History of Portland Oregon Boys and Girls Aid Society

This society, while it does not directly dispense alms in any form, aims to be a center of inter-communication between the various churches and charitable agencies in the city; to foster harmonious co-operation between them; to furnish them with trustworthy information, and to prevent the waste and misuse of charitable funds. It investigates cases of all applicants for relief which are referred to the society for inquiry; obtains from proper charities and charitable individuals suitable and adequate relief for deserving cases; procures work for poor persons in need who are capable of being wholly or partially self-supporting, and represses mendicancy by public exposure and prosecution of imposters. It co-operates with all similar societies and the constituted authorities of the city, county and State in all proper efforts to discover, suppress and punish vagabondism.

The society is composed of the mayor and chief of police of the city; annual members who pay a certain sum to the society annually, and life members, who subscribe one hundred dollars. Its management is vested in seven dire ors, of whom the mayor is ex-officio a member.

At the close of first year’s existence the society had disbursed nearly $3,000, and had investigated the cases of nearly 1,200 applicants for aid, while it would be impossible to give an idea of the value of the work actually accomplished in coping with the evils of vagabondism and in protecting the public from unworthy claimants for charity. By its work the society has demonstrated its usefulness and its strong claim for support.

Mr. W. G. Steel was the first secretary of the society, rendering faithful and judicious service until his business interests compelled him to give up the work. With this exception there has been no change in the original officers. Thos. N. Strong is president; Geo. H. Williams, vice-president; W. R. Walpole, secretary; Charles E. Ladd, treasurer; C. J. Chamberlain, assistant secretary; Thomas N. Strong, Charles E. Ladd, J. C. Flanders, George H. Williams, Ross C. Houghton, John Klosterman and Mayor Van B. DeLashmutt, board of directors.

The Portland Womans’ Union, a charitable and benevolent society, incorporated October 21, 1887, early in the following year opened a boarding house for self-supporting girls, at 308 F street in the building formerly occupied by the Woman’s Relief Society as a Children’s Home. It is designed to offer a home to women who come to the city strangers in search of employment or their general interest, unable to pay high hotel rates and ignorant as to where they may obtain respectable lodging places within their means. The lowest possible rate for board and lodging is charged, compatable with making the institution as nearly self-supporting as possible, but any woman of respectable character without means and without employment can have a home until employment is obtained, or she is otherwise provided for. Accommodations are provided for twenty, and ever since the house was opened the full number for which room is provided, has found shelter and a home within its walls.

The officers of the Union are: Mrs. Rosa F. Burrell, president; Mrs. H. J. Corbett, first vice-president; Mrs. D. P. Thompson, second vice-president; Mrs. C. W. Knowles, recording secretary; Miss H. E. Failing, corresponding secretary; Mrs. F. Eggert, treasurer.

The Refuge Home, an institution intended to afford shelter and protection to girls and women who wish to return to the paths of virtue, was established in January, 1889, under the auspices of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Temporary quarters have been secured, corner of Second and Columbia streets. The legislature of 1889 appropriated $5, 000 to be used in carrying on the work and with this fund and voluntary contributions it is confidently felt that the undertaking will be enabled to accomplish much good. The board of managers is composed of Mrs. Anna R. Riggs, president; Mrs. Amos, vice-president; Mrs. M. J. Townsend, corresponding secretary; Mrs. R. M. Robb, recording secretary; Mrs. E. Dalgleish, treasurer. Mrs. N. S. Keasey is manager.

The Portland Free Kindergarten Association was organized in November, 1884, at which time the following officers were chosen: Mrs. J. F. Watson, president; Col. John McCraken, vice president; Mrs. Richard Hoyt, secretary and J. K. Gill, treasurer. The first school was opened in November, 1884 in the old engine house on G street, which has since been maintained and is known as Kindergarten No. 1. The object of the association is to furnish free instruction to children under six years of age whose parents cannot afford to pay for their tuition. In September, 1885, Kindergarten No. 2, located corner of Meade and Second streets, was opened, and in January, 1886, Kindergarten No. 3 was opened in Watson’s addition on Seventeeth street. At these three schools an average attendance of one hundred and fifty children is maintained, .who receive the now well recognized benefits of the Kindergarten methods of instruction. The work of the association is carried on under the direction of the following officers: Mrs. C. E. Sitton, president; O. P. Paxton, vice president; Miss Clara Northrup, secretary; J. E. Davis, treasurer; Mrs. Caroline Dunlap, superintendent.

