BEAUTIFICATION OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY
As presented by Esther M. Oyster to the Mid-Ohio Lincoln Highway Association.

From the very beginning of the Lincoln Highway, beautification was an integral part of the planning. The concept for a memorial highway was based on the Apian Way that led to Rome, a road once adorned with beautiful monuments, magnificent temples and large villas with beautiful gardens, and even though the Founding Fathers of the Lincoln Way knew the roadside enhancements would not endure over the centuries, still they wanted their new highway to be unique and beautiful.

Photo used with permission from the Lincoln Highway Collection, Transportation History Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Even before the Lincoln Highway, when some of these same men were promoting the Lincoln Memorial Road to run from the White House to Gettysburg, their vision called for a 200-ft. right-of-way with a 40-ft. green sward in the center, which would be a well-kept lawn resembling a beautiful carpet of velvet, interspersed with flower gardens and other decorative features, such as fountains and monuments. On either side of the median would be double-width concrete roadway, both for 2-way traffic, one for swift-moving vehicles-automobiles--, and one for the slower, horse-drawn vehicles. Bordering the road on either side would be stately trees, the rows broken at points to offer views of spectacular scenery.

When the Lincoln Memorial Road did not materialize, the men brought this perspective of beautification to the Lincoln Way, and included it as one of their key points. They continued to promote it over the years, including annual progress reports, and they had special plans for beautifying the Ideal Section in Indiana. Jens Jensen of Chicago, a landscape architect, was a member of the planning committee for the Ideal Section.

Beautification can consist of various elements. Normally we think of landscaping, especially the planting of trees, but it can incorporate elements of the road itself, such as the design of a bridge, or roadside utilitarian services, such as signage, fountains and benches.

Primarily this paper will deal with the landscaping projects that were instigated, and these were carried out in most part by the General Federation of Women's Clubs, which set up a special Conservation & Lincoln Highway Tree Planting committee, with Mrs. E. E. Kendall as chairman. They worked, then, with the local clubs in each community. Of course, some areas had their own natural beauty which didn't need enhancement, such as the mountains of Pennsylvania and at the Nevada-California border in the regions of Lake Tahoe and Donner Pass. Who could improve upon such scenery? As far as unusual roadside architecture, if ever a building called out for restoration, it is Noah's Ark east of Bedford, Pennsylvania. How nice it would be if it were restored to its original configuration as the Ship Hotel!

Referring to the early Bulletins issued weekly by the Association to Officers and Directors, I found these references to beautification:

1914

January 15, New Jersey: Officials of the Newark Motor Club plan to plant trees and shrubbery on Arbor Day along the old Plank Road, now the Lincoln Highway, between Newark and Jersey City.

February 2, Ohio: Professor Lazenby, head of the Ohio Forestry Assn., has been appointed member of a committee to look after the planting of native "Buckeye" trees along the Lincoln Highway in Ohio.

March 2, Illinois: Professor Wilhelm Miller of the University of Illinois will be in Detroit on March 15 and will deliver an address on the general plan to beautify the Lincoln Highway through landscape gardening. (Note: This report has not been located in the archives.)

March 16, Illinois: Charles Gurier of De Kalb has contributed 2,000 6-ft. elm trees to be placed along the Lincoln Way on Arbor Day. The trees are to be planted by school children under the direction of the Women's Club. Each one of the public and parochial schools have an area of the route assigned to them.

May 4, Ohio: The Business Men's Assn. of Lisbon has contributed 25 trees to the Lincoln Highway Assn., and these were planted along the Lincoln Way on Arbor Day.

May 26, Illinois: Mrs. Kendall, chairman of the Conservation & Lincoln Highway Tree Planting Committee, will distribute Lincoln Highway literature to every delegate attending the Biennial Conference in Chicago in June, and she will deliver an educational talk to the estimated 2,500 delegates on the subject of the highway and the plans of the Federation for beautifying it. The General Federation is also interesting the Daughters of the American Revolution, State Granges, Michigan Audubon Society, Women's Rivers & Harbors Congress, State Teachers Associations, and the University of Michigan in the project

1915

April 23, California: The various Women's Clubs of Stockton, in addition to cleaning up and beautifying the city, have arranged to beautify the entrances as well. Vines have been planted so that they will grow over the bridge which crosses the canal, and the banks of the canal have been planted with seeds.

Same date, Illinois: Mooseheart Manager Rodney Brandon is planning on beautifying the Lincoln Highway from Aurora to Batavia with shrubs from the Mooseheart Forestry Department. It is expected that the shrubs will be planted next month.

