Facing Death Twice: Lawyer Francis J. Heney

This is the last in Sara Catherine Lichon’s series of blog posts about interesting characters that she came across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

Francis J. Heney, a lawyer and politician whose life was threatened twice during his career.

Life in law can often be exciting, especially when cases take a dramatic turn. For Francis Joseph Heney, a lawyer and politician from California, drama and excitement was part of the job — and sometimes his job even became a matter of life and death. Heney was known for many cases throughout his career, but he was most famous for killing an opposing plaintiff and for being shot in the head by a juror.

As a member of the National Committee of the Progressive Party, Heney’s name appeared numerous times in letters to and from Jane Addams that discussed the National Committee. Heney was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1912 and ran for U.S. Senator from California as a Progressive in 1914. Outside of politics, he was a lawyer in both Arizona and California, and owned a cattle business in Arizona with his brother. From 1893 to 1895 he was Attorney General of the Arizona Territory, and he also served as the U.S. District Attorney for the District of Oregon. Heney was a well-known lawyer, having worked as a prosecutor on famous cases such as the Oregon Land Fraud scandal, where U.S. government land grants were being obtained illegally by public officials, and the San Francisco gaft trials, where members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors were prosecuted for corruption.

Dr. John C. Handy and Mary Ann Page Handy

In 1889, Heney defended Mary Ann Page Handy, the abused wife of Dr. John Christopher Handy, in a divorce case. Handy was known for being violent and aggressive, having abused his wife throughout their marriage, threatening to kill her when she wanted to file for divorce, and causing her to become addicted to morphine. In July 1889, Handy filed for divorce himself and sent their children to live with his mother. Handy threatened to kill anyone who dared to defend Mary, scaring away most attorneys. Originally, C. W. Wright was to defend Mary, and he asked Heney to assist him. After Heney agreed, Wright withdrew from the case, and Heney decided to do the same. After some reconsideration, though, Heney decided to defend Mary, despite the anger of Handy.

Throughout the case, Handy threatened Heney numerous times, even trying to run him over with his buggy. Ultimately, Handy won the case and received custody of the children, which Heney was quick to appeal, and a new case soon started – and the threats continued. On September 24, 1891, Handy attacked Heney outside his office, grabbing his neck and pinning him to a wall. It’s here where there are different accounts of what happened next; some newspapers say Heney broke free, ran, and drew a revolver, which Handy tried to grab. During the struggle, Heney shot Handy in the abdomen. Other papers say Heney shot Handy while running from him. After the encounter, Handy was taken to Dr. George Goodfellow for an operation but died during the procedure. Heney surrendered to the police but was bailed out by three of his friends. In a hearing two days later, the court ruled Heney acted in self-defense and he wasn’t charged.

The San Francisco Call, Nov. 15, 1908

This was not the end of Heney’s exciting cases. During the San Francisco graft prosecution, Heney pointed out that one juror, Morris Haas, was ineligible to be a juror because he was an ex-convict. Heney also believed that Haas was planted by political boss Abe Ruef, who was being prosecuted by Heney at that time. Angered and resentful, Haas came into the courtroom a few weeks later while the trial was in recess and shot Heney in the head. Haas was then arrested, but found dead in his cell shortly after, leading some to believe he had been killed by one of Ruef’s gangsters. Others thought he committed suicide. Heney was expected to die, but he survived the attack. The newspapers of the time reveal how loved Heney was by the public; The San Francisco Call had an entire page dedicated to the story, describing how three thousand people gathered at Oakland’s town hall in support of Heney and how President Theodore Roosevelt sent Heney’s wife a telegram of sympathy.

Heney continued to be involved in law and politics after these incidents, and lived a fulfilling life. In 1906, he married Rebecca Wentworth McMullin. She died in 1911. Heney married to Edna I. Van Winckle in 1915, who managed his U.S. Senate campaign. Heney  died in 1937.

Heney’s work with the Progressive Party and in law have gone down in history, especially the stories of his near-death encounters. And he is yet another fascinating person who has appeared in Jane Addams’ papers!

