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 A FEW charitable women met December 16, 1846, in the "Prospect Hill" school house to form a society for benevolent purposes. Mrs. Charlotte Cuming presided and Mrs. M. E. Church served as Secretary, and it was resolved, "That a society for charitable purposes be formed by ladies of Grand, Rapids."  Mrs. C. Cuming, Mrs. W. G. Henry and Mrs. J. C. Nelson, having then been appointed to draft a constitution, reported January 5, 1847, when a constitution was adopted, the society taking the name of "The Female Union Charitable Association," and officers were elected.  Mrs. C. Cuming became the first President, Mrs. W. G. Henry the first Secretary, and Mrs. Lucinda Shepard the first Treasurer.

 The plan was essentially what it is now - a union of the women of the respective churches, to look after sick and needy persons and relieve them; to clothe children for day and Sunday schools; to encourage among the dependent poor habits of thrift, industry and cleanliness.  To do this systematically, the town was divided into districts for visitation, and two visitors assigned to each district.  Cases of destitution were reported to the society, to be acted upon as in its discretion seemed best.  There was, from the first, a desire to establish a charitable institution, and, with this in view, a lot was purchased on East Fulton street.  Meetings were held at the, houses of the members.  Each year a union service was held in one of the churches, when the annual reports were read, a sermon preached, and a collection taken to put the society in funds.  This custom was continued until the city was too large for such gatherings.  In 1858 a corporation was formed, known as the Grand Rapids Orphan Asylum Association.  The relief work still continued under the old name, and on the same plan, one board of managers directing both.  The same, year a small house was rented on Prospect street, and opened for use, with Mrs. Lucia Johnson, a most excellent and capable woman, as Matron.  Soon after, a small house on Lagrave street was purchased and occupied by the society.  Here for six years its work was done.  But in 1861 every heart and hand were given to our sick and suffering soldiers, and Grand Rapids hospitals absorbed all interests.  As a consequence, the work of the society lagged, and when, in the fall of 1863, the Matron died from the effect of her services at the camp hospitals, the ladies were obliged to close the little Home.  The few children who had been inmates were provided for, and the building was rented, save one room which was reserved for the purpose of continuing the general work.

 In 1866, after the close of the war, interest in the society revived, and in December, 1866 the name was again changed to "Ladies' Union Benevolent Society."  The house and lot on Lagrave street were sold; the Fulton street property had already been disposed of, and in 1869 the large lot on the corner of College avenue and Lyon street was purchased, but it was decided to postpone building.  To meet a demand for some home for the friendless and destitute, a small tenement on Fountain street was rented in the fall of 1870, and opened for the winter with fifteen inmates.  In the following May the society was forced to abandon these quarters.  In January, 1873, by another change the society became the Union Benevolent Association, with a charter providing for all kinds of benevolent work, and with the privilege of maintaining and managing a home and a hospital for the aged, the infirm, the sick, and the needy.  Officers were chosen to serve until the regular election in October.  The transfer of property was made and negotiations commenced for a suitable building, which resulted in the purchase of the old Cuming homestead on Bostwick street, near Lyon, The house was put in good repair, and on the first of December, 1875, the U. B. A. Home was opened to receive inmates.  But the Association was in debt for its building, and carried this burden until 1878, when the whole amount, over $8,000, was personally assumed and discharged by the Hon. Thomas D. Gilbert, the Treasurer of the Association.  The Bostwick street property was occupied thirteen years, and during that time the Home had usually as many inmates

Early U. B. A. Building

as it would accommodate, while the outside relief work grew with astonishing rapidity.  Mrs. Hess, who was Matron of this Home for the first half year, was succeeded by Mrs. Lydia Worth, to whose excellent management during eleven years the Association attributes much of its success.  The work among the poor was done carefully and systematically, and took on large proportions as the city grew, while the care of the sick and aged was only limited by the capacity of the Home.

