The Florence Crittendon Home

Note: The following is an excerpt from 'The History of Youngstown and Mahoning County' by Gen. Thomas W. Sanderson, published in 1907

The Florence Crittendon Home, of Youngstown, is one of a large number of homes of refuge and reformation for erring and unfortunate women that have been established in some sixty cities of the United States, besides Japan, China, France and Mexico. They owe their existence to the efforts of Mr. Charles Crittendon, a wealthy business man of New York, who was led to consecrate himself to Christian work through the death of his little daughter, Florence, after whom every home is named. It was this great affliction that first caused Mr. Crittendon to seek strength and consolation in religion. After a period of despair and rebellion against the Divine will, lasting for some months, his heart was finally softened. He found peace in resignation to God's will, and sought and found a field Christian activity in the work of saving "Our Little Sisters", to which he now gives all of his large income.

The first mission was opened at No. 29 Bleeker street, New York city, some twenty-three years ago, and since then the work has been steadily growing. It has been the means of rescuing thousands of young women and girls who had, through weakness, temptationl, or unfortuntae environment, let go their hold on right living, and has saved many more who were in danger of taking a similar false step.

"Any destitute, dissipated, or fallen woman or girl desirous of leading a better life, is cordially invited to the home, and may remain for such a period of time as the Board of Managers sheel deem best." Women and girls who have no home, or are out of bad hands and tide over a time of stress and danger. The more detailed sketch of the local institution which follows is from the pen of Rev. D.T. Thomas, and was published in the first report of the home.

"The Youngstown Florence Crittendon Home is due originally to the persistent prayers and efforts of a few of the devoted W.C.T.U. ladies of our city, the following being the primary movers: Mrs. E.A. Hall, Mrs. Jane Davis, Mrs. Paisley, Mrs. Gravell and Mrs. Ferrin. A year or so previous to the spring of 1902, at the invitation of the above named ladies, Mrs. Kate Walter Barrett, National Superintendent of the Florence Crittendon work, together with our present matron, Mrs Jaynes, visited the city. Mrs. Barrett presented the work in public meetings, and Mrs. Jaynes, staying some days longer, soliciting subscriptions throughout the city.

"In April, 1902, Mrs. E.A. Hall and Mrs. Jane Davis appeared before the Ministerial Association asking the privilege of speaking concerning the needs of such a home in Youngstown. This being granted, they also presented personal letters from the Chief of Police and other leading citizens of Youngstown, strongly urging the necessity of such a home, and especially emphasizing the adaptability of the Florence Crittendon Homes for this work. After listening to their earnest pleas a committee was appointed by the association to consider the need and advisability of such a home in co-operation with these ladies. In due time this committee reported favorably on the matter and was instructed to continue their services.

"After corresponding with headquarters at Washington, the Rev. Mr. Mason, a field worker for the Florence Crittendon work was brought here and spent a month in the city speaking in the churches and soliciting subscriptions for the new enterprise. During his stay in the city a permanent organization was formed with the following persons as officers: Rev. C.H. White, vice-president, Rev. D.T. Thomas, recording secretary, Mr. L.A. Thayer, treasurer; Mrs. S.A. Hughes, corresponding secretary.

"After electing the governing bodies, which consist of a board of trustees and an advisory board, and the appointing of standing committees, namely: a finance committee, an admission committee, a building committee was appointed and instructed to proceed at once to the securing of a home. After much hunting and examining, the Leet property, in Girard, Ohio, was purchased. Mrs. Jaynes, our present efficient matron, was called to take charge of the home in March, 1903, and with the exception of a few months, has continued to fill this difficult position in a most proficient and satisfactory way from its inception to the present time. But before we had occupied our Girard home six months it became evident that it was too far away and too small to serve the best purpose and meet the urgent and increasing need.

"After further investigation a residence of eleven rooms was purchased on Hine street. In less than a year after occupying this property we were for the second time face to face with the problem of securing still larger quarters. This time we were fortunate in securing our present large, commodious and delightful location, namely: the old Baldwin home on McGuffey street, which the national officers say is one of the very finest in the whole chain of Florence Crittendon Homes, one which Youngstown may well be proud of.

"During these four brief years services have been rendered by officers, committees, donors and friends which deserve highest commendation, without which service, indeed, it might be said that the Florence Crittendon Home of Youngstown would have been impossible. For instance, the great service rendered it in its beginning by the late Rev. W.G. White and the late Mrs. Ford, Rev. A.L. Frazier and Mr. L.A. Thayer. The splendid and untiring devotion of Mrs. Henry Heedy, who, as chairman of the finance committee during most of this time, has been instrumental in raising more than three-fourths of the funds for the establishment and support of our home. And common courtesy demands that we speak of the invaluable services rendered the home by our staff of physicians, namely, Drs. J.J. Thomas (chief of staff), Jennie Turner, Merwin, Parish, Hawn and McCurdy."

The home was opened in the usual way by Mr. Crittenden's subscription of $1,000, and is supported almost entirely by charity. The late Mrs. Arabella Ford, who was untiring in her efforts to improve the financial condition of the institution, succeeded in soliciting about one hundred yearly memberships which represented $12.50 each, and which for a time were adequate to meet the daily expenses. Nine thousand dollars were raised by soliciting and selling the Hine street property, and monthly donations were obtained from a number of leading business men of the city.

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