Submitted by Gaylene Kerr Banister
III Chapter V
|Erie is emphatically
a city of good schools, and stands to-day the peer of any in the country
in respect to school buildings and general facilities. On a percentage of
population, it is not excelled by any city in the number of youth availing
themselves of its schools, nor are the courses of instruction better laid
out anywhere. We are indebted to Prof. H. S. Jones for much of the
following information concerning the public schools of the city.
In the year 1806, the first schoolhouse was built in Erie, on the southwest corner of Seventh and Holland streets, where the present school building (No. 2) stands. It was a hewed-log house, about 18x20 feet, built by John Greenwood, for the sum of $30, which was paid by contributions of the citizens. This first temple of learning was surrounded by the native forest, a foot-path leading to the school from the village of 100 inhabitants, collected in the vicinity of German street, below Fourth street. Mr. Anderson was the first teacher, and his immediate successors were Mr. Blossom and Dr. Nathaniel Eastman. Dr. Eastman taught the school during the year 1812; the roll, the oldest handed down, with a portrait of the Doctor, form a part of the decorations of building No. 2.
The roll contains the names of forty boys and thirty girls, and as a matter of historical interest to many of our readers, we here append the list: Boys -- Alexander Brewster, Dunning McNair, John McSparren, Zedekiah Curtis, Daniel Gillespie, Edward Hildebrand, Charles Reed, William Brown, Harry Rees, Edwin Kelso, George Dunn, Cyrus Reed, John Dunn, William Bell, John Teel, Albert Kelso, James Gray, Samuel Irwin, James Wilson, Robert Erwin, Henry Schantz, William Dobbins, William Hoskinson, Laird Forster, John Hughes, Charles Wilkins, Alexander Irwin, Jacob Snavely, George Gallagher, Barney Gillespie, Johnson Laird, Samuel Brown, William McDonald, James Hughes, Thomas Growotz, Benjamin Wallace, John McFarland, Charles Growotz, Archibald Stuart and Richard McCreary. Girls -- Hannah Rees, Sarah Brown, Betsy Dobbins, Julia Bell, Eleanor Stuart, Ann Laird, Mary Wilkins, Sarah Bell, Eliza Wilson, Mary Wallace, Mary Curtis, Jane Hughes, Ann Teel, Mary Wilson, Eliza Hoskinson, Rebecca Rees, Kate Oiler, Harriet Rees, Sarah Forster, Mary Brewster, Mary McSparren, Mary McNair, Dorcas McDonald, Caroline Kelso, Eliza Cummings, Adeline Kelso, Eleanor Lapsley, Zebinia Schantz, Mary Ann Lapsley and Catharine McFarland.
The lot, No. 1378, upon which the schoolhouse was erected was bought from the State August 4, 1804, by James Baird, for the sum of $25. It was afterward purchased by means of contributions collected by Capt. Daniel Dobbins, and was patented in the name of the "Presque Isle Academy." This name appears to have been informally given by the contributors, as no record can be found of a corporation having been formed with that title. For the next quarter of a century, nothing occurred of special importance connected with the schools of Erie, excepting the establishing of the Erie Academy, which was opened in October, 1819, but as that institution will be fully spoken of hereafter we refer the reader there for further information on the subject.
Under the school law of 1834, a public meeting of the citizens of Erie was held at the court house November 22, 1834; it was presided over by Dr. William Johns, William Kelley acting as Secretary. On motion of Elisha Babbitt and George Kellogg, it was voted to raise $1,000 as additional local tax to that raised by the united action of the School Directors and Commissioners of the county. On the 7th of September, 1836, through the recommendation of a special committee, the borough of Erie was divided into four subdistricts, and during the next year four frame houses were erected on leased ground, at a cost of $310 each, the directors not thinking it advisable to purchase real estate. At this time, 340 pupils were enrolled. The text books were "The English Reader," "Cobb's Spelling Book," "Goodrich and Parley's Geographies," "Kirkham's Grammar" and "Daboll's Arithmetic." These books, the school companions of former generations, had to give way to improved books by later authors.
