Middle Bass Club Stories
Photo and Document Archives:
The Middle Bass Club Chapel Story
By Marie Demer Rader
I decided to write about the Middle Bass Club Chapel after I received the 1881 handwritten Records Book of the Middle Bass Chapel Association from my Middle Bass Club neighbor and research colleague Dr. Martin Taliak. Then, the Chapel came alive when Middle Bass Club member Maggie Kinsey Wood told me she was inside the Chapel in the early 1930s. Next, I realized that few people knew that the Middle Bass Club had a Chapel let alone why it was built, who built it, when was it built, where it was located, what they used it for and how it was funded. Thus, I hope to safeguard the Chapel history by sharing its story since the building no longer exists in the Middle Bass Club.
Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book from the Taliak Family Personal Collection (multiple pages). Photo by Marie Demer Rader, Summer 2021
When the idea of building a Chapel turned into the creation of the Middle Bass Chapel Association in 1881 - 1882, the Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association (now called the Middle Bass Club) was growing by leaps and bounds and was extremely popular with members and their families. In 1881 they boasted 189 wealthy, influential members. The membership consisted mainly of people living in Toledo, Ohio but also included members from the following Ohio cities: Bellevue, Bryan, Columbus, Cincinnati, Findlay, Fostoria, Fremont, Green Springs, Kent, Lancaster, Norwalk, Ottawa, Sandusky, Springfield, Upper Sandusky and Wauseon. Outside Ohio, members originated from: Baltimore, Maryland; Battle Creek, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Henderson, Kentucky; Indianapolis, Indiana; Louisville, Kentucky; St. Louis, Missouri and San Francisco, California. A link to the 1881 Membership List is included below.
In 1881, due the rapid growth in membership and popularity with the families, the membership decided to enhance and upgrade the accommodations within the Middle Bass Club. Additional Club House guest rooms as well as more refined accommodations were desperately needed. To build the grandiose “new” Club House, the Middle Bass Club commissioned renowned Toledo architect E. O. Fallis to design the building. The “new” Club House was built on the site of the original Club House in the Grove (southwestern portion of the western tip of Middle Bass Island). Unfortunately, the “new” Club House does not exist today; the Grove where it was located is now a private park owned by the Middle Bass Club. The original Club House built in 1874, now called “Club Cottage,” was relocated from the Grove to William Rehberg’s 1st Addition: lots 35 & 36 on Grove Avenue to make room for the new, swankier Club House. Eight members purchased 1/8 share of lots 35 & 36: Epaphras Lord Barber, Marcus V. Barbour, Leander Solomon Baumgardner, Adam Burgert, Frederick B. Dodge, George Douglass, Arthur D. Howell and William Alonso Gosline Sr. “Club Cottage” provided additional accommodations when the “new” Club House was full. “Club Cottage” does not exist today; the empty lots are owned by the Richardson and Rader families.
In the spirit of upgrading the Middle Bass Club amenities, member Francis Pilgrim Isherwood moved his “tiny” cottage (the first one built in the Middle Bass Club) from Rehberg’s Original Subdivision lot 11 on Grove Avenue to William Rehberg’s 3rd Subdivision, lot 54 on Grape Avenue. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood then decided to build a larger, fancier cottage on lot 11 (this was a prime location right across the street from the “new” Club House). The original Isherwood cottage on Grape Avenue exists today and is owned by the Daniel family. The “bigger” Isherwood cottage located on Grove Avenue exists today is owned by the Fine family. According to Middle Bass Club records, in 1882 besides the “new” Club House, there were 23 member cottages providing accommodations for an additional 120 people. Cottages that existed in 1882 based upon my research are depicted in the chart below.
Since many families wanted to spend a lot of time at the Middle Bass Club, a group of Middle Bass Club members decided that a Chapel needed to be built on the Middle Bass Club grounds to offer regular church services, Sunday school for the children and occasionally host educational, literary and scientific programs. Thus, the Middle Bass Chapel Association committee was formed in August 1881. The Middle Bass Chapel Association was comprised of ladies who were the wives or daughters of Middle Bass Club members. While constructing the Chapel building, the Middle Bass Chapel Association worked with an elected group of gentlemen from the Middle Bass Club appropriately named the Building Committee. The Building Committee (with input from the Middle Bass Chapel Association) worked with the “new” Club House architect, E. O. Fallis, to ensure a cohesive design between the two buildings. Once the Chapel design was approved by the Middle Bass Chapel Association, the Building Committee worked with a builder from Toledo, Joseph Brady, to construct the Chapel.
It was decided to place the Chapel on Grape Avenue on the northeastern side of the Middle Bass Club: William Rehberg’s 2nd Addition: lot 45. “Count” William Rehberg and his wife Louisa sold this lot for $100 to the Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association (Ottawa County Recorder’s Office: Volume 33, Page 167) which was received and recorded on September 4, 1882. In the deed it states:
“Know that all Men by these Presents, That We William Rehberg and Louisa Rehberg of Middle Bass Island, Lake Erie Ohio in consideration of One Hundred Dollars to them paid by the association hereinafter mentioned the receipt wherof is hereby acknowledged, do hereby Bargain, Sell and Convey to “The Toledo and Lake Erie Boating and Fishing Association, “ its successors and assigns forever the following real estate, viz:
Lot number forty five (45) in Rehbergs subdivision of land on Middle Bass Island, Ottawa County, Ohio: said premises to be held upon the following trusts. 1. For the erection and maintenances of a Chapel to be used for Sunday School and other religious purposes, but without discrimination in favor of or against any creed, sect or denomination whatever: also for such scientific literary and educational purposes as the trustees herein named may deem expedient. 2. The said grantee is to be charged with no duty in regard to the execution of said trust, but the management and control thereof is vested in the Board of Trustees of the association of ladies now organized for the purchase and improvement of said property. 3. The said Board of Trustees is to be constituted and continued from time to time as may be provided by the rules and regulations of said association, together with the privileges and appurtenances to the same belonging.”
The Chapel Building - Initial Construction
The initial meeting of the Middle Bass Chapel Association was held on August 10, 1881 at the cottage of Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears on the corner of Grove Avenue and Rehberg Avenue. This cottage doesn’t exist today; it was located on William Rehberg’s 1st Addition, lot 19 which is currently owned by the Middle Bass Club. The goal of the Middle Bass Chapel Association was “to erect a building to be used for religious and literary purposes.” The following ladies were elected a Board of Trustees: Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears, Mrs. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood, Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey, Mrs. Leander Solomon Baumgardner, Mrs. James Clark and Mrs. David Clark. The first officers of the Middle Bass Chapel Association included: President, Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears, Vice President, Mrs. Scott [Probably Mrs. Alexander W. Scott], Secretary, Miss Pamela Berdan [daughter of member Peter Frederick Berdan and his wife Maria Waite] and Treasurer, Mrs. Matthew Shoemaker. By vote, a Building Committee of gentlemen was selected to work with the Trustees in erecting the Chapel, which was comprised of: Mr. Peter Frederic Berdan, Mr. Welcome Otis Parker, Mr. William Keeny McMillan, Mr. James Clark, Mr. Matthew Shoemaker and Mr. Leander Burdick. Both the Middle Bass Chapel Association Trustees and Building Committee were comprised of Middle Bass Club cottage owners; suggesting they had a vested interest in building a Chapel for worship as they planned to spend a significant amount of time at the Middle Bass Club during the summers.
No major business transpired at the second meeting which was held on August 19, 1881; there are no notations as to where the meeting took place.
The third meeting on August 13, 1881 took place at the cottage of Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey. This cottage exists today; it’s located on Grove Avenue, William Rehberg lot 10 which is currently owned by the Jones-Cumberworth family. During this meeting, Mr. Matthew Shoemaker was appointed to provide a “Draught [sketch] of a Chapel building such as would seem suitable for the purposes to which the said Chapel would be devoted.”
