Benjamin Whitman.

Nelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r online

. (page 71 of 192)
Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 71 of 192)
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the State decided to convert the Marine Hos-
pital into a Soldiers' and Sailors' Home, the
" pest house," as it was generally called, had
to be removed, and it was a long while before
a site could be had for another, none of the
citizens caring to have it in their neighbor-
hood. A location was finally secured in 1890,
at the junction of Twelfth street (extended)
with the Fagan road, in East Mill Creek,
where a good frame building was set up, ca-
pable of accommodating sixteen patients. For-
tunately for the public, it has not had to be
used to any extent, though it may prove to be

very handy in case of the breaking out of a
contagious disease. The hospital is under the
direction of the City Health Officer.


Those who have read the preceding chap-
ters will remember that when Erie was laid
out a tract of land was set aside for military
purposes, overlooking the bay and lake, near
the mouth of Mill creek, on its east side.
This property became known as Garrison
Hill, or the Garrison grounds. When Hon.
Morrow B. Lowry was a member of the State
Senate he secured a State appropriation for
the establishment of a Marine Hospital on the
site. This resulted in the erection of a large
three-story brick building, which cost some
$90,000, in addition to $10,000 contributed
by the citizens of Erie. The structure was
never occupied as a hospital, and was gradual-
ly falling into decay, though the State paid a
keeper for looking after it.

At various times after the war for the
Union, the Grand Army of the Republic call-
ed the attention of the State authorities to the
fact that by the private contributions of the
different posts many of the veterans were
supplied with funds to keep them and their
families from actual want. The Legislature
finally acted on the suggestion, and on June
3, 1885, a bill which was introduced by Hon.
Isaac B. Brown, of Corry, was approved by
the Governor. It was entitled " An act for the
establishment and maintenance of a home for
the disabled soldiers and sailors of Pennsyl-
vania," who, as citizens of the commonwealth,
enlisted and participated in the war for the
preservation of the Union. The location of
the Home was left to the judgment of the
Commission. This body was composed of
Governor Robert E. Pattison, Hon. William
Livsey, Hon. Jerome B. Niles, Hon. William
F. Aull,Col. Thos. J. Stewart, Hon. Charles
R. Gentner, General James A. Beaver (ex-'
Governor), Col. Robert B. Beaih, Hon. Isaac
B. Brown, Col. John M. Vanderslice and Gen.
Louis Wagner. After considering various
sites, they concluded to make use of the Ma-
rine Hospital — in truth, that may be said to
have been the object of the movement from
the start. The only condition they asked of
the people of Erie was that they should secure
and make a gift to the State of a small piece


of land which lay between the Garrison tract
and Third street, in order that the premises of
the Home should front directly on the latter
thoroughfare. This was done through private

By energetic work, the building, which re-
cjuireda great deal of repair, was ready for in-
mates on the 22d of February, 1886, the date
set for its dedication. The occasion was a
gala day in Erie. All of the Commission were
present, witii a number of other prominent
citizens. The G. A. R. Posts turned out with
full ranks ; the companies of militia acted as
escort for the Governor, who presided and
made the opening address. General Gobin
delivered the dedicatory address, and was fol-
lowed by Judge Galbraith, Judge Souther,
Hon. James R. Burns, Gen. Louis Wagner,
Hon. I. B. Brown, Senator Walling, J. F.
Downing, Esq., and others. The officers of
the Home had been previously appointed, and
on the day of opening eight veterans presented
themselves and were admitted. Maj. W. W.
Tyson, one of the very best men for the place
that could possibly have been chosen, has been
the principal officer in charge from the be-

Since the institution was opened, the build-
ing has been much enlarged and improved,
the grounds beautifully ornamented, an in-
firmary added, and everything done that could
be asked or expected to make the Home a
comfortable dwelling place for the aged and
indigent veterans of the late war. There are
107 acres connected with the institution, sixty
of which are on the blufl's and forty-seven on
the " sand beach." The " sand beach," how-
ever, is such no longer. A road has been made
all around the edges of the old swampy
grounds, and where there used to be good
duck shooting, crops of hay, corn, potatoes
and garden stuff are growing. The grounds
of the Home are daily visited by throngs of
people who are justly proud that such an in-
stitution is maintained by the State, and loca-
ted in its only lake city.