May 7, Ohio: The first Lincoln Highway tree to be planted in Bucyrus, a fine maple, was planted by a committee of the Women's Club recently. From time to time, additional trees will be planted along the route through the city, in accordance with the plan which is being worked out by the women's clubs all along the Lincoln Highway.

June 12, Pennsylvania: The Chambersburg newspaper, The Register, protested against the painting of advertising signs on barns and fences along the Lincoln Way, as introducing an incongruous note in the beautiful scenery of that region. The paper stated that having the homes, barns and fences painted in lurid colors with advertisements of whiskey and patent medicine is not the best way to make a good impression upon tourists.

Bucyrus, Ohio. Photo used with permission from the Lincoln Highway Collection, Transportation History Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

Same date, Ohio: On one of the beautiful streets which forms part of the Lincoln Way through Bucyrus, a long flower bed has been planted, and the words "LINCOLN HIGHWAY" formed in brilliant blossoms against a background of green.

Same date, Nebraska: A movement to have boxes of flowers in the windows of Omaha business houses on the Lincoln Way has been started. Omaha wants her Lincoln Way to be a credit to the city.

August 31, California: Trees have been planted along the Lincoln Way between Auburn and Loomis. These trees are placed at intervals of about 50 ft. and will, in the course of time, make this section of the Lincoln Highway one of the most beautiful, as well as one of the most perfect, sections of the transcontinental road. Nothing so pleases the eastern tourist as to drive for miles on an avenue with stately palm trees arching overhead.

1916

April 22, New Jersey: The State Federation of Women's Clubs has a Lincoln Highway Conservation Dept., headed by Mrs. W. M. Wauters, who is especially active, and who has secured the presence of Pres. Wilson and Gov. Fielder in Princeton on April 25th for the planting of a Lincoln Highway tree. The Association was furnishing special gold membership pins for the two dignitaries. The event was to be covered by Pathe Weekly of Jersey City and the Associated Press.

August 26, Pennsylvania: The W. H. Moon Co. of Morrisville, one of the largest landscape gardening and horticultural organizations in the East, advised that they would contribute the labor and sufficient material from their nurseries to plant a mile of Lincoln Highway between Trenton and Morrisville, in accordance with the plan worked out by Prof. Wilhelm Miller, late Professor of Landscape Gardening at the University of Illinois. The goal was to produce a mile of Lincoln Way in eastern Pennsylvania that would embody the ideal plan for the beautification of the entire route.

Researching local Ohio papers produced some additional information.

Ashland paper, April 22, 1914: Mrs. Bessie E. Moore was appointed chairman by Ken Motor Monthly magazine of Cleveland to work with the women's study clubs and other local societies for the beautification of the Lincoln Highway in Ashland County. (Note: This pre-dates the involvement of the General Federation of Women's Clubs by a month or two.) The study clubs promptly formed The Women's Lincoln Highway Association. As plans evolved, they included the planting of trees, the designation of historical places associated with famous people who had lived in the county at one time1, the erection of vine-covered arches at county boundaries, and the erection of two drinking fountains on roadside springs.

In connection with the planting of trees, this little verse appeared with the article:
                    Plant a tree along the roadside,
                    Plant a dozen if you can,
                    For yourself and for your children
                    And your weary fellow-man.

By August they were working in connection with the General Federation of Women's Clubs, and were lining the highway with trees, shrubs and flowers. Quoting the article of August 7, 1914: "Cool bubbling springs are found along the road, and drinking fountains will be placed where the weary traveler can quench his thirst and take away with him pleasant memories of this part of his journey. It is proposed to plant tall shade trees where the road is straight; where it is winding, fruit trees will be used.

"In the spring, transcontinental tourists will be winding through lanes of arching apple blossoms, and in the fall the luscious fruit can be picked without the traveler leaving his machine."

From the Bucyrus Journal of May 6, 1921, there was an follow-up item about the Memorial Elms that had been planted along the Lincoln Way at the end of WW I to commemorate the young men of Crawford County who had been killed in the war. In the current project they were replacing trees that had not done well, and were repainting the name tablets. The trees, spaced 200 ft. apart, had been planted by the Manufacturers Association, under the supervision of Local Consul E. J. Songer.

Beautification is one of the items discussed in the annual Progress Reports issued by the Association.

1914, from THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY TODAY: SUMMARIZING A YEAR'S SUCCESS:

Pg. 9: In many of the towns and cities along the route the authorities or the people have erected arches or welcoming signs at the entrances of the Way into the city. This has been done in Chambersburg, Lancaster and York, Pennsylvania; South Bend, Elkhart and Goshen, Indiana; Ashland, Bucyrus and Canton in Ohio; and Omaha, Nebraska. A large steel arch is in the process of construction at Fort Wayne, Indiana. Others have been proposed.

