Harriet Colfax and Ann Hartwell
Harriet Colfax served as the keeper of the Michigan City
Lighthouse for 43 years, from her appointment in 1861 until her
retirement at age 80 in 1904. Miss Colfax was a native of Ogdensburg,
New York where she had been a teacher of voice and piano. She moved to
Michigan City in the 1850s with her brother who had founded a local
political newspaper. Miss Colfax worked as a typesetter on the paper as
well as a music teacher. Her brother sold the newspaper and moved from
the area but Miss Colfax remained in Michigan City with her companion,
Miss Ann C. Hartwell, also a teacher and native of Ogdensburg, New
York. At age 37 Miss Colfax took up the lighthouse keeper's position.
Harriet Colfax and Ann Hartwell, who were known to their friends as
"Ann and Tat," spent the rest of their lives together, primarily in the
Michigan City Lighthouse. In the late 1800s, after twenty-five years of
teaching, Ann Hartwell ran a newstand and bookstore in downtown
Michigan City. Her bookstore had Michigan City's first circulating
library. In 1894, Miss Hartwell was a founding director of the Michigan
City Branch of the Needlework Guild of America, an organization
providing clothing to those in need. Miss Colfax and Miss Hartwell were
supporters of the Library
Association and construction of the Michigan City Library which opened
to the public on October 9, 1897.
Harriet Colfax died on April 16, 1905, shortly after the death of Ann Hartwell on January 22, 1905.
Miss Harriet Colfax and Miss Ann Hartwell, photographs from the collection of the Old Lighthouse Museum/Michigan City Historical Society, Inc.
Chicago Tribune: October 2, 1904
The oldest, stanchest, and most reliable lighthouse keeper in the United States is a woman. A little, fragile, pretty maid of more than 80 years has broken the records of all lighthouse keepers in this country in length of service, in age, and above all, in the fact that her light never failed, never went out between the hours of sunset and sunrise during the forty-three years that she has tended it.
Her cousin, Schuyler Colfax, suggested the lighthouse of the little port in which she lived as a field for activities. She assumed control of the lighthouse and the old harbor beacon in the spring of 1861. Since the first day of her stewardship the great gleam of the harbor light has never failed to blaze across the waters at sunset, and never while the old beacon at the entrance of the harbor stood has she failed to flash its yellow radiance across the water before dark. At eventide each day during the navigation season for forty-three years she has replaced the waning lamp with a fresh one; at dawn for forty-three years she has quenched the beacon, and crept silently to her lonesome bed, happy in the sense of duty done, sure that the voiceless message of her unfailing light had carried courage and brought safety to many a ship and small boat tossed on the rough waters of Lake Michigan.
Does Duty Through Illness and Storms.
There were times when she was ill. There were nights when the groaning, wind driven seas lashed over the long pier that led to the harbor beacon. But she never failed. Drenched with icy spray, almost blown from the slippery footing, groping her way from the lighthouse to the beacon, across the wind swept sand dunes, floundering, tired with the burden of her big lamp, chilled with the blasts of belated spring or early winter, she never failed to keep the beacon bright and constant, never permitted the terrors of the storm or the fears of her womanly heart to deter her for a moment.
"Little Miss Colfax's light."
That's what the navigators have called the harbor light at Michigan City for forty years and so it will be known, perhaps, for forty years to come. For it was the most certain of them all. The old town set its clocks by "Miss Colfax's light"; the people of Michigan City rose by it, and to this day the gleam of the sunset light in the old house by the margin of Lake Michigan is as true to the moment of sunset as the clock to the calendar.
And the dear little, smiling, courageous lighthouse keeper is so old! Past 80!
She was seen at sunset the other evening trimming the great lamp in the tower above her lakeside home. She clipped the wicks and tried the burner, looked at her watch, and struck a match.
"It is time," she said, lighting the lamp and smiling a happy smile. In an instant, the tiny, glass covered cage was filled with a fierce glare.
Still Loves Her Work.
