told the inspector of the condition of the air brakes, but he gave me orders to proceed, which I did, reversing my motors and using the hand brake to stop. I first saw Frese and his wife when within two hundred feet of them but I could not stop the car in time, and I don’t believe I could have done so if the air brakes had been working.” Robinson said he could only reverse his motors and use the hand brake to stop the car.

Two other witnesses, William Burns and Henry Muschwitz, both of whom were passengers on the car at the time the accident occurred, testified that they believed the car was traveling at about 30 miles per hour.  The testimony obtained at the inquest led the Frese family to file suit against the railroad company for wrongful death. The suit was settled by October of 1904 and resulted in the railroad company paying $2,000 to the Frese family which appears to have been divided between August and Frank Frese.

Christopher Frese had been a successful businessman and had accumulated a substantial estate. When his will was probated the value of the estate was approximately $25,000. This would be the equivalent of around $620,000 in 2009. His will divided his estate among four grandchildren and his son August Frese. A sad but telling notation in the will reads: “My said son Frank J. Frese not to receive anything of my estate.” Apparently Frank was a disappointment, and probably an embarrassment, to his father as one can gather from these following three Plain Dealer articles.

September 29, 1883: “Suit was commenced in common pleas court yesterday for a divorce by Minnie Frese against her husband, Frank J. Frese. They were married in May, 1890, and have one child. She accuses him of drunkenness, abuse and failure to provide. In addition to divorce she asks for alimony and custody of child.” (Frank and Minnie’s son Edward was included in Christopher Frese’s last will and testament.)

December 21, 1893: “Judge Hutchins took occasion Thursday morning to deliver to Frank  Frese an exposition on the duties of man towards his wife regarding supporting her. Minnie Frese sued him for divorce, and pending proceedings, the court made an order allowing her alimony. Frese failed to observe the mandate of the court, and he was brought before Judge Hutchins to show cause  why he should not obey.

He appeared before the court as a well dressed, well fed and intelligent looking man, and offered as explanation for his conduct that he was doing the best he could. He is out of work and not earning any money. Judge Hutchins told him it was the opinion of the court that it was disinclination that prevented his earning any money.  He lives with his parents and does not want to work. The court would give him four weeks in which to manifest a disposition to secure work and support his wife. At the end of that time if he has done nothing he stands a good chance of going to jail.”

April 25, 1894: “Frank Frese answered the divorce petition of Minnie Frese yesterday and asks the court to dismiss her petition on the ground that she was the aggressor in all of their numerous family quarrels.  The defendant admits that he engaged in several quarrels with his wife and on one occasion threw the handle of a flat iron at her but says that the missile failed to take effect and that she was as much at fault for their quarrel as he was. He also states that his wife and her mother had a pet scheme on foot to try and influence his father to deed to him and the plaintiff a house and lot and they sought to get the defendant to influence the father to do this, but that he refused to do so and this had caused family trouble. He thinks that he and his wife could get along very nicely if they were not interfered with in any manner.”

Benjamin F. Tyler

Benjamin Tyler, 1803 – 1865; Sarah Tyler, 1809 – 1880

Benjamin F. Tyler was born in Jefferson County, New York, in 1803. He came to Cleveland in 1832 as the principal representative of an investment group from Buffalo, which included his father-in-law, New York state judge Philander Bennett. The out-of-state group had entered into an agreement with two Cleveland merchants, Charles M. Giddings and Norman C. Baldwin, to purchase and redevelop Lorenzo Carter’s 80-acre farm on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River in what was then Brooklyn Township. At the time, the Ohio and Erie Canal was nearing completion and people everywhere were flush with land speculation fever.

The investors, who became known as the Buffalo Land Company, surveyed the land they had purchased and began draining the marsh lands that lay near the Old River Bed and the shores of Lake Erie. The group developed plans for a ship channel (which was eventually built) that was intended to divert lake and river traffic away from Cleveland to their lands. They laid out the streets for commercial and residential buildings. And, along with Josiah Barber and other large land owners to the south, they organized Ohio City (technically, “the City of Ohio”), achieving city status in 1836 several days ahead of Cleveland. Tyler’s partner, Norman Baldwin, became a mayor of Ohio City, while another local partner, Charles Winslow, served as President of Ohio City Council. (Winslow was also father-in-law to C.L. Russell who later famously led the Ohio City forces in the 1836 Battle of the Bridge against Cleveland.)

