Sunday, April 24, 2011

1905 Report from West Pittston

Frpm The Westminister, a new series of The Presbyterian Journal

The First Presbyterian Church, West Pittston, Rev. W. R. Harshaw, D.D., pastor, has closed a prosperous year. An accession of fifty-two members, and a total of 580 of a membership reported to the General Assembly this year. The congregation has given this year a little over $19,000 for various purposes, about $14000 to missionary and general benevolence, and the remainder was spent on its own immediate field. The Italian mission which has been conducted by this church for a number of years is now under the superintendency of Rev. Jerome Vavolo. The work still prospers, and it is hoped in a short time to erect a building for this branch of the work.
I don't know whether the increase in membership means grandfather was an evangelist or was simply gaining by adding the children of his members.  I suspect some of both.  According to wikipedia, the population of Pittston increased by about 21 percent between 1890 and 1900.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Municipal Reform and Good Government

Revs.A.H and W.R. Harshaw were among the signatories of this open letter in 1890: (The People's Municipal League was a Progressive organization, presumably a part of the National Municipal League which later became the National Civic League.)

New York preachers have united in support of reform in city politics. Municipal misgovernment, a topic of constantly increasing importance, has not often been more trenchantly discussed than in the following address, signed, September 22, at a public meeting, by over one hundred representative ministers. We gladly make it a part of our record of current reform.

The undersigned are ministers of religion. As such, their office is to help their fellow-men to a righteous life. In so doing they must needs consider and advise touching the application of moral truth to political as well as personal and social questions. It is only when such advice meddles with indifferent subjects involving no moral issues and so assumes the form of mere partisanship that it can be justly condemned as inappropriate and pernicious. On all questions affecting the public morals it is the duty of those whose province it is to preach righteousness to warn the people against the dangers of a vicious solution and to urge them to a virtuous course.

It is for this reason that we address our fellow ministers of religion in the city of New York at this time, in relation to the moral wants and dangers of the metropolis that has been so highly favored of Providence, and ask them to join us in seeking to overthrow the rule of falsehood and fraud that now disgraces our city.

We make no charge against individuals, for we have confidence in many who are now in official places, but we distinctly impugn the methods and habits that have for a long time prevailed in almost every department of our city government. Men are placed in important posts of honor and trust who are notoriously of depraved life, the frequenters of liquor saloons and houses of vice, and educationally unfitted for any municipal duties. They manage their official influence solely for their personal profit, or for the furtherance of the party that gave them their places. All public interests under such control either languish or are directly injured. The immense income of the city is fearfully squandered, and under pretense of urban improvement jobs are created which never realize the improvements, but put thousands of dollars in plunder into the pockets of contractors and their governmental allies. It is estimated that the city of New York could be maintained in all its present condition for three quarters of the sum annually expended, and this estimate is made by comparison of the cost of maintaining the other great cities of the world, and with due regard to the difference in values of labor and products in the different countries. According to this estimate, twenty-five per cent. (i. e. $8,000,000) is wasted annually, and so much added unnecessarily to the taxes of the people.

But this waste of money is the least evil. Loose views and practices are popularized. Dishonesty in many forms pervades the community and loses its disgraceful stigma. The police who should be the picked men of character in the community are notoriously in the pay of the law-breakers, the high officials and the courts of this department being thoroughly tainted with public suspicion. The Excise Board make it easy for the disturbers of the peace to ply their vocation, and protect them against the complaints of outraged citizens. Money is found to be the key to open any difficulty and to shut off the efforts of justice. The poor are therefore oppressed and have no resource of relief. Every place, however humble, under the government must be bought. The poor man, who cannot obtain the hundred or the thousand dollars necessary, has no chance. Fitness for the place is of no account. Money and party are the only watchwords that gain an entrance. The effect of such an administration on public morals cannot be overestimated. In commercial circles the young men are tempted to follow the example of the officials who flourish by fraud, and as a consequence we have constant robberies by trusted clerks and defalcations by esteemed bank officers, so that public confidence is shaken in the institutions erected for public security. The whole tone of intercourse between man and man, as seen from the records in the daily papers, is lowered, and false dealing is looked upon as a trifle.

Now is this all? The debauched life of many public officials leads the young to the lowest forms of vice, as they learn to couple success with debauchery. A drunken police captain will be the model of a hundred youths in his precinct, and a high official frequenting a house of ill-fame will have a thousand follow in his wake. Vice is made a prize instead of a disgrace to young men by the vicious conduct of men whom they see to be in authority, and whom they regard as samples of success.

