Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hannah Schoff In Her Own Words

   My previous post gives an introduction to Hanna Kent Schoff.  I think her success as a national spokesperson for child rights and maternal education was a product of her deep commitment to these issues and to her skills with the written and spoken word.  Her writings are quite emphatic and she must have been an inspirational speaker.
       The following interview with her was published in the Philadelphia Inquirer, April 3, 1917.  The accompanying graphic highlights many of her comments.

Mrs. Frederic Schoff, President of National Congress, Not a Pacifist, but Indignantly Scores Desire of Militants of U. S. to Put Universal Training in the Schools of the Country Has Four Sons

     "NOT a nation in the world, not even the mad, war-torn ones, not even Germany has drafted Its children Into military service, and yet the militarists of America, in the most crucial time of our history, lose their heads and threaten us with this thing!"
     In ringing tones of Indignation, Mrs. Frederic Schoff, for the last fifteen years president of the National Congress of Mothers and Parent Teachers' Association, an organization representing more than 100,000 mothers, denounced the agitators who would legislate the rifle and the musket into the hands of the school children and left no doubt as to the scale Into which she would throw her Influence when the all-Important subject of universal military training is brought up at the annual gathering of the association, to be held In Washington this month.
     It is quite possible that in her gentle, retiring way, this little white-haired Philadelphia woman molds opinion in as great a degree as many a nationally prominent statesman. For almost two decades in a benign and motherly fashion she has been engaged in educating mothers the country over out of the state of passivity over public questions into which she thought they had fallen.
     She is the mother of the organized mothers of the United States, and if she declares against universal military training it's a safe bet that the militarists of the country will have to sit up nights to offset her influence.

     "Please do not think I am a pacifist," she said and the flag in the window at her home in Baring street was a concrete exhibition of her patriotism "I believe firmly and stanchly In being prepared. Three of my ancestors came over in the Mayflower; I am an American first, last and
all the time, but I believe America must point a newer and better way, not follow in the footsteps of mad, insane nations which are wiping each other off the face of the earth.
     "Experts will tell you," she continued earnestly, "that military training, in its strict sense, is not the best thing for children. I am not speaking of its spiritual effect now, but of Its purely physical effect. Why inject it into the schools? Later on, perhaps, at college, or when a man reaches his majority it would be well to have a military course. It should not take long to teach a healthy man the methods of warfare. But spare the children.
     "Give them a compulsory physical training, both the girls and the boys. That is real preparedness. Militarists will try and make you believe that the bill passed by New York recently putting physical training into the schools is military. It is not. It is simply a health measure, and as such could be copied in every other State with good effect.
     "But before we talk of a greater army, should we not better the condition of those already in it? Is it patriotic for us to sit back and criticise [sic.] men for not enlisting when they are expected to enlist at something like $15 a month?
     "Put the army and navy on the basis of a decent profession and then talk about enlistments.”
     "Mrs. Schoff is just back from a tour of the western States, where she spoke before the local mothers' organizations in the interest of child welfare, and to speak of child welfare at the present time without mentioning war and militarism was, she declared, more than she was capable of.
     "But I found many women who do not believe as I believe, some who are for war at any price and some for peace at any price. This augurs for a stormy convention In April. Do not magnify my influence I am but one woman among a hundred thousand or more represented in the mothers' association. They may go on record for universal military training."
     "But knowing mothers as she does, it was plain to see that she doubted that they would. Mrs. Schoff herself is the mother of seven children, four of whom are boys of war-going age.
     "One of my boys served on the border," she said, "and I believe the sending of those 150,000 boys down to Mexico did as much for the mothers of them as it did for the boys themselves. It made them learn things It brought the atmosphere of war Into their homes and opened their eyes to the seriousness of life. [Note: during her tour of western states, she visited her son, Albert, who was serving with the First Pennsylvania Cavalry in El Paso Texas.]
     "The trouble with most women has been that they haven't thought, they haven't studied. Federal bills are being considered the passage of which will touch every home and affect millions of lives. Yet few women know anything about these bills.
     "Great Britain and Europe are demonstrating that in times of war the women play almost as strenuous a part as the men. It behooves us to be prepared. Physically the women of America can pass muster with the men, but If It comes to a question of service we should put a little sane thinking into our expressions of loyalty and patriotism."
     "Millions for defense, but not one penny, not one man for aggression, is the message that its president will take to the annual convention of the National Congress of Mothers, which is to meet for the week beginning April 21 in Washington, D. C."

