Mansfield’s Summer Amusement: Luna-Casino Park

Summer has officially begun!

Today many people flock to large amusement parks like Cedar Point and Kings Island for summer break fun, but in the history of Mansfield that distinctive roller coaster thrill could be found much closer to home at Luna-Casino Park, on what had been the Sherman-Heineman Park and what is now North Lake Park. The following are postcards depicting various aspects of this park from the Sherman Room Digital Archive postcard collection.

In 1899, the Mansfield News published an article reflecting on the “Growth of Mansfield,” in which it was noted that Mansfield had two well-kept parks, Central Park and Sherman-Heineman Park. At the time, Sherman-Heineman Park consisted of 80 acres with 25 acres being forest, and it boasted nice walkways and artificial lakes. With these amenities, it was a popular spot for picnics and other outdoor social gatherings [Mansfield News, 05 Feb 1899, pg. 9].

By 1905, when the roller coaster began operation, the Sherman-Heineman park had gained an additional two names, Casino Park and Luna Park, as well as a number of new attractions. Now in addition to the water and the walkways, the parks boasted a dancing pavilion, a “figure eight” roller coaster, a shooting gallery, the Casino theater (complete with a fresh coat of paint), a merry-go-round, and a swimming pool [Mansfield Daily Shield, 08 May 1905].

The roller coaster opened in 1905, just in time for a debate around Blue Laws, or laws restricting activities that can be done on Sunday (a common Blue Law was a prohibition against selling or purchasing alcohol on Sunday). A group of four local reverends petitioned Mayor Huntington Brown to ensure that many of the amusements at Luna Park would be kept shut on Sundays, specifically including the shooting ranges and the merry-go-round. Even though the roller coaster was not yet operational, the group also stated that they wanted the roller coaster to be prohibited on Sundays as well [Mansfield Daily Shield, 27 Jun 1907, pg. 6].

However, the owner of the “amusements” at issue, G. W. Bahl determined that the summer fun would indeed continue on Sunday, despite anticipating that at least one arrest might result, as the local group had threatened. And it appeared that the summer fun won out, because on Monday it was reported that all the amusements had been open and well-attended on Sunday, and no arrests had been made.

The Ohio State Reformatory Opening

The Ohio State Reformatory was a massive project, spanning more than fourteen years in construction alone. The foundation of the Reformatory was begun on 27 August 1886. The cornerstone was laid on 7 November 1886 with pomp including Masonic ceremonies and a brief speech by Ohio’s then-governor J. B. Foraker. The contractor for almost all of the work was Hancock and Dow. The final exterior construction work was not completed until 22 September 1900 [1].

But despite the fact that the construction took fourteen years to be complete, the Reformatory was opened and the first convicts brought in ten years after the cornerstone was laid, on 17 September 1896, while many aspects of the planned construction were uncompleted. For security reasons, the exact schedule of events was not advertised, but still there were large crowds present when the 150 men were brought to the Reformatory from the penitentiary at Columbus by a special train to reside in the west wing of cells [2].

“Ohio State Reformatory Boulevard.” Photo from Mansfield Public Library Collection of the Cleveland Memory Project.

The Managers

The Ohio State Reformatory was in the control of a board of managers, who were intended to be non-partisan, with no more than 3 members to belong to the same political party.

The First Superintendent

The first superintendent of the Ohio State Reformatory was W. D. Patterson. However, his term as superintendent was very short at the Reformatory, and he resigned in February of 1897, less than six months after the Reformatory first received prisoners. Although Patterson resigned, the local news of the day claimed that it was not strictly voluntary and was politically motivated, despite the intention and legal requirement that the Reformatory be nonpartisan. The Shield and Banner claimed that Patterson had been “deposed” by the board of managers in favor of the Deputy Superintendent, W. E. Sefton, who was allegedly more to the liking of the governor at the time, as he was a Republican while Patterson was a Democrat. Other reasons given for the preference of Sefton over Patterson included age, given that Patterson was more than seventy at the time and Sefton was “in the prime of his life and a courteous gentleman.”