"I am able to do the work, you see," she said in her thin, sweetly quavering voice. "I have a helper to carry up the lamps, but always trim and light them myself. In forty-three years none but me has done it. I love the lamps, the old lighthouse, and the work. They are the habit, the home, everything dear I have known for so long. I could not bear to see anyone else light my lamp. I would rather die here than live elsewhere. The work is easier now than it was once. Since the old beacon light was swept away I have but this main light to tend. In the old days they used lard oil for the lamps, and in cold weather we had to heat it. It was great trouble in cold weather to make the old beacon burn. The lard oil would get hard before I could get the lamp lighted, but once lit it never went out, you may be sure. My lights never went out till I quenched them myself."
The slow moving, bowed old woman is proud of her record. The harbor light is in a glass cupola on the apex of the old house in which she lives, so that she can attend to her work in all kinds of weather without going outdoors. It was different in the old days when the beacon stood at the end of the government pier, half a mile from her house, and accessible only by a narrow walk, with a single rail to hold by.
1886 that Miss Colfax made her
last trip to the beacon light. With her pail of heated oil in one hand
and her lantern in the other she sallied forth into one of the most
tumultuous storms that ever raged along the coast of Lake Michigan. The
sleet stung her face, the furious wind drove the spray of the seas and
the sand of the dunes pelting against her, and the darkness of the
tempest fell so suddenly that she could hardly find the wave washed end
of the pier. But she gained it, grasped the handrail, and, with head
bent, struggled forward to the beacon tower.
Fights Way Through Storm.
The waves dashed over and smote against the piling and woodwork of the pier till the timbers groaned and the frail woman could scarcely keep her footing. She fought her way along, gained the stairway, and in the shelter of the tower top filled the great lamp and lighted it. Then she came down, drenched to the skin, chilled to the bone, and for the first time, scared almost to fainting. The tornado had increased in fury, the slender stairway quaked beneath her, the tower wavered, and the noise of the wind and water was like the rending of a thousand sails. She had hardly gained the mainland when there was a grinding crash. She looked back in terror to see the great beacon, like some big meteor, whirl in an arc through the livid night and fall hissing into the lake.
All night she watched the tower above her own house praying that no ships would venture in, or that the main light, which she kept burning more brightly than ever, might guide them past the wreck of the beacon pier. And in the morning when daylight came, and she had snuffed the harbor light, she went down to the pier to see the ruin which the storm had wrought. The beacon tower was gone, half of the long pier had been dismantled, and the shore was strewn with the wreckage of a structure that had withstood the storms of fifteen years.
"I have seen many storms," said Miss Colfax the other day, "but never one like that. I was sorry to lose the old beacon, in spite of all the trouble and danger it brought me, for I was getting fond of it, and it was a great help to the sailors who didn't know the old harbor entrance."
Lives in Lighthouse with Friend.
That was eighteen years ago, and since then Miss Colfax has had only the regular light to look after. She lives in the lighthouse, a strong, square, homelike house, built for the harbor service in 1858. Only the big lanternlike cupola on the top of it distinguishes it from any other cozy country home, and the dense grove which has grown up around it threatens to obscure the harbor light which now scarcely peers above the tall cottonwoods and willows. The house is hard by the margin of the lake, surrounded by a pretty garden and but a few steps from the fine park of Michigan City.
But the hand of progress has been laid on the old lighthouse. In a few weeks more the beloved beacon will be quenched never to be relighted. Already a dozen government workmen are busy about the building. New porches, broader doors, new windows, and a score of modern improvements are being added. The little woman inside looks wistfully at these changes, but it is the knowledge that her beloved light is to be abolished that brings tears to her dim eyes and makes her low voice tremble.
In the house of Miss Colfax, her confidante and companion of seventy years, lives Miss Ann Hartwell, a tiny, slim, blue eyed woman with curly gray hair, infinitely gentle, and like her aged comrade in many ways. Passing the four score milestone together, these two quaint, lovable spinsters have been bosom friends since the days of their childhood in Ogdensburg, N.Y. Miss Hartwell was a pioneer school teacher of northern Indiana, she taught three generations of its people, and when old age and failing health brought an end to her work she went to the lighthouse to pass away her final years with "Harriet." Here they lived for many years, clinging to the old fashioned habits and methods of half a century ago.
