From the Archives: Happy Holidays from…the Roosevelts?

Happy holidays from the Sherman Room! At this point, many holiday cards have been sent and received to friends and family members across the United States, but we wanted to share one more from the Sherman Room archives with you.

Previous Sherman Room blog posts have discussed the career of Mansfield’s Henry Brunner, a local Democratic politician who was the mayor of Mansfield from 1917 to 1923.

Among a collection of items from Brunner’s personal papers that were donated to the Sherman Room this year, we discovered this holiday card. So now it’s time for a US history question: the card reads is “From The Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt;” but how were this couple better known?

US history buffs will likely remember that one Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1929 and served in that role until he was elected United States president in 1932, a post to which he was re-elected three times and in which he served until he died in 1945 and was succeeded by Harry Truman. So this holiday card was sent to Henry Brunner by Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, sometime between 1929 and 1932. The original envelope is missing, so it is not possible to say exactly which year it was sent.

The building pictured is not the New York governor’s mansion, in fact, but a different estate known as Springwood, and it was Roosevelt’s family home. He was born at Springwood in 1882 and spent his youth there, rebuilding the family home into the impressive building it remains today in 1915 with his mother. As evidenced by this card, was proud of his family home throughout his political career and life. After he died in 1945 in his fourth term as president, his body was brought back to the rose garden at Springwood to be buried as he had requested.

The Mansfield Connection

So how did it happen that “Governor and Mrs. Roosevelt” sent a Christmas card to a politician from Mansfield? As it turns out, Henry Brunner was a rather prolific politician despite never holding a higher publicly-elected office than mayor. Rather, he used his skills and knowledge behind the scenes to support the Democratic party in Ohio and the nation, and gained many notable political connection in the process. In 1923 after he was no longer mayor, he was still chairman of the Richland County Democratic party. By 1925, Brunner was a member of a special committee for the Ohio Democratic party’s executive committee, and in 1927 he became the chairman for the Ohio Democrats. He held this position until 1933. Upon his resignation, one person commented that his successor “has the handicap of going in as chairman of the Democratic party in Ohio in that he succeeds Henry Brunner who has been a great chairman. He is one of the beste [sic] leaders the party has ever had” (Findlay Morning Republican, 14 September 14 1933, page 5). Given Brunner’s position as the state chair for a state known for being important, sometimes pivotal, in presidential elections, it is perhaps not surprising that a Democratic governor of New York with presidential ambitions would send him a card at the holidays.


  1. National Park Service, Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site,
  2. Athens Messenger Newspaper Archives April 7, 1927 Page 27 (became chairman)
  3. Findlay Morning Republican Newspaper Archives September 14, 1933 Page 5 (resigned chairman)


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!


  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.

Poetry, the Paris World’s Fair, a Battleship, and John Philip Sousa: “The Ohio Poet” Ida Eckert Lawrence

April is U.S. National Poetry Month, and in recognition this blog post explores a renowned poet who was born in Richland County, just outside Belville, although later in life she lived in Kansas, Toledo, and finally Los Angeles.

Ida Eckert was born just outside of Belville to Daniel S and Nancy A Eckert around 1861, and her family lived there until she was about 6 years old. At that point, the family moved to Wayne County, and by 1880 the family had moved to Topeka, Kansas. In Topeka in 1880, Ida married her first husband, Thomas Brower Peacock, and in 1883 they had a son named Aubrey [1-7].

In Kansas, Ida became very involved with the local writers’ scene, from press to poetry. She was a member of both the Kansas Editorial Association and the Kansas Women’s Press Association, and wrote for both newspapers and magazines [8].

Photo from A. J. Baughman, A Centennial History of Richland County

In 1897, already recognized as “a well known writer of short stories and poems,” she married again, this time to Fred A. Lawrence, of Chicago. They were married in Kansas, but shortly thereafter moved back to Ohio, this time to Toledo, where Fred was a partner in the J. Melvin & Co. clothing company [9].

Successes in Poetry

While in Toledo, Ida’s recognition as a poet continued to grow, and in 1900 she published a volume of her poetry with the Robert Clark Company of Cincinnati under the title Day Dreams. The book was fairly successful, and had three print runs at the time [10].

Ida was also honored in 1900 to be chosen as one of the Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition, also known as the Exposition Universelle or World’s Fair [11].