 

Sources:

Dexter Marshall. “Thrilling Chapters in Lives of Public Men.” The Washington Herald. April 19, 1908, p. 36.

“Hand to Hand.” Tombstone Epitaph. September 27, 1891.

C. Martin. “Territorial Divorce – as Turbulent as the Times.” Arizona Daily Star. November 12, 1972, p. 57.

Oliver Tatom, “Francis J. Heney (1859-1937),” The Oregon Encyclopedia.

“Roosevelt Wires Tribute to Heney: Messages of Sorrow from Friends Abroad: Leading Citizens of Country Praise Prosecutor.” The San Francisco Call. November 15, 1908, p. 23.

“When Francis J. Heney Shot His Man, Too.” The Des Moines Register. December 6, 1908, p. 10.

“Francis J. Heney,” Wikipedia.

Poet and Con-Artist: The Story of Scharmel Iris

Scharmel Iris (Lyrics of a Lad (1914)

Sara Catherine Lichon is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

As a student, I’ve heard many a time that academic honesty is of the utmost importance, and that plagiarism can end one’s academic career. But back in the early 1900s, plagiarism was responsible for the rise of poet Scharmel Iris’s career, who made a living by fooling others.

Iris was born in 1889 with the name Frederico Scaramella in Castelcivita, Italy. When he was three years old, his mother married a man who helped them immigrate to the United States where they settled in Chicago. Iris changed his name and in 1905, when he was sixteen years old, his first poem was published in a Chicago Catholic newspaper. Soon his career skyrocketed as he was published in Harriet Monroe’s Poetry magazine, received positive reviews from Chicago newspapers, and published his own collections of poems. He received most of his funding and notoriety with the help of other famous poets and artists, such as T.S. Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Salvatore Dali, and Picasso, who wrote praise-filled letters to Iris’s patrons.

There was one major problem with Iris’s success, though…it was based entirely on lies. Rather than being a great poet, Iris was simply a con-artist. Letters and praise from Eliot, Yeats, and Picasso were forged by Iris himself, and Iris even wrote about himself to publishers and patrons under the pseudonym Vincent Holme. Forgery and plagiarism, rather than talent, provided the base for Iris’s career and fame.

Jane Addams’ letter to Harriet Monroe, Jan. 20, 1913. Addams stated that Iris had “no right” to claim she advised him to reach out to different poets.

Jane Addams herself was a victim of Iris’s scams. Iris spent part of his life as a Hull-House resident, and when he published Lyrics of a Lad in 1914, he supposedly received praise from art critic John Ruskin and poets Algernon Charles Swinburne and Edmund Gosse. In January 1913, Addams wrote a letter to Harriet Monroe describing how Iris claimed she had told him to reach out to Gosse and even Yeats. Addams stated, “Poor Scharmel Iris really has no right to say that I advised him to write to Miss Guiney, or to Edmund Gosse, or to Mr. Yeats.” Words had been put in Addams’ mouth by Iris, and she was only one of many.

Iris’s scams even extended to his living situation. He lived at Lewis College, a Catholic school near Joliet, despite not working or teaching there. He stayed there until he was asked to leave in 1966, and he spent the remainder of his life at St. Patrick Retirement Hotel. He died in 1967.

A poem by Scharmel Iris, published in Poetry in December 1914.

Regardless of Iris’s talent as a poet, it’s hard to deny that he had a talent for fooling others. Iris’s entire life and career was built on plagiarism, yet he lived the life he had always dreamed of — that of a successful, well-known poet . . . even if it was actually a lie.

 

 


Sources:
Announcement of Lyrics of a Lad by Scharmel Iris, 1914.
Inventory of the Scharmel Iris Papers, 1911-1964, The Newberry Library.
Jane Addams to Harriet Monroe, January 20, 1913.
Nina C. Ayoub, “Forging Fame: The Strange Career of Scharmel Iris,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, August 17, 2007.

Behind Closed Doors: The Divorce Case of Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss

Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, in News-Journal, Jan. 16, 1914.