Pg. 11: The American Institute of Architects, through its President, R. Clipston Sturgis, has offered its cordial cooperation in the preparation of designs for arches, tablets, memorials and bridges to be erected along the Lincoln Way. Their offer of assistance has been accepted as being of inestimable value in teaching the lesson of good taste, and in assuring to the Lincoln Highway the most beautiful work and mature ideas of the leaders of the architectural profession in this country. Through the cooperation of the Institute, wealthy patriots who desire to perpetuate the name of their families or of some loved one, can be sure of the most beautiful and lasting, as well as useful, monument by building on the Lincoln Way a bridge, an arch or a simple memorial tablet.

1915, A RECORD OF CONSISTENT PROGRESS, pg. 10:

California's concrete bridges impressively prove that to be useful, they need not be ugly and distasteful structures. The artistic bridge on the Lincoln Highway leading into Sacramento2 is an instance of this. Here is a Lincoln Highway bridge par-excellence, with the dignity of a public structure. The sweeping curves of its classic lines add to the beauty of the landscape. No tourist enters Sacramento without commenting upon the beauty of this structure, which should be a model for bridges all along the line of the transcontinental road. Unquestionably the future will see every dingy, rusty, criss-cross of structural steel now serving as a bridge replaced with a work of art and beauty, such as this which graces California, and leads the tourists appropriately onto a concrete boulevard between overhanging rows of stately palms.

Mike Buettner was given this poem about the Lincoln Highway which appeared in the 1915 Gomer School (Ohio) Year Book, author unknown; the second verse is especially relevant to the topic:

                    We read in the ancient chronicles
                    Of the Appian Way of old,
                    Built by the Roman Appius,
                    So the historians have told;
                    But a far grander achievement
                    Undertaken by America today
                    Is building from ocean to ocean
                    What is know as the Lincoln Highway.

                    'Tis not built for utility only,
                    But for its beauty as well;
                    Trees planted along its borders,
                    Where the little songsters may dwell.
                    May dwell here and sing unmolested,
                    Nests build and happily stay,
                    For no gun may be fired by a hunter
                    Along the great Lincoln Highway.

                    So when we grow weary of farming,
                    And when we grow weary of chores,
                    We think of the mighty Atlantic,
                    And Pacific's beautiful shores;
                    We'll throw our cares to the east wind,
                    Forget the trials of the day,
                    And with our staff and our knapsack,
                    We'll take to the Lincoln Highway

It has now been 85 years since the beautification of the Lincoln way was undertaken, and, sad to say, most of the trees, beautiful concrete bridges and roadside architectural amenities no longer exist. From the few remaining roadside artifacts, one can envision the Lincoln Way as it originally existed. These items include the seated Lincoln statue in New Jersey; the
magnificent George Westinghouse bridge in Pittsburgh; the old pine trees within the right-of-way in western Crawford County and the last two original brick mile-marker pillars in Ohio; the Harrison Street bridge and the Ostermann Memorial Bench in Indiana; the H. I. Lincoln building in Illinois; the Moss markers and the few remaining Marsh Rainbow bridges in Iowa; the famous LINCOLN HIGHWAY bridges in Tama Iowa and at a rest area in Nevada; the original brick sections in Iowa and Nebraska; the large Lincoln memorial now along I-80 in Wyoming and the beautiful concrete bridge near Donner Lake.

Photo used with permission from the Lincoln Highway Collection, Transportation History Collection, Special Collections Library, University of Michigan

As our highways have become more streamlined with the interstate system, there are no shade trees along the highway where the motorist may stop and rest in cool shade, except for designated rest areas, nor can one reach up and pluck and apple from a tree. I wonder; does the Lincoln Way still run through rows of stately palms in California? I sincerely hope so.



(1) Monuments were erected to Johnny Appleseed in Ashland, and to the Studebaker family at its homestead site five miles east of Ashland. A third one honoring Sen. William B. Allison of Iowa was never erected.

(2) This bridge is pictured in the 1924 Guide, page 506, and appears to be in the style of the Harrison Street bridge in Fort Wayne.

The Monuments of Crawford County, Ohio - Part Three
By Esther M. Oyster

 

Two Pillars in Crestline
There are two handsome brick markers on the west side of Crestline at Clink Blvd. They were erected by C.A. Stephan to enhance the entrance to his housing development.

Because Bement was instrumental in having the Lincoln Way rerouted through Crestline, one of Stephan's pillars was dedicated to him. This photo was probably taken by Gael S. Hoag. Note the official Packard parked nearby. 0-134, Lincoln Highway Collection, Special Collections Library University of Michigan

Of a somewhat different design, these two have fewer rows of bricks (sixteen in-stead of twenty-four) and originally had four-tiered capstones topped with ornately turned wooden pieces which supported lighted globes. They also contained the French-enamelled, curved highway signs produced by the association, and the niches are indented sufficiency to accommodate the curve measurement of 2½".