Tyler, unlike the other investors who were living in Buffalo–then a city eight times the size of Cleveland, decided to settle down and become a permanent resident of Ohio City. He built a home on Detroit Avenue just to the southeast of where St. Malachi church stands today. He and his wife Sarah raised their children there. He built commercial buildings, dealt extensively in real estate, and became a director of the Bank of Cleveland. He served a term on the Ohio City Council and was a vestryman at St. John Episcopal Church. In the 1850s, as sentiment against the Kansas- Nebraska Act led to the creation of the national Republican Party, Tyler became an early convention delegate of that political party in Cleveland.

In 1856, two years after Ohio City was annexed to the City of Cleveland, Tyler purchased the farm land upon which the house at 4403 Fenwick now sits, as a gift to his wife Sarah. Construction of the house was completed in or about 1859.

Tyler home in 1927
Tyler home in 1927 (Image courtesy of the Cuyahoga County Archives.)

The couple, like many wealthy Clevelanders at the time, had a principal residence in the City. Tyler may have built this house out in “the country” with the hopes that spending time there would improve Sarah’s health. The farm house, shown in this photo as it appeared in 1964, is all brick, box-like and is an Italianate style that is unusual for the City of Cleveland. 

Tyler home today
Tyler home today (Image courtesy of Jim Dubelko)

Taken in January 2014, this photo shows the house today, sitting very near the bridge over the Big Four railroad tracks–and what at one time was the Walworth Run, which historically separated Cleveland’s west side from its south side.

Tyler headstone
Tyler headstone

Six years after building the house on Fenwick Avenue, Benjamin F. Tyler succumbed to cancer at age 62. He was buried at Monroe Street Cemetery. After his death, Sarah sold the farmhouse to German immigrants and moved into a house on Franklin Avenue. While the house at 4403 Fenwick has had a number of different owners over the past century and a half, since 1963 it has been owned by one Cleveland family. (This story was borrowed from the Cleveland Historical website and was written by James Dubelko with assistance from Raymond Pianka.)

Whiskey Island map
Whiskey Island map

The land north of the Old River Bed of the Cuyahoga River has long been known to Clevelanders as Whiskey Island. In 1835, Ahaz Merchant surveyed the Lorenzo Carter farm for the Buffalo Land Company and noted on his map the names of the streets that were proposed for Whiskey Island. Many of the streets were to be named after the investors themselves, including, in addition to Benjamin F. Tyler, John B. Macy, Sheldon Thompson, Norman C. Baldwin, Hiram Pratt, Major Andre Andrews, and Charles M. Giddings (mispelled as “Gidings”). 

Founded in 1834, it served as one of Cleveland’s two principal banks in the wild decade of the 1830s. In addition to his many other business enterprises, Benjamin F. Tyler served as a director of the Bank of Cleveland, as this January 1, 1838 statement shows.

Bank of Cleveland note
(Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Newspaper archives.)

This 1874 map shows the location of B. F. Tyler’s residence on Detroit Street (now “Avenue”)–just south of St. Malachi Church which is identified as a “Cathedral.”. This was the principal residence of Tyler and his family from at least as early as 1845 until his death in 1865. The small street bisecting the property was known as Tyler Lane. It was created after his death when his daughter Helen subdivided the property. The Detroit Avenue Tyler house no longer exists. It may have been razed in 1877 to make room for the Superior Viaduct which opened to traffic in 1878.

Tyler residence map
(Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Digital Map Collection)
Hotel and Stores for Rent ad
(Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Newspaper archives)

As late as 1859, Benjamin Tyler undertook a major commercial enterprise in what was formerly Ohio City. In that year, he took over the Commerce House at the corner of Main and W. River Streets, which had been partially destroyed by fire, and rebuilt it into a hotel with retail shops on the first floor. This ad by Tyler appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on September 21, 1860.

