CIVIL WAR ERA; The next social movement in which the people of Wayne county were interested was the care of the families of the soldiers who took part in the Civil war. Many were the sacrifices made by families in that great struggle. Husbands and sons went to war, leaving behind them families who were dependent on their daily toil. The suffering entailed by this state of affairs would have been enormous had not those of Wayne county’s loyal sons who remained behind come forward and liberally contributed to the support of the soldier’s wife and children.
Especially was help necessary in the cities. In the country, the women and children could manage to raise enough produce to keep “the wolf from the door”; but in the cities, their sources of income were more limited, through their inability to earn anything. Many generous deeds of kindness are doubtless unrecorded; but the liberality of the farmers surrounding the city of Richmond, in caring for its distressed, was so great that it deserves to go down in the history of the county as one of its brightest pages. The winters of 1862 and 1863 were very hard on the poor.
One morning in January, 1863, twenty-five wagons, loaded with wood, and one with flour, meal, potatoes, etc., were driven into Richmond by the Middleboro farmers, and their contents were distributed among the poor and needy of the soldiers’ families. On Saturday, Feb. 14, a delegation from Boston township brought over sixty cords of wood and 3,000 pounds of meal and other provisions. On Feb. 28, the farmers along the National Road, east of the city, brought in ninety-two cords of wood, over 2,000 pounds of flour, forty bushels of corn meal, six bushels of potatoes, etc. The procession was eight blocks long. The next Monday the farmers along the pike west of town, came in with a contribution equally as large. The rivalry in this work of mercy became very intense. The Middleboro farmers again came into town on March 28 with a train of wagons nearly a mile long. The farmers along the Liberty Pike, not to be outdone, now brought in their contribution, their total gifts amounting, in value, to $1,300. These different delegations were received by the citizens with brass bands and speaking.
Provisions were also hauled into the smaller towns. In December, 1863, Cambridge City received a large contribution of wood and provisions, and March 19, Centerville was liberally remembered by the patriotic farmers. On Oct. 31, 1863, the Middleboro farmers, for the third time, opened their liberal stores of wood and provisions and brought into Richmond about $500 worth of material. Governor Morton made the opening address of welcome on this occasion and was followed by Generals Benton and Mansfield. A few days later, a “Young Men’s Saw-Buck Brigade” was organized, which sawed and split the wood for use.
On Thanksgiving Day another demonstration of patriotism and liberality was made by the farmers along the National Road, east of the city of Richmond, who were given, in turn, a dinner in Starr Hall, in company with the soldiers’ families. At the time the first soldiers departed a committee, composed of Louts Burke, J. A. Bridgeland, and Rev. J. W. T. McMullen, was appointed to see the Richmond city council and the county commissioners relative to making an appropriation for the soldiers’ families. The council responded by ordering money paid from the treasury and by ordering all unnecessary improvements stopped; the county commissioners paid out about $700 weekly, during the winter of 1862, for charity.
On April 10, 1862, a “Sanitary Committee” was appointed at a mass meeting in Starr Hall. At this meeting $522 was raised and, on a call to other townships, they responded liberally with money, provisions and clothing for hospital use. The aid societies of the churches were organized about this time and did noble work in supplying hospital necessities and luxuries. On May 28, 1862, the published report of the “Sanitary Committee” showed a total of $1,166.66 paid in, besides clothing and provisions. During December, 1863, a special effort was made to raise money by suppers, concerts and subscriptions. This was under the control of the “Sanitary Committee” and the aid societies.
Centerville gave a dinner, a supper, and a concert. At White Water a dinner and a supper were given. Meetings were held in Cambridge City, Dublin, Milton, Clay township, Abington, Harrison township, Hagerstown, Newport, Williamsburg, Economy, and Dalton township. A grand total of $11,300 was raised by this effort. For this liberal offering Wayne county was presented a prize banner by the State Sanitary Commission. We must not neglect to mention the enormous load of wood hauled into Richmond by William Parry, which is said to have been the largest contribution by any one. Williamsburg and Fountain City also contributed stores of wood and provisions. The last demonstration by the farmers was made in the winter of 1864.