Both Once Village Belles.
Winter and summer on Sunday mornings these two slow going, weary but dainty ladies can be seen wending away to church, arm in arm, dressed like the fashion plates of the ante-bellum days, smiling upon middle aged men and women who were their pupils forty years or more ago, cheering one another with gossip of the romances of the far time when they were themselves belles of the same town in which they are now ending their peaceful lives. There is something almost childlike in the tenderness with which the two cronies love one another.
"We have never quarreled, Harriet and I," Miss Ann will say.
"And we never will, Ann," Miss Colfax will answer, taking the other's small, thin hand in hers. "Never! That is, unless you again insist on tending my light. That's one thing you or anyone else shall never do while I am lighthouse keeper."
And then the queer, guileless pair will laugh right heartily, smiling in each other's faces as though it were a merry topic.
But how long will Harriet Colfax, little Miss Harriet, be keeper if the Michigan light? Already three new beacons have been built. The new harbor light is at the end of a long, long pier, with a steam engine and boilers; furnaces to be fired, coal to be shoveled, fog horns to blow, winding ladders to climb, and work for three men to do. One of the beacon guide lights is on a detached breakwater far out in the harbor. It can be reached only in boats, and when the north winds blow that coast is beaten by the roughest waters of Lake Michigan. These new lights are nearly ready. The old one, the famous "Little Miss Colfax Light," is doomed. The wonderful little woman who keeps it knows that the days of her long service are soon to end.
"I have not spoken of resigning," she said. "I can't bear to leave the dear place and the old light. I expected to die here with Ann and the place just as they have been for so long."
Then, her bright brown eyes twinkling: "If I remain it will be necessary to have help, of course, but I would have ail the responsibility, just as I have always had. It might be all right that way. But no. No. It can never be the same after my old light is gone. I don't know how I shall sleep, knowing that it is out and that I cannot light it again."
Tells Tales of Old Wrecks.
And then, if you will listen, she will tell you long forgotten tales of shipwrecks on the Indiana coast. Of storms that almost blew her into the lake; of castaways and rescues; of bold sailors who brought her presents in the days of her youth, and of how some famous captain praised the brightness of her light and the fidelity with which it always "showed." But of the romance of her own calm life, if there was one, she will say nothing. The town gossips say that ever so many years ago, when little Harriet Colfax was the prettiest schoolma'am in Michigan City, there was a--
But Miss Colfax doesn't like this kind of gossip about herself, and if you ask her she will change the subject.
"What a dreadful noise the carpenters are making," she will suggest. "I suppose it is necessary, though. The place was good enough and I'm not fond of changes."And the hammers sound sad, too, when you remember that the little old lighthouse keeper is past 80, and that the great old light that she has tended for forty-three years is "going out" forever.
MISHAWAKA, IND., Friday, January 27, 1905
Death Severs an Unique Companionship.
In the death of Miss Ann C. Hartwell, which occurred at Michigan City on Sunday morning last, January 22d, in the 77 th year of her age, the earthly career of a woman of more than ordinary gifts of mind and character, and a charming personality which had won a very wide circle of friends during a long and active life, came to a close. At the same time was ended so far as earthly associations are concerned, a life long companionship between two most worthy and estimable maiden ladies which has had few if any equals outside of the married state.
Miss Hartwell was born in Beverly, Canada, August 2, 1828, a daughter of Col. And Mrs. J.K. Hartwell. Later the family moved to Ogdensburg, N.Y., where in childhood the deceased formed a strong youthful attachment for Miss Harriet E. Colfax. In 1854, Miss Hartwell went to Michigan City to reside in the family of her brother-in-law, Dr. M.G. Sherman. The previous year Miss Colfax had also moved to Michigan City, where her brother, Richard Colfax, had established a newspaper. Here the mutual affection of the two young ladies was resumed, resulting later in the twain forming a life partnership which continued for over a half century.
