Volume XXIX · Autumn 1975 · Number 1
Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins and Her World
This article has been prepared with the kind cooperation of Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins' granddaughter, Mrs. Jeffress Colt, of Rochester. Quotations from newspapers and diaries, and all photographic reproductions, are based on materials in Mrs. Colt's possession. Gratitude is herewith expressed to her for permission to draw on these.
Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins can have received few more graceful tributes than the one paid her by George Ellwanger on the occasion of the party she and her husband gave for him to celebrate his seventy-sixth birthday at their home on East Avenue on the evening of 2 December 1892.1 After dinner the ladies retired and the gentlemen gathered around a table "for a little smoke and familiar talk." A newspaper account of the event on the following day reported on Mr. Ellwanger's remarks as follows:
He said he did not wish to embarrass his hostess by praising her before her guests [some thirty persons had been present at dinner], but he was deeply touched by this new proof of her thoughtful kindness for him and his family. Her father, the late Aaron Erickson, was his first friend when he arrived in this city, a boy barely 16 years of age, and remained his firm friend through life. He was invited by Mr. Erickson to the latter's house, with a few intimate friends, 57 years ago this month to celebrate the birth of the daughter who was his hostess this evening. During all these 57 years her life had been a source of happiness to her family and friends, and the people of this city. Her intelligent activity, as she grew up to womanhood, interested her in many good works for the welfare, comfort, etc. of those who needed assistance and advice. The Industrial School owed its useful career to her initiative. The School for Deaf Mutes, one of the most benign, useful and successful of our public institutions, grew out of efforts made by her. The Historical Society was the result of much thought and effort put forth by her, and its useful career is owing to the open hospitality with which she invited its members to gather monthly at her house. Aside from what she is in her home, to her personal friends, and as a representative of all that is refined and gracious, kind and true, in promoting the best interests of the city and giving an elevated tone to social life no one could do more.
The Perkins home was located at 221 East Avenue (later re-numbered 421 and now the Genesee Valley Club), and the guests that December evening consisted of a close circle of family and friends. Present in addition to Mr. and Mrs. Ellwanger, their three sons, and their sons' wives were the three Perkins sons with their wives, and two of the three Perkins daughters, Carolyn and Gertrude (the middle daughter, Berenice, was not on hand). The closeness of the circle may be suggested by the fact that the friends present tended also to be neighbors as well as in-laws. There was Daniel W. Powers, come from his mansion at 234 East Avenue, across the way (now No. 474 and the headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America). Five years before, in 1887, Powers' daughter Jessie had married the Perkins' youngest son, Gilman; and two years hence, in 1894, the tie of marriage which already joined the two families would be doubled when Powers' son John Craig married the Perkins' youngest daughter, Gertrude. Also present was another neighbor, Hobart Atkinson, whose family was related to the Perkinses in marriage. His house, Woodside, was at 233 East Avenue (now No. 485 and the headquarters of the Rochester Historical Society), and three years before, in 1889, his daughter Marie had married the Perkins' second son, Henry. (The Perkins' eldest son, Erickson, had been married since 1884 to Sarah Antoinette Pumpelly of Oswego.)
Giving birthday parties for one another seems to have been something of a tradition in these circles. A dinner celebrating the birthday of Mr. Ellwanger is said to have been an annual event; and later in this same December 1892 he would give a dinner party for Mrs. Perkins when, on 31 December, she celebrated the fifty-seventh birthday to which he had alluded in his after-dinner remarks. The party which she gave for him was notably elaborate. The guests "were seated about three round tables, which were set together, like a series of loops, a large one between two smaller ones." In tribute to Mr. Ellwanger's German heritage, the centerpiece of the principal table was a large stork's nest with a stork perched over it ("out of the German legend"), and the menu cards were written in German. The appearance of the Perkins' dining room on that evening is preserved in a photograph.
As for the house itself, it was Mrs. Perkins' family home. Her father, Aaron Erickson, began building it in 1842, and in 1844 he moved his family into it from the house in North Clinton Street where his daughter Caroline had been born in 1835. After Caroline Erickson married Gilman Perkins in 1856, she and her husband lived first in a house in South Fitzhugh Street. After eighteen months they moved to another house (known as "The Erastus Cook house") in the same street, and there they remained until 1862, when they purchased William Pitkin's house at 38 South Washington Street. Aaron Erickson died in 1880, and his widow lived on alone in the big East Avenue house until 1884; a woman of seventy-nine years, she needed someone with her in the vast place, and in December 1884 the Perkinses gave up their house in South Washington Street and moved in with Mrs. Perkins' mother. A year later their South Washington Street house became the home of the newly organized Genesee Valley Club, a transition that was to be repeated thirty-five years later, when the house at 421 East Avenue became the Club's home after Mrs. Perkins' death.
Aaron Erickson came to Rochester from New Jersey in 1823, a young man of seventeen. He worked first as a blacksmith, making axes, shovels, collar-hames, scales, and the like; he took pride in pointing to the fact that he made with his own hands the iron yoke from which was suspended the bell in the old St. Luke's Church. In 1827 he married Hannah Bockoven, of Lyons, New York, and not long afterward left the blacksmith's trade and started in the manufacture of potash. This prospered, and he proceeded to the wool trade, in which he shortly amassed what he would later describe as "not a large but competent fortune." He had a partner, Ezra M. Parsons, and by 1850 the amount of business handled by the firm had become so great that it was necessary to transfer the main office to Boston, where a new firm name -- Erickson, Livermore and Co. -- was established; it quickly became the largest commission house in the wool business in the country. Looking back on his life a few years later, on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, in 1856, Aaron Erickson could claim that he had "owned more American wool than any man living or dead," that he had "disbursed in the wool trade over twenty million of dollars," that he "was the first man to export wool from this country to England."
By this time, he was president of the Union Bank, which he had founded in 1853, and which in the fulness of time would become the private banking house of Erickson, Jennings, and Mumford. A year before his death, in 1880, his grandson, A. Erickson Perkins, became a partner in the firm. There had been a son, Aaron Erickson, Jr., who had commanded a company of volunteers under General Hooker on the Potomac during the Civil War, and who had been associated with the wool business in Boston after the war, but he had been killed at the age of thirty-three in a grisly railroad accident that claimed the lives of twenty-five persons when the Portland express plowed into the rear of the passenger accommodation train for Beverly, halted at Revere station outside Boston, on an August night in 1871. Of Aaron and Hannah Erickson's eight children, only three survived them: Caroline, who became Mrs. Gilman Perkins; Elizabeth, who became Mrs. William Nichols and lived in New York; and Angerona, who married first William Devens Powell, then, after his death, Alexander Rice, ex-governor of Massachusetts.
