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These are real 'dead-end' stories

By Henry Timman • Apr 14, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Last week I told you about a “dead-end” news story which I had found. This week I have another and then we’ll turn to other topics.

In 1909, Erie County Clerk of Courts Stoll was looking through some old Common Pleas Court files and found bank notes issued by the former Bank of Sandusky prior to the year 1850. The notes were evidence in an 1850 lawsuit filed by one Stephen Smith against the bank, seeking to recover $4,000 he claimed the bank owed him for notes he held and which had become worthless.

The news articles didn’t say how the suit ended, but publicity on the old notes brought a request from Mrs. Gertrude McCartney Chapman who lived west of Sandusky near the Mustcash community. She was a daughter of William McCartney, who was cashier of the bank and who had signed some of the notes. Mrs. Chapman acknowledged that the notes were worthless as cash, but that she would like them as relics signed by her father. No one mentioned the fact that the notes would have resale value to a collector of paper money.

Clerk Stoll said that he had no authority to allow the bills out of his office, and turned over the matter to Common Pleas Court Judge Charles Reed, who questioned his own authority in the matter. I could not find any public announcement as to the fate of the bank notes.

William McCartney was prominent in the business development of the Venice and Castalia areas west of Sandusky. He was born in Kentucky in 1792 and first came to this area as a scout for Gen. William Henry Harrison’s army during the War of 1812. He served at Ft. Stephenson at Fremont during Maj. George Croghan’s successful defense of the place against the British in 1813.

There was no doubt as to the ownership of $900 or more found on a corpse frozen in the ice about two miles off Huron late in March of 1920. Some fisherman made the discovery and subsequent investigaiton showed the victim to be Andrea Decisio, an Italian farmer and livestock dealer who resided on Johnson’s island in Sandusky Bay.

The final version of the matter was that late in January, Decisio walked to Sandusky on the ice to collect some money that was due him. He last was seen walking back onto the ice at the foot of Decatur Street to return home. Apparently he broke through the ice and drowned, although the usual rumors of his having been murdered abounded for some time afterward. However, the cash was intact in his coat along with pieces of paper which may have been checks, but which the long submersion in the water had made illegible.

The winter of 1919-1920 must have been a vicious one, as the body of a Toledo man was found on the beach near Camp Perry, west of Port Clinton, at the same time Decisio was found. This second victim was W. C. Hodgins of Omawa, Iowa, who had disappeared almost four months earlier, in December of 1919.

The Hodgins family was at a loss to explain the disappearance or death. Mr. and Mrs. Hodgins had been visiting in Toledo. He left on a short business trip and never returned.

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REMEMBER: My “Just Like Old Times” books are on sale at Colonial Flower and Gift Shoppe at 7 W. Main St. in downtown Norwalk. These preserve my earlier columns in permanent book form.

Henry Timman, an authority on Firelands history, resides in rural Norwalk.

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