Throughout the year the Catawba Island Historical Society hosts popular speaking engagements. Read more to learn about past speakers and check back often for information on future events.
Another of our services is arranging for guest experts to visit and speak on a variety of topics.
Interested in previous presentations? Check out our YouTube.com channel through the button below.
Admission is always free for our Lecture Series and Museum
6:00 pm • Catawba Township Community Hall, 3307 N.W. Catawba Road
HISTORICAL SOCIETY OFFERED A “PEACH” OF A FALL SPEAKER
The fall speaker for the CIHS 2023 Cultural Lecture Series will be Brad Schwan, owner of Schwan Orchards on Catawba Island. Schwan will share stories of how Catawba became the “Gold Standard” source for American peaches thanks to visionary locals A.S. Reynolds and J.W. Gamble.
Schwan was born and raised in Port Clinton. He graduated from Port Clinton High School and went on to earn undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education at Bowling Green State University. He subsequently taught at Eastern Arizona College and Arizona State University. Prior to the orchard business he owned and operated Swan Cleaners and Cygnet Charters. He also coached the Port Clinton High School varsity soccer team.
Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States, and his connection to Lake Erie’s Mouse Island which is part of Catawba Island Township.The speech was given at the Township Hall, 3307 NW Catawba Road. Presented by Dan Baker, historical lecturer at Terra State Community College and part-time employee at Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library and Museums at Spiegel Grove in Fremont, OH.Prior to his Presidency from 1877 to 1881, Hayes had served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as Governor of Ohio. He and two associates acquired Mouse Island in 1874. Mouse had earlier been called Ship Island according to some late 18th century maps. During Hayes’ tenure as the Nation’s Chief Executive, it was sometimes referred to as the “Summer White House”President Hayes never had a full-time residence on Mouse Island. It was acquired as a recreation respite for his family. His wife, Lucy, was particularly fond of going there to fish. His sons built two rustic vacation cabins and ruins of their foundations and fireplaces remain even though the wooden structures have been lost to time and neglect. In 1966 a private party acquired the Island. It is now closed to visitors.Dan Baker went into more detail about Rutherford B. Hayes, his wife and children, as well as touching upon the role our 19th President played in shaping America in the 1800’s. Dan Baker resides in Gibsonburg, OH. He is a lifelong student of history, has an Associate Engineering Degree, and is a retired Hospital Facilities Director and Project Manager.
Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf, Ph.D., retired Professor of Earth Sciences at the Ohio State University and Director Emeritus at the Franz Theodore Stone Laboratory on Gibralter Island, presented his program titled ‘Origins of the Islands of the Western Basin’. It was held on Thursday, September 29. 2016 at 6:30PM at the Catawba Island Township Community Hall.
Dr. Charles E. Herdendorf is President and Director of the Sheffield Village Historical Society & Cultural Center. He is a certified professional geologist and nautical archaeologist. Dr. Herdendorf is a past director of the Great Lakes Historical Society of Vermilion, Ohio and currently serves as a Director of the Lorain County Historical Society of Elyria, Ohio and a Trustee of the Firelands Archaeological Research Center of Amherst, Ohio.
Local historian, John Gibson, spoke about the ”History of Prohibition and Rum Running in Ottawa County” at an event sponsored by the Catawba Island Historical Society. The presentation was held at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 12, 2017 at the Catawba Island Township Community Hall.
Mr. Gibson is a graduate of Michigan State University in criminal justice, served as deputy sheriff in Huron County, and was an officer with the Sandusky police department. He taught American History and American Government at Sandusky High School, has worked as a private investigator, and retired from State Farm Insurance Company where he served as a special investigator specializing in arson cases. He currently teaches in the Lifetime Learning program at Terra State College. A Catawba Island resident for more than 50 years, he is a Trustee of the newly formed Catawba Island Historical Society.
Brian G. Redmond, Ph.D., Curator and James Otis Hower Chair of Archaeology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, came to Catawba Island on Monday October 2, 2017 to speak about “Ancient Ohioans on the North Shore”.
