Archive for the 'Events' Category

The USS Lake Erie gets a new home


MarcNanBurrUSSLakeErieDuring this past year’s Historic Weekend, (now known as Perry’s Victory Heritage Festival) Perry Group President Marc Burr and his wife Nan were invited to fly to Los Angeles to be aboard the USS Lake Erie by XO Gonzalez when the USS Lake Erie was repositioned from Pearl Harbor (via Los Angeles) to San Diego for a refit. After the refit, the Lake Erie will make San Diego it’s permanent new homeport after 20 years in Pearl Harbor.


Thanks to Glenn Cooper, the Perry Group has had a long and wonderful history with the USS Lake Erie that has built long term friendship with the Captain(s) and crew of the ship.


Back in 1987 Captain Glenn Cooper, as you may or may not know, decided to submit an idea for the future name of the soon to be built ship. Glenn told me how he was in Florida and happened to be reading a book about Navy ships. As he perused the book Glenn realized that the Ticonderoga class Navy ships were named for important US Naval battles.

So Glenn took the initiative to follow up on this idea, and enlisted the help of then Put-in-Bay School Principal Kelly Faris and Superintendent Dick Lusardi. Together they composed a letter to Senator John Glenn on why the ship should be named Lake Erie based on the heroic efforts of Oliver Hazard Perry and his men in the Battle of Lake Erie. John Glenn, who was on the committee that had oversight on Navy projects was able to present the idea to the Navy command.


According to “”, the USS Lake Erie (CG 70) was the 24th Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser built and was named by Perry Group advisory board member Glenn Cooper for the decisive USN victory in the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812. Her keel was laid at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on March 6, 1990, and she was launched on July 13, 1991. The ship was christened by Mrs. Margaret Meyer, the wife of Rear Adm. Wayne E. Meyer. Capt. William H. Parks, Jr., was the prospective commanding officer. Several members of the Put-in-Bay community were on hand for that ceremony.


May 12, 1993 The Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Lake Erie departed Bath Iron Works for the last time. July 9, PCU Lake Erie arrived in its homeport of Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after a 57-day transit from Bath, Maine and on July 24, 1993 USS Lake Erie was commissioned during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.


The Battle of Lake Erie is very significant to the US Navy and this important connection to US Naval History and the Navy’s adoption of Perry’s motto “Don’t Give Up the Ship” has made the USS Lake Erie the pride of the Pacific fleet. Glenn Cooper has fostered a strong bond with the crew and leadership of the USS Lake Erie with the Perry Group and Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial over the years.


If you’re heading to San Diego, the public is encouraged to go visit the USS Lake Erie while in dry dock. Glenn Cooper and the Perry Group’s long-term commitment to the officers and the crew of the ship is very evident and it has made the USS Lake Erie solid connection not just to history but to a community a standout among the fleet.

Sail Training Scholarship

By Peter Huston

It is an amazing experience to be aboard a tall ship like the Brig Niagara as her sails unfurl and the hull begins to surge forward, the rig creaking as the sails fill. Just being a passenger aboard as the ship begins to move ahead under sail is an inspiring moment. You can feel the power in the rig, and the excitement on the deck as the crew busily works all around you to hoist, trim, adjust and secure the lines in a repeated symphony of orchestrated commands and responses.

The Brig Niagara is one of the most majestic of tall ships designs from the early19th century. Two hundred years ago ships like it shared the waterways with graceful schooners, brigantines, and barques. Standing on its’ deck you can let yourself imagine for just a moment that you have gone back in time.

People of all ages are often amazed and spellbound by tall ships when they come into port. For many just going aboard for the first time is an eye opening experience. Some wonder about the life at sea and consider the romantic notion of being a volunteer or perhaps taking courses to become trained crew.

Raising the sails

Raising the sails

But even though I have been sailing aboard small boats since I was a young boy, I quickly recognized when I first went aboard a tall ship that it is altogether different from my other sailing experiences. It takes a large crew of trained sailors to carry out the wishes of the captain. There is a complex set of skills and verbal commands required and an absolute need for teamwork and communication to make this ship sail effectively.

Perhaps a little known fact about the current US Brig Niagara is that the ship’s primary mission is sail training. “Sail Training” is a step-by-step process designed by the Brig Niagara staff to train willing students to become a crewmember. Over the past 30 years the Niagara has trained hundreds, perhaps thousands of crew. Many of their crew has gone on to sail aboard other tall ships going around the globe or transporting “semester at sea” students around the Caribbean. Some have become mates, even captains.