In 1839, the school accommodations were insufficient, and two rooms were rented. In 1844, the small frame buildings were inadequate to the wants of the schools, and as a desire sprang up to attempt something in the way of gradation, lots were purchased, a new plan of buildings adopted, and in the year 1848 two brick houses, each capable of accommodating five teachers with their pupils, were erected, and the subdistricts abolished. These two schools were called the "East Ward" and the "West Ward," each school having the same number of teachers, and the same advantages for scholars. The "East Ward" building was on the corner of Seventh and Holland, now occupied by building No. 2, while the "West Ward" Schoolhouse stood on the corner of Seventh and Myrtle, on a lot now included in the grounds of Hon. William A. Galbraith. A portion of the building is yet standing in the form of a ruin, gracefully covered with a heavy growth of ivy.
The first public examination was held May 8, 1849, and the Rev. D. William Flint delivered an address suited to the occasion; and in 1853 a school was organized in which the German language was the medium of instruction.
On the 8th of June, 1854, the directors organized under the new law, which went into operation the first Monday in June of that year. This increased the number of boards form one to three, "East Ward," "West Ward" and "Board of Controllers," the special duties of the ward boards being the raising and expending of a fund for building purposes. The Board of Controllers was confined in their operations to the raising and expending of a fund for school or teaching purposes. This system existed until June, 1870, at which time the city was enlarged and made into one district, for all purposes pertaining to schools.
The East Ward Board, in 1855, resolved to erect a large building on the corner of Seventh and Holland streets equal to the best in the country. Considerable opposition to the project was manifested by influential citizens, and the board was petitioned by them in strong terms, praying that the resolution levying a tax for a new building was rescinded. As the board moved on in the line of action begun, efforts were made to have them legally enjoined from proceeding further. The opposition weakened, but existed for some time. The new building was finally completed, and occupied October, 1860. The West Ward Board held to a different policy -- that a number of small houses were better than a large one, and, in 1863, they caused to be erected building number 3, a small four-teacher house, on the corner of Sixteenth and Sassafras streets, and in 1865, No. 4, after the same plan, on West Fifth street, near Chestnut. In 1865, the East Ward Board built No. 5 on East Twelfth street, near German, a house similar to No. 3 and 4, but somewhat larger. In 1869, the West Ward Board erected No. 6, a six-teacher house, on the corner of Tenth and Sassafras streets, which was enlarged in 1873-74.
The enlargement of the district in 1870 called for additional school accommodations, and since the above date the following buildings have been erected, viz.: No. 10 (four-teachers), in October, 1871, on the public park, West Fifth street; No. 11 (eight-teacher), in 1773, on the corner of Eleventh and French streets; No. 15 (eight-teacher), in 1873-74, on the corner of Twenty-fifth and Ash streets, No. 8 (eight-teacher), in 1874-75, on the corner of Seventeenth and Plum streets; No. 12 (four-teacher), in 1875, on the corner of Sixth and East avenue; No. 7 (eight-teacher), in 1875-76, on Twenty-first street, between Peach and Sassafras; No. 1 (four-teacher), in 1877, on the corner of Third and French streets; No. 4 (seven-teacher), rebuilt in 1879, on West Fifth street, near Chestnut; No. 13 (eight-teacher), in 1880-81, on the corner of Tenth and Ash streets; No. 16 (eight-teacher), in 1883, on the corner of Eighth and Walnut streets; also four small relief buildings. Upon the enlargement of the corporate limits in 1870, No. 14, now unoccupied, was taken into the city.
Concerning the advantages of the schools, the grade of study from 1806 to 1848 was mainly primary, except in the winter, but the organization of the Erie academy, in 1819, had the effect to keep the "subdistrict" schools in primary studies. The two new buildings erected in 1848, and the consolidation of the small schools into two larger, caused the schools to take a much higher rank in grade and influence. Professional teachers soon found their places in the schools, and the course of study gradually extended through the higher English branches and Latin, thus enabling the average pupil to finish his education in the common schools. There was at the best, up to 1865, only a general plan of gradation, quite often ignored or misunderstood. In July, 1865, the Board of Control, conscious of the fact that closer supervision was necessary to the better success of the schools, elected the present City Superintendent, Prof. H. S. Jones, principal teacher, to perform the usual duties of a School Superintendent. In June, 1867, he was duly elected City Superintendent, under the act of that year.
