History - Overview
Corps Of Engineers Map showing outline of POW Depot on middle
right side. Dark marks along the road from the Federal Docks
toward the larger fort indicate buildings from the POW Depot.
Island was originally named Bull’s Island and was part of
a tract of land owned by Epaproditus Bull. He and his family left
Connecticut and settled on the Marblehead peninsula in May of 1809.
In 1812, Bull and his family fled to Cleveland, Ohio because of
Indian attacks. In the autumn of 1812 Bull died there, a victim
of disease. His family then returned to the peninsula and retained
ownership of Johnson’s Island until 1852.
B. Johnson purchased the island in 1852 and renamed it Johnson’s
Island. Johnson cleared several acres of the island for farming.
In the fall of 1861,
the U.S. Army leased 40 cleared acres of the island from Johnson
to establish a Prisoner of War Depot. The depot was in operation
from April, 1862 to September, 1865. The following year, the Army
auctioned off all of the surplus equipment and materials, the buildings,
and the stockade walls. Most of the lumber was salvaged, and some
of the smaller buildings were moved across Sandusky Bay to Marblehead
when the Bay was completely frozen with thick ice. (More about the
Civil War Era.)
From 1866 to 1894, the
island was used primarily for agricultural purposes. Fruit trees
were planted along with general crops. The site of the Prisoner
of War Depot was plowed under to raise crops. A small number of
private lots were sold to individuals during this period.
In 1894, the first of
two pleasure resorts was established on the island in the area north
and west of the Confederate Cemetery. They were both named The Johnsons
Island Pleasure Resort Company. The first resort went out of business
in the fall of 1897, primarily due to the burning of the main pavilion
and a wrongful death lawsuit for $10,000.00. The second resort opened
in 1904 and closed in the fall of 1907. More than likely, it closed
because of competition from Cedar Point and the dust and noise from
a working quarry on the island. (More about the Pleasure
An existing quarry was
enlarged in 1902 and a full-scale quarry operation was established.
It was a part of the Breakwater Company. A village that included
a post office and school was constructed for the quarry workers
and their families. Quarry operations for the most part were discontinued
in 1908. (More about the Quarry Era.)
From 1910 to 1956, not
a great deal occurred on Johnson’s Island. At various times,
the island was considered as the site for a Coast Guard Training
Center, as well as an Army training ground for the Ohio National
In 1956, plans were announced
to develop the island as a vacation home site. A causeway to the
mainland was approved and started in 1964. The perimeter of the
island was subdivided and individual lots were sold for cottages.
The causeway and island roads were not completed until the Johnson’s
Island Property Owners Association, at its own expense, stoned and
paved the roads in the 1970s. In 1989, a second developer came to
Johnson’s Island to create a new subdivision in the island
interior and quarry area. The proposed subdivision included 110
building sites in the area of the abandoned quarry. Several hundred
sites proposed for the interior of the island never got beyond the