The inscription on the one on the southwest corner reads:
                    DEDICATED TO
                    A F. BEMENT
                    VICE PRESIDENT & SEC.
                    LINCOLN HIGHWAY ASS'N.
                    MAY 1, 1922

The McMahon marble plaque in the process of being restored before it was replaced in the marker Esther Oyster

The column on the southeast corner bears the inscription:
                    DEDICATED TO
                    J. F. McMAHON
                    FIRST L. H. CONSUL
                    CRESTLINE, O.
                    MAY 1, 1922

These two shafts remain today, McMahon's listing a bit, and both were vandalized over the years to the extent that the highway signs were gone, and McMahon's plaque had either loosened or been pried out, breaking when it fell. Also, the globes on top had broken and been removed, along with their turned bases, and replaced with wooden forms drilled to hold a flag.

The McMahon marker after restoration. Michael G. Buettner

Aluminum signs, curved like the originals and backed with steel bars for reinforcement against dents, have been installed. While checking into a new marble plaque, it was learned that Gene Toy of Crestline had the original pieces stored in his garage. They were cemented back together and the plaque reinstalled by Richard Taylor of Mansfield, a member of the LHA. A nearby resident, Vernon Musgrave, tends the monuments and occasionally gives the concrete parts a fresh coat of white paint.
 

Stone Monuments
John E. Hopley served as state consul for fourteen years. He died on July 10, 1927, and his brother Frank, his many friends, and the Masonic and Elks lodges of Bucyrus erected an impressive monument in his memory. To be built of stone, they obtained special rocks from places connected with John's life, such as Elkton, Kentucky, where he had been born; Southampton, England, and Montevideo, Uruguay, where he had served as U .S. consul, and one from Lincoln's birthplace to add special significance.

The magnificent John E. Hopley monument on the grounds of the Bucyrus Golf Course. Michael G. Buettner

The monument was built in 1929 along Lincoln Way on the grounds of the Bucyrus Country Club and was dedicated on August 25 on what would have been Hopley's seventy-ninth birthday. The face of the imposing structure contains two Lincoln Highway signs, a bronze bas-relief bust of Hopley on a white marble plate, and, until recently a bronze plaque which read in part: THIS MONUMENT, ERECTED BY LODGE MEMBERS AND FRIENDS, IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED TO THE MEMORY OF JOHN EDWARD HOPLEY, PIONEER IN LINCOLN HIGHWAY DEVELOPMENT, FIRST STATE CONSUL FOR OHIO OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY ASSOCIATION. ..."

A short distance west, near the drive into the club, stands a stone shaft displaying a highway sign. Presumably it was built of stones left over from construction of the Hopley structure, and it stands a mile east from the center of the square.

The only stone pillar in Crawford County keeps its silent vigil by the Lincoln Way, not far from the large Hopley structure which stands in the pine grove at right background. Michael G. Buettner

John E. Hopley, who had a fine sense of history, served admirably as Ohio's first state consul. He loved the Lincoln Way so much that note of his service is inscribed on his tombstone, and it is fitting that this man was memorialized with the finest monument of all along the Lincoln Way in Crawford County, Ohio.



Page one and two notes
1 Letter, December 4, 1918, J. Hopley to Seiberling: "We have so thoroughly appreciated the Lincoln Highway and its coming importance and possibilities that we thought it merited a much more permanent and creditable marker than the painted telephone poles." Also, the Bucyrus Journal, Friday, July 25, 1919: "The Lincoln Highway is marked by the red, white and blue emblem on the telephone poles from the Atlantic to the Pacific. These require painting frequently to keep them looking bright. So Bucyrus conceived the idea of a permanent marker placed every mile through the county."
2 News clipping of May 28, 1918, paper unidentified.
3 Case No. 12528, Frank O. Sears vs. Ed J. Songer and Michael J. Lutz, Court of Common Pleas, Crawford County.
4 Case No. 125Z9, John E. Hopley and Edward J .Songer vs. Frank O. Sears.
5 Ohio State, 132 Northeastern 25.
6 American Law Reports Annotated, Vol. 16, W- 925-928.
7 Bucyrus Journal, Oct. 27, 1922.
8 Bucyrus Journal, Nov. 11, 1917.
9 Bucyrus Journal, Aug.19, 1921. Also caption of the photograph of the Hopley marker in the 1924 Guide states "Ohio has placed many permanent brick Lincoln Way markers like this."
10 Op. cit.
11 Photo No. O-174; see also O-170 through O-173 and O-175.
12 The farm's address is now 4586 U .S. 30 East, Upper Sandusky.