Source of the above photo; Pictorial History of the City of Richmond; Dalbey; 1906
Prizes of purses and buffalo robes were offered for the largest contribution, and the delegation from the National Road, east of Richmond, won, with in cords of wood. Thus did the people of Wayne county deal with the charity question during the Civil war. The grand totals for the whole county were as follows: Contribution for soldiers’ bounties, $379,093.35; contributions for the relief of soldiers’ families, $184,350; total, $563,443.35.
Wayne county has been in the past and is at present in the forefront among the counties of the State in caring for her poor. The amount expended for the relief of the poor by the county, in 1879, was $13,422. In 1898 the amount expended for the same purpose-was $14,231. This money is distributed by the township trustees, who furnish fuel, food, and sometimes transportation, to worthy persons who become stranded in their community. By far the greatest amount is expended by the trustee of Wayne township, under whose jurisdiction is the city of Richmond. About $6,500 is expended annually in this township for the relief of the poor.
Wayne County’s Poor Asylum is situated just north of the National Road, about two miles west of the town of Centerville. It is a model institution and, under the management of the present superintendent, E. N. Brumfield, is kept in fine condition. The farm contains about 300 acres. The number of inmates in the poor asylum in 1889 was fifty-four; in 1896, fifty-four; in 1898, forty-seven. Considering the number of inhabitants of the county, this number is small in comparison with the other counties of the State. The church auxiliary societies and secret societies do a vast amount of work throughout the county in caring for the poor. The various aid societies, Christian Endeavor, Sunday schools, and Epworth League societies, not only help the poor of their own membership, but give much help in general. The Woman’s Relief Corps, wherever it has an organization, as in Richmond and Cambridge City, has done much for the comfort of the poor among the ex-soldiers of the Civil war and their families.
The secret societies of the county, out of their treasuries, pay benefits to their sick members and care for their poor. The Masons are an exception to this rule, but one of the ancient charges of the order is, “if you discover a true and genuine brother in want, you must relieve him if you can, or else direct him how he may be relieved.” The four chief orders of the county are: The Masons, Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows and the Red Men. The Masons have lodges in Richmond, Cambridge City, White Water Williamsburg, Economy, Chester, Boston, Abington, Milton, Centerville, and Hagerstown.
The Knights of Pythias have lodges in Richmond, Boston, Abington, Centerville, Hagerstown, Fountain City, and Cambridge City. The Odd Fellows are represented by lodges in Richmond, Cambridge City, Boston, Abington, Centerville, Germantown, Dublin, Milton, Hagerstown, Washington, Williamsburg, Jacksonburg, Walnut Level, and Webster. The Red Men have lodges in Richmond, Cambridge City, and Centerville. The county is thus well covered by these organizations. Their work, although confined to their own members, is nevertheless a powerful factor in caring for the county’s poor and unfortunate.
In the city of Richmond the charitable efforts of the citizens are carried on through certain special agencies which are more or less in harmony, through the co-ordinating influence of the Associated Charities and the Council of Charities. Among these organizations and institutions are the following: The Woman’s Relief Corps, the Morrisson Relief Fund, the Children’s Home, Margaret Smith Home, the St. Stephen’s Hospital, the Home of the Friendless, the Busy Bee Society, the Penny Club, the Pingree Garden Committee, and the Richmond Benevolent Association.
