Showing posts with label Charity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charity. Show all posts

Monday, October 21, 2019

The History of the Mary E. McDowell Settlement House in Chicago, Illinois.

Mary McDowell's abolitionist father, Malcolm McDowell, brought the family from Cincinnati to Chicago after the Civil War, arriving in Chicago in 1870. At the time of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 (Mary was 17) her father, though ill himself, consented to her taking their horse and wagon out to help rescue fleeing citizens and some of their possessions.
Mary E. McDowell
The governor of Ohio, Rutherford B. Hayes, an old friend of the McDowells, was one of the first to rush aid to the stricken city and, of course, he sent it to the home of the McDowell’s for distribution. Mary worked unceasingly in those first days after the fire before central relief forces were organized and helped form the “Relief and Aid Society” from which later emerged United Charities of Chicago. Another organization was distributing, en masse, Chicago Shelter Cottages, kit houses (short-term housing) for 1871 Fire Victims, nearly days after the fire.
Mary McDowell with two unidentified individuals.
When Rutherford Hayes became president, Mary was invited to spend a month at the White House, and later spent a summer in California with her uncle, Major General McDowell. In the early 1880s, her family moved to Evanston, Illinois, a very Methodist suburb at the time.

There Mary became a friend and follower of Frances Willard, founder of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union which advocated the right of women to vote. After graduating from the National Kindergarten College, and teaching for a private family in New York, she returned to Evanston in 1890. 

Her interest in the social experiment, which Jane Addams and Ellen Gates Starr were beginning in General Hull’s old mansion in Chicago led her to help found such an experiment in Evanston, the Northwestern University Settlement.
The University of Chicago - Mary McDowell Settlement House, 4655 Gross Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Soon thereafter she was living at Hull House as one of the first kindergarten workers until the illness of her mother called her back to her family (she was one of six children) in Evanston. In the meantime, a new University of Chicago was being established and members of its faculty transformed an association called the Christian Union, determined to learn the causes of this pervasive unrest and at the same time, to minister to the needs of a neighborhood in the mode of Hull House. It was agreed that the district called "Packingtown," just in the back of the Union Stock Yards (now the Back of the Yards neighborhood) which was the scene of bloodshed and rioting during the 1894 strike, was greatly in need of such a center. 

At the recommendation of Jane Addams, Mary McDowell, then 40 years old, was invited to take charge of the new house. In November 1894, she settled in a building in the heart of a most difficult, transient area, in four small rooms, in a tenement on Gross Avenue (now McDowell Avenue) and she began to live there as a neighbor to the workers of Packingtown.
From left: Mary K. Simkhovitch, Mary McDowell, Graham Taylor, and Jane Addams.
By 1906, the Settlement House had moved to a new building on the same block, which remained its home for some 60 years. By the 1930s, the site contained 45,000 square feet, much of it in a central, four-story building and included a boxing room, five club rooms, a game room, junior and senior girls rooms, a library, manual training and sewing areas, a music room, nursery, showers, and two play lots-one on the roof.
Eventually, there were two gymnasiums, one for boys and one for girls, and a visiting nurse program. The residents worked with those of all ages–from infants in the nursery to senior citizens. Most attention went to the children; having children at the Settlement house meant that parents would come too. The Mothers’ Club was an active organization for many years. Older children took classes in wood-working, manual training (for the boys), cooking and sewing (for the girls) and arts and crafts (for both). Some children had their own plots of land and learned to keep a garden. Once a week there was a show produced by the youngsters. Settlement house clubs participated in sports and other activities with the many ethnic, Parish-sponsored social and athletic clubs. 

In 1900, the city built the William Mavor Bathhouse (named after a Chicago alderman) at 4645 Gross (later McDowell) Avenue, under the prodding of Mary McDowell and the Settlement House Women’s Club. The alderman who finally was moved to facilitate its building was so convinced of the potential political power of Mary McDowell that he had to be dissuaded from naming it the “Mary McDowell Municipal Bathhouse.” 
Sometimes called the "Angel of the Stockyards," Mary McDowell preferred to think of herself as a concerned citizen. She reached out from that base to promote trade unionism and safer working conditions, woman suffrage, inter-racial understanding, and reforms in municipal waste disposal.
While representing the union at the 1903 American Federation of Labor convention, she joined with others to establish a National Women's Trade Union League which she was elected as its first president. As the first president of the Illinois branch of the WTUL, she recruited glove-maker Agnes Nestor, and boot and shoe worker, Mary Anderson into the battle for shorter hours for factory women in Illinois. McDowell was also instrumental in persuading President Theodore Roosevelt to authorize the first federal investigation of working conditions and wages for women and children in the industry.  President Theodore Roosevelt and the Congress to authorize $300,000 for a study of women in the workplace. This landmark study took four years and filled 19 volumes!

In 1923, reform Mayor William E. Dever appointed Mary McDowell Commissioner of the Department of Public Welfare (a department created in 1914, mainly through the efforts of Charles Merriam, alderman and UC professor), which consisted of a Bureau of Employment and a Bureau of Social Surveys. In 1921, the City Council had been ready to abolish the department saying it was ‘the most useless on the city payroll.’ The Chicago Tribune on June 27th, 1923, quoted an alderman, after some argument, as proposing: “Let’s give Miss McDowell this one opportunity to work out some of her plans, and if she fails, then we’ll repeal the act which created her position.” She was commissioned and the department really began to serve the city and its citizens. 
Mary McDowell had campaigned for Women’s Suffrage, for World Peace, for better schools, for improved health care, for honest government, for the day, as she wrote, “When wage-earners would have a decent American standard of living.” 