Esther McNaull Oyster has served in many positions with the Lincoln Highway Association, including the National Director for Ohio, Vice-president and President of the national level.

Mike Buettner's List of Original Brick Pillar Locations in Ohio

1. (J. F.) McMahon Pillar at Crestline, at southeast corner of Clink Boulevard; dedicated in 1922 as gateway to subdivision; McMahon was the first Lincoln Highway consul for Crestline; pillar is still standing
2. (Austin F.) Bement Pillar at Crestline, at southwest corner of Clink Boulevard; dedicated in 1922 as gateway to subdivision; Bement was vice-president and secretary of the Lincoln Highway Association; pillar is still standing
3. (Frank A.) Seiberling Pillar at Holmes Curve, one mile east of Bucyrus on State Route 19; location verified by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection; dedicated in 1918; Seiberling was the president of the Lincoln Highway Association at this time; fate of pillar is unknown
4. (Ed J.) Songer Pillar at Stewart Cemetery, on south side of road just east of today’s Bucyrus Bypass; dedicated in 1918; moved to here circa 1920 from its original location on State Route 19, at east city limits of Bucyrus (near Whetstone Street); Songer was mayor of Crestline and a county consul; pillar is still standing
5. (John E.) Hopley Pillar, at west city limits of Bucyrus (near Mary Street); dedicated in 1917, but demolished by wayward auto in 1922; location verified both by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection and by local newspaper article; Hopley was Ohio state consul for the Lincoln Highway Association; original concrete base discovered by Esther Oyster (now Queneau) in 1990s; “zero milepost” with respect to the five pillars immediately below
6. (Henry C.) Osterman Pillar, at one mile west of Hopley Pillar; dedicated in 1917, but almost immediately destroyed by unhappy landowner; location verified both by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection and by local newspaper articles; Ostermann was national field secretary of LHA
7. Brick pillar, at three miles west of Hopley Pillar; location verified by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection; fate of pillar is unknown
8. Brick pillar, at five miles west of Hopley Pillar (or one mile east of Oceola); dedicated in 1921 when last stretch of brick pavement was opened in western Crawford County; pillar is still standing
9. Brick pillar, at six miles west of Hopley Pillar (at northeast corner of main crossroads in Oceola); demolished by wayward van in 1993; plaque was salvaged by Delphos collector and later used as model for similar plaques in today’s replica pillars; the replica pillar now in Oceola was built in July 2001 by members of the Mid-Ohio Chapter, on a new base farther from the intersection
10. Brick pillar, at seven miles west of Hopley Pillar (at southeast corner of crossroads at the county line); location verified by survey records from highway department (was Ohio Department of Highways, now Ohio Department of Transportation); probably lost when highway was widened after 1948
11. Brick pillar, at southeast corner of crossroads at State Route 231 (north of Nevada); location verified by survey records from highway department; probably lost when highway was widened after 1948
12. Brick pillar, at northwest corner of crossroads at County Road 128 (three miles west of above); location verified by survey records from highway department; probably lost when highway was widened after 1948
13. Brick pillar, about four miles east of Upper Sandusky, at east side of driveway to Kuenzli farmhouse (house #4586); location verified both by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection and by survey records from highway department; probably lost when highway was widened after 1948; paired with a pillar at west side of same driveway, thus:
14. Brick pillar, at west side of driveway to Kuenzli farmhouse; same notes apply as per above
15. Brick pillar, about 2.5 miles east of Upper Sandusky, at north side of road; locations verified both by photograph in University of Michigan’s Lincoln Highway collection and by survey records from highway department; dedicated in 1925 upon completion of brick paving between Bucyrus and Upper Sandusky; probably lost when highway was widened after 1948
16. Brick pillar, near southwest corner of Wyandot Street and Eighth Street in Upper Sandusky; verified by photograph from collection of local historian Ray Gottfried; fate of pillar is unknown
17. Brick pillar, at northwest corner of original main crossroads at Williamstown; locations verified by survey records from highway department; probably lost when highway was improved
18. Brick pillar, at cemetery at east edge of Beaverdam; location verified by photograph in collection of Allen County Historical Society; original concrete base discovered by Mike Buettner in late 1990s; a replica pillar was built on this original base in October 1999 by members of the Mid-Ohio Chapter; fate of the original pillar is unknown

The Monuments of Crawford County, Ohio - Part Two, Mile Markers East Of The City,
By Esther M. Oyster

 

Two additional brick columns, to be erected east of Bucyrus, were planned for spring of 1918 and would be dedicated to Henry B. Joy, president of the Lincoln Highway Association, and Mayor Songer. 8   However, by the following year Joy had resigned to enter wartime service and Frank A. Seiberling was president, so the honor went to him.