After Benjamin F. Tyler’s death in 1865, his widow Sarah sold the farmhouse (circled in green). By 1881, the year this map was drawn, the neighborhood had changed considerably. The Walworth Run had been dammed, creating a large pond just southeast of the house. Near the pond an ice house had been built. During this period, George and Mary Steiger, immigrants from Baden, Germany, owned and resided in the farmhouse. Further evidence of the growing German presence in this neighborhood is the brewery shown on Buckley Street,. Founded in 1868 by German immigrant George Muth (also buried at Monroe Street Cemetery), it later became a facility of the Cleveland Sandusky Brewing Company.

Tyler farmhouse map
(Image courtesy of Cleveland Public Library, Digital map collection.)

Anson and Amy Smith

Anson: 1795-1891
Amy: 1797-1877

Anson Smith was born in New London, Connecticut, and as a young man he started a very successful business as a woolen merchant. The great financial period of the 1830s found Anson’s business failing due to reversals he had suffered. He relocated to Ohio City in 1837 along with his wife and six children. There he quickly started a successful business shipping produce on the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Erie canals. Later he became a telegraph agent also.

Anson and Amy hired a governess to home-school their girls and the boys were sent to private schools and later Yale College.

The Anson and Amy Smith residence, 1167 Euclid Avenue
The Anson and Amy Smith residence, 1167 Euclid Avenue

Anson prospered and eventually was wealthy enough to join the well-to-do people on Euclid Street by having a home built on Millionaire’s Row, 1842 – 1846. Smith moved to Euclid Street in 1842 when he purchased a 5,000 square foot home formerly occupied by Judge Samuel Cowles for $7,000, a fabulous sum at the time. Homes on Euclid Street during the 1830s and 1840s resembled the native architectural conventions familiar to the families that had recently come from the northeast. Brick and stone rather, than wood, were used to capture the outlines of the Federal and Greek Revival styles. The Smith home would have been as appropriate in Athens, Greece, as on Euclid Street. The front of the house featured tall stone columns in the Doric Style, three bays wide, and supporting a decorated entablature. The main entrance was centered in the symmetrical façade.

Such a family certainly produced children and grandchildren that would, in their own right, be notable. The sons Robertson Smith (1839 – 1863), and Hamilton Lanphere Smith (1819 – 1903 ), and granddaughter Genevieve Estelle Jones (1847 -1879) each achieved notoriety in their own way.

In 1878 a close friend of Robertson Smith, Theodore Tracie, wrote a remembrance of him. Smith was born in 1839 and died at the age of 24 from a stroke.

“Lieut. Robertson Smith was a native of Cleveland, and served in the three months’ service in the same command with Shields and Wilson. He was a literary man from education and taste, and was a frequent contributor to the magazines and newspapers of that day. At the time of his entrance into the Battery he was connected with the Cleveland Leader in an editorial capacity.

He was a most genial and attractive gentleman, and very popular in Cleveland, where he was widely known, admired and respected. He was delicate in constitution and health, and had been most tenderly reared.

His entrance into army life was from patriotic convictions and a desire to serve his country, not from any taste or affinity for the profession of arms. Compelled to retire from the army after a few months’ service, on account of ill health, it would be difficult to anticipate what his success might have been as a military man.

In the annals of the Nineteenth Ohio Battery, I am thankful there are but few sad landmarks. The chiefest of these is indissolubly connected with one man. The inclemency of the season, and the delicacy of his constitution, soon told with marked effect upon Lieut. Robertson Smith, who was compelled to find in a private residence in town the comforts and luxuries which the camp did not afford. A low fever and general debility were followed by a severe attack of typhoid fever, which prostrated him and confined him entirely to his apartment. He was visited almost every day by the officers and men, and though weak and unnerved from the attacks of the disease, he always had a kind and pleasant word for everyone. He was a universal favorite in the command, and few men in military life were so fortunate as to win such love and hearty regard from his comrades as Robertson Smith.