Miss Hartwell for over 25 years was an efficient and deservedly popular teacher in the public schools of the city, while Miss Colfax taught music, until 1861, when, by the influence of her cousin, former Vice President Schuyler Colfax, she was appointed keeper of the Michigan City lighthouse, which important position she filled for 43 years so well and faithfully as to have won a record which has been highly extolled in official circles, in the press and by the appreciative mariners.
All these years the two estimable maiden ladies continued their beautiful companionship. Last September, owing to the failing health of both, and changes in the local lighting service, Miss Colfax resigned her position. Both had been so ill the past few weeks that it was a question which might pass away first. That their reunion in that better land beyond the grave, cannot be long delayed is all too evident to the relatives and friends.
The high estimation in which Miss Hartwell was held in the community in which she had so long resided, was evidenced by the fitting eulogies pronounced by the local press, and the touching tribute paid her memory by Bishop John Hazen White in his sermon at the funeral on Tuesday afternoon.
The deceased was quite well known in Mishawaka, where she had frequently visited at the home of her niece, Mrs. E.A. Jernegan. The latter and her sister, Mrs. R.T. Van Pelt, were both brought up by Miss Hartwell after the death of their mother.
Michigan City Dispatch Obituary
MISS ANN HARTWELL
ONE OF MICHIGAN CITY'S OLDEST AND WELL KNOWN RESIDENTS
Called to Her Final Reward After a Lingering Illness--Hers Was an Active Life Identified With the History of the City
In the death of Miss Ann C. Hartwell another of Michigan City's old residents has been removed from our midst. Miss Hartwell died at her late home, 624 Washington street at 4 o'clock Sunday morning, January 22, 1905, being in the 77 th year of her age. Death was caused from a general breaking down of the mental and physical systems, complete exhaustion snapping the slender cord by which life suspended for months past.
Deceased was a native of Canada, where she was born August 28, 1828, the daughter of Colonel and Mrs. Joseph Hartwell. During Miss Hartwell's childhood, in the late 30's, the family moved to the states, locating in Massachusetts, but later removed to Ogdensburg, New York, where the subject of the obituary grew to womanhood. In 1854 she came to Michigan City to make her home with the family of her sister, Dr. and Mrs. M.G. Sherman, one of the prominent families in the early days of our city. Miss Hartwell ever afterward made Michigan City her home where her brilliant mind and genial disposition endeared her in love and respect to all who knew her and especially so to the old families of the city who know her in her youth, brilliancy and active life.
In 1858, Miss Hartwell took up the occupation of school teaching and for more than a quarter of a century was identified with our schools as one of its best instructors. In her long association with the schools she taught the children and some of grandchildren of her early pupils. Her school work like all the work of her life, was of a high character, as it must necessarily have been to have maintained her standing with the schools for so many years.
Deceased was a devoted member of the Episcopal church with which she labored faithfully and incessantly from childhood. She was a woman of superior intelligence and activity, and was constantly identified in the church and social events of the city for the leadership in which she was ever in demand. Honorable, consistent and actuated always by the highest motives she won and held the admiration of her friends. Hers was a useful, well-spent life and all who came in touch with her could not but feel the influences of her excellent character, her bright, genial disposition. The world is better for her having lived.
In her early life, in Ogdensburg, she formed warm attachments for a girl friend, Miss Harriet E. Colfax, which attachments grew to a sisterly love. Miss Colfax came to Michigan City in 1853 and when Miss Hartwell came in 1854, the friendship which began in Ogdensburg was continued and the two women became inseparable life companions. In 1861, when Miss Colfax was appointed keeper of the lighthouse at this port the two went to the lighthouse to live, and for nearly 50 years they have lived together as would two devoted sisters. In the summer of 1904, when changes in the light service at this harbor made it necessary to abandon the main light Miss Colfax, at her own bidding, resigned the keepership of the lights, and the two women, who by prudent management saved from their earnings a comfortable competency for the remainder of their lives, removed to the city, where they have since made their home. Miss Colfax, like her life companion, has been feeble in health for the past year or more, and at times it has been uncertain as to which would be the first to be called. Even at the hour of death of Miss Hartwell the death angel was beckoning to her companion and friends at her bedside watched with anxiety lest the slender thread be snapped and she too would answer the call. Her condition is serious and while it has been her heart's desire that she be spared to give the final care to her weaker sister, this prayer having been granted, friends fear that she too will answer the final summons. She fully realizes her condition and her desire now is that she and her companion of more than 50 years may be laid away together.