She had moved in prestigious circles too, and sought the help of those in power for her many causes-for those in need whom she considered her friends and neighbors. She had asked the questions and set up the procedures whereby accurate information could be assimilated and used. And she was years ahead of most of her fellow citizens regarding race relations. Her diligent work in the Settlement House, in Packingtown, in the city, and far beyond had bettered the life of countless people.
Medal Awarded to Mary McDowell by the Government of Lithuania.
Mary McDowell retired at the age of 75 in 1929 and died at 82 in 1936. The University Settlement was renamed The Mary McDowell Settlement in 1956 in her honor. It was put under the wing of Chicago Commons in 1967 and the old settlement house buildings were torn down in the early 1970s.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Museum of Science and Industry changing name after $125M gift from Chicagoan Ken Griffin.

The Museum of Science and Industry will now be called the "Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry" following a donation of $125 million from the Chicago billionaire. It was the museum's board who decided to honor Ken Griffin by amending his name to the museum's name.

It’s the largest single gift in the history of the museum, which opened in 1933.
The museum was incorporated as the Rosenwald Industrial Museum but was renamed the Museum of Science and Industry in 1928 – five years before it actually opened – because Rosenwald did not want his name on the museum.

“This incredibly generous gift helps ensure MSI remains a vital resource for science learning well into the 21st century,” the museum announced on its website. It explained that renaming the museum “was the most appropriate way to convey our gratitude for this gift.” Griffin is the richest man in Illinois.
Kenneth C. Griffin
The museum also insisted its mission will not change as a result of the donation, part of which will go toward a new “Pixel Studio,” which is called “a state-of-the-art digital gallery and performance space that will be the only experience of its kind in North America.

“The purpose of this gift is to allow us to continue the great work we do in support of our mission and vision,” the museum’s statement said. “MSI’s mission will remain the same as it has always been: to inspire the inventive genius in everyone, and we are grateful for this gift, which will help ensure the Museum remains a vital resource for science learning well into the 21st century.”

Private support for the museum in 2018 totaled $19 million, up $3 million from the previous year.

By Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times, Oct 3, 2019
Edited by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Kenneth C. Griffin - Chicago Philanthropy
  • Griffin had contributed millions to the Art Institute of Chicago, public education, the Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago, the Chicago Public Library and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Griffin also contributed to the Museum of Contemporary Art, the "Evolving Planet" at the Field Museum of Natural History and endowed professorships at the University of Chicago. 
  • In October 2006, the Griffins and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, funded and supported the opening of a new charter school in Chicago named Woodlawn High School.
  • In 2007 Griffin donated a $19 million addition to the Art Institute of Chicago that was designed by Renzo Piano.
  • In October 2009, Griffin and his wife founded the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation. The foundation's contributions include $10 million for the Chicago Heights Early Childhood Center, $16 million to Children's Memorial Hospital, full funding for the University of Chicago's Early Childhood Center, and others.
  • In December 2016, Griffin gave $12 million to the Chicago Park District to help fund separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians along the city's 18-mile lakefront.
  • In November 2017, the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund made a new $125 million gift to support the Department of Economics of the University of Chicago, which he was honored with the department being renamed to the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics.
  • A $16.5 million donation allowed the Field Museum to purchase a cast of the largest dinosaur ever discovered in 2018, a 122-foot-long Argentinian titanosaur named Máximo.
  • In October 2019, the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable fund announced a $125 million gift to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the largest gift in the museum's history. The museum intends to change the name to the Kenneth C. Griffin Museum of Science and Industry. 

Sunday, August 11, 2019

The history of the Chicago Fresh Air Hospital in the West Ridge community. (1912-ca.1960)

The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital was located at 2451 West Howard Street in Chicago (Tel: Rogers Park-0321). It was built in 1912 on 20 acres of the Peter Gouden Farm near the southwest corner of Howard Street between Maplewood and Western Avenues.
The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital building's
footprint is highlighted in green.
It was built by doctors from Augustana Hospital who wanted to build a sanitorium for tuberculosis patients. This was prompted because Augustana would not accept such patients at that time.
Photo courtesy of the Rogers Park West Ridge Historical Society.
The building was constructed at the cost of $126,000.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease of the lungs and other organs. Once considered incurable, the disease caused its victims to slowly waste away, which was why it was called “consumption.” With a mortality rate of approximately 18 per 10,000 people, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death within the city of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century.

Early attempts at controlling tuberculosis in Chicago focused on home sanitation, public health education, and isolation of the patient. Private hospitals took in a few tuberculosis patients, but public facilities to care for the affected were not available.

In order to raise public awareness, the Visiting Nurses Association and physician Theodore Sachs spearheaded an antituberculosis movement in the early 1900s. This eventually resulted in the passage of state legislation, the Glackin Tuberculosis Law, in 1909, giving the city of Chicago the ability to raise funds for the treatment and control of tuberculosis through a special property tax.