On the 29th of June, 1866, the Board of Control consolidated the higher classes of the schools, from which grew the present high school. In four short years the school had won an honorable position beside the best high schools of the country. The course of study was elective and extensive, enabling the student to prepare for the highest institutions of our country. The influence of the high school on the lower grades has been most beneficial, especially in two ways, arousing and encouraging the ambitious pupils, and sending down a class of teachers who have had the benefit of a thorough and liberal course of study. The intelligent and progressive people have earnestly supported the school, and there is no good reason for thinking that the institution will not continue in its present line of growth and influence.
Although music was on the programme of the schools prior to 1868, in many department little or nothing was done, owing to the feeling among the teachers that they were hardly competent to teach it. In November, 1868, a special teacher was engaged, and soon the singing in the schools assumed a creditable shape, and became a source of power in the discipline of the schools.
Drawing was in a similar condition, except map drawing, until 1873, when, under the care of a special teacher, it began to build up a record highly satisfactory. The drill lessons in drawing and music have been from the first under the care of the regular teachers, the special teacher illustrating methods and supervising.
Evening schools were organized in 1867. Mechanical drawing was introduced into the evening schools October, 1873.
A school for deaf mutes was opened January, 1875, in which the articulation or speaking method was adopted.
The schools, since their organization under one system, have been graded to a plan of many steps, making it easy for a pupil to rise, and difficult for him to fall a long way at once, the door of promotion standing wide open at all times.
The following summary illustrates the present condition of the public schools of Erie: Number of buildings, 19; number of departments, 81; number of teachers (males), 8; number of teachers (females), 101; total number of teachers, 109; number of pupils, 4,720.
The course of study below the high school embraces the common English branches, music, drawing, general information, elements of natural history, and German (German being an optional study). The curriculum of the high school enables students to pass into our most exacting colleges and universities. Between 90 and 100 percent of the pupils choose to pursue the study of German, thus placing Erie at the head of the cities of the country in respect to per cent studying that language.
The Teacher's Institute has been a source of progressive power in the improvement of the schools since 1858. The sessions are well attended and the interest highly professional. About twenty-five of these are held yearly, and the outline of work is to improve teachers as individuals and as instructors.
During 1882-83, the course of study was revised, studies arranged for a Normal training class in the high school, and Miss Abbie Low, appointed Supervisor of primary instruction, to act under the direction of the Superintendent. A manual of directions concerning the new course, was prepared by the Superintendent, in which emphatic attention was given to primary teaching. At this time the primary work in the Erie Public schools ranks in many things among the very best in the State.
For the past thirteen years there has not been a school bond issued, though the following table of expenses demonstrates that the city has been liberal in her expenditures for the support of education. In 1871, the school expenses were $55,764, 1872, $64,232; 1873, $61,132; 1874, $76,320; 1875, $78,368; 1876, $80,501; 1877, $70,177; 1878, $69,700; 1879, $59,980; 1880, $68,425; 1881, $68,202; 1882, $69,268; 1883, $86,851.
This institution was incorporated March 25, 1817, Rev. Robert Reid, R. S. Reed, Robert Brown, Thomas Forster, Thomas Wilson, John C. Wallace, Judah Colt, Thomas H. Sill, and Giles Sanford being its first Trustees. It was endowed by the State with 500 acres of land set apart at the sale of the "Reserved Tracts," adjoining Erie, in 1799, for the use of schools and academies. To this was subsequently added fifteen town lots and $2,000 in money, to be collected of debts due the State on lands in the vicinity of Erie. The school was incorporated as "an academy or public school for the education of youth in the English and other languages, in the useful arts, sciences and literature," and from 1819 to 1827 was conducted as a high school, affording primary as well as secondary instruction. On the 11th of December, 1822, a stone school building, commenced the previous year, was finished and accepted. It stood on the southeast corner of Ninth and Peach streets, cost $2,500, and was opened in April, 1823. Upon the burning of the court house in March, 1823, this building was used by the courts until the erection of a new court house; and in 1849, 1850, 1851 and 1852 the fair was held on the academy grounds. The Principals of the academy from 1819 to 1827 were as follows: Rev. Robert Reid, John Kelley, A. W. Brewster, George Stone, E. D. Gunnison, A. S. Patterson and John Wood. In November, 1827, it was changed to a classical school, and has since had an uninterrupted run of prosperity. Its graduates and students are scattered all over the country, many of them filling places of trust and honor, and the number is not small that have reason to thank its founders for superior educational advantages during the early days of the commonwealth.