The Home has accommodations for about
450 inmates, and is kept constantly full.
Numerous applications remain on file, waiting
their turn for acceptance. "In no sense,
" though, is it proper to speak of the place as
"a charity institution. It is a ' home ' in
" reality, such as was included in the implied
" promise made by the State when she called

" on her citizens to rally in defense of the
" Union. The men gathered under its roof are
" worthy of care and protection, and a study
" of its record book shows that the services
" rendered to the government were such as
" ought to be rewarded in a fitting manner.
" Inside the Home the general appearance is
" that of a good hotel ; carpets or rugs are on
" the floors; the rooms hold from two to six
"persons; the beds are made of woven wire
"springs, with fifteen-pound mattresses of
" pure South American hair. The tempera-
" ture of the rooms in winter is kept at a pleas-
"ant warmth, and in summer the cool air of
" Lake Erie keeps away malaria. The bed-
" steads are made for one person only, and
" each man is provided with a bureau in which
" to keep his linen and extra clothing. Each
"inmate is provided, when he enters the
" Home, with an outfit, which includes every-
" thing necessary for his comfort. Very few
" have been discharged for offenses against
" the rules of the Home. By far the largest
" number of those who have left did so be-
" cause they had regained their health, and,
" not wishing to be a burden to the State,
" when they could procure their own liveli-
" hood, asked for and received an honorable
" discharge, and took their places again in the
" ranks of bread-winners."

" Each inmate is placed on his honor, and
" is expected and required to so conduct iiim-
" self as to bring no reproach on the Home.
" Services are held in the chapel, the ministers
" of the different churches in Erie taking
" turns in preaching each Sabbath afternoon.
" On Sunday, church passes are distributed,
"and every inmate is given the liberty to at-
" tend the church of his choice, whatever it
"maybe. There are no guards around the
" place — no high fences to keep the men in,
" but they are expected to conform to the
"rules. Intoxication is one, among other
" things, that is prohibited, and while no
" punishment is inflicted, if the inmates will
" not conform to the requirements they are
" discharged from the Home."

The block-house on the bluff, north of the
Home, was built by the State to commemor-
ate the memory of Gen. Anthony Wayne and
his soldiers, and occupies the spot where he
was buried.

A short distance east of the main structure
is the little cemetery, where those who die in



the Home are buried by their living comrades,
with the honors of war.

Capt. N. W. Lowell was appointed
Quartermaster of the Home March 1, 1888 ;
Dr. S. F. Chapin has been Surgeon since
October 1, 1889; and Dr. David Reinhold
was appointed Resident Physician in the fall
of 1895.


Although the establishment of a Home for
the Friendless had been talked over at various
times by some of the generous-hearted men
and women of the city, the first practical step
in that direction was taken at a meeting held
in the residence of Mrs. James C. Marshall on
the 17th of October, 1871. This resulted in
an application for a charter, which was
granted by the Court of Erie county on the
29th of November ensuing, the following la-
dies being named as incorporators : Mrs. Gen.
Reed, Mrs. M. B. Lowry, Mrs. I. B. Gara,
Mrs. W. A. Brown, Mrs. W. W. Dinsmore,
Miss A. C. Kilbourne, Mrs. W. S. Brown,
Mrs. William Bell, Mrs. Henry Jarecki, Miss
Laura G. Sanford, Mrs. \V. L. Scott, Mrs. J.
H. Neill, Mrs. S. P. Longstreet, Mrs. G. W.
Starr, Mrs. W. A. Galbraith, Mrs. Bernard
Hubley, Mrs. P. Metcalf, Mrs. S. S. Spencer,
Mrs. I. W. Hart, Mrs. J. P. Vincent, Mrs. S.
A. Davenport, Mrs. T- C. Marshall, Mrs. E.
W. Pollock, Mrs. D. S. Clark, Mrs. L. W.
Shirk, Mrs. P. Crouch, Mrs. Miles W.
Caughey, Mrs. Robert 'Evans, Miss Parkin-
son and Miss Sarah Reed. The first officers
were as follows: Mrs. C. M. Reed, Presi-
dent; Mrs. I. B. Gara, First Vice Presi-
dent; Mrs. W. A. Galbraith, Second Vice
President; Mrs. W. W. Dinsmore, Secretary;
Miss Kate M. Mason, Treasurer; Mrs. Mary
Chalfant, Matron.

Gen. C. M. Reed having tendered the use
of the old family residence, on the southeast
corner of State street and South Park Row,
where the Federal building now stands, it was
first occupied by the " Home" November 2,
1871. In February, 1872, the Marine Hos-
pital Board offered the managers the use of
their building until such time as the State au-
thorities should require it for other purposes.
The offer was gladly accepted, and in the early
part of May, 1872, the " family " removed to
that building, where it remained until the oc-
cupancy of the "Home "on the corner of

Twenty-second and Sassafras streets Novem-
ber 2, 1875.