The fourth meeting occurred on September 2, 1881 at the cottage of Mrs. Daniel Horn Mears. A Constitution and By-Laws were read, approved and unanimously adopted. The Middle Bass Chapel Association Constitution and By-Laws are almost identical to those in place for the Middle Bass Club at that time. During the meeting, the Middle Bass Chapel Association voted “that the plan of the Chapel building be moved over to the Building Committee subject to their approval.” In order to fund the erection of the Chapel and pay for ministers and building maintenance, the Middle Bass Club Chapel Association solicited “subscriptions,” from active Middle Bass Club members. The subscriptions were fifty cents per year. A Soliciting Committee was created to collect subscriptions from the Middle Bass Club members consisting of: Mrs. Leander Burdick, Mrs. Abraham F. Rutherford [her husband managed the Middle Bass Club House], Mrs. John Berdan II, Miss Cousie Berdan [Daughter of member John Bedan II and his wife Victoria Sinclair] and Miss Annie Rutherford [Daughter of Abraham F. Rutherford and his wife Sarah H Moss].
The fifth meeting on September 25, 1881 was held at the cottage of Mrs. Matthew Shoemaker. This cottage exists today; it’s located on Lake Avenue, William Rehberg lot 1 which is currently owned by the Bradfish-Collins family. The following resolution was unanimously adopted: “Resolved: That this Contract for building the Chapel on the plan, and according to the specifications of E. O. Fallis Architect, be let to Joseph Brady for the sum of $1,500 (Fifteen Hundred Dollars). Payments to made as follows: One third part – thereof when the material is on the ground, one third part – when the building is enclosed and the balance on the 1st day of June 1882 provided the building is finished by that date.”
During the winter months, no formal Middle Bass Club Chapel Association meetings were held. However, Mrs. Leander Burdick and Mrs. Frederick B. Dodge started out on a soliciting expedition and an unknown sum [this was left blank in the Records Book] was mailed and deposited in the name of the Secretary to pay for the construction of the building. Except for member subscription fees, the Records Book does not contain specific documentation concerning who paid for the initial construction of the Chapel building. Thus, we can assume that the Middle Bass Chapel Association Board of Trustees and Officers, the Building Committee and the other 1881-1882 Middle Bass Club members contributed the money necessary to build the Chapel.
In 1882, there was a meeting on July 4th at the cottage of Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey where it was “sought to accept the Chapel building – the contract for which had previously been accepted. The Treasurer was authorized to pay Mr. Brady the sum found due to him on settlement by the Building Committee. The Building Committee was authorized to purchase carpet to cover the elevated platform of the Chapel. In addition, ladies were selected to secure men for preaching service by city: Mrs. Willis B. Hale - Cleveland, Mrs. [John Prouty or Jonas Mann?] McCune and Mrs. [John Wallace or Stephen M.?] Fuller - Columbus, Mrs. [William D.?] Graves - Dayton, Mrs. Epaphras Lord Barber- Detroit, Mrs. Benjamin H. Whitney - Grand Rapids (Michigan), Mrs. [James Scott or Oliver?] Rodgers - Norwalk and Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey and Mrs. Charles T. Lewis - Toledo.”
From the Report of the Secretary [Mrs. Frederick B. Dodge] dated August 7, 1882: “Early in the Spring of 1882, the necessity of raising a few hundred dollars more than had been already subscribed became apparent, and with very little effort the required sum was obtained. On the evening of July 4th, the Chapel Building was formally delivered by the builder, Mr. Brady to the Trustees of the Chapel Association and accepted by them. On Sunday, July 8th, the first services were held in the new building. Dedicatory services were conducted by Rev. Colonel Anderson [of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo], ably seconded by [a] volunteer choir, under the direction of [Middle Bass Club member] William H. Currier, Esq. The Chapel is now completed and entirely free from debt, as will be shown in the report of the Treasurer of the Association.” It is important to emphasize, the 1881-1882 Middle Bass Club members paid for the construction of the Chapel.
During the Trustee Meeting that followed the 1882 Annual Meeting, it was decided that “an annual fee of fifty cents be solicited from each member, the sum to form a contingent fund.”
From the Report of the Secretary [Miss Pamela Berdan] dated August 6, 1883: “The Annual Meeting of last year found the Chapel opened and free of debt and since that time, service of some kind has been held nearly every Sunday during the summer. The children, until the first of September called them to their homes, gathered there for their Sunday School, under the leadership of Mr. Thomas C. Rowland [Middle Bass Club member], and the first of July found them again assembled. Mr. Wilson W. Griffith [Middle Bass Club member] acting as presiding officer for a few Sundays, during the absence of the Superintendent. This service, though designed for children and therefore simple in the character, has often attracted those of a more advanced age, whose presence and the help of whose voices in the singing has always been welcome. Less success has crowned the efforts of those who have endeavored to fill our pulpit, owing partly to the fact that last year, the freeing of the Chapel from debt exhausted the treasury, which was not replenished this year, in time to complete the necessary arrangements. It may not be amiss to state here, that the fee of fifty cents, which has been solicited each year from members of the Club, is devoted to this purpose. The pulpit, however, has not been entirely vacant. On the twentieth of last August, Rev. Colonel Andersen of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo delivered an eloquent discourse both morning and evening and the Friday previous, delighted an audience in the Chapel by his lecture entitled “Bent,” the proceeds of which were for the benefit of the ministers’ fund. In September, the evangelist, Mr. Williams of Columbus, while visiting friends here, kindly consented to hold service on Sunday and two weeks ago, Dr. Byers, Secretary of the Ohio State Board of Charities, gave in the afternoon in his own inimitable manner, what he denominated a talk. In connection with our Chapel and as an outgrowth of it, we count the pleasant custom, originating with this year, of assembling Sunday evening in the Club House parlor where old and young, led by the trained voices always found among the guests, join in singing hymns of praise to the common Father of us all. We also wish to return thanks to Mrs. Charles R. Messenger [Middle Bass Club member], who kindly donated a large bible for the desk and above all, to Mr. William H. Currier [Middle Bass Club member] who each year, has most generously given us the use of a fine piano. Though little has been accomplished the past year, yet a beginning has been made and we think it cannot be said now, as truly as it was a few years ago that at Middle Bass there were seven days in the week, but no Sabbath among them.”
The only photograph we have of Middle Bass Club Chapel (from the Dr. Martin Taliak Personal Collection) is shown below. We believe that Rev. Henry E. Cooke from Gibraltar Island is pictured in front of the Chapel . Most likely the photograph was taken in 1891 when Rev. Henry E. Cooke led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel.
Middle Bass Chapel, Architect: E.O. Fallis. Located in William Rehberg's 2nd Addition, Lot 45. Dedicated on July 4, 1882 with the first church service held on July 8, 1882. From the Chapel Committee records book: "The need of a Chapel, on Middle Bass Island having been recognized by many members of the Middle Bass Club, a meeting of persons interested in the erection of such a building, to be used for religious and literary purposes - was held at the cottage of Mrs. D. H. Mears on the 10th day of August - 1881..."
Unfortunately, the Middle Bass Club Chapel does not exist today for unknown reasons; the building burned or was torn down because it fell into disrepair. The empty Chapel lot is currently owned by the Grosser and Hovsepian families. Thus, “Chapel Glass” is the only remnant of the Middle Bass Club Chapel that exists today. The brightly colored, very thin glass came from the Chapel’s stained glass windows. With luck, “Chapel Glass” can still be found deep in the dirt where the Chapel once stood.
After dedicating the Chapel, the Building Committee disbanded, and the ladies of the Middle Bass Club Chapel Association managed the Chapel building and its programs. The Middle Bass Chapel Association had three main responsibilities:
- The Chapel Building (Maintenance & Improvement)
- The Pulpit (Ministers & Supplies)
- The Money (Raising funds to maintain the Chapel building and to pay for the religious, literary and scientific programs)
The Chapel Building - Maintenance and Improvements
The Middle Bass Chapel Association identified necessary repairs, planned for building maintenance and designed improvements to the Chapel Building. From the Middle Bass Chapel Association handwritten Records Book, the following repairs and improvements were completed:
- In 1882, a walk from the Chapel steps across the street, Grape Avenue, was built and the Chapel was carpeted.
- From the 1883 Annual Meeting report by the Secretary [Miss Pamela Berdan]: “On July 11th: an informal meeting was held in the Club House parlor, at which a number of ladies were present. After some discussion, it was deemed advisable to make an effort to cover the unsightly floor of the Chapel with a carpet and subscriptions to that end have since been solicited. The result you see today and we hope that the added comfort and beauty thus given to our little place of worship will be a reward to the generous friends who so freely gave us their aid.”