He reviewed evidence and highlighted his own excavations to tell the story of the first people of this region and how their cultures changed from Ice Age hunters and gatherers, through earthwork builders, to village farmers, all before the arrival of Euro-Americans in the 1700’s.
Dr. Redmond’s lecture uniquely addressed the evolution of societies from the civilizations that preceded them. Redmond initially developed expertise in the archaeology of later prehistory, A.D. 500 to 1650. This broadened when opportunities arose to work at older sites in Ohio like Paleo Crossing and Sheriden Cave.
Dr. Randall Buchman, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History at Defiance College and author of multiple publications about the indigenous peoples of this area, spoke about the cultural collision of Native Americans with Europeans and Americans post 1600 A.D. His book, “A Sorrowful Journey” is one of the definitive resources for describing the exodus of the Ottawa and other Ohio tribes to west of the Mississippi River following passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Dr. Buchman grew up on a farm near the Portage River in Oak Harbor, OH. He credits discovery of artifacts along the river banks for sparking his interest in the various American Indian tribes that populated Ohio.
Following undergraduate work at Tiffin, Ohio’s Heidelberg University, and obtaining an advanced degree from Ohio State University, Dr. Buchman began his teaching career at Defiance College in 1964. He retired from that position in 1996 to work for 6 years with the College’s Planned Giving staff. In 2002 he became Historian for the City of Defiance.
Lou Schultz spoke about U.S. invasion of Canada after winning the
1813 Battle of Lake Erie
Area historian and Vice-President of the Erie County Historical Society, Lou Schultz, was the October 2019 fall speaker in the Catawba Island Historical Society’s Cultural Lecture Series. He shared seldom told tales about preparing for and launching the U.S. amphibious invasion of Canada following Oliver Hazard Perry’s 1813 naval victory at the Battle of Lake Erie.
Schultz was born and raised in Sandusky. A 3rd grade field trip to Fort Stephenson in Fremont sparked his initial interest in history and ultimately led to his in-depth study of the War of 1812. As a member of the Ohio War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission, he has lectured frequently on the subject. The Hayes Presidential Center displayed his extensive collection of related artifacts during the 2013 Bicentennial celebration of the War.
The presentation primarily focused on events that took place in what are currently Ottawa, Sandusky and Seneca Counties. Topics included the Siege of Fort Stephenson, arrival of Isaac Shelby’s troops at the mouth of the Portage River from Kentucky, embarkation of the army on Perry’s ships, and the Battle of the Thames in today’s Provence of Ontario, Canada.
“Most people know about Admiral Perry’s brilliant success at the Battle of Lake Erie,” said Schultz, “But use of his ships to transport the troops of General William Henry Harrison across the lake was equally important for defeating the British and Tecumseh’s Tribal Confederacy, and for reestablishing American control over the Northwestern frontier.”
Included in the presentation was passages from original, unpublished documents Schultz has in his personal collection. He describes many of the recorded comments made by participants in the Siege of Fort Stephenson and embarkation for Canada from near Port Clinton as “quite colorful”!
Chazz Avery, local historian on matters pertaining to the Portage River, answered the question, “Catawba…Is It an Island or a Peninsula?”
The name Chazz Avery is actually an alias used by lifelong Port Clinton resident Chuck Grindstaff. He began using is it in the early 1990’s while recording and publishing his own music. He describes music as his second passion. His first is history.
“When I was a child,” noted Avery, “my grandfather clipped local history stories from the newspaper and kept them in a shoebox. I was fascinated when he would talk with me about them. It was his influence that interested me in the whys and wherefores of days gone by. And, yes, I still have the shoebox!”
Avery is a familiar face with area historical organizations. For example, he organized and manages the document, photo and artifact archives at Port Clinton’s Ottawa County Museum, and volunteers as their resident historian.
Access to records at the Ottawa County Museum, and elsewhere, has enabled him to thoroughly study complex events affecting evolution of the Portage River. The river, geology and glaciers are all principle factors in defining the island or peninsula status of Catawba.
“I wanted to speak at a Catawba Island Historical Society meeting because I know the Island versus Peninsula question is frequently asked by area residents and visitors”, said Avery. “The answer isn’t just black and white.
Those attending heard some interesting and thought provoking theories.