Hannah Schoff - The "Mother" of the Nation's Organized Mothers

       Frederick and Hannah Schoff raised their seven children at 3418 Baring St. They moved there in the early 1880s and expanded the house to fit their family's needs. Hannah lived there until her death in 1940, almost 60 years later.
Frederic and Hannah Schoff, their three sons (L to R: Harold, Wilfred, and Alfred), one their daughters and son-in-laws (Edith and John Boericke) and granddauther Beatrice taken at 3418 Baring St.
        Leonard and Hannah were very industrious. Frederick ran Stow Flexible Shaft Co. which was co-founded by George Burnham, Jr. (214 N. 34th). Their flexible shafts and variable speed motors were widely used in industry and made possible such innovations as the dentist's drill. He was a member of the Church of the New Jerusalem (Swedenborg), the Union League, and the Sons of the Revolution.
Annie's picture from the Philadelphia Inquirer
      Hannah was by far the more interesting. In 1899, she read about an eight-year-old girl who set fire to a house. The girl’s mother died when she was two, she was sent to an orphanage and then put to work in a boarding house. A front page article in the Inquirer gave the girl's name and included a picture of her [at right].  It stated that experts “acknowledged her to be one of the most clever and accomplished of natural-born criminals.” Phrenology showed that “three prominences of the back head… [which] form the basis of our selfish properties, are well developed” on the girl. The consensus was that she was a “degenerate.” She confessed to setting the fire and to numerous petty crimes and was tried in a regular court and sentenced to a House of Refuge along with adults. Hannah Schoff convinced the judge to place the girl in a good home.
       Hannah credited this incident with setting her on a twenty-five-year battle to change the court system and focus attention on strengthening families and educating mothers. She declared that “there is no criminal class of children, but their faults come from faults of schools, church, and State.” (Phila. Inquirer, Nov. 28, 1911) She repeatedly stated that children who commit crimes “are not criminals. They are children who, by loving intelligent help at this time, may have their lives turned into the right direction.” (Phila. Inquirer, Nov. 3, 1912) She urged the legal system, schools and churches to develop approaches to supporting these children and their families.
       Her first step was to set about reforming the treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system in Philadelphia. Working with other members of the New Century Club in Philadelphia, she began the campaign that led in 1901 to the establishment of a juvenile court system (only the second, after Chicago's), separate detention homes, and a system of (volunteer) probation officers. During the first eight years, she observed almost every session of the new court. She pushed for a similar system in Pittsburgh and for the whole Commonwealth. One of the New Century Club members who worked with her on this was Mrs. Elizabeth W. Garrett (3613 Powelton Ave.). Hannah also assisted successful efforts in other states including Connecticut, Louisiana, and Idaho as well as in Canada.  Her efforts in Canada led to her becoming the first woman ever invited to address the Canadian Parliament.
       At the same time, she was involved in the establishment of the National Congress of Mothers in 1897. She served as its president from 1902 to 1920. During this time, the organization's name was changed to the National Congress of Mothers and Parent Teacher Associations and she is credited with turning the PTA into a national organization with many state affiliates. She founded its journal, Child Welfare (later National Parent-Teacher) and edited it from her home. She was instrumental in getting Theodore Roosevelt to serve on an advisory board throughout her presidency.
       A major focus of the National Congress of Women was keeping children from falling into a life of crime. For example, they opposed complete bans on child labor on the grounds that some children should work to keep them out of trouble. Hannah oversaw a large-scale investigation into the childhood circumstances that led to criminal incarceration. Her study of 8,000 questionnaires filled out by prisoners and her years of observing the criminal justice system and visiting prisons led to her book The Wayward Child (1915). In it, she wrote that over the years she had been in touch with the so-called incorrigible children and she had seen many who were regarded as hopelessly wicked respond to the love and care given them.