- In 1883, the Middle Bass Chapel Association paid $1.16 to record the deed and $11.62 for gas (to produce electricity).
- In 1884, the following expenses were recorded for the Chapel: carpet from F. Eaton & Co. cost $106.50, wallpaper from T. J. Brown, Eager & Co. was $65.00, a walkway from builder Joseph Brady was $5.55, lattice from builder Joseph Brady cost $12.84, painting by Allen & Parkhurts cost $5.00 and cleaning was $1.50.
- In 1885, the Chapel was insured for $18.75. With respect to maintenance, the Chapel received one coat of paint and the ground in front was “prepared” for grass seed.
- In 1886, the following expenses were documented: $29.58 for painting the Chapel, $3.75 for the board of the painter, telegraphic dispatches cost $0.75 and cleaning was 25 cents a week.
- In 1887, the Middle Bass Chapel Association wanted to improve ventilation by adding window(s) on the rear wall. This improvement was designed by the Chapel architect E. O. Fallis and the Chapel builder Joseph Brady gave an estimate of $215.45, not including the glass for the front window. The Trustees approved this amount; the actual bill was $239.30 with the additional amount caused by the alteration of the platform and the necessary gas fitting (for electricity). The Brooks & Otis Co. estimated the cost of papering the Chapel to be $59. An estimate from Mr. Williams of Port Clinton for painting the Chapel with two coats of paint was $100: $65.00 for painting the Chapel and $35.00 for painting the roof. Williams was to coordinate with Mr. Otis about the appropriate colors. Mrs. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood and Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey were to decide upon the colors. All work was completed but the Middle Bass Chapel Association treasury did not have sufficient funds. In order to settle the last bill for painting, the 1887 Trustees (Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey, Mrs. Thomas C. Rowland, Mrs. Peter Frederick Berdan, Mrs. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood, Mrs. Alexander W. Scott, Mrs. James Clark and Mrs. James Scott Rodgers) each advanced $10 of their own money. The Trustees were paid back the advanced money in 1889, although the majority of the Trustees redirected their $10 toward starting a lending library in the Chapel.
- In 1888, the Chapel was reinsured for a cost of $18.00. Chambermaids were paid one dollar each for sweeping the Chapel and Frank and John for laying the carpet. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood was to put borax on the carpet to protect it from crickets. The stained glass windows were broken in several places. In an effort to protect them, the ladies decided to cover the stained glass windows on the outside of the Chapel with wire netting. They were to obtain measurements and see Middle Bass Club member, Mr. William B. Melish who owned a wire manufacturing company. In Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture below from the Rehberg mausoleum on Middle Bass Island shows a wire screen over a stained glass window.
- In 1889, the Middle Bass Chapel Association decided to purchase a sofa, screen, wooden bench and table for the platform. No costs were identified.
- In 1890, two dozen more chairs and a stencil to mark them “Chapel” were purchased along with a bookcase for the hymn books and a screen, wooden bench and table for the platform.
- In 1891, the Trustees wanted to make a change to the front of the Chapel to make it more ornamental and to keep the glare from the minister’s eyes so they contacted the architect E. O. Fallis. However, Mr. E. O. Fallis did not keep the appointment so in 1892 they decided to wait on this Chapel improvement.
- In 1892, it was decided to paint the Chapel a lighter color than the “present ugly color.” The Trustees obtained estimates from Mr. Williams of Port Clinton for painting the Chapel with and without the roof. There was no mention in the Records Book if the Chapel was painted.
- In 1893, it was suggested that Mrs. James Clark speak with Mrs. Francis Isherwood about putting in a memorial window for her husband as Francis Pilgrim Isherwood died at his cottage in August 1893. There is no information in the Records Book to indicate if a memorial window for Francis Pilgrim Isherwood was added to the Chapel.
- In 1895, a rug was purchased to cover the Chapel carpet in front of the door where it was beginning to wear.
- In 1897, the President requested that Burt examine the roof, put a new board in the floor of the porch and paint the inside of the porch. Clarence Elisha Burke was appointed to buy a rug to put inside the Chapel door.
- In 1898, it was noted that the Chapel doors need painting. Peter Frederick Berdan bought the rug to go inside the Chapel door as Mrs. Clarence Elisha Burke was unable to do so because of an illness.
- In 1904, Mrs. LeRoy Brooks was to look into a new platform and steps for the Chapel.
- In 1906, it was documented that “the Chapel needs a new roof, bell rope changed, shutters over windows repaired, steps braced and the porch painted.”
The Middle Bass Chapel Association identified and recruited ministers each year to preach in the Chapel for 8 Sundays in July and August. To locate the ministers, the Middle Bass Chapel Association Trustees or an appointed committee would solicit ministers from their hometowns or designated cities and invite the ministers to come to Middle Bass Island to preach during the summer. The Middle Bass Chapel Association could easily entice leading men to fill the pulpit because the Middle Bass Club was a beautiful place to visit, and the membership included prominent, wealthy and powerful families.
From the Annual Meeting on August 6, 1883: “ A motion was made that the committee of last year, Mrs. Edward C. Bodman and Mrs. William H. Currier, be reappointed for this year with authority to invite a clergyman to officiate each Sunday of July and August, paying $10 a Sunday. Carried.” The Secretary would then send a written invitation to the ministers to confirm the date they would be available to preach at the Chapel. The ministers were paid for their services: $10 and two days lodging in the Middle Bass Club House. The pulpit compensation was increased to $15 in 1897, $20 in 1902, $25 in 1905 and $30 in 1906. In 1900, from a financial standpoint, the Middle Bass Chapel Association decided to enlist ministerial services for only 6 Sundays in the summer, omitting the first 2 Sundays in July.
According to the Records Book, ministers came from the following Ohio cities: Akron, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Gambier (Kenyon College), Granville (Denison University), Findlay, Lima, Massillon, Newark, Put-in-Bay (Gibraltar Island), Sandusky, Talmadge and Toledo. Additionally, ministers traveled from out of state to preach in the Middle Bass Club Chapel: Adrian, Michigan; Detroit, Michigan; LaGrange, Illinois; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri. A link to a complete list of the clergy that held services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel is listed below.
Since the majority of the Middle Bass Club members resided in Toledo, ministers from prominent Toledo churches were often invited to preach at the Chapel. Many clergy from the First Congregational Church of Toledo came to Middle Bass Island because their congregation included the wealthy, prestigious families of Toledo’s Old West End. In fact, the following Middle Bass Club members belonged to the First Congressional Church: John Berdan II and his sons Lucius B. Berdan and Sinclair Berdan, Peter Frederick Berdan and his son Frederick T. Berdan, Leander Burdick, Symmes Henry Bergen, Leander Burdick, Walter J. Chase, Abram Walter Colton, Judge John Hardy Doyle, Frederick K. Eaton, Isaac Newton Poe, Charles Harvey Scribner, James K. Secor and Adelbert Lorenzo Spitzer.
Rev. William Wallace Williams
Rev. William Wallace Williams of Toledo’s First Congregational Church held services eight Sundays in the Middle Bass Club Chapel, specifically: July 27, 1884; July 19, 1885; July 25, 1886; August 7, 1887; July 29, 1888; August 25, 1890; August 28, 1892 and August 2, 1896. Rev. Williams graduated from Amherst College in 1843 and Auburn Theological Seminary in 1846. After being ordained and working in Camillus, New York, Rev. Williams was installed in the First Congregational Church in Toledo on September 1, 1853. He served 44 consecutive years as a pastor in Toledo (1853 - 1897) thus ensuring he had personal and professional relationships with Middle Bass Club members. In March 1987, Rev. Dr. Williams offered his resignation and the First Congressional Church granted him the title of pastor emeritus.” (Source: Find A Grave)
Rev. William Wallace Williams, Pastor First Congregational Church of Toledo, Ohio Source: The Evolution of a School Master autobiography part 2, 1872-1899, p. 85
From Rev. Fisk’s Autobiography, “This church [First Congregational Church of Toledo] had been already forty-one years under the pastorate of its now seventy-one year old minister, Dr. W. W. Williams. It was the oldest, and in some ways the most notable church of Toledo, and in a very true sense. Dr. Williams was the church, for he had bred it up both materially and otherwise to be what it was. For some years there had been attempts to give the aging pastor an associate, or assistant pastor, but hitherto he had managed to side-track all efforts to secure the service of a younger man.” (Source: The Evolution of a School Master autobiography part 2, 1872-1899, p. 85.) He went on to describe the First Congregational Church as “the Mother Church” of Toledo, one of its strong churches, with membership of over 600.” (Source: The Evolution of a School Master autobiography part 2, 1872-1899, p. 87.)