Over the years the National Park Service, the Perry Group, Chamber of Commerce and the many businesses here in Put-in-Bay have embraced the Brig Niagara as a crucial part of sharing our unique history with others visiting the islands. No other ship embodies the teamwork and skill required to sail a tall ship, any tall ship. The crew and officers of the Brig Niagara are known around the world for their premier sail-training program. We are working hard to promote their ongoing mission on the great lakes.

It is incumbent upon us, the supporters of the Brig Niagara, to keep the sail-training program healthy and growing. Part of that mission is to find and train new young students the basics about sailing aboard a tall ship. The Perry Group, along with the help of Flagship Niagara League are interested in promoting this amazing connection between the Brig Niagara and Lake Erie Islands by establishing and underwriting an annual scholarship for one student from our area to be aboard the Brig Niagara for 4 weeks during the summer.

We think this is one of the most important educational projects we can promote and participate in, a that will not only help a student learn a new skill, but promote the Brig Niagara which is so important to our history and tourism here in Put-in-Bay. If you’re between 16 and 23 or know someone how is and want to learn more about this scholarship let us know. This scholarship will require an essay and a keen interest in learning seamanship.

And if you’re a parent or philanthropically inclined and would like to support this scholarship we want to hear from you. Email us at

Legacy, Perry’s Victory Heritage Festival


As our nations observance of the War of 1812 continues, here in Put-in-Bay we are seeing the tangible results of last years promotion of the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial to families, history buffs and empty nesters. More and more are coming here with the hopes and expectations of seeing and connecting to the history and adventure that was part of the storyline in so many of the magazine and press articles. They are coming to Perry’s Victory, Pyrate Fest, LEIHS Auctions and hopefully the newly branded Perry’s Victory Heritage Festival (you know it as Historic Weekend).

This is exciting to see and something that we all hope to foster and promote. Last year when the Perry Group and Lake Erie Heritage Foundation worked with the NPS and our local business owners and community leaders to promote the Bicentennial we all hoped this might be the long-term result. This collaboration resulted in awards and recognition for our NPS park and the partners like the Perry Group, LEHF, and PIB Chamber of Commerce that made this possible. So now we are excited because many great things are on the horizon.

While we have known this weekend as “Historic Weekend” for years, the rebranding of the event as “Perry’s Victory Heritage Festival” will help visitors to better understand what the weekend is all about. And that will help us to better promote the events and grow the festival.

Next year the US Brig Niagara will be in port for this event adding to the concluding observances for the War of 1812. The Niagara is one of the most identifiable ways for us to attract and interest visitors that want to learn about the ship and it’s importance to our island’s history.

A long term association with Parks Canada will allow us to share the importance of the “Peace” that we enjoy with Canada and allow Americans to hear a different perspective on the war and the 200+ years of Peace we have shared.
Finally, the Perry Group is excited to see the Harbor Illumination and Toledo Symphony performance on Saturday become a major part of the overall experience for islanders, cottagers and our visitors. Here is a list of events for this years Perry’s Victory and Heritage Festival;

Friday, September 5
7:30 p.m. Sunset Flag Retirement Ceremony

Saturday, September 6
9:15 a.m. Wreath Laying at Battle Site- Miller Ferry leaves from Lime Kiln Dock at Put-in-Bay. Free tickets but only 225 available! 2 per family, Ages 10+ only, Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.)

11 p.m. – 1 p.m. War of 1812 Family Dance Workshop Dance instruction and Music by Fiddlesix

12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The Perry Group Reception and Fundraiser at the Keys 20 donation at the door, except life members are free

2:15 p.m. Historic Weekend Parade—Downtown Put-in-Bay, Ohio (Community parade with high school bands, antique cars, re-enactors, US Navy with special emphasis on 200 Anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner)

3 p.m. Military Tactical (Combined artillery and special maneuvers of ground forces from War of 1812)

4 p.m. Retracing History: A 1812 Conversation Roundtable discussion about the War of 1812 and the Present Day US Moderator: Greg Peiffer, Executive Director/Owner of WPIB/WPCR Radi0, Special Guests: Grant Walker, Naval Historian, United States Naval Academy Don Hickey, War of 1812 author and scholar USS Lake Erie Command Master Chief Mike Killio Black Swamp InterTribal Foundation

6 p.m. Toledo Symphony Concert sponsored by the Perry Group
At Dusk Lights of Peace—Harbor Illumination sponsored by the Perry Flares will be lit around South Bass Island in memory of friends & loved one

Sunday, September 7
9 a.m. Ecumenical Worship Service by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

10 a.m. Procession: In Remembrance of the Fallen (20 minute ceremony Starts near flag poles ends in Rotunda

The Toledo Symphony Returns

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 2.48.59 PM“Friends of Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial”, better known as the “Perry Group” is the official National Park Service registered support group for our monument and it’s mission here in Put-in-Bay.

