Sufferers’ Land – Post 33 – The Huron Reflector

Sufferers’ Land

The Huron Reflector

by Dave Barton

At the end of the 1820s, Samuel Preston and George Buckingham, son of Henry Buckingham, decided to start a newspaper in Norwalk. Samuel worked in the printing business for many years before coming to the Firelands, and George had learned the newspaper business at the Norwalk Reporter from his father’s partner John McArdle. That paper was failing and soon would cease publication.

Samuel and George incorporated as Preston & Buckingham, and invested in a new press, which they brought to Norwalk from Cincinnati in a two-horse wagon. They decided on the name Huron Reflector for the publication. Lucy’s father came up with the name when he noticed bright rays of light from a reflector behind an oil lamp at the village tavern.

Huron Reflector 1st Issue

First Issue of the Huron Reflector, which is today the Norwalk Reflector.

They published the first issue of the Huron Reflector on Tuesday, February 2, 1830. From the beginning, the paper was a strong promoter of the town. In the first issue, an article argued that a railroad be brought to Norwalk, in spite of the fact that no railroads yet existed west of the Appalachians. [1]

In addition to the ReflectorPreston & Buckingham also published commercial forms, bills, fliers and anything else needed by businesses and government offices in Huron County. In 1830, they printed a handbill for Hallet Gallup announcing that he had completed construction of a public building in the village.

The bill listed the public officers at different levels of government. Henry Buckingham was treasurer and Luke Keeler was Coroner of Huron County. Platt Benedict was a Justice of the Peace for Norwalk Township as was Lucy’s father Samuel Preston, who was also Township Clerk and the Recorder of Norwalk Village. Hallet Gallup was a Trustee of Norwalk Township. [2]

In 1831, George Buckingham retired from the newspaper business. Samuel continued to publish the paper by himself until 1834, when Lucy’s brother Charles joined their father in the business. [3]

* * *

Early in the 1830s, land speculators dropped the price of land around Norwalk, attracting a second flood of immigrants. Within a few years, the last of the forests were cleared and turned into productive farms. [4]

Because of this renewed growth in Huron County, a few villages, especially Sandusky and Milan, grew into good-sized towns. The inhabitants of the county welcomed the economic opportunities this growth brought to the area. However, this growth also spawned overcrowding in the larger towns. Aggravated by poor sanitation, this created conditions ripe for the spread of a horrible disease — Cholera.




[1] The story of the establishment of the Huron Reflector which is still published today as the Norwalk Reflector, is from “The History of the Fire Lands Press,” by C.P. Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume II, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society, Sept. 1861, pp. 9-11; “Norwalk, Its Men, Women, and Girls,” by William Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer,  New Series, Volume XX; The Firelands Historical Society; December 1918, p. 2135; “The Reflector-Herald Centenary,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXV; The Firelands Historical Society; June 1937, p. 203.

[2] “An Old Handbill,” The Firelands Pioneer, New Series, Volume XXV; The Firelands Historical Society; June 1937; p. 15.

[3] “The History of the Fire Lands Press,” by C.P. Wickham, The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume II, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society; Sept. 1861; pp. 9-11.

[4] “Memoirs of Townships – Fitchville,” by J.C. Curtis, Esq., The Firelands Pioneer, Old Series, Volume I, Number 4; The Firelands Historical Society; May 1859; p. 33.



This post was first published on this blog in 2009.


Previous Post: The Entrepreneurs

Next Post: Cholera Comes to the Firelands


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Researching the Norwalk High School Class of 1907: Newspapers

Huron Reflector 1st Issue

February 2, 1830 issue of the Huron Reflector, the forefather of the present day Norwalk Reflector.

In my last post, I discussed the sources I’ve drawn on to write about the history of the Sufferers’ Land and the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. One source I did not discuss was newspaper archives. There are many free sites out there: my current home state of Colorado has a wonderful collection at the Colorado Historical Newspaper Collection. But not all states and localities have these online archives. Which brings us to the two big pay websites: and

Now, I do not want to get into a debate of which of these are better. They appear similar in ease of use, and subscription price. What makes the difference, to me, is coverage. I subscribe to simply because its archives cover Norwalk, Ohio history – where I focus my research – for 149 years, starting on February 2, 1830 with the first issue of the Huron Reflector. I describe the founding of this newspaper (by my ancestors) in my Sufferers’ Land post, The Norwalk Reflector.

Here’s a list of what newspapers are available on


Huron Reflector: 1830-1862

Norwalk Daily Reflector: 1882-1913

Norwalk Evening Herald: 1902-1913

Norwalk Experiment: 1841-1844

Huron County Democrat: 1913 (May 22)

Norwalk Huron Reflector: 1830-1853 (same as Huron Reflector).