In 1878, the present commodious building was erected on the old site, which, together with the large grounds, extending from Ninth to Tenth on Peach street, renders it one of the most desirable locations in Erie. The course of study is academic, college preparatory and business, while a younger class of scholars are also admitted for primary instruction. The corps of instructors are able and competent, and the Board of Trustees is composed of nine representative citizens, three of whom hare elected annually by the voters of the county. The attendance averages about 150, and the academy has been eminently successful as an educational institution.
Erie Female Seminary
In 1838, the above institution was incorporated, and went into operation soon afterward, having an annual appropriation from the Legislature for several years of $300. It never possessed any buildings of its own, its last location being the building now occupied by the Hamot Hospital. The seminary did not have a continual existence, but at one time ceased operations, was again revived, and finally went down about 1866.
The first Catholic school in Erie was connected with St. Mary's Church and opened in a small frame building immediately east of the present church on Ninth street, in 1850, under the pastorate of Rev. N. Steinbacher. In 1851, the attendance numbered some forty children, and when the new church was completed, in 1855, the old one was fitted up by Father Hartmann for a schoolhouse. In the course of time this, too, became insufficient to accommodate the growing congregation, and in 1866 the Rev. Father Benno had the present large brick school building, on Tenth street, between German and Parade, erected for the children of St. Mary's Parish. It has a capacity for 600 scholars, and also contains a neatly furnished hall adapted to miscellaneous purposes. The school is conducted by a male teacher for the senior boys' class, and all the other departments are under the care of the Sisters of St. Benedict's Academy. The average attendance at present is 525, and the branches taught are the same as those of the public schools of the city, while at the same time the children are carefully instructed in the precepts of the Christian faith.
Adjoining St. Mary's Church, on east Ninth street, is St. Benedict's Academy and the convent of Benedictine Nuns, who came to Erie in 1856, from St. Mary's, Elk County, Penn., the cradle or nursery of the Benedictine Nuns in America. At the earnest solicitation of some friends, they established their order in this city, numbering then but five. They occupied at that time a small uncomfortable frame house west of the church, took charge of the schools of the parish, cheerfully performing their duties, bearing patiently many inconveniences for four years, at the expiration of which time they were domiciled in a commodious brick building on the east side of St. Mary's Church. In 1870, they erected next to the convent a spacious academy and boarding-school for the education of young ladies and children, and four years after, a large handsome chapel for the use of the religieuse and pupils. This structure, in the rear of the academy, is tastefully frescoed and richly embellished by objects of art, answering the twofold purpose of adorning the oratory and inspiring the worshipers with devotion. The convent at present numbers sixty member, who join the active with the contemplative life, of whom some are engaged at fine needlework, hair work, embossing, drawing, painting, music, etc., but the greater number in the laudable cause of education, while those unqualified for the above functions attend to the domestic duties of the establishments. Nowhere do we find more marked progress than among the Benedictines. But a few decades have elapsed since their coming to Erie, and in lieu of the small frame house, we find an edifice acknowledged to be one of the finest in the city. An academy that sends forth annually young ladies whose culture and morality portray more eloquently than can the pen of the historian the benefit to the city of such an establishment.
The present year (1883), there are enrolled eighty pupils, exclusive of a music class of thirty-five, and as many more who receive private instruction in the various branches taught in the school. Pupils of all denominations are received, and there is no interference with those differing in religion.