After serving about a year, Mrs. Reed re-
signed the presidency, and Mrs. L B. Gara
was chosen to fill that position, which she held
until May 2, 1876, when she, too, resigned,
and Miss Kate M. Mason was elected. The
latter held the position until her death, April
1, 1890, when she was succeeded by Miss
Sarah Reed, who still continues.

On the 16th of September, 1875, Hon. M.
B. Lowry presented the management with the
Gaggin property, located on the southwest
corner of Twenty-second and Sassafras streets.
The original building on the premises included
in the gift, not being large enough, there still
remained the necessity of raising a fund suffi-
cient to make the needed improvements. This
task was undertaken by Mrs. Gara, the presi-
dent, and it is largely due to her untiring zeal
that the money was pledged. Ground for the
addition to the building was broken Septem-
ber 25, 1875, and the corner stone laid on the
18th of October following. The fainily re-
moved to the property November 2, 1875, and
on the 25th of March, 1876, the addition was
finished, free of debt, at a total cost of $6,-
820.48. Mrs. Gara was efficiently aided in
procuring subscriptions by Mrs. J. C. Mar-
shall, Mrs. J. R. Saltsman, Mrs. W.'S. Brown,
Miss Kate M. Mason and Miss Sarah Reed.
Since that date the building has been further
enlarged and improved.

Among other liberal gifts to the institu-
tion was one from Hon. Prescott Metcalf of a
lot fronting fifty feet on Sassafras street, ad-
joining the Gaggin property, and an endow-
ment of $5,000, tendered by Hon. Williain L.
Scott as a Christmas gift in 1880. When the
tenth anniversary was celebrated in Novem-
ber, 1881, the result of ten years' work was
shown in a fine property worth some !^18,000,
free from debt, and in a building planned to
accommodate seventy-five children and a dozen
or more adults.

A special building for old people was con-
templated from the start, but lack of funds
prevented the accomplishment of the plan for
some years. With this in view, the house and
lot of Mr. Dunning, at Sassafras and Twenty-
fourth streets, were purchased in 1884. The
ladies were able to pay only a small portion of
the $5,000 purchase money, and while they
were asking each other who was going to be



brave and strong enough to go out and solicit
the amount necessary to pay for and improve
their last venture, Col. Ellsworth came to the
rescue, and, unknown to the board of mana-
gers, raised and placed in the treasury of the
building fund over $3,000. The work of im-
proving was at once commenced, and on the
afternoon and evening of September 8, 1887,
the completed building was thrown open to
the public.

The Home is strictly supported by the gifts
of the charitable, but it has been fortunate in
securing several liberal appropriations at the
hands of the State. About 1,200 children
have found shelter under its roof, and from it
many have gone to private homes, wiiere they
have been tenderly cared for, while many oth-
ers have been put in the way of earning an
honest living. Qiiite a number of old ladies
have found it a safe haven for their declining
years, and have been saved from that horror
of respectable poverty, the poor-house.

As a provision for future contingencies,
the managers, in the spring of 1895, bought
the house and lot on Twenty-fourth street,
adjoining the Home grounds on the west, at a
cost of 12,000.

The matrons have been as follows : Chil-
dren's department — Mrs. Chalfant, Miss Mey-
ers (afterward Mrs. Wm. Bell), Mrs. Aiken,
Miss Miller. Old ladies" department — Mrs.
Seymour, Mrs. Peirin.


The Hamot Hospital Association, organ-
ized mainly through the efforts of Rev. J. T.
Franklin, of vSt. Paul's Episcopal Church,
was chartered February 7, 1881, and the first
meeting of its board held on the 28th of the
same month. It occupies the old home of
P. S. V. Hamot, on the bank of the bay,
at the intersection of State with Front and
Second streets, which was deeded to the in-
stitution by his heirs, free from charge and
liabilities, on the 9th of April, 1881. The
deed contained certain conditions for insuring
the perpetuity of the hospital, which met with
the entire approval of the association. The
land thus generously donated embraced 216
feet on State street by 165 feet on Front
street, and 105 on Second street, which was
given for the sole uses of a general hospital,
open to all sects, races and conditions of men.
At the time of the gift the property was val-

ued at $12,000. Certain alterations were
made in the Hamot homestead to fit it for its
future use, and the hospital was formally
opened on the 1st day of July, 1881. It re-
ceived its first patient on the 10th day of the
same month.