       Hannah was very Victorian in that she stressed childrearing as "the highest, holiest duty of womanhood.” She felt women needed to be better prepared for this task. This focus on childrearing put her at odds with the more radical feminists of her day. For example, in an impromptu speech in Harrisburg in 1913, she declared that “With so much work waiting to be done, so many great and good undertakings that fall flat for lack of competent persons to assume control, it does not seem to me that our women of today may better devote themselves to the things which may be accomplished rather than bewail the fact that they are hampered in their actions for civic good by the lack of a vote.”
       Hannah Schoff was widely recognized as a national leader on many of the issues of her day involving the health and welfare of children. An article in the New York Tribune in 1917 about child nutrition referred to “the great progressive army of mothers and educators organized under the leadership of Mrs. Frederick Schoff.” The same year in an interview with her about proposals to give military training to school children, the Philadelphia Inquirer called her the “’mother’ of [the] nation’s organized mothers.” That interview (which I will post in my next blog) reveals in her own words Hannah Schoff’s strength, character and political acuteness. In her day, Hannah Schoff was a true force to be reckoned with. In terms of national prominence and influence on her times, she was certainly one of Powelton’s finest.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Defense of the River, April, 1861

     One hundred years ago, the U.S. was at the start of a long, very bloody Civil War.  Philadelphians were organizing and sending off troops to fight.  However, they also had to be prepared to wage a defensive battle if Confederate troops broke through to the North.  This was a very real possibility - in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought to prevent Lee from moving on Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
     On April 30, 1861, the Philadelphia Inquirer published the following letter from an unnamed Navy Officer:

"Ed. Phila. Inquirer: …
     {The first paragraph deals with the stationing of ships to defend several forts and the Navy Yard.]
     "Some of our heavy artillery, 68 and 32 pounders, ought, I think, to be placed in charge of at least an artillery company, at Gray’s Ferry bridge, and men always stationed, armed the draw. Others should be located at the Railroad and Girard Bridges; as also, at the Market Street; on Market Street in the Lancaster Turnpike hills, and Fairmont; but, perhaps, Bridge [Spring Garden] and Thirty-sixth streets, Mantua, would be the most eligible site for a first defense of that crossing….
     "Should we be defeated at Washington, and have to leave, the advance of the Confederate Army will be made as much of a surprise as possible, I presume; and if my ideas of warfare and the probable Southern tactics are correct, without these precautions our beloved city may be surprised. I know that our God will defend us, as we are in the right; but we must have organized, immediately, a strong well armed Home Guard. And, although the sick and physically weak by organization, find themselves disappointed in not been received into the present volunteer force, let them neither despond nor disband, for there may be a time coming when even the oldest and most infirm among us can aid to sustain the Government and our blessed flag. Let each and all, young and old, sick or well, if they can, organize themselves and seek and buy arms of some kind, so that no raid of 'plug uglies' upon our city, our beloved city, can succeed. Let all remember that Philadelphia is within one hundred miles of Baltimore, where such atrocious rebellion has recently displayed its horrid front, and but one hundred and forty miles from Washington, the capital of our country, and upon which the eyes of both North and South are fixed – the first for defense, the last for rapine, murder and rebellion.
     "Philadelphia calls upon her sons to arm. Let all do it, (Quakers and other sects alike). We can beat the southern cohorts if we manfully try; for Pennsylvania don't crow coward's. Let, too, the holders of arms in Philadelphia sell them at not over cost price, even if their patriotism will not prompt them to do more. They know not how soon they may wish they had given rifles, revolvers, &c, away, and bitterly repent their desire for lucre.
     "[Signed] A Navy Officer"
[italics in original, bold added]

   Powelton and Mantua did act.  One part of their response was the formation of the Mantua Home Guard which I plan to describe in a future blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The History of the Powelton Club

Before the "Roaring '20s" there were the "Gay '90s."  It was a big decade for sports, games and social clubs, For more than a dozen years around the turn of the century, the Powelton Club offered it all. It began as a men’s club, but then introduced regular ladies nights.  It offered whist, billiards, bowling, and more. Its tournaments, socials, and ladies' nights were regularly noted in the society column.  Every year the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on the election of new officers and board members. For most of its history, the club was house at the old Butcher estate [207 N. 35th St. gives links to pictures of the mansion in the early 1880s.], one of the oldest houses in Powelton. The following is a basic history of the Club as offered by the Inquirer.

December 3, 1893, Pg. 14
“The new club has been inaugurated in West Philadelphia.
     “The property 3314 Race st. has been rented and the building is being fitted up as temporary quarters. The members now number about 100. A peculiarity of this club and one that every member takes a personal pride in is the fact that no liquors of any kind will be sold, given away or allowed on the premises. Another rule in the by-laws states of the club will be entirely free from gambling, and even card playing for simple amusement will not be permitted on Sundays. It has been given the name of the Powelton Club, and the membership will be limited to 150. The temporary officers are Charles Gilpin, Jr., president, a son of ex-Mayor Gilpin: Samuel C. Woolman [3312 Race], vice-president; William Barratt, secretary, and Howard Watkin [3305 Baring], treasurer. Among those instrumental in the formation of the organization were E. L. Rogers [3411 Race], Max Riebenack [227 N. 34th], A. P. Flint [3214 Baring], L. G. Fouse [3613 Baring], and the temporary officers. The club will be managed on a plan similar to that of the Hamilton Club. The total expense to each member will be $10 entrance fee and $10 annual dues.”