Rev. Daniel Moses Fisk
Rev. Daniel Moses Fisk from the First Congregational Church in Toledo, Ohio came to preach in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on: July 3, 1892; July 2, 1893 and July 5, 1896. Rev. Fisk received his education from Brown University and Harvard Medical School. He taught biology at Hillsdale College from 1872 until 1886 and became an ordained minister in Jackson, Michigan in 1886. In 1891, Rev. Fisk came to the First Congregational Church in Toledo, Ohio as a junior pastor and remained there until 1896. According to Rev. Fisk, “[First Congregational Church] not only held large wealth, but its pew-holders were essentially the leaders of the most exclusive social set of the town. Indeed, to hold a pew in the “Old First” was pretty nearly a vised passport to standing in Toledo’s first circles. For years, this church had sought, and had very largely secured the pace-makers in finance and fashion. The dignified pulpit in that great auditorium looked to the invited candidate [Rev. Fisk] a “throne of power.” This farmer-bred son [Rev. Fisk] had as yet no experience with millionaire parishioners; with folk who gave $5 a year to foreign missions, and spent $10,000 on a show wedding or the races.” (Source: The Evolution of a School Master autobiography part 2, 1872-1899, p. 88)
After Toledo, Rev. Fisk’s Congregational pastorates included: Compton Hill Church, St. Louis, Missouri 1897-1899 and First Church, Topeka, Kansas 1899–1902. Rev. Fisk received a Ph. D. from Findlay College in 1890 and a Doctor of Divinity from Hillsdale in 1897. From 1899 until he retired in 1924, Rev. Fisk was a Sociology Professor, field worker (recruiter) and Trustee at Washburn College in Kansas. Upon retirement, Rev. Fisk was named professor emeritus and given an annual salary of $2,500. (Source: The Ichabod (Washburn College), October 1932, p.1)
Rev. Albert Marion Hyde
Rev. Albert Marion Hyde from the First Congregational Church of Toledo led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on August 27, 1899; August 24, 1903 and July 8, 1904. After Rev. William’s resignation in March 1897, Rev. Hyde came from his initial pastorate at Greenville, Michigan to lead the “Old First” at Toledo. Due to his preaching power and constant work, Rev. Hyde increased the church’s membership from 450 to 922 illustrating that he was well acquainted with the Middle Bass Club members in his parish. (Source: Find A Grave) In fact, the Guest Register book shows that Rev. Hyde checked into the Middle Bass Club on Saturday August 26, 1899 and stayed at a cottage rather than at a room in the Club House. Unfortunately, the Guest Register does not specify in which cottage he was a guest.
Later, Rev. Hyde went to the Porter Congregational Church in Massachusetts where he caused a sensation by circulating among the women of his parish ten commandments for wives, Commandments for Convenience which included, “Thou shalt not marry for a bank account nor even to escape being an old maid. It is better to remain single all thy life than to enter into the matrimonial state for revenue only.” (Charlotte Evening Chronicle, December 15, 1911) Later Rev. Hyde formulated commandments for young men which included, “Do not invest your nickel in a glass of beer, then criticize the other fellow who has invested his in a savings bank. Beer checks and savings bank checks as investments are not in the same class.” (Source: New Your Times, December 13, 1911). Rev. Hyde’s also created ten commandments for husbands which said, “Don’t arrange for your second marriage before your first wife is dead.” (Source: New Your Herald, January 1, 1912).
A postcard of the Porter Congregational Church where revered Hyde was a Pastor. Link to the Digital Library
Another Toledo church popular with the Middle Bass Club families was Trinity Episcopal Church, a massive gothic stone building located downtown. Many reverends from Trinity Episcopal Church came to the Chapel because their parish included the following important Middle Bass Club members: Leander Solomon Baumgardner, Oliver S. Bond, Calvin Bronson, Charles F. Curtis, James B. Monroe, Sheldon Clark Reynolds and his son Frederick Jesse Reynolds, Frederick Jesse Reynolds, William H. Simmons, Denison Billings Smith, Jr., George E. Welles, Horatio Sam Young and Morrison Waite Young.
Rev. Edward Robert Atwill
Rev. Edward Robert Atwill of the Trinity Episcopal Church led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on July 13, 1884 and July 31, 1887. Later Rev. Atwill became Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Missouri.
Rev. Charles Scadding
Rev. Charles Scadding led twelve services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel: July 10, 1892; July 23, 1893; July 16, 1894; August 30, 1896; August 4, 1901; August 11, 1901; August 10, 1902; August 3, 1903; August 7, 1904; August 14, 1904; July 22, 1906 and July 29, 1906. “Reverend. Charles Scadding graduated from Trinity College in 1885 and entered the priesthood in 1886. He served as rector in Christ Church in Middletown, New York, Trinity Church in Toledo, Ohio and assistant rector at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan and served as the 3rd Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon from 1906 – 1914. He was also a lecturer of the London Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.” (source: Wikipedia) Rev. Scadding would have been in contact with many Middle Bass Club members because he followed in the footsteps of Rev. Edward Robert Atwill who also led services in the Middle Bass Club. Rev. Scadding’s second marriage to Mary Robinson Pomeroy in 1899 provided another connection to the Middle Bass Club as Mary Robinson Pomeroy’s brother, George Eltweed Pomeroy Jr., was a member of the Middle Bass Club from 1888 to 1907. Based on 1901 Guest Book records, Rev. and Mrs. Scadding arrived at the Middle Bass Club on Thursday, July 30th and stayed in room 68 at the Club House while Rev.’s Scadding’s brother in law, George E. Pomeroy, stayed in room 60 at the Club House. This is another example highlighting the personal relationships between the clergy and the Middle Bass Club membership.
Based upon my research, all the ministers were prominent men in their field and most had a personal relationship with at least one Middle Bass Club member. Other significant reverends who led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel are listed in alphabetical order below.
Rev. Cyrus S. Bates
Rev. Cyrus S. Bates of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on August 22, 1886 and August 21, 1887. Rev. Bates fought for the Union in the Civil War and was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga. After the war, he practiced law in Cincinnati and then entered Bexley Theological Seminary, part of Kenyon College, where he graduated in 1873. After servicing churches in Lima and Newark he returned to Kenyon College. In 1878, Rev. Bates was a Professor of Mental and Moral Philosophy and a Professor of Dogmatic Theology in Bexley. In 1885, he became rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland, Ohio while remaining a Trustee with Kenyon College. (Source: Kenyon College Library)
Rev. Dr. William Budd Bodine
Rev. Dr. William Budd Bodine, President of Kenyon College, held services in the Chapel on July 24, 1887 and July 15, 1888. Kenyon College was the first Episcopal College and Seminary outside the original 13 Colonies and was well known in the 1860s as evidenced by the education of numerous Chapel ministers. (Source: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Put in Bay, Ohio) Rev. Bodine was a New Jersey native who graduated from Princeton in 1860 before attending Bexley Hall, the seminary at Kenyon College, until 1864. Rev. Bodine served as chaplain and President of Kenyon College from 1876 to 1891. He died in 1907 while serving as church rector in Pennsylvania. (Source: Kenyon College Library)
Rev. Henry E. Cooke
Rev. Henry E. Cooke, Episcopalian, from Manchester, New Hampshire and Gibraltar Island conducted two services at the Chapel on August 16, 1891 and August 23, 1891. Rev. Cooke spent time on Gibraltar Island because his father Jay Cooke, known as the “(Union) financier of the Civil War, bought the island. Gibraltar Island is located in the harbor of Put in Bay just across from Middle Bass Island in Lake Erie. From Cooke’s Castle on Gibraltar, Rev. Cooke would have been able to see the Middle Bass Club House. Because Jay Cooke endowed a chair at Kenyon College, he was in contact with leading Episcopal ministers many of whom led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel. Besides locational proximity, Rev. Cooke had a personal relationship with the Middle Bass Club membership because his son Russell Cooke (Sr.) married Middle Bass Club member Alice Reeve Kelsey in 1912. She is the granddaughter of Middle Bass Club member Aaron Lufkin Kelsey and his wife Helen Mar Lawton and the daughter of Middle Bass Club member Hiram Reeve Kelsey and his wife Alice Gladstone Young.