The original structure has been much en-
larged and improved. An extensive addition
was made in 18S8, and formally opened Au-
gust 23d of that year. The contract was let in
June, 1895, for another addition, which will
cost $30,000. The late Geoige Selden, in his
will, directed the executors to turn over to the
Hospital Association $15,000, providing the
charter was amended to make the institution
non-sectarian. The Board took satisfactory
action upon this requirement in 1894, and the
money was applied to the erection of the last
mentioned addition. The sum left by Mr.
Selden not bting sufficient to carry out the
plans of the management, the family of the
late Wm. L. Scott generously stepped for-
ward and contributed an equal amount to that
bequeathed by Mr. Selden.

The corporators of the hospital are : Geo.
W. Starr, Chas. H. Strong, W. W. Reed,
Wm. Spencer, Jno. W. Reynolds, Chas. C.
Shirk, Jno. H. Bliss, Jno. S. Richards, Geo.
P. Colt, R. T. Williams, Geo. R. Metcalf, M.
H. Taylor, W. A. Galbraith, Chas. Jarecki,
H. F. Watson, Frank Gunnison, Geo. D. Sel-
den, E. Camphausen, E. E. Matthews, Henry
Shenk, M. Griswold, F. Brevillier, Julius
Levi, John Scarlett, Emil A. Becker, Jos. M.
Force, R. S. VanCleve, J. F. WaltheV, Mar-
tin Strong, D. D. Tracy and C. Kessler.

The institution has had from the beginning,
as superintendent, a graduate of the New
York Hospital School for trained nurses,
aided by competent and experitnced assist-
ants. The present superintendent is Miss
Maude Ardagh.

An auxilliary society of ladies, represent-
ing every Protestant church in the city, is an
important adjunct to the regular Board of
Managers, and has rendered very effective aid
in furnishing and constantly looking: after its
internal wants. Of this society Mrs. Geo.
W. Starr is president.

The present medical board consists of Dr.
Charles Brandes, consulting physician and
surgeon ; attending phj-sicians and surgeons,
Drs. James H. Montgomery, D. H. Strickland,
J. E. Silliman, J. J. Seward; surgeon in



charge of the eye and ear department, Dr. D.
N. Dennis ; surgeon in charge of the Marine
Hospital service, Dr. Wahace Hunter.

Over 3,000 persons have been treated, of
whom many have been charity patients, and
the demands are constantly beyond the capac-
ity of the hospital. With the exception of
an annual income of !|!500, accruing from the
gift of a generous citizen, and small appro-
priations by the State, the hospital is supported
in part by fees from patients able to pay, who
seek admission for the special care afforded ;
but principally from the voluntary subscrip-
tions of societies, business firms and individ-
uals. The good it has done and is doing is a
silent but constant appeal to the better feel-
ings of all classes. Minor differences are for-
gotten in a friendly rivalry to furnish help
and hope to the sick, the injured and the suf-

The payment of fifty dollars at one time
constitutes a life membership in the associa-
tion, and exemption thereafter from the pay-
ment of yearly dues.

ST. Joseph's orphan asylum.

St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum had its incep-
tion in 1864, when the Sisters of St. Joseph
occupied a small frame building on Fourth
street, close to vSt. Patrick's schoolhouse. In
April, 1866, they regularly opened an asylum
in a house on Second street, between French
and Holland, purchased for the purpose by
Bishop Young, and while there they had, gen-
erally speaking, care of sixty orphans. Land
was purchased in 1870, on Third street, be-
tween German and Holland, and in 1871-2
the present commodious brick building was
erected at a cost of about |50,000. It is
three stories high, with basement, and is
heated throughout by steam.

The institution has an average of about
175 orphans, who are tenderly cared for and
instructed in the precepts of the Catholic
faith, while at the same time they receive the
benefits of a common English education.
Whenever pupils develop a special talent for
music they are instructed in that branch, and
all are encouraged to cultivate and practice in-
dustrious habits. Ten or a dozen Sisters are
connected with the asylum, and perform all
of the duties thereof. The institution is sup-
ported by the industry of the Sisters, volun-
tary contributions and an annual collection

taken up throughout the diocese. All classes
are received, irrespective of creed or color, and
the grand work which the Catholic Church
is so silently performing for the little ones,
under this noble band of Sisters, deserves the
highest commendation and the most generous
encouragement. Being under the exclusive
control of the Catholic Church, the asylum is
barred by the Constitution from any bounty
on the part of the State.

The noble Sisters have found good homes
in families for many helpless waifs, now
growing up to careers of honor and useful-
ness, who, if neglected, might have become
moral lepers in society. Sister Eugenia
Quirk has been Superior of the asylum since
1880. On August 6, 1895, the asylum has
185 children in charge.

OLD folks' home.

