|DUET||-----||Misses Lucille and Ada Huelster|
|PRAYER||-----||Rev. E. W. Huelster|
|PRESENTATION OF THE BUILDING AND DELIVERY OF KEYS||-----||E. G. Ranney|
|ACCEPTANCE FOR TRUSTEES AND MANAGERS||-----||Mrs. Florence B. Maxson|
|AN APPRECIATION OF THE WORK AND WORKERS||-----||Mrs. E. H. Hastings|
|A FINANCIAL RESUME`||-----||Mrs. A. P. McGraw|
|THE BREWSTER AID WORK||-----||Mrs. W. H. Foster|
|SOLO||-----||Rev. Albert Broadhurst|
|BENEDICTION||-----||Rev. B. L. Herr|
E. G. Ranney
Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends of the Homer:
Conditions have changed since my earliest recollections so much that it seems ad though I were living in a new world. Then, if one were sick, there was no hospital with highly educated and skilful physicians and surgeons. Instead an unlearned doctor came to the primitive home to bleed the patient or administer a dose of calomel. If children were left without parents, instead of the modern "Home for Children" they were bound out until twenty-one and were in a condition somewhat like slavery. If women, by death of family or friends became homeless, there was no organized charitable institution to give them a welcome. Then there were no public libraries like the one in our own village, given by our townsman, Hon. George W. Phillips. Then New England, New York, Pennsylvania and a few Atlantic States contained nearly all the population and wealth of the country which was small. Michigan and Wisconsin were in the wild and unsubjugated West, and what are now the states beyond, with all their wealth and populous cities were practically unexplored and were roved over by the buffalo and the wild and savage North American Indian.
To write a letter and get an answer from three hundred miles away might be expected to require a month with an expense for portage of twenty-five cents for each letter. If one felt they must return one in a lifetime to see father and mother in New England, the home land, a lumber farm wagon without springs and with two horses was the best means for the long pilgrimage. Steam cars were little known and not in common use. Electrics, automobiles, telegraph lines and telephones were not dreamed of.
We may well cherish the memory of many of the people of that day and honor them for their courage, sacrifices and heroism and, for their continuous loyalty to duty. But we older people should not live in the past, but in the present. We should appreciate the good things of today and keep step with the progress of events. We should assist in the development of these modern times and help to establish the benevolent institutions that are springing up and are made possible in these later days. I do not know of any class of people more entitled to our sympathy and consideration than the homeless women of our town and country. Many of them have given their lives to making homes for others and have made no adequate provision for themselves. I hope this building will furnish a pleasant home and make life brighter for a goodly number in the present, and many in the future and it is with this hope that I have caused it to be erected.
This country is considered the most favored one in the world with the best of opportunities and the greatest privileges and there is no community where these privileges are greater than in our own. Every good citizen is under an obligation for what he receives and should render some service to the public and contribute in some way to the general welfare. The man who does not, does an injustice to society, because he receives that for which he renders no return. Good men and women do render such service, some in one way and some in another, according to their circumstances and conditions. It may be the contribution of the two mites such as the poor widow cast into the treasury and was commended by the Great Teacher, or it may be unrequited service of the hands; it may be kind and encouraging words or the influence of a consistent and worthy life, but all recognize some obligation. It is this general contribution that makes society and a community a blessing to its members.
I lived twenty-six years on my farm on the Scott Road at hard labor, struggling to make my farm business a success. I was in full sympathy with my neighbors, having a common interest with them and am sure they were in full sympathy with me. I felt that they were one and all my friends which fact was a comfort and encouragement and an inspiration. Now I have spent twenty years in this village with its privileges and opportunities. I hope I have had the good will, kind consideration and charitable judgment of all. For these things I feel I owe a great debt to the community and I want to pay it by rendering some service. I do not know how I could better do this than by donating this building for public use.