Many years ago we were one of the first non-profit groups in Ohio to get a special license plate designed and issued by the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles. Every time you see a car with the Monument on the plate that person is helping us to provide support to our NPS site here in Put-in-Bay.

Over the past 25+ years the Perry Group helped raise funds to build the visitor center, underwrite the Dean Mosher paintings hanging there, secure artifacts, publish Gerard Altoff’s books, and even build “Perry’s Longboat” all with your help. Annually we are often asked to provide support for events, re-enactors, rentals, and music.

One of the most delightful parts of our summer is bringing the renowned Toledo Symphony to the island. The Toledo Symphony has recorded and performed with great musicians like Vladimir Ashkenazy, Isaac Stern, Aaron Copland, and Itzhak Perlman, and has even performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Last year during our Bicentennial Celebration scheduling precluded us from inviting the full symphony to perform so that the time and attention of historic Saturday’s events could be focused on Park Canada’s amazing “Tattoo” performance.

We engaged a small Toledo Symphony ensemble to play after the Tattoo as our Harbor Illumination was being set up. They delivered a beautiful performance. Our regular contact at the Toledo Symphony over the years has been Sandra Clark. Sandra had always made sure that we had the best event possible with top musicians and a great conductor making the journey to the island to play.

She asked that when we brought the Symphony back in 2014 that they be able to play once again on the plaza at the monument. This is a wonderful tradition that dates back well over a decade here on Historic Weekend. We have requested this for 2014. Sadly Sandra unexpectedly passed away two weeks ago without being able to return with the Symphony.So that makes this quite a special year for us at the Perry Group as we remember our friend Sandra while presenting the Toledo Symphony once again here at Perry’s Victory.

So come help us continue to commemorate the War of 1812. This 200th anniversary year (1814) will be remembered for the noted famous poem “The Defense of Fort McHenry” written by Francis Scott Key. Of course we now know it as “The Star Spangled Banner”.This year the symphony will perform a special concert dedicated to the writing of the poem and celebrating the remembrance of the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore that gave us the lyrics to our most cherished anthem.

Join us Saturday September 6th at 6pm for the triumphant return of the Toledo Symphony Orchestra and their special tribute to Francis Scott Key and the music that America loves to hear at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (or at the Niagara Center if it rains).
Get involved, you can be join the Perry Group for as little as $20 at

The Golden Rule, America’s First Peace Boat

Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project

“Thinking outside the box” is an often written and spoken accolade applied to Oliver Hazard Perry for defeating the British in the Battle of Lake Erie. He did not follow the “engagement” conventions of the day. Inspired, his men continued to fight until the Lawrence was just too damaged to continue. Perry refused to give up, transferred his command from Lawrence to the Niagara and won the day. We still marvel at his tenacity, bravery and strategy. The 1958 efforts of the four sailors aboard the 30-foot ketch “Golden Rule” known as America’s First Peace Boat, shares a very similar, albeit less known, result of challenging and defeating powerful opponents in an unconventional way.


It was the summer of 1958 and the world was caught up in the tensions of the cold war. According to the “Golden Rule” web site ( ) “Horrified by the ongoing, open-air nuclear bomb tests and the threat of nuclear war, the four-man crew of the “Golden Rule” sailed from California toward the Marshall Islands. Their intention, publicized around the world, was to nonviolently place their bodies in the way of planned nuclear bomb blasts.”


These four brave men sailed aboard the “Golden Rule” from Honolulu harbor towards the testing area. They were stopped and arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard before they could get to the test site. However, the publicity surrounding their arrest, trial and imprisonment helped ignite public outrage against aboveground nuclear weapons testing and their efforts alerted the world to the health hazards of nuclear testing fallout.