Norwalk Reflector: 1862-1863; 1964-1979

Norwalk Reflector Herald: 1913-1964

Norwalk Reporter & Huron Advertiser: 1827-1830.

How do I use newspapers? After exhausting all other resources available to me (including the gems in my grandmother’s papers), I search in by surname to fill in the blanks, and browse issues on, before and after important dates in my ancestors’ lives (birth, marriage, death, etc.). This latter tactic has been especially helpful in finding obituaries.

Newspaper archives are a great, and relatively new, resource. If you are not using them in your research, you are really missing out.


With all my writing about the Firelands and Norwalk, Ohio. You might think that I was born and grew up there. But you’d be wrong. My birthplace is Amherst, Ohio, and I grew up in Lorain and Avon Lake; all in three are Lorain County, to the east of the Firelands. Although I spent many Sunday afternoons with my family visiting my great-aunt Eleanor Wickham at the old Benedict mansion on Seminary Street in Norwalk, I never lived there.

In fact, to my knowledge, I have only slept one night in the city: Thursday, September 27, 1973. How do I know that exact date, you may ask? Well, I’ll tell you that story in my next post: One Night in Norwalk – A Hitchhiker’s Tale.


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Bachelor Hall – The Chorus Girls – Who Are They?

In my last post, I presented the cast of a performance of Bachelor Hall, a play presented on June 5 and 6, 1907 by the Norwalk High School Class of 1907 — with a notable exception: the chorus girls.

According to the Norwalk Daily Reflector, these young women provided the highlight of the show. Accompanied by the Spencer Orchestra, they sang and danced three songs: “When Love is Young,” “Oh, Be Careful of the Alligator,” and “Be My Little Teddy Bear.” So who were these “chorus girls?” [1]

Once again, my grandmother, Harriott Wickham (who was one of their number), comes through again with a photo I found in her papers. Here are the chorus girls from the play Bachelor Hall, apparently performing “Be My Little Teddy Bear.” Unfortunately, she did not include the names. [2]


Chorus Girls

There are eight women in the photo, but the newspapers only reported seven: Lillian Smith, Carrie Spurrier, Ruth Jenkins, Florence Davidson, Cleo Collins, Harriott Wickham, and Irene Bragdon. [3]

Who is who? And which girl is in the photo, but not listed in the cast of characters. Here are individual photos of the seven in clockwise order from upper left as listed in the previous paragraph. See if you can figure out who is in the group photo.


I must admit that I am not doing well figuring out who is who. Perhaps it is because in the group photo the girls are smiling. After examining the photo closely, I can be sure of only two: Carrie Spurrier, fifth from left (because of the spectacles); and Irene Bragdon, sixth from left.

What do you think?




[1] Descriptions of the play and cast are from these newspaper articles: “Bachelor Hall,” Norwalk Reflector, 6/1/1907, page 4, column 5; “Brilliant Success,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, June 6, 1907 – page 1, column 3; and “Bachelor Hall a Big Hit,” Norwalk Evening Herald, 6/6/1907, page 1, column 6.

[2] The chorus girl photo is from the unpublished collection of Harriott Wickham’s papers in my possession. I clipped the individual photos from the Commencement photo of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907, also in Harriott Wickham’s papers.

[3] The links for each cast member of Bachelor Hall lead to that person’s WeRelate person page.


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A Play – A Dance – A Test

After introducing missionary Ora Tuttle in my posts Serendipity and The Hermit Kingdom, I’m afraid I must leave off telling the rest of her story for another time. I have uncovered so much information (and surprises) about this interesting woman and her mission that I have not been able to properly research and write about her. I promise, though, that I will return to her soon.

Anyway, we must return to our main story, from which I have strayed: the saga of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907. Today marks the beginning of their final two weeks in school, and we have much to talk about. So let’s get started.


June 1st fell on a Saturday in 1907, and that day the Norwalk newspapers were full of news about the class.

The Norwalk Evening Herald reported the cast of the class play, Bachelor Hall, which was scheduled to be performed on Thursday, June 5 and Friday, June 6. Tickets would go on sale on Tuesday, June 3. The price for general admission was fifteen cents ($3.73 in today’s dollars), reserved seats went for a quarter ($6.22 today). [1]

I’ll report on the reviews for this performance in a later post. Spoiler alert: it received rave reviews.

According to another article in the June 1 issue of Norwalk Evening Herald, the previous evening, the Junior Class of Norwalk High School had held a reception for the Senior Class, complete with strawberry ice, wafers, and dancing. About sixty couples, to include thirteen out-of-town visitors, gathered Link’s Hall, the venue for the event, which was decorated “prettily” with streamers of the Senior Class colors of black and yellow, the Junior colors of black and red. College pennants added to the festive display.

