Local History Collections

Collection ID: 285
Location: LH 326, LH 372

(Description ID: 595502)

Rutherford B.  Hayes Presidential Library & Museums

Frederick Neidecker

LH-326, LH-372

Biographical Sketch
Scope and Content

The Frederick Neidecker Collection was donated to the Hayes Presidential Center by Betty Neidecker in 2003.  Neidecker family material is available in the Frederick Starr Neidecker Genealogical Collection, edited by Martha Dykes and available in the Hayes Center Library Reading Room.

Biographical Sketch
Frederick Starr Neidecker was born February 16, 1892, in Port Clinton, Ohio. His parents were John Adam and Elizabeth Starr Neidecker. He grew up in Port Clinton and at the age of 16 joined the United States Navy. While in the Navy, he was stationed at naval bases along the eastern seaboard.   He also sailed to numerous Mediterranean ports.  During WWI, while the United States was at war with Germany, Neidecker spent a year in Turkey. Neidecker spent most of his naval service on board the USS Montana, where he served as the ship=s quartermaster and carpenter. The USS Montana (ACR-13), a Tennessee-class armored cruiser, provided convoy escort duty during World War I and was eventually renamed and reclassified USS Missoula (CA-13).

In 1914, the crew of the USS Montana was involved in the uprising in Haiti (see Neidecker=s letter to his mother, dtd. February, 1914) and the dispute between Mexico and the United States (see Neidecker=s letter to his mother, dtd. April 28, 1914).  In February 1913, during a period of high tension between the United States and Mexico marked by President Woodrow Wilson's refusal to recognize the government of General Victoriano Huerta, Admiral Fletcher was named commander of the U.S. Naval forces in the Gulf of Mexico. On April 9, 1914, Mexican authorities at Tampico arrested a boat crew from the USS Dolphin and refused Admiral Henry T. Mayo's demand for a 21-gun salute to the American flag accompanying an apology. Eleven days later, after consulting with Congress, President Wilson ordered Admiral Fletcher to seize the customs house at Vera Cruz. Under the command of Colonel Wendell Cushing Neville, 787 marines and seamen participated in the initial landing.. In 1918, the crew of the USS Montana was involved in the sinking of a German submarine off the coast of France (see July, 1918 letter to Alpha Hennessy and 8 x 10 photo in photo file. The 8 x 10 photo was taken from the USS Whipple off Penniach Point, France, July, 1918.)

Following his service in the U. S. Navy, Neidecker returned to Port Clinton and married Alpha Jane Hennessy.  He eventually joined the furniture and funeral business founded in 1872 by his great- grandfather.  The couple had three children: Elizabeth Ann, John Frederick, and Nancy Starr Neidecker. Fred loved the water and especially enjoyed sailing on Lake Erie. He built a 23-foot sailboat with a 9-foot beam. With his family and many friends, he sailed to the islands in Lake Erie=s western basin. He was active in the Port Clinton Yacht Club, of which he was a charter member.   He was a member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Port Clinton and served as vestryman for many years.  An avid reader, Neidecker particularly enjoyed history.  He visited historic sites in Ohio and throughout the United States.  Neidecker also enjoyed genealogy and local history, collecting materials about his ancestors and those of his spouse and area families. Fred Neidecker died in Port Clinton, Ohio, on December 25, 1945. He is buried in Lakeview Cemetery, Port Clinton, Ohio.

Scope and Content
This collection consists primarily of the correspondence, photographs, documents, and post cards of Frederick Starr Neidecker during his service in the United States Navy.  The bulk of the material dates from 1911 to 1918.  Included in the collection are approximately 70 letters written by Fred Neidecker  during his service in the United States Navy. Most of the letters were written to his mother Elizabeth Neidecker,  providing sketchy reports of his location and activities during his naval service. A few of the letters were written to his sisters Madeline and Elizabeth, to his father, and to Alpha Jane Hennessy. The letters were written from naval ports along the east coast of the United States, Cuba, Turkey, Palestine, Syria, Algeria, Haiti, and Mexico. The letters are organized chronologically to each recipient .

The folder of military records contains nineteen documents relating to Neidecker=s service in the Ohio National Guard and the U. S. Navy, dating from 1910 to 1922. These include appointments, awards, character references, and discharges.

Twenty-two black and white photos of American sailors in naval uniforms are included in this collection.  Although these photos are not identified or dated, several appear to be of Fred Neidecker.

Seventy-eight souvenir postcards from 1911 to 1916 provide pictures and some brief notes of areas visited by Neidecker. Nine were written by Melvin A. Holly to Miss May Hasselbart while he was on a European vacation.

There are many obituaries and newspaper articles from the Port Clinton area collected by Fred and his sister Elizabeth, as well as genealogical notes on the Starr - Neidecker family.  In addition to photos and post cards, eight maps or photocopies of maps are included in the collection.  The maps show the Ottawa County, Ohio, area and Lake Erie.  The maps/photocopies of maps date from 1679 to 1965.

Ac.  5610
2 linear ft.

