New book offers pictorial history of Monroeville

Cary Ashby • Jan 13, 2020 at 11:00 AM

MONOROEVILLE — The new book by local historian Roger Dickman offers a history of Monroeville through photographs.

Loris Printing in Sandusky recently published “Our Town: A Pictorial History from the Past to the Present.” It is available for purchase at several Monroeville locations: Beauty Vault, Snippers Salon & Spa, Myers-Ziemke Insurance Agency Inc. and the Monroeville Public Library.

The 132-page book features photographs, postcards and memorabilia that Dickman has collected over the years. 

“I’ve been compiling it ever since I started collecting local history,” he said. “My goal is to share the local history of our town.”

His book has more than 200 photos, most of which are in color. Dickman said the postcard photos came from cards he saw and/or collected at various shows.

“I’ve wanted to do this for a long, long time. It finally came to fruition,” added the historian, who was born in Norwalk and grew up in North Monroeville on Patten Tract Road.

Dickman, a retired self-employed insurance agent, was on the Monroeville Sesquicentennial History Committee that created “The Early Years,” a book about the history of the village. He said he considers it “more of a written history” while “Our Town” “is intended as a companion book” that focuses on photos, which he believes might interest more readers.

Part of the purpose of “Our Town” is to establish that Civil War financier Jay Cooke was born in North Monroeville. Dickman said for whatever reason, Cooke preferred to say he was born in Sandusky and perpetuated that myth. However, Dickman added that his research indicates that in fact Cooke’s place of birth was a house near Cooke’s Corner in Ridgefield Township.

“Not in Sandusky, as is commonly known,” he added. “Later in life he (Cooke) preferred to be known as (being) from Sandusky and not North Monroeville or Cooke’s Corner.”

A photo of the house in which Cooke was born is in Dickman’s book.

President Ulysses S. Grant has credited Cooke with helping the North/Union win the American Civil War “because they were well financed,” Dickman said. 

“They had much more money to work with than the rebels,” the historian added.


Lincoln didn’t sleep here

“Our Town” also addresses the local myth of another historical figure, Abraham Lincoln.

Dickman said for decades there was an ongoing story that Lincoln stayed overnight in Monroeville.

“I establish in this book this is probably not true. … No evidence exists that the story is true,” he added. “I have a theory The New York Times said it (first). They came to Monroeville because it was a known speed trap.”

In a New York Times photo by Gary Spettle published in 1972, a caption of a photo of several moving vehicles in downtown Monroeville indicates “the village of 1,300 has been called a ‘speed trap’ and (was) where a traffic incident ended up in the Supreme Court to the benefit of the motorist.”

“The brick building, looming over the dump truck, center, is reportedly where President Lincoln spent the night,” according to the caption.

Dickman was asked what was one of the most interesting things he learned while doing his research for “Our Town.”

“The front cover of the book pictures the largest tree in Monroeville,” he said, referring to the yellow poplar/tulip tree at 11 N. Ridge St. “It’s four times taller than the house beside it. … Most people drive by it and never know how tall it is.”

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