 The growth of the city was so rapid, and the demands upon the Association were so constantly increasing, that a new and larger building became necessary.  The Association had retained its lot at the corner of College avenue and Lyon street; but it was not until March, 25, 1882, that the first formal trustee meeting was held to consider the feasibility of erecting a building there.  It was then voted that a subscription be solicited, to raise funds.  At the annual meeting in October $9,500 was reported pledged; it was decided to push the effort, and $15,000 having been raised, it was deemed safe to begin preparations for the building.  S. J. Osgood, the architect, drew plans which were accepted, and on September 21, 1883, the Association advertised for proposals on the foundation work.  The Hon. Thomas D. Gilbert, William Widdicomb and Mrs. Marian L. Withey were appointed a building committee, and from that time the work progressed steadily.  The amount raised for the erection of the building was $28,096.23, and its cost, as completed in February, 1886, was $31,707.32.  As it neared completion a furnishing committee was appointed, and active for weeks in soliciting donations.  Their requests were more than met; almost the entire building was furnished by the generous gifts of citizens of Grand Rapids, and the result was a beautifully equipped institution.  The opening was held on February 23, 1886, when an informal reception was given to the public, and an opportunity afforded to inspect the building.  The inmates of the old Home were immediately removed to the new one, and the work of the Association has now been taken up on a larger scale.  The fully equipped hospital departments give opportunities for a kind of work never possible before and the usefulness of all departments is largely increased with the increased facilities.  February 3, 1887, the property on Bostwick street was sold for $6,000, thus enabling the Association materially to diminish its debt.  In November, 1886, a training school for nurses was established in connection with this Association, and a two years' course provided for, in which physicians of the city give lectures gratuitously.  The second class, consisting of three young women, graduated February 28, 1889, at the close of the year in which Miss Bessie Earle, M. D., had been the acting Superintendent.  In 1889 a suitable home for the nurses was built on the grounds belonging to the Home and a considerable debt was liquidated, chiefly through the liberality of the Hon. Thomas D. Gilbert.

 The following have served as Presidents: Mrs. C. Cuming, 1847; Mrs. J. M. Nelson, 1848; Mrs. C. Cuming, 1849-1852; Mrs. J. H. Hollister, 1853; Mrs. John Potter, 1854; Mrs. E. J. Hammond, 1855-1856; Mrs. Cicero Potter, 1857, Mrs. John Potter, 1858.  From 1859 to 1871 inclusive, two Directresses, instead of a President, were annually chosen, but in 1872 the society returned to the old order and elected Mrs. J. Morrison, President.  She was succeeded in 1873 by Dr. Charles Shepard, who has been annually re-elected ever since.

 Succeeding Mrs. Worth in 1886 Mrs. Mary A. Manning was Matron, with Mrs. Mary Hatch assistant, and in 1887 Mrs. L. J. Chase assumed this position, assisted by Mrs. Frances A. Peck.  She was succeeded in 1888 by Mrs. H. S. Kellogg, the present Matron.

 The Principals of the Training School and nurses in charge of the hospital department, have been Mrs. M. H. Stevenson, Miss Georgia P. Stone and Mrs. L. J. Chase, the present Principal, having sixteen students under her care, while the Matron looks after the welfare of an average of fifty inmates.

 The officers elected in October, 1889, are: President, Charles Shepard, M. D.; Vice President, Mrs. Marian L. Withey; Secretary, Mrs. H. C. Russell, who has served as such since October, 1885; Treasurer, Thomas D. Gilbert, continuously in this office since January, 1873; Deputy Treasurer, Miss Anna F. Baars.


 Near the close of the year 1872, two aged and deserving communicants of St. Mark's Episcopal Church, in failing health, without means or friends able to provide for them, became dependent upon the generosity and care of the ladies of this congregation.  The Rev. Samuel Earp, then Rector of St. Mark's parish, with the united efforts of eight ladies of the church, in February, 1873, formally established what was then known as a "Church Home."  The Board was composed of Mrs. H. W. Hinsdale, President; Mrs. E. P. Fuller, Vice-President; Miss Louise Miller, Secretary and Treasurer; Mrs. Charlotte Cuming, Mrs. John McConnell, Mrs. P. R. L. Peirce, Mrs. James H. McKee, and Mrs. George Kendall.  A very touching story is connected with their first Home.  In the spring of 1872, Mr. and Mrs. E. P. Fuller had lost their youngest child, Charles Carroll, and when, late in the year, the bereaved parents were one evening discussing the need of a home for the three or four old ladies then cared for by the church at great expense, they were prompted to put a small frame house at No. 60 Kent street, in order, and give the use of it to this charitable work, in memory of their son.  Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Brooks were placed in charge, and it was opened with prayers, Jan. 1, 1873.  Here were accommodations for six patients, which was the number received during the first year.  In 1875 the increasing appeals for aid made a change for enlarged work necessary, and, through the continued liberality of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller, the then commodious building which is now occupied was secured for four years, the expenses attendant upon the occupancy being the payment of taxes and the insurance.  Until June 26, 1876, this Home was controlled and managed exclusively by the organizers, but it this date articles of association were filed, and it became an incorporated institution, numbering seven Trustees, the Rector of St. Mark's Church to be ex-officio Trustee.  These articles were amended under the Rev. G. D. E. Mortimer's regime, and the name was changed to "St. Mark's Home and Hospital," the period of its incorporation being for thirty years.  The use of this property was continued under the original contract until the summer of 1883, when kind friends secured the ownership, paying for it the sum of $6,000, this having been raised by individual solicitation.  The Home has never been in debt.  At the close of 1888 the report showed that relief had been dispensed, since the beginning, to more than 2,500 persons.  These have represented various classes and conditions, irrespective of creed, nationality or color.  Less than fifteen per cent of the beneficiaries have been those of the church responsible for their care.  There is an average of some forty persons in the Home; there were admitted during the year 1888, 239 patients dismissed, 199.  The cash receipts for the year were $3,333.74; expenditures $2762.39.  Better facilities to meet the increasing demands of our growing city will soon be enjoyed when the more commodious and substantial refuge, now in process of erection, at the southwest corner of East Bridge and Bostwick streets, shall be ready for occupancy.  This edifice is built of stone and red brick, 133 feet long by 80 feet wide, two stories high with an attic, and has a capacity of rooms for over 100 persons.  The total cost, including the site, will be about $50,000.  The dedication of this Home, with religious services, will take place on St. Mark's Day, April 25, 1890.