Dr. Lydia Allen DeVilbiss was a doctor and surgeon in Shelby, Ohio, who wrote Jane Addams a brief letter on August 10, 1912, commending her for her speech to the Progressive Party Convention. DeVilbiss was an active civic leader, serving as president of the Shelby Equal Franchise Association, president of the Richland county Woman’s Suffrage Association, secretary and treasurer of the Shelby Medical Society, president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Society, and medical director of the Better Babies Bureau of the Woman’s Home Companion. In addition, she was the first woman to become a member of the Shelby Socialist local. These accomplishments alone were newsworthy for a woman during the early 1900’s. But in 1912, DeVilbiss made the news for a very different reason; a dramatic divorce case that pushed her private life into the spotlight.

On Christmas day in 1906, Lydia married Albert K. Shauck, a professor and musician who was twenty years her senior. Early on, it appeared as though their life was going well; in 1907, for example, there was news of Albert opening a music school in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in the same building as his wife’s medical practice. But in November 1912, the News-Journal in Mansfield, Ohio reported that Lydia was suing for divorce. She accused Albert of having verbally abused her, using “foul, indecent and threatening language,” and slandering her reputation by spreading rumors. Lydia surmised that Albert treated her cruelly out of jealousy, as he also “materially interfered with her practice as a physician and surgeon.” Albert had also threatened Lydia’s life, she said, saying he would “take her life” and “circulate such slanderous stories about her” if she tried to leave him. Despite the threats, the couple had been separated for the six months before Lydia filed for divorce. When she made the decision to divorce Albert, she made arrangements to stay with her sisters in Fort Wayne and work as a drug saleswoman for Strong, Cobb & Company in Cleveland.

The first news announcement of the Shauck divorce case, News-Journal, Nov. 29, 1912.

Shortly after this news broke, Albert came forward with his own accusations. The News-Journal reported in early December that Lydia “treated him [Albert] worse than a dog,” subjecting him to verbal and physical abuse. He claimed that while he never abused Lydia or threatened her life, she had done so to him; in a statement made to the press, Albert presented a record of threats Lydia had made against him, which included “I wish someone would kill you” and “I wish there was no law against killing. I would just like to kill you.” Albert also alleged that Lydia once threw a butcher knife at him, smashed a bottle against his head, and broke his finger. He also complained of how, due to Lydia’s work, most of the housework fell to him.

The dramatic news coverage of the divorce case did not end there. Only about two weeks later, Albert refused to eat, and his health rapidly declined. He was sent to the Marion, Ohio sanitarium, and Lydia collected money due to him in order to pay for his treatment.

Albert K. Shauck’s account, News-Journal, Dec 2, 1912.

No news appeared on the Shaucks until one year later, when, in December 1913, Lydia dropped the divorce case. The case was dismissed without prejudice, but not because the couple had reconciled; rather, the courts believed that Lydia’s suit was not strong enough to warrant a divorce. Lydia chose to remain in Fort Wayne rather than return to Shelby. That was the last time the Shaucks’ marriage appeared in the news, but by 1920, Lydia and Albert were divorced.

After the divorce, Lydia moved to Miami, Florida, where she opened the Mothers Health Clinic in 1928. There, she conducted research on birth control and came up with inexpensive soap-based spermicidal jellies to be used with a sponge. However, Lydia believed only educated women could  understand these methods. She practiced sterilization on those she deemed less intelligent. Most of the sterilized patients were African-American women who may have been forced or mislead into having the procedure. DeVilbiss initially supported the work of African American physicians who opened a black branch of the Mothers Health Clinic, but after disagreeing with their methods, she shut them down.

All that is known of Lydia’s private life after her divorce is that by 1930, she married to Dr. George Bradford. She died in Florida in 1964. We will never know the details of the Shaucks’ private lives, nor whose account held the most truth. For now, we are left with newspaper articles as the main glimpse into the life of Lydia Allen DeVilbiss, and what may have happened behind closed doors.