He was a man of somewhat eccentric character, and full of quaint humor and harmless cynicism. He affected to regard everything in life in anything but a serious aspect. To a well-stored mind and a cultivated taste were added rare gifts and culture, which in time would have made him conspicuous in literary and aesthetic circles. Like all of nature’s true gentlemen, he had the happy faculty of adapting himself to circumstances, and in making those around him feel their troubles and trials less.

His recovery became so doubtful that his physicians decided it necessary that he should resign and return home. Accordingly, his resignation was forwarded and accepted, and a time set for his return to Cleveland. The ambulance was sent to town, at his request, and he was brought to camp to see his comrades for the last time.

It is but fitting that this memorial should include the sad event which followed some months later. We had passed through many exciting scenes, of which Lieut. Smith had been kept advised; the summer was gone and early September was upon us, when the startling announcement was made that Robertson Smith was dead:

As I recall that day and the feelings that announcement aroused, it seems but yesterday that I had been bereaved, and my heart saddens even after these many years, as I write the word dead after my friend’s name.

I was lying in the hospital tent recovering from a fever when I received a letter in his familiar handwriting, and proceeding to open it with trembling eagerness, my eye fell upon some penciled words on the back of the envelope. As I read them, my heart stood still and my eyes were blinded. It seemed impossible that I could have read aright, and yet the words were there and would not out: “Robertson died today at half past five o’clock. Please inform his friends in the Battery.”

The post-mark bore a date almost a month old. The hand that had written kindly words to me, and the heart that had prompted them, had been stilled in death weeks before the missive had reached me. The end had come.

Accompanying his letter was one from his sister, thoughtfully giving me the details of my friend’s last hours. I opened a Cleveland newspaper and read there the printed tale of his death, which I here reproduce: “It becomes our painful duty to chronicle the sudden demise of Robertson Smith of this city, late second lieutenant in Shield’s Battery, which event occurred at the residence of his father on Euclid street, about six o’clock last evening. Up to within a very short time before his death, Mr. Smith was apparently in the enjoyment of his usual health—which, however, has been delicate for several months—and in fact he had seemed during the day to have been in even better spirits than usual. Between four and five o’clock he was seized with violent convulsions while ascending the stairs to his room, and it was there that the family, attracted by his groans, found him. Notwithstanding that every effort was made to relieve the sufferer, he sank rapidly until death relieved him from his sufferings. The deceased was entirely unconscious from the moment of the attack until his death. The latter was undoubtedly caused by a disease of the heart with which he had been afflicted for some time.”

Hamilton Lanphere Smith was an  Americanscientistphotographer, and  astronomer. He was born in New LondonConnecticut and graduated from Yale in 1839,[1] where he constructed the largest telescope in the country at the time in 1838.

Hamilton Lanphere Smith
Hamilton Lanphere Smith

In 1848 Smith wrote “The World”, one of the first science textbooks written in America. Smith is best known for patenting the tintype photographic process, which popularized photography in America. He patented the great American tintype on February 19, 1856.[1]

Between 1853 and 1868 he was Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at Kenyon CollegeGambierOhio, and later taught at Hobart College in New York. He also created a system for describing microscopic algae that is still in use today.

Upon his retirement from Hobart, Smith returned to Yonkers, New York, where he was cared for by his granddaughters, and their mother, Mrs. Buttles Smith. Smith died on August 1, 1903, at the age of 85 years. Smith and his wife are buried in Geneva.

A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and it has been revived as a novelty in the 21st.

Tintype of two girls
Tintype of two girls in front of a painted background of the Cliff House and Seal Rocks in San Francisco, circa 1900

Tintype portraits were at first usually made in a formal photographic studio, like daguerreotypes and other early types of photographs, but later they were most commonly made by photographers working in booths or the open air at fairs and carnivals, as well as by itinerant sidewalk photographers. Because the lacquered iron support (there is no actual tin used) was resilient and did not need drying, a tintype could be developed and fixed and handed to the customer only a few minutes after the picture had been taken.