In 1914, there were 10,000 registered cases of Tuberculosis (TB). The number of deaths due to TB in Chicago that year was 3, 384. Yet there were only 300 public beds available in the city for patients who could not afford to pay for treatment. In March 1915, the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium opened its doors to citizens of Chicago suffering from tuberculosis. Treatment was free to residents of Chicago.
The Chicago Fresh Air Hospital later became known as Bethesda Hospital and, at one time, was affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital (now Sinai Health System).

In 2005 a Korean American gentleman by the name of Park has converted the former hospital into a condominium complex.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Lydia Moss Bradley, Philanthropist and Founder of Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois.

Lydia Moss Bradley (1816–1908)
Lydia Moss Bradley was a wealthy philanthropist famous for her humanitarian works in Illinois and the independent management of her wealth. A pioneer in business and philanthropy, she founded Bradley Polytechnic Institute (now Bradley University) in 1897. Bradley and her accomplishments would be notable in any age, but to achieve all of this as an independent woman in the 19th century makes her simply amazing.

Lydia Moss was born in Vevay, Indiana on July 31, 1816, the daughter of Zeally and Jennett Glasscock Moss. Prior to Lydia’s birth, Zeally Moss owned a plantation in Kentucky, but decided that he did not want to make a living based on slavery. He reportedly, “gave the place rent free to his Negroes to work out their own living, while he crossed over into free territory to make his home and rear his family.” 

Lydia Moss Bradley believed that industriousness was required of all able-bodied members of a community. Despite her limited education – in a neighbor’s kitchen with no heat, few books and handmade quill pens – Lydia learned the practical things of life and developed the strong business sense that would serve her so well as an adult.

Lydia’s father gave a young colt that had lost its mother to his daughter to raise. After raising enough money for a saddle and bridle, and enjoying the horse as the only access to a social life in those days, she sold it in exchange for 40 acres of forested land. She cleared the land and sold the timber, and met Tobias Bradley, who was running the sawmill where her timber was processed.

Marriage and Family
On May 11, 1837, at age 31, Lydia married Tobias Bradley, and the newlyweds initially lived with her parents in Vevay. Their first child, Rebecca, was born January 20, 1839. That same year, Zeally Moss died leaving the family farm to Lydia. Lydia gave birth to their second daughter, Clarissa, on October, 26, 1843, but Rebecca died on September 2, 1845.

In 1847, Lydia and her family, including her mother, moved to Peoria, Illinois to join her brother William Moss. With the proceeds from the sale of their land holdings in Vevay, the Bradleys purchased a large tract of land in Peoria, which was in its early development, and an excellent place for Tobias Bradley and William Moss to prosper in business ventures.

Over the next three decades the Bradleys prospered in real estate and banking. In the early days, Lydia was the housewife and mother, while Tobias became a leading businessman with many entrepreneurial endeavors. He was one of the founders of First National Bank in Peoria and helped establish the first public library there.
Unfortunately, the Bradleys suffered the deaths of five of their six children in rapid succession. Daughter Rebecca had died in 1845 before the move to Illinois, while daughter Clarissa and son Tobias Moss (born April 28, 1847) died during the first year at Peoria. Daughter Mary lived less than a year, dying on April 25, 1852, and son William died August 25, 1855 at the age of two. Daughter Laura (born April 24, 1849) lived longer than any of the other children, dying in 1864 at the age of fourteen.

During these same difficult years, in business dealings the Bradleys were charmed and soon became quite wealthy. In the early days Tobias ran another sawmill, captained the steamboat Avalanche owned by William Moss, and joined Moss in a distilling business, which ran successfully for many years. Tobias also continued to purchase land and bought stock in new companies.

After losing all of their children, the Bradleys began thinking about constructing a monument to their deceased children. They discussed the idea of an orphanage, but Lydia later decided that such institutions were often ill-equipped to help young people acquire the skills needed to become independent, which was her main interest.

Then came the final blow in 1867 when Tobias Bradley was killed in a carriage accident at age 56. Rather than becoming absorbed in her own grief and allowing herself to be protected by her wealth, Lydia took over the management of her estate, which was valued at $500,000. Within ten years, the estate doubled to over $1 million and then doubled again.

At the time of his death, Tobias Bradley was the president of the First National Bank of Peoria. Lydia inherited the stock which he owned in the bank, and became a member of the Board of Directors. 
Lydia sits for a photograph with the First National Bank in Peoria Board of Trustees, the first female member of a national bank board in America.
For twenty-five of the nearly thirty-four years she served as a board member, she held the position of Director. Although it is difficult to determine if any other women in the country held similar positions, it is possible the she was the first female member of a national bank board in the United States.

In 1869, just before marrying Edward Clark, Lydia Moss Bradley became the first American woman to draft a prenuptial agreement to protect her assets. She was savvy enough be careful with her wealth, and was unwilling to place herself in a position of vulnerability. The agreement, which Clark signed, declared that if the marriage did not last each would retain their individual holdings. Bradley and Clark divorced in 1873.

Career in Philanthropy
In Peoria, Bradley gave land to the Society of St. Francis to build a hospital, now known as the OSF St. Francis Medical Center. In 1884, she built the Bradley Home for Aged Women to care for widowed and childless women, and funded the construction of the Universalist church. She also donated over 100 acres of land to the City of Peoria for a park, later named in memory of her daughter Laura.