The career of Gilman Perkins, whom Caroline Erickson married in 1856, in some ways parallels the career of his father-in-law. Gilman Perkins came to Rochester at the age of seventeen, just as Aaron Erickson had done, and quickly made a fortune. He arrived on 19 March 1844 from Geneseo (where he was born). Years later, his obituary notices preserve the details of his arrival: "He left Geneseo in an open stage-coach at nine in the evening, being the only passenger, and reached Rochester at eight in the morning. The open coach was run on account of the mud." He had "two suits of clothes, and three dollars in his pocket."
Young Perkins found employment at once with the wholesale grocery firm of E. F. Smith & Co., of which his elder brother William was already a member; he himself became a member of the firm in 1853, and in 1858, when William was killed in a collision on the Central railroad a short distance east of Rochester, Gilman took his place as second partner and the firm of Smith, Perkins and Co. was formed.2 He was its president at the time of his death in 1898, as he had been for many years. By then he was a prominent figure in the financial life of the city: an officer and director of the Union Bank and a trustee of the Rochester Savings Bank, the Rochester Trust and Safe Deposit Co., and the Security Trust Co. He was also notably active in charitable causes: a trustee of the City Hospital (now Rochester General Hospital), the Reynolds Library, and the Industrial School (now the Children's Nursery of Rochester), and treasurer of The Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes.
The family connection with this last institution was of an especial poignance because one of the Perkins' children, their daughter Carolyn, was a deaf mute. This had been discovered shortly after the child's second birthday, in 1870, and her parents had managed to secure as a tutor for her a young woman, Miss Mary Hart Nodine, who had taught at the School for the Deaf in Frederick, Maryland. During the Christmas holidays of 1875, Miss Hart was visited in Rochester by her fiancé, Zenas Westervelt, who had taught with her in Maryland several years before and was now teaching at the School for the Deaf in New York City. While in Rochester, he learned of Mr. and Mrs. Perkins' interest in establishing a small private school for their daughter and other similarly afflicted children. The Perkinses wished to retain the services of Miss Nodine, and they were so impressed with Westervelt as to offer him the chief administrative post in the new school. The Western New York Institution for Deaf Mutes was duly established a few weeks later (3 February 1876), with Westervelt as superintendent.
In her biography of her parents (Vibrant Silence, Rochester, 1965, pp. 191 ff.), Carolyn Lyon Remington describes the dinner party for the faculty of the Institution for Deaf Mutes which the Perkinses gave on the evening of 24 April 1890. Mr. Westervelt and his wife (the former Miss Nodine) were there, together with the very capable teacher whom Westervelt had brought with him to Rochester from the School for the Deaf in New York, Miss Harriet Hamilton, and Miss Hamilton's attractive and talented niece, Miss Carrie Talcott, who had joined her aunt on the staff of the Institution for Deaf Mutes over a decade before. Seven other members of the faculty made up the party, plus a guest of honor, one Edmund Lyon, unknown to the rest of the guests but a family friend of the Perkinses. He had known their daughter Carolyn since she was a child, and his sympathy for her plight together with his acquaintance with another deaf mute whom he had met while he was a law student in New York confirmed his interest in devising a system of communication for the deaf. In 1889 he had gone abroad for some six months. He had already mastered the finger alphabet while communicating with Carolyn Perkins, and on his travels in Europe and the Middle East he found time to develop a phonetic hand alphabet. Now he had returned from his travels, and the Perkins' dinner party on that April evening was arranged for the purpose of allowing him to explain his phonetic manual to the assembled faculty of the Institution for Deaf Mutes. This marked the beginning of Lyon's association with the school; in the months that followed, he worked closely with its pupils, perfecting his phonetic manual. He was sometimes aided by Carolyn Perkins, now a young woman of twenty-two. Six years later, the other Carolyn -- Carrie Talcott -- whom he met for the first time at the Perkins' dinner party, became his wife.
Mrs. Perkins founded the Rochester Historical Society. Its preliminary meeting was held at her home on 14 December 1887, as was the organizational meeting on 29 March 1888; Gilman Perkins was the first treasurer. Five years later, the Society sponsored an elaborate "Historical Entertainment" in which the city's sense of its past may be said fully to have come of age. The Entertainment was staged at the Lyceum Theater on three nights -- 23, 24, 25 January 1893 -- and it was an immense success. It consisted of nine scenes representing sundry aspects of the communal and social life of Rochester over the past hundred years, beginning with the Phelps and Gorham Purchase of 1788 and proceeding through scenes depicting "The First Post Office, 1813," "The Visit of La Fayette, 1825," "The Singing School, 1830," and "The Bachelors' Ball, 1845," and concluding with "The Fire Scene, 1845." Over 200 persons participated. Mrs. Perkins was in charge of Scene VI, "The Quilting Party, 1830." According to the press report,
The stage setting was set to represent a big room, in one corner of which was a canopied bedstead, while in other parts were an old fashioned sideboard, a long table set for dinner and lighted with candles, a spinning wheel and a quilting frame, upon which a quilt in process of manufacture was stretched. Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins and Mrs. Aaron Erickson, her mother, were together upon the stage when the curtain was raised, the former working over the quilting frame and the other spinning flax at a wheel which she used years ago. Soon the guests at the quilting party began to arrive, wearing the immense bonnets and the oddly made dresses of 1830. Ten or twelve ladies arrived one at a time and soon were busily engaged in the quilting. Mrs. Perkins stood near the frame and welcomed each with a courtesy and a few words and each had some interesting bit of news to impart.
One reporter stated that "in the quilting scene three generations were represented in the persons of Mrs. Erickson, Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins, and Miss Carolyn Perkins," but he erred; there were four generations. Young Gilman Craig Perkins, four-year-old son of Gilman N. and Jessie Perkins, was on stage as well.
When the Historical Society met in January 1898 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of its founding and to pay tribute to its first president, Dr. Edward Mott Moore,3 it met predictably and appropriately in the Perkins' house. The occasion was presided over by the Reverend Dr. Augustus H. Strong, president of the Rochester Theological Seminary (next door to the Perkinses), and the Historical Society's second president.4 He led off the evening with graceful verve: "The Rochester Historical Society visits tonight the home of its childhood. It was in this hospitable house that it first saw the light, in the early part of 1888, just ten years ago. And as it is always pleasant to find the father of the family in the old home, we are particularly pleased to have with us this evening Doctor Moore, our first president, whom we can justly call the father of the society."
It was an evening for reminiscences. The Reverend Dr. Strong recalled that "It is just eighty-five years since Miss Huldah M. Strong, the sister of Mrs. Abelard Reynolds, and a distant kinswoman of mine, gathered fourteen or fifteen boys and girls in the barn belonging to Enos Stone, and thus set up the first school in the hamlet of Rochester. And here am I, 'the latest seed of time,' still teaching school in this town, now changed from a hamlet to a thriving and populous city." As one interested in the history of education in Rochester, he felt he might make bold "on behalf of the educators of Rochester to express to Doctor Moore the deep sense we have of the great services he has rendered to the cause of education. For many years a trustee of our university, and now for several years the president of its board of trustees, he has ever shown a broad concern for all that makes for the intellectual life of the city."
