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THE ELMIRA TELEGRAM APRIL 11, 1915
THE STORY OF THE ELMIRA FATHER MATHEW SOCIETY
Twenty-five Years Ago, on April 13, 1890 It was Organized and the Silver Jubilee of the Organization Will Occur on Tuesday Next-The Good It Has Wrought in This Community in the Quarter of a Century Past.
(Picture in the paper shows Officers of the Father Mathew Society: Daniel J. Richardson, Recording Secretary; Daniel Trahey, Financial Secretary; Francis D. Maloney, President; Cornelius O’Dea, Treasure; George Kingston, Vice-President)
It was just a quarter of a century ago that the movement was on foot here which on April 13, 1890, terminated in the organization of the Father Mathew Catholic Total Abstinence society. During the past twenty-five years the society has grown and thrived, increased in membership and interest until today. It stands in a class by itself. Hundreds of men in the city, and throughout the country, today testify to the excellent training and influence of the organization. Total abstinence from all alcoholic beverages has been the motto and practice of the society and to be a member of the organization meant strict compliance with this principle.
The movement to organize the society was started by a number of young Catholic men in the employ of the Lackawanna Railroad company. The first meeting was held in SS Peter and Paul’s school house and James F. Judge of Scranton, PA, a well known bond salesman, now residing in that city, came here an presided as temporary chairman of the first meeting.
Among those who spoke were Father Donahue, Father Smith and the late Father Dunn of Horseheads. There were about fifty charter members, among them being Thomas F. Birmingham, now of Buffalo, Thomas Feeney, the late John Fitzgerald, the late M.J. Flanagan, James P. McCann, a guard at the reformatory, Francis X. Disney, assistant secretary of the public service commission, second district Charles J. Harrison, who conducts a job printing establishment on Lake Street, Charles Hughes, of the undertaking firm of Hughes & Sullivan, Patrick Mahon, Patrick Collins and Richard Lonergan.
Two charter members, Thomas F. Birmingham and Patrick McMahon, are still members of the society.
James M. Mockler, a well-known post-office clerk and Dennis J. McCarty a supervisor, joined shortly after the organization and are still active members.
The late John J. Finnall chief of police became a member in March 1891 and was an active member until his death on March 23, this year.
The first officers of the society were Father Smith, president; Thomas Feeney, vice-president; C.J. Harrison recording secretary; Francis X. Disney, financial secretary; Richard Lonergan, treasurer; John Fitzgerald, sergeant at arms.
In the fall of 1890 rooms were rented by the infant society in the Stancliff building on Baldwin Street, which up to within a short time had been used as a armory, but the new state armory on Church Street had been completed and the military company had moved into that building. For three years the society occupied those rooms when rooms were secured on East Water Street, at the foot of State Street, and from there the society moved into rooms in the Lyceum Theatre building on Lake Street where they remained until 1898.
For some time prior to that date a movement had been on foot by the members of the society to construct for themselves a permanent home. The society secured a lease of the old Madison Avenue skating rink and there held a huge carnival or fair which was one of the biggest events of its kind ever held in this city. Between $5000 and $ 6000 was realized. Thomas J. Leyden now an insurance agent in this city was one of the prime movers of the fair. At the opening the lights were turned on by the pressing of a button by Hon. Frederick Collin now an associate judge of the court of appeals but who was then mayor of this city.
During the past quarter of a century the society has been very active along athletic lines. Some of the best baseball and football teams of this city have been made up of F. M. boys and players as representatives of that organization. Many of the ball players later became members of the larger leagues, among who are the famous Dode Birmingham and John
"Red" Murray. Minstrel activities cover a period of fourteen or fifteen years always under the direction of the late Chief Finnell. Myles G. Kelly, the well known real estate dealer has been the only interlocutor at the minstrel performances.
Among those who have been presidents of the society are John O’Connor father of Edward O’Connor; John O’Dea, Edward Horgan, William Baxter, Thomas J. Leyden, Edward J. O’Connor, Judge Thomas F. Finnell, Thomas A. Malone, John Carmody, Daniel Sullivan, M. W. Whipfler and Neil Odea.