Box 1

1. Correspondence to mother, 1911

2. Correspondence to mother, 1912

3. Correspondence to mother, 1913

4. Correspondence to mother, 1914

5  Correspondence to mother, undated

6. Correspondence to sisters, 1914 - 1916

7. Correspondence to father, 1915

8. Correspondence to Alpha Jane Hennessy, 1918, 1919?

9. Military records

10. Photographs

11. Post Cards

12. Genealogy notes

13. Ottawa County cemetery notes

14. Port Clinton, Ohio area obituaries (acid free paper)

15. Port Clinton, Ohio area newspaper articles, 1896 - 1986 (acid free paper)

16. Speeches by family members

17. Miscellaneous

18. Port Clinton, Ohio area obituaries (originals)

19. Port Clinton, Ohio area newspaper articles, 1896 - 1986 (originals)

Box 2

Genealogy cards created by Neidecker and used as a basis for the Fred Starr Neidecker Genealogical Collection, a genealogy of the Neidecker, Starr, Mitchell,  Hennessy, and Napier families.


Map of Lake Erie (Hugunin), 1843 (Photocopy, Library of Congress)

Map of Lake Erie (French), 1679 (Photocopy, Library of Congress)

Map of Lake Erie (Ford, McNiff, Hall: British), 1789 (Photocopy, Library of Congress)

Map of Lake Erie, (U.S. Corps of Engineers), 1965

Map of Ohio, 1916

Map of Ottawa County, Ohio, Danbury Township, 1920

Map of Ottawa County, Ohio, Portage Township, 1944

Map of Ottawa County, Catawba Island, Forest Park Estates, 1956

LH - 372
Ac. 5763

This addendum to the Frederick Neidecker Collection was donated to the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center by the Betty Neidecker estate in 2010.

Biographical Sketch
Elizabeth “Betty” Neidecker was born on 3 June 1920 in Port Clinton, Ohio to Frederick and Alpha (Hennessy) Neidecker.  The family was a prominent fixture in the community because they owned and operated the Neidecker Funeral and Furniture Business, established in 1872 by Betty’s great-great grandfather.  The family home, located on Adams Street in Port Clinton, was first used to conduct funeral services until the property next door was acquired several years later.  After the death of Fred in 1945, Alpha operated the firm until it was sold outside the family in 1949.  Today, 2011, the business is known as the Neidecker-LeVeck & Crosser Funeral Home, serving the families of Danbury Township, Lakeside, Marblehead and Kelley’s Island, Ohio.

After graduating from Port Clinton High School in 1938, Betty first enrolled in Wittenburg University, and then Indiana University, where she majored in journalism.  Anticipating the start of World War II, she withdrew from school and took a job as a typist at Erie Proving Ground, a U.S. Army facility in Ottawa County, Ohio.  Along with her duties as a typist, Betty learned how to shoot several different types of artillery while she was there.  Before the end of World War II, Betty switched careers and started at the News-Messenger in Fremont, Ohio, where she worked as a reporter and copywriter from 1943 to 1949.  She then moved on to work at Birchard Public Library in Fremont for about one year when she enrolled at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

Betty majored in the Speech and Hearing Program, a new field of study at that time.  After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1951, she served as a speech-language clinician for Sandusky, Ohio Public Schools from 1951 to 1955.  In 1955 Betty was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare to continue her education.  She enrolled at Case Western University and the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center in Ohio, earning a master’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology in 1956.  Staying in Cleveland, Betty became an instructor at the Hearing and Speech Center for eight years.  In 1962 she accepted a position at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio as an instructor in the School of Speech Communication.  Betty earned the distinction of associate professor emerita before retiring from the university in 1982.

Two of Betty’s life-long passions outside of her profession were local history and genealogy.  These interests were sparked by Neidecker family vacations to historical sites around Ohio during her childhood.  As an adult she researched her family’s genealogy, as well as the history of Ottawa County and the Marblehead Lighthouse.  Betty also worked for the Center of Archival Collections at Bowling Green State University after her retirement, helping to collect and process local history from northwest Ohio.  She became an active member of numerous genealogical and historical societies in Ottawa and Wood County.  Through her research Betty authored two books; The Marblehead Lighthouse: Lake Erie’s Eternal Flame and The History of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Port Clinton, Ohio.  Elizabeth Neidecker died in Bowling Green, Ohio on 26 October 2009.

Scope and Content
This collection consists primarily of the genealogical history of the Napier family, with an emphasis on descendants in Michigan and Illinois.  Spanning the years from 1859 to 2002, it contains newspaper clippings, family tree charts, correspondence and other documents pertaining to the Napier family and the founding of Naperville, Illinois.

A less extensive portion of the collection is devoted to the families of Capt. John Mitchell, Hennessey, Neidecker and Starr.  There are numerous newspaper clippings, correspondence and genealogical notes.  In addition to a few photographs, a brief history of the Neidecker Funeral Home is also included in the collection.


Box 1

1: Napier Family Genealogy

2: Napier Family Genealogy

3: Napier Family Genealogy

4: Naperville, Illinois

5: Napier Family Genealogy- Correspondence, 1962-2002

6: Capt. John Mitchell Family Genealogy

7: Capt. John Mitchell Family Genealogy- Correspondence, 1976-1987

8: Capt. John Mitchell Family-Photographs

Box 2

1: Hennessey Family Genealogy

2: Neidecker Family Genealogy

3: Neidecker Funeral Home

4: Neidecker Family- Photographs

5: Starr Family Genealogy

6: General Genealogy Correspondence, 1961-1993

7: Donor Correspondence, 1980-2004