Then Professor William C. Morey of the University of Rochester spoke, affirming Doctor Moore's loyalty to that institution: "I know from personal knowledge that he was the most trusted counsellor of President Anderson. In the hours of trial and discouragement, he was steadfast and true and hopeful."5
Finally Doctor Moore spoke, at first in an autobiographical vein: "In 1828 my father and mother brought me from New York on a prospecting journey for a home. My mother had a sister in the neighborhood so we determined to settle in Rochester. I can remember the joy of traveling along the Erie canal. It was a graceful, slow, restful progress never more than five miles an hour. In those days the canal stretched through the forests which had been hewed away for its passage. The great trees stood up close to the bank so that we passed continually through a tall avenue of great beauty. There was a man in the bow who played most wonderfully on the French horn and won my boyish heart." He told of his education at "the Van Rensselaer school at Troy" and of beginning his study of medicine in the office of Dr. Coleman on State Street ("near where the Ellwanger & Barry building is now. I remember there was a beautiful garden around about the house").
He concluded with some worldly-wise observations on the determinative factors in Rochester's early history: "The growth of cities will always be modified through the selfishness of individual men. Rochester ought to have been two miles further north. It was founded in a blackash swamp. The situation was unhealthy and malarial. The land had to be drained. Trenches were dug, mere ditches. Soon there was a cry for better sewage. The citizens sent down to General Swift at Geneseo, who was the only engineer in this part of the state. He came up with plans and specifications. The plans were beautiful but the figures scared the people so that they dropped the plans. The trouble and the immense expense which have come upon the city of late years may be traced back to the decision of these early fathers."
And according to Doctor Moore, the location of the Erie Canal in relation to Rochester was equally determined by economic factors: "When the canal was put through some of the citizens wanted it to cross the river below the lower falls where there is a natural harbor to the lake. The canal was being pushed as cheaply as possible. It would cost $75,000 to have it cross where it does now; $400,000 where they wanted it to cross. The cheaper place was decided upon and that determined the location of Rochester."
In making possible evenings like the one just described, the Perkinses were providing the opportunity for a number of like-minded men and women to come together who could bestow upon the city a sense of its communal history and thereby lay the basis for whatever cultural identity it would ever achieve.
Rochester's growing sense of its past is interestingly attested to in an editorial signed C.E.F. which appeared in the Democrat on 23 April 1892, prompted by the purchase of the Perkins property on South Washington Street by the Mechanics Institute (by then the Genesee Valley Club had moved to a building on the corner of East Avenue and Gibbs Street). Two other purchases (of the Strong and Buell properties, also on South Washington Street) are anticipated, and the writer looks with satisfaction on the prospect that the Institute "will acquire a most eligible site and one adequate to its utmost expansion." It is his understanding that on it will shortly be erected "a main building, on the corner of South Washington and Spring streets, the same to be supplemented by a number of smaller structures, in which the various mechanic arts, comprehended in the liberal scheme of the Institute, will be pursued. The design is a grand one and should meet with the most generous encouragement from our citizens, as, no doubt, it will, judging from the responses to the appeal already made." He congratulates the Institute on what it has achieved and on the prospects before it, and especially on its future home: "No wiser selection could have been made. The site is advantageous in all respects. Within a vicinage tantamount to that of a rural community, it will still be within a stone's throw of the heart of urban life. It will have land enough for all its needs, for many years to come. I congratulate it also upon the historic site, for there is no spot in Rochester which teems with more interesting reminiscences, or is more intimately associated with the earlier development of the city than this."
But this brings him to the poignant point of his article. C.E.F. is a man of his times; he believes in progress, but he is sensitive enough to know that progress carries a price. "The new Mechanics Institute will remove some ancient landmarks, and of these landmarks I would write, before they are swept away to make room for the improvement; and yet there must be with older citizens, long familiar with them, a certain regretful feeling accompanying their destruction." He is anxious to make himself clear: "I am no ultra conservative, who would preserve the old landmarks simply for the purpose of preserving them, regardless of their hindrance to progress. These landmarks must go; they should go; but ere they go, sentiment may pay them the passing tribute, not of grief, perhaps, but of kindly farewell."
He speaks of the various houses which may have to be razed, and comes to the Pitkin-Perkins house, which he pronounces to be "still one of the finest residential structures in Rochester," so fine indeed that "it seems a pity that it should be destroyed even to make way for the Mechanics Institute." Mention of William Pitkin, who built the house in 1850 and lived in it until 1862 when he sold it to Gilman H. Perkins, takes C.E.F. across the river to East Avenue and the earlier house which Pitkin had built in the late 1830s and occupied until he sold it in 1849 to Azariah Boody (who later sold it to Daniel Powers). It stood on a farm of some 100 acres on what were then the outskirts of Rochester, but "now bounded by Goodman and College streets, East avenue and the Sibley property on East avenue."
C.E.F. finds it "almost incredible that this magnificent domain, crowned with the mansions of the affluent, and with the various structures of the University of Rochester, should have been, within a comparatively recent period, an outlying agricultural territory of the city." We are told that Boody, who bought the place, "subsequently gave a goodly portion of the land to the University, the first considerable endowment which that institution received. Few colleges have a fairer or larger campus than that of our University, once a portion of the farm of William Pitkin." But now C.E.F. returns his attention to the third ward and the Mechanics Institute which, like the University of Rochester, was destined not to stay in the section of the city which it occupied in 1892, and he salutes it with the peroration: "The Mechanics Institute will occupy a historic site and we may be permitted the conviction that they who once dwelt upon it would desire for it no higher consecration or nobler use than that which it will soon have."
Periodically the Perkinses opened up their home for entertainments specifically directed to raising money for charitable causes. There was the "New England dinner" (admission one dollar) given on Monday and Tuesday evenings, 1 and 2 December 1890, from six until ten o'clock, for the benefit of "Manual Training in the Industrial School." There was the garden party given again for the benefit of the Industrial School on Friday, 19 June 1896, from five until eight o'clock (tickets fifty cents), "entitling the holder to refreshments" which consisted of sandwiches, strawberries, and coffee (there was an extra charge for ice cream and cake). Mrs. Perkins worked with the Industrial School from its beginnings, when she was elected recording secretary of the board of managers at its organizational meeting at Plymouth Church on 17 December 1856, the year of her marriage. She served in the post consecutively for sixty years, and when at last she ended her term, in 1917, she looked back on the school's beginnings: "We opened the school to keep the children from begging in the streets," she said. "The streets were filled with beggars. It was nothing exceptional to see a dozen children at one's door in a day asking for food. People gave them food, and that is the way some families lived. We saw this was the worst thing possible for the children because it made them subject to every bad influence…We had little money for our school and the women on the board took turns teaching the children. We had but two paid workers, a matron and a teacher." She spoke of the various means employed for raising money for the School: The women had a donation party each fall; there were "entertainments of various kinds, lectures and strawberry socials in the season for them"; "farmers brought in donations of provisions in large quantities and these would almost carry the school through the Winter. Shoemakers and others would donate shoes and clothing, and many garments that had been used were given."