Rev. Frederic Beal DuVal
Rev. Frederic Beal DuVal from the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo led services in the Chapel on July 26, 1885 and July 18, 1886. Rev. DuVal graduated from Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary. Before coming to Toledo in 1884, he served a pastor in the First Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware. After Toledo, Rev. DuVal served as minister of Knox Presbyterian (United) Church in Winnipeg, Canada. While in Canada, he was elected Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of Canada in 1908, represented the Canadian Presbyterian Church at the Tercentenary celebration in Quebec in 1908 and represented the Canadian Presbyterian Church at the World’s Presbyterian Council at New York in 1909. (Source: Manitoba Historical Society website, Memorable Manitobans: Frederic Beal DuVal (1847-1928)
Rev. Andrew J. Fish
Rev. Andrew J. Fish of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Findlay, Ohio conducted a service in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on August 9, 1885. Rev. Fish came to Findlay in the fall of 1884. Perhaps Rev. Fish’s prior tenure at a Methodist Episcopal Church in Toledo placed him in contact with Middle Bass Club members? In connection with the Central Ohio Methodist Episcopal Conference, Rev. Fish instituted the “Preacher’s Aid Society,” which raised $22,000 and served as the conference missionary treasurer for 12 years. (Source: History of Hancock co, Chicago: Warner Beers & Co., 1886)
Rev. John R. Hewitt
Rev. John R. Hewitt of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Columbus, Ohio led five services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on: August 6, 1899; July 29, 1900; July 28, 1901; July 27, 1902 and July 26, 1903. In fact, Rev. Hewitt brought his wife to Middle Bass with him on Saturday July 27, 1901. Rev. Hewitt typically stayed at the cottage of Middle Bass Club member John Prouty McCune indicating that they were acquaintances from the mainland. This cottage exists today on Grape Avenue in William Rehberg’s 2nd Addition: lot 40 and is owned by the Demer family.
Rev. Emory W. Hunt
Rev. Emory W. Hunt of the Ashland Avenue Church in Toledo and later with Denison University, held six services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on: August 26, 1888; July 30, 1893; July 8, 1894; July 19, 1903; August 30, 1903 and July 24, 1904. Rev. Hunt was the President of Denison University from 1901 to 1912. The Middle Bass Club members who attended the Ashland Avenue Church included: Charles T. Lewis and Thomas A. Taylor. Therefore, it makes sense that Rev. Hunt, his wife and child stayed at the cottage of member Charles T. Lewis in 1902 and 1903 because they knew one another from their home parish.
Middle Bass Club Guest Register entry: August 29, 1903
After leaving Denison University, Rev. Hunt was general secretary of the Baptist Foreign Mission Society of Boston for six years and a pastor in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1919, Rev. Hunt became President of Bucknell University and served in that position until 1931.
Rev. Simeon David Hutsinpillar
Rev. Simeon David Hutsinpillar of St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Toledo led religious services five times in the Chapel on: July 20, 1890; July 19. 1891; July 24, 1892; July 16, 1893 and July 22, 1894.
Rev. James Alexander Porter McGaw
Rev. James Alexander Porter McGaw of the First Presbyterian Church in Toledo held services on July 21, 1889 “Cor. 5:1, Certainties About Heaven”; July 27, 1890 “Cor. 13:13, The Supreme Excellence of Love” and August 7, 1892 “Exod. 4:11, Man’s Mouth.” From 1888 until 1893 Rev. McGaw served the First Presbyterian Church in Toledo, Ohio. After Toledo, Rev. McGaw had parishes at Linwood Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri and the Third Presbyterian Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1904, Rev. McGaw moved to Oregon to preach in the following cities: Grants Pass, Salem, Portland, Union, Woodburn, Independence and at the Chemawa Indian School. (Source: University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives)
Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Melish
Rev. Dr. Thomas J. Melish from the St. Phillips Protestant Episcopal Church in Cincinnati, Ohio was the father of a Middle Bass Club member, William B. Melish (an active member from 1890 to 1907). Rev. Melish held services in the Chapel on August 5th and 12th, 1888. John Melish, Rev. Melish’s father and grandfather of Middle Bass Club member William B. Melish, mapped the state of Pennsylvania and corresponded with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello; the maps and correspondence are available in the United States Library of Congress.
Rev. Anson Smythe
Rev. Anson Smythe, of the Congregational denomination from Cleveland preached in the Chapel on Sunday, August 17, 1883. Earlier Rev. Smythe was a pastor at the Congregational Church of Toledo and became involved improving the city’s schools. While preaching and serving as the Superintendent of the Toledo public schools, Rev. Smythe became acquainted with numerous Middle Bass Club members. Rev. Smythe is considered one of the founders of the public school system of Ohio and the founder of the Cleveland public library. “The Reverend Anson Smyth earned his title of Father of the Cleveland Public Library as the originator of an enabling act which he was instrumental is pushing through the Ohio Legislature on April 3, 1867 authorizing the levying of a tax of one-tenth of a mill in Ohio cities of over 20,000 inhabitants for the enlargement and maintenance of public school libraries. It was this legislation that permitted the founding of our Library [Cleveland Public] in 1869. “ (Source: The Open Shelf, Cleveland Public Library, October-December 1969, Vol. 10-12.)
Rev. Wilson Reiff Steary
Rev. Wilson Reiff Stearly preached in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on August 17, 1902 and stayed at cottage of Middle Bass Club member Willis B. Hale. After studying for a year abroad in Paris and Berlin, Rev. Stearly enrolled and graduated from Union Theological Seminary. In 1889 he was ordained a minister in the Reformed Church and served as pastor of the Hough Avenue Reformed Church in Cleveland from 1889 to 1899. In 1900 joined the Episcopal Church and became rector of Emmanuel Church in Cleveland, Ohio from 1900 until 1909. Rev. Stearly later became the 4th Bishop of Newark in the Episcopal Church. Rev. Stearly was awarded a Doctor of Divinity from Kenyon College in 1915 and from Case Western Reserve University in 1916. (Source: Wikipedia)
Professor Charles L. Williams
Professor Charles L. Williams led services in the Middle Bass Club Chapel on: August 24, 1902; July 17, 1904; July 15, 1906; August 9, 1908; August 23, 1908; August 30, 1908; August 8, 1909; August 15, 1909; August 28, 1910; July 2, 1911; August 6, 1911 and July 7, 1912. Professor Williams, another Rev. from Granville, Ohio, came to preach on Middle Bass Island following in the footsteps of the acting President of Denison University, Rev. Emory W. Hunt. He was a Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Denison University from 1893 until 1921. Interestingly, Professor Williams was a classmate of President Woodrow Wilson at Princeton University. Later, Professor Williams received his Doctor of Divinity from Crozier Theological Seminary at Upland, Pennsylvania. It should be noted that he wrote the following books: “The Story of Woodrow Wilson,” “A Study of Shakespeare as a Moral Writer” and “The American Student and the Road to Scholarship.” In 1902 Professor Williams stayed in Club House room 52 and was a guest of Middle Bass Club member Frederick J. Picard from Columbus, Ohio. From 1908 until 1912, Professor Williams appears to be the only minister to hold services in the Chapel as there are no other ministers listed in the Club House Guest Register books or the Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book for those years.