Lydia Moss Bradley finally decided that she wanted to establish a place of higher learning as a lasting memorial to her husband and children. She began investigating schools as models for the one she planned to endow through her will. In 1877 Bradley visited Rose Polytechnic Institute in Indiana which offered degrees in engineering and the sciences because she wanted to give young people “the most practical assistance at the best time of their lives to make them independent, self-supporting, useful men and women.”

During her research, Bradley learned that the cost of such a school would be far greater than the value of her estate, so she decided to continue her business efforts in order to fully endow a school of the highest standards. One of the ways in which she made such a substantial increase in her wealth was her ability to improve the quality of land.

She owned 680 acres of Manito Marsh; she had the land drained and built farm buildings and fences, and began cultivating the land for farming, but the crops did poorly. When the crops failed to improve over time, she sent samples of the soil to Champaign for analysis. The soil was very rich, but it lacked potash. By amending the soil, Bradley’s farms became successful.

The farmers working her land benefitted, the land became useful, neighboring farmers followed suit and improved their own crops, and the value of the land was increased dramatically. Bradley had purchased this marsh land for $10 per acre, and when the crops became successful, the lots sold for up to $140 per acre.

Bradley was a strong, independent woman at a time when women were still expected to be submissive, but her willingness to seek out experts to aid her in her decision making was perhaps the greatest key to her success. In 1885, after nearly doubling the value of the estate left to her by her husband, she hired W.W. Hammond as her business manager, starting a relationship which lasted until her death and beyond – Hammond managed the affairs of Bradley’s school until his own death in 1920.

Hiring Hammond was a wise decision because he was not only astute in business matters, he was also a lawyer and was subsequently able to protect her interests. Bradley met with Hammond every morning at her home, an imposing brick residence Tobias Bradley built in 1858. Every Sunday, she took a carriage ride to Springdale Cemetery and placed flowers from her own gardens on the graves of her deceased loved ones.
The historic Lydia Moss Bradley house on Moss Avenue in Peoria, Illinois.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute
As a first step toward her goal of establishing a school, in 1892 Bradley purchased a controlling interest in Parsons Horological School in LaPorte, Indiana, the first school for watchmakers in America, and moved it to Peoria with its 100 students, full staff of teachers and all. She specified in her will that the school should be expanded after her death to include a classical education as well as industrial arts and home economics: being the first object of this Institution to furnish its students with the means of living an independent, industrious and useful life by the aid of a practical knowledge of the useful arts and sciences.
One of the best pieces of advice Bradley received came from William Rainey Harper, president of the University of Chicago in October 1896. After looking over her finances he assured her she had sufficient funds, and soon convinced her to move ahead with her plans and establish the school during her lifetime.
Bradley Horology Hall: dedicated on October 8, 1897.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute, now Bradley University, in Peoria, Illinois.
Bradley Polytechnic Institute was chartered on November 13, 1896. Mrs. Bradley provided 17.5 acres of land, $170,000 for buildings, equipment and a library, and $30,000 per year for operating expenses. On April 10, 1897, ground was broken for Bradley Hall and work moved ahead quickly. With 14 faculty and 150 students, classes began in Bradley Hall on October 4, 1897 – with 500 workers still hammering away.
Bradley Hall and Horological School, 1906.
The Chicago Times Herald article about Mrs. Bradley at the school’s dedication on October 8, 1897 stated: the few sentences she uttered were compressed the ideals she had cherished for half a century. She said she hoped the institute would be a real benefit to mankind; that it would be the means of making better men and women; that boys and girls would find in the new institution of learning an incentive to intellectual life was her ardent wish.
Later Years
Bradley knew that to safeguard her initial plans for the Bradley Polytechnic Institute, she could not leave many issues open to interpretation. She purposely placed a majority of Peorians on the board and had the ratio of residents written into the charter to make certain the school always served the interests of the community.

Establishing the school during her lifetime gave Lydia Moss Bradley the enormous emotional satisfaction of seeing the creation brought about by her efforts. All records indicate that she rarely missed special events at the Institute. She is said to have entertained students in her kitchen and garden some afternoons, and she is almost always reported to have been an honored guest on founder’s days and graduations.

In many speeches and memorial addresses after her death, those who knew her felt that the Institute had a profound effect on Bradley’s happiness in her later years. Students, faculty and trustees were also glad that they had the opportunity to express their appreciation to their school’s founder while she lived. Without that satisfaction, she would have had far less reason to live such a long and active life.

Pleased with its progress, Mrs. Bradley transferred to the school the rest of her estate, including nearly 1,000 different pieces of property, reserving its use and profits during her lifetime. At Founder’s Day in 1906 she announced an additional gift to build Hewitt Gymnasium, now Hartmann Center for the Performing Arts.
The Hewitt Gymnasium, 1912.
By 1899 the Institute had expanded to accommodate nearly 500 pupils, about equally divided between men and women, and offered courses in biology, chemistry, food work, sewing, English, German, French, Latin, Greek, history, manual arts, drawing, mathematics and physics.
Lydia Moss Bradley at her home on Moss Avenue in Peoria, Illinois.
Lydia Moss Bradley developed deep convictions on work, skill, thrift and economy. Although her family had become quite prosperous in land holdings during her childhood, every member of the family worked on the farm. Even in her later years as one of the wealthiest citizens in the Peoria area, business manager W. W. Hammond reported:
"Mrs. Bradley never forgot how to work, and until within a short time of her death still made her own butter, raised her own eggs, salted down her own meat and tried out her own lard. She would not have considered herself a good housekeeper had she not done so. The housewife of those times was expected to stock the larder with meats and fruits, to spin the yarn, make the clothing, bedding and carpets, and to prepare food in plenty for all who chanced to be present when meal time came round. All these things Mrs. Bradley did."
Lydia Moss Bradley died on January 16, 1908, at age 91, and is buried at Springdale Cemetery and Mausoleum, Peoria, Illinois.