The funeral of Miss Hartwell will be held Tuesday afternoon at 2 0'clock at Trinity cathedral, Bishop White officiating. Friends of Miss Hartwell may view the remains in the oratory at Bishop White's residence, Tuesday forenoon from 9 until 12 o'clock.
Relatives and friends who are in the city to attend the funeral of Miss Ann Hartwell are: Mr. and Mrs. H.G. Sleight and daughter, Miss Harriet of Terre Haute; Mrs. William Sooy-Smith, Riverside, Ill.; Mr. and Mrs. E.A. Jernegan and son Ralph, Mishawaka; Mrs. Clarence Boyle, Chicago; Mrs. George Hartwell, Laporte and Mr. W.W. Colfax, Wyandotte, Mich.
THE MORTUARY RECORD (Michigan City Dispatch)
Miss A.C. Hartwell
The funeral of the late Miss Ann C. Hartwell was held this afternoon from Trinity cathedral, Bishop White officiating. Many old friends and acquaintances were present to pay their loving respects to the memory of the deceased. The floral offerings were fitting and marked the esteem in which Miss Hartwell was held by her friends. The remains were placed in the Greenwood cemetery vault. Burial will take place later.
The remarks of Bishop White in memory of the deceased were beautiful and impressive. He spoke feelingly and with a full sense that the life of the departed warranted the beautiful words he spoke.
The pall bearers were Frank H. Doran, Jared H. Orr, G.G. Oliver, Walter Vail, W.F. Woodson and C.J Robb.
THE MORTUARY RECORD (Michigan City Dispatch)
Miss A.C. Hartwell
The funeral of the late Miss Ann C. Hartwell was held this afternoon at 2 o'clock from Trinity cathedral. The services were conducted by Bishop John Hazen White, who made a short address on the life and character of the deceased, and despite the severe storm there was a large attendance of friends of the deceased. There were many beautiful floral offerings. The remains were placed in the receiving vault at Greenwood cemetery and will be interred later. The pallbearers were W.F. Woodson, Walter Vail, George G. Oliver, C.J. Robb, F.H. Doran and J.H. Orr.
THE MORTUARY RECORD (Michigan City Dispatch)
Miss A.C. Hartwell
The remains of the late Miss Ann C. Hartwell were removed from the receiving vault in Greenwood cemetery this afternoon and interred in the Hartwell-Colfax lot. The interment was private and the commitment was in charge of Bishop White.
N.Y. Herald Obituary
Miss Colfax Dies at 81
Miss Harriette E. Colfax, a cousin of former Vice-President Schuyler Colfax and forty-three years keeper of the Michigan City Lighthouse on Lake Michigan is dead, aged eighty-one years. Until her retirement last fall, Miss Colfax was the oldest lighthouse keeper in the United States' service. She had a remarkable record, the big reflector in her lighthouse never having failed to burn.
N.Y. Times Obituary
LA PORTE, Ind. April 17.--Miss Harriette E. Colfax, cousin of the late Vice President Schuyler Colfax, and for forty-three years keeper of the Michigan City Lighthouse, on Lake Michigan, died today, aged eighty-one years. Until her retirement last Fall Miss Colfax was the oldest lighthouse keeper in the United States. Her companion, Miss Ann Hartwell, died two months ago, aged seventy years. Both were born in Ogdensburg, N.Y.
Michigan City Dispatch Obituary
AND ANOTHER OLD RESIDENT
Answers Death's Call and Passes Away Quietly
FORTY YEARS IN THE LIGHTHOUSE
Miss Harriet E. Colfax, After Lingering Struggle Yields Up Her Spirit to the God...