One year ago today ground for this building was broken. I think all good citizens, as they must be interested in the public welfare, will feel a satisfaction in the fact that this building has been erected and stands here complete as it does today. I want to say that it gives me great pleasure that I am now able to do this thing which brings universal satisfaction to the people of our town and country. An honest man is never so well satisfied as when his debt is paid. I expect to feel much the same as I think of the transaction of today and consider that my debt to the public has been discharged. I am not entitled to any thanks for simply doing my duty. Some people who would have accomplished much and whose ambitions were of the best and ideals of life were most commendable have been obliged to reckon with ill health constantly and severe sickness occasionally and they have been a great hardship and great hindrance. I have had none of these hindrances. I have, from childhood, been blessed with good health and great endurance and have lived to see fourscore years. I have not had what might properly be called a sick day in my life. In business I have never seen a black Friday nor encountered a tornado or a destructive fire, neither have I been robbed of the fruits of my labors and sacrifices. That it is now possible to do what I am doing, I know is attributable to a kind Providence in whose hands is the destiny of every one of us. I feel that I owe a great debt to the good Lord of my life who has so helped and blessed me, and I am glad that on this, my eightieth birthday, I can make some partial payment on that debt which I owe Him, by making this contribution to the public welfare and the needs of those entitled to our sympathy.
Now, to the trustees and officers of this Association: The positions you hold have come to you unsought. Had they been salaried offices, there would have been great competition for your places, but your services have been rendered without money and without price and solely with a view to the public welfare. I know that many of you have given this institution constant care and rendered a very burdensome service. From this time on these burdens and that service will be greatly increased as the opportunity for greater usefulness of the Home is enlarged and the property now belonging to it has more than doubled the past year; but as you and your predecessors in office have been so faithful in your service in the past, I am sure that I take no risk in committing this building to your care, although it involves greatly increased responsibility.
As I have erected on the land already belonging to the Association, I can, as I now do, on this seventh day of June, 1910, convey to the Cortland County Home for Aged Women, all my right, title and interest in and to this building and the possession thereof by delivering the keys to you, the trustees, by placing them in the hands of Mrs. Maxson, your honored President.
In accepting this munificent gift of Mr. and Mrs. Ranney to Cortland County, I feel like exclaiming: "Is it all true? Is our dream of nearly twenty years fully realized and are we now in full possession of a new three-story brick building, equipped with all modern conveniences?" Certainly it is very gratifying to the board of managers that Mr. Ranney, who has watched the work from its inception, should be inspired to erect this beautiful, monument on Main Street in his own home town to be enjoyed by those he has known for years, and across from our old-fashioned Village Green with its mossy carpet, fine trees and churches in walking distance. Could a more ideal location have been selected?
There is also another reason for exclamation to-day, for from the time Mr. Ranney announced his intentions, a growing interest in the furnishings and all things pertaining to the furtherance of the work, has been manifested, and to-day we rejoice not only over the new building, with all that it means, but also over the beautiful furnishings that have come to us, in most instances, unsolicited.
The organizing of "The Brewster Aid" came as a ray of sunshine, and the work the circles are doing, in increasing the interest, not only in our own vicinity but all through the country, is far beyond what the board could possibly do.
I wonder if we all appreciate what a noble foundation Mrs. Elizabeth A. Brewster laid when she established the Cortland County Home for Aged Women at Homer.
Youth has its attractions of hope and ambition. The fight for life when dread disease has overtaken it, is always exciting and full of interest, but who can say that the clouded mind, deafened ear or dimmed eye is what any of us would choose, if it were not our natural heritage. Therefore because of its unattractiveness allow me to repeat what I have said so many, many times that the most noble work for the sake of humanity a man or woman can be engaged in, is the care of the aged and infirm. Let me quote from a recent newspaper: "Colonel Roosevelt while in Berlin gave further evidence of an intention to apply himself to social problems, particularly the care of the helpless aged, when he returns to America. He followed up his recent investigation of the Danish National Home for Old People, by visiting the homes for aged people and other charitable institutions in Berlin. These visits were not on the original program, but were substituted for the social features planned, at Mr. Roosevelt's request.
Of the incorporators and first board, very few are still with us and while we are celebrating this day of all days in the history of the Home, I have no doubt there is great rejoicing beyond the clouds. The assurances the day has brought of the confidence and so-operation of the public at large, will be a source of encouragement and strength in years to come as we carry on the work.