By the early 1890s, the Perkinses -- in addition to their immense social prestige and their commanding roles in the commercial and financial life of Rochester -- were bidding fair to exert some political influence as well. In 1892 Gilman Perkins and some close associates acquired a newspaper (the Herald) and installed a staunch Democrat (John B. Howe) as editor. In the same year, Mr. Perkins was a presidential elector in the Cleveland-Harrison campaign, and in 1894 his nephew George (son of his deceased brother, William), was appointed postmaster of Rochester. According to one press account of the period, the two cousins, "A. Erickson Perkins, the banker, and Postmaster George H. Perkins, son and nephew respectively of Gilman Perkins, . . . are the backbone of the Flower City Democracy movement," capable even of throwing some welcome support to Political Boss George Aldridge when he found himself embroiled with the obstreperous Tracy-Kelly faction of his own party.
The press gives an amused account of Aldridge, who at the time was state superintendent of public works in Albany, and the unaccustomed company he now keeps: "Erickson Perkins has ordered Antisdale and Howe over in the Herald office to stop their personal abuse of Aldridge and treat him with the courtesy due an opposing general. Mr. Aldridge wears violets in the lapel of his coat, meets the Perkinses at the Whist club when he is in town and goes over from his Plymouth Avenue homestead to attend the afternoon teas on East Avenue. He is like a new man and enjoys it. He is in his element now and has broken loose from the leeches of the democratic party." But the Perkinses were essentially social, not political, types, and their role in politics was generally unremarkable, though there were some dark mutterings in certain segments of the press about the inconsistency of Erickson's support of Bryan and free silver when his bank demanded payments in gold.
Everything the Perkinses did in these years was notable, nothing more so than the marriages of their sons. When the eldest, Erickson, married Sarah Antoinette Pumpelly in August 1884, the wedding took place in the parish church of Turvey, Bedfordshire, England, because (according to The Bedfordshire Mercury of 16 August) it had long been "the cherished desire of the bride and bridegroom to be married in some grand old English church." Turvey had been suggested to them by Arthur Cleveland Coxe, bishop of Western New York. But the weddings of the other two Perkins sons took place on native ground, and they contributed their share to the brilliance of Rochester social life in the late 1880s. Young Gilman's marriage to Jessie Powers came first, in October 1887. They were married in St. Luke's Church, just as Gilman's parents had been thirty-one years before. In 1917, his mother would look back on her own wedding and remember that "it was spoken of in the papers which was uncommon" at that time, and that when the bridal party drove up to the church they could get through the crowd only with great difficulty because "it was massed from the Savings Bank to the top of the bridge." Her son's marriage to the daughter of Daniel Powers, builder of the famous office block in the center of Rochester which still bears his name, occasioned a similar scene. The press reported that "long before the hour appointed for the ceremony carriages containing the guests began to arrive at the church, and these continued to come until the long lines of vehicles extended to the bridge on either side of South Fitzhugh street and for some distance each way of West Main street." And the reporter explains : "The prominence of the contracting parties and the rumors which had been circulated for some time regarding the magnificence of all the appointments led a larger number than usual of curious persons of all classes to gather around the entrance of the church upon either side of the canopy which extended to the street." Inside, "the incandescent electric light" newly installed in St. Luke's "shed a soft and poetic light over the assembling company." All the newspapers give a detailed account of the "elaborate reception" which took place at the Powers' residence on East Avenue following the church ceremony: "The fine old mansion was fairly dazzling in its elegant appointments and rich array of floral decorations." And there follows a catalogue of the dress of the principal ladies. Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins, mother of the groom, wore "mauve satin and velvet with gold embroidery, en traine."
Henry Perkins' marriage to Marie Louise Atkinson followed two years later, in November 1889. The ceremony was performed in St. Andrew's Church by the Reverend Dr. Algernon S. Crapsey. According to the press: "The church was elaborately lighted with arches of gas jets over the middle aisle and banks of candles in the windows. Many ladies in evening dress made the seats on the middle aisle splendid with handsome gowns and flashing jewels." The ceremony at church was followed by another splendid reception in another East Avenue mansion. The press assures us that "the unpleasant features of a cold and damp November night had no effect upon the brilliant scene within the elegant mansion of Hobart F. Atkinson at 233 East Avenue last evening. It was a blaze of light from basement to garret. The voices of many people, mingled with the delightful strains of an orchestra, filled every apartment. From the main entrance extended a broad canopy across the spacious lawn to the avenue, where handsome equipages passed to and fro for more than an hour."
But the marriage of Henry and Marie Perkins was to be short-lived, for hardly more than four years later, on 12 March 1894, Henry died "after a brief illness of inflammation of the brain"; he was thirty-two years old.6 His death inevitably threw a pall over the next wedding in the family, that of his sister Gertrude to Daniel Powers' son Craig; this took place at the Perkins' home in a quiet ceremony performed by Bishop Coxe on 4 April, three weeks after Henry's death. His was not the only loss the family had recently suffered in its younger generation. The year before, in March 1893, Erickson's wife died of peritonitis at the age of thirty-one. Other deaths followed in the family. Gilman H. Perkins' sister Emily, the widow of Supreme Court Justice E. Darwin Smith, who had lived during her last years with her brother's family on East Avenue, died in 1895. Mrs. Perkins' mother, Hannah Erickson, nearly ninety-two years, died in February 1897 in the house that her husband had built, and in December of that year Daniel Powers, father-in-law of a Perkins son and daughter, died at the age of seventy-nine. Less than a year later, on 16 November 1898, Gilman H. Perkins died at the age of seventy-one. When, after the turn of the century, his remaining two daughters were wed, it would be the duty of his widow to give them in marriage: Carolyn to Thornton Jeffress of Nottoway County, Virginia, in 1901; and Berenice to Henry Van Wyck Wickes of New York City, in 1905. The ceremonies were small, private affairs, performed in the family home. In 1902, Erickson took his second wife, Miss Elizabeth Ginna of Plainfield, New Jersey.