Rev. Thaddeus L. Wiltsee
Rev. Thaddeus L. Wiltsee from St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Toledo preached to the Middle Bass Club membership on July 5, 1885. He attended Northwestern University and then graduated from Ohio Wesleyan in 1873. Rev. Wiltsee spent time in Upper Sandusky and Marion before relocating to Toledo, Ohio where he was associated with the Broadway Church and St. Paul’s Methodist. During the 6 years spent in Toledo, Rev. Wiltsee came into contact with Middle Bass Club members. The Middle Bass Club membership respected Rev. Wiltsee’s professionalism and personality as he was invited to preach during a busy July 4th celebration weekend at the Middle Bass Club. Because of health concerns, Rev. Wiltsee left Toledo and moved out west where he was Superintendent of Missions in Arizona and established the first mission among the Navajo Indians. (Source: rootsweb)
The Pulpit - Supplies
The only pulpit supplies (piano, hymnals, Sunday school papers) documented in the Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book are listed below.
At the 1883 Annual Meeting held on August 6th, the Report of the Secretary [Miss Pamela Berdan] stated: “We also wish to return thanks to Mrs. Charles R. Messenger [Middle Bass Club member], who kindly donated a large Bible for the desk and above all, to Mr. William H. [Middle Bass Club member] Currier who each year, has most generously given us the use of a fine piano.” In 1884, a piano was rented from Whitney & Currier for $25.00. Since this was a significant cost, subscriptions for pianos were solicited in 1884 as well as the subscriptions for the Chapel. The subscriptions for pianos in the 1884 Treasurer’s Report totaled $25.10 and the subscriptions for the Chapel amounted to $34.50 highlighting both the high cost and importance of the Chapel having a piano. Tuning the piano in 1885 cost $6.50 and freight & tuning charges were $8.75 the following year. In 1887, the piano rental from Whitney & Currier was $36.15 and the freight was $1.50. The Records Book does not show any subscriptions for pianos after 1884.
The only other pulpit supplies identified in the Records Book include the following. In 1883, hymn books cost $25.20 and 50 lesson papers for use of Sunday School were purchased. In 1890, two dozen extra hymnals were purchased along with 6 large ones with music for the choir. In 1900, the Bible donated by Mrs. Charles R. Messenger was rebound.
The Middle Bass Chapel Association needed to raise money to maintain the Chapel building and fund the pulpit and other educational, literary and scientific programs. Methods of raising money documented in the Records Book included: member subscriptions, member and guest donations, fundraising activities and the lending library.
The Money - Member Subscriptions
Subscriptions (annual “membership fees”) were the primary fundraising method used by the Middle Bass Chapel Association. At the Annual Meeting on August 7, 1882: “It was decided that an annual fee of fifty cents should be solicited from each member, the sum to form a contingent fund.” The Secretary wrote letters to Middle Bass Club members asking them to pay the subscription fee of fifty cents for the Chapel each year. Often times, a committee was formed to assist the Secretary in writing and sending the subscription letters to the Middle Bass Club members. The subscription cost increased to a dollar in 1888 and stayed at this amount until 1907 which is the last year of the detailed records of the Middle Bass Club Chapel Association in the Records Book. If necessary, a notice would be placed at the Chapel or the Club House to remind the Middle Bass Club membership to pay the Chapel subscription. An attempt was made to modify the subscription process in 1899; the Middle Bass Chapel Association decided to write letters to the ladies of the Middle Bass Club instead of the gentlemen (who were considered the members). After discussion the following year, the Middle Bass Chapel Association reverted back to the original subscription method of raising money for the Chapel, i.e., writing letters to each member (i.e., the gentlemen) of the Middle Bass Club soliciting $1.00 from each. The Records Book notes that there were 80 subscriptions in 1881 amounting to $40.00 and 102 subscriptions in 1891 amounting to $102.00. Clearly, subscription dollars were not sufficient to cover Chapel expenses.
The Money – Member & Guest Donations
The only notation in the Records Book of a monetary donation aimed at the Sunday school was from Rev. Dr. Kemp of the Episcopal Church in Massillon, Ohio. Rev. Dr. Kemp preached in the Chapel on July 22, 1888 and contributed “twenty bills” for the use of the Sunday school.
To obtain member and guest donations, collection boxes were placed in the Middle Bass Club Chapel and Club House. At the 1887 Middle Bass Chapel Association Annual Meeting on August 2nd: “A motion was made and carried that a contribution box be placed in the Chapel for voluntary offerings.” The following year, at the Annual Meeting held on July 21, 1898: “It was mentioned that Mr. [Matthew] Shoemaker had suggested to some of the ladies the feasibility of placing a box in the Club House, during the fishing season, for contributions to the Chapel, as many of the visitors are guests of the Club and would probably be glad to contribute something. Mrs. George Hafer was requested to confer with Mr. Matthew Shoemaker in regard to this.” Unfortunately, collection box donations (contributors and/or dollar amounts) are not disclosed in the Records Book. As mentioned earlier, the construction of the Chapel was paid for by the 1881-1882 Middle Bass Club membership. However, once built the Middle Bass Club members and their guests (after 1882) donated to the Chapel fund using the collection boxes. Thus, the Club House Guest Register books and the Middle Bass Club membership lists post 1882 provide the names of donors to the Chapel fund.
The Money – Fundraising Activities
To supplement the subscriptions and donations, the Middle Bass Chapel Association planned and supervised fundraising activities such as lectures, concerts, parties and “sales of fancy articles.” The lectures, common in the early years of the Chapel, raised money for the treasury and provided educational, literary and scientific programs for the membership. The concerts were held in either the Chapel or Rehberg Hall. Middle Bass Club members participated in the concerts and/or invited the performers. The parties documented include an extravagant 4th of July festival held at the Chapel as well as card parties. The annual “sale of fancy articles” (i.e., upscale consignment sale) was held in the Club House lobby. The Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book details the fundraising activities below.
- On Friday, August 18, 1882, a lecture titled “Bent” was given by Rev. Colonel Anderson of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Toledo to benefit the minister’s fund. Besides the lecture, Rev. Colonel Anderson led a morning and evening service in the Chapel on Sunday, August 20, 1882.
- On July 22, 1883, Dr. Byers, Secretary of Ohio State Charities, addressed an audience at five o’clock in the afternoon. Byers was acquainted with members of the Middle Bass Club through the Republican Party in Ohio. During the Campaign of 1869, Rev. Dr. Byers gave the opening prayer at the Ohio Convention of the Republican Party of Ohio on June 23rd when they nominated Governor Rutherford B. Hayes. Middle Bass Club member Mr. Welcome Otis Parker was a member of the Permanent Organization during the convention. (Source: History of the Republican Party in Ohio by Joseph P. Smith, 1856 -1898, p. 262)
- On August 15, 1885, a concert was conducted by Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Keith, Miss Keith, Mr. Avery and the orchestra. This concert contributed $82.50 to the Chapel fund. It is likely that Mrs. Ford was a Middle Bass Club member. There is no indication which orchestra performed in the concert.
- On August 7, 1886, a concert performance was given by Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Keith, Miss Feideloly, Miss Potter, Miss Fuller, Mr. Fred Sholes, Mr. Gates and Mr. Keese. The Records Book mentions that the Secretary was authorized to send complimentary tickets to several parties and that Mrs. Francis Pilgrim Isherwood sold tickets for the concert the night before at the Club House. It is plausible that Mrs. Ford, Miss Potter and/or Miss Fuller were members of the Middle Bass Club. The Records Book does not indicate if the concert was held in the Chapel or Rehberg Hall or how much money was raised.
- On August 16, 1886, Rev. Dr. Kilwig of the Lutheran Church of Akron, Ohio delivered a lecture, “King’s English” which added $23.75 to the Chapel fund. Rev. Dr. Kilwig led a service in the Chapel the day before the lecture.
- On August 12, 1887, a concert performance was held in Rehberg Hall by Mrs. Ford, Mrs. Keith Mr. Chaspontier, Lanman, Dr. and Mrs. Baker and Miss Sawyer. This concert increased the Chapel treasury by $105.75. It is possible that Mrs. Ford and/or Mrs. Baker were members of the Middle Bass Club. The Records Book does not indicate if the concert was held in the Chapel or Rehberg Hall.