The foregoing described charitable and benevolent institutions by no means includes all of the organizations which exist in our city. We have merely attempted to give brief accounts of some ‘ of the more prominent institutions, with no intention to ignore the praise-worthy efforts of many noble hearted and generous minded men and women connected with organizations of less magnitude, but not less entitled to honor. When it is understood that the institutions that dispense charity, in one form or another in the city of Portland to-day, exceed seventy in number, and that most of them are similar in character and aim, it will be seen that even an enumeration would be unnecessary.

The aggregate yearly amount paid out for charity in our city by individuals, the county and charitable organizations, it is impossible to approximate with any degree of accuracy, but in the judgment of one long identified with the work in this line, it has been estimated to reach the sum of from $75,000 to $120,000.

The members of the Catholic church of Portland, as those of the same faith in every part of the globe, have always been foremost in deeds of charity and benevolence. Among the earliest organized. efforts may be mentioned St. Ann’s Catholic institution for the care of poor and sick ladies, with Mrs. J. O’Connor, president; Mrs. F. H. Freeman, vice-president; Mrs. M. Steffin, treasurer, and Mrs. I. Lawler, secretary. St. Mary’s Association, having for its object the care of orphans and destitute children, is also deserving of honorable mention. It is governed by the Supreme Council of St. Mary’s Home Association, composed of John O’Connor, John Donnerberg, Luke Morgan, John Barrett, F. Dresser and James Foley. St. Vincent de Paul Society is another worthy Catholic organization. The care of the poor and procuring employment for those out of work are its main objects. D. F. Campbell is president; M. G. Munly, vice-president; P. J. Colman, secretary and F. Dresser, treasurer.

The British Benevolent Society was founded in 1872, by John Wilson, the British consul at Portland, who preceded the present incumbent, James Laidlaw. Its objects are to relieve sick or destitute persons who are members or eligible to membership. Such relief is restricted to those who are or have been British subjects. James Laidlaw is president; John B. Wraugham, secretary; Dr. K. A. J. Mackenzie and John Cran constitute the board of relief. Similar in their aims are the Danish Aid Society and the Guiseppi Society (Italian). Of the former, H. I. Larsen is president and C. Hansen, secretary, and of the latter, Paul Sabati is president and A. Froulana, secretary.

The Hebrew Benevolent Association is the oldest charitable organization sustained wholly by the Jewish population of Portland. Its officers are: Louis Fleischner, president; L. H. Lewis, vice-president; Ben. Selling, treasurer; B. I. Cohen, secretary.

Besides the organizations already named there are the various societies connected with the several churches of the city which are important factors in the charity work of the city. These, with the organizations already named, together with the Ladies Relief Corps of the G. A. R. and the many secret orders which care for and con-tribute support to sick and destitute members and their families, constitute the main agencies at work in relieving the poor and caring for the destitute sick of Portland.

The first Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, in the State of Oregon, was incorporated in 1872, by B. Goldsmith, Henry Palling, W. S. Ladd, J. R. Cardwell, Wm. Wadhams, T. L. Eliot, J. H. Woodward, James Steel, and W. T. Shanahan, of Portland; Mr. B. Goldsmith being elected as the first president of the society. The organization entered upon the work with many obstacles in its path. Such as questioned authority to interfere in behalf of unprotected children and dumb brutes; also, meagreness of statutory provisions, and a prevailing belief among a certain class of persons that children and animals possessed no rights which they were bound to respect.

However, the foundation of the society had been laid, and through help of the City Council, new ordinances were passed which assisted local work, and coupled with the ever outspoken sentiment of the Daily Oregonian in behalf of humane principles, the efforts of the society were encouraged. Prevention of Cruelty was its first aim, and punishing offenders the alternative. But an educational sentiment seemed also to demand notice; therefore, in February, 1882, the society was re-organized and re-incorporated under the title it now bears, the “Oregon Humane Society.” This name gave a broader significance and extended the work among unprotected children, and all harmless living creatures. Hon. D. P. Thompson was elected president of the new organization. In 1883 the public schools became interested in humane education, and as an incentive to the effort, Mr. W. T. Shanahan, the corresponding secretary of society, inaugurated the prize system, by offering a framed engraving of Pharaoh’s Horses for the best essay on kindness to animals, which was won by Miss Susie Vetter, a pupil of the Portland High School. So marked was the beneficial effect of awarding prizes for meritorious compositions that the following year at the anniversary meeting of the society a number of prizes were offered, graded as first, second and third prizes, and presented to the fortunate competitors of the public schools. The anniversary meetings of this society have now become a permanent institution of our city, and crowded houses attest the great interest taken in humane education. In 1884 the City Council detailed a police offered to act as agent of the society, but his jurisdiction was only within the city limits, and the necessity of ample State laws now forced itself upon the leaders of the work. Therefore, in 1885, the Humane Society carefully prepared a bill which was presented to the legislation of that year by Rev. T. L. Eliot, the newly elected president, and W. T. Shanahan, the corresponding secretary, who remained by the bill until its passage, which gave to the society a new impetus and ample protection. The publication of humane literature is one of the important means used by the society to make known its work, and is gratuitously distributed from the office of the secretary.