December 3, 1893, pg. 2
“The Powelton Club Organized.
      "The Powelton Club, the social organization of businessman residing in West Philadelphia, last evening permanently organized at 3314 Race street by the election of the following officers: President, John F. Craig [3417 Baring]; vice-president, S. C. Woolman [3312 Race]; treasurer, H. Z. Ziegler [110 N. 34th]; secretary, W. C. Barratt [3605 Hamilton]; directors to serve one year, Ellwood Bonsall [219 N. 34th], Arthur D. Smith [3615 Hamilton] and Lewis H. Trimble [3409 Baring]; for two years, J. E. Goodman [3309 Arch], W. J. Peale [3607 Hamilton] and R. H. Watson [3605 Hamilton]; for three years, George A. Fletcher [216 N. 34th], Charles Gilpin, Jr. [212 N. 33rd], and John A. Wiedersheim [200 N. 34th].”

November 15, 1894
     “Success of the Social Organization Which Carries on Its Rolls Many of West Philadelphia's Best Citizens
“The new building of the Powelton Club, at Thirty-Fifth and Powelton avenue, one of the finest and handsomest buildings of its kind in West Philadelphia, will be formally opened to-night. A public reception, to which a large number of West Philadelphia's and the city's prominent residents have been invited, will be held.
     "The club house stands in a commanding position, facing Powelton avenue and Thirty-fifth street and surrounded by a handsome avenue of trees.
     “The building is 50 feet front by 100 feet deep, and stands on a plot 89 x 212 feet. It has been entirely renovated and rearranged, so as to insure all the conveniences and comforts of club life. The wide hallway is one of the striking points of the interior arrangements that give the building a quaint and yet pleasant effect. On either side of the hallway are the reception room and library, with accommodation for those who may want to either read or write. In the basement is a fine gymnasium, with all the modern appliances, together with shuffleboard, billiard and pool room and bowling alleys. Close beside these are the bath rooms, lavatories, etc.
     “The second floor rooms are devoted to whist parlors, elegantly furnished. The third story is devoted entirely to apartments of the steward and store rooms. All the rooms have the old style of grate. The lighting throughout is by electricity and the building is heated by steam. The outside grounds will be used in summer for tennis and other sports.
     “The Powelton Club was organized on November 18, 1893. With a small membership, which has increased from time to time until to-day there are 220 on the rolls. The officers are John F. Craig, president; Samuel C. Woolman, vice-president; Henry Z. Ziegler, treasurer, and Dr. W. C. Barratt, secretary, with a Governing Committee consisting of J. E. Goodman [3416 Race], Charles Gilpin, Jr., Richard H. Watson [3605 Hamilton], W. J. Peale, George A. Fletcher, Howard Watkin, R. D. Allen, George W. Kendrick, Jr. [3507 Baring] and John A. Wiedersheim.”

November 18, 1894
     "The Powelton Club, now located at the corner of Thirty-fifth and race streets, was formally opened Thursday evening by a most successful reception. The house was decorated with ferns, chrysanthemums, and potted plants. In the reception room and library long festoons of smilax and chrysanthemums were hung. In one of the corners an orchestra, hidden from view by ferns and flowers, rendered an enjoyable musical program. Prominent in the hallway was a handsomely embellished design representing the club's coat of arms. The committee in charge of the reception comprised E. L. Rogers, George Burnham, Jr. [214 N. 34th], William W. Allen, Ellwood Bonsall, Charles A. Bean [3603 Powelton], Richard A. Watson, Samuel C. Woolman, Charles L. Dexter [3404 Powelton], J. G. Rittenhouse, Jr. [22 S. 34th], J. E. Frymier [114 N. 34th], Charles R. Hardt [422 N. 32nd], H. M. Justi [3401 Baring], George Masters [3308 Baring], and W. B. Seeley [3624 Baring]. At the close of the reception supper was served. Among the prominent guests were:
     “Mayor Stuart, Judge and Mrs. W. N. Ashman, Judge Gordon, Judge and Mrs. Finletter, Judge and Mrs. W. P. Hanna, the Misses Hanna, Judge M. Arnold, Mr. and Mrs. John F. Craig,…., John A. Powel…, Rev. and Mrs. Charles M. Armstrong, Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Cook, [and] Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Fulton….” [The full list of guests numbers 128.]