St. Patrick's School was established in 1863, in a small building at the rear of the church on Fourth street. The school was taught by one lay teacher, and opened with about fifty scholars. In 1867, the present two-story brick schoolhouse on Fourth, between Holland and German, was opened for the reception of Catholic children. Four teachers were then employed and the attendance was about 200. The Sisters of St. Joseph are in charge of the school, six of whom are engaged in this laudable work, while the average attendance at present is 450, and besides religious instruction the branches are the same as those taught in the public schools of the city.
St. Joseph's School was established by St. Joseph's association in 1867, in a small building on Eighteenth street. During that year, the congregation of St. Joseph's parish erected a two-story frame schoolhouse on Twenty-fourth street, between Peach and Sassafras, and adjoining the church on the east, which was occupied in 1868. Up to 1871, the school was taught by laymen, but in that year the Sisters of St. Joseph were obtained by the pastor to assist one male teacher who has charge of the larger boys, and who is also organist of the church. Besides the male teacher, there are three Sisters employed in this school, the average attendance being 350, while the usual common school branches are taught and religious instruction imparted to the children.
St. John's School was opened for the reception of scholars in 1870, the erection of the small brick building on Twenty-sixth street, between Wallace and Ash, being identical with that of St. John's Church. This school was taught by one male teacher until September 1, 1883, when on account of the increased number of scholars a small frame building was obtained in the immediate neighborhood, and the school divided. One of the Sisters of St. Joseph has charge of this latter school, wherein are taught the smaller children. Both have a combined attendance of 140, and the same branches are taught and methods followed as in the other Catholic schools of Erie.
The following summary of the number of children now being educated in the Catholic schools of Erie will be of interest in this connection: We find that St. Mary's school has an attendance of 525; St. Patrick's 450; St. Joseph's 350, and St. John's 140; total, 1,465. Besides this, St. Benedict's Academy has an enrolled scholarship of 80, and a music class of 35, with about the latter number receiving private instruction in the various branches taught by that institution. This estimate does not include the children cared for at St. Joseph's Orphan Asylum, who there receive instruction in the elementary branches of an English education, thus fitting them for the stern duties of life.
Secret and Other Societies
Wayne Lodge, No. 112, F. & A. M., was instituted in 1813, with Giles Sanford, W. M.; Thomas Rees and J. C. Wallace, Wardens; R. S. Reed, Treasurer. Perry Lodge, F. & A. M., was instituted in 1852, H. Pelton, W. M. Both of these lodges have gone out of existence many years, though there is still a lodge bearing the latter title.
Tyrian Lodge, No. 362, A. F. & A. M., was organized May 4, 1866, with O. A. Dolph, W. M.; Jay S. Childs, S. W.; W. F. Price, J. W.; S. Todd Perley, Secretary; J. H. Lord, Treasurer. This lodge now meets at Masonic Hall in the Noble Block, corner of State and Eighth streets.
Temple Chapter, No. 215, H. R. A. M., was organized July 29, 1867, with the following officers: C. L. Wheeler, H. P.; J. R. Barber, King; H. B. Bates, Scribe; F. F. Farrar, Treasurer; George V. Maus, Secretary. The lodge meets at Masonic Hall.
Perry Lodge, No. 392, A. F. & A. M., was organized in 1867, the following officers being then chosen: Jay S. Childs, W. M.; A. A. Adams, S. W.; J. W. Swalley, J. W.; Silas Clark, Treasurer; H. C. Rogers, Secretary. This lodge also meets at Masonic Hall.
Jerusalem Council, No. 33, R. S. E. & S. M., was organized October 30, 1867, with George V. Maus, T. I. G. M.; John E. Payne, T. I. D. G. M; George P. Griffith, P. C. of W.; George C. Bennett, M. of Ex.; William Himrod, Jr., Recorder. Meets at Masonic Hall.
Mt. Olivet Commandery, No. 36, K. T., was organized October 30, 1867, and its first officers were as follows: George V. Maus, E. C.; John E. Payne, G.; George P. Griffith, C. G.; George L. Baker, Treasurer; E. R. Chapman, Recorder.