Thanks in part to the “Golden Rule”, in 1963; the Partial Test Ban Treaty was enacted, banning above-ground nuclear testing by the two Superpowers. Several years later the voyage of the “Golden Rule” and her crew inspired a similar anti-nuclear voyage by another bold group that would eventually become known as Greenpeace.


After the Battle of Lake Erie, the Niagara and Lawrence found themselves useless relics of war. They were both left neglected and finally scuttled. Like the Brig Niagara, the “Golden Rule” (which was passed on from owner to owner for many years) became neglected and finally sank in Humboldt Bay, near Eureka California. Left for salvage, boat yard owner Leroy Zerlang realized it was something to save and pulled it up on shore. He stabilized the hull and donated it the local Veterans for Peace group.


I would never have known anything about the “Golden Rule” if it had not been for friend, Sandusky Maritime volunteer and Perry’s Longboat rower AJ “Skip” Oliver of Sandusky. Skip, who is a Viet Nam War veteran, member of Veterans For Peace, sailor, and retired Heidelberg University professor, followed his convictions to Eureka California to help reconstruct the infamous anti-nuclear peace boat “Golden Rule” back in 2011.


Skip was one of our first Longboat volunteers and rowers. Last spring he jumped right in and started sanding and painting the longboat as we worked feverishly to get it ready for the summers events. His countless hours of time and effort to help finish our Perry Longboat underscored his dedication to boating history. He challenged us all to think about the connections between Perry’s actions in war and the ultimate peace we enjoy as part of the legacy of that bloody battle of 1813. I don’t know if his work on “Golden Rule” propelled Skip’s interest in boat building and restoration but we want to return the favor on his “Golden Rule” project.


Skip’s efforts to raise money and awareness about the “Golden Rule” is proof that our efforts do matter, that the time we spend centered on our convictions is what we today call “the purpose driven life” not so very dissimilar to the convictions of young OH Perry in the War of 1812. Unlike Perry and the Niagara, the “Golden Rule” never physically fired a shot, but it did strike a major blow and won a victory we still honor today.


Courtesy of the Albert Bigelow Papers, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

Courtesy of the Albert Bigelow Papers, Swarthmore College Peace Collection

The longboat is a visual icon of Perry’s bravery. We all enjoyed being apart of the longboat project and the peace it continues to symbolize. The “Golden Rule” is also an icon of peace. There is an opportunity to once again be a part of history. Help Veterans for Peace launch the “Golden Rule’ again. If your interested help us to restore the “Golden Rule”.  Please visit the Indiegogo website and make a donation today.

The HMS Detroit Reborn

This is the story of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, Rhode Island’s First Tall Ship. In August of 2008 after a 25 year long struggle to build a 19th century tall ship to promote local tourism, our sister city of Amherstburg Ontario finally had to let go of its tightly held dream of completing construction on a full scale replica of the 19th century ship HMS Detroit. A ship originally built at the Royal Navy Yard in Amherstburg in 1812.

In the final years of the Canadian project, the city of Amherstburg and some local businessmen had provided sizable loans and grants to keep the project moving forward. The hull had cost nearly $1.2 million (Canadian) to build but the organizers were unable to secure commitments for the additional $4-5 million to complete the project.

ImageSo it sat languishing in a local shipyard for three years. Eventually the project’s board of directors disbanded leaving businessman Ryan Deslippe to salvage or sell the steel hull.

Then as luck would have it a group from Newport Rhode Island heard about the stalled project and came to take a look. They liked what they saw, made an offer and purchased the Detroit for $339,000. Deslippe felt that this was the best chance to see the efforts of his community to build a new tall ship realized. The completed hull was towed from its LaSalle berth at Dean Construction north of Amherstburg to a shipyard in northern Rhode Island. Was it irony or providence?

When Oliver Hazard Perry defeated Commodore Robert Barclay and the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie September 10th 1813, the captured HMS Detroit was so badly damaged that it was never able to be used again. It sat in Put-in-Bay’s harbor for the winter and was eventually towed to Erie, PA. It was re-commissioned the USS Detroit but was ultimately sold for scrap in 1825, according to a well-footnoted reference article in Wikipedia.

Canadians might look at the second loss of the HMS Detroit as blow to their maritime heritage and proud defense of Canada during the War of 1812. But 2008 was a difficult time not only in the States, but also across North America as our nation and Canada were sinking into an economic recession we have yet to fully recover from.Image

The group from Newport, The Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island Organization, had a vision for building a ship with a mission of sea education. Of course the present day costs for such an undertaking are astronomical, but if any place had a chance to pull this off it had to be OH Perry’s home state of Rhode Island and the City of Newport.

