Monday, August 3, 2020

What Happened to the "Upper"?

Years ago—uh, make that decades ago—when I worked in radio broadcasting, there was an ad campaign created for the holiday shopping season on behalf of a company called National Semiconductor. As you can imagine for a business name of that length—particularly when it was a fairly new name among holiday shoppers—someone had to be very clever in creating a catchy tag line that would stick.

The ad company came up with a story line in which a hapless account exec had purchased billboard advertising for the new brand. As you can guess, the billboard was not large enough to accommodate the entire sales message plus business name, which left off as "Give someone you love a National Semic." This led to the scathing comment from the boss, asking, "What happened to the -onductor?"

In searching for that possible relative of my husband's second great-grandmother, Johanna Falvey, I've been chasing her Fort Wayne neighbor, fellow Irish immigrant Daniel Falvey, back to his supposed landing place. According to his obituary, he had settled first with his parents in a place called Upper Sandusky.

It is not hard to see why a move from Upper Sandusky would be so logical for a man who, for the rest of his life, lived in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Though Upper Sandusky is a city in the neighboring state of Ohio, it is nearly a straight shot due west to Fort Wayne—a trip of only one hundred miles. A reasonable guess might be that Fort Wayne, which eventually seemed to be a railroad magnet, might be connected to Upper Sandusky by rail. Sure enough, in trawling through railroad history reports, I did locate one line—the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad—which did exactly that.

Sold on the theory that Daniel and his family might well have been located in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, as early as the 1860 census, I took a quick look to see what I could find.

Surprise. No Daniel Falvey.

Not even Daniel Falvy.

Since I had just crafted a quick search, throwing in the location as simply "Sandusky," I went back again and dropped the first name. Fine. I'll just look for any Falvey family at that location.

Little did I know that Ohio apparently contained not only an Upper Sandusky, but also a "Post Office" called, simply, "Sandusky." Here's what I found: an 1860 household of two forty-year-old Irish immigrants named Michael and Mary Falvey, along with a two year old child, also named Mary Falvey. Along with the Falveys, in their household was another family, composed of thirty year old Michael McLaughlin and two children of that same surname, Mary and Daniel.

Whether Michael and Mary Falvey were related to our Daniel Falvey, I can't tell yet. That, however, wasn't my main concern, once I took a long look at that faded digitized copy of the 1860 census. Though the census page stated the local post office was called Sandusky, the actual location of this particular Falvey residence was not exactly in the city of Upper Sandusky, as Daniel's obituary asserted so many years later. It was in a place called Kelleys Island.

Where's Kelleys Island? And whatever happened to the "Upper" for this Sandusky?

Above: Image from the heading of the 1860 census for the Sandusky Post Office entry of a Falvey household; image courtesy


  1. Kelley's Island is off the coast of Sandusky (Here we say we live on the North coast of the country. Kelley's is like a small town with a few businesses, year round residents (students fly to school everyday in Port Clinton - north on the coast). It is next to Johnson's Island, a former civil war prison camp turning into luxury condos and Put In Bay, an island full of cabins, hotels, and mostly bars, surrounded by lots of boat docks. Daily ferries run to all the islands.

    Upper Sandusky is quite a ways upriver away. The city now known as Fremont was originally called lower Sandusky as it was the opposite direction down the river. I am not sure how "Upper" made it into the obituary. Sandusky is derived from the Wyandot Indian Tribe's word for water and there is a Sandusky River and Sandusky Bay. There is also a Sandusky County where neither of the cities is located. The British had a fort on Sandusky Bay, Fort Sandusky of course, in the 1760's.

    1. It's so fascinating to have a local point of view on this, Miss Merry. Thanks so much for that! I had never heard of Kelleys Island before. Whether this family turns out to be connected to the Falvy family I'm researching or not, it has certainly been an interesting learning experience.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...