Wayne Red Cross: Mrs. Wm. Henry Brooks, 1st Chairwoman 1916-1933, Masonic Hall, WWI & WWII, President Taft

On Wednesday morning of this week, members of the Wayne Branch, American Red Cross, filled the large second floor assembly room of the Masonic Hall of Wayne Lodge on South Wayne avenue. All listened with interest to the reports of thousands of hours of work given in 1955 by Branch officers, chairmen and volunteers in various services and departments of one of the oldest branches of the National Red Cross to be organized in the State of Pennsylvania.

The dates of the organization and subsequent activity of the Wayne Branch are closely connected with those of World War 1, while the date of its expanded activities in its new headquarters coincided with the beginning of the second World War.

Back in 1916, Pennsylvania had had no representation in the National Red Cross Society until ex-President Taft, as chairman of its executive committee, determined to rouse more nation-wide interest in the organization. Pennsylvania at that time was being divided into sections for Red Cross purposes, as were many other states. Wayne became part of the large Southeastern Pennsylvania District, or Southeastern Chapter, as it is now called.

At the request of Mr. Taft, local organization meetings were called throughout Pennsylvania. In Wayne, it took place on Monday afternoon, July 3, 1916, at the home of Mrs. C.C. Harrison, in Devon. In addition to the hostess, those present included Mrs. Charles S. Walton, Mrs. William A. Nichols, Mrs. William Paul Morris, Miss Mary L. Walsh, Mrs. T.T. Watson, Mrs. Robert G. Wilson and Miss Grace Roberts, all representative women of the Wayne area.

13_image01At a subsequent meeting, officers were elected and plans made for the work of the branch. Officers included Mrs. William Henry Brooks as chairman; Mrs. C.C. Harrison, treasurer; Mrs. William V. Alexander, recording secretary and Miss Grace Roberts, corresponding secretary. Great emphasis was placed on the importance of local Red Cross enrollment, with annual dues set at $1.00. The use of a room in Radnor High School was granted for registration of new members. Mrs. Brooks, in her opening address to her group, asked that everyone register not only herself, but also carry with her at all times membership blanks for enrollment of others. Thus was launched the first Red Cross membership drive in Wayne, the forerunner of many others to come. The value of immediate publicity being evident, Mrs. Louis Jaquette Palmer was named chairman of that committee.

And then “as an initial step in practical work,” Mrs. Nichols invited everyone interested to meet at her house on the next Friday morning “to roll bandages,” initiating the work of making surgical dressings.

(To be continued)