Keystone Lodge, No. 455, F. & A. M., was organized in January, 1870, with the following gentlemen as its first officers: J. J. Wadsworth, W. M.; George F. Cain, S. W.; George V. Maus, J. W.; M. Taylor, Secretary; J. L. Stewart, treasurer. This lodge meets in Zuck's block, corner of Peach and Sixteenth streets.
The Lake Shore Masonic Relief Association was organized April 16, 1872, for the purpose of more effectually assisting the widows and orphans of worthy brethren. Its officers for 1883 and 1884 are as follows: J. M. Ormsbee, President; J. R. Sherwood, Vice President; W. W. Reed, Treasurer; A. A. Adams, Secretary; George P. Griffith, Legal Adviser; C. W. Stranahan, M. D., Medical Director.
The following lodges of I. O. O. F. are now in existence, viz.: Presque Isle Lodge, No. 107, organized in 1845, meets at Odd Fellows Hall on the corner of Seventh and State streets; Heneosis Adelphon Encampment, No. 42, organized in 1846 and re-organized in 1866, which also meets at Odd Fellows Hall; Philallelia Lodge, No. 299, organized in 1848, meets at the same place as the previous ones mentioned; Lake Erie Degree Lodge, No. 19, organized in 1868, same place of meeting; Lake Shore Lodge, No. 718, organized July 5, 1870, meets at same place; Erie City Lodge, No. 871 (German), organized March 31, 1874, place of meeting same as above lodges. Luella Rebekah Degree Lodge, No. 90, organized April 30, 1874, also meets at Odd Fellows Hall. The Odd Fellows Mutual Benefit Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania was organized in 1873, and possesses a large membership.
Of the Knights of Pythias, two lodges have organizations in Erie, viz.: Erie Lodge, No. 327, organized December 20, 1871, and Endowment Rank Section, No. 103, instituted February 20, 1878, both of which meet at Pythian Temple, in Metcalf's block on State street, between Seventh and Eighth.
Of the Knights of Honor, there were formerly three lodges in the city, two of which have been consolidated. Mystic Lodge, No. 99, was organized in April, 1875, and Lake City Lodge, No. 806, was instituted November 21, 1877, but in January, 1883, they were consolidated under the former name, and now comprise one of the finest, if not the finest, body of men of any secret society in Erie. Barbarossa Lodge, No. 686, was organized July 7, 1877, and both of these lodges meet at Jarecki's Hall on State street.
The Ancient Order of United Workmen has the following lodges in Erie: Rising Sun Lodge, No. 4, which meets in Eliot's block on Seventh street, between State and French; Erie Lodge, No. 44, which meets at Zuck's Hall, on the corner of Sixteenth and Peach streets; Alexander Lodge, No. 56 (German), meets in the Mission Block, corner of Fourteenth and Peach street; Active Lodge, No. 61, meets at Metcalf's Hall on State street; Garfield Lodge, No. 397, meets at G. A. R. Hall on State street.
Keystone Council, No. 108, Royal Arcanum, meets at Jarecki's Hall on State street.
Gee-nun-de-wah Tribe, No. 167, Improved Order of Red Men, was instituted in January, 1879, and meets at Metcalf's hall on State, between Seventh and Eighth streets.
Harugaries -- Erie Mannie, No. 24, was organized August 1, 1869; Mozart Lodge, No. 139, Mozart Lodge, No. 139, was organized in 1867; Bismarck Lodge, No. 151, was organized in 1867; Erie Lodge, No. 290, was organized in 1872. All of these lodges meet at a hall in the Liebel Block. Connected with the Harugaries is the Life Insurance of D. O. H., Sixth District of Pennsylvania, which was organized January 1, 1876.
The Erie Caledonian Club was organized in June, 1881, and meets in their hall on the corner of Eleventh and State streets.
George Stephenson Lodge, No. 68, Sons of St. George, meets at Metcalf's Hall.
Strong Vincent Post, No. 67, G. A. R. meets at their hall on State, between Ninth and Tenth streets.
Of Hebrew societies, Erie City Lodge, No. 107, K. S. B., was organized in May, 1873, and meets at Metcalf's Hall. The Standard Club was established in October, 1879, and meets in Baker's block, corner of Fifth and State streets, Ladies' Rebecca Society was organized in 1879.