* * *
The principal change in Mrs. Gilman H. Perkins' life after her husband's death in 1898 is seen in the accelerated pace of her travels and her tendency now to spend longer periods away from Rochester than she had ever done before. In September 1900, she and her daughters Carolyn and Berenice went to Europe for an extended visit (Mrs. Perkins had been there with Carolyn in the summer of 1887). She had always shown a preference for spending winters in the south (that of 1895-96, for instance, had been spent in Augusta, Georgia), and on her return from Europe in 1901 she bought a country house near Crewe, Virginia. This was the first of a series of real estate transactions that occupied her later years. The Virginia place obviously gave her certain satisfaction, for she returned to it periodically in the years ahead (and it was there that the family made the acquaintance of the owner of a neighboring estate, Thornton Jeffress, who would marry Carolyn Perkins in 1901). But it did not altogether satisfy her imaginative vision of the ideal house-no more, it would seem, than the house on East Avenue any longer altogether did -- and if there is a theme that runs through the last years of her life, it concerns her busy search to find the right vacation home where her family could be assembled around her on holidays spent away from Rochester and the social commitments that occupied their lives there.
The search took her as far afield as California. She spent the winter of 1910-11 in Los Angeles with her companion and relative, Mildred Erickson Wilson, and her Irish maid, Ellen. She had bought a house there, and the women worked for weeks making it ready for occupancy, living in a hotel meanwhile. At last, in mid-January, they moved in, but even as they were getting settled, Mrs. Perkins was considering offers to buy the place. The rainy season had begun and the cellar flooded, putting the furnace out of operation; by 11 February she had had it bailed out four times, and water was running in again even as she wrote her diary entry. This went on throughout the spring ("The cellar that I had bailed out only yesterday is full again," she notes grimly on 3 March).
The stay was not without its pleasures. Her friend Mrs. Ely visited her from San Francisco; there was much entertaining and being entertained; Christ Episcopal Church had a rector whose sermons she regularly found "stirring" and "beautiful" and "glorious"; there were some musical events to attend. She heard Tetrazzini on 24 January (and found the "Diva fine and very unconventional"), and on 8 April she went to hear the violinist Mischa Elman, then a boy of twenty (and pronounced him a "wonderful musician").
She and her entourage left Los Angeles at 9:05 A.M. on 14 May and her diary records her progress across the country by train: on 15 May, breakfast at Winslow (Arizona), lunch at Gallup (New Mexico) at eleven o'clock, supper at Albuquerque; on 16 May, a late breakfast at Dodge City, lunch at Hutchinson at 1:30 P.M., supper at Topeka. They arrived in Chicago on the morning of 17 May, shopped at Marshall Field's between trains, and left at 5:30 P.M., arriving back in Rochester in the morning of 18 May. She did not go back to Los Angeles again, and she sold the house the following year.
Meanwhile she was busy at home, having a new wing built on the east side of the house at 421 East Avenue. Work on this was begun on 20 October 1911 and completed by Christmas (though just barely; seven extra workmen were put on the job on 21 December, and she reports 23 December "an awful day in the house," which was "filled with workmen striving to finish the rooms for Christmas"). In the midst of all this, her granddaughter Caroline came down with measles, but plans for Christmas went forward, including a particularly elaborate decorative scheme for the dining room. She wrote in her diary for Christmas 1911: "Had a beautiful dining room made like a garden with a fence and a hedge of begonias, pergola over the table and evergreen trees about the room." On the following day she "had a number of people in to look" at it, and she had it photographed.
But throughout 1912 her thoughts were turning to the south, where she would like to buy a farm, and in February 1913 she set forth with the faithful Mildred to North Carolina to look for one. By the time she returned to Rochester at the end of March, she had bought a 160-acre tract of land outside Beaufort and the work of building a house on it had begun. It was finished by fall, in time for Mrs. Perkins' family to assemble for a large house-party at Thanksgiving.
This involved extensive planning and considerable work. Ellen and another maid were sent ahead on 13 October, together with a trunk containing "every kind of article for Beaufort"; Mrs. Perkins and Mildred followed on 31 October. The next two weeks passed in a whirl of unpacking, setting up beds (twenty in all), hanging brackets, mirrors, pictures, making trips to Beaufort three miles away for provisions ("Mildred and I went to town and as usual had the carriage so full of provisions we could hardly sit in it"), and supervising carpenters working against time (shades of Christmas 1911). The guests began to arrive on 16 November: first the Jeffresses and daughter Caroline; then, on 20 November, Craig and Gertrude Powers, Erickson and his son Pete, Gilman and Jessie and their son Gilman Craig, and Berenice Wickes. Marie (Henry Perkins' widow) and her second husband, Ernest Willard (the editor of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) came on 22 November, and Berenice's husband, Van Wycke Wickes, arrived the next day. The men went hunting and fishing (all but Erickson, who "is not inclined to do anything, just enjoys being away from care, and living in the sunshine and fresh air"). The ladies took walks in the woods and rode horseback. There was an oyster roast. Thanksgiving was on 27 November, and there was "great fun all day" and a "big dinner": "We danced in the evening, as we do every night" ("I have been taught five dances," Mrs. Perkins notes on the following day). But by the weekend the party was breaking up, and on 2 December she writes that "the big family has dwindled down to Berenice and myself, and we feel pretty lonely." They returned north on 8 December.
Less than two months later she was back (again with Mildred and, this time, Mildred's mother), but there is something poignant in her diary entry for her first full day at Beaufort upon her return : "This is a charming day we awoke to, and as I looked out on the peace and beauty of the scene, longed to have all my children here again with me, and could not enjoy it without them." The Beaufort place was not, finally, a success; the children did not share her enthusiasm for it, and it was not long before it was offered for sale (though a buyer would not be found until after Mrs. Perkins' death). The notice advertising it lists its attractions ("Fourteen bed rooms, three baths, steam heat, electricity-160 acres, 40 cleared, rest pine woods"), and suggests optimistically that it would make a good "Sanatorium or Hunt Club."
In the years just before the first World War, though Mrs. Perkins was often away from Rochester for months at a time, the pattern of her days when she was in residence at 421 East Avenue followed a stately but distinctly active round of charitable and civic functions and elaborate social entertainments, enclosed in a tight network of family relationships. There were meetings of the managing boards for both the Institution for Deaf Mutes and the Industrial School; there were large entertainments, like the picnic for nearly 100 children from the Industrial School on 20 June 1912; there were even larger social events, like the musicale she gave with 150 persons present on the evening of 25 November 1911 (when work on the construction of the east wing was at its height); most spectacular of all was the garden party she gave on 23 May 1913, to which more than 950 invitations were issued and 707 people came. The weather was cold and rainy for several days prior to the event; by then the rain had stopped but the cold remained, and a great fire was built on the lawn; there was a tent where supper was served, and a platform built on the grass for dancing. Though on the morrow she announced in her diary that she "never was more tired" and had "hardly been able to stand," the party is declared to have been "a wonderful success"; "never did people express more enjoyment. The garden was perfect, and trees glorious in spring coloring."
She went regularly to the theatre:
- 5 Oct. 1911 . . . to the Lyceum to see Billie Burke, an actress in "The Runaway."
- 11 Oct. 1911 . . . had a box at the Lyceum and saw "The Pink Lady," a vulgar popular comedy opera.
