Located seventy miles east of Paris, France lies the World War I Oise-Aisne Cemetery and Memorial. The Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial serves as the final resting place of 6,012 Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice during World War I in this vicinity of France, including former Lakesider, Fred Norton. Fred Norton was a pilot in the United States Army Air Forces, stationed at Touqin Aerodrome in France. Norton was killed in action on July 23, 1918, just three days after receiving injuries during aerial combat with German planes.
Fred Norton was born on February 3, 1893 in Marblehead, Ohio to Frank and Catherine "Kate" Lynch Norton and two days later he was baptized at the village's St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church. His father, Frank, was born near Elmore, Ohio in 1868. Fred's mother, Kate, was born in Marblehead in 1877. In September of 1908 Fred entered Lakeside High School, previously located on present route 163, near today's South Entrance to the Lakeside Chautauqua. Lakeside High School’s enrollment in 1908 was only thirteen students and by this time, it had graduated only 26 males and few, if any, of these had come from Marblehead working class homes, similar to Fred’s. This was the beginning of an outstanding academic and athletic career, both at Lakeside High School and the Ohio State University. Fred played and competed in football, baseball, basketball, and track. Perhaps the highlight of Fred’s local athletic stardom came on May 27, 1912, exactly two weeks before he graduated, when Fred competed in the first ever Ottawa County track meet. It was reported that Fred won seven first places and four second places, earning Lakeside High School the title of Ottawa County champions.
Fred Norton was the first four-sport varsity letter winner at Ohio State, competing for the school’s baseball, basketball, football, and track and field teams between 1914-1917. Mentioned at times by the press as the greatest all-around athlete at Ohio State, Norton was the blocking back for Chic Harley on the 1916 championship football team, but he also scored six touchdowns in one half against Indiana that year. He was the baseball team’s most valuable player in 1917, leading the Buckeyes with a .422 batting average. Norton was able to do this while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average and was inducted into the Sphinx Honorary, the oldest and most prestigious honorary at Ohio State.
Fred enlisted in the U.S. Army aviation corps in 1917, after graduation from OSU and received pilot training with the 27th Aero Squadron in Toronto before being sent to France in January 1918. On July 20, 1918, during the Chateau-Thierry campaign, Norton led a patrol of eight American planes over the German lines in the Toul sector. His command gave battle to nine enemy planes. Both guns in Norton’s plane jammed at the beginning of the fight but he stayed in formation. During the engagement, he was attacked at least four times by enemy planes, but overmanuvered them and, as his citation for the Distinguished Service Cross says, “his continued presence was a great moral help to his comrades, who destroyed two of the enemy planes.” He was severely wounded by ground fire while strafing a column of German troops. Although he was able to land his Nieuport 28 behind Allied lines, it took him two days to get to a hospital in an ambulance because of traffic congestion near the Front. He contracted pneumonia and died on July 23 at a military hospital near Angiers. His last conscious act before he died was to scribble a note to his squadron, "Twenty-seventh, more power to you." Norton was then buried in France. For his acts of heroism and valor in the sky, Fred Norton was posthumously awarded The U.S. Army’s Distinguished Service Cross in 1918.
On August 25, 1918, mourners from across the peninsula showed up to St. Joseph's Catholic Church to attend the first mass in memory of Fred Norton. Fred Norton is not only remembered on the Peninsula, but across the state as well. In Columbus stands the Norton House, a dormitorium on Ohio State’s campus that was built in 1962. From 1923 to the early 1950s stood Norton Field, the first airfield to be built in central Ohio. Norton Field was located in Columbus and served as a refuel site for US Mail planes as well as a military training location. On display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio is Norton’s WWI pilot jacket, with the same bullet holes in the back and right arm that cost him his life. Still, not much is known of Fred’s early years and his time spent on the Peninsula. As perhaps the Peninsula’s most interesting and impressive former resident, the story of Fred Norton will continue to be uncovered for years to come.