Other Staff

The other staff of the Reformatory listed when the first prisoners arrived were a chaplain, a secretary, a farm manager, and 25 guards.

The farm manager was, unsurprisingly, responsible for the cultivation of the Reformatory farm. The architect was responsible for the work on the Reformatory that was as yet uncompleted, and would not be completed for another four years, a year beyond the estimate given when the Reformatory opened, due to delays in the iron and steel work. The chaplain was responsible for holding chapel services, and was also responsible for reading all of the letters written by the prisoners.

Curious? Want to know more?

The Reformatory News was published regularly in the local Richland County newspapers. Want to read it? Come visit the Sherman Room and follow the Reformatory’s history through our microfilm archives! For more info, including hours, see our web page at www.mrcpl.org/shermanroom!

Sources

  1. “Last Stone Laid,” Mansfield News, 24 Sep 1900, page 8. Sherman Room Archives.
  2. “Ohio State Reformatory Opening,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 19 Sep 1896, page 5. Sherman Room Archives.
  3. “Reformatory News,” Richland Shield and Banner [Mansfield, OH], 9 Feb 1897, page 3. Sherman Room Archives.

Mayors of Mansfield

Mansfield was established in 1808, but was not incorporated as a town until early in the spring of 1828. When Mansfield was incorporated, the eligible male voters of the town were then empowered to meet and elect a city council on the first Monday of March annually, which would consist of one mayor, one recorder, and five trustees, all of whom must also be eligible male voters, and who would have a term of one year.

In the incorporation decree as reported in the newspaper, the duties of the mayor are described as follows:

6. That the mayor shall be a conservator of the peace within the limits of said corporation, and shall have the jurisdiction of a justice of the peace therein, both in criminal and civil cases; and in all his acts, as justice of the peace, he shall be governed by the laws defining the duties of justices of the peace, and shall be entitled to receive the same fees as justices of the peace are entitled to receive for similar services; he shall give such bond and security as is required by law of justices of the peace; he shall be authorized by law to hear and determine all cases arising under the laws and ordinances of the corporation, and to issue such process as may be necessary to carry into execution such laws and ordinances; and an appeal may be made from any final decision of judgment of the mayor to the court of common please of the county aforesaid, in the same manner as from that of a justice of the peace.”

Mansfield Gazette and Richland Farmer (Mansfield, OH), 27 February 1828, page 4.

Two prior (incomplete) lists of Mansfield mayors served as the initial sources and inspiration for this list. They are abbreviated as “Carrothers” and “Graham,” but the full citations are as follows:

John C. Carrothers, “Mayors of Mansfield,” Mansfield Daily Shield, 11 May 1919. Page 10, column 2.

A. A. Graham, History of Richland County, Ohio: Its Past and Present (Mansfield, Ohio: A. A. Graham & Co., 1880), p 520.
Both of these lists were published well after the initial names listed, and neither identifies any sources for their listings. Writing in 1880, Graham states that a full list of the Mansfield mayors was not possible, because the early city records (prior to 1846) had been lost, so it is unclear how Carrothers compiled his own partial list in 1919, which went as far back as 1835.

Thanks to the preservation of area newspapers, mayors back to the first Mansfield mayor, Simeon Bowman, in 1828 are able to be identified here, with some reliance on Carrothers and Graham. Where possible, these entries have been verified in local newspapers or directories. Where entries agree, they are simply both cited; if entries differ, most commonly when a first name was abbreviated in one listing but not the other, the more complete is used, and any differences are noted.

This is a living list. As more information is found, it will be updated and refined. If you have any information to be added to the list, please contact us!

  • 1828: Simeon Bowman

    Mansfield Gazette and Richland Famer, 30 April 1828, page 2, MRCPL Advantage Preservation; First name “Simeon” taken from Graham

  • 1830: Jacob Lindly [Lindley]

    Mansfield Gazette and Richland Farmer, 31 March 1830, page 3. MRCPL Advantage Preservation.