 The corporation and the city are profoundly grateful for the munificent bequest of that philanthropic citizen, the late R. E. Butterworth, who made this beautiful new building the outgrowth of his liberality; having in addition to the gift of the site, left a bequest of $15,000 designed for the building, and an additional bequest of the store at 39 Canal street, valued at $15,000, to be the foundation of an endowment fund.  A memorial bequest of $1,000 was also received from the Rev. J. P. Tustin, once Rector of St. Mark's, which is to be used for the chapel, that will bear his name.

 The officers for 1890 are: the Rev. Campbell Fair, D. D.; C. S. Hazeltine, Secretary and Treasurer; Geo. K. Johnson, M. D., Samuel Sears, Willard Barnhart, James G. MacBride and P. C. Fuller.  Managers - Madams C. H. Granger, President; B. R. Pierce, Secretary; Geo. C. Fitch, Corresponding Secretary; P. R. L. Peirce, Treasurer; Campbell Fair, E. P. Fuller, W. R. Shelby, F. Letellier, A. E. Worden, Joseph Penney, Geo. Kendall, S. P. Wormley, A. J. Bowne, W. F. Bulkley, F. A. Gorham, A. Preusser, J. G. MacBride, and Miss L. Miller.


 This institution was established May 1, 1884, on West Bridge street, in a small house hired at $25 per month, and a few months later at $40.  May 1, 1885, the present beautiful location on South Lafayette street was secured, and soon after the capacious and substantial edifice, built of brick, in good style, and handsomely furnished and equipped for its purpose, arose upon the site.  The old Canton Smith residence was occupied from May 1, 1885, until the completion of this Home attached thereto.  Though only a part of the projected building, it will accommodate eighty or ninety inmates.  The funds for the Home and for the support of its charitable work are solicited in the city from house to house by the Little Sisters, who go on this errand daily.  Any indigent aged person, regardless of religious belief, is received upon proper recommendation.  Twenty-two old ladies and thirty-eight old gentlemen enjoyed this care in 1889.  A debt of $15,000 remains upon the building, which, with ample grounds extending from South Lafayette to South Prospect street, and 250 feet wide, has cost about $40,000.  The Home contains an elegant Roman Catholic Chapel.  Mother Septime is Superior, and has five Sisters associated with her, and this force attend to the housekeeping and all the work and care connected with this charge.


 By will, the late John Clancy of this city bequeathed to the Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids, the Rt. Rev. Henry Joseph Richter, in trust, the sum of $60,000 for the founding of such an institution as this asylum here.  During 1888 eight acres were purchased on East Leonard street, two and a half of which were sold to St. Alphonsus Church, leaving, after the opening of Reed and Lafayette streets, about five acres of commanding and sightly grounds upon which during that summer a large wing of the projected building was completed and furnished at a cost of $27,000, and dedicated August 25, 1889.  This contains apartments for the ten Sisters of the Order of St. Dominic now in charge, under Mother Angela as Superior, and pleasant accommodations for 150 orphans of ages varying from two or three to twelve years, forty-nine such inmates now enjoying this home.  The Rev. Joseph Benning, of St. Andrew's, has had charge of the building.  The plan of a structure to cost $75,000 will not be carried out until the demand for more room, shall require it, and the balance of the legacy, which is exclusively for construction, will not be drawn upon for the present.