Written by Evan Engelhart
Looking for a new read to get you through these cold winter months? Check out The Light and Life of Lakeside-on-Lake Erie: 1923-1948, written by John Harding Butler. Published by the Lakeside Association, Light and Life was dedicated to the “Founders and Builders of Lakeside-on-Lake Erie. It celebrates Lakeside’s Diamond Jubilee 75th year and contains a “brief historical account of the programs and events of the past twenty-five years in the light of the previous half century.”
Some highlights from the book include Lakeside’s recreation and sports, parks and gardens, transportation and communication during those 25 years, as well as a brief history of the General Managers, organizations, and buildings that inhibited Lakeside. Butler delves into the story of the religion and Methodism that helped shape and build the Lakeside community. Butler even takes a chance on what he thinks Lakeside’s expansion and future would look like in his chapter, Lakeside Tomorrow. Did he get it right? Come grab a copy and find out for yourself!
John Harding Butler’s The Light and Life of Lakeside-on-Lake Erie: 1923-1948 can be found can be purchased from our online store at lakesideheritagesociety.org, or in the Lakeside Heritage Society museum store located on the corner of East 3rd and Maple Street, open during season Tuesdays-Sunday. Contact Evan Engelhart at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Also on sale in our store, is Eleanor Durr’s Lakeside, Ohio: First 100 Years and Lakeside Lore as well as O.L. Shepard’s The Story of Lakeside.
If you were making plans to visit Lakeside a century ago, what could you expect?
By 1920 the organization that began as a Methodist Campmeeting and family resort had blossomed into a large scale summer attraction for a wide variety of groups.
This Lakeside "On Lake Erie" program, found in the LHS Archives, offers a forty page overview of the recreational, religious, cultural and educational events scheduled for the 1920 summer. The cover page highlights the various programs held during each week, including the Chautauqua Assembly, the School of Missions, and the Regional Conference on Temperance.
"Nature was in a happy mood when she fashioned Lakeside and men have wisely seized the opportunity to add to this first great endowment."
"When you come to Lakeside bring your 'good time' clothes and enjoy the recreations."
1920 Assembly Program & Highlights
Below are a few of the many performances, sermons, and lectures offered during the nine week season.
1920 Rules & Regulations
At the start of December, a Lakeside Heritage Society volunteer combing through our library collection stumbled across a small storage bag containing an aged, leather-bound book and a typewritten note. Donated to LHS in the 1980s, the book "Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott" had clearly been handed down for many years before finding its way into the Archives.
The Donation Note, which has been included below, offered an incredible overview of the book's heritage. Based on the copyright date, this book is the oldest artifact found in the LHS Archives - printed more than 220 years ago!
For reference, here are a few other events that were happening in 1791, the year "Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott" printed:
-Premiere of Mozart's "The Magic Flute"
-Ratification of the U.S. Bill of Rights
-Start of the Haitian Revolution
-The Bank of the U.S. is incorporated in Philadelphia
-Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" is published
-First steamboat patent approved for John Fitch & James Rumsey
-First French Constitution
"The Experience and Gospel Labours of the Rev. Benjamin Abbott
by John Ffirth
Book was found in the attic of a cottage by John Gdovicak who gave it to John Wonnell for Heritage Hall. It was owned by Elizabeth Bingman, given Apr. 1 1895 to John Bingman (in one place spelled Bingham).
Originally bound in leather, it was mended with a piece of homespun flannel from a skirt worn by the sister of Oliver Cromwell who lived 1599-1659.
Rev. Abbott was born in 1732. His parents both died, and he was apprenticed to a hatter in Philadelphia, and "soon fell into bad company." At age 40 he was converted and began to preach locally.
He joined the Methodists as an itinerant preacher. This was a dangerous thing to do, for the Methodists were persecuted as Tories. He was ordained deacon in 1790, an elder in 1793. His last appointment was in Cecil and Kent Counties, Maryland. He became ill and returned home in May, 1795 and died in 1796.
He had kept a diary, and started to write his experiences. He gave the manuscript to John Ffirth, who added a narrative of Rev. Abbott's life, and closed with a letter by Hugh Smith.