The tintype photograph saw more uses and captured a wider variety of settings and subjects than any other photographic type. It was introduced while the daguerreotype was still popular, though its primary competition would have been the ambrotype.

The tintype saw the Civil War come and go, documenting the individual soldier and horrific battle scenes. It captured scenes from the Wild West, as it was easy to produce by itinerant photographers working out of covered wagons.

Genevieve Estelle Jones was born in her grandfather’s home in Cleveland, Ohio, and named after one of her mother’s sisters. She was bright inquisitive child who loved to be out-of-doors. When she was only a toddler, her father commissioned a set of miniature gardening tools from the blacksmith so that she could work outside along with the gardener. She moved to Circleville with her family at the age of six. Soon afterward she began a lifelong practice of riding with her father in his buggy as he visited his patients. She was home-schooled by her mother, who also taught her watercolor painting, until she was of high school age. She attended Everts High School and graduated in 1865. After that event, her education was continued at home where she was tutored in Greek, French, Latin and German and studied the piano until her teacher refuse to continue taking money for lessons because she had become a better musician than she was.

Genevieve died at the age of 32 years but during her lifetime her deep interest in nature and out-of-doors combined with her drawing and painting ability led her to create a substantial number of paintings of wildlife and, in particular, bird’s nests. Her works were only known to herself and her family but after her untimely death the family created a memorial to her.

Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio was published in the small town of Circleville, Ohio, over a period of eight years (from 1879 to 1886) through the dedicated efforts of the family and friends. Despite being produced not just by amateurs but largely by women, far from the publishing houses and the intellectual centers of 19th-Century America, the book was hailed as an extraordinary achievement from the moment it’s first few pages were published. Elliot Coues, one of the foremost American ornithologists of the period, praised the book as it’s parts came off the press and were distributed. In the pages of The Auk,      the journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union, and its predecessor, The Bulletin of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, he described it as a “magnificent work” of “great artistic excellence and fidelity to nature”. The plates, he wrote, “compare favorably with the best that have ever appeared.” He placed it “among the most original and most notable treatises on ornithology which have appeared in this country.”

Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio

Published by subscription, a common means of financing large expensive books in those days, no more than 100 copies were made. Fewer than that survive today, so it’s very scarce, and few people have ever seen it.

Anson and Amy Smith decided that in spite of their substantial wealth they would be buried at the Monroe Street Cemetery and their monument is a very modest marble one which has been damaged by the ravages of the industrial atmosphere that was prevalent in Cleveland for so many decades. Perhaps the reason they selected Monroe Street Cemetery is that their son, Robertson Smith, is buried in Section E, Lot 1, the same location as Anson and Amy.

Anson and Amy Smith tombstone
Anson and Amy Smith tombstone

August & Wilhelmina Ruthenberg

August:  1839 – 1898
Wilhelmina: 1846 – 1914
Charles: July 9, 1882- March 3, 1927

On September 16, 1920, as the bells of Trinity Church in New York City’s Wall Street district were ringing noon, a dynamite-laden horse-drawn wagon exploded. The blast ripped into the lunchtime crowd at the corner of Wall and Broad Streets, killing 38 people and wounding hundreds more. This violent act is part of the story of decades of political violence in the U.S. The Haymarket bombing of 1886 had seemingly ushered in an era of dynamite attacks, mail bombs and assassination attempts on both politicians and capitalists, creating a widespread impression that dynamite and assassination were a vital part of American class relations. Yet, though this kind of terrorist violence was associated with the American revolutionary left, radicals in the U.S. disagreed about its legitimacy. Most embraced terrorism and assassination unapologetically, other left-wing notables like Socialist leader Eugene Debs and anarchist Emma Goldman tended to oppose such activity.

Some 16 months earlier than the Wall Street bombing an incident took place in Cleveland that shattered the calm of the first day of May 1919. The unfortunate, but predictable outcome of a simple parade exhibited a growing fear to which Clevelanders and, perhaps a majority of Americans, were reacting. The event came to be known as the “May Day Riots” and the simple parade had been organized by a man named Charles E. Ruthenberg.