The officers of the society are: president, Rev. T. L. Eliot; vice president, I. A. Macrum; corresponding secretary, W. T. Shanahan; recording secretary, Geo. H. Himes; treasurer, James Steel; special agent, Felix Martin, of the Police force.

The Portland Seamen’s Friend Society, auxiliary to the American Seamen’s Friend Society, of New York, was organized on Nov. 4, 1877, and incorporated on July 31, 1878.

Its chief promotor was Chaplain R. S. Stubbs, who was instrumental in raising the money with which its property was purchased and buildings erected, costing some $20,000. There has since been expended nearly $5,000 in improvements, making the entire cost about $25,000. The present value of the Society’s property is at least $50,000. Chaplain Stubbs continued its chaplain until he resigned in October, 1885, to become the general missionary of the New York Society on Puget Sound.

The final organization provided for a Board of fifteen directors, of which the following gentlemen were original members : H. W. Corbett, President; Geo. H. Chance, Vice President; L. Quackenbush, Secretary and Treasurer; W. S. Ladd, E. B. Babbit, S. G. Reed, R. S. Stubbs, N. Ingersoll, Geo. H. Flanders, R. Glisan, James Steel, J. N. Dolph, J. W. Sprague, F. S. Aiken and Henry Hewitt. The membership consists of annual and life.

“The object of the society is to promote the temporal, moral and spiritual welfare of the Seamen, Steamboatmen and Longshoremen, visiting or belonging to this port.” The means employed are a Mariners’ church, boarding house, library, reading room, visitation of ships including religious services on board, and the distribution of suitable literature.

The Seamen’s Friend Societies originated some sixty years ago, and now they exist in nearly every prominent port in the world. Their object everywhere is to improve the character of seamen and thus to secure greater safety and efficiency in the Marine service. The progress has been slow, and yet so marked that brutality on shipboard is now the exception, rather than the rule. Among the most influential of all agencies in this direction, is the “American Seamen’s Friend Society, of New York,” which numbers among its directors and promotors, retired shipmasters, philanthropists and capitalists, who withhold neither time, service nor money in the accomplishment of their purposes. Of this society, our Portland organization is auxiliary, and here, as everywhere, the contention is against the very powers of darkness, for, the world over, the foes of “poor Jack” are relentlessly cruel; cupidity and greed are their chief characteristics, and to these the sailor boys, through innocence or passion, fall an easy prey. The Portland Society has had the sympathy and support of our citizens from the first and it has steadily pursued its object under inadequate laws and difficult of enforcement. For three years past, comparatively few abuses have been perpetrated in Portland, the “crimps” confining their efforts chiefly to Astoria, where they have less opposition and more encouragement than in Portland. The law passed by our last legislature, through the combined efforts of the Portland Board of Trade and this society, had a most salutary influence. The previous average charge of about $87.50 per man, advance wages and blood money, was reduced to as low as $30 to $40, and many sailors shipped without any advance at all. The usefulness of this society has been greatly impaired the past year because deprived of the use of its “Home,” having therefore no accommodations for watermen.

Its present Board of Directors consists of E. Quackenbush, President; Geo. H. Chance, Vice President; James Laidlaw, Secretary and Treasurer; W. S. Ladd, H. W. Corbett, W. S. Sibson, R. K. Warren, J. K. Gill, J. Thorburn Ross, A. W. Stowell, Donald Macleay, W. J. Burns, W. B. Gilbert and James Steel.

The necessity for this society is only too manifest. Its success fully justifies its existence. Its mission will not be accomplished so long as there are “thugs” in our port who perpetrate the practices of a ” Barbary coast.” And in the Society’s support our sympathy and efforts should be both hearty and vigorous.


Portland is at present only moderately well provided with hospitals for the care and treatment of the sick and injured, but when those now in existence shall have been enlarged and new quarters erected, such as are now in course of construction, every facility, such as the size and rapidly increasing population of the city demand, will be offered.