December 20, 1901
“Powelton Club’s Smoker
     “Mirth, wit and good fellowship reigned supreme at the Powelton Club, Thirty-fifth street below Powelton avenue, last night, when the last smoker of the year was given. And entertainment, consisting of instrumental and vocal numbers, had been arranged by the committee in charge, and that the conclusion they were congratulated for their selection. The committee consisted of James Hogan [3204 Powelton], RH Watson, R. A. Schartz, R. Montgomery, and James Lazarus. During the intermission refreshments were served in the basement of the club house. The Powelton Club’s membership is recruited from the most wealthy circles of West Philadelphia, some of the most prominent businessman of the city being on its roll. The newly elected officers of the club are: Samuel C. Woolman, president; George A. Fletcher, vice president; Dr. W. C. Barrett, secretary, and H. Z. Ziegler, treasurer."

[Note: Smoker - "(U.S.) A social gathering of men, sometimes with organized entertainment." OED.  The term first appeared in the late 1880s.]

May 12, 1906
Samuel T. Freeman & Co. offered the residence and grounds of the Powelton Club for sale at auction.

June 4, 1907“Valuable Properties Including the Old Powelton Clubhouse Sold Yesterday by Sheriff
     "The grounds and buildings of the Powelton Club, perhaps the largest club house in West Philadelphia, were sold yesterday at the monthly sale of real estate by the Sheriff in City Hall. The property consists of two lots on the east side of Thirty-fifth street south of Powelton avenue, the entire lot of ground measuring about 100 x 150 feet. The building is the old Dupont mansion [although they lived across the street at 3500 Powelton], which was one of the famous old mansions of the city in days before the residential district had gone west of the Schuylkill. The building is three stories high and was purchased by the Powelton Club about fifteen years ago and remodeled. The total expenditure being about $40,000. The property was sold yesterday to Charles H. Beecher, of Pottstown, for $13,530. Mr. Beecher has until noon today to post his full deposit. When seen yesterday the purchaser said he would remodel the building and make it his residence."

The Powelton Club was only active for about a dozen years, but its history provides a glimpse of the era when Powelton was at its peak in Philadelphia business and social life.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maj. Zalmon Ludington and Brigadier Gen. Marshall Independence Ludington

"The body of Major Sealman [sic.] Ludington, who died in Philadelphia at the residence of his son, Marshall J. [sic.] Ludington [3406 Powelton Ave.]. on Sunday, was buried here to-day. Major Ludington was a soldier in the war of 1812 and was president of the Philadelphia Survivor's Association of Veterans of that war, which at its last meeting, three years ago, contained only six members." (Phila. Inquirer, April 25, 1889)

The Zalman family had a long history of serving in the army. Zalmon Ludington was the grandson of Comfort Ludington who was a Captain in the Dutchess Co. Militia during the Revolutionary War. Zalman served as a Private in Col. Churchill’s Regiment of the New York Militia from 1812 to 1815. After the War, he settled in Uniontown, Pa. where he had a shoe and leather business. He was awarded two patents for improvements to machinery for pressing peat into molds and drying it. All four of his sons fought in the Civil War.

Marshall I. Ludington was born in Smithfield, Pa. on Independence Day, 1839. He joined the Army during the Civil War as a Captain and assistant quartermaster of volunteers. He participated in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Battle of the Wilderness. After the war, he joined the Regular Army as an assistant Quartermaster and served in New Mexico, Washington, D.C. and Nebraska.

In 1883, Ludington was appointed Depot Quartermaster in Philadelphia. It was the main depot for the purchase of clothing, tenting, and other equipment for the Army. He and his wife moved to 3406 Powelton Ave. which provided easy travel to his office at 1428 Arch St. He served here for 6 years before being transferred to San Francisco. After several promotions, he became Chief Quartermaster of the Department of the East. President McKinley appointed him Quartermaster General on February 3, 1898, just twelve days before the destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. Months before his appointment, he is credited with pushing preparations for a possible war and quickly reversing a long period of low funding for the Army during decades of peace. In 1903, Gen. and Mrs. Ludington retired to her childhood hometown, Skaneateles, N.Y.