Charles’s father, August Ruthenberg, had been a cigar maker in Germany and an activist in the German Social Democratic party but was not politically involved after he left Europe. August had four sons by his first marriage. His second marriage was to Wilhelmina Lau and they gave birth to three daughters before emigrating to the U.S. in 1882. Four months after their arrival their last child, Charles was born. At first, August Ruthenberg found work as a longshoreman on the ore docks, but later, he managed a saloon. Everyone in the Ruthenberg family worked except Charles. The child was his mother’s favorite, usually escaping chores and unpleasant tasks–much to the chagrin of his older siblings. Charles spent much of his time reading, and consequently did very well in school.

Ruthenberg’s earliest ambition was influenced by his mother’s desire that he become a Lutheran minister. In 1896, at the age of fourteen, he graduated from the Trinity Evangelical Lutheran School in Cleveland. His instructors remembered him as being shy and serious to the point of rarely laughing. Ruthenberg, however, did not pursue the clergy, for either lack of money or interest. Instead, he went to work in a picture frame factory, but did not care for a laborer’s life. He got a job in a bookstore, where his childhood interest in books and his new interest in salesmanship led him to a new career in business. He attended Berkey and Dyke’s Business College in the Standard Building at nights and graduated in 1898. Ruthenberg began his business career as a bookkeeper and salesman for the Cleveland district office of the Selmer Hess Publishing Company of New York. He achieved the position of assistant manager supervising about forty salesmen.

Charles E Ruthenberg

As a young man struggling for a living in the commercial world, Ruthenberg believed in the ideals of laissez-faire capitalism and Social Darwinism that were popular at the time. He continued to read widely. His favorite authors were Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry David Thoreau, but their ideas of freedom, justice, and personal dignity were hard to reconcile with the materialistic values of the profit motive in business. Through these writings Ruthenberg became more aware of social problems and the need for political reforms. In 1901 he enthusiastically supported the candidacy of reformer Tom Johnson for mayor of Cleveland; his first political experience came from middle-class Progressivism.

By the age of twenty-three, Ruthenberg was a family man, having married Rosaline Nickel in 1904 and fathered his only child, a son named Daniel in 1905. He continued his intellectual interests by holding discussions in his home with friends and business associates. About this time Ruthenberg became interested in socialism through an associate at Selmer Hess, MacBain Walker who was at the time an admirer of the British Socialist Robert Blatchford. Ruthenberg found it difficult to refute Walker’s socialist arguments in numerous debates, so he read Karl Marx’s Das Kapital. He was so impressed with the book that he too began to advocate socialism and by 1912 was a militant party member.

As leader of the local Socialist party, Ruthenberg was an effective organizer and perennial political candidate. He ran for mayor 4 times (1911, 1915, 1917, 1919); for Ohio governor in 1912; for the U.S. Senate in 1914; and for the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 and 1918, however none of these political aspiration came to fruition.

By 1917, Ruthenberg had given up his job to devote himself to political work, and had moved to the radical left of the party. After the Bolshevik Revolution, he switched to the Communist Party, becoming executive secretary of the Communist Party of America. Ruthenberg’s last major political action in Cleveland was leading the May Day Parade of 1919 which resulted in a riot and his arrest on a charge of assault with intent to kill. The decade from 1917 to 1927 was Ruthenberg’s most politically active era. He was arrested and jailed many times and it is said that during that decade he spent less than six months not incarcerated for some reason or other.

The Communist Party in Cleveland was a small, disciplined group of men and women involved in both political and labor activities who promoted the overthrow of American capitalism by revolutionary means in order to establish proletarian rule. The local Communist party was founded by Ohio and Cuyahoga County socialists belonging to the left-wing section of the national Socialist Party. The Cuyahoga County group left the Socialist party, upset that the National Executive Committee had nullified a party referendum favorable to the left wing at a New York section meeting on June 21, 1919. Led by Charles Ruthenberg, the left wing declared themselves the Socialist Party’s true national executive committee at a meeting held in Cleveland on July 26 and joined three other splinter groups to form the Communist Labor Party. The group affiliated with the Communist Party of America in May 1920.