One mark of Christian civilization in all ages has been seen in the consideration and care given to the little children and to the aged. The optimist sees reason for optimism in such care for all who suffer and all who have special need. We would honor to-day, some noble women and men who have found that the glory of life comes to those who reach out strong hands to others in time of need.
It was Mrs. Elizabeth A. Brewster whose thought for aged and homeless women took form by deeding to a board of trustees her three houses and about an acre of land for a Home. The articles of incorporation filed September, 1891, tell us that the object of the Association then formed, was to be the founding, promoting and maintaining a home for aged women to be called the "Cortland County Home for Aged Women".
We would offer to-day a tribute of praise to the noble woman, who seeing other's needs sought to relieve them. The memorial written at the time of her home-going in 1899, speaks of her noble character and example, of her long, eventful life, made grandly useful in alleviating suffering and uplifting the unfortunate by her many benevolences. Most glowing tributes of praise might be paid her, and a long list of noble charities be enumerated. Her deeds live after her and are her best memorial.
As we look to the beginning of this work, we wonder at the courage and faith of the first board of managers who undertook, with no endowment, to carry on the work.
They worked with heads, hearts and hands; loyalty, faithfully and untiringly. The original officers of the board were Mrs. Elizabeth Newton, President; Mrs. Jane A. Murray, Vice-President; Miss Sarah E. Collins, Secretary; Mrs. A. H. Bennett, Treasurer. Mrs. Kingsbury was the first chairman of the committee to secure annual life and honorary members. The first matron was Mrs. Gates and the first boarder, Mrs. Wing.
The Home was formally opened April 22, 1892, by a public reception which was attended by one hundred and fifty guests.
At the first annual meeting, October 1892, Mrs. Florence Maxson was elected Secretary and two years later, Miss Harriett Green became treasurer of the Association. A godly number of the early members of the board of managers are to-day in the Eternal Home. Besides Mrs. Brewster there are gathered there of these early workers, Miss Sarah Collins, Miss Vennette Stevens, Mrs. Crane, Mrs. Stone, Mrs. Hitchcock, Mrs. Kingsbury and Mrs. Bennett, and lately another member of the board of managers, Miss Roe, has gone home.
Mrs. Newton was the first and only President of the Association until the time of her death, January 1907. She was noted for her business ability, her zeal and generosity. The home, without doubt, was first of her many interests and much of its present success is due to her wise counsel, constant care and many gifts. When failing health prevented her continued activity, her interest was still the same and those who took up her work continued to go to her for needful help.
Before Mrs. Newton's death, four others, who had labored long and faithfully, were called to their reward. In May, 1904, the board met with an irreparable loss in the death of Mrs. Crane. She had held the office of Vice-President since Mrs. Newton's illness had, in a measure, laid her aside. Mrs. Crane's interest in the Home began with the day of its organization and never abated. Her labors in its behalf were unremitting, her judgment was one of the best and her place has not been filled.
In November, 1905, another member, Mrs. Maria Stone, went from us. She had been a trustee of the Association since the beginning and had always shown real interest in the cause.
Only two months later, in January, 1906, Mrs. Coleman Hitchcock, a woman whom all delighted to honor, joined the company on the other side. Her interest in the Home was sincere, her sympathy always ready and her advice excellent.
At the close of the same year, December 1906, Mrs. Cleora Kingsbury entered into life, the life more abundant for her; but she too left a place difficult to fill. Her willingness to undertake any task, to fill any place, made her especially useful. Her interest in the work continued to the day of her death. Some one has said: "It seemed to those who knew her best that her days of usefulness were not over." Can we think the usefulness of any of those noble women ended? Surely the training and service they accepted here has fitted them for special work in the other life. Who shall day that they are not rejoicing with us to-day over the work accomplished and over the bright, hopeful future?
Mr. A.H. Bennett's death should be mentioned. He, too, was interested in the work since its very beginning. His advice was always sought and freely given and his going was a distinct loss. Of the early officers, two are still with us - Mrs. Florence Maxson, who for long was the faithful Secretary of the Association, became its President upon the death of Mrs. Newton in 1907. Miss Harriet Green, now Mrs. Albert Smith, has continued her arduous work as Treasurer these many years. Too much credit cannot be given these two, who, with unquenchable enthusiasm and watchful perseverance have fulfilled their trust.