It is difficult to read, because the letter "f" is used instead of "s".
It would be interested to know of the connection of the Bingmans (or Binghams) to Lakeside."
Lakeside guests often comment on the feeling that they are "stepping back in time" within the gates. For some, its the quaint feel of the cottages - for others its our time-honored traditions. But when LHS staff asked visitors this summer what they thought would be most different when going back in time, nearly all responded by pointing to their shorts and t-shirts. It is true, fashions have changed drastically since the first days in Lakeside. In reading through our newspaper collection this fall, LHS stumbled on an interesting piece of evidence that, even in early Lakeside, fashion sometimes bent the conventional rules of morality.
Published by the Sandusky Register on September 21, 1912:
Lakeside Doesn't Like Rap Methodist Clergymen Dealt
Hands Back "Not Guilty" Plea to Charge That Women's Dress Has Demoralized Her - Former Sandusky Ministers Discuss Hobble Skirt
"Special to The Register.
LAKESIDE, O. Sept. 21, 1912-
That Lakeside is the same old Lakeside, not one bit worse than she was ten or twenty years ago, and that critics are those who are so far behind the times that they find it hard to accustom themselves to modern modes and mannerisms. Lakeside's answer to the charge that she is 'fast.'
Twenty years ago women came to Lakeside wearing bustles and men, decked out in velvet-collared coats and snowy white cravats. If these women or their descendants come now in hobble skirts or any of the other things that 'style' may decree, surely it is not Lakeside's fault.
It would be Lakeside's fault, however, were she to forget her dignity to such an extent that she would endure the presence of women who were not ladies and men who were not gentlemen, and to this charge she pleads 'not guilty.'
The automobile is called the 'devil wagon' by some, as was the violin the 'devils instrument' not so many years ago. There always has been and always will be some people who are 'behind the times.'
Hobble skirts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hobble_skirt
"The foregoing was prompted by residents of Lakeside after reader statements in the Cleveland papers Saturday, to the effect that Rev. V. D. Jones, octogenarian and retired Methodist minister, residing in Cardington, O. fled last summer from alleged immodest dress of women at Lakeside.
'I couldn't stand it there,' said Rev. Jones, addressing ministers of the Northeastern Ohio Conference at Cleveland. 'Women ran around with their whole arms showing and only a little strap over the shoulders to hold their waists. I would dislike to say how much of them was naked. There is no doubt but what the increase in white slavery is partially due to immoral dress. Young girls following prevailing style make moral lepers of timid men, who become bold, and they are dragged by them into a life of harlotry.'
'It isn't what you see that arouses your lust, but what is scantily covered,' said Dr. William F. Street, of Canton, O. convert of Billy Sunday. 'Women are directly responsible for mashing. No woman who dresses modestly and conducts herself modestly need fear being annoyed. If women could be induced to abandon the present style of dress most mashers would disappear from our streets.'
"Further comment on the question of women's dress, was according to Saturday's Cleveland papers as follows:
Rev. E.S. Tompkins, of Fairfield, O., president of the board of stewards, would ''make women put something on.'
'I don't care how richly they are dressed, just so they dressed.'
Rev. V.D. Jones of Cardington would have women dress to cover their whole body from head to feet. 'If they would only dress to cover their whole body and then put some more dress over that there would be less white slavery, fewer girls seduced, and few mashers everywhere,' he said.
Rev. J.L. Boyer of Collinwood was apparently the most disgusted over prevailing fashions. 'They should tar the broad expanse of nude back displayed by most women,' asserted Rev. Boyer.
Rev. H.V. Givler of Franklin Avenue M.E. Church, Cleveland, to his congregation Sunday said: 'We are not surprised to go on Euclid Avenue and find bad girls dressed according to their life, but we are mortified and ashamed to see women, about whose good morals and intention there is no question, in dress conforming to those worn by moral lepers.'"
For more on "mashing" visit: https://blog.oup.com/2011/01/masher/