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

Sources:

Cathy Moran Hajo, Birth Control on Main Street: Organizing Clinics in the United States, 1916-1939 (2010), pp. 70-71, 117.

Esther Katz, Peter C. Engelman, Cathy Moran Hajo, and Amy Flanders, eds. The Selected Papers of Margaret Sanger: Volume 2: Birth Control Comes of Age, 1928-1939 (2006), pp. 230-1.

Albert K. Shauck, 1920 United States Federal Census.

“Dr. Shauck is Now Medical Director of Magazine’s ‘Better Babies’ Bureau,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), January 16, 1914, p. 7.

Lydia DeVilbiss Bradford, 1930 United States Federal Census.

Lydia D Shauck, 1910 United States Federal Census.

“A New Conservatory,” The Monroeville Breeze, August 15, 1907, p. 8.

“Professor was a Good Dodger,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 2, 1912, p. 5.

“Refuses to Eat,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 18, 1912, p. 9.

“Shauck Case is Dismissed,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), December 13, 1913, p. 8.

“Suffragette Asks Divorce,” News-Journal (Mansfield, Ohio), November 29, 1912, p. 5.

A Double Life: The Story of Lewis E. Larson

Lewis E. Larson was a member of the Chicago Board of Education before he disappeared for three years. Chicago Tribune, Oct. 1, 1926.

Sometimes the pressures of life can make one want to run away and start over. Oftentimes people do not act on these feelings, but in 1923 one person did: Lewis E. Larson. A member of the Chicago Board of Education, Larson once sent Jane Addams a report on kindergarten membership in 1906. Nearly two decades later, Larson went missing for over three years, and was next found in Texas living an entirely different life.

Larson lived a simple life in Chicago, where he served as secretary for the Chicago Board of Education and business manager for Chicago public schools. He also worked as a real estate agent, treasurer of the Portage Rubber company, and general manager of Willoughby & Co. Larson married Mary Wildman in 1897, and they had two children together. When Larson sent Addams a report on kindergarten monthly membership throughout 1905 and 1906, nothing seemed awry. But by 1923, it was clear that Larson was not satisfied with his current life.

On March 7, 1923, Larson mysteriously disappeared without a trace. His disappearance was reported in The News-Palladium, which also spoke of the disappearance of Reverend John Vraniak, suggesting the two cases were connected. Larson reportedly withdrew $200 from the bank before disappearing, and though his work and personal lives were apparently “in excellent shape,” according to the Chicago Tribune, he had been complaining about being overworked. Some thought Larson had amnesia, some thought he was dead, and others believed he hadn’t left Chicago at all; in April, his wife Mary visited a Miss Frances Heiple, who claimed to have seen Larson walking through the city. This story generated no new leads, however, and the search for Larson continued.

In September 1926, when hope seemed lost, Larson suddenly resurfaced – in Dallas, Texas. James D. Pasho, who used to work with Larson at the Portage Rubber company, saw the missing board member while walking past the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas. Pasho and Larson then reminisced about old times. Pasho described Larson as looking “better than I had ever seen him look…He appeared very prosperous.”

Larson and his family reunited after three years. Chicago Tribune, Oct. 12, 1926.

In the three years Larson had been gone, he had a variety of jobs and lived in a plethora of places. He later explained to the Chicago Tribune that he left his former life because of a “mental lapse” caused by “nerves and worry.” He stated, “Something within me drove me on. I first went to St. Louis from Chicago. I was dizzy and my brain was reeling…But I couldn’t rest. I took a train to Kansas City.” In a separate Chicago Tribune article he said he “broke down under the strain.” Larson had also been to Shreveport, Louisiana, and Little Rock, Arkansas, before ultimately ending up in Texas. He found employment as a salesman for the General Motors Truck Company, as a truck driver, and as a superintendent of construction for an asphalt company.

Pasho had only heard of Larson’s disappearance in passing, and he wrote to their former boss and relative of Larson’s, W. W. Wildman, recounting the experience. The letter traveled to the Larson family, and soon arrangements were made for Larson to reunite with his family. But the reunification had a rough start. Larson’s son, Leonard, made arrangements to travel to his father, but because of a communication error, Leonard traveled to Baton Rouge while Larson remained in Texas.