- In 1888, Governor Charles Foster paid the $15 remaining balance from the cost of the Rehberg portrait to the Middle Bass Chapel Association. Unfortunately, the Records Book does not indicate how Governor Charles Foster obtained the portrait or the total cost added to the Chapel fund. Interestingly, a portrait of “Count” Rehberg hangs in our cottage in the Middle Bass Club. Recently we discovered that the portrait is not a photograph; it’s a charcoal drawing over an underexposed photograph which was a popular form of art at that time. According to the Toledo Blade on August 9, 1890: “Governor Foster occupies the cottage of C. E. Burke during his sojourn at the club.” Clarence Elisha Burke bought our cottage in October 1889. Perhaps the Rehberg portrait mentioned in the Records Book hangs over our fireplace?
- On July 28, 1889, a concert was held at Rehberg Hall. Those participating included: Mrs. Gibsone, Miss Fuller, Miss Nellie Cook, Miss Amelia Hegmann, Mr. Singer of Vienna, Austria, Mr. Currier, Mr. Doolittle and Mr. Ecker. It is possible that Miss Fuller and/or Mr. Currier were members of the Middle Bass Club. No fundraising amount was listed for the concert.
- On August 11, 1889, a lecture, “Across the Continent,” was delivered by Rev. Mr. T. F. Hildreth of the Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. The following day Rev. Hildreth preached in the Chapel.
- On August 9, 1890, Dr. Willits of the Third Street Presbyterian Church in Dayton, Ohio delivered a lecture titled “Sunshine.” Willits delivered a sermon in the Chapel the following day.
- On August 18, 1890, recitations by Mr. Backus with music by Miss Dodge of Cleveland and Mr. Gibson of Toledo were conducted for the benefit of the library. The performance netted $29.05 for the benefit of the library. It is probable that Mr. Backus and Miss Dodge were members of the Middle Bass Club.
- On August 15, 1891, a concert was given by Mr. Alfred George Robyn of St. Louis who was assisted by Mrs. Ida Bond Young of New York and others. Robyn was a renown pianist, organist and composer. In 1891, Mr. Robyn was noted for a ballad titled You.
Alfred George Robyn, Portrait (left); You by Alfred G, Robyn, Cover (right)
Mr. Robyn was associated with Middle Bass Club member Henry Martyn Blossom Sr. from St. Louis, Missouri. Besides being influential in the field of insurance, Henry Martyn Blossom Sr. composed Broadway musicals called operettas. In fact, in 1904 he wrote the lyrics for The Yankee Consul which was composed by Alfred G. Robyn.
- On July 4, 1892, the Odium Club of Cleveland, Ohio gave a concert.
- On Sunday, August 3, 1896 a concert was to be given to benefit the Chapel. A committee comprised of Mrs. Oliver Rodgers, Mrs. David M. Massie and Miss Martha Rodgers were in charge. It is unknown if a concert occurred on this day.
- On July 4, 1898, a lawn fete party was held on the Chapel lawn. Alexander W. Scott was requested to place a notice of the lawn fete in the Toledo newspapers. At the May 24, 1898 informal meeting “Mrs. [James Scott or Oliver?] to have charge. Mrs. George Hafer was appointed to look after the fancy work table, Mrs. Clarence Elisha Burke to see to a fish pond, and Mrs. Thomas C. Rowland and Mrs. Peter Frederick Berdan to see to the ice cream and cake, Mrs. [Samuel Bryant or E. M.?] Wood and Mrs. James Clark to have charge of the lemonade.” The lawn fete was so successful that the Middle Bass Chapel Association planned to have another one the following year. Sadly, the lawn fete in 1899 never happened due to scheduling conflicts.
- On July 8, 1899, Miss Olive Colton delivered an Illustrated lecture in the Chapel. Olive Colton is the daughter of Middle Bass Club member Abram Walter Colton and his wife Catherine VanHorne. From the July 21, 1898 Trustee meeting notes by Secretary Miss Edna Rowland [daughter of member Thomas Chapman Rowland and his wife Sarah Jane Miller]: “The first subject brought before the meeting was the consideration of Miss Olive Colton’s offer to give an illustrated lecture in the Chapel July 8th, for the benefit of the Chapel; the ladies to pay the expenses of herself and maid from Toledo to Middle Bass, and from Middle Bass to Put-in-Bay, also their hotel expenses for two days, and three dollars for filling gas tank. The ladies decided to accept Miss Colton’s offer.”
The Guest Register page below shows Olive Colton’s maid, Katie Mohn (?), arrived on Saturday July 8, 1899.
- Each August from 1899 to 1908 (1908 being the last year of entries in the Records Book), the Middle Bass Chapel Association arranged a “Sale of Fancy Articles” in the Club House Parlor. In 1900 they added $61.00 to the Chapel treasury and in 1901 they raised an amazing $101.26.
- On August 10, 1900, a card party tallied $45.60 for the Chapel fund.
- In 1901, at the Annual Meeting on August 19th, the Secretary was instructed to write a letter to Mr. Charles Scadding making the necessary arrangements as to time and cost for an illustrated lecture he kindly offered to give for the benefit of the Chapel. It is unknown whether Rev. Scadding put on the lecture.
The Money – Lending Library
Another program that fulfilled the Chapel’s mission to provide literary programs was the lending library which also added money to the Chapel’s treasury. The circulation library began in 1889 with $70 and a bookcase. Mrs. Alexander W. Scott, Mrs. James Scott Rodgers, Mrs. Aaron Lufkin Kelsey, Mrs. Thomas C. Rowland and Mrs. Peter Frederick Berdan each gave $10. It should be noted that these ladies were Trustees in 1887 that advanced $10 to pay for Chapel improvements as the treasury had insufficient funds. When the Middle Bass Chapel Association reimbursed the Trustees, they decided to donate those funds($50) to start a Chapel library. Additionally, Mr. and Mrs. Edward C. Bodman donated $20 and a bookcase for the cause.
The lending library supported itself and often times added money to the Chapel fund. In 1890, the Middle Bass Chapel Association members voted to spend $20 of the $34.36 collected from lending books to purchase new books for the library. In 1892, the Secretary [Miss Pamela Berdan] reported “$13 still remaining of the fund for the purchase of books. Having been connected with the Book Club of Toledo, the Secretary was asked to make a list of books she thought would be available for the library and send it to Mrs. Alexander W. Scott.” In 1897, Mrs. Alexander W. Scott and Miss Pamela Berdan were allotted $20 from the treasury to purchase new books. “It was thought best that the books be bought and sent to the island early in the season, not later than the middle of June. Mrs. George Hafer was appointed to receive and catalogue them.” In 1899, two new bookcases were added as the old ones were overcrowded. Thankfully, one Middle Bass Club Chapel library book exists today; it resides at the Taliak family’s “Grape Cottage” which was annexed into the Middle Bass Club circa 1980.
Brown-Hafer Chapel Wedding
For many years the Chapel provided church services, Sunday school, lectures, concerts, parties and housed a lending library to bring the Middle Bass Club families together for religious, educational and social purposes. Based upon the Records Book, the ladies were extremely dedicated to the Chapel; they met at various times during the year to plan the Chapel’s programs for the summer and worked hard to make them successful. The Brown-Hafer Wedding story properly illustrates how incredibly special the Chapel was to the Middle Bass Club membership. Walter Folger Brown and Katherine Mann Hafer Sheldon met at the Middle Bass Club and fell in love. Instead of holding their wedding ceremony in the larger, more prestigious hometown churches in Toledo and Cincinnati, the couple decided to wed in the tiny Chapel located in their beloved Middle Bass Club.
Walter Folger Brown, the groom, was a member of the Middle Bass Club from 1902 to 1907 (based on available membership lists) and was a guest in earlier years according to the Middle Bass Club Guest Register books. He was a prominent attorney from Toledo, Ohio who was very involved in the Ohio Republican party beginning with William McKinely‘s campaign for Governor in 1891. Walter Folger Brown was also influential in helping William Howard Taft gain the Presidential nomination in 1908. (As a matter of coincidence, President William Howard Taft was a frequent guest in the Middle Bass Club; he enjoyed the bass fishing.) Walter Folger Brown would go on to become the Assistant Secretary of Commerce from 1927 to 1929 and the 49th United States Postmaster General from 1929 to 1933 under President Herbert Hoover.
Walter Folger Brown. Middle Bass Club member 1902 to 1907. He married Katherine Hafer Sheldon on September 10, 1903. They were married by Charles H. Tucker, rector St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Put in Bay, Ohio. Source: Wikipedia & Ancestry research.