That these causes act directly and powerfully to increase crime cannot be doubted. The very government that is constituted to suppress crime and prevent it becomes the minister of corruption and multiplies the sources of criminal life.

There is another aspect of the problem of municipal reform intimately connected with that which has been presented above. A city government exists to order the conditions of life favorably for the mass of the citizens. As far as may be practicable, it must seek, if it be a true government, to lighten the burdens of the wage-workers, to ease the strain under which the poor earn their bread, to broaden the way to success for the average man, to promote the health and happiness and welfare of the mass of the people. It must concern itself with securing equitable taxation, with enforcing just legislation in behalf of labor, and with guarding public franchises. It must provide clean streets, healthful homes, ample school accommodations, and the best possible system of education ; rapid transit facilities, whereby families of modest means may make their homes in the suburbs; public baths, museums, libraries, etc., — in short, all that makes for manhood, physical, mental, and moral. This problem of good government is the problem of philanthropy. Therefore it is the problem of religion. But every religious endeavor is handicapped by our inefficient and corrupt administration. The money which might be spent on public improvements is largely wasted. We could not intrust such schemes of public improvement as other cities have carried out to brilliant success to any but capable, honest, and public spirited rulers. To aid in obtaining such rulers is the urgent duty of all religious men, in the interest of humanity. We ministers of religion, whose duties lead us to face sadly the wretchedness of our great metropolis, call upon our fellow ministers, as well as on all religious people, to put into this practical form that religion which teaches that the love of God is the love of man.

We are perfectly certain that the vast majority of voters in our city desire an honest and clean government, but they are ever failing to obtain it. And why? Simply because the great political parties of the' country manage our local politics, keeping up their political divisions to the ruin of the city, that the parties may be continued compact for the national contests. This is the excuse which sends men by the thousands like sheep to follow their leader and vote for the "regular candidate," be he ever so mean or corrupt. It is this party spell that must be broken in the city of New York, if we are to have a good and permanently good government. Good citizens must work together and vote together for good men, utterly ignoring party lines. To this end there must be organization. The People's Municipal League is instituted to divorce our city government from state and national politics, to nominate candidates for ability and integrity, independent of parties, halls, bosses, and factions, and to place the government on a foundation of righteous business principle, and by these means purify the moral atmosphere of our metropolis. We look upon this as a religious duty, and are not to be deterred by any fear that the organization may be used by adroit politicians, for we trust in the righteousness of the cause and in the high moral sense of the great majority of the community. We therefore invite all ministers of religion to unite in this movement, and to put before their congregations the importance of using the elective franchise for the purpose of a pure government, as against the demands of corrupt party organizations. We ask no one to leave his party on any state or national issue, but we ask the members of all parties to unite on a moral and not a party basis in the direction of our municipal affairs. Thus with a clear conscience and in the honest pride of citizenship the good people of New York will use their power, and the day of deals and bosses will be over. Fitness and faithfulness will be the ruling condition of office, and the public morality will be guarded by the public administration.

We put before the people the names of those who are perfecting the organization of the citizens, as a guarantee that no party end or personal advantage is sought, and that but one aim actuates the movement, the purity of our city government.