The May Day Riots involved Socialists, trade-union members, police, and military troops. The Socialists and trade unionists were participants in a May Day parade to protest the recent jailing of Socialist leader Eugene Debs and to promote the mayoral candidacy of its organizer, Charles Ruthenberg. Its thirty-two labor and Socialist groups were divided into four units, each with a red flag and an American flag at its head; many marchers also wore red clothing or red badges. While marching to Public Square one of the units was stopped on Superior Ave. by a group of Victory Loan Workers who asked that their red flags be lowered, and at that point the rioting began. Before the day ended, the disorder had spread to Public Square and to the Socialist party headquarters on Prospect Ave., which was ransacked by a mob of one hundred men. Two people were killed, forty injured, and one hundred sixteen arrested in the course of the violence, and mounted police, army trucks, and tanks were needed to restore order. Cleveland’s riots were the most violent of a series of similar disorders that took place throughout the U.S. Although it is uncertain who actually began the trouble, the actions of those involved were largely shaped by the anti-Bolshevik hysteria that permeated the country during the “Red Scare” of 1919. (For a more detailed account of the May Day Riots see the book They Died Crawling by John Stark Bellamy II.)

The Socialist Party office after the riots
The Socialist Party office after the riots

Charles Ruthenberg died suddenly on March 2, 1927, of a ruptured appendix. He was forty-four years old. His body was cremated in Chicago and sent by train to New York. His remains were sent from New York to Moscow, where his ashes were interred in the Kremlin Wall with full honors. John Reed and C. E. Ruthenberg are the only American Communists so honored by the Kremlin.

Ruthenberg’s death marked an important transition in the American Communist movement. During his leadership, the party had shifted from romantic clandestine revolutionary enthusiasm of 1917-1919 to organizational discipline and doctrinal subservience to Moscow. Ruthenberg never lost sight of the reasons why he had entered the movement, although policy changes by the Kremlin in the mid 1920’s made the hope for immediate revolutionary activity in the United States less likely. Whether Ruthenberg’s radicalism led to either personal happiness or self-fulfillment is not known. He lost years of freedom and sacrificed family life only to die at an early age with his dreams unrealized. His son has claimed that Ruthenberg had grown disenchanted with Communism by the mid-1920’s and was looking for a way out of the party, but there is no documentary evidence to support this view. He did not survive, in any event, to experience the profound disillusionment of his generation of American Communists that was caused by the brutal Five Year plans and purges by Stalin during the 1930’s.

A Cleveland Leader headline after the riots
A Cleveland Leader headline after the riots

Charles’ parents, August and Wilhelmina Ruthenberg, are buried at Monroe Street Cemetery though Wilhelmina’s name is not visible. Charles’ brother, William Ruthenberg, who died at the age of 72 in 1937 from erysipelas is also buried at Monroe.

Ruthenberg headstone

Isabell Roy

3/22/1850 – 11/15/1867

What follows is a newspaper account that appeared in the New York Times on November 22, 1867. The story of the murder of Isabell Roy was sensational enough to induce that major east coast newspaper to inform its readers of the crime and, frankly, the story is pretty juicy! The source of information mentioned in the article as the “Leader” refers to a Cleveland newspaper, The Cleveland Leader, which along with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, were the major newspapers at that time.

“The Appalling Tragedy at Cleveland – Murder and Suicide – The Assassin’s Last Letter