Katherine Mann Hafer Sheldon, the bride, was the daughter of Middle Bass Club member George Hafer and his wife Kate Mann Ocheltree and the widow of Ralph Sheldon who died in 1897. George Hafer was a member of the Middle Bass Club from 1888 to 1907 (based on available membership lists). He was a well-respected businessman from Cincinnati, Ohio who served as the “last” mayor of Avondale, Ohio (Avondale was annexed to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1896). George Hafter was appointed Receiver and then once the company was back on track, he was promoted to President of the Cincinnati, Lebanon and Northern Railroad. Kate Mann Hafer, the bride’s mother, served as a Middle Bass Chapel Association Trustee from 1890 to 1910 and was elected Treasurer from 1895 to 1906 (this is the last year that the Records Book identified officers). The Hafer family owned a cottage on Grove Avenue in the Middle Bass Club that exists today; William Rehberg’s 1st Addition: lot 32 which is currently owned by the Aquilla family.
It is apparent that Walter Folger Brown and the Hafer family enjoyed spending time at the Middle Bass Club and that the Chapel was important to them. Therefore, it is understandable that the couple married in the Chapel. Sadly, I have been unable to locate any wedding photos. However, we have the 1903 Guest Register book which contains the names of the Hafer and Brown family members who attended the wedding and a copy of their Marriage Certificate. George Hafer (father of the bride) and Walter F. Brown (groom) signed in on Wednesday, September 9, 1903 and stayed at a cottage (Hafer). It is unknown whether the groom stayed at the Hafer cottage or another member’s cottage. Members of the groom’s family arrived on the same day: Miss Sarah R. Folger (groom’s cousin) and James Marshall Brown (groom’s father) signed in as guests of Walter F. Brown and stayed in the Club House, rooms 56 & 57. Members of the bride’s family also arrived that day: Edward Hafer (bride’s brother), Frank Hafer (bride’s brother) and Edward Frazier Hafter (bride’s nephew) signed in as guests and stayed in a cottage (Hafer). The groom’s brother, Ralph P. Brown, arrived on the day of the wedding (Thursday, September 10, 1903) and stayed in the Club House, room 54. It is unclear when the bride and her mother arrived at the Middle Bass Club.
“On Sept. 10, 1903, at Middle Bass Island, in Lake Erie, he [Walter Folger Brown] was united in marriage to Miss Katherine Hafer, daughter of George Hafer a well-known citizen of Cincinnati.” (Source: In the Memoirs of Lucas County & City of Toledo – Vol. II – Publ. 1910 – Page 179.) The Folger-Hafer Marriage Certificate is signed by Charles H. Tucker, Rector St. Paul’s Reformed Episcopal Church (REC), Put-in-Bay, Ohio. It should be noted that Rev. Charles H. Tucker signed in on the Middle Bass Club House’s Guest Register book on Thursday, Sept. 10, 1903 (see above), at a time of “d” (which stands for dinner - the daytime meal) and did not have a room number or cottage indicated. From this notation we can assume that Rev. Charles H. Tucker did not stay overnight in the Middle Bass Club; he most likely took a boat back to Put-in-Bay after the wedding ceremony and/or celebration meal at the Club House.
Rev. Tucker graduated from Kenyon College in 1866. In fact, he signed the document to establish the Reformed Church on December 2, 1874. Rev. Tucker served the following parishes: Emmanuel Church (Chicago, Illinois), Church of our Redeemer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Mustang Creek and White Oak (Indiana Territory), First Church (Boston, Massachusetts) and St. Luke’s Reformed Church (Boston, Massachusetts). At the suggestion of Jay Cooke of Gibraltar Island, Rev. Tucker accepted the position to become Rector of St. Paul’s REC at Put in Bay, Ohio in 1898 and served the parish until 1906. (Source: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Put in Bay, Ohio) Perhaps Rev. Tucker met Jay Cooke while at Kenyon College or in Philadelphia?
Based upon available Middle Bass Club records, this was the only Chapel wedding. Likewise, the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church records indicate that Rev. Tucker performed wedding ceremonies for a number of Middle Bass Island people, but this was the only one showing the wedding was held at the Toledo Club. Specifically, the St. Paul’s records confirm the Middle Bass Wedding on September 10th and indicate that the groom was 34 years old, the bride was 30 and the wedding took place at the “Toledo Club House” (i.e., the Middle Bass Club). (Source: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Put in Bay, Ohio)
A proper way to end the Middle Bass Club Chapel Story is to applaud the ladies of the Middle Bass Chapel Association. They succeeded in their efforts to build a beautiful Chapel on the grounds of the Middle Bass Club and provide religious, educational, literary and scientific programs for the membership. Sadly, the Chapel no longer exists today but I hope by sharing its history the Chapel came back to life for a minute. If you have any photographs or information to share about the Middle Bass Club Chapel, please contact me and we will update the story (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Middle Bass Club Chapel Story is based upon recollections from Club member Maggie Kinsey Wood, the Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book (1881-1910), the Middle Bass Club House Guest Register books (1899 – 1904 and 1908 - 1912) and my research which benefited greatly from analysis and documents gathered by Judy Flickenger Baney, Gene Morton, Dr. Martin Taliak and Lisa Fine.
I am fortunate to have met one living person, Maggie Kinsey Wood, who remembers being inside the Middle Bass Club Chapel. Maggie Kinsey Wood’s parents, Isaac Kinsey Jr. and Phyllis Bigelow Kinsey, owned a cottage in the Middle Bass Club. Phyllis Bigelow Kinsey purchased the cottage from Herman D. Rehberg in December 1926 (Ottawa County Recorder’s Office: Volume 93 , Page 306). This cottage exists today on Grape Avenue in William Rehberg’s 2nd Addition: lot 40 and is owned by the Demer family. When Maggie Kinsey Woods was a young girl in the early-1930s, the Chapel and a few Middle Bass Club cottages were “abandoned” which made great fun for the children to go on “adventures” where they could explore and play inside the buildings. Maggie Kinsey Wood remembers that the Chapel looked like the picture above; it had a front porch and at least one stained glass window. She said that it still felt like a church inside: there were rows of pews and an open Bible sitting on the lectern. Maggie Kinsey Wood assured me that the children were respectful while playing inside the Chapel because they knew better than to “mess up a church.”
Judy Flickenger’s family preserved the Middle Bass Chapel Association Records Book for many years and then offered it to her childhood friend from the Middle Bass Club, Dr. Martin Taliak who graciously shared it with me. The Records Book contains handwritten meeting minutes of the Middle Bass Chapel Association (which formed in 1881) and the Constitution and By-Laws that governed the organization. I have transcribed the Records Book and there is a link below to read it in its entirety. Because the Records Book was handwritten, some names and verbiage are italicized to indicate that portion of the transcription is “estimated.” A reference of the original Records Book’s page number is listed for each section. The Records Book ends in 1910 with the latter years having little documentation about the Association, focusing solely on the ministers who came to preach at the Chapel or the list of Trustees. In the near future, the Records Book will be housed at the Canaday Library at the University of Toledo which is associated with the Toledo’s Attic website.
Microfilm copies of the Middle Bass Club House Guest Register books (1899 – 1904 and 1908 - 1912) reside at the Jerome Library at Bowling Green State University. Eugene Morton donated copies of the James Clark family’s scrapbooks and Middle Bass Club documents. The Morton family bought their cottage from descendants of James Clark who was a founding member of the Middle Bass Club from Louisville, Kentucky. James Clark built his cottage in 1876 and it stands today on Grape Avenue, Rehberg’s Original Subdivision lot 6, and is owned by the Gill family. It’s amazing that the cottage has only been owned by two Middle Bass Club families: James Clark and his descendants and Eugene Morton and his descendants. Please note that the Other Archives sections of this website contains many documents and pictures from the James Clark family. The Guest Register books on microfilm document Middle Bass Club members and their guests who visited the private Middle Bass Club property during summers. All members and guests were required to sign the Guest Register book, even if the members stayed in their own cottages. At that time, everyone dined at the Middle Bass Club House as member cottages did not have kitchens. Most likely, the strict rule of signing the Guest Register book was to ensure proper record keeping so that the Club House could appropriately charge the members for their lodging and meals.