IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co. Li'l Bits

Russian Famine Relief Committees

I very much desire that the committees whom I have here suggested and selected will immediately act in this great work of relieving the starving poor of Russia without further notice from me, as I wish to close up the work before Feb 1st, 1892. In case persons wish to make donations of corn not shelled, they are requested to deliver the same at the elevator of C.O. Howard in Waukon.
M.B. Hennrick, Chairman Russian Famine Relief Com. for Allamakee county.

The following township committees will aid in soliciting donations:

Center - A.G. Oleson, Jas. Cavers, O. Deremo and E. Roese.
Fairview - Andrew Kean and N.W. Williver.
Franklin - N. Lamborn, F. Sanders and G.W. Pearson.
French Creek - J.W. Hartley, Henry Kerndt, Jas. Dougherty and Jacob Haas.
Hanover - Hans Simenson, T.F. O'Brien and Wm. Dixon
Iowa - Martin Moore, James Hart and Henry Rippe.
Jefferson - John Keenan, R.L. Frink and Martin Larson.
Lansing - W.H. Burford, Andrew Sandry, E.B. Bascom, Geo. H. Markley and James Withrow.
Lafayette - M. Gleason, Capt. Jackson, Ed. Tisdale and H. Froelich.
Linton - Jerry Leas, W.H. Adams and Chas. Renzenhizer.
Ludlow - Simon Hagen, Jas. Meikle, Wm. Dalton and John Baxter.
Makee - James Duffy, C.M. Beeman, W.M. Eaton, J.B. Jones, J.B. Minert, J.F. Dougherty, H.F. Opfer, C.N. Volding, J.M. Bartheld, L. Nichols and John White.
Paint Creek - V.H. Stevens, K.T. Anderson, Hans Smeby and Wm. Kelly.
Post - W.H. Carithers, A. Hart, Edward Sheehy, R.N. Douglas and James Orr.
Taylor - Nicholas Brazell, Bernard Finnegan, J.M. Gemmill and Jas. Powers.
Union City - C. Bisping, Benj. Ratcliffe and Patrick McLaughlin.
Union Prairie - Simon Helming, David Davidson, John Kilpatrick, Jas. Kennedy and Roger Ryan.
Waterloo - Nels Quandahl, Theodore Schwartzhoff, Wm. Griffin, C.J. Langenbach and Henry Wenig.

~source: Postville Review, January 23,1892
~transcribed by S. Ferrall


Background information on the Russian famine relief program

The famine of 1892 was one of the worst of the eleven major famines that scourged Russia between 1845 and 1922.  Crop failures had put some 13,700,000 people in desperate need.   "The present famine," wrote Charles Emory Smith, American Minister in St. Petersburg, 1891 and 1892, "is one of those stupendous catastrophes which almost baffle description."

It was in this setting that the first voices were raised for American aid to the Russian peasants.  At the annual meeting of the Red Cross in Boston on November 13, 1891, Clara Barton appealed for a Thanksgiving collection in the churches.  The $200 raised at the convention itself was forwarded to the Countess Tolstoy.  But the main call to action came, not from religious groups or eastern commercial organizations or even immigrants from the disaster area, but from editors and millers of the Middle West. 

On December 6, the Davenport Democrat, edited by Benjamin Franklin Tillinghast, urged that relief work be hastened, broadened, and systematized.  Already in Davenport the Unitarian minister, as well as Arthur M. Judy, Colonel George W. French and Alice French ("Octave Thanet") had been discussing what might be done.  This group approached Governor Boies, who appointed the Iowa Russian Famine Relief Commission, consisting of a prominent person in each Congressional district.  Tillinghast was appointed Secretary of the Commission.  The women of the newly formed Women's Auxiliary of the Red Cross, drove into the country, stopping at every farm to ask for corn, urged townspeople to give money to buy more corn, and raised funds by arranging for concerts, light operas, and a mock political convention at the State University.  Alice French turned her facile pen from romance to reality, providing much of the enthusiasm and leadership.  Tillinghast, who, according to Alice French, was doing the work of fifty men, did not find it easy to overcome a prevailing apathy.  "Every personal, social, political and other influence I possess," he wrote to Clara Barton, "is being used with all the judgment and discretion I can give it.  I have writen a personal letter of thanks to every newspaper in the State which has favorably mentioned our cause and the same to individuals, strangers as well as friends."  It was hoped that the railroads, popularly regarded as "soulless corporations," would offer free freight to counteract prevailing hostility:  they came through handsomely.  In all, the Iowa Russian Famine Relief Committee, with the Ladies' Auxiliary, raised in corn and cash, contributions adding up to $40,000.

Tillinghast oversaw the shelling of the corn which he consigned to Clara Barton in New York.  In turn, Miss Barton handed Tillinghast a check for $20,000.  This represented the contributions of the people of the nation's capital, including earnings of the children of the White House.  The 'Tynehead,' chartered for the Iowa-Red Cross contribution, was loaded with 117,000 bushels of corn, 200 tons of flour, and several tons of canned meats, soups, and jellies for the sick.

~source:  American Philanthropy Abroad; by Merle Eugene Curti, New Brunswick, N.J. : Rutgers University Press, 1963; excerpts are from pgs 100-114


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