Roy headstone

The Cleveland Papers of Monday morning contain long accounts of the most frightful crimes alluded to by telegraph. Jas. H. Gregory, proprietor of a photographic establishment, over No. 9 Public Square, Cleveland, had a female assistant named Isabella Roy, a girl of nineteen years (ed. Actually 17 years), She boarded with her employer’s family, which consisted of himself, his wife and a little daughter, his only son Willie having died some years before. Gregory was a passionate and violent man and abused his wife so much that about a year ago she had him arrested and fined in the Police Court. Their relations, it scarcely need to be added, were unhappy, and Mrs. Gregory’s jealousy of her husband’s relations to the girl Roy – apparently too well founded – increased the disagreement. On Friday the man and the girl went to their place of business and did not return that night. Becoming alarmed, on Saturday morning, Mrs. Gregory and her daughter went to the rooms and unlocked the door with a duplicate key which she had. The reception parlor was all as usual, but in the operating room they found the corpse of Gregory horribly gashed and covered and surrounded by blood stains. They rushed frantically out and gave the alarm. The police were sent for and a Coroner’s investigation instituted. The evidence went to show that on Thursday Gregory had purchased a revolver, with which, on Friday, he had shot Miss Roy; that she had fled from him, running through the different rooms into a lumber room in which there was a staircase. Four bullet holes were found in and about the stairs. The fatal bullet had entered her temple, and the pistol had been evidently put close to her head, as the skin was blackened by powder. The physicians decided that the girl had been dead at least twenty-four hours when her corpse was discovered. The murder must, therefore, have taken place on Friday morning. One bullet hole was discovered in Gregory’s face, just below the nose, from which it is inferred, as well as from other circumstances already mentioned, that he had only one charge left in his pistol after killing the girl, and that he erred in his aim against himself through nervousness.

He then cut his throat with a small dull jack-knife, which was found near him. His throat was shockingly hacked, and the physicians thought that he must have drawn it at least four times across his neck, and finally died from gradual loss of blood, rather than from the necessary fatality of his wounds. A bucket of bloody water and a wet and bloody handkerchief indicated that he had washed his hands after cutting his throat. In his pockets were found $180 in money, some bullets, and a letter written in a very trembling hand, in which he gave all that can be certainly known of his motives for perpetrating the double crime.

“To Whom this may Concern:
I have waded through trouble for many years, and worked hard that I might receive thanks, but all in vain, since Mrs. Gregory has borne false witness against me, had me locked up in prison under false pretense, which often makes me do things that I would not have done. I hope God will pardon me for this horrid crime for I have done it to put an end to my trouble. This Miss Roy brought me into this last crime which I can’t unfold. I wish for Mr. Pugh to select a piece of ground in Woodland Cemetery and take Willie up, place him beside me in the grave, and this girl in the same grave beside me, and leave room for Mrs. Gregory and my little girl next to me. Here is $200 to pay my expenses, and then divide all between Mrs. Gregory and Ida Bell. Mr. J. Pugh has always been my friend. I want him to see to this. Farewell to this world of trouble.”

There was no signature to the letter. The handwriting was identified as that of Gregory.

The jury returned a verdict that Isabella Roy came to her death from a pistol wound at the hands of J. H. Gregory, and that Gregory had come to his death by a pistol shot and the cutting of his throat by his own hands. The Leader adds the following facts:

Miss Roy was quite prepossessing in appearance, and ordinarily intelligent. She was engaged to be married to, we are informed, a worthy young man. Her general character, so far as we can learn, was without a taint of reproach but, although we would not now cast an unjust stain upon her character, it is unquestionably true that her relations with Gregory were of a criminal character. We believe that none of her friends entertained a suspicion of her conduct. She had told some of them that Gregory had tried to induce her to elope with him, and well would it have been if they had removed her from the snare of the tempter. It does not appear that anything like infatuation had taken possession of her, for she had steadily refused to go with him. He took all possible means to break up the engagement between her and her lover, and we are informed that she was induced to postpone her marriage through his solicitations, it having been expected to take place several weeks ago. He had visited both her father and her betrothed a day or two previous to the murder, and showed them the improper pictures above spoken of, for the purpose, undoubtedly, of alienating them from her. Her continued refusal to fly with him, and the trouble which would arise from the exposure of his intimacy with the girl, may have so aroused his passions that he resolved upon the bloody deed.

Isabell headstone

The body of the murdered girl was taken in charge by her friends, and was buried on Sunday, in the West Side Cemetery, no heed being taken, of course, of the request of her murderer. The remains of the latter were also removed by his friends, and taken on Sunday to their final resting place.”

Isabell’s parents are buried next to her. The stones are marked “Father” and “Mother” but their names are not shown.