Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: October 1968 Volume 15 Number 2, Pages 32–36

History of the Paoli Red Cross 1917-1967

Annamarie Malloy

Page 32

During World War I, Mrs. Wilmer W. Hoopes saw the need for a Red Cross Branch in the Paoli Area. She consulted with Mrs. Mason R. Lisle and together they sold the idea to the community. That was in March 1917. Two weeks later the new branch was established with Mrs. Lisle as its first Chairman. For fifty years, from Mrs. Lisle to Mrs. Lysle, this branch has been unique in that all of its Chairmen have been women.

Other well known names in that first founding group were Mrs. W. P. Morris, Mrs. Joseph Sharp, Jr., Mrs. E. T. Conrey, Mrs. Edward Newton, Mrs. David Sharp, and Mrs. C. Colket Wilson.

They rented in Paoli for $30.00 a month a spacious house romantically associated with the days of the stage coach. It had been one of the Wayside Inns on the Lancas­ter Pike more than a century ago. and had been known as The General Jackson, then the Franklin Inn. The agreement to lease referred to it as "That certain dwelling on the North side of Lancaster Avenue, about one quarter of a mile east of Darby Road, in the village of Paoli".

Classes were held in First Aid, Hygiene, and Home nursing. Groups were organized for sewing, and making Surgical Dressings. The children, too, were involved. This is one thing Junior Red Cross accomplished interesting the younger generation.

At that time one of the tireless leaders of the production service was Mrs. Rose Harmon. Because the women she recruited worked during the day, she held her classes at night and on Saturdays. Her base of operations was in the old school house which stood on the ground of Berwyn's old Acme Market. Mrs. Harmon, a retired School teacher, kept detailed records of those in attendance at each session and the work completed as well. She had a daughter named Edith who was in High School at the time and as you have already heard began her fifty years of association with this branch in her mother's production service. Rose Harmon was recoggnized many times for her outstanding achievements and services to her community. She was at one time honored as the first woman to have voted in Chester County. This is a Certificate awarded Mrs. Harmon in re­cognition of service faithfully performed in behalf of the Nation and her Men at arms.

Page 33

Dated April 1917 to April 1919, and signed by President Woodrow Wilson. On the occasion of her 85th anniversary, Congressman Paul Dague wrote her his congratulations saying "The most that any of us can achieve as we pass through the Valley of Life is to build for ourselves a Memorial that has its foundation in the affection of our fellowmen." Fifty years later the memorial she built finds affection in the hearts of her fellowmen she did not know.

In July 1918 a battalion of Marines were brought for final training to a camp in Valley Forge which was 1ocated on Swedesford Road and Cedar Hollow Road. The Red Cross Headquarters shifted its work rooms to the second floor and turned over the first floor to the Marines for recreation. Some of those Leathernecks not only "dated" our girls but married them. Squire Tom Plummer was one of them.

Later that year a strange sickness known as Spanish Influenza struck Camp Fuller and soon the whole community was involved in mass death and misery. Whole families were stricken with no one to care for them. Mrs. Harmon walked miles carrying clothing and soup from house to house. The headquarters was turned into an emergency hospital. The gentlemen of the Tredyffrin Golf Club, which stood on the ground of the present Paoli Shopping Center, turned over one of their rooms as a recreation center for the Marines. When the plague had subsided, Mrs. Lisle moved to acquire an ambulance and a Community Nurse which had been sorely needed during the crisis. After the war the headquarters also housed a combination Gift Shop and Tea Room known as the Windmill Tea Room which was operated to support the Nurse.

Mrs. Harmon helped raise funds with picnic suppers and musicales. Carolyn Stanford's rendition of "Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child" must have been a performance we could wish we had recorded; and Mrs. G. Brinton Lucas' remarks may have given some insight into the determination which caused this branch to become an outstanding one.

The National Roll Call and soiling of Red Cross Shares became the fashion for raising the money needed for its many services. And we were not so far removed from the days of the white clad ladies and the Fords of the First World War, and the days of the Lancaster Avenue Headquarters situated in the "Village of Paoli".

Page 34

The lease for this building was terminated in July 1928. The Red Cross office was moved to the building north of the Paoli Station, which became Joe Palmer's office. It remained there until 1932 when it was moved to its present site.