But soon father and son were reunited, and Mary and Lucille, Larson’s daughter, traveled to meet him as well. Larson stated he was “tired of it all,” and would “be happy to get back to my family.” However, he did not want to return to Chicago quickly. Leonard and Lucille returned to Chicago shortly after the reunification, but Mary stayed with Larson in Texas for six weeks as he tied up loose ends in his new business ventures.

Eventually, Larson did return to his family and resume his old life in Chicago, though he also maintained business ties in Texas. He also began working for H. C. Speer & Son, an investment and bond company. Larson retired in 1949, and he died in February 1953. His obituary mentioned nothing of the period of his life in which he was missing, and it became just another story to be found in the archives of newspapers.

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.

 


Sources:

“Larson Still in City, Conviction of Mrs. Larson,” Chicago Tribune, April 3, 1923, p. 13.

Lewis E. Larson, 1910 United States Federal Census.

Lewis E. Larson, 1900 United States Federal Census.

Lewis E. Larson, Cook County, Illinois, Marriages Index, 1871-1920.

“Lewis Larson at Home Again After 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, November 25, 1926, p. 1.

“Lewis E. Larson Found; Lost 3 Years,” Chicago Tribune, October 1, 1926, p. 1.

“Lewis Larson’s Son Home After Finding Father,” Chicago Tribune, October 12, 1926, p. 3.

“Lewis E. Larson Tells of His Wanderings,” Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct. 7, 1926, p. 1.

“Obituaries,” Chicago Tribune, February 12, 1953, p. 47.

“These Two In Port of Missing Men – But Where?” The News-Palladium, October 4, 1923, p. 1.

From Journalist to Criminal: The Story of Herbert George Buss

Herbert George Buss’s mugshot, Montana, Prison Records, 1861-1968

When researching those who have corresponded with Jane Addams, you  come across a variety of unique individuals. As a research assistant who has been researching and writing biographies for a number of semesters, I’ve seen my fair share of interesting people — and I thought I’d share some of their stories with you!

Among all the people I’ve researched so far, one of my favorites is Herbert George Buss, a journalist who was sent to prison for extortion in 1919. Before being charged with extortion, Buss was a humble cattle rancher who quickly climbed the ladder of the journalism industry. During the Wilson Administration, Buss worked as a congressional reporter. Soon after he became a publicist for the United States Daily. By 1912 he was writing for The Menace, a weekly anti-Catholic newspaper published in Aurora, MO. Buss’s article, “The Torture Tunnel – The Underground Way – From God’s Altar to Hell’s Sweatshops,” a screed against forced labor at a Catholic sweatshop in Cincinnati, was sent to Jane Addams by William Ketchum, who implored Addams to take action.

By 1919, Buss was making the news, not just writing it due to his involvement in “a story of alleged lust, temptation, love, jealousy, hatred, poverty, attempted seduction and threatened murder,” according to the Montana Standard.

Buss had married Virginia Randolph in 1903, and they lived a happy life for a while with their two children. But in 1915/6 (the newspapers offer differing years), Virginia claimed that a local merchant, John E. Reid, began making advances towards her. He sent her presents and letters, professing his love for her and asking her to leave her husband, even offering her $

Buss’s article, “The Torture Tunnel – The Underground Way – From God’s Altar to Hell’s Sweatshops” in The Menace

10,000 and “the best little ranch in the valley” to do so. Virginia claimed her mother destroyed most of these letters, and only one survived. Virginia asked Reid why he was pursuing her when he himself was married, and he confessed that he had affairs with multiple women in the town. In June of that year, Virginia visited Reid’s store to look at some china. Reid took Virginia to the basement, where he grabbed her and kissed her until she almost called for help. Virginia never told Buss about the incident or the letters – until later when they were fighting over Buss’s drinking.