The Woman’s Relief Corps is an auxiliary to the Grand Army of the Republic. The Richmond corps was organized Jan. 18, 1887. The membership is now limited to soldiers’ relatives. Up to 1897, $1,300 in money, besides much clothing and food, was expended by this society for charity; also, four children have been placed in good homes and an orphan girl was sent to a surgical institute for treatment. They also see to the burial of soldiers’ widows. These noble women are untiring workers in the cause and give suppers and entertainments to raise funds. The Morrisson Relief Fund is a sum of $10,000, donated by Robert Morrisson at his death, for the good of the poor of Richmond. From its beginning it has been managed by a board of trustees, composed of James E. Reeves, C. W. Ferguson, and Elgar Hibberd. With the interest accruing from it the Children’s Home was established and maintained until it became a county institution. Since that time a board of lady managers has regulated its use, the greater part going to the support of the Margaret Smith Home. This most generous gift has done much good and will forever redound to the honor of the giver.
The Children’s Home was first established in the manner stated, on South Fifth street. In 1881 it was removed to its present site at the corner of the National Road and College avenue, which was bought by the county commissioners. In 1887 the commissioners undertook its full support and for a time it was continued as a county institution. The Margaret Smith Home for aged women was established out of a legacy left by Margaret Smith, amounting to $32,000. It was first started in the Francis Robinson property on South Fifth street and was subsequently moved to its present beautiful location at the corner of Seventeenth and Main streets. Any aged lady, by giving up her property to the Home, can be cared for there. The St. Stephen’s Hospital, at the corner of Eighth and North C streets, was organized under the auspices of St. Paul’s Episcopal church, in 1884. A board of nine members was appointed by the vestry of this church, selected from the various churches.
The institution is open to any one regardless of creed or nationality and is dependent for its support upon charity and the contributions of those who are able to pay for the services rendered them. Its present site was purchased in 1891 for $6,000. The St. Stephen’s Ladies’ Aid Society has done much for its support by giving suppers and entertainments. From 1885 to 1896 they raised $2,836. This is a most worthy institution and deserves the help of all citizens.
The Home of the Friendless was organized under the direction of the Young Men’s Christian Association by a committee of ladies: Its purpose is to shelter and provide for unfortunate women and children until they are able to care for themselves. It reaches out after those who have fallen the lowest and screens them from the sneers and blows of a hard and unfeeling world. It is controlled by a board of lady managers. The average number of inmates is eighteen. It is dependent entirely upon charity. The Society known as “Busy Bee” was organized in 1868 by Martha Valentine and Letitia Smith, as a training school for poor children. Sewing was taught and the garments made were given to the poor. It lasted about twenty years, but is now disorganized. The Penny Club is likewise a club for helping the poor. A penny is donated by each member at each meeting. It works in connection with the Relief Corps and its methods of bestowing charity are of the best.
The Associated Charities was organized in 1889, to succeed the Minister’s Association, which had done charity work for twenty-five years. “The object of the Association is to promote whatever tends to the permanent improvement of the condition of the poor.” The work of the Association is first, “to bring existing local charitable agencies into co-operation, in order to prevent indiscriminate and duplicate alms giving; second, to secure the investigation of the cases of all persons in any of our districts who need help; third, to find them the help or work they need; fourth, to prevent begging and to secure the community from impostors; fifth, to promote the general welfare of the city; sixth, to improve the character and methods of administering relief; seventh, to prevent the children growing up paupers.” From this, we see that the association is proceeding upon a rational basis and has taken the proper method of alms giving.
In 1892 a city missionary was appointed, who has done efficient work and has found her field of work constantly widening. Soup houses were opened in the basement of the Pearl street church during the hard winters of 1893 and 1894. At first it was given away, but later was sold for one cent a bowl or five cents a pail. In November, 1895, workrooms were opened on South Fifth street, where citizens were requested to bring mending and washing to be done by poor women. At first, five cents an hour and a good dinner was the pay, but the next year forty cents a washing was substituted. These methods are the most advanced in the theory of alms giving and deserve the hearty co-operation of every loyal citizen.
