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The Shelby Museum Of History
 
Recorders of Shelby Pictorial History
 

 
 
Early Shelby Photographers and their Photographs
 
Sherman A. Sheets (c. 1896 to c. 1905)
 
 
 
Sherman A. Sheets was born in Ashland, Ohio in 1871. He was one of 6 sons belonging to Solomon and Christina Weisentine Sheets. He spent the formative years of his life growing up in Ashland. According to the federal censuses, his father worked in the gas works and later became a plumber. Sherman was a younger brother of Henry Eugene Sheets, born 1865.
 
Henry began his association with newspapers somewhat by accident. In 1887 he witnessed a railroad accident in his hometown of Ashland. There were several deaths and many injuries. He was so impressed by the scene that he wrote an account of the accident and sent it to the Mansfield Herald newspaper and they published his story. The editor of the Herald newspaper asked Henry to be an Ashland correspondent to the Mansfield Herald. Shortly he became a minority partner in the Ashland Gazette and was involved in newspaper "special editions". On one of his trips to Shelby, he was asked by William Tait, the owner and publisher of the "Richland County Republican" to consider buying the newspaper. In December of 1896 he purchased the newspaper and changed the name to "The Shelby Republican." The newspaper was a weekly published on each Thursday. Henry became owner and publisher and reporter. In the summer of 1897 "The Shelby Republican" newspaper published the "Industrial Edition". This has a wealth of information about the town of Shelby, its businesses and business people.
 
The census in the year 1900 found Henry boarding in Shelby, Ohio with the Fred Sutter family at 27 East Main Street, not far from the present location of the Shelby Museum. In the 1901 Shelby Directory, Henry was listed as "Manager of Sheets Printing Company". He was also newly married to Lida M. Wolfe (daughter of John and Nancy Wolfe) and living at 55 North Gamble Street.
 
 

Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
John Wolfe Family Home
 
 
The above photograph was taken sometime between 1900 and 1904. This home of John R. and Nancy Wolfe was located at 33 West Whitney Avenue just west of the existing Marvin Memorial Library. It was taken down in 1983 to make room for the library parking lot. Below is an enlargement of the lower left corner of the above photo.
 
 

 
 
 
 
The 1900 census lists Sherman A. Sheets 28, living on West Main Street in Shelby with Ollie May (Hosler) 26 and son Donald J. (Jefferson) Sheets 3 1/2 months. The Shelby Museum has a small collection of Sheets photographs indicating that during the period c. 1895 to c. 1905 Sherman continued his work as a photographer in this area.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
One of Sherman Sheet's famous pictures of this time period was that of the Bridge Disaster on July 4, 1898. Note at the bottom of the picture board frame states: Photographed by SHEETS, Shelby, O. For a close-up.click the picture (above). The Bridge photograph was labeled on the back with this Sheets Studio mark:
 
 
 
 
 
 
Much was written of this disaster in the Shelby Republican at the time immediately following this event. This photo was widely distributed in the Shelby area. In addition to the Bridge photo, he also took a well known studio photograph of the 1898 - 1899 Morton School Class with teacher James Gundrum and his students. The Morton School photograph is marked:
Photographed by SHEETS, Shelby, O, at the front bottom, but there is no marking on the back.
 
 
Below are two photos taken during the June, 1899 flood in Shelby. The first was taken of the destruction of the embankment where the B & O railroad passes over the small branch of the Blackfork. The photo was taken from the west side of the railroad from a postiion on High School Avenue. The small culvert that was designed to allow the Blackfork water to pass was much undersized for this flood. It caused the water to build up to a height of over 30 feet on the Mansfield Avenue side of the railroad before the water finally found it's way through with these results.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The second photo (above) shows the water on Blackfork Street (looking south) as it finds its way past the Shelby News (right) and the Sutter Building (left). These two photos are scans of how they appeared in the June,1899 issue of the Shelby News newspaper. Copies of the original Sherman Sheets photos would be highly valued by the Shelby Museum.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The above photograph measuring 7 by 9 inches overall is not marked in any manner on the back; however at the bottom of the front is the same marking that appears on the reverse of the Bridge photo. It could be assumed that this photograph dates from the same time period as the bridge disaster photo ( c. 1898). Nothing more is known of the photograph or the person pictured. Any information would be appreciated by the staff of the Shelby Museum.
 
 
 
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
 
 
 
 
The above photograph is cabinet size and has no markings on the back to identify the subject . The only possible clue to the date would be the label at the bottom of the front border. It is the same label as those previous, with the exception that a silver ink was used in this case. This might tentatively date it to c. 1898. Any information concerning this photograph or subject would be appreciated.
 
 
 
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
 
 
 
 
 
The above may be a transitional photograph. The board backing material appears to be the same as used in the just previous photo, but now the SHEETS marking changes. It is now also slightly embossed into the material. No clues as yet to the subject of the photograph. Identification would greatly help to more closely date this sample.
 
 
 
 
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
 
 
The above photograph was taken of Harriett Zeigler Ehret McDermott. Harriett was born in Blooming Grove Township, Richland County, Ohio July, 1844. She was one of ten children of Benjamin and Sarah Zeigler. She married Paul Ehret in April of 1865 and then became Mrs. Mc Dermott in the mid 1870s. In the 1900 census Harriett was living with the Hugh and Nellie Hildebrant family at 139 West Main Street in Shelby. She must have been employed as a nurse for the two very young members of the Hildebrant family. By 1910 she was living with her son Clayton in Cleveland, Ohio. Based on an estimate of her age in the picture and where she was living during this period, the photo is estimated to have been taken c. 1902 - 1905.
 
 
 
 
Picture courtesy of the Shelby Museum
 
 
 
The above is a close up of the embossed portion of the Harriett McDermott picture shown previously. Henry has again used a different means of identifying his pictures. This embossing is the same as used in the John Wolfe Family photograph shown first in this article. It was assumed that photograph had been taken sometime between 1900 and 1904. This dovetails nicely with the dates on the Harriett Zeigler Ehret McDermott photograph.
 
Perhaps more samples of the gold embossed marked photographs will more accurately determine when they were produced. Please contact us if you have additional examples of Sherman Sheets photographs.
 
 

 
 
Sherman Sheets and family (Donald was their only child) moved from the Shelby area prior to 1906 (his name does not appear in the 1906 Shelby Directory) and the 1910 census finds him in Allen Co., Ohio, dealing in the lumber business. A year later he is in Lima, Ohio following the lumber trade. Sherman was residing in West Jefferson, Ohio and still dealing in the lumber business when he died in August of 1931.
 
 
 

 
 
If you have questions or if you would like more information, please contact :
 
The Shelby Museum of History
% Sally Maier
76 Raymond Ave.
Shelby, Ohio 44875
 
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