While at the Paris Exposition, Ida was further selected to speak to the International Women’s Congress on the topic of women in American literature. Her talk was apparently very well received, and it was reported that she spoke of such authors as Harriet Beecher Stowe and Louisa May Alcott. She also spoke about Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, of the women’s suffrage movement and women in journalism [12].

“Brains, industry, and tact are the necessary qualifications, and we have proved successfully that women are no longer children but are representing themselves along all lines of thought and work. In Frances E. Willard, Clara Barton, and Jane Addams our authors may find the heroic souls heroines are made of.”

Ida Eckert Lawrence, speech as quoted in “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.

The next year, returning to the United States after attending the Paris World’s Fair, Ida was chosen to write and read a poem to commemorate the launch of the Battleship Ohio (third of its name) from San Francisco. She traveled to San Francisco to read the poem as part of the launch, and on her way west she stopped in Kansas to visit with her family and speak to the Ohio Association there, where she was also well-received [13].

In 1902, Ida’s poetry achieved yet another mark of renown: it was set to music by another Richland County native, Lulu Genet, and arranged for orchestra by John Philip Sousa. The poems that were set to music included “Way Down South” and “Day Dreams,” the title poem of Ida’s poetry volume. Sousa’s arrangements of the music and poetry were performed in Pittsburgh with a full band and a vocalist of Sousa’s choosing [14] .

A Divorce, and a Move to California

The next “newsworthy” event of Ida’s life was her divorce from Fred Lawrence in 1907. Various newspapers described the reasoning for the divorce somewhat differently: the Stark County Democrat reported that she divorced him “because he clipped unfavorable criticism of her poetry from newspapers,” while the Wooster Republican stated that Ida “claimed cruelty…[and] claimed he ridiculed her literary productions,” and finally the Defiance Daily Democrat reported briefly that she filed the divorce “alleging extreme cruelty” [15]. Whatever the reason for their divorce, Ida was not unmarried for very long. She moved to Los Angeles in June of that year and was married to James K. Connor, a “train man,” but they chose not to tell anyone of their marriage until word got out in October when Ida returned to Kansas to visit her family [16]. In the 1920 census Ida was reported as a widow living with her son, still in the occupation of authoring verse [17]. She herself passed away in 1931, and was buried in Los Angeles [18].


  1. “Noted Poet Visits County,” Wooster Republican (Wooster, OH), 10 Apr 1907, p 6.
  2. 1870 United States Federal Census, Canaan, Wayne, Ohio, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,”
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Mission, Shawnee, Kansas, digital image, s.v. “Daniel Eckert,”
  4. 1895 Kansas State Census,
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Toledo Ward 9, Lucas, Ohio, digial image, s.v. “Fred A Lawrence,”
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Assembly District 71, Los Angeles, California, digital image, s.v. “James K. Connor,”
  7. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,”
  8. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  9. “Ohio Women Commissioners at Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900.
  10. “The Kansas Poetess Married,” Topeka State Journal, 27 May 1897, p 4.
  11. “Ida Eckert Lawrence,” Bellville Messenger (Bellville, OH), 5 Jan 1900.
  12. “Ohio Women Commissioners to the Paris Exposition,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 29 Apr 1900, p 28.
  13. “Ohioans Abroad,” Cincinnati Commercial Tribune, 8 Jul 1900, p 17.
  14. “Sousa Arranges Orchestration and His Band Plays Music Composed and Worded by Former Residents of this City,” Mansfield News (Mansfield, OH), 27 Sep 1902, p 6.
  15. “Late Ohio Specials,” Stark County Democrat (OH), 26 Mar 1907, p 5; Defiance Democrat (OH), 4 Jan 1907 p 8; Wooster Republican (OH), 10 Apr 1907, p6.
  16. “Secret Marriage Announced,” Los Angeles Herald, 30 Oct 1907 p 12.
  17. 1920 United States Federal Census, Los Angeles Township, Los Angeles, California, s.v. “Ida E. Lawrence,”
  18. California Death Index, digital image, s.v. “Ida E Eckert,”