 Its records previous to 1847 having been lost, it appears from a certificate given by the American Bible Society in New York, that the Kent County Bible Society was recognized July 28, 1842, as an Auxiliary, intelligence of its formation having been received on the 7th of that month.  Its object is to furnish the Bible to those within its bounds at the lowest possible prices.  The Scriptures in a great variety of languages, without note or comment, of King James' version, and in all sorts of editions, are thus sold or given away.  The funds are raised by contributions of individuals, mostly of churches, and from sales of books.  February 28, 1843, the first work mapped out was to supply five neighboring towns by voluntary canvass, the Revs. James Ballard, H. E. Waring and T. Z. R. Jones, each holding himself responsible for an equal share of this work.  W. G. Henry, at whose store the society often met, appears then to have been the Treasurer and Depositary, and the following officers were elected July 20, 1846: President, the Rev. James Ballard; Vice President, L. R. Atwater; Secretary, the Rev. A. B. Taylor; Treasurer, G. Luther; Executive Committee, E. N. Faxon, G. S. Deane, W. G. Henry, Henry Stone, Wm. Haldane.  In October, 1849, six districts in the village were assigned for "exploration," and on Nov. 12, Col. S. F. Butler reported that in his district, north of Bridge street and east of the river, he had "found four persons destitute and unable to purchase a Bible, who were tendered a supply."  This is a sample of their work.  In the winter of 1853-54 a county canvass was undertaken, and the Rev. E. Prince, of Cascade, was employed as agent and colporteur, at, $30 per month, in connection with his, pastoral charge.  On the 20th of April, 1865, twelve ladies were appointed as Bible Distributors in the five wards of the city, and it was resolved to establish branch societies in adjoining towns.  In May it was also resolved to employ the Rev. John A. Pinches as county missionary at the expense of the parent society, and he reported in 1867.  In 1880 the Rev. Wm. J. Johnston was employed as colporteur, who spent two years in making a thorough canvass of the city and county.  In the early history of the society considerable interest was taken in and some aid given to this work by surrounding towns, but this has gradually ceased with the growth of the city, whose churches now bear the whole burden of its support, even when supplying the entire county.  W. G. Henry kept the Depository until he resigned May 12, 1865, when Henry M. Hinsdill was placed in charge.  He was succeeded by Charles W. Eaton in 1871.  In 1882 L. E. Patten was elected Depositary, followed by the present officer, Frank M. Hulswit, who keeps a well assorted stock of Bibles for the society, at 157 Monroe street.  L. R. Atwater, one of the earliest members, has served as President since 1870.  Other officers are: First Vice President, N. Silvius; Second Vice President, the Rev. P. Moerdyke; Secretary, M. E. Tomlinson.