St. Vincent’s Hospital, the first not only in Portland, but in the State, owe its origin to the labors of Rev. J. F. Fierens, vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese of Oregon, and the members of St. Vincent de Paul Society. The citizens of Portland, irrespective of religion or creed, generously supported the movement, and in July, 1875, the present building on Eleventh Street, between M and N streets, was completed. The first patient admitted was an injured Chinaman, who received from the Sisters of St. Vincent, who have’ ever since had charge of the hospital, every attention in their power, and from that day to the present the doors of this institution have been opened to receive, nurse and administer surgical and medical aid to the poor in the spirit of that true charity which knows neither race nor creed, neither color or nationality. From the time it was opened to the present, 12, 262 patients have been admitted, and at the present time there are 180 patients under treatment. The demands upon the hospital have for some time been greater than the capacity of the building would admit, and about three years ago the Sisters under-took the task of securing funds to erect a larger building. They have been successful, and during the present year (1890), they hope to complete a new hospital building on a five acre tract on the west side of the foot hills. Work has already been commenced and a commodious structure combining all the modern improvements and conveniences in carrying on the work of a hospital, will, at an early day, be placed at their disposal. Twelve Sisters have the management of the hospital, who are assisted by a number of nurses and stewards. A majority of the patients received are objects of charity, while those who are able, pay for the treatment received and medical services rendered. Sister Mary Theresa is superintendent.

The staff of physicians comprise Drs. Henry E. and Wm. Jones, J. Bell, A. D. Bevan, K. A. J. Mackenzie, G. W. Wells, Joseph Holt, O. S. Binswinger, and F. B. Eaton and Richard Nunn as oculists.

The Good Samaritan Hospital was opened in October, 1875. It was founded by Rt. Rev. B. Wistar Morris, bishop of Oregon and has since been largely sustained by his personal labors in its behalf. It is located on the corner of Twenty-first and L streets, a high and healthful situation. Ever since it was opened it has been taxed to the utmost of its capacity. Last year (1889) extensions were made to the original building and accommodations are now afforded to seventy-five patients, but even with the increased room, the hospital is usually full of patients and at times applications for admission are denied because of lack of accommodations. It is supported by the income from nine endowed beds; revenue from pay patients and voluntary contributions. Deserving poor are received as free patients, when properly recommended and in accordance with the capacity of the hospital. For the fifteen months ending September 1, 1889, 708 were treated; of this number, 145 were free or charity patients and 563 were paying patients. The medical staff is composed of Drs. Curtis C. Strong, Holt C. Wilson, Wm. H. Saylor, Andrew J. Giesy and Andrew C. Panton. Mrs. Emma J. Wakeman is superintendent; Mrs. Ruth E. Campbell, assistant; Rev. W. L. MacEwan, chaplain, and Gen. Joseph H. Eaton, treasurer.

The Portland Hospital is a Methodist institution under the patronage of the Columbia, Puget Sound and Idaho conferences. Its inception was due to Dr. W. H. Watkins, Dr. E. P. Fraser, Dr. Geo. H.. Chance, Dr. James Browne and a number of others connected with the three Methodist conferences named. Articles of incorporation were secured in 1887, and in August of the following year practical hospital work was begun in the Mariners’ Home, corner of D and Third street, which was leased for a period of one year. During the first year of its existence more than three hundred patients have been treated. Poor patients received aid at an expense of more than $1,500, while nearly $1,800 was received by the hospital for this kind of work by donations from various congregations within the bounds of patronizing conferences. Cash received from patients amounted to $6,268, while the running expenses of the hospital has been about $800 per month. The success of the institution has more than met the expectation of its originators, and plans are now underway to enlarge the facilities for carrying on the work. Five and one quarter acres of land have been purchased in Sunnyside addition to East Portland, upon which to erect suitable buildings for hospitable purposes. James Abraham, from whom the land was purchased, generously donated $10,000 on the purchase price, while John Kenworthy and George W. Stayer each gave $1,000 toward the erection of the building, work upon which is now under way. It will be a three story structure, 70×112 feet in dimension and will cost about $30,000.

The Board of Trustees of the Portland Hospital is composed of twenty-six members, nineteen of whom are residents of Portland, the remaining seven being representatives from the Idaho and Puget Sound conferences. The Portland members are: G. W. Stayer, Dr. Geo. H. Chance, Dr. E. P. Fraser, Dr. James Browne, Dr. R. Kelly, Dr. A. S. Nichols, Dr. C. H. Hall, Dr. R. Glisan, W. C. Noon, J. K. Gill, Rev. I. D. Driver, Rev. A. Kummer, Rev. R. C. Houghton, W. H. Scott, W. S. Ladd, H. W. Corbett, John Kenworthy, J. A. Strowbridge and Rev. W. S. Harrington. George W. Stayer is president of the board; John Kenworthy, vice president; W. S. Ladd, treasurer and D. F. Clarke, secretary. The medical staff is composed of Dr. E. P. Fraser, Dr. W E. Rinehardt, Dr. Richmond Kelly, Dr. F. O. Cauthorne and Dr, W. B Watkins.


Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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