The “Pingree” or Detroit plan of helping the poor to help themselves came into being through the efforts of Mayor Ostrander, in the spring of 1895. He asked the council to appropriate $100 for the experiment, which they did. A committee, composed of Caleb King, Jacob Hampton, and Daniel Hill, was appointed to carry it out. The plan was highly successful. During the first year fifty-two gardens were cultivated. In 1896, eighty gardens were cultivated and sixty dollars of the $200 appropriated by the council in that year was turned back into the treasury. In 1898 and 1899, $200 was appropriated by the council and the number of gardens was considerably increased. In order to obtain a plot of ground the applicant must sign several articles of agreement between himself and the committee.
The committee agrees to furnish a plot of ground, put it in suitable order for planting, and furnish seed potatoes; the applicant agrees to furnish the smaller seeds and plants, to cultivate the same in good order, and to furnish a report to the committee. A failure in any one of the above requirements forfeits the lot. The plan has been a grand success and some very good products have been exhibited at the annual exhibition of such products. The principle involved in this plan is in accordance with all the principles of correct charity giving.
Richmond also has a Council of Charities, organized Aug. 16, 1896; it brings all the charitable organizations into harmonious action. There has recently been organized a new institution, known as the Richmond Benevolent Association, with J. B. Craighead as president; its object is to raise funds for the various charitable institutions of the city by giving entertainments, such as a society circus in the summer and a play in the winter. It is a worthy movement and deserves great success.
From this brief review it is evident that Wayne county is far advanced in the methods of her charitable work, in the amount of such work, and in the efficient institutions engaged in it. In the sphere of organizations for raising the general standard of culture and sociability, she is also well up in the forefront. Nearly every hamlet has its literary society, which has not only an educational influence, but also a direct social influence. The town of Cambridge City has three active literary societies: The Helen Hunt Club, the Friday Night Club, and the Magazine Club.
In Richmond there are eighteen active clubs. They are the Tuesday Club, a purely literary organization which discusses papers on miscellaneous subjects written by its member’s; the Cycle, a purely literary club, engaged in studying literature, biography, economic and political history; the Tuesday Aftermath, consisting of forty members and studying literature, history, domestic, economic, and current events; the Wednesday Society, a ladies’ club which has done literary and musical work and contributed to charitable objects; the Tichnor Club, organized for literary and social purposes; the History Class, having for its purpose the study of history and art; the Tourist Club, having a social as well as a literary feature, the latter being a successive study of the conditions of the countries of the world;
The North End Literary Club, devoted to the study of children and literary subjects; the Variorum Club, a club of ladies engaged in investigating questions concerning municipalities ; the Women’s Literary Circle, having about forty members and organized for social, literary and charitable purposes; the Spring Grove Literary Society, a family organization, having for its purpose the social intermingling of the families which constitute its membership and the discussion of general literary subjects and current events; the Magazine Club, which considers all the current magazines and contributes to the musical taste and social enjoyment of its members; the Child’s Study Club, a club composed of mothers and teachers devoted to “the promotion of the welfare of the children and to bringing parents and teachers into mutual relationship in order to accomplish this”;
The Twentieth Century Club, a ladies’ organization, having for its object the study of political questions; the Nomades Club, composed of twenty ladies who study the work of various authors and the art of conversation ; the Woman’s Collegiate Club; the Friday Evening Club, composed of twenty members, both ladies and gentlemen, and giving programmes, consisting of discussions of English and American authors, and music, besides a general social time; the Local Sociology Club, devoted to the study of various social questions in Richmond, and composed of the foremost business men and educators of the city; and the Political Economy Club, composed of the leading business men of the city who are investigating questions of political economy, political science, and sociology.
Besides these various clubs there is a co-ordinating organization, known as the Council of Clubs, which is composed of two delegates from each club in the city. Its meetings are purely business meetings; their work is towards the general advancement of culture in the city by art exhibitions, etc.
Source; Memoirs of Wayne County & Richmond Indiana; Henry Clay Fox; 1912