The dance began with a Grand March, led by Junior Class President (and basketball hero) Pitt Curtiss and Miss Irene Curtiss of Findlay (a cousin?). Imagine the scene, if you will. Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle in the Netherfield ball scene of the Pride and Prejudice A&E television series comes to my mind.


A Grand March

Saratoga Lancers – Promenade [2]

The seniors had reason to celebrate that evening. According to an article in the June 1st issue of the Norwalk Daily Reflector, all twenty-six members of the Class of 1907 had passed their final exams with a comfortable margin [4] . . . wait, did I say twenty-six? There are only twenty-five students in the class commencement photo. Who is missing? We’ll find out in my next post.



[1] “Bachelor Hall,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, June 1, 1907, page 4, column 5. The script of Bachelor Hall is available on Google Books at this link.

[2] This photo on page 61 of a 1900 instruction book on dancing by Marguerite Wilson. An excellent description of the Grand March begins on page 21.

[3] “Juniors Honor Senior Class,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, June 1, 1907, page 1, column 5.

[4] “Everybody Passed,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, June 1, 1907, page 1, column 5.


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The Hermit Kingdom

In my last post, Serendipity, I introduced Ora Tuttle of Norwalk, Ohio, who in 1907, at the age of 27, realized her life-long dream of serving as a missionary in a foreign land. And where would she be going? The mysterious “Hermit Kingdom” of Korea.

The headline in the May 24, 1907 issue of the Norwalk Daily Reflector announcing Ora’s assignment caught my eye for several reasons, chief of which was my fascination with Korean history and culture.

Korea Tiled Roofs

I first went to Korea in 1975, as a young Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division north of the capital of Seoul. On the bus ride from the airport to my unit, I stared out the window, transfixed by the high-hipped tiled roofs of the traditional homes. How did the inhabitants of those exotic dwellings spend their days? What customs did they observe? How did they relate to one another. What thoughts occupied their minds? I was hooked.

At that time, the country still struggled to recover from the horrors of the Korean War, and a large part of the population lived an agrarian life not unlike that of their ancestors one-hundred years before. I only spent a year in the country, and had little time to study the culture.

By the time I returned in 1986, to an assignment in Seoul, the nation’s economy had grown dramatically. Many old houses had been torn down and replaced by high-rise apartments. But my fascination with the old days remained. Now I had the time, and resources to travel and study, and I immersed myself in the culture, learning the language, and visiting every historical site I could find in an attempt to understand the country’s culture and history.

Gyeongbokgung Station

Gyeonbukgung Subway Station

In the newspaper, one day in 1986, I noticed an announcement of an exhibit of photographs of “old Korea” was being displayed at the Gyeongbokgung subway station in the northern part of the city. I headed there to see what it was about. What I found staggered me. In alcoves set in the walls of the station were photos depicting a land I had only imagined from visiting the traces of the old days that remained in the capital.

The exhibition promoted a book Korea 100 Years Ago in Photographs, published by the Catholic Publishing House. I bought a copy and studied the photos for months. What a treasure trove of images! There were, of course, the obligatory photos of famous people and important events, but the bulk of these images depicted the daily lives of ordinary people. And that was what drew me in.

Pounding Grain

This is my favorite photo in Korea 100 Years Ago in Photographs. Lifted from a daguerreotype glass plate from 1890, the vivid colors of their dresses gives life to these two, now long dead girls. Gazing at them, I feel an almost unbearable ache in my breast. Note that the English caption is brief to the point of being nearly useless. My limited language skills were sorely tested and my Korean- English dictionary got quite a workout as I perused this book.


This was the land that Ora Tuttle encountered when she arrived in Korea over one-hundred years ago. In fact, it is possible that she took some of the photos in this book — most were taken by missionaries. Her life in this land was so different from her previous life in Norwalk, Ohio, I wonder how she coped. But cope she did — for many years — as we will discover in future posts. How?

From childhood, Ora had prepared herself for the trials of living and working in a foreign land. In my next post, we’ll explore what inspired her to take on this challenge, and how she prepared for what would become her life’s work.