- 4 Nov. 1911 . . . to see Maude Adams in "Chanticleer."
- 5 Dec. 1911 . . . Evening heard Lady Gregory talk about the Irish Players, reading part of one of her Plays.
- 29 Jan. 1912 . . . To see Sothern & Marlowe in "Taming of the Shrew" it was well played and amusing, at the Shubert. [Two years later, on 22 Jan. 1914, she saw the play again when the Stratford Players performed it at the Lyceum with F. R. Benson and Dorothy Green.]
- 6 Sept. 1912 . . . to Lyceum to see John Mason in "The Attack."
- 20 Sept. 1912 . . . to the Lyceum to see "The Rainbow" with Henry Miller and Ruth Chatterton, the latter an acquaintaince of the Wilson girls [Mrs. Perkins' Washington cousins], only 18 years old, home in Washington, obliged to support herself & mother.
- 8 Oct. 1912 . . . to the Lyceum to hear Wm. H. Crane in the "Senator Keeps House" very funny and well done.
- 19 Oct. 1912 . . . to the Lyceum matinee of "Ben Hur" . . . , house crowded only standing room though it was the eighth performance.
- 21 Oct. 1912 . . . to Convention Hall to hear Schumann-Heink, place crowded, great enthusiasm.
- 30 Oct. 1912 . . . to Lyceum to see David Warfield in "The Return of Peter Grimm." It was very fine, every part taken well, and a grand piece of acting in Warfield.
- 8 Nov. 1912 . . . to the Lyceum to see Effie Shannan in Belasco's play "Years of Discretion" well done.
- 25 Jan. 1913 . . . Heard this evening Harry Lauder who is inimitable, but I did not enjoy the performance. It is the work of an artist, but I don't like the line.
- 10 Sept. 1913 . . . saw at the Shubert the play called "The Children of Today" a satire of excellent quality, and the actor Louis Wall was perfect in it.
- 29 Sept. 1913 . . . to the Lyceum to a wonderfully fine representation of "Quo Vadis" in moving pictures. [This, Mrs. Perkins liked so much that she went to see it again on 1 Oct. "and found it just as interesting as at first."]
- 20 Oct. 1913 . . . to the Lyceum to see the "Garden of Allah" wonderfully strong play.
There were family dinners each Sunday, alternating weekly between Mrs. Perkins' house and the home of some other member of the family. The family was all clustered sufficiently near to 421 East Avenue. After 1907, Erickson and his family lived at an elegant new house across the way, at 494 East Avenue (now the Clubhouse of the American Association of University Women). Craig and Gertrude Powers lived first on Merriman Street, but around 1897 moved to a house (now demolished) at 700 East Avenue. Gilman and Jessie Perkins were a bit farther afield, at 270 Culver Road. Thornton Jeffress' business interests caused him to travel a good deal, so that his wife and daughter, who would otherwise have been left in isolation at his remote Virginia estate, spent much of their time at Mrs. Perkins' house, where he regularly joined his family (the new east wing, added to the house in 1911, was in effect for the Jeffresses). Only Berenice Wickes, living with her husband in Rye-on-the-Hudson, was not in regular residence in Rochester, and there were frequent visits back and forth between mother and daughter. Conveniently close to New York as they were, the Wickeses were regularly on hand to greet or say farewell to the other Perkinses as they passed in and out of the city on their travels. In the years just before World War I, Marie Perkins Willard was in India, Eric and Bessie were in Egypt, and practically all the grown members of the family were back and forth to Europe in varying combinations (Gertrude and Berenice, Gertrude and Craig, young Gilman Craig, who went alone and returned with his parents, etc.).
In the summer of 1914, Mrs. Perkins decided to go to Europe herself. First mention of her plans appears in a 17 June diary entry noting that her friend Mrs. Moore of Syracuse has written begging her to go with her to Bad Nauheim. Mrs. Perkins had visited the German spa before, and she thought she might benefit from its famous springs for of late she had been "very weak and miserable."
She was winding up her year: the next day she went to the closing exercises of the Industrial School, and on the day following (19 June) attended the closing exercises at the Institution for Deaf Mutes. On 29 June she noted in her diary: "The world is shocked today in the assassination of Francis Ferdinand of Austria, and his wife, heirs to the throne, by some Servians." But neither then nor later does she consider that this might affect her summer plans. On 30 June she complains that she has "had visitors all day," and has accomplished nothing "towards getting ready for Europe." Mrs. Moore came from Syracuse for the day on Saturday, 4 July, and plans were discussed, as they were in the evening with Mrs. Perkins' other prospective travelling companion, Mrs. Ely, who "came to dinner; we talked over our European trip and settled it." She was making plans for her granddaughter Caroline to go to summer camp. On Sunday, 5 July, she did not go to church, but canned all her "sun cooked strawberries. Gilman's family at dinner, only ones here in town. Called Mrs. Moore on telephone to talk about Nauheim." Caroline got off to camp (on Cape Cod) on the seventh. On the eighth, Mrs. Perkins had a day in the kitchen, making "currant jelly and cherry compote." On the eleventh she had a "fitting at Schaefers of black taffeta with three ruffles," and "was out all the morning doing last things to be in readiness to sail next week." By the thirteenth Caroline was writing "enthusiastic letters about her camp." On the fourteenth, Mrs. Perkins' usually faithful attendant Mildred "telegraphed positively she will not go," whereupon Mrs. Perkins invited Dr. Rob Roy Converse, the rector of St. Luke's, to take her place on the trip.7 The fifteenth was "a dreadful day with the heat and the packing, callers and outside work. . . . Dr. Converse came to say he would go with me to Europe." On 16 July: "My trunks go today to the station, to make sure of getting to the steamer in time." Her daughter Carolyn had done her packing for her, and she herself had "been full of every kind of business." She and Dr. Converse left at 11:03 AM. for New York on 17 July; Mrs. Moore got on the train in Syracuse; Berenice and her husband met them at the Murray Hill Hotel and saw them off next day at 10:00 AM. on the steamship Lapland of the Red Star Line. Mrs. Ely met them at the boat, which contained about three hundred first- and second-class passengers, and over a thousand in steerage.
They landed at Dover in the evening of 26 July, and proceeded to Antwerp, where they arrived the following afternoon and stayed the night at the Hotel St. Antoine. The next day (28 July) they left at noon for Cologne and stayed the night there at the Hotel du Nord; they left Cologne in the early afternoon of the following day, arriving in Nauheim that evening and staying at the Hotel Bristol. On 31 July, Mrs. Perkins "went around town." and found Nauheim "much changed and improved." There is no entry in her diary for 1 August. Then, on 2 August: "War was declared against Russia and France. Cable from the family saying the conditions were such they thought it prudent to go to England. Replied 'enjoying conditions, will leave if necessary, will notify'." The days that followed certainly had their anxieties, but she took everything remarkably in stride, as her diary entries show:
- 3 August: Dr. Converse went to Frankfurt to see about getting what they call "European passports." Mrs. Ely and I went to Friedberg to buy our gloves. Saw hundreds of horses for inspection.