The Institute continued to grow and develop to meet the educational needs of the region. It became a four-year college offering bachelor’s degrees in 1920 and a full university with graduate programs in 1946, when it was renamed Bradley University. Today it is a fully accredited institution that provides education in engineering, business, communication, teacher education, nursing, physical therapy, fine arts and the liberal arts and sciences.

In 1998, Bradley was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, May 6, 2019

Montgomery Ward fights to keep Chicago's lakefront “open, clear and free” and protect the Public Trust Doctrine.

Aaron Montgomery Ward is probably best remembered as the merchant who invented the mail order catalog sales business in 1872, just after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which enabled thousands of residents in young, rural American to obtain the latest merchandise with a “Cash-on-Delivery” policy. This unique idea of catalog sales helped the country to grow and prosper, and made the Montgomery Ward Company one of the largest retail firms in the nation.

But lessor known, is the fact that Montgomery Ward fought to preserve Chicago’s “forever open, clear and free” lakefront park system, resulting in Chicago being one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Humble Beginnings, Great Aspirations, Tremendous Results
Aaron Montgomery Ward
Aaron Montgomery Ward was born on February 17, 1844 in Chatham, New York. Ward’s family moved to Niles, Michigan when he was 9, but life was never easy for the family. His father was a cobbler of modest means, and too often the family had difficulty making ends meet. Ward left home at age 14, and tried his hand at many trades, including making barrels, and as a stockboy at a general store in St. Joseph.

After moving to Chicago and working for Mashall Field for two years, he became a road salesman for a St. Louis wholesaler. It was when he was on the road, talking to struggling farmers that he hit on the idea of developing a mail-order catalog business, selling directly to rural customers for cash. Ward returned to Chicago, and published his first catalog on a one-page sheet in 1872, quickly seeing a tremendous growth with his company. (Richard Warren Sears started a mail-order watch business in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1886, named "R.W. Sears Watch Company," predecessor to Sears, Roebuck and Company.)

Ward was known for standing behind his products. It was Montgomery Ward who coined the phrase “Satisfaction Guaranteed or your Money Back,” and it became the standard for retailers across the country. The company’s slogan “You Can’t Go Wrong When You Deal With Montgomery Ward” transformed him into a symbol of trustworthiness to millions in rural America. Ward was known for treating his customers like family, seeking their ideas on the type of products they would like listed in his catalog. He wrote countless personal letters, and received many warm responses, as well as sound advice, from his customers. By 1904, over 3 million catalogs weighing 4 pounds each were being sent to households all across America.

Montgomery Ward was also an extremely private man, avoiding the social scene, and shunning public attention. He was also very charitable, making many anonymous gifts of food and coal to the poor, insisting that he should receive no recognition whatsoever for his generosity.

Lakefront Preservation and the Makings of a Park
Chicago had long had a tradition of protecting its lakefront. In 1836, after the decommissioning of Fort Dearborn, citizens petitioned the federal government to set aside 20 acres of Fort Dearborn’s land for a public square. About that same time, Commissioners of the proposed Illinois and Michigan Canal plotted lots near the new Canal, and wrote a proviso that land east of what became Michigan Avenue (to the Lake) and south of Randolph Street to 12th Street should remain “Public Ground – A Common to Remain Forever Open, Clear and Free of any Buildings, or Other Obstructions whatever.” (The Private Rights in Public Lands; The Chicago Lakefront, Montgomery Ward, and the Public Trust Doctrine.)
The Chicago lakefront in the late 1850s as seen from the Illinois Central Station near Randolph Street. Note the railroad trestle between Lake Michigan and the basin which is lined with railcars on its west side.
Lake Park (today's Grant Park) “Row houses along Michigan Boulevard overlooking river and factories, looking north from Harrison Street, 1865.”
After the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, much of the debris from the ruins of the city was dumped along the lakefront at the Illinois Central railroad tracks, creating new landfill. By 1890, the prime real estate was still a muddy mess, but “progress” in the name of new buildings, was being proposed by civic boosters for this site.
Mayor Cregier and the City Council wanted to build a civic center on the landfill, as well as a new city hall, a post office, a police station, a power plant and stables for city garbage wagons and horses.

Montgomery Ward, who had just built his company’s stately headquarters building on the northwest side of Michigan and Madison Avenue, gazed out from his office at this expanse and saw the potential for a great city park, which had been ordained by the canal commissioners in 1836. He wound up spending the next 20 years, and a small fortune, fighting to preserve this land from commercial development.

The Fight for the Lakefront
Over the next 20 years, Ward took the city to court to prevent the construction of any buildings east of Michigan Avenue. His efforts to stop this unbridled development incurred the enmity of many civic leaders, businessmen and politicians, as well as the Chicago Tribune, which saw his steadfast stance as an impediment to Chicago’s growth. He was called “stubborn... undemocratic... a persistent enemy of real parks... (and) a human icicle, shinning and shunned in all but the relations of business.”