Funeral Wednesday Afternoon
Although for more than a year in failing health and for many months mast lingering upon the brink of the unknown, into which she passed with unshaken faith in her Redeemer, the announcement of the death of Miss Harriet E. Colfax came with no less sorrow to her many friends, when, on Sunday evening her spirit peacefully took its flight to that home beyond. Death came from a general breaking down of the physical system and the gradual giving way of life's energies. Miss Colfax had been feeble for more than a year and her condition for three months past had been precarious.
The deceased was perhaps one of the best known ladies in the state of Indiana or around the great lakes, and had received through her identification with the government lighthouse service perhaps more newspaper prominence throughout the country than any other one employee of the government. For more than 43 years she was the faithful keeper of the guiding light at the port of Michigan City which in its unfaltering, never failing sentry, in calm and in storm, safely guided thousands of wayfaring mariners into port. It was only from failing health that less than a year ago she gave up her long and faithful lighthouse watch, and after nearly a half century of unerring and at times courageous and heroic duties, she relinquished her work and retired to a quiet, private home with the friend and companion of her lifetime, the late Miss Ann C. Hartwell. Only a few weeks ago, her companion passed to that home beyond, and since that time she has almost hourly been awaiting the death angel's call to join her devoted and beloved friend in the Father's mansion.
Soon after Miss Colfax had relinquished her duties at the lighthouse she was the recipient of the following letters, which in view of the fact that the government rarely ever turns aside from its red tape routine of business to write such letters, may be taken as the highest testimonial or compliment that could have been given her in recognition of her services. The letters read:
Miss Harriet E. Colfax...
Dear Madam:--I take great pleasure in forwarding herewith a letter from the lighthouse board dated Feb. 20, 1905, expressing its sympathy in your illness and its appreciation of your long and faithful service as keeper of Michigan City, Indiana light station.
While I was inspector but a short time of your period as keeper, I personally found all that the board, Admiral Watson and Mr. L. Morril states, to be true, and from my entrance on duty here all spoke of you in the highest terms.
Mr. Picking and myself join in wishing you health and happiness in your new location. Respectfully yours, F.E. Beatty, Commander, U.S.N.
Inspector, Ninth Lighthouse District Lighthouse Board, Washington, D.C., Feb. 20, 1905.
Miss Harriet E. Colfax, Late Keeper, Michigan City, Ind. Light Station.
Madam:--The board, learning of your illness, desires to send you an expression of its sympathy and its appreciation of your long and faithful service as keeper of Michigan City, Ind. Light Station.
It appears from the board's records that in October, 1882, the inspector of the ninth lighthouse district, then commander, now Rear Admiral J.C. Watson, U.S.N., in asking authority for employing a temporary assistant keeper to aid you, stated in 1861, you had performed your duties in a most satisfactory manner.
It also appears that in March 1884, Mr. L. Morrill, surveyor, wrote from Michigan City, Ind., to a representative, asking him to bring to the attention of the board the necessity for an assistant to the station, describing the difficulties and dangers incident to tending the light at times, and referring to the fact that the position of assistant keeper had been abolished for lack of funds, and in his letter stated that "there is no person living more heroic and faithful in the discharge of a duty than Miss Colfax, as her 23 years of most devoted service as a lighthouse keeper is ample proof. She is absolutely wedded to the responsibilities of the position she has so honorably filled for nearly a quarter of a century, and in no one particular has she ever been charged with a neglect of duty nor is she ever likely to be, though she be left without help, as long as it is possible for any one person to discharge the duties devolving upon her."
This is a record of which you may well be proud which enables the board to thus commend you for the manner in which you performed the duties of the position you filled for so many years. Respectfully,
• Sherbee, Naval Secretary.
Harriet E. Colfax was the daughter of Richard W. and Phele... Seely Colfax, and was born in Ogdensburg, N.Y., December 3, 1824. She grew to womanhood and was educated in her native town. Her education included a fine training in music and she later became a music teacher of note, both in Ogdensburg and in her later home of Michigan City.