On the 6th of June, 1866, a few young men met in an office on Canal street for the purpose of organizing a Young Men's Christian Association. This was done, and the following officers chosen: President, Moreau S. Crosby; Vice-President, J. T. Miller; Recording Secretary, C. E. Hulbert, Corresponding Secretary, the Rev. J. Morgan Smith; Treasurer, H. W. Slocum.  For a short time its meetings were held in what was then the chapel of the First Congregational Church, but in August Mills & Clancy's Hall was rented and a reading room opened.  Regular meetings were then held and a relief department for the needy poor organized.  In 1867 and for three years subsequent rooms were occupied at 30 Canal street, and in that year the relief work was turned over to the Union Benevolent Association, a library was started, an employment bureau opened, and Luce's Hall engaged for a series of sermons, preached to large audiences.  The largest membership had then been 210.  An effort to secure a General Secretary in 1867 was abortive.  In 1870 legal incorporation was effected, and in 1871 the Association took rooms on Monroe street, about opposite the site of the Widdicomb building.  An attempt made in 1872 to obtain a building of its own failed, but in July of that year it succeeded in securing a General Secretary, John Horner, who served until October, 1873.  A new constitution was adopted in 1874, to widen the scope of its, usefulness, and open-air services and the jail work were undertaken.  For the former ninety meetings were held that summer.  In July the Rev. L. H. Pearce, who had for two years been pastor of the Second Street M. E. Church, became General Secretary, and remained until September, 1875.  In January, 1875, was made a vast improvement by occupying inviting quarters in Ledyard's Block.  Regular services were conducted that year at the Union Depot, Luce's Hall, Powers' Opera House (where the General Secretary preached on Sunday evenings), and at Berkey & Gay's salesrooms.  There were at this time a considerable number of zealous young converts and a general disposition to work.  Cottage prayer meetings were also held.  In 1876 the Centennial Celebration was marked by a specially interesting rehearsal of the history of the first decade of the Association by the Hon. M. S. Crosby, who showed that in those years over $20,000 had been expended in the work, besides $1,862.92 expended in the relief work during its first four years.  Just before the close of 1876 the Fifth State Convention of the Young Men's Christian Associations was entertained here.  The Rev. E. A. Spence was engaged as General Secretary in February, 1877, but was succeeded before the end of the year by A. B. Carrier.  Regular meetings were conducted at ten places outside of the rooms.  In 1878 the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad Company opened and placed under the care of the Young Men's Christian Association a reading room for railroad men, near the Union Depot.  Mr. Carrier served two years, after which there was a vacancy in the office and a curtailment of the work until November, 1880, when L. P. Rowland, formerly State Secretary, assumed charge.  In addition to two devotional meetings per week, a Saturday evening Union Sunday School Teachers' meeting was organized in the fall of 1875 and continued until 1882.  The attendance was large, and the work was conducted by the Rev. P. Moerdyke, with some assistance part of the time from the Rev. Wm. H. Fleming; also from the fall of 1883 until the summer of 1885, assisted by the Rev. H. P. Welton.  In February, 1883, the Association moved to more commodious quarters in Godfrey's Block, on Ionia street, one door south of Monroe street, and in March a work for boys was begun.  The agitation to secure a permanent home was revived and in 1884 strenuous efforts were made.  The lot now occupied by the Livingston Block was purchased and held for a time for the Y. M. C. A. by two of its stanch friends.  But owing to the stringency of the money market only one-half of the $40,000 required was conditionally pledged, and the project was abandoned.  In the autumn of 1884 Mr. Rowland resigned.  He was succeeded in April, 1885, by the present General Secretary, R. M. Beattie.  At this time all outside work, except that at the Union Depot for railroad employes [sic] and at the jail, was given up, in order to devote attention exclusively to young men.  The rooms were again felt to be illy, adapted to the work, and Mr. Julius Berkey offered to lease a part of the lot on the northwest corner of Pearl and Ottawa streets, upon which the Association might erect a temporary building.  The offer was accepted and ground was broken for the building November 16, and it was formally opened January 18, 1886.  The cost of the structure was less than $1,800, it being of brick, 28 by 74 feet, two stories high.  Thereupon evening classes, lecture courses and gymnastic privileges were organized, and the membership was more than doubled.  In February, 1887, the Fifteenth State Convention, with its 265 delegates, was entertained.  The International Secretaries' Conference was next entertained here, May 29 to June 4, 1888, early [nearly] 300 attending.  In September, 1888, the lot on the northwest corner of Pearl and Ionia streets was, through the generosity of a few friends, secured and held until the Association realizes a sufficient amount from the solicitation in progress for the past year to, take it off their hands.  In October, 1888, the temporary building was vacated and the old dwelling house on the new building site was occupied.  About $30,000 have been pledged for a building, and final success seems assured.  The officers for 1890 are: President, Clay H. Hollister; First Vice President, George N. Wagner; Second Vice President, A. E. Yerex; Corresponding Secretary, W. C. Sheppard; Recording Secretary, John B. Martin; Treasurer, Charles D. Harrington; General Secretary, R. M. Beattie.


 Of these societies, several, with an aggregate membership Of 400 in the Union of Unions, flourish in this city.  The first organized temperance effort of the ladies of the city was made in 1872, when, on June 26, a goodly number organized the "Prohibition Society," with Mrs. C. Potter as President.  This was followed, July 22, by a mass meeting of women, at which it was resolved to "not patronize grocers who sold liquors."  Next a petition was addressed to the Council asking for the enforcement of Sunday laws against saloons, and in December one signed by 1,100 women asking for enforcement of the law relating thereto.  In the winter of 1874 the Ohio "Woman's Crusade" aroused multitudes here, and at once numerous mass meetings were held in the churches.  After much light had been thrown upon the immoral conditions existing in our city, and great enthusiasm had been awakened, "the further responsibility and, control of the work" was, on motion, "turned over to the women."  Accordingly, March 19, 1874, a large number of women gathered at the Baptist church and established a daily afternoon prayer meeting, and many joined them.  Appeals were then made to saloon keepers, physicians, property owners, lawyers; druggists and pastors, asking them to use their influence against the liquor traffic, and all that encourages it.  A list of temperance grocers was kept for their patronage, some of whom removed liquors from their stores.  The work of the crusade was carried on by personal visits, and prayer at the homes of reformed men, and literature was freely distributed.  The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was then organized, and in June, 1874, the State Woman's Christian Temperance Union was organized at Lansing, the convention being attended by a delegation of ladies from here.  In September, a State mass meeting of women held here resolved to petition the next Legislature to amend the State prohibitory law, and 2,500 signatures were obtained here and elsewhere, but that law was repealed and superseded by a license law.  This defeat disheartened the Members, and soon there was a great falling off, but the few protested, and continued in their mission work.  In December, 1876, W. B. Ledyard gave them free a six months lease of their Lunch and Reading Rooms in his new block.  Then the interest was revived, and 350 boys were taught, and signed the abstinence pledge.  Next, Dr. H. E. Reynolds was invited, and, having come, organized the Red Ribbon Club, which spread throughout the city.  Numerous and immense gatherings were powerfully addressed upon the subject of reform, and it was estimated that 2,000 men were reclaimed, many of whom, however, soon returned to their vices.  After four months the number of saloons was reported by their agent as fifty-six less than before this work.  Mrs. L. M. Boise, zealous and influential throughout this and previous efforts, was now the President.  The Central Union became the parent of several other Unions later established in different wards of the city, and attention was given to the rescue of fallen women, and a "Home" on Island street was opened for a few months as a refuge.  In co-operation with other towns and cities, the W. C. T. U. petition, originating here, was successful in establishing the Adrian Reform School for Girls, of which Mrs. S. L. Fuller, one of the early leaders in the Prohibition Society, has for many years been a Trustee.  In a similar way public school instruction relating to alcoholic and narcotic stimulants was secured in 1882.  Many able lecturers and great quantities of literature have been the means of educating public sentiment here, and bands of Hope, juvenile Unions and an Industrial School for Girls at the W. C. T. U. Rooms, have accomplished much.  Three years since, the Woman's Home and Hospital, on East Fulton street, near Jefferson avenue, was opened, which is else where described.  For some years the Unions have acted in full sympathy with the Prohibition party, and they avow a purpose to "persevere in their tried and approved methods to educate a sentiment that shall abolish the rum traffic.  In February, 1889, they left the rooms in 1 to 7 Pearl street, which they had occupied for several years, and moved to their present commodious and elegant quarters in Good Templars' Hall, corner of South Division and Island streets.  Here the Central Union and the General Union hold their meetings, and the latter conducts an Industrial School on Saturday afternoons, for about seventy children from five to thirteen years old, under the Superintendency of Miss Miss [sic] Louie M. Parkman, assisted by Miss Clara Wheeler.