Not content with their work for the or-
phans, the Sisters above spoken of have estab-
lished at Ash and Twenty-sixth streets a home
for aged and indigent persons of both sexes,
which is one of the best for its purpose in the
country. The building, a large three-story
brick, was erected in 1884-'5, and is sur-
rounded by extensive grounds. Its capacity
is for about 100 inmates, but the Sisters hope
to enlarge the structure in the near future. A
number of venerable persons, once in better
condition in life, are cared for. The institu-
tion, aside from small sums advanced by per-
sons who are admitted, depends solely upon
the voluntary contributions of its friends. It
is in charge of Sister Jerome, as Superior.

ST. Vincent's hospital.
Another of the very creditable benevolent
institutions founded by the Catholic Church
was erected in 1874-'5, on a large, dry and
elevated piece of ground at the corner of
Twenty-fourth and Sassafras streets, over-
looking the main portion of Erie and the bay
of Presque Isle, it is a handsome three-story
brick building, with a high basement. The
edifice cost about $7,000, is well furnished,
and is in charge of the Sisters of St. Joseph ,
a number of whom devote their time to the in-
stitution. St. Vincent's is open to all classes,
irrespective of creed, color or previous condi-
tion. It is airy and finely lighted throughout,
and fitted with all the modern appliances and
furniture needed in such an institution. The



hospital was opened for the reception of pa-
tients in September, 1875, and soon became
popular. Dr. J. L. Stewart was physician in
charge until his death in 1890, when he was
succeeded by Dr. J. E. .Silliman. On the res-
ignation of the latter, he was followed by Dr.
C. W. Stranahan, in January, 1895, who is
assisted by Drs. Foringer, Hunter and De-
laney. All other physicians in good stand-
ing have the privilege of treating patients in
the institution. The hospital is in charge of
Mother Superior Sister Ambrosia. The aver-
age number in care of the institution is 121.

Being sectarian in its management, the
hospital was deprived of any State appropri-
ation, and had to depend entirely upon volun-
tary contributions, aside from the limited
amount received from patients. This made
the cost of supporting it a heavy burden upon
the church, and, in order to remedy the diffi-
culty, the Board of Directors was reorganized
in 1894, so as to include citizens of various
religious faiths. As a consequence, the State
granted the hospital a liberal appropriation in
the spring of 1895, the first it ever secured.

The hospital has cared for a large number
of inmates, about equally divided as to relig-
ious belief, and is highly regarded by all who
are familiar with its operations.

Hon. W. L. .Scott, shortly before his
death, placed $10,000 in the hands of Bishop
Mullen, with the understanding that it is to
be used in building an addition to the hospital.
This is soon to be commenced, and pushed to
an early completion.


This popular and useful association was
organized on March 18, 1893, with the follow-
ing officers ; President, Mrs. Wm. Brewster;
First Vice President, Mrs. Chas. H. Strong;
Second Vice President, Mrs. C. M. Briggs ;
Secretary, Mrs. Frank Kepler; Treasurer,
Mrs. F. A. Mizener; Executive Board, Mrs.
Geo. P. Griffith, Mrs. F. Burton, Mrs. C. W.
Brown, Mrs. H. C. Dunning, Miss Ida Briggs,
Miss Julia Crouch and Miss Emma Carroll.
Sixty-five ladies were appointed as district
visitors, each having several city squares to
look after. The rooms of the society are at
609 and 611 French street. Its objects are:

" 1st. To systematize and bring into harmo-
nious co-operation the charities and alms-giving
of the city of Erie.

" 2d. To reduce and prevent pauperism in
the city.

"3d. To detect and guard against impostors
and unworthy applicants for assistance, street
beggars and persons who receive charitable
aid from two or more distinct sources.

" 4th. To promote by all lawful means
social and sanitary reforms and habits of
thrift, saving and self-dependence among the
poorer classes."

The first active work of the society was
done directly after the flood in Mill creek, in
1893 (elsewhere referred to), which called
for all of its energy and resources. Its receipts
and expenses have been as follows :


From Mav 17. 1893, to April 17, 1894 $9,058.62

From April 17, 1894, to April 23, 1895 750.56

From May 17, 1893, to April 17, 1894 $ 5,810.87

From April 17, 1894, to April 23, 1895. . . . 2,467.32

Balance on hand April 23, 1895 $1,530.99

The above does not include the net receipts

Online LibraryBenjamin WhitmanNelson's biographical dictionary and historical reference book of Erie County, Pennsylvania : containing a condensed history of Pennsylvania, of Erie County, and of the several cities, boroughs and townships in the county also portraits and biographies of the governor's since 1790, and of numerous r → online text (page 71 of 192)