The Turners are also represented here. The Erie Turnverein was organized in 1868, and its headquarters are at Turn Hall on State street, between Sixth and Seventh. East Erie Turnverein was organized January 12, 1880, and meets at the East Erie Turn Hall, corner of Ninth and Parade streets. South Erie Turnverein was organized August 11, 1878, and meets at South Erie Turn Hall, corner of Twentieth and Peach streets, and here also is the meeting place of the Benevolent Section of the South Erie Turnverein, which was organized January 1, 1881.
The following embrace the musical societies of the city: The Erie Liedertafel was organized September 2, 1862, and meets and Liedertafel Hall in Berst's block, on State street, between Eighth and Ninth. The Erie Sangerbund was organized in 1871, and meets at Zuck's Hall, corner of Sixteenth and Peach streets. The Erie Mannerchor was organized in 1872, and meets at Boyer's Hall. The Orphans' Society was organized in 1878, and meets in the G. A. R. Hall on State street. The Amphion Musical Association meets at the corner of Eleventh and Peach, while another society called the Teutonia comes together every Sunday for musical recreation.
Protective Societies: Erie Typographical Union, No. 77, meets at Austin's Hall, North Park Row. Iron Moulders' Union, No. 38, meets at Good Templar's Hall, corner of Eleventh and State streets. The Cigar-Makers' Union meets at Schumacher's Hall, corner of Tenth and Parade streets. The Trades Assembly meets at Austin's Hall on North Park Row.
Building and Loan Associations: Erie City Building and Loan Association was incorporated March 10, 1873, and meets at Austin's Hall on North Park Row. Ben Franklin Building and Loan Association No. 2, meets in the Dime Bank Block. Erie Saving Fund and Building Association was chartered in 1873. Presque Isle Saving Fund, Loan and Building Association meets at the corner of Thirteenth and Peach Streets. The Workingmen's Building and Loan Association of Erie was incorporated July 10, 1876, under a perpetual charter granted by the Governor of Pennsylvania, and by letters patent granted October 10, 1879. This association meets at Good Templars Hall, corner of Eleventh and State Streets.
There are several benevolent societies: The German Independent Benevolent Association was organized July 4, 1842, and meets at Boyer's Hall, No. 1305 State street. The German Friendship Benevolent Association was organized in 1862, and meets at Liebel's Hall. The Erie and Pittsburgh Shops Mutual Benefit Association was organized in 1868. Erie Lodge, No. 39, of the National Marine Beneficial Association, meets at G. A. R. Hall on State street. Erie Star Union No. 50, of the Equitable Aid Union, meets in Metcalf's block; and South Erie Union No. 62, of the same association, meets at Zuck's Hall.
Catholic Benevolent Societies: St. Joseph's Branch, No. 9, C. M. B. A., was organized February 17, 1879, and meets in a hall on the corner of twenty-sixth and Peach streets. St. Patrick's Branch, No. 12, C. M. B. A., was instituted March 8, 1879, and meets in Gensheimer's block, corner Seventh and state streets; and St. Mary's Branch, No. 15, C. M. B. A., was instituted December 5, 1879 and meets at the same hall. St. John's Branch, No. 18, C. M. B. A., was organized in January, 1881, and meets at a hall corner of Twenty-fifth and Ash streets; and St. Peters Branch, No. 20, subsequently organized, meets in Gensheimer's block. Branch No. 98, Catholic Knights of America, was organized in 1876, and meets at the hall in Austin's block. Irish American Benevolent Society, No. 295, I. C. B. U., meets at Austin's Hall on North Park Row. The Hibernian C. B. Society, No. 1, was organized in 1872, and re-organized in 1877. St. Patrick's Temperance Cadets were organized in 1872. St. Alphonsus Relief Society was organized in 1868, and St. Joseph's Mutual Relief Society in 1865. St. John's Benevolent Society was organized in 1872, and St. Andrews' the same year; while Trinity Benevolent Association, a Portuguese society, was organized in 1874. Connected with the Catholic Churches of the city are other societies of a benevolent character, such as the Father Matthew T. A. B. Society of St. Patrick's Church, which was organized in 1866; also St. Vincent De Paul Society established the same year; while in St. Mary's congregation are St. George's Society, organized in 1852, St. Benedict's in 1867, and St. Bonifacius' in 1868.