During 1889 the General Union raised some $900 for its work.  The Central Union has seventy-four members, and the following officers: President, Mrs. L. M. Boise; Secretary, Mrs. Emma K. Taylor; Treasurer, Mrs. A. B. Bartlett; and the officers of the General Union, for 1890 are: President, Mrs. Adelaide DeVore; Secretary, Mrs. A. F. White; Treasurer, Mrs. Emma A. Wheeler; Financial Secretary, Mrs.  J. H. McKee.  The other Unions are the "Fifth Ward," the "Eighth Ward," the "Willard," the "South," and the "Ys.," or "Young Woman's."


The institution known as the Woman's Home and Hospital at No. 250 East Fulton street, had its beginning in January, 1886.  There was an undenominational City Missionary Society, with Mrs. J. Morgan Smith, President; Mrs. Henry Spring, Secretary; Mrs. E. E. Judd, Treasurer; and a Vice President in every church which would cooperate with it, looking after the spiritual wants of the neglected classes. To do this work a missionary was employed, but, so severe were three successive winters, and so many were the causes of destitution and distress, that the missionary was compelled to devote most of her time and strength, and much of her salary, to alleviate suffering, inasmuch as the society had no aid fund to draw from.  The almost constant calls for the temporary relief of shelterless women, and the difficulties of meeting them, on account of the unfavorable surroundings in many cases of the women requiring such aid, indicated a pressing need for a home where friendless women might receive a more or less regular support, while necessary to their recovery or reformation.  Another cause which emphasized this need of a refuge exclusively for women, was the unsuitableness of any of the benevolent homes for erring women who desired to reform.  There were men in every one of them.  There was "no place in the inn."  "What shall we do with her - the woman or girl who has no shelter for the night?" - became the pressing question of the hour.  The subject was earnestly discussed in the newspapers, and there soon came a response in offerings of small amounts of money and some clothing, but not in all more than enough to care for the one girl then in charge, who was very ill and wholly dependent upon charity.  The Missionary Society soon found it could do no more than provide one room in the new U. B. A. Home, and pay for the temporary care of such women as came there by its order.  At length came the organization of a Board of Managers, of which Mrs. P. B. Whitfield was at the head, the other members of the board being: Mrs. E. A. Wheeler, Mrs. N. A. Stone, Mrs. C. D. Hodges, Miss Lillie MacDonald and Mrs. A. S. K. Burton.  An Advisory Board was composed of the following ladies: Madams Wm. A. Berkey, D. A. Blodgett and G. F. Whitfield.  Dr. Whitfield also tendered his services as Physician to the Home for a year, free of charge, which offer was accepted.  Up to March, 1886, no place was found in which to locate the "Home for the Friendless," as it was called until September, 1886.  An agreement finally was made with Mrs. S. J. Douglass, Of 440 North Ionia street, to open the Home in her residence, and the one unfortunate then under treatment was removed to that place March 17.  On May 6, the Home was removed to 519 South Ionia street, and about this time Mrs. Burton, ex-City Missionary, took the place of Matron temporarily without salary.  In May the first business meeting was held, and officers chosen as follows: President, Mrs. Dr. M. Veenboer; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. E. A. Wheeler and Mrs. P. B. Whitfield; Recording Secretary, Mrs. N. A. Stone; Financial Secretary, Mrs. Kerr B. Tupper; Treasurer, Mrs. C. D. Hodges.  Advisory Board - Kerr B. Tupper, H. P. Welton, P. Moerdyke, W. F. Richardson, J. Rice Taylor, and A. R. Merriam.  In September, 1886, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union of Unions took charge of the institution and gave it the present name after its removal to the present quarters, consisting of fourteen rooms, which prove inadequate to the increasing demand.  Succeeding Mrs. Burton, the following ladies: Miss E. E. Hatch, Mrs. E. J. Hudson, Mrs. Hattie L. Tyler, and Mrs. F. A. Peck have served in the order named as Matrons.  The officers (1889-90), are: President, Mrs. R. E. Watson; Vice-Presidents, Mrs. E. A. Wheeler, Mrs. M. Veenboer; Secretary, Mrs. J. S. Woodworth; Treasurer, Mrs. M. V. Adams; Superintendent of White Shield Department, Mrs. G. F. Whitfield.  Mrs. F. A. Peck, the present Matron, is assisted by Miss S. A. VanDoren, a trained nurse.