  • 1832: E Hedges

    Western Sentinel (Mansfield, OH), 11 April 1832, page 3. MRCPL Advantage Preservation.

  • 1835: J G Gilkerson

    Carrothers

  • 1836: Joseph Berry

    Carrothers

  • 1837: B. W. Burr

    Carrothers

  • 1839: C. T. Sherman

    Carrothers

  • 1841: S. C. Coffenberry

    Carrothers

  • 1843: Job Hildreth

    Carrothers

  • 1845: T. H. Ford

    Carrothers

  • 1846: Joseph Lindley (Joe)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1846: T. H. Ford

    Graham

  • 1847: Frederick Cook (Fred)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1848: S. J. Kirkwood

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1849: P. P. Hull

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1850: Hubbard Colby (in Carrothers: “H Colbu”)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1851: N D McMillen (in Carrothers: ” N D McMullen”)

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1852: Perkins Bigelow

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1854: Andrew Poe

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1855: Isaac Gass

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1856: George F. Carpenter

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1857: Stephen B Sturges

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1857: Wilson M. Patterson

    Mansfield Herald, 30 September 1857, page 3; Graham

  • 1858: Isaac W. Littler

    Mansfield City Directory; Graham; listed as 1859 in Carrothers

  • 1860: William A. Moore

    “New Mayor Sworn In,” Mansfield Herald, 11 April 1860. Page 3, column 3; Graham; Carrothers

  • 1861: B. S. Runyan [Runyon]

    Richland Shield and Banner, 3 April 1861, page 2; Graham; Carrothers

  • 1862: James Cobean

    Mansfield Semi Weekly Herald, 12 April 1862. Page 4; Carrothers

  • 1864: Darium Dirlam

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1866: Abner Slutz

    Mansfield City Directory; Graham

  • 1869: A. C. Cummings

    Mansfield City Directory; “Cummins” in Carrothers; Graham

  • 1871: John B. Netscher

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers; Graham

  • 1875: Isaac W. Gass

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1875: Jas. R. Richardson [Likely James]

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers; Graham

  • 1879: James G. Craighead

    Carrothers; Graham

  • 1881: C. G. Stough

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1885: George A. Clugston

    Mansfield Herald, 9 April 1885, page 6; Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1887: R. B. McCrory

    Carrothers

  • 1891: J. Newlon

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1893: Fred Black

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1895: R. B. McCrory

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1897: J. P. Henry

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1899: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers (Carrothers has 1901)

  • 1901: Thomas R. Robinson

    Bellville Messenger, 5 April 1901, page 7; Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1903: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield Daily Shield, 7 April 1903, page 2

  • 1905: William F. Voegele, Jr.

    Mansfield City Directory; Carrothers

  • 1907: Huntington Brown

    Mansfield Daily Shield, 6 November 1907, page 1; Carrothers (1909)

  • 1911: W. E. O’Donnell

    Carrothers

  • 1913: F. S. Marquis

    Carrothers

  • 1915: George H. Lowrey

    Carrothers

  • 1917: Henry G. Brunner

    Carrothers

  • 1923: Carl H. Stander

    Mansfield News, 8 November 1923, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1925: Captain J. Earl Ports

    Mansfield News, 4 November 1925, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1929: Arliss F. Porter

    Mansfield News, 3 Jan 1929

  • 1930: C. S. Moore

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1932: Charles M. Lantz

    Mansfield News, 4 September 1932, page 2; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1935: E. A. McFarland

    Mansfield News Journal, 6 November 1935, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1937: Claude M. Hunter

    Mansfield News Journal, 3 November 1937, page 1

  • 1938: E. A. McFarland

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1939: C. M. Hunter

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1939: William J. Locke

    Mansfield News Journal, 8 November 1939, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1946: Roy B. Vaughn

    Mansfield City Directory

  • 1949: Thomas B. Wright

    Mansfield News Journal, 9 November 1949, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

  • 1955: Robert S. Lemley

    Mansfield News Journal, 9 November 1955, page 1; Mansfield City Directory

Henry Brunner, Mayor of Mansfield

This item was recently brought into the Sherman Room. It is a flyer from the original Armistice Day in Mansfield, a holiday which celebrated the end of World War I and which later became Veterans Day in the United States. The item inspired me to take a deep dive into Mayor Brunner, who issued the proclamation to close the city for a celebration on November 11, 1918.