From the very first, the Home has received the hearty support of the people of the village and town. In her fifth annual report, the Secretary said that the Home had long since passed the experimental stage and had become one of the permanent organizations of the town, and in a prophetic spirit, said, "When we consider what has been done by the Association, still in its infancy, we feel confident of still greater achievement in the future."
At various times the building was enlarged to meet the needs of a growing household. The roof was raised, new rooms added, electric lights installed, bath room and city water provided, telephone installed, a fine porch added, kitchen and store room made larger and a fine cabinet placed in the kitchen. A real luxury came in the form or a piano, which was the gift of thirty-one people.
We find in the various yearly reports, little in the way of discouragement. Some anxieties are seen, mention is often made of decreasing annual membership. The problem of ways and means has not been easily solved, and many successive years the question of how to properly heat the building came to the front. Yet altogether, each report rang out with good cheer.
The thought of the board has not been all for the material welfare of the ladies, as witness a few of the goods times arranged. We find in the records, that some years ago Mr. and Mrs. Van Buskirk of Preble, gave chicken diner and delightful drive to all who were able to come to their home. A picnic was held at Little York two summers ago, for which the Traction Company provided a special car, taking the party first to Preble and then leaving them at the pavilion for their picnic dinner which had been arranged by members of the board. Through the kindness of the Triumph Hose boys, a matinee at the new Town Hall was enjoyed. The drive to the Hall in carriages provided by the Briggs Brothers was a real part of the entertainment. Through the thoughtful kindness of the young men at the Baptist church, the ladies heard the Jubilee Singers. And through the courtesy of Mr. Crisp of Wonderland, they attended the moving picture show. The receptions too, have been not only profitable but pleasant for the members of the Home, particularly the last one, when because of the new piano, a fine musical was given.
Old Home Day was celebrated and Christmas and Thanksgiving have not passed unnoticed. Remembrances have come from Sunday-school classes, from ladies of the town, from "the lady from Philadelphia" and from individual managers. The Cortland County Press has added to the daily pleasure of the ladies of the Home by the newspapers so kindly provided.
From the beginning, religious services have been held at stated times. The pastors of the various churches have seemed glad to minister to those shut-ins. Their words of comfort and strength have round ready entrance into the hearts of their hearers.
Eleven matrons have been at the head of the Home. They have given more than the required services in that they have sought the happiness of those entrusted to their charge, a well as their bodily comfort. Fifty regular boarders have been cared for, nineteen of whom have left this house to enter the City whose Maker and Builder is God. Neither managers or helpers, alone, could have made of the building a real home. It is to the members of the family that we have looked for the daily courtesies and kindnesses that make life worth living, and we have not looked in vain. Mot of the boarders have been helpful and thoughtful and we now, as in the past, some truly fine women as members of our family.
All along the years the managers have worked, hoped, trusted. They expected success and they received a great reward when on February 9, 1909, Mr. E. G. Ranney told his noble purpose to erect this building which we are dedicating to-day and to present it to the Association as a gift from Mrs. Ranney and himself.
It was a singular coincidence that at the same meeting a report should have been read from the state inspector recommending a new building. Following the joyful acceptance of the proposed building, came the pleasure of examining the plans, wonderfully well arranged by Mrs. Ranney. Arrangements were made to remove as many of the ladies as possible to the house in the rear. Boarding places were found for others and the old house was sold and removed.
It gave us pleasure that one of our townsmen--Mr. Wm. Lawson secured the contract for the building. We are glad to-day that the work fell into hands so faithful and skilful. It must be to Mr. Lawson as great a satisfaction as to us, to know that only that which is best in material and work has gone into the making of this building.
This beautiful building with its perfect heating and plumbing and with every modern convenience, stands as a memorial of love to God, shown in love to his children. Not money only, has gone into this building, but the untiring watchfulness and the constant care of the donors. This Home will speak to coming generations of these two, who have held wealth as a sacred trust. We are told that "joy comes from having great interests - not from idleness; from great affections, not from selfishness, from self-sacrifice, from great hopes." Truly, then, Mr. and Mrs. Ranney may claim the joy of the Lord as their own.