The address was signed by the following ministers : — Bishop Potter, R. Heber Newton, Howard Crosby, Morgan Dix, Gustav Gottheil, De Sola Mendes, Charles H. Parkhurst, James O. S. Huntington, David H. Greer, Felix Adler, Charles F. Deems, Benjamin B. Tyler, Robert S. MacArthur, Ensign McChesney, Abbott E. Kittredge, William T. Sabine, G. Frederick Krotel, Robert M. Sommerville, William Lloyd, George James Mingius, Carl Erixon, Samuel S. Seward, Amadous A. Reinke, Alexander Walters, Edward B. Coe, Wellesley W. Bowdish, Theodore C. Williams, Conrad E. Lindberg, Charles C. Goss, Homer H. Wallace, George Shipman Payson, George S. Baker, Waldo Messaros, Conrad Emil Sindberg, S. B. Rossiter, J. W. Brinckerhoff, George E. Strobridge, A. H. Harshaw, Benjamin Brewster, C. E. Bolles, Charles E. Bolton, A. P. Ekman, James M. Whiton, L. H. Schwab, W. J. Macdowell, George D. Dowkoutt, Henry Wilson, Paul Quattlandery, Charles J. Holt, R. E. Wilson, J. G. Scharf, Thomas Dixon, Jr., D. M. Hodge, W. Warren Giles, Thomas Douglass, William Huckel, James M. Philputt, Charles B. Smyth, John Parker, Madison C. Peters, H. Weinchel, Jesse W. Brooks, H. Olsen, George G. Carter, Robert Mason, Frederick Glenk, James Chambers, John Sutton, William H. Lawrence, B. Hopkins, J. Warden, A. B. Lilja, Walter M. Walker, A. H. Burlingham, George M. Mead, George H. Mayer, P. Watters, Edward D. Flagg, Henry M. MacCracken, Aaron Wise, Thomas Drummer, James H. Cook, Peter Stryker, George H. Simons, Isaac McGuire, W. R. Harshaw, J. W. Foster, Hayman Bradsky, .William Musgrave, Joseph Saxton, William Westerfleld, Clifton H. Levy, Theodore A. H. Meissner, Ellsworth Bonfils, Charles L. Thompson, W. C. Bitting, Thomas J. Ducey, Walter B. Floyd, Newton Perkins, Jacob Freshman, Charles B. Smith, G. Edwin Talmage, Henry Morton Reed, Joseph Baird, Frederick N. Rutan, John Henry Hopkins, James H. Headley, William A. Layton, Joachim Elmendorf, F. Hamlin, J. S. Stone, Gottfried Hammaskold, Arthur Brooks, J. G. Bates, Joseph Reynolds, Jr., S. De Lancey Townseud, S. D. Burchard, C. C. Goss, Philip Schaff, J. F. Busche, Spencer H. Bray, James A. Reed, A. F. Schauffler, R. N. Kidd, Samuel Buel and I. Ansonelliz.
In spite of the citizens' and the preachers' organized activity, corrupt politics triumphed in New York city in the November elections. This fact makes the foregoing address all the more significant and memorable.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ralph Gold and Disarmament

This bit surprised me.

From this  This wikipedia article provides a bit of background.  I'm not sure what interest the YMCA would have had.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Coal Strike of 1902

I posted here the article Rev. William Harshaw published in Christian Work and Endeavor on the anthracite strike.  Here's an editorial piece in the same issue.  (The thrust is the "Church" should bear the burden of educating the immigrant children, not the state.)

A Lesson of the Strike.
The weighty article which we publish elsewhere in this issue throws a ray of light on the dark question of the present difficulties in the coal regions. A disease must be diagnosed before it can be cured, and the author of this article, a young minister living in the mining region and making it his business to know the people and their problems, brings an important contribution not only to the diagnosis but to the cure of the frightful malady from which not that district only but the whole country is suffering.
That the miners are mainly foreigners is well known, and was cogently shown in these pages a few weeks ago. But the profound significance of the fact that right in the heart of our country a great body of 150,000 people, upon whom the nation depends for the fundamental necessary of life and of business activity, are absolutely incapable of becoming a part of our social fabric, and under existing conditions must remain an alien mass in the body politic, undigested and indigestible, has not been made clear until now. These people do not speak English and are not learning to speak it. Their children do not go to school because there are no teachers who can understand the languages they speak—Lithuanian. Hungarian, Polish and the like. And as the children never come in touch with English-speaking children they cannot absorb the language as foreign children in our cities do by contact. So they go on from father to son living in filth and squalor, in intemperance and lawlessness. However inadequate the miners' wage may be to provide the necessary means of decent living it is more than sufficient for these people because they do not know how to live decently and have no example of decent living before them. Hence intemperance and lawlessness in the highest degree.
It is therefore Mr. Harshaw's conviction that even before the ministries of religion these people must have education, must be taught to speak English; and he is doubtless right. Nevertheless it appears to us that the situation is one rather for the Church than for the Government to deal with in its initial stage. Just as the first Sunday-schools, with their primers and spellers, were the entering wedge for the common-school and universal compulsory education, so it would appear that in the present situation it is the Church, with its voluntary teachers and its genius for self-abnegation, that must pioneer the way for a practical system of public education among these foreigners. The local churches are beginning to recognize this need, and Mr. Harshaw is only one of several ministers who are manfully doing their part in humanizing these people and making them otherwise capable of citizenship than by mere residence in the country. A movement for educating as well as evangelizing the Poles, started three or four years ago in Pittsburg, is spreading eastward through the State and westward into Ohio and further. The Presbytery of Lackawanna, in the heart of the mining district, has taken up the matter, and is making at least preliminary arrangements toward effective action. Among the Magyar population is one minister, possibly there are more, endeavoring to educate and enlighten the people of that speech. But individual action, however intelligent and and devoted, will not meet the need; the disease is too violent and too contagious for any but large and comprehensive measures. Not even a single denomination may be able to cope with the situation. The imminent and urgent call is to all denominations represented in the coal regions, acting in concert, and strongly backed up by their national bodies, to undertake the eminently religious work of making English-speaking Americans of such isolated and alien populations as are found in our mining districts. If the strike shall so call attention to these populations as to bring about such action it will not have been an unmixed evil.