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Ora Tuttle Goes to KoreaIn late May, 1907, a letter from the Chicago Training School for Home and Foreign Missions addressed to Miss Ora Tuttle of Norwalk, Ohio, arrived at her sister’s home in nearby Fostoria. Ever since she had graduated from that school, Ora had been at her sister’s home, anxiously awaiting word of where she would be assigned. Did she hesitate before opening the envelope? Did she say a prayer? Or did she tear it open the moment it came into her hands? No matter which of those things she did, we know that she read the letter, and learned that she had been assigned to mission in the mysterious “Hermit Kingdom” of Korea. [1]

Ora Tuttle was twenty-seven years old, and had been preparing all her life for this moment. She had grown up in a prosperous family in a good part of Norwalk, and had received an excellent education for a young woman of those days. A graduate of Norwalk High School in 1897 [2], she had attended Ohio Wesleyan University the 1903-1904 school year. [3]

But secular education and career had not been the focus of her life. Her energies had always been devoted to the Methodist-Episcopal church in Norwalk. That is where she had found like-minded friends, and that is where she had realized her purpose in life. From an early age, she believed she had a call from God to serve Him as a missionary in foreign lands.

To prepare herself for her calling, Ora had joined societies at her church that supported missions, served on their committees, assiduously studied missionary work, and spoke to any and all about what she had learned and of her dream of becoming a missionary herself.

And now, she was actually going on a mission. She had realized her dream. From this day forward, she would live it.


Serendipity led me to this story. While browsing the May 23, 1907 issue of the Norwalk Daily Reflector for articles about the June graduation of the Norwalk High School Class of 1907, the headline “Miss Ora Tuttle Goes to Korea” caught my eye.

temporary-derangementWhat about this headline captured my attention? First off, the name Tuttle rang a bell, although I wasn’t sure why. Then I remembered. In January, I posted a series of posts titled Temporary Derangement about the Tuttle ancestry of Sarah Barnett of the Class of 1907. That story culminated in a bit of narrative non-fiction about the December 1906 suicide of Sarah’s grandmother, Calista Harris, nee Tuttle. Was Ora Tuttle a distant cousin of Mrs. Harris? If so, how did the woman’s suicide affect her?

Emperor Sunjong

Sunjong – Last Emperor of Korea

That Ora Tuttle was heading to Korea aroused my curiosity, too. I lived in Korea for eight years intermittently from 1975 to 1999, first as a soldier and later as a businessman, and I developed a deep interest in Korean culture and history, especially of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the last years of an independent Korean monarchy before Japan annexed the peninsula in 1910.

In the Daily Reflector article, I noticed that Ora would be a Methodist missionary in Korea, another point of connection for me. Although baptized in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Norwalk, Ohio, I was raised a Methodist.

So there you are. As often happens in historical and genealogical research, looking for one thing leads you to something unexpected — and fascinating. I am now securely hooked by Ora’s story, and want to learn more about her. What events in her early life led this daughter of the Firelands to missionary work? How did she fare in that strange and mysterious land? What was her ultimate fate?

I’ll explore the answers to all these questions in my next series of posts, beginning with how I became interested the history and culture of the “Hermit Kingdom.”


[1] “Miss Ora Tuttle Goes to Korea,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, May 23, 1907, page 1, column 4.

[2] “The High School,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, September 4, 1895, page 3, column 4.

[3] “Gone to College,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, September 15, 1903, page 7, column 2.

[4] “History of Epworth League Read at Banquet Last Night,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, April 18, 1907, page 2, column 1.

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Oratorical Contest for a Future U.S. Senator

Many Go to Bowling Green

At three p.m. on Friday, May 10, 1907, 110 years ago today, a crowd of fifteen Norwalk High School students clamored aboard a special rail car bound for an oratorical contest at Bowling Green, Ohio. Among them was one of their own, Stephen Young, Junior, Norwalk High School Class of 1907, who would compete against fourteen students from other Ohio High Schools.


Stephen Young, Jr.

Stephen was scheduled last in the program. His subject was “The Darker Side.” He came in fourth, missing out on the princely  sum of ten dollars for first prize (and eight and seven dollars for second and third place). According to an article in the Norwalk Evening Herald the following day, “those from [Norwalk] who heard the orations speak of his efforts in high terms.”

The students arrived back in Norwalk in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Were they really impressed with their classmates performance? Was Stephen upset that he did not win the contest? Did it drive him to improve, and compete again?

Stephen Young, Junior, Norwalk High School Class of 1907, in his career, would not succeed in all his endeavors. In fact, in politics, he failed more often than he succeeded. But he did rise to heights not achieved by his classmates. As a soldier, he would serve his country against Pancho Villa in Mexico and in two world wars. As a statesman, he would be elected to the Ohio Legislature, the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. We’ll learn more about his career in future posts.



“Oratorical Contest,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 10, 1907, page 1, column 2.

“Many Go to Bowling Green,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, May 10, 1907, page 4, column 3.

“Contest Goes to Hicksville,” The Norwalk Evening Herald, May 11, 1907, page 1, column 4.

“Oratorical Contest,” The Norwalk Daily Reflector, March 11, 1907, page 3, column 6.

Stephen Young person page in the WeRelate Wiki.

Stephen M. Young article in Wikipedia.


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