The interest of Cortland and Homer women in this splendid gift, we see to-day in the beautiful and appropriate furnishing provided. Much as come unsolicited and some as the result of the enthusiastic interest of Mrs. John W. Fisher, these many years a valued member of the board, and her competent committee.
A far reaching result of the interest aroused by the gift of the building is seen in the forming of the Brewster Aid. This society originated in the thought of Mrs. Hinton, who has given herself without stint to perfect the organization. Through this Aid, more people in Homer and vicinity are interested in the Home than ever before and from this large company we shall look for the workers for the future. Surely, every member of every circle must rejoice in the thought that she has a part in providing a home for some one who might otherwise be homeless.
Has the Home been a success? The answer depends on the definition given the word. If success means money, the answer must be in the negative; for never has the board received, equaled the expenditure and certainly it cannot do so under present conditions. If it had not been for the annual dues and other donations, the Home could not have continued its existence. Let a few facts answer the question, "Has the Home been a success?" Of the half a hundred women who have found here a resting place in their declining years, some have outlived all their immediate relatives and so have been homeless; some have been cared here by friends who could pay board, while they could not have cared for them in any other way; some have had means enough of their own to live comfortably here when they not have done so elsewhere; and some, but this Home, must have ended their days amid distasteful surroundings.
For the growth of the endowment fund, we are deeply grateful. Every bit of interest will be needed to meet the increased expenses. That we have this money to use now, is due not only to the gifts made, but to the careful management which for years added interest to principal, and to the fact that the first President made up yearly, all deficiencies.
A new chapter in our history begins to-day. Realizing that "the glory of life is to love-to give-to serve," that the "joy of life is to do something which will not merely touch the present but reach forward to the future", we will take loyal hold of the work and "do the old duties with a new inspiration."
The beautiful building we have met to dedicate, which has been made possible through the generosity of one of Homer's most public spirited citizens, represents the culmination of the work and gifts of many earnest men and women of Cortland County for nineteen years.
It will, I am sure, interest each of you to glance hastily over these years and note the development of the plan started almost a score of years ago.
Feeling that there were many women throughout this County, who, because of a change in circumstances were in need of a home in which to spend their declining years, Mrs. Elizabeth Brewster, a woman always charitably inclined, urged the forming of an organization for the purpose of establishing a Home to meet the needs. In August 1891, an association was formed and in the following year in October, Mrs. Brewster deeded to it the valuable property on Main Street, consisting of a fine lot with three houses situated upon it. The Association consisted of active and honorary members- the former paying one dollar annually and the latter, by the payment of $50 being entitled to honorary membership. Any one paying twenty dollars could become a life member.
During the first few years, the membership gradually increased until, in 1898, the amount received from the active list was $87, the largest in any one year. From that time until the present the amount from this source has varied, being smallest in 1906,--$24.
All gifts of money of twenty dollars or more were placed in a permanent fund but the amount, being at first small, it was necessary to charge the small amount of two dollars a week for board and in a few cases $2.50, where extra care was needed, this to include board, lodging, washing and ironing and all ordinary care.
Only those eligible to entrance who are residents of Cortland County and have been so for one year or more. They must be sixty years of age or more and have no diseases excepting those incumbent upon the advance of year, and must in a great measure, be able to care for themselves.
Mrs. Elizabeth Newton was the first President of the Association which place she held until her death, which occurred in 1907, and fortunate indeed was the Home in having such a noble, generous hearted friend, for as long as she lived, if anything was needed there, whether in supplies or furnishings, she always met that need. At one time she greatly enlarged the Home at her own expense, and if at the end of the year there was a deficit, she always came to the rescue. Her generosity was unbounded and pocket book proverbially long.
Because of having such a friend, the Association was enabled to start an endowment fund, and during the first thee or four years this reached the sum of $800. From year to year this amount increased until, in 1897, when Miss Harriet Green, now Mrs. Albert Smith, was elected Treasurer, the amount in the fund was $3,234. Each year since then substantial gain has been made until the annual meeting in 1901, the amount reached was $20,688---a fine showing for the twelve years of service.
A little more than half this amount has come through legacies, but the smaller gifts have been most welcome and, as you see, have added materially to the sum total.
