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from reference 11 in the Bibliography (from the year 1888)


There is probably not a spot on Lake Erie more healthful, beautiful and inviting than is Middle Bass Island. Prior to 1850, however, it was a kind of desolate spot, the property of a Mr. Edwards, of New York, and inhabited only by a wood chopper named Robert Black, who resided in a log hut - a portion of which still stands behind Mr. A. Wehrle's magnificent brick residence. In the spring of 1851, Messrs. A. Wehrle, Joseph Miller, Lorenzo Miller and Lawrence Dreher, now of Venice, met Mr. Edwards’ agent and rented 100 acres, which they commenced to cultivate – residing in the hut which Black was necessitated to vacate. But soon afterwards, Mr. Wehrle would seem to have soured on keeping "bachelor's hall," for he entered the "bonds of holy matrimony," which suggested to him the further necessity of extending his worldly possessions, and he therefore rented the whole Island, carrying on farming and an extensive trade in wood. In 1855, a Mr. Chas. Caldwell came in, cleared a portion of land and settled here, though there were then only two houses on the Island and they a mile apart. In 1856 or '57, when fishing commenced, Mr. W. Rehberg came, followed by others, who with Mr. Wehrle and Mr. Miller, did a prosperous trade. Next, the new settlers fancied a fresh occupation, that of grape growing, and Mr. Rehberg, with a then new settler named John Lutz, purchased to their own right 150 acres between them, and Messrs. Wehrle, Miller, Caldwell and Rehberg joined together and purchased the whole Island. Grape growing proved so great a success that Mr. Wehrle, in one year, earned from five acres, $4,000, and others did proportionately well. Nor were they less successful at fishing, one day shipping so many as 3,600 white fish, and another day 13 tons of pickerel. Settlers afterwards came in more thickly, and now there are from 40 to 50 residents, not including the club houses. Some sixteen years ago, Mr. Wehrle further tried his hand at wine manufacture, beginning with a single cask, which proved quite a success, but some friends dropping in on New Year's eve, cleared him out of his entire stock. Nothing daunted, he again diligently applied himself to his new line of enterprise, progressing every season up to last year, when he produced from 400,000 to 500,000 gals.




The present cellarage capacity of his new building is about 600,000 gallons, in casks of from 1,000 to 5,000 gallons each, among them being two monster casks of 14,000 gallons each, constituting them, with one exception, the largest wine casks in the United States. Each stands from 14 feet to 15 feet in height, and 42 feet in circumference, being made of oak and very tastefully finished and decorated, winning the utmost admiration from every visitor. The main attraction, however, at the Island, is immediately over the aforesaid cellars, a fine hall for excursion parties, known as the "Golden Eagle," where the visitor will find a splendid room, surrounded by windows, being 143x56 feet and fitted out in first-class style, having four billiard tables and a fine bowling alley associated. It is lit up with gas throughout, the innumerable jets, as seen reflected through the glass, affording a splendid sight upon the Bay. A first-class refreshment counter, neatly arranged, affords anything guests may call for including the finest wines the Island produces. The "Trio" steam boat is constantly engaged through the summer, running to and from Put-in-Bay, while larger steamers from Detroit, Cleveland, Toledo, Sandusky, Port Clinton and other points regularly call here. There is the best fishing to be met with here, and on the east side of the Island is an excellent bathing beach. There is also a good brass and string band at Middle Bass, under the leadership of Mr. Fred. Bretz. which is a great acquisition, and there are no end of pleasant country walks with rural and beach surroundings. One of the most imposing sights, as witnessed from passing steamers, is the magnificent residence of Mr. Wehrle, close to the landing, a gentleman equally worthy of respect as he is extensively known. The lawns present a perfect picture, and form an object of admiration for thousands every season.


This association was established in 1874, and incorporated in 1880, at present numbering 200 of a membership, each membership being worth from $250 to $400. They have a splendid club house on the point of Middle Bass, probably worth $100,000, while surrounding it are some twenty-two cottages of tasteful and varied architecture, also worth about $100,000. The object is to provide a healthful, cool and invigorating retreat for the members’ families during the summer school recess, and providing a fishing and shooting preserve for the members themselves, spring and fall. The cottages are occupied as follows: F. P. Isherwood, of Toledo, (who built the first); J. Berdan, Toledo; E. L. Barber, Wauseon; Mrs. P. F . Berdan, E. C. Bedman, New York; Judge John R. Coffroth, Indiana; Mrs. J. Chesbro, Toledo; D. Clark, Kentucky; J. Clark, Kentucky; Calvin Cone. Toledo; D. F. De Wolf, Georgia; W. A. Gosline, Toledo; J. A. Higbee, Fostoria; Aaron L. Kelsey, Toledo; W. Mc Millen, St. Louis; J. D. Martin, Lancaster; J. Buckingham, Newark, 0.; W. 0. Barker and J. S. Rodgers, Toledo; T. C. Rowland and Rowland Starr, Toledo; W. H. Scott, Toledo; C. H. Scribner, Toledo; J. D. Sears, Upper Sandusky; M. Shoemaker, Toledo, and S. S. Stambaugh, San Francisco. Upon each side of the Island they have an excellent boat house and wharf with forty or fifty boats. They manufacture their own gas, and even the streets are lit up. The main building is three stories high, 160 feet long and 60x70 feet wide, with an L 30x60 feet. They have also constructed a very neat chapel to seat about 150 persons, and have services every Sabbath. The latter is under a committee of ladies, and ministers of various denominations officiate in turn. The numerous lawns are excellently well kept, and during the summer a first-class orchestra gives selections each evening. There is a lovely grove, almost alive with tame squirrels and abounding in feathered songsters. The officers of the association this year are as follows: President, M. Shoemaker; vice presidents, W. 0. Parker and T. C. Rowland; treasurer. C. Cone; secretary. A. W. Scott; and superintendent, E. Geohegan, upon whom the grounds reflect the highest credit.


Adjacent to the Toledo club house Mr. Rehberg has a very fine residence and grounds, as also a magnificent and spacious pleasure and wine hall, the latter being 100x56 feet, with balcony around outside level with the upper story, and commanding a full view of the lake. The interior of the hall, which will hold 500 or 600 persons, is exceedingly neatly finished and contains a Knabe piano, with well stocked refreshment counters. It is enjoyed chiefly by the local residents, but is not used for excursion purposes. There are fine billiard tables and a bowling alley with other means for pleasure and recreation. Mr. Rehberg is also an extensive grape grower and wine producer, has a cellar of 30,000 gallon capacity, shipping large quantities away. As a pioneer on this Island, Mr. R. is entitled to much credit for its development, is a most affable and active resident, and in every respect is looked upon by the inhabitants as indispensable to their comfort and welfare. The steamer "Waite," of Toledo, and "Secor," of Port Clinton, regularly call at this point daily.


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Revised: 21 Jul 2008 07:49:54.

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