I liked the "young minister" reference--W.R. was 47.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The 1902 Coal Strike, Rev. W. R. Harshaw's Views

In 1902 there was a strike called by the United Mineworkers among the anthracite miners in the Scranton/Wilkes Barre/Pittston area. See this wikipedia article. In the aftermath of the strike, Rev. William Harshaw published this article.

By Rev. W. R. Harshaw.
Good comes out of evil. The great strike of the anthracite region is calling the attention of the public to the masses of foreigners that make this serious problem. The philanthropic and Christian public need to know of it. Ignorance has allowed it to lie almost untouched and it has festered and become a running sore that is dangerously contagious. When it has been mentioned those outside the valleys in which it lies have been accustomed to look upon it as a local condition, furnishing a local problem, which the Christian and patriotic public immediately in touch with it, ought to be able to solve without much difficulty. That it rises above the local in importance the strike has demonstrated. Vast industries far beyond the anthracite region have been partially paralyzed and millions of people have been forced to suffer in pocket and person. Those who live in these regions understand very clearly that the magnitude of the problem puts it beyond their power to handle unless they can count on sympathy and active cooperation from the outside.
What are some of the facts that are familiar to those who live in this region infested by this foreign mass?
There are one hundred and fifty thousand people in the Wyoming and Lackawanna valleys alone who can neither speak nor understand the English tongue. Along with these may be put a vast number of others, who in a feeble way, are able to speak English and yet at no other point are the superiors of their fellows. Cut off from contact with Americans, through inability to communicate with them, they live by themselves. They have their own merchants, their own priests, their own teachers in the parochial school. In no way do they become identified with the life of the community in which they live. Indeed, they have no community interest. They are here because the opportunity to make a better living is afforded them, but to all intents and purposes they live the life of Hungary, or Poland, or Italy on this soil. They are the undigested and the undigestible element in every community. No intelligent man needs to be told that the presence of such a mass is a menace to the best life of every community where it may chance to be.
Now, when you put alongside of the number of these people the conditions under which the larger portion of them live you have made the question more startling. They live either in little villages of their own, outside the towns and cities, or else on the outskirts of the cities. They herd together in huts and hovels that are largely unfit for human habitation. And this sort of habitation is not the result of the "grinding greed" of the coal
operator, but it is the result of choice. They choose to live under these conditions. These people make fair wages. Most of them have bank accounts. They prefer to live as they do. Living under such conditions, it is not strange that the type of morality is of the lowest sort. It would be strange were it otherwise. The crowding together under these conditions brings with it a morality that degrades manhood and womanhood and brings a multitude of children into the world by birth and heredity bent in the wrong direction. Then, too, all sanitary regulations are thrown to the wind. Last year when the smallpox prevailed it was very largely centered in these foreign communities, and it was almost impossible to stamp it out, because it was impossible, even by the stern pressure of the police authorities, to force the observance of the regulations necessary for its destruction. Petty thievery is almost characteristic of this element. The fruit trees and gardens of the community are never safe. The farms of the neighborhood are considered a legitimate field for their operations. The criminal court is the evidence that more than threefourths of the crime is committed by these men, who have no conception of what law means; who have no higher conception of right and wrong than personal wish and will.
These people live in the saloon. You have only need to look as you pass through one of these foreign communities to be convinced of this. Every other door is a saloon. The patronage must include almost the whole population in order that the number of saloons should be legion. Then when you add to this the almost unnumbered groggeries that are hidden away out of sight in order to escape the license fee, one is amazed at the amount of drink that must be stowed away in these men and women.
Among a people born as these people are born and living as they do, the seeds of anarchy are sown and readily received. The utmost efforts of labor leaders, under the strong pressure of public opinion, have been brought to bear upon them during this strike to keep them within bounds and prevent outbreak, and yet it has only been partially successful. Again and again the pressure of lawlessness has been too strong and they have broken out in defiance of law to beat and dynamite and kill and destroy. Of course, in the presentation of this dark picture of the present conditions I have not overlooked the fact that there are exceptional cases where these peoples have furnished to the community intelligent, upright, useful, patriotic citizens. But. making all possible allowance for these, one is forced to admit that they are the exceptions, and that these exceptions are few and far between.
Thus far practically very little has been done to better the conditions. An occasional mission has been established, an occasional missionary has been set to work and these men have done efficient service, so far as the limits of time and ability have gone, but nothing adequate to the conditions has been attempted either by the Church or State. Certainly, something ought to be done. Every intelligent and patriotic citizen is asking in these days with emphasis, "What can be done?"