The Songer monument, which originally stood at the east corporation line of Bucyrus on the Bucyrus-Galion Road, was later moved to the Bucyrus-Crestline Road.   Ron Simon

These structures were erected on Lincoln Way east of Bucyrus, on what was then the road to Galion, now Route 19. Songer's was at mile marker one at the city limits, just east beyond Whetstone Street, and Seiberling's was one mile out at the Holmes curve, on the south side of the highway, in front of the farm then owned by a family named Steinhelter and more recently known as the Claude Hull farm.

Inscription on the first read:
                    THIS MARKER DEDICATED TO
                    E. J. SONGER, CO. CONSUL
                    LINCOLN HIGHWAY ASS'N.
                    NOV. 11, 1918
 
After Lincoln Way was changed in December 1920 to go through Crestline instead of Galion, this marker was moved to the new route and is located east of the city, on the south side, between a cemetery and McGlone's Motel.

The second monument read: 
                    THIS MARKER DEDICATED TO
                    F. A. SEIBERLING, PRES.
                    LINCOLN HIGHWAY ASS'N .
                    OCT. 30, 1918
 
The severe cracks in the base of the Seiberling shaft probably spelled its doom.   0-149. Lincoln Highway Collection, Special Collections Library University of Michigan.
 
Presumably this marker fell, as an early photograph (right) of it shows serious cracks in the limestone-like base.
At this point in the research, there is no documentation that additional mile markers were ever erected east of Bucyrus, presumably because of the possibility the road would be changed to the straight alignment through Crestline.
 
West Mile Markers
Although not all of the mile markers west of town can be documented, there is evidence that they were constructed. A newspaper article states 9 that P. Drake & Sons, contractor for the last four-mile stretch of highway to be bricked in Crawford County, through Oceola, "have put in the base for the Lincoln Highway markers and will donate the base to the good road boosters.” In addition, a photograph of west mile marker 4 does exist.

The 4-mile Marker in Western Crawford County. Lincoln Highway Collection, Special Collections Library University of Michigan

West mile marker 6 still stands along this last stretch of road to be improved in Crawford County, being located on a knoll one mile east of Oceola, and although it does not contain a plaque, it does commemorate the completion of a brick Lincoln Highway clear across Crawford County. A celebration 10 was being planned, and officials to be invited included Gov. Harry L. Davis, who would lay the last brick in the highway; State Highway Commissioner Herrick, who would insert the last brick into the pillar (its capstone being supported by two boards to allow space for working, this space later to be filled with mortar); and the state's Lincoln Highway consuls. A. F. Bement, secretary and vice-president of the Lincoln Highway Association, had signified his intention of being present, and possibly President J. Newton Gunn.

West Mile Marker (right) 6 denoted the completion of the brick highway in Crawford County, shown by the mortar fill under the capstone. E. M. Oyster

Mile marker 7 stood in Lincoln Park at the crossroads in Oceola until demolished in the summer of 1993 by a van which ran off the road, and mile marker 8 was erected on the southeast corner at the Crawford/Wyandot County line road. Research will continue with regard to these other pillars.

This marker (left) in Oceola, seven miles west of Bucyrus, was demolished in 1993 when hit by a van. Ron Simon

While the mile markers were all of the same general design, no two were exactly alike. The use of the bricks in different configurations probably related to the size of the plaque. The Hopley monument had half bricks at the corners of the first three rows, and bricks set vertically, sidewise, between them. The Seiberling pillar had bricks set endwise across the top of the plaque. With Songer's, the bricks are all in rows, no verticals. The Oceola column had the vertical bricks at the bottom like the Hopley one, but no plaque. These variations, once known, make it easier to identify the columns in photographs.

In 1925 a contract was let in Wyandot County for bricking seven miles of the highway in the eastern part of the county. When completed, a big celebration was held on August 23, 1925, as documented by a series of photographs in the archives; and a paving brick, inscribed, “LAST BRICK LAID ON LINCOLN HIGHWAY BETWEEN UPPER SANDUSKY AND BUCYRUS," was laid by G. F. Schlesinger, director of Ohio highways. Lt. Gov. Charles Lewis dedicated a nearby brick pillar and inserted the last brick into it.11 Numerous state and Lincoln Highway officials were in attendance.