Undaunted, Ward filed suit on four separate occasions in the Illinois State Supreme Court, and on all four occasions, he won, thereby preserving the open lakefront from Randolph St. south to 12th Street. Compromises, such as the Art Institute, were eventually constructed, but without question his efforts saved Lake Park from private development and sprawl.

Ward always felt he was doing the city a favor with his steadfast struggle, and never understood why he was not appreciated for his vision and efforts. In 1909, he granted an interview to the Chicago Tribune, the only interview he ever gave in his life:
Had I known in 1890 how long it would take me to preserve a park for the people against their will, I doubt I would have undertaken it. I think there is not another man in Chicago who would have spent the money I have spent in this fight with certainty that gratitude would be denied as interest... I fought for the poor people of Chicago... not the millionaires... Here is park frontage on the lake, comparing favorably with the Bay of Naples, which city officials would crowd with buildings, transforming the breathing spot for the poor into a showground of the educated rich. I do not think it is right.

Perhaps I may yet see the public appreciate my efforts. But I doubt it.

The toll of the fight, and an accident (which broke his arm and shoulder blade) greatly weakened Montgomery Ward’s health. Shortly after a fall, which resulted in a broken hip, he developed pneumonia and died on December 7, 1913 at the age of 69.

Ironically, just as the great man was passing, the city awakened to his magnificent contribution. A letter to the Chicago Tribune by J.J. Wallace put it best:
Who shall set a value on his service? The present generation, I believe, hardly appreciates what has been given them, but those who come later, as they avail themselves of the breathing spot, will realize it.
The Montgomery Ward Gardens
For nearly a century there was no park named to honor this great civic leader. Through the efforts of Friends of the Parks on October 14, 1993, that section of Grant Park along Michigan Avenue between Randolph and Monroe Streets was officially named the Montgomery Ward Company, a bust and historical plaque placed at the site, stating:
Aaron Montgomery Ward had a vision for Chicago’s lakefront that set him apart from many of his contemporaries. For two decades (1890-1910) he fought tirelessly to preserve Chicago’s shoreline for recreational use and to assure that the city’s “front yard” would remain free of industry. Lake Park is his legacy to the city he loved... his gift to the future.
In 1999, the Ward Gardens and plaque were removed to make way for the construction of Millennium Park. In 2005, thanks to a grant from the Montgomery Ward Foundation, a new Montgomery Ward Gardens stands at the corner of Michigan Avenue and 11th St., a glorious part of his beloved lakefront park.

Today, these Gardens are a living tribute to Montgomery Ward: a man of vision and conviction, a selfless and tireless advocate for the people, and for parks.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Kate Sturges Buckingham was one of the great women in Chicago's history.

Kate Buckingham died in her home at 2450 North Lakeview Avenue on December 12, 1937 at the age of 79. She was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Zanesville, Ohio alongside her parents, brother and sister.

Kate Sturges Buckingham
In announcing Miss Kate Sturges Buckingham’s passing, the Chicago Tribune noted, “She was godmother to the Art institute; the collections for which it's most famous were her gifts. She was godmother to the opera; at the time of her death she was a guarantor. She was godmother to some 200 or more music and art students. She was a heavy donor to the Field Museum, to innumerable Chicago charities, and to many, many nameless Chicagoans.”

Despite being one of the wealthiest women in the United States and one of the most generous individuals in a city blessed with a long procession of altruistic citizens, Miss Buckingham preferred that no credit come to her for the many contributions she made. Later in life she ordered that her name be removed from the Social Register and severely limited her circle of friends.

Miss Buckingham was born on August 3, 1858, the eldest daughter of Ebenezer and Lucy Buckingham, in Zanesville, Ohio. Her mother’s father, Solomon Sturges, was responsible for bringing the family to Chicago in the 1850’s. At that time the Sturges and Buckingham families controlled a string of grain elevators in Ohio, Pennsylvania and along the Erie Canal. It was sound business sense to move to Chicago and in 1850 Miss Buckingham’s great uncle, Alvah Buckingham, constructed the first grain elevator in the city.

Everything that the Buckingham and Sturges families owned was obliterated in the Great Fire of 1871, their homes on the north side of the city, their grain elevators along the river, the first of many tragedies that would become a motif that ran through Miss Buckingham’s life.

A second Chicago Fire in 1874 gave rise to one of the earliest examples of Miss Buckingham’s generosity. After that second conflagration, the 15-year-old Kate launched a drive to raise funds for a Christmas party to bring some measure of joy to children in the Cook County hospital.

The Tribune describes the effort... “On Christmas eve the Christmas tree, heavily laden with gifts, was set up in the children’s ward and its many candles were lighted. Tragedy swiftly followed. Through some mishap the burning candles started a fire. The tree and all its Christmas largesse burned down. Bur young Miss Buckingham, nothing deterred, set forth to raise anew money enough for gifts for each child. And did.”

The family relocated their home to Prairie Avenue, the city’s most select street, and the family business, J & E Buckingham, prospered beyond measure. In 1882 Miss Buckingham’s father also built a grand home in Lake Forest, but despite its location on a bluff above Lake Michigan, the family continued to make its principal home in Chicago.