 During 1889 the care of the Home was enjoyed by 286 persons, by 158 of them as a charity, and 160 meals and 140 lodgings were given to strangers.  The receipts for 1889 were $1,153.62, and the disbursements $1,270.65.


The supply of ministers for this denomination, born here in 1857, was for about ten years obtained exclusively from the Netherlands.  The church then began to realize the necessity of training some of her own young men, which resulted in placing a few under the instruction of the Rev. D. J. Van der Werp, then pastor at Graafschap, Allegan county, Michigan.  But as the infirmities of old age grew upon him a few years later, these students were, by Synodical action, committed to the hands of the Rev. G. E. Boer, pastor of the Spring Street Church of this city.  These labors, additional to the pastoral care of a large parish, proving too burdensome, the General Synod, in session at Chicago in February, 1876, more formally established the Seminary and elected the Rev. G. E. Boer its Professor.  He accepted the appointment, preached his farewell to his church March 12, 1876, and in the evening of the 15th, delivered his inaugural address, on "The Education of the Future Minister of the Gospel."  This was the formal opening of the institution.  The Spring Street Church had given the Synod the free use of the second story of its parish school house on Williams street for this purpose, and still continues this generous patronage.  The first students here prepared for the ministry were C. Bode, G. Broene, G. Hoeksema, H. Temple and C. Vorst.  As the denomination has no college, this Seminary has a Preparatory Department, or Literary Course, which has from time to time been lengthened until it covers four years, to be followed by three years in theological studies.  A second Professor was elected by the Synod in 1884.  The Rev. G. Hemkes, of Vriesland, Michigan, accepted the call, and lightened the excessive labors before performed by one teacher; but as the demands were still increasing, the Curriculum prolonged and a higher standard of qualification for their ministry desired, the Synod, in 1886, elected the Rev. G. Vos, _Ph. D., the third Professor.  He came to this country with his father, the pastor of the Spring Street Church, having enjoyed excellent advantages in his fatherland, next graduated at this Seminary, then spent a year in Princeton Seminary of New Jersey, after which he spent a year in Strassburg University, Germany, and received his degree for merit.  He assumed the duties of his chair in September, 1888.  The faculty as now organized is: The Rev. G. E. Boer, Professor of Exegetical and Practical Theology; the Rev. G. Hemkes, Professor of Classic Languages and Literature, Hebrew and Moral Philosophy; the Rev. G. Vos, Ph. D., Professor of Systematic Theology and Natural Sciences.  Several other branches of study are divided between them, and they preside in turn, each for one year.  Of twenty-eight graduates of this school, twenty-seven are ministering to various charges in the denomination, and one belongs to the above corps of instructors.  Thirty-six young men enjoy the advantages here offered.  A small but increasing library is owned by the institution.  Previous to 1888 all the instruction was in the Holland language, but among the seventy or more congregations for which ministers must be supplied, some already do and will increasingly require English preaching, hence Professor Vos was appointed with a special charge to teach, in English and to preach in English if required and found consistent with his official duties.  Toward the close of 1889 the question of removing this institution to Zeeland or Holland began to be agitated, and is to be settled by the Synod.