During the years of 1931 to 1934 - the depression years- the Red Cross was the only relief agency in the community. It joined forces with other agencies along the lower Main Line in an organization called The Main Line Emergency Committee. The grim circumstances of so many people undoubtably accounts for the lack of any avail­able pictures of those times. However the Paoli Branch of the Red Cross was an agency needed and respected. The "Devon Hill Disaster" in April 1930, which was an explosion of the fireworks plant wrecking the houses on Old Lincoln Highway causing the death of fourteen persons, indicated that a high degree of precision organization was needed.

It must have been through the far sighted vision of Adelaide Lucas that a movement to acquire a building was begun. The files contain a wealth of information on this subject. There began a solicitation of the friends of the Red Cross for funds. Ernest Scott, Esq. of Pepper, Bodine, Stokes and Schoch began a lengthy correspondence with Robert G. Ligget, Esq. of Valley Forge. Today both law­yers live in our community. The new route 202 is cutting a swath through Mr. Scott's land on Swedesford Road and has taken away the old house in which Mrs. Harmon and our Edith Parker Lived.

Soon however, the legal machinations were concluded and we had aquired our present building which was at that time owned by the School Board and was used as the Berwyn Library. The agreement of sale was signed by Mrs. Lisle, Mrs. Lucas, and Robert Ligget for the Red Cross. Joseph W. Sharp, President, signed for the Easttown Township School District, and so the Paoli Branch now resided on the very site that Mrs. Harmon had held her "evening classes".

With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1940 there was a mammoth increase in volunteer activities. The record carries one report which reads "We have trained 32 staff assistants whose duties consist of serving as receptionists; office work (and there is our beloved Miss Gallagher), switch board operator, and the difficult task of identifying and tagging victims in a disaster."

Page 35

The Motor Corps was the most highly trained and efficient in the area. Surgical dressings and sewing were major activities in order to keep up with the increased demand from Chapter.

Paoli was the first Branch to form a canteen corps and to equip a mobile canteen. Its blood program was one of the most successful in the Nation, and its Home Service rendered innumerable services to servicemen and their families.

Mrs. Lucas surrounded herself with administrative Volun­teers who developed the Branch into a high level of excellence. Hundreds of thousand of volunteer hours of service were given by the Branch to the Valley Forge Hospital. Mrs. C. Maurice Connor began a then unheard of program of field trips for the mentally disturbed men stationed at the Military Hospital. Mrs. Connor was contact man at the hospital for the Officer's Club in Philadelphia. She still hears from "The Boys" and their families, who remain ever grateful for the trips to the Allen's "Mad House" on Route 202 two miles south of Lancaster Pike.

About that time Swift Newyon came home to tell about the Red Cross Girls who "Would move into France or whereever the Allies land with the Army shortly after D-Day.

Lize Boyd began her celebrated and income producing rum­mage and sacrifice sales which her devoted followers continue to this day. Mrs. Lester Higgins began "The Gifts to Give" program which she conceived and which has become a most celebrated activity.

Mrs. Jackson Wilson was now Chairman. She became well known for her excellence in the home service. That's Mrs. Henry Woolman with her, "Mrs. Republican" they called her. She moved away from the house the Zinns now own to a large farm in the South. The local Democrats enjoyed the news that she was forced to drive one hundred miles in order to continue her Republican Registration.

It was about this time, also, that the Local Paper in reporting on the Chapter Annual Meeting said that "The Home Service Ladies put on brief skirts to show the nature of their work" . That slip made the rounds of all the Red Cross headquarters in the area.

Mrs. Wilson was followed as Chairman, by Mrs. Malloy, who was sustained during Board Meetings by the doodles of prominent Mrs. Kneas, and under whose leadership the last independent campaign for funds was conducted by the Red Cross in this area. Harry Roeder was her campaign chairman.

Page 36

He led the entire Chapter during the entire Fund Drive. Mrs. Malloy left office to take the Chairmanship of the Camp and Hospital Program in Chapter and Mrs. Charles Cox, Jr. took over. Mrs. Cox had Hurricane Diane, and started the movement for changing the Branch name. Mrs. Cox was followed by Mrs. Braendel, who changed the Branch Name to more adequately describe the area which it serves. Mrs. Braendal turned her gavel over to Mrs. George Roberts whom Miss Dungey describes as the most human chairman the Branch ever Knew. Miss Allen followed Mrs. Roberts. The Branch could not survive at this very moment if it did not enjoy her sustaining and excellent interest in office management. Miss Allen's gavel was handed to Mrs. Robert H. Lysle. There ends the Upper Main Line Branch's Fifty Years, from Lisle to Lysle, and its story has just begun.

In 1967 when this history was written Mrs. Reginald Perry was Chairman of the branch.


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