- 4 August: All men between seventeen and forty-five drafted and going, few left to do the work. Cannot get mail, can write no letters except in German, and leave unsealed. Must not talk of the war.
- 5 August: Neither letters of credit nor Express checks are honored, which makes great distress. We cannot pay our bills. Report that our government is to send out steamships to take Americans home.
- 6 August: Went to the Grand [Hotel] yesterday to meet a Deputy sent by our Consul to make out passports for people unable to go to Frankfurt. No English, French or Russians allowed outside the house after nine o'clock.
- 7 August: Had a 100 franc Belgian note on which the Bank gave me 75 marks, was most thankful to get it.
- 8 August: Eric cabled Thursday to ask if I wanted money, I asked for 1200 marks. Dr. Converse went again to Frankfurt Thursday, got home Friday night, and brought our passports…Took a long drive; saw a regiment pass.
- 9 August: Went to church with Dr. Converse. In the evening to the Grand Hotel to sign a petition to our Ambassador General, to arrange some way by which we can get money.
- 10 August: Most of the little shops closed, like fruit and flowers. The owners have either gone to war, or there are no purchasers. Money is too scarce. Able to get twenty pounds on my letter of credit.
- 12 August: Dr. Converse getting very uneasy fearing he cannot get home in time, besides he has three weddings where he is to officiate in Sept. His son to be married in October.
- 13 August: We are allowed now to draw small sums on our letters of credit. I have had twenty pounds twice, and paid up my bill. Have tried to sell my new black taffeta dress, which has not been worn.
- 14 August: Went with Mrs. Moore to Friedberg, stopped on the way to fill our bottles with Ludwigs Water, then on to buy gloves.
- 15 August: We moved today from Hotel Bristol to Villa Wagner, two doors off…Three rooms and bath, meals in rooms. Dr. Converse 3rd story, we on second.
- 16 August: Dr. Converse read service at English Church.
- 19 August: Decided to have Dr. Converse go to Rotterdam.
- 20 August: Dr. Converse left for Frankfurt on his way home.
- 21 August: We all had to go to the Police Station again, and get another permit to go to America. Dr. Schott much excited, said they had won a great battle with the French near Metz.
- 22 August: Met Mr. Page who is arranging for our train to Holland. Drove over to hear the music at the Springs, no more at the Casino since war was declared.
- 23 August: We did not go out to church, but packed. In the afternoon Mrs. Moore took me out to Steinfurth to see the roses.
- 24 August: Doing last things. Had to send our passports to the police station to be visaed again, and this evening went to the Grand Hotel to pay for our tickets to The Hague. We three [paid] 168 marks for a compartment.
- 25 August: Telegram from Hague Embassy that rooms had been engaged at Hotel des Indes, signed "Converse." Called at police station again for passports.
- 26 August: Went to Station, took train at 7:55 A.M. Passports visaed again twice. All Nauheim seemed to see us off. Doctors, merchants, children, officials, the Burgomaster in his best clothes, all ladies given a bunch of roses, newspapers, and the "White Paper" giving Germany's reasons for war. Cheers and waving.
- 27 August: Should have arrived at The Hague at five P.M. yesterday, did not reach here until noon today. Set up all night. Am at Hotel Terminus first being sent to Scheveningen by Hotel des Indes, where we did not stay. Wonderful reception all along the line, people waiting for the "American Special" must have been notified.
- 28 August: Saw Peace Palace, the interior filled with marbles, woods and all furnishings from the different countries, most beautiful. Austria gave all electric fixtures. Were given two old Paris Heralds.
- 29 August: Drove to Embassy to see Mr. Gulich about getting to England, best transit. Bought finest figs and strawberries. Mrs. Moore came to lunch, then shopped with her, bought a lot of silk shirts for Christmas. In answer to my cable home, got reply: "Thankful all well."
- 30 August: Have been at home all day, sick from eating only one fig, when I expected such a feast. . . . Cabled home Friday and moved to Hotel Central.
- 31 August: Queen Wilhelmina's birthday, people wearing yellow flowers, and orange flags flying. We went to the Museum to see pictures…did a little shopping.
- 1 September: We left The Hague at 1:30, Mrs. Ely and I, in an automobile, our heavy trunks on top. Passed through Delft where we saw a street fair. Arrived in Rotterdam about three, boat sailed at 4:30, had a cabin.
- 2 September: Arrived at Tilbury Docks at ten, but it was twelve when we landed, as customs officers came aboard, and we were transferred to a tender. We had not a cent of money to pay cabs, took two with trunks to Grand Hotel Central. Went at once to Steamer office.
- 3 September: Have been shopping. Mrs. Ely got a water proof and Winter coat. I, Winter and marked down summer coat.
- 4 September: Left Hotel at 10:30 and London at twelve. Arrived in Liverpool about four. The Finland sailed at five, filled-we have comfortable room on dining room deck, outside. I found the Leckings of Savannah, who came over with us.
- 5 September: The weather is what it has been ever since we left home, superb. Thankful that rain is not falling on those soldiers. Nothing is talked of but the war, we hear many interesting tales from people trying to get out of the country.
- 9 September: An Episcopal clergyman from Philadelphia tells of the German atrocities in Belgium. He has come out for money, goes back at once, to feed the children, and give others help if possible.
- 13 September: Arrived [New York] this morning. Saw Van Wyck and my three daughters on the wharf. What a sight for my famished eyes!…Got to Rye for dinner.
- 16 September: Left [New York] at 10:30, arrived [Rochester] at 6:40. Found every member of the family waiting for me, just where I left them two months before.
- 17 September: Have been very weak, and had to talk a good deal. . . Dr. Converse called.
- 18 September: Can think of but little but my gratitude in being at home.
- 22 September: We talk and think of nothing but the war, and read of nothing else -- Canned peaches all the morning, with the help of three persons. Heat is great, 91 degrees today.
And so she was safely back in the familiar routine of her Rochester world. In November she was hostess to another evening of reminiscences, this time for the fifty members of the Pioneer Society who came to dinner at 421 East Avenue. Mayor Hiram H. Edgerton was present, and Corporation Counsel William W. Webb acted as chairman of the evening's program, which consisted of a series of short talks on the different sections of the city (Dr. Porter Farley on the neighborhood once known as Carthage, John B. Y. Warner8 on the southeast part of the city, Edward P. Hart on the southwest section, William Whitney on the northwest, and A. Emerson Babcock on Brighton). By January 1915 the war in Europe had begun to inspire its share of unhinged schemes for U.S. preparedness, on one of which Mrs. Perkins poured scorn in a letter to the Democrat and Chronicle:
Of all the surprising projects lately sprung on our suffering state, this last, of Major-General John F. Ryan's, commander-in-chief of the National Guard, to tear up the floors of all the armories and substitute earth, in order to make "dependable fighting men," is the most amazing and the funniest.