The club house on East Gray Street which was erected in 1898 at a cost of between $6000 and $7000 is a three story brick building. On the first floor are reading and lounging rooms, on the second floor billiard rooms, card rooms and library with a large hall on the third floor. Shower baths are located in the basement. In the rear of the club house is located a fine hand ball court.
The present officers of the club are Francis D. Maloney, president;
George Kingston, vice president; Daniel J. Richardson, recording secretary;
Daniel Trahey, financial secretary; Cornelius O’Dea, treasurer. The society
now has a membership of about 275.
Trembling voices and tears mark final meeting of Civil War Veterans
as Post passes out of existence. Four surviving members, including
George W. Stewart, who signed charter in 1897, vote to discontinue organization
and send greetings to member in hospital.
There was a huskiness in his voice, just the trace of a tear in his eyes, as Commander GS Dolaway called for the motion Thursday afternoon which would bring to a close almost thirty years of activities on the part of General AS Diven Post, No. 623, Grand Army of the Republic.
“It is regularly moved and seconded that the Post be disbanded and the charter be surrendered”. The motion was made by Post Commander Edwin Morris, Conrade Edgar Houghton seconded it.
The motion was accepted, four members of the Post gave assent, unwillingly and yet seeing that in this closing of the Post activities the best course was being taken.
So General AS Diven Past G.A.R. is no more. Its charter goes back to the headquarters at Albany. The Post is free of all debt. With full ceremony its final meeting was conducted with Commander Dolaway in the chair.
And at that last meeting there was a charter member, who back in 1897, on August 10, signed the papers together with twenty-five other Civil War Veterans, which brought the post into existence. He is Commander George W. Stewart of 608½ Dickinson Street.
During its thirty years of existence, Diven Post has mustered into the organization a total of 380 members. All have passed on except five. Of these four attended Thursday’s meeting. Commander Dolway of 504 McDowell Place, Edwin Morris of 1235 Pratt Street, Edgar Houghton, of 128 West Eleventh Street, Elmira Heights and Mr. Stewart.
Each expressed his sadness at the decision and action for the disbanding of the Post, much along the same lines expressed by Commander Stewart, who declared: “I have been ailing for the last three months, but I made a big effort and was able to get here. And I’m glad to be here to see all for the last time. It seems to me almost like a funeral. Sometimes I hate to have our organization broken up, but it’s got to be I suppose. I’m sorry we must part, but we’ve got to part sometime or other and I am glad we can be here today and part in life to meet again in the life hereafter.”
Comrade Charles Spaulding of Baldwin Post, No. 6, expressed sadness at seeing Diven Post disbanded, but he told those members remaining that Baldwin Post would always be glad to see them. Neil Cranmer, acting adjunct of Diven Post; Judson Cole, acting chaplain and surgeon of the old post, and GW DeNio of Diven Camp, Sons of Veterans, spoke briefly.
Comrade John Faucett the fifth surviving member of the old post is ill in the hospital at the Bath Soldiers, home, it was announced. One of the last official acts of Diven Post was the sending of a letter to him, to cheer him up.
The old flag of the Post was decided will remain in possession of Comrade Morris until he wishes to surrender it to the Sons of Veterans as a memento. All the records, except the charter and those to be returned to Albany, will be turned over to the Sons also.
So the charter of General A.S. Diven Post, No. 623, G.A.R., was taken from the wall of the meeting room of the Armory. And with its return to G.A.R. officials of the Department of New York, the history of the Post will be closed.
THE CHARTER MEMBERS
In ink that is somewhat faded are written the names of the twenty-six members as follows:
Alfred E. Clark, Albert N. Braun, Joseph G. Green, William H.D. French, William Woodhouse, George French, Ransford Tobey, James F. Ferris, James Mack, Alonzo J. Hibbard, George W. Stewart, Arthur Y. Beebe, Frank Fanquet, John Jung, William H. King, James L. Wiley, Joseph C. Marsh, Thomas McDermott, Benjamin P. Johnson, Moses R. Gage, James M. Antes, George W. Wilcox, Stephen M. Perkins and James Storm.
The women’s Relief Corps at 6 o’clock served supper to the old post members. Daughters of Veterans, Sons of Veterans and members of Baldwin Post, No. 6, G.A.R. were guests. A short program followed in which several members of various organizations spoke.