The German Free School Society was established for the purpose of introducing the German language into the public schools, and to foster the idea of compulsory school attendance. This society has doubtless accomplished much good. It is composed of representative German citizens, and the principal object of the society has been so far successful that to-day from 90 to 100 per cent of the pupils in the high school are studying the German language.
The First Society of Spiritualists of Erie City and county was organized in February, 1882, in Treisaker's Hall on State street, with about a dozen members. The charter was granted by the court late in the winter of 1881-82 as a "Medical and Scientific Society." Speakers were transient until April, 1882, when Mr. Hull was engaged as speaker of the society, which numbers about 300, and meets Sunday afternoon and evening at Old's Hall on State street. The officers consist of a President, two Vice Presidents, Treasurer and two Secretaries.
Erie City Bible Society was organized in 1824, and has been kept up ever since. The first officers were as follows: Rev. Johnston Eaton, President, Rev. Robert Reid, Vice President; E. D. Gunnison, Treasurer; George Selden, secretary; Giles Sanford, William Gould, Robert Porter, John McCord, Joseph Selden, Judah Colt, Robert McClelland, John Phillips, Oliver Alford, R. C. Hatton, James Flowers and Philip Bristol, Managers.
Erie Temple of Honor, organized in 1854, was one of the pioneer temperance societies, and William A. Galbraith, one of its first officers. It was reorganized in 1859, at which time a lodge of Good Templars that had been operation two or three years, was merged into it. The history of the different temperance movements during the past fifty years, belongs to the State or nation, and can only be properly treated from that basis. They were not local movements, but spread throughout the Union, and created much excitement during the period of their existence.
The following is a brief account of the library and literary societies of Erie. In 1806, thirty of Erie's citizens organized a "Library Company," with the following officers: Judah Colt, President; Thomas Forster, Librarian; Thomas Forster, James Baird, John C. Wallace and William Wallace, Directors, The society purchased $200 worth of books, and was kept up for several years. Other societies of the same character were the Franklin Literary Association, organized in 1826; Apprentices Literary Society formed about 1839, and Irving Literary Institute organized in 1843, all of which had small libraries. Literary and lyceum societies sprang into existence at different periods in the city's history, many of which had courses of lectures, and did much good by encouraging and cultivating the literary tastes of the people.
The Young Men's Christian Association was organized in May, 1860, and has now a membership of 600 in Erie City alone. The association owns a fine three story brick building on the southeast corner of Tenth and Peach streets. In May, 1861, they opened a free reading room, which has been kept open up to the present. The library now contains about 6,000 volumes, and about 75 newspapers and periodicals are always kept on file. Though the reading room is free to all, the library is for the use of members, those outside of the association being required to pay a fee for the use of books therefrom. The Erie association is among the leading ones of Pennsylvania, and within a few years contemplate the erection of a much finer building on the same corner, at a cost of about $40,000, the present one being too small for their growing numbers. The association sustained a course of lecture for several years, many from distinguished persons. Their present quarters are comfortably furnished, and the officers in charge are kind and gentlemanly to all who visit their rooms, while an air of neatness pervades the whole establishment.
The Erie Natural History Society was organized February 18, 1879, its object being the study of the natural history of Erie County, and the probably establishment of a scientific institute, library and museum. It meets at its rooms in the Metcalf Block, 724 State street.
The Northwestern Pennsylvania Game and Fish Association was incorporated November 19, 1875, and meets at No. 30 North Park Row. The objects of this society are the protection and propagation of game and fish by the enforcement of the laws relating thereto. Every good citizen will commend the society in this laudable work, and should assist it in its efforts to protect the fish in the bay and the game on the peninsula from the ruthless angler and huntsman.
Bibliography: Samuel P. Bates, History of Erie County, Pennsylvania, (Warner, Beers & Co.: Chicago, 1884), Part III, Chapter V, pp. 586-600.
This page was last updated on Saturday, January 06, 2001.
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