Once Buss found out about the incident, he met with Reid and threatened to bring the matter to court and sue. Reid offered Buss $10,000 to keep things quiet, which he accepted. But it did not stop there. Reid and his wife claimed that Buss threatened to accuse Reid of sexual assault and even threatened Reid’s life, claiming “there’ll be a new grave in Melrose by Christmas.” By April 1919, the issue was brought to court. Buss was accused of extortion and threats on Reid’s life. The trial was widely covered in the press, and in a twist of irony, the once successful journalist became the subject of one of the biggest stories in the state.

Headline from the Montana Standard, April 11, 1919.

By the time of the trial, Buss and his wife had divorced, and Virginia was married to another Melrose rancher named Roy Bird. Buss was found guilty of extortion, and sentenced to serve six to twelve months in prison. After his release, Buss married again, to Ida M. Carbone. After that, we cannot figure out what happened to Buss. His death date is unknown, and in 1952 his son put a notice in the Chicago Tribune asking for information on his whereabouts. That was the last time Buss’s name appeared in a newspaper.

Though Buss’s name only appeared once in the JAPP collection, by digging a little deeper one can find a huge story. As a journalist, Buss surely would have agreed! And this is just one interesting story I’ve found during my research; keep an eye out for the next unique tale from the JAPP!

Sara Catherine is writing a series of blog posts about interesting characters that she comes across while working as a co-operative education student for the Project this semester. Her work involves identifying and describing the over 5,000 unique individuals mentioned in Addams’ correspondence.


Sources:

“Buss Takes Club Men Down Trail Ranch to Capitol,” Courier (Waterloo, Ia.) October 1, 1929, p. 4.

Herbert George Buss, U.S., World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942.

H . George Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.

Virginia A. Buss, Montana, County Marriages, 1865-1950.

“Melrose Case to End Today,” The Montana Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 6.

“His Former Wife Tells Her Story,” The Anaconda Standard, April 11, 1919, p. 3.

“Find Buss Guilty Extortion Charge,” The Anaconda Standard, April 12, 1919, p. 3.

Jennie A Randolph, Missouri Marriage Records, 1805-2002.

Herbert George Buss, Montana, Prison Records, 1861-1968.

“Personal,” Chicago Tribune, May 3, 1952, p. 17.

A Storyteller for the Past

When I first heard the Jane Addams Papers Project had come to Ramapo, I was beginning my sophomore year. I had just been thinking about research opportunities for history majors, so it seemed almost like fate when I saw posters around campus advertising for the JAPP interest meeting. Next thing I knew, I was part of the JAPP team as a research assistant and still am part of it as I begin my senior year.

Sara Catherine Lichon is a senior history major and international studies minor, working at the JAPP as a research assistant.

I’ve always had a passion for research and the past, so I knew when I enrolled at Ramapo that I wanted to be a history major. As I advanced in my academic career, I added a minor in international studies, developing an interest in how the past has led to current events. For both my history and international studies classes, I’ve researched international current events and the history behind them, and as a member of Ramapo’s Honors Program, I’ve attended numerous regional and national conferences to present my research. This past June, I published a paper titled “Identity Crisis: How the Outcome of the Cold War affects our Understanding of the Crisis in Ukraine” in the undergraduate research journal The Augsburg Honors Review. Currently, I am working on my Honors senior thesis, focusing on Scotland’s reaction to Brexit and how the historic relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom contributed to this reaction. To gain a better understanding of Scotland’s culture and history, I studied abroad in Edinburgh over the summer, taking a Scottish History course and exploring the country from the cities in the Lowlands to the small towns in the Highlands. I even climbed Ben Vrackie, a mountain 2,759 feet above sea level, and visited Loch Ness during my travels!

Mary Miles Minter, an actress who was a suspect in the unsolved murder of her lover in 1922.