Then all was over. Diven Post, G.A.R. is no more.
Elmira, New York
Organized February 5, 1897 by Miss Mary Park
Mark Park (Miss), National Number 2070, had been accepted as a member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution on November 12, 1892. she was the daughter of Prof. (Dr.) Roswell Park and Mary Brewster Baldwin of Buffalo and the great grand daughter of Col. Loammi Baldwin of Woburn, Massachusetts. Loammi Baldwin was colonel of a regiment from the beginning of the war until honorably discharged on account of ill health in 1777. He was in command of the main guard at the Battery, new York, in 1776; was with the Army at the crossing of the Delaware and the defeat of the Hessions at Trenton.
Mary Park was appointed as organizing regent of a chapter in Elmira at the January 31, 1896 meeting of the National Board of Management. During the 1896year she approached her neighbors and friends about joining the society.
Elmira of 1896-1897, was a city where the installation of electric lighting and the telephone marched in step with the paving of dirt streets and the development of a pure water supply. New bridges were opened at Walnut Street and Madison Avenue. Police patrols were horse drawn; asphalt on part of West Church Street, west of Main Street, afforded cycling on smooth pavement. Teacher salaries ranged from $4 to $10 per week; the population of Chemung County was nearly 50,000.
Fashion trends for the season emphasized trims of sequins, jewels, mosaics, venetian and jet beads, an "artistic display of glittering dress accessories promises to outshine all it predecessors." Gloves were a most important item in a woman's attire. Ladies were cautioned that "gloves which are too tight and never wear well and it is a mistake to assume that one's hand will look smaller when squeezed into a pair of gloves a size too small." L. Rosenbaum and Sons, E. Water Street, advertised: "We are prepared to show the choicest things in our respective lines Cloaks, Capes, Collarettes, Silk and Flannel Waists, fine and medium Millinery. All at closing out prices."
For twenty-five cents one could purchase either: 10 lbs. rolled oats; 6 qts. Beans; 5 cans corn; 6 cans sardines; 5 lbs. ginger snaps; 4 lbs. lard; or, 3 lbs. sausage. Porter house steak was selling for 16 cents per lbs., sirloin for 15 cents, rib roast or leg of lamb at two pounds for 25 cents.
Local news included a list of letters remaining in the post office and notice that in two weeks they would be sent to the dead letter office. Harriet Mills of Syracuse, an advocate of women's suffrage, was to hold a meeting in Elmira. She had recently been in California with Susan B. Anthony. The buying of land leases was reported in the vicinity of Sing Sing, Latta Brook and in the Town of Catlin with the intention of drilling for oil. The Lyceum Theater, seat prices of fifteen to fifty cents, advertised the Wilbur Kirwin Opera Company performing "Carmen." On the national scene, news of an enormous gold belt in Alaska; heavy snow in several states of the mid-west; and the headline for the day: "Spain and Cuba Negotiations Looking Toward Peace."
On page 7 of the Elmira Daily Advertiser for January 16, 1897, appeared notice of "the first meeting of the Elmira branch of the Daughters of the (American) Revolution held Thursday afternoon (January 14) at the residence of Mr. Frederick Collin; the society being entertained by Miss Mary Park." Following a listing of the charter members and officers the article mentioned: "The meeting was exceedingly interesting. After the blessing, an address of welcome was given by Miss Park. Then, after singing the national hymn, coffee and wafers were served. Meetings will be held about four times a year."
Charter members included twenty-five women (Nat'l Numbers 17031 - 17055) accepted as members at the January 7, 1897, meeting of the National Board of Management. Two additional charter members (#18112 and #18113)were admitted February 4, 1897.
The chapter was officially organized February 5, 1897 and charter number 316 was issued February 17, 1897. The chapter was the 31st New York State Chapter. The name, "Chemung," was selected by vote of the members. It received seventeen votes as apposed to three votes for "Sullivan."