The following are the legacies received: Mrs. Rose Palmer, $500; The McFarland estate, $1,000; Mrs. Baker, $100; Mrs. Stickney, $100; The Babcock estate, $200; The George Cook estate, $2,000, the Sturtevant estate, $750; the Thankful Price estate $1,195; Mrs. Elizabeth Kelly of Chicago, $200; Mrs. Elizabeth Newton, $5,000; making a total of $12,845.00
The first amount received for board was in June 1892, and during that year there were four boarders. During the first eight years thirty women were given a home, and from that time to the present there has been a steady growth in the work.
In 1900, eight women were cared for at an average expense of $121.08 each. From that time until the present the average number cared for per year has been thirteen, but the cost of living has so increased that the amount for the maintenance of the Home was been about $1,950 or $150 for each individual. Paying as they have in most cases only $2 per week, the amount received from this source has been about $1,352, thus showing to the public that were it not for their generosity there would, at the close of each year, be a deficit of about $600.
The management has, since the first inception of the work, had for its aim the increase of the charity work done and have worked to the end that they might be able to care for at least a few worthy women, without any expense to them. That long hoped for, happy time has at least come, for with this most munificent gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ranney, with an endowment fund of over $20,000, which has been built up, not only by the legacies and generous gifts of the public, but by the careful, economical and pains-taking management of the board, who so many years have given of their time and energy, they are now able to arrange for the maintenance of three women, one by the Kelley fund, one by the combined Brewster Aid Society and one by the management, as a slight token of regard for all Mr. and Mrs. Ranney have done.
This building when entirely finished will have a capacity for caring for twenty-six women besides the necessary helpers. At present twenty private rooms have been furnished by the following people: The Misses L. S. and C. Chittenden of Homer, Mr. and the Misses Henry of New York; Miss Mary J. Coye and Mrs. F. E. Williams, Miss Ellen F. Phillips, Chas. S. Pomeroy and Mrs. Elvena S. Pomeroy, Mrs. Lottie Schermerhorn, Mrs. J. W. Fisher, Mrs. W. N. Brockway, Mrs. J.H. Starin, Mrs. F.R. Thompson of Homer, Cortland Chapter D.A.R., the Brewester Aid Society, the First Congregational Church of Cortland, the Elks' Lodge of Cortland; Messrs. M. A., W. D. and F. M. Briggs, and O.B. Andrews and sons of Homer, and Miss Editha Stephens of Cortland. Mrs. Louise Wood, Mrs. Mary L. Jones and Miss Sarah Arnold will furnish the rooms they are to occupy in the Home.
The first floor reception room has been very handsomely furnished by several friends of the Home, mostly Cortland people or those who have formerly lived there. This is a Memorial and will be called "The Mothers' Room".
The beautiful davenport in the office was presented by Mrs. A.H. Bennett f Homer, and Mrs. F.A. Van Iderstine of New York; the roll top desk by Mr. and Mrs. Thurlow Blackman, the desk chair by Mrs. J.W. Fassett and the lace curtains by Mrs. Al. L. Smith, all of Homer.
The second floor sitting room was furnished by purchases made from a gift of $200 from Mrs. Albert Keep of Chicago.
The sideboard in the dining room is the gift of Mrs .Garry Chambers of Cortland, and a complete set of dishes from Mrs. Chambers. One dozen dining chairs were given by Henry Ranney of Cortland, and one dozen by Mrs. D. S. Cook of Whitewater, Wis. One dining table was the gift of Mrs. And Mr. W. G. Crandall, one was given by Mrs. Amelia Quinton and a third by Y.W.C.T.U. of Homer, silver spoons by Mrs. Byron Maxson, silver knives and linen by Miss Maude Crane. The large rug in the lower corridor with the stair carpet and hall seat, are the gifts of Mrs. Florence B. Maxson, the mahogany hall table of Joel E. Fuller and a large rug was presented by H.M. Whitney of Cortland. A handsome library table is from G.A. Brockway of Homer and a beautiful electric drop light from Miss Caroline E. Hitchcock of Rochester and Homer. Besides these are many other valuable and most necessary articles given by Mrs. A. W. Edgecomb, Mrs. L.D. Garrison of Cortland, Mrs. W.H. Blaney, Mrs. C.H. Stevens, Mrs. E. W. Hyatt, Mrs. W. H. Foster, Lester P. Bennett and Mrs. Walter Jones of Homer, besides many others whose names do no appear.