It was in the Prairie Avenue home that Kate and her sister, Lucy Maud, were educated. It was in this home that Lucy Buckingham died in 1889, and it was there that Kate’s sister became increasingly incapacitated. From the house Clarence Buckingham, Kate’s brother, and their father expanded the family’s enterprises to include banking, insurance, steel manufacture, and real estate.

The family’s affiliation with the Art Institute began in the 1890’s when Clarence, impressed by the Japanese art that was exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, began to collect Japanese prints. Ebenezer died in 1911, Clarence died just over a year later, and Lucy Maud lingered on in increasingly poorer health until 1920. All the losses must have further isolated Kate, a woman left alone in a house that mother, father, sister and brother had shared for her whole adult life.
She continued to collect art, though, following her brother’s lead. Clarence had been a governing member of the Art Institute of Chicago for three decades and a member of the Board of Trustees for a dozen. [Scultz & Hast] After the death of her sister, Kate Buckingham gave her entire collection of Japanese prints, etchings and engravings, Chinese pottery and porcelain, Persian miniatures, Chinese ritual bronzes, Italian silver and English lusterware to the institute. [The Frick Collection.]

She also furnished the Art Institute’s Gothic room in the memory of her sister and finished the Jacobean Room at the museum in the name of her parents. In 1925 she gave her brother’s entire collection of fourteen hundred sheets of Japanese prints to the museum as well.

Miss Buckingham also wrote a check to the Art Institute that was to be used for a great monument to Alexander Hamilton. Of course, her most memorable contribution was the donation that allowed construction of the great [Buckingham] Fountain in Grant Park, dedicated to her brother, along with a $300,000 endowment to provide for its maintenance.
The Buckingham fountain was donated by Kate Buckingham in honor of her brother Clarence in 1927. The fountain was the largest in the world at the time it was built, and is still one of the largest. Edward H. Bennett designed the monument in collaboration with French sculptor Marcel Loyau and engineer Jacques H. Lambert.

The fountain was meant to represent Lake Michigan and the four states that touch the lake - being Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. The fountain is constructed of Georgia pink marble. To give a vision of just how large the fountain is - the bottom pool is 280 feet in diameter, the lower basin is 103 feet. the upper basin is 24 feet and the upper basin is 25 feet above the lower basin.
But here is something else that resulted from her generosity about which most people are unaware. On February 12, 1912 Kate Buckingham bought a property of 81 acres in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts. It was not far from where a 55-room “cottage,” which her father had built near Pittsfield, Massachusetts, stood until it burned to the ground in 1899.

On the new piece of land Kate Buckingham built Bald Hill Farm. After her death the farm, to which another 80 acres had been added, was sold to Serge and Natalie Koussevitzky. Mr. Koussevitzky was the conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, a man with a dream of one day creating a summer musical festival for the symphony. In 1978 after the death of the Koussevitzky, the organization purchased the property, and it now lies at the heart of the Tanglewood Music Festival.

When she died, Kate Buckingham left a half million dollars to friends and relatives. She left another $126,000 to her maid, chauffeur, children of her caretaker, her nurses, doormen and elevator men at the Lakeview cooperative building. In today’s dollars those gifts would total over nine million dollars. She left another $3.1 million for art and cultural organizations, including two million to the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Tribune article that conveyed the news of Kate Buckingham’s death ended with “a well authenticated anecdote,” dealing with “one of her rare visits to the Continental Illinois National bank and Trust company, in which she was an important stockholder.”

“On this occasion,” the story went, “she stopped at the cashier’s cage to get money. She had no identification papers with her and the teller asked if any one in the bank could identify her. She cast a brief, flashing glance around the nearby desks. ‘They’re all dead,’ she snapped.”

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Monday, May 7, 2018

The Chicago Home for Aged Jews was established on the South Side in 1891.

The Chicago Home for Aged Jews was established on April 6, 1891 with Morris Rosenbaum as prendent, at 6140 South Drexel Avenue at 62nd Street (the northwest corner) to serve the German-Jewish community. Abraham Slimmer of Waverly, Iowa, donated $50,000 for such a home in Chicago, on condition that the Jews of Chicago raise an equal amount. The money was obtained without difficulty.
The Home for Aged Jews was dedicated and opened Sunday, April 30, 1893 and at the end of the year the number at the home was 44.

The building was demolished in 1959 for construction of a north wing addition to the 1950 expansion (by then renamed Drexel Home and which is now known as the Drexel Terrace Apartments).

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Chicago Home for the Friendless.

Chicago Home for the Friendless, 51st Street and Vincennes Avenue.
When the population of Chicago grew dramatically, it increased the need for social services to poor and destitute women and children. The Chicago Home for the Friendless, founded on March 18, 1858, responded to that need.
Eventually, the organization served as an orphanage, a shelter for women and children, and also cared for older people in need. From August of 1897 to 1938, the home was located near East 51st Street and South Vincennes Avenue in the Washington Park community area. In 1980, the agency changed its name to Family Care Services of Metropolitan Chicago.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Home for Self Supporting Women, Chicago, Illinois.

The original Home for Self Supporting Women was located at 275-277 East Indiana Street.