The chapter selected August 29th as the chapter day to honor the anniversary of the battle of Newtown. The first chapter day celebration was a joint reception with the Newton Battle Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, held in 1898 at the Elmira Country Club. Nothing was omitted to make the occasion a most enjoyable and memorable one. Even the street cars were decorated with blue and white bunting, the colors of the National Society. Coffee and ices were served in the dining room. "The table presented a beautiful appearance, being decorated by a handsome floral centre-piece of blue and white with broad bands of red ribbon extending on either side." Several distinguished guests were present including a founder of the National Society, Mary S. Lockwood of Washington, DC, at the time magazine editor for the DAR. The chapter day date was later changed to September 29th as "the weather in August was too hot and humid, and most members were out of the city."
Early meetings were held at the home of members until the membership became too large. In March of 1907, it was voted to rent a room in the new Federation building at a cost of $150.00 per year. This room was decorated in bluff and blue and furnished by the chapter. It served as a meeting place until 1928 when the rent was increased to $60 per month. Meetings were once again held in members homes or church parlors. Around 1940 and for many years thereafter, meetings were held at the Lake Street Presbyterian Church. Today, the chapter meets at Zonta House, corner of Foster and First Streets.
Chemung Chapter had two "real daughters" as members: Mary Jane Woodward Hurlburt (1812-1907), daughter of Benjamin Woodward, a private in the New York Line and, Achsah Vaughn Bixby (1816-1912), daughter of Frederick Vaughn, a private in Connecticut militia. Our silver tea service originally belonged to Achsah Vaughn Bixby, and was presented to the chapter in 1939 by her great granddaughter. The gavel, presented in 1898, was a memento from Mt. Vernon. A chapter song was written in 1937 and our memory lace tablecloth crafted in 1953. Lace for the cloth had been given by all charter members and all Regents up to that time. Much of the lace was from wedding gowns.
Through the years the chapter has joined in giving financial aid and service in times of need. In 1898, the chapter was asked to help in the Spanish-American war work. They recruited one nurse (Miss Ada Richards) to the D.A.R. Hospital Corps. Members made 24 dozen aprons, and one dozen night shirts for army hospitals. During the First World War our members worked with the Red Cross, bought and sold war bonds. During the Second World War, members of the chapter volunteered more than 17,000 hours of work for the Red Cross.
The DAR and the S.A.R. aided in the replacing of the Sullivan monument. Chemung chapter joined with the Corning chapter and the New York State Department of Education in replacing the Massachusetts Pre-emption line marker between Big Flats and Corning. The original marker had been set in 1792. Many graves of revolutionary war soldiers have been marked as well as those of chapter members. For the bicentennial, a list of Revolutionary War soldiers buried in Chemung County was compiled and a monument to their memory dedicated at the county courthouse.
Chemung chapter has sent pages to Continental Congress and to State Conference. The chapter has been honored by the appointment of several members to state chairmanships. Three members have been elected to state office: Mrs. Fred Potter as State Custodian in 1953; Mrs. William L. Shipman (now Mrs. Stephen Roberts) as State Recording Secretary in 1974; and Mrs. Frederick W. Rohrs as State Historian in 1977, State Vice Regent in 1983. In 1986, Mrs. Rohrs was accorded with the highest honor the New York State Organization may bestow, election to the office of State Regent. Mrs. Rohrs subsequently served the National Society as Treasurer General, 1989-1992, and First Vice President General, 1992-1995.
Over the years, Chemung Chapter has contributed to national and state DAR projects as well as to the local community in the form of war relief, flood relief, to building and other fund drives. The chapter has supplied flags for schools, classrooms, the Neighborhood House, scout troops, municipalities and Woodlawn National cemetery. It has supplied manuals for those studying for citizenship; provided gifts and supplies for the veteran-patients at the Bath VA Hospital; donated genealogy related books to libraries; sponsored a C.A.R. Society; given Good Citizen awards to the outstanding senior in each of the high schools of the county; awarded scholarships to deserving students; acknowledged outstanding citizens for their contributions to conservation, education, and to their community; copied church, cemetery, bible and other records for national and state genealogical libraries; located and marked Revolutionary War soldiers' graves and historic sites; encouraged the study of American History and awarded prizes for historical research; promoted the study of genealogy and assisted many in the search for their ancestors. For one hundred years the members of Chemung Chapter have proudly served the community, as representatives of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Celebrating 100 years of Service