She came to Michigan City in 1853 with her brother, R.W. Colfax, who was for may years publisher of the Transcript, Michigan City's only paper in those early days.
Through the efforts of Schuyler Colfax, who was in congress and who later became vice president of the United States, Miss Colfax was, in 1861 appointed lightkeeper at the port of Michigan City, which position she retained through all administrations, until she tendered her voluntary resignation in October, 1904.
Deceased was a woman of most amiable disposition and all acquaintances were her friends. She was consistent and faithful in her religious faith, being a devoted member of the Episcopal denomination.
She leaves of her family relatives, only one brother, W.W. Colfax of Wyandotte, Mich., to mourn her death.
Funeral Wednesday afternoon at 3 o'clock from Trinity cathedral. Friends wishing to view the remains may do so in the bishop's house where the remains will lie between 10 and 1 o'clock Wednesday. Funeral service in Trinity cathedral, Bishop White officiating. Interment in Greenwood cemetery.
THE NEEDLEWORK GUILD.
A Branch Organized in This city.
In response to the following invitation a meeting of ladies was held at the residence of Mrs. J. G. Mott Saturday afternoon for the purpose organizing a branch of the “Needlework Guild of America:”
Mrs. Charles D. Hamill, of Chicago, president of the “Needlework Guild,” desires to meet some of the representative ladies of Michigan City at the residence of Mrs. Mott Saturday, June 9th, at 2 o’clock.
The work of organizing was conducted by Mrs. Hamill, who explained fully the object of the guild, its history and its methods. A local guild was organized with the following officers constituting the present membership:
Mrs. George C. Orr, president,
Mrs. J. G. Mott, vice president,
Mrs. N. V. Cole, vice president,
Mrs. J. C. Lee, vice president,
Mrs. A. J. Mullen, vice president,
Mrs. Minnie Leeds, secretary.
The parent guild is in Philadelphia where the general office is located. Its honorary president is Mrs. Levi P. Morton, New York; general president, Mrs. J. W. Stewart, Glen Ridge, N. J., general secretary, Mrs. S. B. Hodge, Philadelphia, and general treasurer, Mrs. John P. Drexel, Philadelphia. The guild was organized in Philadelphia in 1885 and is modeled after a society in England founded by Lady Wolverton. The Needlework Guild of America is composed of many organizations called branches, which may be organized anywhere. The object of the guild is to furnish new, plain, suitable garments to meet the great need of hospitals, homes and other facilities. Men, women and children may become members. All members must contribute annually two or more new articles of useful clothing.
Any member obtaining contributions from ten or more persons (or the equivalent, twenty-two garments) becomes a director; not less is required of each officer.
Each officer and director is requested to secure one or more annual donations in money--to amount specified; this sum to be divided between the branch and the central bureau, for general expenses and guild extension.
There are no fees, fines, or dues required from members, directors, or officers. The president shall appoint the time and place of meetings, preside at the meetings and appoint such committees as are necessary for the work; secure at least ten members; superintend the final sorting and counting of garments sent in by directors and have a general oversight of the branch. The vice presidents shall preside at all meetings in the absence of the president; secure at least ten members; enlist directors and co-operate with the other officers in all things pertaining to the welfare of the guild. The secretary shall secure at least ten members; keep the names and addresses of officers and directors; notify directors of the time and place of meetings, and send to each a director’s garment list; assist in sorting and counting garments, and credit each director with the number of her garments; fill out correctly the secretary’s garment list which will be sent her, and return it to the general secretary before January. Each director shall secure at least ten members; collect before the day of meeting all garments promised her; see that buttons and strings are on all articles requiring them and that all pairs of socks, mittens, etc., are firmly fastened together; sort the articles, tying those of a kind together, and forward them in one package.
There are now 170 branches in the United States, most of which are in the east. The ladies of the Michigan City guild are arranging for practical work and each of the members is securing new names for membership.
The Old Lighthouse Museum
Updated April 7, 2017