Two Jewish Congregations Become One

Little is known about the early Jewish families of Richland County, Ohio.  Most newspaper articles place the start of the movement for a Jewish congregation to 1886 when Mrs. A. J. Heineman led a group of women who were sewing for immigrants.  This group became Sisterhood Emanuel, which led to the formation of Temple Emanuel, but only tidbits are in local newspapers about the Jewish community prior to 1900.  These mostly appear as one or two-sentence briefs about Jewish holidays and how this affected the closing of Jewish-owned businesses.  But Jewish residents were active in Mansfield and Richland County long before Mrs. Heineman’s group met.  Her husband, Abram, arrived in Mansfield in 1866 and followed in the family business by becoming one of the most successful horse dealers in the United States, at one time buying and shipping more than 3,000 draft horses per year.  When A. J. Heineman died in 1903, his remains were sent to Ridgewood, New York to be buried in the Jewish, Union Field Cemetery.[1]

It was the same year as A. J. Heineman’s death that a real push was made to start a Jewish congregation in Mansfield.  On Thanksgiving day 1903, a Jewish service was held in room 25 of the Vonhof Hotel, by Rabbi George Zepin, of Cincinnati.  A reporter from the Mansfield News talked to one of the church’s promoters and Rabbi Zepin and it was made clear that a new religious body was being established.[2]  A few days later on November 29, another meeting was held and officers were elected.  M. L. Miller was elected president, I. Shonfield and Louis Freundlich were elected vice presidents, W. F. Foust was elected secretary, and S. W. Loeb was elected treasurer.[3]  Alfred T. Godshaw, of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, served as the first rabbi when services began on January 10, 1904, in the old Y.M.C.A. hall.[4] Godshaw would make the trip from Cincinnati to Mansfield every two weeks to conduct services.  In October of 1904, Rev. Isador Philo, from Akron, Ohio, took over leading the congregation.[5]  Services would continue like this over the next couple of decades with services being held in various halls in the city by visiting rabbis.

132 West Second St. (from the Richland County Auditor)

In 1929 the congregation was finally able to afford a space of their own and purchased the Thomas R. Barnes home at 132 West Second Street.  The home was remodeled for religious services and Sunday school and decorated by Rabbi Charles Latz.  The home served Temple Emanuel until 1944 when it was turned into apartments.[6]  The building has a much darker recent history.  It was the home of convicted serial killer, Shawn Grate, between 2014-2016.  It was condemned in 2017 and razed in 2020.  It was in 1927 when an Orthodox Jewish congregation was formed, the B’nai Jacob Congregation.  Like Temple Emanuel, they began meeting in homes, the Eagles Hall, and in the Bowers building before sharing the building at West Second Street.  In 1941, the B’nai Jacob Temple purchased the home at 50 Sturges Ave. from the estate of Mrs. Clemie France and converted it into a chapel.[7]  By 1944 Temple Emanuel was sharing the building at 50 Sturges Ave.

From the Mansfield News-Journal, 08 May 1944

In 1946 Temple Emanuel acquired land at 473 Cook Rd. and on July 28, 1947, the cornerstone was laid for the new Temple Emanuel building: the first Jewish house of worship to be built in Mansfield.  The Temple was dedicated on September 26, 1948 by Rabbi Eugene Lipman and Rabbi Bertram Korn in front of 200 people.    On March 3, 1957, ground was broken for the new temple for B’nai Jacob just down the street from Temple Emanuel at the corner of Cook and Larchwood Roads.  The new building was opened on September 25, 1957 for Rosh Hashanah Services.  In 1977 the building at 50 Sturges was condemned and demolished.[8]  The two congregations again shared a building in 1979 after Temple Emanuel sold the building at 473 Cook Rd. to the Southwood Baptist Church.[9]  The church is today home to the Covenant Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  In 1987 Emanuel Jacob was born with the merger of Temple Emanuel and the B’nai Jacob Congregations.  The congregation is still located at 973 Larchwood Rd., at the corner of Cook Rd.


  1. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 12 October 1903, p. 7.
  2. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 27 November 1903, p. 6.
  3. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 November 1903, p. 2.
  4. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 30 December 1903, p. 2.
  5. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 10 October 1904, p. 5.
  6. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 28 May 1944.
  7. The Mansfield News (Mansfield, Ohio). 08 May 1944.
  8. The Mansfield News Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 03 August 1977, p. 3.
  9. The Mansfield News Journal (Mansfield, Ohio). 02 June 1979, p. 2.