Taking up expensive floors to get the men "acquainted with the earth's surface" and to have "practical experience in engineering work!" They would not have enough room to more than play in the dirt and make mud pies. These men are to be prepared for action in war, and made "athletic" by digging trenches -- experience in trench digging in the confines of an armory! After it had been once dug over, how physically developing the second effort would be in the loosened soil, which could be taken out with teaspoons.
If our soldiers are to be hardened and experienced, why not turn them out on some farmer's field, or buy five acres of land and let them try their hands at trenching in the winter, as war is not confined to summer months?
Her search for a winter home led her, inevitably, to Palm Beach. She built a house there in the autumn of 1918, and assembled a large family party to inaugurate it in February 1919. The familiar pattern repeated itself. The "dream house" did not satisfy, and it was sold (on 20 March 1919), whereupon, as if tired at last of the way in which reality disappoints expectation, she died in her sleep that night. The next year, her East Avenue house was sold to the Genesee Valley Club, which occupies it still.
When Marie Atkinson Perkins Willard died in October 1940, she left her house, Woodside, to the Rochester Historical Society in memory of the woman who founded it and who had once been her mother-in-law. Today the house contains a number of reminders of Mrs. Perkins and her world. In the drawing room to the right of the front entrance, the marble busts of Aaron Erickson and Daniel Powers regard each other from opposite sides of the room, even as the live subjects once looked upon each other from their mansions on opposite sides of East Avenue. Upstairs, Henry Perkins' leather-walled smoking room with its Tiffany clock is still preserved. On a table in the downstairs hall is a framed photograph of George Ellwanger. A portrait of Mrs. Perkins by Robert McCameron hangs in the room to the left of the main entrance. Marie Willard, who was Caroline Jeffress' godmother, never ceased to be close to the Perkins family. When the first World War was over and European travel was possible again, Mr. and Mrs. Willard, the Erickson Perkinses, and the Gilman N. Perkinses were abroad together in the winter of 1924. There is a photograph of them seated 'round a table on a terrace at Menton, France, which may serve as an epilogue to this account of Mrs. Perkins' world. There they are, her sons and their wives plus Mr. Willard, self-assured, gazing into the camera with formal ease, summing up an era.
- Born at Gross-Heppach in Württemberg, Germany, in 1816, Ellwanger came to the United States in 1835. In 1840, he became a partner with Patrick Barry in the nursery firm of Ellwanger and Barry. He died in 1906.
- William H. Perkins was married to Sarah Olivia Dewey, daughter of Professor Chester Dewey, who came to Rochester with his family from Massachusetts in 1836 to take charge of the Rochester Collegiate Institute, and who later became the first professor of chemistry and natural science at the University of Rochester. His son, Chester P. Dewey, is shown in the picture of Gilman H. Perkins with his friends. After her husband's death in 1858, Sarah Dewey Perkins lived in widowhood for over half a century. When she died in August 1911 (at her home at 174 Spring Street), her obituary reports her to have "devoted her life to two institutions, the First Presbyterian Church and Rochester City now General Hospital."
- A distinguished physician and surgeon, Moore was born in Rahway, New Jersey, in 1814, and in the course of his long life participated notably in Rochester civic affairs. In addition to serving as first president of the Rochester Historical Society, he was also the first president of the Rochester Park Commission. Today he is best remembered-apart from his medical research-as the "Father of the Rochester Park System" (his statue is in the Genesee Valley Park). He was a member of the board of trustees of the University of Rochester from 1872 until his death in 1902, and president of the board during the last nine years of that period. His papers are in the University of Rochester Library; for an account of them, see Catherine D. Hayes, "Edward Mott Moore: Nineteenth Century Medical Student," University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Volume XIX, Number 1 (1963), pp. 1-13.
- Augustus Hopkins Strong was born in Rochester in 1836. He attended Yale (B.A., 1857), and received his theological training at the Rochester Theological Seminary, graduating in 1859. He returned to Rochester in 1872 after seven years as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, where his parishioners included John D. Rockefeller, whose daughter later married Strong's eldest son. From 1872 until 1912, Strong was president and professor of biblical theology at Rochester Theological Seminary. He died in 1921.
- William Carey Morey was born in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, in 1843. He served in the Civil War, and graduated from the University of Rochester in 1868. He was appointed to its faculty in the following year as a tutor in Latin; he was appointed professor of Latin in 1872, became professor of Latin and history in 1877, and professor of history and political science in 1883. He died in 1925. "The hours of trial and discouragement" to which he alludes have reference to the crisis which had recently arisen when the Genesee Baptist Ministerial Association publicly deplored certain educational trends at the University of Rochester, an action which led to the resignation of the University president, David Jayne Hill, in June 1896. No successor had yet been appointed in January 1898, on the occasion of Professor Morey's remarks, and the University would continue without a president until the inauguration of Rush Rhees in October 1900. The role of Doctor Moore, who was president of the University board of trustees throughout this period, was of special importance.
- In the year following Henry's death, his widow took a trip to Europe in the course of which she inspected the hospital ambulance systems in "Paris, Vienna, and other great capitals," and upon her return in 1895 gave to the Homeopathic Hospital of Rochester two ambulances, horses, and "caused to be erected a modern house in which to keep them." This last was held to be "a model of beauty and convenience." The press describes how the new ambulance system will work: "At night all of the lights in the place will be turned off . . . But the instant a call is sent in, the barn will be brilliantly illuminated. The calls will first be sent to the hospital and will be transmitted from there to the man in charge of the ambulance [his name was Frank Robinson and he was provided with "nicely furnished apartments in the same building" with the ambulances and was to be on hand at all times]. Beside the telephone over which the call will come in is the gong which sounds the alarm and summons the driver. Simultaneously with the drop of the ball which sets the alarm going the door of the stalls in which the horses are kept flies open and the lights are turned on. By the time the driver reaches the ambulance the horse is standing under the harness, ready to be hitched." The first of the two ambulances was put in commission on 9 December 1895; the second, which was much larger, went into service several weeks later. It was drawn by two horses, and was large enough to accommodate four patients. The press informs the public that "the ambulances will not only be used in emergency cases, but are at the disposal of anyone who wishes a patient moved from one part of the city to another," and adds that "the patient being moved has…the privilege of going to any hospital he or she may desire."
- Rob Roy McGregor Converse was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1844, served in the Civil War, and was ordained a minister in 1879. He was rector of St. Luke's from 1897 until his death in 1915.
- The daughters of John B. Y. Warner are the subject of an interview in this issue of the Bulletin, Volume XXIX, Number 1, pp. 70-74.