Shelby Ohio Authors

 Edward Edson Lee
In early December 2022, the museum received an email from Mrs. Ruth Stewart indicating that she had read our Leo Edwards article that appears on the Shelby Museum website. She mentioned that she and her husband Don had some items relating to Edwards and his books that the museum might be interested in. Of course there was much interest in what those items might be and how Mrs. Stewart came to find them.
She related that they live in a small town in Missouri and were hoping to find a place for their Edward Edson Lee (Leo Edwards) material that would make it available to the public. She had seen we have featured highlights of his life and his many books on our website and thought perhaps we could do the same for their Edwards memorabilia.
After learning of our interest, Mrs. Stewart sent the material to our curator's home where it became obvious that she had donated a trove of Edwards memorabilia that would take weeks to thoroughly explore and organize for display on our web page. It required reviewing our previous material and again researching and augmenting our Edwards family history.
Many items in the donated material contained the name Potthoff. A bit of quick research revealed Ruth Stewart's maiden name is Potthoff. Her father, Willis James Potthoff, was born to William Frederick and Mamie Katherine Harstmanshoff Potthoff on August 03, 1914 and his younger sister Vivian, was born six years later.

Willis James was born in the middle of an era of exploding interest in juvenile publications - magazines such as Boy's Life and The American Boy- and book series like those produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Some of their easily affordable books included The Bobbsey Twins, Outdoor Girls, and Bunny Brown by Laura Lee Hope; Franklin Dixon's Hardy Boys; Tom Swift by Victor Appleton; and Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew. (All the above authors were pseudonyms.) These books ranged in price (depending on the time period) from 25 cents to as much as a dollar.
"Dime" novels were selling for much less. Magazines were available for a bit more: 15 to 20 cents an issue. As he grew, Willis Pottdoff developed an interest in most of these items and over the years he became a dedicated collector and attended conventions where he spoke to many of their authors. On one significant occasion he met Eugene Edward Lee, only child of Leo Edwards, who was just two years older than Willis. It would be the start of a lifelong friendship in which Willis' daughter, Ruth, would also play a major part.
Many thanks to Don and especially to Ruth Stewart for their donation of this material. Our knowledge and understanding of the literary life of our Shelbian writer Leo Edwards has been greatly expanded.
Further details and introduction to the material.

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