A fallen woman, who for ten years had kept a house of ill-fame became penitent and reformed.  This was Georgie Young.  At once yearning to rescue her fallen sisters, she had her capacious house moved from a notorious quarter to its present site, 79 Waterloo street, in which with many improvements, she put about $8,000 of "the wages of iniquity" to a Christian use.  Her home was, thus renovated and in 'a favorable' locality, converted into a refuge for Magdalens.  In May, 1888, it was transferred to a few ladies who had organized to carry on this work, and became known as 'The Emerson."  Mrs. George F. Joynes was secured as Matron, but after one month was succeeded by Mrs. N. L. Purple, who, two months later, was followed by the real founder, Georgie Young, for one month.  To the public criticism, notably that of the Superintendent of Police, the Board made concessions deemed expedient, and Mrs. Anna Livingston assumed the position, in, which she continued six months, then handing over her charge to Mrs. Mary P. Livingston, the present Matron.  The average number of girls here assisted as inmates in their efforts to return to a life of purity has been eight, a total of eighty or ninety having come under this influence, which has failed in only six cases.  Some of them have married and now lead womanly lives in this city.  Religious services are held regularly at the Home on Sunday afternoons, the city clergy of all denominations being invited, in turn, to conduct them, or the ladies most interested take charge of the same.  Daily religious instruction forms a chief part of the morning hour of worship, and the day is closed with evening devotions.  The average monthly expenses of the institution are $85, including a rental of $30 to Georgie Young.  The trifling indebtedness Of $250 at the close of 1889 gives proof of liberal financial support by citizens, many of whom contribute generous sums annually.  Additional sources of income are the annual membership fees of $1, occasional dinners, "benefits," and the circulation of boxes from house to house, and in the churches.  The first and only President is Mrs. S. A. Kink, who, with Miss E. Gertrude Thayer and the Rev. A. R. Merriam, greatly encouraged Georgie Young in her struggle toward the better life and in the earliest stages of her rescue work.  Other officers of the Board managing "The Emerson" are Mrs. J. M. Wheeler, Secretary, and Mrs. C. H. Loomis, Treasurer.  In 1889 Georgie Young issued her autobiography, entitled, "A Magdalen's Life" all sales of which, in excess of the cost of the edition of 1,000 volumes were for the benefit of this Home.  Having successfully established this movement here, the genuineness of her reform is now bearing fruit in several other large cities in which she has been the originator of similar institutions.  "Christian Science," which won numerous adherents here from its first introduction, has exerted a dominant influence in this work from its infancy.  Excepting Georgie Young, all the ladies who undertook it, and all the matrons but one, were of this school, as are a majority of the present Board.  There is some thought of placing the Home directly under the patronage and care of the city churches.


To supplement an earlier but brief mention of the Lodges of this Order, we here give an account of their vigorous growth since 1888, when they entered upon the most flourishing period of their existence here.

The Grand Rapids Temple is now the banner lodge of the State, having, in March, 1890, a membership of 216, besides a lodge of 50 juvenile Templars under its care, whom Miss Eva Gray, as Superintendent, assisted by Miss C. A. Roop, instructs weekly in the principles and work of the order.  Of these children they require the threefold pledge of abstinence from all intoxicating drinks, from profanity and from wicked words.

For the past two years they have occupied their capacious and handsomely appointed hall in McMullen's Block, northwest corner of South Division and Island streets, which they leased for five years at $700 per annum.  Here they hold weekly meetings, socials, stated Sunday-afternoon Gospel-temperance meetings, which are addressed by able speakers, and they also welcome to these elegant quarters, at a nominal rent or gratuitously, the Woman's Christian Temperance Unions, the Prohibition Club and similar organizations.

Their  increasing strength and missionary zeal led them, in the fall of 1889, to organize the now flourishing Veteran Temple, consisting of 160 inmates of the Soldiers' Home, and throughout February, 1890, daily meetings were conducted under their auspices by the eminent worker, A. C. Rankin, at the Wonderland Theater, 59-61 Canal street, when many signed the pledge.

Recently the South Enterprise Lodge was organized, in the southern part of the city, with thirty members, most of whom came from the Grand Rapids Temple.

The present officers of this large, wide-awake and aggressive organization, are: Chief Templar, Grant Bentley; Secretary, C. F. Mitchell; Trustees, John Mack and F. C. Elliott, and O. W. Blain, a prominent member, is Grand Chief Templar of the State.  The total membership of the five lodges in March, 1890, was about 560.

Document Source: Baxter, Albert, History of the City of Grand Rapids, New York and Grand Rapids: Munsell & Company, Publishers, 1891. (Name Index)
Location of Original: Various.
Transcribers: Ed Howe
URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/baxter1891/32benevolent.html
Created: 5 February 2000[an error occurred while processing this directive]