Henry (“Heinie”) G Brunner’s parents were Henry Brunner Sr and Catharine (also spelled Catherine or Katharine) Kuhn, who both came to the United States from Germany in 1881. Henry (Heinrich) Brunner Sr was born in Germany to Margaret Daum on the 28th of June 1862 [1]. The pair were married in Richland County on 14 August 1883. Henry G Brunner Jr was born on 30 July 1884.

Henry G Brunner (Jr) worked as a mail clerk before becoming an insurance agent in 1911. Shortly after switching careers, on 11 April 1911, Brunner married Beatrice Wolff, who was, according to the Mansfield News, “one of the best known young women of Mansfield where she has always lived” [Mansfield News, 12 April 1911, p 7]. In the same year, Brunner planned to make his first campaign to be mayor, but ultimately withdrew his petition for candidacy when the Democratic party instead chose to nominate the county treasurer, Pierce J Wigton, as their candidate for mayor [Mansfield News, 7 August 1911, p 3]. This might not have been the best strategy for the Mansfield Democratic party, as Wigton lost the mayoral election to W. E. O’Donnell [Mansfield News 11 May 1919].

After withdrawing from the election in 1911, Brunner continued to work as an insurance agent and also took on new or expanded roles in the community and his family. In the fall of 1911, he became the secretary for the Mansfield Baseball Club [Mansfield News 24 October 1911], and in 1912 he had his first son. In 1915, he was selected as chairman of the local Liquor Board [Mansfield News 30 Jul 1915].

After O’Donnell, the next mayor of Mansfield was Frederick S Marquis, who was elected to two terms but died shortly after taking office for his second term. As President of the City Council, George H Lowrey served as acting mayor for the remainder of Marquis’s term, and in 1917 ran for election for a full mayoral term of his own.

Apparently not one to give up on an ambition, Brunner returned to the political arena in 1917 and again pursued the role of mayor. This time the Democratic Party did choose Brunner from among several individuals to be their candidate for mayor running against acting mayor Lowrey [Mansfield News 26 May 1917 p 5].

According to the Mansfield News, the Republican party were pleased that Brunner was the Democratic candidate selected, and seem to have expected that Lowrey would win the election without too much effort on their part. As one measure of this confidence, when the candidates reported their expenses, Brunner had spent $236.70 on his campaign while Lowrey had spent $139 [Mansfield News 17 November 1917, p10]. On the right is one of Brunner’s campaign posters.

Brunner won the election in 1917 by a margin of 274 votes [Mansfield News 7 November 1917, p 3], and had during his term an almost entirely Democratic city council, with only one Republican elected to serve.

Although he did not win a majority of the votes in 1917, Brunner proved to be a popular mayor during his term. When he ran for re-election in 1919, once again facing off with Lowrey, he won by an “exceptionally strong vote” with a majority and a margin of 942 votes [Mansfield News 5 November 1919, p 2]. Brunner served as mayor for six years, in total, and was succeeded by Carl H Stander in 1924[Mansfield News 30 Dec 1923].

Look for more materials about Mayor Brunner’s life after his terms as mayor and a guide to the mayors of Mansfield on the Sherman Room Digital Archives and blog in the upcoming weeks!

  1. “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZTS-8SN : 8 March 2021), Henry Brunner, 03 Jan 1942; citing Mansfield, Richland, Ohio, reference fn 5554; FHL microfilm 2,023,979.