The large photograph of Mr. Ranney, which is hung in the hall was presented by himself and will be a constant reminder of this noble man. A brass tablet is being prepared to be placed on the walls in the corridor to commemorate the gifts of Mrs. Elizabeth Brewster and Mr. and Mrs. E. G. Ranney.
This building, finished and equipped, represents fully $30,000 in monetary value. But there has been also put into it, much of time, thought, and sacrifice on the part of the donors, which although not visible, will long be remembered by a grateful public.
In addition to the gifts mentioned in Mrs. McGraw's address above, is a large wicker rocker from Mrs. E.H. Hastings; the making of the wire window and door screens for the Home, was given by Maxson & Starin, who contributed the lumber. Wickwire Brothers of Cortland, who gave all the wire, H.D. Watrous, who has painted the screens and J. W. Morgan, who furnished the paint at cost. The saving from these gifts amounts to $150 or more and is a substantial benefit to the Home.
In representing "Brewster Aid" on this greatest day in the history of the Home for Aged Women, I am fully cognizant of the great honor it is to represent such an organization of women and deeply conscious as well of my inability to do justice to the occasion.
I am asked to speak particularly of the aim of our organization and of its plans for the future. But I cannot refrain altogether from speaking of its past. An infant less than a year old cannot boast of very much of a past, and as we have yet to reach our first anniversary, our history will be brief. To us, as to the infant, the year of life means a great deal and we trust will not prove uninteresting to you.
In June 1909, (inspired by the plan of our good friend, Deacon Ranney, to erect a new building suitable to the needs of the Home) a number of ladies were called together to consider the advisability of organizing a society to aid in carrying on the work of that Home and also to perpetuate the name of Elizabeth Brewster, the original donor of the Home property.
Let me diverge just here to give deserved credit to the one at whose call these women met; for it is to her more than to any other person that any success to which we may have attained is due, the idea originating with her, and she having given more of thought and work to it than any other one. I refer to my honored President, Mrs. Emma B. Hines.
Aside from ere preliminary organization and election of officers at this June meeting, nothing was done further until early September, when a general meeting was called and actual work begun. The organization has a President, Vice-President, Secretary and Treasurer and an executive board, consisting of these officers with three from the membership at large; but the working units are circles, limited to a membership of twenty-five--each having a leader and assistant leader and each circle pledge to hold at least ten meetings a year, when the members pay ten cents each in dues, making a total membership fee of one dollar a member during the year.
In December a fair was held, the proceeds from which put us upon a good financial basis, and since then we have been occupied in furnishing sheets, pillow cases, towels, curtains, etc. to the various people furnishing rooms in the new Home and to the management.
At present, our society included twelve circles with a membership of over 250, and these women have, one and all, given of their time and strength unsparingly and more cheerfully to the great amount of work which has been accomplished.
Our aim for the future is most concisely stated in our Constitution, from which I quote:
Article II.---Purpose: "this organization shall assist the institution known as the Cortland County Home for Aged Women, at Homer, NY, as the members may decide, and shall have as its main object, the furnishings and endowment of a room in said institution to be known as the "Brewster Memorial Room".
Part of this also belongs to our history for we have already furnished the Brewster Memorial room and are ready to maintain it from now on. Until such time as we can accumulate a fund--the interest of which will maintain the room--the cost of maintenance each year will be taken from the general fund.
In two other towns of our county we are to have circles formed very soon and we hope to broaden our membership until every town in our county has at least one "Brewster Air Circle."
Certainly if the splendid spirit of unanimity and willingness to work, shown by one and all so far, continues, we shall be able to be really an aid to the Home and shall fittingly perpetuate the spirit of charity and kindliness shown by Elizabeth Brewster in founding this Home and by the many of the women and men who have given so largely of their time and strength and money, to carry on this most praiseworthy philanthropy.
Transcribed by Susan Eligh - June, 2006.
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Created 4 Sep 2006
LAST UPDATED: 28 Aug 2011
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