So with the help of the State of Rhode Island they pushed forward. The Canadian HMS Detroit hull was a wonderful opportunity to move their efforts forward in dramatic fashion. Newport Rhode Island, the future home of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, rallied to get this project done. Their current stated mission:

Oliver Hazard Perry is the Rhode Island built Tall Ship providing our state and nation with a 200-foot long, three-masted Sailing School Vessel that joins the select fleet of Class-A size Tall Ships hosted by the world’s maritime nations. With this extraordinary ship we provide education and adventure at sea programs to youth and all ages while proudly advancing our Ocean State’s rich nautical heritage.


Here in Ohio, we had all secretly hoped that the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry would have been able to join us for the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Labor Day weekend. The ship was commissioned in a ceremony last July, but still needed much work to go to sea. This summer the OH Perry will embark on its stated mission with middle and high school aged children now able to sign up for a week long program aboard the ship in August.

ImageFor many the next most important part of this story will be the presence of the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry in Baltimore for the “Star Spangled Spectacular”, The War of 1812 Battle of Baltimore observance September 6th-16th  at Fort McHenry.  Plans are being made to have the Oliver Hazard Perry in the Great Lakes as part of the Tall Ships America Challenge in 2016. I think it can be argued that despite the irony of the ships name change, we can all be proud of the Canadian efforts to build such a beautiful hull that will be underway thanks to Rhode Island as a sailing tall ship in 2014. Let’s welcome her home in 2016.

For more information on the sea education program aboard the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry contact Jess Wurzbacher at 401.841.0080, or at

A Star Spangled Year Ahead

A wonderful story about the winter after the Battle of Lake Erie came my way the other day from Captain Glenn Cooper, who by the way will be honored by the Surface Navy Association in Washington DC this January for his coordination efforts with Navy officials for the 2012-13 BOLE events. Congratulations Glenn and thank you for all your hard work to make our celebration truly memorable. Glenn’s story about Put-in-Bay after the battle came from a recent visit to the Erie Maritime Museum.

Seems that over the winter of 1813-14 snuggled in our harbor here at Put-in-Bay were the HMS Detroit and Queen Charlotte. The two ships became frozen in and were defended by a cadre of Perry’s men; for fear that the British might retake them. The two ships had suffered considerable damage to their standing rigging during the battle and when a storm hit the islands just after the battle it further damaged their weakened rigs. In fact the hulls of the two boats banged against each other until finally the unstable masts were knocked down. With General Harrison ready to retake Detroit there was not enough time for the Americans to even consider re-rigging the ships for future service.

The two ships remained here in the Put-in-Bay harbor until the following spring. The Queen Charlotte and the Detroit were eventually laid up in Erie, Pennsylvania. In 1825, the Queen Charlotte was sold to George Brown and was converted to a merchant vessel before being decommissioned years later. The HMS Detroit, which had only been put into service a few months before the Battle of Lake Erie, was so badly damaged that it never saw service again and was eventually sold for scrap.

Meanwhile the war slogged on and Perry worked under the command of Harrison to retake Detroit. After the Americans won the Battle of Thames in October, and William Henry Harrison had secured the American Northwest (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan) the need for an active Navy fleet here in the Western basin of Lake Erie was all but eliminated.

Perry was promoted to Captain and given the Congressional Gold medal in January of 1814. In July 1814, Captain Perry was offered command of the USS Java, a 44-gun frigate being built in Baltimore. While overseeing the outfitting of the Java, Perry participated in the defenses of Baltimore and Washington, DC during the British invasion of the Chesapeake Bay.

This coming summer the focus on War of 1812 events will shift to Baltimore and the siege of Fort McHenry. This fort withstood an all out attack by British forces. It was the key stronghold held by the American troops that defended Baltimore and Washington from further attack. When we think about the lost lives and the important events that shaped our young country the Battle of Lake Erie and the defense of Fort McHenry rank very high.

I am certain that what we will most remember the upcoming summer for are these words from the first paragraph of “The Defense of Fort McHenry” by Francis Scott Key.