As a lover of research, when I heard about the JAPP, I was immediately drawn to it. I began at the project by transcribing documents but soon realized that I preferred to research the people who made appearances in Jane Addams’s life – and I’ve been researching them ever since! I love uncovering the stories of their lives, and I especially love the challenge of digging for information on people who weren’t well-known. It’s very exciting when I can find information, and I feel like a detective! Sometimes I come across people with fascinating lives; recently I just wrote the bio for actress Mary Miles Minter, who was a suspect in the unsolved murder of her lover in 1922. I have even found myself writing the bios of people I’ve come across before, such as Victor Moore, an actor who starred in one of my favorite movies, It Happened on 5th Avenue. The stories of those who came before us are something that I can never get enough of, and at the JAPP I’m able to gather and share the stories of so many people, writing them into a narrative that will be accessible for years to come.

Outside of history and international studies, I have a passion for music, theater, and the arts. I sing, play ukulele, and am a member and business manager of Orchidstra, a barbershop quartet. I am also a Global Roadrunner, a member of Ramapo’s French Club, and in Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society), Sigma Iota Rho (international studies honors society), and Alpha Lambda Delta (first-year honors society). In addition, I enjoy photography, hiking, and spending time in the great outdoors.  I spent two summers interning at the Washington Township (Morris County) Municipal Building, and after graduation, I plan to pursue a career in government.  But while still at Ramapo, I continue to research and write the stories of various historic people, and I am loving my role on the JAPP team.

New Year’s and the Old Settlers’ Party

When I think of the holidays, I think of family and friends gathering around the fire and sharing stories and laughter with one another. Christmas time is a time for reminiscing, rejoicing, and rekindling relationships, something that Jane Addams knew very well: for her first New Year’s at Hull-House, Addams threw an “Old Settlers’ Party,” which soon became a beloved Hull-House holiday tradition. At this party, former Hull-House and neighborhood residents would return to Hull-House on New Years’ Day to share their stories, connect with old friends, and inspire current residents to create ambitious goals.

“Winter at Hull-House,” a watercolor painting by Chicago artist Jack Simmerling. One can imagine that this was what Hull-House looked like during the holidays.

“Winter at Hull-House,” a watercolor painting by Chicago artist Jack Simmerling. One can imagine that this was what Hull-House looked like during the holidays.

Many of the “old settlers,” as they were called, had climbed very high on the social ladder compared to where they started, and part of the goal of the Old Settlers’ Party was for current neighborhood residents to hear the old settlers’ stories of advancement and desire to follow in their footsteps. Many impressive old settlers attended these parties; for example, in 1902, the tenth Old Settlers’ Party had a long list of successful guests. One such guest was E. O. Gale, who had just published his book Reminiscences of Early Chicago and shared his experience of arriving in Chicago in 1835; another was Fernando Jones, who told stories of his schooldays where he was constantly reprimanded by his schoolmaster, who later became President of the United States; and yet another was “ex-chief Swenie,” who served as Chicago’s Fire Department Chief for fifty-one years, and who gave a well-received speech.

catastropheAccording to Jane Addams in Twenty Years at Hull-House, the first old settlers to attend the first few Old Settlers’ Parties did not favor “foreigners,” blaming immigrants “for a depreciation of property and a general lowering of the tone of the neighborhood.” However, these views would slowly disappear as the night of celebration went on; Addams recalled one guest realizing that the immigrants were “buffeting the waves of a new development,” and that old settlers had also once felt this way, they themselves having been new settlers once. This New Year’s celebration at Hull-House was a way of bringing people together and bridging differences, and celebrating the old and the new, all while saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one. The Old Settlers’ Party, much like any New Year’s party, would always end with everyone singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is how it brings everyone together in a spirit of celebration, and the Old Settlers’ Party was no exception to this. Jane Addams and Hull-House were truly able to celebrate the old and the new through this annual party, which, in my opinion, is the perfect way to welcome the New Year. From the Jane Addams Papers Project, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year!

 


For more details on the Old Settlers’ Party, see “First Days At Hull-House,” Chapter 5 in Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes (New York: MacMillan, 1910): pp. 89-112; “Old Settlers’ Party,” Hull-House Bulletin, volume 5, no. 2, 1902, p. 15; Social Welfare Pioneers, 1986, p. 12.