The first thing is to get the younger generation to speak the English tongue. The sending of missionaries who speak to them in their own tongue may accomplish something for the older ones, but it will never meet the conditions. The thing that is needed is to get them to the point where they will throw away the old speech and begin to talk the tongue of the new land and the new civilization in the midst of which they live. One of the serious facts that faces the philanthropist is that great numbers of the children are not in the public school. They cannot be received. They do not talk English. The teacher does not talk Italian, or Hungarian, or Polish or Lithuanian. There is no point of contact between them. They cannot communicate with each other. Hence they have been allowed to run the streets. Perhaps the most effective work that has yet been attempted lias been the kindergarten work attempted in some parts of these valleys. These kindergartens have gathered the younger children in, given them enough of English, then turned them over to the public schools. Perhaps this may surprise a good many people when they are told that in many cases these "selfish coal barons," about which we have heard so much in recent days, have furnished the money and expressed themselves as glad to furnish it, in order that this kindergarten work might be carried on. Does that seem as though these operators were the incarnation of selfishness? But the little that has been attempted along this line is only a drop in the bucket. Whether the State ought to undertake this work or the Church assume the support and control of it or private philanthropy be expected to furnish the funds, one thing is certain, there is no more needy field to-day, and no other field will furnish richer results, than the work of teaching these children enough English so that they can get into the public schools and enjoy the intellectual training there afforded, and in addition to that, come into contact with American children imbued with American ideas, and in their way, loyal to American ideals.
But there is a vast generation of young people, especially young men, that are gone beyond the possibility of the public school. For these scarcely nothing has been done. What they need is an institution patterned after the Young Men's Christian Association. I am not sure but that the association itself might profitably undertake the work. It might attach it to the associations that already exist in the region or it might_ establish new institutions to meet the need of this class. They need the educational class. They need to learn English. They need to be taught to read. They need to be furnished something to read. They need to be taught how to care for their bodies. They need some place of comfort beside the saloon. They have no homes. They have nothing to-day but the saloon. For tens of thousands of these young men the only open door that will furnish them light and heat is the saloon. Of course, association buildings exists in these towns and cities, but they are located for the American young men and are inaccessible by distance or for various other reasons for any great number of these foreign young men. Would they avail themselves if the opportunity were furnished? Yes. They are anxious to learn English. The few small attempts that have been made are a sufficient indication of their readiness to seize the opportunity with eagerness and use it for all there is in it.
It is a question in my mind as to whether it is wise to send these people the gospel first. Send the missionary to them, if with his preaching of the gospel, he is fitted to establish a night school and speaks English well enough to teach them. But my experience is that the first thing to do, the place to lay the stress to-day, is upon their education, and then, along with the education, give them the gospel as rapidly as they are able to receive and assimilate it.
This question is not simply one in which the Church is interested. It is not a question in which the only issue involved is the personal salvation of the individual. In their present condition the presence of these multitudes is a menace to our social and industrial and commercial life. In a thousand ways it affects and affects seriously.
The peril of their presence is recognized in political life. Many of these men are citizens. The balance of power in many of these counties lies with these men. Under the skilful leadership of some ambitious demagogue it is possible for these men, ignorant of what American principle is and ignorant of what American citizenship means, it is yet possible for them to determine the political life of the countv. I am no alarmist. Neither am I a pessimist. But it seems to me that the general public, outside the anthracite region, ought to understand the serious problem with which we are wrestling and they ought to give us their sympathy if they have nothing more tangible to give.
West Pittston, Pa., Oct. 1, 1902.

Friday, April 1, 2011

On Horseback Through Palestine

Apparently my grandfather, William R Harshaw, developed his cruise into a presentation.  See this

This is from the Christian Work and the Evangelist, 

The Rev. W. R. Harshaw, D.D., whose recent article on the strike must have awakened many of our readers to a sense of personal responsibility, takes advantage of the prevailing fondness for clubs by founding in his congregation a Bible Study Club. Why not the Bible, indeed, as well as Persian or Hindoo literature or oriental art?
The inauguration of Woodrow Wilson at Princeton is in the line of a movement to make laymen university presidents. Perhaps this is an experiment worth trying. It is pleasant to call Dr. Patton still president of Princeton, because the seminary is his charge and the great new endowment fund will give scope for enlargement and progress. Such as Dr. Patton never step down; to the last, they go ever upward.