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Finally the Battle of Lake Erie Photo book “Remembering Forward” with beautiful award winning photos of the past summers events is available. Only 100 of these books were printed and almost half are already sold. Purchase one soon by going to Happy New Year.Image

Chasing Perry’s Victory- “I can’t sit down…yet”

Roman Sapecki photography

Roman Sapecki photography

Like the Marie and Rex Motown hit from 1959, “I can’t sit down”. I just can’t stop myself as the end of the year approaches and I still have so much to do so I’ll just put on another pot of coffee and keep working. This year has been a lot of work, but it has been really, really amazing. The pay off has been the memories we shared that will last a lifetime.

It started that cold day in April when the US Mint came and we all waited in line for those Perry quarters (well actually my wife Amy waited in line while I helped clean up, thanks dear).  Then there was Perry’s longboat christening over in Sandusky with Marcy Kaptur and the Sea Cadets on Father’s Day and both my sons were there.

We had the Masons with the corner stone re-enactment. No rainstorm that day could deter anyone from watching and enjoying their fascinating ceremony. (By the way that missing time capsule and all the contents from 1913 are still missing, but we may have uncovered some clues!)

We had Governor John Kasick, Hollywood actor Billy Campbell, national radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt, and the OSU MARCHING BAND all here on our tiny island. WOW.

And let’s talk about fashion, from the sewing seminar at town hall to the ballroom dance we shared, Regency clothing was the “in look” for the summer. Pirates, re-enactors and regular folks all sported that distinctive Regency look. Let’s hope this 1812 fashion statement becomes the rage across the country in Baltimore and Washington D.C. this coming summer as they continue the War of 1812 observance and celebrate that fateful night at Fort McHenry in 1814 that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the words of our national anthem.

Beyond fashion is the legacy we hope will survive another 100 years, Perry’s Longboat. For me bringing the Longboat to the island was the culmination of two years of hard work. We researched, fundraised, built, painted and ultimately learned to row this beautiful boat.

“Learning” being the operative word here. So this coming year we are going to practice how to row. If you are interested in being a rower, want some unique exercise and like to wear period clothes, give me a call. We have many miles to row and the opportunity to allow this boat to communicate our islands BOLE history with every stroke.

So I can’t begin to thank everyone (but I am trying) that contributed in some way to the success of the summer’s events. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a comment about this past summer. Thank you, each and everyone. It wasn’t just the organizational folks, sponsors, board members and the fundraisers. Not only the ship captains and crew, and the NPS rangers and staff, it was all the volunteers, business owners, frontline clerks and servers, our police and fire departments, the DeRivera Park Trustees, town and township officials and more.

Thank you one and all, you made it a success. We got the PBS documentary done and now we have one more item to share. We’re working to complete, the “Battle of Lake Erie-Remembering Forward” photo book. We received some amazing photos sent in by some very talented folks that will be part of the “Remembering Forward” book. The book was created from the juried photos sent in to the Perry Group website. They were taken between August 24-Sept 10th so that the subject matter is focused on the BOLE 2013 Bicentennial. It is a beautiful mix of graceful tall ships, re-enactors and other wonderful BOLE events including fireworks, the Navy Band, Longboat launch, Harbor Illumination, OSU marching band and more. I am hoping this will help provide a printed document of this “once in a life time event” that you helped to create.

We just sent it off to the printer and with a little luck it will be done by Christmas. Enjoy the holidays and happy memories of a wonderful year we shared.

“Pay it Forward”

There is no question, the reports are in, and the Battle of Lake Erie Bicentennial Celebration was a huge success. From Kelleys to Pelee, Port Clinton to Put-in-Bay visitation was through the roof, retail set new records, restaurants and hotels enjoyed great patronage and a good time was had by almost everyone.

If there was a hangover, it was the best kind. A huge party that was enjoyed and remembered by a broad base of tourists that came and liked what they saw. Our visitors included history lovers, grand parents, boaters, families and re-enactors. They came in large numbers, many for the first time, and we want them back….

I hear people taking about this summer almost daily. The overall reaction about the importance and success of this summer’s events that is repeated over and over from all involved is “lets do it again”. So it is important to start thinking about this now. Lets use the cache that we developed and “Pay it forward”.We have a great volunteer base, many varied and excited community based organizations that stepped up to organize the details this past year and willing sponsors that took a chance and saw that there was a opportunity to make this idea work.


