Bexley History Programs

From Retail to Public Service The Madison’s

by Local History Librarian David

For over a century downtown Columbus was home to numerous clothing retail stores with a common story, they were founded by Jewish immigrants escaping the anti-Semitism of Europe. Simon Lazarus established the Lazarus Department Store in 1851, The Union was opened in 1891 by S. M. Levy, and The Fashion in 1924 by Allen Gundersheimer Sr. Then in 1930 Louis Madison, born in Russia in 1893 and immigrating to Albany, New York in 1903, opened Madison’s.

Bexley History

Abstracts of Title Trace History of Bexley Lands

by Local History Librarian David

For much of the twentieth century, an updated Abstract of Title was required when transferring real estate. Such a document was a compilation of all the transactions made for a specific piece of real estate, thus tracing the owners back to the early 1800s. The purpose was to ensure against any encumbrances on the property, guaranteeing a clean title.

By the mid 1970s, Abstracts of Titles were becoming less common. Replaced by title insurance, many lenders dropped them as a requirement. Homeowners no longer had to update the abstract when selling their property, and many were discarded. Those that survive are valuable documents providing a glimpse into the past.

Bexley History Programs

Bexley’s Victory Gardens

by Local History Librarian David

War time rationing of the food supply combined with shortages in production found many front yards across Bexley converted into vegetable gardens. These Victory Gardens that first appeared during World War I were encouraged during World War II by the Bexley Garden Club.

Bexley History Programs Recommendations

Pizza in Bexley

by Local History Librarian David

One of Bexley’s oldest businesses, Rubino’s, was established in 1954 by Ruben Cohen, who adapted his Jewish name to sound more Italian as the name of his pizzeria and spaghetti restaurant. There were only ten places in Columbus for pizza at the time, and Cohen made Rubino’s special for its thin crispy crust and “fairly secret” sauce recipe.

Bexley History Booklists Recommendations

A Century Before Covid-19, Bexley’s First Pandemic

by Local History Librarian David

Research for this article contributed by Scott King-Owen, Ph.D, Teacher, Bexley City Schools.

One month before the First World War ended a second wave of the deadly Spanish Influenza pandemic, initially spread in military encampments by troop movement, found its way into the civilian population of central Ohio. Like Covid-19, a century later, the absence of medicine for treatment or a vaccine for prevention necessitated avoiding crowds, through isolation or quarantine, to control spread of the respiratory virus. 

Booklists Recommendations

BPL Staff Favorites of 2020

by Adult Services Library Associate Nichole

As 2020 comes to a close, I asked staff to reflect on their favorites books, movies, and albums from this year. Some staff found it easy to narrow it down, while others couldn’t choose just one! Here are the BPL staff favorite books of 2020:

  • Christian’s PickThe Lucky Star by William T. Vollmann | print
  • David’s PickCOVID-19: The Pandemic that Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora MacKenzie | print
  • Hannah’s Pick Wilderness Chef: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Outdoors by Ray Mears | print
  • Juliana’s Favorite Memoir This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire by Nick Flynn | print
  • Juliana’s Favorite Fiction Read Writers & Lovers by Lily King | print / digital
  • Leann’s Science Fiction Pick A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green | print / digital
  • Leann’s Favorite Thriller The Guest List by Lucy Foley | print / digital
  • Nichole’s PickBeing Lolita by Alisson Wood | print
  • Sue’s Pick Deacon King Kong by James McBride | print / digital

Our favorite films from 2020 include:

  • Christian’s Pick Feels Good Man *currently unavailable through the CLC
  • Juliana’s Pick The Devil All the Time *currently only available on Netflix
  • Nichole’s Pick The King of Staten Island | DVD / Blu-Ray

And finally, our BPL staff favorite albums from 2020 include:

  • Christian’s Pick Heaven to a Tortured Mind by Yves Tumor | CD
  • Hannah’s Pick Old Flowers by Courtney Marie Andrews | CD
  • Jeff’s Pick Lianne La Havas | CD / digital
  • Juliana’s Pick Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers | CD
  • Kim’s PickWomen in Music Pt. III by HAIM | CD
  • Nichole’s Pick Circles by Mac Miller | CD / Vinyl / Digital

Bexley History Booklists Recommendations

Is Jeffrey Mansion Haunted?

by Local History Librarian David

The feeling of a ghostly presence, knickknacks moved out of place, someone or something tapping one’s shoulder, but is Jeffrey Mansion, the Jacobethan Revival home on North Parkview Avenue, haunted?