Lt. Gov. Charles Lewis inserts the last brick into a marker east of Upper Sandusky on August 23, 1925. Looking on are State Sen. James Hopley (foreground ) and Charles Artz, Wyandot County Consul. Bucyrus Historical Museum

Whether there was a series of mile markers in Wyandot County is unknown.

At one time there were two pillars at the entrance to the L. A. Kuenzli farm12 in eastern Wyandot County, approximately five miles from the county line. Because Kuenzli had cast the bases and capstones for the pillars, he was given two of the ceramic signs and had the two markers built at his farm.

The Lincoln Highway was well identified at the Kuenzli farm in eastern Wyandot County. Ohio Historical Museum via Bucyrus Historical Museum

 

Notes
8 Bucyrus Journal, Nov. 11, 1917.
9 Bucyrus Journal, Aug.19, 1921. Also, caption of the photograph of the Hopley marker in the 1924 Guide states "Ohio has placed many permanent brick Lincoln Way markers like this."
10 Op. cit.
11 Photo No. O-174; see also O-170 through O-173 and O-175.
12 The farm's address is now 4586 U .S. 30 East, Upper Sandusky.

The Monuments of Crawford County, Ohio
By Esther M. Oyster

Standing in silent memorial to the Lincoln Highway and some of its strongest proponents, the remaining brick and stone monuments of Crawford County, Ohio, still mark the highway for the passing motorist and recall the era when the giants of the automotive industry promoted the building of this great thoroughfare.

Once there was a string of the pillars across the county, even extending into eastern Wyandot County - the "Stonehenge of Ohio," if you will. They served a definite purpose and today the remaining ones are treasured relics.

In the early days of the highway a few men in Bucyrus, notably John E. Hopley, the state consul; Ed J. Songer, mayor and county consul; R. O. Perrott, and Frank Hopley, saw a need for a more permanent marking system than the painted signs 1 and designed brick and stone pillars that would stand almost seven feet tall. The pillars were to be mile markers, marching out west and east from Bucyrus.

The first four monuments, ranging in price from $50 to $75 each, were erected in sets of two, and consisted of a foundation of a cubic yard of concrete on which was mounted a white cement base which resembled limestone, 33" wide, 12" high, and 22" deep. The top of the base was beveled to meet the line of the brick, a rough-finished, striated brick in shades from dark red to light red with an occasional light orange. The brick part of the column rose to a height slightly over five feet, and was surmounted with a cap of white cement, beveled, again closely resembling stone. In the face of the marker was set a permanent terra cotta Lincoln Highway sign, approximately 12" x 21 ", and made by the American Clay Company in Bucyrus, where Perrott and Frank Hopley worked. Set under it in some of the markers was a white marble dedicatory plaque.

The first two pillars were constructed in the fall of 1917 on the west side of Bucyrus, on the south side of the Lincoln Highway. The first was at the west corporation line, opposite where West Mary Street joins West Mansfield Street (Lincoln Way), and was dedicated to the state consul by his friends. This was a well kept secret, and Hopley was unaware it was to be "his" monument until he was taken to the unveiling. It was West Mile Marker One, and a photograph of it appears on page 187 of the 1924 Complete Official Road Guide. The inscription read:

THIS MARKER DEDICATED TO HON. JOHN E. HOPLEY
OHIO STATE CONSUL OF THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY
BUCYRUS OHIO NOV. 28.1917

West Mile Marker One, one of two brick pillars dedicated in Crawford County on November 28 1917. Courtesy of the Bucyrus Historical Museum.

The second column was erected a mile farther west, at the Frank O. Sears farm. It was dedicated to Henry C. Ostermann, and was to be shown to him on his next trip through. This second monument was laid up with yellow mortar instead of white. The tablet on the second monument read:

THIS MARKER DEDICATED TO HENRY C. OSTERMAN (sic)
NATIONAL FIELD SEC. LINCOLN HIGHWAY ASS'N.
BUCYRUS OHIO NOV. 28, 1917

Ostermann Marker
For some unknown reason, perhaps a grudge against Ostermann, Sears did not want the marker in front of his farm. When it was first erected, he "ordered that it be taken down or he would himself remove it, but later more friendly talk prevailed and he consented to drop the matter."2

However, this was during World War I, and later it was reported that Sears was feeding wheat to his hogs, contrary to law, and the local Food Conservation Committee, unable to get straight answers from Sears, requested that the state authorities investigate the matter. Mayor Songer happened to be a member of the Food Conservation Committee, and the night after the wheat investigation by the local group, the inscription on the pillar was defaced with a coating of tar. Sears again ordered Songer to remove the monument or he would destroy it.

The night after the state officials and Songer had been at the farm, the monument was vandalized. Some bricks were removed and the marble plaque pried out. Following publication of a photograph of the damaged monument, which created a stream of cars driving by to see the damage, the pillar was completely knocked down.