We can never duplicate the magnitude of this past summers events, but perhaps we can promote and produce a scaled down version of BOLE 2013 that will generate the interest, opportunity and fun, with a little “pure spectacle’ thrown in, of a repeatable port festival. We can target the same audience and give them many of the same type shore based events they enjoyed so much this past summer.
It won’t be easy, it took people with vision and determination like Dave Zavagno, The Perry Group, and The National Park Service. BOLE 2103 needed sponsors with vision like The Miller Boat Line, Block Communications, and the Andersons, and generous partners like Lake Erie Shores and Islands, Flagship Niagara, Tall Ships America, LEMTA, Great Lakes Publishing, PORTS and Middle Bass Yacht Club.

It took nearly three years of hard work. There were countless hours of volunteer efforts, endless fund raising, the servicers of skilled promotions companies like Draw Events and Green Door Media, and dozens of awareness generating events to make The Battle Of Lake Erie Bicentennial a success.

History can never be repeated, but we can re-capture the essence of this past summers activities and reap some of the good will and interest generated from the many new visitors that discovered us, many who will come again if we invite them, by starting to plan now for another event in 2015 or 2016. We don’t need to worry about the ne’er do wells and feet draggers, because they have seen the light and want to become involved this time around. So let the planning begin.

Lost and (Waiting to be) Found (Jane’s Missing Essay)

Time Capsule

On July 4th over two thousand Free Masons from Ohio, surrounding states and Canada will gather in Put-in-Bay to re-enact the cornerstone laying at Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. Exactly one hundred years ago the Battle of Lake Erie Centennial Celebration commenced with this important event. It was the culmination of many years of fund raising by the Perry’s Monument Commission to construct a lasting legacy to Commodore Perry and the men who had fought in the Battle of Lake Erie.

The remains (or so the story goes) of the three American and three British officers buried under the old willow tree in DeRivera Park were exhumed, placed in a coffin and transported to the monument as part of the centennial tribute.

It was a solemn and well-documented day. Otto Herbster, island photographer hired to record the monuments construction, captured many of the details of that day. One important part of that ceremony was the placement of a time capsule in the monument to be found and opened one hundred years later.

We have the pictures of Webster Huntington carrying the fabled time capsule to the corner stone laying ceremony with the unknown and precious contents about to be sealed away for a century. Small problem, no one today seems to know exactly where the time capsule was placed or what the contents might be. Was the box filled with pictures, local souvenirs, or something else?

This is the story about the possible contents of that missing time capsule. Flash back to March of this year when I got an email from Tim Bosworth about his grandmother Jane Beach Hummon’s deathbed story, and her wining essay, and our missing time capsule.

His information is cobbled from family lore, fading memories and may not be correct at all, but the family story he shared is that when turning 100 Tim’s Grandmother, Jane Hummon (Beach was her maiden name) dictated memories of her life, which were compiled into a book for the family.  Growing up, Tim had always heard that an essay she wrote was in a time capsule at Perry’s monument.  The account she gave in her memiours reads as follows:
“During our Junior year the superintendent (of her school) suggested that we* participate in a statewide essay contest commemorating Admiral Perry’s battle on Lake Erie.  We spent a lot of time studying about the event and reading all the literature and history we could find.  When the awards were announced Grace (Purnell)* had won first place in the state and I won second place.  When Perry’s Monument was erected that summer on Put-in-Bay Island, our essays were buried in the cornerstone, which is to be opened… on the 200th anniversary of that historic battle.”
Tim found several references to the essay contest on the Internet. The idea of a winning essay seemed plausible. In my research on the contest I found that a prize of $200 was offered to the winning essay. But there was no mention of any essays being buried in a time capsule at the monument. More research revealed that there were hundreds of essays submitted.

The winners at the state level are listed in one article, but, alas, neither Jane Beach nor Grace Purnell were mentioned.  All in all, there were 78 prizes awarded by district (congressional district) and at the state levels so perhaps these girls placed in the more local contest. 

The rules of the contest indicated that the winning essay would be read as part of the Centennial ceremony in November. It also stated that all the essays would be part of a “museum” exhibit to be constructed as part of the monument. Unfortunately that part of the design was never acted on and the whereabouts of the 78 winning essays is as unknown as the contents of the mysterious time capsule. Jane’s essay is still lost and waiting to be found. 

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,080 other followers

War of 1812 Final Ceremonies

Perry's Victory Heritage FestivalSeptember 10th, 2015
Today we Celebrate peace with Great Britain and Canada

The latest word

Harbor Illumination 2015

Become a supporter

Make a memory, buy a flare

Blogs Revisted