Tales of its haunting have been attributed to unidentified individuals and their mysterious and unreported deaths. Perhaps it’s the spirit of a young woman, said to have been murdered there, that haunts the third floor, or that of a man, one supposedly hung himself in the tower while another from the staircase.

Donated to the City of Bexley in 1941, the original owner, former Mayor of Columbus Robert Hutchins Jeffrey, had the stone and brick residence built in 1905. He had long since moved out when he died in 1961 at Grant Hospital. His wife Alice Kilbourne Jeffrey died inside the home in 1922, but only after an illness lasting several months.

During the seventies, children experienced sightings of a witch, her white hair outlined by light in a second floor window. Then, opening the window, in a “scratchy, shaky, haunting voice,” the woman scared the children off. 
But, that was just Violet Ketner, who with her husband John, were live-in caretakers for nearly two decades. “I’m not really afraid,” she told a reporter from the Dispatch. “I’ve never seen anything.”  

For more ghostly tales and scary stories from around Columbus and Ohio explore these titles:

  • Haunted Ohio Series by Chris Woodyard / print
  • Haunted Ohio: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Buckeye State by Charles A Stansfield / print | digital
  • A Haunted History of Columbus, Ohio by Nellie Kampmann / print
  • Columbus Ghosts: Historical Haunts of Ohio’s Capital by Robin L. Smith / print
  • Columbus Ghosts: More Central Ohio Haunts by Robin L. Smith / print

Bexley History Booklists Recommendations

Bexley Women in the Fight for Suffrage

by Local History Librarian David Distelhorst

Columbus Evening Dispatch, September 2, 1912

Dressed in the costume of an English Militant Suffragette, Mrs William Drake Hamilton, the former Ann Eliza Deshler, attended a celebration carrying a can of nitroglycerin, bricks, and bombs. Her husband, Dr. William Drake Hamilton, dressed as a “suffrage sympathizer,” carried a vote for women banner.

It was the 1910s and Ann Hamilton and her sister, Miss Martha Deshler, members of the Taxpayers’ League, an organization seeking equal suffrage, were among Bexley’s women in the fight for full enfranchisement. The daughters of Deshler Bank President John G. Deshler, whose home was at the corner of Parkview and East Broad Street, hosted suffrage meetings and dignitaries in Hamilton’s Bexley home. 

The sisters, among those successful at petitioning Ohio’s Fourth Constitutional Convention to put the issue of equal suffrage before the voters, lost their fight in 1912, and when the votes were tallied Bexley proved “a non-suffrage town.”

Again, two years later, Ohio voters said no, but another Bexley pair had their eyes on a national amendment. Miss Florence Ralston, daughter of Ralston Steel Car Company President Joseph S. Ralston, who like the Hamilton’s lived on East Broad Street in Bexley, joined the College Equal Suffrage League as a student at Ohio State. In 1916 Florence and her mother attended the formation, in Washington D.C, of the National Women’s Party.

The mother and daughter pair were among those representing the local branch of the National Women’s Party at a 1918 meeting with then Senator Warren G. Harding at Columbus’ Southern Hotel. Though Harding did not fully commit to suffrage attendees were “encouraged” that a federal amendment would pass.

That October Senator Harding voted in favor of the Federal Suffrage Amendment, as he did in February and June of the following year. Ratified by the Ohio legislature on June 16, 1919 the women’s right to vote saw final ratification as the 19th Amendment in August of 1920.

For more about the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement explore these titles recommended by Adult Services Librarian Sue Shipe-Giles:

Research for this article contributed by Scott King-Owen, Ph.D, Teacher, Bexley City Schools.

Staff Book Reviews

History of Franklin County by William T. Martin, 1858

by BPL Team Member David

Written in 1858, William T. Martin’s History of Franklin County shares stories of the early settlement of Franklinton, by Lucas Sullivant, and how Columbus was formed as the site of Ohio’s capital. Written before the Civil War it is a rare account of the early history of places, such as the State Penitentiary and Columbus Canal, long since demolished and events, including the execution of Leatherlips, long forgotten. Illustrated with several early views Martin’s history is both educational and enjoyable.