This photo of the Ostermann Marker, published in the paper, brought a stream of motorists out to see the wanton destruction. Bucyrus Historical Museum.

Needing the marker at that spot, the highway officials rebuilt it on the same base on Monday, September 30, 1918. When Sears discovered it going back up he went to court to get a temporary injunction against Songer and Michael J. Lutz to halt the work.3 The injunction was granted but the paperwork had taken too long and the work was completed. Sears contended he owned the land to the highway, that Songer had not asked his permission to put the pillar there, that the erection of a marker was contrary to, and in addition to, the purpose for which the land was originally taken, and that he should have been compensated. He also claimed the pillar interfered with the ingress and egress to his land.

The perpetrator sought to put an end to the sightseeing by totally destroying the pillar two days later. Bucyrus Historical Museum

That night the highway consuls put two guards on the structure to protect it until Hopley could go to court the next day and get an injunction 4 enjoining Sears from destroying it; that injunction was granted.

The two cases were joined for trial and were heard on July 18, 1919. The court took the matter under advisement, and on July 29 found for the plaintiffs, making their injunction permanent.

Sears took the matter to the court of appeals, 5 which found that "the erection in a public highway of a stone and brick monument to indicate that the highway is a part of a particular international highway system, and to serve as a memorial to an official of the highway association, is not an additional burden on the fee." In other words, the appellate court found that Sears was not entitled to any compensation as the marker was well within the highway right-of-way, that it advised the traveling public that the road was a part of the Lincoln Highway, and that it did not interfere with access to the property. As to the dedicatory plaque, the court stated: "We are unable to comprehend why the additional superscription to Osterman (sic) could possibly cause an additional burden to the Plaintiff-in-error as an abutting landowner."

The next option for Sears was the Ohio Supreme Court, and he took it. The case was reviewed and decision rendered on June 21, 1921, 6 which affirmed the lower court's finding.

It is unknown at this time what eventually happened to the pillar.

Hopley Marker
The Hopley marker stood until Sunday evening, October 22, 1922, when it was hit by a car and demolished. The newspaper account 7 stated that the driver of the big 1920 Buick touring car, DeLoss Riedel, who was approaching on West Mary Street intending to turn right onto West Mansfield Street, lost control when a car from behind crowded in and passed on the wrong side, striking their machine. Their car "drove straight for the monument, banged over the curb, and struck it square."

The article continues, "The blow must have been terrific, for the brick. stone and concrete monument, nearly three feet square and six feet high, was knocked off its base and the big block which formed the base, a block weighing 800 pounds, was hurled 20 feet away. The 250-pound capstone was hurled in the air and dropped on the top of the car, directly over the driver's seat, crushing the top down to within four inches of the back of the seat. Had Riedel not been thrown headlong a moment before, he would surely have been crushed to death by the heavy stone."

John E. Hopley (center) and E. J. Songer survey the accident scene that demolished Hopley's marker on October 22, 1922. Bucyrus Historical Museum, Photo #K-341.

"The machine, with the rear wheels still over the curb, stopped within eight feet of where it struck the monument, with the nose against a small tree." Of the four young men in the car, only the one in the front passenger seat was slightly injured.

A follow-up item a week later stated that the driver's father would pay to have the pillar rebuilt. Presumably this was done, and the fate of this marker is unknown.

The base of the Hopley pillar remains along the Lincoln Way on the west edge of Bucyrus. E. M. Oyster

The large, white base of this pillar remains at the site today, turned a quarter turn on its foundation. The marble plaque is in the Bucyrus Historical Museum.

 


Notes
1 Letter, December 4, 1918, J. Hopley to Seiberling: "We have so thoroughly appreciated the Lincoln Highway and its coming importance and possibilities that we thought it merited a much more permanent and creditable marker than the painted telephone poles." Also, the Bucyrus Journal, Friday, July 25, 1919: "The Lincoln Highway is marked by the red, white and blue emblem on the telephone poles from the Atlantic to the Pacific. These require painting frequently to keep them looking bright. So Bucyrus conceived the idea of a permanent marker placed every mile through the county."
2 News clipping of May 28, 1918, paper unidentified.
3 Case No. 12528, Frank O. Sears vs. Ed J. Songer and Michael J. Lutz, Court of Common Pleas, Crawford County.
4 Case No. 125Z9, John E. Hopley and Edward J .Songer vs. Frank O. Sears.
5 Ohio State, 132 Northeastern 25.
6 American Law Reports Annotated, Vol. 16, W- 925-928.
7 Bucyrus Journal, Oct. 27, 1922.