The Chicago Woman's Club managed a lodging house, costing $2.50 per week, for temporarily stranded women, and, for at least a few years, the Home for Self Supporting Women ran the Provident Laundry (established in 1889) which provided temporary employment for unemployed women.
The Home for Self Supporting Women moved to this building at 12 E. Grand Avenue in Chicago in 1908 when construction was completed.
Provident Laundry - Objective:
"To provide a new channel of work for able-bodied women out of employment and desirous to become self-supporting; to maintain a training school where superior work is taught, and an Employment bureau where permanent situations are securied for those desiring them."

The laundry was conducted in the read of the home at 275-277 East Indiana Street, overtaxing its accommodations. An average of 20 women find employment daily. A large number of these women become proficient enough to take permanent position in families.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The History of the Tinker Family and the Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum and Gardens in Rockford, Illinois.

The Tinker Swiss Cottage is an historic house museum and gardens in Rockford, Illinois.
The Tinker Swiss Cottage in 1915. Note the sundial on the side of the driveway.
This house was built by Robert Hall Tinker between 1865-1870. The Tinker house was the first in Rockford to have electricity before the turn of the 20th century.
Most striking is the interior for its dimensions including the high ceilings, angled roof, and unique designs in many of the first floor rooms. Many elements of the house were created or inspired by the ideas of Tinker, including the walnut spiral staircase made by Robert out of a single piece of wood and the rooms with rounded corners. The museum contains all the original objects from the family from furniture, and artwork, to clothing and diaries.
The Victorian Living Room of Tinker Swiss Cottage. In 1855, Abraham Lincoln sat in the rocking chair during a visit to the nearby South Main Street mansion of Rockford industrialist John H. Manny.
The museum house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on December 27, 1972.
Robert Hall Tinker (1836-1924) was born to the Rev. Reuben and Mary Throop Wood Tinker on December 31, 1836 in the Sandwich Islands (modern day Hawaii). The family settled in Westfield, New York, when Robert was 13. At the age of 15, Robert left school and began working as a bank clerk. In 1856, William Knowlton was visiting his brother in Westfield, New York, met Robert Tinker, and was impressed with him. Arriving back in Rockford, Knowlton decided to write Robert and offer him a position as clerk in the Manny Reaper Co., where he was business manager for the wealthy widow, Mrs. John H. Manny. Robert accepted the offer and arrived in Rockford on August 12th, 1856.

Knowlton and Mrs. Manny were out of the city when he arrived, so he was given a room on the second story of a small dwelling standing opposite the St. Paul freight house. When Knowlton returned he gave Robert a position as a clerk, which he held before going to work as a bookkeeper for the Emerson-Talcott Company. Later, the eastern young man, who even then was familiarly known as Bob Tinker, returned to his first employer. Knowlton and Tinker formed a partnership to sell Manny Reapers. Tinker was later placed n charge of the Manny factory.

In 1862, Robert spent 9 months traveling extensively throughout Europe. As soon as his trip was over, he began to purchase land near Mrs. Manny’s mansion and started building his cottage. On April 24, 1870, Robert Tinker and Mary Manny married and began living in his cottage in the winter and in her mansion on the north side of Kent Creek in the summer.

When he was 39 years old he served as Mayor of Rockford in 1875. Robert was instrumental in helping Rockford to acquire a Public Library and an Opera House and was prominently identified with Rockford’s business and industrial growth for 68 years.

He became President of the Rockford Oatmeal Co., Rockford Steel and Bolt Co., and of C&R and Northern R.R. until it was absorbed by the C.B.&Q line. He was head of the Water Power for many years until he resigned in 1915. Robert also served on the Rockford Park Board until he retired on February 16th, 1924.

In 1901, Mary, Robert’s wife of 31 years, passed away. He then married her niece, Jessie Dorr Hurd, in 1904. It is thought of as a marriage of convenience. In 1908, Robert became a father, at the age of 71, when Jessie adopted a son, Theodore Tinker. Robert died in the Cottage on December 31, 1924, his eighty-eighth birthday. Upon Robert Tinker's death in 1924, Jessie created a partnership with the Rockford Park District, allowing her to remain in the house until her death. After her death in 1942 the Rockford Park District acquired the property and opened the house as a museum in 1943.

Mary Dorr Manny Tinker (1829-1901) was born August 29, 1829 in Hoosick Falls, New York, the youngest of three. She was reared in her grandparents’ stately mansion and received her education at the Academy in her native city. She became interested in the manufacturing of farm implements, and it was this lively interest in and attention to her family’s occupations, public and private, that attracted her future husband’s regard to her.  She maintained this interest in business through her life, and the great force of her character was intensified highly by just the culture and training she received in her early youth.

In 1852, she was married in her grandparents’ mansion to the young Reaper inventor, John H. Manny. They came to Rockford in 1853 and made their home in a small, white frame house on South Main Street. In January of 1856, John H. Manny died of tuberculosis and left Mary a widow at the age of 28. Mary was a businesswoman, staying involved with the Manny Reaper Company after John Manny’s death. She owned several parcels of land in Rockford, including the Holland House located on the north side of the creek. By 1857, Robert Tinker became her personal secretary, and on April 24, 1870 they were wed. Mary died September 4, 1901 at the age of 72.

Mary was a member of the Second Congregational Church and Women’s Missionary Society, Women’s Christian Temperance Union, Rockford’s Seminary Visiting Committee, and was a founding member of the Ladies Union Aid Society that has evolved into today’s Family Counseling Services of Northern Illinois.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D.